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Last Chance to Nominate Your Favorite Small Business

Good people, as you may know Black Enterprise is looking for the best small business! We know that you’re in the know, so we’d like you to tell us what you know about the best small business out there and why! We’re clearly on a massive hunt. The deadline for this search is Tuesday, March 22, so we need you to get to submitting!

[Related: Women Angels Funding Female Startups]

Here’s how you can help: if you know of an exceptional small business making an impact on an industry by bringing new products to the forefront, redefining sales strategies, and discovering new and profitable markets, we’d like to know about them.

Note that each small business, with the exception of the Entrepreneur of the Year Award, must be independently owned, at least 2 years old, at least 51% black-owned, and generate annual revenues of at least $ 250,000 but not exceeding $ 20 million, have a minimum of three employees, and show a pattern of increasing revenues for the two years preceding application or raised a round of capital from venture capitalist or other private equity investors for tech startups.

If you know a business that fits these criteria, we’d like to know all about it.

Below are the category nomination requirements:

  • Techpreneur of the Year-This award is given to a fast-growing company that is delivering groundbreaking technology products or is disrupting the digital industry in some manner.
  • Family Business of the Year – This award is presented to a family-operated business that exemplifies the combined experience and expertise needed to excel in a key industry.
  • Franchise Owner of the Year – This award is presented to a franchisee for outstanding performance and overall contribution in enhancing the growth and development of the franchising industry.
  • Teenpreneur of the Year – This award recognizes entrepreneurs, age 19 or under, committed to the tradition of black business achievement.

The lucky winner of the highly coveted Small Business Award will be inducted into the Small Business Awards Hall of Fame and granted VIP access to the 2016 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit, May 4–7, at the Loews Hotel Miami, Miami, Florida.

*Again, all entries must be received by Tuesday, March 22, 2016! 

Click here to submit your nomination. Register now to secure your spot at the 2016 BE Entrepreneurs Summit, May 4th-7th, Loews Hotel Miami, Miami, Florida.

Be sure to follow Black Enterprise on social media @BlackEnterprise for Entrepreneur Summit news, highlights, and updates. Use hashtag #BESummit to stay in the loop. Please be on the lookout at BlackEnterprise.com as speakers, activities, and sessions are announced.

Black Enterprise

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Instagram Changes their Algorithm and What That Means for your Business

Instagram[1]Algorithms, algorithms, algorithms. Word on the street is that Instagram is shifting its content feed to ensure viewers see the content they’re really interested in. Other social media networks have made this switch; namely Facebook back in 2009 and last month Twitter changed its timeline to show tweets out of order instead of the reverse chronological (newest tweets on top). It seems now Instagram has ventured into this area.

Testing this new algorithm means instead of seeing posts in reverse chronological order, Instagram will place priority on the photos and videos it thinks you most want to view from the people you follow at the top of your feed. It doesn’t matter what time the post was originally shared. For entrepreneurs and small businesses currently leveraging social media to showcase their products and services, news of an algorithm change should not come as a shock. Instagram currently has more than 400 million users and is available to download on iOS, Android, and Windows.

So, what does this move by Instagram mean for you, your business and your brand and how do you prepare for these changes? I’m glad you asked.

  1. Analyze your best and worst performing content. Check out Union Metrics free Instagram tool and determine your most popular post, best performing hashtags, and your top fans.

  1. Create branded social media templates so that when people are scrolling through their timelines your post automatically catches the eye.

  1. Create engaging content with every picture or video post and be sure to use a CTA  (call to action)—ask your followers to tag their friends, repost your post, and to double tap to show some love.

  1. Pay to Play – It might be time to fork over the cash to get right in front of your target audience with Instagram ads. You can choose from a variety of advertisement types including video and carousel ads.

The bottom line for small business owners and entrepreneurs is to get not only creative but also become more meaningful with the types of content you’re sharing. Being overtly sales-y isn’t going to cut it anymore. The content you share via social media should be relatable, engaging, and less obtrusive than ever before.

Black Enterprise

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Going to Africa: 3 Steps to Transition Your Business and Successfully Penetrate the Market

(Image: C Moore Media)

It’s no secret: Africa is a continent that is being touted by experts, residents, and media alike as a more-than-emerging, enterprise gold mine.

Though the challenges of infrastructure, corruption, and terrorism are still present, taking on lucrative ventures is not such a far-fetched idea, especially for black entrepreneurs and professionals.

[Related: These Are the Top Skills Needed to Stand Out in Today’s Job Market]

Political leaders, celebrities, and businessmen have embraced relations with African countries, returned to live there, and even supported legislation and initiatives to support African Americans to “return.” In Ghana alone, there are more than 3,000 African Americans who have resettled, and as corporations invest in infrastructure, education, and talent acquisition efforts for a global and diverse workforce, the chance to work there is becoming more and more abundant.

Claudine Moore, an award-winning public relations professional and founder of C. Moore Media, is one American whose love for the continent was strengthened after a 2009 visit to South Africa.

“I completely fell in love. I thought that since I’d started my own firm, I’d merge my passion for Africa with my business, and I began to focus more on getting clients based on the continent while continuing my work with U.S. clients as well.”

Moore’s client list has grown to include Arik Airlines and multi-millionaire philanthropy and business powerhouse, Tony Elumelu. She now has several bases for her company, including New York, London, and Lagos, Nigeria.

Below, she shares three tips for taking your business or professional pursuits to Africa:

Experience the country and culture first before making a full transition. Stay for at least a six-month period to know how things are there before you take the leap, Moore says. “Immerse yourself. To stay for two weeks at a time, it will seem like an extended vacation, but once you’re living in a country and see it from a day-to-day, long-term perspective, you really get a true sense of what it’s like going to and from the office, the costs, how to schedule meetings, any infrastructure issues, and just daily life.”

Be aware of all your options financially when transitioning for an opportunity. ”I was fortunate because I was headhunted, so the compensation package was negotiated accordingly,” Moore says. As a business owner, you’ll have to budget commuting expenses, exchange rates, relocation fees and whether it’s worth your while to fully relocate or to simply travel back and forth, Moore adds. “To relocate to some African countries, like Nigeria or Kenya,  can be expensive. For example, in Nigeria, you traditionally have to pay a whole year or two up front for an apartment.”

Have solid goals, a passion for doing business in the country, and the stamina to see them through. “It’s not for the fainthearted. I enjoy it but it takes a certain amount of resilience to stay the course,” Moore says. “You have to have passion for what you’re there for. Some of the things you deal with on a daily basis can really wear you down, even if it’s as simple as sitting in traffic for hours trying to get to a meeting. You’ll need to find outlets so that you can lead a balanced life.”

“I’ve found a great gym, a salon, and a church, and my friends and I get together to support one another,” she adds. “I love it.”

Black Enterprise

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Black Women Business Owners Outpace All Other Startups Six Times National Average

 The number of businesses owned by minority women has increased from 1 in 6 in 1997 to 1 in 3 in 2015, per the 2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express OPEN.

While non-minority women-owned firms grew 40% over the 18-year time period, black women-owned firms grew 322% and Latina-owned firms grew 224%. Women now own 30% of all businesses in the U.S., accounting for some 9.4 million firms. And African American women control 14% of these companies, or an estimated 1.3 million businesses, employing 297,500 workers and generating $ 52.6 billion in revenue.

[Related: New Startup Accelerator Addresses Needs of Minority and Women Entrepreneurs Who Have Limited Access]

What’s more, studies show that women tend to create home-based micro businesses and personal service based businesses, while men starting businesses are entering construction and contracting fields. Washington, DC and New York, New York are reportedly two cities with high rates of black female entrepreneurship.

Black women are the fastest-growing entrepreneurs in the nation, starting businesses at six times the national average.

Despite such numbers, African American female entrepreneurs start their ventures with less funding then men. They also receive less money from private investors. In 2014, 36% of startups pitching to angels were women-led and 15% of these secured funding, while 24% of firms presenting were minority-led and of these 16% received angel investment, according to the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire.

In addition to access to capital, access to influential networks and mentors are challenges facing women entrepreneurs in growing their businesses.

“One of the most remarkable entrepreneurial trends in recent years is the phenomenal growth among black women. The number of firms skyrocketed. And employment and receipts are increasing too, but not nearly at the same rate. There’s a lot more to this story, and we’re excited to explore these important questions,” stated Amanda Brown, executive director, National Women’s Business Council.

Related Story: Walker’s Legacy To Research Fastest Growing Segment of Entrepreneurs: Black Women

Walker’s Legacy, a national women-of-color in business collective, has been contracted by the National Women’s Business Council and the SBA Office of Advocacy to conduct research that aims to identify the unique opportunities of black women business owners and entrepreneurs, and assess the unique challenges and barriers they face.

BY THE NUMBERS

30% of all U.S. businesses women now own

14% of all U.S. businesses controlled by black women

9.4 M Total number of firms owned by women

1.3 M Total number of firms owned by black women

297,500 Workers employed by black women-owned firms

$ 52.6 B Revenues generated by black women-owned firms

Source: The 2015 State of Women Owned Businesses Report

Black Enterprise

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From $15,000 to $400,000: What You Didn’t Know About the Lace-Front Wig Business

(Image: istock)

Helmet head. Too Plastic. Too masculine. Just a hot mess. These are all phrases that have been used by women to describe lace-front wigs.

A hairpiece first used in show business to create the illusion of a real hairline for performers and actors in costume—or their alter-egos—lace-front wigs became a mainstream consumer product offered in beauty supply and wig stores across the nation as early as 2000, giving women the option to get their ‘Beyonce on’ in the office, at church or on that special vacation. The units feature lace at the hairline–often in a tan, white or peach hue—where individual strands of hair are hand-tied to the lace to create an more scalp-like look and versatility.

Over the years, the wigs have improved from easy-to-spot fashion faux pas to innovative, natural-looking accessories that not only have people wondering, ‘Is that her hair?’ but offering complements to the wearer and the stylist.

Today, the cost of one lace-front wig can range from as low as $ 30 to as luxe as $ 3,000 (for special customization), and the units have now become quite the normal, chic staple among women who not only enjoy the style diversity they afford, but those who suffer from hair loss due to medical conditions or hereditary balding. And where there’s a need, there’s always companies filling it, and experts put the black haircare industry at $ 500 billion by 2017, with a large part of those revenues coming in from wig and hair extension consumption.

One savvy young entrepreneur who has tapped into the market is 25-year-old Tyann Hodges, founder of Allure & More. A hairstylist by trade, she took $ 15,000 in savings and investments to launch a custom lace wig and beauty brand that has brought in, according to Hodges, $ 400,000 in revenues in the first year alone. She recently launched a course series to teach stylists and beauty enthusiasts the do’s and don’t of wig installation and maintenance and the business side of selling the units. Below, she shares five tips that helped her succeed in launching the brand:

1. Get training and stay up to date on the latest hair trends and techniques. “The industry is constantly changing and you want to remain competitive, especially in haircare where there are so many options available to consumers,” Hodges says. “Find your niche. For us, it is customizing the hairline, hair textures and offering different types of lace for a variety of skin tones and needs.”

2. Maximize the art of the visual sale by showcasing your product via a Website and your social media platforms. “When I first started, I’d see lace-front wigs that weren’t applied properly or just looked horrible, so I decided to offer an alternative and train,” Hodges says. “We feature our clients and people who love and wear our products on social media. That’s the best testimonial right there.” Hodges added that she also launched her business first online, starting an e-commerce site to sell the wigs and customization services.

3. Diversify your sources of funding to start the business. Hodges said that she worked in an office job to save up the startup funds, along with being a hairstylist. She also got support from family and friends. “You do what you have to do for your dream,” she adds. “Think outside of the box in terms of how you will accumulate the funds to get your Website going. Source your products from overseas and invest in the best to offer your customers.”

4. Embrace trial and error and practice quality control. Hodges says she gets her product from foreign companies because, for her, they have the resources to accommodate the needs of her business in terms of volume and manpower. “Also, you may have to try out different vendors and distributors for quality control and to find out whether the process, from warehouse to your business to your customers, works for you both production-wise and financially,” Hodges says.  Search out vendors via the Web or get recommendations from other entrepreneurs in the industry. You can also get information via hair shows, such as Bronner Bros., or online forums.

5. Partner with others in the hair industry to expand your product and brand reach. Hodges highly recommends being collaborative where it makes sense and embracing fellow entrepreneurs in your industry not just as competition. “There’s enough money out here for all of us, and since the needs of the customers change so much, there will always be opportunities to cater to them.”

Black Enterprise