This chick (aka me) has been on the move lately and I’ve finally sat myself down long enough to reflect on the past 2 weeks. Thanks to Black Bloggers United, I had the opportunity to attend the Black Women’s Expo and I have gems to share! McCormick place was power-packed with super heroes on one end at Comic Con and Black Girl Magic on the other. There was melanin and hustle in the building with empowering seminars, support of black vendors, and great entertainment throughout the weekend - from Johnny Gill to Remy Ma.
What I appreciated most was the #SelfMadeChi workshop that featured 4 successful sistas who shared their journey of entrepreneurship. Gems were dropped during the entire session and, as usual, I was taking notes. After starting Besties and Brunch LLC with my besties, I’ve been interested in learning from the experiences of those who thrive in business. When I discovered that I was familiar with all of the panelist, I was all ears! The panel included Monique Rodriguez, owner of Mielle Organics, Chiquita White, Owner of Kiwi’s Boutique, Alizabeth Jeter, owner of Bleu Vodka and the 1st black owned distillery, and La’Kiesha Gray Sewell, CEO and founder of Girls Like Me Project.
Here are 8 pieces of advice I took away from the session:
1. Believe in Yourself Chile! If you have a dream and the drive to make it come true, do just that despite what others may say. The desire is in you for a reason! Believe in your natural skills and abilities to make things happen.
2. Stop Operating with a Deficit Mindset! As black people, we are so used to operating in a mindset of lack because that is what most of us were taught from our families who’ve had to live in survival mode. Monique Rodriguez mentioned the importance of exposure and thinking big. Believe that you can live your dream and that there is opportunity beyond the neighborhoods we live in. Don’t operate with lack, dare to dream and think BIG!
3. Prepare For Your Oprah Moment! With believing big, you have to be prepared for growth in your business. Each of the ladies had an example of how they failed by not being ready for a big opportunity that came their way. Alizabeth Jeter of Bleu Vodka provided a great tip “Always plan for if____, then____ at every milestone so you stay prepared.” Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.
4. You are your only competition. In business, it’s important to be aware of your competitors but don’t get thrown off if they are blowuptuating (yes, that's a word in my head) at a faster rate than you. You are your only competition. Stay focused on how you can help your business grow. Instead of comparing yourself to others, use successful businesses as inspiration.
5. Research! Research! Research! Make sure you are knowledgeable about your industry and research the proper way of starting your business including obtaining a business license, trademarking, etc. Check out the Women’s Business Development Center, an organization that provides workshops and resources for emerging female entrepreneurs.
6. You can’t do everything yourself. You need a team! Get the right people around you that you can trust and will help build your business. You need to hire people who are strong in areas you lack…A digital media expert, a finance guru, a mentor, a data diva just to name a few.
7. Get your finances in order! Due to time we didn’t get to dig into this topic but each panelist agreed that you have to get your finances in order not just to start your business but to maintain your business, and to grow it. Have a plan to save for all 3!
8. Do the Work & Stay Consistent. Remain focused, especially when things go wrong or failure happens, because it will. As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to adapt when circumstances change. The road to success is always under construction.