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Episode 101: Ayanna Khan: Championing Black Entrepreneurs and the Power of Wisdom

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I’ve had the privilege of engaging with numerous inspiring individuals. One such person is Ayanna Khan, the founder, president, and CEO of the Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce. I first saw Ayanna speak at the Rotary Club, and her passion and dedication to supporting small businesses, particularly those owned by black entrepreneurs, inspired me to invite her onto my show.

In our conversation, we delved into the importance of seeking help and wisdom for business owners on their journey. With the high failure rate of small businesses, it’s crucial to find ways to prevent failure and ensure success.

Ayanna Khan: A Lifetime of Entrepreneurship

Ayanna shared a personal detail that many close to her may not know, she was raised by entrepreneurs and has been exposed to business from a young age. This early exposure led her to establish her consulting firm, which eventually paved the way for the founding of the Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce.

The Mission of the Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce

The Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce aims to provide resources and support to small businesses, particularly black business owners who have often been overlooked. Ayanna discussed the challenges faced by black businesses, such as lack of time and resources to work on their business, and the importance of having proper documentation and licenses.

She emphasized the need for education and training to help businesses navigate the changing requirements of running a business. With 627 members and counting, the Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce offers various resources, including funding, networking, and education. Ayanna encourages entrepreneurs to join chambers of commerce and mentions the availability of black chambers throughout the country.

The Value of Wisdom and Guidance

In my career clinic, I shared a story about a past experience I had at an off-site event. I was part of a leadership team from my organization, and we were divided into teams for a game-like exercise. The objective was to go up into the mountains and bring back as much gold as possible.

At one of the forks in the road, there was an old man standing there. However, none of the teams took the opportunity to talk to him. The facilitator pointed out that the old man could have provided valuable wisdom and guidance on where to find the most gold and even shortcuts to success. This story underscores the importance of seeking wisdom from those who have experience and knowledge in the areas we want to pursue.

Resources for Career Guidance

AARP, is a great resource for gaining wisdom and guidance. You can access tips, tools, and stories from people who have successfully navigated their careers. I encourage everyone to take the time to seek wisdom and be informed, empowered, and accountable in their career journeys.

Do you or someone you know work with youth? Sign up for my free Succes on Your Own Terms for Youth.  Expected outcomes include improved academics, higher graduation rates, and higher long-term career success rates.  Let’s empower the next generation together.

I invite you all to share your takeaways from this episode and ask any questions you may have. Let’s continue the conversation and learn from each other’s experiences.

Ayanna Khan Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce Advocating for Black Entrepreneurs


Starting a Business and Failure Rates [00:00:00] Discussion on the failure rates of small businesses in their first year and the importance of avoiding failure in entrepreneurial endeavors.

Founding the Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce [00:01:15] Ayanna Khan shares her background growing up with entrepreneurs and the inspiration behind founding the Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce.

Challenges Faced by Black Businesses [00:04:25] The discussion focuses on the challenges faced by black businesses, including lack of resources and documentation during the pandemic.

The old man on the road [00:13:43] A story about a game where the participants missed an opportunity to gain wisdom from an old man.

The importance of wisdom [00:15:23] The value of seeking wisdom and experience from others, highlighting the benefits it can bring.

AARP as a resource for wisdom [00:16:36] AARP provides resources, tips, and wisdom from people who have achieved success in their careers.

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