4 Things Every Black Entrepreneur Can Learn From EMPIRE's Cookie Lyon - Black Enterprise

4 Things Every Black Entrepreneur Can Learn From EMPIRE’s Cookie Lyon

Cookie Lyon
(Image: Instagram/empirefox)

Fierce, fabulous, and fearless. As soon as she steps into a room, all eyes shift in her direction; admiring her poised appeal.

Surprisingly, it’s not her hypnotizing 4-inch heels and designer bags that captivate those in her presence. Underneath the strikingly alluring glam, she’s wrapped with a load of confidence that allows her to seal deals and collect the big bills.

If you’ve watched an episode of the FOX hit TV show, Empire, you can’t help but to fall in love with Cookie Lyon’s enchanting black girl magic —it’s what she uses to lead her family to a sustainable and successful business.

And if you think she’ll allow one shameless threat or cruel attack to stop her flow, think again.

Cookie’s spicy demeanor mixed with her intellectual wittiness is impressive enough to stop any perpetrators from ruining her family’s regime.

This type of fire is what more black entrepreneurs need to replicate in order to elevate their success.

Are you wondering what Cookie Lyon holds in her entrepreneurial kit to walk with that unflappable confidence?

Here are four leadership lessons every black entrepreneur should consider to be successful and create generational wealth.

Know Your Industry Inside and Out


If you want to win the game, you truly have to understand the game—even the levels that are beyond your scope.

Cookie isn’t just focused on the day-to-day operations of what is going on at Empire. She is consistently doing her research so she can capitalize on opportunities and protect her family against threats that may come their way. In the world of business, we like to call this a SWOT (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats) analysis.

Empire is successful because they understand what the fans want, do what it takes to fill that demand, and know how to position themselves as market makers.

Teamwork Makes the Enterprise Work


Here’s the truth: you can’t do everything on your own if you want to build a fully functional and sustainable enterprise.

This is where many black entrepreneurs miss the ball. We feel like we have to do the marketing, accounting, management, and sales activities all on our own.

It’s important that we understand those pieces of the business but we don’t have to do everything. You have to motivate people on your team to use their strengths in order to grow the business. If you don’t, the business will die as soon as you leave this earth.

Cookie understands the importance of keeping the business going beyond her time here on this earth. That’s why she constantly shares the vision with every single member of the family. She wants to make sure they are on board so that they can understand how their gifts fit the larger vision of the business.

Six-Figure Degrees Aren’t a Prerequisite for Entrepreneurship


No one attributes Cookie’s family success to the fancy degree plastered all over her walls.

Some think that in order to be a successful entrepreneur, they have to acquire an M.B.A. There’s nothing wrong with getting an M.B.A. but it’s not the final destination for entrepreneurial success.

M.B.A. programs teach you how to be a manager. Real life teaches you how to deal with situations that don’t come with a “one size fits all solution.”

Cookie Lyons knows that the value in entrepreneurship comes from understanding people —not from memorizing theories and equations. A degree is a great accolade to vaunt about but it’s not the only accomplishment you’ll need to achieve in order to build credibility in business.

Multiply Family Wealth


Wealthy people teach their entire family to be a part of the family business.

If you are a member of the Lyons family, you won’t be caught twiddling your thumbs trying to figure out if you should spend thousands of dollars on a low-paying college major that only positions you to be an employee; you will be groomed to be a leader and contribute to the wealth of the family.

Unfortunately, that’s not the norm in most black households. Kids are sent to college in hopes of getting a good job that will help someone else’s enterprise become stronger.

This is causing the decline of successful black businesses; students accumulating a high cost of debt for degrees that don’t contribute to the wealth of the next generation.

Take a chapter from Cookie’s book: understand the different gifts that exist in your family, groom those gifts through proper learning experiences, and find out the best ways to profit from your passion so that you can multiply your wealth.