All Articles Tagged "entrepreneurship"

“Start Your Company With The End In Mind”: How To Successfully Turn Over The Reins Of Your Company

March 27th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Fabrizio Picco/WENN

Fabrizio Picco/WENN

Recently Aaron McGruder, creator and executive producer of The Boondocks, was allegedly forced out of his own project. After a four-year hiatus the show will return for a  fourth season on Adult Swim without McGruder. While McGruder isn’t too happy — going as far as saying on The Boondocks webpage that the cartoon had been “hijacked”–sometimes in business, founders have  to step aside and let someone else take control.

Take a close look at the state of your company and your approach. Has the company been suffering under your leadership? “When you look deep inside of yourself and with a realistic assessment you discover you are not the best person for the job,” Chantay Bridges, business coach and realtor tells MadameNoire. “When your customers, consumers, friends, colleagues all bluntly communicate this is not your niche, consider hiring someone else to run the organization.”

When you are making the transition, try to do it as smoothly as possible so as not panic your clients or employees. “Create a celebratory atmosphere,” says Bridges. “Invite your colleagues to congratulate the advancement and tools the organization is putting in place to grow to higher plateaus. Depending on the size of the company, it may require you hire a team to facilitate a smooth transition.”

Entrepreneurial coach Carol Sankar agrees. “The transition needs to always be subtle, yet fast in an effort not to disrupt productivity within the company or with employees who may have personal attachments (or dislikes),” she tells us.

But letting go can be difficult, especially if you have built the company from the bottom up. It’s your baby. But like children, when they grow up there comes a time when you must give them some freedom. “There is no way that any CEO or president of a company will not take it personally. However, from an emotional standpoint, if you are doing what is best for the company, finding a replacement is better than losing it all, so take pride in the accomplishment of acknowledging change,” says Shankar.

Step away from the process if possible to make it easier for yourself. “Separate yourself from it, see it as a smart business move,” notes Bridges. “Remind yourself, part of being a good leader, is being able to follow.”

Have a strategy in place who can take over whenever you need — imagine a medical emergency that takes you out of commission. Delegate responsibility and decision-making duties. When business owners need to give final approval at every level bogs down staff, reports The Globe & Mail. And when business owners hire “do-ers” instead of leaders, they don’t feel they have competent staff to make major decisions. Avoid this.

Have a succession plan in mind. Don’t do everything yourself.  “Bring in people who can do about 80 percent of the work in the company. Let your team do what they do best,” reports The Globe & Mail. Then you handle 20 percent and use your time to focus on the big picture.

Start your company with the end in mind. Face reality: most likely your business won’t be run by you forever. Whether family takes over or not, someone else will eventually step into your corner office.  If you are just starting your company, think ahead 10 years and start planning now how to prepare for a time when you will step away.

How Hiring Consultants Can Save Your Business Time & Money

March 26th, 2014 - By Rana Campbell
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As many execs and business owners know, managing and maximizing the use of one’s time is crucial to successfully building and growing a new business. One of the widespread ways that many new business owners waste time (and money) is trying to do multiple jobs themselves. According to the US Small Business Administration, hiring the expertise of subcontractors, independent contractors, or freelancers, your business can quickly scale up without the creating of additional overhead.

Hiring consultants can limit costs such as paying for employee benefits, insurance and training. Most of the time, freelance specialists can do what they do best while your team focuses on their areas of expertise, all of it growing your business. By outsourcing and delegating certain business needs to specialists, you’ll actually have more time to focus on your client’s needs. So while the decision to hire out may seem like an expense now, it can actually end up being  a cost and time saver in the future.

Here are four jobs that a small business owner should consider outsourcing.

Accounting and/or Tax Professional
Is your dad the family tax and money man, willing to file an track your business’ taxes and finances for free? While accepting your father’s offer may be tempting, tax preparation should not be taken lightly. If you aren’t an experienced finance professional, you could end up doing a lot of harm to your company’s finances. A recent Huffington Post blog outlines the ways hiring a CPA state that hiring a tax professional is a great way to bring on expert advice, save money, and save time preparing complicated returns. In all, the guidance you receive can save your business run-ins with IRS auditors. Here’s a great Yahoo! Small Business article on why you should think twice before you decide to do your own taxes.

If you do decide to take the route of doing your own taxes, make sure to at least consider taking a class or seminar on tax preparation.

Website Designer/Developer
For many businesses, the company website is the first portal to sales, new customer leads, and overall brand messaging and position. Having a mobile optimized, navigable and user-friendly website has become a business necessity. Though it’s pretty easy to use well-known website platforms to start a site, having an expert work on it can save a lot of your precious time that you could be devoting to another important business task. A professional web designer can help you create a custom browsing experience that can help set your company site apart from other competitors in your industry. Before making any hiring decisions, make sure you understand these seven essentials about website development 

Social Media/Marketing Manager 
Social media is such an important part of a business plan nowadays that having someone whose sole job is to focus on increasing follower engagement, acquiring new leads, and sharing company content is key. Hiring a social media or marketing specialist can be a strategic move for a young business. One young entrepreneur, Amina Yamusah, founder of Breaking it Down, a diversity-driven black collegiate network, describes how hiring out somehow whose specific job is to focus on  social media  and marketing is helping to grow her business.

“With me being so busy on business development, I know I couldn’t try to handle social media and marketing myself anymore.  I hired a virtual social media/marketing intern whose responsibilities include running and managing our social media, blog, newsletter and email lists so that we can successfully pitch partnerships to sponsors.”

Virtual Assistant
If you’re finding that you are constantly overwhelmed with the number of speaking engagements, travel requests, and overall administrative tasks for your business, it may be time for you to get a virtual assistant. Virtual assistants are independent contractors who, from a remote location, support multiple clients in a variety of industries by providing administrative, creative, and technical services. Click here for seven reasons why hiring a virtual assistant might be a good choice for your business.  If you’re not sure how to use a virtual assistant, here are 101 examples of how you can use one for your business.

The next time you feel burned while trying to grow your business, take the time to step back and reflect on what you could eliminate from your workflow to free up your time so that you can focus on your business strategically.

Rana Campbell is a branding professional who helps brands succeed in the digital and social media spheres. Check out some of her work here. Follow her on TwitterLinkedIn, or Instagram.

PowerMoves NOLA To Provide Over $100K In Funding To Minority Business Owners

February 2nd, 2014 - By Sakita Holley
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Image: iStockphoto

Image: iStockphoto

When it comes to finding funding for startups, race matters. According to a study conducted by the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire, minorities made up only 8.5 percent of entrepreneurs pitching potential investors last year. Of that group, only 15 percent were able to secure funding. The number of minority investors seeking and being approved for business loans are equally low.

Over the last few years, there’s been a lot of discussion around finding a remedy for this problem; but few solutions have come of it. PowerMoves NOLA, a new organization based in New Orleans is hoping to change that with the introduction of their inaugural pitch competition which will take place at the Essence Festival this July. Designed to increase access to capital and resources for rising entrepreneurs, the organization will provide more than $100,000 in funding to minority business owners and create additional opportunities for mentorship and coaching.

I spoke with the September Hargrove, the executive director of PowerMoves NOLA who gave me some insight into the initiative and how eligible business owners can get involved in the competition and potentially win funding for their company.

Madame Noire (MN): How would you describe the PowerMoves NOLA Initiative for people who are hearing about it for the first time? 

September Hargrove (SH): PowerMoves NOLA is a concerted effort to showcase talented minority entrepreneurs. Our goal is to increase the number of venture-backed minority entrepreneurs and to help change the national narrative by promoting the power of opportunity for minority entrepreneurs. As a result, we hope more individuals become entrepreneurs and have access to a national network capital, advisors and support.

MN: What is the process for companies/entrepreneurs to be considered as candidates for each of the pitch rounds? 

SH: We are accepting nominations now on our website. Nominations will be accepted through the end of February 2014. Entrepreneurs will then be invited to apply in March. Up to 20 businesses will be selected to pitch over July 4th weekend.

After One Business Failed, Andrea Polk Persevered To Create Skin Care Line Solo Noir For Men

December 2nd, 2013 - By Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond
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Andrea Polk with her line of Solo Noir products

Andrea Polk with her line of Solo Noir products

Owning a business was not part of the career track Andrea Polk initially envisioned for herself. “As a child, the word ‘entrepreneur’ was never a term that was part of my vocabulary,” Polk explains. “I was never taught how to own a business, but rather how to be a great employee.” But after years growing other people’s brands in corporate America, Polk says she decided to invest her sales and marketing background in her own vision — a skin care business targeting men. Her first foray didn’t work out, but she persisted to launch Solo Noir, an organic grooming line for men of color.

Polk calls her last day working a 9-5 “life changing.” She elaborates, “I remember leaving work that day in a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts of uncertainty and fear. As I was sitting in my car, I turned on the radio and heard Mary Mary[‘s] ‘Go Get It’. At that moment, I knew it was time to go after my true blessing and calling.” She adds, “Two hours later, I was setting up Solo Noir at a pop-up location and have been working purposefully and happily ever since.”

We asked Polk what kept her going in spite of initial setback, and what keeps her moving forward.

MadameNoire: What inspired you to start Solo Noir?

Andrea Polk: Solo Noir was inspired by the lack of representation in the male grooming market. The ethnic grooming market is underserved and major market companies do not feel that ethnic grooming is a profitable market.  My vision started in college when I was given the task of creating a mock business plan…  While doing research for my project I realized that I had a passion for the male grooming industry.

MN: Were you a little gun shy about re-entering the male skin care market after your initial experience? 

AP: I learned a lot from my previous failures and am now able to avoid making the same mistakes with Solo Noir…  I have been able to put systems in place to minimize failure such as partnering with a manufacturer that can produce, test, insure, package, and distribute my products, along with developing [an] infrastructure that has the ability to withstand growth.  In my mind, I have the perfect recipe for success, and I am not going to allow the downfall of one business be a roadblock for Solo Noir.

MN: How did you secure funding for Solo Noir?

AP: I cashed in a large portion of my life savings toward building my brand…  As a child my mother set aside a cash reserve for me to be used for a home, starting a family, and/or incidentals. After I graduated with my graduate degree [in Supply Chain Management and Aesthetics], I realized that life wasn’t falling into the natural order of which most people follow—marriage, kids, home—so I persuaded her in allowing me to allocate the money toward starting Solo Noir.

MN: What are the advantages or disadvantages being a woman and owner of a business geared toward men? 

AP: My biggest challenge is convincing them that grooming is not a feminine quality [but] a human quality.  Historically the beauty industry has not focused on the male consumer, or better yet the ethnic market, so men have been accustomed to not thinking skin care and grooming is for them.

…Being a woman selling and owning a male product [has] been both a hindrance and an advantage.  It is a hindrance because I don’t personally have the same skin issues as a man because of obvious reasons. But it has been an advantage because as a woman I know what women like to see in a man, and that’s smooth and healthy skin so I have created a line to promote that. Although challenging I don’t know a person other than myself that is more equipped for the task.

How To Grow Your Money Through Entrepreneurship

October 30th, 2013 - By Madame Noire
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From Black Enterprise 

Kanyessa McMahon recognized an opportunity and jumped on it. In 2008, after a frustrating four-month stint working at a video production company, she acted on her entrepreneurial aspirations.

“I was 25 at the time,” says McMahon. “My job wasn’t working out because I wasn’t getting paid on time. My paychecks were bouncing, and my skills weren’t being utilized.”

McMahon left the company and, through an industry connection, acquired her first client—Nike. The 31-year-old now calls the shots as head of her own production company.

“Most people who become wealthy do it through entrepreneurship,” says Lanta Evans-Motte, a financial adviser at Raymond James, a diversified financial services holding company.

A recent study by U.S. Trust, which surveys high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth Americans, revealed that 84% of the survey’s 450 wealthy respondents earned their wealth themselves.

Read more at BlackEnterprise.com 

Learn Marketing Skills For Your Small Business From Tech Expert Ramon Ray

October 23rd, 2013 - By Madame Noire
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From Black Enterprise 

Black Enterprise has developed a program called Small Business University. It is geared toward guiding small business owners to be successful and practical vendors. In this episode of Small Business University Ramon Ray, who is a marketing and technology evangelist for InfusionSoft and Small Biz Technology shares with readers the fundamental skills in social media. He helps business owners with email marketing, building their website and how to grow their following.

If you are interested in this Black Enterprise series, check out BlackEnterprise.com 

Skip These 9 Common Pitfalls When Starting A New Business

October 20th, 2013 - By Michelle Alerte
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Thinking of starting a business? You’ve probably stewed over the idea, written out a business plan, and begun to debate the pros and cons of a variety of decisions with people you trust. You’re headed in the right direction. But knowing that many new businesses fail within the first five years, it behooves you to keep an eye open to the common pitfalls that could lure even the best small business owner. You’re in luck! Below is a list of nine common mistakes small business owners make. Print it out, study it, and when you find yourself headed towards a trap… run!

Passion Isn’t Everything: Ebony Cochran’s New Business Is Successful Even If It’s Not In Her Dream Industry

October 8th, 2013 - By Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond
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Ebony Cochran is only 28 and she’s already on her third business. An entrepreneur since middle school where she sold craft string to her schoolmates, Cochran transitioned to doing taxes at 20 and earned so much she says H&R Block is taking steps to acquire her business. Now putting her stake in the multi-billion-dollar black hair industry, Cochran is handling her business a little bit different. With Pure Strands, she’s not only selling extensions, with The Pure Network, she’s working toward building a support system for female entrepreneurs. For Cochran, whose passion doesn’t lie in string, taxes or hair per se, business is about empowering people to earn independence from working for someone else. We picked her brain for advice on how we can do it for ourselves too.

MadameNoire: So many people say you have to be passionate about the business you start, but you’re not necessarily passionate about the hair business. Why start Pure Strands?

Ebony Cochran: When I was doing taxes for over eight years, a lot of my family and a lot of my friends saw me make substantial income and they all wanted me to try to help them get in on a business so they could make a substantial income. But with the income tax business, it’s not like that. It’s not like you can just take somebody and they’ll make what you make.

So I started researching certain industries to try to figure out what industry… I [could] tap into where I could put those people in a position to make an income and the hair business just struck me. I mean, it’s a billion-dollar industry.

MN: How did you go about getting the idea off the ground?

EC: I started doing a lot of research. I started ordering from lots of vendors trying to see the quality because everybody claims to have the best hair… It took a lot of time, and a lot of money, and a lot of effort to even find a great vendor. …[N]ow I’m working on a distributorship program which will allow people to pay a small fee and the fee will just cover a website, 500 business cards, and it’ll get them started on making their own income, promoting their own brands.

…[W]e’ve got a great response just from marketing with the social media, doing the street marketing with flyers and sponsoring certain events. So I think it’ll be a good thing to help people start making their own income without having to pay all the money that I had to pay to get in because we carry the inventory for them. We do the shipping and everything for them.

MN: So, your passion, in a sense, is empowering other people to start businesses.

EC: Right. I love entrepreneurship. Like, I want everybody to be entrepreneurs. …[P]eople that have jobs—like, that’s a temp job because it’s like you’re building somebody else’s dream. You’re making somebody else their millions and their thousands of dollars, you know? I always want to empower people to step out and do [their] own thing; turn [their] passion into an income.

Diddy Says “Thank God For Hip Hop” As He Presents Young Entrepreneurs Program With $250K Check

October 5th, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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If you’ve followed music over the years, you know that Sean “Diddy” Combs has taken a lot of hits on the way people “view him.” He’s not always a fan favorite. But for all the times people may have something negative to say about him, it is just as important to highlight the positive things he does with his time.

On Thursday, Diddy took time out of his busy schedule to join the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship for a day of mentoring. He spent time sharing tips on how to run a business as well as how to approach life in an entrepreneurial way.  When he was done, Diddy presented the NFTE with a check for $250,000 on behalf of Combs Enterprises, according to Rap-Up.com.

The NFTE is an entrepreneurial training program for high school students, primarily for those from low income communities.  They encourage young people to stay on their educational paths and also how to recognize business opportunities and how to make them successful.

In his speech, Diddy said:

“I am honored to partner with NFTE on this initiative because I am extremely proud of the work they do every day, helping over 500,000 young people reach their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs.  I believe all young people should be given the opportunity to be successful and to pursue their passions and NFTE gives all kids the tools they need to be the CEOs of their future.”

Great job, Diddy, spending not only money but time with young people who very likely look up to him. Hopefully, his words and advise will stick with them as they continue to flourish.

Seeking A Career In Public Relations? These Takeaways From Our Twitter Chat Could Help

October 4th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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via Twitter

via Twitter

Yesterday, MadameNoire Business hosted its first Twitter chat (yay!) with Tia T. Gordon, founder and CEO TTG+Partners, a PR firm specializing in issues of diversity and education. During our hour online, we discussed everything from the current state of public relations to running a small business.

Twitter chats will become a regular part of MN Biz’s features, so keep an eye peeled for notices about them when they happen. And be sure to follow us on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter, which will also have reminders about chats and other events that MN Biz is hosting or participating in. The hashtag for our Twitter chats will be #MNBizchats.

But back to yesterday’s event. There was a great conversation happening yesterday. Here are the highlights.