ThatKellieGirl recently attended a taping of WHUT-TV‘s Evening Exchange to feature African-American, women entrepreneurs in their special series, “Ms. Biz”. The event was to promote the Women and Girls Lead Initiative with the goal to focus, educate, and connect citizens worldwide in support of the issues facing women and girls. As I move forward with my own entrepreneurial pursuits, I was very excited to hear about the success stories, lessons learned and how to’s from entrepreneurs in the DC area.
Hosted by veteran news journalist Cassandra Clayton, Evening Exchange interviewed three women entrepreneurs. The first panelist was Katrina Wilkins, Founder/ CEO of The Business Development Strategist Inc. Ms. Wilkins business serves as a conduit to building new relationships and infrastructure, capacity and resource security to small businesses, not-for-profit, local and national agencies.
The second panelist was Juanita “Busy Bee” Britton, Founder of BZB International who has over 20 years in consulting with and providing event planning and communication strategies for a diverse group of clients including governmental, corporate & small business, nonprofit and international sectors.
And finally, Lyndsey McFail, Owner of DJ Lovely Inc., provides DJ services and is still learning how to run a successful business with employees. This was a great panel because each person offered a different, but essential piece of becoming a successful entrepreneur.
DJ Lovely spoke about the importance of “pounding the pavement” or face-to-face interaction to cultivate business. She also encouraged attendees to develop goals per month and quarterly to stay focused.
Ms. Britton emphasized that whatever business you plan to start, it must “come for your belly, it’s natural.” At the age of 15, Ms. Britton’s first business was a lemonade stand that eventually expanded to several corners. She has come a long way since then. She has experience as a consultant, event planner, communication strategist, franchisee as well owner of The Anacostia Art Gallery & Boutique. She also stated that it’s fine to want to make money because it allows you to help yourself and others. And most importantly, know your worth so you know what to charge clients for your services. Ms. Juanita explained you should decide how much you want to make annually, then multiply the annual income by two. From there, you can calculate your hourly rate.
Ms. Wilkins rounded out the group by focusing on operating efficiently. She stated that most businesses are operating without a business plan, and therefore aren’t operating efficiently. A business plan helps with several essential tasks such as examining the feasibility of your business idea, establishing operations, and evaluating the variable factors that affect your business and being prepared to deal with situations that may arise as conditions change. She stated that one of the worst positions is not being prepared to receive the money (or opportunity). Entrepreneurs also must know about available resources such as SCORE and talking to people within your field. She also encouraged everyone to treat people fair. If it’s ONLY about money, then you will lose your principles.
One of the most important messages of the evening came from DJ Lovely when she said “”I am being a first rate version of myself instead of a second rate of someone else.” You don’t have to imitate others. Whatever you do, always make it unique and true to you.
Attendees also had an opportunity to network during the event. I met several women who are passionate about their business. I actually received my invitation from the always uplifting and positive Ramunda Young. She is co-owner with her husband of Mahogany Books, an on-line bookstore that caters to African-American readers.
Next, I met DeAnna DeWitt of Sacred Healing Herbal Body Wrap, which is a holistic treatment that cleanses and detoxifies the body, firms, tones, and conditions your skin while removing undesirable inches. You can learn more about the procedure and the benefits here.
It was truly an honor to be in the company of such positive and energetic women who were empowering themselves. What I found so great was that each woman started (or is starting) their business to serve a need and make a difference. This only confirmed my belief that each person has a passion to pursue.
The Mz. Biz episode will air in March of 2012. Look for ThatKellieGirl in the audience. 🙂