All Articles Tagged "entrepreneurs"
Small business owners, are you trying to get your last-minute tax deductions lined up? There may be a few items you had not considered — or even know were deductibles. MadameNoire.com has a few surprising suggestions from a tax experts.
In just a few short years, Pinterest has become one of the top social media outlets generating more website referral traffic than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn…combined. It boasts over 1.30 million unique users daily and has been giving search engine giants like Google a run for their money in the traffic source department.
More and more companies are turning to Pinterest as a means to site traffic and even selling product. Consumers are even spending more money on Pinterest than it’s popular counterpart, Facebook. This is major news as tons of businesses aren’t capitalizing on all of these advantages.
So while you may see Pinterest as a fun pastime to collage your wants and dreams, entrepreneurs are seizing the opportunity to generate new business.
Interested in pinning for your business? Here are some tips and tricks to make it beneficial .
No one ever mistook opening a small business for a walk in the park. There’s financial sacrifice, little (if any) free time, hours away from family and friends, and the struggle to take your business from zero to success. But even with all that’s involved, small business owners report being pretty pleased with themselves.
Bolt Insurance has created an infographic that literally illustrates the joy that small business owners have for being on their own. Seventy percent, in fact, say they’re very happy. And 90 percent say they prefer being entrepreneurs to working for someone else.
If you’re thinking about becoming a small business owner, this illustration also gives some info about which of the many responsibilities entrepreneurs have that stresses out them out the most.
If you’re a small business owner or have aspirations of being one, let us know what it is you love about your job.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to meet my baby nephew for the first time. His mother, my sister, had been doing well but working very, very hard to take care of this baby boy by herself while her husband works overseas, and to help her pamper herself after months of being on diaper duty, I wanted us to go get our nails done–on me. Living in New York, the options for a nail salon are pretty unlimited, but as for a GOOD nail salon, that’s another story. I have a huge fear of a clumsy or lazy nail tech somehow managing to cut me to the point that I get an infection, something like the ones you read about or see on those scary health and science channels. And after my sister spoke about getting a huge gash on her foot a few years back and watching a nail tech massage my hands with an uncovered cut a few months ago, I wanted to do some REAL research.
To my dismay, however, I found that on a Sunday night, most of the nail shops were too far out and/or closed by 6 or 7 p.m. Bummed out, we headed to the train from an Indian restaurant in Brooklyn, only to run up on a nail bar two stores down. And when I walked in, I was ecstatic to hear Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite playing over the sound system, cookies and sandwiches on a plate in the corner, folks relishing good conversation, and see black faces doing all the work. A black owned nail salon!? Scooooooore. No disrespect to anybody who works at a nail salon that is owned or has employees of a different background, but I sometimes feel not all that welcomed or appreciated when go to other shops. Either people are speaking in another language in my face, or they’re not really speaking to me at all.
The decor was fancy, the prices were pretty good (I got a mani-pedi for $28) and the people who worked there were very nice and took time (kind of a long time) to be meticulous about their work, especially when it came to the manicures. The woman who did my nails even asked me about myself and offered tips on how to preserve my nail job for more than a few days (apply a clear coat on top of your manicure every two days). The owner, a bubbly, tall black woman, introduced herself to us, and seemed very appreciative of our business–something you don’t see very often.
In the end, I walked out with my nephew and sister, are nails both in a spicy form of orange, and for one of the first times in a long time, I looked at a black-owned business with glee and thought, “I’ll be back.”
I try my hardest to spend my money at black owned businesses, including hair salons, restaurants, accessory purveyors and more, but sadly, the quality of the things sold, the work done or the person who provides the service is not up to par sometimes. I’ve waited more than two hours before to get my hair done. I’ve had a woman poorly cut my hair into a mushroom cut when she didn’t want to be honest about the fact that she couldn’t line me up worth a damn. I’ve had people low-key yell at me when I didn’t pick up my food order fast enough, and gone to businesses that said they would be open at one time, and left me locked out in 90 degree heat in the summer (and then had no air condition when I finally got in that joint). For every genuinely great place of business owned by a committed, hard working black woman or man, there are few I doubt can even take themselves seriously with employees who spend more time talking than working, and care more for their time than yours.
Going to this particular nail bar was great for me, and I do intend to go back. But just the whole experience in itself, with the fun black women doing waxes, giving massages, painting nails and doing everything with a smile and a “Hey girl, hey” look, reminded me of how great we can be when we take things REALLY seriously, listen to customer thoughts and complaints, try and grow from them, and try to provide people with the type of service we ourselves would want. It’s so easy to tell one another to “buy black,” but at the same time, those we’re buying from need to make us want to, and the happy-go-lucky lady who owned this shop definitely persuaded me. Besides, I just really want our entrepreneurs to succeed, because if we can’t support those who tailor their goods and services for our skin, our hair, our tastes and our needs, who else will?
Welcome to another “Behind the Click” profile! We’ve looked at many sides of tech thus far in the journey, but today we’re going to add satellite to the mix. That’s right, satellite, as in radio. Thanks to this type of technology, we’ve been able to expand radio options and add more voices of color to the mix.
Shawna Renee is a pioneer in recognizing that the satellite technology would change the face of radio. She’s been working in this space for 15 years and now owns her own multimedia company entitled Cocoa Mode Media. Find out why Renee has been selected as one of the “Entrepreneurs to Watch” by the Minority Media and Telecom Council. She recently came up on my radar and wanted to share her insight with you.
Current Occupation: Host, Cocoa Mode on SiriusXM Satellite Radio
Favorite website: FabLife101.com
Favorite read: Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Recent read: Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery by Bell Hooks
2013′s Ultimate Goal: I have two goals. 1. To complete my book. 2. To expand the Cocoa Mode brand to include a series of workshops and retreats nationwide, designed to inspire and empower women to create extraordinary lives for themselves and their families.
Quote Governing Your Mission or a Quote that Inspires You: “Pursue the things you love doing, and do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you. All other tangible rewards will come as a result.” –Maya Angelou
Twitter handle: @shawnareneelive
Madame Noire: So where are you from originally? How did you come to choose Howard University?
Shawna Renee: I was born and raised in Detroit. I knew Howard had an excellent communications department and I was certain that attending a prestigious HBCU would give me the training and the confidence I needed to succeed. It was by far one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
MN: It seems radio was your thing from the jump. Did you find it difficult to break into it, initially?
SR: My mother, father, and stepfather work in media related jobs, so it was pretty easy for me to break into the business. What was difficult was convincing people that I deserved to be here.
MN: So I learned that you worked with terrestrial radio in Baltimore for a time and then made the move to satellite radio. How did you get involved with SiriusXM Satellite. What is a typical day like there for you?
SR: I started working with XM Satellite Radio in 2002 as a program director. At that time, I was employed by a company called Wordspace Satellite Radio and we had an agreement with XM to produce four music channels. I was in charge of the World Music channel called Worldzone. In 2006, while on maternity leave from Worldspace, I “birthed” Cocoa Mode and approached The Power, XM’s African American talk channel, about carrying the show and they agreed. I’ve also worked as a producer for “The Joe Madison Show” and written, produced and hosted a number of specialty programs for SiriusXM as well.
There is no such thing as a typical day for me. My days range from spending four to five hours surfing the Web looking for interesting stories and show ideas, to writing scripts, promos, and blogs posts. I can also be found pre-recording interviews for the show.
Behind the Click: Natalia Oberti Noguera Opens the Pipeline of Angel Investing For Women Philanthropists
Hey everyone! We are back with another profile, and for those who are interested in money — from smart investments or building a business — read on!
Investment and the images of women of color may not be synonymous, but if Natalia Oberti Noguera has her way, that will change very soon. Natalia is founder and CEO of Pipeline Fellowship, an angel investing boot camp for women philanthropists. The Pipeline Fellowship works to increase diversity in the U.S angel investing community and creates capital for women social entrepreneurs. This is key as women seek to balance the tech industry. Natalia is a game-changer in this area and has some major insight to share!
Name: Natalia Oberti Noguera
Current Occupation: Founder & CEO, Pipeline Fellowship
Favorite Website: Twitter
2013’s Ultimate Goal: Add #morevoices to the table.
Quotations that govern your mission, inspire you, and are just awesome:
When you do the right thing, it may not pay immediately, but it does pay. –Luz Urrutia
Powerful leadership is about understanding that you belong there. –@CarlaHarris
[I]f you don’t have a seat at the table: Bring Your Own Chair. –@midyaponte
People think #feminism is just for women. No fool, feminism is for everybody. –@aminatou
Twitter Handle: @nakisnakis
Madame Noire: Where are you from, Natalia, and where did you attend college?
Natalia Oberti Noguera: I’m half-Italian, half-Colombian. My father used to work for the UN, so we moved around quite a bit while growing up, primarily in Latin America (Ecuador, Colombia, Honduras, Dominican Republic). Summers were often spent in the United States, as my maternal grandmother used to live in Pennsylvania. I went to Yale for college and double-majored in Economics and Comparative Literature.
MN: What were you doing in your career before you started the Pipeline Fellowship?
NON: I built a network of women social entrepreneurs in NYC from about six women to over 1,200 members within two years.
MN: What events led you to start Pipeline Fellowship?
NON: Having the same conversation over and over: “It’s so hard to secure funding as a for-profit social venture.” [It] inspired me to launch the Pipeline Fellowship.
MN: What have been the results to date for the organization. Why do you feel its important to have Pipeline in place?
NON: In 2011, only 12 percent of U.S. angel investors were women and only four percent were minorities, according to the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire. The Pipeline Fellowship works to increase diversity in the U.S angel investing community and creates capital for women social entrepreneurs. Since running our first angel investing boot camp in April 2011, the Pipeline Fellowship has trained fifty women and has expanded from New York City to Boston, as well as San Francisco, and plans to head to Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. Pipeline Fellowship alumnae have gone on to invest in their third and fourth startups, as well as launch accelerators and angel groups.
MN: Since you focus on women and diversity, I’d love to know if you felt you’ve ever been challenged due to gender and race. How did you handle it? And what might your suggestions be for other women facing similar situations?
NON: Last year, I was invited to judge a tech startup demo. Judges were asked to sit in the front row and that’s where I found myself when a guy told the guy next to him — loud enough for me to hear, however not directly addressing me — “I thought that only the judges were supposed to sit at the front.” I turned around and said, “And what makes you think that we’re not judges–because we’re women?” My approach is to call out -isms. As an LGBTQ Latina, it can get tiring. However, after hearing Ruth Simmons, former President of Brown University, mention how important it is for us who speak up to continue to do so because others in the room might not realize that they have the right to do the same, I understood that burning out isn’t an option. If you’re wondering how to handle a situation, remember:
Some conversations are uncomfortable but also necessary. They are so uncomfortable because they are so necessary. –Molly Lambert
With all the talk about trillion dollar coins and the looping scribble scrabble that is the signature of President Obama’s Treasury Secretary nominee Jack Lew, this interesting tidbit for small businesses has probably slipped through the cracks.
This week, the White House outlined what it’s calling a “detailed action plan” to bolster and encourage small business innovation in this country. Focused on startups, growing companies, and underserved markets, the White House is pushing Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goals, bringing together the various government agencies in a coordinated effort to improve services and initiatives to benefit small businesses. And there’s now a measurement system in place to make sure the efforts are working. This is all meant to build upon the Startup America initiative, which was started back in 2011 with the goal of promoting small businesses and entrepreneurship across the country.
Among the items that are part of this whole small business promotion plan are BusinessUSA, a bank of services to better customer satisfaction and more inclusive government contracting, something we’re seeing more on the state and city level in places like Chicago and New York.
Small businesses face a slew of challenges to getting off the ground. Besides the cost of starting and running the business, attracting customers, and competition — from both big chains and other small companies — minority- and women-owned businesses also face hurdles tied to funding and outright discrimination. Entrepreneur also took a look at the ways in which the fiscal cliff deal will impact small business. The most pronounced is the end of the payroll tax break.
“While this isn’t specific to small businesses, the pattern is clear: Payroll-tax cuts stimulate job creation and payroll-tax increases discourage it,” the article says, adding expert commentary stating that the holiday created 300,000 jobs.
The other two items (also not really exclusive to small business) are the increased taxes on high earners, which impacts a small fraction of entrepreneurs, and the capital gains tax increase which, the article says, will negatively impact investing and equity financing. These two, it seems, don’t have nearly as much effect as the first might.
But the point of the White House initiatives is to provide an entry way for small businesses to plant a flag and get off the ground. Our advice to small business owners would be to follow the White House and the Small Business Administration on Twitter and Facebook to get updates on new programs. And visit these two websites regularly to find out what sorts of programs you qualify for. Oftentimes, states will also have small business programs that can provide assistance. The help is there, so take advantage of it.
The internet and social media have made it easier than ever for entrepreneurs and business people to take an idea, product or business to the masses. Sites like Etsy allow individuals to create online retail stores to sell their handmade and vintage items, while crowd-funding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo give entrepreneurs and artists a way to get funding for projects.
While these sites have taken off, the black community was a bit slower to get into the game. For example, according to audience measurement site Quantcast, only six percent of Kickstarter visitors are African American, compared to nine percent of overall internet visitors who are black.
However, some entrepreneurs and business people from the black community are starting to notice a shift.
“People of color, African Americans specifically, are realizing that if we have something we’re passionate about, we have to do it ourselves,” said Vanessa Anderson, publicist for filmmaker Issa Rae, who recently funded her Web series, The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl, via Kickstarter. “When you have popular sites that are trusted like Etsy and Kickstarter, people can use these to bring people into the fold and give them an audience ad a community.”
“When I first started playing around on Etsy, maybe two or three years ago, there were a lot of Caucasian moms making cool stuff and selling it on Etsy. Or people who already had shops were selling on Etsy,” said Krystle Sims, owner of young.black.nappy, an online t-shirt company. “But over the last year or so, I’ve noticed more brown and black faces on Etsy. It’s a really cool stepping-stone to whatever you want to do.”
Etsy, which launched in 2005, is an online marketplace for people to sell handmade and vintage items. Several African-American artists using Etsy have been featured and highlighted, including Tiesha Houston, owner of flyTie clothing, and Tabitha Brown of ThePairabirds, who were chosen in recent years by the Huffington Post as black-owned Etsy stores to check out for Black Friday.
Houston joined Etsy in 2005 and uses it as one place to sell items from her clothing label, though she also has a website and leverages Facebook and social media. While her customers are of all ethnicities, she said her customer base specifically on Etsy is generally white.
However, she added, “I’m seeing new shops run by African-Americans, selling everything from clothing to art to jewelry. Not just on Etsy, but entrepreneurs in general.”
Brown, owner of ThePairabirds, has been using Etsy since 2007 to sell illustrated snapshots of nature, human, and animal life.
“One of the main audiences I try to attract are those who want contemporary artwork featuring people of color,” she told Madame Noire via email. “There have been times when customers will tell me, either through Etsy, Facebook, or Twitter, that they are happy to find artwork of people that look like them. And, that’s what makes Etsy a really great marketplace. It allows art, design, and styles that are pretty much ignored by the mainstream to congregate in one spot.”
Brown highlighted the forums and groups on Etsy, which allow black entrepreneurs to connect and help each other succeed on the site. Stevonne, the owner of Beija-Flor Naturals, also told Madame Noire that she used the forums when getting started on Etsy in 2008. She mentioned the groups Etsy Artists of Color and Creators of Color.
Beija-Flor Naturals sells organic and natural beauty products, including items for the natural hair market. Stevonne told Madame Noire that often times in the natural hair market, bloggers and social media comments will send people directly to her website. Etsy, she said, helped expand interest in her general skin care products.
Using Etsy and connecting with customers via social media has changed the way businesses get off the ground these days, she said. “I don’t know how people would find other like-minded people if it wasn’t for Etsy.” She added that she is also planning to turn to Kickstarter to raise money to start her own store, a bath and body boutique.
Brian Shields started IncubateNYC, an educational community and incubation program for entrepreneurs, with co-founder Marcus Mayo in January 2012. “We designed our incubation program specifically to help aspiring entrepreneurs get started the right way and to continue to make progress. We accomplish this through the power of community,” reads the group’s website. The organization currently has 60 alumni who have gone through the incubation program, and is planning to expand more in 2013.
Shields spoke to Madame Noire about diversity within the technology industry and among entrepreneurs, advice for starting a business, and his personal journey with IncubateNYC.
Madame Noire: Tell us more about IncubateNYC and your role there.
Brian Shields: IncubateNYC is an entrepreneurial education organization that provides people curriculum and content through experiences. We’re really big on learning by doing and everything we do is tailored adult education that helps people learn in the most effective way. To learn sales, we make them pitch, which is obvious. Or to teach market research fundamentals, we make participants go out and talk to people. We make people learn things by executing it and we provide content around it.
Marcus and I have known each other for 10 years and tried to start a bunch of businesses, but we weren’t super passionate about any of them. We’ve been angel investing for a long time and decided that, because we’ve seen so many great things through entrepreneurs, learned a ton from working with and advising them, and funding them and seeing great exits, we decided to create an academy that provided people the education they needed to be successful.
MN: What are the goals for Incubate?
BS: From a business standpoint, this year is really about rocking out with the companies that we have. We’ve had about 60 founders come through so far in our six months of existence. So it is about enriching the alumni program and continued incubation.
And for next year, our goal is to roll out a la carte classes for people in three areas: business, product development, and industry expertise. One of the most important things is you have to know the industry you’re in and people who are entrepreneurial really thirst for learning more from people. We bring in new people once a month to talk about different industries. We’re going to be doing music in January.
MN: You said there are 60 alumni so far. What are some of the success stories from IncubateNYC?
BS: One example is a company called The Women’s Age, which is a media business for women to have a conversation about their ages and aging gracefully. This is a woman who is about 33 but most of the people in her family have died really young. She’s created this platform to celebrate women aging gracefully, through a combination of written media and a ton of guest bloggers and video content, like talk shows and interviews.
When she first came to the program she had a business idea that she wasn’t totally connected to, but [the experiential learning] eventually got her to this. She’s been doing this for two months, taught herself HTML and CSS, and started her own website.
MN: What is the percentage of blacks and women in your program?
BS: Our program is about 70 percent minorities, meaning not white males. It’s not by design. We are open to everybody and aren’t minority focused, but it is partially because Marcus and I are minorities and people gravitate to people they know. There are great programs like NewME, which are specifically minority focused. But we have the belief that the best want to work with the best, so we hope to attract the best.
MN: What can be done overall to get more minorities into technology and digital fields? How can the industry attract African Americans?
BS: You have to make tech cool. “Cool” is a relative term and “cool” is different for people who have grown up with two parents or parents who were doctors or teachers or bankers. They understand the fundamentals of business or math and science, and where that can take your career. But for a lot of minorities, in particular African Americans, our culture isn’t defined totally by that, [particularly] if there is a separation in the family foundation.
It would be great to elevate role models who people can relate to. That’s a big part of it. If I were to rewind the clock, I don’t know if I would relate to Mark Zuckerberg. Think about the impact that Barack Obama’s election had on people’s vision of what’s possible in this country, race-agnostic, and I think that can be applied to a business industry that is meritocratic in and of itself.
MN: What about diversity within investors? Is that something that is changing or on the rise?
BS: It’s changing. It’s the chicken or the egg thing when you are trying to get people in. It’s the same thing with women. Do you need more women investors or do you need more women entrepreneurs? Can you have one without the other?
If you look at the way the VC market is going now; it’s going more heavily operational. Entrepreneurs want to work with a funder or investor who understands what they are dealing with and who can help them think through questions, not just somebody who is about money. Entrepreneurs want to work with somebody who understands them and you can cut that down any segment or line: women, minorities.
MN: What is your advice for people who are starting out with their own business and how to jump in?
BS: My general advice is, look, it’s going to be hard and you aren’t going to make the right decisions. There’s a lot of research that says 2/3 of business decisions, either in new business or corporate, is going to be wrong. So just go do it; you’re not going to be right. But being wrong is the fastest teacher and you’ll learn the right answer sooner. And just stick with it. The hardest thing we find is getting started and then sticking with it. We tried to start like eight businesses, but we couldn’t stick with it because we weren’t passionate about it. So find that thing that really matters.
Quote that inspires you: “Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man; But sooner or later the man who wins is the one who thinks he can.” – Walter D. Wintle, “The Man Who Thinks He Can”
Favorite Website: LinkedIn’s News Section
Current Read: The Start-Up of You, by Reid Hoffman
Who Inspires You and Why: My Mom. Whenever I think about where I am today and the viewpoints I have on life, I have always appreciated my mom for that.
Ready for another one of my “Behind The Click” profiles? I’m particularly interested to bring you this column on someone who’s making a contribution to the tech arena in a way which I don’t normally cover. Erin Horne Montgomery serves as the president and executive director of the National Association of Multicultural Digital Entrepreneurs. NAMDE advocates for, unites and promotes the interests of diverse companies, organizations, individuals and entities within the technology and broadband market industries.
Given the imbalance oftentimes in the tech arena, an organization such as NAMDE is important to have at your fingertips. But Erin, like many women, easily multitasks. She is also a graduate researcher at Howard University studying the participation of women and minority entrepreneurs in the innovation economy.
In the words of Slick Rick, “Here we go…”
Executive Director, National Association of Multicultural Digital Entrepreneurs (NAMDE)
The Information Society and the Black Community by John T. Barber and Alice A. Tait
2012′s ultimate goal:
To launch NAMDE’s app to better connect women and minority digital entrepreneurs.
Quote Governing Your Mission or a Quote that Inspires You:
Twitter handle: @namdedotorg
LdC: So, Erin, you are a graduate researcher at Howard, but you also did undegrad work there. How did you select Howard and how did you like it?
EHM: One of my favorite teachers in high school recommended Howard to me. I later found out that a lot of my family members attended HU as well. After that, I wasn’t interested in going to any other school.
EMH: My initial interest in tech came in the late 90s when one of my long-time mentors in entrepreneurship co-founded a start-up in Northern Virginia. He encouraged me to get active in this space.
EMH: Working with National Telecommunications and Information Administration was a phenomenal experience. I had a wonderful mentor in my supervisor, and I was able to learn a great deal first-hand how to impact policy.
EMH: My day usually starts with the reviewing of news stories online and tweeting topics of interest to our followers. Then I’m usually headed to a conference or meeting related to our issues. I also try to squeeze in some calls or emails to plan future NAMDE projects and events.
EHM: My biggest concern is that our community is being left behind in the innovation economy, from ownership to participation. I’m truly concerned about the long-term negative impacts on our community’s generational wealth potential.
EMH: Two of the biggest challenges black tech entrepreneurs face today are access to capital and access to the startup ecosystem. We’re almost completely excluded from both. How can one create a company, grow, and compete against other companies in this space when the resources available are limited and not equitable?