Monday, December 31, 2007

Working the Graveyard Shift May Be Dangerous

Some scientists believe that people who work the graveyard shift are more prone to getting cancer. This includes people (like me) who like to stay up late working at home.

I found the following statement on Donald Trump's blog:

"Scientists suspect that overnight work is dangerous because it disrupts the body’s biological clock. In addition, a hormone which can suppress tumor development is normally produced at night. People who work nights also tend to sleep less. Not getting enough sleep makes your immune system vulnerable to attack, and less able to fight off cancerous cells."

The blog continues, "If this theory is correct, millions of people worldwide could be affected. Experts estimate that nearly 20 percent of the workers in developed countries work nightshifts."

I, personally, hope this turns out to be false information, because I am definitely a night owl and I know many others. To me, the night time is the best time for brainstorming and hammering out new ideas.

However if this theory does have some merit, I'll have to start going to bed earlier. Nothing's worth getting cancer!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Columbus, Ohio - A Great Place To Do Business

I must take the time to tell you about Columbus, Ohio - the fastest growing city in the midwest and the 15th largest city in the country. Columbus, the capital of Ohio and the state's largest city, is a very business-friendly town.

In fact, several well-known Fortune 1000 companies are headquarted in Columbus including: Nationwide Insurance, Bob Evans, Wendy's, Abercrombie, Value City Furniture, Schottenstein's, Big Lots, White Castle, Victoria Secret, Battelle, and the new Skybus Airlines - which has revolutionized the airline industry.

There are also several well-known Black companies based in Columbus including:

Glory Foods - the #1 seller of soulfood groceries
Triple Crown Publications - the #1 seller of urban novels
HBCU Connect - the largest web site for HBCU students and alumni
Who's Who Publishing - publisher of the Who's Who In Black (...) Books
Diversity City Media - producer of and - national online resource for Black businesses
Monarch Magazine - Lifestyle magazine for affluent Blacks

As you can see, entrepreneurs running their businesses in Columbus are surrounded by many other successful companies. Let's not forget too that Columbus is home to Ohio State University (OSU) - the largest university in the country with over 52,000 students.

Another great benefit about Columbus is it's geographic location, making it centrally-located to many other cities. For instance:

Cincinnati, OH - just 1.5 hours away
Cleveland, OH - just two hours away
Indianapolis, IN - just 3 hours away
Detroit, MI - just 3 hours away
Louisville, KY - just 3 hours away
Charleston, WV - just 3.5 hours away
Chicago, IL - just 5 hours away
DC/Baltimore - just 6 hours away
St. Louis, MO - just 6 hours away

Columbus also has a Black mayor, who has fought long and hard for affordable housing in the area. What does this mean for a business? Well, generally an area with affordable homes to live in, also has affordable office space for entrepreneurs to work out of. In many cities like New York or Los Angeles, this is non-existent.

Yes, in more ways than one, Columbus makes it easy for entrepreneurs to get started and to survive.

For more information about the city, visit: or

Thursday, December 20, 2007

When Family and Friends Attack...

You have a great business idea, and you want to invest money and time into it. The problem is you have to deal with one of the toughest obstacles that face minority entrepreneurs: family and friends.

They either don't believe in you, or they don't have the same passion about entrepreneurship that you have. They keep telling you that you need to get a "real" job. What should you do?

Well, you have to realize that family and friends that can't envision your business success is very normal and typical. Don't let this get to you. Keep focused on your ideas, and make it your goal to prove them wrong.

Be careful though! The last thing you want to do, is to waste a lot of time and money and have nothing to show for it. Make tangible moves, whereas progress can easily be shown. This will help you, in time, to win the support of people around you.

Whatever you do, be sure to avoid making spontaneous business decisions - especially when it comes to risking money. Weigh things out realistically. Do not give your family and friends another reason to come at you in a negative way.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

5 Steps For Black Entrepreneurs To Get Business Credit

It's been estimated that fewer then 10 percent of all entrepreneurs know about or truly understand how business credit works. So, lets first define what exactly business credit is.

Having business credit means that you have a line of credit (credit cards, loans, etc) separate from your personal credit. This essentially means that if you take out a business loan, it will only show up your business credit report - not your personal. In fact, anything you do on your business credit will only affect your business.

So the question is how do you get business credit?

1) Repair your personal credit. Although they are separate, you likely will not be able to get a line of business credit, if your personal credit is bad. This is because initially this is all a banker has to go on.

2) Open a business banking account. Be sure to do this at the same bank where your personal bank account is. This will allow the banker to see that you are a good customer. Make sure to open the account in the name of your company with a business tax ID, and try to keep at least $1,500 in that account.

3) Approach your banker about business credit. After months have gone by with a business account at the bank, now you can ask your banker about giving you a line of business credit. You may only qualify for $300 or less, but take it.

4) Utilize your credit line. If you were approved for only $300, this is okay. Use it every month, and pay it back every month. Within 6-8 months, they will likely increase it to $600 or more. Repeat the process, and you will one day have access to thousands of dollars.

5) Pay your bills on time. Don't mess up your business credit. You need to pay your bills on time. You can lose this line of credit, just as fast as you got it. Be responsible, and it will pay off in the long run.

Monday, December 17, 2007

How To Be A Great Public Speaker

On Donald Trump's blog, he reveals a secret of public speaking. He says, "If you want to learn how to talk on your feet, know your subject inside out so that you will never have to hesitate or bluff because questions will not surprise or stump you. You'll know every answer, and each question will give you a great opportunity to show how good you are and how much you know."

This is a great piece of advise. Don't become a public speaker, if you can not talk on your feet. Reading a speech or an outline is fine, but if that's all you can do - you're in trouble. Public speakers, like comedians, must be prepared for anything.

Trump continues in his blog, "Master your subject and know it cold. Work at it, read about it and discuss it with others. Dedicate yourself to working at it every day. Anticipate the questions you will be asked and practice your answers to them."

This is so true. If you are speaking to an audience, they will assume that you have mastered the subject. After your speech, you can expect very intriguing questions - and they will be expecting intriguing answers. You will embarass yourself if you can't respond in an intelligent manner.

Trump concludes, "Follow the example of great athletes who always train and push themselves to their limits. Accomplished athletes have great discipline and businesspeople should too."

Yes, being an entrepreneur and/or public speaker requires discipline. You have tons of competitors; If you want to be the best, you have to work on it every day!

Here are some great resources for speakers or those interested in becoming speakers:,, and

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Marketing Is A Science

That's right - a science. Marketing is all about conducting experiments based on educated guesses. Some say that marketing is an art because it's all about selling. But really its not all about selling. Marketing is mostly about research, thus the term "market research". When the proper research has been done, the product will sell itself.

One marketing professional once commented, "When you begin to formulate the type of marketing you will do, it involves the gathering of massive statistics. These stats, from validating a media buy to formulating the right message, graphics to the right audiences, are science at its best."

So what does this mean for entrepreneurs? Well, it means you should do two things when launching a marketing campaign:

1) Study or research your potential customers before you market to them. Do focus groups and conduct surveys to identify what customers think about products and services. Don't make any assumptions in marketing. For instance, don't conclude that just because there are a lot of kids in your neighborhood, that starting an ice cream store is ideal.

2) Experiment with different methods of marketing to consumers. Passing out flyers and business cards may or may not work for what you're promoting. However, you won't know if other avenues (newspaper ads, event sponsorship, postcard marketing, etc.) work, unless you try.

Just like any other science, marketing has no rules. There is plenty to be discovered. Push the boundaries, open new doors, and find what works for you! Think outside the box, and create another box if you have to.

I personally recommend and as great marketing resources to subscribe to.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

How To Engage A New Customer

You're a new company, with little to no customers. Your phone rings, and its someone who's very interested in buying your services or products. However, they're not sure about using your company because they've never heard of you before. What can you do to seal the deal?

Here's what you say: "Thank you so much for considering our company to help further your goals. We're going to make sure that you get results because we want your continued business, not just a one time transaction."

Then emphasize to them how committed you are to what you do, and how you started the company to fill a void. You may even want to give them some references of clients that are happy with your services.

Also, if you can afford to, give them a one-time 10% discount.

Whatever you do, don't start begging for their business. Stay confident, don't act desperate, and smile the entire time (even though they can't see you). All of this combined, should have a reverse psychological effect on them - and they will likely go ahead and do business with you.

If not, move on to the next customer. There are millions of them out there.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Being Positive Is Good, But Not Enough

It's good to be a positive thinker, but don't think for one second that that's all you have to do. Being a successful entrepreneur requires more than just having a optimistic outlook.

Some people believe that they should spend all their time listening to motivational speakers, staying inspired - and the rest will happen. This is false reasoning.

I don't care how motivated you are, you will not be successful until you become a hard worker. Hard work means putting in the time and energy that it takes to build a company. Some people say, "Don't work hard, work smart." Truth be told, you need to work hard and smart because building a profitable business requires genuine effort.

Don't be mistaken! I'm not trying to downplay being optimistic. I just think a lot of people are confused; they superstitiously believe that success is guaranteed to come to those who are "strong believers". This has been referred to as "The Law of Attraction."

The only law I'm familiar with in business is the "The Law of Productivity". Its all about getting things accomplished, and closing out each day with several tasks completed.

Ask any successful entrepreneur, and they will tell you that thinking positive is only a small factor of the equation. You have to get your hands dirty and get some work done.

Understand that there are no shortcuts in business. You can NOT take the elevator to success, you have to take the stairs - and these stairs are steep with no rails to hold onto.

So think positive, but also think realistically. Success is not coming your way, you have to go get it!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

California, New Jersey, and Washington DC Named The Worst States For Small Businesses

If you are running a company in these areas, be careful because your state government has been highlighted by Fortune Magazine as having the worst tax and regulatory climate for small businesses. Others in the top 10 worst states included Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York.

According to the same article, the best three states for small businesses are South Dakota, Nevada, and Wyoming.

What does this mean you should do? Should you move your business to South Dakota? Well, not necessarily. However, you may strongly consider moving to a state that is more business-friendly than the one you are in. For instance, Florida and Texas - which both are amongst the top 10 best states.

In 2006, I made the decision to move my company from California to Ohio - and I have seen a very significant difference. California was not a very business-friendly place at all. Ohio, although not in the top ten, has turned out to be a great place for my company.

Not only do I pay less business taxes now, but I also was able to find affordable office space (non-existent in California) and good employees willing to work for reasonable salaries (very sparse in California).

I guess it really comes down to how much your company means to you. Moving your company to a business-friendly state can mean the difference between you staying afloat or becoming another statistic.

Now, if you decide to stay in a state that does not cater to small businesses, it doesn't mean that you are doomed. Just fully understand what you're up against, and work hard to stay ahead of the game. At the same time though, blame no one but yourself if your business topples because you weren't willing to make the sacrifice of moving to a different state.

Here's the article link for your personal reference:

Friday, December 7, 2007

"Start Where You Are. Use What You Have. Do What You Can."

This quote from the late tennis champion Arthur Ashe has a lot of meaning for Black entrepreneurs today. Many of us are in situations where we have to launch our companies with minimal resources, such as money and time.

Arthur Ashe encouraged us to just use what we have to get started. Don't resort to not pursuing your entrepreneurial goals, just because you don't have an ideal situation. Lack of startup money is completely normal, and lack of support from family and friends is typical. Even more, not having a whole of time to invest in your ideas is a part of the challenge.

A thousand mile journey starts with the first step. So get it going, and watch your business grow. A slow pace is better than not moving forward at all.

This period that you are going through will humble you in the long-run, and will ensure your success. In the near future, you will look back and reflect on the times when you struggled and had little to work with. This will make victory all the more sweeter when you achieve it.

I highly recommend that you go and watch Will Smith's movie Pursuit of Happyness on DVD (or read the book). It's a great story inspired by the life of Chris Gardener - an African American entrepreneur who never gave up on his goals, despite his horrific situation.

If you've already seen this movie, watch it again.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Top 10 Conferences That Black Entrepreneurs Should Attend

Every year, tons of conferences take place in various cities across the country. These business conferences can be very useful avenues to network, and grow your business. I have tons of favorites, but here are my top 10 conferences that I think every Black entrepreneur should attend in 2008 (in alphabetical order):

1) Ad Tech:
An interactive advertising and technology conference dedicated to connecting all sides of today's brand marketing landscape. For more info, visit:

2) Affiliate Summit:
This conference addresses the latest developments and news in the affiliate marketing industry. Any company with a high-traffic web site should attend. For more info, visit:

3) African American Business Summit/Turning Point Urban Business Expo:
Delivers resources, information and empowerment to the small businesses that are the growth engine for America's economy. For more info, email

4) ANA Multicultural Marketing Conference:
This conference goes well beyond the basics to delve into the current role of multicultural marketing as well as where it may be headed in the future. For more info, visit:

5) Black Consumer Research and Advertising Summit:
This is the only industry conference devoted exclusively to African-American marketing, media and consumer research. For more details, visit:

6) Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference:
Features four days of business, motivational, and leadership seminars designed to empower and profit emerging and established minority businesses. For more info, visit:

7) Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit:
This four-day career enhancement conference creates an environment that promotes fellowship and encourages attendees to network, bond, share strategies, and learn from each other’s experience. For more info, visit:

8) FraserNet Conference:
This conference founded by George Fraser encourages global leadership network committed to economic development through education, training and empowerment for Black people. For more info, visit:

9) NAMD Conference:
This conference from the National Association of Market Developers communicates resources of consumer information, industry skill and expertise in the African-American consumer market. For more info, visit:

10) NBPRS National Conference:
This national conference hosted by the National Society of Black Public Relations is a great resource for those in the PR industry. It's also a great event for those looking to better understand public relations. For more info, visit: