ErickaJoy Daniels (center), who is the Leader of Talent Management and Organizational Development for the Americas for Milwaukee’s Brady Corp. was among the “40 Under 40” in business honored by the Business Journal Monday during its awards dinner at the Pfister Hotel, downtown. Congratulating Daniels are (left to right): John Daniels, Erickajoy’s father-in-law, Atty. John Daniels, Jr., who is the chairman of Quarles&Brady LLP; Chantal Cyr, Dr. Eileen Schwalbach, and Erkajoy’s husband, John Daniels III. (Photo by Yvonne Kemp)
Have you ever had a falling out with your spouse over business?
As ‘Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta’s Rasheeda and Kirk have shown us, working with your loved one can be difficult…and rewarding recently interviewed Rasheeda of VH1’s ‘Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta,’ and we chatted a little about what she felt she brought to the show as well as how she managed to work with her husband Kirk (who is her manager), while keeping the romance in the relationship. In regards to the latter, she admitted that was it’s hard to have a professional relationship with her spouse, but that they have been getting better at managing both unions.
Obviously, some time has passed from that interview and from the taping of the show, but Monday night’s episode was disturbing. For those who aren’t familiar, Rasheeda is a rapper who has been through a couple of major label deals that didn’t work out, so her husband of over 10 years stepped in to manage her career as an independent artist. It seems that she hasn’t been happy with how he’s been handling her career; on the last episode she went behind his back to meet with new management. It’s not yet clear whether she will fire her husband or not but if he stays on board, he might be working with an outside team. That didn’t sit well with Kirk because he said that he had already warned her what being an independent artist would be like and insists that she’s being impatient and making the demands of a major label artist, which isn’t fair to him. In an emotional exchange between the couple, which you can watch here, Kirk tearfully tried to reason with her about how her actions were hurtful and I agree with him on one hand but on the flip side, if severing ties as business partners can save their marriage, I think that’s the best thing to do.
I like the idea of working with a spouse if and only if it’s progressive. Mr. Rocque and I dabble with it sometimes as writers (hence this column), but watching Rasheeda and her Kirk in action showed me that not everyone can do it successfully. I believe there are some problems in their communication style that led have them to a place where they are not a unified front. Working with family is never easy and I am no expert, but here’s what I’ve learned about how to make working with a spouse run smoothly, as inspired by the reality TV couple’s situation:
Effective Communication is Key
Mr. Rocque and I are big on communicating properly, as we’ve pointed out in past blogs. If a point needs to be communicated, then you must speak rationally. Yelling, using hurtful language or condescending tones is only going the make the other person shut down and not listen. Thus, nothing gets communicated and you’re setting yourself up for the same cycle of failure. I noticed that when Rasheeda is upset about something, she blows up or sabotages the operation at hand. There was an episode where she was late to a video shoot because she had to pick up clothing since they didn’t have a stylist. When she finally showed up, Kirk questioned her about where she had been, and she blew up at him and blamed him for their lack of a budget. Not only was that unprofessional, but while Rasheeda was dwelling on what they didn’t have and what her hubby should be doing, her hubby was trying to calm her down so that she could have a good shoot and not really focusing on his other duties while on set. This also hindered a productive conversation about what could have been a simple solution—getting an intern. The point is, be calm, be specific, don’t be passive aggressive and be thorough when communicating desires.
If you’re not happy about your spouse’s work and are considering severing ties, don’t go behind their back. Man/woman up and tell them what you plan to do. They will likely be hurt, but eventually they’ll appreciate you more for giving it to them straight. Respect also ties into the communication factor. Again, no one is going to listen to you if you don’t speak like a rational adult. Watch your tone and use proper intention with your words.
Know When to Call it Quits
Chances are, if you can’t work together or talk to each other without erupting into a huge argument over something small, then you should close up shop for the sake of the relationship.
Have you ever had a falling out with your spouse over business? Worked successfully with your lover? Weigh in!
Mr. and Mrs. Rocque are the couple formerly known as Anslem Samuel and Starrene Rhett, New York-based journalists who found love in between bylines. Follow the newlyweds’ musings of a marriage in progress here, on Twitter and via their joint blog.
by Greta Schulz
Well I did it. I did the “It’s the first of the year and I have put weight loss on my resolution list” thing. Actually I don’t make resolutions but I did set a goal to get healthy. I have committed to eating properly, exercising and stop using the excuse of my travel schedule.
That being said, on a recommendation of a friend, I tried Weight Watchers. It hadn’t been very long but already I see a difference, a small difference but a difference. Would it be nice to have dropped lots of lbs? Yep but just like in business and in sales, little bits at a time is smarter and has a much better chance for success.
I have heard from many of you telling me that you have set new year’s resolutions to include higher sales goals in 2013. A resolution and a goal are two different things. Let’s talk about how you should set goals for yourself.
Begin with your revenue goals. Not necessarily your company’ goals but your own. What do you need to get what you want? When do you want to be able to retire? How much will you need? If you don’t know these answers, you need to meet with a financial consultant and figure it out. Once you understand what you need to reach, add at least 5% because I am sure you have underestimated.
Next you will have to move to your daily and weekly activities. Begin detailing what you need to do every day, week and month to reach these revenue goals.
I know you are now asking yourself how do you know what to put down since you probably haven’t tracked your previous activity enough to know what that is. Therefore you need to estimate on what your daily, weekly and monthly activity should be.
After you have guesstimated these numbers you will need to track them every day. You need to do this for at least 90 days to begin to have a true idea of what it will really take to meet your goals.
As long as you meet your daily goals, you will be successful day by day. That’s important. Most people look at the whole revenue goal and don’t break it down into small pieces.
It feels overwhelming unless you break it down into small hurdles that can be jumped. If you can find ways to pat yourself on the back every day, then week, then month, you will not only meet your goals but you won’t give up after looking at the whole goal. So I am not losing 20 pounds, I am eating 23 points a day…and that I can handle.
Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business SELLutions in West Palm Beach, Florida. She is the best selling author of “To Sell is Not to Sell”. Greta does corporate training for fortune 1000 companies and she has an on-line training course for entrepreneurs. For more tips go to: www.schulzbusiness.com
Sometimes making your business successful is all about having the right connections
As a businessman who started his career working on political campaigns, I’m amazed at how little understanding successful business people have of how politics impacts their businesses. This is especially true of Black businessmen and women.
Having my offices located in Washington, DC, I am acutely aware of the impact politics has on the business community, the small business community in particular. My firm, Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC, provides strategic political and corporate advice, along with PR services to small and large businesses alike. We also work with professional athletes, entertainers, and many African countries.
People tend to call my firm when they are in some type of distress. For example, I had one client who had completed work on a contract for the Department of Defense (DoD). There was no dispute about the quality of their work; their payment voucher was just stuck on the desk of some bureaucrat. My client was owed $1 million. That’s nothing to the DoD, but for a small business-owner, that is a huge amount of money.
I asked my client which military base the work had been performed. Well, it turned out that the Congressman who represented the base was a good friend of mine. I called him and took my client to meet with him about the payment (or lack thereof). Because of my relationship with the Congressman, he picked up the phone and called the commandant of the base and the money was wired to my client the next day! But, what do you do if you don’t have access to your Congressman? I always say it’s better to have friends and not need them; than to need friends and not have them. Needless to say, this client has been a keen supporter of this Congressman ever since.
Oftentimes small business owners (especially in the minority community) get angry over the seeming preferential treatment larger firms get when it comes to business opportunities. In most cases, it has less to do with discrimination and more to do with relationships. Most business is done based on personal relationships. I often tell people that I don’t have a problem with the “good ole” boys network—as long as I am part of the network.
Playing the political game is one way of becoming part of this network. I encourage all of my clients to engage in the political process as a businessperson. This means they need to contribute money to their Congressmen and Senators. If they have employees, I strongly encourage them to host their member of Congress annually at their offices so they can interact with their employees and get to know more about their business operations. Even if your member of Congress doesn’t share your “personal” political beliefs, you should still have some type of personal relationship with him or her. They are your member of Congress whether you voted for him/her or not.
As a business owner, you must be more sophisticated than to just ignore your member of Congress because you may differ on certain political issues. Are you in business to pursue a political agenda or to make a profit?
For this column, I did a cursory look at Black Enterprise’s Top 100 Businesses and found few made any political contributions to their member of Congress; whereas when I did the same for Latino businesses, I found more engagement from them with their members of Congress.
We in the Black business community must stop being so quick to blame the seeming “lack of opportunity” on racism and become more cognizant that people tend to do business with people they know. Is there racism out there? Of course, but it’s not enough to just complain. We must get engaged on a more sophisticated level and become part of the solution. You can’t divorce politics from business because business is all about the politics.
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm. He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine, Freedom’s Journal Magazine and U.S. Africa Magazine.
Leave the ad hoc approach behind and follow these simple steps for your branding and ‘socializing’ your business in 2012
For the past week or so I’ve been listening to the Miles Davis station on Pandora and channeling my creative energies as I chart my course for 2012. One day while sitting at my desk in “brand planning” mode, I came across a great book I read earlier this year. Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks Webinars (and More) that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business(Wiley, 2010) is a treasure trove of ideas for how you can create content, recycle content and “feed the content beast.”
As I flipped through the pages and saw my own notes scribbled in the margins, I thought of how seldom business owners take this strategic approach. One of the things I’ve noticed when working with solopreneurs, small business clients and even non-profit organizations is the overwhelmingly ad hoc approach to creating content for the web. I get it: small business owners are short on time and short on staff. We wear so many hats that it’s easy to forget the importance of planning. But planning is the best way that you stay on message and continually reinforce your brand.
Here are a few simple ways to approach your branding and social media in 2012.
Think Thematically. What’s your brand theme for 2012? My theme is leverage-I’m leveraging all the work I’ve done up to this point to get to the next level. Everything I do will in some way drive this point home. If you really want to go crazy and plan for great content, give each month a theme.
Think Daily. What brand-enforcing content can you create every day? You may love Twitter like I do, so updating your status daily (or even hourly) is no problem for you. But what if your audience is not on Twitter? You can always apply the same approach to LinkedIn or Facebook. Love taking photos from your life or to show off your business? Share a photo each day on Instagram. The point is to do something you already enjoy. Make it fun and don’t overwhelm yourself.
Think Weekly. Every week is a new opportunity for you to supply your audience and potential customers with relevant information that, when done right, will lead them back to you. If you aren’t blogging, 2012 is definitely the year you should start! But what should you write/blog about? I personally love meaty, how-to information that helps me solve problems. I create that kind of content and I look for that kind of content from others. What do you love to find on the web? Inspirational content? Funny content? Chances are, you will enjoy creating what you already love to consume online.
Think Monthly. If you’re in business, you probably publish a monthly newsletter. But are you recycling content from your blog posts or Twitter updates? Does your business host customer appreciation events? Maybe you should. Present much? Get some extra mileage out of those Powerpoint presentation slides, and share them to Slideshare and/or Scribd, creating a monthly presentation share.
Think Quarterly. If your audience can only get it 4 times each year, chances are, they’ll pay attention! What’s going on each quarter in your industry? You could publish a report on quarterly trends or a quarterly ebook with your latest case studies. I love a good quarterly networking event. Last year, I started the networking organization ColorComm: Women of Color in Communications with my friend Lauren Wesley Wilson. We started in May and hosted an invitation-only networking luncheon each quarter following that one in Washington, DC. You could create a similar event to connect industry leaders in your town.
Think Semi-Annually and Annually. What special event can you create once or twice a year? Does your organization coordinate a conference or annual meeting? Do you have an annual sale? Capture the content and create lots of info nuggets from it-tweets, blog posts, videos, etc.
Happy New Year and Happy brand planning to you!
Developing a personal board of directors could be the key to your career or business success and much-needed support
by Vanessa Van Petten, BlackEnterprise.com
Our society emphasizes friends, family and co-workers as essential parts of our emotional and professional support system. Friends can offer distraction and encouragement, family members give unconditional love and co-workers may provide a sense of camaraderie and even professional advice. However, there are times when we need a fourth type of support in the form of a personal board of directors.
A personal board of directors is usually made up of up to six professionals in your age group—but not necessarily in your industry—who meet once a month to for brainstorming and encouragement. In his book, Who’s Got Your Back (Crown Business), Keith Ferrazzi was one of the first to promote this idea of a small, intimate professional networking group.
If you’re not convinced, here are a few reasons a personal board of directors could be worth considering:
- More Honest Than Friends and Family
Friends and family can be wonderfully supportive and encouraging, but the often don’t want to be constructively honest or, if you are talking about Mom, Dad or Grandma, they think everything you do is spectacular no matter what. A personal board of directors is a great way to have a supportive but honest group of individuals to bounce ideas off of, and get advice and constructive criticism from, on everything from reports to resumes.
- Break From Your Industry
Sometimes it is good to take a break from your industry or co-workers and get an outside perspective. Often times this can help bring new energy to your ideas or career and get you to meet new people.
- Creating Accountability
Goals can be hard to keep. With a personal board of directors you can set goals and have your co-members help you stick to them. In a recent working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research, researchers confirmed the importance of having a small peer group to depend on. Their research suggests it’s best to motivate groups, not individuals. They compared compensation packages and found that group-incentive pay motivated workers better than individual-incentive compensation.
- Hone Your People-to-People Skills
In this digital age we spend less and less time with others—especially virtual workers. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management have found that groups of people who did well on tests had the most members who were also good at reading each other’s emotions. They had equal contributions to communications and were patient with each other’s answers and issues. One of the best parts of a personal board of directors is that you do not need a leader and you can solve problems as a group better than one of the individual members could by themselves.
- How to start your personal board of directors group?
- Identify between four and six professionals. The hardest part is connecting with a good group. Think of a few professionals you know who may or may not be in your industry who you think are intelligent, open-minded and collaborative. If you can only think of one or two, this is fine too — those members might have a few people in mind to invite.
- Decide how often to meet. I know personal board of director groups that meet every week. Others check in once every six months. Have an idea of how often you want to meet and tell invitees what to expect.
- Define ground rules. Once you have got an group together define some ground rules—no one leader, open support, constructive criticism only, confidentiality etc. You might want to create a Google Doc with the rules and then decide on your structure. I encourage Board of Director groups to go over goals every time they meet and then do goal check-ins with each other.
- Let it grow. You will find that your group will grow on its own—both in terms of rules and members. Remember, you do not want it to be too big because you want everyone to feel supported, but otherwise let members dictate the direction of the group.
by The Network Journal Staff
Become a better business person with these New Year’s resolutions
The year’s end is a perfect time to think about your business’s progress over the past year and your goals for the future. If you want to increase your success in 2013 and boost your business, follow these five New Year’s resolutions.
Promote Your Business Consistently and Regularly
Promoting a small business takes time, money and lots of effort, but it should never be at the bottom of your to-do list. Make promotion a priority in the new year to attract new customers. Resolve to reassess your marketing strategy, hire a marketing expert or create a plan to bring new customers in.
Hold Weekly Business Planning Sessions
Planning is essential to fostering a healthy, growing business. Instead of assessing your business plan once a quarter or once a year, set aside time every week to review, adjust and plan for the future. Use the time to refine old goals or set new directions to stay on track and avoid costly mistakes.
Join a New Networking Group or Business Organization
Interacting with other entrepreneurs sparks new ideas and refines old ones. In the new year, make an effort to reach out to organizations dedicated to your type of business. Being a part of the group will re-energize your business.
Drop What Is Not Working
Resolve to move on from what is not working for you and your business in the new year. Not all products fly off the shelves, not all contractors or suppliers are suited to your business, and not all sales methods work for everyone. Identify what does work, then drop the rest and move on.
Schedule Time for You
Finding a work-personal life balance is essential to your success both within your business and in other aspects of life. Schedule time just for yourself on your calendar to invest in yourself.
What business resolutions are you making this year? Share your goals with our readers in the comment section below!
by Thomas E. Mitchell, Jr.
For a number of years, new Black leadership and media pundits such as radio talk show host Warren Ballentine has emerged preaching the gospel of economic self-reliance; a “let’s do it ourselves” philosophy of economic self-empowerment that requires us to do business with each other to uplift the race.
Chicago businesswoman Maggie Anderson decided to put the philosophy into action several years ago. In the process she and her family made history and dominated national media headlines by applying self-help economics in the Black community.
The Anderson family lived exclusively off Black business and talent and bought only Black made products for an entire year. It was an experiment the Andersons called the Empowerment Experiment (EE) and resulted in a landmark study conducted by Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business.
Since the completion of the experiment, Anderson has become the voice of American consumers of all backgrounds who want to make sure their buying power positively impacts struggling minority communities.
Anderson, the author of “Our Black Year,” which chronicled their “Buy Black” journey, was recently the keynote speaker for the 53rd annual Milwaukee Urban League’s Equal Opportunity Day Luncheon held at the Pfister Hotel.
During her address before the community’s and city’s business leaders, heads of community based organizations and civil rights activists, Anderson preached her gospel of economic self-reliance, discussing the Empowerment Experiment and what it was like to live by the pledge to support Black owned businesses, talent and products.
Anderson said the death of Black businesses and consumer support was integration, which she called the perfect storm that ended Black people doing business with each other.
Noting White businesses saw that money was plentiful within our community began to cater to Black consumers using advertising with Black faces, Anderson said we became brand loyal consumers who ignored products made by Black companies.
Also contributing to the demise of Black businesses and Black on Black consumerism was the aggressive recruitment (and Black pursuit of) talented Black people by white corporations.
“Getting a job with a big white company was the dream,” Anderson said during a recent interview with Black media after her address.
“Our parents instilled in us the message of working for someone else…white,” she continued. Anderson said Blacks are now seen as consumers, not business owners.
Plus, Anderson noted the Civil Rights Movement and its leadership made the mistake of focusing solely on civil rights and ignored “silver rights”—economic development of our own community and people.
The “Black flight” to the suburbs and the subsequent abandonment of Black communities created a economic vacuum that was filled by other ethnic groups: Latinos, Asians, Indians, Pakistanis and Arabs.
Instead of doing the Empowerment Experiment for a year, Anderson suggested doing it for a week for no other reason than to raise your consciousness.
Anderson said what impedes Black people from utilizing Black owned businesses is the mentality that “only white ice gets cold; we distrust Black businesses.
Black businesses are seen as inferior by Black people.
While Anderson did encounter some bad Black businesses, her first encounter doing the experiment was awful, most of her experiences were positive.
“If you do business with three Black businesses and two are bad, don’t say, ‘all Black businesses are bad.’ You don’t say that about White businesses. Such an attitude is detrimental for good Black businesses.
Anderson suggests Black consumers keep going to good, quality Black businesses in order to break down the negative stereotype Black businesses are burdened with.
She also suggests aspiring Black business people focus on newer markets and industries not stereotypically associated with the community like low-end, hold-in-the-wall soul food joints, candy and liquor stores, barber and beauty shops.
Such businesses—where the owner has little to no business training and no investors—are too common and offer substandard services that reflect the attitude it has towards a clientele with low self-esteem and poor.
Simple steps to help you focus for the new year.
by C. Daniel Baker, Black Enterprise
As the calendar turns from 2012 to 2013, small business owners often find themselves finishing up projects, closing deals and reviewing the past year. Between following the outcome of the fiscal cliff crisis, balancing holiday time with running your business, and other last minute issues, most owners are exhausted. The clean slate of a new year brings the chance to restart, rejuvenate and reinvigorate ourselves and our small businesses.
First, small business owners should take time to reflect on 2012. What were some of your businesses’ biggest accomplishments? What were some of your biggest mistakes? Owners would do well to celebrate their successes as well as figure out what went wrong, before rushing into the new year.
Entrepreneurs should use January as a chance to review their clients, customers and contacts. Make a list of persons and companies you’d like to partner with in the new year. Pinpoint the most important people you’ve worked with in the last year, whether they’re colleagues, interns or customers. Use this time to let them know just how much you appreciate them and what exactly they did for you. Good relationships are critical to future networking so time spent now can reward dividends.
American Express OPEN Forum listed several other ways entrepreneurs can recharge in the New Year.
For the entrepreneur, this time of year typically means a mad dash to wrap-up remaining projects, close deals, and squeeze in time for family and friends. With winter’s shortened days, it starts to feel like time accelerates faster than ever—leaving you less and less time to accomplish your year-end goals. However, amidst the holiday chaos, it is possible to stay grounded and set the foundation for a successful year to come. Here are six ways to help you recharge your business for the New Year.
1. Get your priorities in line. Time management is a year-round challenge for business owners, but schedules get even tighter during the holidays. That’s why it’s more important than ever to know your priorities. Set a stopwatch for 20 minutes and write down everything that needs to be done before the calendar turns to 2013. Then, give yourself another 10 minutes to assess which of those tasks are the most important to yourself, your business and your family. Keep that list in mind as you start each day—and make sure all your activities are centered around those core priorities.
2. Ditch the New Year’s resolutions. A FranklinCovey survey found that 80 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions will break them. And a third never make it to the end of January. If you’re one of the many people who have left a string of resolutions behind, it’s time for a new approach. Rather than creating your resolutions for 2013, use the end of the calendar year to reflect on your business and market. What were some of the best things that your business accomplished this year? What were some of the biggest mistakes? Don’t rush to begin planning the new year until you’ve celebrated your wins and acknowledged your mistakes.
3. Evaluate your year as a business leader. In addition to reflecting on your business, this is a good time to reflect on yourself. After all, as an entrepreneur, you don’t exactly get a yearly performance review. Being as objective as possible, write down your strongest characteristics as a leader—and your weakest. Then, think about how each of these characteristics impacted your business, team members and partners during the year. This type of objective self-assessment can help you pinpoint areas to improve in 2013.
4. Build important connections. As a good entrepreneur, you’re looking out for interesting opportunities around every corner. And the end of the year offers a bevy of parties and events. Make some time to take advantage of these networking events and meet new people. Sometimes a simple party is the key to a great new client, collaboration or partnership that will pay dividends in the new year.
5. Show the love. During this hectic time, it’s all too easy to become inwardly focused—where you’re thinking more about crossing things off your list than what (or who) really matters. Of course, holidays are the time for family and friends, but I’m also talking about the professional relationships that matter to you. Think about the most important people you’ve worked with throughout the year—whether it’s a devoted assistant or a colleague who keeps introducing you to great contacts. Then, let them know just how much you appreciate them.
6. Unplug and recharge your batteries. No matter how busy your schedule gets, every entrepreneur should take some much-needed time away from the office and digital devices. Take advantage, since this is often the one time of year when people expect you won’t be working (unless, of course, you’re involved in some kind of seasonal business). Downtime is the only real way to hit the reset button, both personally and professionally. And it will open the door to fresh perspectives and new inspiration.