By Michelby Coco Whitehead

January is all about new beginnings and executing ideas. For many women, that means finally saying bye-bye to the 9 to 5 and starting their own business. The National Women’s Business Council reports that there are over 1,500,000 black-owned female businesses in the United States. While sisters have always been capable of doing it for themselves, every new business owner will discover entrepreneurship is no walk in the park. Here are seven things to consider before you fire your boss!

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1. Only offer what you excel at. 
This sounds like a no-brainer, but it really is something that you must be certain about. For example, potential customers will come to you looking for services that you don’t necessarily offer, but could offer. Let’s say you are a hairstylist that specializes in natural hair, but a client wants you to do a lace front installation. If that’s not your lane, don’t go there. Be confident enough to know that giving a referral will not cause you to lose out on anything.

2. Your ideal client. 
You cannot service everyone who has a need for what you offer. You’re probably thinking ‘Huh? That doesn’t make sense.' However, every bride is not interested in spending $10,000 on wedding decor. Some brides prefer to be frugal, and that’s okay. So, if you want to sell high-end services, target customers with higher earning potential. In turn, this will allow you to market your brand to the right clients for you.

3. Prepare to go virtual. 
The marketplace is so much bigger than your hometown, so brush up on your computer skills! You can reach more potential customers by offering products and services virtually. Many entrepreneurs are also presenting workshops and empowerment conferences online.

4. Pick a payment system. 
In 2018, we do not have time to chase clients down for payments owed! There are many systems and mobile apps for business. Test a few out to see what you’re comfortable using. Dosh, is the latest app and it has incentives for business owners to make money through referrals until January 21, 2018.

5. You don’t need to hire a business coach immediately.
 
Listen, I know social media is flooded with amazing business gurus who have incredible platforms, but take your time when choosing a coach. If you have your eye on a coach, take advantage of his or her Facebook group first. This will allow you to see how knowledgeable and sincere that person is.

6. Network your butt off. 
Your network increases your net worth! Attend events and mixers where you live as well as in cities you want to start building your presence. Opportunities will not fall into your lap on a regular basis; they must be created.

7. Celebrate your accomplishments. 
Celebrating the little victories in your entrepreneur journey will motivate you to stick to what you started, even when business isn’t booming!

Do you have any business tips to share?

A woman of the bayou pimping my pen because I'm scared of a day job. You can find me somewhere telling stories like Nas and Terry McMillan on April Fool's day. Writing is life so follow me on IG @cococurator 
 By Erickka Sy Savané

Call Dionne Phillips many things: Eyelash expert, celebrity eyelash extension guru, entrepreneur, wife, but stingy with her information? Never. Since launching ‘D’Lashes’ her Beverly Hills-based studio in 2005, prior to that she worked at a top Los Angeles salon, and before that, she was servicing African American and Asian clients in New York City, pre-social media, Dionne has firmly established herself as the queen of eyelashes. Shows like The Doctors, Good Morning America and Extra TV all consult with Dionne, and clients as diverse as Naomi Campbell, Victoria Beckham, Mindy Kaling, and even Steven Tyler, clamor to get an appointment, which you wanna make at least 2-3 weeks in advance. Dionne is in business!

The great thing about this former actress and Toledo native is she wants you to be in business too. Sharing what she knows, better yet, the things no one shared with her, is a part of her higher purpose. So if you’re planning on starting your own business, or you’re already a company owner in need of a few tips, pull out your notebooks for 7 Things No One Tells You About Starting Your Own Business from Dionne Phillips!

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  • Ask Yourself, ‘Why Not Me?’ Why not? Why not you? Saying these words will open you up and give you the courage and strength to just do it! And that courage and strength that you build from starting your business will carry over into every other aspect of your life. Asking this also helps when you get discouraged.

  • Know Your Numbers. Know how much everything is going to cost. Know how much your rent, your lamps and tables are going to cost. Don’t just go out buying stuff because you have some money in the bank or you think you have a lot of money. It’s the reason a lot of small businesses don’t get ahead. Big corporations know their numbers; they bring in a CFO (Chief Financial Officer). If you don’t know your numbers you don’t know your business.

  • Watch Marcus Lemonis on CNBC. His show, The Profit, is business 101. It breaks down the key to a successful business into 3 Easy Steps: People, Process and Product. The most important, I believe, is Process. Meaning, if you were to train someone to work for you, what are the 5 steps of running your business? Knowing this is key.

  • Know All The Details of Having a Business. For example, the certificates, licenses, inspections, taxes. A lot of people have gone to jail and prison for taxes, but they have a nice car. Ask someone with the same business as you what you need to know. It’ll keep you from having to pay more money in the long run.

  • Say Thank you. Send a nice thank you card or get some cards made with your business name on them. We’ve lost the fine art of saying thank you by sending text messages and a quick email. That’s okay, but etiquette is still there. I get an abundance of flow simply by saying thank you.

  • Don’t Allow Anyone To Run Your Business. Everyone thinks they need an assistant because they’re so busy. But what happens is if that assistant ends up not being around for a while, say it’s just a summer check for them, they end up running your business into the hole. If you do hire someone, you want them to be smarter than you, but you have to be in the loop with it. Otherwise, you might as well just be an investor.

  • Know Why You’re Doing This. People think that by having their own business they’re going to be able to take off and go on vacation all the time, but you end up working more for yourself than you would for another corporation. Know the why because it’s your higher purpose that keeps you going year three, five, and 10. Telling people the things no one told me is a part of my higher purpose. Working with cancer survivors and seeing how confident they feel when they get up from my chair is a part of my bigger purpose. It’s a reminder that I’m not just working for the money.
To find out more about Dionne and D’Lashes click here!

Are you considering starting a business? If you're a business owner, what tips can you share!
 
Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or ErickkaSySavane.com