Business 101

Business 101: Invest in your NETWORK

One of the best ways to help accelerate the success of yourself and your business is by investing in your network.  I don’t mean just throwing money at people you know and their business initiatives.  I literally, mean allocate time to attending networking events whether they are in person or virtual.  It gives you to chance to meet new people.  You never know who you are going to stumble upon that might become a good resource, friend, mentor, and or mentee for you.  Networking allows you to educate yourself on what others are doing whether they are your direct competition or have nothing to do with your business.  If someone is giving a presentation during a networking event which often happens, or someone wants to brag about their business you can just quietly take notes and absorb the trade secrets being shared.  By networking you can start surrounding yourself with people that are like minded.  If you want to become a better basketball player, you don’t go hang out and play baseball.  You pull up to a basketball court with your ball and grab next in some scrimmages.  We should be doing the same thing with our business dreams.  Spending all your time with your 9-5 co-workers, content family members, and or friends that mock your goals isn’t going to encourage you in positive way.  Seeing other people working thru the same struggles and aspirations as you can result in you pushing yourself to the next level to keep up. So again, invest in your network, the people you socialize and build your goals and habits with.

Business 101: Outsourcing your Weakness = Maximizing your Time

When you are creating you own business you have to understand what you are great and bad at.  Sometimes when you are first starting out you are just trying to get traction on your business initiative.  Therefore, you may not be able to afford to spend money on every aspect of the business.  Or you may not be sure its going to work so you don’t want to invest money everywhere.  Well, I say you still must do an honest audit of the quality of work you are able to do across all areas.  For example, when I made this website, I knew I could probably make it passable enough to get by doing it myself in the short term based on the fact I had previous experience making basic websites.  However, I called myself trying to apply that logic in marketing with undesirable results.  I spent a little money for Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, and Google Ads without a marketing formula I dare to repeat so started looking for experts to help me.  I had similar experience for mobile application development.  I thought as an engineer I could go on these drag and drop DIY app making sites and be off to the races.  Well, after signing up for a few sites I quickly realized that even if I could figure it out, there were better ways for me to use my time.  So again, I outsourced something that I wasn’t strong in to focus my times on other areas.

Weighing what tasks for your business that you can do or want to do versus outsourcing is a continuous process.  If you think you use time for tasks that only you exclusively can complete that’s a good clue that you need to lighten your tasks load.  Finding ways to get your hands out of all parts of your business will accelerate your effectiveness.  At the same time, it gives you a peace of mind that someone else capable is working on advancing your business forward besides you.  Life’s a challenge enough being an entrepreneur while maintaining other obligations.  So next time you are thinking through a new business task that needs to get accomplished ask yourself if there’s someone else equally as capable of performing it and delegate.  Squeeze everything you can out of time you have for things only you can do.

Business 101: Consuming social media for kicks is basic behavior: Limit Basic Social Media Consumption

Yes, I said it and I meant it.  Social media is a complex monster.  While it does allow folks additional ways to connect and communicate with one another it also has many negative or non-value-added qualities.  Folks can be cowards and hide behind a screen to solely exists to put others down.  People can fake their whole life and image online and lead people astray in the process.  People give meaningless updates and over share information that doesn’t really impact anyone’s day.  Nobody really needs to know what the average person did for their work out, had for dinner, or random pictures.  Sorry, the average person just isn’t important enough in the world to be sharing play by play of their life with everyone.  One can argue that we don’t know need to know that info from the accomplished and famous either.  However, here we are, a world where people are building careers off being influencers of puffery and facades.  What’s even worse is when folks waste hours and hours of time constantly checking social media looking for a dopamine picture, post, or video to grab their attention and suck more time out of them.  We have more loyalty and dedication to checking and consuming social media than to our religion, continued education, family, and or business aspirations.

Checking Beyoncé or Taylor Swift’s social media every day isn’t going to improve or degrade your life.  Trust me, those celebrities will be fine if you ghost them for a few days, weeks, or forever.  I’ve found that if I want to get more production out of myself and business initiatives one of the first things I typically do is take a break from social media.  Yeah, I know that you must post on social media to advertise your business.  However, if you use sites like buffer or later you can simply schedule your content without going to each app.  The people that are going to engage on your posts are who they are.  Scrolling social media isn’t really going to change the results of your posts.  It’s a basic mindset to being using social media or anything else for that matter without a purpose or goal insight.  Especially, when you want to progress your life and or career to the next level.  A quick way to identify and prevent yourself from falling into purposeless social media consumption is to only use it when you have something to do related to your business goals.

Business 101: Multi-Task Work & Play

Its common knowledge that no one can work or play all 24 hours of the day.  I believe its healthy to have time to destress and relax daily.  Whether your relaxing task is exercising, praying, watching television, partying, etc. it’s critical to find something you enjoy.  However, we must be mindful of how long we spend taking a break.  Now if you are a person that simply wants to work your career for 30 years than maybe it doesn’t matter if you spend your free time every day doing random tasks.  However, if you have other aspirations, I advise on finding ways to multi-task to get make time for your entrepreneurial endeavors.  For example, when exercising on a bike, treadmill, or elliptical you could read a book, business plan, or your business emails.  If you are binge watching brainless television you could write articles for your website, create social media posts, and or update your website.  I myself, am writing this article as I have Lovecraft Country playing in the background.  Last night, I did something similar.  Another thing you could do it multi-task two or more of your daily obligations that have nothing to do with your business.  I do a lot of cooking at home so what I often do it cook and consume television at same time.  This allows me to focus on business tasks more when I’m done cooking because I’ve already had my fix of leisure activity.  Main thing is to remember that while somethings in the world are black and white, there are shades of grey that can be leveraged to make time for work and play in our lives.

Business 101: You Want Your Own Business, Work On It

Many people want to be rich, be their own boss, have ownership, celebrity fame, and the list goes on.  However, how many people actually do anything beyond running their mouths?  Folks sit on dreams for years, decades, lifetimes and die without action.  It isn’t enough to claim what your goals are.  Nor is it sufficient to simply write them down or pray to God for them and walk away as if your part is done.  A to do list isn’t action and God isn’t a genie that just grants wishes.  There’s never a perfect time to do something.  Folks prioritize what matters in their lives.  We have our jobs near the top of our responsibilities because it represents our income that supports our livelihood.  People will deal with poor treatment, discriminations, and disrespect at their jobs that they won’t tolerate in their everyday lives.  They will brave weather conditions to get to work that they pass on when it comes to church or errands.  When an emergency happens, we find time to shift our significances in our life.  If we have a crush on someone, like them, or they have something we want we make time.  Why can’t we apply that to our personal dreams and ambitions?  I’m not talking about working a full second job in addition to your 40 plus hour a week career.  I’m saying that if you want something you need to find time within the 24 hours to continually work on it.  Maybe its 30 – 60 minutes in the morning before you leave the house, lunch time at work, or at night after everyone is in bed.  Trade some of that brainless Netflix time or social media surfing for your business.  No one said it was going to be easy and desirable to create a business.  However, if you don’t take action no one else will.  If you have an idea and don’t make time to work on that’s YOUR FAULT!  There are single parents, children, and less than perfectly healthy people that create businesses everyday.  Figure it out or hold your peace.

Business 101: Keep Track of Business Expenses from Day 1

As I started getting serious about my various business ventures, I made sure to note on my personal finance spreadsheet what expenses were business related and even gave them a different color.  If you have expenses from multiple businesses, you will want to track them separately as well.  For example, I have a sheet for U-prayer that tracks the costs for the website domain, g-suite email account, and monthly podcast costs.  I also have a tab for fantasy block where the cost to create the LLC, develop the app, website domain, g-suite, trademarking fees are all tallied up.  Tracking costs allows you to quickly see how much money is being spent on all your businesses.  Maybe you decide that when looking at your costs versus benefit that you want to discontinue one of your businesses.  Or maybe you use the sheet for tax purposes to remind you of what documentation or receipts you need to find.  Lastly, tracking your expenses allows you to potentially factor those costs into your break even and profit margin point for your product or service.  Along with tracking business costs I would recommend trying to funnel the purchases you make thru a PayPal dedicated to the company which would require you to register the business with the government.  If you don’t think the business is serious or proven enough to make it a corporation or LLC than I suggest dedicating a personal credit card to the business that you seldom use.  This will create another avenue for you to have decent documentation on your business transactions.  Of course, you could ignore all this advice and just chose to waste double or triple the amount of time digging the bank and credit card statements looking for past costs.  Do you self a favor and do track your business expenses right the first time.

Business 101: Screw the Instagram Marketing Gurus

One thing I would advise not to get worked up over is all these folks on Instagram that claim they have the follower and or like secret.  Most of these folks with hundreds of thousands of followers are frauds unless they are a real celeb, athlete, and or sell actual products/service.  If someone’s biggest claim to fame is being Instagram relevant walk away.  All you must do is look in their comments section to see what’s going on.  If someone’s follower to comments ratio is way off that’s indication of bought follows.  For example, if someone has 20K followers but can’t consistently get 100 likes on their posts something isn’t right.  Another indication of bought followers and likes is when you look in their comments section and the same 15 people post on every time (and they post multiple times) and half the times their remarks make no sense in relation to the content. Or maybe the comments will have a bunch of spam remarks (forex trading, conspiracy theories, etc).  Full disclosure, I’ve bought followers instantly to see how it works and you can literally by 50, 1000, 10000, etc. in less than a few days.  Once you realize the game that’s being played it liberates you and allows you to just make content without pressure of who’s going to follow or like it.  If you take nothing else away from this article remember this, if someone’s only claim to fame is being Instagram marketing relevant look somewhere else for help.  Take your butt online and look around for marketing assistance from people that do it in real life.

Business 101: 3 Hard Lessons I Learned in the T-Shirt Business

So, during my journey to discover what areas would be part of my business empire I have dabbled in the t-shirt selling business.  While I haven’t spent a lot of time in this space, I’ve learned several lessons that can help anyone that is just starting out. If anyone else has additional hard lessons shoot them in the comments section.

  • Don’t buy inventory ahead of time.
    1. I had the grand idea of purchasing 3-5 t-shirts in several sizes of my first design so basically 20 shirts. Nearly 9 months later, how many shirts do I have left you ask, 19.  It you aren’t running a brick-and-mortar store and or don’t have an established demand it makes no sense to buy physical inventory ahead of time.  Just because you think your design is a good idea doesn’t mean the world will buy it.  I recommend putting in an application for Amazon Merch because they allow you to create designs and only manufacture the inventory when an order is placed.  Redbubble is the same way minus the requirement to apply to be a merchant on the site.  The downside to Amazon Merch is that if you don’t sell a given number of shirts by a certain time frame than you can get kicked off the site like myself.
  • Develop marketing plan for your product.
    1. I will admit that once I got up to maybe 10 different t-shirt designs posted between Amazon Merch and Redbubble that I didn’t do a whole of marketing. I created a web page on my website that linked to a lot of the shirts but that wasn’t enough to generate any sales.  I won’t pretend that I’m a marketing guru and with all the research I’ve done apparently others aren’t either.  No, buying followers and likes on Instagram doesn’t count as being a good marketer.  Know that if you are going to outsource someone to do marketing for your product that you’re probably going to end up paying someone up to thousand dollars a month for several months to see results.  The costs could be maybe several hundred dollars if you use overseas company or labor.
  • Avoid dealing with unproven overseas manufacturing companies.
    1. I called myself trying to find my own overseas manufacturer for t-shirts right out the gate with no experience on my end. Stumbled on site called Sewport.com and thought their database of potential vendors seemed like a jackpot.  However, when I tried to make my first purchase on there, they had some deal where the payment for the order was held by them and then released to the overseas manufacturer.  To make the payment though you had to make international wire transfer.  So, I placed the order, but the money took several weeks and still wasn’t in manufacturer’s hands.  Things didn’t seem right to me, so I demanded my money back and cancelled the order due to sketchiness of the site.  If you are going to use overseas manufacturer, I would recommend finding someone with industry knowledge to provide you tips.  Places like the small business administration, better business bureau, or asking around would be better starting points than my random web search.

Business 101: Patents 101

I just want to share some quick lessons I learned about patents.  If you want to find out whether your idea or product is patentable you will want to ask a law firm to conduct a patentability search.  This is when a law firm will ask you questions about your idea and do a search of prior art (existing patents/inventions) to see if anything similar is out there.  The goal of the search is basically to see if you have an idea or product that is unique to the world or a significant improvement over something that already exists.  After the search they will share the results.  If your idea isn’t unique, better luck to you next time.  If it is unique you will have a chance to review any prior art that could be like yours and verify yourself that you agree with the results that the idea is unique.  To protect an idea or product immediately you will want to file provisional patent.  Provisional patents will protect your intellectual property for up to 1 year.  A provisional patent puts you in patent pending state.  So when you hear someone say they are patent pending that means they have only chose to protect their idea for a year.   Once in patent pending state you have choice to file the regular patent that will last for 20 plus years.  If you do not have the long-term patent filed before the provisional expires someone else can slide thru and steal your idea.  A provisional patent can take a couple of thousand dollars depending on who you know and where you go.  A long-term patent can be anywhere from $5-$15K depending on what it is.  Remember that when it comes to patents not who created the idea or invention first that owns the right, its who files the paperwork first.

Business 101: Lock up Your Brand Name Across the Internet

One of the first steps I take when considering a new brand is verification that the name is indeed not already being used by someone else.  It doesn’t make sense to waste your time building a name that someone already uses.  I perform verification in a handful of steps which are all listed below.

  1. Search for the name online which entails going to your favorite search engine and seeing if the name pops up.
    1. For example, when I was thinking of the bizzy jimme name I looked it up online and found it wasn’t occupied. It was probably my second or third choice because other names I wanted were bands, etc.
  2. Search to see if the domain name you want is available for you to brand a website.
    1. If you can’t get a domain that you feel represents your brand it can hinder what you want to accomplish. I usually don’t select a brand name if I can’t align with a domain name.  Sometimes you will see that people will squat on domain names and not actively be using the website.  Its up to you if you want to explore trying to get the squatter to sell the site for affordable price.  Often a middle gets involved to try to make money off your dilemma.
  3. Have conviction to get a custom domain email.
    1. I must admit I lose respect for folks when I see them doing business with a gmail domain name. It costs less than $100 dollars, maybe as low as $60-84 a year to have custom email domain.  Spend the chump change to let folks know you’re serious.
  4. Claim the brand name across various social media platforms.
    1. You don’t need to secure every social media app known to man just the standard ones regardless of if you think you will heavily use it. I typically, will secure an account for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube.
  5. Get logo created to represent brand.
    1. Once you’ve secured a name, domain, and social media accounts you want to get logo created to help make the brand name more recognizable. You can get some goods ones made at fiverr.com for under $50 dollars with all the fixings.
  6. Trademark name and logo.
    1. This is a long-term step you will want to take if your brand starts taking off. You will want to go online to get the name trademarked and get logo trade marked as well.   You can roughly do both of those for under $1000 including the government filing fees.