With 26 years of experience operating Carol's Daughter, a natural hair care and beauty product business, Lisa Price has gained valuable insight into the best practices of running a successful company.
Price has come a long way since founding Carol's Daughter in her Brooklyn kitchen in 1993. As her business expanded, she appeared on Oprah, wrote a book about her life, launched products with HSN and Target, partnered with L'Oreal and celebrated the 25th anniversary of her company at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
CNBC Select sat down with Lisa Price during the Create & Cultivate Small Business Summit, presented by Mastercard, to discuss what's in her wallet and get her best advice for small business owners.
Lisa Price carries two wallets. She has a small one that just contains essentials, such as her ID, a MetroCard and cash, which she likes to have for quick access when she travels. Then she has another bigger wallet with coupons, gift cards, receipts, cash and credit cards (which include business cards).
Price purchased her larger Louis Vuitton wallet the day she closed the L'Oreal deal. She admits that she had a perfectly good wallet already, but she wanted to celebrate the accomplishment. Typically, she would never spend so much, but it's been worth the expense.
"Every time I open it, I'm always reminded of that victory and that success," Price says.
Use credit cards carefully
"I used [credit cards] carefully because I didn't want to have debt," Price says.
Credit cards can be a great asset for business owners. Beyond providing a line of credit for expenses, you can streamline employee spending, take advantage of travel and purchase protections and earn rewards. Price uses credit cards to simplify business spending and earn rewards that help offset the cost of travel.
While a business credit card can be a great tool, Price warns you should use it wisely to avoid racking up debt. Credit card interest rates can be over 17%, which means carrying a balance isn't cheap. You should make payments on time and in full to avoid interest charges.
Many business cards also offer no interest for over a year, so you can finance new purchases without incurring interest charges. The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express offers 0% for the first 12 months on purchases (then 13.24% to 19.24% variable APR). (See rates and fees.)
Change your perspective
Early in her career, Price stressed about finding the time to fulfill all the orders that were rolling in for Carol's Daughter. Her mom pointed out that it was harder work to get the orders than it was figuring out how to fill them. That small mindset shift helped relieve some of Price's anxiety.
"Looking at it that way helped me keep my perspective on not getting too stressed out. I'd remind myself that I already did the hard part — I got the order. I just have to manage my time now," Price explains.
Price took the advice and applied it as the business began to grow. Employees would ask her, "How are we going to fill the Sephora order?" and Price would say, "We got the Sephora order, we'll figure the other stuff out."
Be cautious about what risks you take
"You have to take risks when you're an entrepreneur. But I would never take a risk that put everything else in jeopardy," Price says.
Price mentions she took money out of her kids' college funds when they were toddlers to help fund her business, but she never touched the mortgage. She knew she had time to rebuild the college fund, but it was too risky to take out a home equity loan because having a roof over their heads was essential.
"You have to be careful with the risks. There are sacrifices that you have to make, but don't go too far," she says.
This story is part of CNBC Select's What's in Your Wallet series, which profiles celebrities, entrepreneurs and media personalities on the contents of their wallet and the best financial advice they've received. For interview recommendations, email [email protected].
For rates and fees of the Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, click here.