Jini Thornton, CPA, has more than 25 years of experience in the accounting profession and entertainment industry. She is the founder and CEO of Envision Business Management Group. EBMG provides accounting, tax, tour accounting & logistics, and other financial-related services for artists, producers, songwriters, actors, record labels, and management companies. Over the span of her career, she has worked with veteran artists such as Ludacris, Jeezy, Ceelo Green, Lecrae, Future, Uzi Vert, Yachti, August Alsina, Musiq Soulchild, and new talent such as Khalid and Ari Lennox. She is currently the financial expert for the nationally syndicated Rickey Smiley Morning Show, Willie Moore, Jr. Show, and Morning Hustle Show. She is also featured regularly on WXIA 11-Alive in Atlanta and the BNC – Black News Channel.
Jini is also the founder of Thank Me Later, an online financial education platform specifically focused on teaching Black women about money. Within the Thank Me Later community, Black women learn exactly what financial topics they need to focus on each month, what they need to do, and how to do it. Thank Me Later includes a mix of inspiring content, interviews, courses, and tools to navigate through every phase of life that has a financial impact.
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Table of Contents
Let’s learn a little about you and really get to experience what makes us tick – starting at our beginnings. Where did your story begin?
Jini Thornton: I was a part-time professor at Spelman College and ended up volunteering at a radio station that put me on the air. Volunteering at the radio station, I taught a lot of workshops to the staff. They had a college intern who I was helping who kept telling me he wanted to be a rapper. That kid became Ludacris and we’ve been working together since the late ’90s.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Jini Thornton: Mary Catherine Sneed the COO of Radio One gave me my shot. I called her and said, “I’m a local CPA and professor at Spelman and I have an idea for a show that I want to do at your radio station.” She told me to come to see her and within a month she had me on the air. This is how my business and career in the entertainment industry started.
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Jini Thornton: We start businesses to accomplish a goal and fulfill a dream but obviously to make money. I see way too many entrepreneurs who aren’t comfortable reviewing their financials and they squeeze it around everything else they have to do.
Has the pandemic and transitioning into mostly online shopping affected your company positively or negatively?
Jini Thornton: Although we are accountants, we are in the live event space. Pre-Covid, we would help facilitate 400-500 concerts a year. In 2020 our clients had 10 concerts and in 2021 less than 50. We’ve had to pivot how we make money.
What is most important to your organization—mission, vision or values?
Jini Thornton: I would say values. They are the building block for everything else.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Jini Thornton: Comfort with conflict, Team-building skills, and Confort with financials.
What have you learned about personal branding that you wish you had known earlier in your career?
Jini Thornton: I spent a great part of my career “hiding.” Working in the entertainment industry, I avoided the spotlight at all costs. I wish I would not have overcorrected and would have been more comfortable sharing and building my own brand.
How do you monitor if the people in your department are performing at their best?
Jini Thornton: We have KPIs by department and person. We also use Wrike which gives us a lot of visibility with how people are doing their job.
What would you say is the main difference between starting a business at the time you started yours and starting the business in today’s age?
Jini Thornton: A lot of young people want to skip working in corporate America or for someone else at all versus looking at it as an opportunity to learn and grow on someone’s dime and time.
What’s your favorite “business” quote and how has it affected your business decisions?
Jini Thornton: Hope is not a strategy.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Jini Thornton for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Jini Thornton or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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