An African-American baker making a cake
An African-American baker making a cake as an owner of a small business. Is this a good step for you to take to beat a bad economy? © theblackrhino - Fotolia.com

When CEO and founder of Askthemneycoach.com, Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, was laid off in 2003 after ten years with the Dow Jones media company, downsizing had begun to hit many outlets in the early days of online news. She had two choices: take another job with a large company or turn the layoff into the opportunity to start the business she had dreamed of. “I was a Wall Street Journal reporter for CNBC with Dow Jones from 1994 to 2003. I was laid off in one of the early waves of downsizing in journalism when advertising was down and companies could no longer afford high-salaried positions,” Cox told theGrio about this period in her life. “I was quickly offered a position at CNN but turned it down thinking one corporate downsizing was enough for me.”

Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, financial expert
Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, financial expert & founder of Askthemoneycoach.com.

Cox came to terms with her job loss after a few days and, with some advice from a friend, decided it was time to set out on the path of becoming her own boss. “I never felt like the fate of my life was tied to a corporate entity,” she said. Cox knew the value of her skillset and that she wanted to continue her career as a media professional – independent of corporate America. Her first book, Invest in Success, initiated Cox’s new career path, which now includes freelance writing and lucrative speaking engagements, and consulting as a media and personal finance expert.

Ten years and ten books later Cox knows how to navigate the minefield of a down economy. That’s why we chose her to kick off our summer series profiling black entrepreneurs who have experienced tremendous success in small business. The black business owners we have chosen for the series have the insight and information to guide those who have been laid off, or want to be economically self-empowered, during what Cox calls the “Great Recession.” Cox believes one of the most important lessons that can come out of a layoff is learning to no longer tie your future to an unstable job market. You can break free if you take the leap, and start your own venture. What stops people from taking this risk?

“Most people fear going into business,” Cox said of this common barrier. “They believe it’s speculative, too risky, that corporate jobs are stable, and come with benefits,  and a 401(k). That that type of financial security cannot be replicated as a small business is just starting out. If you’re leaving a job get over the fact that you’re leaving a stable job. There are no stable jobs. It’s speculative to tie your future to something that can lay you off at will.”

As part of her small business ventures, Cox now leads financial literacy workshops and her related site Askthemoneycoach.com, a successful blog that offers free advice on how to strengthen your financial life. Her story is an inspirational tale of how African-Americans – really all Americans – can use an economic downturn as an impetus to earn money without relying on a boss. Cox has laid out a few simple tips that can help you start a business to create more economic stability and independence.