All Articles Tagged "entrepreneur"
We hosted our latest Twitter chat with Syreeta Scott, founder of Duafe Hair Care in Philadelphia, a discussion that touched on topics from hair care to entrepreneurism. We have a recap here in case you were unable to join in the conversation.
Keep an eye out for our future chats, using the hashtag #MNBizchats. And if there’s a topic you’d like to discuss, feel free to let us know in the comments, or email MN Business at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can read more about Scott and her business here.
This column is an MN Business special by hair expert and entrepreneur Syreeta Scott.
This wayward economy has sparked lots of budding entrepreneurs. And let’s be clear: you don’t know what hard work is until you work for yourself! The sacrifices, risks, and pure dedication that’s required, not to mention the staffing issues, and hours of work at times without pay… These ongoing challenges persist. And while all of this is happening, there’s a good chance you don’t know who to talk to about the many ups and downs you’re experiencing. It’s inevitable that losing the passion for your business happens.
I’ve experienced it over the 10 years I’ve owned Duafe Holistic Hair Care, a natural hair salon. Our clientele list ranges from Janet Jackson, Jill Scott, and Marsha Ambrosius to Bill Cosby and Smokey Robinson. Our work has been featured in countless magazines like Vogue, Essence, O magazine and Ebony. We’ve been fortunate to do the hair for every awards show you can name. Even with these accomplishments, I went through stints of losing the passion for my business and fought to regain it.
How did I lose the passion you ask? Years of not eating well, ignoring myself, not following my gut, being a complete workaholic that was so goal orientated that I never took time to enjoy the journey. I isolated myself and did not having a trusted sounding board. Staffing was a significant issue. I had a stylist compromise my database and cut deals with other stylists for a higher percentage with a competing business. At one point, half of my stylists left. I felt so betrayed and had the same number of bills with less income. It wasn’t long after that I lost my steam and passion, which negatively affected everything in my personal and business lives. I created unhealthy interpersonal relationships; I felt horrible and treated people likewise. This quickly affected my finances. I couldn’t sleep without drowning out voices of self-doubt and soothed myself with food, wine, and sex. (Boy did the pounds pile on.)
I knew that if I didn’t change, I would lose everything I worked so hard to obtain. I had to come to grips and do some soul searching. First I got back into my body. I stopped medicating myself with wine, men and food and started exercising. I got back into church, morning meditation, and journaling. For the business, I invested in a coach, improved my brand, paid myself, built business core values and used them in my hiring practices. I tapped back into my gut and started trusting myself again.
A cost analysis was essential! Some entrepreneurs think undercutting their competitors can help sustain growth, but that’s not always true. If you don’t know your P&Ls, how can you price your service? I suggest building relationships with similar businesses in different markets to learn their pitfalls and how they overcame them. If a cancer develops in your staff don’t allow it to spread. Fire, dismiss, do whatever you need to protect your brand, whether friend or family. Lastly, have an open line of communication with your clients and build your infrastructure.
Please join MN Business and Syreeta Scott this Thursday at 2pm ET for a Twitter chat about the rigors of being an entrepreneur and the hair salon business. You can read more about Scott and her business in the profile story we published here. And join us @MadameNoireBiz, #MNBizchats.
Whether you are an accomplished business owner or just starting the initial stages of creating a business, nothing can be quite as exciting as pursuing the American dream. Who wouldn’t want a shot at being their own boss or turning a vision into profit? It does sound nice.
One thing that all entrepreneurs and future entrepreneurs need is encouragement as the road to success is never guaranteed or perfectly laid out. Some may turn to various media for the necessary motivation to keep going. Here are 10 inspiring books every entrepreneur should read.
Time and again, we’ve reported on the hard work that goes into launching a business. Entrepreneur after entrepreneur has told us about the effort, the money, and the schedule juggling that goes into making a business work. By the time they come to MadameNoire Business with their stories, these businesses have gotten their footing and are on the path to new heights.
But that doesn’t mean the hard work is over. Nor does it mean that you’re always going to be thrilled with your career as a business owner. Just like any other job, being an entrepreneur is one that can wear you down on some days, making you wonder why you didn’t take the career path of least resistance when you had the chance.
“If you’ve been in business as long as I have, there’s an ebb and flow,” Syreeta Scott, founder of Duafe Holistic Hair Care and P.S. (Pure Style) by Syreeta Scott told us. A salon owner for more than a decade and a hair care expert for 15 years, Scott has put in the work to get her business to where it is.
“It’s a selfless job. I would spend seven days a week, Christmas and New Year’s Eve working. I would never take any time off. So I burned out,” she told us. “You lose sight of what your ultimate goal is, what your passion is. I started disliking my passion.”
At that point, Scott told us, you have to start weighing the options and, even more, take actions so that you “regain your life.” That’s when she realized that she was so focused on the ideas of growth and success, that she wasn’t paying attention to the path that would lead her there.
“I can control my growth by making better business decisions,” she concluded. It’s those conclusions that got her back on the path to balancing her domestic life (she the mom of a little girl with another baby on the way) and her thriving business. Among them, she says she paces herself, she’s more realistic with her goals, and she’s staffing up with better people.
“It took my daughter to change my mind,” she says. “Not all money is good money. Having my daughter and being pregnant drives me to make more healthy decisions.”
Scott suggests that all business owners determine what financial wealth means to them. And at that point, hire people who are competent, capable, and have some skin in the game.
“They have just as much to lose as you do,” Scott said, a factor that drives people to do their best work. “Don’t hire your friends. Make sure you hire the people who can facilitate your needs. When you have good people, you don’t leave money on the table.”
It’s interesting that Scott has so much to say about being a healthy business owner since her business is all about healthy hair.
This is special column written exclusively for MN Business by Tia T. Gordon, M.A. Join us on Thursday at 2pm ET when we will have a one-hour Twitter chat with Gordon, discussing the PR industry, entrepreneurship, and diversity in marketing. Bring your questions to @MadameNoireBiz.
With the fall TV shows beginning to roll in, all of us Scandal fans are waiting with bated breath for the return of actress Kerry Washington in her Emmy-nominated role as Olivia Pope, the uniquely flawed character of the hit television series. For those of you who may not know, the show follows Pope’s crisis management firm and its staff as they all dedicate their lives to protecting the public images of the nation’s elite.
The show has risen to unprecedented popularity over the past two seasons. And, Washington’s character has put the job of those like me—public relations professionals/entrepreneurs or “fixers”—on the map. Like the Pope character, many of my firm’s clients, consider my team and I to be trusted confidants and go-getters. They know we will fight on their behalf, willing to always go above and beyond like Pope’s team of “gladiators.”
And while it is fun to see the PR world get the Hollywood treatment, watching Olivia Pope give so much of herself, to the point of being unable to have a healthy personal life outside of work is a stinging reminder of the struggle that I and many other black women entrepreneurs face on a daily basis: Just how much of ourselves are we willing to give in order to find success?
Although a career in PR oftentimes may seem to be glamorous and full of rubbing elbows with influential people, the business of running a PR firm in today’s world is much more complicated. You must be a strategic thinker who possesses the skills, experience, academic training, and tech savvy to effectively deliver clients’ messages and to successfully meet 24-hour, on-call demands. The challenges are even greater for black women who seek to both own and manage a PR firm.
Drawing on my own journey, the most difficult (and, at times frightening) requirement of being a black female entrepreneur is to remember that I must lead through patience and vulnerability. I must trust that everything will always work out in time, understanding what will be is supposed to be. And I’m charged with openly sharing who I am with others without fear of judgment or rejection.
It’s what some may call a daring approach, but the lessons I’ve learned along the way allow me to continue making meaningful contributions in life without being a martyr to my own dreams. Here are a few:
1. Always bring a strong, unique point of view. Your perspective drives and undergirds who you are as a person—it’s your unique gift. Do not be afraid to share it with others because it will help set you apart.
2. Liberate yourself from other people’s expectations. Be free from the opinions of others because their expectations can only influence your success if you allow it.
3. Have faith and stand on it. The hard work is takes to start a successful career (and business) is nothing compared to the deep faith it takes to maintain it.
4. Live fearlessly. Living through fear produces a negative approach toward life that spurs loss and defeat. Choose to live unbound and with assurance.
5. Know your worth.
To aspiring PR professionals and entrepreneurs, remember your dreams for success never have to be sacrificed. Achieving your goals as well as using your unique gifts and talents can inspire others who are also looking to make their mark in the world.
Tia T. Gordon, M.A., is the founder and CEO of TTG+Partners, a creative communications consultancy specializing in starting thoughtful conversations on race, ethnicity, and diversity in higher education. Follow her on Twitter @TiaTGordon and @ttgpartners.
Successful people are spending their weekends getting a little more shut eye and sharing more quality time with family. But setting priorities for your time isn’t just a weekend activity. Part of enjoying your days off is maximizing your time during the week. There are even more things that you can do to remain both a success at work and with peace of mind throughout the weekend.
CEO and founder of Tofutti Brands, David Mintz, is a living example of how to separate your work from your home life so that the two may live in harmony. According to the pitch we received, Mintz is a “serial entrepreneur” who has launched a number of businesses over the years. Tofutti, the dairy-free dessert treats you’ve probably seen at the grocery store, has been around for 32 years. With a little help from Mintz, we’ve compiled nine ideas to help you keep work from ruining your weekend.
While most high school sophomores are easing into the upcoming school year, Jaylen Bledsoe — a 15-year-old teenage business prodigy — is working on his multi-million dollar IT enterprise: Bledsoe Technologies.
At just 12 years old, Bledsoe launched an information technology consulting firm while simultaneously attending classes in eighth grade. “‘I don’t see many eighth graders do the things that he does but it’s all his doing,” The Daily Mail quotes his dad Curtis Bledsoe.”I’m very proud of him.”
Three years later, the teenage entrepreneur’s company has blossomed into a $3.5 million corporation. The firm currently has 150 contract employees around the world. Bledsoe Technologies “helps companies with website design, graphics and other technology consulting services,” The Mail said.
Bledsoe’s interest in STEM areas was sparked when he was a member of GALACTIC, a program for gifted students (from first grade to fifth grade) that meets “the needs of those students who are highly capable academically and need a more rigorous intellectual challenge.” When he took a video editing course with the program during the third grade, Bledsoe discovered his passion. “I think the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) focus in our elementary gifted curriculum really paid off with him,” Mara Berry, director of GALACTIC said.
Taking matters into his own hands, the teen sharpened his knowledge on information technology. ”On vacation in Florida, he purchased $200 worth of textbooks on hypertext mark-up language (HTML) and hypertext preprocessor (PHP) code to help him expand his web hosting and building knowledge, which lead to one of his earliest clients,” according to Patch.
With a lucrative business on his hands, Bledsoe is moving on to bigger projects, “creating a mobile app that lets customers check in online and use their phones to unlock their rooms,” Daily Mail said. With a 4.0 GPA, the 15-year-old entrepreneur plans to apply to Vanderbilt University and attend Harvard for graduate schoo, two swanky institutions he should have no problems getting into.
Everything from freshly baked pies, fragrant body oils, tennis shoes, and even cars are sold at African-American hair salons, creating a flourishing atmosphere for both buyers and sellers. And the owner of one barbershop, James Gilliam, does not mind the hustlers selling merchandise to his customers one bit, reports Marketplace.
Gilliam does not dare hold a “no soliciting” sign on his store window. He believes that keeping out the sellers only financially stunts those who peddle for a living. “They’re not in touch with their community,” he says of shop owners who reject sellers. Gilliam explains that the community, which is inner-city Cleveland, is made-up of small business owners that should be supported.
One seller would come in and say, “Anyone want to buy some tennis shoes? Anyone want to come in and buy a car? I got one outside, got a price on it,” said Small, a managing cosmetologist at Coco’s Hair Extraordinaire.
“Booststrap entrepreneurs” Donald Graham, a Cleveland resident, calls these sellers. “We all have money in our pockets when we walk into the barbershop…” he says, “Men are getting their cut and we want to support the community so we buy their products.”
Ronald Muhammad, a strategic bootstrap entrepreneur, makes apple and bean pies on Monday through Thursday. He sells the delicious pies sliced and wrapped so stylists can munch on them during work. He says that the bean pie is his biggest seller and he pulls in $300 a day.
Gilliam says that “Beats by Dre” headphones is a hot ticket at his barbershop. While they retail nearly $300 at the store, marketers sell the headphones at a discount of $200. Gilliam, although he does not mind the entrepreneurship at his shop, he has one rule: no bogus or stolen merchandise.
The most noble, in Gilliam’s case, is that he does not expect a single dime from the bootstrap entrepreneurs that enter his shop.
This creates a beautiful symbiotic business relationship between the shop owners and bootstrap entrepreneurs; consumers are enticed to enter these hair salons to get discounted deals while sellers are collecting wads of cash to make a living.
What do you think about this business partnership at African-American hair salons?
After 20 years in the industry – any industry – it can be hard to look at your profession through fresh eyes and put a new spin on the products and services you offer. For Tameeka McNeil-Johnson, a Brooklyn native and veteran of the hair care industry, the secret for thinking creatively lies in tapping into the passion she has for the work she does.
Before live hair tutorials were the rage on YouTube, Tameeka began teaching hair care classes in the homes of her clients and their friends, helping women embrace their natural hair through her “hair parties.” The demand for her demonstrations grew into partnerships that stretched across state lines, culminating with live demonstrations for packed theater audiences.
Tameeka has established a branding team for her natural curl movement “Jaded Tresses,” with a book, live demonstration tour and NYC Fashion Week events coming soon. We caught up with the “Curl Whisperer” to learn more about how her passion fuels her success.
MadameNoire: What drew you to your profession?
Tameeka McNeil-Johnson: I absolutely LOVE and enjoy what I do. I have a passion for healthy hair education and making others feel good about themselves. As child of mixed ethnicity and one of 12 siblings, we simply did not have the money to have our hair done, so we did our own… which meant I did everyone’s. The hair textures in my family ranged from wavy to kinky, so that served as the perfect training ground for me on the many nuances of textured hair. As a young lady I would listen to my siblings complain when they had bad haircuts that did not work with their texture or suit their facial structure and in my mind I would create a visual of what I thought would look best on them. While I was attending high school I was accepted into a vocational program and initially began studying to pursue a career in the automotive industry but everyone in my circle encouraged me to pursue the cosmetology track instead, they thought I was great at braiding, finger waving and styling hair. The following semester I joined the cosmetology program and my professional journey as a textured hair specialist began.
MN: Did you foresee natural hair coming back the way that it has?
TMJ: As a textured hair specialist I have always had clients with natural hair. What has surprised me is the rapid growth of the community and the rapid growth of the natural hair care product market in response to the natural hair movement. As a community of women of color we have always embraced styles such as twisting, knotting, braiding etc… those styles speak to our culture but have become the standard for how many women of color choose to style their hair. Those styles have been around for centuries and will be around for many more.
MN: Tell us about your “Hair Parties” and how you came up with the idea for them.
TMJ: My hair parties started over a decade ago. My schedule would be booked so many weeks in advance that many of my regular clients could not get appointments. So I came up with the idea to offer hair parties on my days off where I would visit the homes of my clients, provide the same services that I did in the salon and cater to them and their guests. Over the years it has grown into an opportunity to educate women on how to grow a beautiful head of healthy hair, transition from relaxed to natural, and what products work best for their hair. We chat, we eat, we laugh, and we talk about all things hair. Word spread and before you knew it I was traveling out of state to offer my signature “Transformation” events and hair parties. I feel incredibly blessed to have such loyal customers and clients. I could not do what I do without them. I love making naturalistas feel beautiful and when they know how to care for their hair, style their unique texture they become incredibly confident.
Owning a small business is challenging even in good times, as any entrepreneur will tell you, but the rewards outweigh the difficulties. Women now have the remote control to conquer their destinies through entrepreneurship, earning, owning and making decisions about money every single day. The risk of owning your own enterprise isn’t for everyone, male or female, but women are finding their niche in the empire-building world!