Figuring out your calling can be a lifelong journey, but with every step comes a deeper sense of purpose. And that’s exactly what these three trailblazing entrepreneurs have discovered. Whether it’s overcoming burnout or honing a business pitch, they’ve made it their life’s mission to help business owners navigate the challenges that they once faced. As pitch master Precious Williams says: “It’s not about me anymore. It’s about lighting the way for the next generation.”
We talked to each entrepreneur about what motivates them and how they’re redefining success—for themselves, their clients, and the next generation of Black women in business.
Founder of the sisterhood business community Maven Nation, Miara’s journey began while working in the natural gas industry in Houston, Texas. As a corporate trader, she mastered executing in a fast-paced industry in which she was often the only Black woman. Meanwhile, in her free-time, she pursued another calling: building a network for women who found themselves stuck and seeking companionship in the business world. Today, Miara hosts international conferences, learning sessions, and more for her community of Maven Nation Baddies.
Precious pitched her way to a successful career as a professional speaker, best-selling author, and founder and CEO of Perfect Pitches, an elevator pitch and sales training service. Since her first speaking gig—at age 16 in front of the mayor of St. Louis—Precious has appeared on “Shark Tank,” headlined major speaking events, and won 13 national elevator pitch competitions. Then, in 2018, after a personal loss and period of homelessness, she began sharing her story and expertise with corporate clients such as LinkedIn, Google, and Microsoft.
A lifelong medical provider, Chantay founded a mental health firm in Georgia with several clinic locations. However, after ten years in the business, Chantay began facing burnout herself. Since then, she’s dedicated her work to sharing the education and expertise that helped her recover her sense of self—and her passion for business. As a burnout recovery consultant, she combines her approaches to both mental health and small business to guide others through the fatigue plaguing a quarter of entrepreneurs in the United States.
What drives you to help other small business owners?
Miara: The whole motto of my business is moving women from stuck to execution. So much of business is about moving past the fear that you don’t have enough… fill in the blank. You’re always going to be short of something, but it’s never too little to still deliver on what you were created to do.
Precious: You have to understand that not everybody’s gonna like you, but the tribe that fits your vibe is going to love your audacity and then go with you.
I’m not here to say what people expect me to say as a Black woman. I’m not here to play respectability politics. I’m here to show you how it’s done, and it ain’t gonna be easy, and it ain’t gonna be pretty, but let me tell you like this: Pitching ain’t easy, but it sure is flowing when you get the handle on it.
Chantay: I ran myself down without knowing that I was depleting myself. From there, it was just a matter of having to choose me versus choose the business. I chose me by scaling down and doing tele-mental health. Through that experience, I learned that burnout is truly real. I decided to take on the role to help others who are small business owners, as well as executives, understand burnout and get their passion back.
What keeps you motivated?
Miara: Culturally, as women, we’re kind of taught to be kind, be nice, don’t be too loud, be modest. I tell people: Sometimes we have to be comfortable with saying, “I am not for everyone, and everyone is not for me.” I don’t lose any sleep over that at this point because it’s not my job to reach every single woman. It’s my job to reach those that I’m created to reach. Someone is looking for me and the services I provide. My job is to find them and reach them and to be okay with the rest not liking me or not wanting to follow me.
Precious: My clients. Oh my goodness. For them to put their faith in a Black woman who literally got out of the mud and used pitching to get myself into the highest place, where I am right now. It’s because I pitched my way into it. It’s because I found cracks and doors and little slivers. It was a female MacGyver business.
My clients send me gifts—not just because of the results, but just because they don’t ever want me to forget I’m a queen. And that’s why I call women queens. I don’t care where you are, if you’re in a homeless transition or whatever. My clients are the truest representation of my gift. Because they succeed, I’m a part of their journey. So we got to have crowns every now and again.
Chantay: Who do I contribute my success to? As a lot of people say, my higher power gave me the strength, my mother gave me the vision and the motivation of what hard work means, and I gave myself permission to be who I was called and designed to be.
Do you have any tips for time management, given that many small business owners experience burnout in the workplace?
Miara: Women have come to tears when I look at them in their eyes and go, “What is it that you want?” Because they literally don’t know. They’re just in the race of doing all of these things. My advice is to spend quality time with you to get clarity about what you’re trying to do.
We are not amazing at ten things. I’m sorry, we’re just not. I tell clients that all the time. You’re overwhelmed because you’re trying to do 10% on ten things. Just do one thing or two things and give it 100%, and then you will see that it’s done. We energize ourselves so much when we actually complete a thing.
Chantay: Write down everything you have to do. Brain dump, get it out—whether it’s personal, work, or community. Write it on one sheet of paper after you get everything out of your brain, which takes energy. Then you extract from that list and identify trends. When you complete the tasks that take the least time, that’s how you maintain your energy.
How have you dealt with obstacles in your own life, and what do you tell clients who encounter them?
Miara: We set up all these comparison barriers. It’s good to use comparison for inspiration, but when you’re stuck and not moving because you’re saying, “I can’t be or beat this person,” I think that drives so many people to remain stuck.
If you’re not failing at some points, you’re not doing it big enough—you’re not pushing yourself enough. I believe that’s just a natural part of our journey, and if we weren’t so focused on everything being perfect—on having the perfect Instagram page, the perfect Facebook page, and all of these things—women would execute more frequently.
Precious: When the doors closed on me the first time because I had fallen so far into homelessness and severe addiction—and now I have been clean and sober for four and a half years—when those doors shut, I had to look for windows and cracks. Now the door opens, and so that’s a beautiful place to be in less than three years.
You have to live in your vision, not your reality. The reality of the situation is I’m from poverty. The reality of the situation is I grew up with parents who didn’t want me. The truth of the matter is I love me. That’s why I’m as colorful and as big and as bold and as bright. I’m a full-figured diva, and I don’t think people trip off of it because I’m truly me.
Chantay: Burnout red flags can consist of you starting to dislike the very thing that you love. In my personal experience, I started to resent my own business—the business that I built with blood, sweat and tears. As resentment sets in, you look at things differently. You’re not putting your best foot forward.
Be aware of yourself: How am I acting? How am I feeling? How am I showing up for my life? And if it’s different from the places that you evaluate yourself to be within a healthy mindset, a happy mindset, then it’s time to reevaluate.
What can people do when they start to notice the signs of burnout or feeling stuck in their business?
Miara: One of the things that I say every day is give yourself grace. Be gentle with yourself. If you have something you’re focused on and life happens and you have to re-prioritize, be gentle with yourself. Do what’s necessary, guilt-free.
Chantay: For small business owners, it’s very hard to admit needing help. We hold so much pride. I encourage you to join a community. Join someone who understands, who would help you relieve the stress and the gut-wrenching day-to-day that you are experiencing. Because you don’t have to live that way. You don’t have to be afraid.
How do you define success?
Miara: What I consider success to be is creating a lifestyle that you desire without sacrificing your relationships, your health, or your mental sanity. That is really what we focus on: growing your business, but not abandoning all of the other things that you really value in your life.
I always use the word excellence instead of perfection. Excellence is delivering the best you have with where you are because your excellence today is probably going to look different from your excellence five years from now.
Chantay: How are we resilient and agile to the emotional impacts in our day? Because that in itself is a real energy-zapper: staff problems, policies changing left and right, the lack of resources. How do we stand tall and be resilient and do what we have to do? Speaking as African Americans, this is one of the cultural components that we are taught as young girls from our mothers because they were taught and the mothers of the mothers were taught to be resilient: Stand up, despite what you don’t have, and make it work.
Precious: Success to me is when fortune favors the bold. So I want women to be bold and to go out there. You will get beat up, cut up, and all kinds of things, but when one woman steps into her purpose, another woman steps in hers. So if I got to be the trailblazer to light it up, I want other women to light it up too behind me. Keep going—that’s success. It’s not about me anymore. It’s about lighting the way for the next generation.
These three women are members of Luminary, a membership-based career and personal growth platform with a mission to uplift, upskill, and propel women forward through all phases of their professional journey.