VIDEO: How to market your brand or small business with student athletes

This summer, the NCAA opened up a new market of influencers and entrepreneurs by instating an interim policy allowing college athletes to earn money off of their image and likeness. These students are the next round of power players in their generation with the ability to sign onto sponsorships, brand campaigns, and ambassador programs.

In this webinar, experts will explain how businesses of any size can maneuver this new market. We’ll talk about how to navigate individual college guidelines and state laws, the legal parameters of drafting contracts for student athletes, what incentives these burgeoning influencers will request to sweeten their deals, and what these partnerships could do for small businesses.

Meet our panelists:

  • Tim Nevius, NCAA investigator and founder of Nevius Legal
  • Jon Chanti, executive vice president of influencer marketing agency Viral Nation
  • Megan Skaggs, gymnast and graduate student at the University of Florida

Topics covered:

At 1:11 we talk about the latest developments of the NCAA’s name, image, and likeness policy and how it affects students, colleges, and businesses.

At 10:00 we cover some legal considerations businesses should keep in mind when working with student athletes, as well as what further developments we can expect.

At 13:48 panelists explain how businesses can get student athletes to represent their brands, what student athletes look for in brands, and how to form contracts.

At 32:25 we cover more tips for forming partnerships with student athletes.

And at 47:53 we go into a Q&A to respond to viewers’ questions for our panelists.

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Here’s everything small businesses need to know about Biden’s vaccine mandate

joe biden
President Joe Biden delivers remarks from the White House.

  • A policy from the Biden Administration mandates all companies with 100 or more employees to require vaccines or weekly testing.
  • The Department of Labor’s OSHA is expected to release further guidance in the coming days.
  • Here’s what we know so far.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Biden Administration will mandate that all companies operating in the United States with 100 or more employees to require vaccines or weekly testing.

This is a firm shift in policy from months ago when government guidelines allowed companies to require their workers to get vaccinated at their discretion. In April, President Biden incentivized small businesses with tax credits if they gave employees paid time off to get vaccinated.

Now the mandate, impacting over 80 million workers, will require many small businesses to determine their own protocol and standards for employees to follow. Companies such as United Airlines, Disney, and Facebook have mandated vaccines prior to the Thursday announcement.

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is in charge of implementing this policy and is expected to release further guidance in the coming days, including when the mandate will take effect.

Here’s what we know so far.

We will be updating this post as new information becomes available.

OSHA will require all businesses with 100 or more employees to take one of two actions.

Require all employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19

Employers must also provide all employees with time off to receive the vaccination and recover from any side effects.

While vaccine mandates may make some employees more comfortable at their workplaces, AP reported some business owners are worried they will lose workers at a time companies have had hiring difficulties.

Or, require all employees to get tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis

If companies do not choose to require vaccinations, they must have all employees get tested weekly for COVID-19. It is unclear how testing will be recorded and tracked by OSHA to ensure companies are following this protocol.

Exceptions are unclear until further guidance is released

It is also unclear whether this mandate applies to employees who are solely working remote or what exclusions apply for workers with religious or health concerns. Labor unions and companies have criticized the measure and several legal concerns could overturn the policy.

Although Small businesses with less than 100 employees are not required to follow this mandate, experts advise businesses of all sizes to write their own policies to ensure clear communication and set workplace expectations around vaccinations.

Anthony Martin, owner and CEO of life insurance company Choice Mutual, previously told Insider his policy making vaccines optional for his staff of 15 gave workers clarity on the issue. “Everybody was really appreciative that they didn’t have to wonder whether or not this was going to be a problem,” he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Small businesses can now get up to $2 million in government loans to help them recover from the pandemic

Small business restaurant waitress
Small businesses are eligible to apply for up to $2 million in emergency funding.

  • The SBA raised the cap on Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to $2 million.
  • Businesses may use funds to cover business expenses such as payroll and rent.
  • The SBA will begin approving loans greater than $500,000 on October 8.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Small Business Administration has raised the cap on COVID-19 related loans from $500,000 to $2 million, to help small businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Business owners may use the funds the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) towards operating expenses over 24 months such as payroll, rent, buying equipment and materials, or paying off debt. Funds may now also be used to prepay commercial debts and federal business debt.

Businesses can apply for the increased loan amounts right away, the SBA said Thursday when it announced the revised caps. However, it will begin approving loans greater than $500,000 on October 8.

Eligible applicants include small businesses with 500 or fewer employees, non-profits, independent contractors, freelancers/self-employed, and limited types of franchise affiliates that have been in business since January 31, 2020, according to SBA guidelines.

The raised cap on the loans comes as cases of the coronavirus are again on the rise, fueled by the highly-transmissible Delta variant. The loans have been a lifeline for many small businesses that have experienced a range of economic obstacles, including lockdowns, labor shortages and supply chain issues.

Applications for the EIDL program and PPP loans are open. Businesses can apply online through the SBA. There are no application fees for loans of $25,000 or less. Loans greater than $25,000 require a $100 application fee and collateral. Loans greater than $500,000 require a $100 application fee, in addition to any associated fees for filing a lien on the applicant’s assets. A personal guaranty is also required for loans greater than $200,000.

Loan terms are 3.75% interest for businesses and 2.75% for non-profits, with a maximum period of 30 years. Borrowers will not have to begin repaying their loans until two years from origination.

The SBA is also accepting new applications for EIDL advance grants up to $10,000 for businesses of 300 or fewer employees in low-income communities, and who can prove more than 30% reduction in revenue.

EIDL applications will close on December 31, 2021, unless the program’s funding runs out sooner.

For additional emergency funding available to small businesses, see our full list here. »

Read the original article on Business Insider

I’ve been my own boss for 7 years. Here are 5 things I set aside time for every month.

jen glantz
  • Jen Glantz is an entrepreneur and the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire.
  • As a solo business owner, she follows several practices to advance her skill set and make new connections.
  • Glantz takes workshops every month, meets regularly with two mentors, and attends local networking events.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

I’ve been an entrepreneur for over seven years and while being your own boss comes with perks, it also has its downsides. I’m the only one responsible for generating income, figuring out how to innovate and when to pivot, and making big financial decisions.

When I worked full-time at a startup, the company encouraged our career development by offering workshops, hosting networking events, and encouraging time off to go to conferences. I enjoyed this networking, so when I left to go out on my own, I decided to be strategic about spending time bettering my skill set and my connections.

Now, I set aside time each month to do five things to ensure I’m growing, learning, and staying sharp as the sole employee of my business.

1. Take a course or workshop

I’m self-taught in many of the key skills I use daily for my business, from SEO to video editing, so there’s always room for improvement.

Every quarter, I map out four topics I want to learn more about and then sign up for one workshop per month. I search for free workshops on Skillshare and General Assembly, and if I need a more advanced workshop, I’ll browse Coursera for classes that span several weeks or months.

2. Meet with mentors

Having mentors has been a great way to learn and receive feedback from people I respect and admire. I have two mentors who I speak to once a month to share what I’m working on and hear their suggestions and guidance on next steps to take. These are people I met at conferences, years ago, who were already successful in the industry.

I also have two unofficial mentors who I don’t know personally but consume their content on a weekly basis by listening to their podcasts, reading their book, or watching their YouTube videos. I take away tips to help me stay focused and be more productive.

3. Do a professional audit

When you’re running your own business, it can feel like your to-do list is always getting longer. To make sure I’m not overlooking something big, I do an audit of my business once a month.

I start by examining the website for bugs or broken links. Then I review my finances and credit card statement, and rescan my inbox to make sure I didn’t miss any important emails. Doing this audit lets me catch mistakes before they become bigger issues.

4. Connect with other professionals

Being a solo-entrepreneur can be lonely. I make it a habit to schedule a virtual catch-up with a friend, former coworker, or Linkedin connection at least once a week.

I also use websites like Eventbrite and to find local networking or meetup a month events to meet other professionals in my area.

5. Take a break

One of the biggest things I’ve struggled with over the years is finding any kind of work-life balance. Now, I block off one day each month as a personal break. My rule is to spend the day offline and it helps me reset.

As a solo-entrepreneur, it’s crucial to have regular practices in place that help you stay on top of your game. Whether monthly or weekly, these habits will pay off in the long run.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 21-year-old founder and CEO behind a social media agency that’s worked with Deloitte and the UN swears by this 7:30 a.m. to midnight schedule

Picture of Erifili Gounari
Erifili Gounari

When Erifili Gounari advises her clients on their social media strategy, she tells them three things: Be community-driven, modern, and most importantly, authentic. Those practices have helped the 21-year-old grow her social media agency The Z Link, which launched last May.

The Z Link helps companies refine their appeal toward Gen Zers in the hopes of netting a piece of their $140 billion spending power. Since launching, Gounari’s company has worked with the United Nations, publishing house Hearst UK, and is currently helming a project with consulting firm Deloitte Greece. What’s more, Z Link is on track to net six figures by next year, according to documents verified by Insider.

“Social media marketing was one of the lucky industries that didn’t take a huge hit from the pandemic as the demand for it continued steadily,” said Gounari, who’s currently based in Athens, Greece.

The Z Link also operates “The Gen Z Club” room on social networking app Clubhouse, which amassed over 14,000 members since its creation in January. In addition to creating and running The Z Link, Gounari is earning her master’s degree at Imperial College Business School in London and works full-time for Silicon Valley-based insurance company SafetyWing.

Before that, she worked in social media marketing for Greece and the European Parliament and was included on Greece’s Forbes 30 Under 30 list last year.

California is ten hours ahead of Greece, adding to the difficulty of balancing two full-time jobs, Gounari said. She gave Insider an exclusive look at how she spends her day, including taking time to meditate and setting clear boundaries on when to clock out.

She wakes up around 7:30 a.m.

Coffee and oatmeal
Erifili Gounari’s breakfast

Gounari goes on a 30-minute run with her boyfriend to start her day. 

If the weather is bad, she’ll do a quick workout inside before showering and meditating. Then, she’ll eat the breakfast she prepped the night before and drink a hazelnut-flavored coffee.

It’s important to take care of both mental and physical health, so she reads a book while drinking coffee. Currently, she is reading “Working Hard, Hardly Working,” by Grace Beverly, one of her favorite entrepreneurs. 

This is the only time she’s able to incorporate reading into her day. “I took a speed-reading course earlier this year so that I can fit even more books into my life while comprehending and retaining all the information,” she said.

Around 9:30 a.m. she dives into work

A notebook next to a computer
Example of the to-do list Gounari creates each day.

She starts by making a to-do list. 

It’s imperative to stay organized while running The Z Link and working full-time at SafetyWing, she said. Gounari’s everyday tasks include reviewing content made by her team at The Z Link, coordinating with The Z Link clients, creating and scheduling content for SafetyWing, and devising social strategies for both companies. 

Then, meetings start

Picture of Erifili Gounari,
Erifili Gounari

After reviewing all of her Slack messages and handling a few projects, she starts taking meetings. She tries to handle all of her Z Link meetings first and then dive into SafetyWing projects.

“I try to keep meeting under half an hour,” she said. “The more asynchronous we can make the work, the better.” 

On this day, she met with Deloitte Greece, a new client of The Z Link, and had an onboarding meeting with a new designer that joined the team. 

She eats lunch around 2 p.m.

a salmon poke bowl
Gounari’s Lunch

During lunch, she makes sure to decompress with relaxing activities, such as watching a television show with her boyfriend.

“A relaxing lunch is so important to recharge during the workday,” she said. “And spend some more time with my boyfriend and be mindful about what I’m eating and the time I spend away from work,” she said. 

Then, she goes back to work

Erifili Gounari with a computer looking down
Erifili Gounari

When Gounari dives back in, she often finds ways to repurpose social media content from one platform to another. For example, she takes information or photos posted to Instagram and often turns them into Twitter threads. 

“Small tasks like these come up every day all related to different aspects of social media marketing,” she said. “You truly never get bored.” 

Recently, The Z Link launched an effort to hire more people and expand their current team of seven. So far, they’ve received over 70 applications, Gounari said.

“I try not to micromanage the team at all because everyone’s responsibilities are mostly the same week to week,” she said. “I just check the results they deliver and that works great for me, the team, and the clients.”

She ends work around 6 p.m. and goes to bed around midnight

Sidewalk and trees
Gounari takes morning and evening walks

At the end of the day, she joins a virtual meeting with the SafetyWing team. She also reviews whether she achieved the goals she set for herself the week prior. For example, she is working on targeting nomads and remote workers on social media while the work-from-home trend continues. 

If she finishes work early enough, she goes for a walk and eats dinner with her family. “There are times where I have to deal with a work task later in the day,” she said. “But it’s important for me to set boundaries and remind myself you should really not be working 24/7.”

On this day, she went to an open-air cinema to watch the movie “Nomandland.”

Dinner is usually around 8 p.m. and she’ll prep breakfast for the next day. To wind down, she spends time with her family and boyfriend. Around midnight she goes to sleep and does it all over again tomorrow.

Read the original article on Business Insider

JOIN OUR LIVE EVENT ON SEPT 8: How to market your business with student athletes

gymnast spreads her arms and smiles
Abby Heiskell of the Michigan Wolverines competes in the floor exercise during the Division I Women’s Gymnastics Championship held at Dickies Arena on April 17, 2021 in Fort Worth, Texas.

This summer, the NCAA opened up a whole new market of influencers and entrepreneurs by instating an interim policy allowing college athletes to earn money off of their image and likeness. These students are the next round of power players in their generation with the ability to sign onto sponsorships, brand campaigns, and ambassador programs.

In this webinar, experts will explain how businesses of any size can maneuver this new market. We’ll talk about how to navigate individual college guidelines and state laws, the legal parameters of drafting contracts for student athletes, what incentives these burgeoning influencers will request to sweeten their deals, and what these partnerships could do for small businesses.

Join us for our free event on September 8 at 1 PM EST/10 AM PST.

Meet our panelists:

  • Tim Nevius, NCAA investigator and founder of Nevius Legal
  • Jon Chanti, executive vice president of influencer marketing agency Viral Nation
  • Third panelist, TBA

Topics to be discussed include:

  • The latest developments of the NCAA’s policies and how colleges across the country are responding.
  • What legal considerations businesses should keep in mind when working with student athletes.
  • How businesses can get student athletes to represent their brands.
  • What student athletes look for in brands and what they expect in their contracts.

There will also be an opportunity to ask questions live during the webinar.

You can sign up here for our event.

Read the original article on Business Insider

7 questions entrepreneurs should ask themselves before diving into a new business venture

Black business owner entrepreneur
You should know what resources are available to you before you get started.

  • Entrepreneurs should first take a hard look at their own values before jumping into any new startup.
  • Ask yourself questions like is your timing right and should you take this on alone to start strong.
  • If you have a clear roadmap, you can build a business that will bring you more in the long run.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Most aspiring entrepreneurs I know are just waiting for that unique idea to strike them that will kickstart their new venture, put them in control of their lifestyle, allow them to achieve financial independence, and maybe even change the world.

Unfortunately, these goals are often mutually exclusive, and focusing on the wrong ones won’t bring you that business success and satisfaction you crave.

Thus, in my role as mentor to young entrepreneurs, I always recommend that you first take a hard look at your own values and priorities before jumping into any new startup, as the founder or even as a side hustle.

Here is my list of key questions to ask yourself to best route your passions to a business that will bring you more visibility and respect than pain.

Read more: I have multiple streams of income. Here are 5 of my favorite ways to make money, from print ads to affiliate marketing.

1. When is the best time to embark on this journey?

Timing is critical for every startup. I know too many who have failed because of pending family commitments, lack of preparation, or health failure. Of course, if you wait for the perfect time, you may never start. I do first recommend getting some business experience, building relationships, and managing risk.

Some advisers recommend that the best time for a startup is immediately after academic studies, or even earlier, but I find that real business experience, perhaps many years in business, is the best education on the realities of business, current tools, and processes.

2. Should I start out alone, or assemble a team first?

For me, the acid test of a leader and an idea is whether you can persuade other people, and perhaps a cofounder, to join you in your quest. A business is never a solo operation. You need complementary skills for marketing, financials, and operations. If you find no takers, you may not have a future.

3. Is monetary return or helping others your priority?

Only you know whether you can find passion in creating the next Amazon, or bringing joy to people who are suffering. I often hear that the people who have made a lot of money are still not happy, and wish they had taken a different path. Think twice before committing to a business that is work.

A winning strategy today is to combine these objectives, by committing a portion of your profits for a higher cause. For example, Toms shoes agreed to donate a pair of shoes to the needy for every pair sold. The return was far greater than the cost of donated shoes.

4. Do I rely on my own resources or seek investors?

Bootstrapping is always a great alternative, because you can retain full ownership and make all your own decisions. Yet I find that most of us don’t have the financials for that option, so we must share the equity, control, and reward, and rely on funding from family, friends, and professional investors.

5. How do I assign responsibilities and compensation?

Usually, people who are capable and willing to join a startup, especially for a key role, expect to be given a big title and real equity, if not top cash compensation. It takes real work and skill on your part to recruit the right people to the right roles. Friends and family should not be your solution.

6. Would I prefer a local business or global enterprise?

If your comfort level is local, and you don’t like too much complexity, then a small successful business will serve you well. If your goal is to compete with Jeff Bezos, then be prepared to manage thousands of locations and employees around the world, with all the issues to get exponential growth.

7. What do you see as your legacy and exit strategy?

Some people like the challenges of building a product and starting a company, and then doing it again, while others look forward to scaling the business and driving a worldwide public enterprise. Your legacy may be that of a serial entrepreneur, or an industry giant and a worldwide leader.

For example, Richard Branson relishes the satisfaction of initiating innovative startups and rewarding strong team members with the opportunity to run a joint spinoff. His Virgin Group now encompasses over 400 companies, and his legacy as a leader is assured.

Not recognizing these dilemmas early has cost many an entrepreneur their sanity, as well as their businesses. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and are driven by different values and expectations.

Only you can turn these questions and related decisions into your competitive edge, as well as satisfying results. It’s easier to set your direction early than to change it later.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The latest “it bag” is affordable, accessible, and counts Beyonce as a fan. Here’s what its business model is doing right.

  • Fashion brand Telfar is rewriting the rules of luxury and it’s not hard for other brands to follow suit.
  • With its Bag Security Program, customers have a better chance of snagging the brand’s high-demand products.
  • Experts explain why it’s paving the way for next-gen luxury consumers and entrepreneurs.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tianni Graham, 27, remembers the “before times” – that is, the harrowing months before Telfar introduced its Bag Security Program.

It was early last summer and she, along with thousands of others, was stuck testing their luck each day trying to buy the wildly popular Telfar handbag whose celeb fans include Beyonce, Selena Gomez, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Solange. But they often sold out before anyone could click ‘check out.’

It turns out, robots and resellers were buying products in bulk, making it harder for real customers to purchase them. So, last summer, Telfar introduced its Bag Security Program, in hopes of giving customers better access to its bags by allowing patrons 24 hours to pre-order any bag on the site, with no limits on how many can be purchased. The bag is then made to order, and shipped directly to the customer.

Its first drop, which happened last August, brought in about $20 million – about 10x what Telfar made in all of 2019.

Suddenly, Graham, who is also a fashion archivist and consultant, had her green Telfar bag. It arrived right before Christmas and was a “present to myself,’ she told Insider, adding that other brands could benefit from implementing a similar program. “It would make things so much easier and make the customer feel like you care.”

The program’s success shows how a luxury brand can create accessibility without losing the allure of exclusivity. The old-school model for luxury brands states the product should be scarce and elite, but the next generation of high-end consumers and entrepreneurs are taking a different route.

What’s more, Telfar is growing its exposure by becoming an official sponsor of the Liberian National team for the Olympics – Clemens is of Liberian descent. Additionally, the brand released collaborations with Ugg and Converse, accessible brands that are affordable to a mass audience, rather than Louis Vuittion and Supreme or Dior and Nike partnerships, which target the aspirational class.

Teflar is rewriting the rules of luxury, and this time, it’s not too hard for other brands to follow suit.

Telfar ‘white glove treatment’ is what next-gen luxury shoppers crave

Young consumers look less at price tags and more at brand values when determining where to spend their money; these next-gen consumers want sustainability, inclusivity, and a sense of community. The new “white glove treatment” when it comes to luxury shopping is a speedy online checkout from a brand that cares.

For Telfar’s latest drop this week, customers had the option to use the payment installment plan Klarna, making it even easier for those looking to obtain a bag. While customers will have to wait a few months before receiving the bag, people often spend years on a Birkin bag “waiting list” and most will probably never get one.

Shortly before Telfar’s program ended this week, a spokesperson for the brand told Insider it was, already, “going very well.”

Telfar started with an aim of inclusive luxury

Telfar was founded in 2005 by its eponymous founder Telfar Clemens and has dedicated the past two decades to building an inclusive business model.

In 2014, it released its now-iconic vegan leather handbag, which takes inspiration from a Bloomingdale’s shopping bag. The bags became widely available around 2018 after Telfar won $400,000 from the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, allowing the company to expand production.

Clemens described his brand to The Cut as being “genderless, democratic, and transformative,” purposely seeking to challenge the notion that high fashion is only for a certain group of people, with the brand motto being “Not For You – For Everyone.”


Now, Telfar bags come in three sizes, with prices ranging from $150 to $257. (For comparison, Birkin bags go for at least $12,000 while Black-owned luxury brands such as Brother Veilles go for at least $1,295.)

As reported by FT, handbag sales in the US declined 18% between 2016 and 2019. Yet, Telfar stood out – in 2016, the brand earned $102,000, growing to earn $2 million in 2019. Last year, New York Magazine deemed its bag the “Bushwick Birkin” and the brand was on pace to earn eight figures, even as the fashion industry was expected to take a 90% loss in profits due to the pandemic.

Boston Consulting Group’s Head of Luxury Sarah Willersdorf told Insider that Telfar has checked all the boxes on what it takes to connect with next-gen luxury shoppers. She said the brand has a narrative that “evokes emotion” and properly intertwines timelessness, creative partnerships, and culturally relevant authorities. GQ pointed out Telfar’s customer base was built, not through influencers, but through “customer aspiration alone.”

Telfar Clemens.

Raising the bar for next-gen luxury

Brands like Telfar are important in proving accessible business models can be just as lucrative. Willersdorf expects other brands to follow similar strategies in a post-pandemic world, as shopping continues to pivot online.

In the old days – a pre-millennial world, perhaps – having too much of a product is thought to dilute its value. The Bag Security program defies that. But even the most tech-savvy luxury brand is often behind the curve, as Insider has previously reported.

“Luxury brands are always nervous,” Joseph Yakuel, CEO and founder of consulting firm Within, told Insider last year. “There’s so much risk to them tarnishing their brand reputation because luxury brand price points are only supported by their perception, and if their brand perception goes down market, their price point gets eroded very quickly.”

Clemens and his artistic director, Babak Radboy, said they aren’t worried about oversaturation. It’s about community, now. The new “white glove treatment” is making sure everybody gets a pair that fits perfectly.

Read the original article on Business Insider

6 ways to test out your business idea before spending money to officially start it

Adjusting computer volume
Before investing your own money into a small business idea, test it out with your target audience.

  • Having a business idea is easy, but putting that idea to the test is where the real work comes in.
  • Entrepreneur Jen Glantz says aspiring founders should test ideas thoroughly to vet their viability.
  • Write out a business plan, research competitors, and ask your target audience for feedback.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When I first had the thought seven years ago of starting a business where strangers could hire me to be their bridesmaid, I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea. So before putting any money down, I decided to figure out if people would actually hire a stranger for their wedding day.

jen glantz

I did competitor analysis and couldn’t find any similar businesses online, so I took it a step further and asked my potential audience. After posting an ad on Craigslist, I received hundreds of messages from people all over the world who wanted to hire a professional bridesmaid.

I decided to invest in making a website, build a business plan, and create a list of different services I offered. Fast-forward, I’m now running a successful business that works with hundreds of clients every single year. Here are six ways I recommend fellow aspiring entrepreneurs test out new business ideas.

1. Write out a business plan

Map out a business plan that includes details about your target audience, industry analysis and research, how you could scale the business in six months or a year, and what your competitive advantage would be.

As you go through this process, your idea might pivot as you find out about similar companies or emerging industry trends.If you’re not sure where to start, download a free business plan template and brainstorm how you’d fill in each section.

2. Figure out the problem

Ask yourself two questions: What problems does this business idea solve, and do people actually care enough to spend money to solve these problems?

This a brainstorming gut-check to see how urgent of a business idea you have.

For example, I was thinking about starting a business around a glove for carrying a cup of hot coffee, rather than a cardboard sleeve or a cup that traps the heat that may burn your hand. But after writing down my answers to the two questions, I realized it was unlikely people would buy something new like this when other solutions out there fixed the problem well enough.

3. Research industry trends

As you’re building your business idea, keep a pulse on what’s going on with the industry. What new technology is being introduced? What does customer behavior look like this quarter? What new companies are emerging?

Read industry blogs or publications weekly, subscribe to podcasts from industry experts, and set free Google Alerts to get a daily recap of what’s happening.

4. Eyeball potential competitors

When I was thinking about my coffee glove business, I made a list of competitors who were also solving the problem of coffee cups being too hot to hold.

I researched each company, noting things like their branding, marketing efforts and social media, user design flow on their website, and customer experience. I made a list of what each company did well, what they did that wasn’t so great, what my company could do that was better, and any other competitive advantages.

5. Ask questions to your audience

Getting feedback, suggestions, and even hearing excitement from your potential audience is a great way to gain perspective on your business idea.

Find where your potential audience is having conversations online and join in. For example, I use Quora, Reddit, and Facebook groups to locate my audience, browse the questions they’re asking, and use that insight as a way to enhance my business.

6. Find beta testers to test out your idea

This step requires that you have something for people to test, whether it’s a sample of the product or a soft-launch of the website or mobile app you’re creating.

Set up a way for them to give real-time feedback during every step of the experience. This information will help you fix any holes in your process and get your business ready for more consumers to enjoy.

Having an idea for a business is a powerful and exciting moment. Before you put money behind the idea and launch it, spend time experimenting to see if it’s a viable business that will be as successful as you want it to be.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How the Black tech community is leveraging business models that made hip-hop become a massive cultural and business phenomenon

Josh Otis Miller
Josh Otis Miller is a filmmaker and director of the upcoming documentary “Fund Black Tech.”

  • Lauren deLisa Coleman is a trend analyst and author at the intersection of pop culture and emerging tech.
  • Coleman says business patterns in Black tech are reminiscent of the hip hop industry in the 90s.
  • For Black founders “it’s about moving strategically and blowing up,” says Coleman.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Forget the former tech mantra of move fast and break things. For Black tech entrepreneurs and founders, who receive less than 1% of venture-capital funding, it’s about moving strategically and blowing up.

Lauren deLisa Coleman
The author.

As an AI entrepreneur with a background in the hip-hop music industry, I’ve started noticing business patterns in Black tech that look a lot like what I saw during the golden era of hip hop in the 90s.

Strong business models coupled with sheer talent enabled hip hop to become a multi-billion-dollar industry.

Hip-hop artists’ unparalleled, multi-pronged approach to the business grind almost never slept. Many recording artists were also CEOs of independent labels. They may have also had a promotional company or graphic design firm, as well as a clothing label or accessories line in partnership with streetwear designers.

They were veritable factories of business and selling. And then this was all amplified by “the crew” – or in mainstream speak, a collective.

The unmatched Wu-Tang Clan was and continues to be its own kind of crew from that era; the Dogg Pound Gangstaz went beyond duo Daz and Kurupt to include artists Snoop Dogg, Warren G, Nate Dogg, and the D.O.C. You get the idea.

But these legendary crews weren’t just about creativity and recognition – they were also about sales. Hockey-stick earnings growth followed, coming from a self-supported, self-directed business approach that made many in the hip-hop industry very successful.

Read more: A Black founder raised millions from VCs. He shares his best tips on how to overcome investing bias and succeed in Silicon Valley.

Now, we’re beginning to see various ‘crews’ and collaborations emanate from the Black tech space.

A perfect example of this is the Black NFT “crew” Crypto for Black Economic Empowerment (CBEE) led by finance whiz Erikan Obotetukudo who partnered with Cuy Sheffield, a CryptoArt collector and acting head of crypto at VISA.

Obotetukudo launched the CBEE as a place for Black crypto entrepreneurs to connect and share tips. Through Sheffield, it also provides introductions and collaborations to amplify projects deemed worthy for certain entrepreneurs outside of the group.

Recently this crew banded together by pooling resources and leveraging notable names like rapper Pusha T and model Tyra Banks to support the drop of ex-Dodger MLB player-turned-artist Micah Johnson’s NFT art debut, which ended up selling out at $1.4 million in seven minutes.

And then, there’s Trillicon, a collective of technologists, photographers, and designers known as the Wu-Tang of tech.

“‘Trillicon’ is a play on the phrase ‘Trill’ or true and real,” Trillicon CEO Jason Mayden told Insider. “In 2014, as a faculty member at Stanford, I began to connect with other like-minded individuals. We formed a collective as an extension of my private design and business strategy practice.”

Trillicon CEO Jason Mayden
Trillicon CEO Jason Mayden.

“We all ran in adjacent circles; some of us went to college together and others were friends of friends. It was our faith, personal ethos, and collective aspiration to be servant leaders to advance tech and entrepreneurship,” said Mayden.

“For founders of color, our challenges and emotional and mental toils have varying degrees of complexity and nuance that result from generations of disenfranchisement. As an outsider, it was important to define my unique perspective to ideating and problem-solving.”

As much as hip hop is beloved now, initially it was very much considered persona non grata in both the major music industry and culture at large.

Kino Childrey, a manager in the music industry who’s worked artists like 2021 Grammy rap nominee Royce da 5’9, told Insider, “Hip hop was considered outside the typical recording industry parameters. We were kept out for a long time, (as) outcasts. People didn’t get it.”

Childrey says many in hip hop realized that collaboration was the key to success. By working together, artists could motivate major record labels to get on board, with the liquor and fashion industries following.

Josh Otis Miller, a filmmaker and director of an upcoming documentary entitled “Fund Black Tech” echoed these sentiments.

Josh Otis Miller
Josh Otis Miller is a filmmaker and director of the upcoming documentary “Fund Black Tech.”

“Hip hop emerged out of Black voices being suppressed,” he said, “and what is happening in the tech scene is Black voices, Black ideas, being suppressed. Today, hip hop is the biggest income generator in the music industry, the biggest culture-setter in the entire world. Imagine a world where Black ideas and Black tech businesses get a voice.”

When even the National Science Foundation SBIR grants for tech founders holds over years at an average of only 8% of award for all others than Caucasian males, you’ve gotta get creative to find your way as a founder of color.

“Tech is about reimagining,” added Childrey, “so this hip hop approach is demonstrative of that. It’s about taking the path of least resistance in order to survive and overcome those trying to hold you back.”

Lauren deLisa Coleman is a digi-cultural trend analyst, author, and speaker within the intersection of popular culture, emerging tech, and the impact of such trends on business and governance.

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