Thursday, May 27, 2010

So I've Changed My Mind About Facebook...

Up until recently, I hated to use Facebook for business purposes. I preferred to limit it to just personal use only - strictly to share photos and content with friends and family. So, whenever my colleagues and clients would attempt to "friend" me, I would ignore their request if I didn't have a personal relationship with them. My hopes were that they would connect with me on LinkedIn instead.

But I've changed my mind recently. People are not as active on LinkedIn, and Facebook has stolen the show in the world of social media. Even more, I realized that I can use it effectively for both personal and business connections by creating two accounts - a professional one and a friends/family one.

The truth is that Facebook is not a phase. People are making it a part of their daily routines, and it only makes sense to utilize it as a tool to strengthen your business. What I like most about it, from a business point of view, is that it's an extremely easy way to stay in contact with potential and existing customers.

So, if you previous attempted to connect with me in the past - try again, and I'll accept.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Urban Financial Services Announces Its Small Business Track At The 36th Annual Conference

Urban Financial Services Coalition (UFSC) has announced their Small Business Track to be held at the 36th Annual International Conference is set for Friday, June 11, 2010 at the Hyatt Regency - Crown Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

The conference themed, "Charting Your Course for the New Economy", has been designed to give hundreds of entrepreneurs an opportunity to convene and discuss the ongoing changes in the financial services industry that affect their personal and professional lives.

The Small Business Track targeted at new and seasoned business owners will feature workshops, speakers, and events carefully selected to create an environment conducive for networking, knowledge transfer and opportunities for business growth. This powerful program will equip, inspire and motivate business owners to take their company to the next level. A full day of workshops will kick-off with a plenary session at 8:00 am and wrap-up at 5:00 pm.

Topics include:
* Positioning Yourself for the Loan (Small Business Underwriting)
* Bonding fundamentals - How Bonds Work and How To Get Them
* Preparing To Do Business With Large Corporations
* Never Laid Off - Become Self-Employed
* Minority Certification and Procurement Opportunities, including "Doing Business with the FDIC"
* How to Get Access to Capital
* Government Stimulus Opportunities

UFSC, formerly known as the National Association of Urban Bankers, is an international organization of diverse professionals in the financial services industry and related fields with 23 chapters throughout the United States and Canada. The organization promotes the personal and professional development of its members and improvement in the financial condition of ethnically and culturally diverse communities through education, home ownership and local economic development. More information about UFSC and the 2010 conference is located at

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wal-Mart Selling iPhone 3GS For $97

If you haven't switched from the Blackberry to the iPhone yet, now is your chance.

Wal-Mart stores are now selling the 16GB version of the iPhone for just $97 with a two-year AT&T contract. The deal is available only in stores, not online.

The iPhone has been the best-selling mobile device for at least two years because of it's simplicity and it's game-changing innovation.

Technology experts say that this is a sign that a newer iPhone model is on the way, but the 3GS model is still a very good model to have. Not only does it work on a 3G network, but you have access to thousands of useful apps that can turn your cell phone into a mini-laptop.

I've always recommended the iPhone for entrepreneurs versus the Blackberry or Droid. It's definitely the best of the three as far as functionality.

At the same time, however, I understand why many haven't made the switch. AT&T's 3G network can be very slow with low coverage and dropped calls in many areas. I've personally had trouble in cities such as New York, Columbus, and remote areas of Los Angeles.

But if you can get past that or if you happen to live in an area with a strong AT&T signal, the iPhone is an extremely useful tool to have in your possession.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Should You Take Pictures With Celebrities?

Depending on where you live, it can be very common for celebrities (singers, rappers, actors, models, politicians, etc) to attend the same business conferences and networking functions that you attend. Many entrepreneurs, in order to validate themselves, think it's a good idea to take pictures with these celebrities and post them on their web sites or blogs for others to see.

Honestly, there's nothing wrong with this, but here's something to think about:

While you were taking a picture with Tom Joyner or Denzel Washington or whoever, did you blow an opportunity to really network with them? Did you undermine yourself by being labeled a "fan", when you could have been labeled a "potential business partner"?

Remember that those who succeed in business are often the ones who learn to be different. So when everyone else is asking for a picture, why don't you try to be more innovative and productive?

Why not initiate a meaningful conversation about business, the economy, their industry, etc? A celebrity is human just like you - they have challenges and are always looking for solutions. So ask them about their challenges. Ask them about their opinions. If relevant, ask them if there are any services that they are looking for to enhance their careers. Most importantly, ask for a business card.

Being just another person who wants a picture with a celebrity will make you very easy to forget. On the contrary, it's very easy to remember the person who struck up an intellectual conversation and said something worthwhile listening to.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

New Web Site Educates Entrepreneurs About Business Credit

Business owners and entrepreneurs looking to better understand how to obtain business credit can now log on to The web site is a free comprehensive resource that features the best tips and guidelines on how to get access to business loans, business credit cards, and business lines of credit. Visitors are also educated about business credit reports.

Launched by the National Institute of Business Credit (NIBC), a virtual organization made up of global contributors and researchers, the site is very helpful for both aspiring and established business owners. It features well-written informative articles, descriptive how-to videos, exclusive listings of useful resources, and detailed comparison charts of options offered by different banks.

In a down economy, millions of entrepreneurs face roadblocks and challenges when opening new lines of credit and/or maintaining their existing ones. More than ever before, banks and credit card companies are closing accounts, minimizing their spending limits, and/or denying applications. Despite this, with the proper education, a business owner can survive and still have active revolving credit.

Visitors to the site will learn exactly what to do and what to avoid when applying for new credit, and how to effectively plead a case when credit is being taken away. There is no other resource online like this, and most of all - it's 100% free to use.

For more details, interested ones should visit the site directly at

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Urban Financial Services Coalition To Hold Conference In Kansas City

The Urban Financial Services Coalition (UFSC) will hold its 36th Annual International Conference on June 10 -12, 2010 at the Hyatt Regency Crown Center Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri.

The conference, themed "Charting Your Course for the New Economy", is designed to give hundreds of members and constituents an opportunity to convene and discuss the ongoing changes in the financial services industry that affect their personal and professional lives.

The conference will include a non-profit leadership institute, information sessions for small businesses and business professionals, a roundtable discussion with industry executives, a CEO Symposium led by leaders of major businesses, an International Oratorical Competition, a Community Empowerment Day event that is free to the public and an Awards Gala.

UFSC supports programs that offer practical benefits for diverse financial services professionals, banks and financial institutions. UFSC's underlying goals and objectives are to foster the interest and increase the number of minorities in the financial services industry; strengthen the financial fitness of low-income communities; enhance scholarship programs for minority youth pursuing financial services careers; and cultivate a premiere job bank of experienced minority professionals in the industry.

For additional information regarding UFSC and its upcoming conference, please visit

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Are You A Public Figure?

You don't have to be a celebrity or a politician to be a public figure,
and you don't have to be rich. You just have to be well-known and well-
respected locally and/or nationally. People simply have to recognize
and appreciate what you do.

Every entrepreneur and business owner should strive to be a public
figure for one simple reason: it will help you grow your business!
Huge opportunities can present themselves, such as speaking engagements, event hosting, panel interviews, media interviews, book deals, business contracts, and more.

Think about it. America is a country that gives a lot of attention to people of prominence. The most popular magazines and television shows are the ones that report on what important people are doing. So if you are a big name in your industry or town or country, imagine what that means for you.

You're the person everybody's talking and thinking about. When a relevant opportunity presents itself, your name will come up first. Corporations and government agencies will automatically be programmed to consider you and your company for contracts, the media will automatically go to you for relevant comments and interviews, and customers will automatically take their business to you because "you're the expert."

The key is to excel in your expertise area, and to regularly do things that will get you noticed. Obvious things include: writing columns, sending press releases, starting a blog, writing a book, giving away a free e-book, etc.

But there's more: You can also sit on boards, be active in professional organizations, attend/host networking functions, volunteer for charity functions, support community initiatives, and even stand up for public injustices.

Learn from the public figures that you admire. They didn't get there by accident; they made wise and conscious decisions that created their success. Watch them and emulate their moves. This is very pivotal to
the growth of your business!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Got A Local Business? Try Groupon

Groupon is an innovative service that allows local businesses to market directly to local customers with no upfront costs. The term "groupon" indicates a group coupon, and thousands of people locally and nationally are signing up daily to receive these in their email.

Here's the catch: The people signing up are told that they will receive one "unbelievable" deal every day. The deal is always local in their city, and it's generally a deal of up to 50% off or more. So, if you're a business owner - you'd want to come up with a really attractive deal.

The logic is that you may profit little on the first deal, but now you have a new customer that will come back again and again paying full price.

I haven't used Groupon yet as an advertiser because I don't exactly have a local business. However, I'm a subscriber to receive their daily deals and it's quite impressive. Their marketing incentives are very unique, and it's no question in mind that it works. Plus, it involves no investment up front; They are paid a commission on sales that they generate for you.

If you have a local business (restaurant, nail salon, auto shop, etc), I highly recommend you inquire further.

For more details, visit:

Friday, May 14, 2010

Know What Happened To Know What's Happening

If you make a bad business decision, make sure you fully assess what happened and what went wrong. This will allow you to better understand and deal with the consequences. It will also help you avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

The same goes for making a good business decision. If you do something that produces productive results, make sure you fully assess what you did that worked. This will help you to see what exact you need to continue doing, and it'll help you realize growth in your thinking ability.

Too often, entrepreneurs are blindly making decisions and assuming what works and what doesn't work. As a result, they experience temporary success or no success at all.

Here's a great example: A business owner engages in several marketing efforts all at once - newspaper advertising, search engine advertising, and radio advertising. The campaign is extremely successful, but he doesn't properly dissect it to really determine where the customers came from and why they responded. He just assumes that it was the radio ad campaign that worked best. So, a few months later, he decides to launch another marketing campaign and allocate his entire budget to radio advertising. However, the campaign fails terribly. Obviously, he didn't fully understand what happened the first time - and so he has no idea how to recreate his success.

It's wiser to make business decisions one at a time, so that when the momentum shifts up or down, you'll know exactly what the cause was. You won't be guessing, and you won't be making false assumptions. Even more, you'll have a much clearer idea of what you next step should be.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How To Be Featured in Ebony and Jet Magazines

There are 200+ Black magazines nationally, and the two with the largest circulations are Ebony and Jet. So how does one get to be featured inside?

It's a lot easier than you think!

Here are the steps:

1) Be Seen. Editors at Ebony and Jet like to highlight Black professionals who are well-known and well-respected locally and/or nationally. In order to be well-known, you have to be a public figure. That doesn't mean you have to a celebrity, but you should be an author, speaker, blogger, or some kind of public expert. Whatever your industry is, you should be writing books, giving speeches, and blogging about it!

2) Be Consistent. Editors at Ebony and Jet like to highlight people who are consistently making headlines. So, don't show your face every now and then; Show your face all the time. Use to regularly send out press releases (about your newsworthy developments) and columns (about your insight and opinions) to the media. The key is to regularly do SOMETHING that will make people notice you!

3) Be Bold. Ebony and Jet, like other magazines, can increase their subscriptions by focusing on controversial issues and people. This is because controversy always catches people's attention. So, think of a way to be more controversial in your approach. Make people respect you for your boldness. Say something no one else will say, and do something no one else will do. If done correctly, being bold and controversial can get you a lot of media attention - and maybe even on the cover!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Beware of Bad Business Advisors

Maybe you have a lot of resources, and are surrounded by many professionals that you consult with before making decisions. Despite this, before you take business advice from anyone - make sure that they really know what they're talking about.

Just as not all doctors are good doctors, the same goes for financial advisors, lawyers, consultants, accountants, marketers, etc.

Too often, I hear someone say something like: "Well, I talked to my friend who's a lawyer and he said its okay." My response to this is always: "How do you know he's a good lawyer?" Lawyers give bad advice all the time, and passing a bar test doesn't necessarily mean that the person is smart, intuitive or honest.

Before taking the advice of a "professional", be sure to review their history whenever possible. For instance, would you be comfortable taking advice from a lawyer who failed the bar test 10 times before he finally passed it? Would you be comfortable consulting with an accountant who graduated college with a "C" average?

Ask for the contact info of the person's previous and existing clients. Talk with them and ask specific questions. This will always give you a better idea of whether or not you should be taking advice from someone.

I find that nowadays everyone wants to share their "knowledge" and offer their opinions. I've seen overweight people telling others how to lose weight. I've seen people in debt telling others how to get out of debt. And, I've seen unsuccessful business people telling others how to be successful in business.

Listening is never a bad thing, but before you take someone's advice - make sure that they're a reliable resource.