6 Ways to Keep Your Sanity in Entrepreneurship

I’ve been in the entrepreneur world for a little over 6 months now and there is SO much no one told me. For those who are thinking of going full time soon, take some of this rookie advice and prepare for your new life.

1. Surround Yourself with Positivity

Thankfully for me, my family and friends have remained positive and supportive since I made my decision. I partially think it’s because I had been speaking about going full time for over a year now so they were mentally prepared for the day I finally quit.

2. Save Business Woes for Other Entrepreneurs

While having supportive family and friends are great, try to save your business woes for your business friends if possible. When things aren’t going as planned, sometimes your family’s first reaction may be for you to pick up a part-time job, or consider going back to work. However, a business owner will tell you to stick it out or provide you with tools or tactics to grow your business. If being an entrepreneur is truly what you want, you have to tune out the noise.

3. Invest in Tools to Make Your Life Easier

At some point you may outgrow your current systems and need to invest in tools to make your life easier. From task management, time trackers, to social media management tools — you have to be willing to invest in your growth.

4. Don’t Stay Married to Current Tools

I’ve been in business for 5 years and as I’ve grown, I’ve had to move systems and platforms. I’m not using the same task management tool or social media management tool I started with. I am also in the market for a new e-commerce and email marketing tool. If your current systems can’t grow with you, let them go!

5. Find ways to destress

As much as I love the HUSTLE, I understand the need for rest. For me, I enjoy meditation, going to church with my family and friends, and working out. If you have a hard time recognizing when you need to destress, get yourself an accountability partner! At times, I have good friends who remind me when I need to relax. Overtime, you’ll be able to recognize when your anxiety is high and you’ll be able to keep yourself in check.

6. You’re not alone

All entrepreneurs are stressed, anxious, and feeling like there’s still so much more work to do. You’re not alone! Find your tribe and surround yourself with people who can relate to the hustle.

I hope you found these tips helpful! Did I miss anything? Comment below!

Shoot Your Shot

So much has changed in my life over the last month. One big win I’ve had is securing my conference keynote speaker, Dawn W. Dickson!

Dawn is a trailblazer in the tech community and has been featured in many publications including Black EnterpriseForbes, and most recently, The Breakfast Club.

When I first had the idea for a conference my mindset was “go big or just forget about it.” I’m a risk taker and I knew if I wanted this to work, I had to solidify a big speaker.

This brings to my tip this month: shoot your shot.

If you really want to reach your greatest potential, you have to fearlessly chase your goals. You cannot be scared to go after that big speaker or big sponsor.

With that being said, it’s also important that you have your sh*t together, too.

Before you go sliding in the DM’s of every business owner you know, make sure to ask yourself these few questions:

1. Is my branding on point?
If a big sponsor/speaker saw your website and social media, would they feel comfortable letting you use their likeness to promote an event?

2. Do I have the budget?
We all want to secure that big speaker or that dream venue. But be honest with yourself about your budget and how much your return on investment will be.

3. Do I have any typos in my proposal?
Believe it or not, having a type in your proposal can cause someone to not want to work with you.

4. Is my elevator speech prepared?
Get to the point. Avoid sending a lengthy email or message. Simply give your pitch in a few sentences and request a meeting/conversation that will allow you to go into more details.

Have you ever shot your shot at a potential sponsor or speaker for an event? What did you learn from the experience? Send an email to info@tjecommunications.com to share your story!

XOXO

The Power of Mentorship

In May 2014 I graduated college. At this point I had 10 internships, and held the title “President” in two campus organizations, and I was unable to find a job in my field.

Side note: If you’ve never read Let’s face it, your degree isn’t good enough, please do.

I was 22 and I knew I wanted to start my own business. When I applied for all of the great local agency’s that every kid in PRSSA dreamed of working at, no one called me back. I thought: Well if they don’t want to hire me, I’ll become their competition.

I knew nothing about starting a business or what was required to make me look “legit.” I had no idea what I should charge or how I should charge and this led to be being ripped off and unpaid for projects from time to time – YIKES!

Thankfully for me, throughout my time in college I attended every networking event I possibly could. I would stand out because I would be the only 18 year old kid in a room full of business professionals. Throughout my years of networking, I had made some connections I was able to reach out to who helped me begin to shape TJE.

Now at 27, I can keep it real with myself and say I had NO CLUE what I was doing trying to start a business at 22. I am lucky to have some amazing mentors in my life I can call on when I’m need and I encourage you all to do the same.

If you don’t currently have a mentor or two, here’s how to effectively find the right person for you.

1. Seek out local organizations that provide mentorship.

There are so many local organizations that provide mentorship as a perk of being a member. I’m currently a member of The Diva Movement, Black Career Women’s Network, and Women in Digital. If you’re feeling nervous about the thought of having a mentor, starting out in groups like this can help ease you into the idea and help you creative expectations for mentorship.

2. You should have something to give if you’re willing to take.

When I seek information from my mentors, I make it a point to offer something in return. All of the people in my network are bossed up and they should not be providing me with free advice every time I want it. You should be open and willing to give your time and resources to the people who are helping you grow.

3. Seek REAL connections, not people with a lot of connections.

Don’t fall for someone’s social media persona. Before you spend $100+ on a coaching session, you need to do your research. Be sure you are choosing someone REAL, authentic, and someone who aligns with your goals.

4. Ask your network.

Reach out to your network for a recommendation on a mentor or for any mentoring groups they are members of.

5. Your mentor doesn’t have to be in the same field as you.

Having a mentor in a different industry could provide you with a new business perspective. Broaden your horizon! Find someone who has a teaching style you can learn from.

Mentorship is truly powerful and I hope you all take the time to seek out mentors or become one yourself. If you have a mentor, what is some of the best advice they’ve given you? Comment below!

Pick a side.

It’s 2018 and the tides are changing once more. We can check our history books and speak to our elders for proof that when injustices are brought to the horizon, eventually, you have to pick a side. In some cases, there is a very define line between the right side, and the completely wrong side. While in others, it is not.

Let’s take a look back at a moment that will certainly go down in history…

It’s the 2016 NFL season and Colin Kaepernick begins to take a knee during the national anthem to bring awareness to police brutality and the injustices that people of color face on a daily basis. (Fun fact, he first started sitting during the anthem but was told by a U.S. Veteran that kneeling was more appropriate. I also want to note that Kaepernick is not the first athlete to make a “political stance” but for the sake of my point, we’re going to focus on him.)

I’m sure at this point you’re wondering, “why is this your tip of the month and what does this have to do with my business?”

I’m glad you’ve asked…

Yesterday, it was announced that Colin Kaepernick alongside Serena Williams, Odell Beckham Jr., and Shaquem Griffin, are the faces of Nike’s 30th Anniversary “Just Do It” campaign. The internet was clearly divided on this and some even threatened to boycott the brand. While others, including myself, applauded them.

Nike has clearly taken a stance on how they feel about Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the anthem. This “decision” has even sparked a statement from the president who has made it clear he is not a fan of Kaepernick or any other athlete who decides to kneel during the anthem.

So what does this mean for Nike?

They have made a very bold move that essentially has divided their customer base. Do I believe they will take a loss? No. Do I believe that they TRULY are riding for Kaepernick? I don’t know.

One thing we can probably agree on, is that they did their did research, pulled numbers, and came to an informed decision where they understand the pros and cons about how this could impact their market share. We can conclude that overall, this was a good business move for the brand that majority of leadership has agreed on.

What does this mean for small businesses?

I’m not saying that you need to shout from the rooftop your political views. However, I am telling you to pick a side.

If someone is wearing your brand and posts a video of themselves kneeling during the anthem, how would you feel? Or what if they were protesting a Planned Parenthood? Or what if they were arrested for a hate crime?

It may sound outrageous to think of all of these scenarios. But let’s remind ourselves what happened to Pepsi and Dove. A small “mishap” could truly become a bad press day for your company.

Why do you need to pick a side?

You shouldn’t need to think too long and hard about what you would do if any of those scenarios were to occur. I know we all want to keep politics a secret and out of business and sports alike, but the reality is, we cannot. You should have a clear understanding of your personal values.

Our customers truly WANT to support businesses that care about them. If you want to play it safe and down the middle then please, be my guest. But you may be involved in a scenario where you will be forced to pick a side and I hope you are ready to do so with pride.

As for me, I’ve chosen a side.

TJE Communications and it’s subsidiaries has not and will never tolerate discrimination or disrespect of any kind amongst its event attendees or clients. TJE Communications also will never support or work with those who believe in the discrimination of others.

I challenge you all to make a list of all of the things you value, and find ways to incorporate it into your business model. If you need help, you know where to find me!

Have a question that needs an answer, email info@tjecommunications.com.

How to Conduct a S.W.O.T. Analysis

No matter what industry you work in, a S.W.O.T. Analysis can help you determine your business goals, objectives, and strategic plan. 

What exactly is a S.W.O.T. Analysis?

S.W.O.T. stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. If you’re unable to hire a third party company to conduct this analysis for you, here are some basic tips to do this on your own.

Strengths.
Take a look at your analytics and sales and identify the top 3-5 things your business is doing very well. These are your strengths. Many people, including myself, have a hard time talking about the things we’re doing well. But the numbers don’t lie! Do a deep dive into your stats and celebrate your wins.

Weaknesses.
Here’s the part we’re all good at! Identifying what is not going so well. Take the stats you’ve gathered about your strengths, and look at where there is a need for improvement. You also want to understand the why. Is there a reason you’re performing low in one area of business, but higher in others? Are there numbers behind the failures that can help you turn them into wins?

Opportunities.
This is my favorite part of a S.W.O.T. Analysis. Here is where you can take those strengths and weaknesses, and create a strategic plan to turn them into new opportunities for your business. Look at the silver lining.

For example: If you know your social media stats are performing well, but your website traffic is low, you can find ways to direct traffic from social media to your website by adding your website link at the end of every post, or adding more website content that will make people want to visit.

Threats.
Here is where you have to keep it real with yourself. Even more real than when you had to determine your weaknesses. Threats are more than competitors, these are also areas where you can even be a threat to your own business. How are you hindering yourself? Are you afraid to invest in your business? Are you too scared to take advantage of new opportunities? Threats are worse than weaknesses. A weakness can be improved, a threat could potentially end your business.

We only have 4 more months to close out 2018. As you move through the remainder of the year, I challenge you to perform a S.W.O.T. Analysis and prepare your business for 2019. If you need help with this, please do not hesitate to contact me

How to Create Your IGTV Channel

If you haven’t heard, long form video has come to Instagram! Why? Well, any person truly invested in digital marketing & SEO could tell you that Google and Facebook have been in competition for YEARS! Facebook wants to be a search engine, Google wants to have a social network. It’s a never ending war, but, those of us who rely on both of these platforms will continue to benefit from all their new innovations.

What is IGTV?

IGTV, or Instagram TV, is just like a having a YouTube channel attached to your Instagram page. You can upload longer videos than the typcial 60 seconds Instagram allows for on a normal post.

Why should I make an IGTV channel?

For starters, I have no doubt in my mind that this will blow up. There are already celebrities like Will Smith taking advantage of IGTV and we know how much he loves YouTube (YT is owned by Google, Instagram is owned by Facebook – see why this is a never ending war?).

In addition, this gives you even more opportunity to bring your followers quality content and to increase engagement.

How do I create my channel?

It’s actually VERY simple!

Step 1. Open your Instagram app and click the orange-ish icon in the top right corner, next to the DM button. When you get there, you’ll see a screen like the one below displaying videos from people you follow.

Step 2. Next you’ll click on the settings button and you’ll get a pop up like the one below that says “Create Channel”.

Step 3. Once you select “Create Channel” you’ll see the following screens. Read through them and select “Create Channel”.

     

Step 4. Once your channel is created, you’ll see a screen like this. Go to your channel and from there you can begin uploading videos. As of now, the video cap is 15 minutes.

Keep in mind the videos have to be vertical. Similar to how an IG Live or Facebook Live video is laid out. I suggest if you have some great lives you want to savor, download them on your computer and send them to yourself to upload.

Don’t forget that titles, tags, and thumbnails matter! It may seem tedious but you want your channel to look good and feel professional.

I’m personally excited for new Instagram feature and will fully take advantage of the war going on between Google and Facebook.

If you’re already on IGTV I would love to know your thoughts on it so far! Reply to this email and let me know.

XOXO

Spring Clean Your Website

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.

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 11.03.06 PM

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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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!

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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!