Tell us about your journey!
My four sisters and I were taught money management on a daily basis by our father who was a chief financial officer and accountant. At age 26 I had a credit score in the 800’s, owned my own home, and taught at a daycare center. But in one swift movement, the school closed at the same time as a credit card scam cost me $35,000. At age 30 I had lost my job, my home, and my confidence.
It took me some time, but I was reminded that I knew how to fix my situation. I created Budgetnista company to teach financial education to others. United Way hired me to write a financial curriculum for women, and I was on my way. I enjoyed making finances fun, relatable and actionable for women. The next step was writing my first book, The One Week Budget. I appeared on television and in newspaper articles promoting the book. Then I took a step beyond making a difference in my own community. I created the Live Richer Challenge movement as a free online resource to help shape women’s financial futures.
Since 2008, I have been a brand ambassador and spokesperson for a number of organizations - delivering financial education through seminars, workshops, curricula and trainings. In 2014, I founded the Live Richer Challenge Movement, a virtual community of over 200,000 thousand women from 100+ countries. Author of two #1 Amazon bestsellers, The One Week Budget and Live Richer Challenge, my financial advice have been featured in The New York Times, Reuters, US News and World Report, the TODAY show, PBS, Fox Business, MSNBC, CBS MoneyWatch, TIME, ESSENCE Magazine, and FORBES. I blog about personal finance for The Huffington Post and U.S. News and World Report.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business? How did the idea for your business come about?
The spark was ignited out of frustration from losing my job. I was at a job where I was supposed to have job security, and I was working so hard in a space that could potentially be taken away from me. I decided that I needed to create my own space and be in control. I never planned on having a business focused around finance, but I grew up in a home where we talked about money. It's almost as though I was born into it - it just happened to be a conversation that I was having over and over again due to the state our country was in.
What three pieces of advice would you give to college students (young and old) locally or internationally who want to become entrepreneurs?
1). Start now - no matter what the idea is. There's going to be a lot of falling in success and there's no way to avoid that. It's better to start sooner to give yourself the opportunity to get those falls out of the way.
2). Reduce your financial footprint - have your money focused on whatever your goal is and steer clear of non-necessities. That will extend the time you have to get your business up and running.
3). Start surrounding yourself with like-minded people and network up. Connect with people that you identify as superstars.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I don't think I would do much differently. I had to be Tiffany the preschool teacher before I could become Tiffany the Budgetnista. I operate from a place of love and kindness when dealing with people and that comes from my teaching background. I am firm, but fair. If I were to change anything, it would have be on an emotional level. I would have been less afraid of the unknown.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
1). Positive attitude - not in the sense of being happy go-lucky all the time, but knowing with certainty that you are able. You have to be comfortable affirming yourself, "I can..." "I'm able..."
2). Sickening work ethic - Anybody can work hard, but you have to be willing to do the work required - whether you've only had an hour of sleep, you're on vacation, etc. I enjoy what I do so much that it doesn't even feel like work, so I had no problem checking emails and responding to calls even while I was in Australia vacationing because I'm willing to do whatever it takes.
3). Crystallized focus - Have a clear direction of what you are going to accomplish and don't allow yourself to be distracted by naysayers, lack of support, etc.
I, personally, always try to align myself with people that embody these qualities