Historically, men have held the power in the business world, but women are changing the game up - especially minority women. Starting your own business and being an entrepreneur is not easy. Most businesses fail within the first few years and some fail within the first few months.
According to a U.S. Census Bureau from 2015, women are starting businesses at one-and-a-half times the national average. More specifically, women are starting nearly 1,300 businesses a day — almost double the average from the prior year.
I recently caught up with three successful female entrepreneurs and they gave me the scoop on how they started their own business plus more much needed advice. Here are their major keys for entrepreneurial success.
Shante Bacon, Founder & CEO, 135th Street Agency
When it's time to move on, you will know. Trust your gut.
In my past life, I worked in the music business at Def Jam for 8 years and resigned to build my current firm. I come from a really long line of entrepreneurs - my mom and grandmother both owned their own businesses. I knew it was in my blood to own my own business. Not to mention while at Def Jam I felt like after a while my genius wasn't being properly used at the label. I started having that Sunday night anxiety when I knew Sunday night was coming up and Monday wasn't too far behind. I knew I didn't want to continue working at a job that I felt that way about so I talked to my mentor about it and my mentor told me that maybe my job had run its course. She told me in life, some things just run their course.
Before I decided to officially leave Def Jam, I started my current business as a side hustle. At that same time, I was working on Kanye's album The College Dropout. I didn't do much work on my business until I left Def Jam.
Years later, my firm is 11 years old as of January 5th. My business, 135th Street Agency, is a strategic communications and experiential firm. We handle everything that is communications and PR driven. From media coaching to custom message and outreach, press releases, engagements, and ambassador recruitment just to name a few are covered under my company. Over the past 11 years, some of my clients have included Disney, Paramount, The Oprah Winfrey Network, WE tv, BET, and VH1.
If I could do it all over again, the one thing I would do differently is approach entrepreneurship more like the general market. I didn't learn this until I started raising venture capital money, taking classes, and taking professional development courses. I would also wait 1-2 yrs to build my resource plan so that I can start my business with the money that I would need to expand it when ready. One thing that I learned is that hiring is very expensive so when starting business you have to think ahead and think about what you will do if your business expands before you are ready.
For a new entrepreneur, I think that once you can, you should have the following on your team: a really organized administrative person, a really quality HR person that has your back, an attorney, a social media person that understands the science behind engagement with other people, a publicist, and a marketing person.
Tracy Nguyen, Founder & Managing Partner at Industry Public Relations
It's never too late to start a business.
While studying fashion design in 2000 at the Fashion Institute of Technology I worked at Vivienne Westwood's flagship store at the time in SOHO. Their in-house PR office was downstairs in the same building on Greene Street so it would be frequented by celebrities, press, and stylists. I was one credit shy of completing my associate's degree when I was approached with an opportunity for an assistant position at People's Revolution. Not understanding in that moment what a publicist job was, I accepted the job offer thinking that it would only be temporary and a great way for me to learn a different side of the fashion business that I could apply towards launching my own line one day.
I ended up working at People's Revolution for 2 years where I moved up from assistant to account executive. I learned from my boss at that time that no job should ever be too small. I also learned the importance of being incredibly detailed and that clients appreciate when you over-communicate with them - and that I also needed thick skin in order to make it in this industry.
Later, after joining 5WPR where I eventually became a Senior Vice President, I was responsible for managing a team within my group, clients, and signing new businesses. A few years after that, my PR firm Industry Public Relations was created.
I have learned the importance of leading by example, always following through and that there is a difference between working hard and working smart.
15 years later still in the business, I look back and think that one of the most valuable lessons learned is the importance of having integrity in your work and being honest when you can't do something.
I also learned it's never too early to start working towards your goal of owning your own business, but make sure that while you're working for others that you are learning and absorbing as much as you can, especially from their mistakes. Last but not least, when I started my own company, I didn't have any funding. When starting a PR agency, really all that you need is a computer and a phone. There is no need to spend money on massive overhead costs such as furnishing and maintaining an expensive office. I worked from home for the first few years and as my business grew and a need for an office space and hiring of employees became necessary, I adjusted accordingly.
Tiffany Hardin, Founder of Gild Creative Group, She Knows Now, & Social ARMM
Self-love and confidence are the keys to success.
I worked under Mona Scott Young as her assistant, and then later worked for an advertising agency under Steven Stout called Translation. I was 27 when I was at that agency and decided I would make the switch and become an entrepreneur. I felt like I was young so I should go and just fail now and fail early. If it doesn't work, I felt like I could always go back to a job. I didn't really have that much fear around it. It was more like I should do this entrepreneur thing now while I don't have life's responsibilities. I didn't have a mortgage, kid, a husband - those type of things.
I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur but I was very loyal to the agency that I was at.
For me it was a situation where I needed to decide who I was going to be loyal to - me or the company.
I started my company in 2011 and I was still working at my agency. I left the agency in the last quarter of 2012 to start Gild Creative Group (GCG). In addition to GCG, I have She Knows Now which is my women's interest organization, and my upcoming tech startup called Social ARMM ( Social Asset Research and Media Management).
With Social ARMM, it's an idea that's been in my head since 2006. I was in college at that time and really it wasn't the best timing for Social ARMM. I think that's what a lot of people have to realize - you will have inspired thoughts all the time but it may not be right time to activate those inspired thoughts.
In regards to She Knows Now, I'm really involved and I'm really grateful for my managing editor - she keeps my mind right, keeps me accountable. She also is just as passionate about the work that we are doing. The work that we are doing is so important because I believe that you can be self-conscious but still confident. You can be sort of this bad ass woman, super fly, but still not have confidence. Confidence is something that you have to truly dig deep for and it takes a lot of work to do that. You cannot fake confidence. It is or it isn't there.
I think for a lot of women, we do a good job at faking it. But at the end of the day, we need to continue to work on it. For example in work when I get anxiety, it's because I'm not confident. It means I wasn't prepared. Even when we as women go into conversations about work and salary and feel less confident, it's because we are not prepared. So having the confidence to speak about what you do well is about finding inner strength and resting on that because it's the foundation.
Self-love and confidence is the foundation and every other experience that you have is built upon that - whether that is work, love, or just knowing your worth. How can you know your worth without being confident? How? How Sway?
One of the things that I learned is that you have to write the story to your own life. You have to change your perspective. Also you have to manage your time. If your spirit is stuck on this business you want to start, then just do it. If you have a 9-5 then best believe from 6-9 and then 5-9 you should be working on that business. What are you willing to do? What is the time you are willing to give?
If you are a current entrepreneur, what advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs on starting out? Share your insights below!
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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Featured image by FOTOGRAFIA, INC./Getty Images