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What To Do When That Business Breakthrough Doesn't Come Through

Workin' Girl

It's easy to feel discouraged when you read about business owners overcoming adversity and how women business owners are crushing it on Black Enterprise, Forbes and Essence, only to find out your breakthrough isn't here yet. As an aspiring womanpreneur yourself, you feel so close yet so far away at the same time.


You constantly compare your business to others to figure out what you are doing wrong, often doubting yourself and your God-given gifts, wondering why you don't have that "it factor" like your competitors, or haven't hit 20K followers on social media yet. You constantly check your email… Nothing. Right after you check your email, you log in to your Paypal account only to still find nothing or not enough for you to survive on. Oh, and let's not forget to mention frequently checking social media only to see very little engagement on your posts. You really thought this would be easier because a lot of people are making it look easy and now you are considering calling it quits.

But before you do that, I need you to take a deep breath and read this. Here are 8 questions to ask yourself when your business breakthrough seems like an eternity away:

Are You Being Honest with Yourself?

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It is time to stop feeling sorry for yourself and time to be honest with yourself. Are you being consistent? For the last 30-90 days, what have you done consistently in your business that will help you generate revenue?

If you study successful business people, they are usually strategically consistent. Sometimes when I feel stumped in business, I need to take a break and have a heart to heart with myself to find out why I am not being consistent or why I'm not following a plan. As creatives, we can get lost easily. Sometimes, sadly, the only consistent thing I am doing is scrolling on social media instead of putting in the essential work needed to level up. Don't beat yourself up about this, just make the change immediately and analyze if you made progress after the changes have been made.

Are You Trying to Do It All Yourself?

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Do you have Superwoman Syndrome and think you can run a business all by yourself? If you do, I have news for you, you are going to burn out. It may not happen today or three months from now, but it will catch up to you. Being a mom, wife, and teacher, I learned this the hard way and like many, when I burnout, I have no choice but to completely shut down.

To add fuel to the fire, you are comparing your business to corporations but you aren't operating like one. Yes, you are great at what you do but you, my love, you are only one person. It may be time to get help. You can't always create greatness alone. Greatness requires a team.

Teamwork makes the dream work isn't just a cute saying. It is the truth.

You may have to partner up with another business owner on a project, look into affiliate marketing, or hire help. Ask yourself who you can work with that will help you scale up.

Are You Operating In Real Time?

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Do you have systems in place, or is that newsletter going out when you feel like it and not on automatic? What about the process when people purchase from you? Are you manually sending out confirmation emails and tracking info?

Having systems in place will make your life easier, alleviate burnout, and make your on-boarding process smoother when hiring help. It can get hectic trying to post on social media, edit videos, connect and follow up potential clients, and/or seek partners all at once. Think about the tasks in your life that you can afford to put on automatic. Lastly, batching helps. Set aside a designated task to complete in a specific time frame.

For example, if you are a blogger, you can batch your blog posts by writing out your content in one setting or batching your photos for the month in a day, and so on. When I batch, I am more efficient and it alleviates overwhelmed feelings while keeping me consistent.

Are You Surrounded By Like-Minded People?

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Running a business is hard enough but being overwhelmed and not having other business owners to talk to makes things harder.

When I started my business, I quickly learned that entrepreneurship can be very lonely. However, it doesn't have to be. There are many like-minded women that you can connect with locally or online. Some of my closest business besties are women I have met online.

Are You Only Settling for That Free .99?

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Do you keep signing up for freebie after freebie and attending this person's free webinar only to be more confused than when you started?

There's a lot of noise on the internet and it can seriously cause you to lose your focus or make you believe that you need everyone and their best friend's program. Let's be real, you need to take action. If you are going to spend the time to attend a webinar, make sure you implement and execute what you learned or don't bother to waste the time to even attend or sign up. This applies to empowerment brunches and workshops too.

You have to do the work.

Sis, all those notes that you're jotting down need to be executed. Keep reading to learn how to get out of the free .99 mindset.

Are You Investing In Your Business?

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Usually, when I invest in my business, whether it is taking a class, hiring a coach, or attending a seminar that I paid for, I make more than the investment back and learn a new skill to implement in my business. For example, with a business coach, I am able to execute my vision with their help faster than if I had to do it alone. Sorry to break it to you, but not having money to invest is not an excuse. I say this because we often get caught up in what we don't have before we focus on what we do have.

Both Google and the library are free resources. If you cannot pay for someone to tell you the information, then you have to take the time to research and learn things through trial and error.

Plus, books are inexpensive. There are tons of great business books written by experts that will teach you a lot in a short time. For example, if you need to learn more about copywriting, email marketing, or Facebook ads, there are books that will give you start. Also, there are free agencies that help new and old businesses. The sba.gov is a great resource. Check out entrepreneurial centers at your local universities and colleges. Some of them offer free one-on-one consults and they offer frequent business classes as well.

Who's Holding You Accountable?

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Accountability is huge. When working a traditional job, you usually have a supervisor to report to. Typically, you have an annual review. You are held accountable to the company's standards, but when working for yourself, who is holding you accountable for staying on task and operating your business legally and efficiently?

This tip is often avoided, but it is not hard to find an accountability partner. Sometimes you can find another business owner and you two can make an arrangement to check in on each other for free. Accountability makes a significant difference. It keeps you on track and focused.

If The Time Comes, Can You Walk Away Like A Boss?

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I truly hope it doesn't have to get to this step, but if it does, then exit like a boss. Remember failing isn't always bad. It brings you closer to your success. Many successful business owners failed numerous times before finally getting it.

Before throwing your hard work away, research if anyone is willing to acquire your business. Don't leave anything out, including your domain name. For example, someone may not want to buy your business, but they may be willing to buy your domain name. Sell it if you are honestly done as opposed to letting the domain host make money off of your hard work when it expires.

When stores go out of business, they usually have a going out of business sale and sell everything down to the fixtures. What makes your business any different? One thing I notice is a lot of online businesses go out of business without a strategy. They don't even let their tribe know. You just go to their website and bluntly find out that it's no longer active or the social media handle no longer exists. Operate as a business until the very end.

I hope you found these tips helpful. I know how hard being an entrepreneur can be, but just know that I am rooting for you. We all can win. Let's stop idolizing what we see and start putting in the work on the things that we don't see. Keep being consistent and keep pushing. The world needs you and your business.

You got this girl, now get back to work.

Featured image by Shutterstock

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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