Minorities and Women, Listen Up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a woman and a minority myself, I know how difficult it can be to be taken seriously. It’s discouraging when it seems that people just see you for your skin color or appearance and don’t care about what you have to say. Statistics show that while there are  a great many women and/or minority businesses opening, just as many seem to fail. Funding is also an issue, when minorities and women are denied credit, despite having good financial standing. But, there is hope!

If you’re a minority or female business owner, MWBEzone.com has small business grants categorized by geographic focus and interests. Within the categories, you will see 50+ categories from Aging/Seniors to Youth/Out-of-School Youth. Under Geographic Focus, you can choose your state. And under Funding Source, check out the type of funding source (or select all).

Starting a Business – According to the SBA, United States Small Business Administration

10 Steps to Starting a New Business:

1) Write a Business Plan

2) Get Business Assistance and Training

3) Choose a Business Location

4) Finance Your Business

5) Determine the Legal Structure of Your Business

6) Register a Business Name (“Doing Business As”)

7) Register for State and Local Taxes

8) Obtain Business Licenses and Permits

9) Understand Employer Responsibilities

10) Find Local Assistance

Concerns

The concerns of a minority and/or woman-owned business are some of the same concerns as that of a non-minority or a non-woman owned business. “Will clients come? Will they appreciate what I have to offer? Will my employees respect me?” But these concerns are magnified because the difference in personnel is obvious.

Women-owned businesses represent a significant portion of the population. According to the SBA Office of Advocacy, “…The percent of female business owners remains fairly stable at 36.0 percent in 2012, as compared to 35.9 percent in 2007.” An Issue Brief reported that despite their economic significance, women and minority owned companies are smaller and rake in less profit than their male or non-minority competitors.  They also have a lower survival rate.

According to the SBA, this may be because minorities are disproportionately denied credit, despite strong business credit scores, personal wealth, and revenues. For women, credit denials are more erratic, depending on the year. But both minorities and women reported feeling discouraged to apply for credit.

There is a way around this: MWBEzone.com. Instead of taking out a line of credit or a loan, fund your business with grants or government contracts. Our CEO, Libby Hikind, recommends borrowing a limited amount of money from your family, then reinvesting in your business. Libby advised,

“It’s a good idea to start small and do the grunt work. Good businesses start in garages and back porches. This is because you need to keep your expenses and budget low to start a business, so your profit margin is high enough that you can eventually hire people to work for you.”

GrantWatch.com and all its affiliate websites are women owned businesses. Libby began what is now called GrantWatch.com in her garage! From 2010 to 2014, she was without any employees. Before that, she and her daughter, Elana, did all the work; from contacting clients to posting grants. Any money they earned was put back into the business.

And, according to Barbara Smith of the Blake & Milford Daycare Center in Brooklyn, New York, she started off with loans but couldn’t have survived without grants. She said,

“As long as there is funding available, I know I’ll be OK. Without the two grants I have, I wouldn’t have the qualified teachers and the staff that I have.”

Barbara attributes her growth to grants. Without them, she wouldn’t have been able to establish benefits for her staff such as opportunities for a 401(k). She also confirmed that as a minority woman, she found it challenging to find start-up funding.

Certifications

There are multiple types of certifications for small businesses. One is Minority Owned Businesses or MBE, and another is Women-Owned Businesses or WBE. According to one source, minority group members include US citizens who are Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American.  Certification with the NMSDCs (National Minority Supplier Development Council) is done at the local or regional level.

Some of the benefits of becoming MBE certified are the following:

  • Access
  • Business Opportunity Fairs
  • Customized executive education
  • Networking opportunities

A woman-owned business is identified as a business that can show evidence that at least 51% or more of the business is women-owned and managed. Certification as a WBE is available through the National Women’s Business Council. According to NWBOC.org, certification is important for the following two reasons:

  • Most purchasing agencies have programs for doing business with female business owners
  • Many publicly-held corporations and larger private corporations track and have programs for doing business with women-owned vendor companies

The Minority and Woman-Owned Small Business Guide to Government Contracts

If you are trying to obtain a government contract for your small business you can hire a business consultant or start reading.  Here is one guide: The Minority and Woman-Owned Small Business Guide to Government Contracts: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started. In this book, you will learn some of the following: why you would apply for government contracts, and how to get started. Use the steps in this book to help you navigate through some paperwork.

MWBEzone

We hope this article has been informative for you. If you are looking to start a new business or to help support an existing one, go to MWBEzone.com and search for grants! It is easy to use and straightforward. Once you’ve located grants you want to know more about, remember to subscribe to one of the pricing plans (on GrantWatch.com) to get full access to both MWBEzone and GrantWatch.com to see the entire grant or contract!

About the Author: Sabeen is currently an MPH student with a history in Mass Communications. She is currently writing for GrantWatch.com and its affiliates.

Sources:

https://www.sba.gov/starting-business/how-start-business/10-steps-starting-business
http://www.nmsdc.org/mbes/mbe-benefits/

Bottomless Closet – Meet the New Executive Director

Bottomless Closet is a nonprofit organization operating in New York City. It works to serve disadvantaged women to prepare for the workforce. It helps these women transition from unemployment and public assistance to employment and independence. There are many women who attest to its impact on their lives. It has helped these women build core proficiencies for success, increase self-confidence, and boost self-esteem. Bottomless Closet has transformed the potential and vision of these women tremendously.

What Does Bottomless Closet Do?

Once she has a job interview scheduled, a woman is referred to Bottomless Closet through a network of partner organizations. Then, the woman gains access to the many services of Bottomless Closet including resume review/preparation, interview coaching, and a broad workshop series. The name of Bottomless Closet comes from one of their unique services: the selection of quality clothes for interviewing. Women particularly love this service. Melissa Norden, newly appointed Executive Director says,

"People walk in with their heads bowed down and walk out with a greater sense of self-worth."

In addition to a makeover and curriculum, a female client with the Bottomless Closet organization is entitled to a one-on-one resume and interviewing prep session. This is often invaluable for women. According to Melissa, this is an integrated process. Volunteers work with people to prepare their resume and go through potential interview questions. Some people have a more up-to-date resume than others; but the interview prep and boutique visit, take about one and a half hours. Women learn tips on interviewing that can serve them for years.

Follow up

Bottomless Closet doesn't stop there. There is a workshop series available after you leave your session at Bottomless Closet. It covers how women can develop professionally, manage finances, and enrich their personal lives. As an added incentive, Bottomless Closet offers two certificate programs to enhance a woman's resume, but it is not required. The workshops are offered over 3 trimesters beginning in January, April, or September. Each trimester is 3 months long. The workshops include the following topics:

  • Goal Setting
  • Budgeting
  • Insurance, Taxes, Annuities
  • Debt Reduction
  • Writing A Will
  • Student Loans
  • Saving For Retirement
  • Investing
  • Buying A Home
  • Helping Your Child Succeed In School
  • Budget Travel
  • Book Club, and
  • Theater Outings

This is not a comprehensive list of the workshop series covering Professional Development, Financial Management, and Personal Enrichment. To see how these workshops are divided into each category, visit the Workshop Curriculum page of bottomlessclosetnyc.org. Clients are encouraged to participate in as many workshops that interest them. 

Melissa Norden

Melissa Norden stepped in as the Executive Director of Bottomless Closet on March 28, 2016. She has a lengthy and impressive resume, serving with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). At the ASPCA, Norden served as Senior Vice President, Chief of Staff and General Counsel. While she was there, the ASPCA boomed. During her career there, she managed a $150+ million budget and a staff of over 700. She also oversaw the creation of a new grant program that allocates $15+ million annually across America. About the transition to Bottomless Closet, Norden had the following to say:

"I am thrilled to serve Bottomless Closet, where we help transform women’s lives with clothing, insider tips, and empathy, all of which work together to instill confidence and a sense of dignity that will be invaluable in their job searches and future careers." 

A Model Program

Norden informed us that Bottomless Closet works through referral partners in the 5 boroughs. Those agencies help the individuals get interviews, then Bottomless Closet prepares them. The partnering agencies are well-established colleges, the YMCA, and other charities. To see a list of referral-partners, go to www.bottomlessclosetnyc.org and click on Referral Partner, then Referral Partner Finder. 

What I Wish EVERY Job Candidate Knew

To get some recommendations on how to interview well, check out the following book: What I Wish EVERY Job Candidate Knew: 15 Minutes to a Better Interview by Russell Tuckerton.  Tuckerton has spent 20 years interviewing and hiring people at multiple Fortune 500 companies. This book gives you insight into the other side of the table at a job interview. Get out of your head!

MWBEzone

If you're woman, you should check out available grants and federal contracts at MWBEzone.com. Choose from the Categories, Geographic Focus, and Funding Source. Under categories, you should choose Financial Assistance, Women, and Workforce. MWBEzone is a search engine specifically for minority and women-owned businesses. This will lead you to all related grants. You may be able to find grants for individuals whom are looking to improve their career status. 

For instance, I found the following two results when I searched for the aforementioned categories:

Scholarships to Mercer County, New Jersey Women to Attend Higher Education Programs While Working

Deadline: 06/15/16 

Grants to Brattleboro, Vermont and Rhinebeck, New York Nonprofits and Working Women in Need of Support

Deadline: 07/01/16

Remember to sign up with a pricing plan at GrantWatch.com in order to view the entire grant or contract. 

About the Author: MWBEzone Staff Writer with contributions from Melissa Norden.

Sources:

When Hiring a Business Consultant

 

 

 

 

 

Are you a fast-talking business man or woman? Aggressive, passionate and observant? Well, despite your business acumen, you most probably will need a business consultant at some point during your career; Maybe at the start of your business or to make changes to adapt to altering markets. According to Joe Gross of Joe Gross Marketing, Inc., (previously of MWBEzone.com),

“A business consultant should be knowledgeable, experienced, and trust-worthy. In addition, the business consultant should have an understanding of the field of the product.”

Characteristics of a Business Consultant

Without these characteristics in your consultant, you will find lack-luster results in your business growth. It is important for a business consultant to be knowledgeable. You are depending on them, so don’t let the tables flip.

Find someone who knows what they are doing and can work with you to write a thorough business plan. This means they should have managed their own successful business and have knowledge of how to write the following sub documents:

  • executive summary
  • company description
  • market analysis
  • organization and management
  • service or product line
  • marketing and sales
  • funding request
  • financial projections, and
  • appendix.

According to Joe Gross:

“The most important thing a business needs to know about writing a business plan is to have a complete understanding and vision of what they want to achieve. This means their goals in business. They should want and need a financial understanding of costs and profit margins as well as have steps A-Z in place.”

Next, it is necessary for the business consultant to be experienced. Without prior experience, a consultant may not know how to problem-solve. For example, your business may have a very unique aspect to it that should be highlighted both in the business plan and in marketing strategies. An inexperienced consultant may look over this fact.

Finally, it is important for a consultant to be trust-worthy. If he/she is spreading confidential information about your company to competitors or the public at large, it can be disconcerting. More than that, it can be damaging. This is why it is important to look for trust in your relationship with your business consultant.

Also, the consultant should have a good understanding of the market in which you will be burgeoning. It is incumbent upon the business to include a market analysis in their business plan. Your consultant should research your market and your competitors. He/she should look into the available sales records of competitors or established companies and communicate to you what to expect. If you have questions, contact Joe Gross at 718-435-6250.

Hiring a Consultant Simplified:

If you want some tips on how to hire a business consultant, check out this book on kindle: Hiring a Consultant Simplified: A Strategic Planning Approach by Christopher Kern. This book will help a small business to decide on a business consultant. It will help you to decide on the scope of work defined for the consultant and how he or she can help you accomplish your business goals.

Be Picky

Be discerning when searching for a business consultant. Don’t settle for someone who only puts in half the effort. If you follow Joe’s formula, you should find a reliable consultant with whom your business can grow. A good business consultant will even help you figure out a crowdfunding project for your small business at Uhelpfund. He/she will help you decide from the 100 categories to match your project. Or, they may refer you to MWBEzone.com to help you search for and apply to grants.

Grants and Crowdfunding

Searching for small business grants on MWBEzone will lead you to the pricing page of GrantWatch.com, the parent company of MWBEzone, to subscribe for one of the reasonable pricing plans in order to read the entire grant and apply. Grants can help fund your business, without debt. And at MWBEzone, you will find grants tailored for women and minority business owners. You can even find government contracts there!

Crowdfunding is like opening up a fundraising campaign. Contributions come from all over, depending on who views your campaign. At Uhelpfund, you will display pictures or videos to depict your organization’s cause. If you are looking for start-up funds for your business.

You may choose a variety of up to 6 categories like below and include categories that describe your business:

What a great idea to use crowdfunding to pay for your business consultant!

About the Author: MWBEzone.com Staff Writer with contributions from Joe Gross. The consultant Joe Gross of Joe Gross Marketing, Inc. can be reached at 718-435-6250.

Guide to Fundraising Your Small Business

So, you have the vision for your business, and you are ready to make it happen. Where do you begin? First things first, write it on paper! Your vision, mission statement, location, number of employees, budget, etc. Writing puts things in perspective.

Let's talk about grants. "Woohoo free money!!" Before applying for grants, you need what's called a DUNS number. This is a nine digit number for each physical location of your business. Pretty much a Social Security Number for your business. Grants are like gifts, well, that's if you have the right qualifications. Make sure you know whether you want to be a nonprofit or for-profit organization.  Do not allow this procedure to become overwhelming. It is all part of the process. Be confident! There are a lot of great companies waiting to help you find the right grant and provide you with knowledge on the available grants.  One company at the top of that list is MWBEzone.com.

At MWBEzone.com you can find information on available grants. You can even promote your new business on GrantNews.com and find tips on how to apply for grants! Searching on MWBEzone.com might lead you to GrantWatch.com, a subsidiary of MWBEzone.com. There, you can also find real grants for businesses by clicking on “Business” on the selection to the right of the screen.

Deadlines are fast approaching so move quickly! For instance, a grant for mentorship of Israeli early-stage start up companies will stop taking applications on March 31, 2016. But, there are still other grants with deadlines in April or later in the year. So, take a look!

And for more information on how to apply for grant money for your business, check out this book titled How to Get FREE Government Grant Money for Almost Anything by Danielle Green. You can find it on Amazon.com for a very reasonable price. It may also help guide you through the process of searching for and applying for the right grants for your business. 
Now your business doors are opened. Yes, you did it!! Customers are coming in and you want them to continue to come in. Here's the best way to achieve this. What I'm about to say seems like common sense but so many companies FAIL at this. Customer Service. Yes I said it! This is huge! You have to show customers that they are appreciated. Humble yourselves. You need them and they want you. I don't need to tell you to be kind and courteous these are things we know, but as humans sometimes we forget.

In my experience with working with customers for a little over a decade, trust me they like to be finessed. Now you have your loyal customers and business is going well.

Don't forget to build your empire. Yes word of mouth is wonderful but make sure you continuously market yourself. Dont get comfortable. Social media is our friend. Post, post, post, and post some more. And get involved with your community. Hope this is helpful for you. I know it's it may seem impossible but it's NOT. You've got this!

About the Author: Tracy Berry is a customer support specialist at MWBEzone.com. She loves equipping people with knowledge to help better themselves. She empowers people to go after their vision.

3 Tips for Financing Your Woman Owned Business

If you are starting a small business, or you already own one, you probably know that most businesses that fail do so because of financial difficulties. Owning a small business requires time, effort and a taste for risk. Even a great idea, excellent customer service and a strong team can’t overcome a lack of working capital.

If you are like most business owners, you start your business with a combination of credit card debt, personal loans and savings. Did you know, if you have a business that is at least 51% women owned, there are an amazing number of grants available to you?

If you’re looking for financing, here are 3 tips to keep in mind when looking for and applying for a grant:

 

  1. Look around. Grants are available from a vast number of organizations for a variety of different types of business owners. Are you a women owned business? Are you also a veteran?  Are you a minority-owned business? Do you have a business idea that can help the planet or help the community?  Think about your business set-up, your personal experiences and avail yourself of the support available. The Women’s Small Business Start-Up Kit: A Step-by-Step Legal Guide gives you the practical and legal information you need to kickstart a successful enterprise.
  2. Don’t wait until the last minute. Grant applications are a bit more complex than other business applications. Gathering documents for the grant can take time. If you don’t have a formal, written business plan, now is the time to write one.  Many of the questions on a grant application will focus on the goals of your business and how you plan to get there.
  3. Get some help. If you have not written a grant application before, you may want to bring in an expert, especially if you are requesting a high dollar amount grant. You can request a professional grant writer at GrantWriterTeam.com. These professionals know what foundations, businesses or government agencies wants to see in an application.

 

Grants are awarded without expectation of repayment, which makes them an excellent vehicle to grow a small business. Knowing where to look and how to find the right one for your business is key.

Both MWBEzone.com and Grantwatch.com feature current grants and provide all the details you need to apply.

For really outside-the-box novel ideas, go to the crowdfunding site Uhelpfund and raise money from the general public. We will be writing more on this topic in coming weeks.

Sources: