Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How The Wall Street Collapse Affects Black Businesses

Here are some main points from a recent article written by Cliff Hocke of Black Enterprise Magazine on how Black businesses are feeling the crunch of the Wall Street collapse:

With a $700 Wall Street bailout deal rejected in the House, one of the largest bank failures in the seizure of Washington Mutual, and an economic fate that is uncertain, African American entrepreneurs who were already feeling the squeeze are facing an even more stringent credit system.

"There is only a narrow vein of opportunity for blacks to obtain credit in even the most vigorous economic environment. This financial crisis worsens the plight of African American entrepreneurs as they seek to get credit," says Illinois Congressman Bobby L. Rush. Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection, Rush believes a bailout of Wall Street banks is required to stop further blockage of black businesses' access to capital.

A wrecked financial services industry could conceivably be rebuilt in a way to benefit black businesses. "It might be the opportunity for us to really recalibrate our American economy to include not only minorities, but also more women-owned businesses, which get little attention, little reward and very little resources," says Congressman Rush. "That might be the silver lining in this cloud. But we have to have a president who is committed to expanding the minority business community and who understands that access to capital is the main culprit in the denial of minority entrepreneurs the opportunity to be successful."

So what survival strategies can black-owned businesses pursue now? "For small or minority business owners, everything must center on preserving and building working capital, i.e., cash and liquidity," Boston says. "Business owners should generate reports on their cash position several times a week and forecast it realistically into the future. It doesn't matter how much receivables you have or how much revenue you are currently generating. The only thing that matters is whether or not you can pay your current bills. In the current environment, it is unlikely that you will be extended credit unless you have a very stellar record. So the wise strategy is to build and preserve cash to weather the hard times ahead."

For the full article, visit:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Are You Going To The First Annual African-American Internet Summit?

Plans for the First Annual African-American Internet Summit were announced recently by Target Market News. The all-day conference – the first such gathering of its kind in the nation -- will take place in Chicago, IL on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008 in downtown Chicago. The event is expected to attract 200 professionals from marketing, advertising, media and research.

The Summit will bring together leading consumer marketers, advertising agencies, and Internet-based companies in a long-overdue, comprehensive examination of how African-American consumers utilize the Web for information and entertainment. The latest studies reveal that the so-call “digital divide” between black and white consumers has disappeared, and African-American households are among the most desirable segment sought by Corporate America.

“It is more important than ever to thoroughly understand the relationship between the Internet and black consumers,” said Ken Smikle, president of Target Market News. “As marketers continue to shift budget and marketing strategies toward digital platforms, the competition for this audience will grow as well. Being well-informed and well-positioned to reach this $800 billion-dollar market will make or break the bottom line.”

Among the topics to be addressed by panels of experts at the Summit are:

- Case Studies: Reaching and Selling Black Consumers Successfully Via the Net

- The Latest Research on African-American Internet Usage and Preferences

- How Black-Targeted Media Is Incorporating and Adapting to the Web

- The Pros and Cons of Ad Networks

- The Most Popular Black Web Sites You Should Know About

- Measurement Metrics: Setting the Standards for Counting Black Web Traffic

- African-Americans and New Media: The Next Big Opportunity

- How the Web is Re-defining Advertiser-Media Relationships.

Information on the program details, registration and sponsorship opportunities can be found at www.targetmarketnews.com. Participants must register in advance and the exact location of the African-American Internet Summit will be revealed shortly.

Target Market News is recognized as the nation’s leading news and information source on African-American marketing, media and consumer research. The 20-year-old Chicago-based company publishes a daily online news bulletin, “The Buying Power of Black America” report, and TMN Magazine. It also hosts the annual Marketing to African-American with Excellence (MAAX) Summit, The MAAX Awards and the African-American Magazine Summit.

For more information, e-mail Target Market News at info@targetmarketnews.com, or call 312-408-1881.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Top 7 Hiring Mistakes for Startups

If you don't have a staff already, one day you likely will. According to Brad Sugars of Entrepreneur Magazine, here's what you don't do when hiring people:

1. Hire someone just because you know them. This means friends, former co-workers, family members or your own children. For a husband, this means hiring your wife. For a wife, this means hiring your husband. Even part-time. There needs to be a certain sense of objectivity and accountability in the workplace. Friends and family expect to be treated to a different standard--and they should. Away from your business, but never in it.

2. Hire someone to "help them out." Some owners have loads of empathy for workers on the rebound, or people in trouble. Being a "savior" to help someone may not help your business. Instead, hire someone who can add value to the company and its operations. Those are people who are eager and willing to go the extra mile. They also won't be in trouble or looking to take advantage of what always turns into a bad situation.

3. Take someone on as a partner because you can't afford to hire him. Business can be hard enough as a sole proprietor, but don't think it's an advantage to bring on a partner, especially if you can't afford to hire him as an employee.

If you do, you give up 50 percent of your company to someone who may or may not thrive in an entrepreneurial setting. An alternative is to outsource projects or work on a fee basis. Better yet, work out an arrangement at an advisory or coaching level. Then 100 percent of your company remains yours. Plus, it's easier to walk away if something goes wrong.

4. Hire someone to do a bit of everything. A "jack of all trades" approach is fine--for the owner. But the specific functions of a business need to be staffed with people who are specialists.

Instead of hiring one person to do the accounting and administrative work, think of this as two jobs for two different people.

The reality is most people simply don't have the skills or expertise to do a variety of jobs. The key is to find people with skills that complement your own, and put those people in specific jobs with specific roles.

5. Top-down hiring vs. bottom-up hiring. This method of hiring also leads to getting people on the team who are generalists vs. someone who's the right fit for a single job.

Hiring from the bottom up means filling specific roles with specific skill sets with people who will be doing jobs that are typically lower paying but take up large amounts of time. This frees you from having to do time-consuming tasks. It also gives people an opportunity to add value and expand their roles, which ultimately helps grow the company.

6. Not knowing what job you want to hire for. Just hiring for the sake of hiring, or hiring a generalist to bring some order to your internal chaos, is not a hiring strategy--it's just more chaos.

Clearly define roles for any new hires. Not only will you avoid hiring a non-productive person in an ill-defined role, you'll start attracting people who'll add real value to their role and your operation.

7. Hire for the job you hate. Earlier I said you should hire people with complementary skills. This doesn't mean you should hire someone to avoid doing what you may do best. In short, don't hire a bookkeeper when you know how to do the numbers--especially when your top line sales may be suffering.

For the full article, visit:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Is Your Mind Fixed?

Is it your goal to one day own a 5-star hotel in downtown San Francisco on the water with a view of the Bay Bridge? Are you so stuck on that concept that you will reject other viable business opportunities that practically fall into your lap?

What would you do if the opportunity came along for you to own a 3-star hotel in a small town in Arkansas? Or a 3-star hotel in the Mojave desert? Or even a hotel in the blistering cold weather of Minnesota? Would you turn these down just because they don't fit what you originally had mind?

Many entrepreneurs would, in fact, turn it down. Their mind is fixed on a business plan with very detail-oriented specifics. "It has to be San Francisco," they would say. "And it has to be by downtown and on the water." However, like most people who have their minds fixed and put all their eggs in one basket - they will likely end up with nothing.

Never forfeit a prime opportunity just because you have something else in mind that better fits your aspirations. Reaching your business goals is about making sacrifices and building stepping stones. This may require you having to live in a less desirable area, and even pursuing a less desirable course.

Be realistic and learn quickly that your big goals will take time to reach, and you will get there by setting smaller goals. Attempting to skip to the end, will only leave you with nothing at all.

Remember how we all had to take classes that we didn't like in high school. However, after a short investment of time and energy, it all lead up to the big graduation day. Imagine trying to graduate high school without having attended any classes. You will not be successful.

Business is the same way. You have to "pay your dues" by making sacrifices. True entrepreneurs recognize this early on, and will be happy to do so. They know that, in time, they will reach their long-term goals. Until then, they also know that their passion for business will keep them motivated.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Not All Lawyers Are Good Lawyers

Most people would agree that not all doctors are good doctors. Many complain about medical doctors who don't care about their patients, and who just randomly prescribe medicine.

Likewise, not all lawyers are good lawyers either. Many will put minimal effort into your case, and are really just out to get your money. I've heard countless experiences from entrepreneurs who have been misguided by lawyers and their so-called advice.

Remember that anyone can be a lawyer. All you have to do is pass the bar test. This, however, does not ensure that the person is actually good at practicing law - let alone, an honest person.

Here are some tips from the Microsoft Small Business Center:

1) Do some legwork. Simply put, don't let your fingers do the walking when it comes to tracking down competent legal advice. Ask your lawyer for a referral. Get references and do background checks. The more time you put into your search, the better your chances of getting a competent lawyer who's also suited to your business.

2) Be comfortable. Don't sign up unless you're completely comfortable with the fee arrangement and relationship. Make sure an attorney is worth what you're spending — agree only to a fee structure that suits you. Small-business owners are often asked to sign blank checks or retainer fees. Avoid doing this if at all possible.

3) Understand what an attorney is doing for you. The last thing you want is for a legal problem to bite you later because your lawyer neglected to file the documents with the right government department -- or, just as bad, did not let you know what the documents meant. To keep your relationship running smoothly, keep a written account of all interactions that you have with your attorney.

4) Insist on a good system of communication. Insist in advance on how and how often you should communicate. If you have to wait days or weeks to hear back from your lawyer, either you didn't relate your expectations well enough, or you have a lawyer too busy to take on your business. Give some thought to finding a new one as soon as you can.