Starting a Business? Steps every entrepreneur needs to know

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Starting a business? Confused about the planning, legal and regulatory steps you should follow?

Did you know that home-based businesses are required to hold permits to operate legally in most states? What about incorporation? Many new businesses assume they need to incorporate or become an LLC from the get-go—but the truth is, more than 70 percent of small businesses are owned by unincorporated sole proprietors (although even this group is required to register their businesses).

So, variables aside, there are still some fundamental steps that any business needs to follow to get started. Below are steps that can help you plan, prepare, and manage your business—while taking care of the startup legalities. Not all these steps will apply to all businesses, but working through them will give you a sense of what needs your attention and what you can check off.

Write a Business Plan

Yeah, yeah, you know you should write a business plan whether you need to secure a business loan or not. The thing is, a business plan doesn’t have to be encyclopedic and it doesn’t have to have all the answers. A well-prepared plan—revisited often—will help you steer your business all along its growth curve. Try to think of your business plan as a living, breathing project, not a one-time document. Break it down into mini-plans—one for marketing, one for pricing, one for operations, and so on.

Get Help and Training

Starting a business can be a lonely endeavor, but there are lots of free in-person and online resources that can help advise you as you get started. Check out what’s offered at your Small Business Development Centers; SCORE (which offers free mentoring services); Women’s Business Centers, your local U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) office, or the US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®).

Choose Your Business Location

Where you locate your business may be the single most important decision you make. Many factors come into play, such as proximity to suppliers, the competition, transportation access, demographics, and zoning regulations.

Understand Your Financing Options

You may choose to bootstrap, fall back on savings, or even keep a full-time job until your business is profitable, but if you are looking for an external source of financing, these resources explain your options.

Decide on a Business Structure

Going it alone or forming a partnership? Thinking of incorporating? What about an LLC? How you structure your business can reduce your personal liability for business losses and debts. Some choices can give you tax benefits. To help you determine the right structure for your business, the SBA can provide an overview of your options, information on how to file the necessary paperwork in your state, and the tax implications of your decision.

Register Your Business Name (“Doing Business As”)

Registering a “Doing Business As” name or “trade name” is only needed if you name your business something other than your personal name, the names of your partners, or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation.

Get a Tax ID

Not every business needs a tax ID from the IRS (also known as an Employer Identification Number or EIN), but if you have employees, run a business partnership, a corporation or meet certain IRS criteria, you must obtain an EIN from the IRS. You’ll also need to start paying estimated taxes to the IRS; visit irs.gov for more about this process.

Register with Tax Authorities

Employment taxes, sales taxes, and state income taxes are handled at the state-level. Visit sba.gov to learn more about your state’s tax requirements and how to comply.

Apply for Permits and Licenses

All businesses, even home-based businesses, need a license or permit to operate. The SBA provides a guide explaining permits and licensing and includes a handy “Permit Me” tool that lets you determine what your permit and licensing needs are, based on your zip code and business type.

Source: SBA.gov

How two NFL players’ sweet tooths made them hands-on business owners

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It’s an odd juxtaposition to see a 6-foot-4, 257-pound NFL player with a voice deep enough to rival Barry White’s spending his offseason selling cupcakes.

It has been an eye-opening adjustment for Tennessee Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo, the new co-owner of a Gigi’s Cupcakes store located outside Austin, Texas. He has gone from seeking tackles on the field to putting red sugar crystals on strawberry shortcake cupcakes.

“I’m so aggressive at times that you have to tone that down when you’re dealing with everyday people and customers. It’s a different way of life,” Orakpo said. “I have to tone that Rak down. I’ve been more Brian these days.”

Orakpo and one of his two business partners, former Titans safety Michael Griffin, hope their venture will encourage more players to pursue entrepreneurial interests and risks.

This all started in February 2017, when Orakpo, Griffin and their good friend Bryan Hynson were eating lunch in Nashville and plotting possible business ventures. Griffin was out of football after a 10-year NFL career and looking for something to occupy his time. Orakpo, then 30, was looking ahead, eyeing potential interests after football. Hynson worked in banking.

Orakpo and Griffin loved Gigi’s Cupcakes when they were Titans teammates. They took Hynson by a Nashville location to check it out, and he was sold. All three University of Texas graduates decided to start a plan to bring their own Gigi’s Cupcakes store to the Austin area.

“It was a different side of a world that me and Brian Orakpo didn’t know anything about. We can talk football all day. But we had to learn about business,” Griffin said. “Learning how to start up a LLC to getting someone who is going to be working with your account to financing, just a lot of things we take for granted being professional athletes.”

After a year of planning and building a store from the ground up, the three friends opened their Gigi’s Cupcakes in Bee Cave, Texas, less than a month ago.

The celebratory opening was a reward for the long journey. All three partners were hands-on throughout the process. They had their own two-a-day trainings, which involved working from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. for three consecutive weeks while learning how to open the shop, decorate, bake every cupcake they sell, be the cashier and close the shop. That didn’t even include the financial side of it.

“It was harder than playing football,” said Griffin, who noted that his wife told him she sees him less now that he is a business owner than she did when he was playing football. “This was like a completely foreign language. Being professional athletes, we’re kind of spoiled. These are things we never worried about because there were large amounts of money coming in every year. It was definitely an awakening.”

Orakpo added: “It was a grueling process. We made some mistakes, but we got the hang of it now.”

Continue onto ESPN to read the complete article.

Siemens Celebrates Diverse Small Business Partners

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Throughout the United States, Siemens partners with more than 20,000 small business suppliers to drive innovation, achieve greater success, and play an active role in the growth of the U.S. market. As an integral part of our supply chain, we continue to celebrate these strategic partnerships like we did recently during our annual Small Business Awards Luncheon, which recognizes small business partners owned by minorities, women, veterans, and other diverse suppliers across Siemens U.S. businesses.

With the theme of “Small Business – Big Impact,” the ceremony took place in Atlanta and honored nine small business partners, selected based their performance, innovation and sustainability. All the winning suppliers contributed to Siemens’ success in fiscal year 2018 and are powerful examples of how partnering with small and diverse suppliers adds value to not only Siemens, but to our customers, the economy and the supplier themselves.

Here’s a look at the award winners.

Congratulations to the USA Small Business Award 2018 Winners

Quick-Way Manufacturing

Located in Euless, Texas, Quick-Way Manufacturing is a small business manufacturer of custom fabricated parts and stampings. Quick-Way is the “go-to” vendor when Siemens has an expedited need and is well known for its fast turnaround and great customer service.

BBM-CPG Technology, Inc.

South Carolina-based BBM-CPG Technology is a small business founded in 2004 and has fabrication, offices and warehouses with 34 employees and a main-production facility in Mexicana, Toluca, Mexico with 155 employees.

Shur-Kut Corporation

Located in Aston, Pennsylvania, Shur-Kut is a small business that serves many industries including Power Generation, Aerospace, Medical, Commercial Transportation and Automotive. The company maintains 99 percent on-time delivery and 100 percent quality metrics.

Cynthia Kay & Company

With 8 employees, Cynthia Kay & Company is a woman owned small business based in Michigan that has flown over 250,000 miles this year for Siemens to produce digital communications, developed a capability for 360 video and had two employees certified as pilots to fly drone missions for Siemens.

Logisticus Group

Logisticus Group is a small disadvantaged business specializing in Innovative Transportation, Project Management, and Technology Solutions. They constantly exhibit superb quality of service and work, strong work ethic, professionalism, transparency and reliability.

Siemens executives and City of Roswell Mayor pose togethersmall business awardees posing for picture
From left to right is Nichelle Grant, Siemens USA Chief Diversity Officer, Patric Stadtfeld, Siemens Corporation – VP & Supply Chain Head & Regions AM, City of Roswell Mayor Pro Tem Marie Willsey and Robert Suchy, Head of Pooling Siemens AG.

Axxis Building Systems, Inc.

Founded in 2011, Axxis is a woman owned and disadvantaged small business that has been committed to providing quality work and true customer service. Axxis’ performance and service was instrumental in achieving Siemen’s strategic objectives.

Alaska Imaging Solutions

Founded by Brian Niver, a veteran and former Siemens Healthineers employee, Alaska Imaging Solutions is a critical business partner for meeting high customer expectations.

OEM Fabricators, Inc.

OEM is a small business manufacturer of custom, high-performance parts. Its high level of welding and metal fabrication competence has established them as a preferred supplier of complex assemblies.

PROLIM

Classified as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), PROLIM is a MindSphere IoT partner and leading provider of end-to-end PLM and Engineering Solutions to Global Fortune 1000 companies, with a focus on business processes and technology.

The Siemens small business and supplier diversity program is committed to developing strategic supplier sourcing with small and diverse businesses and businesses located in historically underutilized business zones. To learn more, visit siemens.com/about/supplier-at-siemens.

Former ABC President Channing Dungey joins Netflix

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In a move anticipated within the industry, Dungey is headed to the new home of two other former powerhouse ABCers: Shonda Rhimes and Kenya Barris.

Channing Dungey, the former head of ABC Entertainment who stepped down in November, is joining Netflix, where she will oversee original TV series alongside Cindy Holland, the company’s longtime head of originals.

The move was anticipated within the industry and reunites Dungey with two of her former showrunners, Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s AnatomyScandal) and Kenya Barris (Black-ish), both of whom decamped from ABC to Netflix earlier this year. At Netflix, Channing will also oversee other high-profile producers, such as the Obamas, who have a producing deal at the company; Jenji Kohan (Orange is the New BlackGlow) and Marti Noxon; as well half of the originals executive team. The other half will report to Holland.

Interestingly, sources told The Hollywood Reporter that Dungey, a TV veteran who had been at ABC since 2004, will also have a direct line of communication with Netflix’s content chief Ted Sarandos. Like other executives whom Netflix has poached from traditional entertainment companies, such as Scott Stuber, who heads Netflix’s original film division, Dungey brings experience working with talent and nurturing projects as the company invests more heavily in its own content–and begins to operate more like a traditional studio. In contrast, Holland was promoted to oversee originals in 2012, when Netflix first began making its own shows. She started at the company in DVD acquisitions and then took over domestic TV licensing.

Dungey’s exit from ABC came as its parent company, the Walt Disney Company, was preparing to merge with 21st Century Fox. The new arrangement would have united Dungey with her formal rival at Fox, Dana Walden, who was named in October as incoming Disney TV Studios chairman. Her departure also marked the end of a dramatic year at ABC. After green-lighting a remake of Roseanne that became one of the network’s biggest hits, Dungey swiftly fired the show’s star, Roseanne Barr, after she made a racist slur on Twitter. The show continued production as a spin-off (The Conners) without Barr, but has faired less spectacularly in the ratings.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

KPMG Names Michele Meyer-Shipp Chief Diversity Officer

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KPMG LLP has appointed Michele Meyer-Shipp, an accomplished executive and attorney with significant experience in inclusion strategy and employment law, as Chief Diversity Officer. She succeeds Sue Townsen, who returns full-time to the firm’s Advisory practice.

Meyer-Shipp, who joins as a principal, will lead the national Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) team and oversee its strategy and objectives, including growing diverse leaders and collaboration; inspiring broad perspectives and innovative client solutions; and fostering an inclusive, accessible, and vibrant workplace. She will work closely with KPMG’s leadership teams to advance its inclusive and diverse culture, which has earned the firm recognition as a top workplace by FORTUNE magazine, DiversityInc, Working Mother, and The Human Rights Campaign.

“Companies with inclusive and diverse cultures are better positioned to adapt, grow, and thrive – and we take great pride in embedding these values into our programs and actions,” said Darren Burton, KPMG’s Vice Chair of Human Resources. “Our national diversity networks engage nearly half of our 30,000 people in professional development, mentoring relationships, and community service activities. Michele’s skills and experience will help us continue to enhance our efforts to recruit, develop, and retain diverse talent.”

Meyer-Shipp comes to KPMG from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, where she served as Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. She led the deployment of a firmwide diversity strategy, including building out infrastructure and ensuring that the firm’s foundational principles of inclusiveness and diversity were reflected in all of its policies, work, and practices.
She also previously worked at Prudential Financial, initially as Vice President and Counsel and then as Chief Diversity Officer.

Continue onto PR Newswire to read the complete article.

Meet the 26-year-old entrepreneur turning high-school gamers into varsity athletes

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With his PlayVS e-sports platform, Delane Parnell is creating a valuable scouting grounds for new tech talent.

Sporting a pair of black Jordan 11 Cap and Gowns that look like they were just unboxed and a dark baseball cap that casts a slight shadow over his baby-cheeked face, Delane Parnell fields questions from the audience at this September’s TechCrunch Disrupt, the annual San Francisco assembly that has become a startup kingmaker of sorts. He shares the stage with Jason Citron, founder and CEO of Discord, a messaging app for video gamers with more than 150 million users, and—after a $50 million fundraising round in April—a valuation of $1.65 billion. Parnell’s PlayVS (pronounced play versus), an e-sports platform for high schools, has yet to even launch. But the 26-year-old Detroit native exudes confidence. “Investors are starting to realize that gaming is the next social paradigm,” says Parnell, answering a question about e-sports’ mainstream popularity. “And they want a piece of it.”

You don’t have to look far for evidence of gaming’s influence. It’s all over YouTube and Twitch in how-to videos and live-streamed sessions of FIFA 19 and Assassin’s Creed. A robust ecosystem of e-sports competitions is rising as well, with game publishers, entertainment companies, and even colleges and universities creating leagues and events for pro gamers and amateurs alike. The largest tournaments, for titles such as Dota 2 and Call of Duty, can fill stadiums and dangle purses of millions of dollars. According to research firm NewZoo, revenue from e-sports-related media, sponsorships, merchandise, tickets, and publisher fees is expected to nearly double from 2014 to reach $1 billion this year. Goldman Sachs projects e-sports viewership to reach 300 million by 2022, putting it on par with the NFL.

For all the organizations rushing into e-sports, a hole remains: high school competitions that engage the estimated 75% of American teens who already play video games. Parnell is filling that void with PlayVS, which lets schools create leagues and host virtual and live competitions. Though he’s diving into an industry full of well-funded sharks, including Amazon (Twitch’s parent company) and Discord, Parnell has an edge. In January, PlayVS signed an exclusive, five-year e-sports partnership with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the organization that oversees varsity sports and activities at nearly 19,500 public and private high schools across the country. The first test season of a PlayVS-powered competition, for the popular multiplayer game League of Legends, commenced this October at high schools across five states, and the company is gearing up for its official inaugural season in February.

Parnell is now on a roll. Last week, just five months after PlayVS closed its $15.5 million Series A, the company announced a $30.5 million round from investors that include Adidas, Samsung, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and the VC arm of the Los Angeles Dodgers“I don’t care if you’re gaming on your phone, on a console, or through a cloud service,” Parnell says. “Gaming in high school, even if it’s tic-tac-toe, will run through us.”

If he succeeds, he could effectively control a pipeline that would feed into the burgeoning pro leagues. It took the NBA two decades after its first draft to start recruiting players from high schools, but e-sports leagues are already tapping young talent. A 13-year-old recently signed with a European pro Fortnite team. Given the venture capital and startups flooding into e-sports today, Parnell could create another, equally valuable conduit: one that enables high schoolers—particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds—to parlay their interest in gaming into lucrative tech jobs. All he has to do is convince schools that e-sports deserves to be taken as seriously as football and basketball.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

Tristan Walker announces acquisition by Procter & Gamble, will remain as CEO and move company to Atlanta

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Once a beacon for more minorities to join him in Silicon Valley, the former tech and media darling enters a deal that will help to secure his legacy—and P&G’s.

Procter & Gamble, the consumer packaged goods conglomerate known for such household staples as Tide and Old Spice, will acquire Walker & Company Brands, the health and beauty startup launched by entrepreneur Tristan Walker just five years ago.

While the financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, other details were: Within the first half of 2019, Walker and his current team of 15 employees will relocate to Atlanta—not Cincinnati, the home of P&G headquarters—and will continue working on its brands, Bevel and Form, as a wholly owned subsidiary with Walker at the reins as CEO. He’ll report directly to Alex Keith, president of P&G’s global haircare and beauty business.

“We’ve always had the vision to make health and beauty simple for people of color,” Walker says. “But now we get to accelerate that vision with the many capabilities Procter & Gamble has to offer. I’m not going anywhere. We’re not going anywhere.”

For those who’ve followed the career of Walker, the merger with P&G might read as the conclusion of a storied journey. Walker, who has cultivated for himself an image as a beacon for more racial diversity in Silicon Valley, is one of the most visible African-American executives in tech, counting among his funders Andreessen Horowitz, in addition to cofounding Code2040, a not-for-profit that connects young minorities to coding jobs. While it’s true that he professed his ambitions to become the “Procter and Gamble for people of color” in my profile of him four years ago, he has largely carved that path guided by Silicon Valley sensibilities, from ingratiating himself with the Bay Area elite to employing a direct-to-consumer model for Bevel—Walker’s flagship brand, a suite of shaving products that reduces skin irritation, common among men of color—just as glitzy startups like Warby Parker, Casper Sleep, and Glossier had done.

“Yes, we happen to be in Silicon Valley and, yes, we happen to do things from a technology perspective to help us accelerate our vision, but we’ve always been a forward-looking consumer packaged goods company,” says Walker. “Our moving from Silicon Valley doesn’t change that.”

The truth is, Walker has only in recent years begun eschewing the label of “tech startup.” He turned a few heads at Recode‘s Code Commerce conference in March of last year when he told Kara Swisher, “When I started, I said we’re a tech company. That’s bullshit.”

He’s moved deeper into the CPG world, inking a deal in 2015 to sell Bevel products in Target stores a la carte—a model which came to comprise nearly half the company’s revenue—and last year launched Form, a 10-product haircare line that Walker & Co. recommends to consumers based on an online survey about hair-affecting factors like geography and exercise habits. Form received rave reviews, but Walker lacked the resources to properly promote the product. Meanwhile, competitors such as Harry’s—which bought a $100 million razor factory less than a year after its founding—delivered on the type of fast-growth metrics that venture capitalists crave, zipping to a nine-figure valuation. (Soon Harry’s even installed giant displays that bookended the very Target aisles where Bevel products were sold.)

While some might consider the deal as simply the latest in a string of black-owned health and beauty companies getting snatched up by non-black-owned multinationals—see Sundial Brands’ sale to Unilever last year—the move means that resources like marketing and distribution are unlikely to be a worry for Walker going forward as a subsidiary of P&G, which today has a $93 billion market cap, and which AdAge recently ranked second (to Samsung) in global ad spend.

“When you consider growth percentages and metrics and that sort of thing, while it’s a good signal for the health of the business, it’s not necessarily the greatest signal for one’s belief that you’re building a beloved brand with staying power,” says Walker. “We’re six years old; Procter & Gamble is 180. There’s so much we can learn from them. We haven’t even scratched the surface yet.”

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

How Gregg Bishop, Small Business Expert, Spends His Sundays

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Commissioner Gregg Bishop

The holidays are always busy for Gregg Bishop, the commissioner of the New York City Department of Small Business Services, which kicks into high gear during the consumer frenzy of December.

Through the rest of the year, however, his agency is focused on providing support, including financing and legal services, to the city’s small businesses. Since Mr. Bishop was appointed in November 2015, he has certified a record number of minority- and women-owned businesses, and expanded the department to better serve immigrant entrepreneurs. He is also an adjunct professor at Baruch College’s Marxe School of Public and International Affairs and board president of the Red Hook Initiative, a community nonprofit. Mr. Bishop, 43, lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Downtown Brooklyn.

PREDAWN SOCIAL I’m an early riser, and Sunday is my catch-up day. So when I get up, typically at 5 or 5:30, I start sending work emails that I didn’t respond to during the week. I also do social media for my fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha — I just got initiated into the Alpha Gamma Lambda chapter, based in Harlem, this spring — and for Red Hook Initiative. I’m an info junkie, so I’ll watch TV news while I’m doing that.

HOLY MOTHER I have to be at church by 11, so I’ll start getting ready for that around 10:15. My church, New Life Church of God, just celebrated its 25th anniversary. It started in my mom’s house in East Flatbush, so I grew up in it. My mom, Evette Williams, wasn’t the one who had the idea to start it, but she was part of the team that got it going. Now she’s one of the pastors. The building it’s in used to be an auto-repair shop. I’m very big into fitness, but Sunday is my cheat day, so I might stop at Golden Krust for ackee and saltfish, a Jamaican dish. Or I may just skip breakfast. It depends on how early I leave for church.

SPREAD THE WORD There’s a commercial corridor right near church, so on the way I’ll stop and hand out fliers and knock on doors to let people know about our services. Things like health fairs, connecting people with jobs. A lot of people don’t think to turn to the government for assistance. Any time I’m walking down an avenue, I’m thinking, “What can we do as an agency to help these particular businesses? How can we advocate for them?”

TECHIE IN THE PEWS My background is in technology, and that comes out in church. I flip between being the person who does the sound engineering and the person who does the software displays, so people can see the hymns and Bible verses.

BARBERSHOP After church it’s like clockwork. I go get my hair cut at First Impression Barber and Beauty Salon, which is in what we call the Junction, basically where Flatbush and Nostrand Avenue meet. I actually have lost my hair, it’s thinning, but I refuse to be like those folks who try to hang onto it. So I cut it really low. I’ve been going there almost all my life, since high school, and they’ve seen me grow up. If I want to check the pulse of how we’re doing as a government, the barbershop is my best source. I just sit down and listen to the conversation.

Continue on to The New York Times to read the complete article.

There are over 2 million Black-Owned Businesses in the U.S.

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robert f smith

According to the United States Census Bureau, there are more than 2 million businesses in the country that are owned by African Americans.

That statistic dispels a lot of rumors that African Americans are not successful in business. On the contrary, Black-owned businesses are a huge asset to the U.S. economy. But wait there’s more!

Here are 10 more little-known facts about Black businesses:

 
 

LOCATION:

#1 – The highest ratio of Black-owned businesses is in Washington, DC where 28% percent of ALL businesses there are owned by African Americans.

#2 – The second highest ratio of Black-owned businesses is in the state of Georgia, where 20% of ALL businesses there are Black-owned.

#3 – Although the ratio is only 10.6%, the state of New York actually has the most Black-owned firms at 204,093.

EMPLOYEES:

#4 – Of the 2 million Black businesses in the U.S., only about 107,000 of them have actual employees and they employ mo

INDUSTRIES:

#5 – Nearly 38% of Black businesses are in health care and social assistance, repair and maintenance, and personal and laundry services.

#6 – Other popular categories among Black businesses include advertising firms, auto dealerships, consulting services, restaurants, barbershops, beauty salons, and more.

TOP BUSINESSES:

#7 – World Wide Technology, a global technology consulting firm based in St Louis, MO, is the LARGEST Black-owned business in the country. Founded by entrepreneur David Steward, they post annual revenues of more than $2 billion.

#8 – There are actually many Black-owned businesses that generate millions in annual revenue. For example, Oprah Winfrey’s Harper Productions and Bob Johnson’s RLJ Companies. There is also GlobalHue, an advertising agency in Detroit, that generates more than $480 million in annual revenue; and many, many others.

WHERE IMPROVEMENT IS NEEDED:

#9 – African Americans make up more than 13% of the U.S. population, but only own 7% of the businesses.

Continue on to BlackPRWire to read the complete article.

How Diversity Officers Change Corporate Culture

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Professional Woman

By 2045, people of color will make up the majority of the U.S. population.

That demographic shift, predicted by the U.S. Census Bureau, is one reason why companies are starting to take workplace diversity, inclusion and equity more seriously.

In corporate America, this has manifested in part through the proliferation of chief diversity officers, who are charged with creating policies and climates supportive of workers from an array of backgrounds.

As of 2012, 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies had diversity executives, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“It’s becoming standard across companies,” says Allison Scott, chief research officer at the Kapor Center, which aims to increase diversity in the technology and entrepreneurship sectors. “I think that’s a promising and important sign.”

However, having a chief diversity officer on the payroll is not a panacea, researchers say.

“That all sounds good and well, but in the past there wasn’t as much accountability for it,” says Kisha Jones, assistant professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University. “You could get an A for effort for attempting the different practices but not have to show how change happens.”

Still, the presence of a diversity executive in the C-suite is one sign job seekers should look for when assessing whether a company is equipped to hire and retain diverse workers and effectively market to the heterogeneous customer base of the future.

Learn more about what these officers do and other signs to look for when evaluating a company’s commitment to diversity.

Duties and Conditions for Success

The work of diversity officers, also known as equal opportunity professionals, cuts across departmental boundaries. They influence hiring, training and company cultural practices that relate to three “big buckets,” explains Archie Ervin, vice president and chief diversity officer at the Georgia Institute of Technology and president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education.

Continue on to US News to read the complete article.

How This Interior Designer Turned Paint Into Profit

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Suburban Detroit may not be the epicenter of interior design, but that’s exactly where Nicole Gibbons, the CEO and founder of Clare, a direct-to-consumer paint line, got her start.

When she was growing up, Gibbons’ mother was a decorator and although Gibbons’ first job out of college was Director of Public Relations for a mass market retailer, she launched a design blog as her creative outlet. “It was truly just a place for me to talk about all the things I loved,” said Gibbons.

For a decade, her nights and weekends were spent pursuing her side hustle: designing for clients. But in 2008 the recession hit, and it wasn’t a good time to leave her day job to take a risk on starting her own full-time business. By 2013, the economy was looking up, though, and inspired by the Martha Stewart model of bringing design to the masses, Gibbons decided to take the leap.

Her first step was to build up her interior design clientele in and around New York City. Simultaneously, Gibbons started positioning herself as a design influencer. She appeared on Rachael Ray, HGTV, and spent three seasons on Home Made Simple on the Oprah Network. “All the while I was thinking about what kind of business I could build,” she added.

By then the first wave of direct-to-consumer brands had launched, with companies like Warby Parker in 2010 and Casper in 2014. “That’s when I had a light bulb moment around paint,” she said. “It’s something that’s really painful to shop for.” So painful in fact that it took one of Gibbons’ friends two months to pick a paint color that she ended up hating in the end.

Gibbons started out by networking in the paint industry to learn as much as she could about the marketing and manufacturing of paint. In the process she learned that the paint industry hasn’t changed the way it operates or sells its products in over a century. One woman she spoke with, who worked in the paint research and development space, even admitted that she hated shopping for paint. “That was a huge vote of confidence that I was onto something,” Gibbons explained. “People kept telling me that they wished someone would figure this out.”

And that’s exactly what Gibbons set out to do when she launched Clare.

Her first goal was to create a shopping experience for paint that was a lot more inspiring than the aisles of your local hardware or big box store, where a single paint brand has more than 3,000 colors to choose from.

The typical journey for someone who wants to paint their house is this: Narrow down from thousands of colors to a handful you want to try on your wall. Buy an eight-ounce jar of paint. Go home. Paint your wall. Wait for paint to dry. All the colors look almost exactly the same. Go back to the store and test more colors until you find the right one. Wait in line to get the paint mixed. If you have a job, which many of us do, you’re probably at the store on the weekend when it’s the busiest. Next you head over to the tool aisle, which is just as confusing as the paint aisle.

Instead, Clare has only 55 of the best colors in the best finishes, Gibbons explained. No more going back and forth to the store each time you want to try a new color. The company offers peel and stick color built with a high-tech color matching system that takes into account how much natural light your space gets, your existing furniture, and the colors you already have in the room. It also eliminates the need for testing multiple paint swatches on your wall.“We’ve created a suite of high quality tools so that even an unskilled painter can achieve high quality results. We bundle together everything from paint to tools. And we also have tons of online content that offer tips and inspiration,” said Gibbons.

In 2017 Gibbons built out the business, focusing on supply chain logistics and market research. “My goal was to get the business to the place where I could raise capital,” she said.

Her first step was to talk to people who had raised capital before. “I didn’t have a physical product or any traction so I had a bigger challenge than most,” Gibbons said. “When you’re raising pre-product you have to sell a vision. You can’t just have a compelling story. You have to give investors the confidence that you can execute on your vision.”

When Gibbons first pitched Clare to investors, she already knew who her suppliers would be and she had all the relationships in place in order to execute. “I spent all year working on it. I ate, breathed and slept paint. When the time came to talk to investors, I had a really clear path forward and a clear plan.”

Gibbons took her first investor meetings in September 2017 and by the end of October she had an oversubscribed round, raising $2 million, exceeding her initial target of $1.6 million.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

MBE Smart Tips: Pitch Perfect

LinkedIn
Businesswoman at her desk with paper looking at camera

Sixty seconds isn’t much time to make a business pitch, but often, that’s all you have. Whether it’s at a networking event, a conference or another event, you’ll want to have a one-minute pitch ready.

How can you make a good impression and convey your company’s message so it will lead to a follow-up meeting? Here are a few tips:

1 Practice and prepare. The more familiar and comfortable you are with your pitch, the more effective you’ll be. Put together a few talking points and rehearse them over and over again.

2 Focus on the basics. You want your pitch to be high-level, which means to be concise and leave the details out. In addition to describing your company’s programs and services, talk about the value you bring and how you’re different from competitors.

3 Show passion. People are attracted to others who love what they do, so be positive and enthusiastic. You’ll command their attention and they’ll likely have greater confidence in your abilities.

4 Be yourself. You want to be genuine; don’t try and be someone you’re not. Mislead them now and you won’t have another chance to get in the door.

5 Prepare for questions. Anticipate what questions will be asked after your one-minute pitch and be ready to respond. The way you respond to questions is as important as your pitch.

6 Be realistic. A one-minute pitch will not necessarily lead to a business opportunity. Use the opportunity to learn if there is enough interest to further the conversation, then follow up.

7 Call to action. After your pitch and any questions, follow up by asking if there would be an opportunity to talk in more detail to discuss your company’s offerings.

Practice your pitch at other networking events. If you’re prepared, a one-minute pitch can make a favorable impression and lead to new business ventures.

Source: SCMSDC

5 Things Every Entrepreneur Needs

LinkedIn

1 Transparency.
Operating with transparency used to be a luxury versus a necessity but, now, it’s quite mandatory. Millennials, in particular, who wield a tremendous amount of influence and purchasing power, make buying decisions based largely on the provenance, manufacturing processes and overall business practices of a particular company.

Because millennials are now the largest population in the United States, to say that transparency will drive how businesses are perceived is an understatement, at best. However, the good news is that establishing and maintaining transparency doesn’t have to be difficult. Simply communicating regularly with honesty and unequivocally holding yourself, your staff and your company accountable will go a long way toward fostering goodwill with not only consumers and prospects but also with vendors, strategic partners and your industry at large.

2 Loyalty.
It used to be that only airlines had “loyalty” programs. Now, everybody from giant corporations like Pepsi Co. to mom-and-pop corner coffee shops have some sort of loyalty program. And rightfully so. Every industry faces new competition on a daily basis and customers are understandably price sensitive, often buying from whoever has the best sale or perks. However, what loyalty programs really come down to is creating that coveted repeat customer. For instance, airlines offering free first-class upgrades or hotels upgrading size of the room for elite travelers often creates an allegiance that trumps price point. This principle can be applied in every business. If you’re a service company and a client is at the end of his or her agreement, offer a specific service at a discount or another deliverable with a high perceived value. Those who do business online can easily build an awards program that fosters a faithful following.

3 Crowdfunding.
The ugly truth is if you need a loan, chances are extremely high you won’t be able to get one. In fact, the recent small business study also revealed that the majority—a full 61 percent—of those who tried to get a favorable loan were unable to do so. Venture capital and private equity funding is equally, if not more, difficult to come by. While some types of capital are actually easier to procure, the interest rates are usually more aggressive, often prohibitively so. Instead, focus on crowdfunding and non-traditional lenders, such as Bond Street, Kabbage and Deal Struck. According to Massolution’s 2015CF–Crowdfunding Industry Report, global crowdfunding was anticipated to be more than $34 billion. A revenue source of that size is simply too big to ignore and not tap into.

4 Pay-for-Play Social Media.
Facebook was among the first to implement the “pay-for-play” model by removing organic reach and focusing on paid advertisement. Since being acquired by Facebook, Instagram is destined to follow. Pinterest and Twitter are also both currently growing into their pay-for-play systems and will likely make it difficult for pure organic reach as well. Unfortunately, this means entrepreneurs will need to increase their social media budget. However, Facebook’s paid ads have been shown to reach a significantly greater percentage of users than organic posts, making paid ads well worth the investment. However, social media shouldn’t only be leveraged as a form of advertising. Rather, social media is an ideal way to handle customer service in a way that not only improves marketplace loyalty but also your company’s transparency endeavor.

5 Instant Gratification.
Simply put, if you don’t offer some form of instant gratification, your prospective customer will likely go somewhere that does. This truth is particularly problematic for businesses that require information from customers, such as insurance or financial services. Having prospects fill out contact request forms to be contacted later on for products or services is becoming less and less effective in the “Age of Impatience.” To be competitive, you need to deliver to the customer instantaneously in some way, whether that be with the information they are seeking or some other deliverable that will satisfy them in the moment and keep them interested for a longer term. Even just offering quicker and more efficient processes for dealing or transacting with your company is certainly a form of instant gratification. At every available touchpoint, strive to impress the customer—an incredibly effective way of evoking that gratified feeling. No matter what industry you’re in or what type of business you run, you can still make a profit, no matter what the current economic outlook happens to be. That begins with giving customers what they want, how they want it and in a way that’s more sensitive to marketplace vs. company needs.

Source: americanbusinessmag.com

About the Author
Brian Greenberg is a multi-faceted entrepreneur who has founded and currently
spearheads an assortment of successful online businesses. He currently co-owns
and operates multiple entrepreneurial companies with his father, Elliott
Greenberg, which have each flourished for over 10 years, including Wholesale-JanitorialSupply.com, TouchFreeConcepts.com and TrueBlueLifeInsurance.com.

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