Don’t bite the hand that feeds you

I tried to pick the most delicious looking meal I could find for this article. Simply because there is a huge point to prove about the hands that “feed” us. So if your mouth is watering, i’ve done my job.

A couple of months ago I wrote an article about why the economy is failing. The article mentions how we need entrepreneurs to keep generating businesses that create jobs. It also mentions how we need middle class workers in those roles in order for the economy to continually thrive.

To be even more blunt, this article is specifically for anyone who continually insults “people who work for other people.” Let’s be clear, if you run a business technically you still “work for someone”. Or at least that is the mentality I would want an ideal business owner to have if i’m giving money to them. You work for your customers to ensure that they receive the best product and customer service possible. That’s how you get “customer retention”. If you have employees, you work for your employees to ensure that they are treated fairly so that they can help the company reach it’s goals. That’s how you get “employee retention”.

Essentially the benefits of owning your own business are creating your own products & services, hiring and firing when necessary. As well as making your own hours, though there will be times that those hours will still need to be in tune with your customer base.

I think there is a disconnect in understanding the economy and how we get fed. This world would not properly operate if people didn’t work for people.

So please allow me to explain the people who work for people lifecycle to you:

    1. This morning someone who works for a shipping company, got up at 2am to ensure your packages were delivered to your client. Before that someone ensured they were properly inspected and labeled.
    2.  

    3. For the past 4 days, a truck driver has been driving to deliver food to your favorite wholesale store. So you can eat your favorite foods while you grow your business.
    4.  

    5. Every night someone is monitoring the servers for your website to ensure that they remain stable. If they go down this person will have to stay up until the issue is resolved.
    6.  

    7. For the past 6 months, several departments from your favorite social media platform have been working on a new and engaging feature. So that you can continue to engage your clients on social media, without leaving the comfort of your home.
    8.  

    9. Last night someone got up and shoveled the roads that your customers travel on, so that they can go to work and continue paying for your product or service.
    10.  

    11. In 100 degree Texas heat, someone extended a highway so that more people can get to your business.
    12. I could go on with this list. However, the point that I am making is be careful of biting the hand that feeds you, because it is the hand that drives your business. We all have goals and sometimes our goals do include serving others.

      This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be proud of your accomplishments or tell people about themselves when you need to. Just be sure that when you tell people “like it is”, or how you think life should be, that it’s not someone who actually enjoys serving you and other people. It’s kind of like coming over someone’s house and putting your feet on their coffee table. One more thing, make sure you wash your hands before dinner.

      “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
      ― Mahatma Gandhi

Growth Has No Age Limit

In 2015, I wrote a very long winded article in regards to what different generations were facing in the economy. I still think there is a lot of work to be done with how we approach Baby Boomers and Older Generation X’ers.

Without giving too many details, as a new Founder i’m looking to make everything I do Baby Boomer and Generation X inclusive. Which means I am looking to and have been marketing to both baby boomers and generation x’ers.

This does not mean that I am excluding any particular generation, it just means i’m making it my business to market to generations others are leaving behind.

Some people say I have my work cut out for me, I say, “That’s the point”!

Big Dreaming on Hay Street in Fayetteville

Last week I had a blast big dreaming on Hay Street in Fayetteville, NC. I was loving local, eating local and shopping small. I started my week off attending a Small Business Orientation at the Women’s Business Center of Fayetteville at CEED. The WBCFAY is a non profit organization that has been around since 1999. They offer a wide variety of services to the community, which includes providing local support to female entrepreneurs who are looking to start and expand their businesses. Their office is located at 230 Hay Street in the heart of downtown Fayetteville.

This was my first time on Hay Street and I discovered that Hay Street is a beautiful haven for small businesses. Once I found parking I wasn’t exactly sure where the WBCFAY building was located, so I asked the first smiling face I saw. To my surprise, the first smiling face I saw was also great motivation for me. Her name was Johna, the Owner of J & M Vapor Shop. Both Johna and her husband own the shop and it is located at 318 Hay St. On her website she explains why they started the business.

Once I arrived at the WBCFAY building I stood outside for a while before going inside. I really liked the location and the building itself. The inside did not disappoint either. I spent a little over an hour in the Business Orientation class with other aspiring entrepreneurs from various industries.

The orientation was led by the jovial and charismatic Lexi Hasapis, the Center Director. Outside of WBCFAY Lexi juggles a couple of different businesses and ventures, which includes being in the restaurant business with her family. True to her word and true to her mission, throughout the orientation her slogans were; “love local, eat local and shop small. That’s exactly what I did after the orientation!

I was so amazed walking down Hay street. I saw nothing but small businesses operating with people supporting them. During my stroll I noticed some entrepreneurs looking in the window of an empty storefront. They were taking pictures and talking about buying the space and what they would do with the floors.

I stopped at City Center Gallery & Books to browse and ended up leaving with two new books. The gallery is located at 112 Hay Street. What I enjoyed most about the bookstore was the diversity in books. I also felt very welcome because of the amazing customer service I received.

As I walked further down Hay Street I reached a roundabout and kept going. I ended up on Person Street and I decided to stop in Taste of West Africa, located at 107 Person Street. As soon as I walked in, I smelled the aroma of food that was being cooked from the soul!

I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted so the waiter went over the menu with me. I ended up having oxtail, long grain rice, plantains with mango juice on the side. It was so delicious. What I enjoyed most was finding out that Taste of Africa gives back to their roots. You can learn more about it on their website or you can donate while in the restaurant.

The next day I met with one of the entrepreneurs from the business orientation class. We spent a few hours going over my services and how they can help her upcoming business ventures. By the end of the week I registered my business as an LLC. As I continue to build out my business structure i’ve had a few “one off” projects, in addition to a long term client. I’m looking to grow even more and add additional services.

For me Hay Street was an amazing haven for big dreams. Whenever i’m confused, frustrated or sad i’ll take the drive, park my car and walk down Hay Street. At which point, I will do 3 important things; love local, eat local and shop small.

#lovelocal #eatlocal #shopsmall

Saying these 2 things alert others that you lack time management

In life and in business we shouldn’t win “Emmy Awards” for not taking care of ourselves. I believe at some point in our lives many of us have been martyrs. We follow certain catch phrases that we think make us look cool. We tell stories of damaging our health to prove to others that we work hard.

I admit i’ve been guilty of this as well. However, three years prior to becoming a mom something hit me, I realized there were 2 things I needed to stop celebrating. I also no longer celebrate with people who do. Instead I give them blank stares.

Here are 2 things to not say around me

I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to eat

I remember running out of the house at 6am or 7am in the mornings and there were times I didn’t eat until noon. Or if I did eat breakfast, I didn’t eat lunch at all and it turned into dinner time. I’d be doing this with a 4 hour roundtrip commute (4.5 hours if the trains were backed up) and very often a 9-11 hour work day. I’d wear it like it was a badge.

When people asked me did I eat yet i’d say, “I was so busy I didn’t have time to eat, or i’d say I forgot to eat”. I wish more people would have told me back then how stupid I sounded. Nowadays if i’m in a rush i’ll make time to get up and boil 2 eggs while i’m getting dressed or while i’m getting my daughter dressed.

If I know i’m going to have a hectic day i’ll be sure to have fruit and light snacks on hand, that will hold me over until I can get lunch. Sometimes I go ahead and pack lunch as well. This requires me to properly plan my day, which is all a part of time management. Making sure you eat is really that simple. Unless you are fasting for a specific reason, this is nothing but a lack of time management. You really shouldn’t celebrate that.

I’ll sleep when i’m dead

I’ve never personally used this phrase, but I have been excited to tell people that I haven’t slept. People think not sleeping makes them the messiah of hustling. Like all people who get adequate rest, are lazy peasants who should be stoned.

At the age of 25 I started to notice dark circles under my eyes. While dark cycles can be hereditary (my dad has them), lack of sleep can add to them as well. This year I will be 38 years of age and while I still have the dark circles, over the past year they’ve started to clear up a little. I notice that days when I get more sleep my eyes look much better.

Recently I was working on a project where I was already two days ahead of schedule. I could have kept going and completed it that day. However, I chose sleep because it was important to me and I actually had time to do so. Not only was my mind clear, but I was able to get even more creative. The project had a strong finish that both myself and the client were proud of.

Sometimes I sit back and say to myself, I really can’t believe this was me. I really can’t believe that I thought these things proved to people that I worked hard. Not eating and sleeping doesn’t necessarily mean you work harder than anyone else. While there may be days where we get less sleep than others, or we eat less than the day before, we shouldn’t promote this as something that is normal. There are people in this world who are purposely being starved and people who would die to sleep, so we need to be careful of what we promote.

My parents used to always say, “make sure you eat and get some rest”. Before I used to only half listen thinking I knew everything. Constantly telling them I didn’t have time. Now as I grow a little older, I grow a little wiser, I realize I want to live a little longer and that requires eating and sleeping.

6 Ways To Market Your AQ’s Corner Feature Article

 

Congratulations on the release of your AQ’s Corner Feature Article! We’ve both worked hard. You took the time to review and properly answer the questions. You put up with my constantly asking you for more information, additional edits and outstanding pictures.

Now it’s time to put the actual feature article to good use. Don’t allow all that work to go to waste.

Here are a few tips:

 

    1. Add a “Press” section to your website, social media pages and include a link to your feature article. Your “Press” section should focus on anything written about your company. Or if you would like to simply add it to your “About Me” section, that is fine as well.

 

    1. Add your feature article link to the signature of your email. This is just another space to allow visibility to your feature article. Below is a sample of how you can formulate your signature. 

      [YourFirstName] [YourLastName]
      Checkout my feature article on: AQ’s Corner [Copy & Paste or Embed Link]
      Founder of [YourCompanyName]
      “Your Company Tagline”
      Like us on Facebook [Copy & Paste or Embed Link]
      Follow us on Instagram [Copy & Paste or Embed Link]
      Website: [Copy & Paste or Embed Link]

 

    1. If you have a company newsletter or a mailing list be sure to add your feature article link there as well.

 

    1. Continue to have friends and family members share links to your article on every social media platform they are on. While i’ve hit up just about every social media platform i’m on, having your friends and family market to their audiences is great as well. The more exposure you get, the more exposure your business gets.

 

    1. Have as many friends and family members comment on the actual article as possible. While it’s great for friends and family members to comment on the actual social media posts, the comments will eventually get lost in social media when the post is no longer popular.
      When comments are included on the article, anyone who views the article will see all the buzz about you, even if they are not on social media.

 

  1. Periodically pull your favorite quotes out of your article and copy and paste them on your favorite social media platforms. In the same posts copy and paste a link to your feature article beneath it.

 

People like doing business with people that show a human side. So it’s important to take full advantage of your feature article.

 

Create Partnerships, Don’t do it for free

Pissy subway staircases, on trains, on buses, at airport gates, outside of party’s screaming into the phone, when I was extremely exhausted from 2 hour commutes home, during my lunch breaks, before work, after work, during major career and life changes.

Over the past seven years these are all the places and times i’ve helped over 30+ people with their; tech issues, resumes, cover letters, mock interviews, educational advice, general career advice and more. Some people i’ve helped on numerous occasions. Many of which had my phone number for on-demand help. I was working for other companies full-time, so I did everything for free. I never asked anyone for any favors in return.

I knew how tough it was for some to learn how to properly navigate their career and I wanted to teach people what I learned. Simply so they wouldn’t make some of the mistakes I made. In addition to teaching them the cool things that helped me grow professionally and personally.

I did a soft launch of an actual business for my services in late 2015, but put it on hold. In late 2016, I started doing a re-launch and AQ’s Corner has been on the move ever since. So from 2015-2017, i’ve reached out to the majority of the people i’ve helped over the years asking them if they can do written recommendations about their specific experiences with me.

Only a handful have gotten back to me. I was speaking to another Entrepreneur about this just a few days ago, he is also just starting out. He advised that he has and is experiencing the exact same thing.

I must admit that this is my fault for not seeing an opportunity to create partnerships, while I was actually doing the work. It was an amateur move on my part and I will not be making the same mistake again. Now that I am an actual business owner for any services rendered no matter who you are, you must either become a business partner or a customer.

Partnerships aren’t that difficult. Sometimes it’s as simple as sharing someone’s blog, product or service if it has helped you. Or if it is something you truly believe in. Instead of constantly telling them in their inbox, but never doing anything publicly to help them move forward. No one is telling you to sell your soul for something you don’t believe in. Only to support people you know, not just “well known” people you don’t know.

I don’t think this is so much of a lesson about Entrepreneurship as it is about business itself. Whether you have your own business or you work for someone else, you should be careful of what you do for free. Especially if people constantly call on you for it and it takes time out of your life. If you are wondering about a valuable skill, you think you may have, check out my article: 4 Signs it’s not just a hobby.

I’m about to get 1980’s on you and say,

“If you got mad skills, make sure you get what you deserve, then rewind it and play it back til the cassette tape pops ”

popped cassette tape

Whether you are a forever careerist or a forever entrepreneur, or both, your goal should be to not just keep elevating, but also getting what’s due to you! Everyone else does, why not you!

The infestation of missing professional etiquette

I hope you are grossed out reading this, because i’m itching just talking about it. The infestation of missing professional etiquette is so bad, that it reminds me of Stephen King’s 1982 horror comedy Creepshow. To be more specific, the skit where the guy in the lab had a bug infestation.

For quite sometime in both professional and personal environments; i’ve noticed 2 key things have been lacking:

Firm handshakes with eye contact

Today I got a handshake from a military doctor and it was amazing. It took me back to a time when people knew how to shake hands and had really great professional etiquette. Now with the rise of unwashed hands, it’s important to know that I understand why some people don’t like shaking hands. However, there is a difference between not wanting to shake hands and not knowing how. Though if you are really grossed out by shaking hands, you should also be grossed out by that bagel someone broke with their bare hands, then you came back later and ate it.

If you are in a situation where you are shaking hands with someone; make sure it’s quick, firm (not creepy) and there is eye contact. Even if you give someone a not so firm handshake, eye contact is essential. Simply because when you’re introduced to someone, you should look at them. My father actually taught me about shaking hands when I was really young. I still use what he taught me today.

Handshakes standing up

This really makes me cringe. When I was eight months pregnant at a military ball last year, people were introducing themselves to me, so I stood up to shake their hands. Everyone kept saying I didn’t have to stand up. However, for me it was a force of habit. Though I could have sat down because I was pregnant.

Having said that, if you have a handicap or something in your hand, it’s okay to shake someone’s hand sitting down. Or maybe someone walked over to you, too quick and you were only able to stand up halfway. That has happened to me before. I still like people to see my effort. In the grand scheme of things I often find it very disrespectful when people shake someone’s hand sitting down. This is specifically if the other person is standing up.

While these two things may seem minutiae to some, they really aren’t. That’s the same thinking that’s causing this massive infestation. When you’re networking in any professional setting what truly makes you a professional is your etiquette, not just how many years of experience you have in an industry.

We’ve all gotten so used to bad professional etiquette that we make excuses for everything. For example, when you’re at a store counter waiting to checkout and the cashier continues to talk to their co-worker about “last night”. Never once saying hi to you even when you said hi to them. Then they ring everything up and just tell you the total like you didn’t just say hi! You’re making excuses saying to yourself, “well there’s no good customer service anywhere anymore”. That’s that infestation talking!

We don’t have high hopes for people so we allow minutiae to become the normal. Which in turn becomes a bigger issue. The infestation spreads like wildfire. Next thing you know; people are saying whatever they want to whoever they want, open letters are getting written, and well…. you know the rest.

In that Stephen King comedy skit the bugs ended up coming out of the guys mouth! The infestation of missing professional etiquette must be exterminated!

Brownies, Brunch and a Website

I had the most amazing day as an Entrepreneur and Business Owner. I spent the day with my new client Carlette Stover of Carlette’s Divine Delights LLC.

Due to my daughter getting sick I had to reschedule our first one on one session. However, that didn’t stop me from setting up tutorials and sending them to her. With a coughing, sneezing, sniffly baby in tow I managed to pull off some amazing tutorials, to which Carlette followed to the letter!

So by the time we met up for our one on one session, Carlette managed to do quite a few things on her own. Carlette and I met a little less than two weeks ago at a Business conference for military spouses. I kept hearing her say how she needed a website and how she wasn’t comfortable with certain technologies so I offered up my services. The rest as they say, was history!

Carlette went from being completely uncomfortable with Web Development to being a key player in designing her own website. We also had to do a little HTML coding, to which she was very proud of herself!

In the process we enjoyed brunch and brownies! We’re just about done with her website. Some minor tweaks need to be made but that’s it!

This Homeschooling Mama, Military Wife, Business Woman, and Dessert Queen has some amazing days ahead of her. I’m very proud to be a part of it!

5 key things a new employee should get

There are 5 key things a new employee should get within their first week of work. While some of the things listed below may seem simple in nature, you’d be surprised at how important they are.

A seat assignment

The most essential part of making an employee feel comfortable is letting them know where they will sit. Ensuring that an employee has a seat assignment on the first day helps to relieve their anxiety and makes them feel more at home. This is a win, win situation for both you and the employee.

Onboarding with Human Resources

All employees should receive a proper introduction to the company within the first week. They should know all of the company’s do’s and don’ts. In addition to how they will get paid. As well as who they should go to with any concerns.

Onboarding with the IT department

All employees should be properly onboarded through the IT department. They should have their hardware and software properly set up. They should also have access to all necessary accounts needed to do their job.

An introduction to who they’ll be working for or with

All employees should be properly introduced to anyone they are working with. Especially people they will be working with on a regular basis. There is nothing more awkward than a new employee having someone they don’t know, give them a work assignment.

While you should expect all your existing employees to properly introduce themselves, this doesn’t always happen. So it’s your job to make the introductions.

Clear expectations of what is expected of them

There’s the job description posted on the internet and the one from the interview and then there is the real job description. An employee should have clear insight on what their duties are within the first week. If those duties have changed since they have been hired, they should know that as well.

As with the beginning of any relationship, building respect and trust goes both ways.

Exercise your Brain Plan

Photo Credit: Terrell Henry Photography https://terrellhenryphotography.com/
Photo Credit: Terrell Henry Photography
https://terrellhenryphotography.com/

You guessed it. This is a play on weight loss plans. Just like eating junk food, more often than not if you share a lot of nonsense online, that’s what your brain is consuming. If you want to properly exercise your brain here’s the best plan for you.

Spend 5-10 minutes each day learning something about a technology you use

9 times out of 10, if you have access to a smartphone that means you have access to the internet. Pick a form of technology that you utilize every single day and I challenge you to learn more about it. Whether you’re interested in learning more about the hardware or the software aspect of it, it doesn’t matter just as long as you learn something new about it.

It doesn’t matter whether you are technically inclined or not. If you’re a software professional that isn’t comfortable with hardware, get familiar with it. If you are a hardware professional that isn’t comfortable with software, get familiar with it. If you are in any industry and you’re not comfortable with technology, get familiar with it.

Read a physical book once a month

I think it’s fantastic that we can read books from our phones and tablets. It’s actually pretty convenient. However, we also need to separate ourselves from technology sometimes. The latest book i’m reading is about leadership because i’ve been focused on launching a successful business. The book i’m currently reading is called “52 ways to tackle leadership for your success” by Dr. Jason Carthen.

I opted to get the physical copy of the book because I didn’t want to become a slave to technology just to read it. I’ve already read the book twice. Not only is the information in the book valuable to all leaders, but the size of the book makes it a quick read. You can focus on reading informative books that are quick reads.

Go to the Library

In the age of the internet it’s almost like we’ve forgotten that the library is still a powerful place. After moving to a new state I went to the library recently to get a library card. Prior to that I hadn’t seen the inside of a library for 6 years and prior to that it had been a decade. To my surprise, there were some really amazing things taking place.

There was a 5 part series, teaching Entrepreneurs how to become business owners. It was an interactive series and after it ended, Entrepreneurs received small business certifications. There was also an entire section dedicated to people who were job searching. Job searchers had unlimited internet access as well as resources to help with cover letters and resumes.

At the end of the day, we all choose the path we walk down. Whether it’s a path that helps you grow or doesn’t, it’s totally up to you. Specifically if you have access to resources. As there are countries where people don’t have access to resources. So be sure to use all your resources wisely to ensure your brain is healthy.