Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Add This" To Your Web Site

There's a new free tool that you should add to your web site.

It's called "Add This", and it helps website publishers and bloggers spread their content across the web by allowing visitors to bookmark and share content to their favorite social destinations.

In other words, visitors to your web site can easily share your content to their friends and/or followers on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and other popular social media sites. They can also easily share it via email.

Not only is it easy to install, but it offers sophisticated analytics to help you understand how and where your content is being shared.

For more details, visit:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

90% of Your Potential Customers Should Respond To Your Advertising

Many would disagree, but my theory is that 90% of your potential customers should respond to your advertising. They may not necessarily buy from you, but they should be responding by either visiting your web site or contacting you for more details.

If this can not be said of your marketing campaigns, it's likely because of one of the following reasons:

1) You are marketing to the wrong audience.
Marketing to broad and general audiences is a classic mistake that many companies make. Every product and service appeals more to a specific group of people than to any others. Find out who they are, and find a creative way to target them in your marketing. Remember that not everyone is a potential customer, just the people within this group.

2) You are selling the wrong product.
If you are unsuccessfully marketing to a very targeted audience that should have an interest in your product or service, it could be that your product or service sucks. No one ever wants to believe this, but in many cases, it can be true. Conduct some market research, and ask your potential buyers for honest opinions. Even the most unique products and services can prove to be something that your potential customers just don't want or need.

3) Your pricing is off.
If your price is too high, people will feel that they can't afford it (even if they can). If your prices are too low, people will feel that your products or services might not be of good quality. Experiment and find the right price that people are comfortable with.

4) Your presentation is weak.
If your presentation is unprofessional or amateur-looking, it doesn't matter what you're selling - people won't buy it. Your web site, brochures, business cards, etc. absolutely must look modern and professional. If even if your actual product and services are up-to-par, consumers will penalize you greatly if your presentation looks like garbage. Don't try to design your own materials if you are not a professional graphic designer.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Small Profit Margin Can Be Huge

Many entrepreneurs will turn down a business opportunity because the profit margin may seem to be too small. Sometimes, this may be a good reason to walk away. Other times, it may be a reason to jump on board. In many scenarios, a small profit margin can be huge.

Believe it or not, but many Fortune 500 companies have very small profit margins. It's quite common for a major corporation to generate a billion dollars in revenue and net only 20% or 200 million.

Many would say that 20% is too low, but they are focusing more on the fact that 80% of their revenue is lost. First off, the 80% is not lost. It takes money to make money, and the 20% that is left over is still substantial.

Even if a company generated a 10% profit margin, this can still be a lot. For instance, if your company generated $1 million in revenue at a 10% margin rate - you still walk away with $100,000 in profits.

That may sound significantly less, but it's a whole lot more profits than most companies ever see.

Remember too that what you pay yourself on payroll can be included amongst your expenses. So your personal income is a surplus to what the company nets, which technically raises a 10% profit margin into 15% or 20% - depending on your personal salary.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Were Minority-Owned Businesses Shut Out of Stimulus Loans?

According to recent SBA data, the answer is yes. New America Media (NAM) reports that African Americans and Hispanics did not benefit much from Obama's $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act via the ARC (America's Recovery Capital) program.

NAM found that of the 4,000+ ARC loans where the race of the borrower was reported, over 91% went to white-owned firms. Only 3% went to Hispanic-owned businesses, and another 3% went to Asian- or Pacific Islander-owned businesses. A mere 1.5% went to Black-owned firms.

Overall, white-owned businesses received over $130 million in loans through the program, while Hispanic-owned businesses got $4 million and black-owned businesses less than $2 million.

In the states of Alabama and Arkansas (where there are tons of Black businesses), every single firm that received an ARC loan was white-owned. In eight other states, including Louisiana and Nevada, all but one loan went to a white-owned firm.

For more details, visit:

Friday, December 18, 2009

My Favorite iPhone Apps For Business Travel

The iPhone is a great phone and a very useful tool for business. The capabilities are great, and the apps available can sometimes be overwhelming. I specifically find the iPhone to be very useful for planning and managing travel.

Here are a few apps that I use and highly recommend:

1) Kayak - This app, modeled after the popular web site, allows you to search many airlines and travel sites all at once. Right from your cell phone, you can easily determine the lowest airfare, hotels rates, and rental car rates. Cost: Free

2) Negotiator - This app, released by, also allows you to search multiple sites for the lowest airfare, hotel rates, and rental car rates. In addition, right from your cell phone, you can negotiate for the rate that you want - often resulting in savings of up to 80%i. Cost: Free

3) Southwest - This app, from Southwest Airlines, is the only app that allows you to book and manage Southwest flights. You can also manage your points if you're a Rapid Rewards member. Cost: Free

4) Flight Track Pro - This app helps you manage and organize your upcoming flights. It stores your confirmation numbers, allows you to view live flight maps, and will notify you in advance (via push notification) if your flight is delayed or canceled. Cost: $9.99

5) Trip It - This app, from, is similar to Flight Track Pro, but also allows you to manage and organize your hotel and rental car reservations. It also stores confirmation numbers, and allows you to easily share your itinerary with friends and family. Cost: Free

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Disney's $25 Million Black Princess - Risky?

Critics say that Disney took a chance on diversity when they recently released "The Princess and the Frog" - their first ever animated film starring an African American princess. The film grossed $25 million in it's first week, and won national reviews.

I'm thrilled that the film did great in it's opening week, but I'm confused as to why critics are saying that Disney "took a chance" on diversity by releasing a film that caters to African Americans.

Disney has released several animated films with non-white leading female characters. For example, Jasmine from Aladdin (1992) was Arabian. Pocahontas from the film Pocahontas (1995) was Native American. And, Mulan from the film Mulan (1998) was Chinese. All of these films were huge box office hits.

So why would it be risky to release a film with an African American princess?

Not only is this country more diverse than it's ever been, but we have a Black president and African Americans are more accepted globally than they've ever been.

Even more, African Americans are the largest minority group in the United States with over 40 million in population, and globally there are billions more who are brown-skinned and would pay to see a Black princess on the big screen.

By grossing $25 million in the first week, the film proved that it will go on to easily gross more than $100 million in combined ticket sales and DVD sales worldwide. Over time, it may even escalate to more than $200 million.

It definitely won't be Disney's biggest movie ever, but it is on target to rake in a lot of money. Disney, I'm quite sure, knew this all along. But the critics should be ashamed for calling it a risky endeavor because it centered around a Black woman.

Just a little research would have easily shown that this film was huge before it even existed.

Monday, December 14, 2009

President Obama To Bank CEOs: "Lend Money To Small Businesses"

In an aggressive attempt to rebuild the U.S. economy, President Obama has made a public appeal asking the nation's banks to lend more money to small businesses. This request came shortly after meeting with executives from Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and more.

He boldly told the CEOs of these financial institutions that they have a moral obligation to help accelerate the U.S. economic recovery after the government bailed them out of a crisis that was "largely of their own making."

Bloomberg reports that in addition to freeing up more credit to small businesses, Obama is trying to revamp financial market regulations, and create a Consumer Financial Protection Agency to enforce rules intended to prevent abuses in credit-card and mortgage lending.

He aggressively said: "Around the table, all the financial-industry executives said they supported financial regulatory reform. There’s a big gap between what I’m hearing here in the White House and the [actual] activities of industry lobbyists."

I think Obama is very serious about his message, and I believe his intentions are good. However, at the end of the day, preaching morals and ethics to a bunch of greedy executives who run billion dollar companies might be pointless.

Furthermore, I think that reminding them that they created this mess in this first place will only insult them - opposed to encouraging them to show some accountability.

Only time will tell.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Down Side of Not Upselling

Upselling is simple.

If someone comes in your restaurant to buy a hamburger, you encourage them to also buy some fries. If someone comes to your barbershop to get a hair cut, you encourage them to also get a facial shave. If someone comes to your web site to buy a new desk, you encourage them to also buy a new chair.

Like I said - simple. So simple, that upselling is responsible for billions of dollars in extra revenue for business owners.

If you're not upselling, you're losing big because many times customers will impulsively accept your offer. The key is to make the offer sound irrefutable.

For instance, if you're selling a product for $100, feature a $25 upsell. $125 vs $100 for the total order doesn't sound like much of a difference to the customer. But for you, it can create an extra couple hundred or thousand dollars in monthly revenue.

If your prices are smaller, you can still use this concept. For instance, if you are selling a product for $20, you can feature a $5 upsell. Again, $25 vs $20 for the total order won't seem like much of an increase to the customer. But for you, it can be much a significant increase in revenue.

If you are strictly online, it's very effective to feature the upsell options on the check out page. For example, "Would you like to add the following product to your order for just $5 more?"

Experiment with it, and see what happens. It'll be well worth your time to at least attempt to make this work - whether you're selling products or services.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Optimistic People Live Longer Than Pessimistic People

Chances are that 2009 was not a very good business year for you. Likely you were amongst the thousands of companies that folded, or the millions that downsized to cut expenses.

Despite this, you have every reason to be optimistic about 2010. Why? Because life is full of peaks and valleys. When you're in a valley, there's a peak just ahead.

If you believe that things will improve, they will - as long as you continue to work hard to make it happen.

The reason why optimistic people live longer than pessimistic people is because optimistic people keep themselves alive. When faced with challenges, they not only think positive - but they act in harmony with it. Instead of giving up, they keep at it - and eventually they begin to see progress which motivates them to press on.

Pessimistic people, on the contrary, worry themselves into the grave. Their negative energy and lack of hope buries them fast. They develop health problems, low self-esteem, and before you know it - they've lost all their motivation. Recovery never happens because there is no environment for it.

No matter what happened this year, next year is a fresh start. 2009 was the year of the swine, but 2010 is the year of the grin.

So pick up your swagger, and make it happen.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How Minority-Owned Businesses Can Catch a Break

It rarely happens, but BusinessWeek magazine has recently published an article that is very helpful to minority-owned businesses. It's essentially an online guide that lists resources and organizations that minority and women entrepreneurs should make use of.

The services and organizations listed aren't necessarily new, but they're among the most effective in helping minority and women entrepreneurs boost their businesses.

Combined, minority and women-owned businesses, total to well over 10 million in the United States - making them a huge asset to the American economy.

The article discusses and lists relevant resources for financing, peer advisory, networking, mentoring & business planning, certification, government contracts, education, and more.

Resources listed that I wasn't aware of included Count Me In - an initiative to help women grow their micro businesses to million dollar enterprises; and Minority Angel Investor Network - a network of accredited investors with an interest and commitment to invest in high growth, minority owned or minority led companies.

For the complete list and article, visit:

Monday, December 7, 2009

The "Hook Up" Hurts Black Entrepreneurial Growth and Profitability

Long ago, it was discovered that African Americans don't support Black-owned businesses. Sadly, one major reason why is because too many people want the "hook up". Instead of paying for products and services, they want it free - whether it be family, friends, or sometimes even colleagues.

Alfred Edmond, Jr. of recently wrote a great column about this. He writes:

"One of the biggest drags on black entrepreneurial growth and profitability is the "hook-up": black people expecting other black people to provide them with free goods and services just because they're black. We need to stop it. Today."

I completely agree. I've seen this a million times. People forget that the whole point of being in business is to make money. Instead of supporting a Black-owned business, they want a freebie. Not only does this hinder a Black-owned business from growing, but it can also make them go out of business faster.

Edmond further writes:

When I find a Black entrepreneur or professional who provides goods and services I like, I pay for those goods and services — period. I know that there are costs associated with providing a service and making a product, a cost they can only recoup by selling at a profit. I don't want them to hook me up with free stuff. I want to hook them up with my spending, because then they can really hook me up, by creating jobs, growing the local tax base, supporting community organizations, doing business with other black entrepreneurs and professionals - or just having enough money and a predisposition to reciprocate, to buy goods and services from me and mine.

For the full article, visit: