Women owned Business

The Value of Your Gift

When we were younger people would ask:

“What do you want to be when you grow up”

To which a reply might be:

“A fireman!”

“A secretary!”

“The boss!”

No matter the answer there was an encouraging smile or giggle that would support the fantasy of being something great. But what is not asked is what do you value most and how will you build your career around it? Pretty heavy question to ask a six-year-old right? How about a 16-year-old who is starting to plan their lives? Still a little heavy right? What about at age 25, 35, 45, and so on? An adult should be able to answer that question right. Surprisingly enough, many don’t know what their core values are and have gotten so far away form them that their values equal their bottom line.

Let’s examine this a little bit. If someone asked you what your core values are as an individual would you be able to name them? Would the values be: honesty, integrity, being organized etc? These are not bad values to have, but they are typical. What truly matters to you? Is it your family? Is it stopping a generational financial struggle? Is it a spiritual conquest? There is no wrong answer as long as it is inline with your gift.

 

 

The Gift

I think  something we forget about is that we are capable to live our lives however we want to. Circumstances are challenges not a condemnation to live a certain way. That is our first gift, we can choose. The second gift is whatever skill(s) or talent(s) that you have.  This does not necessarily mean a physical skill such as IT, management, graphic design. The second gift could be your gift to heal people, a great listener, a fantastic speaker, or…your experience. Being in tune with those types of gifts filter out into career and life choices.

A young woman had the natural gift of being a story teller since she was a child. She could talk your ear off, but she’d also listen very well especially if you were ailing. Yet when anyone would ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up she’d say “I’m a writer!”. The spark of youth that ignited her life passion began to fizzle out as she got older and economic demands withered her passion. She became many people throughout her various ‘get by’ careers that pleased others; unfortunately, she lost her core values of being a great listener, speaker, and healer that fueled her ability to tell stories to the values of her circumstances. One day she said enough and had a great ‘Aha’ moment that realigned her different core values into singular ‘super powers’ to be able to tell stories effectively through many different mediums. And now her core values became her funnel to success.

This young woman had to make a choice to either allow her circumstances to dictate how she functioned or to tap into the power she has had all along and become who she is meant to be. From what I understand her story is far from over. Yet she is relieved that she found the woman she is meant to become. One day I believe she will write a best seller, in the meantime she is telling other people’s stories to heal, educate, and speak to the souls of their respective audiences.

Identify your gifts and values

It’s not unusual to be out of touch with who you are at your core; especially in a culture where people value what you do over who you are. You’re not your job, you’re not your skills, you are your core values.  I would like to invite you to do an exercise that may narrow down who you are vs who you have become.

  1. Make two columns
  2. In one column write down your top five virtues. (Example: Family, Healing, Spirituality etc)
  3. In another column write down the top five things you are doing in your life or your career.
  4. Draw lines that connect each virtue to your career or something else your doing.
  5. See how your virtues line up with what you are doing.

After this exercise see how what you have chosen or what your circumstances have chosen for you correlate with who you are. And if most do not connect, that means you need to realign yourself with your core values. Doing this will not lead to guaranteed financial abundance. However it will align you to your gifts that you carry naturally that will put in to your ‘wind’ and allow it to lift you into you mental, emotional, spiritual and possibly financial prosperity.

 

 

Nobody Wants To Leave Their Baby With A Stranger : The Trust Pact Between Clients & Contractors

Entrepreneurs. CEOs. Mom-preneurs. Dad-preneurs. Artists. Contractors. Whatever title you hold, your brand and business is your baby and no one wants to leave their baby with a stranger. Who is a stranger? A stranger by definition is someone you do not know. A stranger as defined in business is someone who has not proven their worth through work ethic and skills; and that is scary when you are rebranding or getting your business off the ground and they are yelling ‘pick me!’. It is no secret that there are some very crafty scam artist who will display all of their skills and ‘clients’ only for a business owner to discover that they misrepresented themselves. Unfortunately many have been had by a stranger which makes them look at a legitimate business as a stranger. This can cause a lot of tension in a business relationship, because there is no trust for the expert. On the other hand there are many contractors and freelancers that have also been attacked by strangers, but they must carry their baby (skill sets, time, and services) in to the next hands and hope that this new client will be careful with their baby.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN BABY FIRST

The reason we hire people is to complete tasks that we are otherwise incapable of doing, understanding, or do not have time to do amidst other tasks. When you take a baby to a daycare it is hard to part with them, the same happens when you are a business owner or contractor that must relinquish total control in a new project. Before you take your baby to daycare, it’s imperative to spend time with them first so that you can get to know them and their needs. The same thing happens when you are building your business. You need to craft how you want your business to run and be open to suggestions, and not having tunnel vision. When you are handing a tasks over to let’s say, a Creative Specialist, you should educate yourself on that particular realm of expertise. This does not mean that you learn all of the schematics of the field; however you should have a ‘Creative Specialist for dummies’ level knowledge of what the person does so that when you hand over your baby to this person you should know what to expect as you would expect of a daycare provider.

  • Learn the basics of how the field/skills works.
  • Look for pricing as if you were a contractor trying to price yourself.
  • Google your company (if you have a website) or similar companies to see how they operate and how you want to be different.

These tactics are imperative to get to know how to take care of your ‘baby’ as either a contractor or a business.

As a contractor it is important to know if your ‘baby’ (skill set and expertise) will play well with a potential client’s baby. If you know that the project  will require more than you are capable of, be honest, and say that you will collaborate or refer them to another contractor to complete the tasks. Just as some children can be in the same room, but do not play well together, it is the same thing when it comes to providing a service to a client. Knowing that a project does not fit within your brand or expertise or vice versa is  a disappointing experience, yet a humbling and honest one to where both parties walk away and ‘play nice’ because they know the value and characteristics of their respective businesses.

STRANGER DANGER 

The infamous term of mansplaining is also applicable to strangers who want you to pick them so they can make quick money with little work or get a lot of work with no money paid. This is equivalent to be lured to a van with candy. We’ll call this Candy-splaining. Candy-splaining: The act of presenting a ‘sweet’ opportunity in an auction style tone and carnival slyness that insists the company/contractor choose them and a payment or product is under-delivered or not delivered at all. Unfortunately this happens to a lot of new businesses, whether a contractor or business.

When a colleague of mine was starting her business, a woman had presented a grand opportunity for travel, expansion of skills, and moving to New York City. She was a contractor who worked in a creative field jumping at every opportunity she could to build her portfolio and her first love, travel. Plans and a small deposit were made that the ‘Candy-lady’ insisted upon because a bigger payout was coming later. My colleague took the candy and did $5,000 worth of work. When the payday came the Candy-lady had absurd yet believable excuses. After a while of believing the sweet lies , my colleague had to cut her losses and move on, never receiving her payment.

If you find yourself in a Candy-splaining situation have enough power to walk away, because you do not want your baby to get caught in a van that they may never find their way out of.  Unfortunately after coming through an experience like this, you are wary of anyone who is trying to sell something to you, and this is on both sides of business. My advice is not to have a sweet tooth; a desire to chase money and not having discernment about the type of client/contractor.  Opportunities to excel always look great, but read the ingredients: Fine print on the proposals, researching the client/business/person, checking who else they are connected to and avoid anyone you are in direct competition with. In my experience, those who can and will deliver are humble in their approach, asks and answer questions authentically, and have a general idea of how they want ‘the children to play together.’ Be friends, not strangers. 

THE PLAYPEN PACT 

When you’ve had a Candy Van experience it’s not uncommon to want to micromanage everything to protect your business. When a mother first leaves their child in daycare or their first day of school there is a moment of guilt for leaving them. This is a normal instinct to have, even with your business. Do not allow the guilt of leaving your baby to play with another baby and be in the care of someone else to consume you. It will not serve you well. When two children come together in a playpen there is an unspoken trust that they have within the confines of that playpen. The playpen is your marketplace and with a little trust and discernment the children will play nicely. Continue to learn how to play with each other by respecting each other’s value. Nail down a process that works for both the business and the contractor. Create a space to learn from one another consistently, even if it is the ‘for dummies’ version of expertise. Ultimately the pact made within the playpen is that both the contractor and client are on a mission to grow up together.

The Red Lip

I have this pet peeve when it comes to lipstick. When you are a woman in business and talking a lot, especially at networking events, people are looking at you head to toe;  especially your lips.  I know it may seem old fashioned to think a woman must wear lipstick in the workplace, but stick with me on this. In my experience, when you have some pop on your lips people take notice and listen. If you do not have anything on your lips and are just spewing information it is easy to drift off. This may seem like an odd requirement because men don’t usually run around in red lipstick, yet can still command a room.  It’s because they give their personal presentation some oomph through their walk, diction, and yes appearance. This got me thinking about how women in business need to offer something unique when they are entering any male dominated industry. And it may start with red bottom heels, red lip, red accessories or outfit; in truth your red lip in business is what your brand or product has to offer that is done in your unique style and commands the industry that you walk into. 

Your Red Lip is actually not what you’re wearing.

Every woman is unique and that should show through her business as well. When a businesswoman walks into a networking space, which is everywhere, her style is much more than how she dresses, it is in the way she conducts herself with people, business, and in life. Their uniqueness is their red lip that shows who they are when they walk in to the room (industry) and may even hide some surprises. These women are great examples of flaunting their red lip.

Sheryl  Sandberg, COO of Facebook, Author, and Philanthropist

Her Red Lip:  Being the example of success and ‘leaning in’ to opportunities through her work at Facebook and through her non-profit organization. She has also written books that separate her from her ‘9-5 title’ and address what it is like for a woman in the workplace and supporting yourself and others to rise up. Combined she is a force for women in business and in technology, not because of what she has accomplished, but because she has made a statement: We are here and we are rising. 

Beyonce Knowles-Carter, entertainer and entrepreneur

Her Red Lip: Her stunning visuals  for her videos or performances are intricately conceived to resonate with her audience on a soul level. In business she purposefully creates opportunities for herself and other people of color that go beyond one moment.  Combined she is a walking brand that commands any space because she has spent the time to show her evolving style over the last 20+ years.

Less is still acceptable. 

There are women who do not wear make-up or in the business sense do not have the red lip flair, however are incredibly effective in their industries. When competing with the men or the red lip women in the room, it is also good to offer something that is chic, simple, and bold. We’ll call this a nude lip. Still glossy, but simpler, that does not scare away those who are looking for someone who can deliver simple approaches to their business. For instance if someone approaches a red lip they will see what the person has to offer the moment they walk into the room; on the contrary a nude lip plays coy with potential clientele and shows the basics of who they are when they walk into a room.

Example Red Lip: Hello, my name is Tomi. I offer IT solutions to government entities and corporations and have been in business for over 25 years as a minority woman owned small business.

Example Nude Lip: Hello my name is Tomi. I offer IT solutions to government entities and corporations.

The Red Lip is flaunting my accomplishment and my qualifications in two sentences where as the Nude Lip gets straight to the point and allows for further conversation.  Both are effective and attract certain types of clientele. There is no wrong way to wear your red lip, but a lady always knows how to show off her style when she speaks.

As a woman in business what color is your lip?

 

Fear the Regret of not Being Bold

Anything that is holding you back from taking that chance to march into a new endeavor, knock it out of the way, and take that leap of faith. Many women, like men, fear change and any disruption in their stability.  I’ve talked about walking away from my private sector job and starting my own business before and it is not an easy choice. I see women on two different ends of the spectrum now, where they are either going for their dream life with gusto or having a ‘someday’ attitude because they have families; both are valid feelings. Outsiders may say that by taking a risk professionally, the respective woman will struggle or worse the family.  However fearing the unknown and absorbing the opinions of others is a recipe for regret. If  you put at least 50% of the energy that is given to your job or family into yourself, everyone will be better for it.

Fearing the unknown is a waste of time. Expecting the unknown troubles, successes, and journeys is far more invigorating! When a challenge arises that forces your humility it is a transformative process. When a woman becomes a mother, everything changes and many unexpected things occur. When a woman starts a business or other types of endeavors, it is the same process. We can prepare, but not always predict if or when something is going to happen. So why allow the fear of the unknown to build up our regret.

No matter what you do, someone will have an opinion for better or worse. And while it is alright to ignore those opinions, listen to them, because they may be holding a piece of advice that needs to be heard masked in worry. For example, if you are starting a small business and have a family of five someone may ask ‘What about your kids? What about your spouse?’ and that will spark an idea on child care, partner coordination, and work time management to be effective in all realms. With other negative opinions in the spirit of ‘Most businesses fail in five years’ or ‘You’re going to do that?‘ use that as fuel to prove to yourself  that these negative people were wrong. I say to prove it to yourself because no matter how incredible you become, they will never lift their outlook on life or opinion of you. You have to prove yourself wrong, by conquering every imagined catastrophe and rejoice in it not coming to pass. After all, the most important opinion we have is the one of ourselves.

Fear is a motivator and the fear of regret has the same power. Use the fear of regret to fuel your ambitions. Yes, mistakes will be made and perhaps one of those imagined catastrophes will come to pass. Learn from it, and be bold in moving forward. I may have regretted some decisions or plans I laid out that did not benefit me. However after almost 30 years of taking that leap of faith, I’ve learned it is better to regret bad decisions that were reshaped into opportunities, than to regret never taking a chance at all.

    There are no mistakes. 

     

    Don’t Be a Bad Student: The Mentor Circle

    We never stop learning. Regardless of your profession, interest, or expertise, we never stop learning. The best thing about being a mentor is that you have an opportunity to guide someone to the answers they are seeking. Along the way, if your guidance is done correctly, the mentee will also educate the mentor.

    My mentor said, ‘Let’s go do it,’ not ‘You go do it.’ How powerful when someone says, ‘Let’s!’” — Jim Rohn

    The important thing to remember is we are in this together.  

    When seeking a mentor, you must find someone who matches who you are collectively. This does not stop at the type of profession that the potential mentor has. For example, I spoke about Lynn before, my mentee who was starting her own business. I am an IT and Telecommunications services business and her business was a creative solutions business. We are in very different fields, but we both had the same goal in mind and that was to build a successful woman owned small business. I was able to guide her in how she conducted herself, management tactics, project management strategies, and relaxing in the growth process. She in turn showed me the importance of social media and how to use it to benefit my business and personally. These were things I had not considered before. So as I was ‘showing her the ropes as a long time business woman’ she was laying out a new path for me to expand my presence. We walked this path together.

     Ego will not serve your education 

    I hope everyone is familiar with the Creed films with Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stalone. Both Creed and Creed II were perfect depictions of mentorship  That was the perfect depiction of how ego between a mentor and mentee can destroy your path forward. In both films Adonis Creed was being mentored by Rocky to be one of the best heavy weight champion boxers and Adonis fought him, proverbially speaking, all the way. Adonis realized that he needed Rocky when he faced defeat and Rocky realized that Adonis gave him purpose and a reason to fight against his illness. If neither had released their ego and what they believed would be the best tactic for the desired solution then Adonis would not have won either of his fights. It takes humility from both the mentor and mentee to understand that they have their own strengths that rely on each other to be successful moving forward.

    I’ve got your back.

    Our  parents teach us how to be a properly functioning adult and in turn the “new adults” take care of the parents, while the parents still provide some guidance. It is the same thing with mentors and mentees. There is a bond formed that is an endless cycle of support that provides comfort as well as guidance when things are not going well. Because a seed of hope has been sewn by the knowledge and graciousness of the mentor, the mentee can grow into something beyond what the mentor has taught. And both can rest assured in a cycle of continuous gratitude and growth because they never stop learning from each other.

    Your Network is your Net worth

    A major component to my success thus far has been: Your business will not survive if you do not realize the value of your network, because who you have in your network determines your net worth. This concept is applied to business and your personal life. In financial terms your net worth is the value of assets, minus the total of all liabilities. In both business and your personal life it is important to see who is a viable connection so that it does not devalue your own worth as while your advancement is in progress. This may sound exclusive, however if you are trying to elevate your business or your life, you must choose where people belong to maintain the balance and growth you aspire for.

    Your Assets

    In business an asset is something that supports or assists in the evolution of your company. The key to acquiring said assets is to be open to “diversifying your portfolio”. When building up your stock portfolio, the first thing any broker will say is to diversify your portfolio to obtain maximum results. It is the same in business where the variety of people within your network bring value to your growth plan; whether that is from a chance meeting, connecting on LinkedIn, or meeting at an event.

    Asset Building Values:

    • Actual Value: The person/people you connect with that have a skill, service, or network they want to introduce you to that will affect your business in a positive way almost immediately. These are people that you seek to build a relationship with for an intentional purpose that has potential growth in the future.
    • Potential Value:  The person/people you connect with that may be in a different industry or career level than you are that will be useful in the near or distant future. While these types of connections are not an absolute guarantee of partnership or using the service, these connections can serve as great referrals that someone else may come to you for; thus making you a reliable resource for information.
    • Penny Stock Value: In the stock market a penny stock is a small or big business that trades publicly for $5.00 or lower, but can yield a small return with little risk. Penny Stock connections are ‘back pocket’ connections you can call upon for a quick service or connection. They may not serve a need for growth, but they are quick, reliable, outstanding resources for an immediate job, referral, or service that can be rendered for a small cost. They are not invaluable, but if they are not used it will not be to the detriment of your company.
    • Educational Value:  These are people who are potential mentors, connections to valuable information, and further education for your staff or yourself. This type of connection is always a good resource to have especially in rapidly changing industries like technology.

    Running a business or operating a life is not easy and you need people in your corner that will pour into you emotionally, mentally, and spiritually while supporting you no matter what. Not everyone is a business connection, however that does not devalue them.  Everyone is a part of your personal growth in big and little ways. While they may not fit in every part of your life a good friend is needed in every component of your life. When creating or evolving your “friend circle” make sure that they hold the following components that will not derail your personal growth:

    • Can provide advice on life’s issues or be a listening ear when you need to vent. Having someone to talk to is wonderful, having someone to listen is priceless. Odds are you know the answer already, you just need someone to help you lay out your options even if it is just by listening.
    • Offer assistance or refer you to someone who can. No one has all of the answers, and sometimes things like therapy or groups can offer more of a solution. Be around someone who will not shame you for not having it all together, but assist you in sorting out your issues.
    • They are your defense system. Whether you are successful or not, people will talk about you, especially to your friends. A good friend will always speak against the negativity and protect your honor so that the opposing energy does not disrupt your personal growth. They will not gossip about you, they will hold your personal standard of success higher than you do, and they will keep you lifted; regardless if you feel defeated.

    Your Liabilities

    There are a few things to avoid when it comes to business and personal net worth. While they may serve a quick purpose, they are not viable resources of growth for the long term.

    • Poachers: People who pretend to be seeking a relationship for growth, but they are solely in it for their own interest. Not every friendship is a business relationship or vice versa. However if people are continuously asking for you to “do them a favor” or reach beyond your capacities without a return they are damaging your worth. They will use your friendship or services to better themselves without a thank you or equal distribution of favors which can damage your reputation as being desperate and willing.
    •  Copycats: People who lightly compliment then copy your style almost identically because they can not create their own style, relationships, or business concepts on their own. These people usually envy something that you have and instead of developing their own or asking for advice they copy you and expect to be glorified for it. When they are not given the same attention as the person they are copying they start to shame and belittle that person so that they appear superior.
    • Faux Olive Branches: People who pretend to be helpful in a time of need, but in reality are setting you up to be a ‘poacher victim’ or gather information to use against you when you do not give them what they desire. In business there are times of crisis in which a call to the network would be needed, however if someone may need something from you they will use this crisis as an opportunity to grow themselves instead of being a helping hand. In friendships, these are people who will drink with you, dance with you, yet in a time of crisis are no where to be found until they need something from you. Some surefire signs of this are: publicly offering support to be seen, subtly demanding thanks and praise for their rescue, and gossiping to you about other people’s issues to encourage you to talk more about your own.

     

    Your Net worth 

     It is a process to weed out  assets and liabilities. If someone who you thought was an Actual Value asset turns out to be a Faux Olive Branch, it’s alright because everyone makes mistakes. By continuously going through the process of identifying your assets and liabilities your growth whether personal or professional will occur. All I can truly suggest before starting that process is to first identify your self worth and how you contribute to your own success, your network, and removing your own unknown liability habits.

     

     

    Mommy I want to do THIS!

    In 1993 Take your Daughter to Work Day began so that young women could expand their career horizons as the domestic roll was waning out. This was an incredible initiative to expose young women to the workforce and introduce careers that even 20-30 years prior were not “allowed”. Now it has evolved to take your child to work day so that children can get a sneak peek into what Mommy and Daddy do everyday, which introduces their career options or nurtures the idea to hold an excellent paying job and possibly own their own business. We are in an excellent time now where mothers, who this was not fathomable for 50-60 years ago, can imprint a work ethic within their child/children and make them say “Mommy I want to do THIS.”

    It’s adding up to success

    Women who work influence the entire household to push for more, whether they are married or not. Mothers are naturally gifted in multitasking, so working or running a firm, then coming home to manage the household successfully is not unusual. While it can be stressful at times the results are outstanding; especially for women of color. Women of color have been historically given barriers to climb the corporate ladder. Household incomes have doubled due to women working regardless of the type of the work. And single-mother households must work and take care of home without the help of a partner, so management of time and resources is key. Being able to manage all of these rolls can be mentally exhausting and many women suffer from depression, high blood pressure, and more. However for the sake of their children more women are taking the initiative to create balance in keeping themselves healthy and working smarter to create prosperity for their families. So if a woman of color who is single or married works for herself or is gainfully employed, whilst caring for a child/children and breaking through barriers to create generational wealth, this next generation will be on track to create a world of equity in business and a healthy balance in life. Because if Mommy can do this, so can ‘I’.

    • 11.6 million women own firms of various sizes in the U.S.
    • 5.4 million firms are majority-owned by women of color in the U.S. and 37% are in the workforce.
    • 70% of mothers with children under 18 are working, with 75% working full time.
    • Daughters of working mothers in the U.S. make approximately 23% more than daughters of Stay-at home-mothers and with 21% get managerial positions.
    • The median family income has increased 84% since 1980 due to women working, regardless of the industry.
    • 76% of the workforce are single mothers regardless of full/part time status or industry.

    Doing THIS

    On this incredible day women can show their children what means to be a balanced adult and manage their lives better regardless of what career is chosen. It’s not expected that your child follows the same career path as you, but they need to see who they want to be as individuals while they make that choice. Whether a single or married Mom it is also important to show children how to manage relationships, and that too is work. Seeing mommy at work whether in the office or home teaches youth to:

    • Create a good work ethic that provides stability in their career and mental state.
    • Manage time between work, home life, and fun.
    • Create opportunities for growth for the family and personally.
    • Create generational wealth by managing spending habits.
    • Taking chances on yourself to try something new.
    • Making sure your health is well balanced.
    • Cultivate sustainable relationships while at home and work.

    Every day is take your child to work day, because the work on yourself is never ending. Be someone they can look up to.

    RESOURCES