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...
I’ll never forget that first time I thought it was a good idea to start an ad campaign on Facebook. I said, "my video is hilarious. Everyone’s gonna love it. It’ll probably even go viral. Wow, look at me go!” Then, I throw fifty bucks at Facebook and tell it to go crazy for a day. I gave Facebook a full day to work its magic. Needless to say, I didn’t get a million views or a hundred thousand likes. For fifty dollars, I got one like (it was a “love” reaction, to be specific, and it was from my sister). That fifty dollars would have probably been better spent if I had taken it to the bank, exchanged it for fifty ones, put them in a bowl, chopped them up, added caesar, parmesan and those little baby grape tomato whatevers and eaten the whole thing. To this day, I’m heated about how Facebook finessed me out of that fifty. But I learned! And, I suspect I’m not alone! Many of you—artists, musicians, photographers, writers, poets, entrepreneurs, and salespersons—have likely thought about getting yourselves out there more in the new year. Many of you have likely been mulling over the prospect of working in a modest advertising budget. I won’t lie to you— Facebook doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care whether you have a million fans or just one fan, it will gobble your money up without any shame or apology. But thanks to a lot of research and trial and error, I can confidently confirm that the advertising experience with Facebook doesn’t have to be a nightmare. In fact, if you do things the right way, you will find yourself getting way more than what you paid for. And better still, you’ll do it without spending anywhere near fifty bucks in a day like I initially did. There are five things to keep in mind when it comes to launching a successful Facebook ad campaign.You want to advertise, but the way your bank account is set up...The content of your ad post has to be quality. Not only does the content of your ad have to be amazing, but the content of your page or website must be amazing as well. This key point should be pretty self-explanatory. For obvious reasons, you can’t suck. But what you may not realize is how good content helps you not only maximize the cost efficiency of your ad, but outperform even Facebook’s projections for your campaign. To give you the brief overview, Facebook ads work in accordance with a bidding system. Facebook will try to allot a certain amount of impressions to each advertiser and when there are too many advertisers vying for the same spot, the spot goes to the advertiser who spent the most. So, right there, you should already feel like you’re at a disadvantage to the big companies, especially if you don’t want to spend a lot. But let me tell you a secret: Facebook loves good content. Good content will always outperform the projections. Does it make sense why? It likely has to do with “user experience.” Facebook wants you logged in, scrolling through, looking at ads. Facebook positions ads that users are more likely to respond to. So, if you’re putting out catchy, highly shareable, highly “taggable” stuff, you and Facebook will get along just fine.Research! You need to find your “marketing niche.” Your marketing niche is made up of the people you think would be most interested in whatever it is you have to offer. You can dictate who will see your ad based on age, region, language, and particular interests. In terms of how broad or narrow you should go, I picked up a few pointers. If what you’re offering would be best appreciated by millennials from say 25-34 years old, include 18-24 as well. The reason for that is you want to be thinking about this in the long term. Your 34 year olds will move out and your 24 year olds will soon be moving in. Also, never market to the entire U.S. at once. Don’t do it. That’s how I lost my fifty in a blink of an eye. Even when you think the interests are narrowly tailored enough for Facebook to figure it out, it’s always been to my advantage to advertise in multi-state regions instead of trying for the whole chunk. A good rule of thumb is to work your way from small to broad instead of the other way around. If your target range is too large from the beginning, Facebook will eat up your budget really fast for a really minuscule return.You, trying to figure out how Facebook managed to spend all that money so fast.Test your theoretical niche before plunging head first with all your money. Seriously. Do not just start cashing out on Facebook ads before you’ve gotten some sample results to assess. For your test, you should spend maybe one, to seven dollars. That’s it. Run the campaign for a week (so a max of seven dollars total in the week). You just want to see if you were right about what your key demographic was. Next, you evaluate your results. I like to determine the efficiency of an ad by cost = one engagement. Ask yourself what is an acceptable amount you would pay for one engagement (or page like, or click, whatever you’re going for). Your budget should be the last thing you increase.Face it: you can’t outspend the big companies when it comes to buying visibility. So, it’s best to spend wisely and spread a little bit over a longer period. That crisp fitty I keep crying about—what I was doing was trying to “force virality” by paying a big sum for a 1-day campaign and hopefully outbidding all the competition. You can recall how horribly bad that went. Instead, rely on effective marketing research to hit the people most likely to engage or go to your website. Research and setting a proper budget go hand in hand.When do you know it’s time to increase your budget?If you met or exceeded your expectations (meaning your cost per engagement ended up being lower than you were initially willing to pay), then expand your target, but don’t think you have to increase your spending just yet. Run another campaign. Were the results better or worse? Keep doing it until the results get worse. Then increase your spending. Does it make sense why? You want to get the absolute best value for the amount you spend before deciding to give Facebook more.If you fell short of your expectations, go back and examine your niche. Take a look at Facebook Insights and see what areas responded best to your ad and focus on those, while pulling out of areas that did not respond well. When putting together an efficient ad campaign, always think of going from inside-out, from small to broad. Run another campaign. Continue repeating this process until your cost efficiency meets your expectation.You did it! You now have a successful ad campaign!One more thing: don’t be so eager to be a multi-platform advertiser. There is a such thing as spreading yourself too thin in your quest to become as pervasive as you can be. Facebook likes to split its placement of your ads roughly 50/50 between it and Instagram. Of course, running ads on Instagram may be advantageous for you, especially if you wouldn’t mind more Instagram followers and double-taps. But for those who are using ads to direct traffic to a website, placing the ad on Instagram may not be the most effective use of placements. For the latter case, I recommend unchecking Instagram in the “Placements” section of the ad manager. Hopefully, this article was able to demystify the whole Facebook ad process and give you the confidence to advertise your small business now that you know that you don’t need a huge budget to see a huge return. Be patient. Be discerning. Be nitpicky when it comes to tightening up your marketing approach. Make this year the year you break through. You got this!Loving Blavity’s content? Sign up for our...
Today’s black businesswoman is sharp and sophisticated. She’s no-nonsense and unapologetic, yet she’s open-minded and secure in who she is. She knows what she wants and goes after it without delay, but she knows the rules and plays the game accordingly. Today’s black businesswoman is breaking records, making social and political strides and setting examples of what it means to embrace your culture, identity and power.
So, why is it still so difficult to get ahead professionally or break the stereotypes about who she is and what she can accomplish?
As a full-time entrepreneur among other titles, I often deal with all of the “isms” that increase the gap between who I am and what I feel that I can conquer. However, because I’m someone who’s always up for a challenge,
I’ve learned that in order to beat the “isms” and get what you want, you have to know which rules to follow and which rules to break.
I spoke with five other businesswomen (some are employees and others are entrepreneurs) and asked them about their modern black businesswoman rules for getting ahead. Interestingly enough, they're rules that many black women can follow to beat the “isms” and get closer to their professional goals.
Tierra Hucke, a Black businesswoman in the corporate world, states her rule, “First and foremost, you’re a lady. At times, it’s going to seem that the business world is made just for 'good ol' boys. Not so. Go ahead and pull up to the table and talk shop; you belong there.” She explained that she has often dealt with being the only black woman on the team. Sometimes she has had to deal with having to "prove" that she belongs in the group and has the education, experience and know-how to be a serious asset.
In addition to having a seat at the table, Hucke also discusses the need for black women to understand etiquette and use it appropriately. Etiquette goes beyond place settings and 'please' or 'thank you.' Hucke believes a deeper understanding of being polite without being passive confirms a black woman’s multi-faceted power. “Etiquette rules will not only show your 'feminine' side, but they also show that you can play in the big leagues without compromising your manners or your goals. Mind your manners and make the deal. You’re perfectly and politely capable of doing so.”
Along with etiquette, Black businesswomen deal with serious misunderstandings of their style and identity.Cathryn Barnett, another corporate maven, is known for her bold style that matches her business brilliance. She explains that she struggled with maintaining her sense of personal and cultural style while trying to fit in the male-dominated tech industry where she works. “In the beginning, I struggled with how to wear my hair, what was appropriate work wear, and stuck close to the 'Dress like you already have your boss’s job' ideal. The problem was, my boss was a middle-aged white male. I didn’t look like him, nor did I want to dress and act like my boss or carry myself as a man would.”
Every day as Barnett got prepared for work, she worried about her clothes, tattoos, piercings, natural hair and makeup that was “beat to the GAWDS.” Eventually, she found the balance between representing her style and following the dress code rules, “Inserting your personal style doesn’t mean you’re compromising your professionalism or work ethic. You might have to get over the strange looks and the inquisitive comments, but you are to be taken just as seriously in your field as your other male (or female) counterparts.”
Looks aside, the black businesswoman has to deal with her brazen personality and how she sounds. “One of the biggest challenges I have faced over my life and within my own community has been balancing my bravado. Whether I use certainty and confidence in my tone or annunciation and inflection in my speech, there seems to be a problem with how my words come out,” Shani McIlwain, author of Sharing My Mess explains. This isn’t a challenge she faces alone. Many black women are often berated for their speech, whether it’s how she sounds or what she says.
McIlwain, who delivers presentations on her book, as well as runs a small business, spends a lot of time verbally presenting information that’s used to position her as a subject matter expert. If her tone, pitch and articulation aren’t acceptable or “on point”, she struggles with connecting to her audience and capturing the sale. However, she has developed a four-tiered system to help her convey clear messages. “My four nuggets to help balance my bravado follow my R.E.A.D. rules. R: Recognize your trigger moments, E: Embrace who you are and how you speak, A: Appreciate your authentic expression, and D: Don’t dumb yourself down.” Easy enough.
It’s to be expected that re-writing some of the rules can be kind of scary.
However, veteran marine-turned-natural hair entrepreneur Ja’Mesha Bazemore of ImaniJoy Naturals has some sound advice. “To fearlessly and relentlessly pursue your dreams you have to learn how to ignore the external negative chatter from friends and family, but most of all you have to silence your own critic.” Bazemore, who has pursued her vision for a natural haircare line and a children’s journal, says that whenever she becomes afraid of her journey or what’s next for her life, she holds onto her inner peace and channels her strength from her past experiences. “Whenever I pursue any dream, I reach back in time to my time in the Marine Corps and say to myself, ‘If I can complete that, then I can complete anything!’”
When it comes to a bustling career, an amazing physique, perfect hair, a loving relationship and overall security, black women want it all. And we deserve it, right?
However, is there ever a time when we must choose one thing over another in order to create balance? Tamika Archer, owner of 'I’ll Drink to That' mobile juice bar, states, “Some say you can have it all. I disagree to a certain extent. You can have it all -- just not all at once.” As a rising Ph.D. candidate, entrepreneur, mother, wife and much more, Archer has learned that balance works best when she prioritizes and practices self-care. For her, establishing non-negotiables is the only way she can maintain much of what she wants and forego the things that take up dead space. “I figured out how to configure my own rotational rhythm. Like a new dance, I learned all the steps. So no matter how many times the beat changes, I know the steps and I can fall in line and get right back in rhythm.”
Adina Ferguson, author of I Don’t Want to be your Bridesmaid, sums up the modern black businesswoman’s goals perfectly, “I’ve stepped outside of the kitchen and stepped into the boardroom. I don’t sit back and listen, I stand up and speak. I am not Claire Huxtable with a black briefcase and matching doctor for a husband. I am single and dating or I am married with children. My slacks are high waist and wide-leg. My wrist may be imbedded with ink and my nose may be accessorized with a ring. My secretary’s name is Siri and I plan to close my next deal at my favorite sushi bar.”
All in all, figuring out which rules work for your professional goals will be based on what’s going on in your life. If you’re running a business, working a job, managing a family, a romantic relationship or the plethora of other titles available to you, the point is to make sure you shine in all of them. Sprinkling your dreams with #BlackGirlMagic is a learned trick, but as long as you’re willing to obey some rules and bend others, you can definitely win the game.
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As climate change becomes a pressing reality for our generation, social entrepreneurship and innovate business techniques are following suit. Below is a list of people and companies across Africa that are using inventive ideas to work toward a more sustainable world.
Tom Osborn is the Founder and CEO of GreenChar.
GreenChar, based in Kenya, produces alternative charcoal waste from agricultural waste to improve household and industrial cooking.
Thato Kgatlhanye is the founder and CEO of Repurpose Schoolbags.
It's a South African company that designs the most innovate schoolbags for children. The bags are made out of 100 percent recycled material, include a solar panel that when charged transforms into a solar lantern, and have a trendy design.
George Mtemahanji is the founder of Sun Sweet Solar.
This solar energy company in Tanzania is using small scale solar energy for homes and businesses.
Mabel Suglo from Ghana is the founder of Eco Shoes.
Eco Shoes is a company that up-cycles waste into usable goods by empowering people with disabilities to make artisan shoes from sustainably-sourced raw materials.
Chantal Butare from Rwanda started the Kinzai Dairy Cooperative in 2012.
Its function is to help Rwandan farmers sell their milk, and now empowers more than 3,200 farmers.
Anda Maqanda from South Africa is the founder of AM group.
AM group is a major leader in renewable energy on the African continent.
Alex Mativo from Kenya started E-LAB.
This startup uses electronic waste to make art and other beautifully designed products.
Emmanuel Mukadi from the Democratic Republic of the Congo started VertDC.
The waste management company helps to make his country greener and cleaner.
Let us know more green entrepreneurs in the comments below!
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At just 14, Daron Taylor has the hustle of Sean Combs and the business acumen of Magic Johnson. Earlier this week, Taylor was interviewed about his new company, D's LawnCare. The Cleveland native's ambition and drive puts most adults to shame!
Seen my lil dude Daron today..I took a minute to get out and talk to this kid because he is truely me on steroids at 14 yrs old!!im defiantly going to support this kid business and pass the word on to everybody I can for him because he is def talented!!!he got more hustle then most grown men I know!!!💯
A video posted by @deonshotme on Jun 20, 2016 at 2:20pm PDT
Taylor saved money to buy a bike, so he could build his own trailer. Using wood boards and a crate, he created a transport that holds his lawnmower, weed whacker, gas can and blower. He's also invested in business cards, which he'll hand out at a moment's notice.
Taylor has high hopes for D's LawnCare. He plans to take his business to the next level, with help from GoFundMe. His overall goal is $25,000 and thus far, he's accumulated over $8,000 in donations.
Here's Taylor's brief call to action:
I'm a ninth grader currently attending digital arts. I'm saving to have the worlds largest lawn care service ever. My lil brother and I cuts multiple yards daily to achieve my goal. Please donate to help me buy new equipment and further achieve my goal thank you and God bless.
So far, the original Instagram video has been viewed over 30,000 times. Most users are tagging Cleveland favorite, LeBron James, as well as Ellen DeGeneres in the comments, hoping one of them will give Taylor a helping hand. But you don't have to be a celebrity to chip in. Every little bit helps.
Support black businesses. Support our children's dreams!
A video posted by Daron Taylor (@dslawncare) on Jun 23, 2016 at 3:36pm PDT
He's already collecting huge support on Twitter.
I support #DaronTaylor & his Lawn Care service. true definition of a young black entrepreneur ✊🏿💸.— ROSS ✨ (@51_ross) June 24, 2016
A GoFundMe page set up for Daron's business is close to reaching $10,000 in less than 24 hours. Click here to support.
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You know the old saying: “It's always quiet before the storm?” Well, that’s how life can be, unfortunately. One day we are happily living life, carefree, enjoying our Starbucks Café Mocha without a problem in the world. Inspiration is near, we discover our purpose, a clearer vision for life comes into plain view and then, the next day, dark clouds roll in and life gets confusing and disquieting. Throughout life, we are taught to find meaning and purpose. For entrepreneurs, this means following our own path. But what we're often not told are the setbacks and tribulations that accompany purpose.
Life is a teacher. We are always getting graded. Yet, without a doubt, life is not designed to fail you but to test you.
Here’s a candid look at three of the biggest setbacks that stop most people from following their purpose in life and how we can overcome them. Hopefully you're see how setbacks are really designed for your ultimate set up.
1. Lack of funds
Let's just start with the obvious. The biggest thing that holds most people back from following their dreams and living their purpose is money. So, we use that as an excuse to not move forward. A lack of funds, to be perfectly honest, is a great excuse. But it should not set us back. Once you have a vision for your life, money will be the last thing you’ll have to worry about. Let me explain why.
With crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe, Kickstarter and Indiegogo, you can rally financial support from across the globe. These sites are created for people to invest in projects and for those who have a vision and a plan of action to bring their ideas into the world.
It's not enough to just have a vision; you must also have a plan of action that looks promising for investors.
Let’s look at government contracts and grants, too. Grants are granted to people who have a specific vision. If you have an idea for a government program you want to fund, you’ll have to communicate your vision and detail a plan of action. People invest in people. What good are funds without a solid vision that informs you how to direct and use them?
Don't let the idea of not having enough money to start a business stop you. Instead, focus your efforts on fully developing your business idea and clarifying your vision. You'll find that people will be attracted to your vision and resources will soon follow!
2. No experience
This perceived setback never gets old. You graduate from high school, get accepted into college and graduate. You apply for your dream job and they kindly send you an email stating they are looking for someone who has more experience. Or maybe you have a great business idea and you’re sure it will be the next big thing. So, you start to research what it will take to startup. You are told by others, and maybe even yourself, you don’t have enough startup experience to become an entrepreneur.
Don’t let a lack of experience be the sole reason you give up on your plans. Many entrepreneurs who went on to create million dollar companies did not have “enough experience,” let alone a college degree.
One way to gain practical experience is to intern, shadow someone in the industry, seek mentorship or turn to e-learning courses. This will give you a chance to gain in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience. For example, ed tech is taking off. Platforms such as Skillshare offer a learning community for creators. Anyone can take an online class, watch video lessons, create projects and even teach a class themselves.
3. Little social proof
With social media playing such a major part in our daily lives, having a strong social media presence is important. Yet, you don’t have to have nine million Twitter followers to launch a successful business. Too many entrepreneurs get discouraged when starting a business or launching a product because they think customers won’t take them seriously with a fledgling social media presence. Instead, grow organically by creating a simple social content plan. Every chance you get to connect offline and online with a customer, let them know where they can find you on social media.
Numbers are important when it comes to social media, but engagement is more important. So focus on creating a following that boosts engagement. Social Media Examiner suggests, “three things big brands do very well that small businesses can emulate: Find where their customers talk and 'go deep.' Create content that people want to talk about. [And] use social media to listen to customers.”
There are plenty of social media accounts with millions of followers and no real engagement (which is pointless). The right social media conversations can let you know how your product or service is solving a problem, what you are doing right and, more importantly, what you are doing wrong. So instead of worrying about how many “likes” your Facebook brand page has, focus on building a relationship and creating value for those who follow you today. Do not let small numbers discourage you from doing business.
Do not let a lack of funds, experience or social validation hold you back from pursuing your dreams. Instead, put your time and energy into creating a vision for your business and figuring out the direction you want to go. Make the decision to be successful today.
What setbacks have you overcome to reach success? Let us know in the comments below, and share this piece with your entrepreneur friends!
Tony Logan is the VP of Liftbridge Publishing a publishing company used to publish independent authors and also the Creative Director for Abstract Solutions which is a marketing firm. When he's not working he can be found at your local cafe stealing wifi and sugar packets. Follow him on Twitter.
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The Phat Startup co-founder and tech entrepreneur Anthony Frasier released his first self-published book entitled "Don't Dumb Down Your Greatness: A Young Entrepreneur's Guide to Thinking & Being Great." In this book, Frasier gives the advice he says he wishes someone would have given him when he first started his journey in the entrepreneurial world.
Frasier's book provides tools to help young entrepreneurs of color find success in their ventures and maintain their mental stability while doing so; a topic often unmentioned in advice books of this genre. Some of the topics covered in the book, according to Frasier, are: creating a value system, dealing with failure, creating luck, morning routines, quitting, goal setting, how to think, being patient and much more!
Want to get your hands on this book housing major keys to entrepreneurial success? Head to Amazon to purchase a print or digital copy of Frasier's book today!
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Blogging can be a full-time job. You are writing, editing and researching, all the while maintaining a blog. Heck, I ought to know because I am one. When I began blogging it was a hobby, a side-hustle if you will, but as it grew in size so did the responsibilities and the demand for more content and aesthetics. Many bloggers find the work tedious or overwhelming and give it up midstream while others go on to blogging greatness and fame. Not all bloggers stay in their lane though. Many successful bloggers find other aspects of the entrepreneurial spirit (a certain attitude and approach to thinking that actively seeks out change) and create items for purchase.
Some create clothing, others collaborate with beauty or hair brands (like brand ambassadors) and still others create beauty products. I would not say it's a natural gravitation for all bloggers, but it seems it was indeed for the four mentioned below. And for good reason…they bring incredible products to the world that needed to be appreciated. Just like many creators of products before them, these four women found a need that was not being met, or at least not specifically sculpted as they saw fit. Some of the best products on the market are those that the creators knew were missing from the world. They brought to the masses an idea, product, or even a service that was not yet discovered. Does this sound easy? It might appear that way, but the behind-the-scenes formulations are rough, even cut-throat, as bringing your creation to life takes all guts but quite often doesn't give any glory. Despite the obstacles, Alex Elle, Kim Love, Rochelle (BlackOnyx77) and Nikisha Brunson made reality so much sweeter by gracing us with amazing products while holding down the fort in the blogging and vlogging worlds.
Alex Elle / Balm & Co.
Alex Elle didn't only create Balm and Co. She’s a natural hair blogger, jewelry designer, poet and author. She is a wondrous multitude of various talents she willingly shares. She’s an entrepreneur and a mother who believes in self-care practices and sharing the talents of local artisans. Balm & Co. was born in 2014 and the mission is the same to this day. Create natural, holistic, planet + people friendly skincare products to those near and far. Their products are vegan, handmade with fair trade ingredients and are 100 percent natural with no GMOs, fillers, parabens, alcohol, sulfates or unnatural preservatives. Every ingredient picked is included in the formulation for a therapeutic purpose. Many essential oils contain almost magical qualities that help the mind, body and spirit. From lip balms to activated charcoal cleansers, Alex Elle’s Balm & Co. takes every product and ingredient seriously.
Kim Love / Luv Naturals
Kim Love or Kimmaytube was a natural hair vlogging sensation when she began her natural hair journey in March of 2009. We walked through her very first video of a wash, tuck and go to today, when she’s incorporating her hair care line Luv Naturals into her styles, hair care and life. This talented businesswoman let us into her life and we were in awe of her very disciplined very well-thought-out procedures to grow her hair from ear length to hipbone length in only four years. She created the Luv Naturals website in 2010 selling hair accessories, but her hair care product line didn’t launch until September 2012 and was a four-step foundation line for everyday hair care maintenance and manageability. Today she has products ranging from detanglers to gels and has become a beloved line in the natural hair community.
Rochelle (BlackOnyx77) / Alikay Naturals
Rochelle Graham, AKA, BlackOnyx77, began her natural hair journey back in 2008 and has turned her YouTube channel into a successful resource for women wanting to go natural. She used YouTube as a platform to share her experiences during her natural hair journey and by the time she was 26 years old she was named “Black Beauty Pioneer” by ESSENCE magazine. At the beginning of her natural hair journey she had damaged her hair with harsh chemicals. While on the hunt for healthier products to use, she decided to make her own and reach her own natural hair goals. While still in college, Alikay was launched. With only $100 she and her husband earned from part-time jobs and through rigorous research she created her first product, Essential 17 Hair Growth Oil. Alikay Naturals has expanded into a formal company offering more than 60 products that focus on natural hair, skin, bath and body.
Nikisha Brunson / Folie
Nikisha Brunson, the co-founder of the beloved Urban Bush Babes, is an inspiration to all. Her life is an open book and as she accepts the challenges life has given her. She created UBB with her best friend to discuss natural hair, fashion, health and lifestyle while infusing music and art and culture into this world through their blog. UBB is a hugely popular blog with women who love and embrace not only natural hair but are comfortable in their own skin and refuse to apologize for it. Folie is a 100 percent natural and handcrafted teas, soaps, hair care and skin care line that was launched just this past October. Her line excludes parabens, synthetic preservatives, petroleum or mineral oil, silicones, sulfates or phthalates. As it continues to grow, so will the product line and creativity.
What bloggers-turned-makers do you admire? Let us know in the comments below!
Sabrina is a freelance writer and full-time blogger. She is contributing writer for a variety of publications on topics ranging natural hair to feminism and is the editor-in-chief of her own blog, seriouslynatural.org which has a focus on natural hair, beauty and wellness. Sabrina's background is in government regulation and she has been directly involved in local and national politics. She has a BA in Political Science and a Master’s in Public Administration. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
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On Friday January 15, 2016, the actual birthdate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was only befitting that a I Have A Dream Summit be called by My Brother’s Keeper Task Force. The summit was a collaboration between President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, BLOC and Student Dream. This amazing group was able to pull together some of the best and brightest from the black community to discuss solutions and outcome oriented actions that could help propel all youth and young adults to pursue academic and professional opportunities in entrepreneurship.
Some of the speakers included Blavity’s own CEO, Morgan DeBaun who was able to share with the energetic group the story of how Blavity developed and the power of using various social media platforms to reach your core audience. Along with Morgan Debaun, participants were able to hear from Courtney Sanders or Think And Grow Chick, a website geared towards providing black women with programs that inspire them to live their best lives. Rounding out this great group of speakers was Andre Woodley Jr., creator of Quest, an app geared towards helping its users build memorable lives by discovering, connecting, sharing, or discovering their moment within 10 seconds. Woodley, a graduate of Tennessee State University, explained to the students that if big ideas and innovation can come out of Harvard it can also come out of an HBCU. The room had no shortage of HBCU alumni and students. Schools like Claflin University, Southern University, Howard University, North Carolina A and T University, Morgan State University and Lincoln University were well represented.
As the conversation about solutions and outcome oriented actions continued throughout the day participants were forced to ask themselves what part were they playing in pushing the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs. That question isn’t just one for the participants to consider but one for us all to consider. How are we helping the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs? Hopefully we all can work towards answering that...
Last week, I spoke to a friend with a business idea. Months before, when he shared the idea with some people close to him, they discouraged him from pursuing it. I was shocked— it was actually quite a good idea! If he had pursued it all those months ago, it's quite possible that he would now have a product (or at least a prototype) that people could be benefitting from right now. It got me thinking: are there other people out there with great ideas but little or no encouragement? If you need some support, here are a few pointers.
An idea is just an idea.
Usually, when someone comes up with an idea for a service or a product, the conversation quickly turns to "starting a business." This can be intimidating. Indeed, it’s actually inaccurate. On day one, you don’t have a fledgling business — what you have is an idea.
An idea is merely a thought. It's a creation of the mind concerning what could be. Therefore, you can be very liberal about what you do with it. You can’t break it, you can’t lose it; it’s just an idea. So even if, like my friend, you encounter people who criticize it, they can’t really impact your idea in any way.
The same is true regarding the fear I hear from many budding entrepreneurs about someone "stealing" their business idea. The truth is, because an idea is merely a thought, it has little, if any, value. All of the value in a business idea is in its execution. It’s the same with fiction writing. The basic idea of "boy meets girl" has been utilized by writers from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to Jane Austen. Similarly, Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook are all social networks — platforms via which you communicate and share various forms of media with your friends and the world. The idea is essentially the same, but in each case, the execution is different.
An idea is a necessary, but insufficient, element of a business. You should share your idea, ask for advice and get opinions, but don’t let anyone decide whether your idea is good or bad; it’s just an idea until you do something with it.
You don’t have to start a business. Start an experiment.
Another word for idea is hypothesis, and this leads us into the work of someone who many of us entrepreneurs have to thank for helping us see our entrepreneurial endeavors in a new and revealing light. Eric Ries is the author of The Lean Startup, a book that proposes "every startup is a grand experiment" to test the viability of your business idea. No one can be sure whether an idea is viable. You can’t work it out in your head. You have to build something (even if it's quick and dirty) and see what happens.
Your experiment will center around what The Lean Startup describes as a minimum viable product (MVP):
"The minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort."
For example, at a 2007 design conference in San Francisco, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia took pictures of their apartment, put them up on a simple Wordpress website and ended up housing three paying guests for the duration of the conference. Thus began Airbnb. One of the great things about this story? It demonstrates just how little you have to lose by testing out your idea. The worst thing that could come from Brian and Joe's experiment was an empty apartment with no guests. They would have learned the idea, or at least that particular iteration of it, did not work. The key, to paraphrase Eric Ries, is to build something with which you can test demand, measure the response of users and learn from your experiment.
That’s what I did with Books Africana. I had an idea: it would be useful to have a single place where you could find books by people from Africa and the African Diaspora. Within a week or so, I had the website up and I started testing my idea. It’s a little rough around the edges, but it proves the point that my idea is actually something people need, and I can work with users to make it better.
Just do it!
The truth is, it's easier than ever to start a business. Things such as email, cloud computing, e-commerce and social media put tools that were once only available to a select few in your hands. Website builders such as Squarespace, Wordpress and Wix enable you to build a good-looking site with ease. Signup pages such as Launchrock, Megaphone and Ontrapages allow you to cheaply test demand. MOOCs such as Coursera and Treehouse help you to develop the skills to build applications that people will use and hopefully love!
If you have an idea for a product or service or website or project, I encourage you to take a step and test it out. At worst, you’ll invest your time and effort in a learning experience.
Have you followed through on a big idea? Tell us about it in the comments...
When I was 16 years old I met Monte Lipman, the President of Universal Records. His personal driver dropped him off in an all black S-Class Mercedez Benz Sedan in front of my high school. It was a Saturday, and he was the only reason I would show up to school on a Saturday. He was there to speak to students at a special career day.
Unfortunately, I don’t remember anything he said that day except for his recipe for getting lucky. It’s the recipe he says he has followed, and got him to where he is in life. So, a struggling but curious kid like myself paid close attention. Here’s what he wrote on the chalk board.
Preparation + Opportunity = Luck
It was the first time I had seen the word “luck” in a not so magical way. When you think of luck you think of four leaf clovers, blowing out birthday candles, or throwing coins in a pond. Never did I imagine luck as something I can create with my own effort. But it made sense.
According to him, as long as you stayed prepared, whenever an opportunity would arise you would get lucky. I later found out that the quote originated from the old philosopher Seneca.
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” – Seneca
I want to change that equation a bit and add a new twist to it. This time it goes like this:
Hustle + Opportunity + Optimism = Luck
What is hustle?
Hard work – Knowing something is going to be hard, makes it easier. Setting realistic expectations will better prepare you to exceed them. Many people think getting lucky involves no hard work, but that’s a big misconception.
Of course, there are people in the world who do little and get so much. But, either they had to do the hard work, their parents had to, or great grand parents had to. Somebody had to do the hard work at some moment in time. If you’re like me, and you don’t come from wealth, then your own effort is what matters the most.
Persistence – They say persistence is genius in disguise, and now I know why. If you want to lose weight you have to diet and exercise consistently. If I want to be a good artist, I have to draw consistently. If I want to shoot a basketball like Steph Curry, then I should be in the gym shooting consistently. See the pattern here?
Greatness comes from practice. Whatever you aim to do, be consistent and persistent. This will separate you from the crowd. I always think of the “48 Laws Of Power”, when I approach the topic of persistence:
“Your actions must seem natural and executed with ease. All the toil and practice that go into them, and also all the clever tricks, must be concealed. When you act, act effortlessly, as if you could do much more. Avoid the temptation of revealing how hard you work—it only raises questions.”
Perseverance – No matter how hard you work, and how persistent you are, life gets in the way. So what are you going to do about it? Quit? Perseverance is what keeps your engine going, long after you run out of gas. It’s your crazy factor. It can also be described as hunger. How hungry are you for your desired goal? These are the questions you won’t know the answer to until the situation faces you head on.
You might be thinking, “what happened to being prepared?” Nothing. If you are doing everything described above, you are well prepared.
“The genius thing we did was, we didn’t give up.” Jay-Z
What is opportunity?
Hustle creates opportunity – You hustle hard enough, people will notice you. When people notice you they want to associate with you, do deals with you, invest in you, partner with you, buy from you, or hire you. When we began to do events for The Phat Startup, we were doing them monthly. Those monthly events led to people writing about us, tweeting about us and landing even bigger and better guests. We created the opportunities to grow through consistency.
Vision – Spotting opportunities takes practice. Most opportunities come to you without you even noticing from your hustle. But, there are times when you can spot an opportunity as well. Without the ability to see opportunities, you can be sitting right in front of one, and pass it by like its nothing. The reason we often don’t see opportunities is because they look like the exact opposite.
You lost your job? OK, so your mind can either process that as a bad thing (misfortune) or a good thing (opportunity). No worries though, like Richard Branson says:
“Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.”
What is optimism?
Faith – In the BIBLE it defines faith as “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” You don’t have to be a Christian to have faith in your own abilities. You may not have reached your goal yet, but having complete confidence that you WILL, makes all the difference in whether you do.
Meditation – Meditation doesn’t have to be what you think it is. Don’t think of it as something monks do every morning sitting with their legs crossed. Think of it as a way to focus on your dreams every morning/night, and as a way to keep yourself grounded among all the craziness of life.
Everybody has a “WHY?” Meditation is the 20 minutes a day you spend focusing on your why, and being grateful for everything you already have. Like James Altucher says“anxiety and gratitude can’t live in the same head.”
Personal health (what you have control over) – It’s hard to be optimistic when you are sick. Your personal health plays a huge part in your attitude, which plays a huge part in your effort, which plays a huge part in your success. As long as you are trying to get better at least 1% a day, your attitude will feed off your progress.
What is luck?
Luck is when you hustle hard to create opportunities, while always expecting to win. It doesn’t get any more technical than that. So now we can stop thinking of luck as the lazy man's dreams, and as the hustlers secret weapon. Uncross your fingers, and get to work.
Some suggested readings/links that will enhance your experience with the information in this post:
“The Obstacle Is the Way” by Ryan Holiday – This book is all about being able to spot opportunities in the middle of misfortune. It helps you transform the way you think, by showcasing historical figures who have done it. It profiles Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Marcus Aurelius, and many more.
“Become An Idea Machine” by Claudia Altucher – Claudia is the wife of one of my favorite writers James Altucher. One thing James speaks about is how exercising your mind can help you spot opportunities. His claim is that if you write down 10 ideas a day, every 6 months your life will change for the better. Claudia wrote a book to help guide you through that process.
Posters by Joey Roth – Seeing is believing. Wherever your work space is, you need to have clear reminders that serve as not just motivation, but helps you think. Joey has a few of those posters in his store.
Perfect place to start with meditation. Recommended by Scott Britton.
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