Japan business mood steady but outlook sours: BOJ tankan

Confidence among Japan’s big firms remained unchanged from three months ago, a closely-watched central bank survey showed, but sentiment on the outlook soured for the first time in three quarters as trade frictions and global growth concerns hurt the business mood.


Reuters: Business News

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“What’s Free?”: Jay-Z Shares Lessons in Business and Ownership on Meek Mill’s New Album

Just months after being released from prison for violating probation, rapper Robert Rihmeek Williams, best known as Meek Mill, released a much-anticipated album last week. The album, titled Championships, features hardcore beats, a rotation of hip hop superstars, including Cardi B and Drake, and a powerful message about Meek’s road to redemption.

On the standout track “What’s Free?” Meek teamed up with hip hop heavyweights Jay-Z and Rick Ross, who rap about their definition of freedom over the beat from Biggie Smalls’ 1997 classic “What’s Beef?” Jay-Z, however, outshines his cohorts with an exceptional verse, using his lyrical prowess to drop knowledge about the struggle for black liberation and allegedly take shots at the MAGA-loving Kanye West. In addition, the Brooklyn-born rapper boasts about his lucrative business investments and the massive accumulation of wealth he’s built over the years.

Here are eight lessons Jay-Z shared about business, ownership, and financial freedom on “What’s Free?”

Meek Mill

Spotify Fans first event for Meek Mill’s new album, Championships, in New York on December 1, 2018 (Photo Credit: Francis Montoya / SlingShotMenace, LLC)

“I’m 50% of D’usse and it’s debt free”

In this lyric, Jay-Z raps about his profitable stake in D’usse. The hip hop icon tapped into his personal savings to purchase equity in the cognac brand back in 2011. Because he did not have a need for financing, he was left with no debt and has reaped tremendous profits. In addition to being a partial owner, the mega-mogul also serves as head of global strategy for the brand.

 

“100% of Ace of Spades, worth half a B”

Jay-Z brags about his ownership of Armand de Brignac, a champagne popularly known as Ace of Spades. He expressed his affinity for the brand by featuring it in his rhymes and videos long before he bought the champagne from Sovereign Brands for an undisclosed amount in 2014. His brilliant marketing has, in turn, made Ace of Spades one of the most popular Champagne brands on the market and a staple at high-end clubs, bars, and establishments. Today, the luxury champagne can cost up to $ 1,000 per bottle, while the value of the company has skyrocketed.

 

“Roc Nation, half of that, that’s my piece”

Here, Jay-Z shouts out another part of his business empire, Roc Nation, a multi-platform entertainment company he founded in 2008. The company specializes in artist management, music publishing, concert touring and production, and film and TV production. It also serves as a talent and sports agency that represents A-list clients like Shakira, Rihanna, NBA star Kevin Durant, and NFL player Victor Cruz.

 

“100% of Tidal to bust it up with my Gs”

The successful rapper and entrepreneur goes on to highlight his music platform Tidal, a subscription-based streaming service he purchased in 2015, along with a variety of other high-profile music artists. Last year, he sold 33% of the company to Sprint for $ 200 million, raising the valuation of the company to $ 600 million.

 

“We made the project a wave; You came back, reinvested and gentrified it”

This line is a reference to the gentrification of low-income communities, an epidemic that disproportionately hurts people of color. The invasion of real estate investors, who are often wealthy and white, in these areas drives up rents and the cost of living, which leads to the displacement of working-class residents as well as the erasure of the neighborhood’s character. That’s why Jay is stressing the importance of ownership — without it, people of color can be stripped of their land, culture, and identity.

 

“I ain’t got a billion streams, got a billion dollars”

A large part of Hov’s discography has been removed from Tidal’s music-streaming competitors, like Spotify and Apple Music. The move cost the rap mogul tons of streams. Nevertheless, its smart business moves like this that have made him the highest-earning rapper of 2018. The decision also speaks to his acumen as a businessman who is willing to make a personal career sacrifice for the ultimate benefit of his business.

 

“Them people stole the soul and hit ni—s with 360s”

Jay-Z addresses how hip hop, which began as a medium of expression for African Americans, has been co-opted by big businesses and major record labels who earn major profits from artists who sign 360 deals. These notorious contracts give labels a stake in the revenue an artist generates from touring, performing, selling merchandise, endorsements, and appearing in movies and television.  According to Jay, the deal is equivalent to someone selling their soul.

He, on the other hand, has bought the masters rights to his music. This ownership gives him leverage to use the masters to bargain the terms of a contract with a company or platform that wants access to his catalog.

 

“My accountant’s so good, I’m practically livin’ tax-free”

Like many wealthy elites, Jay-Z uses loopholes and provisions in U.S. tax law for his own financial advantage. The mogul raps about how his tax advisors prevent him from unnecessary taxation and allow him to submit the minimum amount on his tax returns. For example, in 2011, Jay-Z and Kanye West donated the Maybach used in their “Otis” music video to auction and used the proceeds to benefit the drought crisis in East Africa. As a result, the donation was tax-deductible.

The post “What’s Free?”: Jay-Z Shares Lessons in Business and Ownership on Meek Mill’s New Album appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Money | Black Enterprise

FASHION DEAL UPDATE:

Shop select Free People sale and clearance items at Bloomingdales.com!

“What’s Free?”: Jay-Z Shares Lessons in Business and Ownership on Meek Mill’s New Album

Just months after being released from prison for violating probation, rapper Robert Rihmeek Williams, best known as Meek Mill, released a much-anticipated album last week. The album, titled Championships, features hardcore beats, a rotation of hip hop superstars, including Cardi B and Drake, and a powerful message about Meek’s road to redemption.

On the standout track “What’s Free?” Meek teamed up with hip hop heavyweights Jay-Z and Rick Ross, who rap about their definition of freedom over the beat from Biggie Smalls’ 1997 classic “What’s Beef?” Jay-Z, however, outshines his cohorts with an exceptional verse, using his lyrical prowess to drop knowledge about the struggle for black liberation and allegedly take shots at the MAGA-loving Kanye West. In addition, the Brooklyn-born rapper boasts about his lucrative business investments and the massive accumulation of wealth he’s built over the years.

Here are eight lessons Jay-Z shared about business, ownership, and financial freedom on “What’s Free?”

Meek Mill

Spotify Fans first event for Meek Mill’s new album, Championships, in New York on December 1, 2018 (Photo Credit: Francis Montoya / SlingShotMenace, LLC)

“I’m 50% of D’usse and it’s debt free”

In this lyric, Jay-Z raps about his profitable stake in D’usse. The hip hop icon tapped into his personal savings to purchase equity in the cognac brand back in 2011. Because he did not have a need for financing, he was left with no debt and has reaped tremendous profits. In addition to being a partial owner, the mega-mogul also serves as head of global strategy for the brand.

 

“100% of Ace of Spades, worth half a B”

Jay-Z brags about his ownership of Armand de Brignac, a champagne popularly known as Ace of Spades. He expressed his affinity for the brand by featuring it in his rhymes and videos long before he bought the champagne from Sovereign Brands for an undisclosed amount in 2014. His brilliant marketing has, in turn, made Ace of Spades one of the most popular Champagne brands on the market and a staple at high-end clubs, bars, and establishments. Today, the luxury champagne can cost up to $ 1,000 per bottle, while the value of the company has skyrocketed.

 

“Roc Nation, half of that, that’s my piece”

Here, Jay-Z shouts out another part of his business empire, Roc Nation, a multi-platform entertainment company he founded in 2008. The company specializes in artist management, music publishing, concert touring and production, and film and TV production. It also serves as a talent and sports agency that represents A-list clients like Shakira, Rihanna, NBA star Kevin Durant, and NFL player Victor Cruz.

 

“100% of Tidal to bust it up with my Gs”

The successful rapper and entrepreneur goes on to highlight his music platform Tidal, a subscription-based streaming service he purchased in 2015, along with a variety of other high-profile music artists. Last year, he sold 33% of the company to Sprint for $ 200 million, raising the valuation of the company to $ 600 million.

 

“We made the project a wave; You came back, reinvested and gentrified it”

This line is a reference to the gentrification of low-income communities, an epidemic that disproportionately hurts people of color. The invasion of real estate investors, who are often wealthy and white, in these areas drives up rents and the cost of living, which leads to the displacement of working-class residents as well as the erasure of the neighborhood’s character. That’s why Jay is stressing the importance of ownership — without it, people of color can be stripped of their land, culture, and identity.

 

“I ain’t got a billion streams, got a billion dollars”

A large part of Hov’s discography has been removed from Tidal’s music-streaming competitors, like Spotify and Apple Music. The move cost the rap mogul tons of streams. Nevertheless, its smart business moves like this that have made him the highest-earning rapper of 2018. The decision also speaks to his acumen as a businessman who is willing to make a personal career sacrifice for the ultimate benefit of his business.

 

“Them people stole the soul and hit ni—s with 360s”

Jay-Z addresses how hip hop, which began as a medium of expression for African Americans, has been co-opted by big businesses and major record labels who earn major profits from artists who sign 360 deals. These notorious contracts give labels a stake in the revenue an artist generates from touring, performing, selling merchandise, endorsements, and appearing in movies and television.  According to Jay, the deal is equivalent to someone selling their soul.

He, on the other hand, has bought the masters rights to his music. This ownership gives him leverage to use the masters to bargain the terms of a contract with a company or platform that wants access to his catalog.

 

“My accountant’s so good, I’m practically livin’ tax-free”

Like many wealthy elites, Jay-Z uses loopholes and provisions in U.S. tax law for his own financial advantage. The mogul raps about how his tax advisors prevent him from unnecessary taxation and allow him to submit the minimum amount on his tax returns. For example, in 2011, Jay-Z and Kanye West donated the Maybach used in their “Otis” music video to auction and used the proceeds to benefit the drought crisis in East Africa. As a result, the donation was tax-deductible.

The post “What’s Free?”: Jay-Z Shares Lessons in Business and Ownership on Meek Mill’s New Album appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Money | Black Enterprise

FASHION DEAL UPDATE:

Shop select Free People sale and clearance items at Bloomingdales.com!

US firms doing business in China now vulnerable after Huawei arrest: Former US trade advisor

There's a good chance the Chinese will retaliate for the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou by targeting American businesses in China, says former assistant U.S. trade representative Jeff Moon.
Economy

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‘It’s a Good Check.’ ‘Real Housewife’ Kandi Burruss Is Still Making Money Off ‘No Scrubs’ and Now Has Her Own Sex Toy Business

Kandi Burruss is so much more than a housewife — she’s a bona fide businesswoman.

Sure, she’s in her 10th season as cast member on the ever-dramatic Bravo show Real Housewives of Atlanta. But she’s also a Grammy winner who co-wrote the TLC girl power anthem “No Scrubs.” She runs a sex toy company, a boutique and a unisex children’s lifestyle brand. She has 5.8 million Instagram followers. Last year, she went on a reunion tour with her band, Xscape; earlier this year, she performed in Chicago on Broadway. In the past two months alone, she opened a new location of her Southern restaurant Old Lady Gang, dropped a single called “Ready for This” — complete with a parental advisory sticker — and hosted a dungeon party.

“What’s the point of having this huge platform if you are not benefiting off of it?” she says about her multifaceted empire.

Burruss sat down with MONEY on a recent trip to New York City. She talked about her childhood spending habits, the royalties she’s earning from Ed Sheeran and why she’s determined to have a better financial strategy than most entertainers.

How did you think about money when you were growing up?

I was a saver as a kid. That was my thing — I always wanted to make sure I had something [stashed away], you know?

My mom used to drive me to the neighborhoods with big fancy houses and stuff. We’d ride around all the time and dream — like, “Oh, one day we’re going to have a house like that.” It’s really crazy to me now that I can afford any of those houses.

Did you make a big purchase with your first paycheck?

[Xscape] signed our first record deal when I was 16. I only got a few thousand dollars, but my mom was like, ‘OK, we’ll put this with my money’ and we purchased the house across the street from where we lived. That was my first investment — with my mom.

After that, I just really wanted to save. As soon as we had our first hit record and we started doing shows, all my other group members went and bought Benzes and different things. But I wanted to see a certain amount of money in my bank account. I remember I was like, “I will not spend a dollar until I can see $ 100,000 in my account.”

[Then] I finally purchased a car. I put some money down on it so that I could establish credit.

What kind of car was it?

It was a BMW 325i. It was blue, and I had painted all my trimming to match. I wanted it to look like the M class, even though it wasn’t. So I just painted it and got the rims that matched it. You couldn’t tell the difference.

You’ve said before that you once got a great money tip from LL Cool J. What was it?

When I was 19, I put a downpayment on my first home [after moving out]. Shortly after that, our group went on tour with LL Cool J. He gave us advice: Always have at least one house and one car that you own. He was like, “Every time you get a check, put a little bit down on the principal. It doesn’t matter how much — put something. Because then it will cut years off the loan.”

I never really thought about it before then. When I got back home, I looked at my payment statement. I [saw] all the money that went toward interest, and only a little bit every month was going toward the notes. I was like, “OK, he’s onto something.”

When you’re in the entertainment business, it’s very unpredictable. You could be hot right now, and for the next 10 years a person could be making millions of dollars, right? So they start basing their life off of what they’re making at that moment.

But a lot of people are getting 30-year mortgages, 15-year mortgages. Fifteen years from now, you may not be poppin’ like that no more. In 30 years, you definitely will not. How often are people hot for that long? If you don’t set yourself up, you will just find yourself in a position of a lot of other entertainers we see: going bankrupt, losing their homes, not being able to afford their lifestyle. If you set yourself up in the beginning, later on down the line you’ll be better off.

And now you have several diverse income streams.

It was intentional. I wanted to have businesses outside of music that were still poppin’.

I had a friend who had clothing stores that were successful, so I kept bugging her about partnering up to do TAGS [Boutique]. Before that, I managed other artists. Later on, [for] Bedroom Kandi… I partnered up with a company that had a toy that could vibrate to music. I was like, “I do music, and I want adult products — heeey!” Now it’s a whole line. We’ve moved into bath and body products and makeup.

How do you leverage Real Housewives of Atlanta to make money?

When you’re first starting on reality TV, they’re not really trying to pay you much. I was like, “It’s not like I need them to be popular. I’ve already been on TV and in music before.” I didn’t think it was going to do anything for my career. I did it on a fluke.

I gained a lot of fans that year, but my thoughts were [that] the money has to match my popularity. I had to make it bigger than the show.

So I was like, “OK, every year when they see me on the show, they will see me accomplish something.” It’s my timeline. If I speak anything on that show and say it’s something I want to do, it is a rule of thumb for me and my team — it has to happen. I am going to be a person of my word. You know how you joke about a lot of reality stars — they’re always talking about something and you never see the product? I won’t be that girl. I don’t get a kick out of just arguing with people all day. That doesn’t do me any good. You have to find other ways to make it make sense for you.

Are you still getting a lot of money from “No Scrubs”?

Uh, yeah. Ed Sheeran used “No Scrubs” in his song [“Shape of You”], so we now are co-writers on his song. Because you can’t just use somebody’s song — it doesn’t work like that. So basically he uses our song, we got a percentage of his. It ended up getting awards; it was huge. It was like the most streamed song. There are some nice royalties.

Besides that, I constantly get royalties off my old songs. “No Scrubs,” [Destiny’s Child’s] “Bills, Bills, Bills” — people still play them a lot in movies, television, and I get license fees. It’s a good check every year.

You recently threw a star-studded dungeon party with tickets starting at $ 35, and it sold out in four days. Are there more coming?

We plan on taking it on tour. Right now we are researching venues and cities. Hopefully we can do that in early 2019.

[Also,] we’re going to get another restaurant, which is not going to be just Old Lady Gang, it’s going to be different. I haven’t told anybody.

Are you passing any money lessons onto your kids?

I need to do a better job of passing it on, because my daughter is spending way too much money right now. Before she was driving, Uber was connected to my credit card; UberEATS was connected to my credit card. She was randomly ordering stuff everyday. I put a little bit of money in her account, and one day she was down to a dollar. I was like, “Girl, you can’t do that.”

This interview has been edited and condensed.


Entertainment – TIME

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How To Shop Small Business Saturday

If Black Friday and Cyber Monday’s emphasis on consumerism is just too much for you, there is a viable option to search for unique Christmas gifts while supporting local, small and Black businesses. The less popular Small Business Saturday option encourages shoppers to patronize small businesses, whether in person or online. Here are a few tips to make the best of the day.

Stay local:

Small businesses tend to depend on foot traffic as opposed to the big advertising budgets that big box stores and department stores can command. Seek out the stores in your city or are that are part of the main street or shopping area instead of the mall.

These stores are often either run by craftsmen and women local to the area, or they buy from them. Jewelry, personal care gifts and clothing are usually what they have to offer, so focus your shopping for those items on those stores instead of the big retailers.

Buy Black:

Black-owned retailers often struggle to get the attention of consumers in a crowded marketplace. With super sales going on through the holiday weekend, it’s hard for smaller businesses to find their audience.

If you can, this is a great time to support them, whether in person or online, as many of these smaller businesses don’t have brick and mortar stores. Also, don’t forget Instagram, where a number of online retailers have handmade crafts, jewelry, fitness, clothing and food businesses. Try the hashtag #blackowned to see what might be available.

Here’s one list of Black-owned businesses. 

Eat at a local restaurant, not a chain.

All this holiday shopping can work up quite an appetite. But instead of going to your local Applebee’s, check out a local small restaurant instead. Most folks know the Black-owned restaurant in their area, and if you don’t, you can usually find them via the city’s visitor’s center. Philadelphia, for example, has a listing of the city’s Black-owned businesses, including restaurants. If you call the local visitor’s center in most cities, they can identify the local Black-owned businesses as well.

Give to charity, business or support a cause.

Although it’s technically not small business, there are local and national charities that could use your help. As it’s getting close to the end of the year, it makes fiscal sense to give. You can choose to give to a small business by using Kiva, a micro-lending service that helps small businesses directly.

You can look through a bunch of pitches both locally and around the world and find a business you want to support, with as little as $ 15. You can also support a GoFundMe – recent ones have included money for Jamel Roberson’s family and Aisha Fraser’s daughters,

You can also give to deserving causes like the Tom Joyner Foundation, which supports HBCU’s, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Urban League, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or The Innocence Project, which helps wrongfully convicted prisoners get new trials.


HEAD BACK TO THE BLACKAMERICAWEB.COM HOMEPAGE

 

 

Life & Style – Black America Web

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U.S. Business Inventories Rise In Line With Estimates In September

Business inventories in the U.S. increased in line with economist estimates in the month of September, according to a report released by the Commerce Department on Thursday.
RTT – Economic News

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Spread the Local Love and Shop Small On Small Business Saturday, Nov. 24

Let’s be honest with ourselves: Black Friday is flat-out tiresome.

You wake up way too early — when you should still be sleeping off your Thanksgiving food coma — to go stand out in the cold and pray you don’t get elbowed in the face for a TV that is barely discounted.

Allow me to present an alternative for your holiday shopping: Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday takes place on Nov. 24 this year and is exactly what it sounds like: an annual day that encourages holiday shoppers to patronize their local small businesses.

American Express first launched the day in 2010 to help bolster local businesses that were hurting due to the recession. It gained momentum quickly, and by 2011, representatives in all 50 states were participating in the “Shop Small” movement.

A survey by American Express estimates that upwards of $ 85 million has been spent at local, independent businesses since the event’s inception, and 90% feel that it has positively impacted their communities.

So this year, tell Black Friday, “It’s not me, it’s you,” and circle Saturday on your calendar.

How to Participate in Small Business Saturday

Cards are displayed at a local shop.

Whether you’re a consumer, small business owner or simply a local business supporter, there are plenty of ways you can contribute to Saturday’s Shop Small initiative.

If you’re a local shop owner and want to get involved with Small Business Saturday, head on over to the official website. You’ll find downloadable posters, event flyers, email templates, planning checklists and more — they’re customizable and free!

Don’t forget to use social media to your advantage. The Small Business Saturday site has downloadable social posts. Or, you can freestyle and do your own thing — just be sure to use #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat hashtags.

The site also offers how-to videos for inspiration and ideas for special events you can hold to attract customers.

And just because it isn’t Black Friday doesn’t mean you can’t offer deals to bring in business. Feature a special Shop Small discount or showcase your most holiday-shopping-worthy items.

People who don’t own a shop but still want to support local business have options, too. Small Business Saturday has official “Neighborhood Champions.” Their job is to spread the word, assist local businesses with participation, organize events and pass out Shop Small swag to passersby.

In 2017, over 7,200 individuals and organizations signed up to serve as event champions.

You can check out your local volunteers here if you’re interested in reaching out for information about events in your area. And while the application period to be an official Neighborhood Champion for this year has ended, you can unofficially spread the word and then sign up next year.

Lastly, if you’re just a consumer looking for the perfect gift for Dad, get out on Saturday and shop local!

Skip the Starbucks latte and grab some caffeine from your neighborhood café. Venture out in your neighborhood to find a new, funky boutique that offers something you wouldn’t find in the mall. And finish your day of shopping at a locally owned restaurant.

Keep an eye out for those Shop Small posters in store windows, or check out this map to find participating businesses in your area.

And don’t forget to show off your purchases on social media with the official hashtags (as if you weren’t going to do that anyway.)

Kaitlyn Blount is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She only participated in Black Friday once and decided to never do it again — but Small Business Saturday is definitely her jam.

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.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

The Penny Hoarder

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Beauty Entrepreneur turned $100 into a Fully-Fledged Business [Video]

Model and beauty entrepreneur Tatiana Elizabeth Price created skinBUTTR out of the comfort of her home. Coming to the conclusion that she wasn’t the only person dealing with skin issues, she leaped into action and turned her passion into a business. After investing $ 100 into a Shopify account, she created a product, posted it on the site, and started generating revenue. The skincare line has now grown to include multiple products that consist of toners, facial masks, cleansers, exfoliators, and moisturizers.

“I started skinBUTTR about four years ago,” said Price. “I figured these products might help other people as well, so I went to school for esthetics and I figured how I could make my products appeal to more people than just myself.”

SkinButtr

(Image: skinBUTTR)

What was once a hobby quickly became a fully-fledged business for the young entrepreneur. She now balances her business with her modeling career—she is currently signed to State Management—and her day-to-day activities as a beauty influencer.

“As easy as it looks, it’s not that simple being an influencer,” said Price. “You have to conform to deadlines, make sure that your content is consistent, and make sure that your audience is actually relating to your content, all while making sure that you are staying true to who you are.”

Watch the full episode of Price’s inspiring journey and witness what one of her days consists of as she takes over the MGM properties with three other notable influencers: food stylist and blogger Megan Hysaw; model and actor Keith Carlos; and model, rapper, and actor Don Benjamin.

 


The Takeover is a web series that gives you a bird’s eye view into the life of four influencers and the BLACK ENTERPRISE team as they take over the MGM properties exploring all the amazing attractions that the resort has to offer. This series is powered by MGM Resorts. 

The post Beauty Entrepreneur turned $ 100 into a Fully-Fledged Business [Video] appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Lifestyle | Black Enterprise

EMPLOYMENT SEARCH UPDATE:

Beauty Entrepreneur turned $100 into a Fully-Fledged Business [Video]

Model and beauty entrepreneur Tatiana Elizabeth Price created skinBUTTR out of the comfort of her home. Coming to the conclusion that she wasn’t the only person dealing with skin issues, she leaped into action and turned her passion into a business. After investing $ 100 into a Shopify account, she created a product, posted it on the site, and started generating revenue. The skincare line has now grown to include multiple products that consist of toners, facial masks, cleansers, exfoliators, and moisturizers.

“I started skinBUTTR about four years ago,” said Price. “I figured these products might help other people as well, so I went to school for esthetics and I figured how I could make my products appeal to more people than just myself.”

SkinButtr

(Image: skinBUTTR)

What was once a hobby quickly became a fully-fledged business for the young entrepreneur. She now balances her business with her modeling career—she is currently signed to State Management—and her day-to-day activities as a beauty influencer.

“As easy as it looks, it’s not that simple being an influencer,” said Price. “You have to conform to deadlines, make sure that your content is consistent, and make sure that your audience is actually relating to your content, all while making sure that you are staying true to who you are.”

Watch the full episode of Price’s inspiring journey and witness what one of her days consists of as she takes over the MGM properties with three other notable influencers: food stylist and blogger Megan Hysaw; model and actor Keith Carlos; and model, rapper, and actor Don Benjamin.

 


The Takeover is a web series that gives you a bird’s eye view into the life of four influencers and the BLACK ENTERPRISE team as they take over the MGM properties exploring all the amazing attractions that the resort has to offer. This series is powered by MGM Resorts. 

The post Beauty Entrepreneur turned $ 100 into a Fully-Fledged Business [Video] appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Lifestyle | Black Enterprise

EMPLOYMENT SEARCH UPDATE:

Hip-Hop Wired Exclusive: T-Pain Goes Deep Into VR On ‘T-Pain’s School of Business’ [Video]

T-Pain's School Of Business

Source: FUSE / Fuse

T-Pain might best be known as one of R&B music’s top hitmakers, but he’s also got a savvy eye for upcoming business trends as evidenced on his new Fuse series, T-Pain’s School of Business. Tallahassee Pain sat down with the creators of virtual reality software Mind Show and got into a deep discussion with one of the founders who was the 3-D animator that created The Matrix bullet effects.

On T-Pain’s School of Business, T-Pain meets with entrepreneurs and start-up organizations as they try to get their next big idea off the ground. On tonight’s episode, the founders of Mind Show reveal the science behind their VR setup and even get T-Pain in on the action by playing an animated tomato heckling a piece of lettuce in a performance venue.

We have an exclusive clip from tonight’s T-Pain’s School of Business episode featuring T-Pain The Heckling Tomato below.

Check out T-Pain’s School of Business tonight (Nov. 13) on the FUSE network at 11:00 PM ET/PT.

For more information about the series, click here.

Photo: FUSE

The Latest Hip-Hop News, Music and Media | Hip-Hop Wired

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Republicans: We’re Committed to Using Black Business Vendors at 2020 RNC Convention

Annual political party conventions — whether for Republicans or Democrats — can be lucrative. That is why the stakes are potentially high for black-owned small businesses selected as vendors for the next Republican National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. Some local officials are hoping the 2020 RNC convention will bring an economic impact exceeding $ 100 million.

The RNC officially picked Charlotte, in July 2018, to host the four-day convention. John Lassiter, CEO of the Charlotte 2020 Host Committee, has told the media his group is “on track financially,” for reaching its goal to raise $ 70 million. The money will cover the convention’s projected cost of nearly $ 64 million and other emerging expenses. The committee aims to raise the funds by late 2019. The spending will be stretched over several categories, including $ 27.6 million for convention facilities; $ 8.4 million for event production, and $ 2.4 million each for office space and transportation services to name just a few. Yet, the big question is how many vendor contracts will be granted to local black entrepreneurs?

Charlotte NAACP President Corine Mack wants to ensure black businesses, specifically black women-owned businesses, have a seat at the vendor table. She believes at least 50% of the vendors should be people of color, with 30% of that group being black. Plus, Mack says the RNC should consider funding implicit bias and cultural proficiency training leading into and during the RNC. She said the training could help whites take a self-examination and realize their biases. “In making a decision to do better and be better, it allows us to build a bridge of understanding and inclusion,” Mack says.

Charlotte leaders have emphasized that they want to ensure minorities, women, and diverse groups are represented in providing goods and services. City Council  Member James Mitchell says Charlotte 2020 should aim to give 30% of vendor contracts to minorities and women,  Liberty Headlines reported. RNC officials told Black Enterprise Charlotte 2020 is committed to making sure black businesses are hired as vendors. But the committee also reported that it has not been determined what amount of vendor contracts will go to minority or women-owned firms, adding it is very early in the process.

“The Charlotte 2020 Host Committee is working to create a workforce and vendor opportunity strategy with a focus on local and regional spend, inclusivity, and diversity,” Lassiter says. “We want diverse residents and businesses, including black-owned businesses, to help showcase our community and realize the economic benefits of this major event. While it is too early to discuss specifics related to our vendor strategy, we are intentional with our efforts.”

Businesses interested in vendor opportunities should check for updates and sign up at www.charlottein2020.com. The name of those firms will go directly to the host committee for vendor consideration. “We have nearly two years to aggressively engage diverse talent and to collaborate across public, private and civic entities to make this a positive experience, one our community can be proud of,” Lassiter says.

Political conventions can be a hefty windfall for host cities in many ways. That could include providing them a robust financial economic gain, attracting more events, boosting tourism, and bringing international notoriety. The 2012 Democratic National Convention pulled in $ 163.6 million, a reportedly record high economic impact for a single Charlotte event. When the city of Cleveland, hosted the 2016 Republican National Convention, it generated an economic benefit of $ 188.4 million for Ohio’s largest city.

Vendors selected for the convention may be hired to provide a broad range of services that perhaps includes transportation, food, contracting and other assistance. The Charlotte area has a large roster of black businesses, including an estimated 13,000 African American-owned businesses, the Charlotte Post reported.

The post Republicans: We’re Committed to Using Black Business Vendors at 2020 RNC Convention appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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Rules of Civility: Business Etiquette At The Office

In a 2011 survey publish at the Monster.com blog, 71% of survey respondents found their coworker’s manners needing improvement or “downright rude.” More than one-quarter of respondents’ co-workers fell into this downright rude category. In this guide to business etiquette in the office, we will show you what your coworkers dislike, how you can improve your manners and you can approach coworkers about problems.

Do we save manners for our personal lives? And if we did, who can blame us? We have little choice at work with whom we work, to whom we report; how many hours we work; what to wear; where to eat; how long we may eat; and whether a company observes and complies with their own policies and procedures.

How Polite Are You & What Your Coworkers Hate The Most

How Polite Are You & What Your Coworkers Hate The Most

We spend more time with co-workers than we do our partners, spouses, family and friends. Permission to speak freely disappears at work. We often go along to get along, not wishing to antagonize an office or cubicle mate. At work, did French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre have it right? That hell is other people?

Bosses who don’t supervise but instead take hostages; the effluvium put forth by co-workers, whether the stale tang of the not-recently washed or a devotion to Axe body products; other co-workers grousing about the boss, their job, their kids, their body size, their love life, their lack of love life; the seemingly endless improvement programs promulgated by the herd of independent thinking reflected in upper management – decry all of it in the most florid, foulest and loudest terms possible and you will quickly find kindred spirits. Decry you might but at what cost to you? How much stress do we create for ourselves because of how we react to our co-workers?

How can etiquette matter in (American) work environments?

Etiquette at work now seems quaint, like a rotary telephone or manual typewriter. This quaintness may lead us to conclude that the decline of manners has befallen us (again!). But the protean nature of our existence – a relaxed, concerned behavior directed to loved ones and friends versus an uptight, sometimes seething personality at work, cannot hide this simple truth: How we do anything is how we do everything.

How we act at work influences how we act at home. A commitment to better relations at work will improve your love life. But how?

We can master ourselves, only. How we manage ourselves on the job can ensure greater self-confidence, a more relaxed attitude, and, indeed, even a promotion. We endeavor to create an aura of sociability and likeability. If we arrive to work late, we want to have others assume a favorable opinion about us despite the uncertainty of character our lateness suggests.

From the hell of our own co-workers, we may find that etiquette saves us. Whether you view manners as a mask or as a path to increasing enlightenment, acting with regard for others and ourselves will help to create a kinder and nicer office worker.

Business Etiquette Is All About Managing Oneself

Gossip is not appropriate

Gossip is not appropriate

1. Gossip

Gossip gets a bad rap, but gossip can keep us safe. A coworker may steal ideas or work or worse, haze new employees or harangue certain types of co-workers. Sharing these insights, if you think you can do so, can save another coworker from this bully’s actions.

The idle tittle-tattle, though? Proceed cautiously. Loose lips may sink your ship. Sharing facts about another coworker differs from whispered rumor. Both, however, may cause your boss to question you; but fact-based gossip possesses a kind of evenhandedness. Idle rumor seems like whining.

Always be respectful of other people's time

Always be respectful of other people’s time

2. Lateness

Timeliness suggests reliability. If you cannot arrive to work on time, what else can’t you do? We would all delight in a work-place where our co-workers accept all our failings. Better yet, they should make no assumptions about us when we do misstep. Something about pigs flying comes to mind here.

We control many variables in our lives. Timeliness tops the list.

Lateness also suggests you think your time more worthwhile than others. Lateness suggests a kind of time thievery. Perceptions of slackness and lack of attention to detail can also result from lateness.

Lateness practiced with diligence breeds resentment. When you find you legitimately need support from co-workers, less scrupulous co-workers may use the opportunity to expose you even further. Their long-standing resentment has now found an outlet. And thanks to your continued lateness, your boss may very well believe your co-worker. You’ve conditioned your boss to believe you aren’t reliable.

If you find yourself constantly late, determine why. Do you need to set your alarm 10 minutes earlier? Lay out your work clothes before retiring? Prepare your lunch after dinner?

Its important to take care of your nails

Its important to take care of your nails

3. Personal Grooming

Care about your appearance and bodily odors? Good. Your co-workers won’t notice your foul odor. They also won’t stare at the quarter-sized stain on your tie or shirt, either.

Personal grooming says I care enough about me to care about you. If you choose not to bathe, claims of snobbery don’t and won’t matter. Humans judge, constantly. And we judge harshly people who smell, have bad breath, open sores or bite /cut their fingernails at the office. Two men familiar to me refused the habit of regular bathing. Both lost lucrative job promotions to people who clearly had less skill.

Lorenzo Villoresi Colognes

Lorenzo Villoresi Colognes

Strong Colognes, Soaps, and Antiperspirants

We in the U.S. exhibit the doubly odd behavior of washing frequently only to swathe ourselves in a mixture of unnatural, “spring scent” body products.

As with liquor and clothing buy the very best cologne and bathing products you can afford. The better the ingredients, the better the smell. Cheap ingredients create smells that linger, cloy and in more extreme cases, cause eye-tearing and sneezing.

Consider spending more for these products and buy quality products

4. Generosity and Helpfulness

There exists a type of coworker who delights in making others, especially new co-workers, ask questions repeatedly; the kinds of questions that have you thinking, “why didn’t he tell me that when I asked the last question?” To which, if you were to ask, he would reply, “Because you did not ask.”

To be perceived as helpful, we must discern people’s foibles and anxieties and act in ways they find helpful. Have a boss that always forgets to create the agenda for the meeting? Send a reminder to her a week before the meeting. Is a coworker trying to finish up a big project before he leaves on vacation? Offer to take meeting minutes or make copies for the next meeting. After lunch meetings stick around to help clean up.

A willingness to help shows people no task is beneath you. Helpfulness becomes generosity when you offer assistance without another person asking.

5. Personal Disclosure

The Art of Conversation describes the function of small talk in American culture: We use it as a path to creating greater conversational intimacy. At work, however, our conversations rarely go beyond small talk, and with good reason.

Disclosing personal information at work puts us at risk with co-workers with less than noble characters. We cannot choose our co-workers. In our private lives, we choose our friends and life partners with care. Are they kind? Do they listen? Can they keep my confidence?

At work, whether or not your cubicle mate behaves kindly has no bearing on anything. You still must work with him, and work well, too, if you don’t want to hear from your boss. The long hours we spend at work tempt us to share of ourselves details we really ought to share only with significant others or close friends.

We are human. We crave connection and meaning from other humans. But the seemingly idle disclosure about the time you cheated at golf in high school, and even though you are now past 40, can explode in your face. Stories become twisted and misused. People want to behave correctly, but many people think very little of themselves, sadly, and so act accordingly.

Consider yourself lucky if you find a confidant at work. In the meantime, chat with co-workers, contribute to conversations and share of yourself information you feel comfortable sharing with anyone.

Save your humor for coworkers who will understand it for sure

Save your humor for coworkers who will understand it for sure

6. Humor

We can use humor to ease tense interactions, redirect criticism and avoid sounding defensive. We can also use humor to help co-workers to make light of an uncomfortable personal situation.

Sarcasm and irony, two cornerstones of American humor, can be easily misunderstood, even by speakers on of American English. Save that humor for like-minded co-workers. For everyone else, make jokes at your own expense and never make jokes at another’s expense for any reason, ever.

A messy desk

A messy desk

 

7. Messiness

You may live a minimalistic, neatnik life. Others may live maximally. If a coworker’s messiness impacts your job performance, say something. If you find the messiness offensive for aesthetic reasons, you have to address these feelings on your own.

If you can keep yourself organized, do so. We, in the U.S., tend to add a veneer of positive ethical behavior to people who keep their offices neat and tidy, regardless of the actual truth of that belief. As with personal grooming, neatness exudes order and morality. To the degree you can do this, others will think positively of you, too.

8. Patience

It seems we want endless patience from others yet struggle to extend such kindness to others. If we don’t like the person trying our patience, we lose our tempers more quickly. Losing our cool makes us look bad.

If you find yourself short of patience and want to have more of it, spend a week or two doing the following:

  1. Notice your triggers and what causes you to lose patience.
  2. Write down your triggers and determine patterns (time of day, behavior-specific, person-specific).
  3. Vow to change and accept that you may fail.
  4. Try again.
Be considerate of others when having lunch

Be considerate of others when having lunch

9. Eating

Food Smells and Eating at the Desk

According to a DailyMail study commissioned by a soup company, respondents ranked noisy eating as more bothersome than messy, habitually late or whiny co-workers. Sometimes people eat at their desk because they find no peace in the staff lunch room. Other times they do so because they may work for a company that really believes in working lunches.

Just don’t eat loudly.

Food smells also irritate co-workers. What we find tasty and nice smelling we know because of our cultural upbringing. Most Americans wax poetic about bacon; the Spanish feel similarly about olive oil. Microwaving fish in the staff kitchen can cause discord and set the gossip train to run.

Perhaps you can ask your boss to stagger your lunch break so that you won’t be around the offending smells. Or dive deep into yourself. Remind yourself we have no guarantees in life, least of all a life free of things we find stinky.

Consider going retro and actually take a lunch break. You know the one where you get up from your cubicle and leave the building? Might do wonders for both your nose and your stress!

10. Honesty

When might one lie at work reasonably? When does tact become inexpedient?

Some manners experts will tell you never to lie at work. Depending on your cultural context, you may have greater or lesser latitude to fib about people’s haircuts, clothes, family photos, cat videos and other questions you may be asked. In America, we lie constantly on the job. When asked by a coworker how we are, the social script dictates we answer positively. To answer negatively suggests we have a bad attitude. A certain amount of lying comes with working in America.

In more serious matters (financial improprieties, sexual harassment) honesty is probably the best course of action. Exposing a peer may seem easier than a superior. Having discussed such behaviors with the appropriate parties won’t always mean you win, though. Corporate ethics vary. If you work at an unethical company, you may need to polish your resume and seek employment elsewhere.

12. Friendships on the Job

Neither your superiors nor subordinates are your pals. Your boss can fire you, and you may have to fire people who report to you.
And peers, the ones you party with, may engage in unethical or illegal behavior that you will then need to report. They also may have seen you drunk and may use that information against you in the future.

Our relationships on the job remain economic ones. Money mediates all of them. Who can be hired, can be fired. By superior, subordinate or peer.

Romance at the Office - Don't Do It

Romance at the Office – Don’t Do It

13. Intimate Relationships with Co-Workers

Don’t do it. With a superior or subordinate, never. With a peer, what happens if he gets promoted over you and you break up? What if she decides to spread rumors about you to your co-workers, or worse, future employer? Unless you sell your body for a living, sex and work don’t mingle. Just ask those secret service agents about sex and work.

Approaching Co-workers About Problems (a Simple How-to Guide Based on the Principles of Non-violent Communication)

Sometimes we may need to have a difficult conversation with a coworker. We need not suffer in silence. Approach a coworker first to resolve a conflict, before going to your boss. Doing so will show that you have attempted to resolve the problem as professionally as possible.

Ask Yourself Why

As it pertains to other’s behavior, ask yourself why their behavior annoys you. Why, for example, does your co-worker’s messiness irritate you? If you judge her as a slob, then you have little room to discuss changing behaviors because you attack her.

If, however, her disorganization enrages you because it makes you late to meetings or causes you to miss important work deadlines, then you can ask her if she can change her behavior. You have a factual reason for wanting her to modify her behavior.

There are better ways to solve problems at the office - Don't imitate Mad Men

There are better ways to solve problems at the office – Don’t imitate Mad Men

The Mechanics of the Conversation

a. Make Factual Observations

Make factual observations that make you feel a need to speak now. (“Jane, our meeting is in ten minutes and we were supposed to have the agenda to Bob day before yesterday.”) You don’t make an evaluative statement (“That is way too late to get me these agenda items.”)

We value things differently (Jane may have higher priority projects on her list, or she doesn’t report to Bob) but by sharing your observations, you can find common ground with Jane.

b. State How the Observation Makes You Feel

“When you give me the agenda items ten minutes before the meeting and Bob wants them two days ago, I feel anxious. I’m afraid I’ll get in trouble, and I’m afraid my co-workers will think poorly of me.”

c. What Need is Not Being Met

We all have needs on the job, many in fact. For the purposes of this script, needs are always valid. In this particular scenario, you have a need to be seen as considerate and competent
(“I have a need for consideration and competence.”)

d. Ask a Request (Not Make a Request)

“Would you be willing to give me the agenda items a week before the meeting?” To make a genuine request, and not a demand, you must allow Jane to say no. If she does, then you might ask when she can get you those agenda items. If she replies ten minutes before the meeting, and you find you cannot tolerate such behavior, quietly approach Bob and inform him of your communication with Jane. He may decide to approach Jane or her boss (if she reports to someone else) or tell you it isn’t a problem or tell you tough, deal with it. At least you’ve asked respectfully.

Etiquette on the job can help us have better working relationships.

How have you handled difficult co-workers? What behavior at the office bothers you the most? Please reply in the comments below!


Gentleman’s Gazette

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Fed Leaves Rates Unchanged, Notes Slowdown In Business Investment Growth

After raising rates by a quarter point at its previous meeting, the Federal Reserve announced its widely anticipated decision to leave interest rates unchanged following a two-day meeting ending on Thursday. The Fed decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 2 to 2.25 percent.
RTT – Top Story

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Aunty Maxine Is Set To Give Big Banks the Business

Rep. Maxine Waters will continue to reclaim her time representing California in the House of Representatives for the next two years following her win in Tuesday’s Midterm Elections. In addition to being reelected, the Democrat is poised to take over the House Financial Services Committee, which would give her the power to take down big banks, fight against Wall Street corruption, and subpoena President Trump.


via GIPHY

Affectionately known as “Aunty Maxine,” Waters has been the top Democrat on the banking panel since former congressman Barney Frank retired in 2013. Now that Democrats won control of the House, she is likely to become the chair of the powerful panel, which has control over financial regulation and housing finance reform. This will give Waters the ability to execute on her pledge to fix Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and hold big banks accountable when their practices harm customers.

Throughout her 14-term tenure on The Hill, Waters has been a fierce critic of Wall Street and Trump, who is pushing a deregulatory agenda. Waters, on the other hand, has called for increased regulation of major financial institutions and even issued a report calling for Wells Fargo to shut down following a series of high-profile scandals. Waters later introduced the Megabank Accountability and Consequences Act, a bill that would require regulators to shut down a large bank for repeatedly violating consumer protection laws. She has also pledged to pass higher fines for major banks that break the law.

Furthermore, as chairwoman, Waters would be granted subpoena power to dig up dirt on other banks and target Deutsche Bank for its past dealings with Trump. With the committee gavel, Waters will also have the ability to issue subpoenas to Trump allies, like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, forcing him to provide documentation regarding the president’s alleged ties to Russia.

The post Aunty Maxine Is Set To Give Big Banks the Business appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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Business Casual Shoes

Business casual today is one of the most widely spread dress codes yet it’s often vaguely defined. There’s no point in following all the advice we provide in our videos if your company is extremely casual or extremely formal. You simply have to figure that out and the best way to do that is to observe what others are wearing or to ask your supervisor.

Well-made shoes from quality leather that is expertly polished can really upgrade a cheap suit, at the same time, a cheap pair of shoes can bring down a $ 5,000 bespoke suit.

Traditional White-Collar Environments

Because you’re in this traditional environment, chances are even business casual is more formal than in other places. Now that doesn’t mean that you should wear your black cap toe oxford because that would still be too formal and while it’s good with suits for business casual, you can be a bit more daring.

Brown Derby Shoes

For one, that means wearing a derby shoe. Derbys have an open lacing system and because of that, they’re always slightly less formal than an oxford. Also, I would stay clear of black derbys, instead I would opt for brown ones because brown is one of those shades that have just a hundred or thousand different colors with little variations and so you can never have enough brown shoes.

Cognac Brown Derby Full Brogue with 2 inch cuff

Cognac Brown Derby Full Brogue with 2 inch cuff

When I say brown I also mean red shoes, either reddish brown, burgundy, or oxblood. These are all fantastic colors for business casual even in a formal environment. My favorite derby shoe of mine comes in burgundy, it’s made of a Parisian last which is still quite elegant and so I can work with a suit or for business casual very easily.

Dark brown double monks paired with OTC socks from Fort Belvedere

Dark brown double monks paired with OTC socks from Fort Belvedere

Monk Strap Shoes

Alternatively, I could wear a burgundy monk strap, either in dark chocolate brown or maybe in red. Apart from that color scheme, I would not branch out into others because it would maybe be too casual for such a traditional environment. That means no gray shoes, no olive green shoes, stick with shades of brown and you’ll be good. Whether that’s a very dark brown, a medium brown, chestnut brown, or very light tan, is up to you but just keep in mind the lighter shade of brown, the more casual the shoe.

Flannel Pinstripe with red socks and suede chocolate double monks

Flannel Pinstripe with red socks and suede chocolate double monks

Likewise, the more broguing you have on the shoe, the more casual it is. Apart from the color, leather texture can also have a huge impact on how it’s perceived. For example, suede shoes are always softer and more casual. So for example, a dark brown suede shoe will look about as informal or casual as a regular polished leather tan shoe. Overall, it’s very important that your shoes work well not just with the rest of your outfit but with the socks and the pants in particular because they’re right next to your shoe.

Trade, Service, & Sales Industries

 

If you work in the service industry, in sales, or other trade positions, chances are you still have client contact and even though it’s not required of you to be well dressed, and sometimes it may come off as aloof or not appropriate, people will still judge you and if you look frumpy in sweatpants, people will think less highly of you, they will assume that you’re less competent than if you would wear let’s say a nice dress shirt with a pair of chinos.

Sneakers are not suitable for office wear

Sneakers are not suitable for office wear

If you are just at the office and never have client contact, your employer will likely have specific ideas of what’s acceptable and what’s not. If that’s not your office, I suggest to just stay clear of sneakers because they are quite casual and not work-appropriate shoes.

Go For Green

Oxford full brogue wingtip shoes

Oxford full brogue wingtip shoes with Fort Belvedere shoelaces

In this segment, one of my favorite colors is green which is highly underrated in menswear. Just think about adding a dark green oxford full brogue wingtip shoe in suede, it’s quite dark, people wouldn’t notice it right away yet it’s very different than a traditional dark brown wingtip oxford.

Olive green shoes with navy trousers

Olive green shoes with navy trousers and Fort Belvedere socks

Alternatively, a nice olive green with a beautiful patina on an elegant long last is really something that will provide a lot of contrast with the pants and slacks you’re wearing therefore, it’ll stand out in a way but it’s still subtle enough that it could be mistaken for a dark brown shoe at first glance.

Black "dress shoes" with blue soles

Black “dress shoes” with blue soles

Dress Shoe Trends

In recent years, dress shoe uppers with white rubber or sneaker soles have become extremely popular. Now personally, I don’t wear those because I either want to go casual and wear boat shoes or some sneakers or I wear leather dress shoes with a leather sole.

That being said, if you really dig the white rubber soles on a shoe, simply go for it, it’s something that you can wear, you can pull it off, it’s definitely more of a statement and I’ve even seen like red soles, yellow soles, or blue soles, so assume that people will judge you, they will make assumptions about you, and if you’re okay with that and you can wear it confidently, go for it. Of course, if you’re into classic men’s clothing and a traditionalist, this is not an option for you and in that case, stay with nicely polished leather shoes.

Rubber soled double monk strap

Rubber soled double monk strap

What about regular rubber soles? While they are acceptable and no one will ever call you out for it, personally, I much rather prefer leather soles. The sound they make, the way they roll on my foot, the way they feel, all of these are attributes I appreciate about the leather sole and I would not switch to a rubber sole.

So what do you do if it rains heavily you might wonder? Well, I have leather boots with rubber soles because they’re usually a little more casual and if it’s raining a lot, having a lace-up boot that is above my ankle always comes in handy to protect my feet from getting wet and cold.

Stand out in this pair of spectator shoes

Stand out in this pair of spectator shoes and Fort Belvedere socks

Choose Spectators

Apart from the shoes mentioned, you can also experiment with spectators in this segment which again are quite loud and traditionally, you have black and white ones which I think is not such a good combination because it is black, quite formal, white makes it informal.

square toed shoe

square-toed shoe

Instead, a brown and maybe off-white spectator or a navy with a gray spectator are really great. You could think about saddle shoes or just more unusual shoes. In general, though, I always suggest you stay clear of square-toed shoes, rubber soles or any kind of metalwork or reflective letters such as silver or gold because they’re not really part of a gentleman’s wardrobe.

This is too casual for business casual unless you work in a young tech company

This is too casual for business casual unless you work in a young tech company

Start-Up Environments

Frankly, the sky’s the limit and it can be anything from flip-flops over vans to very extraordinary Gucci loafers. Most startups won’t even have a dress code and so it’s all about what you’re comfortable with and about their culture and how you fit in.

Gucci Horsebit Loafer 1953

Gucci Horsebit Loafer 1953

Now, just because you can wear anything doesn’t mean everything has the same level of benefits for you. That being said, a nice pair of leather shoes or boots will always make you look more dapper and more grown-up than wearing some colorful sneakers or tennis shoes. In terms of colors or leather textures, really anything under the sun goes here. Even flip-flops or alpargatas are acceptable but frankly, I would simply not wear that but I guess I’m not telling you anything new here.

General Guidelines To Stay Stylish In Your Workplace

Don’t Invest In Shoes That Fuse Modern & Traditional Style

Why you might wonder? Well, matching together formal and informal elements will mean it’s a very trendy shoe and it may be great at the moment but it’s just a fashion and a fad and it will disappear in just a few years of time. So even if you have the highest quality leather shoe with a blue sole, chances are you will be tired of it in a year from now.

Ace Marks Penny Loafers

Ace Marks Penny Loafers

Instead, buy classically styled shoes and try to find something that works with your style. For example, you can go with medium brown penny loafers or you could go with cordovan tassel loafers. Alternatively, if you want even more casual, you can have suede green tassel loafers which are very casual yet still classically rooted.

Because it’s business casual, broguing or hole perforations or decorations are always welcome and an element you should incorporate if you want to tone things down and make them easier to look at and less formal.

Know When To Step Up Your Shoe Game

For example, think of important meetings with the board, maybe with their most important client, or the CEO who is known to be a clothes horse. In those situations, you definitely want to take it up a notch and put your best foot forward. During work-related events, conferences or symposia where you represent your company or maybe during a media interview, it really pays to have nice leather dress shoes in a darker color because they won’t stand out and people won’t just focus on your shoes but rather on what you say and the point you want to bring across. Likewise, if you’re interviewing for a position, it always pays to put on the proper interview attire.

A perfect outfit for a casual Friday at the office

A perfect outfit for the office

CONCLUSION

In summary, the dress-code business casual is not easy to master when it comes to shoes because it can mean different things at different times at different companies, however, using the three-tier approach of formal environment, less formal environment, and casual environment, it can really help you to nail it and put your best foot forward.

Last but not least, if you’re unsure whether if something is appropriate or not, chances are it is inappropriate. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have thought about it in the first place and if even that doesn’t help, always keep in mind being slightly overdressed is always favorable to being slightly underdressed.


Gentleman’s Gazette

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This Man Started a Business Hanging Holiday Lights and Made $138K in Year 3

When you have a name like Josh Trees and your job is hanging holiday lights, you have to be prepared for the inevitable question: Is that actually your name?

Trees — yes, that’s his real name — started his business, We Hang Christmas Lights, in 1997, decorating homes, businesses and assorted branched greenery in Temecula, California.

But Trees definitely gets the last (jolly) laugh.

“When we first started doing this, people were like, ‘Oh, that’s a cute little business,’” says the 43-year-old. “We were like, ‘Yeah, cute,’ —  you don’t realize people are paying us $ 3,500 to put lights up on their houses.

“By my third year, I was hitting a net profit of right around $ 138,000.”

Now Trees crisscrosses the country with strands of lights and a tiny house to teach others how they can build their own businesses hanging twinkling bulbs.

On the First Day of Christmas Lighting

Trees’ classes help pass on knowledge that he has accumulated throughout his career, such as purchasing lights from wholesale vendors who offer discounts for bulk purchases and making your own extension cords. Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

Ah, the fond memories of hauling out last year’s box of lights to add some holiday cheer to the humble abode. Haphazardly arrange the lights around the front stoop, throw a wreath on the door and voilá!

But if you’re starting a business hanging lights, that simplified recollection can lead to costly errors, according to Trees. And he should know, because he had the same idea.

“We were making mistakes on everything — we were just a bunch of guys thinking, ‘Hey, this is going to be easy,’” Trees says. “We were hanging other people’s lights — that’s a huge no-no.… The second stage was hanging the crummy lights from retailers.

“I’m surprised I made it through the first couple years.”

By the third year, Trees had moved onto purchasing lights from wholesale vendors, which offered discounts for bulk purchases. He was also buying commercial-grade strands so that when one bulb went out, they didn’t all go out.

But Trees says his biggest mistake had nothing to do with lights — it was underbidding jobs.

I got into it in the first year…  and I didn’t make any money — probably lost money,” Trees says. “I was charging $ 150 for jobs that should have been $ 850.

“I bid a job for $ 3,500 that should have literally been $ 35,000. It was horrible.”

Enlightening Business Strategies

Lisa Pinkney, 56, works for her sister’s landscape business Daylily Landscaping in Washington D.C. “I wanted to learn how to do things the right way,” said Pinkney, who flew down with her sister to attend one of Trees’ classes. Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

Trees’ students echo his refrain, noting that learning from other professionals early on can help transform a business idea into a profitable enterprise — and with a lot fewer mistakes along the way.

One of Trees’ early students was Jeff Krall, owner of American Holiday Lights in Woodridge, Illinois. In 2008, Krall attended an individual training session, which Trees conducted before he started traveling the country to teach classes.

“Josh helped me get it started,” says Krall, 53. “Everything from how to hang the lights on the rooflines… making our own extension cords, how to wrap the trees.

“It would take someone… two or three years to learn how to do it correctly, whereas Josh, in two or three days, he tells them how to do everything.”

In his first season of business, Krall estimates he had 30 clients. Now he manages 25 to 35 employees who light 35 to 40 houses a day during the season, at an average price of $ 1,400 to $ 1,500 per house.

However, those visions of sugarplums and dollar signs dancing in your head might not be in your immediate future — or at least not the first season.

Last year, Lucas Pulvermacher decided to add a light-hanging business to his busy lawn care enterprise near Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

“My first year was tricky because I had to have an inventory of the lights. That’s a fairly large cost — and also the ladder, equipment, safety stuff like that,” says Pulvermacher, who recently turned 16. “I’d say we came out about even.”

Pulvermacher says his Lucas Lights lit three houses and two businesses after launching in mid-November last year — “It was hard because we started so late.”

After taking Trees’ class this year to learn marketing and sales strategies, Pulvermacher invested in professionally designed materials, including a logo.

His goal is to tackle 10 houses this year and then double that number by 2019 — when he has his driver’s license.

Beyond Christmas Lights

Jayson Nelson and John Gereg stand on either side of Connor Graham, president of We Hang Christmas Lights, as they learn how to make their own extension cords. Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

One of the cool things about those twinkling lights is that they still work after Jan. 1. That means there’s more business after the wintry holiday season.

“A lot of the guys we work with, they do wedding lights, event lights, party lights and backyard lighting, that sort of thing, and a lot also do landscape lighting,” says Trees, who estimates that light installations for weddings bring in $ 1,800 on average but can go as high as $ 7,000.

Krall, who also owns a roofing business, hangs lights all year round for backyard weddings, Diwali festival of lights celebrations and Halloween parties — “but the majority of what we do is Christmas,” he notes.

Holiday Gigs

Anthony Dixon, from Long Island, N.Y., holds a string of lights as Dominick Sacca learns how to properly staple them on the tiny house. Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

So let’s say you’re not ready to start your own business but being outside hanging lights sounds like a better gig than working a seasonal retail job.

Considering how hot the job market is, you might be in luck.

Krall notes that the toughest part of his business is finding good, reliable help.

“We got creative this year, so we align ourselves with other companies out there that are seasonal, like landscapers or pool companies,” Krall says. “When they’re laying off, we’re actively developing relationships.”

Trees recommends that installers offer tiered bonus pay, adding an extra $ 1 per hour each week to incentivize continued attendance as the season winds down — particularly in January when companies have to take down the lights.

Stephen Ogles, 32, learns how to wrap Christmas lights around a tree. Ogles, who owns a roof cleaning business in Lake City, Fla., came to learn how to hang lights during the slower winter months. Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

Helpers can typically make anywhere from between… $ 13 at the low end to about $ 20 at the high end — and that’s before bonuses,” Trees says. “When you find somebody that’s good, it’s key that you keep those people, because it’s temporary, and they know it’s temporary.”

For people interested in finding holiday lighting jobs in their area, Trees suggests checking places like Craigslist, Indeed and the We Hang Christmas Lights site, which includes a directory of light installers that’s searchable by zip code — just mention your interest in a job when you fill out the online form.

Trees has found that these holiday gigs are best suited for people who work warm-weather jobs in roofing, tree trimming and window washing. All of which have at least one trait in common — no fear of heights.

And yes, the money is nice, but Krall and Pulvermacher agree that the best part of hanging bulbs is the way their customers’ faces light up when they see the finished product.

“Everybody’s in a really good mood around Christmas time,” says Krall.

Pulvermacher adds: “It’s just kind of a cozy feeling when you see a house all lit up.”

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She covers interesting careers and job benefits. Her holiday wish list includes a subscription to a gourmet cheese of the month club, in case anyone starts shopping early.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

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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These Coffee Lovers Brewed Up a Florida Business From the Back of a Bike

Decision-making, long hours, late nights, financial concerns, constantly changing plans — it’s no secret that starting your own business is hard work.

It’s no different for the owners of Made Coffee, but at least they have direct access to a caffeine source at all times.

Specializing in canned and kegged cold-brew coffee — because, hello Florida heat — Made Coffee is on a mission to bring on-the-go, iced caffeine to the masses.

As the company continues to gain traction in the Sunshine State, co-founders Michael Rideout and Taylor Prater took some time from their 14-hour work days to look back at where they’ve been and talk about how far they want to go.

Biking With the Brews

A can of Made Coffee is held next to some plants.
Made Coffee produces upwards of 15,000 cans of cold brew coffee a day. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Like many a good story, the origins of Made Coffee can be traced back to a beloved local bar.

Back in 2015, Rideout and Prater were both working at Mandarin Hide, a trendy cocktail bar nestled in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg. Thanks to the combination of popular  espresso-based cocktails and an espresso machine that was constantly acting up, the idea for a cold, concentrated coffee product began to brew.

“We basically just started tinkering around, bought some equipment and started brewing out of the house,” says Rideout.

In keeping with their cocktail origins, they pitched the cold and nitro brew coffee creations in keg form to local bars and restaurants. They secured about five accounts to serve the product on tap in that first month.

Another good way to get word out about the newly made company? Hit the streets.

Rideout and Prater ordered a bike online and then hired someone to build a custom box frame — complete with a tap system — so that it was perfect for peddling the kegged coffee on the go. All in all, the custom bike ended up costing around $ 4,000 — about 50% of Made Coffee’s total startup costs.

They would do pop-up events with the bike, usually in front of one of their original account locations, but they really weren’t selling coffee as much as giving it out. And on top of that, they were selling their product to accounts at cost — basically just enough to cover what they were spending to make the brew.

Rideout says they focused on consumer education for the first year and a half — profitability wasn’t even on the horizon.

“We weren’t making any money,” he says. “We were trying to understand what we were doing, what the product was doing and get a lot of feedback from consumers to see what we needed to do.”

You Can Go Your Own Way

Two people work on roasting batches of coffee.
Brennan Rodriquez, a roaster and quality control specialist, and Rideout work at the company’s cannery. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

After building up brand awareness, they started toying with the the next step in the plan: Opening a cold brew-focused café.

Rideout shopped around downtown St. Pete for a location and came close to settling on a deal, but a meeting with a business mentor made him rethink his retail plan.

He realized that in order for the business to achieve a large footprint and be recognized on more than just a city- or county-wide level, he was going to have to stray from the arguably easier route.

Having seen examples of big-name, ready-to-drink coffee products growing in popularity, he realized that no local businesses in the area had gone the distribution route; they just stuck to local shops.

So wholesale was the name of the game, but again, with origins firmly rooted in the bar realm, Rideout and Prater didn’t want to stray too far. Hence the idea of canned, cold-brew coffee.

Navigating a New Business

A woman with long brown hair attends a business meeting outside.
Taylor Prater, left, co-founder and brand manager of Made Coffee, discusses a marketing strategy that promotes local business with Carissa Scott of Octane Media at Trophy Fish in St. Petersburg. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Rideout had money saved up for the coffee shop idea and planned on securing another partner at some point, but getting into beverage distribution was a whole different beast. Building out a café could be done for around $ 150,000. But a beverage company? That’s wading into the millions of dollars territory — which is capital that the duo definitely did not have.

To help with the financial burden, they secured partners — who mainly work behind the scenes while Rideout and Prater handle the day-to-day operations. Then in September of 2016, they moved forward with a location for operations.

Dubbed The Cannery and coming in at 2,200 square feet, the facility build-out didn’t really start until January 2017. It took around four months to complete — and cost about half a million dollars.

While the team was waiting on completion of The Cannery construction, they started securing accounts before they even had a canned product to deliver.

“We had a little bit of a following, so we were teasing the idea,” says Rideout. “They were just kind of believing in us.”

And once they were finally ready to launch their canned coffee in April, they had customers waiting for deliveries right off the bat. And thanks to word of mouth, they secured another 20 accounts in the following weeks.

Those 20 accounts quickly turned into 50, and within two months of launching, the caffeinated duo were approaching their biggest pitch yet: Publix supermarkets.

With headquarters just two counties over in Lakeland, Florida, Publix was a good fit for the Made Coffee product. But after only working with local bars, restaurants and speciality grocers, pitching to a giant like Publix was no small feat.

“The learning curve was tough,” says Prater. “Their expectation was for us to already know all of these terms and processes and logistics, so we had to learn it very quickly.”

But their pitch was a success, and Made Coffee found itself in 10 Publix stores in the Tampa Bay area in August 2017. Not only did they have to work with the managers of each location to secure shelf space, Rideout and Prater stocked the shelves on their own.

“It was very early mornings,” says Prater. “But it was a really great experience because you really learn the back end of grocery.”

Making It Day by Day

A man taste test coffee.
Rideout taste tests different batches of roasted coffee. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

In the beginning, Made Coffee was producing around 1,000 to 2,000 cans a day. Now, it’s churning out upwards of 15,000 per day.

Rideout and Prater have been able to run a pretty small production staff due to fast equipment, but their willingness to wear as many hats as it takes to get the job done has also helped.

“Our first couple of production days were bare bones,” says Rideout. “There was a production day that was just Taylor and me.”

“Which is not highly recommended,” Prater counters with a laugh. “But we did it.”

Weekly needs depend on the orders, or pars, but they typically follow the same production schedule: roasting one to four days a week, brewing five days a week, kegging two days a week and packaging one.

Then weekends are usually devoted to demos for potential customers and account visits — to make sure that everyone is happy with the product.

Rideout says he wanted to be involved in every aspect of the business, from delivering cans to visiting accounts to cleaning keg lines to fixing equipment to roasting and brewing coffee. But as Made Coffee continued to grow, taking on new local accounts and increasing its Publix presence, it made sense to bring on a little help.

The company is currently operating with a nine-person staff, but Rideout says that he and Prater still work 14- to 15-hour days on average.

“If there’s a 12-hour day, I feel like we missed something,” he says. “It’s just what has to be done.”

Pouring Over Your Business

A woman pours hot water over roasted coffee to taste test.
Rodriquez prepares cups of coffee to taste test at the company’s cannery. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Taking on the ambitious task of starting a ready-to-drink beverage company didn’t just have challenges on the business side — it took a personal toll on Rideout and Prater as well.

Both were still working full-time jobs when they started the company in 2015, and neither of them switched to Made Coffee full-time until 2017 — Rideout in April and Prater in August.

“From September 2016 to April 2017, all of my photos that I have of the build-out are at night at like 2 or 3 in the morning.” says Rideout. “I was working during the day and then coming over here and basically working… until I just couldn’t anymore.”

Both have only been paying themselves enough to cover their bills. All extra money has gone right back into the company. They’re both in favor of putting money toward equipment that will help them grow.

“I’d never been in debt,” says Rideout. “For the first time in my life, in 34 years, I have debt.”

Prater feels that in order to start your own business, you kind of have to take apart your life. And not just that, you have to be OK with taking apart your life. The long hours and devotion required to get it off the ground demand it.

Rideout agrees. “If you’re not willing to literally work as many hours as you have to and not sleep and be stressed on finances and wonder how you’re going to pay rent… don’t open your own business,” he says.

Brewing Up Growth

Bags of whole bean roasted coffee sit on the shelves at Made Coffee Cannery.
Made Coffee sells bags of whole bean roasted coffee at Publix. Tina Russell/ The Penny Hoarder

The long hours Rideout and Prater have put in over the years are paying off — Made Coffee recently achieved a huge milestone.

Previously, their canned cold brew could be found in 256 Publix stores. But as of Oct. 1, every Publix throughout the state of Florida features Made Coffee products. That’s a whopping 831 stores.

Additionally, Made has rolled out two new products in the past few months: bags of Made Coffee whole bean coffee and “Con Leche” cold brew, for the caffeine lovers who can’t tolerate the black stuff without a little cream and sugar.

To cope with the growth, they’ve signed a lease for a new 12,000-square-foot facility that will serve as a distribution hub and will be ready to roll in January of 2019. They’ve also brought on new equipment and staff, with plans to hire more throughout the year.

Prater says they plan on hiring about six remote employees who will manage designated areas throughout the state.

Overall, this next step for Made Coffee will cost an estimated $ 2 million — a far cry from the $ 8,000 in startup costs.

When Prater looks back to the beginning, she feels like she didn’t have any idea how to imagine the level of success they’re at now. But Rideout disagrees; he thinks everything is happening exactly as planned.

“I know that sounds crazy,” he says. “But I always say that if you’re surprised at what’s happening, you didn’t have confidence it could have happened.”

And no matter how big Made Coffee gets, both Prater and Rideout recognize the importance of remembering where they came from: Serving homemade cold brew from behind a bar to locals who believed in their dream.

Kaitlyn Blount is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She only had one, two, six, fourteen coffees when she wrote this. OK, nineteen. But that’s it.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

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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The Business of Entertainment: Reflecting on Janet Jackson’s Almost 30-Year Legacy

The year was 1989. Janet Jackson, the youngest member of the multi-platinum selling, globally known, Jackson tribe, was on her way to attaining the legendary status of her brother, and releasing her now-classic fourth album Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814. It was a year ripe with many other albums that would go on to become classics. Madonna’s Like A Prayer album was burning up the charts alongside the likes of George Michael’s Faith, Bobby Brown’s Don’t Be Cruel, Milli Vanilli’s All or Nothing (pre lip-sync scandal), Soul II Soul’s Keep on Moving, and Prince’s contributions to the soundtrack of Tim Burton’s Batman film, among others. But in August of 1989, a month before Rhythm Nation was released, Janet released the lead single to the album, “Miss You Much.” The track quickly ascended the charts, becoming her second No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and sitting at the throne for four weeks—longer than any other single that year. The song also has the distinction of being the second-biggest selling song of 1989. 

In Brooklyn, during 1989, I was a very precocious boy. Though, still a child at the time, I lived and breathed pop culture in all of it 80’s loveliness. I watched the teenagers in my neighborhood dance in the streets to Janet’s music, doing their best to mimic her precise movements; often falling far short of her grace. Nonetheless, there we were, black and brown boys and girls, men and women, dancing to “Miss Jackson, if ya nasty.” We spent so many days trying to emulate her dance moves, and nearly breaking our teeth in the process. At the end of the “Miss You Much” video, when Janet calls “That’s the end?” followed by a deep and throaty collective, “No!” Janet does a chair routine, leading two other male dancers, with the ease and skills of the pro she is. We were riveted by her every move, in awe that she moved as well as Michael; possessing an energy, conviction, and fluidity that was distinctly her own.

The Background

Janet’s “Miss You Much” video was the first of three songs that made up the Rhythm Nation long-form video. The other two were “The Knowledge” and another of Janet’s classic songs and videos, “Rhythm Nation,” the single. With this album, Janet continued to prove to her naysayers— the critics and some of her jealous and insecure rivals who insisted she was a studio star and didn’t have the talents of her brother— they were wrong and that she was a bona fide star here to stay.

Rhythm Nation proved to be an excellent follow up to her breakthrough album, Control. Control is a black “womanist” manifesto that not only put Janet on the map, but it also gave young black women an assertive voice in music that many of Janet’s peers—Anita Baker, Sade, Whitney Houston, to name a few—weren’t doing at the time. She was a tough-talking, streetwise sistah who wasn’t asking for respect from men, she was demanding it. It was early in her career as a songwriter, but the elements of who Janet was showed through perfectly. 

In Billboard’s Hottest Hot 100 Hits (2002), Jimmy Jam explained that the label desperately wanted a Control II. They wanted Janet, Jimmy, and Terry (the creative hive mind) to repeat the same concept a second time while also throwing in some salacious gossip about her family. Jackson vehemently opposed the idea of a direct sequel to Control, stating in a Jet magazine interview in 1989: “That’s what I didn’t want to do. I wanted to do something that I really believed in and that I really felt strong about.” And that’s exactly what she did.

Rhythm Nation took on a slightly different narrative. It was Janet still taking control, but it was her way of also talking about things prevalent at the time like drugs, crime, and violence in the inner city that deeply affected young black and brown youth. However, never once did she forsake her sexuality or the need for a person to have fun. The album cohesively contains it all: The feel-good tracks (“Escapade,” “Alright”), the socio-political songs (“State of the World,” “Living in A World,” “The Knowledge”) and what Janet album would be complete without her sexy songs (“Waiting For Tonight”).

The Stats and Legacy

Rhythm Nation proved to be a global smash, reaching the top five, or top 10 of many worldwide charts. The album reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 in America and stayed there for four weeks. It also reached No. 1 in Australia, the top five in Canada and the UK, and the top 10 in Japan and New Zealand. All seven of the released singles charted in all of the major markets of the world with the massive success in Japan, Australia, and the UK. But it was in America that the singles had their greatest successes. All seven reached the top five of the Billboard charts, with the lowest charting song, “Alright” charting at No. 4. Four of the singles reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts: Miss You Much,” “Escapade,” “Black Cat,” and “Love Will Never Do (Without You).”

The Rhythm Nation tour was a trek for nine months that made stops in North America, Europe, and Asia and is still the highest grossing debut tour of all time. The Telegram and Gazette reported that over 2 million patrons attended the tour with many of the dates becoming instant sell outs. No artist has yet to beat her touring record. It was the only tour from a female artist in 1990 that made the top 10 of Pollstars touring numbers, eclipsing her rival Madonna’s Blond Ambition tour.  When numbers are adjusted for inflation, there is still no debut tour that has toppled Rhythm Nation from this long-standing record

Rhythm Nation stands the test of time. Without Rhythm Nation and what has come forth from it—the songs, videos, choreography, tour—many of today’s artist wouldn’t have anything to inspire them. Watch any music video from male and female artist and you will see how they incorporate moves, rhythms, and even themes into their work that Janet mastered decades before, and in most cases—better. So the next time you want to know why Janet is so lauded, listen to the Rhythm Nation album and find out. Tune into her videos. Watch the precise choreography that she and her dancers expertly execute.

 

 

 

The post The Business of Entertainment: Reflecting on Janet Jackson’s Almost 30-Year Legacy appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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Small Business Owners Ready to Hit Ballot Box Big Time in Midterm Elections

When it comes to the midterm elections in November, small business owners will be more registered to vote than the overall population.

That, at least, is among the findings of a new survey by Thumbtack, an online service for small businesses. The survey indicated 85% of small business owners surveyed report being registered to vote, versus 70% of all Americans signed up to vote.

Further, 93% of small business owners who are registered to vote say they “definitely” or “probably” will do so, while only 88% of registered voters nationwide say the same, a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll shows.

The survey showed 17.1% of small business owner respondents reported the No. 1 issue in determining their vote this November is the economy and taxes. Some 5.8% named healthcare as their top issue, making those the most important issues for nearly one-third of small business owners. There are roughly 30 million small businesses in the nation.

“Small business owners continue to tell us they want their representatives to focus on the issues that impact their businesses and their families like the economy and healthcare,” said Thumbtack Head of Public Policy, Kellyn Blossom stated in a press release.

“Small business owners are going to be a crucial constituency for every campaign this November. They care deeply about what affects their communities and plan to turn out in large numbers to vote.”

Thumbtack surveyed 980 small business owners from late August and early September nationally in hundreds of categories, including electricians, music teachers, wedding planners, and wellness professionals to name few. Entrepreneurs were asked about their voter registration status, plans to vote in the upcoming election, and the issues guiding their political preferences.

Additionally, Thumbtack and the Small Business Roundtable are partnering to make sure business owners’ voices will be heard this election.

The Small Business Roundtable is a membership-based group comprised of the Small Business Entrepreneurship Council, National Association of Women Business Owners, National Association for the Self Employed, U.S. Black Chambers Inc., National Small Business Association, and Asian / Pacific Islander Chamber of Commerce & Entrepreneurship.

 

The post Small Business Owners Ready to Hit Ballot Box Big Time in Midterm Elections appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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Hungry to Start a Food Truck? Get Your Business Road Ready with This Guide

For food lovers with the Midas Touch in the kitchen and ambitions of being their own boss, opening a restaurant would be a dream.

A really, really expensive dream. But there is an option that is slightly less pricy: running a food truck business.

While operating your own food truck will obviously still be a major investment, they’re typically cheaper than brick-and-mortar restaurants for a couple of reasons, including not having to sign a lease or employ a large staff.

But what exactly does it take to open and maintain your own food truck? I went to a seminar hosted by Tampa Bay Food Trucks to find out.

The company doesn’t actually own or operate any of its own food trucks. Instead, the it serves as a source of information and resources for local food truck owners.

Its network consists of over 170 food trucks and aims to help them generate as much revenue as possible by organizing events and alerting them to locations and catering opportunities. They also assist with the buying, selling and modification of food trucks.

Michael Blasco, TBFT’s chief eating officer and speaker at the seminar, wants to help potential food truck owners avoid making the same mistakes over and over, à la “Groundhog Day.”

While I can’t possibly impart everything I learned during the TBFT seminar, I can share some of the major tips, tricks and information I learned from Blasco.

Startup Costs

Michael Blasco poses for a portrait.
Michael Blasco, Tampa Bay Food Truck’s chief eating officer, teaches a seminar on the food truck business. He is pictured during a dinner break at a seminar in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, September 23, 2018. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula for determining startup costs in the food truck business, but let’s go over some of the major costs and decisions you’ll face in the beginning.

Truck vs. Trailer

Obviously, if you want to start a food truck business, this will be one of your first major startup costs. But do you want to go for a full-blown truck or a trailer? Your budget will play a major role in this decision.

You can find used food trucks with price tags between $ 15,000 and $ 60,000. But remember, you get what you pay for. You might be able to snag a truck on the low end, but if it’s in bad condition you could end up forking out double what you paid for it in repairs.

When shopping for used trucks, consider how much it will have to be modified to fit your needs and meet local health and fire regulations. The food truck is, after all, a vehicle, and your business will suffer if it can’t reliably get you from point A to point B. And if the truck is in the shop, that means your business isn’t making money.

If you’re willing and able to splurge, brand new food trucks will typically cost between $ 80-$ 100K, including equipment. Forking over that kind of money is a hard pill to swallow, but it means you’d be getting a truck that is definitely up to code and customized to fit your needs.

On the other hand, you could spring for a trailer. Trailers are generally more affordable than food trucks, but keep in mind that you’re going to need a vehicle capable of towing them. You have to factor that into costs.

Wraps vs. Paint

People order food at the Lakeland Food Truck Rally.
People order food at the Lakeland Food Truck Rally. Chris Zuppa/The Penny

Regardless of whether you choose a truck or a trailer, you have to brand it. And your design can make or break you. We all know we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but let’s be honest — a really good design will naturally draw us in.

Painting your food truck will be the cheaper option, probably in the $ 1,000 range.

Your other option is a wrap, which is printed vinyl that will be adhered to your truck. These are considerably more expensive, running between $ 2,500 and $ 5,000.

You might balk at the price, but Blasco insists that wrapping a truck is the way to go. It can impact your sales upwards of 50%, he says.

Wraps are durable and will give your truck a clean design, which looks more professional to the consumer’s eye.

Remember, your food truck is literally a moving advertisement for your business. You have limited space, so carefully consider a design that will get your brand and name across clearly.

Blasco offers a few tips when it comes to placement.

Trailers typically ride pretty low to the ground, so your branding needs to be high enough that cars driving next to you can clearly see who you are. But for trucks, don’t put your name and information too high up, and definitely don’t put it on your serving window.

Generator

Brace yourself, because generator prices are a bit shocking: A proper food truck generator can set you back anywhere between $ 3,000 and $ 10,000. Yikes.

“Wraps and generators are like band-aids,” says Blasco. “It’s hard to accept how much they cost, but you just gotta rip it off.”

The type of food you’re serving and the amount of appliances you have will determine how many watts you’ll need to run on a regular basis. Do you need a refrigerator, freezer, fryer, stove, lights and an exhaust system? Oh, and don’t forget air conditioning.

Blasco suggests running propane when possible to avoid using too much electricity.

Don’t just consider the amount of wattage you need when generator shopping — consider also how loud the model is. Blasco warns that loud generators will deter customers and suggests they shouldn’t be louder than 68 decibels.

POS System

Sara Harper and Martin Restrepo order food at the Lakeland Food Truck Rally
Sara Harper and Martin Restrepo order food at the Lakeland Food Truck Rally. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

The whole point of your food truck is to sell your delectables to hungry customers, right? In order to do that, you’re going to need some form of POS, or a point-of-sale system.

Oh, you say you want to run a cash-only food truck? Blasco encourages potential food truck owners to rethink that plan.

Sure, cash-only is the cheapest option — all you need to do is buy a lockbox and you’re ready to go. But we are living in an increasingly paperless world, and people are less likely to be carrying cash. You could be missing out on potential customers by not offering card or mobile payment options.

Plus, a cash-only business means you won’t have anything to track your sales or inventory.  

Luckily for food truck owners, payment processing systems have come a long way, so you don’t have to sacrifice precious space with a clunky cash register. With some services like Square, all you need is an iPad.

This is another cost that can be considered both startup and ongoing. Depending on the service you choose, some costs you may end up paying include a monthly POS fee, card processing fees and mobile data fees.

Initial Product Inventory

Madison Bray eats nachos smothered in cheese sauce, guacamole, pico de Gallo and sour cream.
Madison Bray eats nachos smothered in cheese sauce, guacamole, pico de gallo and sour cream. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

This category goes without saying, but we’re going to say it anyway.

Some of your startup funds will have to go toward food, kitchen utensils, pots, pans, napkins, plates — the works.

Shop for products in bulk to save a penny or two, and consider potential food cost percentage when making purchases. You should aim to keep your food cost between 18% and 25% of overall cost.

A high food cost means low profit. But if your food cost percentage is super low, that probably means your prices are too high.

Operating Costs

Propane powers the Spontaneous Consumption food truck. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

We’ve already touched on a couple of ongoing costs that you’ll be facing as a food truck operator, such as inventory and card processing fees. Let’s go over some more, shall we?

Unless you’re going to be running a one man/woman show, you’ll have to pay for labor, aka employees. And consider some hidden labor fees, like travel time to and from location.

Some cities and states have health codes that prohibit food preparation within a truck, which means you have to use a commissary. A commissary is a licensed, commercial kitchen where you can prepare and store food; maybe you can even park your truck there overnight. But commissary use means paying monthly rent.

Some other recurring costs to keep in mind include:

  • Fuel — both propane and gas
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • Event fees
  • Marketing and advertising

Branding Is Key

Business cards sit at the window for Vanchetta Rolling Rotisserie during a Tampa Bay Food Trucks seminar in Tampa on September 23, 2018. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder
Business cards sit at the window for Vanchetta Rolling Rotisserie during a Tampa Bay Food Trucks seminar in Tampa on September 23, 2018. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Blasco stresses that in the early process of opening a food truck business, branding is everything. It’s even more important than the food.

“No one knows what or who you are, so presentation is everything,” he says.

One major tip: Don’t pick a name you have to explain.

Sure, you might have your heart set on “The Awesome Possum” as your food truck name, but if a customer sees your truck, what will they think you sell? That’s right. Their brain will automatically think you sell possum. And no one wants that.

On top of picking a clear name, Blasco stresses to all of the seminar attendees that you should pick a food theme and stick to it.

One food type means a smaller menu. A smaller menu means faster output, which results in more customers. As a rule of thumb, food trucks should aim to have about five main menu items.

When Joe Dodd first attended the Tampa Bay Food Trucks seminar, Blasco told him that his food truck would fail. His range of menu items was broad and the name, Taste Buddz, didn’t convey a clear theme.

Eventually, Dodd took the seminar’s advice and rebranded his business as Soul Food Street Kitchen, commiting to a clear name and one type of food. It paid off — his sales went up 30%.

A Day In the Life

Jacquelyn Hayes (right), and her daughter, Miranda Hayes, 14, serve customers
Jacquelyn Hayes (right), and her daughter, Miranda Hayes, 14, serve customers. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

We’ve covered a lot of the technical aspects of running your own food truck business; now let’s talk about the day-to-day life.

Consider yourself warned: Food truckers put in long hours, operate on a sporadic schedule and do it all inside of a sweltering truck full of cooking equipment.

On average, food truckers will shoot for 20 to 25 shifts a month, working double shifts three days a week.

When you’re working doubles, that means being up by 7 or 8 a.m. to get prepped and on site by 11 a.m. for a lunch shift, which will usually end around 3 p.m. Then you have to get everything cleaned and packed up, and head to your next location for a dinner shift. By the end of dinner and cleaning for the night, you probably won’t be home until 10 p.m.

Blasco says that the long hours and the heat are some of the hardest parts of working as a food trucker — that, and securing spots.

You could work with a company like Tampa Bay Food Trucks that helps you find locations and gigs. But if you’re operating solo, finding lucrative spots that you are legally allowed to sell at will be more difficult.

Let’s Wrap It Up

Cheerleaders hang out at a food truck rally.
Kassidy Lehner (center) hangs out with friends. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Get it? Like a food truck wrap? Please, hold the applause.

We covered a lot of information, but trust me when I say there’s a lot more to be learned about running a food truck business. We didn’t even touch on insurance, permits or any legal costs you might incur! But here’s a pro tip or two: Permits and regulations vary state to state, and your personal car insurance will not cover a food truck.

Hopefully, this information can at least serve as a starting point for any potential food truckers out there.

Ultimately, running a food truck is just like running any other business, even a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Preparing yourself with as much information as possible can only help you.

Kaitlyn Blount is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. If she ran a food truck, it would specialize in grits, and would be called Let’s Talk About Grits, Baby.

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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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