Privilege vs. Poverty, Which One Yields the Best Success Stories?

Privilege vs. Poverty, Which One Yields the Best Success Stories?

On my road to success, I did a lot of internal work. I watched YouTube videos and read books on shifting my mindset and preparing for an abundant life. And while reciting positive affirmations at home in the mirror and listening to the success stories others are good and all, when your recurring Shopify and Mail Chimp bills hit on the same day, you better have enough money in your business account to cover the costs.

Yes, I started my empire with $1500, but I never want to downplay that having a significant amount of money gives you an edge over the competition.  

To put it plainly, “Cash is King!”  But I’m the Queen of Bootstrapping! Read how I broke down bootstrapping to Entrepreneurs.com in an article titled “5 Components of Bootstrapping a Business.”

Personally, I’m tired of all the fluff and lack of transparency out there. Everyone wants to tell you how they built a 6 to 8-figure empire, but some fail to mention the connections and the money they had to help them scale their businesses quickly.

Privilege is a thing. Having a famous last name or some sort of clout before starting a business doesn’t hurt.  

Privilege can be defined as a benefit or advantage one has due to access to money or connections. 

Former president, Donald Trump, says often how he received a 1 million dollar loan (with interest) from his father to start his own real estate business. This is a classic example of having privilege. Now, fellow self-made boss babe, real estate mogul, and Shark Tank co-host, Barbara Corcoran, received $1,000 from her boyfriend while she worked as a waitress to start her real estate business. See the difference? 

A lot of us are inspired by inevitable success stories. Take for instance the beautiful Kylie Jenner. She remains Forbes’ youngest self-made billionaire. The controversy is in the title “self-made” bestowed onto her. Kylie is a part of a multi-million-dollar franchise and marketing machine, so the whole “self-made” thing doesn’t sit too well with a lot of people. 

So, is Kylie Jenner’s story inspirational or aspirational? Maybe a bit of both. At the end of the day, she’s still a woman in the male-dominated beauty industry. She gets to play by her own rules. Is it very “girl power” but having access to money and her famous last name do play major roles in her overall success.  

Poverty is the other P-word we don’t talk enough about. Poverty is the polar opposite of privilege. There are no connections, business dowry, or rich family members you can hit up for money.    

See poverty is a cycle that can last for generations until someone breaks it. 

But one thing about poverty, it creates innovation. There’s money in poverty— oh, and there’s creativity. 

Do you know how I was able to stretch my $1500 when I first started Glam Seamless? I learned the best practices for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Basically, I learned how to incorporate keywords on my website to help my target customers find me. When you’re working with limited funds, you have to use the tools available to you. Also, I used the power of social media to create a cult following. And like I said earlier, I bootstrapped.  

The problem with privilege is simply this, it sometimes softens you. It gives you a false reality and it shields you from the realities of life. 

I have met friends along that way that have come from privileged lives and their inability to deal with basic problems oftentimes have baffled me. It’s like their upbringing has made them inept at dealing with reality when things get hard. 

Poverty prepares you for life– it makes you learn how to be resourceful, tough, and patient while you have to work harder and longer to get what you want. 

Privilege also gives a false idea of success. When I was growing my business, I would attend business conferences to get ideas and inspired. However, I started to realize I was at a disadvantage compared to some of these keynote speakers. 

Some of the speakers were the founders of popular beauty and fashion brands. They all had one thing in common – they were all given a significant amount of startup money from their families to start their businesses!  I was looking to hear more relatable stories about starting from nothing to no avail.

Consequently, I promised myself that once I amassed success, I would start documenting how I did it and share it with other aspiring self-made boss babes. 

If you’re asking, “Well, Alexandra, how do we level the playing field?” The simple answer is through access. Each recipient of my recent 100 K Giveaway received $2500. By no means I’m saying this enough to start and sustain a business, but it’s a great start. Just like any monies received, it’s always great to prioritize your imminent needs. For example, you want to start an ecommerce store and don’t have a laptop? Start with getting one first. No need for a fancy apple laptop yet. Get something simple for a couple of hundreds. 

And before you spend your money on women empowerment conferences and brunches, read the reviews from prior years. See if they are even worth attending. Unfortunately, a lot of these women empowerment conferences are either a “mean girl fest” or “popularity contest.” Do you want some free inspiration? YouTube is filled with them and don’t forget to check out Ted Talks.   

I’m almost a decade in this entrepreneurial and investor life, but I’m not too far removed. Please don’t look at my current situation and say, “Well, it’s easy for you to talk, you have successful businesses.” While that may be the case, but no means did this come to fruition by me not taking action. It’s truly been a journey. I hang out with people who have been there since the beginning, but I also surround myself with people who are more business and financially savvy than me because there’s still a lot to learn. 

I’m not someone overcome with guilt from having privilege, looking to be a white knight. I’m here to tell you, I’ve been where you are. If you want success, it can be done. You have to be strategic, set actionable goals, and be consistent with this execution. 

It’s 2021. We’re not letting poverty stop us from reaching our goals. Please continue to seek business grants, scholarships, and programs aimed at empowering tomorrow’s women leaders, starting with The Alexandra Cristin Foundation

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