Business 101

Business 101: Share Even When You Don’t Benefit

       Continuing the conversation from last week around idea generation; this week I want to push sharing with others.  Everything we come across won’t always benefit us.  However, there is nothing wrong with passing on information, a contact, or solution that may be helpful to someone in your circle.  Heck, you may come across job openings that aren’t for your field but maybe you have a friend or someone in your network that you know is looking.  The right thing to do is send the link or lead even it if takes some effort.  You can build good will with others and maybe even learn a little about another field thru finding out what is applicable to them and what isn’t.  Same for random ideas or contacts.  There’s nothing wrong with being a middleman or center of information.  Sharing information increases your value to others and strengthens your network even if you don’t directly benefit from what you are passing along.

Business 101: Always Collect Ideas

          Part of being a businessperson is coming up with ideas to execute.  This can be done formally by scheduling daily time to brainstorm ideas or holding think tanks with others.  Yet, ideas live by their own rules.  Meaning you never know when you might have one.  You could be exercising or in middle of church service and have a eureka moment.  The best advice I can give is do whatever you can to capture the bones of the idea.  In perfect scenario you could do a quick voice memo and explain it to yourself for later.  In real life, you probably will just have to scribble down a few words on some paper or type a quick memo on your phone.  I say all this to leave you with the charge of never letting an idea go uncaptured.  Every idea isn’t a million-dollar generator, but an uncollected idea is guaranteed to yield nothing for you.

Business 101: Exterminate Worthless Blog Comments

            This is lesson I just learned several weeks ago when talking to the marketing firm I do business with.  I encountered a situation where I noticed I had over 200 comments on one of my websites.  Most of the comments were spam for Viagra.  Good thing is that I set my site up to require me to approve all comments so none of these comments made it on the live website.  However, the downside is I had to read thru every comment and delete them.  Well, there’s a cheat code for that.  If you add certain words to your filter list, then comments that contain those words will be automatically rejected.  This will eliminate you from having to waste time reading them.  All you have to do is come up with a list of blacklist words to filter and or do quick search online for common blacklist words.  This will have you well on your way to exterminating lousy comments from your website.

Business 101: No Shame in Diversified Work Experiences

              Continuing the topic from last week I will share more tips on the benefits of operating outside your comfort zone.  This time from a professional lens.  In my life, I’ve had the privilege of working across many different industries.  Prior to college my first official regular job was a housekeeper at an assisted living facility.  In addition to that, I launched my own lawn service and did odd jobs around the neighborhood.  I held all 3 jobs until I went away for college.  During college, I did engineering co-ops and internships in construction, composites, pharmaceutical, automotive, and paper industries.  At the same time, I worked on campus in catering, cafeteria, coffee shop, gym janitor, and as a resident assistant.  I even put out a rap mixtape and sold copies of that.  Present day, I’ve been working in food industry for years and have blogs, apps, a book, and podcast as my side industry hustles.  Each industry and job I held gave me something I can carry with me later in life.  Whether it was the strength of composites versus regular steel, importance of commitment when cutting lawns, surviving in a dying paper industry, or how everything that is produced requires packaging in my automotive co-op.  The varied experiences have allowed me to have versatile core and provided me confidence in jumping into unfamiliar opportunities.  I challenge you to learn about different industries.  Furthermore, I encourage you to not turn people away when hiring or interacting with folks that don’t have similar experiences to what you are used to.  We don’t learn much when everyone around us and the people that work with us are all the same.

Business 101: Network Outside Your Background

Over the past few years, I’ve made efforts to start networking in the city of Milwaukee.  Now that I lived in the city for years, established professional career, and am looking for additional business opportunities I started looking for ways to put myself out there.  I started out with organizations like NAACP and NSBE but also stumbled on WAAL (Wisconsin Association of African American Lawyers).  I liked the idea of getting to know professional individuals outside of my immediate engineering background.  I encourage everyone to not be siloed to your familiar background.  At worst when you interact with folks that differ from you, you have a contact in a different industry and learn something.

Business 101: Maximize Yourself, Improve Your Health

One thing we can’t take for granted as business minded individuals is our health.  It doesn’t matter how successful your business is or how great your product or service will be if you aren’t around to experience it.  Yes, you don’t have to be in Top Model shape to have achievements as a businessperson, but it doesn’t hurt.  The main reason why I encourage you to improve your health is because any second or minute of time you’re our sick, at the doctor, worried about your health, or dead is a minute you aren’t devoting your attention to your business empire.  For example, when I have throbbing headaches, I’m probably not working on writing articles for this site or knocking out my to do list for the week.  If you are overeating and constantly snacking, you are breaking up brain synergy every time you get up from your workstation and return.  A lot of the illnesses we have from this country are behavior based like smoking, drinking, eating a diet heavy in sugar, red meat, and salt.  Sooner or later the bill is do on your health.  Is much easier to maintain weight than to lose it.  You can put the time in on the front end to eat the right things and exercise.  Or you can make constant doctor’s visits, take prescriptions, and suffer thru surgeries when its more expensive on the back end.  If you aren’t at your best when you have the flu or sore throat how do you think you are going to feel if you are battling high blood pressure, cancer, or other ailments.  Do yourself and your business a favor and make your health matter so that the blood and sweat you put into your business matters.

Business 101: Be More Systematic w/ Solutions

Today’s lesson is an extension of the previous topic.  You see, sometimes our multitude of options doesn’t involve various brands or businesses.  We could have an established business, brand, product, or service.  Or we may not have anything that is firmly developed but we know exactly what we want and our locked in.  So locked in, that when problems arise, we are willing to try every idea at once to succeed.  Every idea is considered valid and every person that wants to help is welcome.  But that “give it all you got” method of solving a problem in my opinion isn’t the best.  We must look at problems like a science experiment where you have a control group and the non-control group where several variables are adjusted to observe results.  If we change too much at once it makes it harder to know what the root cause is.  Additionally, we maybe miss how some of the changed variables intertwine and impact each other.  So, like an experiment I would recommend making a change, observing the result, debriefing, and deciding what the next course of action should be.  How fast or slow you work thru each solution is dependent on your timeline.  If you leave enough observing time between changes to fairly evaluate the results you can go as fast as you want.  Systematically working thru solving a problem is a tried-and-true method to bring life to potential solutions.

Business 101: Reset, Focus

Sometimes as business minded people we get caught up in trying to do too much.  There was a time I was so caught up in creating brands that I was constantly hiring someone to design the next logo and color scheme.  Furthermore, I used those menial tasks to keep me from focusing on progress that really mattered.  I often found that I sometimes had to fall back and decide what brands or initiatives were going to be the priority for that season.  Time is not infinite so we have to find ways to squeeze what we can out of it.  If you have 5 different business ideas, you can’t make them all excel equally at once.  I recommend identifying what factors are most critical for you at that time.  For example, are you trying to help people, make money, build a grass roots brand, or network now?  If helping people is most critical then pushing your business that’s tied to a product line isn’t your top priority.  If generating income to provide for yourself and others is more pressing than upkeeping and pouring marketing into a religious website that doesn’t provide product or service is placed on back burner.  Building a brand from grass roots probably means you are open to hiring someone to assist in managing social media and website content.  Or if you want to network, then you are likely dedicating several hours a week to attending meetups and trying new things.  In short, when you strip down your layers of priorities and create hierarchy on what you want or need you reset back to the basics.  A more singular focus helps you stay on task and align your energy and actions with your priorities.

Business 101: Don’t Be Afraid to Pull the Plug

Today’s tip kind of piggy backs off the previous one.  If we know when we expected results than it gives us a clearer view on when it’s time to move on from lack of progress.  We shouldn’t continue investing labor, time, and monetary resources into a plan that isn’t working.  Even if the folks we are working with are good people and trying hard results are results!  A manager at work once told me that you can’t confuse progress with success.  Just because you are slowly improving with your initiative doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to continue to underperform.  The sooner that we can cut our losses and scrape a non-value-added course action, we are able to regroup and reload the next strategy.  Hopefully, we can take what we learned and be better for it.

Business 101: Importance of Knowing How Long to Try Something

As entrepreneurs we won’t always hit on every idea or initiative we embark on.  Which means we must have an idea on how long we should try a particular direction or action.  If we don’t know how long it should take to see results, we need to ask.  Though the fact we are asking after the action has gone into effect gives us a lesser chance of getting an honest answer out of someone.  Nobody wants to admit they are failing so someone with skin in game is likely to lean on optimistic side.  If you know that trying a new marketing campaign should take 6 months to increase sales before writing a check you know you can start judging folks if nothing has happened and you’re in month 5.  In short, note the mile stones the action should deliver so you can check expected results against actual results once you plan of action goes live.