When Morris Smith started cutting hair in college, he didn’t do it just for the money. He genuinely enjoyed it, so much so, that he became known as the barber on campus at Stillman College, an HBCU.
Having a hustler mentality since he was a child, Smith would promote parties, cut hair, sell clothes and CD’s to earn extra income. What he didn’t realize at the time, is that upon graduating college he would take his passion for service and hustling to a whole new level.
As both a barber and entrepreneur, Smith founded Beyond The Clippers a few years ago to “inspire, motivate and teach people how to gain financial freedom through real estate investing.”
Beyond The Clippers helps regular people invest in real estate
One-on-one coaching, a mentorship program, and project management are just some of the services Morris Smith offers. An avid content creator, Smith posts weekly videos illustrating the work he does and how others can join him.
“I find investment properties and also manage the project if it needs renovation. I can coach you through the whole process from start to finish,” Smith told The Black Wall Street Times in a September phone interview about his Atlanta-based company, Beyond The Clippers.
Meanwhile, the racial wealth gap continues to grow. The net worth for a typical Black family is roughly ten times less than that of their White counterpart, according to an analysis from the Brookings Institution. It noted how chattel slavery, governmental discrimination, race massacres and redlining have contributed to the runaway inequality rates.
“The Black-white wealth gap reflects a society that has not and does not afford equality of opportunity to all its citizens,” Brookings wrote in the 2020 report.
For those who don’t live in Atlanta, Morris Smith ‘s Beyond The Clippers offers one-on-one coaching and an eight-week mentorship program virtually. The last few weeks involve hands-on learning at current projects in Atlanta for students able to attend in person.
“We actually show them the process of investing, literally hands-on,” Smith said.
He’s working on a 3-unit triplex that his current cohort of students will be able to visit. Among his success stories, he said a recent 21-year-old graduate from Morehouse College, who also happens to be a barber, has already purchased his first investment property. The college grad went through his mentorship program.
Beyond Atlanta, Morris Smith has helped clients in states such as New York, Pennsylvania, and his home state of Alabama.
From humble beginnings to clients around the country
Growing up in the Ridgecrest neighborhood of Montgomery, Alabama, Morris Smith lived in a single parent household with two siblings.
“My parents were not business owners,” Smith said. Yet, witnessing the Black-owned businesses of his grandfather and cousin led him on a path of entrepreneurship. His cousin owned a construction company, and Smith would help out wherever he could.
“I’ve always had that entrepreneurial spirit and drive in me,” Smith said. Eventually, he would take that drive to the halls of Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he pursued a degree in business management.
Even as a student he was putting into practice the very lessons he would eventually teach to others. As a student and barber, he gained so many clients that he eventually moved to working out of a barbershop. Upon graduating in 2005, he didn’t intend to continue cutting hair, but with a nationwide recession approaching, “it was kind of my last resort”
Smith says no excuse for not investing in real estate
At first, it was a tough sell to convince people they could receive a haircut and purchase real estate from the same person. So, a few years ago, Smith rebranded his consulting company to “Beyond The Clippers.” When asked for some excuses people give him as to why they don’t invest, he named multiple.
“‘I dont have the money. I dont have the time.’ That’s what people’s excuses are most of the time,” Smith said.
“That’s the reason I’m here.” He said he can manage the project for his clients while they go to work. “That’s why you put someone in place you can trust. “I wanted to show people the other side and show people that even as a blue collar worker you can change your financial goals no matter what type of work you’re doing.”
Importance of financial literacy
As necessary political battles for racial justice, opportunity and equity continue, financial literacy has often taken a back seat.
“It’s very important. That’s like a key piece that our community was missing,” Smith told TheBWSTimes.
“The majority of our community’s real issues is that we tend to cherish material things over assets or financial literacy.” Smith said.
To get started in real estate, Smith said, it doesn’t take hundreds of thousands of dollars or even a license. “Create relationships. You can do wholesaling, wholesaling is just selling a contract. I made $18,000 a few months ago off a wholesale deal and I didn’t use any money,” Smith said.
Yet, for Smith and many financial experts, homeownership is the key to building wealth. Meanwhile, homeownership rates among Black families are less than they were in the 1960s. The Fair Housing Act helped increase Black homeownership rates by nearly 6 percent nationally. But all those gains have been erased since 2000, according to the Urban Institute.
“The best thing that we can do starting out is to buy a house. That’s how you bridge the wealth gap,” Smith said. He bought his first house at 23 and still owns it. “This is how you retire and put yourself in a better situation longer term. “
When it comes to waiting for change to arrive in Black communities, Smith said “We can’t continue to sit back and make excuses.”