Monday, January 28, 2008

4 Characteristics of A Successful Entrepreneur

Not all entrepreneurs are successful. Many never see profitability. M. B. Aria, a business columnist, has outlined 4 key characteristics of successful business owners.

See how well you match up:

1) Self-Confident - To succeed in the highly competitive business world, confidence and trust in oneself is an indispensable trait. Self-confidence means trusting your own powers and capabilities. The world of entrepreneurship is not alien to failure and disappointments. To survive in such a cutthroat world, entrepreneurs must have the ability to look within themselves and find the drive and persistence to pursue their enterprise. An entrepreneur must have the gumption to face any adversity and tackle any problems that may be encountered in the world of business.

2) Risk-Taker - Being an entrepreneur means having the ability to trust your hunches and acting on them. Great business ideas sometimes start as a hunch which enterprising individuals acted upon. There is always the risk of loss in any endeavor, and entrepreneurs have just the right confidence to take calculated risks to achieve their objective. However, an entrepreneur’s risk-taking does not depend on luck, but on sheer effort and hard work.

3) Competitive – The world of business is a very competitive environment. An entrepreneur must be aggressive enough to pursue his goal despite having many rivals and competitors. An entrepreneur must know how to stay ahead of his competitors, either by introducing new ideas and exploring new ventures, all in the spirit of expanding his business.

4) Honorable With A Good Work Ethic – Although it is a fact that the business world is ruthless, the successful entrepreneur will strive to make every business deal honorable. The mark of a successful entrepreneur lies in a good personal work ethic that ultimately leads to good business practices, excellent reputation and good association with industry peers and business partners.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Stop Making Stupid Remarks

Too often I hear Black entrepreneurs saying stupid things. These are the same things that prohibit them from doing exactly what they want to be doing - making money.

Here are the top 4 things that you definitely don't need to be saying:

1) "I Don't Fly on Airplanes."
What! You don't fly? What if you have to meet with a client face-to-face? What about business conferences? Not flying on airplanes can be a great obstacle to your business success.

If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to get over your fear of flying. Do the research! It really is the safest way to travel.

If you get airsick, then you need to invest in some Dramamine® - a popular over-the-counter medicine for motion sickness.

2) "Banks Don't Give Loans To Black Businesses."
Wrong! Banks give loans to Black companies all the time. Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo all have special programs designed to help African American entrepreneurs. Even the SBA has several loan programs for Blacks.

The reason why you can't get a loan is because your credit is jacked up! You need to fix your personal credit, and then re-approach your bank about a business line of credit. I guarantee you that you will get a different response.

Here's a great example:

3) "I'll Be Rich In A Week"
Just because you have a good idea doesn't mean that you're going to instantly attain wealth. Pick any successful entrepreneur and they will tell you that it takes at least a year to make money off a good idea. In most cases though, it takes several years.

Getting excited and overly-anxious about becoming rich overnight makes you look and sound very immature. In addition, it will only discourage you when your unrealistic dreams are not realized.

4) "I Don't Do Business With White People"
That's the dumbest thing a businessperson could ever say, but some people say this because they want to keep their money within the Black community.

I'm all for buying and spending within the Black community. However, at the end of the day, you have to do business with the company that delivers the best product.

Support your community, but also support your company. You don't want your business to fail because you got caught up in some racial non-sense. Besides, there are services out there that may not even be provided by a Black-owned company.

It's been proven over and over again; Companies that embrace diversity reap benefits beyond just their bottom lines. It took white companies years to realize this. Don't make the same mistake they did!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Should Minority Business Owners Be Pessimistic About The U.S. Economy?

According to Black Enterprise Magazine, "A recent study sponsored by the National Small Business Association revealed that small-business owners are in the midst of challenging times."

The article continues, "Although minorities and women represent the fastest growing groups in the small business community, they were more pessimistic than the majority, believing the economy is worse (48% and 53%, respectively, compared with 43% of all business owners)."

Although times are turbulent for entrepreneurs, being pessimistic about it solves absolutely nothing. At the end of the day, feeling sad or mad won't change anything.

You must learn how to adapt, and this may involve changing the overall direction of your company. Usually though, it just means you have to become more creative with your ideas.

Remember that people still spend money during an economic crisis; they are just much more selective. So, you have to work harder (and smarter) to convince them to spend that money with you.

Also, attitude is everything. Having a negative attitude will almost always bring you down. On the other hand, being positive will allow you to see that when one door closes - another one opens. Everything happens for a reason!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Don’t Wait For The Phone To Ring

As an entrepreneur, you should not be sitting around waiting for people to discover you. You have to be proactive, and go get your clients. If you don't, someone else will.

Utilize services such as,, or even to find your prospects.

Once you have identified one, cold call them or send them promotional material through the mail. Remember that people generally don't mind a sales pitch, as long as its relevant to what they do.

Don't be intimidated by size either. Big fortune 500 companies (like Coca-Cola, Verizon, and Marriott) do business with smaller companies all the time. Most of them even have supplier diversity programs, whereas they allocate a certain amount of contracts to minority companies. This is where you fit in, so don't hesitate to reach out to them.

Stop making excuses; the opportunities are out there. You just have to go after them relentlessly. Get on the phone and start making contacts. In the words of Tommy Lasorda, "The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man's determination."

You have two options in business: you can either win or lose. So, play to win!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Don't Believe The Hype

More and more people these days are using hype to sell their products and services. I've seen this particularly with network marketing companies, who want you to join their sales team. However, I've seen it with other companies too (Timeshare resorts, etc).

In all actuality, there's nothing wrong with adding a little "spice of joy" to your sales presentation. However, some are abusing this to coerce people to buy into their concept. My advice is to be extremely cautious of this sales tactic.

For example, if a network marketer is "too happy" about you joining their sales team, something may be wrong - especially if they keep exaggerating about how much this can help your financial well-being.

Think about it, since when are other people that concerned about your well-being? The world is much too cold to be gullible. Anyone that happy about you joining them as an associate, is really only concerned about his/her own pockets.

I guess what I'm saying is this: There's nothing necessarily wrong with network marketing companies and other aggressive sellers. However, if you buy into it - do so because YOU want to and because YOU believe in the products, not because you were manipulated into doing so.

Also, never buy into something because you didn't want to hurt the other person's feelings. This is exactly how an aggressive seller wants you to feel.

Remember this too: A room full of people excited about a particular product or service is not necessarily a validation. This is often a sales tactic used to make you feel left out, if you don't get involved.

Don't believe the hype!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

How To Deal With Difficult People In The Workplace

It's inevitable. You are going to encounter difficult people in your business dealings - whether its your colleagues or customers. Elinor Robin, a columnist, offers some great tips on how you can deal with them effectively:

1) First, assess the situation. Is this really a difficult person or is he or she just having a bad day?

2) Set boundaries and limitations regarding what you will and will not tolerate from others.

3)Seek understanding regarding the difficult person's true motivation.

4)Know when to let go and move on. Your best option may be to withdraw from the relationship--even though that might mean quitting your job, divorcing your spouse, eating lunch alone or moving far away from your parents or grown children. We all get to choose whom we allow to take up space in our lives. Choose wisely.

5) Don't fight back or try to beat them at their own game. They have been practicing their skills for a lifetime, and you're an amateur.

In addition, she suggests that you do the opposite of what he or she expects. Change your response and avoid getting caught up in the cycle. Also, don't try to change them. You can only change your responses to their behavior.

To view the full article, visit:

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Learn How To "Click" With People

Networking is everything in business. You never know who's willing to help you get that contract, invest in your company, or even offer you some valuable advice.

George Fraser, an African American entrepreneur and powernetworker, has just authored a new book called Click: Ten Secrets for Building Extraordinary Relationships published by McGraw Hill. For those that don't know, George is one of the foremost authorities on networking and building effective relationships.

In his book, he reveals how you can connect with other people to realize your business and life goals. George shares the insider secrets that will help you to tap into the richest resource on the planet - other people.

I highly recommend this book (available at and, and I also highly recommend joining his organization at

Listening to George's advice has personally helped me become more confident and aggressive when meeting with people and sealing the deal.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Should You Have A Business Plan?

The answer is "yes" and "no". Generally in the beginning, you don't really need one. However, once your business has become profitable - it's not a bad idea to get a business plan. Here are 5 good reasons why:

1) To test the feasibility of your business idea.
A business plan allows you to do an initial test to see if your business is feasible and market ready. The business plan gives a detailed outline of what is expected from your business. It especially shows if there is any potential profit to be made over the long term. There are numerous websites that can help you put together an effective business plan, as well as companies that assist with the nuts and bolts of a plan. Having a professional assist you with putting a plan together can clarify whether or not it is a business that has potential.

2) To give your new business the best possible chance of success.
It is integral that financial objectives are clarified in your business plan. A business is only as successful as its customer service and its profit. Focus on budgeting and the market plan. These details will allow for a smoother startup, and ultimately help the business to sustain over time. By forecasting all eventualities in your plan, you can avoid surprises and be prepared for whatever might come.

3) To secure funding, such as bank loans.
Most banks want to get a sense that you know exactly what you are getting into and how your going to pay for it, before you go to them for a loan. A business plan will help them to see that you have thoroughly thought through your financial needs, your personal investment and pay back methods. Banks want to know that you are not in the dark about all the financial responsibilities of running a business. A well developed plan will show them that you are not a risk, but an asset.

4) To make business planning manageable and effective.
A clear plan helps to ensure your business is organized, efficient and effective. It is important to know in advance what is necessary to keep the business running smoothly. Having a plan also allows you to compare your initial vision for the business to the actuality of the business. This comparison will provide you with the information needed to not only adjust your business plan, but adjust your business to work better for you and your customers.

5) To attract investors.
Investors are always looking for new ventures to maximize their money or to help build a worthy cause. Having a stable and productive business could make you very attractive to potential investors who want to help you expand.

Investors want to see that your business is not just running well in the present, but can run well in the future. It is the future that will give them a turn on their investment. A solid business plan and determined execution of it is something that will peak the interest of potential investors.

Writing a business plan takes time and effort. But in the end, it may actually enhance the success of your business!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

How To Be Successful In 2008

The year 2008 is finally here, but what does it mean for you? It means that you have 366 days (a leap year) to make your impact on the world. Any mistakes you made in 2007 are irrelevant; so learn from them and move on.

Start thinking on a different level. Stop wasting time on small-minded thinking, and learn to think big. Do something that had you not been born, it would have never happened.

To accomplish this, here are my top 5 suggestions for 2008:

1) Be Sensible - Stop making plans that don't make sense, and learn to plan effectively and reasonably. Many entrepeneurs are not realistic in their goals, and this can bring your company down.

2) Be A Visionary - Learn how to imagine and visualize how your ideas will play out, and how they will change your life. Albert Einstein once said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge."

3) Avoid Useless People - Stop dealing with people who claim they can do something for you, but can't. Find the people who can actually help your business progress. Everyone else is wasting your time!

4) Stop Being Gullible - To many entrepreneurs are sucked into scams and schemes. Stop being gullible, and learn how to say "no".

5) Play To Win - Business is very competitive. Every year, thousands of businesses fold. Base all your business decisions on this. Remind yourself everyday that you do not want to lose. You want to compete successfully, until you are on top. In the words of Les Brown, "Its not over until [you] win!"