Small Business Expo & Workshop — Today!

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It’s a bit of last minute news, but for those of you business owners who have the time this morning, Los Angeles City College is hosting a small business workshop and expo today, along with the Hollywood Business Source.  It’s a free event, so if you have the time, there’s really no excuse, if you have the morning available.  The campus is out for the summer, so no need to concern yourself with unruly students.  And the college provides plenty of parking in their structures.  Event starts at 10:00am.  So, If you’re up, go get at ’em!

The Seven (7) Things Someone Should Have Told Me…

About Starting A Business In My Twenties

When I attempted my first solo venture at 24, I was wide-eyed, hopeful and frustrated.  Yes, all of it.  Don’t ask me how, I just was.  I was frustrated with the economy and job market because no one was hiring inexperience hopefuls, degreed or not, but I was hopeful because the economy was also producing a generation of aspiring entrepreneurs who were tired of waiting for their reject letters or pink slips.  And I figured because I fit into one of those two categories, I could build something for myself from the ground up too.  Ha!  So cute, really I was.   Cute, but more clueless than anything else.  But it took some faltering, failing, starting over, giving up, coming back and failing some more to figure out a reason to the rhyme.

I use to think that it was inexperience that was against me.  What the hell did I know in my 20’s – more importantly, what the hell have I done in my 20’s that worthy of going into business for myself?  I also thought it was lack of formal education.  All I had under my belt was a bachelor’s degree that was nowhere near the realm of business.  Who was going to take someone supposedly in business seriously who never studied business?  It could’ve been I lacked confidence in what I could offer because I was still figuring all that out and testing the waters. Or, maybe I didn’t know enough people or wasn’t putting the word out as often as I should have.  It could have been any one of these things, it could be all of those things, it could be NONE of those things.  Business, whatever the industry, is quite often a hit-and-miss game.  You’re gonna miss more than you hit, but you gotta keep throwing to see whether or not you’re gonna hit.  Very much like a game of darts, I suppose.  Despite all of that, there were some really trivial things I should have known (or wished I was told) before I ever stuck my foot out there.

  1. Be an asset –whenever possible as often as possible.  People remember what you do for them, not what you tell them.  You can yap all day, every day about how you got a business, but if that business isn’t relieving someone’s aches and pains, no one cares.  Be an asset to those who aren’t even a client or you wouldn’t normally take on as a client.  When you start building referrals that build your business.
  2. Don’t do it for free if you’re not going to do it right — Pro Bono is fine and all for the experience, but if you’re going to half-ass it, don’t even bother.  Even free shoddy work speaks poorly (and loudly) of you.  You may need the work or the experience, but not at the expense of your name.
  3. Never diminish your work ethic — It’s tempting to, especially with all the tools and apps available to kind of automate stuff for you.  Uh-uh.  Won’t fly.  Repeat business comes down to how well your business was delivered the first time.  It doesn’t matter if that was your first client or your 15th, the delivery should still be the same.
  4. You cannot rush time — Man, oh, man.  I’m completely guilty of this one.  And this is probably one of the reasons why I failed so many times.  I wasn’t trying to cut corners, I was just trying to push things along a little faster.  I don’t equate anything to luck (I’m more of a “fortunate” kind of person) but timing is a huge factor.  As in, everything needed its time.  Time to build, time to develop, time to promote, time to test, time to grow.  If you don’t give elements in business their respective time, you’re building on shaky ground.  Ask me how I know.
  5. Seek help –On occasion, it may be mental, but on most, it’s actual help.  Find someone you trust (trust being the most important word in that statement) who can help you find the resources you need for whatever.  Whether they’re helping you research funding options, getting you touch with their website developer, or someone who can refer clients to you.  There should be at least one person in your camp.  Seek them out.
  6. Make the investment in yourself – It took me a while to take this piece of truth to heart, because I only heard it, but never fully absorbed it.  When people speak about making the investment in themselves, they mean taking time to become more valuable, more attractive to conduct business with.  For me, I took this as an understanding to go back to school, attend business workshops and gatherings and network with like-minded people.  Sometimes it cost me money, sometimes it didn’t.  But the fact of the matter was, I always walked away from every experience having gained something that later helped me.  A new contact, new information, an untapped resource – something.  But I had to make the investment first.
  7. Your efforts and/or business won’t disrupt any industries – and that’s okay.  In whatever you ARE doing, just make an impact.  Add value.  This goes back to number one in regards to being an asset.  Mark Zuckerberg rocked the social connecting industry, but he also made an impact (initially).  Focus more of being of essence than on being front page news.  All that builds after you’ve done something noteworthy.

These weren’t big lessons, but it would’ve been nice had someone just whispered them in my ear from time to time.  But we learn and acquired everything we need when we need it — I may not have needed to know this then, but I know it now.

February Save The Dates

Check out these February events for those in the Greater Los Angeles area.  No matter what business you’re thinking about going into, or if you’ve already started your own company, there are events here for all levels of business owners and entrepreneurs,

 

  • February 4th – Taking Your Grant Writing Research Skills to The Next Level Event organized by eCivis, Inc. from 9am – 4pm PST.  Event cost is $299 for the early bird fee, $349 for general admission.
  • February 5th FREE Self-Publishing Workshop located at 1246 Glendon Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90024 (Westwood Library Branch) from 6-8pm PST hosted by the Toastmasters District One Speakers Bureau Workshop Committe, for more info, visit http://bit.ly/1fOqo6d
  • February 6thFREE Website Building Tools Class hosted by the Valley Economic Development Center from 6-8pm PST located at 5121 Van Nuys Blvd., 3rd Floor Van Nuys, CA 91403; from more information or to register, email hassali@vedc.org
  • February 6th – 8th – How To Sell To Women FREE Virtual Training Event hosted by Lisa Sasevich; to register http://bit.ly/1eHENio
  • February 7th – Women 2.0 Founder Friday, located at the Regus 3415 South Sepulveda, suite 1100 Los Angeles, CA 90034 from 6:30 to 9pm PST.  General admission starts at $22.09.  Visit http://bit.ly/1er4gjT for more information and to register
  • February 8thFREE Marketing and Promotions Event organized by the Business Entrepreneurship Club.  Event will take place the LA Mission College located at 13356 Elridge Ave, Los Angeles 91342 from 10am – 12pm PST.  Contact Dr. Norris Dorsey at  818.402.5050 and/or register at http://bit.ly/ML8CIQ
  • February 10th  — FREE Start Up Dos & Don’ts/ Business Plan class from 6-8pm PST hosted by the Valley Economic Development Center located at 5121 Van Nuys Blvd., 3rd Floor Van Nuys, CA 91403; from more information or to register, email hassali@vedc.org
  • February 10th – California Small Business Development Center is offering a How to Write a Business Plan Class for $40, hosted by Santa Monica College. Event takes place from 9am to 1pm PST on the campus.  To register, visit http://bit.ly/1fzdI51
  • February 19th – 2014 – 2015 Annual Economic Forecast and Industry Outlook hosted by the LA County Economic Development Corporation from 7 -10:30pm PST at the L.A. Hotel Downtown located at 333 Figueroa St, Los Angeles 90071; general admission is $155 if purchased by Feb. 14th.  Register at http://bit.ly/1acMC3E
  • February 26th – March 1st –  Black Enterpise Women of Power Summit hosted by State Farm held at the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Boca Raton, Florida.  Deadline to register for general admission is February 7th at $1395.  After February 7th, tickets to the event go up to $1695.  For more information visit, http://bit.ly/1ildZsN

(additional events may be added)

 

 

Basket Vendors

Street Side Business 3What you see here are a few women on a side street corner and some bags on the ground.   You would assume there’s nothing of mere importance happening.  Just a few Angelinos going about their day.  Maybe they’re carrying on conversation, maybe they ran into each other and it’s been a while.  Or maybe this was their meet up spot.  But no.  These women may or may not know each — they do seem awfully friendly to be complete strangers, but it’s 8:10 in the morning.  And they haven’t finished going shopping or were merely catching up.  They’ve purposely stopped on this particular corner for a reason.  And no — these are not women of the night who are putting in overtime.  But business is still taking place….

 

 

You’ve seen this around town before.  I know you have.  And I’m sure these “pop-up vendors”, if you will, aren’t only in L.A.  People with their baskets selling hot food and cold drinks to the masses. You may not think 3 or 4 people would be considered the masses, but this is just a snapshot of a minute.  One minute in which a customerStreet Side Business is being served.  Not in a restaurant, not in line of a food truck, and not by a delivery person.  But by someone who knew they could sell their product without a middleman or red tape or limitations.  Let’s not look at this as would you or would you not eat from someone selling food out of a basket.   I’ll be the first one to admit I’m a little cautious about taking food from someone who’s also handling money, but that’s just my thing.  Look at this as GUMPTION.  As INITIATIVE.  As in talking your walk.  Someone thought highly enough of their product to take it to the people without waiting for the right time or having everything they’re “suppose to have” in place. Our opportunities aren’t always going to be perfect.  And the resources will not always be there.  So, what are you going to do when you only a few of the puzzle pieces?  Wait for things to line up and hope for the best?  When you have an idea that you can no longer sit on anymore, what are you going to do about it?  Let it waste away like so many other people do with their ideas or are you going to grab you a basket and do something about it?  Yeah, you can go ahead and criticize these people for all being too alike in what they’re doing, saying they don’t have a permit or license for handling food and transacting business.  But do you really think the give a damn?  They’re working on theirs while you’re thinking about yours…

Opportunities are no good without action.  Better grab a basket and get in motion.

Three-Legged Race

You’re standing at the edge of the make-shift start line.  The sun is beaming down on you, but it isn’t uncomfortably hot.  There’s a nice gust of wind providing a gentle breeze to accompany the sun.  And you’re feeling confident.  You’re ready for this race.  You’re excited, even.  But this isn’t a race for the fastest — to see who makes it to the finish line first.  This is a race of endurance.  A race to see if you last long enough to get to the end.  As you mentally prepare yourself to be the victor of this race, you look around taking one last observation of the environment and the other participants.  You nudge yourself a little more forward extending a few extra millimeters, looking for that competitive edge.  As you ready yourself to lunge ahead at the sound of “GO”, you feel a little tightness around your thigh and knee.  You’ve forgotten your partner.  After all, this is a three-legged race.

And it’s just dawned on you, how you decide to run, walk or generally move, you have to do with the person tied to your side.  Every move you make, that person will make and every move that person makes, you will have to make.  If they fall, you fall.  If you speed up, they’ll have to speed up.  At this moment, the two of you are one.  One unit, one entity, one body.  And although the two of may not share out loud every decision you plan on making during the course of this race, you’ll still have to support each other — where one goes, the other will have to follow.  You’ll each have to watch out for dips in the ground and hidden obstructions, both for yourselves and the other person.

Should one of you find yourself unable to continue — you lack the energy, you lack the will, all of a sudden someone has a pain or one of you just plain gives up, then you both forfeit, even if the other party wants to continue on.  That’s what a partnership is all about.  Mutually moving together as one.  One unit, one entity, one body.

Not everyone is suited for a three-legged race and that’s okay, because not everyone’s suited to race.  The goal is not to get to the end, but get to the goal.  And the next goal, and the next goal after that.  It’s not a race for the fastest, but a race to see who can hold out till the end.

 

January — Save the Dates!

 

Look for more update as January progresses!  It’s a new year, take a leap and do what you need to in order to be and see success.

 

Sometimes Our Efforts Are Small

A woman gets on the bus carrying two reusable cloth bags; one bag is filled with chocolate candy bars, the other is filled with holiday cards.  Once on board, she pays her fare then begins to ask every person riding the bus would they like to purchase a holiday card or a chocolate candy bar for one dollar.  Some people she asks in English, others she asks in Spanish.  But she asks everyone.  Most people decline, but some accept.  Regardless of whether someone bought a candy or card, she says the same thing with a smile on her face “Happy holidays to you.”  She juggles the bags and money between her hands steadying herself as the bus is motion never breaking her smile.  Although the majority of the riders on the bus choose not to buy anything from her, she carried on more conversations than transactions.  People were curious about why she was selling.  Was she selling for her child’s school to raise money?  Was she selling as part of community fundraiser?  No.  Her children were out of school for winter break and she didn’t belong to any community clubs.  She had wanted to earn a little extra money this holiday season to ensure she could afford to buy her kids something nice for Christmas, but didn’t have time for a second job and she had to rely o mass transportation to get around.

She took the bus everyday, worked around people and she could speak English and Spanish.  It may not have seemed like much, but she took what she could do, used skills she already had and employed her environment.

Sometimes our efforts are small because our desires are small.  But small efforts can lead to big impacts we could never imagined.  But we gotta make the effort and put ourselves out there <— insert cliché here, right?  We’re two weeks out from the new year and this is about the time people pretend to get serious about making life changes and commitments.  Just make one in 2014: Make the effort.