Yes, Uber Really Is Killing the Parking Business

An email from the CEO of a national parking operator has added some detail to the impact ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are having on demand for parking. The picture, at least for those trying to rent you a parking spot, is bleak.

In the email, unearthed from a company report by the San Diego Union-Tribune, Ace Parking CEO John Baumgardner says that demand for parking at hotels in San Diego has dropped by 5 to 10%, while restaurant valet demand is down 25%. The biggest drop, unsurprisingly, has been at nightclubs, where demand for valet parking has dropped a whopping 50%.

The numbers appear to be estimates, and Baumgardner doesn’t describe a timeframe for the declines. The assessment, written in September of last year, is also limited to San Diego, though an Ace Parking executive told the Union-Tribune that it has seen “similar” declines at its 750 parking operations around the United States. The company is focused on using technology, including better parking scheduling and booking options, to remain healthy.

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But much more is at stake than the revenues of the parking business – cities stand to benefit immensely as demand for parking drops. Parking spaces and lots generate relatively little tax revenue or economic activity relative to commercial operations, and by increasing sprawl may actually harm the economy of cities like Los Angeles.

Even back in 2015, cities were already relaxing zoning requirements that set minimum parking allotments, and there are now even more signs that city planners are thinking differently about parking. Perhaps most dramatically, a new Major League Soccer stadium being planned for David Beckham’s Miami expansion team may include no new parking at all – but will have designated pickup zones for Uber and Lyft.

The decline of parking will only be accelerated if and when autonomous vehicles become widespread. That sea-change which will make it easier to locate parking at a distance from urban destinations, and could further reduce car ownership. That will be bad news for the Ace Parkings of the world – but everyone else should welcome the decline of the urban parking lot.


SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN: -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News


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Reebok’s Todd Krinsky Heads Up New Performance Business Unit

A MEASURED PERFORMANCE: Like other, more established athletic brand competitors, Reebok’s heritage is rooted in performance and now the company has set up a division dedicated to that — the Reebok Performance Business Unit.
At the helm of that sector is 25-year company veteran Todd Krinsky who has been named general manager. The brand’s running and training business units have been consolidated into its new Performance Business Unit. Fittingly, Krinsky earned his post for his own performance as general manager of Reebok’s Classic Business Unit. Leading that business, he helped to generate double-digit percentage gains for year-on-year growth over the past six years. Krinsky reports to Reebok president Matt O’Toole.
Big-name branding has been a key part of Reebok’s Classic Business’ upward climb. Gigi Hadid is the latest celebrity to appear in Reebok’s “Always Classic” campaign. With the spring campaign, the IMG model joined the ranks of Ariana Grande, Rae Sremmurd, Teyana Taylor, Lil Yachty, K-pop star Somi, street artists Felipe Pantone and SANY and model Sharina Gutierrez. Interestingly, Reebok’s Performance Unit will take on more of a lifestyle edge. Noting how the company has developed “strong credibility in the fitness world” in recent years, Krinsky said, “Today, our Delta symbol serves

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7 Tips for Women on Avoiding Unwanted Advances During Business Travel

Tips for Women on Avoiding Unwanted Advances During Business TravelHere’s an interesting question for today: Do you often get unwanted attention when traveling for work? What are your best tips for women on avoiding unwanted advances during business travel? Does it happen most often in hotel bars, on the plane, at the airport, or elsewhere? From coworkers, clients — or strangers? Do you ever feel unsafe during those experiences, or are you mostly just annoyed when you’re trying to do some work, eat a meal, or simply get to where you’re going? tips for women on avoiding unwanted advances during business travel

The question of how to avoid being hit on when you’re traveling for work is especially relevant in light of all of the changes happening these days with sexual harassment, office culture, and the #metoo movement. As if flight delays, lost luggage, and jet lag weren’t enough, two in five women say they’ve experienced sexual harassment or unwelcome interactions while traveling, according to a recent survey 

We acknowledge that it’s sad and wrong that there’s even a need for a post called “tips for women on avoiding unwanted advances during business travel” (and that many women feel like they have to change their behavior or appearance to avoid being hit on or harassed while traveling), but unfortunately, that’s the reality that most of us live in. (There also needs to be something to counter the pieces aimed at men with titles like “How to Pick Up Women on Airplanes” and “How to Pick Up Business Women in Hotel Bars.”) I also want to point out that we don’t want to imply that any woman should be blamed for unwanted attention if she doesn’t do the things below — we just thought it would be helpful to share some advice and ask readers for theirs.

Psst: We’ve previously shared business travel tips and tricks and discussed readers’ best self-defense tips, as well as given advice on how to handle a client hitting on you and how to stop a flirtatious boss from hitting on you. You may also want to check out our post on the best personal safety apps for women!

Here are some tips for avoiding unwanted advances during business travel:

  1. Get some mileage out of your RBF! While your resting bitch face may most often lead to people calling you a bitch behind your back, or compel men to tell you to smile, now you can use it to your advantage! Feel free to look as unapproachable as you want — hey, go wild and cross your arms too (while hoping it comes off as standoffish, not as “I’m so bored. Some unwanted male attention is just what I need!”) If ignoring a guy who’s staring at you doesn’t make him move on to his next target, return his gaze without changing your expression.
  2. Wear a fake wedding ring. This certainly won’t deter every man who’s thinking of approaching you, but it’ll work in some cases, and it’ll only cost you $ 10 or $ 15. Alternately, if you have a sparkly and conspicuous right-hand ring that will fit on your left hand, switch it when you need to. (Maybe you can use this as a justification to splurge and buy yourself one if you’ve been considering it…)
  3. Read a book. If you don’t have one handy, you can instead try to make it clear that you only have eyes for your Instagram feed. Be aware that this strategy can backfire (even when it’s not a strategy), as a writer for Cosmopolitan found when a guy saw her reading at a bar and insisted, “You’re just reading so some guy will hit on you.” (I mean, sure — that’s why I got my English degree.)
  4. Wear sunglasses. If you’re feeling especially uncomfortable, sunglasses can prevent a guy from believing your accidental eye contact is a conscious invitation. (Bonus: If you want to indulge in a bit of people-watching during that long layover, no one will be the wiser…)
  5. Use earbuds/headphones, whether or not you’re listening to something. On the other hand, a common safety tip for women is to only wear one earbud so that you can stay aware of your surroundings, but … that kind of defeats the purpose. You can always limit this strategy to situations and places where you feel reasonably safe, i.e., not walking back to your hotel alone at night.
  6. Resist any natural impulse to always be “nice.” Women are so often socialized to act “nice” and be people-pleasers, but if you’re tired of your polite/friendly behavior being interpreted as romantic interest, try to check yourself.
  7. If you’re traveling to a country where most women dress very differently than you normally do, try to blend in by dressing as conservatively as they do, within reason. (By the way, you can find a lot of reader comments on our post on what businesswomen should wear in the Middle East with specific recommendations for Qatar, Saudi Arabia, etc.) Again, please don’t read this as us saying, “Of course she was hit on all the time — look at what she was wearing!”

What are YOUR best tips for women on avoiding unwanted advances during business travel? Do you find that some strategies work better than others? 

Further Reading with Tips for Women on Avoiding Unwanted Advances During Travel:

Image credit: Deposit Photos / Wavebreakmedia

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U.S. Business Inventories Climb More Than Expected In December

A report released by the Commerce Department on Wednesday showed business inventories in the U.S. rose by slightly more than anticipated in the month of December. The Commerce Department said business inventories climbed by 0.4 percent in December, matching the increase seen in November.
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Mental Health Survivor and Entrepreneur on Building Her Business While Managing PTSD

The mental health stigma remains a cloud of shame with many fearing discrimination or alienation from family, friends, even society at large. Approximately 1 in 4 people suffer from some form of mental illness.

HLG Scans Founder Charmaine Gresham has dealt with depression pretty much all her life, beginning in her adolescent years. Gresham has faced some tremendous highs and very dark lows, but she prides herself on still standing and not being ashamed. She challenges the notion that you can’t be successful if you have a mental illness.

For Gresham, it’s about knowing trigger moments and how to efficiently work through them via professional counseling and meditation. Black Enterprise contributor Chanel Martin discusses with Gresham how she is able to build her business and take care of her family while managing her mental illness.

Chanel Martin: Tell us about your business. What is it? How did you get started?

Gresham: HLG Scans was started out of necessity. My newborn daughter was having sinusitis health problems, and I had to constantly take leave from my corporate job to take care of her. I finally decided I didn’t want to choose anymore and started the process of developing HLG Scans L.L.C. HLG Scans is a multi-dimensional electronic document management company. We have three subdivisions: federal contracting, online products and services, and small business services. HLG Scans is a certified Veteran Owned (VOSB) and Women-Owned (WOSB) Small Business.

We provide third-party vendor services to federal government agencies from administrative to minor construction outsourcing. Our online division provides interactive tools, training, and consultation to transform your traditional office into a digital workspace with the ability to work from anywhere. Our small business division, provide scan conversion and electronic document management services to help local business owners save money and increase office productivity. The workplace is an ever-changing entity. Technology is changing the way we do our business. Things that used to take weeks, now only take hours and minutes. Electronic document management is becoming a requirement and no longer a luxury.

As a mental health survivor, entrepreneurship can be very stressful. How do you manage your diagnoses while pursuing your entrepreneurial efforts?

Mental illness is something I’ve dealt with in one form or another for a majority of my life. Before I was clinically diagnosed with PTSD, I would continually have highs and sometimes feel so low that the only thing that got me to a place of recovery was prayer and determination to see another day. With mental illness, your trigger moments can feel like a deep dark hole you’re constantly trying to climb out. Normal habits, such as getting out of bed, taking a shower, brushing your teeth, can easily be put on the backburner because you’re too exhausted to get out of bed. I would have slept my life away I could. With PTSD you’re constantly struggling with past demons. It’s like playing a broken record in your head. Usually, with PTSD, you’re triggered by past and present moments of stress. You’re trying to win this battle in your head and everything you hold dear gets damaged in the crossfire. It can be utterly exhausting fighting with yourself.

Sometimes my moments of depression could end up lasting for a week, with me struggling to find a real reason to keep pushing. When you’re not adequately dealing with your mental health, nothing gets 100% from you, including family, friends, and your business. Sometimes I would go a week without being productive, things weren’t getting done, and it showed. I was trying to do everything myself, which made me stressful, which made me depressed. The goal for any business is consistency, and that’s something I could not give because I wasn’t dealing with my issues. Once I started treatment, delegated some responsibilities, and learned to take a break and breathe; things began to change for the better. Contracts began coming in, and real progress has been made across the board for my business. I want a happy and fulfilling life, and I deserve it. My main priority is maintaining a positive outlook for my family and me, which includes medication, regular counseling, exercise, and meditation.

What is a typical day in the life for you?

A typical day for me includes early morning meditation; getting my daughter ready for school, and meeting with my trainer for an exercise session. I then return home and start my workday which includes: virtual meetings with my team, responding to emails, reviewing my to-do list, developing new online products, social media interaction, live video trainings, and local networking meetings and events. I usually meet with my counselor twice a month to decompress. I always feel refreshed after our sessions.

What advice do you have for others who may feel that a mental health diagnosis would limit their ability to build a sustainable business?

First, you must openly acknowledge and accept your mental health diagnoses. It’s not a death sentence or something you should be ashamed of. I would suggest seeking physician care, professional counseling, regularly participating in activities that bring you peace and joy, and if you have a triggered moment, don’t beat yourself up. We’re all beautifully flawed human beings.

What motivates you to keep going?

I do believe there’s an anointed strength in me that keeps me going through all the trials and tribulations of juggling three hats (business owner, mother, and wife). I’ve had tremendous growth because through it all, I kept going. Unfortunately, sometimes I don’t take the time to pat myself on the back because I always see something that can be better. I’m slowly learning to stop and smell the roses; enjoy the moment of achievement and growth. I’m also learning that no matter how busy or driven I am, to always make time for me. Enjoy the different vices that help me relax and just be. Mental illness isn’t something to be ashamed of, it’s a part of me, and I have to love all parts of me—no matter what.

The post Mental Health Survivor and Entrepreneur on Building Her Business While Managing PTSD appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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Alexander Wang Proves That He Means Business With His Fall 2018 Collection

Alexander Wang, the business, has been the center of much industry discussion lately. In October 2017, after a critically-panned September event in which party buses transported models from two secret public shows in Manhattan to the final stop in Bushwick, Wang stepped down as the CEO of his …

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From Garage to HGTV: How This Woman Grew a Successful Home-Staging Business

Kristy Anderson spent most of her childhood on the move.

She and her mother, Bridget, would often change apartments. And Anderson, in an attempt to make each place feel more like home, would spruce it up with some amateur decorating.

She would rearrange some pillows. Or maybe she’d take some bedsheets and turn them into curtains.

“My mom always welcomed it,” Anderson said. “She was very encouraging.”

Nobody knew it at the time, but what she was doing was making her way toward building her own business.

A New Path

A resident of South Tampa, Anderson, 41, is the founder and executive director of Dwell Home Staging, which specializes in getting homes ready to hit the open market. She employs a staff of eight, including her husband, Marc, the company’s operations manager. Four months ago, she sold the business to appliance chain Happy’s Home Centers.

Dwell has been featured on HGTV and is repeatedly ranked among the top home-staging businesses in the country.

“Never in a million years did I ever imagine this,” Anderson said.

Anderson took a stab at acting before landing a teaching position 12 years ago at Academy Prep of Tampa, a non-profit school for middle school students. Eventually, she was named the assistant head of school. Anderson had an apartment on scenic Davis Island, located right near downtown Tampa, and was pulling a solid salary.

“I thought I was going to be in education forever,” she said.

On the side, however, Anderson was still dabbling in decorating. She worked 10 hours a day at Academy Prep of Tampa and then spent the night staging homes for her friends. It was fun. But she figured it was just a side gig.

“It was a real small-time,” Anderson said. “I would just go into people’s homes, re-design or revamp it, and maybe bring a few new pieces in.”

Starting Her Own Business

Kristy Anderson, of Dwell Home Staging

Kristy Anderson adds foliage elements to style her staged home kitchen. Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

One day, Anderson decided she no longer wanted to work in education. She took $ 3,000 out of her savings account and created an office out of her garage — from there, Dwell Staging was born.

Anderson’s aspirations were modest — she never thought staging homes would match the $ 65,000 a year she was making as an assistant head of school. So she planned on making a living as a real estate agent.

But Dwell continued to grow.

Anderson built her client base through word of mouth and friendly referrals, as well as through Google Adwords, an online advertising site. She created a Facebook page, which she routinely updates with videos of homes she has recently staged, and a Twitter account. She joined local associations for homebuilders, investors and realtors and visited realtors to give in-person presentations.

Anderson also hosted broker’s opens, which are strictly for real estate agents and not for the public, in homes she had staged.

The ad campaign worked — Anderson became so busy running Dwell that she no longer had time to pursue her real estate license.

“That’s when I said, ‘I guess this is what I’m doing,’” she said.

Purchasing her inventory wholesale from furniture and accessory vendors from across the United States, Anderson needed just six months to take Dwell from her garage to a storage facility. A year later, it moved into a 2,000-square-foot office and warehouse; the company now operates out of a 9,000-square-foot facility.

Staging a Home

Woman steaming curtains and placing pillows

Malaika Hollist and Brittney Davis work simultaneously to complete the living area and patio .Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

When she’s staging a home, Anderson considers her true clients to be the home’s potential buyers, not the current owners.

“We always design for the target demographic of the expected buyer,” Anderson said. “This is the first indicator for our design.  Then we look at the home’s architecture and design, and select pieces that highlight that.  If it’s occupied, we try to use as much of what the seller has as possible, while using our inventory to supplement in order to pull together a cohesive look.”

Dwell will keep a home staged for 30 days (at a cost of between $ 1,500 and $ 2,880) or 60 days ($ 2,010 and $ 3,968) and offers additional monthly packages after the initial contract has expired. Dwell also offers free real estate photos for vacant homes with four rooms or more.

It’s a process that seems to be working. Dwell has had an increase in revenue each year, bringing in $ 180,000 during its first year and close to $ 500,000 last year.

Though Happy’s Home Centers now owns Dwell, Anderson still runs the daily operations and hopes to branch out into other markets such as Orlando and Sarasota.

“That’s the ultimate vision,” she said. “But we still want to be the top staging business in the Tampa Bay area and do things more efficient [sic] and better than anyone else.”

Anderson always dreamed on landing on HGTV — that dream came to fruition when Dwell designed a space for the show “Container Homes” with the help of artists from the Tampa Bay community.

“I’d watch all those shows on HGTV and would dream —‘Wouldn’t that be great?’” she said.

And Anderson knows who to thank for success — her mother Bridget, who passed away last May.

“She was always saying, ‘Just say yes,’ and, ‘Why not you?’” Anderson said. “She kind of ingrained it in me to take big risks. Why couldn’t it be me?”

woman holding pillow

Kristy Anderson makes an adjustment to the bedding in an upstairs bedroom of the stage house Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

John Lembo lives in St. Petersburg and often “dwells” on his lack of decorative skills.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Best Merchant Cash Advance for Small Business Advice: Should Black Entrepreneurs Use This Option?

Traditionally, African American business owners have always had a tough time obtaining financing to grow, develop, and sustain their businesses. When business owners cannot obtain the capital they need from traditional financial institutions, they usually turn to alternative ones.

One of the growing sources of alternative business capital since the Great Recession, has been that of the Merchant Cash Advance (MCA), along with its sister product, the Alternative Business Loan. A company by the name of AdvanceMe (today the company is known as Can Capital) brought the MCA concept to the marketplace in the very early 2000s and even tried to patent the concept, but wasn’t successful.

But it wasn’t until the credit crunch of the 2008 recession that business owners began turning to the MCA product in high numbers, leading to an explosion of said industry. You have to be cautious using these alternative means of capital, so I am going to present the best merchant cash advance advice to you.


The Best Merchant Cash Advance for Small Business Info

Here’s how the MCA works: A business is doing $ 60,000 a month in credit card processing volume, for example. That business could be approved for about $ 60,000 in terms of the advance amount, which can be used for any business purpose, such as covering payroll.

The lender might set up the business with what is known as a  “factor rate,” which translates into a total payback amount of $ 72,000. To pay back the advance, the lender might hold 20% of the daily credit card processing volume of the business (which, in this example, comes to around $ 400) and apply this amount to the total outstanding payback balance.

As long as the business maintains the same level of monthly credit card processing volume, then the entire payback amount would be satisfied in six months. An MCA offer based on the above example would look like the following:

  • Advance amount: $ 60,000
  • Factor rate: 1.20
  • Total payback or purchase amount: $ 72,000
  • Holdback percentage: 20%

Note that the MCA is not considered a traditional loan with fixed terms, so if the monthly credit card processing volume of the business in this example drops to $ 50,000, then instead of six months to pay off the total payback amount, it might take just over seven months to complete. As a result, this product works best for businesses that are seasonal.


The Alternative Business Loan

Unlike the MCA, an Alternative Business Loan is structured as a real business loan with origination fees and fixed terms. Approval is based on 5% to 10% of the annual gross sales of a business, so if a business is doing $ 2 million a year in gross sales, it might get approved for $ 150,000. To pay back the loan, the lender will set up a fixed payment that comes out of the business owner’s bank account every business day. For the terms, let’s say the lender offers the business owner a 15-month option with a 28% interest rate. Here’s how the complete offer would look:

  • Loan amount: $ 150,000
  • Origination fee: $ 4,500 (based on 3% of loan amount)
  • Final disbursement amount: $ 145,500
  • Cost expense (interest): $ 42,000
  • Total repayment amount: $ 192,000
  • Daily business day payment: $ 508 (represents 378 business day payments over the next 15 months)
  • Term: 15 months

Should You Use One Of These Products?

Many experts believe business owners should never use the MCA or Alternative Business Loan, calling the products “payday loans for small businesses,” due to the fact that, at times, the annual percentage rates (APR) of the products can get up to 350%.

Having offered both of these products to numerous small business owners across the country, I believe the products can work for certain business owners in certain situations. For example, I have normally recommended the products as a form of bridge financing, which is just a tool to help get a business owner over a short-term/temporary “hump,” but with a focus on eventually getting them back into a position where they are able to take advantage of traditional (and more cost-effective) business financing options.

As a business owner, you would have to determine whether or not the MCA or Alternative Business Loan product might work for your current financing needs. As a financial professional, I recommend using the products for short-term/temporary financing issues rather than as a long-term, business financing strategy.

The post Best Merchant Cash Advance for Small Business Advice: Should Black Entrepreneurs Use This Option? appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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‘We put our soul into this business and it means we won’t be paid this week’: Beckenham cafe suffers break-in

An independent café in Beckenham has had its till and tip jar stolen after a break-in which left the front door smashed.

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Legal Names vs. Trade Names in Business


A business name is one of the first things that connects a customer to a company’s products or services.

Businesses pine for catchy, recognizable names that they can use to structure their brand, reach customers, and generate sales. Their goal is to become a household name like Walmart, Amazon, or Disney.

But did you know that many businesses use a second “legal” name on paper that differs from their catchy, household one?

Many companies use legal (or registered) names and trade names (DBA names) for different purposes. In this post we’ll discuss the difference between them, and why a company might use them.

What Does DBA Mean?

DBA is simply an acronym that stands for “doing business as”. It’s a term that refers to a company’s trade name. In other countries like Canada or England, DBA is sometimes seen as T/A (Trading As) or O/A (Operating As), but they all mean the same thing.

For example, Walmart’s trade name is Walmart, but the company’s legal name is Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (which will actually be changing to Walmart, Inc. effective February 1, 2018).

Why Do Companies Have Trade Names?

Typically, a company will have both a legal name and a trade name. Their legal name is the one that appears on government and legal forms, like their Articles of Incorporation—documents a company must file with the state department to legally form a corporation.

Businesses will likely use their trade names for the purposes of sales or advertising. Think of them as almost a nickname for the company.

For instance, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media is branded under the trade name The Disney Store, which is pithier (and less of a mouthful).

Corporations also use trade names to differentiate their brands, especially if they make a variety of products for different demographics.

For instance, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Athleta, and Intermix are all different stores with different inventory, but all of them are registered Gap Inc. brands.

Do I Need to Register a Trade Name?

Some states (like Washington, for example) require businesses to register both a legal name and their trade name to officially conduct business under both, but it’s not a requirement everywhere. The decision to register both is often up to the business owner; however, there are some advantages to trade name registration.

For example, if your clients pay you with checks, having both names registered means that you can open a business checking account under both names and your clients can use either your legal name or DBA name as the recipient. This comes in especially handy if your clients aren’t aware of your legal name.

It should be noted that in some states, registering your name doesn’t always stop other companies from conducting business under that name. Typically, the right to the trade name goes to whoever uses the trade name first in association with their business, not necessarily the first to register.

Choosing a Name for Your Business

Regardless of how much your legal business name might differ from your DBA or trade name, the important thing is that you use them both to your benefit.

At the very least, try to make your trade name clear, catchy, and easy to pronounce, and keep in mind what impressions your name makes on a potential customer.

The post Legal Names vs. Trade Names in Business appeared first on LawDepot Blog.

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Social Media Success for Your Contracting Business

Most people get into the construction business because they like the work. There’s something satisfying about demoing a whole kitchen or bathroom and building a new one in its place. Ironically, though, as your contracting business grows, your work takes on a completely different form. Take marketing, for instance. You may have never imagined yourself writing newsletters or designing a website or posting to social media, but here you are.

Construction worker with contemporary mobile phone

And no matter how alien it might seem at first, you’re making the right move. It’s no longer possible for construction pros to operate without an online presence. Marketing researchers show that consumers are doing a lot more online research before they buy—and that includes home improvement purchases. Word-of-mouth recommendations are still important, of course, but they’re increasingly offset by online reviews and photos.

So where does social media fit into that equation? Its purpose is twofold. One, it expands your reach to generate new leads. And two, it helps you create a more authentic connection with clients. After all, when clients are able to see the beautiful spaces you create and hear from the customers you help, it’s a huge vote of confidence. It’s even better when they feel like there are real people behind your brand, fueling your decisions and driving your client relationships. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Here’s how it all breaks down.

contractor laptop

Generate Social Media Profiles on the Major Platforms

This may seem obvious, but it’s overlooked so frequently that it bears mentioning anyway. And if you already have them, make sure to fill them out—it takes more than one account to project a professional image. On your Facebook page, for instance, you need a profile picture and a banner photo as well as a website address, contact info, and your operating hours. On Twitter, you’ll need a profile photo, banner photo, company description, website, and location. Don’t forget about social reviewing sites like Google and Yelp! You’ll want to generate profiles here, too.

Follow the 40-40-20 Rule for Interactions

The tricky thing about social media is promoting yourself without being too overtly sales-y. Think about how you feel when a company is putting the hard sell on you. It’s uncomfortable, especially if you’re still examining your options. Most of us don’t like to be the subject of an ongoing sales pitch, and on social media, where customers get to tailor their experience, it’s easier than ever for potential customers to tune you out. That’s why marketing pros recommend you follow the 40-40-20 rule for offers. This golden ratio states that you spend 40% of your time posting helpful information, 40% directly interacting with customers, and 20% promoting your brand. That way, you’re offering customers some value in exchange for getting to bend their ear.

No Platform Is an Island

Social has its own unique quirks, to be sure. But it shouldn’t exist in a vacuum. Your reach is greatest when you market across platforms. That might mean you promote content from your monthly newsletter, with a link to join. Or perhaps you’re featured in an ad and ask your followers to look for it. One of social media’s greatest strengths is that it’s free to use, so you should use it to your advantage.

construction hats piled on one another

Share Your Expertise

One of the easiest ways to create seamless cross-platform integration is to use social media to promote content. To do that, you’ll first need content to promote. Luckily, you’re already an expert in your field, with lots of insider knowledge. For many construction professionals, a how-to video is the obvious answer. Thanks to autoplay features, video is gaining a lot of popularity across social media lately—a trend you can capitalize on. A lot could be written about video production, but the key points are to keep it short, punchy, and light-hearted.

Have Fun!

Easier said than done, right? But seriously, one of the powerful aspects of social media is its informality. It’s a chance for you to showcase the lighter side of your business. So go ahead, post pictures of the “company dog” (hey, if it works for Amazon, it can work for you too!). Share that weird roundup of the best buildings with “faces.” Get your audience in on your company pranks, jokes, and parties. Who knows, you may even grow to like marketing.

The post Social Media Success for Your Contracting Business appeared first on Modernize.



3 growth hacking strategies that will take your business to the next level


Heads up: All products featured here are selected by Mashable’s commerce team and meet our rigorous standards for awesomeness. If you buy something, Mashable may earn an affiliate commission.

There are many ways to grow your business, but growth hacking can be one the most effective. Growth hacking is like guerrilla filmmaking: it eschews traditional growth strategies like radio and TV advertising and focuses on novel ways to reach potential customers and grow your user base. With all the competition out there today, you need to find unique ways to get your business to stand out, and growth hacking can often be the differentiator between wild successes and spectacular flameouts.  Read more…

More about Online Learning, Mashable Shopping, Shopping Stackcommerce, Shopping Solo, and Growth Hacking



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Netflix’s ‘Dirty Money’ investigates Trump’s dubious business history — and yup, the conclusions check out


In the story of American business, says Netflix’s Dirty Money, Donald Trump is not a hero. He shouldn’t be listed alongside Rockefeller, Ford, and Jobs, argues writer Tim O’Brien; for Trump is P.T. Barnum. He’s a self-promoter and a showman who will tell any lies necessary to feed the narrative of his own success.

Dirty Money comprises of six nearly feature-length episodes exploring corporate greed, culminating in the Trump-focused hour. Here is the President’s story, archived alongside exposés of payday lenders and drug cartels. 

More about Business, Entertainment, Television, Netflix, and Donald Trump



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With cord-cutting on the rise, Comcast’s broadband business sees significant gains

Cord Cutting Comcast

While the number of viewing options cable TV provides is nothing short of astounding, the harsh reality is that cable companies have been price-gouging consumers for years. Even The Onion got in on the fun a few years back with a pointed headline that read: “Nation’s Cable Companies Announce They’re Just Going To Take $ 100 From Everyone.”

With cable prices on the rise, streaming services like Hulu and Netflix have been steadily chipping away at the cumulative number of cable TV subscribers. In turn, we’ve seen industry veterans like DirecTV roll out more wallet-friendly services, with DirecTV Now being one such example. And while many cable companies are seeing their subscriber numbers take a hit, Comcast arguably finds itself in a win-win situation on account of its broadband service.

Continue reading…

BGR Top Deals:

  1. The $ 30 home security cam that sells out every time we cover it is even cheaper right now
  2. $ 18 device ensures your family’s huge downloads never interrupt your Fire TV or Chromecast streaming

Trending Right Now:

  1. Monkeys have been successfully cloned in China, but you might not like the reason why
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  3. The amount of data Google tracks from your Android phone is staggering

With cord-cutting on the rise, Comcast’s broadband business sees significant gains originally appeared on on Wed, 24 Jan 2018 at 23:04:26 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.



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Johnson & Johnson trying to sell its diabetes care business to Chinese buyers for up to $4 billion

Chinese bidders are circling a diabetes care business owned by the world’s largest healthcare company, Johnson & Johnson.
Health Care


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8 Effective Ways to Handle Customer Complaints (And Use Them to Improve Your Business)

Did you hear the one about the business owner who got into a Facebook flame war with an online reviewer? What about this restaurant owner who overreacted to a review, and then wound up firing his entire staff because, according to him, his “account had been hacked.”

While you’re probably not about to launch an all-out verbal assault on your customers, a negative review is enough to put any business owner on edge. A comment in public venues, such as on your website or social media channels can land a real blow to your ego.

However, dealing with customer complaints is about more than damage control. Owners who are able to set their feelings aside and handle issues in a cool and collected manner can earn themselves a customer for life—at least if it’s done right. Here are eight foolproof tips for diffusing the situation and turning a complaint into a compliment!

clicking on facebook

Avoid Complaints from the Get-go

Many complaints in the home building business stem from poor communication. Clients have limited knowledge about the construction process to start with, so they often don’t know which questions to ask. Your projects go a lot smoother if you accept this reality instead of viewing it as a continual nuisance. Embrace your role as an educator and expect to lead clients through every step of the process. Help them by asking the right questions—before they become an issue.

Keep Your Cool

However, if you do wind up with an unhappy customer on your hands, your best bet is to keep calm. An angry reaction usually only exacerbates the situation—and makes you look bad in the process. And since so much customer service occurs over social media, you could really damage your reputation if a clumsy response goes viral. (You don’t want to end up as the next entry on a list like this.). When you receive negative feedback, your first response is to do nothing at all, at least not right away. Instead, step back, take a few deep breaths and give yourself a few minutes to process.

Listen and Ask Questions

Even the most bizarre complaints may have a kernel of truth buried in them somewhere. Before responding, it’s important that you know the facts. Ask the customer to clarify or reveal important details that they may have left out of the narrative. For instance, if you have a large stable of subcontractors working for you, figure out who they were working with. Tease out exactly what made the customer angry—unrealistic expectations? Poor communication? Bad workmanship?

Business people greeting and handshake

Put Yourself in Their Place

To appease a customer, you have to think like a customer. In the residential contracting business, customers can have some truly epic reactions. But there’s a reason for the emotionality:

  • Clients are on edge the from the word go. Customers go into a renovation expecting a negative experience. Unfortunately, contractors don’t have the best reputation (according to one survey, over 74% of homeowners have had a bad experience with a contractor). With that kind of baggage to deal with, you’ll have to take extra care to re-establish trust with new clients.
  • Customers frequently have a limited understanding about the building process. Homeowners hire contractors for their expertise. That means they either take what you say as gospel, or feel vaguely suspicious throughout the entire process. Give your homeowners some peace of mind by providing professional estimates and showing up to appointments on time.
  • Homes are important. Homeowners have a lot of invested in their homes—both literally and figuratively. Beyond the financial element, homes provide safety and a place to retreat from the outside world. So that gets threatened, the response can be a little on the extreme side.

The more you learn to identify with the homeowner mindset, the better equipped you’ll be to address customer complaints.

Don’t Challenge a Customer’s Complaint

It’s usually not a good idea to dispute a customer complaint, even if you know it’s wrong. The mantra “the customer is always right” extends to complaints aired over social media and other public forums as well. And few and far between are the instances when the court of public opinion has sided with the business owner in an online dispute. So don’t argue or make excuses. You’ll only be hurting yourself.

Smiling construction worker working with laptop

Offer a Genuine Apology

Apologies are like a release valve: they take the air out of a high-pressure situation. Apologize freely, but stick to authentic, sympathetic amends. Internet users can sniff out a non-apology faster than you can say “viral,” so avoid phrases like “I’m sorry you felt [blank]” that divert blame from yourself and your business.

Make It Right

Obviously, running a construction business isn’t like managing a restaurant or a retail store. You can’t just offer the customer a gift card or a new product and be done with it. Your approach is going to vary, depending on the issue at hand. Maybe you offer to return to the site and fix the problem to the customer’s satisfaction. Maybe you refund a percentage of the final bill, such as your labor costs, or even give them one on the house. In the long run, it’s better to get out with your reputation intact than pocket a few extra dollars.

Remember, Every Complaint Is an Opportunity in Disguise

Business owners almost never get the chance to interact openly and directly with clients. Skillful complaint management isn’t just a chance to smooth things over and soothe a frustrated client, it’s often a way to cement lifetime loyalty. Surveys show that 70% of customers are willing to work with a business again if you solve an issue to their satisfaction. And for every customer who speaks up with a complaint, there are an average of 26 who say nothing. When you listen to complaints with an open mind and a willingness to improve, you just might learn a few things about your business—and the clients you serve!

The post 8 Effective Ways to Handle Customer Complaints (And Use Them to Improve Your Business) appeared first on Modernize.



How To Pack A Suitcase For A Business Trip

Before we go into how to pack a suitcase for a business trip, you have to know what to pack. So what you should pack, honestly, I think you know that best yourself.




What To Pack For A Business Trip

Versatility Is Key

A light blue shirt for business casual with chinos and a blazer

A light blue shirt for business casual with chinos and a blazer

You want a wardrobe that is easy to dress up and down because you have very limited garments with you and you want to get the most out of them.

For a standard business trip, I suggest you pack at least one suit, maybe two, and a navy blazer. In terms of color, I think a grey suit is perfect because you can combine the pants with a blazer and have another business appropriate outfit.

Chinos are great for travel

Chinos are great for travel

If you want another pair of pants, I think chinos are great or if you need something dressier, of course, you can go with dress pants. Make sure there’s enough contrast and don’t go with something navy that is different than the blazer, or even exactly the same because, it just looks off.

Sven Raphael Schneider wearing a DB flannel suit

Sven Raphael Schneider wearing a DB flannel suit

A heavier fabric such as a flannel, wrinkles less than a lightweight high twist fabric. Yes, you can always have your suit pressed when you arrive or just hang up in the bathroom to release the wrinkles with steam, but ideally, you want a suit that wrinkles as little as possible because it makes it easier on you and provides peace of mind because you’ll always look presentable.

A checked dress shirt for casual night outs

A checked dress shirt for casual night outs

When it comes to shirts, I’d bring a white dress shirt with cufflinks, maybe a light blue one, and at least a checked one which is a little more casual that you can wear without a tie, let’s say if you go out at night.

Undershirts may help you to keep your dress shirt fresher all day. If you want other colors, I suggest stick with pastel colors for shirts because they’re easy to combine, very versatile. Don’t go with bolder colors and if you want to add a dash of something special to your outfit, go with colorful accessories such as your tie, your pocket square, or maybe your cufflinks.

How Many Pairs Of Shoes Should You Bring?

When it comes to shoes, it’s actually very different if you have quality men’s shoes because they’re usually a lot heavier than cheaper ones. Personally, I have traveled three or four weeks with just three pairs of shoes, one which I wore on the plane, and two that were packed, and I could do that because I know exactly the kind of events I would go to.

Black cap toe oxfords with Fort Belvedere shadow stripe socks

Black cap toe oxfords with Fort Belvedere shadow stripe socks

If you know you have lots of formal business events, I suggest to go with a black cap toe oxford, and maybe a pair of burgundy shoes because it always combines well, it always looks presentable, professional, but you can also combine it in a more casual way.

Wingtip monk strap shoes with Fort Belvedere socks

Wingtip monk strap shoes with Fort Belvedere socks

If you don’t have formal events, I would go with a dark brown pair, maybe  monk straps, or regular lace-ups, then a pair of burgundy shoes, because it’s so versatile, and another may be light brown or cognac tone, maybe a suede pair of shoes because that browns up your wardrobe, makes you look presentable and dapper no matter where you go.

Shoe Trees are a must have

Shoe Trees are a must have

Most people forget it, but it’s very important to bring at least one pair of shoe trees because it helps your shoes to stay in shape and lasts longer, while plastic ones are really lightweight, I don’t like them because they don’t provide the desired shape and hold I need.

No matter where I travel, I always bring a travel shoehorn because it protects my shoes, it helps me to get into my shoes at security and I never want to miss it because it’s such a small item that can save you a lot of dollars.








Stock Up On Versatile Accessories

In terms of accessories, I usually bring pocket squares, tie, sometimes bow ties, cufflinks, rings, maybe a collar pin, or a collar bar, and also boutonnieres. I actually use the Fort Belvedere gift box to travel with them because that’s perfect and they don’t get damaged that way, that being said, usually, I travel my cufflinks in my carry-on because I don’t want to lose my valuable gold jewelry.

Now Let’s Get Packing!

So how do you pack a suitcase? First of all, I suggest you go to the bedroom because if you have a large enough bed, you can put all of your things out there and you can have your suitcase up on the bed so it’s easier to pack.

The first thing I do is to stuff my socks and underwear into the shoes that don’t have shoe trays. I definitely recommend you use shoe bags or dust bags because they keep the rest of your clothes clean. The remaining t-shirts, polo shirts, or undershirts, and socks go into the bottom of the suitcase and especially on the side where you have the pull mechanism because it’s uneven and those socks help to even everything out.

I add belts or suspenders to it, then my Dopp kit, and ideally, you want something that’s lightweight and not too heavy, sometimes the nicer Dopp kits are really heavy and it just adds bulk so try to pay attention to that.

How To Fold A Dress Shirt

How To Fold A Dress Shirt

Folding could have a huge impact on how your clothing wrinkles, dress shirts are delicate and wrinkle very easily, therefore, you should fold them and not roll them. The best way to do that is to put the shirt flat down with buttons facing on the floor or the table. Fold the sides inwards with sleeves on both the sides, and fold over the hem, and fold in half or in thirds, depending on the size of your suitcase.

Do that with other shirts and then stack them with collars opposite from each other. You can use the same folding technique with sweaters, t-shirts, or polo shirts, however, sometimes it may make more sense to simply roll them because it’s quicker, it’s easier, and it saves you on space.

Plastic Hangers & Garment Bags Are Your Friends

Now in terms of a suit, the big advantage of a large spinner suitcase is that you don’t need to really fold your suit heavily. What I do is I use a lightweight plastic hanger with a wide shoulder pad, you want the shoulders to be about two inches wide and you want a trouser bar to not be rubberized because it usually doesn’t stick. You want a form of really grippy foam or anything else that really holds the trousers up. Simply hang your suit and put it in a garment bag.

Gagliardi Plastic Hanger

Gagliardi Plastic Hanger

Personally, I stay clear of the heavier cotton garment bags I use at home and I go with really lightweight cheap ones because they help to prevent wrinkles, at the same time, they don’t add bulk or weight to my suitcase. Never go with more than two garment bags. If you have more than two suits or two jackets, simply double them up in the same garment bag. If you have a vest, which is extremely helpful, because vests are easy to combine, you add it on top of the hanger underneath the jacket.

How to position your garment bags in your suitcase

How to position your garment bags in your suitcase

Once the garment bag is zipped up, you lay it flat in the suitcase then take the other garment bag laid flat as well. You fold them over one on top of each other. That way, the crease in the garment is not strong and it won’t wrinkle. I always try to fold it just at the bottom part of the lapel because that way, you don’t get any creases in it. Sometimes, if I have more pairs of pants, I put them either on the hanger but if it’s too heavy and it would break the plastic hanger, I just put them flat in the bottom of the suitcase first.

How To Keep Your Suits Wrinkle-Free

On top of the suits, I only put very lightweight items such as pocket squares, ties, for that specifically, I use a tie case that my wife made for me when we first dated so it’s very dear to my heart and I use it to this day. I found that rolling up ties usually makes them wrinkle much more easily and just laying them flat in your suitcase means they shift around and that way they wrinkle too so definitely get a tie case.

You don’t want to put any heavy objects on top of your suits because otherwise, it’s much more likely to wrinkle. It’s good for a suitcase to have that zipper on top so you can close up the suit compartment and focus your efforts on the other side. You also want a compartment on the other side because it’s much heavier and you don’t want to push on the suit side.

If you have issues with the size of your shoes, I suggest you wear the heaviest pair when you travel and put the lighter ones in your dust bags. I also suggest to put the sole to sole and pack them that way, because they’re more compact and you get more in your suitcase.

For my belts, I always try to roll them up and either I put them in my shoes or I just fit them on the side of the shirts, or the shoes, because there’s always extra room for little things like that. The same is true for items such as chargers, or maybe your electric shaver, to make sure you don’t overload your Dopp kit, get travel size products or little bottles otherwise, it’s way too heavy.

Finding The Right Suitcase

Over the years, I’ve tried lots of different things and I’ve found that two things are very important. One, you want spinner wheels that are really easy to roll because nothing is as bothersome as having to carry your suitcase for long distances which makes you sweat and uncomfortable at the airport. Also, when you’re outside and the pavement is not always the best, having bad wheels is really a pain in the behind.

Personally, while I love the look of suitcases like Globetrotter, they’re just very impractical and I’ve had good luck with these hardshell suitcases in polycarbonate; they’re lightweight and they have strong corners. I always go for the zippered version because it’s lighter than the metal frame version from brands like for example, the one I’m using here right now is from Samsonite, it’s not sponsored in any way it’s just what I happen to like.

I used to live in Germany and was dating my wife in the US so I was traveling a lot back and forth, and those lightweight suitcases are really the best, they will break eventually but it’s still better than carrying a heavier aluminum suitcase that won’t break as easily but it doesn’t allow you to carry on a lot.

My Samsonite polycarbonate luggages

My Samsonite polycarbonate luggage

Two, your spinner suitcase has to be wide enough. Ideally, your shoulders should fit in there no problem. Originally, I started with larger, more rectangular suitcases, but I’ve gone to a square shape which works really well for suits because you can fold it nicely, you get the width you want, and they’re very easy to handle. Honestly, if you invest in custom suits, I really urge you to use a larger suitcase because they’re easy on your suits and you will able to wear them for much longer.

What are your must-haves for longer trips? Drop a comment below!

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U.S. Business Inventories Rise More Than Expected In November

Business inventories in the U.S. increased by slightly more than anticipated in the month of November, according to a report released by the Commerce Department on Friday. The report said business inventories climbed by 0.4 percent in November.
RTT – Economic News


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How To Pack A Carry-On Suitcase For A Short Business Trip

In this guide we discuss how to pack your carry-on luggage like a pro for a business trip including how to fold a suit and shirt; what you need & secrets to maximizing every inch of your carry-on.

For Air Travels

I suggest going with a spinner suitcase with nice wheels that roll very smoothly so you can maneuver it without hassle, but it should also be stable so you can put a little briefcase or another carry-on item on top of it while you walk with it. Note that packing a small carry-on suitcase is very different from packing a larger spinner suitcase.

An upright spinner with a front pocket designed for work essentials is the perfect option for business travel

An upright spinner with a front pocket designed for work essentials is the perfect option for travel

How To Pack A Small Carry-On Suitcase?

First of all, put out all the items you want to bring on your trip onto your bed or maybe on the floor if the bed is not large enough. Remove all excessive items and only bring the bare bones you actually need.

If it’s just a one-day business trip, you just need one pair of shoes, and I simply suggest you wear it. If it’s a two or three-day business trip, you want to bring another pair of shoes, but that’s it.

I always suggest to go with black cap toe Oxfords, maybe Balmoral ones that add a little decoration, if you have huge feet, perhaps a derby shoe is the way to go.








If your business trip is not super formal or if you want a second pair of shoes, I suggest going with a burgundy pair of shoes because it can quickly be dressed up and down. It’s always appropriate, and you can wear with anything else you bring in your carry-on suitcase.

To prevent your shoes from soiling up the other clothing items in your suitcase, I always suggest going with a shoe bag or a dust bag. If you can put each shoe in a dust bag, that gives you more flexibility in terms of packing.

At first, I fold my socks and roll them up and put them in my shoes, maybe if you have space, you can also put your underwear in there, or a rolled belt.

No matter where I travel, I always bring a travel shoe horn because it protects my shoes, it helps me to get into my shoes at security, and I never want to miss it because it’s such a small item that can save you a lot of dollars. I’ve struggled many times with a carry-on and a suit, and so I tried different techniques, and this is the best one I found.

Secrets To Maximizing The Space Of Your Carry-On

Reserve the one compartment strictly for your suits

Reserve one compartment strictly for your suits

Keeping Your Suits Crisp

  • First, let’s start with the pants. You want to fold them into thirds because that way, it fits into your suitcase. Lay that on the flat side of your carry-on suitcase. In this video, I’m using a small houndstooth suit only so you can see better how I fold it. If you got a business trip, probably a solid navy suit, or charcoal, or light gray, or gray suit, are the better way to go.
  • Second, if you have a three-piece suit with a vest, you just take the vest, fold it in half and make sure the top ends align, as well as the bottom tips of the waistcoat, then you just roll it up. Again, you have a sweet little fabric roll, now put the roll aside.
roll up your waistcoats

How to roll up your waistcoat

  • Now, it’s time for the jacket. Take the left sleeve and pull it inside out, make sure to pull it all the way through. Now on that same sleeve, go to the shoulder and push it, and fold it inside out, this creates the perfect shape, and it fits right into the opposite shoulder that wasn’t folded. We do this to protect the shoulder so it doesn’t get crushed and wrinkled. Now take the rolled-up waistcoat, and stuff it into the shoulder area, so it gives it additional support and prevents it from wrinkling.

Now you fold up the jacket, so it lays neatly in the case on top of the pants. Usually, there’s a little gap on top of the shoulder, I use that to roll up some ties and ideally, knit ties because they’re less prone to getting wrinkles.

If you have additional space, you can add some pocket squares there but stay clear of any heavy items such as a wash bag, or toiletry bag, or maybe your jewelry kit, or chargers, or anything else that would squish the suit.

It pays to have a separate compartment in your carry-on suitcase so it doesn’t get stuffed because if your suit gets crushed chances are, it will wrinkle.

How To Fold A Dress Shirt

How To Fold A Dress Shirt


The Ideal Way To Fold Dress Shirts

If you have some room, you may want to add a dress shirt. Folding could have a huge impact on how your clothing wrinkles. Dress shirts are delicate and wrinkle very easily. Therefore, you should fold them and not roll them.

The best way to do that is to put the shirt flat down with buttons facing on the floor or the table, fold the sides inwards with sleeves on both sides and fold over the hem and fold in half or in thirds depending on the size of your suitcase.

Do that with all your shirts and then stack them with the colors opposite from each other. Maybe add just one shirt or maximum of two shirts on top of the suit because if it’s too squished, you get wrinkles in your shirts and in the suit.

Miscellaneous Accessories

Now, it’s time to close that compartment and let’s look at the other side of the suitcase. The socks, underwear, and undershirt, which didn’t fit into my shoes now go in between the telescope mechanism, so we create a somewhat flat surface. I put in the shoes sideways, so they use up as little space as possible.

Maybe if you want to bring a sweater or a cardigan, now is the time to put it in here. If you want to bring a long sleeve polo shirt for a casual evening outing, I usually roll it rather than folding it because a. it’s quicker, b. it saves me space and c. it’s not prone to wrinkling as much as let’s say a dress shirt.

If you were to bring any other folded items such as a t-shirt, an undershirt, I would roll those as well.

Filling In The Gaps

Once you’ve put all the things in, it’s time to fill the gaps. Maybe you want to bring suspenders, they should be rolled up, and you can stuff them in a gap. Usually, somewhere around the shoes, with a belt, you can also roll it up but if you don’t have enough space anymore, you can unroll it and lay it around the edges, that way, you’ll maybe fit even more things into your suitcase.

If you want, you can also bring your watch, maybe you want to bring some cufflinks in a jewelry case, maybe some collar pins, or collar bars, maybe collar stays, maybe tie bars, all those things should be in a neat little container, so you don’t have to search for them and they don’t get lost.

Of course, it’s also handy to have a little travel manicure kit with you just so you look presentable at your business meeting. You want to add a long pair of casual pants to your wardrobe, I suggest you go with seersucker because it’s lightweight and it doesn’t wrinkle.

When it comes to suit material, a great fabric for travel is either a heavy flannel, but if that’s not appropriate for a warm summer, I suggest you go with a fresco wool.

How do you pack your carry-on? Feel free to share your tips & tricks to efficiently packing light for a short trip!

Gentleman’s Gazette


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Monique and Jay Flirt Up a Storm at a Business Lunch | Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s | OWN


SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN: -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News


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Identity Theft Is Also A Problem for African Americans’ Business and Personal Finance

Since the rise of the internet, identity theft has been a growing problem in the United States, affecting both consumers and business owners alike. Business owners are more profitable for identity thieves, due to the potential to hack into larger credit lines, bank balances, and reserve accounts, along with the fact that less oversight of business accounts (compared to consumer accounts) means that it’s easier for hackers to open other commercial credit lines at a rapid pace. Here are some facts:
  • There’s now over 12 million victims of identity theft per year and at least 5% are African American
  • Nearly 35 million Americans have been a victim in some capacity
  • Nearly 10% of all U.S. households have been a victim in some capacity
  • 22% of identity theft victims have experienced multiple cases of identity theft
  • 29% of victims spend a month or more trying to resolve identity theft problems
  • Nearly 40% of victims report bouts of severe emotional distress as a result
  • Average loss per identity theft case is over $ 5,000
  • Total identity theft losses in 2014 were $ 26,350,000,000
  • Half of identity theft cases go unnoticed for at least 30 days
  • 1 out of 10 identity theft crimes go unnoticed or hidden for 2 or more years
Due to the well-known fact that most black businesses have lower sources of capital, assets, and general wealth/resources compared to their white counterparts, it’s vital that a black business owner do the best that they can to avoid becoming a victim of business or personal identity theft.

Hacking Procedures

As covered by the BBB, identity thieves can hack into your personal or business information through a variety of ways:
  • Bank accounts
  • Credit reports
  • Loan accounts
  • Fraudulent business filings
  • Social Security numbers
  • Tax Identification numbers
  • Credit Card accounts
  • Cell phone service
  • Internet account service
  • Pretending to be you or a major manager of your company to gain external data
Thieves will usually use stolen card numbers, bank accounts, etc., to immediately purchase items that they can resell for cash on the black market. These actions can obviously leave a business with a destroyed credit rating, loss of revenue, loss of business, potential cash-flow issues, and a variety of other problems.

Identity Management

Here are a variety of steps you can take to help reduce the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft through either your personal or business related information:
  • Do not send any information to people you don’t know.
  • Keep all important business and personal documentation in a secure place.
  • Use anti-virus software, fraud management tools, and firewalls for all technologies, computers, and devices.
  • Review your business and personal credit reports often, with alerts notifying you of when there’s any type of change to your profiles or reports.
  • Sign up for identity theft insurance, which comes with monitoring services to notify you of suspicious activity
  • Sign up for online banking, set up various security alerts/controls and review all of your details daily within your bank accounts.
  • Make sure all of the alerts on your credit cards, credit line accounts, loan accounts, insurance accounts, investment accounts, and any other important accounts are set up to notify you of when there’s any changes, additions, updates, etc. Also, try to review said accounts on at least a bi-weekly basis.
  • Run a lien check, business record check, and other public information check against your personal and business profiles at least on a quarterly basis, or have some sort of credit monitoring program that monitors these activities.

If An Event Occurs

If you think you might be a victim, contact your identity theft insurance provider immediately to notify them. In addition, file a police report and place a fraud alert on all accounts. Also, make sure to contact all of your partners, bankers, creditors, accountants, attorneys, vendors, suppliers, etc., to notify them of the situation and begin making various arrangements for assistance or payment modifications. Perps are getting more creative in how they steal information and more efficient in how fast they sell off stolen purchased items. Billions a year are being lost along with destroyed identities and reputations. Manage your identity to the fullest and don’t let the perps win.

The post Identity Theft Is Also A Problem for African Americans’ Business and Personal Finance appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Money | Black Enterprise


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4 Steps For Black Entrepreneurs to Build Their First Business Credit Report

While every business owner has a personal credit report, not every business has a business credit report. A personal credit report is created the moment an individual with a Social Security number accepts their first job or applies for their first form of financing. However, a business credit report is not automatically created and there are a variety of steps that must be followed in order to establish this very important business financing tool. Here are the preliminary steps you must take to build business credit:


  Properly Establish Your Entity

Operating as a sole proprietor would make it very difficult to establish and build a quality business credit profile. So the first thing that you want to do is plan to incorporate your business as either a C-Corp, S-Corp, or Limited Liability Company (LLC).

This will also involve obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN), opening a dedicated bank account for the business, setting up the business telephone line, setting up the business website, setting up the business location, and making sure to have a clear separation of personal and business affairs. Other aspects associated with properly establishing your entity include having proper levels of insurance, developing a quality business plan, and making sure your legal advisers are in place.

Register the Entity With the Major Business Credit Bureaus

To make sure your payment history from vendors, suppliers, and creditors that report to business credit bureaus is recorded, you have to make sure to set up a business entity profile with the two major business credit bureaus. This will include both Experian Business and Dun & Bradstreet (D&B). With D&B you will receive a D-U-N-S number and a D&B PAYDEX Score; with Experian you will receive an Intelliscore Plus. Both are measured mainly using a scale of 1–100, with a score over 80 considered the best tier. It’s best that once you establish your profile, that you also set up some sort of credit monitoring; that way you can verify each month that everything is being reported properly and efficiently.

Begin Building the Business Credit Profile

This process could be a bit difficult, as not every creditor reports their information to business credit bureaus. So your research here would be to find those creditors that, in fact, would report your on-time payment information, so you could build your report history. Some vendors to look at to begin include the following:

  • Shared Secured Loans and Secured Credit Cards

These can be provided by your local credit union. With both, you will deposit money into a bank account and then with the shared secured loan, you will take out a loan on the money deposited, using the deposit balance as security. As you pay back the loan, that amount of the secured balance becomes “available.” This product is great because it’s reported to the business credit bureaus as a regular loan from the credit union. The same would work with the secured credit cards, where you establish a line of credit using money from your deposit account, with the reporting showing up as a regular credit card on the business credit report from the credit union. A business would find that using one of these products would prove to be much easier to establish a business credit history than using one of the various companies below.

  • Various Companies

These can include companies such as Grainger, Uline, Quill, OnDeck, and a variety of other companies that would report the on-time payments to the bureaus.

Continue Building Your Business Credit Profile

After a solid six to 12 months of using the above beginning basics of building, you could now try to apply to the variety of business credit card companies to add additional trade lines. In addition, seek to reach out to various vendors, suppliers, and consultants for your business as many times they will offer trade credit, which could also be reported on your business credit report for building aspects. Note that as you go forward, you want to make sure to continue making all payments on time and never miss a payment. It’s also best to make payments much earlier than scheduled.

After a solid 12 to 24 months of utilizing the above strategies, your options for business lines of credit, leasing, term loans, asset-based lending, lower APR business credit cards, more attractive trade credit structuring, etc., open up as your business maintains its well-structured business credit report.

The post 4 Steps For Black Entrepreneurs to Build Their First Business Credit Report appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Money | Black Enterprise


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Slow Season? 3 Ways to Get Ahead When Business Hits a Lull


One of the trickiest parts of owning your own business is having to roll with the tides of the trade. For contractors, this means that some parts of the year will be extraordinarily busy, while others will seem too quiet. While slow periods can be stressful in terms of generating new leads and making money, they provide the perfect opportunity for home improvement professionals to catch up on administrative jobs and prepare for the busier months to come. If you’re hitting a slow season with your contracting business this winter, we’ve come up with three great ways to get ahead while you have the chance.

Update your branding

First, you’ll want to take a look at your current advertisements and marketing materials. Whether you own a fledgling business or have an established brand that has been around for years, it’s a crucial step if you want to stay relevant and current with your competitors.

While business is slow, take the time to review your current sales strategies and tweak anything that may not be quite right. This can include anything from changing your color scheme or tagline to overhauling your brand as a whole. This slow period is the perfect time to research and trial any changes you’ve been considering.

After you’ve implemented these changes, make sure to update your online portfolios and social media accounts with your latest projects, price lists, and logos. This is especially important for businesses in the digital age, where references and leads come mostly from social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram, as well as websites and Internet search engines.

Set your business up for success

Although you probably spend the majority of your work time on site, it’s essential that you keep the office side of your home improvement business running just as smoothly as the construction side. A quiet sales period will give you time to complete important administrative tasks that will set you up for success in the new year. These include:

  • Professional training
    • Eco-friendly training programs (such as LEED certification, US Green Building Council training programs)
    • Additional qualifications (for specialist services such as roofing, HVAC, or window/door installation)
    • Technical and professional certifications
  • Tech updates for your office
    • Install new programs (estimating software/platforms; finance, organization, and payroll apps) and operating systems
    • Test and upgrade hardware (computers, printers/copiers, other devices)
  • Think about the future
    • Combine the time you spend on branding/marketing with some thought about where you want your business to go and how you want to get there
    • Step-by-step strategies to help your business grow
      • Include lead generation strategies that help connect you with your ideal customer and find leads that are perfect for your business.

By taking the time to clean up your office—both literally and figuratively—and focus on your professional goals now, you’ll give yourself time to focus on the day-to-day running of your business once things pick back up after the holidays.  

Boost sales with promotions and referral schemes

Once you’ve caught up on all your branding, administration, and ongoing professional training, you can turn your attention to boosting sales while business is slow. Here are two of the best ways to draw in new clients during a slow winter season:

  • Seasonal discounts and promos
    • One-off sales to bring in new leads
    • Deals for clients who book during the holidays (link to and advertise with Black Friday, Christmas, and New Year sales)
    • Promotions for seasonal home improvement services (such as weatherstripping, winterizing the home, insulation, HVAC servicing and repairs in the winter months)
  • Referral schemes
    • For past clients – get in touch with a friendly holiday email, then mention that clients can get a certain percentage off services if they refer a friend

By posting exclusive sales, promotions, and referral schemes for new and existing leads, you can increase seasonal trade and stay connected to your clients by encouraging them to use your services time and again. As we all know, consumers love feeling like they’ve scored a great deal, so special deals like these are especially beneficial to businesses over the festive season.

A lull in business doesn’t have to be a bad thing—in fact, we’ve shown that slow trading periods can actually be beneficial for your home improvement company. While your schedule is free, you can take the time to reevaluate your business plan, update your brand, and find ways to boost sales in order to have a profitable year ahead. Here’s to a productive and successful new year!

Do you have any tips for getting ahead that have worked for you in the past? Share them with us in the comments below!

The post Slow Season? 3 Ways to Get Ahead When Business Hits a Lull appeared first on Modernize.



Griffith Business & Tax Service Receive Tribute & Medication Help By Charles Myrick Of ACRX

ACRX Recognition Gallery: American Consultants Rx -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.

The American Consultants Rx discount prescription cards are to be given free to anyone in need of help curbing the high cost of prescription drugs.

Due to the rising costs, unstable economics, and the mounting cost of prescriptions, American Consultants Rx Inc. (ACRX) a.k.a (ACIRX) an Atlanta based company was born in 2004. The ACRX discount prescription card program was created and over 25 million discount prescription cards were donated to over 18k organizations across the country to be distributed to those in need of prescription assistance free of charge since 2004.

The ACRX cards will offer discounts of name brand drugs of up to 40% off and up to 60% off of generic drugs. They also possess no eligibility requirements, no forms to fill out, or expiration date as well .One card will take care of a whole family. Also note that the ACRX cards will come to your organization already pre-activated .The cards are good at over 50k stores from Walgreen, Wal mart, Eckerd”s, Kmart, Kroger, Publix, and many more. Any one can use these cards but ACRX is focusing on those who are uninsured, underinsured, or on Medicare. The ACRX cards are now in Spanish as well.

American Consultants Rx made arrangements online for the ACRX card to be available at where it can also be downloaded. This arrangement has been made to allow organizations an avenue to continue assisting their clients in the community until they receive their orders of the ACRX cards. ACRX made it possible for cards to be requested from online for individuals and organizations free of charge. Request for the ACRX cards can also be made by mailing a request to : ACRX, P.O.Box 161336,Atlanta,GA 30321, faxing a written request to 404-305-9539,or calling the office at 404-767-1072. Please include name (if organization please include organization and contact name),mailing address,designate Spanish or English,amount of cards requested,and telephone number.

American Consultants Rx is working diligently to assist as many people and organizations as possible. It should be noted that while many other organizations and companies place a cost on their money saving cards, American Consultants Rx does not believe a cost should be applied, just to assist our fellow Americans. American Consultants Rx states that it will continue to strive to assist those in need.


Click today to request your free ACRX discount prescription card and save up to 80% off of your medicine!

Greening Your Reputation: Ways to Rebrand as an Eco-Friendly Business


If you’re like most contractors, keeping up with the latest construction industry trends and technology is an essential part of your business. One of the biggest buzzwords across the industry today is green—namely, finding ways to make your business more environmentally conscious and sustainable. And there’s good reason for it. Renewable energy and eco-friendly building processes are the future of the home building industry, so adopting greener ethics is crucial for business—not to mention a healthier environment. Here are some of our top tips to help you remarket your brand as an eco-friendly business.

Choose an eco-friendly focus

The first step towards remarketing any brand is to find your focus and choose a clear pathway that will help you reach your goal. For example, green construction companies may do any (or all) of the following:

  • Choose sustainable suppliers and manufacturers
  • Increase building site and office recycling measures
  • Adopt low-impact building practices (less machinery, more handcrafting)
  • Consider renewable energy sources

By choosing one or two key green concepts to adopt in your rebranding, you have a greater chance of succeeding in meeting your new eco-friendly goals. Likewise, customers who require your specific skill set will be drawn to your business over others because of your strong focus and passion for the environment.


Boost your green credentials

Once you’ve decided on the eco-friendly concepts you’ll focus on, training is the next step. Currently, there are no national training requirements for green construction companies in the United States, but there are several organizations that offer fantastic support for professionals just like you. The U.S. Green Building Council is perhaps the most well known, and their comprehensive training program covers everything from the basics of energy efficiency and eco-friendly practices to LEED certification and the future of green business. Other short courses and green trainings are most likely available near you—check locally in your particular sector for more information.

While you’re studying up on eco-friendly business models, take some time to consider your current suppliers and product manufacturers. Working with brands that boast green ratings will increase your business in the long run, so look for companies whose goals match yours. For example, suppliers who provide or sell Energy Star rated products or manufacturers who use only FSC certified sustainable wood are a perfect match for an eco-friendly construction brand.


Get experience

Training and qualifications are an important part of rebranding. Still, the only way to prove your new skills is by gaining experience in your new field. There are several ways you can go about doing this:

  • On the job training and shadowing with existing eco-friendly brands
  • Experimentation with new products and eco-friendly practices on site
  • Taking on new leads and projects that match your new green ethos

With your newfound knowledge and experience in hand, you can begin to build your green portfolio with jobs that fall into your new green services category. Get honest feedback from friendly professionals and clients, since this will be invaluable to your business growth and success.

Once you feel confident with your new eco-friendly business model, take your green brand even further by striving for LEED certification and/or Net Zero Energy building construction. After all, experts predict that these kinds of ultra-sustainable builds are the future of the construction industry.


Sell yourself

The last step—and arguably the most important—in rebranding is to sell your new business model to the general public. Since your business was already up and running before you decided to make any green changes, your marketing efforts should be straightforward. Make sure to update any current ads and communication to showcase your new green focus, including:

  • Social media accounts
  • Website information
  • Print (and other) advertisements
  • Lead generation campaigns

In addition to listing your new green goals and business plans across social media and ads, you can further boost new sales by demonstrating your new eco-friendly practices and/or products with facts and figures. Numbers and charts speak volumes, but you can really wow your audience by including plenty of photographs and videos of your new green projects as well as positive reviews from current clients.  

Becoming a “green brand” might seem overwhelming at first, but as you can see, it’s nothing more than some simple rebranding steps. Besides these helpful pointers, all you’ll  need is some motivation, a positive attitude, and of course, a love for the environment!

The post Greening Your Reputation: Ways to Rebrand as an Eco-Friendly Business appeared first on Modernize.



Greening Your Reputation: Ways to Rebrand as an Eco-Friendly Business


If you’re like most contractors, keeping up with the latest construction industry trends and technology is an essential part of your business. One of the biggest buzzwords across the industry today is green—namely, finding ways to make your business more environmentally conscious and sustainable. And there’s good reason for it. Renewable energy and eco-friendly building processes are the future of the home building industry, so adopting greener ethics is crucial for business—not to mention a healthier environment. Here are some of our top tips to help you remarket your brand as an eco-friendly business.

Choose an eco-friendly focus

The first step towards remarketing any brand is to find your focus and choose a clear pathway that will help you reach your goal. For example, green construction companies may do any (or all) of the following:

  • Choose sustainable suppliers and manufacturers
  • Increase building site and office recycling measures
  • Adopt low-impact building practices (less machinery, more handcrafting)
  • Consider renewable energy sources

By choosing one or two key green concepts to adopt in your rebranding, you have a greater chance of succeeding in meeting your new eco-friendly goals. Likewise, customers who require your specific skill set will be drawn to your business over others because of your strong focus and passion for the environment.


Boost your green credentials

Once you’ve decided on the eco-friendly concepts you’ll focus on, training is the next step. Currently, there are no national training requirements for green construction companies in the United States, but there are several organizations that offer fantastic support for professionals just like you. The U.S. Green Building Council is perhaps the most well known, and their comprehensive training program covers everything from the basics of energy efficiency and eco-friendly practices to LEED certification and the future of green business. Other short courses and green trainings are most likely available near you—check locally in your particular sector for more information.

While you’re studying up on eco-friendly business models, take some time to consider your current suppliers and product manufacturers. Working with brands that boast green ratings will increase your business in the long run, so look for companies whose goals match yours. For example, suppliers who provide or sell Energy Star rated products or manufacturers who use only FSC certified sustainable wood are a perfect match for an eco-friendly construction brand.


Get experience

Training and qualifications are an important part of rebranding. Still, the only way to prove your new skills is by gaining experience in your new field. There are several ways you can go about doing this:

  • On the job training and shadowing with existing eco-friendly brands
  • Experimentation with new products and eco-friendly practices on site
  • Taking on new leads and projects that match your new green ethos

With your newfound knowledge and experience in hand, you can begin to build your green portfolio with jobs that fall into your new green services category. Get honest feedback from friendly professionals and clients, since this will be invaluable to your business growth and success.

Once you feel confident with your new eco-friendly business model, take your green brand even further by striving for LEED certification and/or Net Zero Energy building construction. After all, experts predict that these kinds of ultra-sustainable builds are the future of the construction industry.


Sell yourself

The last step—and arguably the most important—in rebranding is to sell your new business model to the general public. Since your business was already up and running before you decided to make any green changes, your marketing efforts should be straightforward. Make sure to update any current ads and communication to showcase your new green focus, including:

  • Social media accounts
  • Website information
  • Print (and other) advertisements
  • Lead generation campaigns

In addition to listing your new green goals and business plans across social media and ads, you can further boost new sales by demonstrating your new eco-friendly practices and/or products with facts and figures. Numbers and charts speak volumes, but you can really wow your audience by including plenty of photographs and videos of your new green projects as well as positive reviews from current clients.  

Becoming a “green brand” might seem overwhelming at first, but as you can see, it’s nothing more than some simple rebranding steps. Besides these helpful pointers, all you’ll  need is some motivation, a positive attitude, and of course, a love for the environment!

The post Greening Your Reputation: Ways to Rebrand as an Eco-Friendly Business appeared first on Modernize.



Sundial CEO: 3 Steps to Taking Your Business from Mom-and-Pop to the Big Leagues

When Unilever announced an agreement to acquire Sundial Brands, (No. 10 on the 2017 BE Top 100 list with $ 300 million in revenues) for an undisclosed—but surely landmark—amount, many wondered whether the company behind SheaMoisture and Nubian Heritage would remain loyal to its consumers, values, and mission.

CEO Richelieu Dennis assures that it will.

But others in the business world—especially those among the fastest growing population of entrepreneurs in the world: black women—may also be wondering: How can I take my company to the next level to even be noticed or invested in by the Unilevers of the world? How can I expand my company’s mission and resources in the same way Sundial has? What’s the key to attracting lucrative partnerships or investors?


(Image: iStock/mapodile)


In an exclusive interview with Black Enterprise, Dennis shared three vital steps for women entrepreneurs to take in doing just that. The formula is actually fundamentally more simple than you’d think:


Determine your true north.


“Be very clear in what you’re trying to do and then go out and do it. Stick to it,” Dennis says. “Once you have a true north, it gives you great guidance. Mine has been investing in my community, and we’ve done that for 25-plus years. I make decisions around what I need to do for this business that will allow me to invest in my community.


Make sure you’re creating and offering a product that is truly adding value to your consumer’s life.


“When nobody was making natural products that worked for women of color, SheaMoisture was,” he says. “We’ve remained true to that for over 25 years. We’ve evolved over that 25 years, scaled, but we have not lost sight in making a great product for our consumers.”


Think and network outside the box, and be fearless in finding ways to expand and grow.


“Stand in the gap and do not be afraid to build your business, even in the face of adversity or critics. If you’re doing the right thing and for the right reasons, do not be afraid,” he says. “We see a lot of competition that comes through when we don’t have access to resources and we don’t have the freedom to go after other consumers. Every day, people from different cultures go into our communities and do business there. … at the end of the day, every night, they leave our communities and take those dollars and invest in their communities.”



Small Business – Black Enterprise


3 Business Principles to Embrace When Ending a Marriage

Marriage is a legal and financial contract, not just a spiritual and emotional one. This is why marital contracts are dissolved by the state (and specifically the court), not by the church. However, too often people pay a high price for ignoring this reality when ending a marriage. Women, in particular, are particularly vulnerable when failing to prepare for divorce, because they are more likely than men to experience a decrease in their standard of living in the year after ending a marriage.


(Image: iStock/MarkHatfield)


Financial coach Patricia A. Stallworth says her lack of financial preparedness for divorce is what led to her becoming serious about her financial education, and ultimately becoming a financial adviser.

“Going through my divorce was the thing that launched me into a financial career,” says Stallworth, author of How To Get Divorced Without Losing Your Blouse: What Every Woman Needs To Know To Protect Her Future.”

“Like so many women, I had relegated responsibility for taking care of the money to my husband, because I thought he would do a good job of it,” Stallworth explains. “As I was sitting there at the divorce table for the settlement, I suddenly realized I had been wrong in my assumption because while he was really good at saving money, he was not very good at investing it; he had lost nearly all of our money after years and years of saving.

“So, because we had just moved from the East Coast to the West Coast for him to take a new job, I was sitting there with no job, no friends, no husband, and no money,” says Stallworth. “At that point, I wanted to learn everything about money—how to make it, how to manage it, how to invest it. I wanted to know everything. So I became a financial adviser.”

Today, Stallworth is a certified financial planner (CFP) who also holds an M.B.A., the host of the Minding Your Money 360 daily podcast, and the author of the Minding Your Money book series. She has also served as an instructor in both the CFP and CDFA (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) programs. Stallworth offers three financial realities you must face when ending a marriage.

Don’t be a silent partner when it comes to knowledge and management of marital assets.


Ideally, you have been fully aware and involved in the finances of your marital partnership long before you said, “I do.” However, even if that’s not the case, you need to start now, from where you are. ”

When I work with people,” says Stallworth, “the first thing I tell them is that you need to take responsibility, you need to take control, need to at least be part of the process, regardless of your marital status.”

Think of ending a marriage as a business transaction.


“So you need to get your head in the game, and you need to realize that this is one part of your life ending, and a new one starting,” says Stallworth. “The thing you need to be focusing on is, ‘What do I need to have in place so that I can start my new life and be OK, make myself as whole as possible?’

“It’s really shifting that whole mindset from love and all those other kinds of things to, ‘Hey, this is my new life, I’ve got to be ready for that. I have to get my head together and look at this like any other business transaction.”

Acknowledge your feelings so you can process them—and keep them out of the transaction.


Ending a marriage can produce an overwhelming range of emotions, ranging from love and longing to regret and recriminations, to anger and a desire to retaliate. Allowing these to impact the process of divorce carries the serious risk of sabotaging your future financial well-being.

“Go ahead and acknowledge your feelings,” Stallworth recommends. “If you need to have some therapy at this point, go get it. A lot of people say, ‘Well, I can’t afford it.” Go get it anyway. I don’t care what you have to do; just get it. You have to separate yourself mentally from this whole situation.

“I tell my clients: You know what? Give me the gun. (And they look at me like I’m crazy.) Give me the gun, because what I want to do is I want to take the bullets [the emotions] out. So that when you shoot yourself—and you’re going to shoot yourself—you won’t hurt yourself. That gets them into the frame of mind of, ‘Oh my gosh; I could really be the one to mess this up,’ so they start to think about things a little differently.”


Money – Black Enterprise


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Small Business Owners Plan to Hire More and Add New Products in 2018

Business Practices

Some 90% of small businesses intend to hire one to two people in 2018, a new survey shows.

Implementing a new marketing strategy among plans for next year


Simultaneously, 37.6% of small business owners are contemplating offering a new product or service, and 35.7% aim to apply a new marketing strategy. About 19% plan to partner with another small business.


Business Practices (Image:


The findings are based on a survey released by Microsoft Store and done by SurveyMonkey. Some 1,300 U.S. small-business owners with one and 200 employees were surveyed. The analysis pinpoints trends and gauges what challenges and opportunities the owners see in the oncoming year.

About half of the owners identified their biggest challenge as staying ahead of rapid changes in technology in 2018. Further, 23% reported budget constraints were a big concern in maintaining and growing their ventures. For brand new small businesses, budgeting was their top challenge, something expected for businesses opened less than a year.

Other findings from the survey:

  • Eighty percent of respondents say they now maintain enough freedom and flexibility to support their work-life balance. That finding came despite the challenge to keep pace with digital innovation that companies face today.


  • Those surveyed maintain a high level of mobility, working off-site and in multiple locations instead of at a fixed venue. The younger the business (less than one year old), the more likely it is to have employees who work mainly with mobile devices. As companies get larger, mobile use gives way to other devices and digital options for how work gets done.


  • In navigating the demands of both budget and technological readiness, over 30% of the respondents report they are likely to turn to familiar sources (a family or close friend) for technical guidance or help with computers, email or software.


  • In terms of cybersecurity threats, 50% reported they are not concerned about a data breach, while 25% are doing anything to protect themselves.


  • Twenty-six percent of respondents stated they have a formal relationship with a support or service establishment, small businesses said comfortable, human interaction was key in how they sought help.

Small Business – Black Enterprise


How Do I Write an Executive Summary for a Business Plan?


Creating a Business Plan is a fundamental step when starting a business of any size. When you’re looking for investors to help finance your business, it’s very likely that they’ll ask to see your proposal so they can determine whether they can trust you to provide them with a return on their investment.

Typically, the front page of your Business Plan should be an executive summary, which is essentially a detailed table of contents and elevator pitch for your plan. Investors tend to be busy professionals, so you need to hook them by describing the benefits of investing in your business as concisely as possible.

Below, we’ll discuss the main things you should include in the executive summary of your Business Plan and ask some questions to help get you started.

If you’re looking for advice on writing a full Business Plan, have a look at our Top Six Tips for Writing a Business Plan to help make yours the most captivating.

What Should Be Included in an Executive Summary?

You should break your executive summary into sections. Create succinct, easily understood headers that are relevant to each topic or section in your Business Plan and write three or four clear sentences with pertinent information.

A good strategy is to think like your investor. Consider a few questions that you’d want the answers to if you were the one investing and base the content in each section on those answers.

The headers should match up with the sections in your business proposal, which will likely include:

  1. Company goals: Think about what your company can realistically achieve. What do you want to accomplish in the next 12 months? In the next 5 years? What are your sales forecasts?
  2. Timeline for achieving those goals: Show you’re a visionary and a realist. When will planning be complete? When will you hire employees? When will your product or service be available for sale? If you’re a brick-and-mortar establishment, when will you open your doors?
  3. Personal information: Describe yourself as a business owner. Do you have experience in your industry? What are your qualifications? Why should you, and not someone else, run this business? What’s the company structure?
  4. Product and/or service information: Sell the investor on what you anticipate to be your bestseller(s). What separates this product/service from your competitors? If it’s a unique product/service, how will you garner interest and awareness? Do you have plans to develop new products/services to stay relevant a few years down the line?
  5. Your customers: Demonstrate you’ve conducted consumer research. Who is your target customer? How will you reach them? How will you advertise to them?
  6. SWOT analysis: Show that you’ve done a thorough competitor and market analysis. What are your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats? What’s your competition like? How are you planning to out-perform your competitors?
  7. Capital requirements: Demonstrate financial competency. How much have you invested? How much do you need to borrow? Where is the money going? How will you pay it back?

Pitch the Positives of Your Plan

The aim of the executive summary in your Business Plan is to hook an investor. As long as you can highlight the best aspects of your plan and present them in a concise manner, it’s likely that your reader will take the time to evaluate your plan in full.

You don’t have to exaggerate or lie in your summary to overshadow any risks. Just whittle it down to the gems, and let your plan speak for itself.

Do you have any tips for writing a pithy pitch for a business proposal?

The post How Do I Write an Executive Summary for a Business Plan? appeared first on LawDepot Blog.

LawDepot Blog


We’re shopping these mom-owned businesses on Small Business Saturday


Becky Vieira

posted in Products

I’ve always loved to shop small, but when I became a mom it became even more important. That’s why I always look first to “mompreneurs” and mom-owned businesses when shopping. Few things give more credibility to a brand than a creator and founder who knows the needs of the market personally. In this case, moms.

In celebration of Small Business Saturday, here are some of our current favorite mom-owned businesses:

Tiny Trucker Company: Founder Kyla Dahrling started with a goal: to employ moms who want to stay at home with their kids, but also provide for their families. She wasn’t sure how, but knew she wanted to stop struggling in her two roles — mom and career — and embrace both. Dahrling started Tiny Trucker Company after looking for, and not finding, trucker-style hats for her kids to wear to the beach. She began by making hats for herself and friends, then organically evolved it into a business. The brand now encompasses hats for mom, dad, toddler and baby in more than 65 styles. Darling proudly notes that every employee is a mom raising young children, from design and production to sales. “Having a happy team who believes in our product is a huge part of our success,” she added.

Mother and son wearing Tiny Trucker hats

Rookie Humans: How many photos did you take of your child in the crib? Gabriela Anggono found herself constantly photographing her children in the crib. One day she realized the sheets had become part of her family’s memories. She thought those sheets should add to the visual story depicted in these photos, as an almost magical backdrop. So she completely reimagined the look of crib sheets as we know them, turning them into art.

Rookie Human sheets are gorgeous, they look like a page out of a storybook where your baby is the star. The sheets are soft for the babies’ comfort, made of 100 percent cotton sateen and 230-thread counts. They are also safe, for the parents’ ease of mind — lab tested for chemicals and performance, like fading and shrinkage. And they make the perfect photo backdrop. Anggono employs artists for the design work, otherwise she personally fills every role in the company. Rookie Humans supports philanthropic endeavors ranging from military family support to Unidos Por Puerto Rico.

Baby in crib with Rookie Humans sheets

Satsuma Designs: Don’t fall down the rabbit hole looking for unique items all over the Internet, Satsuma Designs has already done all the work for you. This site, and its brick and mortar counterpart, has curated a fantastic collection of apparel, toys and gifts for moms and kids of all ages. It all began when Jennifer Porter’s son was born. She said parenthood made her “wake up” and become more eco-conscious. However, she didn’t see many products that were affordable for families, so she utilized her background in design and make them herself.

She started with baby essentials and grew to include apparel and accessories. Satsuma’s inventory includes its namesake brand, household names like Melissa & Doug, and independent lines like Mini Lou, Tattly, Floss & Rock, and The Blueberry Hill. A portion of all sales are donated to Food Driving Box, a charity Porter created in 2013, that supports Seattle’s 27 area food banks.

Inside Satsuma Designs store

Kroma Carpets: As the mother of triplets with acid-reflux and allergies, co-founder Michelle Davila went through three rugs in one year. She struggled to find a flooring option for her kids to play on that was soft and safe, so she set out to make her own. Davila paired with with Nathalie Bajuk, whose family brings generations of experience in the rug industry, and Kroma Carpets was born. The collection is fresh, modern and very affordable. The carpets are kid and pet-friendly, affordable and made to withstand moisture and heavy traffic. And many of the rugs, including the faux sheepskin collection, are machine washable. The brand donates a proceed of sales to benefit charities that are helping in the rebuilding process in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, where Michelle is originally from.

Faux sheepskin Kroma Carpets displayed in nurserySoftsie: Natalie’s Feild’s eldest daughter developed severe eczema when she was 7 months old. Desperate to bring her more comfort, she dreamed of an outfit that had moisturizer in the fabric. With nothing on the market, the clinical psychologist decided to create it herself. Softsie is named appropriately. The fabric is utterly soft and made in the U.S.A. It’s organically infused with aloe vera, jojoba oil and vitamin E, to nourish all skin types. The items are a medium weight, breathable modal cotton blend that is comfortable all year round. The line includes footies, separates, beanie hats and swaddle blankets available in modern, gender neutral colors and prints. Feild soon set aside her private practice to run Softsie full-time. She does it all herself — from marketing to order fulfillment. A portion of all Softsie sales benefit the Pay It Forward Fertility Foundation.

Baby wears Softsie shirt and hat

Kindred Bravely: Like many moms, Deeanne Akerson found most maternity and postpartum clothing fell into one of two categories: pretty yet useless, or functional but unattractive. She decided to do something about it. Kindred Bravely clothes are everything new moms need. Chic yet practical, allowing moms to maintain a sense of style while pregnant or nursing. Finally, you can forget that frustration over underwear options being either granny panties or thongs, with nothing in between. Kindred Bravely makes gorgeous — and comfortable — pregnancy and recovery panties. It includes bras, tanks and underwear, pajamas and gowns. The super soft material is appreciated by moms and babies, too. All employees are work-from-home moms, plus the brand supports the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and is launching a new campaign to donate a bra to a mom in need for each one sold.

Deeanne Akerson of Kindred BravelyBaby Butz: Majda Ficko’s son Demitri was born with a rare condition called Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, which requires him to always wear diapers. They struggled with trying to find diaper rash creams that were not made with chemicals (and were effective). Majda then spent two years working with a Research Chemist to make one for Demitri. She only intended to use the product for her son originally. Soon, one of Demetri’s doctors persuaded her to sell it. Baby Butz cream then launched, and she now sells other natural hair and body care products. The certified all-natural product is gluten and paraben-free and never tested on animals. What’s more, it heals most diaper rash in 4-6 hoursy. Ficko also donates Baby Butz to the Children’s Rehabilitation Center in Canada.

Majda Ficko and son with Baby Butz cream

Lil’ Sidekick: All moms have been there. You hand your child something only for them throw it, then it lands in a less than sanitary environment. Amy Vohs tried every kind of tether product for her son’s cups and toys but found none that really worked. She created Lil’ Sidekick — a soft, versatile and easy-to-clean accessory — to save cups, toys and anything you want to tether, from what she calls “the drop game.” As a bonus, it doubles as a teether and works with backpacks for older kids, too.

Baby sits in highchair using Lil Sidekick tethers


What’s your favorite mom-owned product? If you launched a mom brand, what would you sell?

For more of my mom shenanigans and must-haves, follow me on Instagram at Witty Otter.

BabyCenter Blog


Underwear for Boys: 20% OFF with the Purchase of 3 Items at Souris Mini!


Underwear for Girls: 20% OFF with the Purchase of 3 Items at Souris Mini!

3 Ways Small Business Owners Can Increase Sales This Black Friday

We are just days away from the most significant shopping time of the year! According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), approximately 164 million people plan to shop this weekend, including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Small Business Saturday.


(Image: iStock)


While many larger corporations can offer deeply discounted deals and increase profits throughout this time, small business owners can position themselves to do just as well. Here are a few easy but impactful ways:


1. Offer discounted products and services for Black Friday


Do you have a service packaged and ready to go? Or do you have a surplus of products? This time is a great time to review your inventory or offerings to see what services can be discounted but still increase your bottom line.

Offering gift cards is also a great way to increase revenues at this time. Consumers are expected to spend $ 27.5 billion on gift cards this holiday season, according to NRF. So why not offer them?


2. Create an email campaign to boost revenue


After you have determined what services you can offer, next, it is time to get the word out. Using free newsletter providers such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, and others are great ways for little to no cost to get your message to those who matter. Create catchy subject lines, use pictures that pop, and keep your words to a minimum to capture your readers’ attention.


3. Find more customers


While it is good to spread your net wide, this is not always advantageous when advertising. If you have operated your business for some time, you should have an understanding of who your customer base is. For instance, if young professionals are likely to purchase, then you should focus your advertising efforts on this group.

Take advantage of social media postings and ads to target these groups. Lastly, write in your target audience language! Capture their attention by focusing your advertising efforts specifically to their needs and what they are likely to respond to.

Small Business – Black Enterprise


Seven Secrets to Winning Big Government Contracts for Small Business Owners

“I have always been an entrepreneur, even as a youth—from mowing lawns and delivering groceries as a teen, to selling laptop computers in my early 20s,” says Kenneth Kelly, president and CEO of Strativia, a national technical and professional services company.


Kelly, who hails from the corporate world managing financial management software installation projects at hotels and resorts throughout the world, launched Strativia in 2007. The company has set a high bar in winning government contracts.

Headquartered in Maryland with offices in Atlanta and Denver, Strativia has been awarded nearly $ 50 million in government contracts over the past year, with no plans of slowing down.

“We don’t wait for tomorrow. We do it all with exceptional speed, mindful of the need to solve the problem now,” Kelly says.

Kelly outlines the company’s strategy with government contracting; “We have built strong relationships with our customers and partners by delivering on our promises and adding real value through service delivery and innovation.”

(Kenneth C. Kelly. Image: Strativia)


His advice for new business owners entering the government contracting space? “Target prime contractors and work to become their preferred subcontractor. Then, after you have amassed a certain amount of past performance, begin to target smaller government contracts.”

Here are seven more secrets Kelly shared on winning government contracts:

Get Properly Registered


First things first, take care of the basics and become properly registered to sell to the government through your state, local, and federal government regulatory authorities.

Know Your Buyers’ Market


Understand which agencies buy what you sell and how they buy it. (This can be determined by visiting an agency’s website, speaking with small business contacts, procurement contacts, and various databases.)

Don’t Circumvent the Process


Upon understanding how the government buys your services, obtain the necessary contract vehicles, small business certifications, and other requirements as defined by the agency.

Connect Through Strategic Networking


Attend agency procurement and outreach events. If done properly and consistently, events can serve as exceptional opportunities to encounter and engage with the “right” connections and potential partnerships for present or future collaboration. Show up to these events with your winning game face on, a strategy, and prepared to do business.

Engage Through Strategic Communications


Send your tailored marketing materials to the appropriate contacts and request meetings to learn about upcoming procurements and how to best position your company to win.

Learn, Leverage, and Collaborate


If you don’t meet each of the requirements or don’t have adequate past performance, find teaming partners to fill gaps and go after work together. (If you don’t win, request a debriefing and learn what you can do better.)

Build a Solid Reputation


Once you win the work, deliver on the requirements. Keep the big picture in mind and understand how each contract can help you win your next.


Small Business – Black Enterprise


Thom Browne Grows Collection, Business and Retail Footprint

MILAN — “It was time to bring it all home,” said Thom Browne of his focus on and the development of his namesake brand.
During a walk-through of his men’s pre-collection in Milan, which clearly showed how extensive his line has become, with every category expanding significantly, the designer explained how he is looking forward to the future as the company is expected to close 2017 with sales gain of 20 to 25 percent.
“I made a conscious decision a year ago to spend all of my time on my own brand, which is really coming together,” said Browne, adding that he had been “really happy” with his past collaborations. These include the Moncler Gamme Bleu line, whose last season was presented for spring 2018. As reported earlier this month, Remo Ruffini, chairman and chief executive officer of Moncler, said the company was also closing the Gamme Rouge collection, designed by Giambattista Valli, in line with a new strategy that is expected to be presented in February.
“I am evolving my brand, but making sure it’s my own way, so that you can see the Thom Browne sensibility. I am staying true to the label but reaching out to a bigger audience,” the designer explained.

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Read More…


Successful Doula on Why Starting a Business Is Like Giving Birth

Latham “Glow Maven” Thomas, founder of Mama Glow, has helped many women accomplish one of the greatest achievements in the world: giving birth to another human being.

Thomas, a mother, and graduate of Columbia University and The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, founded a doula and wellness service providing support to women along their pre- and postnatal journeys to motherhood. Mama Glow offers services including culinary, nutrition management, yoga, and birth coaching.

Some of the women who have enjoyed and benefited from her maternal services include internationally known hot mamas (hello, Alicia Keys, Kelly Rowland, and Christy Turlington Burns) who have managed to juggle childbirth and parenting with running businesses and making power moves of their own.


(Thomas with an expectant mother. Image: Instagram/glowmaven)



From Birthing Babies to Birthing Businesses

Thomas has now made yet another boss move, applying similar success tactics and strategies she’s used when helping women give birth, to helping women start businesses.

For many women, particularly in the African American community, starting a business has its own labor pains, transitions, highs, and lows. As a doula, she seeks to help all women make the process progressive, beautiful, and ultimately almost as rewarding as smiling into the face of a new bundle of joy. She details life-changing strategies in her latest book, “Own Your Glow: A Soulful Guide to Luminous Living and Crowning the Queen Within.”


(Thomas, with her book. Image: Instagram/glowmaven)


“A lot of the women who have come to me over the years in having their babies were also, in tandem, looking to birth dreams they had,” Thomas says. “I’ve had so many women who are on a global stage in terms of the brands that they built-many of which were created while they were pregnant, and I was giving this support as they were growing these businesses.”

“It’s interesting to see that the hand-holding that I was providing for women to cross the threshold to new motherhood-the same type of hand-holding is really necessary when you’re growing a business or looking to birth the best iteration of yourself and create the life of your dreams,” she says. 

Check out three starter tips from the holistic lifestyle guru on how you can best approach creating your best life or dream business:


Recognize your strength and purpose

When you’re taking on the process, you must be confident and unafraid to make a solid commitment. Thomas recommends asking yourself assessment questions: Who am I? What’s my purpose? What am I doing? What do I really love? What’s my vision?


Pace your growth as you move through the process

Thomas urges women to take their time. “We’re in this culture now, because of social media and smartphones and everything being immediate-accelerated living-we are missing so much. Part of what we’re missing is this idea that what’s available to us is when we’re stirring that pot, being intentional, taking our time, and we’re marveling at the process not just the outcome or the product.”

Deliberately make self-care part of the process

It’s cool to focus on the business side of starting a new enterprise, but Thomas advocates for incorporating practices such as meditation or yoga to keep you centered and allow you to be able to take on whatever the process might throw at you. “It’s about embracing our unique feminine attributes, standing tall on this pedestal that you’ve built for yourself, and reclaiming your body as sacred,” Thomas says. “I really want women to see self-care as a vehicle for doing that. Taking better care of ourselves will also give us the energy to be able to sustain the work that needs to be done so we can be at our very best.”



Small Business – Black Enterprise


45 Great Moments in Black Business – No. 23: America’s First Black Billionaire Buys NBA Franchise

Robert L. Johnson And Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. Announce Alliance To End Payday Lending, Lower Minority Consumer Debt, And Promote Financial Education

This year, BLACK ENTERPRISE celebrates the 45th anniversary of its roster of the nation’s largest black-owned businesses—The BE 100s. To commemorate the significance of this collective’s widespread impact on black business and economic development as well as American industry over four decades, we have presented 45 milestones moments. As part of this tribute, we continue our yearlong countdown.  

Today we reveal No. 23 in the web series “Great Moments in Black Business.” 

2003: Billionaire Bob Johnson makes another slam dunk in black business history by breaking the ownership barrier in professional sports through the acquisition of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats.

Recognized as America’s first black billionaire, business mogul Robert L. Johnson is accomplished at being involved with and closing big deals.


(Robert L. Johnson. Image: File)


Johnson showed his proficiency as a serial entrepreneur when he paid $ 300 million in 2003 to acquire the National Basketball Association’s Charlotte Bobcats expansion team.  The transaction was huge as it made Johnson the first black majority owner of a major professional sports team.

Johnson’s deal shattered ownership barriers when it came to a black businessman operating in that realm, though at the time, the NBA had a player base that was roughly 80% black.

The acquisition came two years after Johnson, the founder and chairman of Black Entertainment Television (BET), sold that company to Viacom for roughly $ 3 billion. As such, Johnson became a billionaire and household name.

Key Player in Proposed Airlines Merger


The audacious entrepreneur has always been focused on engaging in commercial enterprises in sectors which had an absence of African American ownership. For example, while in the process of selling BET, he also sought to launch DC Air as a major black-owned airline operating from Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington. Johnson, a US Airways board member at the time, hammered out a deal to acquire assets in the Washington market for $ 141 million as part of United Airlines then-parent UAL Corp. ‘s $ 4.3 billion bid for US Airways in 2000. The deal was grounded when the Department of Justice blocked the merger in 2001.

After he closed the BET deal, Johnson vigorously went after becoming a majority owner of a sports franchise but never succeeded. Johnson failed twice to buy the Charlotte Hornets from team owner George Shinn. After the Hornets relocated to New Orleans, the NBA opened itself to the possibility of adding an expansion team in Charlotte for the 2004-2005 season. In January 2003, the NBA Board of Governors granted Johnson the Charlotte franchise. He also gained ownership of the WNBA’s Charlotte Sting.


(Image: Black Enterprise Magazine, March 2003)


Johnson believes it was his business savvy and financial status that won the deal—he connected with NBA owners who were members of the selection team as well as had influencers such as then-AOL Time Warner CEO Dick Parsons and former President Bill Clinton go to bat for him. He also says that being African American was the fast break on his slam dunk: “The fact that I am African American was a plus, but at the end of the day, if I didn’t have the credibility or experience, there’s no way they would have said, ‘We’ll give it to you just because we want a black guy running an NBA team.”


(Image: Black Enterprise Magazine, March 2003)


Yet Johnson’s tenure as the NBA team’s owner was tarnished by forces like poor attendance and slow sponsorship sales, contributing to the loss of tens of millions of dollars and unprofitability. In 2009, Johnson began seeking a buyer.

Deal With Jordan


He eventually sold the franchise in 2010 to NBA legend Michael Jordan, who had been a minority investor and head of basketball operations since 2006, for $ 275 million. The Hall of Famer and six-time NBA champion became the second African American and first NBA player to own a franchise. At the time of the sale, Bobcats Basketball Holdings L.L.C., which Johnson founded, was ranked No. 40 on the 2009 BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE COMPANIES list. “I am confident that Michael’s leadership will bring success to the Bobcats whether it’s measured by on-the-court performance, success as a business, or making a positive impact in the Charlotte community,” Johnson said.

After operating under the Bobcats moniker for a decade, the franchise was named the Charlotte Hornets when it became available again after New Orleans owner Tom Benson changed his team’s name to the Pelicans.

Johnson continues to build his legacy as one of America’s most dynamic businessman and wealth builder. He currently serves as chairman of The RLJ Cos., a portfolio of holdings in assorted industries, including the RLJ McLarty Landers Holdings L.L.C., the highest-earning black-owned auto company with revenues of $ 1.6 billion and ranked No. 1 on the 2017 BE Auto 50 list and RLJ Equity Partners L.L.C. (No. 10 on the BE PRIVATE EQUITY FIRMS list with $ 334 million in capital under management). He was No. 2 on BLACK ENTERPRISE‘s list of “Titans: The 40 Most Powerful African Americans in Business” in the magazine’s 40th-anniversary issue and the recipient of the A.G. Gaston Lifetime Achievement Award, the media company’s highest honor, in 2013.











Small Business – Black Enterprise


How to Run a Business With Your Spouse Without Ruining the Relationship

If you’re considering starting a business with your spouse, you might want to discuss a few things with one another to avoid ruining your relationship. So to get some insight on how to divide responsibilities and shut down work issues at home, we asked husband-and-wife co-founders Holly McWhorter and Bjarke Ballisager of Plant Apothecary to share their perspective.


(Image: iStock/izusek)


As co-founders of a successful makeup line and beauty brand, you both bring a mix of skills in architecture, journalism, and music. What transferrable skills did you bring into running the business every day? Architecture demands a high level of problem-solving skills, so we’ve both been able to bring those to the table for this business from our work in that field—along with visual presentation and design skills. And I’ve been able to put my writing skills to use with our marketing efforts—the blog, social media, and written interviews. We haven’t found a place for the music yet, but maybe that’ll come later!

What’s the hardest part of working together as a team every day? The hardest part is the creative conflicts. No two creatives will ever have exactly the same ideas about how best to present a brand, and being married doesn’t change that at all. And then there’s the difficulty of rarely having any time away from each other during the day, so we can start to miss each other. Time apart is good for any relationship!

After a challenging day at work, how do you turn off work mode? We wish we could say we’re always out and about on the town, taking in art and music and socializing, but the truth is we’re both usually so worn out after work these days that it’s usually Netflix. Or soccer, for Bjarke. But we’re hoping that as the business grows and we’re able to expand our staff, we’ll be less stressed and have more energy after work!

Can you provide any tips or advice for working with your spouse? Here’s the main one: Try to divide and conquer, as in being responsible for separate parts of the business. Consistent agreement about every single aspect of a complex business (or complex anything) with one’s spouse is not something that occurs in the natural world, so if you can avoid having to do that, do.

Small Business – Black Enterprise


Women of Color Small Business Owners: Access to Birth Control Is Vital To Our Success

Maintaining access to birth control is vital to their continued success; women small usiness owners are making it known they support continued coverage of a federal rule that guaranteed free contraception co-pay to more than 62 million women.

Yet that coverage is being slashed with a recent decision by the Trump administration that eliminated birth control coverage offered under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. With Trump’s repeal, public and private employers to cite religious or moral objections to refuse birth control via their insurance plans. Female employees may now have to spend their own money to cover some or all contraceptive costs.


(Image: iStock/julief514)

Supporters say the preventive health benefit saved women $ 1.4 billion on birth control in its the first year of existence.


New Poll Reflects Women Small Business Owners’ Views on Mandate Repeal


A new poll by the advocacy group Small Business Majority surveyed 507 female entrepreneurs and discovered that 56% said that access to birth control and the ability to decide if and when to have children allowed them to advance in their careers and start their businesses. The poll, which included oversamples of African American and Latina small business owners, found reproductive healthcare is especially important to women entrepreneurs.

With the move by the Trump administration to roll back this requirement, the Small Business Majority contends that it’s important to understand the perspective of one of the most important, and fastest growing, segments of the nation’s economy: women small business owners.


Women-Owned Businesses Pump $ 1.35 Trillion into Economy


Indeed, the latest U.S. Census data shows there are 8.9 million women-owned businesses contributing $ 1.35 trillion in sales in America.  The data provides strong evidence that those businesses make a major contribution to the nation’s economy.

Plus, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing the Trump administration over new rules the Department of Health and Human Services announced that ease the ACA requirement that employers and insurers provide contraception coverage, according to CBS News.

“The Trump administration is forcing women to pay for their boss’s religious beliefs,” ACLU senior staff attorney Brigitte Amiri stated. “We’re filing this lawsuit because the federal government cannot authorize discrimination against women in the name of religion or otherwise.”


Important for Economic Well-Being and Stability


The survey showed that 79% of female business owners concur that access to reproductive healthcare is important for women’s economic well-being and stability. Another 79% agree we need to ensure all women have access to affordable, reproductive healthcare as a basic economic issue for our families.

Fifty-six percent of women small business owners admit that their ability to access birth control and to decide if and when to have children allowed them to advance in their careers and start their own business, and 52% agree this access impacts their ability to grow their business.


Small Business – Black Enterprise


Useful things you’ll need when going on a business trip


Business trips are the backbone of the modern corporate world. Without them, there is no way for your company to thrive, and there is no diversity across the business world. It’s essential to get out in the world and try to make a connection with people from all walks of life. When you’re jetting off abroad for business, you want to have the perfect blend of work and play, and really showcase why you and your company are worth the investment.

Now, many people are seasoned pros and know exactly what to bring on business trip, while others have no idea where to begin. Packing right is essential if you want to enjoy a successful and stress-free business trip. So, we thought we’d put our heads together, and come up with some awesome ideas of the most useful things you will need when you decide to go on a business trip.


These days everything is pretty much digital, and it’s almost impossible to do business of any kind without electronics. So, you have to make sure you pack the relevant electronics with you that you’ll need for your trip. For instance, you will need to take your smartphone, laptop, and, possibly a tablet as well. Don’t forget to pack charges and ports as well so you will always have access to working electronics.


It’s a brave person who goes abroad without any of the local currency changed up. Make sure you have at least some with you before boarding your flight. Yes, it may be cheaper to change it up when you’re out there, but, at the very least make sure you have the cash for a taxi and a snack with you before you go. Now, some currencies are easy to come by, but others may need to be ordered, so make sure you account for this and order yours in plenty of time.


Now, there is a preference these days for making everything digital, and that includes your business documents and information. But, we think it’s also important to have hard copies as well, not to mention the fact that it looks more professional as well. So, make sure you compile all your information before going and print it off, so you have a hard copy of the relevant paperwork. This is a good way of keeping a backup and is essential for helping you to stay in the game, so to speak.

The right clothing

Don’t forget that, even though you’re traveling on business, you’re still going to a separate country, and the climate can be very different. You need to make sure you pack the right kind of clothing to help you acclimate to the weather. This means packing warm clothing for colder climates, and vice versa. You may not think about this too much, but it can definitely make a big difference to your comfort and experience on the trip.

Business cards

The most important part of business is marketing and networking, and business cards play a crucial role in this. They are a calling card, and a wonderful way to generate interest in the company, and put the feelers out when connecting with people. Business cards should be your bread and butter, and you need to carry them with you at all times because you never know when they might come in handy.

These are just a few of the amazing tips we’ve come up with that you need to know about for your business trip. If you’re serious about having the most productive and enjoyable trip imaginable, this advice is invaluable. Don’t forget, the whole purpose of a business trip is to make a connection and help your business thrive in another country. With the advice and tips in this post, we hope you will be able to do that emphatically!


The post Useful things you’ll need when going on a business trip appeared first on Worldation.



45 Great Moments in Black Business – No. 25: Black Investment Banks and Facebook’s $104 Billion IPO

This year, BLACK ENTERPRISE celebrates the 45th anniversary of its roster of the nation’s largest black-owned businesses—the BE 100s. To commemorate the significance of this collective’s widespread impact on black business and economic development as well as American industry over four decades, we have presented 45 milestones moments. As part of this tribute, we continue our yearlong countdown.  

Today we reveal No. 25 in the web series “Great Moments in Black Business.” 

2012: BE 100s investment banks CastleOak Securities, Loop Capital, and Williams Capital serve as some of the underwriters for the $ 104 billion Facebook IPO.


(Image: iStock/oneinchpunch)


When Facebook set the price for its initial public offering at $ 38 a share five years ago, that provided the social networking powerhouse a valuation of $ 104 billion—at the time, making Facebook the largest U.S. company based on market value.

Five BE 100s firms—CastleOak Securities, Loop Capital, M.R. Beal & Co., Williams Capital, and Blaylock Robert Van—were invited to the dance. They were among investment banks that Facebook requested to take part in the historic transaction, according to BLACK ENTERPRISE reports. Prior to that offering, the last high-profile transaction of a Silicon Valley company had been the $ 2.7 billion IPO of Google—now renamed Alphabet Inc.—in 2002 with Blaylock Partners, one of the leading black investment banks at the time, serving as co-manager.


(Ronald Blaylock. Image: Black Enterprise Magazine; June 1998)


Biggest Tech IPO in History


The deal was colossal as Facebook was among the most-hyped IPOs of all time. It listed on May 1, 2012, raising just over $ 16 billion. Yet the offering was impaired with trading issues and questionable information-sharing accusations. Still, it became one of the largest technology IPOs in American history.

James Reynolds Jr. (Loop Capital CEO James Reynolds. Image: File)


Investment banks entered the game when they were among 25 additional underwriters asked to participate in the IPO about a month after an initial list of book runners were named. They included J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Barclays Capital. All told, there were 33 underwriters, according to ZDNet.

Facebook’s bid to minority and women-owned investment banks succeeded similar actions taken by General Motors and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. during their own IPOs. “Wall Street tries to do what looks good on high-profile IPOs, and it will not go unnoticed that Facebook has chosen to bring in minority underwriters,” says Scott Sweet, senior managing partner at IPO Boutique. “It’s not going to make or break the deal, but it will show that they’re not nonchalant about the opportunities that smaller firms can offer distribution-wise.”

Yet with Facebook and other IPOs, diverse firms only landed book runner positions. In contrast, their large Wall Street counterparts were recruited for the more lucrative lead spots.

Black Politicians Advocate for Black-Owned Firms


Reuters reported in 2010 that Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, disputed General Motors’ decision not to include any underwriters from minority- or women-owned financial institutions. The massive Detroit automaker ultimately added some diverse banks as underwriters, including Chicago-based Loop Capital and CastleOak Securities, both of which have been named BLACK ENTERPRISE Financial Company of the Year in recent years for their stellar long-term performance.

Two years after the Facebook IPO, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said at the 17th Annual Wall Street Project Economic Summit that it’s crucial that corporations stop locking out minorities on corporate boards and financial transactions. The civil rights leader founded the Wall Street Project in 1996 with the Citizenship Education Fund.

He emphasized that while a handful of minority firms were involved in Facebook’s IPO, they only collected less than 1% of the investment banking fees.

The Facebook IPO and Jackson’s actions, in part, served as catalysts for more BE 100s black investment banks to become involved in transactions with other iconic tech companies. Among the most notable: The participation of Loop Capital and Williams Capital in Hewlett-Packard’s $ 15 billion offering in 2015, enabling it to split into two companies, HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise; Loop Capital and CastleOak Securities serving as co-managers in a three-tranche, $ 3.5 billion bond offering of Apple. Inc. in 2016; and this year Williams Capital’s inclusion in the underwriting pool of the $ 28 billion IPO of Snap Inc., the parent company of the mobile app Snapchat—the firm, however, represented only one of two minority firms involved in the transaction.

Loop Capital’s Chairman and CEO James R. Reynolds told BE of such transactions: “For corporate finance, Silicon Valley is one of the biggest things that’s out there right now. Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Google, Uber…that is a frontier that’s huge.”

Small Business – Black Enterprise


The One Thing You Need To Do To Really Make Your Business Grow

My nephew Kendall is 7 years old and very bright. He loves playing sports, but he had issues with schoolwork and his behavior during first grade. Kendall doesn’t have any identifiable learning disabilities, so it was baffling that he wasn’t thriving in a public school classroom environment. To help him, he was placed in a private school offering him a classroom size of just six students, blackboards (yes, the old-school chalk blackboards) and old-school wooden desks—the type you might see on a rerun of the show Facts of Life. His new learning environment is very basic.

After one month, Kendall logged all “A” grades and is engaging in all activities. It turns out, my nephew is just a different type of learner and getting back to education basics was all he needed. No smart boards, laptops, or tablets to muddy the learning waters.

Simplicity and taking a step back is helping my nephew thrive in school. When I look at some established businesses, I’ve noticed that getting back to basics and taking a step back from the “bells and whistles” of running a business in the digital age can be reinvigorating and can make your business grow.

Losing Sight of What Matters


Today’s business owners are so caught up (and likely overwhelmed) with leveraging social media and online marketing platforms that they have lost sight of what REALLY matters. Remember, it’s not just about getting likes on your Facebook page—it’s about getting people to BUY whatever it is you are selling. People make a purchase not because a business has 20K likes or followers, it’s because they trust what a business sells. Most importantly, there is no social media platform that serves as a substitute for maintaining a stellar competitive advantage.

(Image: iStock/Woman watering houseplant)


Recently, I advised Chef Christy Jones*, the owner of a restaurant located in a suburban town in New Jersey for over 15 years. As a classically trained chef, she opened her 70-seat farm-to-table restaurant to much fanfare and anticipation, having worked at noted restaurants in her region. Her local fame afforded her a steady flow of patrons eager to consume her culinary creations. She opened with only one other restaurant nearby—today there are 14. She was the first in her market to boast a farm-to-table menu, now her competitors promote similar offerings. Chef Christy has now lost her market share and is not seeing many new customers.

Chef Christy shared with me how she tries to use social to win new business by posting information about her menu specials—with limited results. After getting a few more details, I learned that many of her competitors in town were not owned and operated by chefs. In fact, many of the eateries were started by food industry novices.

As I walked around her restaurant, I recognized some underutilized competitive advantages such as desirable outdoor eating space, on-site parking, and walk-by traffic. The large glass windows out front were also not being used effectively. Nowhere on property or menus does it say the restaurant is owned and operated by a chef. As I continued chatting and walking around, I figured out where Chef Christy’s challenges stem from—it’s her. She has lost sight of why she opened her restaurant. But most of all, she has become complacent and now takes her experience and reputation for granted.

Complacency will kill any business. Chef Christy’s original competitive advantage was and still is that she is a noted, trained chef—yet she is doing nothing to maximize it. Like many business owners, Chef Christy needs to get back to business basics to regain her competitive advantage.

Getting Back to Basics – The One Thing You Must Do


Your business is a moving target, but being focused helps you hit your target. Getting back to basics means focusing on what made you a success in the first place and using it to reignite your business. Here are some growth strategies any business can implement to get back to basics:

  1. Talk to Your Customers – Before there was Yelp! and Google Reviews,  entrepreneurs would actually speak with their customers to find out what they liked and didn’t like. What a concept! Your regular customers and clients may never post a review, but they know your business the best. Speak with them to find out what they want, like, and dislike and then tailor your offerings to them.
  1. Leverage Your Competitive Advantage – It’s been a while since you opened, but what made your business shine then is likely still the same or better. If you have a unique offering or reputation, use it to remind old customers and gain new ones. For example, I advised Chef Christy to add elegant lettering in her window stating “Owned and Operated by Executive Chef Christy Jones” to assist passersby in discerning between the restaurants operated by non-chefs.
  1. Upsell, Upsell, Upsell – The easiest way to increase sales is to upsell to your existing clientele. Research conducted with established businesses by marketing analytics firm SumAll found that repeat customers are the foundation upon which profitable businesses are built. The data also revealed when businesses have 40% repeat customers they generated 47% more revenue than similar businesses with only 10% repeat customers.
  1. Adapt and Change – Perhaps some of your longstanding approaches are stale. Be willing to change with the times. Getting back to basics should include innovation. Revisit how you made magic in your business when you first started to reinvent some of your services and projects.

If you feel like you’ve been running on a hamster wheel for a while, it is probably time to get back to basics. Rediscover what made you a success early on and most importantly stop chasing what you don’t have and nurture your existing customer base to reach your revenue goals.

* The name of the chef has been changed to protect her identity.

Small Business – Black Enterprise


5 Smart Hustles to Take Your Business to the Next Level

It’s time to get your “smart hustle” on.

Self-described “small business evangelist” Ramon Ray has helped scores of entrepreneurs achieve that goal with his 12th Annual Smart Hustle Small Business Conference. Held in the heart of Times Square at the New York offices of Microsoft, the event provided actionable business-building advice, ranging from leveraging a firm’s “smallness” as a competitive advantage to boosting revenues by “tapping into the passions” of customers.


(Ramon Ray, speaking at the 12th Annual Smart Hustle Small Business Conference. Image: File)


Ray, who has served as a popular speaker spreading the gospel of entrepreneurial growth at BLACK ENTERPRISE’s Entrepreneurs and TechConneXt summits, produced an event that offered the same attributes as his presentations: infectious energy, full engagement, and accessible strategic gems. Among his speakers: renowned tech entrepreneur and author Seth Godin; highly acclaimed business coach Carl Gould; and innovative CEO of online bulk shopping service Boxed, Chieh Huang, just to name a few on this week’s program.





In past conversations about Smart Hustle, which is also a magazine, Ray told me it was  designed for entrepreneurs who have owned and operated their business for five years or less, found their niche in the marketplace, and are “willing to grind to get their company to the next level.” He’s had firsthand experience: The tech-savvy author and global motivational speaker has launched four ventures and sold one.

Here are just four simple but powerful nuggets that can help you hustle:


Profit from knowing every detail about your customer


In a live podcast with Avanti Entrepreneur Group founder and CEO David Mammano, business coach Carl Gould (who says he’s mentored over 5,000 companies and helped motivational guru Tony Robbins develop the famous 18-second, fear-facing  “firewalk”) discussed the value of making unshakable connections with customers.

Asserts Gould: “There’s a market for everything. Your challenge is whether you can bring your product or service to the market profitably and sustainably. [To do that], you must know your ideal client pretty well.” 

Gould offers three specific guidelines to figure out “what makes your client tick and what they will pay a premium for.” He encourages entrepreneurs to find out answers to the following questions:

  1. What keeps your customers worrying at night? “When they’re up at 2 a.m. and wide awake, what is on their mind?”
  2. What makes your intended prospects “feel guilty or do they get grief for [something] at the end of the workday.” If you have the answer then you’ll know what issues dominate their daily conversations.
  3. What’s going on in your prospect’s world right now that makes calling you or hiring you an absolute urgency? Identify a given customer’s trigger point and market directly to it at a premium level.


Use competitors’ weaknesses to promote your company’s strengths


To better position your business, Gould advises, identify the top five complaints about your competitors and then be able “to make the promise in your niche that now one has the guts to make.”

Gould illustrated his point by using Netflix as an example. The company used the numerous shortcomings of the business model of Blockbuster to unwind the one-time video rental king. Consumers’ biggest complaints: Having to go back and forth to video stores; parking problems; fees for late returns; fines for not rewinding returned videos; and lack of available titles. Before adopting its current digital model, Netflix was a mail-order business that provided home delivery with a money-back guarantee that their customers would not suffer past inconveniences.

In communicating your “unique selling proposition,” Gould argues that entrepreneurs should spend less time sharing their core values or mission statements on websites, marketing materials, and business plans but clearly emphasize their promise to solve client’s problems and frustrations.


Boost sales through likability


Michael Katz, founder of Boston-based Blue Penguin Development, says he helps professional service firms distinguish their companies from the pack by positioning them as “likable experts.” He asserts that tact represents one of the best ways “to leverage smallness [and] do things that large businesses can’t do.” Moreover, he maintains the likability factor can give your company an edge-especially when battling rivals with similar competitive strengths and capabilities.

Here are Katz’s strategies to increase your appeal:

  1. Tell stories. Customers become more engaged when you can provide historical, humorous, and engaging facts about your company and its products and services.
  2. In dealing with clients, Katz says, apply the world’s greatest (and most underutilized) relationship-building tool: handwritten notes. He maintains that even in today’s tech-driven environment, personalized correspondence continues to be far more effective than emails in that they “get a 100% open rate” and customers are more likely to treat them as valuable keepsakes. “I have visited clients who have received my notes and I’ve seen them tacked to a wall in their office,” he says. “It’s not about penmanship but making a connection.”
  3. Help people that can’t help you. By doing so, you can build a reputation for putting people first.

“You should do what you do in your personal life when you’re trying to make friends,” he says. “You want people to see you as a three-dimensional person and not like every other businessperson.”


Put yourself in your customer’s “house” to gain more influence


Leadership development expert Mitch Fairrais told the Smart Hustle audience that most people “tend to be wired for self-interest.” He maintained, however, that entrepreneurs can reap greater benefits, gaining “the ability to deal with others from their vantage point. Helping people get want they want is the best way to get what you want.”

He advised attendees to adopt the philosophy: “Tu casa es mi casa” or “Your house is my house.”

It starts, he says, with what he calls “airline emergency listening,” citing that if a pilot told passengers about a mid-air malfunction they would focus on instructions of flight attendants unlike the crew’s reception before take-off. “Don’t spend too much time strategizing at the door and be present to what the other person is saying. You can then better understand what you can do for them.”

Lastly, Fairrais says the most important parting question to ask a client or prospect: “Is there anything I should have asked that I haven’t? Usually, the response offers greater insight on how to best personalize service or the need for an urgent remedy.

Fairrais cautions business owners against canned presentations and salesman spin. He told conference attendees that the direct approach builds trust-the core component of influence.


Scaling your business through the grind


Boxed CEO Huang shared how he scaled up his online and mobile membership-free wholesale retailer for “urban consumers who didn’t have the physical means to buy products from Costco and other warehouse clubs from a garage startup in 2013 to a multimillion-dollar national enterprise today.


(Boxed CEO, Chieh Huang. Image: File)


As his business grew (by the end of 2014 it had customers coast to coast and grew to its number of strategically located fulfillment centers) Huang discovered that “in solving the problem of those that [were unable] to access warehouse clubs, we had stumbled upon the fact that providing time to people who didn’t have the patience to go to warehouse clubs was a much bigger business. We couldn’t have done it by planning the business a year ahead and waiting for it to be perfect before we launched. It’s by walking that path and grinding and hustling every day that all these different paths emerged in front of us. You can’t see what’s around the corner until you work it.”

In scaling the business, they discovered three elements that drove Boxed’s value: pricing, convenience, and branding. As such, Boxed is now positioned to take a larger chunk of the online/mobile segment, or 2% of the $ 200 billion retail market. Asserts Huang: “There’s room for a bunch of different players. So many businesses have grown incredibly well in the shadow of Wal-Mart in the offline world. So much money is being spent online now that you have multi-hundred-million-dollar businesses like ours growing in the online world as well.”

Boxed has grown into a sophisticated operation in a short time. Its fulfillment centers are huge four-story, robotic structures that handle the flood of orders. Selfie-cams follow and tape each order, and each video is sent to the customer. “Millennials love it,” Huang says of this customized feature.

In recounting his entrepreneurial journey, Huang offered his philosophy of scale: “In the beginning, it was about living the dream, starting a business in a garage. Now, as our business has scaled, it’s no longer about the money or the glory. We are now building our brand based on how we do good for people. So as you scale your business, there are different ways to think about it. There’s scale of people. There’s scale of revenue. There’s scale of systems. But, I hope you do a gut check of yourself and ask are your motivations scaling.”

Small Business – Black Enterprise


How To Duplicate Michelle Obama’s Business Fierce Look

There’s business casual, business formal and Michelle Obama‘s “business fierce” look. The former First Lady appeared at the Hyde Park Academy with Prince Harry for the initial Obama Summit Foundation where she rocked a pair of Michael Kors slacks and a Stella McCartney blouse.

Instagram Photo

The $ 850 Michael Kors slacks were a plaid pattern that flared around the ankles. Michelle’s light blue Damiane shirt from Stella McCartney‘s Winter collection can be yours for $ 645.

Instagram Photo

You can definitely achieve this classy business look without spending as much while still getting the same end result of business fierce look! Check out these Ann Taylor Madison Cut style trousers for $ 109 that can be paired with a blue or black top. Also look at these Nine West trousers that are currently on sale for $ 59! The Charter Club Plus-Size pants bring out all the sexy and curves for $ 49.

If you want to get away from the traditional button-down blouse when it comes to pairing it with business slacks like Michelle did, this Brooks Brothers Wool-Yak Cashmere Sweater for $ 198 will go nicely with the plaid slacks. If you want to do a darker shade of blue, ASOS has a funnel neck top for $ 48.

Top of this simple stylish look with a set of silver hoop earrings and pumps of your favorite color. You’ll turn heads for all the right reasons!


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Life & Style – Black America Web


Business on a Budget: Tips on How to Start a Business for Little or No Money

You have the passion and the drive, but maybe you don’t think you have the money to pursue your dream of starting your own small business. Thankfully, there are many different ways you can start a small business with little or no savings or outside funding. This post goes through some tips on how to start your business as cheaply as possible.

Where Do I Start as a Small Business Owner?

One of the most inexpensive ways you can start a business is by becoming a sole proprietor. Being a sole proprietor means that you and your business are not separate entities, so any debt or costs related to your business are your personal responsibility. Of course, there are other business types as well, depending on whether you have a business partner, the type of taxation you prefer, and growth prospects.

Once you’ve determined what type of business you are going to start, it’s a good idea to hash out your business idea with a business plan (especially if you are planning on presenting your idea to potential investors), and look into a business license if it’s needed for your area.

What Questions Should I ask Myself as a Small Business Owner?

When you’re getting started as a small business owner, you might be concerned with your own personal income and how to differentiate it from your business. In a past post, How Much Should Small Business Owners Pay Themselves, we suggested that taking a minimum salary is probably the best way to start out, and explored some other important questions with regards to balancing your personal and business finances.

Another helpful post for small business owners,3 Legal Questions Every Business Owner Should Ask Themselves, goes through some questions and scenarios for small business owners that you may not have thought of, and how the law may impact your business.

Can I get a Grant or Loan Tailored to Small Business?

There is a plethora of options for funding your small business, so it’s important to go through your options to determine what is right for you and your business. To help you out, here is a short list of federal government resources:

Be sure to check out any local small business resources that your area may offer as well.

Should I Consider Crowdfunding for My Business?

Crowdfunding through sites such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo is a great way to gauge interest and secure funding directly from customers if you are developing a product that you would like to sell, such as a board game, electronic gadget, or even a film. Since crowdfunding is generally geared more towards bringing these creative endeavors to fruition, you may benefit from doing more research to determine if crowdfunding is appropriate for your business.

Should I Start a Service-Based Business?

A service-based business can be a lucrative option for someone who wants to start a business for as little money as possible, especially if the service being provided doesn’t require an initial investment.

A simple example of a service-based business would be a lawn-mowing business where the customer provides their own lawnmower and gas. The person mowing their lawn could charge less than a professional lawncare company, since the customer would be providing the materials to do the job and the person mowing the lawn would simply be providing the service.

Taking advantage of the service-based business model, such as the example above, can also give you the flexibility you need to invest in your business slowly over time, or save money so that you can invest in achieving a larger goal.

Our Independent Contractor Agreement is available to help you hash out any terms and conditions you might want to include before getting started with your first customer.

Should I use Equipment that I Already Own for My Business?

Starting a business where you can use equipment that you already own will significantly reduce your start-up costs. Using your own equipment means that you might be able to start investing in your business’ future sooner rather than later.

Let’s look at a freelance writer as an example. If the writer already owns a computer, has access to an internet connection, and owns word processing software, they already own most if not all of the tools they need to begin their freelance writing business.

Another example is a computer repair business, which could potentially be run right out of the independent contractor’s home. Upfront costs would just include the tools required to do the repairs.

There are many types of service-based businesses that you can start, and when you’ve established a decent stream of income, you can look into upgrading your equipment or expanding your business. It’s also not unheard of to pivot once your business is off the ground.

What are Some Other Resources I Can Look at for My Small Business?

There are a lot of options and resources available to help you begin your entrepreneurial journey, so you can always benefit from doing your own research. Be sure to take a look at our related posts section as well for more information to help you along.

Do you have any tips for starting a business on a budget? Let us know in the comments!

The post Business on a Budget: Tips on How to Start a Business for Little or No Money appeared first on LawDepot Blog.

LawDepot Blog


45 Great Moments in Black Business – No. 29: Ariel Investments’ $16 Billion Milestone

Mellody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments

This year BLACK ENTERPRISE celebrates the 45th anniversary of its roster of the nation’s largest black-owned businesses—The BE 100s. To commemorate the significance of this collective’s widespread impact on black business and economic development as well as American industry over four decades, we have presented 45 milestones moments. We now resume this tribute with the continuation of our yearlong countdown.  

Today we reveal No. 29 in the web series “Great Moments in Black Business.” 

2003: Ariel Investments, No. 1 on the BE ASSET MANAGERS list and the first black money manager to launch a family of mutual funds, achieves an investment milestone when 17 major corporations select its mutual funds for their 401(k) plans.

Led by Ariel founder, CEO, and Chief Investment Officer John W. Rogers Jr., the firm broke new ground with that landmark achievement despite a hypercompetitive environment and greater compliance pressure from the newly enacted Sarbanes-Oxley legislation. Due to the relentless efforts of Rogers, Mellody Hobson, the firm’s president, and the rest of the team, Ariel snared new accounts while applying a value investment style to produce hefty returns for individual and institutional investors. The results: Assets under management grew in 2003 to $ 16.1 billion, an explosive 58% increase from the previous year.

(John Rogers, center, with Mellody Hobson. Image: File)


Rogers, listed among BE’s Most Powerful Blacks on Wall Street, has broken barriers in the nation’s asset management industry and helped paved the way for other African Americans to gain entry into a business dominated by non-diverse firms.

A New Approach to Investing


Like the tortoise of Aesop’s fable, he took a slow-and-steady approach to investing in undervalued small and medium-sized companies over the long term and has built wealth for investors, including millions of African Americans. It was an approach that was in contrast to many of his growth-oriented peers as Rogers would recount in an April 1992 BLACK ENTERPRISE cover story.

The journey for Rogers began in 1983 when he launched Ariel Capital Management, now Ariel Investments. In that 1992 BLACK ENTERPRISE article, Rogers, who worked more than two years for the brokerage firm William Blair, used a connection to gain his first account: $ 100,000 investment from the Howard University endowment fund.  He also developed The Patient Investor, a newsletter describing his stock-picking philosophy —complete with a picture of a tortoise and the “slow and steady” tagline gracing its cover. Due to his performance, assets under management grew to $ 2 million by 1986.

(John Rogers. Image: File)


As Rogers built his mutual fund family—the first was Ariel Fund—he brought on Calvert Group Inc., a financial services company, in 1986 to serve as the distributor and transfer agent. Yet eight years later, in a bold move to gain independence, he paid $ 4 million to separate from Calvert and assumed responsibility for all operations. “We went from managing $ 2.3 billion to $ 1.1 billion over a short period of time, and it was extraordinarily uncomfortable and frightening,” Rogers told BE at the time.  

Steering Through the Great Recession


Ariel persevered through such rough patches and learned valuable lessons from business volatility and severe market downturns, including the financial crisis in 2009. Rogers, an investment icon and former captain of the basketball team when he attended Princeton University, has repeatedly demonstrated his resilience. In 2010, Crain’s Chicago Business reported Ariel emerged from the financial crisis with its best performance ever.

The firm’s flagship Ariel Fund rose 56% for the past 12 months, beating the 38% average rise for rivals, according to investment rating firm Morningstar. Most recently, as of Sept. 30, 2017, the Ariel Fund produced an annualized return of 11.34% since its Nov. 6, 1986, inception date, according to Ariel’s website. That compares with the same period for the Russell 2500 Value Index, a 10.86% return for the Russell 2500 Index, and a 10.32% return for the S&P 500 Index.

With offices in New York and Sydney, the Chicago-based Ariel offers investors six no-load mutual funds and nine separate accounts, and as of Feb. 28, 2017, the firm reported assets under management of $ 11.5 billion.

Fierce Diversity Advocate


When not operating Ariel, Rogers and Hobson have been active in the business, philanthropic, and social fronts. For instance, Rogers, a board member of McDonald’s Corp. and Exelon Corp., and Hobson, who serves on the boards of Starbucks Corp. and Estée Lauder Cos., can be found on the BLACK ENTERPRISE Registry of Corporate Directors. As such, they represent some of the fiercest advocates for diversity in corporate governance.

black directors


Despite the milestone that Ariel achieved some 14 years ago, Rogers is still actively fighting for greater opportunities for black firms to gain access to opportunities to manage corporate, pension fund, and endowment dollars. According to a 2015 Wall Street Project Asset Management study released at the annual summit created by civil rights leader Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, minority firms have been unable to gain a foothold in a sector in which assets under management totaled a whopping $ 68.7 trillion and profits grew to $ 93 billion in 2013. Using data from the BE ASSET MANAGERS list, the study further revealed that top black firms manage a total of $ 118.4 billion in assets—a mere 0.3% of the total $ 36 trillion in domestic institutional assets under management. Rogers believes greater boardroom diversity will make the difference in the creation of a more equitable asset management selection process.

It is fitting, however, that Ariel has been able and will continue to break barriers in asset management, in great part, due to Rogers’ vision, tenacity, and investment prowess. In 2013, he was featured with legendary investors Warren Buffett, Sir John Templeton, and Benjamin Graham in the book, The World’s 99 Greatest Investors.




Small Business – Black Enterprise


45 Great Moments in Black Business – No. 27: Don Barden’s $149 Million Acquisition of Three Vegas Casinos

This year, BLACK ENTERPRISE celebrates the 4th anniversary of its roster of the nation’s largest black-owned businesses—The BE 100s. To commemorate the significance of this collective’s widespread impact on black business and economic development as well as American industry over four decades, we have presented 45 milestones moments. As part of this tribute, we continue our yearlong countdown.  

Today we reveal No. 27 in the web series “Great Moments in Black Business.” 

2002: With the acquisition of three Fitzgeralds casinos for $ 149 million, Don Barden becomes the first African American to wholly own a casino in the nation’s gambling capital.

Rising from meager beginnings to become a self-made multimillionaire African American entrepreneur, the late Don Barden was a trailblazer in America’s gaming industry.

First-Ever Black Vegas Casino Operator


Barden made history when one of his companies acquired three Fitzgeralds casinos for $ 149 million, making him the first black to own casino operations in Las Vegas. The transaction placed his gaming enterprise in the industry’s largest U.S. market and at the same time, broke barriers within the sector.

Barden added to his empire—he had already owned casinos in Gary, Indiana; Tunica, Mississippi; and Black Hawk, Colorado—by purchasing the Fitzgeralds properties from bankruptcy court. In fact, Barden used $ 14 million of his own money and raised $ 150 million from 40 institutional investors to seal the deal and upgrade operations.


The daring entrepreneur’s big gamble paid off.  It bumped revenues of Barden Cos. Inc., placing it among the top 25 of BE Industrial/Service Companies in the early 2000s. Observers hailed Barden’s move as a major victory in bringing much-needed diversity to the industry. “It has the same ramification [for the Las Vegas gaming industry] that Jackie Robinson had to baseball,” Gene Collins, president of the Las Vegas chapter of the NAACP told the Las Vegas Sun at the time.” It opens all sorts of opportunities for African Americans because someone has to be first.”

First African American to Build an Urban-Based Cable TV Company


Making history was nothing new for Barden. In addition to being the first African American to own a casino corporation outright, he beat the odds by controlling multimillion-dollar companies in other industries that locked out blacks from ownership participation. As such, he would become the first black businessman to build a cable TV system for urban markets as well as a major player in commercial estate development over the course of his 40-year career.

He shared his deal-making philosophy in the BLACK ENTERPRISE book, Lessons From The Top: “I have learned to look for businesses that make money while I sleep. I like to acquire any business that doesn’t require an exorbitant amount of time and capital to turn it around. Yet, I want to be able to expand the core businesses. I have been able to do that with real estate, cable, and gaming. If you find viable businesses with solid management, you are not drained by the day-to-day operations. You can scope out other opportunities.”

The ninth of 13 children raised in Inkster, Michigan, he attended Central State University in Ohio with the goal of pursuing a legal career. But he ultimately turned to entrepreneurship. His first venture was a record store that he opened in Lorain, Ohio, at the age of 21 with $ 500 in savings. From there, he launched several businesses, including a real estate development firm, a nightclub, and a weekly newspaper, The Lorain County Times, in Lorain. He was also Lorain’s first elected black city council member.


(Barden featured in Black Enterprise magazine, May 1998)


By 1981, Barden bought an interest in a cable television station in Lorain and formed Barden Communications Inc. He expanded his cable system to include communities in his hometown of Inkster and the Detroit metro area, growing gross revenues from $ 600,000 to $ 91.2 million in a decade. By 1992, BCI earned the No. 5 position on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 and BE 100s Company of the Year honors—for the first time. By 1994, he sold the company to Comcast Cable in 1994 for more than $ 100 million.

Two years later, he ventured into the casino gaming industry when he acquired and operated the Majestic Star Casino, a riverboat casino in Gary, Indiana. After an unsuccessful bid to buy a casino in Detroit, he acquired the Fitzgeralds properties. In 2003, BLACK ENTERPRISE named Barden Cos. as Company of the Year—the only entrepreneur to receive such recognition in two different industries within a 10-year span.

But not all of Barden’s ventures were proven winners. In 2009, the Majestic Star Casino was forced to file for bankruptcy protection.

Such setbacks, however, did not keep BLACK ENTERPRISE from heralding his myriad accomplishments. As part of its 40th-anniversary celebration in 2010—a year before Barden’s untimely death due to complications from lung cancer—it ranked him No. 21 on the roster of “Titans: The 40 Most Powerful African Americans in Business.” That same year, he also received the A.G. Gaston Lifetime Achievement Award, BE‘s top honor for business excellence. Barden left a legacy for being one of the most honored and respected black business leaders of his generation, and mentor to several generations of black professionals and entrepreneurs.


Small Business – Black Enterprise


45 Great Moments in Black Business – No. 28: Berry Gordy Sells Motown Records

This year BLACK ENTERPRISE celebrates the 45th anniversary of its roster of the nation’s largest black-owned businesses – The BE 100s.  To commemorate the significance of this collective’s widespread impact on black business and economic development as well as American industry over four decades, we have presented 45 milestones moments.  As part of this tribute, we continue our yearlong countdown.  

Today we reveal No. 28 in the web series “Great Moments in Black Business.” 

1988: Berry Gordy sells Motown Records, which created “The Sound That Changed America” and held the No. 1 position on The BE 100s for a decade after its inception.


(Berry Gordy. Image: Black Enterprise Magazine, October 1970)


A high school dropout and factory worker who evolved into a phenomenal businessman, Berry Gordy built Motown Records into one of the most successful black-owned music companies in U.S. history. Its roster of timeless artists included Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, the Jackson Five, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Commodores and a myriad of other well-known acts.

For roughly 30 years, Gordy brought soul music to the mainstream. An “irresistible force of social and cultural change, Berry Gordy’s legendary Motown made its mark not just on the music industry but society at large,” according to As such, the company grew into the largest black-owned business in the nation from the 1960s throughout the 1970s and early 1980s.


(Image: Black Enterprise Magazine; October, 1970)


By the mid-1980s, however, independent Motown Records was hemorrhaging money as it tried to survive in an industry dominated by multinational conglomerates that were gobbling up talent and market share. Among the major setbacks was the loss of major artists like Michael Jackson and Diana Ross to such labels as CBS/Epic Records and RCA Records, respectively. As a result of these industrial shifts, music industry icon Gordy was forced to sell Motown for $ 61 million to MCA Inc. and Boston Ventures Limited Partnership in 1988.


Paving the Way for Future Black Music Executives


Gordy kept other Motown subsidiaries including the highly profitable Jobete Music Co., and Motown’s film and television production unit, producer of TV specials like Motown’s 25th Anniversary in 1983 and the critically acclaimed 1989 miniseries, Lonesome Dove. In 1997, Gordy sold 50% of Jobete to EMI Music Publishing for $ 132 million, then viewed as one of the most significant music publishing deals ever. In 2003, EMI acquired another 30% of Jobete for $ 110 million and the remaining 20% in 2004 for about $ 80 million, ending Gordy’s stake in Motown.


(Suzanne de Passe. Image: Black Enterprise Magazine; June, 1974)


Before selling, Gordy was lauded as a talented songwriter and innovator who established a business model for entrepreneurs in the entertainment industry. Observers say Gordy helped pave the way for other industry giants like Russell Simmons and Sean “Diddy” Combs.

Gordy formed his empire in 1959, guiding its operations from a Detroit house known as “Hitsville U.S.A.”  As BLACK ENTERPRISE reported in a series of profiles throughout the years, he started with an $ 800 loan he received from his family’s Ber-Berry Co-operative. The co-op was the brainchild of his eldest sister Esther, and it provided seed money for the establishment of Berry’s first record company, Tamla, in 1959. It became Motown Record Corp. in 1960. Beyond producing a series of hit records, Motown’s motion pictures division also broke ground; Its 1972 breakout film, Lady Sings the Blues, starring Diana Ross as Billie Holiday, garnered five Academy Award nominations.


Motown Debuts as a Black Enterprise BE 100


In 1973, BLACK ENTERPRISE started its annual ranking of the nation’s largest black-owned businesses, and Motown debuted at the No. 1 spot, grossing $ 40 million in revenues and holding that position on every list until 1983 when the company grossed $ 91.7 million in revenues. Motown lost the title of list leader in 1984 when Johnson Publishing Co., publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines and producer of Fashion Fair Cosmetics, took the top spot. Motown would make its last appearance on the 1988 list.

Under Gordy’s watch, Motown churned out hundreds of hit singles. In 1966, the company’s hit ratio, the percentage of records released that made the national charts, reached 75%-an incredible figure. Gordy was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, recognized for his musical genius.


Lifetime Achievement


In 2000, Gordy set up the Gwendolyn B. Gordy Fund to help former Motown artists, musicians, and writers from the 1960s and 1970s with financial assistance. He donated $ 750,000 to the charity, named in memory of his deceased sister, Gwendolyn.

Over the years, Gordy’s musical genius and entrepreneurial prowess also garnered numerous awards. In 2001, he received the A.G. Gaston Lifetime Achievement Award, BLACK ENTERPRISE’s highest honor for business achievement.  Last year, President Obama included him among the 2015 National Medal of Arts recipients. The citation read: “To Berry Gordy, for helping to create a trailblazing new sound in American music. As a record producer and songwriter, he helped build Motown, launching the music careers of countless legendary artists. His unique sound helped shape our nation’s story.”



Small Business – Black Enterprise


The Best New Way for African Americans to Invest In or Start a Business

Equity Crowdfunding - multicultural hands raised with dollars to invest

Professors, politicians, and prognosticators have—for years—implored the black community to “take all the money you spend on clothes, shoes, and hair, and put it into investing or starting a business.” Equity crowdfunding provides a new opportunity do so.

Many statements about black consumerism are based on a flawed premise. Black people are starting businesses. In fact, African Americans are more likely to start a business than any other community in the United States Black millennials are even more interested in entrepreneurship than past generations, and black women are the fastest growing group of U.S. business owners in the past 20 years.

As the U.S. rate of entrepreneurship has declined in the past 30 years, entrepreneurial activity in the African American community has increased. The problem is access to capital. Black entrepreneurs start businesses, but—often—do not have access to the capital necessary to market and grow those businesses over time.

Barriers to Business Investing


Prior to equity crowdfunding, most African Americans couldn’t invest in hot, new companies serving the market, such as MayvennYeKim, or Lonzo Ball’s Big Baller Brand, even if they wanted to; regulations prevented it. More importantly, most black entrepreneurs could not turn to friends or family to invest in their small businesses. Not anymore.

Equity Crowdfunding Money for Ideas (Funding an Idea. Image: Shutterstock)


Equity crowdfunding empowers anyone in the United States over 18 to invest in startups in amounts as small as $ 10. Prior to President Obama signing the JOBS Act into law, this privilege was restricted to wealthy accredited investors; about 10% of U.S. households. Risk comes with investing, but unleashing $ 1.2 trillion in black buying power to fund black businesses and real-estate endeavors is one of the greatest wealth building opportunities ever made available to the African American community.

African Americans have historically been frozen out of wealth building opportunities necessary to build generational wealth. Usually, when wealth building opportunities have been made available, it was only after other communities had access. This makes equity crowdfunding almost singularly unique in American history.

The community has found innovative ways to work around the problem in the past, with a mix of personal loans and informal business groups filling the void. One creative way is sou-sou organizations made popular by women in West Africa and the Caribbean.

Now, black investors and entrepreneurs have access from the beginning and can share in the economic gains made by startups growing and hiring. Moreover, black consumers—trendsetters—can use their dollars and influential platform to select which products, services, and solutions get funded from the beginning.

Jetpack CEO Fatima Dicko runs an equity crowdfunding campaign on Republic (Jetpack CEO Fatima Dicko. Image: Jetpack)


In an effort to better understand the opportunity, I have interviewed black founders running equity crowdfunding campaigns, including Jetpack CEO Fatima Dicko and WhoseYourLandlord CEO Ofo Ezeugwu. I have also interviewed truCrowd Illinois CEO Florence Hardy, one of the only black, brown, or female executives running an equity crowdfunding platform.

The stories of these founders are inspiring and informative. However, more background is needed to fully understand the opportunity, risks, and outlook.

How Equity Crowdfunding Works


Entrepreneurs connect with an equity crowdfunding platform that agrees to host their campaign. Some platforms include; WeFunder, Bolstr, SeedInvest, Republic, and MicroVentures.

Those who want to fund their own businesses file an “offering statement” with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) declaring their intent to raise money.


Bolstr Equity Crowdfunding Platform Homepage (Bolstr Equity Crowdfunding Platform Homepage. Image:


Investment minimums vary, some entrepreneurs take the “small dollar” approach, working to collect as many small investments as possible; as small as $ 10. Others, like WhoseYourLandlord CEO Ofo Ezeugwu, prefer to set a higher minimum, say $ 500, to ensure investors make a real commitment.

In most cases, the following investment options are available for investors and entrepreneurs:

SAFE (Simple Agreement for Future Equity) 

The SAFE is a financial instrument that gives investors the right to obtain equity in a startup if/when that company sells shares at a future date. This usually happens when a startup raises money from an “institutional investor” that sets a value for the company. However, shares could also be sold if the company is acquired. The SAFE rewards investors (you) for investing early by allowing investors to purchase shares at a cheaper price by using a Valuation Cap and/or Discount Rate. More here.

Convertible Note

The Convertible Note is an unsecured loan. Similar to the SAFE, the ‘loan’ amount converts to equity at a future date. Although the loan is rarely repaid in cash, similar to traditional loans, the Convertible Note has an interest rate and maturation date. If the startup does not raise another round of funding, the loan amount is due on the maturation date. The interest on the loan accrues and can be paid in cash or added to the Note amount to be converted into equity. Similar to the SAFE, Convertible Notes use a Valuation Cap and/or Discount Rate to reward early investors. More here.


Some startups decide to offer stock at the seed stage. Stock offerings provide investors with shares of preferred stock based on a Pre-Money Valuation or Post-Money Valuation. Pre-Money Valuation sets a value for the company prior to investment. Post-Money Valuation sets a value for the company after the investment.

Debt / Revenue Agreement 

Some equity crowdfunding platforms offer more traditional loan options that provide startups with loans that are paid back based on terms in the Promissory Note. If the startup company has revenue, the loan may be paid back using revenue; often on a monthly or quarterly basis. If the company does not have revenue, the loan amount is due at the maturation date.


Perk Agreements were made popular on rewards-based crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter. Very often, startups raising money via equity crowdfunding will offer products, discounts, or other perks in addition to equity in the company. Perk Agreements are offered in combination with other investment options presented here.


The JOBS Act also empowers non-accredited investors to invest in income-producing real estate opportunities without going through a broker. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) have existed for years. eREITs and other new real estate investment products allow investors to invest as little as $ 500 in local/national real estate projects. More here.

The terms of these investment options are set by the entrepreneur running the campaign.
At the federal level, Regulation CF Crowdfunding allows entrepreneurs to raise up to $ 1M/year with 2,000 investors per campaign; 2,000 investors x $ 500 = $ 1M (Regulation D and A+ Crowdfunding have different standards for real estate and more mature companies, and/or accredited investors. Some states also allow entrepreneurs to raise a little more.


For Investors:


Equity crowdfunding increased the pool of eligible investors in the U.S. by at least 230 million people. Most equity crowdfunding campaigns are run when companies are young, during a company’s seed investment round. Investors in equity crowdfunding campaigns mostly fill the role of angel investors. They invest after the company has some traction, but while the startup is still young.

To get started, prospective investors (you) begin by setting up an account on an equity crowdfunding platform. After setting up an account, review the startups currently running campaigns. Pay close attention to the startup’s disclosures and offering terms.

Seed Investment Equity Crowdfunding (Image: Shutterstock)


For national campaigns, most investors making $ 100,000, may invest $ 2,200 across all securities offered under Regulation CF per year. If the investor’s annual income and net worth are at least $ 107,000, then an investor may invest the lesser of 10% of their annual income or 10% of their net worth.

Investors may invest up to $ 107,000 in any 12-month period using new equity crowdfunding rules. Some states have more progressive regulations allowing investors to put $ 5,000 into startups using equity crowdfunding.

All investments have risks, and while the potential economic upside of an early equity position in a hot startup is significant, investors can lose their investment. Equity crowdfunding isn’t a get rich quick scheme, it’s a wealth-building opportunity. Debt and revenue sharing investment options, and some real estate opportunities can provide monthly income for investors. However, the biggest gains to be made will be seen in years, not months.


For Entrepreneurs


Jetpack CEO Fatima Dicko, who, to date, has raised $ 230K from over 700 investors on equity crowdfunding platform Republic, sums up the potential for startups using equity crowdfunding like this: “allowing people who would actually use the product to invest in our company.”

Converting fans and consumers into investors is the key for entrepreneurs interested in running equity crowdfunding campaigns. Entrepreneurs should first decide that equity crowdfunding is right for their business. Analyzing the investment options and the amount that may be raised is a good place to start. The amount to be raised must be declared at the beginning.

Startups running equity crowdfunding campaigns must disclose a significant amount of financial information. This is necessary for investors to make informed decisions. This information will be made publicly available on the crowdfunding platform during the life of the campaign.

After starting a campaign, creating content that compels fans and consumers to invest is critical. Startup founders and their teams will spend a significant amount of time creating marketing products, pitching stories to journalists, and answering questions from potential investors.

WhoseYourLandlord CEO Ofo Ezeugwu ran an equity crowdfunding campaign on See Invest (WhoseYourLandlord CEO Ofo Ezeugwu. Image: WhoseYourLandlord)


Because so much time will be spent creating marketing products, many startup founders decide to run parallel fundraising campaigns using the traditional pool of accredited investors. If an equity crowdfunding campaign is going well, founders can point to the traction received when pitching angel investors, and, eventually, institutional venture capitalists.

Equity crowdfunding campaigns require a significant amount of time to launch and run. Entrepreneurs should do a cost/benefit analysis. If a campaign is not successful, entrepreneurs face a public failure that may impact the company in the future. However, for many black/brown entrepreneurs that lack other options, equity crowdfunding presents a significant new opportunity to fund a business.

Equity crowdfunding brings the positive impact of entrepreneurship, investing, and wealth creation closer to being realized at scale. PartPic, a black-owned business in Atlanta, used an equity crowdfunding campaign on SeedInvest to jump-start a $ 1.5 million seed round of funding, grow the business, and was acquired by Amazon. 

Success like this requires effort—investors must analyze investment options and entrepreneurs must create compelling campaigns. The reward for that effort is, for the first time, mothers and fathers investing in a daughter’s business, influence on which products make it to market, and unleashing black buying power to build wealth.

Small Business – Black Enterprise


7 Business Grants to Help Women Launch and Grow Their Startup

business grants

The number of women entrepreneurs has grown tremendously over the last decade. According to the 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses report commissioned by American Express OPEN, the number of women-owned firms increased by 45% between 2007 and 2016, compared to just a 9% increase among all businesses in the U.S. Today 11.3 million women own 38% of businesses in the country. Back in 2007, women owned 29% of American businesses. Meanwhile, black women are the majority owners of 1.9 million firms, which employ 376,500 workers and generate $ 51.4 billion in revenues.


business grants (Image: iStock/shapecharge)


Despite the substantial growth of women in entrepreneurship, it’s harder for female-controlled startups to access capital to launch and/or scale their businesses. When compared with men, female founders are less likely to receive bank loans, venture capital, and angel investments. In 2015, for instance, venture capitalists invested over $ 58 billion in startups, but only 2% of that money went to women.

To help close the gender gap in entrepreneurship, a number of organizations are providing women with the funding they need for their businesses. Here are seven grants specially targeted to aid female business owners.


  1. The Eileen-Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant

Amount: $ 10,000 – $ 100,000

Deadline: Applications open Spring 2018

Female entrepreneurs who have been in business for at least three years can apply for the Eileen-Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant, which awards 10 women with grants of up to $ 100,000. To be considered, your company must be majority women-owned and women-led and promote social and environmental change. In addition, applicants cannot have earned more than $ 1 million in revenue in the year prior to applying.


  1. InnovateHER Grant

Amount: $ 70,000

Deadline: Applications re-open in 2018

The InnovateHER Business Challenge is a nationwide competition sponsored by the Small Business Administration that allows budding entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas in front of a live audience and judges. In 2017, the national winner received a $ 70,000 grant.


  1. Amber Grant

Amount: Up to $ 3,000

Deadline: The last day of each month

Each month, the Amber Grant awards $ 500 to a female entrepreneur planning to launch a small, local business. At the end of the year, one of the monthly winners is selected for an additional $ 2,500 grant. The application cutoff for the next $ 500 qualification grant is Oct. 31, 2017.


  1. Smart Women Smart Money

Amount: $ 3,000

Deadline: TBA

Each year, Utah’s Zions Bank awards one $ 3,000 Smart Women Grant in six categories: Business, Community Development, Continuing Education and teacher support, Child and Eldercare, Health and Human Services, and Arts and Culture. Grants are open to anyone with a business proposal that promotes women empowerment or directly benefits women, low-income, or underserved populations in Utah and Idaho.


  1. Open Meadows Foundation Grants

Amount: $ 2,000

Deadline: Applications for the Spring Cycle: Jan. 1 to Feb. 15. Applications for the Fall Cycle: July 1 to Aug. 15

The Open Meadows Foundation awards grants on a biannual basis to women and girls with projects that promote racial, gender, or economic equality. However, the company’s operational budget cannot exceed $ 75,000.


  1. 37 Angels Grants

Amount: Up to $ 150,000

Deadline: Rolling basis

37 Angels is a great resource for female entrepreneurs and offers grants as large as $ 150,000.


  1. Belle Capital Grants

Amount: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Belle Capital offers various grants to women-led companies. It also helps entrepreneurs gain access to an angel investment fund to launch or expand your business.


Small Business – Black Enterprise


5 Tried-and-True Steps to Building Great Business Relationships

Building business relationships that will propel your career does not come naturally to most. Face it: superficial networking leaves some professionals wondering what could be a better use of their time. What is required in building great business relationships is having great people skills.


(Image: iStock/mapodile)


Before you say to yourself, “I have that,” are you wondering what to do with all the business cards you’ve collected? Does LinkedIn still have you perplexed? Your people skills may need tweaking. According to a Harvard study, 85% of professional success comes from people skills. Plainly stated, professional success relies on your ability to build good relationships.

Here are five meaningful and actionable keys that will help establish your reputation, navigate the “people chess,” and boost your understanding of the basics of solid relationship building.



Establish a Solid Rapport


The beginning of good, solid relationships begin with rapport building, but how do you spark interest in someone you may not know? Many professionals spend countless hours at networking events, accumulate stacks of business cards that just sit there, and spend time waiting for people to acknowledge and accept their LinkedIn invitations. But what’s next when they finally connect? Like in dating, it really only takes a spark, but you can be deliberate about it. Check out five keys to power rapport building and learn how a great first impression can lead to more than just a passing recognition.



Leverage the Influence of Others


Some say that you are only as powerful as your network. It’s true. Here is where your personal board of directors can provide you with the air and ground cover you need to provide that credible influence you are looking for to get others to want to build relationships with you. If you know that there is someone in another division, department, industry, or business that you’d like to establish a relationship with, check your linkage to that person. LinkedIn provides a visual means to do this with notes that show how many mutual connections you have with someone else. Those people can not only make an introduction, but they can also provide the credible recommendations you may need to get your relationship off to a good start. Apply that context to how you network in real life, and it still works. But it is very important that you establish your board of directors in an effective way so that they can support you in your quest to build meaningful relationships.



Deliver and Over-Deliver. Merchandise. Repeat.


Do something for the people with whom you want to establish relationships. Tackle a problem; make their work easier for them. For example, provide some smart advice or insight on how to improve their social media presence. In short, do good work and follow up. When our parents were navigating business environments, they would wholeheartedly espouse doing great work. In fact, they were proponents of going over and beyond.

They were right. Do what your parents say.

When it comes to executing, you need to kill it each and every time. But here is where your parents may give you the “side-eye”: You need to merchandise your work in a way that reaffirms it. The key that our parents missed when they said, “keep your head down and work hard” is this: How will anyone know your work if they never see it? It is your job to help them to see.

A recent DiversityInc video focuses on how to build your personal brand. Business relationship building is personal brand building, inside and outside of your company. The second piece of advice in the video is to promote yourself.  Yes, many of you clutched your pearls. It’s time to get over it. There is a way to do it that won’t make others cringe, and if you do it correctly, you’ll find that others will respect you and the work that you do. Merchandising your work can happen with the thought leadership that reinforces your work on that blog that you write, that panel where you spoke, even in an insightful LinkedIn post that you share. This is really about providing a credible context for your work from which you want your new contact to draw. Just make sure that the person you want a relationship with is in a position to be exposed to your message.



Stack Your Deck With Sponsors Who’ll Speak For You


Sometimes, it’s all about wielding the influence you have with sponsors who will gladly sing your praises to the person with whom you want a relationship. This is your air cover. Sponsors are those people who are likely in senior leadership roles who have earned the right to kick down doors for you, simply by the sheer heft of their position within the organization. This is very different than a mentor, one who is there to coach you along your journey. Sometimes a mentor and a sponsor can be one and the same, but frequently, these are two totally different people. How do you obtain a good sponsor? It’s a lot like dating. It takes two parties to express an interest and a pursue a relationship. With few exceptions, it’s probably not the best idea to approach someone and simply ask them to sponsor you. It is also reciprocal. Be willing to help your sponsors in ways that only you can, uniquely and often.


Plan to Invest Time


Ever looked at that plant in your house and wondered why it’s withering? Chances are it needs a little more sunlight, or a bit more water. Ultimately, your plant is telling you it needs more time and attention. Relationships require that as well, personal ones and business ones. It takes dedicated time and energy. If you don’t make the time, know that you won’t foster great, career-propelling relationships. If you neglect the relationship, it will not grow. Like the plant, it will wilt. Schedule time with them, especially doing things with a mutual benefit. This doesn’t always mean coffee or golf. Sometimes, it is pitching in on a project, or supporting them in some way that will save them time. Think before requesting time from your new contact. Be mindful that they have a busy schedule. Ask yourself, what’s in it for them? Then be prepared to extend yourself before you ask them to extend to you.

Building meaningful business relationships should be intentional. Don’t leave it to chance because your career journey depends on it.

Career – Black Enterprise


How Better Cash Flow Management Is Helping This Babysitting Business Thrive

Hope Oriabure-King calls herself “mommy deluxe”—she’s a single mom of four and the owner of Black-Tie Babysitting Inc., a company that provides on-site childcare for special occasions and events like weddings and corporate functions. Over time, Oriabure-King has learned that cash flow management and a diversified revenue stream is core to her business’s success.

(Hope Oriabure King. Image: Black-Tie Babysitting/Facebook)


Why did you start your company?


I graduated from college with an undergraduate degree in journalism with a concentration in public relations. I had a young son at the time. Most of the jobs that were out there for PR were $ 28,000/year. I was like, “Wow, this isn’t going to be much of a life for me and my son.” So, I was offered a sales job at IBM for $ 38,500. Sales wasn’t the plan, but I got into sales and worked at IBM for a couple of years and did really well. I parted ways with IBM and decided to go into a different sales job and realized I could not sell. I had worked for a well-known company and that’s why people would take my calls. I enrolled in sales school and continued to do new business development for many years.

Now, I have four children. My children have special needs. It just became very hard to give full attention to their needs as they became school-age and to balance that corporate career. So, I decided to become an entrepreneur. I had my business for a couple of years running on the side. In 2014, I quit my corporate job, moved in with my parents, and started my business full time.

How did you finance the business at the start?


I funded the business with personal savings. And, in 2014 when I took the company full time, I still worked part time. It was so that I didn’t have to live off of every bit of money my company made. I could invest some back into my company. Then, I was able to get into a grant-matching program where the money that I put into savings was matched. That was a great boost to my business.

How do you manage cash flow?


Now that we’ve been in business for seven years, we know that we have seasons where we realize more money than we do others. We’ve established a pattern and we’re able to know our busy months and our low months. As far as cash flow, we try to make sure that we limit our advertising dollars during our low months so that there’s not more money going out of the business than coming in.

We’ve also tried to find other streams of revenue, so we do things with a babysitting company during our low seasons. One of the things we did was start Sunday Sitter, which is where we’ll do childcare at churches on Sundays that don’t have enough nursery workers. Even though it’s just one day a week, that little extra $ 1,000 a month is a boost, especially for a small business like ours.

What’s the most challenging thing about running your company?


The most challenging thing is that you’re so passionate about your product or service; it can be taxing to have to turn your attention away from that and focus on the operation of the actual business. I love sales. I love marketing. I’m passionate about kids and families. That part comes easy. But, when I have to sit down with my accountant and we have to crunch numbers and look at different glances of the business to make sure we’re making good decisions, that part I don’t like. I had to learn that’s part of this business, too and if I’m not mindful of that, my business won’t be around and we won’t continue to be successful.

What’s the most rewarding thing about running your company?


It’s twofold. My children get to see me as an entrepreneur. They know that the only limits they have in life are the ones they place on themselves. I am a single mom with four kids who have special needs. People tell me all the time, “Oh, Hope, your hands are so full! God bless you!” I had to start telling people that the best thing about having a full plate is that when this life is over, I’m not going to want to go back for seconds. I’m doing everything I want to do right now. Even though it’s hard, it’s awesome.

The other part I love is just advocating for families and children. By having childcare at special occasions and events, it allows families to attend together. The kids aren’t always being left behind or one parent isn’t being left behind to watch them.

What’s one of the biggest mistakes you made when you were starting your company?


Cash flow was one of the biggest mistakes I made. I would pay people the day of our events in cash. I wasn’t actually tracking what I was paying them. They didn’t have 1099s. I couldn’t track my costs. I would let people pay me the day of the event. My dad has been an entrepreneur for 32 years and he said, “Hope, this is not how you run a business! Nobody does a job and gets paid that day. Everybody is used to waiting for a paycheck. This affects your cash flow; you are giving your money away when you get it!”

All of that is totally different now. I use a payroll system now. You get your check on a schedule. My events have to be paid two weeks in advance. All of that allows me to take care of things monetarily and to participate in opportunities because I have money in the bank.

What’s the smartest thing you did when you were starting your business?


I was really able to nail how we were different and our niche in the marketplace. When people used to call me, I would have to do a hard sell for the business. Now, I don’t have to do that because I come through referrals. People understand how we work, why I built the business the way I did, and what makes us different.

What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs?


Make sure you do something you’re passionate about. Just don’t do a business for money. The reality is that in the first five years, you probably won’t be making a lot of money. If you’re only doing it for money, you’ll get burnt out. And, invest in yourself the same as what you invest into that business. As a small business owner, you are everything to that business. If you fall down or get sick, your business will suffer and you won’t be able to recover from that.

What’s next for Black-Tie Babysitting?


The next thing on the horizon for us is that we’re launching a sister company that rents baby gear out to traveling families and to people in the industry. People know that I have stuff like pack-and-plays, high chairs, and booster seats for events. I kept on having event planner friends call me up and say, “Hey Hope, I don’t need your services, but can I borrow your high chair?” I thought, “Wow, I’m giving these things out for free. This could actually be a business and I could help even more people if they were aware I had this stuff!” We’ve already soft launched and we’re doing great. We’re planning the official launch soon!

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Small Business – Black Enterprise


Black Women About Business (BWAB): A Soon-to-Come New Resource

Black Women About Business (BWAB) is an 11-month virtual and retreat platform for aspiring, novice, and seasoned entrepreneurs focused on education, mentorship, coaching, and funding.

BWAB founder Demarra Gardner spoke with Black Enterprise contributor Rochelle Soetan about the challenges of launching BWAB and how the organization will strive to help black business women achieve their goals.

Rochelle Soetan: When you think about black women in business what are the needs you think of for effectively scaling a business?

Demarra Gardner: I believe that we need community support that feels relevant and conducive to our needs. I think that the “tribe” is often missing for us so we end up learning about things the hard way, which is what I did in business. I believe that there is a better way forward. One of the ways that we can serve the community is by ensuring that women have better and total access to high-quality education relative [to] their knowledge and to grow their businesses. Based on all of the information that is available about access to capital, there is a huge need for women to have financial support to be able to scale their businesses.

Why black women? Why not all women?

There is a lot of focus these days on black women in a variety of capacities, particularly, in the realm of business. There are many programs that support black women in business but none like my vision for BWAB, which is really a one-stop shop.

This all-encompassing program was designed to give black women the full support they need to create a strong foundation in business and to launch and scale their businesses successfully. We are addressing everything as a whole to include self-worth, self-work, educational needs, mentoring, financial education, access to capital, and mind/body/spirit connection.

There are many women-owned organizations now that support female empowerment, black women rising, and black girl magic. What are some of the first steps that black women in business can make to remove many of the societal labels and stereotypes placed on them?

Firstly, there has to be a safe space for women to explore many of these issues. What is optimal is that there has to be an environment where women are connected by things like their identity, aspirations, and entrepreneurial goals. Having an intentional safe space to talk about these issues can encourage the internal work that needs to be done, which is quite different from the mechanics of business. You can pick up a book and learn about financial management or attend a workshop to learn about any one facet required to be successful in business. What you may not be able to acquire in many of these spaces is the self-work, inside out, which is the most challenging body of work.

Secondly, when we are taking into account who we are, how we came to be, and the messages that have not been beneficial to us, we are then able to strip ourselves from those and be accountable. As change agents, we have to facilitate these types of spaces and give women the space to be able to engage in a way that is meaningful to them. This is where the mind, body and spirit connection reside. There is also an acknowledgment that there are unique experiences to the black woman. Being able to uplift, discuss, and explore these issues will allow us to go deep in how we begin to heal as whole beings.


(Image: iStock/iofoto)


How will BWAB help women not only lead their own organizations but also serve as leadership examples for how others lead in business?

I love that question. What comes to mind is that I am my sister’s keeper. We talk a lot about being our brother’s keeper, but I want us to take on more of the identity of what it means to be our sister’s keeper. In an intentional way, what that looks like is a way to help black women understand that they have a responsibility to support one another, and to take pleasure in supporting one another. Oftentimes, when we do not support each other, nor do we get the support that we need essentially. Without question, we are stronger collectively.

There will be space in Black Women About Business for women to get acquainted with one another, both personally and professionally, and to assess where collaboration is most possible. At this junction, we are discussing what it means to go through this cycle in its entirety and as we reach the end of the program. We must assess what it looks like for us to give back to our communities in a really intentional way. Perhaps, we have felt and continue to feel as though we cannot support black businesses, but we absolutely can. And we can do this unapologetically.

What kinds of leadership development and industry experts will BWAB provide for entrepreneurs?

I’m collaborating with an assortment of professionals who are well-known, have a considerable following, and are known in their fields for the niche that they are bringing, be it branding, social marketing, or business planning. These partners will provide the educational support, mentorship support, coaching support as well as the funding and developmental aspects of business. At least 90% of all of the business support we will provide will be offered by black women.

How will the process work for new members from beginning to completion? And will you be able to track the progress and success of the program through market research?

Absolutely. First and foremost, the first core level will have lifetime access to all of the materials that we create. Secondly, if they want to be a part of another tribe of women, they will have to re-enroll. However, having lifetime access to the materials is critical and provides them an opportunity to further engage in a meaningful way. For example, we’ll have an annual retreat every summer which will be offered to women in both tracks, novice/aspiring and advanced, as well as women who are not a part of the black community. This will give members an opportunity to personally engage. There will be many opportunities for the women to stay involved with the work.

Regarding the market research, as a consultant, I will also be an evaluator. I feel that accurate market research and evaluation is missing from many existing programs that are providing business support. At BWAB, we will be evaluating the success of the program throughout and there will be follow-up evaluation that we implement, along with structured interviews and things of that nature. We will have case studies, long and short-term, to show the accuracy of the work that we’re doing.


BWAB will open its membership application process on Nov. 11 and will launch nationwide on Dec. 4. 


Small Business – Black Enterprise


3 NBA Stars Making Big Business Moves This Year

NBA stars business moves

With the start of the basketball season upon us, it’s clear that some of the biggest NBA stars spent the offseason brushing up on their business game.

Russell Westbrook

NBA stars business moves TUMI x Russell Westbrook (PRNewsfoto/TUMI)


Just this month, Westbrook, the league’s reigning MVP, released a limited-edition collection with luggage maker TUMI. The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard co-designed six pieces, including travel satchels, backpacks, and totes in a red camouflage print with his personal motto “Why Not?” embossed on the interiors.

“I’ve always enjoyed the process of transforming an idea through the design process, and the creative team at TUMI really executed my vision,” said Westbrook in a press release. “I’m proud to share the functional and stylistic collection we’ve created together with people all over the world.”

This isn’t his first crack at designing. Known among NBA stars for his eccentric fashion and “nerd” glasses, he teamed up with Barney’s New York in 2014 to for a two-year partnership to create the line Russell Westbrook XO. He also has—of course—his own eyewear company, called Westbrook Frames.

Earlier this year he signed a 10-year extension to his deal with Nike’s Jordan Brand, reportedly making him the highest-paid Jordan Brand athlete ever.


Chris Paul

Paul, who is making his debut as a member of the Houston Rockets, made headlines with the off-season trade. But that wasn’t the only news he was making this summer. In July he launched a capsule collection of men’s clothing and accessories with Five Four Club, after signing on in March to become the face of the brand.

“I’m a firm believer in not just doing business with a company just because you know them. You invest in the people,” Paul told Esquire about collaborating with the brand.

Not to be left out of the travel bag game, the NBA Players Union president launched another line just last month. The Chris Paul for Hook & Albert Collection includes a weekender, Dopp kit, and lapel pins, among other accessories, and is available at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Outside of fashion, Paul has a number of business interests—like most NBA stars. Last year, he invested an undisclosed amount in WTRMLN WTR, an energy drink startup, along with Beyoncé.


LeBron James


Perhaps no current pro better embodies the idea of a business-savvy basketball player than James. He co-founded media and entertainment companies and invested in Beats by Dre–before it was sold to Apple. He’s also earned hundreds of millions in endorsement deals, including his historic contracts with Nike.

But it was a $ 1 million investment he made in 2012 that paid off big this summer. That’s when his stake in Blaze Pizza, the fastest-growing restaurant chain in the country, became valued at $ 25 million. He reportedly owns about 10% of the company, in addition to co-owning several franchises.

“LeBron and I have always been about finding companies that we truly believe in and putting real money into them. We’re not talking putting in $ 15,000 or $ 20,000,” Maverick Carter, James’s business partner, told ESPN.

“It’s real money plus the expertise, understanding and knowledge that we bring, as well as bringing LeBron’s name and likeness to the product.”

This could lead to an off-the-court business match-up between two of the biggest NBA stars: Kevin Durant, whose defending champion Golden State Warriors beat James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in last year’s finals, is also getting into the pizza biz. His company, Durant Co., just invested in Pieology and will own both a stake in the company and some of the franchises.


Lifestyle – Black Enterprise


This Entrepreneur Grew a 7-Figure Beauty Business with No Prior Experience

In 2010, Vivian Kaye was looking to solve a common problem faced by many women within the natural hair community: How to do protective style options such as weave and wig options that match kinky, curly, and Afro-textured hair.

Today, she is the founder of KinkyCurlyYaki, a natural hair extension brand, featuring six textures ranging from sleek to straight to kinky and tight curl patterns. The Canada-based company sells wigs, wefted hair for sew-ins, clip-in extensions, frontals, closures, Ghanaian head wraps, and they also create custom products for clients.

Vivian Kaye, Founder & CEO of KinkyCurlyYaki (Vivian Kaye, Founder & CEO of KinkyCurlyYaki. Image: Vivian Kaye)


We caught up with Kaye to learn more about her entrepreneurial approach to turning a side hustle into a seven-figure business with no experience.

How did you know you were ready to take the leap into entrepreneurship full time?

Initially, I ran both my wedding decor business and KinkyCurlyYaki side by side because KCY was never supposed to become a business. I started out doing it for myself and then started filling small orders for women who reached out to me personally. One day, I had a stack of orders for KinkyCurlyYaki products sitting in front of me, I realized there was a huge market for this kind of product. If I didn’t pursue it I would regret it later, so I went for it.

(Issa Rae in KinkyCurlyYaki. Image: Courtesy of Vivian Kaye)


Initially, you didn’t have any experience in the beauty industry. What did you do to learn more about the beauty business?

I joined forums, hair and beauty groups, and manufacturing and e-commerce clubs to learn as much as I could. Now, every time we decide to try something new or build on a new technology it’s like having to start from scratch all over again.

Talk to other people in the business. Many times we’re scared to talk about what we’re working on or to ask people questions because we fear that someone will steal our ideas or turn us away. And yes, both of those things may happen but you can’t be afraid of that. You have to put yourself out there, build relationships and talk with others who’ve experienced success in your market or in a similar space.

What self-limiting beliefs did you need to let go of to get to the next level in business? 

In the beginning, I thought I didn’t belong in the beauty industry because I didn’t have a degree or any experience. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of what a CEO or successful executive is supposed to look like, but my advice to others is to just ‘do you’ and embrace the path you’ve chosen. You can change the definition of what success is and what it looks like.

Small Business – Black Enterprise


How This College Entrepreneur Juggles School and Business

Reign Bow Ties

William Murphy, an entrepreneur, and junior in college at Michigan State University (MSU), was fed up seeing the same fashion trends being worn by the “cool kids” in high school so he decided to re-create his own individual style with a line of bow ties. “After testing and selling my bowties to other high school students, I realized I had a product,” says Murphy. Following months of planning, Reign Bow Ties was launched.

Murphy’s ambition has given him an opportunity to debut his line at MSU Fashion week, speak at the My Brother’s/Sister’s Keeper program, and talk about his business on WXYZ Detroit. On top of everything else, Murphy works as a Lead Spartan Success Coach at MSU, assisting freshmen with their transition to college.

Below he details how he juggles his business and college coursework.

Reign Bow Ties

Tell us about your startup cost and process:

It cost less than $ 50 to start Reign Bow Ties. I launched on Etsy where the fee is $ 0.20 to list each new product. At the time we only had  five to 10 bow ties. We spent about $ 30 on new fabric and interfacing. The rest of the bow ties were made using fabric from old shirts I’d cut up. We had my mom’s home sewing machine. The boxes we needed to ship orders cost $ 10. I also invested in patterns and business cards, and had our amateur patterns redone by a professional.

What time do you start your day?
I start my day at 7 a.m. I’m usually not done until midnight. I get dressed, say a prayer, and listen to motivation from Eric Thomas.

What’s your best advice for managing your time?

Buying a planner is great but using the calendar on your phone is just as good. At the start of every semester, I map out my classes on my phone calendar. When I’m not in class I’m either in the gym, studying, or finishing up business work. We all have the same 24 hours a day, the key is how effective are you using these hours?

What’s your best daily marketing tool?

Instagram. Not only does it allow us to tell our story with pictures but using Instagram also allows us to engage with our followers. It can also be used to drive traffic to your shop.

What is it about your business that turns followers into customers?

We know who we’re marketing to. The idea behind our bow ties was to provide a fresh new take on how to wear a bow tie. Instead of wearing them to formal occasions, I wanted people to realize that a bow tie could be worn with jeans and sneakers too. By using fabric that was trending at the moment and catering to the style our customers were looking for, we created our own fan base from our followers.


Small Business – Black Enterprise


The Business of Black Comic Books

This industry had revenue of $ 1.03 billion last year and it’s not the technology sector— it’s comic books. Comic book sales are soaring as the demographics of the average comic book fan broaden. Sales are up in all forms of comics including month-to-month titles and graphic novels.

The lion’s share of those dollars (about 60% of sales) goes to the “Big Two” comic book publishers, Marvel and D.C.

A sliver of the indie market is comics created by people of color. Sure, there are a handful of comics written and drawn by black people working for DC or Marvel (Christopher Priest, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Reginald Hudlin, are some of the most prominent to come to mind). Yet, many black writers and artists are increasingly going the indie route, some using funding sources such as Kickstarter to launch their titles.


(Image: Joseph Illidge)


In interviewing several of the most buzzed-about independent black comic book creators today, the consensus is that while the goal is to create a profitable comic title, the true joy of being a black indie comic book publisher is freedom of expression, despite myriad struggles to get one’s work noticed.


The Makings of the Black Comic Book Cottage Industry


Ask just about any professional in the comic book industry how they ended up in their line of work, and most will say it began with collecting comics as a child. Many dream of writing or drawing their way to comic book success by working for Marvel or DC, or the next-largest publishers, Dark Horse or Image Comics.

However, as in the tech field, diversity in the comic book industry is an issue making the business even harder for people of color to gain access. While Marvel or DC Entertainment did not provide workforce diversity statistics for this article, Marvel did claim in an emailed statement, that it has ‘interesting news upcoming that adds to Marvel’s diversity in both its creative team and in its storylines,’ but did not elaborate.

Joe Illidge, a comic book industry veteran who started his career at Milestone and went on to become the first black person in DC’s editorial department for Batman, agrees.

(Joseph Illidge reads a Solar Man comic book. Image: Joseph Illidge)



“I don’t think the goal should be to try and break into DC and Marvel,” he says. “I think the goal is we have to build our own houses and then in time be as big as DC and Marvel,” says Illidge who launched his own title, Solar Man, with Harris and is currently a senior editor with Lion Forge. 

The black comic book business has grown since the launch of Milestone Comics in 1993, credited at the time as “the industry’s most successful minority-owned and operated comic company,”  founded by Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis, and Black Enterprise’s own Derek T. Dingle.


(Milestone title cover. Image: Milestone Media LLC)



With competition fierce to work for either Marvel or DC many comic book creators are forced to go solo in developing, marketing, and selling their products. Today, many tools are available to make creating a comic book an easier overall process than before helping comic book producers of color get their work out.

The game-changer contributing to the rise of independent, black-owned and created comics such as P.B. Soldier, Matty’s Rocket, Solar Man, E.X.O, and Eating Vampires is technology.

“If you are kind of daunted by the disturbingly large amount of money it takes to get a comic done, go on Tumblr, go to Instagram…these things are free,” advises Micheline Hess, the creator of young adult fantasy adventure comic, Malice in Wonderland. …” says Hess.


(Image: Micheline Hess)


Digital comics have somewhat lowered the cost of creating a comic book. But revenue data reveals that the preference for many fans is still the print. Digital comic book sales in the North American market tallied $ 90 million in 2015, as But print sales accounted for $ 940 million.   

“Right now with Watson and Holmes at best I was looking at 20-25% of print sales,” says Brandon Perlow, publisher and artist of New Paradigm Studios which creates Watson and Holmes—an urban take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective duo.

“[Digital] is lower [cost] than print,” Perlow explains, “but you’re pretty much limited to Comixology and Amazon….so it’s less income per book after distribution fees.” His conclusion on digital comics is that he’s unsure it will replace print.


The Unique Challenges of the Black Comic Book Creator


Despite the availability of digital comic platforms, technology tools for writing and art, and social media for promoting comic books, the uncertainty of bringing home a steady paycheck as well as costs associated with printing and marketing, makes the comic book business a precarious venture. This is especially true for African Americans who don’t often hail from families with the means to support the unsteady financial life of an artist or writer.

“In our community, our parents, rightfully so, are concerned about us becoming artists,” says Regine L. Sawyer, owner and founder of Lockett Down Productions which produces the comic books Eating Vampires, Ice Witch, and The Rippers.

(‘Evelyn & Madix’ from “Eating Vampires” comic book. Image: Regine L. Sawyer, Lockett Down Productions)


“Yes, [young people] can make a living from comics and we give them the breakdown of how they can do that,” says Sawyer, who is also an advocate for women, particularly women of color, in the comic book business.

For some, the unrealized dream of not “making it” in the industry can be devastating.

“I know an artist that was on Facebook just about to announce his suicide,” says N. Steven Harris, an award-winning artist who has worked for both DC and Marvel on titles including Deadpool.

The artist was distraught about not receiving work from either DC or Marvel, explains Harris. “Some people worked him through this funk he was going through and got him back on board.”


(Image: N Steven Harris)


Harris says many young comic book creators are too caught up in the mystique of Marvel, DC, or Dark Horse—a comic book publisher of popular titles including Hellboy, Sin City, and Mass Effect.

Financing is another roadblock for many black comic book companies. Diletantte J. Bass is the marketing director for PBS Media, creator of the comic book P.B. Soldier and has first-hand experience in financing a title.


(“P.B. Soldier Episode 1” comic book. Image: Naseed Gifted)


“When you are a small comic book the price it takes for you to make your comic book is so costly,” he says. Bass also points out that many inexperienced in the business don’t factor in other costs.

“You have the issue of events like Comic-Con and they are charging $ 2,000 per booth,” says Bass. He says creators have to factor in other trade shows to promote their product, not to mention traveling expenses which are rarely reimbursed.

Roye Okupe quit his job as a full-time web designer to launch his comic title, E.X.O.—about an African superhero (Okupe is originally from Lagos, Nigeria).

About working as an independent comic book publisher, Okupe says, “It’s not a glamorous thing. I haven’t bought new clothes in two years but at least I can make my rent.”

Okupe says as with any business, to launch a comic book requires capital. In addition to angel and private equity investors, some independent publishers are turning to crowdsourcing funds. He just launched his third Kickstarter campaign for his latest comic book, Malika: Warrior Queen.


(“Malika: The Warrior Queen.” Image: Roye Okupe, Kickstarter)


For black comic book creators, solidarity is the ultimate way of receiving and lending support, be it financial, artistic, or emotional. All of the artists and writers interviewed in this article are acquainted, some knowing each other for years.  Overcoming the challenges comic book creators face, especially those of color, is by “uniting and coming together and forming that collective,” says Bass.

Comic Books as Social Statement

One advantage for black comic book developers in going independent is the opportunity to make strong political and social statements through their art; an opportunity that would perhaps be subject to more scrutiny working for one of the big publishers.

Naseed Gifted, the founder of PBS Media, is the writer and creator of his company’s comic book P.B. Soldier. The book is designed to teach youth about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Gifted, who works as an administrator in the Newark, New Jersey public school system, has an engineering degree.

“We’re trying to get students interested in STEM,” says Gifted. “We use the comic book as a vehicle.”

George Carmona, artists, designer, and founder of creative studio Fist Full of Art also sees the comic book as a teaching tool. “You can use comic books as a ‘gateway drug’ to literacy.”

Perhaps the single greatest motivator for these creatives is developing characters and storylines with which they can identify.

African Americans who grew up consuming Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, Batman and other iconic titles enjoyed reading the adventures of these superheroes, yet their lives and backstory were often foreign to a black reader’s life experience.

It wasn’t until well into the late 60’s and 70’s that Marvel and DC started to take a more multicultural turn. Black Panther debuted from Marvel in 1966; followed by an African American Green Lantern from DC, Luke Cage, and X-Men’s Storm.

However, these superheroes of color were written by white men. Stan Lee and famed comic book artist Jack Kirby created Black Panther; Archie Goodwin, John Romita Sr., and George Tuska developed Luke Cage; Storm was created by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum. African American writers and artists in the comic book genre then were few and while numbers have increased, are still scant.

And once people of color do manage to get a coveted position at a comic book publisher, their longevity is sometimes doubtful. Christopher Priest was one of the earliest African American hires at DC and Marvel. He left the industry, frustrated by being regulated as the “black writer,” although he worked on Batman, Spider-Man, and other best-selling titles. 

That is of course when people of color actually get hired. As recently as July 2016, Marvel went from having zero black female writers, to three in its almost 80-year existence. Those numbers are comparable to DC’s black female editorial staff.

With the lack of diversity, the big comic book houses can often overlook the familiar touches that can make a black, or Hispanic, Asian, or Muslim character more relatable to readers of color.

“For the black male heroes you do see in comics, none of them are usually in your neighborhood,” says Illidge. “[Solar Man]’s from East New York. “If a white kid gets powers and a black kid gets powers they are going to go through two entirely different experiences.”

Karama Horne a comic book, animation, and movie fan and analyst, as well as the founder of BlerdGurl, says that even when black comic book creators get hired to do mainstream work, it’s not taken seriously, or promoted that well.

“On the indie side, black creators often battle the stigma of their work being considered inferior, simply because it’s not being distributed by a major studio. Even by other black people. And it’s even worse for black women, who often are simply ignored,” says Horne.

(Karama Horne, aka @blerdgurl. Image: Karama Horne)


Black women in the comic business are often underestimated says, Hess. “The key to overcoming these obstacles is in being very consistent, often doggedly so.”

Sawyer feels people think her comic books will be “really cutesy and Care Bears” because she is a woman. Her comic titles are not sugar and spice, “There’s a lot of bloodshed here,” she says about her books.

Despite the hurdles in getting hired, financing and launching one’s own comic book, and obtaining recognition in the industry for comic book creators of color; in the end, it’s all about the creative process.

“Creativity can take you anywhere,” says Sawyer. “Including getting a job, and living, and thriving. Whatever your dreams you can make it happen with hard work and determination.”

A longer version of this article appears in the July/August issue of Black Enterprise Magazine. Get it and subscribe now



Small Business – Black Enterprise


Image or Economics? Success in Business Begins With a Solid Foundation


When you attend conventions or business meetings, you’ve probably seen those impressive, young, entrepreneurs wearing expensive clothes and driving luxury cars. At first glance, they appear to be pictures of success—all the signs of material wealth are there. If you’re working hard and trying to build your business, you may feel envious. You may ask yourself, “What are they doing right that I’m doing wrong? Where are my luxuries?” Want to know the truth? Chances are, they can’t afford them either. They’re in debt. They’re choosing image over economics.

I know a man who was an entrepreneur that, when he first met the woman who eventually became his fiancé, he owned a house in the “hood” that was paid for, and a fifteen-year-old truck, which was also paid for and ran fine. To impress her, he chose image over economics. Soon, she bragged as to how she “upgraded” him, as he now had a new Mercedes (with a note), a four-story townhouse in a fancy neighborhood (not paid for, doubling his monthly expenses), and a Rolex.

When he lived in the hood, he had a net worth over $ 50,000. Now it was zero, but he looked good—and she called it an “upgrade.” Had he chosen to save and invest, he would have built a solid financial capacity; but to impress her and others, he bought liabilities. His business had no firm foundation, and at the first economic downturn, he was wiped out.


Designer Logos Versus Lasting Value


Choosing image over economics is a big mistake. I speak from experience. When I began my real estate investment firm, I worked diligently and was thrifty. My net worth slowly increased and my passive income covered all the monthly bills, but I felt neither rich nor wealthy.

In 2014, I took my wife to Italy for our 10th anniversary, and we posted pictures on Facebook. I was soon inundated with affirming comments like, “I see you big-timer,” and, “One day, I want to be like you.” While in Italy, I found an outlet mall where I got tons of name brand stuff—Ferragamo, Valentino, Armani—so, when I came back, I was all name brand. Prior to that, nothing I owned was name brand.

With all the pats on the back and praise, I felt like I had taken a wrong turn. I knew that the external symbols weren’t building my wealth, but it sure felt good. My real estate business built economics, but name brand living was about image. I realized that many people say they want success, but settle for the symbols which they define as success. Unfortunately, I began to drink the kool-aid.
Building a business and wealth takes time. It’s not pretty, and you aren’t always going to get the pats on the back, but if you remain focused you can be successful. You’ll find that it’s better to build a solid foundation on which to put your business, even if the foundation is invisible to the eye.


Tips for Making Good Financial Choices


When contemplating a purchase, avoid choosing image over economics by asking yourself these three questions:

  1. Is this something necessary to increase my wealth? Things on which you spend your money should directly contribute to your economics. For example, if you’re a realtor, then clothing may be an investment that will boost your career. But if you’re a graphic designer, wear jeans, and invest in better equipment.
  2. Do I want this to impress others, or is it a need? Put your money to work for you. Don’t throw it away on purchases that don’t directly increase your earning power.
  3. Can I get the same result at lower cost? If you have to drive to work every morning, will an expensive luxury car get you there more quickly than a more affordable car? If you need to know what time it is, will a watch encrusted with gold and diamonds keep better time? Probably not!


The Real Truth About Business Success


None of the wealthy people I know and respect are concerned about image. While they live in small houses and their clothes come from regular stores, they have multimillion dollar real estate portfolios and other income producing investments.

You have to make a choice as to what you want—image or economics. To build a strong foundation for your business, understand that success is not based on symbols. Luxuries are benefits of success, not signs of success. If you’re striving for the so-called symbols of wealth, then you’ll have difficulty building your business, because you’ll always be trying to keep up. Don’t try to impress people who really don’t matter. Instead, invest your money in things that will help you achieve long-term success. Choose economics over image.




Jerome D. LoveJerome D. Love has been an entrepreneur and professional speaker for 20 years and founded the Texas Black Expo in 2002. He was named a Multi-Million Dollar Top Producer (Prudential Texas Realty), Entrepreneur of the Year (National Black MBA Association, Houston Chapter), and Pinnacle Award Finalist (Greater Houston Black Chamber of Commerce), and is a popular keynote speaker for both corporate and collegiate events.

Love and was selected as keynote speaker for the Los Angeles Mayor’s Economic Development Summit and the New Mexico State Leadership Conference. He has also shared the speaking stage at conferences with business icons like Priceline founder Jeff Hoffman, Chuck E. Cheese founder Gene Landrum, NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and others.

To learn more about Love or to book him for a speaking engagement, visit his website.  

You can also follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Money – Black Enterprise


Shop select Free People sale and clearance items at!

Business Event Planning Tips Entrepreneurs Need to Know


If you are considering planning an event, one often overlooked question to ask yourself is, “Why do I want to have a live event and what is the end goal or purpose of my event?” Event planning, without a defined and desired result, along with a specific plan of action to get there, is one of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make.


(Image: iStock/monkeybusinessimages)


Vicki Irvin has successfully planned and executed the Extreme Women Entrepreneurs Event for seven years. Irvin provided ready-to-implement information for event planning:

– Your event should support the purpose of your work or expertise, which often means bringing together like-minded people on the same mission looking for useful information.

-Know your ideal dream clients and target them in your marketing plan to fill the room. If there is a mismatch in any way, the event will not achieve its goal.

-Work with an event planner who is also an expert at venue/space negotiations. When you’re in the seminar business, getting your space as cost effectively as possible is crucial to your bottom line.

-Identify all potential streams of income from the event because you can profit far beyond registration fees. There are product and service sales, as well as revenue shares with speakers who complement what you do while providing value for your attendees. Your stage is not a place to “test” out new speakers. To protect your brand, be sure to choose speakers who are proven professionals.

While all of the things mentioned are important, one of the hardest things to do is fill your event. A marketing strategy is needed in advance, along with ample lead time. For example. I start marketing my live events at least 4-5 months in advance, and I would suggest you give yourself even more time when possible. I

If you are new and don’t have a following, your event will start off smaller in size, which is perfectly fine. Focus on the quality of your audience versus the quantity. Even when you are established, filling a live event remains the top challenge. Just ask all the people who have had to cancel, or resort to giving away tickets for free.

Some of my favorite marketing strategies are Facebook advertising and live streaming about the event. Other strategies include holding webinars about your event to get people excited so that they know what to expect, and for them to determine if it is a perfect fit for them.

Profitable live events can be an excellent stream of income for your business when done right. You should ensure that everything you do when planning your live event supports getting you to your end goal. Attending an event is a time commitment for attendees, so be sure to deliver on your promises.


Small Business – Black Enterprise


Only You Can Prevent ‘Email Overwhelm’: Level-Up Your Business Email Skills

If there is one thing most people can agree on—it’s being overwhelmed by email. Whether you’re receiving emails that have nothing to do with you or emails that are poorly written, studies show emails are a source of frustration for many people.

(Image: iStock/AndreyPopov)


Here are some tips for improving your business email skills:

Try the 5-Sentence Email Format


Sixty-five percent is opened on a mobile device; nobody wants to read through an entire essay.


  • A concise and direct subject line – “Meeting date changed,” “Quick question about your presentation,” “New order processing procedure to start  Jun 5” “Approval needed by Jan 1.”
  • Email greeting – Start all emails with a greeting such as hello, good morning, good afternoon, etc. Otherwise, your emails can come across as rude or demanding.
  • A pleasantry such as “Nice seeing you at the Town Hall.”
  • The reason for your email – Why are you writing this person (1-2 sentences)? What’s in it for them?
  • Call to action – Think about the needs of the recipient and the steps you need them to take. “I’ve attached the contract for your review. Can you provide feedback by Wednesday, Oct. 4?
  • Closing – “Let me know if you have any questions.”; “Looking forward to hearing from you.”; “Have a great day.”

Get to The Point


  • Use the active voice whenever possible Active voice sentences are more concise than passive voice. For instance:
  • Instead of: “Time sheets should be submitted by 1 pm. “Say, “Submit time sheets by 1 pm.”
  • Reduce wordiness and substitute these commonly used phrases:
    • “due to the fact” with “because”
    • “prior to” with “before”
    • “for the purpose of” with “for”
    • “in order to” with “to”
    • “give out” with “offer”
    • “find out” with “discover”
    • “make it clearer” with “clarify”

Avoid Including Too Many Details


  • Choose one topic and use subheadings, if needed.
  • Use a bulleted list to provide instructions or options for next steps.
  • Include additional information as an attachment to the email.
  • Make sure the email includes the right people and avoid reply all.

Career – Black Enterprise


The analysts were wrong — about sports and business

The Mets are out, the Yankees are in. While historically this has been the most common scenario in NY’s autumn baseball, this year it’s a huge surprise. This wasn’t how this year’s New York baseball season was supposed to shape up. All the analysts were wrong. And the analysts have gotten the football season wrong…
Business | New York Post


Pitch and Present Your Business Idea With Confidence

Feeling uncertain and nervous about pitching your business idea to a room full of investors or customers? No worries, these feelings are normal. The key is to mentally prepare and take action.

(Image: iStock/XiXinXing)


Here are four ways to pitch your ideas with confidence: 

Embrace “Impostor Syndrome”


Impostor syndrome is the voice in your head that tells you you’re not qualified or good enough. It makes you feel like you’re a phony or that you don’t measure up. Even the award-winning legendary poet and author Maya Angelou struggled with it. Angelou once said, “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’

Understand this: You never lose, you learn. We are all in a constant state of learning. So embrace this mindset: I’m not perfect. I don’t have to be, but I’m prepared and ready for my moment.

Anticipate Questions from Your Audience


  • Define your space in the market: What problem do you solve for a specific audience? What’s your unique approach to solving that particular problem?
  • Why are you better than other businesses in the same industry?
  • Why is your product or service unlike anything else in the market?
  • Does your solution fix a broken business process? Does it serve an underserved area or population? What are the consequences of not taking action?

Tell a Transformative Story that Builds Trust


Paint a picture of the people who will buy or benefit from your product or service. Focus your key messages around giving or helping them work toward a better way of life. Here are two simple ways to start your story:

  • Imagine if…
  • What if…

Know Who You Are

“You have to know that you are the only person that can give your customers or buyers what they want,” says Psyche Terry, CEO of UI Global Brands. This goes beyond the product. This is all about you.” Terry also shared these tips with Black Enterprise:

  • Be prepared to communicate what you will and won’t stand for.
  • Believe in what you are pitching. Have you tried it? Do your friends believe in it? Would your friends give you positive feedback about it? If so, go in with confidence that you are just simply spreading the good word. This helps you feel like you are not looking for a handout.

Small Business – Black Enterprise


Venus Williams on Facing ‘Disasters’ and Succeeding in Business

Venus Williams

Venus Williams is a superstar athlete known for making power moves both on and off the tennis court. At 37-years-old, she has earned an impressive seven Grand Slam titles, five Wimbledon singles titles, and four Olympic gold medals. Meanwhile, off the court, she’s racked up major endorsement deals and invested in multiple business ventures, which has helped her amass a net worth of $ 75 million.


Venus Williams (Image: Ad Guru and entrepreneur Richard Kirshenbaum and tennis star and entrepreneur Venus Williams)


Williams has demonstrated keen business acumen throughout her career as a professional tennis player. She started her first business back in 2002, a commercial and residential interior design firm in Florida called V*Starr Interiors, which designed the set of the Tavis Smiley Show (PBS) and several luxury properties. In 2009, she and her sister, Serena, became the first African American women to obtain a stake in an NFL franchise after becoming part-owners of the Miami Dolphins. In 2011, Williams became a celebrity spokesperson and franchise owner of Jamba Juice. A year later, the tennis star re-launched EleVen, an athletic apparel line designed to empower women.

On Thursday, the tennis icon opened up about what it takes to be a champion on the field and in the field of business during the “Winning & Building Your Own Brand” session at New York Advertising Week. Here are a few of the gems that Williams shared about facing adversity and finding success in business.




Williams has faced several public disappointments and setbacks since she emerged as a tennis star at the age of 14. For instance, she was involved in a fatal car accident in June and in 2003, her half-sister and personal assistant, Yetunde Price, was shot and killed during a drive-by shooting. Although Williams did not directly address these controversies during the panel, she affirmed that the storms she’s faced in life have made her more resilient. “I’ve had some disasters, but they’ve made me stronger,” she said.





During the panel, Williams talked about when and how she discovered her passion for fashion. “I was trying to understand who I was outside of the court and what I loved. I found that I loved the arts and, at the time, I felt like I wanted to express myself through fashion.”

After earning an associate degree in fashion design from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in 2007, Williams says she “wanted to be able to express how I felt about fashion and how I felt about sports, and to find a way to give back what sports had given to me. And so that was encouraging people to move their body and to do something positive through pushing yourself physically. Because there is nothing like pushing yourself physically that just gives you all this satisfaction.”




Although she is a world-renowned athlete, Williams says she measures her success in being happy and finding fulfillment. “The definition for success to me is living your dream…One of the most important things in life is to be fulfilled and live your dream.” She added, “If you’re living your dream, then there is excitement.”





In addition to advancing her three-decades-long tennis career and managing multiple businesses, Williams stands as a proponent for equality, especially for female athletes. She helped facilitate the WTA’s partnership with human rights group UNESCO, which promotes gender equality. She also invested in Ellevest, an online investment platform geared toward women empowerment. When asked about her activism during the session, Williams said she’s focused on educating more men about women’s rights.

“It’s about getting men on board. Because we have a lot of women who believe in gender equality, but we need men to believe in it just as equally.”

Career – Black Enterprise


Risky Business: Every Tom Cruise Film, Ranked – Updated

Tom Cruise has been a movie star for more than 30 years now. Let that sink in for a bit. In his annus mirabilis of 1983, he seemed to appear fully-formed from the collective id of Reagan's America – the then–21-year-old actor appeared in no less than four movies, and starred in three of them. Whether he was a working class football star (All the Right Moves) or an entitled

This article originally appeared on Risky Business: Every Tom Cruise Film, Ranked – Updated

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Sports Facility Owner Wins $25,000 in American Small Business Competition

Monte Evans II, co-owner of Competitive Edge Athletic Performance Center, has won a $ 25,000 grand prize in the 2017 American Small Business Championship.


(Monte Evans II in the weight room at his facility. Image: Endless Expressions)


The win is a big deal because Evans was among just three grand prize winners, selected from 1,556 small business owners who entered the championship.


The Woodbridge, Virginia-based business is a black-owned multi-sports facility totaling over 18,000 square feet. It trains youth and develops them into the “complete athlete,” helping them become top performers in athletics and academics.


The business offers multiple sports and performance training disciplines coupled with educational programs like SAT/ACT prep courses and tutoring. It provides counseling and clinics to help parents learn about good nutrition habits for kids.


Competitive Edge is rare in that it offers athletic training for kids often not available at mainstream fitness gyms for adults.


Validation that Business Strategy is Working


“It’s validation that centers like ours are needed for youth,” Evans says of his prize.

The ASBC is hosted by SCORE and supported by Sam’s Club. It honors small business success and helps those firms gain the resources to keep growing. This past March, 102 finalists from 49 states and the District of Columbia got a $ 1,000 Sam’s Club gift card, free SCORE mentoring and an all-expenses-paid trip to a training and networking event in Dallas.

(Evans coaches young athletes. Image: Endless Expressions)


A panel of judges in mid-September chose Competitive Edge, Grillo Essentials in Saratoga Springs, New York, and One Community in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as grand champions. It was the first time in ASBC’s four-year history that three small business owners each won $ 25,000 to grow their enterprises.


“Monte Evans exemplifies the dedication, hard work, passion, drive and sense of community found in small business owners across this great nation,” said Resa Kierstein, vice president of development for SCORE. “We are beyond delighted to help Monte and the entire team at Competitive Edge to reach new heights in their business growth trajectory.”



Further Evidence Small Businesses Help Drive Nation’s Economy


Nearly 28 million small businesses make up 54% of all sales and 55% of all jobs in the United States. Programs like the ASBC are vital for small businesses; many of them need mentorship, strategic assistance, and ongoing support to maintain growth. Next year’s ASBC competition will be open in mid-January to entrepreneurs.

Evans, also director of sports management at Competitive Edge, says the center plans on using the $ 25,000 prize to fund its health and fitness program with Prince William County Schools in Virginia to assist with physical education for elementary, middle, and high school students.


(Competitive Edge Athletic Performance Center in Woodbridge, Virginia. Image: Endless Expressions)


The center also will use the money to develop partnerships with its community programs that fight childhood obesity as well as buy and upgrade fitness equipment. The center is also expanding its internal program, including offering volleyball, tennis, and boxing for youth and expanding its adult fitness program.


“A lot of parents don’t know that these programs exist, so going out to the community is important for us.”



A Place for Young Athletes to Train During Winter


Evans, a former Michigan State University basketball player, actually co-founded the Dale City Lightning Track Club in Woodbridge in 2010, a year-round program now with 300 youth athletes. But the athletes there, including Evans’ three young daughters, did not have a facility to train during the winter. That prompted Evans and co-owner Maurice Briddell to open Competitive Edge in February 2016. “I knew that my daughters couldn’t be the only kids who needed an off-season training facility in Woodbridge.”


He was right. Competitive Edge now provides development and sports performance training for male and female youth athletes from ages 4 to 18. It has more than 300 members, including youth, college students, and semi-pro athletes.



Boosting Brand Recognition Among Center’s Biggest Challenges


The business has steadily grown. Evans projects 2017 revenues of $ 285,000, up from $ 225,000 in 2016. His future growth strategy includes increasing Competitive Edge’s brand recognition to attract more members. That plan includes boosting the center’s media exposure and marketing efforts, including beefing up its interaction on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other sites.


He says youth sports have grown tremendously and keep growing. Yet, it also has become political. He says Competitive Edge aims to improve athletes so they will perform better when they are competing with their team.


“So, it takes time in building relationships with coaches and it takes time to earn the trust of the parents and athletes themselves,” he adds.

Small Business – Black Enterprise


Millennial Accountant Offers Advice on Leaving Your Corporate Job and Starting a Business

His vision couldn’t be confined to a cubicle. So he submitted his resignation letter and created his own canvas. At the age of 23, Jeff Wilson II grabbed two mentors and followed their lead to create a small tax practice.

He started out just doing tax returns just like his mentors. Five years later, Wilson has his own accounting practice, The WII Group L.L.C. He shares his experience of launching a business as a young millennial accountant:


Photo Credit: Courtesy of AICPA Edge Conference




There have been many surveys and reports that reveal why over 50% of small businesses fail within 5 years. Your company has been standing strong since 2009. What has been key to your success?

Jeff Wilson: First, I would say a professional services firm is much easier to own or operate than a product or manufacturing firm because the overhead is low.

The keys to our success at The WII Group L.L.C. have been a balanced approach, a dedication to excellence, and a well-capitalized financial foundation to withstand a few bad days.

The businesses I see failing today are undercapitalized. Someone has an idea, maybe even a really good one, but they don’t understand how much money is needed to run the company and keep things going until a return on their initial investment is made.

Did you face any challenges, opposition, or doubts from others as a young black entrepreneur? How did you establish your credibility in the industry?

Wilson: As a minority in a predominantly white profession from a small HBCU, there is lot of headwinds. No question. I faced a lot of opposition.

I started a financial services organization when I was 23. Who takes advice from a 23-year- old with no born privilege? That’s a tough [sell] to anyone. However, you can’t focus on that, and I never did. I was told your reputation will make it there before you will. As a result, I made sure my name was a gold standard. I did my homework when meeting clients to assure them I was competent, I was on time, and I dressed like a professional is supposed to—black, blues, and grays only. That alone, at least, got me a conversation with decision makers.

Then, I had to explain why they should take my advice. It helped that I was a CPA at 23 who could explain finances simply and in a believable manner. It probably didn’t hurt that I mentioned my positive net worth, which I knew most people over 40 couldn’t say, so they listened and as a result I am still here.

What does it take to build a successful niche practice?

A niche provides a good size moat to protect [a] business—and most importantly, margins away from competitors. To do a niche business, you have to understand who your client is exactly.

Second, understand your competitors. How many people are selling the same product? If a lot of competitors have the same product to sell, it’s not going to hold a lot of value.

Lastly, develop and continue to enhance your skill set. Pick a skill or product that is unique and continue developing it so you’re out in the forefront when people think of this skill or product in need.

What advice do you have for other individuals who want to leave their corporate job and start their own firm?

My advice is this: Don’t quit your day job if you can’t go a year or more without a paycheck. Starting a business is hard and sometimes the reward comes much later than you think. It’s a journey to create lasting wealth for you and your family. It will take a while for the return to show but if you’re skilled and focused on your business 24/7, I am confident the rewards will come.


Small Business – Black Enterprise