Minority Women in Business

Women have historically struggled to have a professional career or own a business. Of all women who want to have a professional career or own a business with professional level income, minority women have had the most challenges. Most of us know some very famous women of minority, such as Oprah Winfrey, Tyra Banks, Jennifer Lopez, or Connie Chung. But there are a growing number of minority women in professional careers, and owning their own successful business.

Richelle Shaw is one of these successful minority women. She was the only African American woman to own a public utility in the nation, and built it up to a multi-million dollar company. Then in the 911 event, her business was destroyed. In less than a year, she built it up to a multi-million dollar company again.

How did she build up her business so successfully? She learned from and avoided the most common mistakes in business. These are:

1) Lack of focus in critical areas (be aware of your business, customers, and time),
2) Taking any and all customers (be decisive and target a market),
3) No documented system for your business (Have a system for recording hourly wages, sales, referrals, and follow ups),
4) Using your website as a big business card (Use your website to generate revenue), and
5) Forgetting to properly thank customers (Show appreciation to your patrons).

These lessons to avoid and other lessons to follow are discussed in her book, “How to Build a Million Dollar Business in Las Vegas, Without the Casinos”

I had the fortune to hear her speak not just once, but twice, and she not only is definitely worth listening to and learning from, she is also a big inspiration to all women who want to be professional or who want to own their own business, minority women or not.

Speak to Be Heard Over the Chatter Is One Goal for Business Women

Public speaking is becoming a very effective marketing strategy especially for business women. Given their ability to build authentic relationships, what better place to start than speaking to a lot of strangers? Yet, the feat of public speaking as well as speaking over all that other chatter continues to be an obstacle for many women in business. Understanding the origin of this fear and how to strengthen your message may help you become a better public speaker.

For years, the common knowledge was the speaking in public was the greatest fear shared by the American public. So if this is true, then where, when and why did this belief of speaking in public originate?

If we look to our earlier educational experiences, we can quickly learn the answer. Did you hesitate in raising your hand to answer a teacher’s question? Did you think more of what others would think of you instead of what you thought about yourself? The desire to be part of the group and wanting to be liked by the group probably started the fear of public speaking.

As we traveled through the educational process, we either learned to speak up and faced the potential of a wrong answer (translated into the group not liking me) or continued to be quiet (know that the group still liked me). Remember, Sally Fields comment about “You really like me” at the Academy Awards?

The fear of public speaking is much more about earlier childhood conditioning than anything else. For we truly want to be liked by others and the F.E.A.R. (false evidence appearing real) guides many of our behaviors.

To eliminate those fears begins by strengthening our own beliefs about who we are. Then putting together a plan of action to reinforce those strengths. This may begin by speaking to local elementary schools talking about what you do. Then working your way up through the other grades and eventually into local organizations such as Rotary or Exchange Clubs.

Using what I call belief statements or what others call positive affirmation statements is one self improvement strategy (planned thought process) and tactic (action). When we continually read the belief that we want to embrace, we can begin to change our habits of thought that actually lead to changes in actions (behaviors).

A belief statement begins with the first person pronoun of “I.” Then uses a present tense verb such as am. Finally, the object of the statement describes the desired result. If the goal is to improve or strengthen public speaking skills, the belief statement may read as follows:

I am a great, captivating, engaging public speaker who leaves the audience learning and laughing.

When this statement is read at least three times each day, morning, afternoon and evening, for 30 days, your results will change. However, given the influence of past conditioning, this belief statement needs to be read for at least 3 to 6 months or until the goal is accomplished.

The second challenge of speaking over all that chatter is much easier. When you speak from the heart and connect your content to personal experiences, your message will quickly rise above others. Remember, that women in business have the advantage of building authentic relationships. When you provide excellent content and make your presentation personal, you will be heard over all that other chatter and successfully begin to build those necessary authentic relationships.

Women in Business Online: 6 Simple Ways to Promote Your Business in 10 Minutes or Less

Time and moneyare two of the most coveted resources we as entrepreneurs posses. When they are limited we need to get creative. Some people call this bootstrapping.

But first, a mindset shift to consider…

You may believe your business success is based on what you do and the difference you make for others. That’s only half true because if nobody knows about you and your brilliance, you can’t make a living doing what you love.

You’ve got to embrace marketing as the driving force of your business. It is the bridge between your gifts and the clients who need you.

Think of it this way…

Effective marketing is like a seed for a fruit tree.Repetition is its water. Weekly consistency is its sunlight. The longer your seed is allowed to grow in the mind of the public, the greater and greater your harvests will be. The important question is what size harvests do you want to see?

Here are 6 surprisingly simple and affordable ways to share your business message in a bigger way…each takes less than 10 minutes. Do one, do them all. The key is to do something EVERY day. No excuses – right!?

1) Use Cinchcast.com to record a 3 to 5 minute tip message and share via social media channels.

2) Forward your Cinchcast.com recording to your VA to be transcribed and posted in print form on your blog and article marketing platforms. Once your content is repurposed in this way it can drive traffic 24/7.

3) Now that you have new content on your blog – use a wordpress plugin like tweetmeme to notify your networks that new content has been posted.

4) Contact your business supporters and ask for their help to share the new content. They could share through social media or post a comment to add to and encourage conversation with your community.

Tip: if you always go out of your way to share their stuff – without being asked – this builds social equity that you can draw upon when your message needs a boost too.

5) Reach out to connect with someone in your social networks at a deeper level. This could be a follow up to a joint venture call or a new connection that you haven’t connected with by phone yet. Contact them and schedule a time to meet by phone. (Do this at least once a week and by the end of the year you’ll have 50+ new connections who can support your success).

6) Now, while you’re on the phone, gather fascinating facts about this person. Who do you know that would be a logical, relevant connection for this person? Make the connection/introduction today. Tell them what you discovered they share in common and the value that you envision they can bring to each other.

Let’s take this up a notch (or ten) with a bonus take action tip:

Create a list of three to five additional 10-minute marketing activities that are fun and motivating to you. Ones you actually enjoy doing. Schedule implementation time in your calendar as a recurring appointment (or delegate immediately). Next, create another list of three to five marketing activities that you recognize are essential but you don’t really enjoy doing them. Delegate these to your assistant as daily or weekly recurring marketing actions.

Get the magic of consistency and repetition working in your favor. You’ll be amazed how this will shift your marketing results quickly.

Create A Marketing Plan for Your Cleaning Business: Public Relations and Business Networking

Cleaning business owners in today’s competitive environment must have a well-rounded and comprehensive marketing plan that consists of a variety of components all working in tandem. No one magic bullet will bring you all the prospective clients you need and some methods work for short term gains, while others are more of a long term strategy.

But here’s the truth: To build and sustain a successful cleaning business for yourself and your family, you’ll need to develop and implement consistently -even when you’re doing well and have all the customers you need. To create a marketing plan for your cleaning business you don’t need to hire a highly priced marketing or advertising company and you certainly don’t want to depend solely on subcontracting as the way to get your clients and prospects.

Here are 2 simple things you can add as parts of a complete marketing plan for your (residential or commercial) cleaning company:

1. Public Relations

  • Radio: Offer to appear on a local business radio show or even host your own. Most communities (with 1M in population or more) offer both of these options and it’s a great way to get exposure and practice in the media field for your cleaning company’s growth.
  • TV: In small and medium sized cities, you simply need to contact your local news station. Try to come up with an idea that is timely or relevant to your local market. For example, I know a book and gift store that sold “God Boxes” (6″ by 5″ wooden containers in which people prayers or things they are “giving over to a Higher Power”). They were featured on Easter Sunday when the local news anchor was looking or a special interest story about this religious holiday. The story featured the local artist creator and the store that carried them so, it gave a nice lift to the business and was of local interest to the community as well.
  • Press Releases: Compile a list of the organizations and media outlets where your ideal customers and prospects “hang out” ( ask your existing clients if you’re not sure). Then issue press releases when your company has an anniversary, hits a milestone (snags a big name account, wins or is nominated for an award, signs your 1000th customer) etc. Also good if you expand into a new area, announce a new service or product line, or host an event.
  • Charity and Philanthropy: Find an organization or cause that’s important to you (whether its supporting veterans, hunger in your community, or fighting cancer) and then see how you can get involved. Even if it’s something as simple as donating vacuum cleaners you have which are no longer working to the local women’s shelter, there’s plenty of room in every community for local cleaning businesses to serve on boards, donate resources or help with fundraising events. It’s a great way to meet the movers and shakers in your community and feed your soul and your business at the same time. Not surprisingly, companies with a charity component actually make more money than their counter parts without one, because customers prefer to spend their money where they can feel good about doing so. This works for cleaning companies too!

2. Business Networking

  • Trade Groups: This is not only where the people in your industry hang out (like ISSA BSCAI or ARCSI in the cleaning industry) but also think about attending, joining or getting involved in the associations where your “ideal clients” hang out. Are they Realtors, bankers, or educators? How about Facility Managers (IFMA) hospital administrators or retail business owners? Almost all of these plus any of the local industries and specialties unique to your geographic area would be a great place for you to meet and connect with these potential prospects. The key to having this type of investment pay off is to get involved in the committees, be consistent in your attendance and look for opportunities to be of service first.
  • Chambers: Most communities – no matter how small – have some sort of Chamber of Commerce, many areas have several within a small geographic area. For example in Las Vegas, we have Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas plus a Women’s Chamber too! For some reason I’ve noticed many cleaning business owners are not participating in this great resource so in most areas you may be to only or one a very small number within your industry to be a member. Use this to your advantage by attending regularly and asking those whom seem to know everyone to introduce you around.
  • Public Speaking: Most communities have groups that assist organizations and speakers find each other. There are also quite a few in internet search engines (just type in “speaker’s bureau”) and they are a great way to have help in locating speaking opportunities for you. If you don’t feel comfortable about public speaking, I highly recommend you look into getting some experience in a speaking club.Toastmasters is the one with the most name recognition and honing this ability into a skill can open lots of doors for you!
  • BNI: This group is one of my favorites, so much so that I gave them their own category! The good thing about this group is that they meet weekly, so you get a chance to really get to know the other members. The bad thing about this group is that they meet weekly, so it can be time consuming. However, if you have (or can develop) 2 or 3 substitutes that you can count on to fill in for you when needed this group will give you one of the best ROIs or any networking group if you utilize their tools consistently and correctly.
  • Affinity Groups: This can be anything from the Masons, Jaycees, or the Rotary Club to your high school or college alma mater and or any fraternal organizations to which you belong. A couple I particularly recommend for Women are: Links, Jack and Jill (if you have children living at home) or the Junior League. There are also organizations for women and minority owned businesses where you can meet potential suppliers, clients, and joint venture partners.

These 2 ideas should be things that you can add to whatever marketing plan you currently have for your cleaning business. If you don’t yet have a comprehensive plan, start with these two things and build from there. I would suggest you spend one month working on each idea and then go on to the next one.

Once you have implemented all the part and are consistently implementing each component you have a steady stream of prospective clients reaching out to you on a regular basis, no more “feast or famine” cycles, just steady income and growth for your cleaning company!