Monday, June 6, 2011

The Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Conference RECAP

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Posted by
 Lowri D. Gray
The BOSS Network
Social Media Intern 

Last week I had the prestige opportunity to attend the 2011 Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Conference in Atlanta Georgia. I was joined by the amazing women of, The BOSS Network; Forbes listed “Top 100 Websites for Women.” I currently serve as The Social Media Intern for Cameka Smith, Owner and Founder of the BOSS Network. She graciously invited me to attend the conference as an opportunity to network and promote the BOSS brand. The mere thought of sitting in the same room with innovators such as Earl G. Graves, Founder and Publisher of Black Enterprise Magazine, Mc HammerLisa PriceVanessa and Angela Simmons, and Marvet Britto literally gave me goose bumps. As a 23 year old, recent graduate, I was afraid my adolescence would hinder me from connecting with those who have been in the game for so long.  All I wanted to do is sit there, listen, and hold on to every word they had to say.  Fortunately the Black Enterprise Conference allowed me to do just that!

Both days consisted of various informative sessions with plenty of Q &A time. Every session expounded on trends and issues in the entrepreneurial world; transitioning from employee to entrepreneur, social media, raising capital, going green, and going abroad.  All in which can make or break an entrepreneur if not used the right way at the right time.

Even though each session was on a different topic and hosted by different speakers, there were three main topics/issues that came up repeatedly.

1. Use up to date technology – Mobile websites and Social Media
In this day in age, if your business does not have an online presence you are considered non-existing to the outside world. It is all about being accessible! Accessibility brings new customers and keeps current ones. Customers want to be in the know at all times, and social media is the best way to do that

Entrepreneurs must understand social media “is not about the number of followers/friends, it’s about the quality. “–Marshawn Evans. The quality really depends on engagement from both ends.

The world has turned into a mobile society. Whether in a business meeting or sitting at a football game, customers are constantly looking for new information. Consequently mobile websites are must!

2. Your Success depends on YOU!
An Entrepreneur sees a void and starts a new venture to fill that void. Starting the same business as someone else’s will get you nowhere. You have to find your niche, something that sets your business apart from the rest. Once you have found it, be the best at it! “Do what you do so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you” - Dennis P. Kimbro Clark Atlanta School of Business

Everyday should be a learning experience! Like Marvet Britto said, “Just because you can’t find it on Google doesn’t mean the information isn’t out there. We need to take more time to sit down and read!” There is an endless amount of information out there and we should want to know as much of it as possible. There are people in this world that will deliberately lead you in the wrong direction. But when you are informed, you will know “a wolf” when you see one.  

While being informed is great, having the capability to connect with others is even better. “It is not always the person with the education that gets the job, it is sometimes the person with the relationship.” –Marvet. The ability to connect with others is the greatest tool anyone can have. Those who have mastered it understand people like to talk about themselves and appreciate someone who will actively listen. –Will Packer   

3. Raising capital
While everyone has the idea for “the next big thing” there are few who follow through and turn their idea into reality. While reasons may differ, one thing remains the same; every entrepreneur needs start up capital.  With the present condition of the economy, banks are not handing out loans like newspapers anymore. Fortunately there are organizations like 100 Urban Entrepreneurs who’s objective is for everyone to the have the opportunity to be an entrepreneur. Their goal is to finance, teach, and mentor minority entrepreneurs who would otherwise not have access to startup capital, first-class knowledge or a professional network. All you need is a 60 second pitch of your idea, and if selected, $10,000 and a wealth of mentorship and entrepreneurial education are yours to start your venture.

I honestly believe every participant of the Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Conference consider their attendance as an  “investment” in their business and their future. The conference is truly “where deals are made “ and networks are grown. For those who were unable to attend the conference this year, I hope to see you May 2011, as the Windy City host the Annual Black Enterprise Conference.  Until next time!

-Lowri Gray