A Trip Turns into a Great Education on Business Development
In 2017 I took a 1-week trip to help out a few family members. In the process, I managed to find several great coffee shops that were much less burdensome than major marking cash cow shops. I got SO much accomplished and learned a great deal in business development in that one week I decided to extend my trip and ended up staying for 8 months. In the process of visiting the coffee shop, and a few others I always managed to be sitting near others having a business meeting. Usually, owners aiming to be successful black entrepreneurs with someone soliciting them for their business or them interviewing someone for a job.
I was not eavesdropping as much as I was overhearing the conversations (OK, maybe I was eavesdropping). I’ve made some of the very mistakes that the owners were talking about and about to dive in and get a hard lesson themselves. Without disclosing who said what here are some of the things I heard…
GROW Your Business – Avoid These Typical Business Owner Mistakes That make Life HELL!
There are certain things that we may not be aware of that could be hurting our business. Here are a few tips to help you along the way. I wouldn’t say that being a business owner is hard work as much as I would say it can be challenging. As we all know if you love what you do and you do what you love it’s never “work” But I can certainly take a lot out of you. Nevertheless, there are certain things I can get in the way of your progress some of which can literally make you not want to work for the rest of the day But on the other end of that spectrum there are things that we do that we’re not aware of the make people not want to work with us.
There are certain things that you should avoid and At the same time, Should not allow others to do when it affects business On both sides. But Let’s focus on you And your business for the story – Here are some tips that I’ve learned over the years that can make your business run a lot smoother here and hoping these steps help.
DISRESPECTFUL: DON’T BRING AN ASSISTANT OR ANYONE ELSE TO A PLANNED BUSINESS MEETING WITHOUT TELLING THE OTHER PARTY.
I’ve had this happen on a couple of occasions and while others may not mind I find it to be very rude and inconsiderate. If you’re going to bring someone else to a lunch meeting or dinner meeting be considerate enough to let the other business person know.
They may want to discuss something with you that is not privy to other people or they may have questions for you. As you sit at the table with another business person as an equal it is disrespectful and off-putting to bring your assistant or someone else to take notes or to join in on the conversation as an equal. The bottom line is at least give the other person the option to say no I want to talk to you alone by letting them know in advance. It comes off as grandstanding and very diva-like. Nobody is that busy and if you are you shouldn’t have lunch with another businessperson.
CHEAPSKATE: DON’T ASK FOR FREE OR DISCOUNT SERVICES, PUT YOURSELF IN THE OTHER PERSON’S POSITION
What I find most amazing about people who ask for discounts is that they are also often the same ones that overcharge other people When it comes to their own services and they want premium rates but they want to pay everybody else peanuts. It is incredibly selfish to ask somebody who works hard for what they have to cut their rates for you and try to make them feel obligated like they owe you something. In the black community, which is what I most experience with, we have this thing with entitlement when it comes to business that says you’re supposed to hook me up.
No matter how you look at it, that’s exactly the way it comes off. If I work hard for what I have and I’m providing a great service then you need to PAY the price like everybody else and shut the hell up. Know that if you allow someone a discount or free service, it is absolutely very possible they’re going to tell other people. Which in essence is going to destroy your business and make YOU ask for discounts and hookups in order to pay your own bills. You will never grow in a circle that continues subtracting from each other’s business esteem.
Once you get corporate clients and you see that they’re willing to pay for your services full price, it’s very hard to go back to doing welfare business and offering discounts or giving your services away for free. There is just some business that you need to walk away from free and clear. In order to grow you have to let some things GO.
BULLYING: DON’T BRING UP THINGS YOU DID FOR SOMEONE IN THE PAST
There are people who will do business with you or introduce you to a new client and expect you to give them something free for the tenure of your entire business which means that you pay them back 20 to 1000 times over. Whenever somebody does you a favor or something in business that helps your business that involves a third party, send them a thank you card take them to lunch or do something to wrap the situation IMMEDIATELY so that the situation does not linger.
Watch out for the “favor sharks” Who will do you a “favor” and make you pay for the rest of your life Their interest rate is much too high so simply walk away. As the old saying goes there is no such thing as a free lunch. I would dare to even say that the price is HIGHER for a “free lunch” because there is an agenda. In addition, notice that these are also the same people want to continue to play the middleman and never introduce you to the source.
Your goal is to meet the source so that YOU can develop the relationship. If someone is TRULY trying to help you out, there is no reason for them to get in the way after the initial deal is done and they get a cut. Don’t feel guilty or obligated.
PIMP: DON’T PIMP SOMEONE’S BUSINESS OUT BY PLAYING THE “HELPFUL” BUT GREEDY MIDDLEMAN
.. this kind of goes with the last thing. There are people out there who will try to pimp your business out the bring you some business but the money has to go through them as the middleman or ‘business pimp’ I was having a conversation with someone yesterday who was talking about how badly black people treat each other in business and that we don’t support each other and I damn near dropped the phone. This is the SAME person who this entire story is based on (lol). He is guilty of everything that I am writing about. He’s the middleman who never introduces you to the main person with the purse drinks and the money has to come to him from the contact and he sends you a check from HIS business. Right?
Who can’t see what’s going on here? What he is doing is collecting a huge percentage for himself and then paying you the 10 to 20% that HE should be earning instead. Make sure you find a way to talk to the people with the money. This is what I love about bitcoin and the direction of the new media concepts. Eliminating the middleman.
Whenever you hear about stars going broke and this is not to say they don’t make a lot of financial mistakes but it is often the middleman, someone they trusted who took advantage and bankrupts them. In most cases, they consistently overcharge For their services. Middlemen don’t care about your well-being as much as they do their own. Know that because you are leaving a LOT of money on the table.
DISNEYLAND IS CLOSED: DON’T ALLOW ANYONE TO INTERRUPT YOUR DAY WHILE YOU ARE WORKING AND BUILDING A BUSINESS – TIME IS YOUR GREATEST ASSET
For some odd reason, many people think that black entrepreneurs do nothing but sit around and twiddle our thumbs and wait for tons of money to come in. they are really under the impression that because we do what we love, that we’re not working. And part of that is correct, we’re not working but we’re always busy and we never sleep. A phone call from your mother or family member or anyone else calling with drama in the middle of your busy workday can blow off your entire rhythm. And we all know how long it takes to catch up. Weeks sometimes months if we lose our focus.
Make sure that you let everyone know, including family, (ESPECIALLY FAMILY) that you are not to receive calls or texts for eight hours while you work. Let them know that you will talk to them afterward but do not allow them to disrupt your day. I do not feel guilty about sending someone directly to voicemail if they break the rule. You can send them a text and ask them is everything OK.
If you’re busy constantly tell them you’re busy you’re busy you’re busy you’re busy eventually they’ll get the message. I would also suggest buying a second phone using one for business and one for work on a family plan with most services it’s pretty cheap. I used to wonder why people had two phones, Now I know. You may actually have to turn off your personal phone while you work.
BOLD IN YOUR APPROACH: ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT OR TAKE WHAT YOU GET WHICH IS USUALLY MUCH LESS
As the old saying goes, It’s better to aim high and miss than to aim low and achieve. There are times that you think that someone supporting you is so important that you don’t ask for anything in return. Bull! If they’re coming to you, The ball is in your court, they need you TOO and they see your value. The question is do YOU see it? Ask for what you want. As a matter fact ask for MORE than you want and don’t feel guilty about it. If they negotiate down, and they certainly will, you’re still ahead of where you started from.
WASTING MONEY: KEEP A KEEN EYE ON YOUR BANK, CREDIT CARD STATEMENTS AND BILLS
At the end of the year or around tax time you’re probably looking at what you’ve earned an asking yourself where in the hell did the money go? I can tell you one place it goes that we don’t pay enough attention to. You would be AMAZED at how many mistakes, erroneous charges and subscriptions that you never use that are on your bills and your credit card report each month but we are not paying enough attention. These things could add up to hundreds of dollars a month and thousands of dollars a year. If your money is not MAKING money you’re WASTING money. I will soon do a story about investing.
We really get taken by online services. They give you 30 days free, and of course you forget to cancel then they lock you into a one-year contract and if you cancel after those 30 days, they charge you for the rest of the year. I would strongly suggest two things; Immediately put an entry into your calendar with an alarm to cancel the service on the 28th or 29th day before the month is up. Do this right after you pay or sign-up for the service and this way you get a warning on the day before you cancel.
Use PayPal for your exchanges. You can connect the PayPal account to your bank account but the people that you’re paying get very limited information about you. They don’t have your credit card number and PayPal is excellent for helping to get your money back in many situations and you can cancel subscriptions through the PayPal site anytime. The other thing that I really love about PayPal is that they are an extremely powerful online money service that a majority of these companies are afraid of. They don’t want to get strikes from PayPal and possibly lose their ability to accept money from PayPal. So they’re often more than willing to give you your money back even with just a threat of reporting at to PayPal.
I ordered a hosting service after the company lured me away from the service that I use now. They SWORE they could be a better job for half the price. They also told me if I didn’t like the service there was a 30-day money back guarantee. I tried it, it didn’t work and a week later I asked for my money back. They said no. They didn’t do refunds and that I would have to pay for the entire year if I canceled. I called PayPal and the company sent me an email a week later and offered to pay me my money back if I canceled the complaint with PayPal. I told them no. My money was refunded and they got a strike. Unfortunately, they are probably accustomed to ripping people off and people paying the price without complaining. Make sure you think twice about getting services that you don’t need. Just take a few minutes to do research instead of buying apps that may be completely free from another company.
NOT HAVING IT: WHEN PEOPLE DON’T GET WHAT THEY WANT FROM YOU, THEY ATTACK, FIGHT BACK WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR BUSINESS
There are times that when people don’t get what they want from you they will downgrade your business. This is a bully tactic. They try to make you feel bad about not helping them and they’ll say something to you like nobody’s interested in your business or you’re dated or you don’t know what the hell you’re doing. Then why in the hell are you coming to me?
That psychology is them putting you down because you didn’t give them what they want. Don’t believe that there was no value in your business otherwise you would not BE in business. And stop keeping company with people like that Even if they are family members. Don’t let anybody disrupt the flow of your vision and business.
MUST READ: GET PAID “CBD” CASH BEFORE DELIVERY FROM SMALL CLIENTS
Chasing money is not only NOT fun, but it also creates tension in new business relationships. You have people and bills to pay, you have completed the work and you trusted that someone would pay you after you have completed the job. You were probably thinking that this would help to establish trust from the new client WRONG. I don’t give a fk WHO it is, if it’s a new client and even well into your business relationship with them COLLECT UP FRONT. Via PayPal, Zeele or even via your bank. DON’T EXTEND CREDIT TO NEW CLIENTS WHO ARE NOT MAJOR CORPORATIONS … NEVER!!!!!
Let’s be realistic, once you have done the job how will it benefit them to pay you? The ball is not in their court and they can say things like: “It wasn’t effective,” “I didn’t like it” or “I will pay you a discount rate.” and that doesn’t count the long amount of time you will spend chasing the money and getting frustrated. As the old saying goes: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush!. GET PAID NOW!!! Keep the ball is in YOUR court so that YOU have the power. GET PAID BEFORE YOU DO THE JOB. I can’t stress it enough. You will be chasing them for money like a damn crack addict for crack after a while and then you will feel disrespected and then THEY will point the finger at YOU making YOU the bad guy with excuses like “I’ve been very busy” as if that has anything to do with you. In case you don’t get what I’m saying, I will say it one more time NEVER, NEVER, NEVER extend credit to new clients who are not MAJOR corporations like Sony, Viacom etc.
The other benefit of making them pay up front is YOU establish the terms and you can keep those terms for all future business RESPECT YOUR BUSINESS FIRST. You can also charge them more and tell them you will give them a discount if they pay up front. Whatever you have to do but if you don’t hear anything else I’m telling you here READ THIS. PLEASE – COD ONLY or I would even say CBD (cash BEFORE delivery). I have lost a lot of money trusting people who I thought would come through and all it takes is one. I will pass business up in order to avoid a headache. CBD
EDUCATE YOURSELF: USE THE TIME YOU TALK ABOUT NOTHING ON THE PHONE WITH FRIENDS TO GO TO A LOCAL BUSINESS LUNCHEON OR EVENT
It would behoove you to do yourself a huge favor and constantly learn about your business and what direction you should be going in. There is no doubt the things will change over time and you don’t want to be caught in a position where you don’t know what you’re doing or you are perceived as dated. I know many businesses that have dated concepts because they never learn anything new or they are afraid to transfer the power to someone younger and more knowledgeable of current trends. They also live off tenure which in today’s fast-paced industry is a joke. It’s almost better if you LIE about how long you have been in business and shorten the time.
HIRE PEOPLE WHO ALREADY KNOW HOW TO DO WHAT YOU NEED AND WHO KNOW MORE THAN YOU
We will not always be on top of what we’re doing as we are now but that is why you surround yourself with people of all ages WHO KNOW MORE THAN YOU. Many of us do just the opposite so that we can maintain control. We hire people who know less than us and that stunts our growth. Training them will eat your most valuable asset TIME. Especially when they don’t work out. HIRE PEOPLE WHO ALREADY KNOW HOW TO DO WHAT YOU NEED. You still know how to do something that they don’t know and that is how to do RUN the business and They don’t have your relationships.
You don’t want to look dated and you don’t want to have someone walk into your office and you have dated furniture or dated concepts that no longer work. Not transferring the power in time could literally destroy your business I’ve seen it happen repeatedly especially with black businesses. We have a tendency to hold on until we die. At some point, before it’s destroyed you will be disrespected and looked at as a failure or even worse the old man in the room. There is NO recovery from that except to building a whole new house doing something else. Time is of the essence.
ME DAY, FREE DAY
You absolutely must and I emphasize MUST take care of yourself. As black entrepreneurs, we run ourselves ragged and work while we are sick. Running a business is an addiction, make no mistake, if you are successful at what you do in business you are a self-employed addict. Why else would you put in the hours and the effort like you do? It’s a good addiction as long we keep an eye on it. We are married to what we do but we can’t let what we do … do us IN!
By the time you get through working and putting your time in and making your money and doing your sales and looking over the entire business you are probably exhausted and want to go straight to bed, you must make time to go to the gym and get a good workout and hire a trainer.
You also must find the time to eat right and take care of yourself I know plenty of black entrepreneurs who don’t take care of themselves and they are ill and they are literally walking around in bad physical spiritual and mental shape while they struggle to continue to make their businesses work. I’ve also seen business owners commit suicide, get divorced, or drop dead from a heart attack or stroke being a great business owner is a SKILL. At some point, you HAVE to walk away from the day to day and handle everything else that’s a full-time job. Sales, taxes, accounting, hiring, events etc. What good is your business if you’re not here to do it.
DON’T KILL YOURSELF
There is only so much that you can do. You have to face it and deal with it. The demands of your business paying your bills your taxes staying on top of things traveling family and everything else can take its toll on you. Work hard AND PLAY HARD. Have a social and a personal life. DO NOT WORK YOURSELF TO DEATH. I’ve seen it WAY too many times. Take the WHOLE weekend off.
Write out a list of things to do each day and do what’s most important first and whatever else you can when you can. I know about “the circle” that’s what I like to call it when you sit down to do one thing and 5 other things keep popping up and before you know it, the entire day is shot. I’m SURE you know what I’m talking about. Delegate the things that you can to other people.
Don’t neglect your children. It is extremely paramount that you make those baseball and football games and other games along with any kind of recitals as these are the things kids NEVER forget and that shape a child’s entire life they need you and if you miss them you could regret it for the rest of your life and they may never forgive you. Always support your kids
NEVER HIRE FRIENDS
I’m not saying that it’s impossible to do and perhaps some people can’t do this but I’ve never had a lot of good luck doing it. Hiring friends is always a problem. They think that you’re obligated to help them and they treat you that way. They give you excuses they take their time getting the work done and they want you to do extra favors like drop off the money at their bank and other things that you don’t have the time to do. In addition, they ignore instructions and take it upon themselves to do things their way then give you side eye when you complain?
It’s just too have one friend that I hired who was really good at what she does but she wants me to always drop money off at the banks then stand in line give her account number because she doesn’t have PayPal (because of the fees) and refuses to get it so I’m supposed to be obligated to go and stand in line and wait and then pay her money to her in another state?
I finally told her to get a PayPal account or set up Zeele with her bank account or wait for a check in the mail two weeks to a month from now. You have to draw the line at making things convenient and with friends, they don’t like those lines.
KEEP YOUR BUSINESS PLANS TO YOURSELF
There are times we do very well and we want to brag about it we want our friends or anything with the be supportive of us but truth be told it’s not a good idea. Keep your mouth shut, you never know who may go back and say something to the person who is doing business with you or may sabotage what you’re trying to do even if it’s not intentionally. The less they know the better. Talk about it when it’s done but do not talk about it when it’s in the process of being done. There are a lot of other things you can talk about besides with you are doing in your business. It is just not a good idea to discuss business with other black entrepreneurs.
BONUS: YOU ARE NOT A CONTAINER FOR DUNG BRICKS
The great Maya Angelou once said: “When people show you who they are belieeeeeeeeeve them!” she was right. Negative people will drain you to death. I got rid of EVERYBODY who was negative in my life and wanted to use me like a trash container for their sh. Get a therapist. BTW that’s not a bad idea for black entrepreneurs either to talk about their trials and tribulations but don’t be a container for someone’s spiritual and mental dung bricks.