Though she is under 30 years old, Dominique Broadway is no stranger to running her own business. At 13, she operated as the vice president of her father's vending machine company in the D.C.-Maryland-Virgina area, and she's been passionately and successfully pursuing entrepreneurship ever since.
When Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriot launched its national pilot, women-owned business support program, ELEVATE, this summer, Broadway jumped at the opportunity to help grow her financial planning and coaching business, Finances De*Mys*Ti*Fied, by utilizing the free workspaces Fairfield offered to its finalists. After months of using the space to host meetings and trainings with clients, Broadway was recently announced the winner of ELEVATE's $5,000 grant.
In an interview with EBONY.com, the young finance guru shared how she got her start and why it's so important that we start talking about money with our friends and family.
EBONY: When did you know that you wanted to be a business owner?
DOMINIQUE BROADWAY: I’ve always been really into, not entrepreneurship, because as a kid, you don’t really know what that means, but I was just into making my own money. I would make a bracelet and sell it; any opportunity I had to make money on my own, I always took. My parents always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Anything that was small business-owned or had an impact on small business was something they supported and taught me to support.
EBONY: You got an early start with your father's business, becoming the vice president of his vending machine company at 13. What were your responsibilities?
DB: My father had vending machines, like the little machines with M&Ms and Skittles and gum, he had those in doctors' offices all over D.C. and Virginia and Maryland. My father wanted to show me what it’s like to run a business, so early on Saturday mornings, we would go to Costco and buy all the candy to restock the machines, but by the end of Saturday we’d have big piles of coins to cash in that we collected from the machines. Later, I would get to run the machines on my own. That was my official introduction to owning a business.
EBONY: What did you learn from that experience with your father that prepared you to be a business owner today?
DB: How hard you sometimes have to work at a business. I remember when I just started thinking how cool is it that we have candy? But not realizing how much work it takes to put into it. You have a vending machine and see that it's fully stocked. But what you don't see is that we’d have to get up at 6 o’clock on Saturday morning, go to Costco, lug it back to the car and drive around all day restocking the machines, and at the end of the day I was exhausted. It took a lot of work. Even in my business now there is a lot of work that goes into it. A lot of people don’t realize that until much later.
EBONY: How did you get into finance?
DB: I’ve always really loved finance. I always knew I wanted to be a stock broker or financial planner. My grandfather used to always teach me how to read stocks and bonds and, when I went to college, I absolutely loved it. After graduation, I worked for a major brokerage firm. All of our clients had $50 million and up and there was a certain asset amount you had to have before the firm would work with you. But my friends and family members kind of looked up to me because I was always so financially savvy — I had bought my first house at 22 — and I realized I couldn’t help any of my family through work because they didn’t have a million dollars and so after constantly having to tell them, "Sorry, I can’t help you," it clicked with me. I majored in banking and finance because I want to help everyone understand how their money can work for them and provide them with financial guidance. There shouldn’t be a certain dollar amount you have to have before you can get that help. Those without wealth are the people who need financial help the most.
EBONY: So you started your own business, Finances, De*Mys*Ti*Fied to help coach those people who need help the most. How does your company work?
DB: My company does financial planning and hosts financial literacy events. Originally, we were just a happy hour series created to make money a social experience. Every time I hung out with my friends, we were always talking about everything else: guys, clothes — everything but money. People always got awkward and tense when the conversation steers toward money and I thought, why is it not more of a common discussion? So we started this happy hour series to educate people on finances in a fun, social way. We have the events in lounges or bars or over brunch and we answer personal finance question every half hour that people submit. Basically the point is to get some of those financial terms out in the open to remove the stigma that surrounds money.
EBONY: How did you find out about the Fairfield Inn & Suites ELEVATE opportunity?
DB: I actually found out about it via Twitter. I went and applied and you pretty much don’t think you’re going to get selected, so it was such an honor to be in the top twenty.
EBONY: How did you use the Fairfield workspaces to achieve your goals?
DB: I know part of the competition was to see how a small business could use and take advantage of this workspace and I tried my best to use those venues faithfully. I probably worked at Fairfield 3-4 days a week. We had opportunities to shoot 24 videos for E-How, which I could not have done without Fairfield; that would’ve been very difficult.
Around June, we decided we wanted to expand. I wanted to start a social money movement and so I had a social money tour, where we had one event in June in New York and a couple of events around the DMV area. Finding venues when you’re a small business can be pretty pricey. Thank goodness we were able to have that venue space, that took a lot off of our plate. The goal is to expand and take our social money tour a few cities further and since we don’t have sponsors it’s pretty hard. So we just started charging a small fee for the events and we're trying to hit more cities in 2014: Chicago, Houston and Atlanta, to name a few.
EBONY: Why do you think it's so difficult for people to ask for financial guidance?
DB: I think this is one of those things that's really hard to do. As people, we are so scared that someone else is going to judge us. The social money tour has helped to remove that stigma because when you come to these events where we have 35-60 attendees, they know that everyone is there because they are interested in getting a financial education and that helps people feel more comfortable because whatever you say is not going to be judged because we’re all here for the same thing. So I would suggest that people try to find some sort of group where you all have the same mission and goals for your finances. That way you’re not going to be judged and you'll feel more comfortable.