By Dr. Lisa Newton, Ph.D. Graduate of Union Institute & University
1. Know Thy Self. Have honest on-going evaluations of yourself that focuses on your needs, skills, goals and expectations.
Are you willing to consistently and persistently take the necessary steps to become an entrepreneur or to grow your business as an entrepreneur? Will you develop a business plan (that includes 1, 2 and 5 year activities as well as day to day activities), work the plan and if need be make the necessary adjustments along the way? Will you find experts to manage areas that you are not as strong in as others, areas that are necessary for successful business achievement? Briefly analyze your life patterns and experiences to see if you can apply your awareness of self to future growth and business solutions.
2. Plan regular business meetings with your family, friends, partners, sponsors, team players and mentors all of whom are willing in some way to take part in the creation of a business legacy not just for you or themselves but also for future generations.
Wealth and the knowledge of how to create wealth is often passed through the generations. Rarely does someone create business success overnight. Business success is often based on the knowledge and a repertoire of skills and talents. Therefore, when our youth grow up learning about business growth and success from their parents or mentors they are more likely to become entrepreneurs.
3. Know your Business Market.
Unless you have extensive resources, starting a new business may be more challenging than finding your niche in markets that have already begun to flourish. Identifying flaws and/or inconsistencies to fulfill unmet and untapped needs in the market place provides a great formula for success. Take the well needed time to study your market before starting your business and continue to provide ongoing data analysis once you are in business.
4. Don’t Just Talk About Your Passion and Life’s Purpose, Live It.
You are passionate about something for a reason and only you can live out your desire and enthusiasm for life. Ask yourself am I fulfilling my dreams and desires and/or am I doing my life’s work? If not, why or why not? How can I align my business plans with my visions and wishes? Even if you have done something totally opposite in your past, knowledge and experience are transferrable, use them in some way to follow your life dreams.
5. Access All Tools Available to You.
There are many funding sources, and support organizations for both startup and current businesses. They often require business plans, financial, banking and tax statements. These records are in many ways like money in the bank so treat them as such. You can also host several fund raiser and business campaigns to drive additional income. Consider using your online forums to create passive income streams with e-commerce and/or affiliate marketing. Once your business begins to grow you should highly consider becoming a public corporation by openly trading the stock of your business in the market place.
6. Know Your Business Processes and Health.
Understand your customers, services and operations. What are costs of doing business and the returns on your investments? What is your break-even point? Usually if your expenses are more than a third of your total return than you may decide to reconsider your profit loss strategy. Always collect potential customer and customer/sales data as often as possible. The information gathered will eventually fuel your business intelligence used to project sales/income and market strategies.
7. Your Word is as Good as Gold.
Be a business woman of your word. If you announce an opening date or operating hour do your best to fulfill your verbal obligation. If you give one price to your customer do your best to honor your word. If you say that a product is this or that make sure that you have determined that that is so. If you make a mistake or need to retract your word, try to do so in a professional manner without blaming others for your responsibilities.
8. Do not live out of the Gross Earnings.
Add your salary to the budget, save for the future and plan beyond month to month. Pay your taxes and expenses as you go. All the money made is not your profit. You cannot determine your profit before you have paid all your bills which must include your savings and salaries.
9. Take good care of yourself with good planning and follow through, you don’t have to sweat the small stuff.
If you are going into business be sure to add Exit and Contingency procedures as part of your business plan especially if you have partners or associates. If you are in business and you don’t have such plans make sure you develop them. This will minimize all kinds of stress in your business life. You want to make sure you take good care of yourself and that means always having a reserve. Therefore you should never use all your personal resources because when we begin to, we run on over load. When we encounter stressful situations never act unprofessionally, document your issues and give that information to the necessary people or organizations to handle.
10. Don’t limit Your Success!
The best time to start a business is when you are working and the best time to grow the business is when you have achieved some business success. Always look for opportunities to make passive and residual income while you are doing business. It is also a great idea to have some non-profit or heartfelt cause that you are passionate about to support and grow with. The relationship will incentivize your relationships, life goals and associations while helping others. Believe that you can be extremely successful in your business. Don’t think that because you are an African American woman people won’t do business with you. Go into each business situation and relationship with the mindset that most people are all in some way generally good. If you find they are otherwise make note of the experience, sometimes the reason is not always what we may perceive. Find joy and inspiration as you move forward to find your next customer and take good care of the customers you already have! The sky does not have to be your limit.
About Dr. Newton
Dr. Newton’s goal is for more African American women to soar and prosper as entrepreneurs. She is a 2016 Union Institute & University graduate with a Ph.D. in Ethical and Creative Leadership and a native of Cincinnati. Her dissertation, “An Investigation of Cultural Intergenerational Trauma or Collective Traumatic Memory as a Social, Economic Barrier for African American Women Entrepreneurs in Cincinnati, Ohio” examined the social cultural behaviors that may keep some African American women from the entrepreneur path. She is hopeful that her work may become one of the tracks that will improve the poverty rates in Cincinnati and around the country. Dr. Newton is the CEO of Illume Business Development.