Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Leading Resource For Business Grants and Funding Expands Reach

The National Institute of Small Business Grants (NISBG) has recently expanded their efforts to educate entrepreneurs about real and legit grant opportunities. They are now taking advantage of several technological avenues to reach more people. In addition to their resourceful web site, they have launched a daily blog, a YouTube channel, and a Twitter account.

The blog ( publishes daily news, commentary, and tips pertaining to business grants. Readers can subscribe free via email and RSS to receive daily content that will help them better understand the grant-making process. Users have the ability can leave comments, questions, etc.

The YouTube channel ( features the latest online videos on how to obtain business funding. The unique collection of video content offers hands-on training on how to obtain business grants, loans, and venture capital. There are also interviews with various finance experts, and news coverage of relevant happenings in the White House.

The Twitter account (@BizGrants) features daily tweets and re-tweets of recent articles and press releases that are related to business finance and funding. Users can also use this to be updated about upcoming events, and to ask questions or leave comments.

For more details, visit:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Can Your Business Be Easily Duplicated?

Running a business that can be easily duplicated is dangerous. A competitor with more resources can come along, copy what you're doing, and then put you out of business. It happens all the time, and it's perfectly legal.

So what's the solution?

Well, unfortunately you can't just patent everything to protect yourself. The real solution is to lock it down. For instance, Wal-Mart does nothing more than buy items in bulk and sell them to customers at a discount rate. This is very simple, and should be able to be duplicated - but they have locked it down, making it extremely difficult for anyone to compete with them.

Here are 5 ways to lock down your industry and prevent your business from being easily duplicated:

1) Intellectual Property
Buy every domain name and register every trademark that's affiliated with your industry. Try to imagine what your competition might do, and get do it before they get to it. For instance, if you own a car dealership in Greenfield, Colorado - you will want to get,,, etc. You will also want to own the trademark for "Greenfield Cars", "Greenfield Car Deals", "Greenfield Car Discounts", etc.

2) Branding
One reason why other companies can't compete with Wal-Mart, is because they're brand is too powerful. Wal-Mart is always running an extensive advertising and PR campaign. You should do the same. If your clients see your brand enough, they will respect it - and will not easily shift directions when a new competitor comes to town.

3) Relationships
You must create and maintain close and professional relationships with your clients. This can be done directly and indirectly. Your clients should be more than colleagues; They should be friends and family. They have to know that you care about their success. If they feel this way at all times, it'll be hard for a duplicator to come along and recruit them.

4) Customer Service
Your customer service must be excellent and unique. Be different and creative, and offer your clients something they can't get elsewhere. Don't be greedy; Cut your prices if you have to. This alone can make it nearly impossible for a duplicator to compete with you.

5) Research
Always be in the habit of researching and brainstorming. Attend industry conferences, and read industry publications. You should always know about the latest developments in your industry, and should never hesitate to make the necessary adaptations so as not to fall behind. If a duplicator comes along with a more modernized approach, this could be very threatening to your company.

Friday, November 13, 2009

10 Tips To Search Engine Optimize Your Web Site

Search engine optimization, also know as SEO, is a great way to optimize your web site to receive tons of organic traffic. Companies pay anywhere from hundreds to millions of dollars each year for pay-per-click advertising, but if you're naturally getting traffic from the search engines - it's free.

Here are 10 things that must be actively implemented into your web site:

1) Title Tags: Label each page title with what that specific page talks about

2) Meta Keywords: Choose the top 10 keywords describing your business

3) Meta Descriptions: Write attractive sentences making people want more

4) Alternative Texts: Commonly overlooked, label your pictures with text

5) Inbound Links: Links from related (and credible) sites pointing to you

6) Anchor Texts: Should contain your top keyword: ex. Business Coach

7) Generic domain: If you sell cars, register, etc...

8) Sitemap: Search engines use this as a guide to all pages on your site

9) External Linking: Limit outgoing links from your site to 20

10) Keyword Ranking: See how you rank for each term weekly

It may sound easy, but it’s actually pretty complex and time-consuming stuff. If you don’t have much experience with web development and marketing (and are actually generating traffic), you should probably hire an expert to help.

I use these guys: The Affordable SEO Experts because they’re ranked on the first page of each search engine for the term “SEO Expert”, I know them, and they’ve been featured in Entrepreneur magazine.

It’s definitely worth it; it doesn’t get much better in this economy than free traffic.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

$25 Discount At

My service, which extensively distributes press releases to the African American media, is now offering a $25 discount until November 19th.

The service is an excellent way to get your press release sent to every Black newspaper, magazine, TV and radio station in the country - nearly 1,000 news outlets. This includes distribution to over 40,000 journalists and bloggers.

The base price is usually $150, but it's only $125 for the next week or so.

For $50 more, your press release will be placed on as an article. For another $50, your press release will be search engine optimized and mentioned to our 9,000+ Twitter followers.

Hands down, the service works! Over the past 10 years, we've helped over 800 clients and have distributed over 10,000 press releases.

For more details, visit:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Essence Lays Off Their Digital Team

First IAC-funded folded. Then, Ebony Magazine revealed that they are shopping for a buyer. Now Essence Magazine has laid off their entire digital team.

According to and Black Web 2.0, Essence (which is owned by Time Inc), recently re-launched their web site, and then announced that they would be laying off their web team (12-15 people) - citing budgetary reasons.

Essence is also letting go of some magazine staffers, with the exception of the managing editor, the deputy editor, and the photo editor.

In a time of economic difficulty, it's quite normal to hear that companies are folding or downsizing. Black media companies, like any media companies, are very dependent on ad sales for their revenue. Unfortunately, advertising budgets are always slashed by big companies during a recession.

Even companies like Black Enterprise, BET, and TV One are being affected.

The lesson to learn is to prepare for financial downturns even when times are good, and always minimize your overhead in advance. Don't wait until things get bad before you start implementing cost-saving changes.

For every peak, there's a valley ahead - and vice versa.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My Solution For The Airline Industry

Recently while on a  flight from Las Vegas to Columbus, it dawned on me how to single-handedly save the airline industry. They've already implemented alternative revenue strategies such as fees to check baggage, fees to select your seat online, fees to board first, etc.

However, they're missing one major opportunity. Here it is: Stop paying flight attendants.

That's right, stop paying flight attendants! Make them work for free. How will they get paid? Require every passenger to give the flight attendants a small tip - just $2 total per passenger per flight.

Airlines spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on flight attendant salaries. This expense can be completely eliminated, and the flight attendants will be thrilled because they will make more money.

Here's how:

The average flight attendant only makes about $9-$12 an hour, if that. However, if they are only paid via a mandatory $2 tip from all passengers - they will make twice that amount or more.

Think about it: Domestic flights are usually served by 1-4 flight attendants, depending on their size. A large aircraft that seats 150 people will make 4 flight attendants $300 that they can split to about $75 each - and that's just for one flight. Most flight attendants serve anywhere from 2-5 flights a day.

A small regional aircraft that seats only 50 people can make the 1 flight attendant $100.

Even if the flights are not full, flight attendants will still end up making more money.

In turn, the airlines will be saving hundreds of millions annually, and they can pass the savings along to the passengers. The passengers will be more then happy to accept cheaper airfares, and they certainly aren't going to complain about a measly $2 tip.

Now, tell me that wouldn't work!

Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Kanye, T.I. and Drake - Where's the Record Sales?

I'm not a huge fan of rap music. I do listen to it occasionally on the radio, but I haven't bought a rap CD since the 90's. On my Ipod, you may find about 20 raps songs out of the thousands on there. The rest of the songs are R&B, Pop, Alternative Rock, Blues, Jazz, Reggae, World Music, and Country (yes, Country).

Despite this, I pay close attention to the world of rap. Ludacris' foundation is a client of mine, and in the past I've worked with So So Def. Also, BET is a huge client of mine - so it's in my best interest to keep up with the latest.

One thing I know is that currently the biggest rap stars are Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, T.I., and Drake - all five get the most media coverage and the most airplay on urban radio stations. And arguably, they are the best lyricists.

What I find confusing is this: More than 50 million people in the United States alone listen to hip-hop and rap music. Yet, the albums of the top 5 rappers are barely selling.

Jay-Z's latest CD has barely sold 1 million copies; Lil Wayne (who had the biggest album of 2008) only sold 3 milion copies; Kanye West and T.I. have never had an album that sold more than 2 million copies; and Drake (the newest to the bunch) hasn't even been certified platinum.

I'm no music executive, but the numbers don't add up. Nearly 95% of the people who love rap and hip-hop are not buying their albums.

Now, the average person will say this: "Their sales are lost to pirated music and illegal downloads." I agree this may be a factor, but I don't think that 48 million out of 50 million people are doing this.

Pirating has always been a factor with music sales, and illegal downloading has been a factor for nearly 15 years now. Despite this, Tupac, Biggie, Snoop, Dr. Dre, Eminem, and the early 50 Cent and Jay-Z were all able to release an album and sell 7-12 million copies - not to mention MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice. Some of these guys have even done it more than once.

So where are the record sales today?

I think rap music, like many other genres, has lost a lot of die hard fans. I think people love to listen to it in their cars and dance to it in the clubs, but they are not motivated to buy it.

Rapper Nas claims that Hip-Hop is dead. I disagree. I don't think it's dead or will ever die, but I do think it's in a valley. To get to the next peak, rappers need to stop creating songs that people like - and start creating songs that people love.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Big Michael Jackson Payday

Sony Pictures paid $60 million for film rights to Michael Jackson's final rehearsal footage - an amount I originally thought was ridiculous. Their goal was to create a film that honored him, showcased his last few moments, and generate $100 million dollars in ticket sales.

Shockingly, it worked - and they'll likely be able to quadruple that.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge Michael Jackson fan, and I fully understand that he's an international icon. I just couldn't imagine a documentary-style movie about a dead entertainer making that much money.

Well, I was dead wrong.

In it's first five days, the film pulled in $101 million worldwide. $68 million was from overseas alone - including $10.4 million in Japan, $6.3 million in Germany, $5.8 million in France, and $3.2 million in China.

Of course, now Sony is extending the farewell performance film beyond its planned two-week run.

It's even being rumored that this film may gross more than the tour ever would have. Sounds like the big Michael Jackson payday has arrived.