Duke Alexander Moore

How I went from sleeping in my truck to providing for my family: a story of Black small business success

My name is Duke Alexander Moore, and four years ago I was sleeping out of my truck after having been evicted from my apartment. I had recently lost my job and, unable to afford rent, had found myself kicked out onto the streets. I felt completely stuck and hopeless. At that low point, I never could have imagined I’d one day be where I am today: providing for my family solely on my income, taking dream vacations, and traveling the world.

As a formerly homeless entrepreneur now supporting a family and running a multi-seven-figure business, Black History Month feels like the perfect time for me to partner with QuickBooks to share my story and offer advice in their Ask The Expert Series. I want my experience to inspire other people of color who might feel trapped in their circumstances to believe that anything is possible with grit, resilience, and a great business idea.

Everything changed for me when I started my tax business. In the beginning, it was just me, a broken laptop, and a vision. I scraped together some starter capital from unemployment checks and doing brand deals on social media. Business was slow at first, but I hustled day and night and reinvested every dollar I made back into the company.

Within two years, I had six new laptops—one for each employee—a full-time staff, and more clients than I could handle alone. For the first time in my life, money wasn’t an issue. And it turns out I’m not an outlier; in fact, a new data study by QuickBooks shows that as many as 72% of Black small business owners in the US have reported improved financial security as a result of business ownership.

So, culled from my own rags-to-riches experience, here are three essential financial tips to get your business off the ground:

  1. Get started with bookkeeping from day one. Bookkeeping is the most vital financial task for any new business. Tracking every expense, sale, tax payment, payroll run, inventory order, and more gives you a window into the true financial health of your company. This allows you to make smart, data-driven decisions instead of guesses about what to do next. As an added bonus, the more buttoned-up your record-keeping, the more seriously banks and investors will take you when it comes time to raise capital.
  2. Reinvest profits wisely. When money starts trickling in, it’s tempting to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor. But especially in those early days, you need to plug every extra dollar right back into growing your business. Hire more staff, upgrade equipment and software, rent a proper office space—whatever will eliminate bottlenecks, boost capacity, and set you up for scale. 85% of Black small business owners have used personal funds to cover business expenses over the last 12 months; don’t let that be you! By reinvesting your profits into your business, you'll be better equipped to cover unexpected expenses. The key is striking a balance between enjoying your success and continuing to invest where investment is due.
  3. Set aside 30% or more for taxes. If there’s one thing that keeps small business owners up at night, it’s worrying about taxes. Between federal, state, and self-employment taxes, you need to be prepared—otherwise, it’s going to take a huge bite out of what you thought was revenue. The golden rule is to automatically divert 30% of every payment you receive into a separate savings account earmarked for taxes. Come filing time, you’ll sleep easy knowing the money is set aside. The last thing you want is to scramble for those funds—or, worse, not have enough to cover your obligation.

Starting my business completely changed the trajectory of my life. And as QuickBooks’s data study shows, entrepreneurship provides financial uplift and stability for a majority of Black business owners nationwide. So take inspiration from the 72% of your counterparts who now enjoy security and comfort: take the leap, get organized, reinvest wisely, plan ahead, and see where your own grit and ingenuity can lead. My story proves that with determination and smart financial moves, we all have the power to transform our lives.

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