I can imagine you are wondering what my fixation is with Black Enterprise. When I was in college, I went through my early quarter life crisis. You know the one where you are trying to figure out who you are and who you want to become. I knew that I wanted to have a good job, drive a nice car and repay my student loans. Easy enough. But… how was I going to make all of that happen? How long would it take for me to get there?
One day, I picked up a copy of Black Enterprise. It was then that I began to see examples of the type of person I wanted to become. I read the bios of the movers and shakers featured in the magazine and it helped me to realize a few lessons:
- Success would not come quickly. Most of the professionals featured were around 30-50 years old. This took some pressure off of me because it helped me to see that I had some time to get where I was trying to go.
- I needed to get involved. One common thread of the successful profiles that I read were that the leaders were successful at their jobs but they were also involved in their community. In some way, they all spoke about giving back to their community.
Attending this conference has been special because I get to see those movers and shakers in person that I still read about every month. During lunch today, Black Enterprsie hosted their Small Business Awards Luncheon. I feel privileged to have a forum to send a special congratulations to each of the winners.
Teenpreneur Award: Gabrielle McBay, Crumbs by Gabrielle, www.crumbsbygabrielle.com
Innovator of the Year: Amos Winbush III, CyberSynchs LLC, www.cybersynchs.com
BE Next Award: Jamail Larkins, Ascension Aircraft, www.ascensionaircraft.com
Small Business of the Year: Timothy Jackson and Frank Kendrick, NuJak Cos., www.nujak.com
The lunch culminated with a One on One Interview with Daymond John, Entrepreneur and Found of FUBU. John is a branding expert and shared the following tips that led to his success:
- You should sweat the small stuff. It is the little things that you do on a daily basis that prepare you for the bigger things. Not to mention, it is better to fail while you are small than when you are large.
- You get out what you put in. Being an entrepreneur means that you work for yourself and you set your own hours. It also means that you may be working 27hours a day and giving 125% of yourself to the project.
- You have to be willing to sacrifice to achieve your goals. What you think about most is what you will become. If you are always thinking about accomplishing your professional goals, your personal life may suffer. Make sure your spouse or mate is on board with your project and a part of the team.
- Always think big. You spend the same amount of time thinking big as you do thinking small.
- Monopoly will expose your business associate’s business style. Are they willing to take risk, underhanded or wanting to get along with everyone?
- There are four levels of branding
- Item (water, can be found anywhere)
- Label (you go to the store and buy a bottle of water with a label, no description, doesn’t matter)
- Brand (begin to identify with a particular maker of water, no longer think of it as just water, Aquafina)
- Lifestyle (begin to associate the water brand with more than just the water, think of the celebrity that endorses it and/or a lifestyle element associated with it)
- Find a way to sell even when you are sleeping
- Always find the biggest way to execute… within your means
- To be successful, you have to do what you love.
- You don’t need to focus on luck. Luck is where desire and drive meet.
- Invest time in learning about the industry that you want to enter. Knowledge, not money, solves problems.
What does he look for when deciding whether or not to invest in a business?
- He can tell within the first minute whether he wants to do business with you. First impressions matter.
- He asks follow up questions to convince him that he’s making the right decision.
- He also considers whether he wants to be in business with the person. It’s notjust about the idea but whether you want to have a relationship with the person.
- What does the profitability of the business look like?
- Do you have a patent? Can anyone else produce your product?