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Take the Risk: The Key to Unlocking Entrepreneurial Success


Casey Ariel Thobias speaking onstage at ESSENCE Fest
Casey Ariel Thobias (Blaze Group Founder) speaking at ESSENCE Fest

Introduction

As Black women entrepreneurs, stepping out of the corporate world to pursue our greatest passions is one of the biggest leaps of faith we can imagine. It’s a journey filled with risks, especially when we factor in the people and communities that depend on our ability to be one of the few stable pillars they can access in their lives.


Despite the risks, stepping into entrepreneurship is also a path that leads to immense rewards, both personally and professionally. I recently experienced this firsthand at the ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans, LA, where I had the incredible opportunity to be a featured speaker TWICE! This experience reaffirmed my belief in the importance of taking risks in business and highlighted the unique role Blaze Group plays in empowering Black women entrepreneurs.



The Power of Taking Risks:

Risk-taking is at the heart of entrepreneurship. It’s about stepping out of your comfort zone, embracing uncertainty, and trusting your vision. For many Black women like myself, this means leaving behind the security of corporate jobs to build businesses that not only fulfill our passions but also have the potential to create generational wealth.


I left my high-paying job as a banker in Global Corporate & Investment Banking to explore how I could distribute world-class knowledge to Black women entrepreneurs. After spending nearly a decade structuring multi-billion dollar solutions for companies but never working on a deal team alongside another Black woman - nor having the opportunity to deploy capital to Black-owned businesses - I wanted to increase the likelihood that the information I was garnering every day could be carried into the communities that raised and nurtured people like me. I wanted Black women to be the conduits of that knowledge bearing, given all the beautiful ways I'd witnessed my great-grandmother and elders like her disseminate pivotal wisdom throughout their families and communities.


Less than four years after embarking on this quest, I took to the stage two separate times to pour into attendees of the ESSENCE Festival, an experience that attracts more than 500,000 people annually. This past weekend was a testament to the power of taking risks. Speaking at such a prestigious event that unequivocally edifies Black women, sharing my journey, and connecting with other inspiring women was a powerful reminder of the impact we can have when we dare to step into the unknown.


Casey Ariel Thobias posing at the ESSENCE Fest photo booth
ESSENCE Fest Post Card Photo Booth, Casey Ariel Thobias

Entrepreneurship vs. Job Security:

The decision to leave a corporate job for entrepreneurship is never easy. In fact, there is often a draw to return to corporate again and again throughout one's entrepreneurial journey. Corporate jobs, without a doubt, offer a sense of stability and predictability. The paychecks come regularly and the pathways are "clear" (with the caveat that there is a pipeline leakage in upward mobility for people of color -- if you know, you know).


However, corporate jobs often come with limitations on creativity, autonomy, and the ability to fully realize our potential. It's really hard to tap into creativity after an 8+ hours day. It is crushing to have our voices stifled on social platforms when employers want to distance themselves from "stirring the pot" during political and social movements. Many times, our brilliance transforms the value of the corporations we work for, but lack of ownership bars us from benefiting from the wealth we create for owners - relegating us to trading time for money.


Entrepreneurship, on the other hand, is inherently risky but offers unparalleled opportunities for growth, innovation, and financial independence. It allows us to build something of our own, create a legacy, and pave the way for future generations. It provides us the opportunity to build tangible assets that outlive us, transcending space and time. Entrepreneurship affords us the flexibility to design lifestyles and pacing that calm our nervous systems.


Am I saying that everyone should walk away (or stay away) from their corporate jobs to embark on entrepreneurship? Absolutely not! On the contrary, I believe that people should feel liberated enough to deploy any (and all) financial risk mitigation strategies they choose. It is always prudent to stabilize cash flow in order to sustain the long-term vision. Always!


I do believe, however, that entrepreneurship is worth the risk. Entrepreneurship presents us with constant calls for sacrifice and tradeoffs - but it is absolutely worth the risk. In my life, those risks have involved me walking away from corporate to move abroad, immersing myself in the cultures of Cape Town, South Africa and Nairobi, Kenya. I lowered my cost of living which creating an environment of accelerated learning. Taking risks led me to consult an agtech firm so that I could bootstrap cash for Blaze Group in its earliest stages. This consulting allowed me to step into the role of fractional Chief Credit Officer at Hello Tractor, Inc., deploying +$10MM in capital to underbanked agripreneurs across Uganda, Nigeria, and Kenya (40% of which were women).


Being open to taking risks pushed me to leave the Kenyan home I had grown extremely comfortable in to head back to the United States to scale my vision for Blaze Group through accelerators and capital-raising initiatives. I wanted to be in the proximity of miracles - as I knew that I would need connection and deep mentorship for the next leg of the journey. It journeyed me to being accepted to the Madame CJ Walker Institute PACE Bootcamp, which was created by the owner of Essence Magazine, Richelieu Dennis. Risk-taking led me to the stage of ESSENCE Fest, the largest Black festival in the United States, where I was able to pour into Black women entrepreneurs twice in one weekend! Take the risk.



Casey Ariel Thobias and Richelieu Dennis posing for a photo
Casey Ariel Thobias - Founder, Blaze Group and Richelieu Dennis - Owner, Essence Magazine(right)


Why Blaze Group?

If you're a Black women entrepreneur and you're not affiliated with Blaze Group -- I passionately invite you to join our community! Blaze Group is uniquely positioned to support Black women entrepreneurs in their journey towards financial empowerment. With my background in Corporate & Investment Banking and real-world experience supporting businesses across the diaspora, I understand the challenges we face and the knowledge gaps that exist. I understand that a lack of financial literacy in business stagnates progress and threatens to cripple incredible ventures that have tons of promise.


That’s why I created the "Financial Foundations for Black Women Entrepreneurs" course. This 6-week foundational course introduces core financial concepts and terminology, providing a solid understanding of financial statements, cash flow management, and basic financial analysis. It equips participants with the knowledge to interpret financial information and make informed decisions about their businesses.


Course Overview:

  • Week 1: Introduction to Financial Statements

  • Week 2: Understanding Cash Flow Management

  • Week 3: Basic Financial Analysis

  • Week 4: Budgeting and Forecasting

  • Week 5: Financial Decision Making

  • Week 6: Applying Financial Knowledge to Real-World Scenarios


By the end of the course, you will have a solid financial foundation, empowering you to build a sustainable and profitable business.



Enroll In our Business Finance Course:

Are you ready to take the next step in your entrepreneurial journey? Enroll in our "Financial Foundations for Black Women Entrepreneurs" course today and start building the financial skills you need to succeed! I will help you map out a financial strategy that enables you to thrive, leading the way for creating generational wealth.



Conclusion:

Taking risks is an integral part of the entrepreneurial journey, and it’s a path that leads to empowerment and success. The ESSENCE Festival was a powerful reminder of the impact we can have when we dare to step out of our comfort zones. At Blaze Group, we are committed to providing the financial education and support Black women entrepreneurs need to do well and be well. We deserve both in this lifetime. Join us and take an important step towards financial empowerment.





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