It’s Not All Hashtags & Likes: 20 Survival Tips for Black Woman Entrepreneurs (Part I) - Afropolitan Insights
20 Survival Tips for Entrepreneurs (Part I)
Survival, black women, business, entrepreneurship, tips
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10 Mar It’s Not All Hashtags & Likes: 20 Survival Tips for Black Woman Entrepreneurs (Part I)

In the spirit of #BlackGirlMagic, I’m sure its no surprise that the fastest growing demographic to become entrepreneurs is BLACK WOMEN. Yes, I’m serious. According to Fortune Magazine, the number of women entrepreneurs increased 74% from 1997-2015. The number of African-American women entrepreneurs has increased 322%. We are out here killing it. Madame CJ Walker would be PROUD!

I am proud to say that I am in that number. In addition to a day job, school, and writing I am also an entrepreneur. I am the creator of Zen in a Jar. This is not easy. Although I LOVE what I do, I have many, many lessons learned that I’d love to share with you. If you’re currently starting your own business or considering it, I’m offering you this cheat sheet of survival tips based on my own experiences, observations and straight up #FAILS over the past 2-3 years.

Here goes…

KNOW THYSELF.
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You need to be self-aware. It may be harsh and uncomfortable, but you will not succeed if you don’t know yourself, your communication style, and your responses to conflict. You can take a series of personality tests like this one. Be clear on your core values and your values system and most importantly, ensure that you can clearly communicate them.
(Photo Credit: Armani via Daily Mail UK)

DEVELOP YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE.

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Read books such as Tribal Leadership, The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, Becoming a Resonant Leader (my fave) to understand organizational cultures and where your leadership style fits in.
(Photo Credit: Boomerang Film (1992) via Lipstick Alley)

HAVE SUBSTANCE.
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Is this a good product? Like seriously, does this product or service bring value to the world? Or are you trying to make a quick buck?

This is NOT for the faint of heart. Assess your motivation and ensure that you are intrinsically motivated to take this on. If this is not your passion, it will be obvious pretty much immediately.

So ask yourself, do you really want this? Or do you just want the Instagram account with fancy pictures, lots of followers, and likes? There is a difference. It reveals itself.
(Photo credit: The Fashion Lady)

BUSINESS SAVVY= A MUST.

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I cannot stress this enough. I do not have a business degree. I don’t like numbers. I just like to create. Unfortunately, you cannot win by just focusing on your craft. You MUST have a business plan, track your costs per unit, inventory, everything. It’s just the way it is. Treat this business plan like a living document and update it as needed. There are many resources available like this one and this one. You can also acquire assistance from Fiverr (more on that a few items down).
(Photo credit: HBO via Funnelholic)

BE RESOURCEFUL.
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Outsource the tasks that you can. Yes, you may have a web design degree, BUT if you’re making bracelets, you cannot give 100% to web design. Take advantage of resources on sites like Fiverr. I don’t work for Fiverr but I do swear by them especially for social media strategy, web design, editing, and logo design. Everything is $5 to start! Can’t go wrong there. Recommendation: Read the reviews of the resource BEFORE engaging them. Ask questions and read their requirements BEFORE you place the order.
(Photo credit: ABC via TV Rukus)

GET A BUSINESS BESTIE.

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I’d elaborate on this, but I’ve actually stumbled upon a few good articles that describe it here and here. I have two #BusinessBesties. Check them out here and here!
(Photo credit: TIDAL via Hitflix)

FIND A MENTOR.
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Not a person to imitate, but a mentor who can guide you. If there is no one in your real life to mentor you, you still have a few options. Reach out to other entrepreneurs via networking events, social media communities, etc. The other option, which is my personal preference as an introvert, is to listen to podcasts. Luckily, Empire Life Magazine has compiled the 5 Podcasts Every Black Entrepreneurial Woman Should Be Listening to.”
(Photo Credit: Popsugar)

DELEGATE. DELEGATE. DELEGATE.

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You MUST Learn to Delegate. Here’s an example of why: I had a meltdown over the holiday season because I met my sales goals but sacrificed sleep, family and school.

My therapist enlightened me with the following:
The CEO of Corn Flakes is not on the floor mixing up corn meal, putting the corn flakes in the boxes, driving the boxes to the grocery stores, nor stocking the shelves with cereal. The CEO communicates their vision and empowers the employees to carry out that vision.

This piece is key and very much my own struggle. The first step to resolving this is taking an honest look at what you can afford to trust with someone else. Then, after you assess your communication style (see Item #12), hire staff or interns and properly train them. Sharpen your emotional intelligence enough to onboard trustworthy people who respect your vision and begin to let them manage specific tasks.

BONUS: You will not regret trying out 17 Hats . It was recommended to me by one of my #BusinessBesties. So you know I trust it immediately. It basically runs your business for you, imagine if you had about 3 clones of yourself to handle things like invoicing, communications, inventory, appointments, and more. It’s Project Management on steroids.
(Photo credit: ABC via Melty.com)

UNDERSTAND THAT THINGS OF VALUE COST MONEY.

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PAY for the services you need. Professionals will cost money consider it an investment in your business. Be wary of anything that’s easy. Do not look for “freebies.” You don’t want to skimp on things like branding, photography of your products, web design, ingredients, etc. Cutting corners can cripple an up-and-coming entrepreneur, the moment this is exposed, especially the way negativity goes viral on social media.
(Photo credit: ABC via Giphy)

DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
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Research your customers. Research your potential customers. Research your competition. Research the laws in your state about your small business. I use the word research a lot, can you tell I’m in school?

Think outside of the box. For example, I make skin care products. When I had my first customer share their allergies with me, I immediately realized that, although I list my ingredients, allergies had not crossed my mind as something to consider. I closed my shop for about a week or two and did extensive research on allergies and the safest, most universally acceptable base oils with moisturizing benefits.
(Photo credit: Quick Meme)

From the Desk of Red Lips & Chardonnay

To be continued in Part II…

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