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#BlkWomeninBiz: Tyler Townsend

Meet Tyler, a black woman in business striving to lead the way in the cannabis industry.

Tyler Townsend is a 26 years old Cincinnati Ohio native and mother of two. She is also the proud owner of Cincy Sweet Pot. Cincy Sweet Pot provides hemp and cbd infused edibles, oils, soaps and ingredients geared to improve the quality of life.

Tyler has been in the medical field as a lab technician and a phlebotomist for the past 6 years. In 2015, she realized she wanted to be her own boss, but she wanted to make sure that whatever she did, helped others.

She began reading and researching the different ways people use cannabis. When she discovered the different foods that can be made with cannabis, she felt it was perfect fit as she was already an avid cooker; so she began creating her own edibles!

One of the first steps she took to truly explore this new venture, was attending the Mortar Cincinnati Entrepreneur program in 2016. During that program she was able to make connections and learn how to start her own business. From there things seemed to take off!

After Tyler completed the program, she had all the tools and knowledge to turn her business into reality. She got her LLC, a lawyer, a vendors license and a social media page. Many people are unaware that medical Marijuana became legal in the state of Ohio in September of 2016, so at this point she was a step above the competition.

Once it was considered legal, she began traveling to California to meet entrepreneurs and business owners in the cannabis industry. She gained hands on experience and was able to create her own products.

Producing products became easy, but the negative connotation that surrounds cannabis created some hard moments. Tyler had to really educate her peers on the benefits and the components of cannabis. The more she educated others on cannabis, the more the negative connotations subsided.

One of her business goals is to be a WOSB (Women-Owned Small Business). The cannabis industry will be new to Ohio and she’s aiming to be one of the First Leading women in the Industry.

Tyler, thank you for taking the leap to become a leading woman in this new and vastly growing industry. Welcome to our tribe of #BlkWomeninBiz

Visit www.cincysweetpot.com to learn more about Tyler and her business!

What I’ve learned in 4 years as a business owner

Can you believe its been 4 years?! Here’s what I’ve learned.

I didn’t even realize it had been 4 years until LinkedIn reminded me! Now we’re at 4 years and 1 month and in the last few years my life has significantly changed. I graduated college, purchased my first home, become a mother, bought my first car, and not to mention the physical, mental, and emotionally toll that those things bring.

I have had some really low, lows. I’ve also had some successes. Most importantly, I’ve gained wisdom. Here’s a few things you should keep in mind as you grow your business while not losing yourself in the process.

Support is not a given.

You want to know something? Let’s keep it real. Your friends and family don’t believe in you….yet. In my first year or so I had people “support” – share a post here, a RT there. But majority were still skeptical of what I was trying to do. Some still are. Save yourself the disappointment by understanding that support is not a given. Just because you’re besties or related, doesn’t mean you automatically get the support. It’s a hard pill to swallow but you have to respect it. Focus on building and giving people a reason to follow suite.

Stop giving away your shit for free.

Seriously. I’ve had soooooooo (I really want to put a billion o’s but I don’t have enough time for that) many people take advantage of me because I started off giving them free stuff. I thought of it as a way to “build my portfolio” and “gain some experience.” When in reality, people would take advantage of the free and when it was time to pay up, they “no longer needed” my services. Even IF you’re doing free work, you damn sure better be getting something in return.

Routines are mad important. 

I have a fairly strict daily routine for myself that keeps me on track! If I shy away from the routine even just a little bit, I have to accept the fact that I’ll be lacking in other areas. Trust me, I am FAR from perfect. And, no, I do not always hit my daily or even weekly goals. However, at least having them set gives me a general idea of what I should be doing for my business everyday.

Get you a hobby, or two.

I cut cable because I realized I was wasting so much time ready to hit the bed at 8PM so I could lay up and watch every reality television drama you can think of. I mean all of it. Sure these shows are still great in my mind, I had to shift my focus and truly get a hobby.

When I decided to stop working out to lose weight, and start working out to feel great, fitness quickly became a hobby. I compete with my own best results, and I find new ways to challenge myself and test my limits.

Working out truly allows me to clear my mind and relieve stress. If you want to keep a level head in your business, I suggest if you don’t have a hobby (like me until recently) you should do some soul searching to find out what makes you happy – other than your work.

Keep it cute.

People are going to try you, and that’s perfectly fine. Once you decided to become a business owner, you began representing something bigger than you. For me, I hope to build my businesses and hand them down to my daughter one day. That is why it is important to behave professionally at all times. As much as my want to “pop off”, it’s important to keep it cute. You never know who is watching you!

Make your seat unique. 

It’s 2018. More than likely there’s somebody doing what you’re doing. Your job is not to focus on how you can be like them, you need to focus on how you can stand out while staying true to your brand. Once you create a niche for yourself, you’ll be able to be more strategic and you will be much happier!

Disconnect.

Lastly, I’ve learned that at least a few times a week I need to shut it down. No phone, no email, no laptop, nothing. I enjoy taking a step back and just being present. All of the “noise” will still be there when you plug back in.

Thank you to everyone who has been along for the ride! I look forward to seeing where we are at 5 years.

#BlkWomeninBiz: Sharima “Rima” Diaz

Reigning from St. Croix US Virgin Islands, Sharima “Rima” Diaz is a Certified Life Coach, wife, and mother. She is the Visionary behind She is Destined, offering Women’s Empowerment Networking and Consulting organization whose purpose is to Educate, Empower, and Enlighten Women Entrepreneurs and Women in Business.

Throughout this journey, it has been crucial for Rima to stay grounded in God. She heard a lot of “no’s” which initially discouraged her. She realized overtime that the no’s were just God’s way of telling her she was seeking guidance from the wrong person. She knew she needed to completely trust Him and seek His guidance only. The no’s quickly became “YES.” And although she may still receive a “no” every now and then, she knows it’s God ways of telling her, “not right now.”

Black Women in Business - Sharima Diaz

“Being a minority female business owner helps me to understand that within every struggle comes success. Not everyone will be there to assist us but the legacy that we are striving to leave behind is worth every struggle we endure.”

With a growing marketing of business coaches, Rima knows that her authenticity, transparency, and foundation in God ensures she will continue to reach great heights in her career. She has had many amazing accomplishments in her business, including her Chic Print selling out all 100 copies within two weeks of its soft launch – TWICE!

Rima’s advice for a woman wanting to pursue a similar career: just do it! She encourages us all to take the risk and never give up. “Use the fear as your fuel.”

Let’s completely welcome Rima into our tribe of #BlkWomeninBiz by visiting her website and following her on social media!

Yes, PR Matters.

I love social media and the digital world like any other millennial marketer. But before Facebook and iOS Press Releases (only millennials will get this joke, sorry) there was good ol’ fashion public relations – aka PR.

Yes, PR matters and it should still remain a vital piece of your overall business strategy. If you don’t currently have a PR strategy, here are a few things you should think about to get started.

What’s the difference between PR and marketing?

Public relations is EARNED media, marketing is PAID media.

Why should I care about PR when I can pay for media placement?

Sure, you could pay for media placement. But wouldn’t you rather earn your full page article in that top magazine than pay for it? Would you trust a media publication that let you pay for good publicity?

If you want to be authentic, you have to earn your stripes. PR allows you to do that.

What exactly can PR do for my business?

Having a great PR strategy can help you earn media placement on a local, or even national level. This can help you extend your reach and potentially gain new customers.

What are some key items that should be apart of my PR strategy?

There are three keys items that should be apart of your public relations strategy:

    1. Media Kit: This should be updated per product release, new service, or new business venture.
    2. Media Contacts: Don’t abuse your contacts, and don’t be too general. Your pitch should align to the interests of the person you’re reaching out to.
    3. Crisis Communication Plan: If something goes wrong in your business, (i.e. someone gets sick from your product, your product malfunctions, someone slanders you or your company) you should have a plan in place to mitigate potential issues. Your plan should include scenarios that are relevant to your industry. For example, if you own a makeup line, you should have a plan in place for the possibility of someone getting an infection or rash from your products.

Technology will continue to advance and we will gain more and more access to one another. However, the basics are what they are – the foundation. You should find a creative way to incorporate “old school” ideas into your new age strategy.

 

#BlkWomeninBiz: Leah Williams

Originally from Cheltenham, MD, Leah Williams made history when she graduated from Delaware State University (DSU) in 2015 as the first person to ever be awarded both the Presidential Academic Award for her 4.0 GPA all eight semesters, and the Presidential Leadership Award for her leadership throughout campus. Leah returned the following year to pursue her Masters of Business Administration degree, which she completed in just one year.

During her MBA, Leah was selected by the White House to serve as an HBCU All-Star, supporting President Obama’s Initiative to promote the excellence, innovation, and sustainability of HBCU’s. Leah represented DSU at the HBCU Conference where she had the opportunity of introducing Vice President Biden. Leah has also been featured on numerous communication platforms including AspireTV network and the The HBCU Nation Radio Show radio show.

During her time at DSU, she founded two organizations on campus, which are still active today, and served as a supplemental instructor for multiple classes, tutored many students, and mentored freshmen.

Outside of her many academic accomplishments, Leah plays nine instruments and was a dedicated member of the marching, concert, jazz, and pep bands. When available, Leah continues to provide assistance to the band program who still play some of her arrangements.

Leah has always had a business mindset and even created a student-run Christian Organization on the campus of Delaware State University. Alongside her best friend, they created F.O.R.C.E Ministry (Focusing On Renewing Christ-like Existence) in order to provide students with an opportunity to fellowship in Christ. The organization is continuing to grow and flourish on DSU’s campus today.

Leah’s accomplishments did not come easy. In 2015, one month into her MBA, Leah thought she was just sick, but ended up being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Her battle with this disease has been an extremely tough one but she strives to overcome it and be an inspiration to others.

Today, Leah is an employee of Northrop Grumman, an American global aerospace and defense technology company. She has received several company awards, and plans to continue to climb up the corporate ladder in her career, while also making an impact in her community.

Being a minority female in the aerospace defense industry holds a special meaning for Leah. She wants to represent herself and others who look like her, and show the world that race, background, and gender do not determine worth. It is the heart of a person that really makes you who you are.

Leah’s advice for other minority women considering joining the aerospace industry:

Go for it! Don’t hold back, dream big, be true to yourself , and strive to do everything with a spirit of excellence.

Leah has an impeccable work ethic and puts her all into everything she does. She is a humble, hardworking, and ambitious young professional working to leave her mark on the world.

Leah, thank you for continuing to push yourself to be an amazing representation of what a black woman in business looks like. It is because of women like you who push through adversity everyday that inspire others to keep working towards their dreams. Thank you for joining our tribe of #BlkWomeninBiz!

Do you know an amazing black woman in business climbing the corporate ladder? Send her information to info@tjecommunications.com.

Spring Clean Your Website

It’s time to spring clean your website and improve your SEO.

When was the last time you looked at your website? Or did you forget you have a website? It is so important that you keep up with trends in SEO (search engine optimizations), Google’s algorithm, updates within your industry, and transfer that knowledge into updating your website at least once per quarter.

Spring is here and it’s time to clean house! We briefly touched on the significance of updating your website in 3 Things You Can Do Today to Polish Your Digital Presence, but now it’s time to dive deeper. Follow these 5 steps to begin optimizing your website today.

1. Remove or hide unused pages.

If you have pages on your site that no longer fit your brand goals or serve a purpose, remove or hide them from your website navigation. There’s no reason for you to have pages on your website that don’t make sense for your business or that you don’t plan to update.

2. Update your website content.

Make some updates to your homepage or about us content, add more blog posts, put your pictures in your gallery, or add new testimonials. Every page on your website should have a purpose and a clear call to action. Put yourself in the customers shoes and think, “if someone landed on this page, would they understand what I want them to do?” If the answer is no, it’s time to make some changes.

3. Add your favicon.

This may seem trivial, but this simple fix is all about the customer experience. Not only does it help website visitors know they’re in the right place, it allows them to browse the web and easily get back to your site if they have multiple tabs open. Your favicon should be simple – preferably your logo. The space is limited so choose wisely. See below for examples of favicons from Facebook, MailChimp, WordPress, and yours truly.

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4. Make it pretty.

We have all left a website because of aesthetics. If your pictures are blurry, fonts are hard to read, colors too loud, you are increasing your chances to have a low site time and a higher bounce rate. I am a stickler for ugly websites. When I see a website that is not up to par, I assume this person doesn’t care about their brand image. If a business doesn’t I’m trying to work with doesn’t care how about how they look, how can I expect them to care about me?! Whether you’re completely coding your website, or using a platform with built-in templates, pay attention to readability and be mindful of the customer experience.

5. If you can’t do it right, find someone who does.

There are some things we just have to leave to experts; website development should be one of them. If you’re unable to make the necessary updates to your site to make it beautiful, functional, and SEO friendly, then you may want to pay someone who does. There’s nothing wrong with outsourcing the work. I always use the example, “would you fix your own roof?” I would hope not! If the changes you want to make are too difficult to make on your own, there’s are tons of people out there who can help.

We put a lot into building our websites and they should return the favor! Shannon Mattern, your WordPress BFF, helps people build their website, build their audience, and build their income. We will have the pleasure of hearing from her on April 26th to discuss how to begin monetizing our websites. Grab your ticket today and visit her website to learn more.

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6 ways to survive the internet as a business owner

The internet can be a scary place if you don’t know how to establish your niche.

Thanks to this great invention called the “world wide web”, anything and everything we want can be accessed within milliseconds. Social media continues to grow and evolve and it’s important that your marketing approach does the same.
There are a few adjustments your business can make to survive the age of the Internet and the evolution of social media.

 

1. Become the industry expert

I’ll admit, I have tried to self-diagnos myself many times on WebMD.
Cough? Headache? Sore throat? I’m dying!

However, I choose to go to my doctors office because she is the industry expert. My doctor has went through the proper schooling and training and has earned the certifications to become a medical doctor. All of that gives her an advantage I don’t have which in turn, forces me to continuously rely on her services.

Whether you’re selling soap or providing a unique service, it is vital that you learn and understand the ins and out of your industry. This means keeping up with trends, attending conferences and webinars, and connecting with others in the field. This allows you to stay ahead of the curve and gives you the knowledge to stay one step above your competitors.

How to utilize the internet: Share a monthly tip for your customers/clients. (i.e. If you’re a doctor create a health tip of the month to share with your patients.)

2. Bring value to your work

This goes back to an old post I wrote about customer retention. Your customers should feel you value their business. How do you show that? First, you have to genuinely care about the customer experience.

From the first time a customer begins to engage with your business, to the time they complete a purchase and receive your product, you should be creating a unique customer experience. Many businesses send an email throughout the purchase process which is what people expect. But have you thought about thinking outside the box? What about personalized text messages? Or Facebook messages from your business page? When you find new innovative ways to engage with your customers, you make your business memorable and it allows you to stand out.

How to utilize the internet: See 3 ways to increase customer retention

3. Support your communities

As exciting as it may be to sit at your desk for 8 hours a day, it is important that you get involved with your local community.

Get out and join a local nonprofit, sit on a board of directors, or volunteer your time with a local organization. This is a great way to get your brand name out there as well as show that you care about the communities you do business in.

It’s one thing to say you care, but getting out there will show your customers that you care about them beyond the products and services they purchase from you.

How to utilize the internet for social good: Send a shout out to your favorite community partners and share photos when you volunteer with them.

4. Find social influencers
Have you ever posted your favorite brand to social media and encouraged your friends to try it out? Then you my friend are what is called a “social media influencer.” From those of us who only have a few hundred followers, to the big time influencers with thousands, essentially you are advertising these brands for free.

If you notice you have a repeat customer, or a person who attends every event, or watches every Facebook Live video, why not ask them to be a brand ambassador? They’re already doing the work, would it kill you to give them free stuff from time to time? Or give them a code for 10-20% off when they shop with you? You can even take it as far as giving them commission for every customer they bring your way.

How to find brand ambassadors: Find out who your repeat customers are and give them incentives for supporting your business.

5. Create better advertisements
I’m sure you remember in my post ‘To Boost or Not to Boost‘ we talked about what you should do before putting dollars behind a Facebook post. We focused on the strategy of boosting, but maybe it’s your content that needs improvement.

Is your post too wordy? Is your picture blurry? Are you taking me to your external website that is still under construction? Remember, we talked about outsourcing before. Don’t hesitate to find an expert before you invest in ads.

6. Be consistent
If you’re only posting once a month, you can’t expect to grow your brand online. Create a content calendar and remain consistent with posting.

How to remain consistent: plan ahead.

Bringing value to your work is all about showing your customer why they need you. Are you the industry expert? Do they always have an exceptional customer experience with you? Do you care about the community you work in? If you can’t answer yes to those questions then it may be time to revisit your business plan and set new goals and objectives.