Before anyone else believes in you and your dream, you first believe in yourself.
When you believe in yourself, everything else follows.... When you don't believe in yourself, it becomes more difficult to encourage other people to share your vision.
Dream, envision, and create, in as much detail as possible. List out what your project accomplishes, specify the mission of your organization, draw out the actual measurable outcomes you intend to create, and build up your blueprint of how the company runs.
By participating in the planning process, you have a better chance of achieving success (as some people have said it, "by failing to plan, you plan to fail" -- make sure you plan to succeed).
There are 9 people who will be "going through the motions", spending, and consuming without a thought as to what it is that they're doing and why. You can be the 10th person who actually comes up with an idea, a product, or a service to help those other 9 people.
There are 9 people who don't believe in their dreams, who scoff at risk-takers, and who actively suppress change. You can be that 10th person who leaps to the edge and makes a difference through your work.
There are 9 people who don't like what they do for a living. You can be that 10th person who truly believes, and out of that, achieves.
Create, dream, do, and live your purpose. No one asks for anything beyond that, but it is your highest and most important action while you're alive: to fulfill your life's purpose.
What is it?
Believe in yourself, and use all the skills, resources, information, and expertise available to help you achieve it.
I've written extensively about women and business blogging, and my position is that any channel you can use to spread the word about your projects is good. Business blogging will work to the extent that you expend resources on it. People looking in Google search for you particular keywords (if all our blog posts mention those keywords) will find you.
However, notice that some people use Google searches to find relevant information.
Some people use e-mail word of mouth.
Some people use the yellow pages or Yelp.
Where are you?
One way for you to start to engage with all different kinds of people is by establishing a presence on many different "channels". Here's the list of places where I've been networking online, in the order I joined:
Facebook: I'm the 400,222nd user
Blogspot: To blog, of course!
LinkedIn: Put a link to my profile in my e-mail signature bar
Delicious: to put all my bookmarks into one place and "push" them out to other channels
YouTube: To share videos of my kids with grandparents
Skype: To call clients and family in the Philippines
Twitter: To follow up on wildfires in 2007 and now to microblog
There are plenty of channels to reach your potential customers. What are you selling, to whom, and where are those people?
If you're selling to predominantly non-wired people, then don't spend a lot of time online!
If you're selling to Generation Y, then spend your time on Craigslit, Wikipedia, Pandora, CNN, Amazon, and PerezHilton.
Find out who you the main consumers of your products are, and then meet them where they engage in their own communities. Boomers, Gen-Xers, Millennials, are all in different places.... go and find them, meet them, and share your knowledge, skills, experience, and products with them!
Today's post is a guest post by Jerrilynn B. Thomas, founder at Women Partner International. In it, Jerrilynn talks about the benefits of cross marketing. Many of you are already doing this through groups like BNI: consider taking the referral step one further and directly partnering with others to market all of your businesses as a team.
The government is not going to bail out your business if it fails. You need to start thinking collaboratively NOW if you want to thrive in this slow economy. Aggressive and quick action is required if you want to prosper this holiday season and beyond.
Ladies, you need to start forging cross marketing partnerships. Collaborate with companies that are already selling to your target audience. Develop win-win relationships with them to gain access to their clients and business associates.
WomenPartner International, a cross marketing consortium for seasoned business and professional women who want to fast track their first million in sales by servicing each others' existing client base while sharing marketing costs to stretch their precious marketing dollars, offers the following words of wisdom for women who want to engage in cross marketing.
Take a look around at your business space. Imagine that it's a popular mall that generates a lot of foot traffic filled with other businesses who offer well defined products and services related to yours but not in competition with your company. Make a list of the businesses you see sharing mall space and customers with you. Then approach them to discuss forging a cross marketing relationship.
A podcasting consultant, referral generation coach, sales closing consultant, branding consultant, networking coach, email marketing consultant, affiliate marketing consultant, e-book development consultant, web copy consultant, and video development consultant would make a powerful cross marketing team.
Khrys Vaughn of Her Start Up LLC, Jennifer Large of Marketing At Large, Janet Davis-Leak of Womanscope News Magazine, and Val Olson of Blue-eyed Muse are pooling their knowledge and contacts to create the Holiday Business Survival Kit. The kit will be packaged on CDs and as PDFs and given away locally as well as online on Black Friday to business and professional women who typically don’t generate a large profit during the holiday season. The ladies will share the cost of producing the CDs by buying their own CDs and saving the info on them.
Put on your thinking cap and start building your dream business team. The year is quickly coming to an end. If you start cross marketing now, you will be able to capitalize on the holiday season. Visit http://www.womenpartner.com to browse the profiles of women interested in cross marketing.
Had you considered that a green business could also be a service business? The first Green Certified court reporting company in the country is Barkley
, and here's an introduction to our friend Ana Fatima Costa, who works there.
1) Where did you get started in your business?
I achieved two licenses in court reporting in 1979 and worked in Municipal, Superior and Federal courts all over the Bay Area, then freelanced for several reporting firms. In 1987 I took some time off to raise my two sons, Alex and Jake, and during that time was invited to give parenting classes in the school district, which I did for six years. After a short time in the gift and health industries, I returned to court reporting and managed the SF office of the erstwhile Spherion Deposition Services for 5.5 years, then was asked to go into business development. Spherion was bought by a smaller company and I left to join Barkley in June 2006. A month later, while reading the SF Business Times, I read an article about the first government-certified green law firm in the U.S. (Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean) and was inspired to take our company green, which we achieved in March 2007.
2) What values do you try to live by?
My intrinsic values are being of service, integrity, gratitude and compassion. At times, our minds can give us many reasons why it's okay to tell a white lie, or not to tell the entire truth, and sometimes it's not appropriate (as with children -- too much information can be damaging). Being committed to integrity and compassion means asking myself, "What is the best, highest way to approach this situation? How can I make this better? How can I serve?" Listening to others opens my heart; everyone has a story. I give thanks for all the blessings in my life every day.
3) Who do you consider to be a role model?
My main role models were my father, who passed away in August 2001, and my mother. Shortly before my father passed away, he was the only North American person honored by the Portuguese government for his contributions to the Portuguese people on three continents - Europe, North and South America - with an all-expense-paid trip to Portugal for 21 days. He had been a journalist in Portugal before we emigrated in 1960 and later in the U.S. had a radio program for 30 years, Amigos de Portugal. He was also known for helping thousands of Portuguese-American immigrants get their American citizenship papers.
My mother Judy was his backbone and support, helping us to grow up as honest, loving people; she fed us in every way and today continues to teach me about the importance of acceptance of others, compassion, humor and faith. At our father's festas she prepared all the food for hundreds of people and until his last days was my father Higino's Violeta. As we walked one morning 11 days before he passed away, he told me that he had fallen in love with my mom the first day he laid eyes on her, and that she was wearing a violet dress. He was still in love with her after all that time.
4) Name one of your biggest challenges and how you learned from that situation.
One of my biggest challenges was when I was sued by a vendor when I worked for a company that had begun to develop a reputation of not paying their bills. I had worked for them for 7 and a half years and had a reputation of being honest, almost to a fault. When I was served with the complaint, I was shocked that I had been included as a named defendant; I had worked hard to get everyone paid what they were owed, and to be accused of fraud, dishonesty and misrepresentation was a blow to my ego. Worse, the partners did nothing to find me legal representation, and I hired one of my clients (a young passionate French woman who was co-owner of a woman-owned law firm in Oakland) to represent me. Shortly after I left their employ, I was told by my attorney that the plaintiff's deposition was going to take place. I wanted to face my accuser, so I left my new job mid-day and took BART to her office. He couldn't look me in the eye. I had produced 21 e-mails which I had sent to my former employers, imploring them to pay this poor man, and my attorney asked that they be marked as exhibits. A couple of months later, we were dismissed from the case without having to pay a dime. Two years later, my former employers closed their doors.
5) When was your most successful moment to date?
My most successful moment to date was of a deeply personal nature. I traveled to the USSR in 1984 to purposefully have my son Alex, now 24, born there as a gesture of peace between the two Cold War superpowers. As unbelievable as that may seem, it happened. Attached is an SF Chronicle article
dated September 27, 1984 which pretty accurately tells the story. I am writing a book about this experience and what happened after we returned to the U.S. The entire experience was very spiritual. Every step of the way, whenever I felt worried or concerned, I would feel a sense of peace, gently reassuring me that everything would be okay. And it was. This was a journey of faith, of trusting a Higher Power, that all would be well, and it was.
From the Washington Post on October 14, 2008:
"Minority-women-owned businesses have grown at twice the rate of minority-male-owned enterprises and those of nonminority owners of either gender, according to the Minority Business Development Agency. Among minority women, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders had an 84% rate growth, the highest of any women-owned-businesses group"
If women in business are growing quicker then any other sub-group, and minority women in business are the fastest-growing niche within that group, who is addressing their needs? You have an opportunity to be a part of this fast-growing community.
Women of color in business, unite!
Now is the best time to be a minority woman in business or a woman of color improving your situation through your own business, the launch of your company,the start of a side project, or your own home-based business. I know a lot of people have been affected by the economy, either through layoffs or through problems with cash flow and credit at their company.
Here are some easy tips to move into the holiday season:
1) Make a list of what you can do, what you can offer, what you can sell.
Everyone has a specific talent or gift. What's yours? Now's the time to use that unique talent and start sharing it with the world as a consultant or salesperson or representative or worker. Whatever it is, only you can do it. Rise to the occassion.
2) Claim a domain name.
Use http://www.10khosting.com or http://www.godaddy.com
Choose a name that's memorable, short, and easy-to-spell. This will be your website.
3) Buy economy Linux-based hosting.
This is your hosting package, the place where your website will "live." You can use the same place you registered as long as hosting is no more than $50-$100/year.
4) Sign up for a PayPal account. http://www.paypal.com
Free. You can then accept credit card payments online.
5) Sign up for an e-junkie account. http://www.e-junkie.com
A low monthly fee ($5). Use this service to take care of digital downloads, or manage anything that requires special codes to access, like a members-only section, a teleconference, or a password-protected file.
If you were recently laid-off, they will give you a FREE ACCOUNT for a year, just send them proof of termination of your contract.
6) Claim your ID: perhaps you have a Facebook, a LinkedIn, a Twitter account?
At the very least, you can claim your own account at these places, so either your personal name and/or your business name is now "covered".
7) Get started.
Use any number of free or low-cost tools to set yourself up, like a Blogger account or http://www.wordpress.com
These will help you create an infrastructure for you to start using as a platform to write articles and post products that share your knowledge. As you do this, you can actively start connecting with people, and you can start your networking process.
Networking => connections => sharing => potential customers => sales
Who will buy your products or services? People who know you or who find you online through a mention will be able to buy from you. So you have to get "out there" first.
8) Ping me.
Let's connect with each other for more ways to work on the web aspect of your business. Once you have a business plan and a marketing plan, your website plan is not far behind (think of us if you need website development). For the most valuable return on your investment, your web presence will be the place that generates the most connections for you.
October 15, 2008 is "Blog Action Day", a day when bloggers around the world turn the conversation towards poverty.
Many of you know how important it is for me to support women who are using their business as a tool for personal and professional development. The subtext of that is that many women in the United States who are starting businesses or buying businesses are recent immigrants, speak English as a second language, or are minorities either through culture, religion, or geographic origin. Their business = profits = a better life for themselves and their families and for many women, a way out of poverty and into prosperity.
Woman-owned businesses are on the rise in the United States, and one of the ways to increase and foster entrepreneurship is for all of us to provide more and better access to resources such as information on how to start a business, how to get a license, how to market, how to find and fulfill a consumer need, and how to budget, how to read profit and loss statements, and how to increase cash flow.
To this end, in the next year I'll be integrating some of my experiences, and the experiences of experts, to put together a book on 101 Tips for Minority Women in Business.
In the meantime, what can one person do? What can you do about poverty in your own community? All of us taking one small step translates into great strides to increasing economic freedom for the poor in our midst: here are eight ideas for you to take a step towards ending poverty.
1) Reduce. Go through your closet once a year and take out any item that you haven't worn in the previous 12 months. Donate this wear to charity, such as Wardrobe for Opportunity http://www.wardrobe.org or your local 'Dress for Success' chapter http://www.dressforsuccess.org
2) Become a microlender. Kiva http://www.kiva.org is an excellent microfinance site to assist in financing women entrepreneurs around the globe. For $25, $50, or $100, you can provide a woman-owned business with a low-interest loan that gives her a way to purchase inventory or invest in capital equipment to get over the hurdle of startup costs or to increase operations.
If you'd like to do this as part of a group, I invite you to join my lending team here: http://www.kiva.org/community/viewTeam?team_id=1499
3) Read the label. Are you buying Fair Trade? Are you supporting stores that are mindful about the origin of their clothing, foods, drinks, and products? We can wean ourselves off Big Box mentality and move towards conscious consumption by understanding where all of our "stuff" comes from. Talk to the local shopkeeper and request options that are sourced locally, provide fair wages, or are environmentally friendly. When they change their products, thank them in person and in public.
4) Go meatless for a day. By taking a day off from eating meat, you reduce, by just a little bit, the consumer demand on the cattle industry, which has increased environmental degradation, upped water consumption, and made day-to-day life more of a challenge across the globe.
5) Advocate. Each of us has a voice. Write a letter to your representative, send an e-mail to friends, or talk to your circle of associates about what you are doing to increase economic security for people in your community. Better yet, at your next gathering, instead of requesting hostess or birthday gifts, have a fundraising get-together and contribute to a local soup kitchen, women's organization, or children's group.
6) Educate yourself. Much of the outrageous spending in the United States is from the priorities by people in charge. I visit globalissues.org to understand more of how my actions in my own country directly play into outcomes for other people in other countries. Learn about Causes of Poverty on that site. This goes particularly for this year's election cycle: voting is one way for us to express our desires.
7) Peer pressure (aka social networking). We all are able to accomplish so much more when we act as a group. Tag five friends and send them some links or invite them to be a part of your fundraising team. Set a goal to raise a certain amount for a shelter or nonprofit or clinic in your area, and reach it.
8) Share your knowledge. Many of us have skills that we're not aware of or that we don't know how to share. Many groups need speakers, mentors, and coaches to assist people in developing new talents, and new talents, with the right support, turn into potential ways to earn more income.
Consider volunteering your time as an advisor or as a teacher at a local school, women's group, or business support team. Or consider helping someone navigate through getting paperwork or receiving continuing education. You will have the chance to grow your own knowledge, help others in your community, and increase your own ability to be effective.
Do you have other ideas? Pass them on.
Because I'm inspired, for Blog Action Day I am donating $5 to Kiva.org for every download of my e-book "Fifty-one Ways to Build your Community of Clients Online" before October 31, 2008 at 11:59pm PST.
Buy this great resource of all my tips for generating more sales online and know that $5 of your purchase will go directly to supporting a woman who needs it.
A Successful Woman's Handbook: Fifty-one Ways to Build your Community of Clients Online ($12.99 instant download, 240 pages)
I was on my Facebook account the other day and found a friend request from an African-American woman who found me through my NAWBO listing. What a joy! I was able to chat a little bit with Mechelle White, based in Michigan, who focuses on local catering and is opening a sweets shop and cafe in 2009.
If descriptions of lemon chicken, crab cakes, prosciutto-wrapped scallops, and home-made sides like bourbon sweet potato bake and rosemary potato dishes don't start your mouth watering, then you're sure to respond to her cupcakes and cheesecakes. If you're in the Detroit area, stop by, or if you're looking to mail order, Sweets and Brunch will be expanding their operations to ship.
Spotlight on Success: Mechelle White
1) How did you get started in your business?
My sister Danyell and I decided to into business in 2007. She has been baking for 9 years and I have been cooking for about the same. So, we decided to combine the business- Sweets Divine & Just Brunch. We were both working at Ford Motor Company and we took the buyout to go into business for ourselves and to spend more time with our children.
2) Tell us about your role model or a mentor for your business.
Our role model is our mother. She has had two business of her own and is the true meaning of an Entrepreneur. She has trained us on the in and out of business and what it takes.
3) What was your biggest challenge, and how did you overcome it?
Our biggest challenge have been the fact that we had to close our actual store front 1 month ago. Location, Location, Location. I can't stress how important location is. We were not in the right location. We were warned but we were excited about the low cost in the rent and went for it. We invested a lot of money into that building also. We decided to close we are opening up another store in downtown Detroit in early 2009. But, we are still in full swing because we still service other resturants and catering companies (accounts). So we rent a licensed kitchen for now. Our new location will be larger and will be both businesses, where our store was just Sweets Divine and we just catered for Just Brunch.
We also rushed into the business without actually planning the whole thing out. But, we have a really tight business plan now, working on our website so people can order from any state and we are considering investors now.
4) Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In ten years, I will have at least two stores here in Michigan and two in Chicago. My sister and I will be shipping our cheesecakes all over the world, co-packing our desserts and some of our food to be sold in grocery stores (working on that now), offering cooking camps for children between the ages of 8-13. I will be done with my doctorate degree by then and teaching adult classes part time at a University on Leadership/ Business/ Entrepreneur.
5) What's your advice to an entrepreneur just starting out?
The best advice I would give is make sure you carefully plan your business. Make sure you have everything mapped out detail for detail. Please, have a business plan especially if you plan on getting a loan, grant or some investors. Make sure you pick a GOOD location. That was our downfall.
Joling Mew is a San Francisco Bay Area resident who realized that plastic bags were going to be passé --- she decided to take matters into her own hands by creating an eco-friendly, environmentally conscious, reusable plastic bag.
Called "520 nm bags" and on the web at http://www.520nmbags.com, these bags are a terrific way to reduce, reuse, and conserve. Made out of 100% recycled plastic bottles, these reusable shopping bags are recommended by environmentally-friendly shoppers. They're eco-friendly produce and bulk food bags to help you shop green.
As a great plastic bag alternative, you can tote them to the farmer's market or the local grocery store. They come in a variety of colors and fold easily into your pocket or purse.
As a minority woman in business, Joling's product fulfills a number of niches. "520 nm is the wavelength of green light. It’s everywhere you look," she says, referring to the name of her company. The mission of her company is to "help you see the green in every day by offering simple solutions for a healthy planet."
Visit Joling's website at:
A little bird told me that, at a networking panel about venture capital, the representative from a very well-respected and well-known venture fund whose name we won't mention here (but which is located on Sand Hill Road and invests in early stage ventures and particularly "green" technology") said that to some extent they only listen to guys who are younger than 30...
This was directed to an audience of 135+ people, mostly Caucasian men.
In tech, there is definitely a dearth of minority women, so it's possible that the rep had never really even talked to a women of color in business.... but implying that only the best ideas come from young white men and proclaiming they won't even listen to someone who might be African American or Asian, or a woman, or over 30.....
That's just a little bit ______ ist (fill in the blank).
Now, in a self-perpetuating cycle, if someone gets positive feedback for doing well in math and science, they would potentially move forward in that field, innovating, creating patents, and developing new ideas for the market.
However, young black women don't typically get this kind of positive feedback.
Of course there are enthusiastic teachers, and high school and college mentors, but we can always increase the numbers of minority women actively working and leading within the field of technology.
Who do you listen to?
Who do you pay attention to?
Who do you ignore (and why?)
If an older Hispanic woman came to this networking event with a multi-million dollar idea, would anyone listen to her?