Sometimes, it’s best to take your own advice when you lose your way financially. Going broke forced Dominique Broadway to open herself up to her grandfather’s advice and the advice she gives others. She wasn’t charging enough for her financing planning services and hadn’t diversified her revenue. Once she did, her business soared.
As a teenager, Broadway wanted to be a financial planner. She loved learning about ways to grow her money and invest in the stock market. As a kid, she sold handmade beaded bracelets. As a teen, Broadway became the vice president of her dad’s vending machine company and CEO of a friend’s company that taught children how to use computer software. In college, she interned at UBS.
By the time she graduated college, Broadway had saved enough money to purchase a home. “My friends were, like, ‘how did you move from your dorm to owning a condo?’” she said. They wanted her financial advice.
But firms like UBS focus on high-net-worth individuals. “You had to have at least half a million dollars in assets, if not $1 million, to qualify to be a client,” she sighed. The more assets an individual or household holds for most wealth managers, the more appealing they are as clients, but not to Broadway. She wanted to serve the missing middle: people making $50,000 to $70,000 like most of her friends and family. They didn’t qualify for free financial counseling or high-end services.
So she started her own firm, Finances Demystified, in 2011.
“I started Financial Demystified with the mission of decoding finances so people can start bringing their ‘Dreams2Reality’,” Broadway emphasized. “When I went out on my own, I coached people about their financing, helped them create a budget, and understand the basics of investing, such as how to pick investment vehicles for their 401k plan.”
Before Broadway quit her job to start Finances Demystified, she had saved about a year’s salary. Oddly for a financial planner, she didn’t run the numbers to project sales and profitability. As it turned out, Broadway wasn’t charging enough for her services. Within two years, she was not just broke, but in debt, her car was repossessed, and her house went into foreclosure.
“I felt like a hypocrite,” Broadway exclaimed. “I was giving advice that I wasn’t following. It was a tough time and I had to come to terms with where I was.” She told her mom and grandfather, “I completely messed up. I need some help.”
Her grandfather helped her go through all her bills. “I thought I owed a million dollars,” Broadway said. The reality was she owed $15,000, a manageable number. “Don’t hide from your money problems.” Together with her grandfather, she made a budget to pay off her debt. “I also had to figure out how to rebuild my credit score back from 480.” At first, her goal was a credit score in the seven hundreds, but now her goal is 850.
Broadway more than doubled her rates and took a consulting gig with a nonprofit that provides financial counseling. The consulting gig gave her a stable monthly revenue source. And she diversified her revenue by creating a five-week online boot camp for $247. She caught up on her car and house payments and even started saving. Phew!
Over time, she grew her social media presence, which attracted brands like Charles Schwab, Uber, and GM. They came to her to do projects and develop brand partnerships—more revenue sources.
During the pandemic, she had her first child. She spent a lot of time breastfeeding and on her computer. Broadway used the time to start investing again. At first, she just had a paper account, where she simulated trading to practice buying and selling securities. Once she knew she still had skills from her corporate days, she used real money.
When her family heard how well she was doing, they wanted to learn how to do it, too. Once again, she developed an interactive online course.
The goal was to have 20 people in the first cohort. Sixty-six people signed up at $1,000 a pop. “In the first five months, I made $850,000 and, in 2021, I made $8.5 million.”
She even started angel investing. This type of investing isn’t right for everyone. You must meet specific wealth criteria and be comfortable investing in a riskier asset class than stocks. Also, your money is at at risk of being locked up in an illiquid investment for a long period of time (as much as seven to 10 years).
“I’m not the first person in my extended family to make over six figures,” said Broadway. “But, I’m the first person in my family to make seven figures, and now eight figures.”
“For a lot of [Black] people, because they are the first in their family to reach these financial heights, you help your parents, grandparents, and other loved ones,” said Broadway. “In our community, we call it the Black tax. That can be a struggle.”
What financial challenges have you had to overcome?