Interview with Arlan Hamilton: Entrepreneurship is a Winding Path

Think of the most successful entrepreneurs that come to your mind. You may immediately think of their large social media following, their beautiful website, or their high profile connections. What you don’t see are the sleepless nights, the struggle and the triumphs along the way leading up to their massive success. You know, that not-so-glamorous part of the journey. 

What if the most challenging parts of your entrepreneurial journey were the same parts that will help you grow your business? 

Arlan Hamilton proves there is power in sharing your authentic story and why being an industry outsider is your greatest asset. As the CEO of Backstage Capital, she helps underserved founders of color gain resources for their dream. She is the author of It's About Damn Time, but before then she was building her business while homeless. 

We had the opportunity to connect with the author, podcaster, and founder one-on-one last week, where she shared her gems on being a multifaceted creative and business owner who created her own roadmap to success that is now inspiring legions of people.  

We've pulled together a few of our favorite takeaways for you here, but if you want to watch the full interview, you can find it inside the Parsons Entrepreneur Academy Network (psst ~ it's 100% free to join the Network if you're not a member. Click here to signup for free.)

1. Self-education will open new doors.  

“Once I decided I'm going to start a fund, I just devoured information. I read every book I could get my hands on,” says Hamilton. “When I couldn't afford a book, I would go and sit at a Barnes & Noble or Borders for hours at a time and just read the book through magazines -  online learning. I've always been really drawn to creating an education for yourself and not necessarily having to go a very traditional path in order to be legitimate and to know your stuff.”

2. Re-imagining networking.

As I met people, I would just start thinking about how can I be helpful to them. Is there something that they need? Everybody needs something, even if they're rich,” Hamilton adds. “You have to be patient, first of all. You have to know that it's not going to happen overnight, and you're not going to have this instant gratification of meeting somebody and something instantly happens.”

3. Be multi-creative with a focus.

"Well, as a creative, that's what your mind is meant to do is to have all kinds of interests. I'm not going to be the one to tell you to only focus on one because I don't, but I will say that focus really does help. So I tend to say follow what is the most fulfilling for you. What is the thing that you can't stop thinking about? What is that question that you have to have answered? Eventually, if you're successful with one thing or even if you get some traction with one thing, you'll be able to work on the second and the third and the fourth.”

4. Great ideas come from doing nothing.

“The days where I'm laying on the couch staring at the ceiling are the days where I have monumental ideas that get executed,” Hamilton says. “If I had cared that somebody was walking by and saying I wasn't actively working; they don't know what I'm thinking. I needed that time away from the day-to-day grind in order to be inspired. That's my own art is being inspired about what is next.”


Meet the author:

Lenora E. Houseworth  is a writer, journalist and social media strategist  with a passion for Black culture based in New York City by way of Chicago. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @LenoraSheWrote.

The Parsons Entrepreneur Academy--Powered by the Parsons School of Design--is an online platform dedicated to helping creative professionals learn and master the business side of their professions. We provide community, mentoring and courses created for and by people in the creative fields.  Sign-up for our emails and learn how to turn your art into a business.


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