Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Bernice Ganthier. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Bernice, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. We’d love for you to start by sharing your thoughts about the pros and cons of family businesses.
I think that family businesses are important and honestly vital for our community. We see it prioritized in other races and cultures but in the black community they’re not as prevalent and I believe it’s because wealth strategies are seldom passed down from generation to generation. We’re taught to focus only on school but if we were truly intentional about passing down generational wealth we would quickly see the shift in our mindset, well-being, and experiences as a collective.
My siblings and I were raised by immigrant parents from Haiti so wealth building strategies were never really taught in our home. Simply surviving and keeping food on the table was and is a main priority for many of our parents in that generation. They have seen and experienced things that we as millennials couldn’t even fathom, but they still understood the importance of giving us a better education and opportunity. Currently my sister Patricia and I are both business owners and we make it a point to come together and have dialogue about our systems, strategies, pain points, experiences, and goals. If she needs something done for her company, The Executive Learning Lab, instead of hiring a complete stranger as a contractor, she provides me with the opportunity to step in and help. She shares her network of professionals with me to gain knowledge and referrals so although we’re operating separately we still find ways to benefit each other and ultimately the family. My brother Claudel is also a CEO of an apparel store called FOMOB where the brand signifies keeping family above everything. He’s teaching my nephews the foundation and importance of business so that they can one day carry the torch.
Just as corporate companies benefit from hiring internally, we should look at our own businesses the same way. Why not circulate the money in the family first? Why not teach your children your business practices so that they at least have an option in continuing the legacy and working for themselves if they choose? We should see more people hiring their kids, not only for the great tax benefits, but to also create bank and investment accounts using that income to set them up for success. Then as they get older they become more educated and use the same strategies for their kids, and so on and so forth, that’s how we build wealth.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers?
Yes of course! Thank you for this opportunity. I am Bernice Ganthier, the CEO and Founder of Vitality Financials LLC. We are a consulting and financial services company that aims to empower individuals and businesses by breaking down barriers to wealth. Currently we offer credit building and tax services at the individual and business level but we plan to expand and offer a wide range of services in the coming years.
I got into this industry because my sister Tracy saw how unhappy I was with my corporate job at the time and she knew I wanted to become a business owner. She surprised me on my birthday by investing in me and signing me up for a credit repair class with a 7 figure credit guru. She told me “I know how ambitious and disciplined you are so I know this money is going to good use”. I had personally worked on my credit since I was 19 and finally managed to get to 800+ scores so I knew exactly how to build effectively and what to avoid after making mistakes. I also saw how badly negative items and scores directly impacted the lifestyle of family and friends around me. Credit can be the difference between a nice home in a safe neighborhood and one that isn’t so safe. It can determine the amount of security deposits, bills, insurance, car notes, access to capital, pretty much a huge portion of our livelihood and spending depends on this 3 digit number. I knew that learning the ins and outs of the credit repair process from an expert could tremendously help others to reap the same benefits that I did so I became intentional with the experience.
After graduating from the course I went on to create my business offering credit repair as the primary service, and was able to get numerous derogatory accounts deleted and increase the scores of my clients. Shortly after I began working on my business credit because I saw first hand how beneficial personal credit was, and wanted to provide similar opportunities to my business for expansion. I realized that the information surrounding business credit online was very vague, contradicting, or cryptic. It was like some big hidden secret that entrepreneurs had and I decided to research it further and personally experiment with mine to find the right formula. Now I’m able to assist individuals with personal and/or business credit goals so they can always access funding to build wealth.
Any stories or insights that might help us understand how you’ve built such a strong reputation?
I think that growing up and in high school people knew me to be a trustworthy person. I was always taught to treat people how I wanted to be treated so I was never in much drama, I got good grades, and really just focused on my family, friends, and what I had to do. Throughout college and my various jobs I kept that same mentality and morale with the people that I came across. Anyone that knows me personally knows that I am very chill but I have a strong work ethic. After graduating college I purchased my first condo and I think that’s when people started to realize that I had taken my credit and finances seriously. Credit and taxes involve incredibly sensitive data and you really can’t just trust any one with your personal information. The majority of my clients come from word of mouth and referrals, so my reputation of being a stand up person with good intentions and with my own affairs in order comes in handy. A classmate from my elementary school even reached out to me for services and it’s moments like that that mean so much to me, knowing that people trust me to help them even after years.
How did you put together the initial capital you needed to start your business?
Ooh this story is embarrassing knowing what I know now! Unfortunately I bootstrapped my business because I thought that all it took to be successful was a dollar and a dream.. I had been budgeting and saving for years and figured I had enough money in my savings account so why not use it to invest in my business? I was WRONG. There were so many expenses that I hadn’t even considered such as merchant fees, payment processing fees, chargeback protection, and automation software amongst many other costs. Things add up quickly and I was definitely hustling backwards when I could’ve used business credit in the beginning for all of those expenses, reaped the benefit of 0% APR, and had my savings money as a cushion for emergencies, personal use, and other investments. It would have saved me from a lot of sleepless nights and anxiety but I use my experience to help educate others to think and do better.