If you find yourself daydreaming about the career you hope to have “someday” but then are reluctantly dragging your feet all the way into your part-time job, you’re making one major mistake. You aren’t making the most of your future career now! It doesn’t matter if you want to be a neurosurgeon and you’re spending weekends washing dishes. There are common skills in all jobs and careers, and taking an active approach to your work now is something you can do to prepare to slay your future career. Not sure where to start? As McDonald’s Director of Employee Business Networks, Bill Dale knows how to engage employees with personal and professional development opportunities. He gives Blavity some tips on how you can get started:Find a mentorChances are someone at work has made the effort to reach out a helping hand to advise you on best practices, how to avoid any issues or what you could be doing better. Beyond thanking them for their help, it’s also beneficial to officially enlist this person as your professional mentor. “Having a mentor provides many benefits that can positively impact your professional development,” says Bill. “Increased visibility, accelerated learning, exposure to new and different work experiences and expanded professional network of support can all come as a part of developing a relationship with someone at your organization.” Develop a relationship with them so you have a sounding board for future ideas, someone to confide your business goals and questions in and more. Mentorship is an important part of professional development, and forming these relationships early, even in your first or part-time jobs, can help you to grow those social skills for future positions.Keep your part-time jobDon’t assume that your part-time job flipping burgers or washing dishes is a throwaway gig. All jobs are important, and even more importantly, showing loyalty to a brand is a mutually beneficial situation. Your resume will benefit from having a few years at this position, and your experience will be a deeper one if you get to grow with a brand over a few years rather than barely making it past training at a handful of jobs. If you keep your part-time job from 16 until you graduate from college, just think of the relationships and experience you’ll gain in that 6-8 years, all the while preparing for your future career. There are layers of skills in every professional position, and you’ll have an opportunity to really utilize them all.Zero in on skills you’ll need in the futureSpeaking of skills, look beyond your daily tasks for the skills you can develop in your role. Beyond preparing food, are you able to work on customer service skills and teamwork with your coworkers? Does your company have extended learning programs that you can use (like McDonald’s Archways to Opportunity program)? How about planning and management as you train new employees? Really break down everything you do in your job. Don’t sell yourself short, you gain valuable communication and business skills in even the simplest tasks. Take advantage of them.Photo: @dre0316Trial and errorUnsure of what exactly you want to pursue down the line? That’s understandable, as there are many options out there and it can be hard to know what you love until you try it. So try it! Explore different roles within your current position when you can. And if you can’t? Ask someone who’s doing something you think you’d like to pursue, for example, you could ask your company’s social media manager if you can observe them for a day. Reach out to fellow employees with an open mind and embrace the community within your work space. Make mental notes of what you enjoy and what makes you giddy to go to work. That’s what you should pursue.Ask to growIt can be tough to ask for more challenging assignments at work, but the longer you work somewhere, the more time you have to prove yourself and the better relationships you’ll build with your boss and other mentors. If you want to have more opportunities dealing face-to-face with customers, ask for that. If you’d like to understand the paperwork that keeps your business going, see if you can pick up some responsibilities in that department. Communicate with the people who can connect you to your next steps.These small changes can elevate your work experience greatly and will surely prepare you for the career you dream of. All experiences are of value, and these things will help you get the most out of every employment opportunity you have.This post is brought to you in collaboration with...
“Throughout history, the unicorn was hailed as a legendary creature with a multitude of abilities,” says Ashten Fizer of GoDaddy, “I wouldn’t say that I’m legendary but I would like to think I’m well on my way.”The web designer is also a writer, speaker and DJ, balancing a wide range of creative careers that require her to problem solve, express herself and master many skills. So yes, we’d say she’s well on her way to becoming legendary.“I have a tendency to succeed at things I focus on because I put in the work to make it happen,” she says, “I’ve learned that working hard and paying attention to the details tends to make positive things happen for me.”She describes her career success as being a combination of her always being prepared and also a bit of fate, being in the right place at the right time.“In 6th grade, I decided that I was going to go to Howard University because I wanted to be like Diddy, so I made it happen,” she says.She loved music and was determined to keep it a prominent part of her life. She saw DJing as this amazing musical outlet that allowed someone to change the entire vibe of a room, so she taught herself how to be a DJ. Then, after college, she found herself living in Chicago and knew she wanted a career change, so she took her talents to GoDaddy. While there, she knew she wanted to be more than just a face in the crowd, she wanted to make an impact.“I worked hard and became a Web Developer, Speaker at conferences and Vice President of GoDaddy’s Black in Tech Employee Resource Group,” she says, “I happen to have this habit of realizing what I want and just going for it without giving it a second thought. Sometimes, you just have to go for what you want. So far, it has worked out in my favor.”Her passion for multiple things was realized after she realized that she didn’t have to keep her worlds separate.“It’s no secret that I’m a Blerd (Black Nerd),” she says, “I’ve always had a love for comic books, pop culture and gaming. Being a DJ, for a long time, I thought I had to keep those worlds separate. I always thought that my Dungeons & Dragons friends may not mesh so well with my DJ crew. My first loves have always been DJing, ever since I stepped into the Radio studio on the Howard University campus, and what has now become known as Nerd culture.”For Fizer, it’s an interesting dynamic fitting into both an introverted and extroverted lifestyle, but just like everything else, there’s a niche for that. She’s a member of The NPCC (Nerdy People of Color Collective), a group of entertainers who specialize in nerd culture featuring the likes of WWE’s Xavier Woods and world-renowned Nerdcore rapper Mega Ran, helped her realize that she can live in and appreciate both worlds because she’s not the only one. More proof that representation is a major key.Other keys? Ashten says these are the first steps to take for anyone looking to “hydrate their hustle”:Realize that your hustle isn’t just a hustle. It’s your passion. Once you do this, suddenly nothing is impossible.Understand that there are no limitations to what you’re capable of. If you think it, you can be it. All you have to do is get up and do it. No, seriously, just go do it! Don’t stand in your own way!Surround yourself with people that constantly inspire you to fulfill your dreams. No woman is an island. Everybody needs somebody.If ever you run into an obstacle, reevaluate, power through, rinse and repeat 1-4.Each day, Ashten prepares a mental “Utility Belt” to handle any situation. It includes a daily refill of optimism for when life gets draining and a backup plan handy in case her original path to her goal gets blocked. Patience, tolerance and understanding are also must-haves in order to initiate collaborations or even have the patience to ask for help when it’s needed. She also never leaves home without the tenacity that fuels her drive to accomplish her dreams. And she says she always keeps love in her back pocket because if we don’t show others love every day, there’s a chance that you might not receive any in return.“Although our ‘Utility Belts’ might differ in contents,” she says, “You always want to carry the things that will keep a smile on your face.”And knowing what is important to you as an individual is so important, both in keeping yourself happy and successful, and in recognizing the many personalities and individuals who can reach their own kind of success.“Unicorns can come in all forms, but all unicorns share a common trait — the ability to live out their dreams,” she says, “A unicorn’s first and greatest challenge is convincing the world that they exist. I’m continually proving my existence by overcoming anything that stands in my way. In life, I’ve come to realize that impossibility is an illusion. I have had the opportunity to DJ with some of my favorite DJs and artists and interview my favorite comic book illustrators and writers. Anything is possible as long as you’re able to fight and put in work for your dreams. Being able to overcome your own fears, doubts and frustrations to achieve your ultimate goal is what defines a unicorn.”Her positivity and belief in herself is something that helps her keep going, but not everyone is happy to see someone so, well, happy.“I’ve been called everything from contagiously optimistic to uneasily pleasant,” Fizer says. But she doesn’t let the haters get her down, and says she’s blessed to be surrounded by a strong network of people. She feels like, in the words of Chance the Rapper, “It seems like blessings keep falling in my lap.”She doesn’t have room for negativity once she realized and embraced all the wonderful things in her life — and that’s something so many of us can and should learn from.And before she realized and embraced her unicorn status, Ashten was inspired by the amazing people out here doing big things.“Jason Mayden of Super Heroic showed me that a kid from the southside of Chicago could grow up to be one of the best designers in the world,” she says, “Second, Ashley the Fiscal Femme, who I had the chance to talk to while working at GoDaddy, once told me that in life, quitting is not an option. Also, Raheem ‘Mega Ran’ Jarbo inspires me to always do what I love and don’t look back.”But even beyond other professionals who she’s seen in action, she found inspiration at home.“It was my mother that always taught me to remain tenacious in all actions and to never second guess my plan,” Fizer says.Looking for your source of inspiration? Want to be surrounded by hundreds of other unicorns looking to make the most of their talents? Come hang out with us at Afrotech.“Afrotech gave me the same feeling that I felt walking up to my freshman dorm at Howard University for the first time,” Ashten says, “There is no better feeling to experience being in a room full of like-minded, passionate individuals that look like you. The energy that these accomplished speakers (that were once in your shoes) bring to the event is indescribable. I have never in my life felt so at home in my career than at Afrotech. Yes, the networking is great, but you can’t put a price on the renewed sense of motivation, self-worth and determination that you leave there with.”This post is brought to you in collaboration with...
Most have heard the old adage, "no one has ever become rich by just saving." If you haven’t heard it before, now you have. Having a savings account only yields you about two percent, at best. So, how to do you maximize on the potential of your hard earned coins? Investing!With having student loan debt, trying to keep all your weekend brunch appointments and taking advantage of great travel deals when they come, you and your wallet need to be ready. If you stay ready, you won’t have to get ready.With the growth of the tech world and budding, young financial gurus, investing has been made simple, effective and worthwhile. No longer do you need to keep those coins under the mattress, in the infamous Crown Royal bag or that piggy bank you got for your 10th birthday. Put it in an investment app and utilize other apps to keep track of its growth. Here, we’ve organized some of the best apps on the market to help you invest your money and keep track of it at the same time. And no, you don’t need a degree in investment banking to understand them.1. Acorns Launched in 2014, this app works in three distinct steps:1. Connect your debit card2. Make a purchase3. Invest your changeSounds simple? That’s because it really is. After purchasing your pre-sale ticket to the Black Panther movie coming in 2018, you’ll most likely spend around $15.25 on a single ticket. Acorns rounds that amount to $16 and deposits the additional $0.75 into your investment account. Think of it as investing while spending.Additional investment features include the following: recurring (set up a recurring daily, weekly or monthly investment), one-time (boost your account anytime with five dollars or $50,000) and referrals (invite a friend to invest using your code and both of you get five dollars deposited into your investment account).2. StashThis app is for those who would like to be a bit more hands on with their investments. The Stash app’s steps and features include starting an investment in just minutes with as little as five dollars, creating a portfolio that reflects the things you’re interested in and think would be great assets and getting tips and guidance so you can invest your money with confidence instead of fear. With only needing five dollars to start your investment portfolio, this is a great app to consider. There are also very unique portfolios to choose from that no doubt will spark your financial curiosity.3. Betterment This app's main purpose is to help you make the most of your money for long-term investing. Betterment starts with your goal — the reason you’re investing. Then, they make various recommendations: risk level, amount to invest and type of account. Some of the benefits of this app are low taxes and diversified investment portfolio, no additional trading, transfer or rebalancing fees and a licensed expert at your fingertips to assist with any uncertainties.4. RobinhoodThis free stock app was created to eliminate trading commissions. You know the fees paid to stockbrokers? Yes, those. With Robinhood, you purchase actual stock in a company in minutes without the assistance or fee of a broker. You are your own boss, hear you roar. This app is for those who want complete control over their stock investments. I would recommend doing personal research to know which stocks to purchase, and when you’re ready, go for it. There is a liberating quality about taking control of your investments and then watching the market, and your stock, like the pros.5. Personal Capital This online financial advisor and personal wealth management firm is designed to help you invest and keep track of all your personal capital. Personal Capital is for those ready to build a long-term investment plan that is tailored to meet their financial goals while they continue taking over the world. Also, investors who need a long-term investment plan, plus a customized and diversified portfolio, would be equally satisfied. Never put all your eggs in one basket. Even if your coins are to your liking, it offers a financial plan, personalized services and portfolio management to meet your booming lifestyle goals.So, no matter your current or future financial state, Personal Capital has a plan and options for you.Set your net worth, analyze your plan and plan your future.6. Albert Analyzing your entire financial portfolio has never been easier. Albert looks at your entire financial picture to provide real-life recommendations such as repaying credit card debt with a low-interest loan, getting renter’s insurance, lowering credit card fees and setting up the right retirement plan. This app informs you when you need to make changes to your spending, how many automatic withdraws occur in your account monthly, suggestions on investments to help you reach your financial goals and much more.This is your personal financial advisor at the touch of an app.7. MintBudgets, bills and credit scores now all in one place! Mint creates realistic budgets and suggestions based on your spending to ensure your financial freedom is closer than Beyoncé’s next tour date. It tracks bills like a financial private investigator and sends out alerts and schedule payment reminders on the spot. Another attractive feature is providing your free credit score with suggestions on how to improve it. If this isn’t something that peaks your interest, then I don’t know what will. It’s like having a parent that’s a financial advisor always on call to answer your questions and offer you the best advice.Stay on top of your coins so your bills aren’t on top of...
All great brands have one major thing in common to keep their staying power — the foresight to know when to rebrand. Your original vision isn’t always exactly what your audience wants, no matter how much market research you did before launching. And that’s ok. But if you keep your finger on the pulse of your audience and feel it’s time for an upgrade, there are a few key things to keep in mind.1. Ask yourself whyAre you doing this rebrand for you or the audience? If you’re just making changes to your business because you imagined a new logo, now probably isn’t the time. Identify a problem you need to solve and try to figure out why it’s happening. Is there new competition? Has your customer profile changed? Are you telling a ostory that customers just aren’t identifying with? Have your customers changed their needs or wants? Once you get those things figured out, It’s easier to target what needs an update and what should stay the same.This year McDonald’s relaunched their McCafé brand with new café-quality espresso drinks made with freshly-ground espresso and U.S.-sourced whole or nonfat milk and introduced recrafted lattes and mochas. Instead of a more generic menu of coffee drinks, they zeroed in on what customers wanted — high quality coffee and ingredients that play into the culture of coffee drinkers. That audience values authenticity and tradition, so McDonald’s is training their staff to understand the culture of coffee will help to elevate the overall coffee-drinking experience for customers.2. Find your brand storyIs there a story you can tell that will relate your brand to your audience? Give your products a human voice, relate them to everyday life and watch how much easier it is for your audience to relate. That human element has been hugely beneficial. There is power in authenticity, and that authenticity comes from how people are able to connect with you on a personal level. Put who you are into your story. Tell your audience why you do what you do and watch the ‘thank you’ DMs start rolling in.3. Broaden your audienceIdentify the habits surrounding your product. For example, if you know your product is for men, but mostly women buy it for the men in their life (i.e. after-shave products, groceries), then your branding should look to reach this audience. What segment of consumers have an interest in your product? How can you include them in your story?4. Stay loyalAlthough broadening your audience is a good idea in some cases, the biggest mistake you can make is to lose the connection you have with the audience you already have. Don’t focus too much on other people, give your loyal community what they want. Always stay true to your mission.5. Don’t get wildJust because you thought of a cool new logo doesn’t mean you absolutely need to change it. If something is working, let it work! You can always make updates and upgrades, but unnecessary changes harm brand identification and loyalty for consumers and will do more harm than help. Why? Because your audience needs to recognize your brand; they need to know that you’re not trying to rebrand yourself every five minutes just to keep up with the Jones. Stay in your lane!This post is brought to you in collaboration with...
Finance.It’s not taught in most schools. It’s not learned in most homes. It seems as if it’s the secret formula that only the rich and wealthy get access to. Many people still wonder why in school they had to learn the quadratic formula, order of operations, and the area of a parallelogram yet haven’t used any of them since becoming an adult. I don't get it, even though I have a degree in Mathematics. Wouldn’t we have rather learned how to invest in the stock market, how to buy and leverage real estate property and the benefits of entrepreneurship, which are the three pillars of wealth building in the United States? I will speak for us all and say yes! It’s a good thing that we are never too old to learn new habits. Once I completed my MBA, I started analyzing my struggling finances, insurmountable student loan debt and non-existent investments. Something had to change and change soon. I reached out to mentors, started reading even more books on the subject matter and then jumped into the deep end of the pool. Though I’m mentioning ‘Seven Streams of Income’, please be motivated to have many more. Seven is just the minimum requirement. Here are seven of my streams to give you an idea: 1) Acting 2) Teaching College 3) Stock Investments 4) Keynote Speaking 5) Business Consulting 6) Writing a Book (Being released in 2018) 7) Workshop/Webinar Presenter. Now, how do you decide upon, create and sustain your seven streams? First, understand that your seven streams are unique to you, your profession, your talent, your hobbies, your likes, etc. There aren’t any streams that you must have in order to be doing it right.Understand that your profession, your main job or skill, is your first stream.Build the other streams around your core business and profession.See which or all pillars of wealth building you closely identify with.Know that savings has never created wealth, investments do.Do not over think or second-guess your options. Your investments will work if you work.Ask a mentor or your tribe for examples of their steams to help you develop your own.Stay consistent, continue to learn and know that if there is no risk there is no rewardExamples of Seven Streams Depending on Your Profession1. Actor1. Mathematician1. Entrepreneur2. Start Writing Screen Plays2. Tutor Privately2. Develop Additional Services or Products3. Make Appearances3. Become an Adjunct Professor3. Teach Workshops on Business Development4. Monetize Your Social Media Accounts4. Do Speaking Engagements on STEM Careers4. Become a Contributor to Business Magazines5. Start Directing5. Develop an App5. Invest in the Stock Market6. Accept Speaking Engagements6. Start Your Own Tutoring Company6. Invest in Real Estate7. Teach an Acting or Audition Technique Class7. Write a Book7. Become a ConsultantAs the wheels in your head are now starting to turn, I would recommend looking into some of the new stock apps that are available. I currently have four investment accounts all from different stock apps. Think about publishing your first manuscript. It doesn’t have to be the length of a Harry Potter novel but be sure to engage, educate, entertain and/or inform your audience on a topic in which you are knowledgeable. This book will forever be available and create residual income for you.For more information, I can be contacted on any social media platform at:...
I’ve always been the girl with a plan.Even if my plan didn’t go accordingly, I had plan B, C and sometimes D. So when I decided to get my MBA, I’d already decided that without a doubt I’d graduate, find a corporate job, eventually become someone’s manager and work my way up the “Corporate Ladder.” In May 2016, I received my MBA, and decided to keep working my part-time job for a while because it was comfortable for me. I loved my coworkers, work didn’t go home with me and, originally, it provided me with the work/life balance that I needed.Then, the company that I worked for decided to make a few (and by few, I mean a lot) of organizational changes. One of those changes being a new supervisor. This lady made every day of my job a living hell for me. I remember my husband telling me something along the lines of, “life begins when you’re uncomfortable,” so I knew the time had come for me to leave my comfortable job. It was time for me to start this “career” that I’d been planning since grad school. I figured since I wasn’t 100 percent sure what I wanted to do with my life, that I would try a contracted position. That way, I didn’t have to make too much of a commitment. If I liked the job, I could work my way in. If I didn’t like the job, I could leave once my contract was up.When I entered Corporate America, I couldn’t have chosen a better organization to work for. I had a manager that was cool. I didn’t have a friendship with my coworkers, but it felt good to just come to work and stick to myself—or so I thought. Eventually I started to miss interacting. I began to feel like a robot Monday–Friday. Everything was the same, every day. From the commute to work, to the elevator ride up, right down to walking to my desk. It was starting to become mentally draining.I thought I could create my passion because a career at this organization would provide stability. It would allow me to stay with a company and grow, which is something I’ve always wanted. If you know me, then you know I will quit a job if I’m not happy. I was happy here. I thought I was happy here.My boss was my mentor. He wanted to teach me how to “play the game,” how to work my way to the top like he had. I thought things were perfect for me, but as time went on, I became more and more unhappy.I was unhappy because Corporate America wasn’t my passion. I was unhappy because I was fighting to get in with a company that passed me up on promotions simply because someone kissed a little more ass that I was willing to. I was unhappy because Corporate America didn’t care about my family. I was unhappy because to Corporate America, I was just another employee on the fifth floor. I was unhappy because with all of the things going on with racism in today’s society, work became mentally draining some days, but yet, I still had to go and pretend like nothing ever happened.Imagine walking past a white coworker, who is doing everything imaginable to avoid making eye contact with you. That was my reality four to five times A DAY. Not knowing what to talk about because everywhere I went in the building, the television was on CNN as they discussed some more of Donald Trump’s BS.I was unhappy because I had to give myself a pep talk every time I stepped foot in the building. I had to let “them” know who I was in every conversation. I was unhappy because my coworkers weren’t surprised that I was a mother of 2, but it always seemed to catch them off guard to know that I was married—to the father of my children. I was so unhappy that I became pissed off. I was so focused on the big picture that I didn’t look at all the little ones around me.Finally, a friend reached out to me about a position that she thought would be perfect for me. Everyone that knows me, “knows” me, so with that being said, she believed my personality would fit really well with my new coworkers. Aside from me landing my dream job, with an organization that one could only dream of being a part of, this lesson taught me that Corporate America isn’t for everyone—and that’s OK. I’m just fine working for this new company with 10 other women that actually care about me. They know my family on a first name basis. On days that I take my three-year-old to speech, our CEO asks how did she like it (at my old job, I can’t even tell you who the CEO was). My husband and children are able to come into the office and see me. If I have to bring one of my daughters to work, they help find things to keep her busy. Things like that make all the difference when it’s not just you. So while I thought I wanted to work my way up and become an asset to an organization, I quickly realized that it isn’t for everyone.These days, what I’d rather do is work for a company that knows I’m an asset. A company that knows, while they may find another person for my position, she’s not me. When a company feels that way about you, they will do everything it takes to keep you—and you will do everything to keep them as well. So while I thought Corporate America was for me, I quickly came to the realization that it wasn’t. “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.” I couldn’t have said it better...
The life of a startup company or entrepreneur can have you feeling uncertain at times about the impending journey. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to create an amazing product, raise capital, implement a winning strategy, gain traction, and generate revenue. Seems simple enough right? Wrong! It can be scary but it can also be very rewarding and self-fulling.Your success will be found in the decisions you make, both good and bad. To become one of the elites requires a little bit of luck and the right tools. It can be said, building a great team is very important but utilizing the right tools is equally important and will help you achieve your strategic goals. Finding the right tools to help optimize growth, increase team collaboration, boost customer acquisition & retention, and strengthen customer support will heighten your likelihood of success.The good news is all startups have been in your shoes before. Here's a list of tools, I highly recommend, to help you achieve your business goals and objectives. Photo:clerky.com
ClerkyIncorporating a startup company can be expensive. Luckily, Clerky has a large assortment of affordable legal forms to take care of your business needs. Their library of comprehensive templates, created by attorneys and paralegals, consist of corporate structure plans, stock option plans, offer letters, consulting agreements, advisor agreements, standard stock option plans, non-disclosure agreements, and more. Clerky's legal forms are sound and highly accredited.Paid service Photo:strategyzer.com
StrategyzerA business plan is your roadmap to success but the traditional business plan concept is outdated as soon as you start your company because it doesn't flex. Instead, you need a business model that flexes with the factors of your market. The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management template for developing new or documenting existing business models. It is a visual chart with elements describing a company’s value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances. What's great about the Business Model Canvas is you can quickly create prototypes, process assumptions, implement strategies, analyze the results of your successes or failures, and reiterate the process until you find the business model that produces results that align with your company's overall goals and objectives.14-day free trial & Premium packages for additional services Photo:slidebean.com
SlidebeanNeed a stunning pitch deck for would-be investors? What about a dynamic company intro presentation? If you answered yes, you need Slidebean. Slidebean is an affordable web-based presentation tool that lets you create powerful presentations with just a few clicks. They put the design element first. The software is a collection of design templates, premium fonts, and sophisticated color palettes that help make your presentations standout. The system is easy to use, allows online collaboration between teams, and you can share your presentations with anyone on any electronic device. Slidebean is a great alternative to PowerPoint and Keynote.Paid Service Photo:asana.comAsanaManaging projects and team collaboration is a must to achieving great results. Asana is a simple to use project management tool for teams needing to work more closely together. With Asana, you can track work across your entire company while engaging the conversation from start to finish. Use cases include project management, workflow management, campaign management, event management & planning, new hire onboarding, and more. Asana integrates with Dropbox, Slack, Chrome, Github, and Google Drive.Free & Premium packages for additional features Photo:slack.comSlackTeams that communicate are more likely to finish projects quicker, share ideas, and work better as a collective unit. Slack is an instant messaging system that makes communication easier between coworkers and teams. In Slack, you can create open and private channels to organize conversations among your team. Some examples would be a channel for projects, topics, ideas - pretty much anything. You can direct message team members or coworkers for a more focused conversation and drag, drop, and share your files within Slack conversations. Slack integrates with Trello, Google Drive & Hangouts, HubSpot, Tettra, and more.Free & Premium packages for additional features Photo:switchitapp.com
SwitchitEvery small business, startup, and entrepreneur need business cards but if you want to make a lasting impression, you want to use Switchit. Switchit is a powerful multimedia digital business card. You can share targeted content about your company, product, or service with interactive cards supporting video, audio, and branded graphics. Also, the app automatically saves the contact information of people you meet such as the person's phone number, name, email address, and photo. Switchit is an innovative networking tool for professionals and teams looking to market what makes their company, product, or service unique, nurture leads, and build better customer relationships. Users can also log into the desktop app; providing 24/7 access to your contacts from any electronic device. Integrations include Microsoft Office, Google Calendar, and iCloud.Free Photo: google.com/forms/about
Google FormsNeed to conduct an online survey? If so, Google Forms is an ideal choice. Google's suite of online forms is a great way to collect and organize information. With Google Forms, you can create online surveys, conduct quick polls, manage event registrations, collect email addresses for newsletters, and more. All forms are customizable, support images and videos, and enable administrators to track response info and charts in real time. One of the best factors that set Google Forms apart from similar providers such as SurveyMonkey, Survey Legend, Survey Gizmo, and others is the fact you can create unlimited forms for free.Free Photo:mailchimp.com
MailChimpNewsletters are an extremely valuable marketing tool to attract new customers and retain existing ones. Mailchimp makes it easy to create stunning email campaigns that best suit your message. Whether you are looking to sell your products, share news, or tell a story about your brand, their campaign builder streamlines the entire process. MailChimp also provides rich analytics, allowing you to see the number of times subscribers opened your email, links clicked, and how your campaign compares to the industry average. Mailchimp integrates with a large assortment of CRM and online merchant platforms.Free & Premium packages for additional features Photo: ryzeapp.co
RyzePeople we meet sometimes fall through the cracks. We forget to call them or forget about them all together. We've all done it but in order to grow relationships, you have to first establish a relationship. Ryze is a personal CRM designed to help you follow up with all the people in your life. Inside the app, you can keep notes, create custom groups for people, and set recurring reminders to stay on top of your relationships. This is a great tool to help you stay focused on people and move relationships forward. Ryze integrates with your email and calendars, providing you a powerful personal CRM tool.Free Photo: hubspot.com
HubSpotHubSpot is an inbound marketing and sales platform that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close deals. Their CRM platform aligns sales and marketing, so you can manage your pipeline of prospective leads and nurture existing customers. The system is great for creating lead capture forms, automated email follow-ups, lead grading, and more. These powerful insights provide a comprehensive overview of every customer's journey as they pass through your sales funnel. HubSpot integrates with a large assortment of 3rd party software.Free & Premium packages for additional features Photo: scribblepost.com
ScribblePostThe life of an entrepreneur is burdened with a long list of daily to-dos. There never seems to be enough time in a day, right. Well, ScribblePost has solved the problem of to-dos. ScribblePost is a fast way to take notes and track important priorities, allowing you the freedom to stay focus on getting the right things done. With ScribblePost you can task to-do items with hashtags, set priority dates to remind you of the impending tasks, and check them off once completed. They also provide a desktop app to help manage your work at scale. You can view all your tasks organized by schedule, priority, or workflow. ScribblePost is a great tool for people on the go looking to optimize their daily productivity.Free Photo: olark.com
OlarkAnswering the questions your customers may have is very important. When browsing online today, most people would rather chat with a real person when we have a question as opposed to filling out a contact form. Olark provides live chat software that integrates with your website. The technology allows you to chat with customers, in real time, while they are on your site's page. You are notified when people visit your website and you are able to see the pages they're on. When you're not available, visitors can leave a message which is delivered to the email address associated with your account. Installing Olark on your website is quick and simple, not to mention they have outstanding customer support. Olark integrates with most CRM and analytic software.Free & Premium packages for additional features Photo: canva.com
CanvaDesign is key to building awareness around your brand. Canva makes design simple. With Canva's easy-to-use features, you can create designs for web or print such as blog graphics, presentations, social media covers, flyers, posters, invitations, and more. The platform has an extensive library of layouts, stock photographs, vectors, illustrations, icons, and shapes. You can even upload your own images. Canva is a great option for people needing a simple platform to drag, drop, and create amazing graphics.Free & Premium packages for additional features Photo: hootsuite.com
HootsuiteSocial media plays an integral role in building awareness around your brand and communicating directly with your customers. Plain and simple, it is a must. To better manage your multiple social media accounts, theirs Hootsuite. Hootsuite is a Social Media Management tool that helps you track and manage your social media channels. What's great about Hootsuite is the ability to monitor what people are saying about your brand, schedule post for multiple social media accounts, and monitor how people interact with your social media channels. Managing multiple social media accounts is a simple task with Hootsuite.Free & Premium packages for additional features Photo: zapier.com
ZapierWho doesn't want to do more in less time? If this is you, try Zapier. Zapier lets you create connections to push data from one app to another. Using triggers, actions, and just a few clicks, information is passed between your apps through workflows called Zaps. Zapier helps you be more productive by automating basic tasks such as sending a post via RSS to your social media sites or building and maintaining your email list. The possibilities are endless. What's great about Zapier is creating Zaps doesn't require any code, so anyone can do it. Zapier is a great tool for sales & marketing teams looking to curate content and better manage their unstructured data. You can integrate your Zaps with over 750+ web apps.Free & Premium packages for additional features Photo: analytics.google.com/analytics/web
Google AnalyticsTracking the success of your online campaigns, online presence, and web traffic is critical to the success of any startup company or small business. Google Analytics provides a robust assortment of metrics and analytics to closely monitor conversion rates, web traffic, user experience, terms searched, page performance, and more. These assessments are key to measuring your advertising ROI and identifying how people interact with your website, social media pages, and online campaigns.Free Photo: localytics.comLocalyticsUser insights around your mobile app are very important. Knowing how users interact with your mobile app is key to developing a great product. Localytics helps you discover what makes your users tick. Optimize your marketing efforts by engaging users with personalized messages. The software's targeting engine is perfect for push notifications and in-app messages - helping you improve the mobile app experience for your users. Also, their analytic tools show you exactly how customers use your app and how they engage with your marketing campaigns. Localytics software is easy to use and integrates seamlessly with your app's API.Free & Premium packages for additional featuresBonus: Startup Advice
Everyone needs advice from time to time.There are thousands of free products and tools to help your startup company or small business thrive. I also suggest researching and creating a Marketing Stack, if you don't already have one in place, to help you execute, analyze, and improve your marketing...
If you’ve ever been juggling a handful of groceries at the store while waiting for the endless lines to clear up, you know how clutch the self-checkout line can be for being efficient and getting the job done. We live in a society that doesn’t like to wait, and although patience is a virtue, if there’s a way to be more efficient, then we’re all about it. Because of this, McDonald’s is putting more choice and control in the hands of consumers – evolving how they order, pay and enjoy their favorite foods. One way you can take advantage of this is through self-order kiosks in restaurants, which are rolling out in more and more cities across the U.S.In certain McDonald’s restaurants across the country (including some in Downtown L.A. and Las Vegas) customers can go up to one of the self-order kiosks use the touch screen to order their custom meal without having to wait in line to order at the front counter.One of the best features of the self-order kiosk is the ability to customize your meal. For example, if choosing to order a Signature Crafted Recipes sandwich, you can choose from traditional beef and crispy or grilled chicken, an artisan roll or sesame seed bun, and one of three new signature recipes. With the option of savory Maple Bacon Dijon, Sweet BBQ Bacon, or Pico Guacamole, there’s a flavor for everyone and every mood.Even customers who have a "regular order" are likely to discover something new on the menu once they use the kiosks because it presents items in a new way that allows you to tailor your meal just the way you want it.Once you decide what you want in your order, you can choose to pay with a card directly at the self-order kiosk, print the receipt from the kiosk and pay at the cash register, or use Apple or Android Pay. After placing your order, you will be treated to dine-in table service where your order will be delivered to you by a member of the restaurant staff.This addition to the McDonald’s dining experience helps bring traits of sit-down restaurants to fast-food restaurants — at a much more affordable rate.Anyone who visits one of these updated McDonald’s restaurants will tell you that it’s definitely a different experience than what they know—from presentation to options and service. It’s a better experienceNext time you want quick, custom service, make sure you look for one of these locations near you. The company has announced plans to update 2,500 of its 14,000 restaurants with self-order kiosks by the end of 2017.This post is brought to you in collaboration with...
As we hit milestones in technology advancement, the employment sector is affected in a myriad of ways. For one, the stigma behind freelancing is softening as it becomes easier and easier to go the "remote" or "teleworking" route. The allure of autonomy is pulling more and more workers to tackle the risk of their passion projects.One such company is here to help you with that. The brainchild of a plane ride conversation, do it, Inc. is a social networking platform made up of 10 freelancers from different industries with one major goal: change the way big dreamers share, learn and market their skills while putting the "fun" back in freelancing. In addition to being a hub for a wide-range of freelancers, do it, Inc. offers branding, client-sourcing, invoicing via pre-payments to avoid physical fund exchanges. Let's say you're on the hunt for an accountant and a nanny. Well, do it, Inc. is your one-stop shop! Operating as Black-owned tech-company, do it. is headed by Congolese founder Carl Madzimba (27), Jamaican operations manager Antony Mayers, Ghanaian marketing director Baaba Hughes and Ghanaian head of user acquisition Beatrice Jonah.The Toronto-based company is not only diverse in its sectors but racially/ethnically, too! You see black and brown representation and everything in between and it's great to witness! Per its press release, do it "offers help with branding, client-sourcing, invoicing and manages pre-payments so there’s no physical exchange of funds." Their platform is heavily collaborative based, offering a real sense of community. Its database holds 500 prelaunch specialists ranging from 16-75 years old. "The youngest considers himself 'the best TV mounter' and the oldest is a war vet willing to put that era into perspective for students writing papers," noted the press release.As far as updates, do it, Inc. is currently backed by OCAD U’s Imagination Catalyst Business Incubator!What a dope concept! For more information, head on over...
If you grew up watching Martin, you know that the show is in a league of its own. The fictional Martin Payne navigated his late twenties and early thirties with dangerously low levels of chill. The silly antics, relationship drama, radio shenanigans and foolish friends made for a perfect '90s sitcom. Even in its rerun glory, you won’t find an ounce of educational value in this series.Actually, I take that back.The sitcom came with notable comedy and homeboy spun wisdom from Martin’s insane adventures in Detroit. One episode, in particular, is a cautionary tale for entrepreneurs.Martin was fired from his job as an on-air personality at WZUP. And, unfortunately, his local celebrity wasn’t enough to get him back into the workforce. As he hunts for the next opportunity, Martin takes a leap into entrepreneurship in the season finale of season two. He recruits “Brotherman” (or Bruh-man from the fifth floor) to be his business partner in a get rich quick scheme on the night of Whitney Houston’s concert. The two went into this partnership with one common goal.But of course, nothing is ever that simple, even on TV"Babe that's Bruh Man in a bad wig" pic.twitter.com/9fUkr43J9j— GirlTyler (@sheistyler) January 26, 2016Ah yes, the “Whitty Huton Wuld Toor.” I had forgotten about this infamous scene. It will totally go down as one of my favorite (right next to the Jodeci and Varnell Hill moment). I hadn’t put much thought into Martin’s job loss until I viewed this episode again recently. The scene, purely for entertainment value, is actually familiar to just about any entrepreneur. What seemed like a great idea, didn’t exactly go as planned. Matter of fact, your dreams were soon crushed at the sight of failure. Trust and believe every eager innovator has some form of a “Whitty Huton” shirt. Business deals turned sour. Products that flopped. Lawsuits. Low sales. Unforeseen circumstances are imminent, but is it possible to prepare for them?Let’s study the scene. Martin is out of work and desperate for cash. His idea of fast compensation is far from foolproof. Print, sell, cash in hand. Easy, right? A simple money machine is often too good to be true. He did not research the market, oversee production or fully utilize his resources. Gina warned him that distributing goods at a public place required a permit. In his anxiousness and despair, Martin's measly business plan and verbal contract with Bruh-Man did not cover the risks associated with t-shirt sales.Brotherman was the ultimate risk and liability.Dead GiveawayEven his past ventures were a flop.Fortunately, Martin returned in one piece with a fine, leaving his business partner in the wind. However, he lost two valuable components of entrepreneurship: money and time. If only he had spent time creating a solid business plan, Martin could have avoided such a quick downfall. The t-shirts didn’t work in his favor, but one fiasco didn’t diminish his talent. He pressed forward, realizing fashion was not his ministry. In the midst of this low moment in his life, Martin couldn’t see what was on the horizon. More failure (remember the Hoochie Burger drive-thru and the janitorial gig?). But a grand opportunity was awaiting Martin's arrival. A television host gig. He went back to the drawing board, submitting a pilot for his own talk show. The audition tape yields another trainwreck, but still, he was inching closer. His circumstance quickly turned around in a way he hadn’t imagined.The same goes for your ideas. Some will work. Others won’t. What matters is how you advance to the processes that will work in your favor. Every idea seems good in theory, but the key is to execute them in good faith and not out of impulse. Be intentional and never allow a lack of resources (or inadequate business partners) to impede your projects. Once you print a few “Whitty Huton” shirts, you’ll immediately realize which strategies are your friend. Mistakes and time are the greatest teachers.Study your market. Ease into partnerships. Provide top notch customer service. But first, study your motivation and work ethic. Most importantly, listen to your advisers (i.e. Get you a Gina). Thorough execution and value will always provide a solid payoff.Watch The Full...
Originally from South Philadelphia, Shannon Maldonado moved back to the area after 12 years in New York to start Shopyowie.com, an online store where you can find curated home objects and lifestyle products. Shannon walked away from her full-time corporate gig as an apparel designer, taking a leap of faith and everything she learned to pursue her true passion.Shannon has some valuable advice for anyone looking for the courage to follow their entrepreneurial dreams. She shared some insight on how she got started, how she stays inspired and how – even during the challenging parts of building her business – she knows she’s headed in the right direction. Check out what she has to say below. Blavity: Can you tell me about yourself and how you got started with Yowie?Shannon Maldonado: I’ve always been creative and loved to draw, which led to making my own clothes and even producing small accessories that I sold to my classmates in middle school. I attended F.I.T. to study fashion design and fell hard for American sportswear. I’ve been fortunate enough to work at large brands and see my product touch so many different people. My last position before taking the leap was designing outerwear at American Eagle. It was an incredible opportunity but the department was lacking support. I wore many hats as I ran the division without an assistant designer, working on product that is historically cost challenged and labor intensive in all stages of development. In the beginning, I was happy being busy and executing everything, but on my last trip to Asia where I had to spend the 12-hour flight back sketching for a meeting that was the next day I wondered, “Is this still where I want to be?”I remember so clearly having what author Michael Gerber calls my “entrepreneurial seizure:” that moment when you decide you need to start your own business. Standing in my final product presentation in front of a wall of beautiful samples that I worked tirelessly to develop I looked into the crowd of 30 people and felt blank. The meeting continued and my boss complimented me in front of the room, but something was still missing. I just knew in that moment that it was time to move on and to figure out how to make this after hours project Yowie a reality. As my day job started to feel less creative and more managerial, I began to crave the frantic nature of starting a small business; I needed it.Soon after this meeting, I decided that I needed to start thinking about what my next steps were going to be. I began thinking about what I’d want my store to look like, what I wanted the products to be. I had 120 names that I eventually narrowed down to Yowie. B. How did you get the courage to pursue Yowie full time?Shannon Maldonado: The last time I felt this sure about something was when I made the decision to attend the FIT fashion program. It was just a very strong feeling that this was my next big move. I just knew that I could be doing more and I feel like one of my strengths is that I'm easily adaptable. I can bounce around, I can problem solve and I didn't feel that I was being fully challenged in that way anymore at the office. After over a decade of working in fashion, I started to see my inspirations shift into home. I've never wanted to have my own clothing line, yet the thought of owning my own store or gallery space was always looming in the back of my mind and heart. Everyone thought I was crazy. My friends, family and boyfriend were positive, but they had many questions. I felt guilty blindsiding my boss with my resignation, but there’s never a good time to quit your job. I calmly explained that "I have this other thing that I need to do and I know that it’s my time to take a break and do something else outside of here.” As I told her a little more about the concept she understood and eventually became one of my first customers! A month later I moved back to Philadelphia to jump right into it.B: What’s your day-to-day like running a business? Shannon Maldonado: In building this business, no day is identical and many day-to-day tasks I am still learning as I go. I’m never afraid to say, “Hey, do you know how to do this?” to one of my peers. I think being humble enough to admit when you’re not an expert goes a long way and I’ve met so many incredibly talented and generous people in building Yowie. What I love about this new role is that every day is different. I am the founder, buyer, art director, marketing director, photographer, brand ambassador, collaborator, copywriter, web manager, executive assistant, shipping specialist and the person who handwrites a thank you note to every customer with confetti and a doodle. There are always new challenges or something I didn't think of and it’s been really fun to learn to embrace the chaos. I was too comfortable before.B. Describe Yowie. What can customers find there? Shannon Maldonado: Yowie is a lifestyle shop focused on curating collections of modern, playful and one-of-a-kind objects for your home. We aim to be an elevated gift shop where you can find handmade ceramics, vases, textiles like rugs and pillowcases, candles, and so much more. Color is really important to my brand and I felt that was an area of opportunity for independent home goods brands. I love mixing neutral items with colorful, punchy, art inspired objects that are not so quiet. I'm really excited to bring something different to the table. I curate most of our products from small independent designers and artists. I work with a few larger brands but each has over forty years of history and in most cases are still family run. We're hoping to introduce new product every 6-8 weeks but don’t want to become too tied to a calendar as we want every product to feel really thoughtful. It’s not about just adding more stuff to your apartment. The idea is to provide really special items that you can't live without. I am also working on a new concept where one product per delivery has 100% of its proceeds donated to charity. I’m excited to introduce this channel to our brand and further engage with causes that we want to support.B: How have you been able to engage with new customers to fuel your business? Shannon Maldonado: Pinterest has been such a great tool to get our products in front of new customers. Every single item that's on our website is also available to shop through Pinterest, and because Pinterest is so visual, it's easy for people who are already on the platform to find our products and pin them to their wish lists. For example, maybe they have a “Should I Buy This” board (as I do!) and they can effortlessly save our products there. Or maybe they have an apartment decor board and I love that they can go in there, pin it and then just easily click through and make a purchase. It’s that moment where you can say, “okay, I love this thing and I need to have it” and I love that those moments are easily facilitated through Pinterest.B: How do you stay inspired? Shannon Maldonado: I'm often inspired by art, traveling to other cities, old movies and photography. Some of my most cherished memories of travel involve ending up at an art museum or gallery space. Many of the people that I work with to source products for Yowie are amazing artists and trained in multiple mediums. I feel inspired and lucky that I am able to help introduce their works to a new audience. Pinterest has also been incredibly helpful for me as a source of inspiration for Yowie. It has served as a way to craft the visual language of the brand. Early on, I used Pinterest to really hone in on how I wanted to present the brand from color to typography. On Pinterest, you can find ideas that inspire a logo, business cards, a mailer or a pop-up flier. The possibilities are endless! B: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?Shannon Maldonado: I would say read, research and ask as many questions as you can from those already in the field. If you can find a mentor even better. I'm a total nerd for Inc. Magazine, Fast Company and podcasts like StartUp and How I Built This. Hearing the stories of success, speed bumps, and even how others have failed is so valuable and inspiring. I take a million notes (mostly on neon Post-its) and try to absorb as much as possible. For me, it’s really about trying to learn from how others have done it.I would tell someone who wants to pursue a business to really just focus in on your idea and be 300% confident in what you are trying to achieve. Focus your energy wisely, only outsource when necessary and understand the power of social media and visual content to engage your customers. Once you’re launched the hardest part begins in continuing to build your brand identity and finding your customer. As we are based online the pop-up model has been a great learning experience for us. Getting feedback from customers in real time is priceless.At the end of the day having that laser sharp focus and obsession with your brand and idea is what's going to power you through the nights when it feels like nothing's moving forward and you think that no one cares. You need that momentum and vision! This post is brought to you in collaboration with...
You know that moment when you're just out here minding your business and suddenly you get a phone call or email that the opportunity you've been waiting for has finally come through? Or, that split second when you're bolted over with an idea or inspiration that stops you dead in your tracks? There is nothing more exhilarating than these magical instances when everything you've ever done and all of your experiences and abilities meld together in one epiphany and you just know, on a molecular level, that your life will never be the same! What do you do with that energy? If you're anything like me and Quinta here, you want to milly rock on every block, shout it out from the mountains and tell everyone you know.
Slow down there whoadie! As natural as this impulse may be, it's not always best. In the brilliant words of Lil Wayne, sometimes it's better to "move in silence like lasagna."
Here are a few reasons why it's necessary sometimes just to stay low and grind:
So you have a brilliant idea, but how are going to execute it? When are you going to start? How are you going to transform this inspiration into reality? You're still in the idea phase and that's fine. Enjoy the moment, but if you share your vision right now you're going to get questions that you aren't prepared to answer.
Not everyone is going to see the beauty and potential that you see, and you can't expect them to. This is your baby, it's your job to protect and nurture it.
Let's say someone does share the enthusiasm for your idea. That may not be a good thing. Placed in the wrong hands, your brilliant idea can become your worst nightmare. Sometimes you have to play your hand close to your chest so no one can cheat you out of your win.
You're super sensitive right now...and maybe even a little irrational. Any critique, no matter how logical or well intended, feels like hate at this stage. You're not looking for feedback, you want validation and you're going to resent anything less. Why open yourself up to that kind of unnecessary animosity?
No matter how pure your intentions, sharing your good news can provoke jealousy. Not everyone wants to see you win. This doesn't make them bad, no one is immune from casual bouts of hateration, but vibes are real and transferable. Your dream is in it's embryonic stage right now and that kind of negative energy can be detrimental.
6. Protect your enthusiasm
That hopeful, child-like excitement is there for a reason. It's the fuel you're going to need to get you through the challenges that will inevitably come with the new opportunity you're stepping into. Enthusiasm is the currency of destiny. Protect it at all costs!
Life is good, enjoy your win, but as tempting as it may be to put yourself all the way out there, it's probably best to show some restraint. Stay humble, keep moving in the direction of your goals and let your life do the talking.
The transition into adulthood isn’t an easy one. Navigating relationships, managing workplace politics, hitting those milestones on schedule— don’t be fooled, no one knows what they’re doing. There will be all kinds of fumbles, blunders and awkward missteps along the way. If you’re constantly wondering to yourself, “Am I doing this right?” Welcome. This is just the place for you.
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