Monday, July 21, 2008

"If You Build It, They Will Come" - Is This True?

Most of us are familiar with the popular movie "Field of Dreams" starring Kevin Costner. The 1989 film is best known for the voices that whispered "if you build it, they will come." The statement was made to Costner's character, encouraging him to build a baseball field in his backyard in order to get dead baseball legends to come and play.

Those words were so popular that 20 years later, many use the phrase in real life to emphasize to others that you have to build on what you believe in. They tell aspiring entrepreneurs that "if you build it [your company]...they [the customers] will come".

Is this true though? Do you just build a company and expect customers to show up? Absolutely not. You have to do much more than just build a company. To get those customers, you have to actually brand and market your company.

Think of it this way: How did you find out about the products that you currently buy? 9 times out of 10 - you either saw a commercial on TV, heard it on the radio, saw it in a magazine, clipped a coupon from a newspaper, saw a banner ad, or got an email promo. You also may have heard about it via word-of-mouth from someone else who learned about it through those outlets.

The point is that you did not telepathically come to know that a certain product existed, and that you could buy it. You were marketed to, and this is exactly what you must do to promote your own services and products.

Whether you are selling a book, opening a coffee shop, or starting a lawn care business - you must understand that customers will not just automatically come to you. They don't know you exist, until you market to them. You can spend $1,000 on your web site, $200 on business cards, and $500 on equipment - and still end up with no customers.

Early on, you must factor in what your marketing strategy will be and create a budget for it. If your marketing initiatives are not realistic or just plain non-existent, I promise you - you will fail in business. If you believe (like so many do) that you will get automatic customers when you start your company, the only thing you will get is automatic failure.

I'm changing the words, right here and right now. The new saying is: "If you build it and market it, they will come."

Monday, July 7, 2008

New Social Network Allows Professional African American Women To Connect Online is a new social network that enables professional Black women to "connect" with each other online. The site, which is free to join, gives African, Caribbean and African American women the ability to create a profile, view other profiles, and interact for business, networking, empowerment, entertainment and more.

Similar to Facebook and LinkedIn, Black Women Connect (BWC) has all the user functionality of a social network and more. The site offers the latest news, blogs, and events that appeal to Black women - and allows them to add their own content. They can create and manage public and private groups, and they can view and apply for the latest job opportunities from actual companies that are hiring.

Research shows that African American women are launching successful businesses at a faster rate than any other demographic. It has also been noted that more Black women than ever are assuming professional careers as leaders and managers at large corporations, and as work-at-home moms. BWC gives all of them the ability to share their resources, and network with others to provide the first global experience of its kind.

Most remarkably, the site is 100% free to use.

To join the site, interested ones should visit:

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Learn, Not "Burn" From Your Mistakes

We all have made bad business decisions. Some of them were quite dumb, others were just bad instincts. Maybe you lost money, wasted time, or even both. Despite this, you must recognize that making business mistakes is a natural part of building your career as an entrepreneur.

Here's the key: When you do make a business mistake, learn from it. Start by fully accepting the blame and responsibility, and not putting it on others. There are very few cases when you can place the blame on someone else other than yourself, and this is very easy to determine.

All you have to do is ask yourself: "Was there something I could have done to prevent this?" If the answer is yes, then it was your fault. If the answer is no (which it rarely is), then it wasn't your fault.

The point is that the minute you accept full responsibility, that's the same moment that you actually learn something valuable from your mistakes. As a mature adult, your brain is automatically trained to not make the same unwise decisions over and over again. However, your brain is waiting for you to admit that it was you who actually made the mistake.

Some people, however, end up "burning" from their mistakes. Instead of admitting that they were at fault, they blame other people or factors. They say things like "he screwed me over", instead of "maybe I should have looked closer at the contract." They say things like "he stole my idea", instead of "I should have better protected my idea through patents and trademarks." Or even "he didn't do what he said he would do", instead of "I should have gotten that in writing."

They "burn" from their mistakes because in the future when they face a similar scenario, they will make the same mistake again...and again and again. Why? Because their brain is telling them that last time it wasn't their fault, so there's no reason to proceed cautiously this time.

Please believe that the only way to grow in business is to learn, not "burn" from your errors. We all make bad decisions, but how we respond thereafter determines how successful you will be.