Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Project BOSS Mentee Attends The Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Conference!

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Attending the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference was inspiring and heart warming. It was great learning from the entrepreneurs at the workshop. I had many questions in regards to copyright, how to start a business, and if I was good enough to be a business owner. All those questions were answered when I attended the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference. 
As an unemployed recent graduate with no business, I was nervous about attending the BE Conference. I thought I had nothing to offer, and no one would want to network with me. However, it was heart warming to meet so many entrepreneurs who were interested in assisting me to accomplish my goals. 
Selina and BOSS Founder Cameka Smith
Everyone I met was down to earth, and interested in helping me start a learning center that provide educational mentoring and tutoring. I am very much a shy person, but I told myself that if I wanted to get the most out of the BE Conference I would have to step out of my comfort zone. I also told myself that I might never get an opportunity to go to a conference like this again. 
I was able to attend the BE Conference after winning the elevator pitch competition at the I Am Woman Conference at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). The Boss Network and the UIC CHANCE Program awarded me with a ticket to the BE Conference. 
The final day of the BE Conference, I started bursting into tears at the award ceremony. For the first time in my life, I was confident that my dreams were attainable. From Wednesday through Friday, I received blessing after blessing. All I could say was thank you Jesus! Had I declined the invitation, I would have missed out on so many opportunities. I was so inspired that I planned on saving for next year’s BE Conference. I look forward to attending next year. 
Selina Spencer is one of our Project BOSS mentees from the Chance Program at University of Illinois at Chicago.  She attended the Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Conference in Chicago Illinois. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Health and Wellness: Dieting 101 By Princess Carey

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I am almost certain that you or somebody you know have tried a fad diet. You may have seen some flimsy, before and after commercial about experiences with low-carb diets, diet pills and shakes. My all time favorite would be the magic dust that supposedly blocks the fat. Are we this naïve?! Whether we want to admit it or not the reality is few people have long-term success with fad diets, and a large percentage of Americans still face obesity. Instead of teaching the public how to understand and adopt a permanent lifestyle change of balancing caloric intake with calories burned, fad diets give people excuses to have insane eating patterns and behaviors.
How to recognize a fad diet

1. Please be cautious of misleading advertisement. Marketers are paid to sell a product by any means necessary. This means if they have to tell you by replacing breakfast with a pill you will lose up to 20 lbs in two weeks. Research shows that the slow and steady approach is not only healthier but it keeps the pounds off. Misleading advertisement, allows manufacturers to capitalize not only on your curiosity but also on their lack of certainty about nutrition labeling. Always look for The “FDA approved” seal when buying weight loss supplements.

2. Watch out for buzz words. Take, for example, one of the buzz phrases in low-carb dieting: "net carbs." or low "impact carbs." Both of these terms sound technical. But the truth is that these terms were created by the diet and food industry.

3. If it sounds too good be true than is usually is.

 Realistic Weight Loss Tips

1. Drink more water. Drinking water is not only good for keeping the body hydrated, but drinking water before meals can fill you up which reduces your chances of overeating.

2. Cut down on refined sugars and simple carbs such as white bread and sugary drinks. Sugar determines whether our body store fat or burn fat. The less simple sugar carbs you eat, the more your body burns fat. It is important that you do not cut out carbs completely. Healthy carbs (complex carbs) that you find in fruits, veggies and whole grains are responsible for reproducing energy in our bodies.

3. Eat at least three to five servings of fruit and veggies a day. Also try a different fruit and vegetable twice a week. This will give your body all the essential vitamins and minerals needed to function properly.

4. Veggies, Whole Grains and Proteins. Your dinner plate should consist of 45% vegetables, 35% whole grains, and 20% animal proteins/meat.

5. Portion control is important. Your meat serving portions should be no larger than the size of the inner palm of your hand.

6Plan and prepare meals ahead. Buy easy to prepare foods like fruit, nuts, and yogurt and freshly cut veggies. Prepared food is perfect for a lunch and or snack time.

7. Cut down on dining out. You will preserve your health as well as your cash. Cook at home so you know exactly what you’re eating.

8. Keep a food journal. Keeping a food diary may be the key to losing extra weight, its all about accountability, awareness, and the ability to understand and track what you're eating.

9. Exercise. Make sure to get at least 3 days of a moderate workout in. Take a jog or a walk. For more specific help, seek a reputable personal trainer or fitness instructor.

10. Last but definitely not least, contact your local dietitian or nutritionist. They are specifically trained to help you with your dietary needs and diet changes.

For more information about health, beauty and fitness tips visit blogger  Princess Carey at Well Balanced Beauty

And The Winner is….

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As a woman of faith,” I knew I was going to attend, I just didn’t know how I was going to get there”; is what I said to myself in regards to The 2012 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference . I entered a contest sponsored by The BOSS Network and the prize was a ticket to Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference 2012,  in the end; it was “The Boss Network”, which granted me access to partake in a life changing opportunity.


I am Nakita ”Nicci” Whittaker, Founder and CEO of “The Whiz Kidz of America Foundation, NFP”. Whiz Kidz is an education focused incentive program that provides solutions for our youth that desire to be entrepreneurs now. Our signature program is the Annual Whiz Kidz Jr. Entrepreneur Competition, CPS kids have the opportunity to compete to win $10,000 to start for fund their business. I’m not only an advocate for inspiring our youth; I’m a BOSS, and a proud member of BOSS (The Boss Network)!
The Boss Network is an Elite Network of Polished, Poised and Professional minority women who come together to support, motivate, mentor, and brand each other in our careers. From the start, The Boss Network and Founder Cameka Smith has proved; “Yes, women can work together!”. I enjoy being a part of such a wonderful network of inspiring women who genuinely care about women growth and empowerment. I was introduced to the Boss Network by good friend Shay Atkins of Creative Turkey.
Allow me to tell you about my three day experience at Black Enterprise 2012. From the moment I walked through the doors of Hilton Chicago, I felt the positive energy of beautiful, hungry, minority entrepreneurs like me and everyone was so pleasant. Check in was a breeze, and before you know it, off to the first class I go…
The first class was hosted by Daymond John of ABC hit series “Shark Tank” this class set the platform for me as I am a huge fan of Daymond John and “Shark Tank” inspired me to put my creative side into action and create a way to help our youth become entrepreneurs. I learned so much about the differences between Venture Capitalist and Angel Investors. Do you know the difference? Allow me to briefly share:
• An Angel Investor is a person or a company that invest money for in house (their own money)
• A Venture Capitalist is a person or agency that invests corporate money.
The guest speakers were two Angel Investors who spoke on the dos and don’ts if you are looking for an investor. After the class I attended the networking reception where I met so many great people! My tip for anyone attending next year is to bring plenty of business cards!!!!!
I can talk to you forever about all the wonderful things I learned and the powerful people I met over the past three days but I don’t want to spoil it for you if you are attending next year. However I will say this, during the three days of Black Enterprise and my tenure since the start of BOSS, I’ve met investors, mentors and friends and connects NO MONEY can afford. I’m looking forward to next year’s conference and I’m certainly looking forward to my long relationship with BOSS! If you are serious about your career, BOSS and Black Enterprise is the place for you!
-Nakita Nicci Whittaker


To Learn more about  Nakita Nicci Whittaker check out her BOSS profile here: http://www.thebossnetwork.org/profile/NakitaWhittaker

Black Enterprise Small Business University Growing Your Business Course Review Week 6 by Lashana Thomas

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Course: Growing Your Business

Building your business is one thing. Now it’s time to grow. Small business lady Melinda Emerson, Author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 months teaches week 6 Black Enterprise Small Business University course on How to grow your business?

Lesson 1: WHAT’S YOUR GROWTH STRATEGY?

For the Entrepreneurs and Small Business owners who have survived the startup phase and who are now ready to grow your business, they are numerous possibilities with growing your business which depends on the type of business that you have, you’re available resources, and how much money, time, and sweat equity you’re willing to invest all over again.

This first option for growth is to open a second location you first need to look at the economic environment and the trends for indication that your company has staying power. Make sure that your operation banking processes are all in order. It’s also important to have a strong marketing team to send to the new location. Then you have to determine how you’re going to finance your expansion and choose your new location based on what’s best for your business and not your wallet.

Second option is to open your business as a franchise opportunity. If you really interested in this growth strategy, you must streamline all your internal systems and marketing processes, and then start networking within the franchise communities. Become a member of the international franchise association and get yourself a good franchise attorney, as well as a mentor, who has been through this process.

Another option for expansion is to expand globally, you’re already on the internet, you may have clients from all across the globe, and there are many programs and services that will help you to sell products overseas, in China, India, and across Europe specifically. You’ll need a foreign distributor, who can carry an inventory of your product and resell it in their domestic markets. Trade groups and foreign chambers of commerce in the U.S are good places to find your distributors. Also check out the government websites Businessusa.gov, which is a great resource for small business looking to export outside the US.

Lastly, expand on the internet.  If you’re not Google able in many business circles, you do not exist, make sure you have a useful website that tells people how to hire you; it’s the front door to your business. Be sure that your ecommerce solution also has the ability to mirror your online store or Facebook fan page as well.

Remember these tips when creating a Growth Strategy:

1. Consider opening an additional location – Do your homework. You don’t want to make the mistake of expanding too quickly or opening up in the wrong neighborhood.

2. Make your business a franchise opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs - Franchising is a great business model, but it won’t work if you’re business isn’t running well and scalable. 

3. Expand globally. China could be the right market for your business.  And the biggest market in the world is online.

4. Expand your business on the internet – An online business can bring customers that you brick and mortar location never could reach.

Lesson 2: ATTRACTING NEW CUSTOMERS

Every business at some point reaches a plateau. How you stay ahead is knowing how to attract new customers to your business.  If you want to attract new customers, these 5 tips will help you get started.

Network using Social Media. – Figure out where your target customers spend time online, pick that social media site to get started, and become a part of the conversation. Establish business profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

Do more Face to Face networking. -  Keep up traditional networking.  If you build a rapport and trust with someone, you can quite possible turn them into a customer or a referral source.

Revamp your email marketing. – Send out an email blast to your existing customer’s base asking for referrals and offer a 10% or higher commission on any business that is closed.

Look to use a Daily Deal Website. – Considering using daily deals site, such as living social, groupon.com, or rapidbuyr.com, if you’re selling B2B that’s the best place to go. The cut you pay to the website should be a part of your marketing budget.

Create Web only promotions. -  Create a web only offer as a teaser that is free of deeply discounted to any new customer so they can test out working with your company.

Lesson 3: RETHINKING AND REINVENTING YOUR BRAND

Time to hit refresh. Whether its years or just a moment of clarity, knowing when to give your business a makeover is important to your sustainability. Learn how to rethink and reinvent your brand.

If you think it’s time to reinvent your brand, the first step is to review the trends in your industry and see if technology has had a major impact on how customers buy your products or services.

The Second step is to update the messaging about what you do and redefine your value proposition. You want to make sure that your company is still relevant and that your target customer has not changed. Once you clarify your niche focus and target customers then you need to review and update your visual presentation. If you’re in the same business you may want to update your logo, if you are going into a completely different industry, you’ll need a new logo, website, business cards, and marketing copy.

The last step is to use an integrated marketing approach to communicate your new brand, review all the things that you do to put yourself out there and make sure that they align with your new message; you want to ensure that these are the best activities to reach your niche target customer. Coordinate your brand using the Help mantra. Provide information that’s Helpful, Engages people, Listen carefully and promote yourself with care. Traditional selling is dead; nobody wants to hear buy my stuff.  With the buy my stuff as your approach, social media, email marketing, blogging, video outreach, and traditional marketing efforts will be far more successful. 

Rethinking and Reinventing Your Brand Tips to remember:

1. Review the industry trends.

2. Update your messaging.

3. Update your visual presentation.

4. Use the Help Mantra with an integrated approach to get the word out about your business.