#BlkWomeninBiz: Laura Kinney

As a young girl, Laura Kinney knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur. Her parents and grandparents (both maternal and paternal) were business owners, so it’s safe to say it’s in her DNA.

Before starting her own business, Laura was working mundane desk jobs and cleaning houses in her spare time. This quickly grew old and she decided to attend Full Sail University where she obtained her B.S. in Media Communications.

In 2011, Laura created 3rd Generation Cleaning Service, a janitorial business providing services to office buildings, medical practices, retail stores, fitness studios, religious centers, and multi-unit common areas. Throughout her time in school, she was able to gain an abundance of skills including career development, entrepreneurship, web design, and more. These skills helped Laura to market her business, and communicate with her clients.

Laura’s janitorial career started long before 2011. As a child she would work alongside her maternal grandmother, owner of Crawford’s Cleaning Service. She would help her clean churches, doctor offices, and schools. Her paternal grandparents, Sherman and Mattie Bell Kinney, were owners of the first black-owned janitorial service in the city of Cincinnati, S.K. Janitorial Service. Laura’s parents, John and Pamela, are the owners of The Janitorial Section, continuing the family business.

If you haven’t caught on, the name 3rd Generation Cleaning Service is due to the fact that Laura is continuing the family legacy by being a third generation janitorial business owner. But don’t be fooled! Just because Laura has the natural ability to run a business, doesn’t mean she didn’t take the necessary steps to truly build her brand.

First, she did her research to ensure no one else had her business name. Next, she ordered her business cards and created a website. After that, she began to work on obtaining client and building her network.

Like many of us, it’s hard to not doubt yourself from time to time. Laura is combating this by surrounding herself with like-minded business owners within her industry. Having this network gives her the ability to ask industry specific questions to a group that fully supports one another.

Have you ever heard the quote, “I am my ancestors wildest dreams” — that’s what being a black woman in business means to Laura. She is making waves in a male dominated industry and is proud to honor her family.

Laura’s advice for those curious about starting their own janitorial business is to do your research. There is a lot more that goes into this business than the obvious, and it’s something you should make sure you are truly prepared for.

If you’re looking for a new cleaning service for your business, make sure you keep 3rd Generation Cleaning Service at the top of mind.

Laura, thank you for taking the time to join the #BlkWomeninBiz series. I look forward to your continued success!

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28 Days of Black Women in Business

In February we celebrated 28 black women in business who are paving the way for us all. The month may be over, but we’re still celebrating women business leaders who are climbing the corporate ladder, and those branching out into their own businesses. Some of the daily features included our favorite local ladies, Morgan A. Owens, Kelsea Wiggins, and Adrienne Ruff. In addition to our international players, Valeisha Butterfield, Angela Yee, and Oprah Winfrey.

These past 28 days have allowed me to reflect on my own journey. I’ve started to not only think of ways I can improve, but how I can celebrate and support women like these every day of the year. It has been my pleasure to highlight these women and I am grateful for all of you that followed along every day.

It’s so important that we continue to celebrate and support one another. Representation truly matters and when little black girls see us prevailing, they will know that they, too, can be a top executive at a major corporation, or be asked to speak at conferences across the country.

So, how can we continue the celebration? Simply liking, commenting, sharing, and purchasing from the ladies we love can go a long way! If WE don’t, who will?

With that being said, I challenge you to visit the @blkwomeninbiz Instagram and learn more about these amazing women. As we move right along into Women’s History Month, stay tuned for more full Black Women in Biz features right here! Stay in the loop by joining my mailing list.

Want to be the next Blk Women in Biz feature? Send your resume, website, and supporting documents to info@tjecommunications.com.

Make Your Seat Unique

I had a conversation with a friend recently about her business idea and she was feeling discouraged because there are so many people doing what she wants to do. I have seen other people have this same complaint.

“I can’t do ____ because _____ is already doing that!”

“I won’t succeed in ____ because there’s too many of those!”

Karl Benz created Mercedes-Benz in 1883, Henry Ford founded Ford in 1903, and Messrs Rolls and Royce came shortly after in 1906.

What if Toyota, Volkswagen, and Honda thought it was too late for them because three companies had already been established? See where I’m going with this?

There’s a seat for all of us at the table, you just have to determine what makes your seat unique. Here’s how to do it:

1. Who is your product for?
Sure, Ralph Lauren sells Sunglasses, and so does Oakley. It’s clear that their target audience is two very different people. Understand the WHO, so you can properly market the WHY!

2. Branding. BRANDING. Branding.
Yes, branding. If you don’t know by now, branding is EVERYTHING! Branding is the difference between something being high-fashion, and sold in your local Wal-Mart. Both can be equally great! However, you have to determine what image you want to put out into the world.

3. Get your marketing together!
The way you market your product, will determine who buys it. If you’re target audience are affluent persons, but you’re marketing is not on point, how can you expect those persons to purchase your product? From packaging, to product placement, and advertising, this all goes into what sets your brand apart from someone else’s.

Paint your seat gold, pink, or throw glitter on it! Whatever you do, make it unique and make it yours. There’s a sit at the table for all us to win!

Join my mailing list for full access to a Tonnisha’s Tip of the Tip!

#BlkWomeninBiz: Sierra Thomas

Sierra was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio and has known she wanted to own a business since she was a young girl. Growing up she always had the passion for entrepreneurship and at age 11, worked on the weekends with her grandfather in his network marketing business. In 2010, she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Youngstown State University, and obtained her MBA from Franklin University in 2012.

Throughout her time working in Corporate America, she developed her skills in accounting and problem solving, and realized her gift in numbers, was her calling to create her own solution to helping people: Touché Financial Solutions, LLC.

sierraTouché Financial Solutions, LLC helps new and established businesses create accounting systems tailored to the scope of their business needs and operations. Sierra’s business philosophy is to support, educate, and mentor both her personal, and business clients.

Touché Financial Solutions, LLC offers a variety of services including financial assessments, budget analyses, and strategic planning. For individuals, her company will work with you to reach your personal goals, and get your finances back on track.

Sierra makes it a point to continuously provide support and education to her clients through her Tax Tip Tuesday’s and Tax Tip Thursday’s, in addition to hosting in-person events, and speaking engagements – like her upcoming mini training at Respect the Hustle: Taxes and Brunch.

Don’t be fooled by the success Sierra has had. She most certainly put blood, sweat, and tears behind building her business. There were times that she felt “in over her head” and believed that no one supported her vision. Through the power of prayer and trusting God, she was able to push through. Thankfully she also got an accountability partner, and has been able to build a network of entrepreneurs within her field.

When asked if being a black woman in business held any special meaning for her, Sierra responded:

Absolutely! It is a great honor and privilege to not only be an African-American business owner, but an African American Accountant. The business industry has always been a Caucasian- male dominate industry and now women, especially African-American women are breaking through that glass ceiling. I am so proud to be apart of this monumental movement!

Sierra is truly passionate about her business, and the businesses she gets to support on a daily basis. In regards to other African American Accountants considering starting their own business, she encourages you all to “go for it!”

Never limit yourself because someone else has a similar idea. God created you and no one can do what you do, like you do it!

Sierra, thank you for trusting in your purpose and choosing to push through! Thank you for being amongst the resilient #BlkWomeinBiz.

Join Sierra for the first Respect the Hustle event of 2018 for Taxes and Brunch! Tickets are on sale – click here to get your ticket today.

#BlkWomeninBiz: Juanita Darden-Jones

Juanita-Michelle is a wife, mother of 6, grandmother of 9, and self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur. The journey has not been easy for Juanita, but she continues to build her business and strives to provide for her family and make a comfortable retirement.

Juanita is a tenured professor of Mathematics at Sinclair Community College. She also teaches a course in marketing. Juanita has multiple degrees from Franklin University, University of Cincinnati, and the University of Dayton.

Being a businesswoman comes second nature to Juanita. Her very first business idea was to sell vegetables out of her family garden to a senior citizen complex across the street.

Today, she is the founder of “the people’s coffeehouse” – Third Perk.

Junaita - Black Women in Biz

Third Perk Coffeehouse & Wine Bar offers variety of coffee products, and a boutique wine selection. For Juanita, being a black woman in business gives her the opportunity to walk a challenging path that she hopes will make a way for other women in the future. Capital and finding ways to increase revenue for the business is something that Juanita continues to work through. But with time comes wisdom and experience. Juanita now has a better understanding of planning and has even started a non-profit that will assist others with capital.

Juanita - Black Women in Biz

When asked what advice she would give to other women interested in starting a similar business:

“PLAN-BELIEVE-ACHIEVE Planning has been my greatest asset.  Good planning in the beginning has allowed me to understand possible pitfalls.” 

Juanita, thank you for taking risks and paving the way for future black women in business!

Have you broken barriers in the corporate world? Are you an up and coming entrepreneur? Complete the form below to be featured in the #BlkWomeninBiz series! Follow @blkwomeninbiz on Instagram.

Content Planning: Why & How

2018 is here and it’s time for you to get your content strategy revamped and ready for the new year. If you do not plan out your content, you’re not giving yourself the opportunity to truly measure your success.
As a one-woman shop, we have two major roles to play: we have to work IN the business and ON the business. Planning out your content will give you more time to focus on other major tasks that are going to take your business to the next level.

What exactly is content?

Content is king. It is everything you see from a business including videos, blogs, posts on social media, eCourses, etc.

How do I plan my content?

  1. You need to decide what type of content you want to circulate and how you plan to disseminate every piece of content you produce. For example, if you decide to create videos and you plan to post them on social media, you need to remember you will have to create the blog content in addition to your social media content.
  2. Next, you should think about frequency. How often do you plan to produce content? Too much content may cause people to ignore you if it’s not of quality, not enough content may cause people to forget you. Find your happy medium.
  3. Find the right tools and resources that work for you. From scheduling tools, to editing tools, do your research and find out what works best for your brand, and your budget. There are a lot of free tools out there to help you get started. Keep in mind as you grow, you may want to start to investing in some platforms that will make sure life easier.
  4. Keep track of how long it takes you to work on each piece of content. This will help you understand which projects need to take priority, and which you can hold off on. As your business grows, you may want to start delegating some of these tasks to employees or third parties if it is taking up too much of your time.
  5. If you’re a visual person like me, you should create a content calendar so that you can keep track of which content is going out, and which platforms they are going to. I use a simple Excel Document that is color-coded for each platform I use. Join my mailing list to get your free content calendar template.

To be completely transparent, I fully understand how hard it is to plan your content in advance and sometimes, I don’t. However, when I do, it is completely life changing for my business and allows me to be able to put my time towards other things.

Download my template and get started on planning out the remainder of January and the first few weeks of February.

Happy Planning!

New Year, New Goals, Time to Hustle

This past year has been life-changing for my business. I have grown my network, discovered new interests that I was able to incorporate into my overall strategy, and I have been able to look at my weaknesses and improve on them. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, or someone interested in climbing the corporate ladder, it’s time to move full speed ahead into 2018.

Here are 3 things I plan to do in 2018 and you should, too!

  1. Stop making excuses – We’re all guilty of it. “If your dreams don’t scare you, then they are probably not big enough.” Stop thinking you can’t accomplish things because your thoughts become reality.
  2. Plan content on a monthly basis – Last year there were moments when I didn’t plan content ahead of time and it was nerve-wracking! This year I’m vowing to plan my content on a monthly basis. Not only will this help me keep my sanity, but it will clear my head to be able to create even better events, webinars, and content.
  3. Celebrate my wins – It’s hard for me to celebrate my wins because I always feel like there was something I could have done better. This year I have promised myself that I am going to celebrate my successes, no matter how small they may seem.

What are your business goals for 2018? Comment below to share!

P.S. Here are some things I hope you left in 2017!

3 Things Creators Should Leave in 2017


Surprise! Respect the Hustle is growing and coming to a city near you! Follow Respect the Hustle on Instagram for upcoming events. New events will be announced soon!

Respect the Hustle

The Black Women in Business Series is also growing and I have some new amazing women to be featured in 2018! Catch up on past features and complete the form below to be featured yourself! Follow the Black Women in Business Series on Instagram.

Black Women in Business

 

3 Steps to Build Your Social Media Strategy

Just because you’re a one-woman shop, doesn’t mean you cannot achieve a social media presence that makes you look like you have an entire social team behind you. At the recent Respect the Hustle event, Kelsea Wiggins taught us the ins and out of the top social media platforms out there. I would recommend downloading her presentation so that you can decide on the right platform for you and your business.

Once you decide which platform works for you, it’s time to create a real social media strategy. Here are 3 steps to get started:

  1. Plan Content – You can use an excel sheet, word document, or even hand-written notes if you prefer. In your plan, decide how often you want to post (I would recommend 1-3 times per week), what days you want to post, and the purpose of each post. For example: If you’re a motivation speaker, maybe you will decide Monday is Motivational Monday, Wednesday is Wellness Wednesday, etc. By creating a formula for yourself, your audience will know what to expect and will begin to look forward to those posts. Note: This strategy can also be used for email marketing. 
  2. Measure Your Success – Before you can measure success, you must know what you want your return on investment to be. Honestly, social media is not going to significantly increase revenue for your business – unless you plan to spend money on advertising. However, it will increase brand awareness, connect you to prospects, and then you can turn those prospects into customers.
  3. Analyze and Tweak – So, what are you measuring? Impressions? Reach? Engagement? Followers? If you’re not hitting your benchmarks, it’s time for you to reevaluate your strategy and make changes. You should do this at the end of quarter.

Ready to build your strategy? You can use Kelsea’s presentation as a baseline to get started. Not sure you can do this on your own? You can always connect with me and I can either handle all your social media, or I can help you build your strategy.

Do you already have your social media strategy in place? Comment below and share what you’re doing in 2018!

3 Things You Can Do Today to Polish Your Digital Presence

According to Moz, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.

So what does that mean? 

When someone goes to a search engine, like Google or Bing, and types in: beauty supply stores in Columbus, SEO is the deciding factor in what that person will see on that first page. And let’s be honest, most people are not going to scroll past the first page of results.

If your website or social media pages are not optimized for search engines, how do you expect potential customers to find you online?

You cannot wave a magic wand and become perfectly optimized for search engines and ranking number one on Google by tomorrow. This takes a lot of work and a lot of consistency; it could be 6 months to a year before you see significant movement. However, if you put in the work in the beginning, it will pay off in the end.

Here are 3 things you can do today to begin your journey of being completely optimized for search engines:

1. Clean Up Your Local Listings
Surprise! You probably have a Google+, Yelp, and Bing floating through cyber space and most likely you have not claimed them. Not only does leaving these listings unclaimed leave it open for strangers to edit your business information, it also means you can’t make updates when needed.

Moz Local for Small Businesses can give you a free local listing score. If you have listings out there that are not verified, it will show you exactly where those listings are and from there, you can start claiming them and ensuring the information is correct.

Keep in mind Facebook now works very similar to a search engine and local listing. You need to make sure your address is accurate on your Facebook business page as well.

2. Update Your Website
Don’t let your website site dormant for months, or years. At least once a quarter, you should be updating your site in some way. This could mean adding pictures from events, creating a blog, or adding testimonials. If search engines see you are actively updating, this will help you with rankings.

3. Backlink to Your Friends and Vice Versa
A backlink is a link that links back (hence, backlink…) to your website from another source. This is a great way to build website authority. The key is to have credible websites link back to you. If you’re involved with local community organizations, or if you have partnerships with other businesses in your area, don’t be afraid to ask them if there is a way for them to mention you on their website. In turn, you should do the same for them!

Now it’s time to get to it! I challenge you as we close out the year to do ONE of these 5 things every week. Let’s get 2018 off to a great start!

Want to talk more in depth about making sure your digital presence is in tact? Schedule a 30-90 minute business consultation today. Click here to learn more >>