Women's Month Highlight: McDonald's To Millions, Mya Smith-Edmonds
Keandra "Ke Ke" Scott Tatum | 3/4/2021, 6 p.m.
Many young girls dream of becoming a queen, sitting on a throne of royalty and managing their kingdom. In a way, Mya Smith-Edmonds from Houston, Texas did just that. With her work ethic and dedication, Mya broke past several barriers to become the entrepreneurial success she is today. Here is her story.
Who is Mya Smith-Edmonds?
Hailing from the city of Houston, Texas, Mya Smith-Edmonds broke through many blockades when she became the first female, African-American, Next Generation McDonald's owner/operator in Central Indiana. Her drive for success started at a young age, at just age 13. Smith-Edmonds began working at her father's McDonald's in her teens, where she developed a strong work ethic, sense of accountability, discipline, and focus.
College and Early Career
This core set of values lead her to college, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude from University of Houston with a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and minor in African American Studies. She went on to become a Certified Public Accountant at Deloitte & Touche, one of the largest accounting firms in the world.
In a recent interview, Smith-Edmonds explained how she rose from being a CPA to owning seven McDonald's Restaurants, making history as the first female, African- American, Next Generation to own a McDonald’s restaurant in Central Indiana. With pride, she said, “I have always pushed for greater opportunity. In my mind, I decided to be a McDonald’s owner, to follow in my father footsteps... so that’s what I stayed FOCUSED on. I have always wanted to be a business owner, because I wanted to be an entrepreneur, and provide jobs and opportunities for others. It has been my utmost priority to make a lot of money & be financially free; to be able to help & be a blessing to others in need. It can be difficult to know the right steps to take, but that's ok. I have nurtured this dream of being an entrepreneur; and I keep my FAITH in front of all decisions, choosing to do the right thing when presented with any opportunity.”
From Corporate Worker to Entrepreneurial Success
Not many have the guts to leave a stable career in accounting and move onto a job as a business owner. However, Smith-Edmonds knew that it was her calling to be not just a successful employee, but a successful business owner.
We asked Smith-Edmonds what made her transition from being a CPA to having her own McDonald’s franchise. She explained that working as an accountant was “great for her being a numbers person, but because of her love for interacting & connecting with people; that lead her to choose her next job as a Program Director with KCOH Radio Station.” Smith-Edmonds knew from there that she had to have a job that required leading people, conversing with people, and paying attention to more than just finances.
Becoming a Business Owner
The process to becoming a business owner isn’t a quick one. Smith-Edmonds explains that “during her required 2-5-year program, which she completed with highest honors on every level, she became a General Manager and was awarded the Ray Kroc Award an achievement earned by the top 1% performers in the McDonald's system.” This program was supposed to take 2 years to accomplish, but she managed to complete it all in one year. This is just another example of Smith-Edmonds going against the grain and standing out against all odds.
One of the most important things to remember as a business owner is gratitude and humble remembrance of your beginnings. Smith-Edmonds has put charity on the forefront of her goals within the community. She believes that fostering a healthy community starts with helping those who are less fortunate. Especially during the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, Smith-Edmonds finds it vitally important to give back.
Smith-Edmonds explains that she “has coordinated community give-a-ways with local businesses and avidly supports empowerment youth programs, like Ladies of Great Purpose and the Positive Black Male Association, Reaching Youth Everywhere RYE Program.” She also believes in healthy competition, and as such, hosts sporting activities like football, volleyball, etc.
Beyond all the previous volunteer and community outreach Smith-Edmonds has mentioned, she takes a particular focus on helping improve education. She helps buy and raise money for school supplies for students in need, a necessity that many well - off families overlook the need for. Smith-Edmonds thinks that “the biggest thing we like to invest in is their education, that is where their foundation starts.” She believes in the power of a good education, stating, “we need to help kids obtain a formal education, so that we can close the gap of economic inequality.”
While Smith-Edmonds owns seven McDonald’s, she has a couple of locations in low-income communities that don’t have access to a lot of necessities. Smith-Edmonds is aware of the privilege she has by being a business owner and makes it a priority to give back in whatever way she can.
Advice from Mya
Being a successful female entrepreneur isn’t easy. We asked Smith-Edmonds for some advice on rising to the top and keeping grounded in the process. ”Once you DECIDE what you want to be in life; just STAY FOCUSED on it & MASTER IT (by being a STUDENT OF YOUR CRAFT - Letting NO ONE Outwork, Out-Hussle or Out-Grind YOU)! You want to WORK like your Success is depending on you and PRAY HARD, because you KNOW, it’s ALL GOD!” Mya offers up in advice to people wondering how to pursue their goals like Smith-Edmonds has. Smith-Edmonds also explains how to succeed in business. She believes that the key to success is KNOWING YOUR NUMBERS, Minimizing Costs/Expenses and Always Connect with a Mentor that has Successfully traveled the Journey you’re seeking. She explains that you should “know your numbers and how to impact them to generate more cash flow/bottom line money. If you don’t know your numbers, you don’t know your business; and you could be out of business, yet you are opening the doors everyday...” Also, Smith-Edmonds says to, “communicate with people who have been doing business, ask questions, and make clarifications so you won't repeat the same mistakes. Communicate with people who have the same business as you or similar, to know how they cope with situations.” She explains that “sometimes the only thing standing in between you being successful is lack of game changing information.”
What’s Next for Mya?
Mya has certainly taken her own advice and would love to coach young business owners in the future. However, for now, she says she is focusing on education for kids, building & growing her McDonald’s organization and real estate.” As a strong follower of God, Mya says, “I am looking forward to what God wants to use me for... continuing to DO Good Works! My desire is to see many kids go to college, to help close the gap between the economic inequality by sending more of these kids to college and to help other people excel and reach their full potential.” She ended by giving advice to young business owners who also believe and trust in God’s plan. She ensures that “no matter how confusing it seems, whether you understand or not, completely yield to that spirit. No matter what, He knows what is coming and what is best for us. We need to trust him, because His plans are better than ours; and He promises the BEST for our lives... Knowing that He knows the plans He has for us, plans to Prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us Hope and a Future (Jeremiah 29:11) and that He has prepared to Bless us in ways that no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived.” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV).
The Smith Foundation
Smith-Edmonds is the Co-Founder of the non-profit organization, the Smith Foundation, Inc. whose mission is to send children to college, provide food for those in need, provide Christmas toys and supply school supplies for underprivileged students and communities. Mya explains that “we give our time, talent, energy and personal resources toward raising money to educate at-risk and underprivileged graduating seniors in the inner city of Houston. These teens often lack the resources to pursue education, but do not lack the motivation and mindset." A true proponent for following your dreams and giving back when you reach that success level, Mya Smith-Edmonds is a successful business owner for all to look up towards on their own personal journeys to success.
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