7 lessons you can learn from Issa Rae and her InSecure journey

Issa Rae is an American writer, actor, and producer of the famous NBO series Insecure. She started out creating videos on YouTube when she got tired of seeing the same type of movies about black people.

Issa Rae has been nominated for the golden globe award, her series has won the shorty award for the best web series. She also heads a media company called Issa Rae presents.

If you haven’t watched any episode of InSecure you`ve just found yourself a new best friend. It’s like the dope movie for every girl seeking for some kind of succor after a hard week of work!

It’s so relatable and funny. The story is centered around Issa, a black woman trying to keep it cool with her job in a non-profit, her relationship and her social life.

I came across her show IssaRae presents on a lazy day when I was scrolling through my YouTube feed, and I was stuck. IssaRaePresents does not come up short. Trust me, they never disappoint.

And oh, we’ve been waiting for the third series of Insecure like…

And as usual, we won’t be disappointed. Now back to the main point.

The backstage of creating media content is filled with people who never make it to the big screen.  Writers, producers, camera, videographers, directors, editors etc.

A lot of work goes into creating what you finally see on your screen.  The backstage of the movie industry is dominated by males especially in production and directing.

How did a black young woman break that glass ceiling to be her own boss? Let’s look at these lessons from her.

On Starting Out:

“I love creating content and YouTube was super accessible. I started my first show in senior year of college in Stanford and I kept growing that audience”.

On Being Consistent:

“I had two web series before the misadventures of the Awkward Black Girl. Those series did not gain instant fame but I was consistent throughout releasing those videos by 10 am every Monday and promoting constantly”

Stop finding the ways that you can’t and start finding the ways that you can - @IssaRae Click To Tweet

On Working Hard

“People constantly make excuses on why they can’t follow their dreams. Stop finding the ways that you can’t and start finding the ways that you can.

Think about what you have now, friends, a camera, a room, whatever you have.  Figure out a way to use what you have to make it work.”

On Teamwork

“I tend to have strong opinions about the characters in my shows because I feel I know them personally. Also, I try to loosen the rein and allow debates to go on.

I love collaborating because there are people with a lot of great ideas I love hearing out. Resisting the urge to outrightly say no has been one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned”

On Creativity

“Life inspires me. I love little moments. I just like real life. Everybody has different areas of discomfort and seeing how certain things concerns people that won’t even matter to others intrigues me. I try to understand what makes people think that way and learn from them”

On Overcoming Challenges

“There are definitely challenges. At one end I want to take as many opportunities as I can, on the other hand, I do not want to disappoint myself and other people by not meeting up with deadlines.

Trying to find that work/life balance for the past few years has been challenging”

For Entrepreneurs in Film/Media

“Know your goal. Make sure agencies & companies approaching you are aware of the vision you are working with.

Be sure to have a good team.  Utilizing the people around me was the best thing that happened to me. The team members that I have now started from the ground up with me, that organic growth is part of the reason this show has been a success.

Issa Rae has always kept it 100% real, affirming the fact that her show.  InSecure, is a typification of her life as a young black woman trying to make it in a community that seems to tell her what to do.

She has talked openly about her challenges and fears, and what accepting people’s approval has been for her. Her mother at first did not even agree to watch the show.  

From all of these, I learned two important lessons:

1. People crave authenticity

They’ll gravitate towards people who are real and original. If you step into a new place and you’re a sheep amongst a pack of wolves or the only black female in the room, as long as you have a voice and you keep to that voice, people will gravitate towards you.

2. Everything takes time

Issa affirmed that the first video she did on YouTube was crap, but as years went by and she gathered a team, it got better.

You can tell the difference between her past videos in IssaRaePresents on YouTube and now.

Just like a tree grows, slowly building stronger and deeper foundation which in the end will be able to stand the test of to such is the journey of a business which grows organically.

P.S – All quotes from Issa were gotten from various videos you can find in the link below;


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10 lessons I have learned since quitting my job to start a business

It’s been almost two years since I officially resigned from my job at a top consulting firm to start a business. For the last 20 months, I have been filled with either extreme anxiety or euphoria and sometimes, both feelings have coexisted from running my own business(es).

It has been an experience like none I had had before, extremely excruciating, but also immensely fulfilling.

Taking the leap to quit a comfortable job with potential for growth was not a difficult decision for me to make. I grew up believing I had the “Midas” touch — that everything I touched would turn to gold. I was optimistic.

The prospect of extreme success was very exciting. I wanted to build the next Bloomberg or the next Warby Parker, in fact, I was like a child on their first day to school.

And interestingly — my entrepreneurship journey has been more of a school than anything I had imagined.

Here are just a few of the lessons I have learned and feel anyone planning on quitting their job to start a business should know.

regina king black girl magic GIFAbout to quit your job to start a business? Here are 10 lessons you should learn from @Kazville Click To Tweet

1. Do not quit your job unless you have actually started your business

Yes. They say no one wants to work for a part-time CEO. But no one wants to work for a broke business either. If I could do it again, I would wait till my business has clear-cut cash flows before I take the leap. Sometimes strategy works easier and more efficiently than hustle.

2. Have enough savings to last you at least a year

Nothing sucks like having to invest in a business and worry about your house rent at the same time. Stowaway enough cash for yourself to survive for at least a year before taking the leap.

And by “survive” I mean your budget should also have an entertainment budget line — to fund those business coffee meetings and social gatherings.

 

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Do not start a business thinking your business will feed you from Day 1 because the reality is that it won’t. And yes, some people will argue that you can never save enough. I disagree!

3. Your 9–5 job is just as important to your dream as your dream itself

I have read a lot of social media articles bashing employed people for building other people’s dreams instead of their own and I feel that these “motivational” quotes and articles are in such bad taste.

A lot of my progress and support have come from connections I made while at my job. My job taught me so much about managing my business and through it, I interfaced with top CEOs and management people that have since become personal friends and supported my business.

My first client came from my former employer. I am mentored by my former boss. The beautiful people modeling Wazi glasses on our website are my former workmates. If I had not had that job, I would not have much mileage today.

Sometimes strategy works easier and more efficiently than hustle - @Kazville Click To Tweet

4. Start a business you understand

Nothing takes longer and costs more than a business you have no experience in or understand. I cannot begin to count how much money I wasted paying ‘experts’ to make me furnaces that did not even work or molds that were defective.

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Don’t even get me started on how much time I wasted back and forth with excuses from the said experts as to why work was not getting delivered on time.

Although I eventually pulled the business model off and actually started to make revenue, I think it gets any entrepreneur more mileage, success, and fun doing something they actually know and understand.

5. Get a mentor or two

I have been lucky to have mentors throughout my entrepreneurship journey. They have not only offered me invaluable entrepreneurship advice but have also opened up their networks and shared their skills. They keep me accountable and on my toes every time I slack.

6. Keep your business simple

Always keep your core business simple. Simple to implement. Simple to understand. Simple to pitch. Simple to share. Simple to scale.

Innovation does not always equate complexity and just because your concept is complex does not mean it will be profitable.

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7. Do not stop learning

The best investment you can make is an investment in yourself as an individual. Of course, we have heard success stories of people who have made lots of money with no education.

But education and business success are not mutually exclusive. As long as you have the opportunity, learn as much as you can. Do that online course. Take part in that workshop. Do that masters. Do that professional course.

Granted, you may not need the degrees and certifications in the short run, but they will come in handy later and add to your credibility.

Just because your business concept is complex does not mean it will be profitable - @Kazville Click To Tweet

8. Beware of the busy bee syndrome

Many times entrepreneurs get busy with everything. Busy driving to meetings to discuss new ideas or running up and down to make meetings that add no value to their business. They are always busy trying one idea after another day after day and applying to every startup competition.

Busy busy busy busy.

Busy does not always equal efficiency and entrepreneurs need to treat their time like they treat their money.

9. Grow some thick skin

If anyone had told me entrepreneurship would make me lose sleep in the middle of every night for a week straight, I would probably not have started.

I have wanted to give up an average of twice a day over the last one year alone. As an entrepreneur, something will hit you so hard you will want to close shop and with your tail between your legs, go ask for your job back.

You will hear terrible things about yourself and about your product and get aggressive competition. Your workers will go on strike, and your most trusted ones will leave. Trust me, you will want to give up.

But every day you don’t, your skin grows thicker and you go harder. Eventually, it gets easier.

10. Do not be a parasite

Over time, I have learned that as an entrepreneur, you are as good as your network. But sometimes we forget and become the parasitic types of entrepreneurs.

Always calling people only when we need favors. Keeping people’s phone numbers only to tap into who they can introduce us to. If you want to build a strong network, add value to it. Call your advisor just to take them to lunch to talk about anything but your business. Buy a present for your neighbor’s dog.

Offer to connect other people in your network to each other. Encourage someone to apply for that opportunity. Buy another entrepreneur’s product.

Whatever you do, always add value to the people in your network instead of only being on the receiving end.

This article was written by Brenda Katwesigye


Brenda Katwesigye is the founder and CEO of Wazi Vision Limited a company incorporated in Uganda that builds eyewear and construction material from recycled plastic.

She is passionate about creating sustainable and affordable solutions for critical health care and housing challenges.

Brenda is an Alumni of Vodafone’s FLANE program, a 2018 Westerwelle Foundation fellow, a 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow and has served on the Regional Advisory Board of the Young African Leader’s Initiative (YALI) and the Board of the STARTS Prize of the Ars Electronica.

Fatou Wurie: Using innovation as a tool to deal with Psycho-social development

Fatou Wurie is the founder of (SDP). She is also an AWDF 2015 African Women Writers Workshop for Social Change participant, an Imperial NEXTe Award Recipient for ‘Young Professional of the year 2015’ and Illumessence Women’s National Award Honoree 2016.

Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Forbes, MamaYe Campaign, UNICEF Innovations Blog, Amnesty International Digital Blog, The Journalist, and others. She is a passion-driven social activist, public speaker, and storyteller.

Fatou is committed to project design that employs creativity and advocacy for policy impact which is influenced by her background in strategic communications for development.


 During the Ebola crisis, I started an NGO that focused on looking at centralizing psycho-social health - @thefatoublog Click To Tweet

Tell us more about yourself

I’m from Sierra Leone. I have been working on different projects in general health, women’s health, and women activism.

During the Ebola crisis, I started an NGO that focused on looking at centralizing psycho-social health, women’s health, mental health as an intricate part of public health. We keep talking about service delivery and about fixing social institutions such as health care, but we don’t look at the fact that the country is in a constant state of crisis, and trauma.

We need to create safe spaces where people can access mental health services to be able to ensure that we can increase the efficacy of service delivery. So, I did.

I look at innovation and use it as a tool to deal with issues in health, education, and in gender issues through artistic means. So, I look at how we use tools to power our lives, especially African women’s lives and I try to broaden how we conceptualize and think about innovation.

I guess I am not a business women in the traditional sense of the term.

What inspired you to start the Survivor Dream project?

SDB was born out of complete frustration. I worked in the development space for about five years, mainly in the sector of regional health and reproductive health.

At that time, I was working as the gender and communication advisor for UNMEER. It was a very difficult time in Sierra Leone and I was frustrated with the development space. During the Ebola crisis and we were so overwhelmed that we were only focusing on breaking the transmission of the disease and getting more people to survive.

We really didn’t focus as much on what happened to them after they had survived. We would give them fifty dollars, a mattress, and a certificate saying: “you are a survivor”, meaning that people would now be able to interact with them.

I was interested in what happened after people had survived. We started the survivor dream project because we saw two gaps.

First, we saw that, due to their role as caregiver, women were disproportionately affected by the crisis and disproportionately unsupported when they survived the disease, so we wanted to focus women and young.

The second gap we identified was that apart from the people at the front line of the response, there wasn’t an actual national space for psycho-social support. People were surviving but they had no way to process what had happened to them. They had no means of dealing with internal trauma, PTSD, and anxiety.

That’s how the project was born. I do not come from that background, I just saw a need and I was frustrated. I talked about it with a friend and two weeks later we had found a space.

At the time, survivor conferences were held where they would provide food, give great speeches, do some artwork, and they would call it a day, which I thought was ridiculous. So, we just took twenty women we saw that was continuously going to the survivor conferences, and through a friend of mine, we gathered them and started working with them.

What we initially offered that was revolutionary was space for women, who had lost everything, to come to cry to think, and to deal with trauma. A space that has the tools to manage their PTSD, their anxiety, and their depression. A space where we could bring in professionals to facilitate workshops and to link them with the resources available at the time.

We tried to figure out the women and understand their issues. Their wants, their needs, and their demands are dictating what we offer while remaining as ethical as possible.

These are people minds, spirits, and hearts we are dealing with. We are not dealing with building hospitals. We are dealing with people’s core so we must be careful about how we went about creating and maintaining that space.

 

This period must have been very hard emotionally and physically. How did you survive it?

I always feel that during these types of conversations I have to take a step back and check myself. Many people were playing their part and we were all so depressed.

Unless you were in Sierra Leone, you wouldn’t understand. The entire country was in a state of shock. It was such a dark part of our reality, of our history. We had just come out of a cholera outbreak and a war. There were so many series of shocks that had daunted our community. And then the Ebola crisis came.

People at first were not believing it, until their aunts, their cousins, and doctors started dying. And we were wondering how we could this. How do you tell someone who lives in a small room with ten other people not to touch them?

How do you tell a woman whose mother is sick not to touch her? That is her mother, that is her husband, that is her daughter. You have to understand that this is a poverty-driven disease and it is poor people that are dying.

For me, it was a duty. I wasn’t there during the war, I am very privileged, so I live in a very different kind of Sierra Leone. There is no way I cannot give back to the community.

I am also a survivor of a different kind of trauma, so I understand what it means to be labeled a survivor, and to erase that label. In fact, I was very lucky and privileged to have the resources to deal with my own trauma. This is why I wanted to help my other Sierra Leon women with the resources to deal with theirs.

We, as an NGO, have a huge mission in terms of what we want to do. Our messaging and our programs have evolved over time and I think that moving forward we will be focusing on social innovation. We need to be able to look at mental wellbeing as a critical component of understanding public health in general, and understanding how to build resilient communities. Just because someone is doing well doesn’t mean they are resilient.

Those are the many reasons that influenced how I kept on powering through even when the women didn’t trust that I was doing this because I cared. They thought I was making money out of them.

 

Having come this far, what hopes do you have for the future?

If you look at the Survivor Dream Project and where it has brought me, it really is around innovating and finding a new and fresh way of looking at development, of empowering, and of creating resilient communities. It is a form of innovation.

We are trying to re-create a space that can function differently. You know, the old ways of doing things don’t work. We are therefore constantly having to find new ways to do the same things.

I want more West African women to talk about mental health, PTSD, anxiety, depression, trauma... - @thefatoublog Click To Tweet

In the future, we need to begin talking about how people function, their mental health, and their mental wellbeing. It is a conversation I want to pick up in West Africa, especially in Sierra Leone which has been in a constant state of trauma.

I also want to be able to link mental health and mental wellbeing as tools to reimagine how we do development and how we impact the lives of young women, girls, and maybe in the long-term boys as well.

The future is very much about positioning myself within a policy activism and mobilisation space where I can take this conversation to the next level, so that communities can freely talk about the vitality of their mental state and policymaker take it into account when they are building and designing service delivery, health care systems, and business enterprise initiatives.

I want more and more West Africans to talk about mental health, PTSD, anxiety, depression, the trauma they’ve experienced—especially women.

I see the trajectory of my future really going around wellness, health, and policy advocacy. But truly it comes down to enriching the lives of women and girls.

We want to continue to create safe spaces. We want to continue to build educational and business capacity for women who are survivors of all kind of trauma. And, we want to continue their stories not only with the tools for healing but also with the tools for advocating for what we believe is important—which comes back to mental wellbeing.

 

What advice would you have liked to receive when you were starting?

I actually received it and I didn’t listen to it, and now I wish I had listened.

Someone once told me that it was okay to not have it all figured out. It is okay to slowly build your project. Whatever you dreamed of and have a vision for, you should realize that sometimes it is going to take a long time to manage.

You must look at, hold, and nurture every block before you lay it. It might take two years or twenty years. It doesn’t matter how long it takes as long as you are working towards it.

Even though we’ve been open for three years we have been operational for one and a half year out the three, and that’s okay.

For the longest time, I thought I was a failure, but I am not. Because it is something I am passionate about, it is about the work and the community, I can’t set a deadline on it.

It is okay to take your time to build your vision and to design the change you want to see. You must be patient and kind with yourself in that process.


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AFFORDABLE FASHION STYLE FOR ENTREPRENEURS

Because budding entrepreneurs have to take on many roles while building their companies on a shoestring budget. They sometimes end up with little or no time (and a limited budget) to attend to their style/fashion needs.

Appearance makes a good part of business especially when you are still climbing up the ropes and trying to spread your tentacles in the business world. It is however important for an entrepreneur to consider the industry in which you operate while putting your wardrobe together.

It is best to keep in mind that what works for a tech entrepreneur who is constantly in meetings with investors might not necessarily work for a creative entrepreneur who attends more of networking events.

Overall, the aim is to find a fashion style that’s affordable and gives a good impression of you as an entrepreneur especially when it matters the most. As a budding entrepreneur, you need to be able to slay on a budget.

Dressing for business is also dressing for success. Every entrepreneur must take note of this. Read more - Click To Tweet

Here are 2 factors for putting together a wardrobe that works and suits your budget.

1. DEFINE YOUR STYLE

 

COMFORT: Always have it in mind that whatever your style is, it’s important to be comfortable in clothes. Clothes that are not comfortable can affect your mood, esteem as well as your general wellbeing. Ensure that whatever style you choose keeps you comfortable.

CONFIDENCE: Even after dressing up in clothes, you must exude a level of confidence that helps you stand out in a crowd; So as you build your fashion style, remember to always step out with confidence and charisma.

COLORS: Determine the colors that best suit your skin tone. After this, you can go further to determine which of these colors are most appropriate for formal than casual outfits. Overall, the goal is to understand how to coordinate outfits color wise so you always step out looking well put together.

PHYSIQUE: Once you understand your physique, you can easily go for clothes that are the perfect fit for your body structure; clothes that flatter your good features and minimize the appearance of your “flaws”.

ACCESSORIZE: Accessories can easily be used to give outfits an edge, depending on the occasion. Having accessories (like brooches, cuff links, belts, glasses, scarves, earrings) as part of your wardrobe can help you create different looks even without owning so many clothes.

 

2. FASHION STAPLES EVERY ENTREPRENEUR SHOULD OWN

 

  • A well-tailored blazer (preferably black) – This can easily be put together nicely to achieve different formal and business casual looks.

 

  • Jeans (dark rinse /black) – Ladies, you can pair this with heels and blazers to attend networking events; men can also pair with sneakers and blazers for the same purpose.

 

  • Functional footwear – Neutral colored pumps should easily do the trick as they are comfortable, blend with other colors and are suitable for formal and business casual looks.

 

  • Handbag or briefcase – A basic handbag/briefcase should do, it does not necessarily have to be expensive but should be in very good condition (not worn out).

 

  • Dresses/pencil skirt – dresses and pencil skirts are very versatile and can be styled differently (with or without accessories) to get a variety of business looks. Ensure the fit is right and the length not too short

 

Most importantly, choose quality over quantity when shopping for a business wardrobe; endeavor to buy the best quality you can afford.

Handle your formal and business casual clothes with care especially when washing so you don’t have to replace them so often. Avoid clothes that are distracting and too revealing.

Remember dressing for business is also dressing for success…. Slay on!!!

Intercultural collaboration: The secret to unlocking innovation and growth

Understand everyone’s goals and work together to achieve them Click To Tweet

According to the Harvard Business Review, “diversity unlocks innovation and drives market growth. ”  Because of technology allows us to communicate instantly, everyone can access diversity.

The world is becoming a global village, largely because we no longer need to spend hours, weeks, months or more transmitting messages. We can access information and people within seconds, allowing us to build companies, teams, and relationships with those that used to be unreachable.  This phenomenon is a game changer for social entrepreneurs and professionals.

If one does not consider the interconnectivity of the world and the need for diverse teams, one will fall behind and miss economic and social opportunities.  

For those who recognize this and seek to diversify partners and scale global businesses, it is crucial that we understand our ingrained mindsets surrounding our work habits, our communications skills and our overall view of success that come from the environment we grew up in.

Often, we do not even realize that we are behaving in a way that hinders our success, even when we have the best intentions.

I have done a lot of work promoting mutually beneficial relationships between Africans and Americans. During this time, I saw some of the major challenges that crop up in our intercultural relations stem from different communications habits.

For example, certain cultures rely heavily on writing, whereas others communicate verbally. The frequency of communication can also be affected by the environment, tone, vocabulary or communication methods used.

In certain contexts, different methods of communication are preferred- in an American office, email is the go-to, even when you could walk down the hall and ask a question in person.

However, in the offices I worked at in Senegal, if I needed anything, I took a walk to my colleague’s desk, chatted about family, the weather, the latest wrestling match, and only then asked about my work needs.  

In order to succeed in our globalizing world, the most important thing to do is increase your cultural knowledge of your collaborators. Certain aspects are relatively easy to learn- norms surrounding work attire, greetings in the local language, gestures/body language, or religious belief, for example.

Others take more time to truly understand intricacies such as social classes/ethnicities, relationship with authority figures, gender/family roles, work ethic and office behavior.  

Before my trip to Ghana last August, I made sure to do some basic research on culture, customs, and linguistics, but also knew I needed to continue to ask questions and joke respectfully with people during my stay to be better prepared to collaborate professionally and personally with Ghanaians.

Increasing cultural knowledge and working on intercultural awareness are actions to take to ensure you are building the most successful, inclusive, financially solid and sustainable programs with the top talent the world can offer.   

 

Furthermore, it is crucial to establish trust in any relationship.   A trust model dedicated to intercultural teams is based on ten dimensions; competence,  compatibility, goodwill, integrity, predictability, well-being, inclusion, openness with information, accessibility, and reciprocity.

Entrepreneurs will see true disruptive innovation by creating inclusive teams Click To Tweet

There are many ways to build this trust, paying special attention to which methods to employ given the nature of the team, be it in person, remote or a hybrid.

As I build Baobab Consulting, where most of our relationships are virtual, I mostly use WhatsApp, social media, Google Drive and email to share information and create team culture, but I take every opportunity to meet face to face to establish that physical connection, which in many cultures, plays a crucial role.

Even with cultural awareness and trust, there still may be some lingering stereotypes or assumptions we carry that we are unaware of. Let us not presume that two North Americans or two Africans on a team understand each other.

A woman from Senegal will have a completely different vantage point than a man from Zimbabwe, just as a woman from New York City’s will be different from a male colleague from Montreal. Even if there are some similarities between them that may help them bond faster, it is still necessary to follow the same procedures of intercultural awareness.

At the end of the day, no matter where you fall on the intercultural awareness spectrum, how many languages you speak, or how many cultural events you have been to, you must remember that personality can also play a role.

Sometimes, we work better with certain personality types and struggle with others, so this should not be discounted as you work together and build team dynamics. Take a free version of the Myers Briggs test to learn more about your personality and that of your teammates.

By creating inclusive teams and encouraging them to fearlessly and meaningfully contribute, entrepreneurs will see true disruptive innovation. To do that, we must make sure the right steps are taken to ensure that everyone feels taken care of, considered, understood and respected.

There will always be some level of tension and even conflict when we work together, but if we assume all parties have good intentions,  these snafus can be overlooked. Always remember the true mission of what you are doing. Understand everyone’s goals and work together to achieve them.


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Scale your Business in 2018 with Midridge

Midridge offers bespoke solutions to small and medium scale businesses who are looking to master their financials, make quantum leaps in their business and need to make pivotal and strategic decisions, driven by financial indices.

They are positioned to help businesses maximize their economic potentials, and deliver enhanced, long-term value to their stakeholders. 

The financial advisory offerings help business owners to find a solution to business finance problems, create the desired business transformation that helps them scale in profitability and operate more effectively.

Finance expert, business strategist, freelance writer and managing consultant of Midridge International – Abiola Adediran, shares some insights and tips on how to scale your business in a new business year.


 

Deep down, you have a bigger vision for your business and yourself, as an entrepreneur and woman of impact. Your smart, bold choices and hard work have paid off with the business of your dreams.

But when you get a moment to reconnect with your big vision, you see the potential for your profits and impact to be so much more. You were meant to lead. But the realities of running a business, and juggling the offline demands of life have kept you at status quo for far too long.

Behind the scenes, there are essential shifts that must happen in order for you to grow., and your calendar and time management systems need a serious reboot.

You might want to leverage a team, but you’re spinning your wheels when it comes to hiring, delegating, and leading others well. Other people manage your money, but your black-and-white financial picture is a blur, and those “tape-and-glue” systems you set up on a whim are now costing you time and money.

If you’re honest with yourself, you haven’t fully stepped into the driver’s seat in critical areas of your business.

As women, we have enough on our plate. Stepping into the “driver’s seat” sounds like more work and even less “me” time.

In my experience working with women entrepreneurs, I have come to realize that what stops women from being true leaders is not a lack of drive or determination to step into that higher role. Instead, it’s letting the same old systems and routines run you and your business–which keeps you satisfactorily underperforming, year after year.

It’s no wonder so many women entrepreneurs shy away from taking on the title of CEO!

But until you say YES to working in your genius as the visionary leader of your business, you will remain stuck in the status quo.

You have to make a very conscious decision: Either let the business run you around in circles and into the ground, or, take ownership, and really adopt the mindset of a leader.

You need to truly step into the driver’s seat of your business, you MUST

  • Let go of the same old systems and routine that are not working for your business.
  • Get aligned with your vision as a leader, entrepreneur, and woman of impact.
  • Get strategic and open yourself up to the big 360° view of your business.

All successful women at the top of their game today know that THIS is their ticket to freedom.

As you map out and implement your strategy for the year, you will need tactical inputs to help you stay grounded and connected to important challenges and considerations, uncover profit gaps in your business and proven tactics and processes to help close those gaps, work smarter and double your productivity, to think strategically and stay focused on the big picture.

As a CEO, it is important that you identify the main business drivers to pay attention to, in order to increase cash flow.

What’s really happening in all areas of your sales cycle—are you maximizing cash flow or are there bottlenecks?

How do you weigh out your current opportunities and determine which ones align well with your long-term strategy, and which ones are better left alone?

Your commitment to scaling your business in 2018 and stepping into a higher level of profitability and business success requires that you do a business diagnosis, evaluate your strategy, understand your financials, maximize your profits and identify means of creating consistent cash flows in your business.


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How to build a Strong Foundation for your Business

You have made up your mind that your business is kicking off or you have been in business but you know there are a few things you need to put in place so your business can be well positioned for success now and in the long term.

Here are a few tips on how you can build that foundation that will produce the desired result of a flourishing business enterprise.

 

INVEST IN YOUR PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT AND GET MORE EDUCATION

Your business is an extension of you, how far you go, and how well you do is dependent on what you’ve got inside of you.

To be successful, you have to constantly commit to more learning in your area of business and in your own education. You must know that there is no end to learning and knowledge or you might wake up one day and find out that the rest of the world has left you behind.

To compete effectively in the world of business, you have to keep tab with ongoing developments and strategies in the marketplace and anyone who doesn’t have the knack for learning will be unable to succeed or stand out.

 

KNOW WHEN YOU NEED TO HIRE EXPERTS

At first, when you start out, you might need to do everything by yourself. From setting up shop to marketing, keeping the books, taking inventory, hiring staff etc.

But as the business begins to grow do not be tempted not to hire the experts that will make the whole process more effective thus enabling the business to succeed even more.

TREAT YOUR EMPLOYEES WITH RESPECT TO REDUCE HIGH TURNOVER OF STAFF

Small businesses always have a high turnover of staff because employees never enter into the company with long-term career goals in mind partly due to the fact that the remuneration might just be something to get by, or their employers just uses them to get the job done without factoring into the whole process their needs and long-term goals.

Some employers even overwork their employees and sometimes do not pay them for months!

If this describes how your business operates, there is every likelihood that your business will not run effectively and will not thrive in the long run because you will continually lose the best hands.

 

ALWAYS SEPARATE PERSONAL FUNDS FROM BUSINESS FUNDS

A healthy separation of personal funds from business funds will indicate that you run your business in a professional manner and thus translate into the credibility of your business in the eyes of your customers.

In addition, if it becomes necessary for you to obtain a loan from the bank, it will be easy for you to succeed with separated accounts than when they are mixed up.

 

HAVE A GOOD CREDIT POLICY

It is very important that you set your credit policy upfront before selling to a buyer who wants credit.

Many businesses sell on credit to generate more sales and to have more customers but there are associated risks. If for any reason the buyer is unable to pay you, you stand to lose both your capital and profit.

In the case where most of your customers are credit buyers, how will you be able to restock when customers with cash are at your doorstep? So be wise by setting up a good credit policy.

 

NETWORK

Relationships are key to any human endeavor. Your business will not run in a vacuum, you need people to make it a success.

Thus it makes reasonable sense for you to initiate, build, and keep relationships with people who will enable you and your business succeed.


Got a business advice for us? Share your advice with us here.

Traits to Consider Before Settling on a Business Partner for your startup

You have been working for five years, in this time you have set out a plan to help you become a Motherland Mogul. The plan is getting into the business. You have gone as far as saving up for a couple of years to finance your to be start-up.

Recently, you have been toying around with various business ideas, the idea that encompasses both your passion and need to make some extra cash on the side wins.

You have looked at the various ways you can implement this business idea and realised you need a partner to do so. This could be because you are a good accountant but for the business to be a success you need a partner who will be the face of the business.

Or you are the sassy lady who is good at communication and drawing in the customers, and a manager is needed to make sure all that money you are raking in is properly managed. So currently the idea and the money are in place the only thing that remains undone is getting a business partner on board.

What are the things that you should consider to ensure you end up with the right person as a partner in your business?

Sharing the Vision of the business.

At the beginning, the business is usually just an idea. If implemented correctly, it could impact your lives and those of your clients tremendously in a positive way.

The person or people you choose to work with as partners in the business must own the vision of the business as much as you do. If your partner does not agree with you on the levels to which you want to take the business. They will always have negative vibes on the job that will result in your business losing money.

A partner is part of management, and if they are pessimistic with regards to the business, the employees will notice and get demoralised. The vision is the business. It’s what positions you strategically against competitors.

It is thus a prerequisite that before you decide to partner with someone on a business, be in sync on where you see the business going to in three months’ time or in five years’ time.

Honesty and Transparency

Honesty is a virtue that is a must-have in business. Individuals who are shrewd and unscrupulous ruin your business. You could have been saving for a really long time to start off this business or you got a loan from your bank to get it running.

Therefore, you cannot afford to lose the money or destroy your business name. It is therefore necessary to vet the person you intend to partner with. Inquire into the person’s character from others who have worked with them prior to you considering to partner with them.

If the feedback is positive you have a partner. If not, find your business train another station to disembark, as this one is a definite NO!

Hard work and Resilience

Start-ups are a mountain to climb on their own. The faint-hearted cannot survive this climb. Setting up a business from scratch is not a walk in the park. A partner will share in the business profits. This means they have to put in the work and the time needed to get the business to the top in your chosen field.

There are qualities that you will compensate for each other but working hard and smart is not one of them. One could be unquestionably talented but if they never take time to create and get their skills or work to the market no one will ever know of their talent.

Moreover, if you partner with a lazy person you will shoulder the whole burden of the business which beats the logic of having a partner in the first place.

Resilience is also key in your partner. Quitters run at the first sight of trouble. With new businesses, you will meet challenges that you never anticipated at the start of your journey. This will not mean that you quit.

Overcoming this challenges is exactly what you will need to do to solidify your position in the market.

Jacqueline Nwobu: I Am Proud Of The Changes We Have Sparked In The Wedding Industry

Jacqueline Nwobu is the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Munaluchi Bride Magazine, the leading and nationally distributed wedding magazine and online wedding marketplace; which caters to multicultural couples and serves the $200 billion wedding and events industry.

Since the launch of Munaluchi in 2010, Jacqueline has grown the brand into an industry leader with a robust multi-cultural marketplace and social media influence of over 600,000 followers worldwide.

With a strong and focused vision to champion diversity, Jacqueline has successfully disrupted the industry to influence positive change and inclusiveness. Her TEDx talk on “Reshaping an Industry, One Like at a Time” has received rave reviews.

Jacqueline obtained her B.S. degree in Medical Technology and has worked for major pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies, including Johnson and Johnson. The rapid success of her magazine has landed her interviews on NBC, ABC and WPIX NY.

Jacqueline resides in New Jersey with her husband and three children.

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Why choose to start a bridal magazine publication?

I initially started out as a photographer shooting alongside my husband. In the first year that we began shooting weddings, we noticed a void in the wedding industry. Weddings, like the ones I was attending and shooting, were not being featured in mainstream magazines or blogs.

From that point, it became my mission to launch the first nationally distributed wedding magazine, catering to women of color, and that was how Munaluchi Bride Magazine was born.  I did a TEDxtalk in 2013 describing in more detail how we got started.

Did you acquire any training to help run your business?

My background is in Science, specifically Medical Technology.  I worked as a QA Scientist at Johnson and Johnson, and then a Technical Specialist for a major Diagnostics Company, so publishing a magazine was not something I studied or had any training in.

In fact, it took me 6 months to tell my proud Naija parents that I had quit my very well paying job, to launch a bridal magazine while we were in the middle of a recession in the United States.

When my husband and I decided to launch the magazine, I taught myself InDesign and Photoshop via the awesome website Lynda.com.  I used my newly acquired InDesign and Photoshop skills to layout the magazine and build our first website.

Everything I learned in business was truly through trial and error – and a heavy dose of faith!  Truthfully, Google was my BFF. There is nothing you can’t learn online. You just have to put in the work and be committed to it.

 

Were there times you doubted your business decision? How did you snap out of it?

Of course! Leaving a great career in the middle of a recession (with two children under the age of two, and pregnant with my 3rd) to launch a bridal magazine, when print was being considered “dead”, was not a seemingly logical decision.

So there were times when I would wonder if my decision was the right one. Those thoughts, nevertheless, were very short lived because I had an extremely strong belief that what I was doing was necessary and important.

I knew that it was going to be hard work, because nothing good comes easy.  But I was faithful to God that this idea and blessing wasn’t given to Chike and I haphazardly.

Moreover, it was given to us because He knew we could handle it.  At the end of the day, there was no opportunity for failure, because every action deemed as a “failure” by many, was instead an educational component for us. It was an opportunity to learn from our mistakes and grow a stronger brand.

 

Your co-founder is your husband; can you share three (3) points to note before starting a business with your spouse?

 

1. Ensure that the marriage is on a solid foundation

The last thing you want to do is get started in business, without understanding the sacrifice that a solid marriage takes. If your marriage is suffering, a new business will not necessarily bring you together.  On the other hand, a new business can cause strain in your marriage if you aren’t discussing openly the number one thing that causes the strain, money.  Have the “money talk” regularly and openly with your spouse.

 

2. Understand your strengths

If you want to succeed as a team, you’ll need to recognize what your strong points are, and those of your spouse. Make sure your roles are defined and you both have an understanding of who’s responsible for what.

You both will be wearing many hats when starting out, so you’ll need to know what those hats are,  to avoid conflicts along the way. I’m involved in the Editorial, Marketing, Content creation and visualization; while Chike focuses on Partnerships, Advertising and large-scale growth. It works out beautifully because we aren’t blocking each other’s lanes.

 

3. Have respect for your spouse and a little time for fun

When you run a business with your spouse, you never stop working. It goes from the office, back to your home and the business becomes front and center.  Remember to respect one another at work and try to keep your personal life at home.

Take some time out bonding time. This is where you do something that doesn’t involve the business, or where work isn’t allowed. For Chike and I, we love to stay home and watch movies. It’s simple, but it works for us and gets us away from talking about work, even if it’s only for a few hours.

 

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What has been your proudest moment so far?

Wow. I can’t say there is a “proudest moment” because I am genuinely proud of what Chike and I have built.  Every.single.day!

I am proud of how far we have come. I am proud of the changes we have sparked in the wedding industry, totally transforming the way multicultural weddings are viewed and admired.

I am proud of the team we have in place, that help propel the brand to greater heights.

What do you love most about weddings?

I love the ceremonies; the walks down the aisle, the vows, the facial expressions, the tears, and the joy; all of it.

 

Do you see yourself ever returning to the field of medical science? 

I miss and still love Science, but I most likely wouldn’t return. Things have changed so much since I was in the field of Medical Technology.  It’s great to have it as a backup plan, but we won’t need that because answer #3.

 

What is the first luxury item you would buy if you got a million dollars now?

This is a hard one! I live a very simple life.  Can I pick a luxury service instead? If someone was to give me a million dollars right now, I would put it back into my business.

But, in the spirit of this question, I would use it on a new house for my parents- fully equipped with rooms for each of their grandchildren, extra rooms for future grandchildren, a basketball court, a grand dining room (cause my mom loves to cook and entertain and we love her okro soup!).

Creating family memories is so important to me. After all is said and done, family will always be there for you, so it’s important to enjoy your family as much as you can.


Do you have a career or business in the wedding industry?

Let us know more about you and your story  here.

 

How to build a team for your business

build a team

A lot of things compete for an entrepreneur’s time, especially during the early stage of business. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you have an ‘A- team’ working in your business. As such, as an entrepreneur knowing how to build a team for your business is of the utmost importance.

Building a business with the wrong set of people can cause major setbacks for the business. You need to ensure that you select members of your team carefully; be thorough with the hiring process.

Here are tips to guide entrepreneurs through the process of how to build a team for your business.

build-a-team

Have a strategic vision for your business

Have clear objectives on why you need a team and what you expect from each member of the team. This gives you a clear idea of what to look out for when building a team.

 

Startups are hardly ever the first choice for job applicants

The pay and job security in startups is low compared to corporate institutions, this further narrows down the talent pool available for small businesses to hire from. Locate communities (online and offline) where potential members of your team hang out; social media, networking events or your personal network. This can help you easily find people with a passion for what you do, such people can be easily trained to get the job done.

 

Clearly communicate your vision to team members

Get them to buy into it. This draws commitment and builds passion in them to drive the vision.

 

The aim should always be to build a single unit

Each individual on the team should be dedicated to not only accomplishing their own tasks but that of their team mates. Team members should be able to wear multiple hats and adapt to the ever dynamic nature of startups. Introduce them to online tools for better organization and efficient communication internally and externally.

 

Team members should go beyond people on your payroll

Build your team to include people that provide you with support – advisory, investment, emotional (family and friends), vendors and a customer network.

 

Put together trainings and team bonding sessions

Create a work environment that rewards creativity and nurtures resourcefulness.

 

Do a thorough background check

On social media as well as google. This gives you an insight on what kind of team player they will be. It lets you in on what their views on life might be, as well as their character and moral conduct. Take this seriously as character/attitude is an important factor to consider when hiring as a startup.

 

Show optimism

The kind of positive energy members of your team can draw from.

 

Be an exemplary leader

In character and excellence.

 

Trust your instincts

If you don’t feel good about hiring a particular person on your team, don’t! If a candidate has all it takes for the role, but you feel off about him or her, let the person go. You always have to be on the same page with members of your team.

 


Do you have any tips on how to build an A- Team?

Let us know here.