Caribbean Power Lunch

030: The Hardest Part is to Start with Toni Thorne

December 11, 2018

Who is Toni Thorne?

  • Entrepreneur who started her first business at age 7.
  • Self-starter: “If I say I’m going to do something, I find a way I get it done.”
  • “The hardest thing is to start.”
  • Pursue what you are interested in and what will energize you: “You have to be very clear in what you want from life.”
  • Motto: “Be true to yourself.” – you are your own biggest obstacle.

Experience of Business

  • Pursue Your Interests:
  • Know Your Business Inside Out
  • Believe in Yourself
  • Align Your Interests
  • Finding a Mentor
  • Understand and Embrace Failure
  • Favourite Failure Story.

Black Entrepreneurship

  • There is a mindset issue which is keeping Caribbean businesses, particularly Black businesses, from growing as they should: “People would rather own 0% of nothing than 5% of something.” – instead of collaborating and supporting one another, they would rather compete.
  • The Black experience in Barbados, a predominantly Black country, is one in which Black people are treated as minorities and racism is an endemic issue
    • Upper financial class does not reflect the racial composition of the country, which affects the level of entrepreneurship and business entry
  • Experiences of being Black worldwide are unique experiences
    • A study on the business loan process conducted by Harvard University revealed Black entrepreneurs in the USA have to deal with much more stringent policies and procedures than White entrepreneurs with similar or lesser qualifying requirements. This experience of different rules for Black business owners and Black entrepreneurs is also true in Barbados and serves as an obstacle which Black entrepreneurs have to determine how to overcome.
  • Black parents have until recently tended to be more conservative, encouraging children to follow a more secure, traditional path and may not have supported entrepreneurship as it seemed too risky
    • This stems partly from a historical experience of oppression and disadvantage which has caused them to be more risk-averse.
    • That mindset is slowly changing, which is necessary to spur on generational wealth and generational business growth
    • White peers may have a different upbringing and exposure to family businesses and business mindset earlier on
  • Black entrepreneurs must recognize that although social structures may cause them to be at a disadvantage, they can and must then make their own paths to success, be creative in how they pursue structuring and financing their businesses and set their own goals for measuring success.