Friday, May 4, 2012

Black Enterprise Small Business University Week 1 Review

As a BOSS Network member and aspiring entrepreneur, I jumped at the opportunity to expand my business education and be a part of Black Enterprise Small Business University. For the next 8 weeks, I’ll bring class notes and a recap of each lesson. The goal is to encourage the entrepreneur in you at whatever position your starting out and to help you have a greater value in the marketplace, if you’re an existing Small Business owner. Join me every Wednesday at 7pm on #SmallBizU on Twitter, as we discuss the week’s lesson and get exclusive tips from the experts.  This week lesson was taught by Small Biz Lady, Melinda Emerson. This is your time to do something for yourself and your business. 

Lesson 1 – Getting Started
Before you launch – Create Your small business check list:

The very first thing you need to do before you get started with starting your business is create a life plan. It’s important to know what you want to have out of life and that you build a business that aligns with those goals. Spend quality with yourself and develop a life plan first, this will ultimately guide your business and guide your life

Secondly you need a financial plan, the money has to come from your right or left pocket, so it’s very important to know if you can afford to become an entrepreneur. Develop a financial plan before you get started
Thirdly evaluate your business concept based on what business skills you have and what skills you need to start your particular business. Do not start a business in an industry that you have no experience. Go work for a business like the one you want to start. Get your expenses down and your money straight so that you can afford to go into business

The fourth item is you need to know who your paying customer is, you must have a detail customer profile, and you must know who they are and why they will buy from you. Develop a niche target customer so that you can focus your marketing efforts

The fifth thing is write a business plan so you can have a road map for success. In the first few years of your business your business plan should be updated every 2 – 3 months to make sure your business is on the right track

And lastly, start your business while you’re still working. Do both jobs until both of them are making real money.

Lesson 2- Establishing your Brand

Now that you’re all set up, here’s how to know the direction you want to take your brand.
Branding is all about getting your customer to see that your company is the best solution to their business challenge, when done well this gives you a real competitive advantage. In order to have a distinctive brand you must clearly communicate what you do, who you are and what you stand for. 

Clearly communicate who you are and what you and your brand stand for.
One of the most important elements of your brand is your logo. It’s a good idea to invest in your visual brand by using a professional graphic designer to help you. One of the best resources for finding graphic designers is social media and websites such as Use a professional to develop your logo.

Building a trusted brand requires knowing your target audience and building a strong relationship with them. You should always focus on your customer paying points, this will help you keep your brand focused and lead to brand loyalty. Position your business as the best solution for your target customer.

One of the best ways to position yourself as an industry expert is to start blogging and use social medial to share your original content, serious bloggers publish new content 2-3 times per week. Once you determine your niche focus your goal must be to own your niche.Establish your expertise through blogging and pick a niche and own it.

Lesson 3: Communication your vision for your small busines
How communicating your message and knowing your vision is the key to success for your business
As a business leader it’s your job to craft a vision for your company: once you know what your vision is you need to be able to communicate that to a wide audience that includes your customer, your employees, and interns. Because people need to share your vision that everyone understands, can relate to and ultimately believe in. 

5 ways to do that:

Share your vision with everyone - Create a strong vision and communicate it to everyone, don’t get caught up in if you sound redundant.
Remind them of your message reinforce them constantly to keep everyone focus

Tell a good story – Use storytelling to help people see your vision:  you give life to your vision creates trust and captures hearts and minds. Easier to repeat a story than a vision statement

      Be flexible -Keep it short – Explain your vision in one minute or less. – Create dialogue around your vision
      Be open and willing to take suggestions that could take your vision to the next level
      Call to action – Put out calls to action and assign specific roles you want your team to play in  your success.

Student – Lashana Thomas


  1. Thanks and check back weekly for more notes.

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