A 2014 Update

Greetings all!

I hope you all are well.

Things are steadily rolling along here. The second semester has been stop-and-go due to the wacky cold weather. As I write, CrownTown is projected to get close to 12″ of snow.

Crazy.

Other than that, below are a few things going on.

The Countdown

Yes, it is 60 days until I get married. That’s pretty exciting. We avoided some major pitfalls too, and everything (that we control) has been taken care of. For now.

Next Venture(s)

From spending nearly five years in the startup/entrepreneur space to jumping into the education world, I can not help but keep both doors open. I enjoy being busy. Plus, it keeps me out of trouble. I have several things on my plate I hope to steadily chomp off.

Writing a book– I know…I fell into the marketing strategist pitfall- creating something of my own. For the record, it is not entirely my fault. My future wife thought it would be a great idea, and when I’m given the opportunity for a new challenge, I can’t help it. Details about that soon.

Launching AdLand Heroes– One of the two big ideas I have. The Charlotte Agency will stick around, for the time being. But I picture AdLand Heroes as being an advertising publishing (own my book, probably), consultancy to help freelancers and small (3-10) advertising folks get noticed. I want AdLand Heroes to provide training for those populations that may not be able to receive it, and fill other gaps as needed.

Launching GoMatthewsMintHill– The second of two big ideas I have. These two areas, which are growing- and fast- has no real centralized digital presence so people know what’s going on. With help (programmer, sales people, office manager) I can get it off the ground.

Updating TCA– TheCharlotteAgency.com needs a serious facelift. So yea, that needs to happen too.

Needless to say, I am happy to see that though I am thoroughly enjoying teaching, that my entrepreneurial spirit has not yet withered.

 

Coming Up-

DECA States- Instead of being a judge, I will be an advisor during the North Carolina DECA Conference. Wild.
Social Media Day Charlotte (June 30th)- If you know people who’d like to be involved, give me a shout (Twitter: @SMdayCLT)

That’s it for now, folks. I hope to come back with updates on progress.

As always, thank you for reading.

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“Too Stubborn to Quit”- Being an Entrepreneur

“It’s easy to quit. To succeed, you have to be too stubborn to quit.”

I was a company advisor at Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week or PFEW, last week and during a break I received that advice from a fellow company advisor and entrepreneur. He is more seasoned than I am, in his second business and has been a business owner for 20+ years.

We had a chance to talk about the ups and downs of being a business owner, and I got a chance to vent my frustrations in business development, being a young black business owner in a very white-dominated industry, and all the fun stuff I try to not bother me.

He said that I’m one step away from having that big break, and that I shouldn’t quit before that happens. Because, cue his quote, it’s easy to quit.

Why are all the simple pieces of advice so freakin’ profound?

It is easy to quit. I could just stop trying to help small and medium sized businesses. In these past few years, they certainly haven’t made it easy for me.

But from reading about great leaders, and taking advice from other business leaders, I’ve learned that the great ones have been just too stubborn to stop.

Theodore Roosevelt couldn’t get the nomination from the Republican Party. What did he do? He formed the Bull Moose Party and was one of the only presidents in history to win as a 3rd party.

To stay in the family, FDR had a ton of, at that time, radical ideas to get the nation on the right track. He faced obstacle after obstacle in the forms of political opposition, spousal opposition, the Supreme court and even family. But he stayed his course, and left a legacy that is regarded as one of the greatest of our time.

The owner of FedEx gave up most of his equity in his business to survive. He believed so much in his idea he was willing to basically sell it to others. I guess he did okay.

Stubbornness, with a good idea, is a good quality to have.

Now, my idea of supporting the small business community in order for them to succeed and reinvest in the community, does not match up to the New Deal, obviously.

But it can make Charlotte a better place to do business. It will make young, bright people want to stay and start something. It will help people in Charlotte want to be a part of something.

This is a pep talk. Entrepreneurs, if you wholeheartedly believe that you are good at what you’re doing, and have an idea that will improve an industry or community, don’t quit.

More people are going to say no than yes, accept it.

More people will doubt you than support you, deal with it.

More people will ignore you than listen to you, preach it.

People are afraid of change, of something new. Entrepreneurs represent exactly what the public fears, yet are the ones society needs most.

Thanks for listening.

DW

 

Small Business- How We Doin’?

Well, according to The State of Small Business Report by Network Solutions and the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland, not so hot.

C-. Not so hot at all.

The researchers compiled information from 500 small businesses, and compared the change of the small business environment since 2009 to now using an index they created that is meant to measure small business success.

As one goes through the report, the findings are not very surprising. Disheartening? Sure, but it is no shock that small businesses are still struggling.

Quick Tidbits:
– According to the index, 53% of all small businesses are either Marginally Failing or Failing.
-Businesses noted that they are having a tougher time competing with the big companies than ever before
-But the future is bright. Small businesses are continuing to embrace social media, mobile marketing, and are planning to hire in order to compete

So it is not a totally bleak picture.

The report notes what key factors are most important when it comes to success as a small business. They placed the areas on four quadrants, the graph is below:

As you can see, Capital Access (cash-on-hand, investment, operations) is the most important factor. But what is the second?

You guessed it- marketing and innovation.

Small businesses are having trouble:

-Coming up with advertising and marketing activities to show their competencies
-Translating their marketing and advertising dollars into sales
-Finding platforms where new audiences are going to be

If you are a small business owner, you are not alone. According to this report, many small business- more than you think- are going through the same struggles.

This is why JDW: The Charlotte Agency started. Our goal is to help small business eradicate these issues.

We want to help small businesses survive, and grow. But we can’t do it unless you are willing to focus on your business, and let us worry about reaching your customers.

Help us make the next State of Small Business Report conclude with a happier ending.

Marketing in Charlotte is…

Panorama of Charlotte

Image via Wikipedia

Don’t get me wrong. There are a few good agencies here that do good work. But to generalize, the Charlotte marketing industry is, at best:

“Eh.”

But to elaborate-

Bland: Overall, nothing very vibrant and fresh has hit the pavement and buildings of the Queen City. There’s no exciting viral campaign going on, no publicity stunts or news conferences. There is no agency dictating the perception of human behavior and perception.

Conservative: This tidbit overlaps with the previous one. Being in an over-built financial town, of course regulation (I’m looking at you FCC, SEC) will inhibit a lot of effort in communications. But there’s plenty more businesses in Charlotte that are able to loosen that white-collar, and do something flashy. It seems like we’ll be the ones that start it.

International: What is cool and blows at the same time is that the agencies that are based in Charlotte that we really like (BooneOakley, ok…so “agency”) do nothing but national and international work. Awesome. So, what about Charlotte? They must have seen what we’re seeing (maybe) and decided back then that they’re work has to go elsewhere.

Makes sense.

Social Media Focused: Charlotte if not anything else, is locked on to social media. I think the social media here rivals the likes in Silicon Valley, Denver, Atlanta, and is nipping the heels of Boston and New York City. I haven’t seen anything like it. But, when one talks about specialization, there’s the other side of the spectrum. Discussing market research, consumer behavior and other traditional marketing topics get thrown to the back-burner. Of course social media is here to stay, but discussing the integration of it shouldn’t (in my naive opinion) dominate the industry.

Young: Charlotte grew fast. Very fast. And with rapid growth some things lag behind. Urban development, for one (see my article “Making a City Sexy”), small business support, a solid and flourishing arts district (which is gaining traction), and of course- a thriving marketing industry. All the cities I’ve mentioned before has all of these. Charlotte is getting there, but its still an uphill battle.

Developing: Charlotte still has a strong “Good Ol’ Boy Network” where these groups of people (Board of County Commissioners, Center City Partners, Charlotte Regional Partnership, CCOG, Arts and Science Council) basically play musical chairs and keep power amongst themselves, and allow those who don’t threaten them to have a seat at the table.

That’s going to have to change. Charlotte deserves better.

And Charlotte will get better once this latest trend/shift of young talent and brain power starts to take hold of certain establishments in Charlotte.

And we’re itching to break off a piece.

Confessions of a Small Biz Owner…and The Charlotte Agency

We have been in business for about 1.5 years now. Things are going great. We have a solid base of clients, we’re knocking out sweet creative, and John and I are not sick of each other…yet.

We’ve been sponsors for BarCamp 3.

We decided to be the marketing sponsor for Ignite Charlotte 1 (make sure you come!).

And we love our teammates at Area Fifteen.

However, with some of the business meetings we have had with others in the last couple weeks, I noticed that we have not been getting our message across clearly. Note, this only applies to those over the age of 40, everyone else younger has seemed to understand our principles quite clear.

So allow me to further set in place what JDW is proud of, is trying to do, and why it believes in Charlotte small business.

Proud to be Affordable for Small Business
Our primary focus is to help and partner with new and small businesses in Charlotte. Therefore, it is no surprise to us that we work with small to medium sized marketing budgets. We are okay with that. Our business model is flexible enough that we can take on those kind of projects. Working with small businesses also provides an education piece about marketing in general, and marketing agencies in specific. That’s fun to us. Sure, we’d love to land a piece of the Under Armour account (cough, cough), but we know that’s in due time.

Far From Being Money-Hungry
“How do you guys expect to make money/get rich?” I’m quite tired of that question. In the past couple of meetings (with older, white gentlemen) that question continually appears. In all honesty, if we thought we were going to get rich quickly, we would not have placed small business as our primary base. End of story. We wholeheartedly believe that if we can assist in making someone’s dream come true, they will assist with realizing ours. Of course dedicating our main efforts to new and small biz requires a little more creativity than other industries, but we prefer the challenge and the reward in succeeding, rather than doing the easy stuff. Business is supposed to provide a solution to a problem, and the profit is the delightful by-product that helps with continuing to provide those problem-solving skills. We try to not lose sight of that.

Small Business Works
And JDW: The Charlotte Agency joined the Area Fifteen community in Optimist Park because we all believe in that three-word phrase. No city can survive without a thriving small business community. Charlotte has lost sight of that. It is our business community’s goal to bring that back into focus.

Why Not Charlotte?
Forgive me for digressing from my parallel subheadings (Ms. Riney, I apologize!) but that question is the only question we continue to challenge. Charlotte deserves more. The small business community deserves more. The art community deserves more.

We demand more. So instead of waiting for the powers-that-be in the Queen City to get their act together, we’re doing it ourselves. We’re wide-eyed and absent from all the red-tape, disillusionment and boring ideas. We’re trying by all means necessary to avoid our minds from being poisoned by those Good Ol’ Boys who think their way is the only way.

Oh no my friend, it’s our turn.

I hope that answers your questions.

Young Professionals of Energy, Charlotte Chapter

Charlotte Happy Hour on Wednesday, May 19 2010 6:00 PM

Greetings Ladies and Gentlemen of Charlotte.

If you are serious about helping Charlotte become the New Energy Capital…

If you are serious about meeting the bright-eyed professionals wanting to make a difference…

If you are serious about creating a city and changing an environment that will be here for our children…

We’ll see you there.

To the Victor Go the Spoils: Messaging for Winners

People say that “history is written by the winners.”

Is that a bad thing? In a world of two-way communications, are the winners now expected to give the losers a moment in the spotlight?

This raises some interesting perspectives.

From my economic/Darwinian side, I would say no. They lost.  Because the other half proved be rise to the occasion, the winner deserves to do with the spotlight as they see fit. Why let a loser’s message spread, when it proved incapable of winning? It doesn’t make sense. One wouldn’t willingly spread a defunct gene, or a failing business plan, so why a message?

From my marketing/public relations side, I would say maybe.  If the loser’s communication could provide some value to a certain community and/or public, I don’t think it would hurt. Who will benefit from hearing their message? How can a community move forward from listening? What’s interesting, is that in these days if the winner denies the loser from speaking, it may leave a bad taste in the mouths of spectators. Bad PR. From an image standpoint then, it may improve the winner’s image if they let the defeated one speak.

From my competitive side, I would say definitely not. If you win, and the loser gets to speak regardless of defeat, then why compete? You take away the competitor’s incentive to win. Sure there may be a trophy, ranking, and maybe some money winnings (in some cases), but if I’m playing to win, I’m playing for keeps. Winner-takes-all.

The lines of winners/losers are blurring in our society.  Since our species (arguably) is imperfect, several situations should dictate whether there is a winner and loser. It sucks, but that’s life and that’s business. Though I do enjoy the Covey’s Win-Win and other full-circle management techniques, how does it move our society forward? Does it? Does it not?

I can’t tell. But who cares, if I’m right or wrong, the message gets out anyway, right?

Hmm.