Things all black entrepreneurs MUST DO to be taken Seriously. Quite often we are TOO focused on the PRODUCT and not the PRESENTATION…
which can GREATLY affect our business. Here are some tips on how to avoid some common mistakes and to make your business look professional even if you don’t have the budget. Enjoy
Be The Relegated Professional
If you are in business and you cannot relegate yourself as a professional in your field of business then you are in the wrong business. Being a professional opens many doors to expand your brand. Speaking engagements, newspaper articles, radio interviews etc.
You should also send out press releases offering your services. Send it out to your mailing list perhaps once a month. You never know who knows who and who may need someone like you to do a paid speaking engagement at an event. HUGE sites like the Huffington Posts consistently take articles from unknowns and if it’s something that they can use they will post it which could be a HUGE opportunity for your business
So say you get an article about your field published in the Huffington Post and they link it back to a tacky and cheap looking website… STRIKE!!! You would be amazed at how many major corporations have horrific websites. They don’t see the value in updating their sites and attracting customers but this can be an INCREDIBLE opportunity for black entrepreneurs and black entrepreneurs.
We are ALWAYS trying to cut corners and save money but this is one area that you MUST invest in if you want to be taken seriously. Budget out at least $3500.00 to get your website up and running and to keep updating it at LEAST once or twice a week if you are pressed for time but every day (weekdays) if you want to get the maximum benefit. You can go do a local college and get a student to do it for you cheaply and nobody will know the difference. If you don’t have the budget to hire a pro, go to godaddy.com and use one of their pre-formatted templates and do it yourself, it’s VERY easy even for a novice and it’s cost-effective, should be no more than $20.00 a month.
Professional Email Address
If you go to Godaddy.com you can add a professional email account for pennies on the dollar. This is a MUST have. A bad email extension has got the be the tackiest thing in any business trying to earn respect. If your company is called “The Blue Pearl” you should have an email address that says “[email protected]” Not “[email protected]” or “[email protected]” these are the things potential clients notice and if you don’t take the time and very little money to establish a website and professional email account extension don’t get mad if people don’t do business with you.
If you are not familiar with design, hire a college student to do it but please don’t present a tacky logo and expect to be taken seriously. Make sure that if you hire someone to do your logo that they give you the main file in the original format that it was created in. It may be a .psd most likely if they do it in Photoshop. If they are not willing to give you the original file (ask up front) then take your business elsewhere. Otherwise, you will always have to go to them to update or tweak your logo and they are going to want for you to pay them for it.
Professional/Catchy and Unique Business Name
I can use myself as an example here. My magazine when created in 1995 was originally called “Radio Fax” I eventually changed it to Radio Facts (http://blogwallet.com) but most of my competitors have the word “Urban” in the name of their brand which I felt would limit my brand to one audience. I could have called it “Urban Radio Facts” but why? It’s a mistake to do something like that because you could be isolating your core or the corporations that will support your core.
As an black entrepreneur NEVER give an advertiser or client an excuse this easy for backing out of supporting you. Unfortunately, they will probably never tell you that your business name is a HUGE turn-off, they just won’t support you. I get things from business owners with names like “SisterLove” which is fine if you ONLY want to market your brand to women. Think about WHO your target audience AND your financial supporters are and don’t isolate them, come up with something unique that’s not like your competitors and make sure it’s not tacky if you are targeting corporate clients.
Sales Stats/Word of Mouth Testimonials
One of my GREATEST turn-offs is when people come to me selling their brand and they talk about all the great people who support their brand and all their clients like they are rolling in cash but they want something from me for free? I IMMEDIATELY don’t trust the person. First and foremost after working in the music industry for 28 years, there are several things I have learned.
Those who talk the least and let their brand SPEAK FOR ITSELF get the MOST respect. The music industry is all about hype but hype rarely wins. Most people are looking for the next Beyonce but there is already a Beyonce and the ones who duplicate her will usually lose. It’s the one who is almost totally opposite of her that gets the attention. If you do a great job, your brand and people will speak volumes FOR you. Potential clients are MOST impressed with actual stats or word of mouth from OTHERS. Bragging about what you do is a turn off for most established clients. If they have come TO YOU, half of your battle is already won, there is something about what you do that is appealing to them already don’t oversell yourself.
A Respected Reputation
There was a time when I was a very mean and negative person. I didn’t trust anyone in the industry after a few bad experiences with people who were not my friends and I made the mistake of relegating ALL industry people to those who could not be trusted and who were full of shit. I was able to overcome that by being a spokesperson for radio people and speaking up for them when they could not speak for themselves. I have been on the same roads as they have and I have struggled financially like that have and I have played the mean politics at many radio stations as they have. I am an expert on radio.
I risked my radio career for my audience but truth be told, I never liked working on the air anyway. It was boring and I could not be myself and there were too many politics. So it was a natural progression that I was able to move in a direction to be a national figure for radio instead of a miserable DJ moving from market to market. There may still be a few people in the industry that don’t’ like me, but I could care less because I have no doubt that I am respected and in the end that’s really all that matters. You don’t have to be loved but make sure you earn respect.
Tenure or Great Knowledge of business Field
If you know nothing about what you are doing it’s going to be very hard to convince others of it too. Don’t do something because it’s easy do something because you LOVE it and you are PASSIONATE about it. Why would you start a business that you will hate in a year? If you are doing it for money and money only you will come up short. As the old saying goes Do what you Love and the money will come.
How consistent are you with developing your brand? If you have a brand that doesn’t need updating that’s fine but let’s look at Apple for example. They have done a BRILLIANT job of marketing their products and they change them every year. People want to look like they are advanced in technology so they want the latest iPhone, iPad or Mac computer.
Apple doesn’t have to renew their product every year but if they want to continue to make MILLIONS then they have to. Ironically, they keep creating the same product but they add a few more features and people eat it up. I still have my iPhone 4 because I think they screwed up (POST the death of Steve Jobs) with the iPhone 5 when they changed the connections. This means you not only have to get a new phone but all the brands like stereo systems, TVs, car adapters etc can no longer use the new iPhone. That was a mistake and an oversight that probably cost them sales. Nevertheless, how consistent are you with growing YOUR brand. Try new things, tweak what you offer and make sure you have some kind of feedback to give you results.
If you have a brand that requires you mail it to people are you mailing it on time? How does the packaging look? Are you including short surveys about your service? Are you following up with an email. Did you even get their email? Did you add their email to your database to send them future specials on new product? Your brand can look great but the packaging must ALSO look great. Make sure you respond to orders in a timely fashion and treat your clients with respect.
Professional Physical Presentation
This is a hard one because its personal. How do you look physically? Would you do business with someone who looks like you if they walked into your office. Currently, I’m carrying some extra weight and I’m constantly working on it but I know for a fact that business is great when you LOOK great. Everyone is not going to do business with you because they like your brand, some people will do business with you because they admire you, are attracted to your personality or your charisma.
You can’t have much of that if you are not confident in your appearance. People REALLY admire those of us who are over 40 and who are in GREAT physical shape. It’s just our culture. Do what makes you comfortable but take a look at many of the most successful people. I’ve seen many in the music industry and a majority of them are physically fit. Oprah Winfrey is the exception to the rule but even she is uncomfortable being overweight as she has expressed on many occasions.
If people are not coming back to you, talking positively about your brand or supporting you… you are doing something wrong. McDonald’s does not have to ever do another TV commercial because people already know who they are. How many people do you know who have only been there once? Not many I take it, Make sure you find the hole and completely fill it if you want return customers. All of the writing in The Blog Wallet (blogwallet.com) may not be duplicated or copied without the permission of Kevin Ross ([email protected]). We consistently check across the web to make sure our articles are not copied. Please respect our site.