The path to financial security starts with the first step. But what comes next, and how do you make informed decisions about money? Grammy-nominated artist and entrepreneur Ryan Leslie wants to demystify wealth-building and help you to facilitate financial independence.
A multi-talented force to be reckoned with, Leslie has not only earned acclaim as an artist but has also carved a niche for himself as a visionary entrepreneur and financial maverick. With an unwavering commitment to empowering communities, the entertainer has channeled his passion into developing a groundbreaking Wealthplan that simplifies finances and champions financial literacy among Black and Brown consumers. EBONY spoke with Leslie as he shared advice on investing early, entrepreneurship, and finding mentors.
EBONY: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start their own business?
Ryan Leslie: Leveraging assets is key. I've worked with entrepreneurs who, instead of savings, invested in the stock market. That becomes collateral to borrow and start a business without having to sell. If you have six months of savings invested, you can borrow against it rather than sell to launch your business.
What's your advice for those just learning about finances?
Find a knowledgeable mentor. I had a great mentor, and there are so many knowledgeable and experienced people who will pay it forward as long as you make it worthwhile. The gift is what you do with that guidance. If not me, others can mentor you. Personal connections make the difference.
Can you recommend some tips for connecting with mentors, partners and investors?
It's about value exchange—how you can trade time for someone else's time and expertise. Start by connecting with your existing contacts; most people don't speak to the majority of contacts on their phones. Be intentional about serving them, and that unlocks their network value. It's not always money, you can exchange time and opportunities.
How can people start investing and building long-term wealth at any age? What is the plan for that?
It's really about just getting started. They say the best time to start investing was 20 years ago. And the second-best time is right now. I am very conscious that many folks looking at the markets for the first time may come with apprehension. But the statistics show that if you invest in a diversified portfolio like the S&P 500 with a long-term horizon, there's a 0% chance of losing money. Start investing as soon as possible, and do so consistently and with conviction. Conviction means understanding that the stock market delivers returns on the percentage of principal you invest each year. So if you invest $100 and there's a 10% return, you'll make $10. But if you invest $10,000, you'll make $1,000. This incentivizes starting early, often, and consistently.
One way to start is by opening a brokerage account and investing even small amounts until you can buy full shares. Fractional shares allow you to invest even $1-40 until you save $400 for a full S&P 500 share. It's about getting started with what you can set aside.