Bonika Wilson will define her success by the legacy she leaves.
“A great man once asked me, ‘What will you do that will outlive you?'” she said on her Power List application. “I am planting seeds today so that the tomorrows of others are blessed — this is the measure of true success.”
Wilson is the founder of Wilson Capital Management Inc. in Charlotte, N.C., where she is dedicated to brightening the futures of small and mid-size business owners by providing them with tailored consulting services designed to promote their growth.
The Virginia State and George Washington University graduate started her company in 2000, after seeing a pressing need while working as a commercial banker.
“In loan committees, what I saw oftentimes was that women and minority small business owners were frowned upon, because their presentations were incomplete, and would be ranked as a C or a D — maybe even an F,” she recalled. “As a woman and a minority, I was very frustrated.”
This frustration turned into a passion — a passion to help those business owners raise their games.
Initially, she focused on financial planning for small businesses. Over time, however, Wilson Capital Management came to offer a full range of services, including organizational planning and capital strategy.
Wilson has also begun working with bigger businesses. “Originally, we started working with companies who were in their infancy. But toddlers still need support, right? As do pre-teens and teens,” she says. “We saw a barrier for some of the middle-market companies, so we went in and starting helping them.”
It was a smart move — her firm has grown with its expansion in services and clientele and now earns almost $1 million in revenue annually.
[Related: Read about other women entrepreneurs who are serving business clients.]
While helping other small businesses has been rewarding, she has also learned some valuable lessons about running her own venture. “What I’ve learned from supporting my clients is really holding myself accountable. So often, what happens is you’ll say, ‘Oh, we’ll get to that,’ or ‘We’ll need that to happen, but right now our clients need us,'” she says. “You still have to meet your own performance objectives.”
Likewise, her startup story has informed her views on the commitment required of business owners. As a self-funded entrepreneur, she initially held on to her commercial-banking job while she grew Wilson Capital Management — a move she likely wouldn’t repeat with the benefit of hindsight.
“I’m a banker, so I’m risk-averse. But I wasn’t all-in. An investor would have said, ‘If you don’t believe in your business, why would I?'” she noted. “Had I been all-in early on, I probably could have gotten some partners or investors, had some other funding vehicles.”
But the future is looking bright for this wife and mother of two boys, ages 16 and 8. She is opening a new office in Atlanta and has a three-year plan in place for aggressive expansion that foresees annual revenue growth of 25 percent and profit growth of 18 to 20 percent.
But most of all, she’s excited to continue sharing her knowledge in the hopes of inspiring and encouraging others — and leaving a lasting legacy through the successes of women and minority entrepreneurs. “There’s a special synergy with women,” she noted. “We help each other out.”
Why do you deserve to be on our Power List?
“I am a supporter of business owners because our economy is fueled by small and middle size companies. Our goal is to support other businesses, so that they remain successful and continue to grow. My selection to the Power List would be an affirmation that the work my team is doing it is worthwhile, important and appreciated.”