Living in a world that prioritizes hustle culture is not for the weak. As you make your way to financial success, it’s important to prioritize your well-being along the way. Luckily, earning a six-figure income while keeping self-care at the forefront is an attainable goal! Cinneah El-Amin, founder of Flynanced, and Jakiya Brown-Thiaw, owner of The JBT Agency, have a solution to finding your balance.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Odufu

Building, Not Burning

21Ninety: What are some of the things you’ve noticed about people who burn out trying to build their wealth?

Cinneah El Amin:  For everyday wealth builders, we tend to burnout chasing risky investments and trends, rather than longer-term investment horizons. When I say “everyday wealth builders,” I mean individuals like you and me, and the folks who make up our families and communities. There’s data that suggest Black investors are more likely to invest in risky and volatile investments with the promises of “getting rich quick” as we saw in 2020, which can be disastrous when we don’t have cushions/safety nets or invest money we really can’t afford to lose.

For entrepreneurs, especially Black women entrepreneurs, we tend to burnout because we’re not focusing on profit and cashflow first. We think we need a big team, high-rise office, fancy website and branding to be a real business, but we actually need REVENUE. It is impossible to grow wealth from a business when you are consistently cash strapped and not dedicated to providing a profitable product/service; this must be our #1 objective as entrepreneurs.

Jakiya Brown-Thiaw: For me, after starting my career in Marketing, I found myself under a lot of pressure to succeed. Whether internally or externally created, my goal was to become as successful as possible as quickly as possible which led straight to burnout. After working with over 100 Black entrepreneurs to start and brand their own businesses, I have noticed these common threads:

  1. Fear of Failure: Constantly worrying about failing or not being “good enough” and getting stuck in the comparison trap to others who may appear more successful or as if they “have it all together”
  2. Deprioritizing Health & Balance: Focusing on the “number”, the next goal post, and overperforming which often leads to neglecting physical and mental health.
  3. Striving for Perfectionism: Obsessing over the “right way” and what others think of you.
  4. Lack of Boundaries: Failing to set boundaries with work, clients, or business partners, taking on far too much too quickly.
  5. Feeling Isolated: Particularly as a Black Women, feeling isolated in the work environment without a support network or community

Seizing the Moment to Make Money with Balance

21N: Why is 2024 an opportune time to build a six-figure income without burning out?

JBT: The most obvious reason is the widespread acceptance of remote work. Post-pandemic life has created more opportunities for us to build careers and businesses from anywhere in the world. This flexibility allows us to own our own time, and add revenue streams to our current 9-5s without the pressures of toxic office culture, intense 50+ hour work weeks, and having to physically commute or show up to a permanent location. This shift removes some of the pressures we associate with traditional 9-5 jobs.

Other advantages include:

  1. Technology: The rise of AI, automation, and digital platforms & resources has made it easier now than ever to start, scale, and brand a business with fewer resources and overhead costs. Utilizing key tools to streamline processes, increase efficiency, and free up allows entrepreneurs to focus on income-generating activities without burning out, even on top of a 9-5.
  2. Gig Economy: As a result of technology, there are now more opportunities for individuals to leverage their skills and expertise and adapt to changing market demands.
  3. The Growing Focus on Well-being: Now more than ever, there is a growing awareness of the importance of well-being and mental health in the workplace. Employers and entrepreneurs are increasingly prioritizing initiatives that promote work-life balance, stress management, and overall wellness, creating environments conducive to building sustainable six-figure incomes without burning out.
  4. Remote Resources and Skill Development: The influx of online courses, workshops, and educational resources makes it easier for us to acquire new skills and knowledge necessary for building successful careers and businesses. This accessibility especially empowers Black women to pursue their passions and interests to create wealth in areas that make an impact and serve their communities while also making money.
  5. Accessible Communities and Networks: Now, it is common to turn to online communities, memberships, forums, mastermind groups, and networking events for valuable support, mentorship, and collaboration opportunities for those seeking to build six-figure incomes. These spaces provide the support to counter burnout and allow them to surround themselves with like-minded peers and mentors who can offer guidance, accountability, and encouragement along the journey to achieving their long and short-term goals.

Learning the Art of Balance

21N: How do you define “work-life balance,” and why is it essential in your approach to earning a six-figure income?

CE: My definition rests in intentionality and a fierce commitment to honoring my needs. When I was balancing a six-figure 9-5 job in Corporate America and managing my first six-figure year in business, I learned the value of time blocking, enforcing firm boundaries around time I spent on work, and above all, rewarding myself with frequent breaks, rest, and vacation. I made small changes in my routine like removing domestic chores from my life like cooking, cleaning, and laundry (inspired by reading “We Should All Be Millionaires” by Rachel Rodgers), so that my time could be focused on the activities that are directly contributing to my wealth building. I’m not a Superwoman. I’m not Miss Independent. I choose to turn my brain off for tasks that I simply do not need to do.

JBT: Agreed! I believe that work-life balance means designing a life that is not built around my career or my business but setting up systems, teams, and processes for my business to be flexible to my life.

Work should enhance our lives rather than dominate it “working to live, not living to work.” Maintaining balance is crucial when pursuing financial goals because the desire for “more” can be endless. No matter the income figure, there’s always the temptation to add another zero. Recognizing that we are talking about long-term success and wealth means understanding that it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon, and earning more will take time.

Increase Your Income

Need more direction? Here are five actionable steps for increasing income and diversifying revenue streams:

  1. Discover Your Marketable Skills: Identify your current skills, strengths, and areas of expertise that align with current job market trends and business demands. Start with the skills that come easy to you, versus chasing trends, virality, or other people’s expertise.
  2. Identify Your Glorious Gap & Set Realistic Goals: Calculate the gap between your income and expenses: is there anything left over? How much? Use this number as your starting point to reverse engineer your income goal and set a realistic goal. How would adding an extra $100, 500 or $1000 a month to that gap, impact your life? Not everyone needs to set a goal of making $100k or $1M in the next 12 months.
  3. Build Your 360º Brand: Clearly articulate your unique value and make sure your audience (both consumers and companies) is aware of who you are, what you do, your unique point of difference, how you add value, and what problem you solve.
  4. Monetize Your 6-Figure Skills: If you’re already making $100k in your 9-5, you already have high value skills.Use those skills to identify your offer then create a side income plan and align with a team, mentor, and/or partners to delegate, automate, and build the right systems to sell your knowledge, expertise, products, and services.
  5. Build and nurture your network: Remember your network IS your net-worth. Focus on building community with like-minded individuals in your niche, industry, and city. Nurture relationships with colleagues, past coworkers, and friends who are likely to be your initial customers, supporters, beta testers, and fans. No one gets far going alone.