All Articles Tagged "entrepreneurship"
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Most fortunes aren’t inherited at all. In fact, 66 percent of America’s wealthiest citizens earned their own riches from scratch. Among wealthy business owners, about seven in 10 have acquired affluent status from their own self-made entrepreneurial endeavors, Fox Business reports.
Less than 10 percent of business owners, according to a survey conducted by the U.S. Trust, inherited ownership of their company. A solid 78 percent of respondents claimed that they have founded or co-founded their business. Another 70 percent say they’ve accumulated a large percentage of their wealth from that business. Twenty-eight percent of respondents even admitted that they would not bequeath their business to their children. They would rather sell or close the company.
A vast majority of rich business owners revealed that motivation to start their own enterprise stemmed from refusal to work beneath someone else. Sixty-percent said “they wanted to be in the driver’s seat when it came to their future,” Fox Business adds. Nearly 70 percent believe that entrepreneurship is the best way to achieve a life of luxury.
Fifty-seven percent of respondents are quite selective who they help with their cash, willing to jump in if their adult children need them, but less keen on financially supporting their extended family members.
“Business ownership is alive and well in the U.S. economy, and new innovation is fueling entrepreneurship that knows no age limits,” says Keith Banks, president of U.S. Trust.
The study also found that generosity is a generational thing. Nearly 80 percent of Millennials want to use the success of their entrepreneurial endeavors to give back to the community, a statement only repeated by 50 percent of Gen X business owners.
This survey urveyed 711 high net worth adults with at least $3 million in assets that can be invested.
Women in America, a study finds, have little faith in their entrepreneurial prowess. Seven countries were examined and researchers discovered that although businesswomen were a minority in each nation, women in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa were more active in business than American women, reports Entrepreneur.
Many women expressed a sense of doubt in their ability to launch their own business, according to a new survey released by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. As a result, male entrepreneurs have been consistently taking the lead in the economy. “Women report being more afraid of failure on average than their male counterparts,” adds Entrepreneur. However, the study’s author, Donna Kelley, says that these convictions come from very real challenges.
In the U.S. “studies […] show that women are less likely to receive venture capital funding,” Entrepreneur says. Kelley also points out that more men are involved high-tech careers—which boosts entrepreneurial activity — and women are less likely to engage in the field of science or engineering. Although there are fewer observable barriers preventing women from starting their own business in America, the expectation that a businesswoman will be overridden by the male-dominated industry still lurks.
Surprisingly, in contrast to American women, sub-Saharan African women showed the most confidence in their entrepreneurship skills. “Part of the higher levels of confidence in sub-Saharan Africa is because almost 60 percent of women know other women entrepreneurs,” says the story. According to Kelley, this provided the women in Zambia, Malawi, Ghana, Uganda, and Nigeria with role models to emulate.
Researchers discovered that women living in developed regions of Asia showed the least amount of confidence; only five percent of Japanese women expressed any trust in their ability to start a business. The report notes that the culture’s gender roles can contribute to this deficiency in confidence.
Some of the common factors discovered in all seven economies was that businesswomen are more likely to work directly with consumers rather than pursue “capital intensive manufacturing businesses and knowledge-intensive business services,” the survey finds. Women in the study are unified in the belief that it’s riskier for them than it is for a man to forgo being an employee and pursue entrepreneurship.
The countries that were found to have nearly as many female entrepreneurs as there are businessmen are Panama, Thailand, Ghana, Ecuador, Nigeria, Mexico, and Uganda. The countries with the least amount of female businesswomen are living in developed regions of Asia, Israel, and Europe.
This study surveyed 198,000 people in 69 countries.
You may dream of owning your own business one day but not everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur. Certain personality types are suited to the risks involved in being a small business owner. And there are personalities that are not meant to be their own boss. Let’s take a closer look:
People who avoid risks. If you are afraid of taking a risk, then entrepreneurship is not for you. Just because you have a business plan and map out every detail of your new business, there will be unforeseen obstacles and a high chance of failure. “Risk-averse individuals that take any level risk will often… be paralyzed by the stress of the day-to-day tidings of what’s needed to grow a business,” Scott Gerber, founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council, told Yahoo.
People without passion. Entrepreneurs must have an undying passion for what they want to do and achieve. If there is no passion, how will you convince people to invest in your idea? How will you pull in the right people to work with you?
People don’t want to change their lifestyle. Being an entrepreneur may change your lifestyle for the negative. You will be called upon to cut back and sacrifice luxuries just to get your business off the ground. This means your resources my shrink. “Examples of shrinking resources could include moving into a smaller apartment, delaying having children or even something as simple as cooking more instead of eating meals out. If you’re not willing to make sacrifices, working for yourself may cause more pain than pleasure,” writes Yahoo.
People who give in easily. If you are not the type of person to stick out the hard times, then being a small business owner is something you should avoid. There will be plenty of times you may want to call it quits, but with all your resources invested in your idea you will have to have the courage to see the plan through.
People who depend on a bi-weekly paycheck. If you must have a steady income it will be tough for you to strike out on your own. “It may take months to earn your first paycheck,” Gerber said. And once you do have enough money to pay yourself it may not be steady. “You may earn all of your annual income within two months out of the year and have to use spread out your payment disbursements to maintain your monthly cash flow needs.”
People who need direction. If you are not a self-starter or someone who can think fast on her feet, being in business for yourself is not the best ideas. “Some great employees make terrible entrepreneurs. A prime example are those folks who can execute someone else’s vision perfectly, but lack their own ideas or self-starter attitude,” writes Yahoo.
Do you think you have the personality to be an entrepreneur?
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?
Welcome our latest installment of “The Hustle” where we profile African-American women who are turning their passion into a little something on the side, and turning that little something into a big business. Know someone who should be in “The Hustle”? Email email@example.com.
When a child is going through a hard time, it is a mother’s instinct to comfort them. To protect them. To find a way to make their life easier. Akira “Jael” Byrd of Birmingham, Alabama turned her maternal instinct into a business plan. After helping her young daughter navigate the difficult terrain of transitioning from relaxed to natural hair, Jael realized many grown women needed that same support. And Natural Hair Box was born.
Natural Hair Box is an exclusive monthly subscription service that delivers natural hair and beauty products. The service is offered by Jael’s company, Natural Hair Company, and focuses on providing products that contain gentle natural ingredients.
The company released their first subscription in April 2013. Getting her venture off the ground required more than a little multi-tasking. Jael still works full-time as an auditor, and is a mother and wife. We caught up with the entrepreneur to find out what inspires her hustle and how she manages to do it all.
Madame Noire: Describe Natural Hair Box for those unfamiliar with the product.
Akira “Jael” Byrd: Natural Hair Box is a new service offered by Natural Hair Community. Each month members receive a sturdy craft box with our logo cloaked over the top. Inside you find a minimum of five products that are all natural hair goodies from brands that mirror our mission in providing amazing products that contain amazing ingredients. Our featured products do not contain parabans, sulfates, silicones, mineral oil or petroleum. We are a huge supporter of small businesses so our features are not local finds.
Our goal is to deliver an incomparable experience each month and we understand that it starts with providing beyond expected customer service and quality products.
MN: Your professional background is in auditing. How did that prepare you to run this business?
AB: Being an auditor is about the details, organization, processes, timeliness, open communication, accountability, balancing and resolution. These are all huge aspects of the basic make-up that shapes how I manage Natural Hair Box.
MN: What inspired you to get involved in the natural hair industry?
AB: My oldest daughter was relaxed for about four years, and her once thick coily hair, became lifeless and limp. After months of transitioning with braids, she began wearing her natural hair out at school and that is when it all went downhill. She’d come home upset and crying. The kids teased her because she didn’t have a relaxer anymore.
As a mother, I comforted her as much as I possibly could. As time went on, the more she became comfortable with her hair, the less she paid attention to her classmates. After months of reassuring her, helping her mentally transition, I found that there were grown women going through the exact same thing. Only, they were transitioning at work, dealing with natural hair issues alone or didn’t have the support from family. This is why Natural Hair Community was founded. We began filling in the gaps and providing the information and support virtually through articles and my personal natural hair experience.
MN: What difficulties did you and your daughter run into transitioning to natural hair? How did they inform your business plan for Natural Hair Box?
Jael: Putting things into perspective, I stopped relaxing my daughter’s hair in 2005. It felt as if I broke a commandment. “Thou shalt not stop getting relaxers.” Some kids are so cruel and so were some adults. My daughter was dealing with constant teasing and name calling all because I stop relaxing her hair. But the funny thing is, when she became confident with her hair, the teasing turned into compliments. Go figure.