Business and Life Lessons from Madame C. J. Walker of Self Made are numerous as she lived a life worth emulating and imparted lives wherever she went to. Here I picked out a few lessons that resonated with me.

Business Lessons From Madame C. J. Walker of Self Made

Always aspire for more

Madam C. J Walker never limited herself to small dreams, she dreams big and with each win she set greater targets. As an entrepreneur don’t become too comfortable with little wins instead set higher and bigger dreams for yourself.

“Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.”

John Maxwell

Remove sentiments in business

A very important business lesson from Madame C. J Walker is that business decisions should not be made on sentiments and requires a certain level of emotional intelligence. Madam C. J Walker wasn’t a sentimental business woman, she made a business decision not to use her husband’s campaign advert even though her husband coerced her do so. Also each time Addie came up with a business move to slow her down she thought really hard on a counter move ensuring her business was never back benched.

Aim to solve a need or improve on an existing idea

Addie saw a need in the hair industry for black women and created a product which worked really well and was in high demand. On the other hand Madam C. J Walker thoroughly looked at the shortcomings of Addie’s hair product and ensured that her hair products was an improved version and not the same thing.

You are your greatest marketer

In the movie at various times we saw Madam C. J Walker moving from door to door, the market and church selling her products herself through storytelling and by creating awareness of her products. Her success story spoke for itself as everyone could see the evidence from her hair. Marketing is not easy and no one can market your business the way you do because you will experience the greatest gain or loss if the business succeeds or fails respectively.

“Having a good article for the market is one thing, putting it properly before the public is another.”

Madam C. J Walker

Collaborate over competition

In growing our businesses sometimes collaborating or partnering with like minds should always be an option. Having people bring in their resources (financial, intellectual etc) can increase the value and profitability of your business. Madam C.J Walker utilized the skills of many people around her like her husband, daughter, father-in-law and son-in-law.


The importance of networking cannot be overemphasized, you have to have a good network of people who recommend/refer your business, patronize your business and market your business. You can also network anywhere, we saw Madam C. J Walker networking in the church, market and even having a networking group.

“Networking is marketing. Marketing yourself, your uniqueness, what you stand for.” Christine Lynch

Fail forward

Use every failure as a stepping stone to success, because failure is inevitable but will only make you stronger.Madam C. J Walker experienced failure severally but each one made her hungrier for success. Her house burning made her want to own a factory, Addie rejecting her pushed her to open her own brand. Fail forward always.

Business and Life Lessons From Madame C. J Walker of Self Made


Life Lessons From Madame C. J. Walker of Self Made

Do not let your circumstance limit you

Never let your circumstance determine who you will become, make the most of your environment, family and friends. Every time Madam C.J walker faced an obstacle she found a way to overcome it, she cried but still thought hard until a solution emerged. If you want to be successful you must be willing to fail forward, that means using each failure to only improve yourself or as a learning point.

“Don’t sit down and wait for opportunities to come. Get up and make them.”

Madame C. J Walker

Believe in yourself always

If you do not believe in yourself, no one else will. Men will fail you but God will not you just have to believe that tomorrow will be brighter. Do not let anyone limit your abilities either by their spoken words or actions, fight for what you believe and with perseverance success is inevitable. If you fail, remember to try again for that might be when success will smile at you.

Look beyond appearance into talent

Appearance can be deceitful, we have to look beyond physical appearance, weighing passion and talent first. In a part of the movie she finally reminds Addie that if she had trusted her they would have made a great team and broken a lot of territories

Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up.

Rev. Jesse Jackson

Women have always supported women

The concept of women supporting women is not new as can be seen in the movie. Women can either be your greatest supporter or your worst enemy, this is seen in numerous parts of the movie. Addie a woman and Madam C .J Walker her top sales agent were classic examples of envious women while Booker T Washington’s wife and her friends showed us how women support each other especially in the area of business.

Never give up on your dream

Madam C. J Walker was an ambitious woman having great dreams of success. She never gave up despite various setbacks; her house burnt down, she could not get investors, she had competition, she was sued and so much more. Never give up no matter what you’re going through because with persistence you will be successful.

“Girls and women of our race must not be afraid to take hold of business endeavor and, by patient industry, close economy, determined effort, and close application to business, wring success out of a number of business opportunities that lie at their doors”.

Madame C. J. Walker

Run your race – jealousy slows you down

Jealousy run your race, life is not a competition as what works for one person might not work for you. Be original in your ideas, methods and lifestyle because competition will never let you see the bigger picture. Addie never actualized her full potential because she was competing with Madam C.J Walker and not herself. Madam C.J wanted to be better and kept setting bigger goals for herself always.

Gender Inequality

Gender inequality has always been there and even in our world today it still exists especially in the black community. Booker T Washington vehemently told Madam C. J Walker that he was not in support of black women in business. Today feminism is on the rise because women feel cheated of their rights.

Gender equality, has historically been predominantly a woman’s movement for women. but i think the impart of gender inequality and how its affecting men hasn’t really been addressed.

Emma Watson

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This is my small space on the web to share my Love of God, Lifestyle, Motherhood, Wife Duties, Entrepreneurship Journey, Food Tastings and Random Musings.
Nneamaka Nzeribe-Ogini
Faith | Lifestyle | Business | Womanhood

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