It’s Not All Hashtags & Likes: 20 Survival Tips for the Black Woman Entrepreneur (Part II)
“Perception is everything. Be sure you publicly align yourself with entities that share or enhance your personal vision.”
Welcome Back! I hope you enjoyed Items 1-10. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, please STOP what you’re doing and read it HERE. Here’s a quick recap of Part I:
Develop Your Leadership Style
Business Savvy= A Must
Get a Business Bestie
Find A Mentor
Understand that Things of Value Cost Money
Do Your Homework
And here are items 11-20. Enjoy!
CHECK YOUR EGO.
Accept the possibility of failure. That’s how you learn. Personally, I don’t trust any entrepreneur who swears they’ve never FAILED at anything. There’s a lot of risk in entrepreneurship. Don’t get too down on yourself if make a mistake, don’t reach a goal, or an idea falls flat.
Try to find the lesson in the experience and keep going. In the spirit of transparency, here’s a recent experience that I had: My online and face to face sales are stellar. I don’t even have to advertise that much. However, I recently branched out hospital gift shop sales and could not move the product. I found it odd, but it was a learning experience. I learned that my shop displays needed to exist work. They should be just as engaging as my online marketing and face to face presentations.
(Photo credit: Imgur)
CONSIDER UNIVERSAL APPEAL.
Expand your scope-WITHOUT losing your soul. Develop and deploy your vision and frame so that you are as inclusive as possible and don’t alienate potential customers. Carol’s Daughter has MASTERED this.
(Photo credit: Carol’s Daughter via HSN)
KEEP YOUR COOL. (This one’s got a few sub-points)
a. Don’t criticize your customers on passive-aggressively social media.
It’s not a good look. Take a deep breath. Go for a walk,
have some wine. Whatever you do, don’t vent online. Talk to your Business Bestie. For example, I am facebook friends with a few fellow entrepreneurs. Sometimes I see them vent about a customer with a special circumstance like bad feet, thin edges, tardiness, declined credit cards, etc. Personally, I always feel like I’d rather not patronize that business because I’d prefer the anonymity of being with a stranger and feeling I may not be fodder on a social media feed.
b. Don’t vent about other businesses via social media.
For example, if someone is imitating your ideas and marketing strategies, don’t vent online about it.
c. Don’t argue with unhappy customers on social media.
Although it can be tempting, remember that whatever you say online lives forever. It’s important to remain accommodating and respectful with ANYTHING you put in writing. I know, I know-it’s frustrating and it’s a very REAL occurrence, but to a potential customer or investor, it looks like you are unable to control your emotions. Just something to keep in mind.
(Photo credit: TV Re-cappers Delight).
BUILD A BRAINTRUST.
Engage other successful entrepreneurs or up and coming entrepreneurs that you respect and meet with them perhaps quarterly to discuss ideas, possibilities for cross-promotion and partnerships. Sometimes, you also need someone credible to bounce ideas off of. Hold each other accountable. Take turns hosting the event and offer light food and beverages. Not too much of the hard stuff so that you can remain focused.
Unless they’re serving mimosas.
(Photo credit: Apple Music via People)
PROTECT YOUR REPUTATION.
Friendship takes a back seat when it comes to business. Tagging each other on social media and such is nice BUT you have to be aware of who you align yourself with and the impact that it can have on your brand. Perception is everything. Be sure you publicly align yourself with entities that share or enhance your personal vision. I won’t elaborate here, but if you’re interested, I speak about the characteristics I look for when partnering other businesses in Empire Life Magazine.
(Photo credit: The YBF)
TAKE OFF YOUR SENSITIVE SHIRT.
You should constantly look to improve. No one is perfect. Not all feedback is bad. Have a receptive attitude toward criticism. Seriously, we are very close to our products and services. Plainly stated, won’t always know when they suck. You also must understand that everything isn’t for everyone and that it totally okay. It is not
supposed to be personal.
Now, I offer this advice with one key caveat: Respect and receive unsolicited advice with a grain of salt. Sometimes people offer advice based on what THEY would do
or never got a chance to do and not necessarily what works best for you. For solicited feedback, I recommend surveys via apps like SurveyMonkey and conducting focus groups that offer incentives for participation.
(Photo Credit: Celebuzz)
CHARGE WHAT YOU’RE WORTH.
Do NOT lower prices because you want people to buy your product. I strongly recommend skipping the family discounts. Instead, offer incentives for loyalty or something along those lines. You will NOT see much profit if you’re offering discounts to everyone. BELIEVE ME.
(Photo credit: The Jasmine Brand)
CUSTOMER SERVICE IS KEY.
I once read that TRUST=Credibility + Behavior. It’s important to build trust between yourself and your customer base.
If you mess up an order, make it right. Apologize, send an incentive in the form of discount codes, upgrades, or free samples, etc. A hand-written note is always a nice touch. This maintains the trust in the customer relationship and believe me, trust is what you want. Respect the power that your customer holds. A happy customer will sing your praises everywhere they go and an unhappy one will do the same. Guess which one has the most severe impact?
(Photo Credit: Sales Junction)
ALWAYS PUT YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD. Once you’ve perfected your craft, the next step is PRESENTATION. I recommend having your logo designed by a professional (see Fiverr). Afterward, begin to brand yourself. VISTAPRINT is a godsend. There is almost ALWAYS a discount code any given day. Make sure you have business cards, flyers, a website, a banner and other accessories with a consistent theme based on your branding. Steer clear of Vistaprint templates because there is a significant chance that someone else is using that same aesthetic.
(Photo credit: Uber Gizmo)
SOCIAL MEDIA ISN’T REAL.
Let’s face it, we’re not going to have “Kylie Jenner numbers” on social media immediately. Don’t measure yourself against other businesses’ likes and followers.
Many people buy followers. Instead of focusing on the smoke and mirrors, shift your focus to your own quality and continue to employ the steps above to maintain the integrity of your product or service.
BONUS: While controlling your levels of social media envy is important, I want to offer another gem. Do NOT present yourself to be something you’re not online. If you’re living a fabulous life, it will show itself and you’re normally too busy to worry about convincing us. Feigning fabulosity and sales is a big no-no and comes off quite contrived. It’s more obvious than you’d think. BE AUTHENTIC on and offline.
(Photo Credit: Crushable)
Okay, I know this was long, but I wanted to ensure I shared every possible thing I could think of
that I wish someone told me years ago.
Lastly, SUPPORT YOUR FELLOW ENTREPRENEURS. There’s a WIDE variety of entrepreneurial efforts within our community. Here are a few of my personal faves:
(Tees in the Trap, The Good Thick, Zen in a Jar, Amyang Fashun, City Republik, Aisle Perfect, Turning Natural, Akosua ASA, B Derm Esthetics, Sapodilla Skin Care, M Shonnell Photography, Habitually Fly, Wired Cycling, & Nubian Skin).
Please add your faves in the comments!
So what do you think? Did I nail it? Did I miss anything? This is a living document that is constantly growing. I’d love your input because in the spirit of #FORMATION, we’re all in this TOGETHER!
Best of luck in your endeavors.
-From the Desk of Red Lips & Chardonnay