Make no mistakes about it: black women continue to be the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States. And Rosetta Thurman, founder of Happy Black Woman, is equipping many of these women with the mindset, strategies, and tools to ensure that they don’t merely begin businesses, but build businesses that thrive and scale.
During her most recent seminar and networking event in New York City, Black Women of Power, Thurman partnered with some of the most influential black women in the digital space to inspire and inform over 150 black women about the do’s and don’ts of building an online empire.
Online influencers like Kim Coles, Abiola Abrams, Natasha Allrich, Evita Robinson, Ty Alexander, and Oneika Raymond took to the stage to share their most high-level business strategies for aspiring black women entrepreneurs.
Here are ten of them.
Create several streams of income for your business. As an online entrepreneur, it’s vital for you to establish several sources of income for your business to pull in profit no matter the political or financial climate. During the event, Thurman enumerated some of the most lucrative, low cost, and easy-to-implement streams of income that she uses in her multiple six-figure business. In addition to offering services like coaching, consulting, speaking, freelancing, training, black women entrepreneurs can make their millions with live events, by selling online courses, physical products, books and e-books, and through blogging.
Craft your signature story. Actress-turned-online influencer Kim Coles emphasized the importance of having a signature story. A signature story is a key part of an entrepreneur’s marketing arsenal because, “it helps you connect with your audience,” says Coles. When your ideal client connects with you, it’s easier for them to trust you, which will lead them to eventually buy from you. Ensure you’re your signature story inspires and shares a lesson and point of transformation. The best way to achieve this, Coles believes, is to structure every signature story with three parts: a challenge, a choice, and a consequence.
Check the energy you bring to your money and your business. Despite desires of financial freedom and abundance, many black women are walking around burdened with a poverty consciousness. Abiola Abrams, founder The Spiritpreneur School, believes that how we speak about our worthiness around money will inevitably cement how successful our businesses will be. For example, if you joke or entertain conversations about being broke or broken, you’ll create conditions of lack and scarcity in your business in subtle ways: you’ll sabotage business momentum through procrastination, suffer from bouts of self-doubt disguised as perfectionism, back out of appointments and networking invitations, refuse to budget for research and development, or lower your prices and bargain with clients before even being asked to.
Sales is about conversation, not coercion. “Without knowing it, we engage in sales conversations all the time,” Natasha Allrich, owner of Enroll from the Soul, opines. Whether convincing your toddler to eat vegetables or a homebody bestie to ride shotgun cross-country, we are all engaging in conversations that help others see the benefit of taking one action over another. So, at the heart of converting business leads into paying clients is a conversation that helps them see how working with you leads to transformation. Consequently, your role as a saleswoman is to show that your particular services and products offer the best solution to their problems; they will ease or take away the pain afflicting particular aspects of their lives. “And there’s nothing salesy or sleazy in helping others access their best lives,”Allrich adds.
Master Facebook ads. In many cases, black women business owners will be the first investors in their business. Social media has made it possible for small business owners to compete with large corporations like Nike or Adidas. How? Evita Robinson, leader in the black travel movement and founder of Nomadness Travel Tribe, credits investing in Facebook ads for helping her not only increase revenue from her online courses, but also boost traffic to her site.
Authenticity breeds loyalty and handsome profits. As a burgeoning online entrepreneur, it can be tempting to want to copy what others are doing in your field. But don’t. Oneika Raymond, who blogs at Oneika the Traveller grew her online presence and landed ambassador and spokesperson contracts with large brands like Toyota and Coca-Cola because she was herself. More specifically, she makes sure that she doesn’t shy away from speaking her mind. Raymond unapologetically tackles the intersectionality of race, gender, nationality, colorism, and travel on her site. “Your fans will love you because you stay true to yourself and aren’t afraid to voice unpopular or controversial opinions,” Raymond advises.
Own your platform. Ty Alexander, blogger at Gorgeous in Grey, cautions beginning business owners against building their businesses using platforms they don’t own. While Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat are great at building a community, it’s hard to determine if they will be here to stay one, five, or even ten years from now. It’s important then to view these platforms as a means to the end, not the end. In other words, the ultimate use of social media is to help businesswomen market products, share inspiration, and provide information that will lead prospects to their sites to purchase or learn more.
Outsource. outsource. outsource. One of the biggest mistakes beginner business owners make is thinking that they have to do everything alone. Coles and Thurman stress the importance of utilizing low-cost online support to get your brand recognized quickly and consistently. Sites like Fivver and Upwork serve as virtual marketplaces for entrepreneurs to hire all types of help—coding, branding, marketing, virtual assistance. Similarly, you can use a site like Rev to create shareworthy memes or repurpose your content by transcribing YouTube video or Facebook Live streams.
Partner up strategically. Robinson urges black women business owners to reach out and partner with other businesswomen whose demographics overlap. “The worst they can say is no,” she assures. Robinson entered into a partnership with Issa Rae’s production company years before HBO, Insecure, or the Golden Globe nomination. Rae’s recent notoriety had the power to uplevel Nomadness Travel Tribe’s online reach and financial bottom line. Similarly, Alexander created Digital Sorority, a collective of the top influencers, bloggers, editors and online personalities in the US that curate unique engaging experiences for consumers and brands through digital content and integrated marketing strategy.
Speak in specifics and next steps. Big success is a series of small wins. These small wins are won by asking specific questions like, “What do I want to complete over the next 90 days?” “Which platform will I use to promote my business and how often will I do so?”, “Which income stream(s) will I begin with?,” and “How many sales conversations should I commit to for this quarter?” These types of questions will help you create a targeted action plan and guide your daily and monthly moneymaking decisions.
If you’re a black woman aspiring to be an entrepreneur, then you’re in great company and you have generous mentorship right in front of you. Learn from the successes and mistakes of these black women of power so you can make more money in your business this year.