All Articles Tagged "small business owner"
The month of February is dedicated to recognizing those who’ve paved the way with innovative ideas and products within African-American culture. We cannot thank those enough who have advanced and changed our lives for the better.
With that said, there are many of us who have been inspired to be innovators or business owners ourselves. Oftentimes, that inspiration fills us with the excitement and determination to get our idea to the forefront. However, it is very common to make money mistakes while doing so. To keep this from happening to you, here are a few tips you may want to consider while giving your business a jump-start.
Have a plan. A builder does not build a home without first developing a blueprint. Don’t get so excited about your end goal that you don’t first put together a business plan. According to Dictionary.com, a business plan is defined as “a detailed plan setting out the objectives of a business, the strategies and tactics planned to achieve them, and the expected profits, usually over a period of three to ten years.” This is very important for a number of reasons. On top of the list: once you have details on paper, you’ll see real numbers and figures, giving you an idea of how much your business is projected to cost to develop.
Make it official. While developing an idea, product, or business you may want to consider getting a patent, trademark and/or filing for incorporation. This can be very costly if you have to hire an attorney. However, there are plenty of ways you can accomplish these tasks at no-to-minimal cost.
- Lawyers for the Creative Arts states that they provide free legal service to financially eligible clients in all areas of the arts — the visual, performing, entertainment, literary, arts education, and more. They help individuals as well as for-profit and not-for-profit organizations with business issues, contracts, copyrights, trademarks, and many other legal areas.
- Do it yourself. If you are not intimidated by legal terms and jargon then you may want to complete the paperwork yourself. Since, we live in the age of technology everything is online. Google should become your best friend. And keep in mind, you should search on a state-by-state basis. Also, each state has a Secretary of State website with forms for you to file your business. All you should have to pay are the state fees that go along with filing your paperwork. Typically, you can do all of the filing directly online. This also goes with filing for a patent or trademark. Visit www.uspto.gov, the official United States Patent and Trademark Office website. While there, you can find articles explaining how you can obtain a trademark or patent on your own.
- Use an online legal preparation service. There are many online legal preparation services that will help assist you in filing for a patent, trademark and/or incorporation. Some of these services use accredited attorneys to file the paperwork for you at a discount. Be sure to do your research on which online legal service is best for you. There are a lot of legitimate services as well as fraudulent ones. So be careful. Our favorite online legal service that we use is Legal Zoom. They will assist with all of the filing and follow-up, and, at a low cost, they have attorneys on-hand to consult with in case of any legal questions or need assistance.
Don’t buy a lot of inventory. If you want to sell a tangible product, don’t go pulling out the cash up front. This can be a huge mistake! Believe it or not, there’s no need to purchase a lot of inventory to store away because you have a product that is going to go flying off of the shelves. Start slow. Find a trade show that will allow you to exhibit a display so that you can meet potential buyers. You don’t have to have physical products in hand to attend or participate in a trade show. All you need is flyers, displays, and a prototype to help get your product or idea in front of potential buyers. Surprisingly, there are a lot of buyers who are willing to put in orders for your product and wait months before they receive the product.
Extra tip: If you’re not ready to present at this year’s trade show of choice, ask the host if there are media passes or volunteer options available for you to attend free of cost to become familiar with the experience.
If you apply these tips, they will pay off in big ways. Anyone can have a dream. But, it’s about making smart decisions in order to make your dream a reality!
Tai and Tarin Perry, the Double Saving Divas, are financially savvy identical twin sisters, and investment bankers turned money saving experts. You can also connect with them on their Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube Channel.
Be sure to join us on Wednesday, February 13 for our next Facebook chat with the Double Saving Divas at 3pm ET. Click here and have your questions ready! They’ll be answering live.
With so many people struggling to deal with the rising costs of living and the staggering unemployment percentages throughout the nation, many people are thinking more seriously about going into business for themselves. The liberty to do what you please with your own time and the financial freedom that entrepreneurship provides are priceless. However, being a small business owner comes with its own challenges.
I own a small nonprofit consulting business and have a number of friends who have their own entrepreneurial endeavors. There is one frustration that it seems a few of us share. We’ve had clients who just don’t do right when it’s time to pay. Why oh why must we make it hard for the business owner who is trying to establish him or herself, build clientele, and end the year in the black? People rarely go to the register at a department store and negotiate the price of the merchandise they’re purchasing. They pay the price indicated on the tag. People don’t expect to walk out with items and then pay the store when they can; they understand that they are participating in business exchanges and that they must provide payment for a product in order to receive it. Why aren’t these simple concepts understood as readily when doing business with entrepreneurs?
I recall working with a client who I deeply discounted my services for because she started all of our conversations with long stories about how little she could afford, and I really wanted to help. I drafted a contract which she signed, secured the first payment installment and we began our work together. We worked with relatively few problems. That is until the work was complete and it was time for her to settle her account. It was at that point that Miss Lady began a disappearing act as impressive as Franklin of Terry McMillan’s popular novel with the same name. She was dodging phone calls, not responding to emails, the whole nine yards. When I finally caught up with her, she had spectacular stories for days to explain why she had been unavailable. I wasn’t concerned with much of what she had to say. My train of thought was essentially…forget that story, pay me! I got the money I was owed and I made a conscious decision to actively avoid similar situations in the future.
Moving forward, I implemented these simple commandments and you should too if you own a small business and want your money on time.
1. Only begin work with clients who demonstrate an ability to pay. If conversations about compensation are strained and leave you feeling uneasy, politely decline the business and walk away.
2. Set your own price and don’t allow clients to haggle you.
3. Be upfront about your payment policy and get it in writing,
4. Never begin work without at least securing a deposit, 50 percent preferably.
5. Stop working if a payment is delinquent and resume work once payment arrangements have been made.
6. Never deliver the final product before receiving the final payment.
7. Treat all business relationships as business relationships whether you’re doing business with family, friends, friends of friends, coworkers, etc.
8. Speak directly about compensation. If a client is actively avoiding the topic of payment, address the issue politely, but directly before payment is due and before a problem arises.
9. Be persistent. If a client owes you money, continue to follow up with them until payment is received.
10. If push comes to shove, utilize small claims court and collection agencies.
People deserve to be fairly compensated for the work that they do. If you’re a business owner, take the necessary steps to ensure that you get the money you’ve worked for every time. And if you’re patronizing friends and family who own their own businesses, stop fishing for a hook up and pay those people what they’re worth and ON TIME.
Sheena Bryant is a writer and blogger in Chicago. Follow her on twitter at @song_of_herself.
It’s been three years since Jasmine Diaz founded the Shawn Mackenzi Agency. Long before that, the entertainment and marketing industry maven accepted her true career calling as a matchmaker. Married for more than 10 years, Diaz established Shawn Mackenzi because of the relationship hardships she witnessed among friends and family — especially within the black community.
The high profile Los Angeles-based matchmaking business caters to affluent African-American and Hispanic professionals attracting celebrities, athletes, actresses and everyday people looking for love.
Madame Noire: How did you end up in matchmaking?
Jasmine Diaz: I have been calling myself a matchmaker since the beginning of time. I was matching people in high school — some are still together. That was really my introduction to the industry. I was working in the entertainment industry for about 12 years and during that time I was married, but had a lot of single friends. I had a lot of friends saying, “I’m single, I can’t find a really good guy. Do you know anyone who’s single?” I’m pretty connected so I happened to know a couple of friends that were.
I just decided, “Let me connect these people, because they’re obviously looking for the same things.” It was less for business, more for personal reasons — connecting friends and hoping they’d find a match. I decided to take a leap of faith and start the Shawn Mackenzi Agency. Since then I’ve been moving full speed ahead as a matchmaker.
MN: Where did the name Shawn Mackenzi come from?
JD: It doesn’t have a special meaning per se. I wanted the company to be a boutique company that is really specialized and exclusive. I was really scouring for the right identity so to speak. Me as a matchmaker, I call myself Shawn. When I was thinking of the company name, I wanted something that was ambiguous, but didn’t scream matchmaker. My mother and I were looking at a baby book believe it or not. We came across the names Shawn and Mackenzi and thought it was something that sounded great together.