Thursday, April 24, 2008

How Entrepreneurs Can Beat The Recession

President Bush calls it an economic "slowdown", but those affected call it a full-blown recession - and rightfully so. Major airlines have folded, hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs, gas prices are "through the roof", and the national foreclosure rate is at its highest ever.

In addition to all of this, small businesses across the country are drastically losing customers who no longer have money to spend with them. Black-owned companies, in particular, are affected the most. They have access to the least amount of resources to help in a situation like this, and they are not priority enough for any federal aid.

So, what can you do to beat the recession?

1) Increase your marketing. Buy in to low-cost solutions that are effective, and will drive customers your way. Consider classified advertising, press release distribution, search engine marketing, and directory advertising (Yellow Pages,, etc).

2) Consolidate your staff. No one likes having to let people go, but sometimes you have no choice. Reserve your most productive employees, and have them take on more responsibilities.

3) Break out the coupons, and buy in bulk. Subscribe online to receive coupons and discount offers from Office Depot, Office Max, and/or Staples. This will help you save money on your office supplies. Also, considering buying bulk from Sam's Club - which has a special membership for small business owners.

4) Cut costs when traveling. Instead of staying at the luxurious 5-star hotels like Marriott or Hyatt, consider staying at a 3-star hotel like Hampton Inn, La Quinta Inn, or Comfort Inn. In addition, try buying your airline tickets months in advance for conferences you plan to attend.

If you need to bring staff, this can be very expensive. Consider hiring someone locally where your event will be held. You can pay them for the day, and can train them on-site to work your booth.

5) Become more creative. Now is the time to really start thinking outside the box. Be unconventional. Remember that the solution to staying afloat during difficult financial times is there; you just have to find it. Meditate on new concepts, and reinvent old concepts.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Don't Allow Your Personal Issues To Run Down Your Business

Whatever is going wrong in your personal life (marital issues, problems with kids, sickness or death in the family, etc.), you must learn to keep this away from your business affairs.

If not, your company will be adversely affected and it will begin to manifest itself in many different ways. Your productivity will slow down, your creativity will diminish, and your profits will drop. Even worse, you will be unmotivated to do anything about it.

Consider this experience from Linda Finkle, an expert on organizational communication:

Many years ago I was dealing with an issue that involved one of my children. It was a difficult and very challenging time for me and the rest of my family. A few close friends knew, but I felt that I couldn't or shouldn't let others know... Then one day, a client told me she thought I wasn't interested in her as a client anymore. When I asked why, she confided that I seemed distracted when we met and that I didn't send her emails or respond to her as I had in the past. I realized that while I thought I had myself under control, I didn't.

Finkle advises, "During difficult times, size up your work load and priorities. Focus on what must be done and let everything else go. Make a point of reminding yourself that you can't do it all, and only the things that absolutely must be done will get attention."

She continues, "Ask for help from others and accept it graciously. For some reason, most people are hesitant or embarrassed about asking for help. It is during these times that we need others the most, so don't deprive yourself during these difficult times. And remember to take time for yourself. Going through a trying time will wear on you emotionally and physically, so take time to go to the gym, play golf, read a book or take a long, relaxing bath."

In addition to this, my advice is to learn to compartmentalize, that is, to separate your mind into isolated compartments or categories. This way, the personal issues you are facing will only have an impact on your personal life - and vice versa.

We all have problems and we all face difficulties from time to time. Its a part of life. However, a successful entrepreneur knows how to simultaneously weather the storm and keep his/her business both afloat and profitable. This is easier said then done, but it can be accomplished.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Are You Going To FraserNet?

FraserNet is a global leadership network committed to economic development through education, training and empowerment for African American entrepreneurs.

Led by George Fraser (author of Click: Ten Truths For Building Extraordinary Relationships), their focus is to train, educate and equip Black people with new skills, new thinking, and new approaches for personal, professional and financial success in the 21st century.

The annual FraserNet conference will be held June 18-21 in Atlanta at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Featured speakers include Les Brown, Janice Howroyd, Bob Johnson (BET), Dennis Kimbro, Susan Taylor (ESSENCE), and more.

I have personally attended this conference, and I highly recommend it to everyone I know. You will meet a lot of good contacts, and will learn a lot.

Topics to be covered include:

+ How Your Personality Provides The Keys To Entrepreneurial Success
+ Tools You Need To Take Your Company To The Next Level
+ Magnetic Marketing: Key To Getting Business To Come To You
+ Keys To Writing A Winning Proposal: Turn Your Concepts Into Cash
+ Keys To Success That Every Beginning Speaker Must Know

For more information about the event, visit:

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Does Your Web Site Sell?

Did you know that over a billion dollars in sales transactions occur online every single day? Companies like Ebay, Wal-Mart, and Best Buy generate millions in daily sales from their web sites alone.

Ramon Ray, a columnist for, says that your web site should be your best salesperson. He encourages entrepreneurs to transform their website into a sales representative.

"If you think of your website as a salesperson, you'll begin to think of it as more than just a glorified brochure. You'll even want it to be better designed, since you probably want your sales reps to look good," he says.

Here are some good questions to ask yourself:

1) Does your website know everything about your business that it should?

2) Do you measure your website's success (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually)?

3) Do you offer your website "training" on your business fundamentals, new trends or economic changes in your local market or in the national business climate for your industry?

4) Does your website have all your current products, services and pricing?

Ray adds, "Remember your website is probably one of your best--if not the best--sales assets you have. If nurtured and taken care of, it will boost your sales and grow your business, just like a human salesperson."

For the complete article, visit:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Interesting Study About Black Enterprise Magazine

I've blogged before about how important it is to subscribe to Black Enterprise Magazine. I, personally, have found the magazine to be extremely beneficial in contributing to my bottom line. However if you're still not convinced, consider the following research:

A Howard University student recently combined passion with entrepreneurship and interest in Black Enterprise magazine to earn a graduate degree. Quinn Conyers successfully defended her thesis, “The Focus of Black Enterprise magazine after the Civil Rights Movement” on the campus of Howard University in Washington DC.

Studying Black businesses as a focal point of scholarly investigation has been a largely under-examined field in academia. Conyers decided to examine the magazine because of her enthusiasm in business ownership and interest in the Civil Rights Era.

Looking at the August anniversary issue of the magazine from 1970 to 1980 allowed her to examine the following research questions. What needs did BE define as motivation to launch its magazine? How did BE address those needs through the magazine? In what specific ways did the magazine facilitate and stimulate entrepreneurial development?

Using Historical Descriptive Analysis as a methodology, Conyers concluded that the magazine upheld its original mission of providing resources and information to Black entrepreneurs and professionals. She also found that the magazine was socially responsible by highlighting unfinished Civil Rights business.

Her study concluded by noting Black Enterprise magazine added to the forward mobility of Blacks in the areas of wealth building, personal finance, higher education and business ownership.

For more information about the study, contact Quinn Conyers (who is also the founder of Speak2Society LLC a professional speaking firm specializing in entrepreneurship and motivation) at or 610-960-6903

To subscribe to Black Enterprise, [Click Here]

Monday, April 14, 2008

How Was Your First Quarter?

In case you hadn't noticed, the first quarter of 2008 is over. That's right; one fourth of the year has already passed. We are well into the second quarter.

While the first quarter can be a good indicator of how the rest of your year will be, it really depends on the nature of your business. The key is to start the assessment now. Don't wait until the end of the year to start measuring how well business did.

If you had a tough time in the first quarter, it may be a good time to adjust your strategies. With a failing economy and the distraction of the presidential election, entrepreneurs must get creative to engage consumers. People are not easily spending money these days, so you have to come up with some unique concepts.

The words "free", "discount", "sale", and "special" are especially important these days to use in your marketing campaigns. Make people feel that they are getting a bargain.

Also, now is a good time to enhance your people skills. In a time of uncertainty, consumers are more likely to do business with people they know and trust. So, stay in contact with your potential customers - as well as your existing customers. Make them feel comfortable with you as a seller or service provider.

If the first quarter was good for you, it may be a good time to figure out how to keep the momentum going. Don't assume that the rest of the year will yield the same results. Continue to be proactive.

Whatever you did to create success, you must learn how to duplicate that over and over again. Sometimes a good idea can go stale. This means you have to learn to reinvent your ideas. Use the same ideas, but with a different twist.

In addition, learn how to up sell your customers. If you were able to generate significant revenue from a customer base in the first quarter, you should be able to do this again with the same customers in the second through fourth quarters. Find out what they need and want, and give it to them. Create customer loyalty. Remember that 75% of revenue from the average company is based on return customers.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Got An Opinion? Share It

The best way to get free publicity for your company is to write weekly, bi-weekly or monthly columns. Every newspaper, magazine, web site and blog needs content. If you're sending them high-quality content for free, its very likely that they will use it.

Everybody wants to hear your opinions, especially if its controversial and refreshing. So whatever your expertise may be, use this to express yourself. If you are a business expert, write columns to express your viewpoints on the latest business issues that affect entrepreneurs. If you are a relationship expert, write columns with tips on how to keep a strong marriage. If you are a health expert, write columns to discuss the latest happenings in the health industry.

When you write your columns, be sure to include a tagline. A tagline is a brief statement at the end of your column that describes who you are, what you do, and usually includes a phone number and link to your web site.

When distributing your columns, be sure to fax and/or email them to the correct editors at various media outlets. Be sure to specifically target publications and journalists that are related to your industry. For instance, don't send a sports-related column to a health journalist.

Also, post your columns to FREE sites like,,, and These are web sites that thousands of editors and publishers go to when looking for free content.

Depending on your budget, consider distributing your columns as actual press releases through newswire services such as and

Doing any combination of these suggestions will almost guarantee you free publicity. Your phone should ring off the hook, and you should be able to drive more traffic to your web site to sell more of your books, DVDs, etc.

The key to making this a success though comes down to three words: High Quality Content. If you take the time to invest in some real meaningful juicy content, you will reap the benefits almost overnight.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Stop Saying "Hits"

Nobody cares how many hits your web site gets. Nowadays, its all about how many monthly unique visitors you have. Consider the following from a recent article on

A "hit" is not a visitor to the web site, but a hit on the web server. A hit on the web server can be a graphic, java applet, the HTML file, etc. So, if a site has 79 small graphics on the page, every visitor to the site registers as 80 hits on the server (79 graphics plus the HTML file). In this case, 80,000 hits translates to just 1,000 visitors.

Now ask yourself this: If I were interested in someone else's web traffic, would I be interested in their "hits" or their actual unique visitors?

From now on, stop using counters to measure your web traffic - as these only measure page views. Use a web traffic analysis program (such as Google Analytics) that will give you the number of actual visitors and other vital information such as where visitors are coming from, what paths your visitors are taking, and which pages are the main exit points of your site.

Occasionally, some advertisers may be interested in how many page views your web site can generate. This is because they want to know how many times their banner ads will be displayed, even if its displayed more than once to the same person. Regardless, this is much different from a "hit" - which I promise you, means absolutely nothing.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

You Don't Have To Be A Pilot To Start An Airline

You may respond to this by saying "I'm not interested in starting an airline." Well, neither am I. The point of this blog is to emphasize that you do not have to possess industry skills, to start a company in the industry.

In other words, if you want to start an airline - you do not need to learn how to fly. If you want to start a software company, you don't have to be a programmer. If you want to start a catering company, you don't have to be a chef.

The only thing you need to know in these scenarios, is how to find and manage a pilot, a programmer, and a chef. And of course, it would be good to at least understand how these different industries work.

Too often though, entrepreneurs will come up with a great idea for a business, but dismiss that idea after they realize that they don't have the needed skills. Well, with the exception of certain cases like Bill Gates who was a programmer who started a software company - most scenarios are quite the opposite.

For instance, Collett E. Woolman, founder of Delta Airlines was not a pilot. Also, Pierre Bellon, founder of Sodexho (a large catering and food services company), is not a cook - and has never been one.

Broaden your sense of thinking when it comes to business. While you should pursue business endeavors that interest you, don't just stick to ideas that encompass your skill level.

Running a successful business is about management and marketing. Manage the people who have the skills, market those skills to potential customers, and go down in history as a successful businessman or businesswoman.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Is Your Company Green?

No, I'm not asking if your company is environmentally safe or if your company uses organic products. Nor am I asking if your company recycles plastic and cardboard. I'm asking whether or not your company is money green. Do you actually make money? Is your cash flow flowing?

Believe it or not, I meet minority business owners all the time who have lost sight of this very goal. They start off with the idea of generating revenue, and then they end up just casually floating around.

I see them at conferences and such, and they are just there for the association. Others believe they are making money, but they really aren't.

Does this describe you? If so, you need to find a way to get back on board the train of success and profitability. Thousands of African American entrepreneurs are generating billions of dollars in business revenue every single year. Unless you are running a non-profit organization, you should be generating a steady cash flow.

Here are some tips on how to keep your company green:

1) Stay focused. If it doesn't make money for your company, then minimize your time with it. Too often, entrepreneurs waste time doing things that do not contribute to their bottom lines.

2) Stop making excuses. Some businesses can rightfully blame the economy as the reason why they're not making money. More than likely though, you can't. The reason why you're not making money now is the same reason why you weren't making money when the economy was booming. Whatever that reason is, that's what you need to address.

3) Learn to adapt. If it is so that your business has been highly affected by the current status of the economy, find out how people have shifted their spending habits. You may be selling something that people want, and you may need to shift to selling something that people need.

4) Stay in contact. One thing I learned just recently is that if you stay in contact with your industry leaders, you will make more money. It happens all the time: People are handed contracts just for being at the right place at the right time, or for knowing the right person.