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4 Tips for Women's Business Success
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There are over 11M Women Owned businesses in the US. They make up 40% of new business owners and generate over $1.7 Trillion in revenue. So how can we make sure that these businesses are profitable and sustainable?

  • Collaborate

Collaboration (even with those you may feel are competitors) can open the door to more clients, more sales, and an increased presence in the business sector. Seek out entrepreneurs who match your focus and want to grow the same way.

  • Educate Yourself

Although women are building businesses at astronomical rates, we are often overlooked or denied when it comes to funding. Depending on your industry, startup funds and money for payroll may be an essential necessity for your business success. Find out what investors and banks look for when allocating funding, and find out what skills you may need to brush up on to increase your chances of success. Organizations like your local SBA will often offer FREE education on a variety of business topics.

  • Re-evaluate your business structure

Do you REALLY need that many staff members? Does that new software system serve your best interests? Comb through all of the elements of your business to see what elements are truly necessary and what elements are optional. You may find areas where you can cut back on expenses, or even raise your prices on certain products and services.

  • Don't give up!

No one ever said business would be easy. Be resilient in your quest to become a success. The pros will outweigh the cons once you've achieved your goals.

On October 24th The Women's Business Center of Charlotte is hosting its 2nd Annual Heart of a Women Conference. This conference will cover all of the areas of your business AND your personal life that will help you propel towards success. The breakout sessions are full of amazing educational gems and success stories from women just like you.

Session topics include:

  • Doing Business With The Government

  • Conquering Marketing & Branding

  • Nonprofit Management

  • Healthy Living Tips

  • Staffing Tips

  • Strategic Planning

This year's keynote speaker is Ms. Jacqie McWilliams, Commissioner of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), Ms. McWilliams will share her success secrets that landed her a position as the first female African-American Commissioner of the CIAA.

 

Early Bird Registration ends soon, so purchase your tickets today!

 

The Shea story: Branding Mistakes from the pros
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In the digital world, brand ambassadors can either make or break you, Having every day consumers share the benefits of your products and services can be one of the most low cost ways of advertising. But what happens when you do something to disappoint that customer base? How in the world do you rebuild a brand that is trusted by the people who will put money behind your brand and endorse you at all times? Shea Moisture is just one brand that is feeling a huge negative effect from a campaign that angered their core base. Now we are looking at what they could have done differently to avoid the backlash. 

Shea Moisture is known is for creating products primarily for African American women. The company prides itself on using all nature products and endorsing a mission to give reverence to its African ancestors It's latest ad did not seem to reflect that mission. The company, who has recently been acquired by a larger company, is expanding its customer base. They have created new products that can be used by women of all different hair types. The newest ad expressed the perils of women who have experiences "hair hate". Shea Moisture presented an ad that showed them as the solution to these women's problems. The only problem was that they left out one important hair type in the ad: that of the African American woman. 

 

The internet was immediately in an uproar as Shea Moisture began trending on social media. The response from women in the African American community was so swift that Shea Moisture immediately issued an apology. 

"Wow - we really f-ed this one up! Please know that our intent was not, & would never be, to disrespect our community" 

 

But for some, the apology made it worse. It seemed empty and meaningless, and was only met with more criticism. While most people can understand a company wanting to expand, and ultimately increase its profits, loyal customers want to continue to feel an attachment to the brand they grown to love for long. Dove, another beauty centered company seems to be able to hit the mark every single time with its rebranding initiatives. When Dove decided a couple of years back that they wanted more influence in the African American market, they went straight to the source for assistance in how to deliver a campaign that this new audience could identify with. They asked for input from women in the African American community and used the results to expand its market. Dove got it right. and continues to get it right repeatedly. There is a craft to changing things up within your brand. Here are a couple of suggestions on how Shea Moisture could have done things differently: 

Expanding the Product Line

A great company is expected to grow over time. It's perfectly natural to see companies expand their offerings as they grow. But it's important to be cautious about doing so. You have to access the details of your expected results. Are your results to sell more products, or to create more loyal customers? If your company is focused on creating loyal customers, then its important to think about the long term effects at all times. Your customers should serve as silent partners or board members to whom you look to for guidance on how to operate effectively. The last thing you want to do is exclude them from your expansion. 

Alternative Ads

A world where one company offers products that are inclusive of a variety of different groups is an amazing setup. However, when trying to stress inclusiveness its important to remember to include all groups involved. Once again, we can refer to some of the campaigns previously launched by Dove where they focused on showing a variety of women with different skin and hair types, and even different shapes. It helped to build a sense of community. Instead of adding on to the customer base and merging two markets together, Shea Moisture divided them. As women continue to fight for equality in the US, one of the last things they need is more division.

No Apologies

Sometimes there are things that are better left unsaid. Shea Moisture's long, heartfelt apology was almost like a slap in the face to those who were already outraged. The apology seemed like a simple "No. We still want you to buy from us", instead of a "No. We really do understand you. We promise". Once you've mad someone feel as though they matter less to you, words just don't cut it. People want action, and they want it right away. They want a crisis communication team in place that can work on slowly developing that trust again. The trust was not built overnight, and it most certainly will not be regained over night, 

 

What do you think Shea Moisture could have done differently? Would you continue to support a brand that made you feel excluded? Let us know in the comments. 

5 Ways to Benefit From MED Week

consulting and networkingAs cities across the country celebrate Minority Enterprise Development Week, some smaller cities still struggle to get local business owners involved in the weekly activities. Here are some of the benefits of attending local MED Week activities in your area.

  • Gather information on new opportunities in your area

Most local governments have tons of programs in place geared towards increasing the economic influence of minority business owners. However, these programs and services aren’t always widely publicized. Attending a MED Week Event in your area may uncover new opportunities for your company such as product placement, funding, or relocation services.

  • Network with like-minded business owners

There is a growing number of solopreneurs in today’s marketplace. While being a solopreneur may be a good fit for the business down the street, not every business is meant to run in this fashion. Finding others who share the same vision, and perhaps similar services can help expand your business and increase your bottom line. Attending networking events opens up the door for interaction with others that may spark new ideas or partnerships. 61fa9-women-smallbusinessowners

  • Discover new services

Oftentimes we launch our businesses with an intention to share a certain product or service that we deem important. But as our business interests grow, and as the marketplace evolves, these goods and services may not be enough to keep your business sustainable. Implementing Add-ons such as new retail products or consultation opportunities may help keep your business afloat while you work on improving your original arsenal of services. You may also find that the questions you had about improving certain products may be answered with a completely new product.

  • Inspiration and Motivation

Being an entrepreneur is definitely not for the faint of heart. There are ups and downs, and twists and turns that you probably didn’t expect to pop up during the journey. It is especially daunting when these twists and turns end up having a negative effect on your profit margin. When things get tough, it’s easy to think about throwing in the towel. Talking with other entrepreneurs with similar stories may help convince you to stay the course. Creating a support network that allows you to encourage one another may be just the thing you need to keep your business afloat and keep the doors open.

  • Marketing

The growing number of entrepreneurs creates a vacuum in which businesses are often lost in the crowd. No matter what your product or service may be, you have to find a way to stand out amongst your competition. For every “new” business that pops up, there are ten or twelve other businesses offering the same exact services. Networking events allow you to engage in face to face interaction with others who may not even know your business existed. It also allows you to give your Elevator Pitch and show others why your business is superior to other similar businesses. Small Business and Chamber of Commerce events often offer free or discounted marketing opportunities for businesses to showcase their individual products or partner with other companies to offer new services. Taking advantage of these services can give you an opportunity for free marketing services that you didn’t know existed. 7f94b-stand2bout

Minority Enterprise Development doesn’t have to end during MED Week. Engagement starts in your own community, and can thrive during even the smallest of settings. Seek out opportunities in your area, or create your own networking functions. Your local Chamber of Commerce or Economic Development Commission may even offer free space to hold your events if you are willing to partner with other local businesses. Visit your local agencies today to get started on taking advantage of these new opportunities.

Celebrating MED Week: The 2014 Substantial Awards

substantial awards Each year since 1983, the President of the United States has proclaimed a week as National Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week to honor the achievements and many contributions of minority entrepreneurs, individuals and organizations that support minority business development. During this week of events, cities across the country arrange meetups and events where entrepreneurs can connect with public and private sector buyers, explore avenues for business expansion, and develop thriving partnerships with firms across multiple industry sectors.

The City of Greenville NC is no stranger to celebrating MED week. The Minority and Women Business Enterprise (M/WBE) program is celebrating for the fifth year in a row with a week of activities geared towards connecting local individuals and organizations that support minority business development. The schedule of events include social media information sessions and networking events with local entrepreneurs. I sat down with Editor in Chief of Substantial Magazine, Gregory Hedgepeth to discuss his role in the 2014 Substantial Awards, an evening created to honor extraordinary leaders and entrepreneurs in the minority community.

BM:  How did you come up with the idea to do the Substantial Awards?

GH: The concept of honoring and recognizing outstanding people through ceremonies and awards shows is not a unique idea at all. Substantial Magazine just wanted to take this concept and create the same atmosphere and prestige that you would great from these major brand shows right here in Greenville, NC for our outstanding community leaders and entrepreneurs. It goes hand in hand with the purpose of our publication, which is to tell the stories of influential and affluent minorities in our community.

BM: What can people expect from the Substantial Awards?

GH: First and foremost, expect nothing less than a dynamic, and well organized show. People can expect to hear the stories of five Substantial community leaders, witness dynamic cultural performances and also be informed about other community organizations and leaders that are impacting our community. We will also be awarding a Substantial U award to a young inspiring college leader. Substantial U is our subsidiary magazine that looks to tell the stories of influential minority college students and their organizations that are making an impact on their campuses. This award will recognize the achievements of young leaders who strive to be next to change the world.

BM: What do you want people to take away from the experience of attending the Substantial Awards?

GH: We want people to leave the 2014 Substantial Awards with a sense of pride in what our minority community has been able to accomplish. We want for our audience to have been informed and entertained. We hope they leave with the understanding that a Substantial Award is not only an appreciation of the value its recipient presents but a symbol of the passion that undoubtedly fuels their work. We want them to see that these people they have seen and heard about during the night surpass the descriptions of entrepreneur or humanitarian, and these recipients can only be described as those who are pillars of the Greenville community. Their influence and impact is supremely felt by others and ripples throughout the City. In one word, their contributions to what makes Greenville great is truly Substantial. Leave knowing that there is nothing minor about being the minority and that we all are substantial and so is our purpose.

For more information on the Substantial Awards, or to purchase tickets please visit www.substantialawards.com