Monday, August 27, 2012

Career Question: Opening a Teachers Store…Where Should I Start

I want to open my own teacher’s store, but I have no clue where to start. What would you suggest?

1st Thing – Determine your niche
This first thing is really important. You have to know what you will offer and who you will offer it to. Ask around. What do teachers need and want to buy? What of those things do you want to sell? Will you be a general store or specialize? Will you offer services as well as products? Know every detail of these answers and try to be as specific as possible. Being sure about this first thing will make your subsequent business decisions much easier. It will also make creating a mission statement and developing a vision much easier as well.

2nd Thing – Do your research and put together a business plan
During this first part of planning your business, you’ll be doing a lot of research. It may be helpful to keep a binder or multi-subject notebook with each section dedicated to notes for each part of your business plan. It will speed things up when you are ready to put your business plan together.

How will you handle:
  • Bookkeeping
  • Marketing
  • HR (if you will have employees)
  • Day-to-day operations
If you’re not sure how to develop a business, put together a business plan, or manage your own business…it’s okay; you can learn. If you don’t want to learn, that’s okay too; you can outsource, but I would still recommend to at least understand the basics of the tasks you’re outsourcing.

You don’t need to know the specifics of this second thing just yet because you’re just starting out, but you do need to know that these are things you will need to build into your business plan. Knowing the parts of a business plan will help you organize your research and your thoughts. Checkout this article for more on the parts of a business plan.

3rd Thing – Start looking for suppliers
Suppliers can have an impact on your day-to-day operations and other aspects of your business depending on their cost and merchandise availability, so technically it could have fit in with the 2nd thing (your business plan), but I felt the need to mention it separately. I wanted to highlight it because you should start thinking about suppliers as early as possible to ensure you find suppliers that you trust and are happy with.

Final Suggestion – Surround yourself with positive, supportive people
Starting a business can be overwhelming, even for people who have started multiple businesses. Surround yourself with positive people who support you and your goals. When you get discouraged or lose motivation, you will want people in your corner that can help get you back in the right mindset and back on track to reaching your goals.

So as a recap, to get started with your teacher’s store, I suggest you should:
  1. Determine your niche
  2. Do your research and put together a business plan
  3. Start looking for suppliers
  4. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people
I hope these suggestions have helped you Shanique. Good luck and stay motivated as you move forward with your ambitions!

#ShesaBoss and #theGB blog

Monday, August 20, 2012

Inbox Interview 7: M.B. Productions Has a Passion for Fashion and Everything Girls Love!

Mathena Blanding, owner of M.B. Productions, has a passion for fashion and helping fashion industry players (big or small) become greater! Through the production of various events, M.B. Productions helps models, designers, and artists showcase their work and develop their product — THEMSELVES.

She’s a Boss caught up with Mathena via Facebook inbox to learn more about M.B. Productions and their upcoming events. Get acquainted  with this young professional and her event production business when you read the rest of this month’s Inbox Interview. Enjoy ©

#ShesaBoss: Tell us about M.B. Productions and what motivated you to start an event production company.

Mathena: My Company is very different from others because I specialize in three areas — event coordination, fashion show production, and model development. Most of my events are fashion based [and when developing them] I like to think outside of the box. I plan events for anyone who loves fashion and understands the life style and [I like to work with] people who respect creativity.

What motivated me to start M.B. Productions is my love for fashion; it's not all about clothing. Fashion is a life style and a way to express yourself in many different ways.

#ShesaBoss: When did you launch MB productions and what has been your most memorable moment since?

Mathena: It's been seven years now and throughout the years I have had different types of events. From fashion shows to musical showcases and parties. My most memorable moment was my Roc tha Mic events. It was a way to get artists in one place and under one roof to build, learn, and become better. At every show I saw my sisters face; she is no longer here so that event really was great moments for me. She was my number one fan.

#ShesaBoss: When you think about the future of MB Productions, what do you see?

Mathena: Wow, my vision is so big! But over all my vision is to have a team of creative minds working as one. I want to be known not only as a business [that achieves], but also as a company that helps others to achieve their goals. I want to give a positive service back to others as M.B. Productions moves further towards greatness.

*Note: There is a new location. See paragraph below
#ShesaBoss: Speaking of the future. Your next event, Everything Girls Love, is August 25th. Can you tell us more about that and where the idea for the event came from?

There’s so much talent here in Albany, I wanted to have an event that would help others as well as myself. THIS event is based around fashion, beauty & pleasure which every girl loves! When I came up with the idea so many people reached out to me. Some first timers as well as others who have done vendor events before. We will also have To life! from Delmar, NY; they will be giving out information for anyone interested in learning about breast cancer.

I'm happy to have so many creative companies coming together as one to make this a successful event.

#ShesaBoss: What events do you have in store for the remainder of the year and into 2013?

Maybe another vendor event or some type of social networking for models. In 2013, I am having a fashion show that's going to based around different tribes and that's all I can give away!

Everything Girls Love will be held this Saturday, August 25th from 1pm-9pm in Albany, NY on 77 Central Ave. If you would like to stay in touch with Mathena and M.B. Productions, find her on Facebook as Thena Patrice Blanding.

#ShesaBoss and #theGB blog

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

When the Going Gets Tough: Change Your Approach, Not Your Goal!

When life seems to be working against you, don’t give up; don’t surrender to the thoughts and people telling you to put your goals aside. As long as your goal is SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time bound), you can reach it.

Check out these common reasons for why “the going gets tough” and their solutions.

Trying too hard. We often end up trying too hard if we’re (a) in a hurry to see results or (b) have NOT been seeing results, but be warned, trying harder is not always the answer. In fact, you may end up seeing the results you were pushing for, but then find that you’re not ready for them. The solution: Step back, slow down, and don’t push things to blossom before their time. Whatever process you have to go through (job search, career change, etc), trust it and try to enjoy it, because no good ever came from cutting corners. Don’t work harder, work smarter.

Loss of sight. This is a biggie. If you’re so caught up in achieving your vision that you’ve forgotten why you started or how far you’ve come, you’ve lost sight. You can lose sight even if you ARE achieving your goals! The solution: Reconnect with your why. What’s your vision and how will the goals you set get you there? Find the emotion in your response; if there’s no emotion, it’s not motivating enough and maybe that’s why your goal got too tough.

“You gotta want it,” but first you’ve got to know what it is you want…then you’ve got to remind yourself and remind yourself again.

Overworked. Losing out on sleep? Not enough time for family, friends, interests, or hobbies? You might be overworked (or overworking yourself). This can have a strong impact on how you perceive your goal. If you’re missing out on personal and social things that are important to you, then your goal just may not seem worth it. The solution is simple. Just take some time off to do the things you enjoy, repeat regularly, and actually enjoy them.

Constant obstacles. This often stems from personal error or misjudgment. Something is only deemed an obstacle if you’re not prepared for it. If you find yourself dealing with frequent challenges, perhaps you did not prepare yourself well enough. The solution: Do more research. Maybe you need more up to date information or more perspective. Take advantage of networking and really get to know people; what better way to learn how to overcome something than from someone who has already done it themselves!

The more aware you are of potential obstacles, the better you can plan around them or be ready with another course of action. Knowledge is power; don’t skimp yourself.

Final Thoughts
Sorting through and reconnecting with your goals may be enough to solve your problems. If not, you must be ready to part with your old ways of doing things and be willing to step outside your comfort zone because that’s where the magic happens, that’s where ambitions are achieved!

Remember, plans will always change, but if you have a SMART goal and watch out for these common pitfalls, you can work your way over any obstacle with the right plan.

#ShesaBoss and #theGB blog

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Gaining Experience (Part II)

In part I you found how to use networking as an ongoing strategy to find and reveal opportunities to gain experience. In this second part, you’ll find descriptions of some the opportunities that can come from branded networking. You’ll also find perspective on how traditional opportunities can be of value while you build your career. By implementing a dynamic gaining experience strategy, you will maximize your opportunities and set yourself up for success.

Temp Agencies
Agencies are typically free to join and because they do all the work for you, you can carry out other element of your gaining experience strategy (that you may love, but bring you no income) while paid opportunities are being found for you! Being a temp agency client is a smart move for any gaining experience strategy.

Volunteer opportunities are everywhere, even in a slow job market you will be able to find opportunities to volunteer. Volunteering gives you legitimate experience while allowing you to explore different work roles and occupations with limited commitment. You can also use volunteer jobs as a way to harness or build new skills. Prevent gaps in your employment history by volunteering while you’re employed; it also shows potential employers that you have initiative to do something constructive during your free time.

Freelancing allows you to make money while doing something of your choosing; usually a service and always something you’re good at if not at least competent in doing. Choose something you love then sell yourself to a market of people who would benefit from your services. Easier said than done, but if you’ve branded yourself well then half the challenge is already over.

Blogging not only gives you marketing and writing experience, but it is also a great way to build your network and add value to your branding strategy (if you blog on a topic relevant to your brand). Clickhere to read about blogging from the point of view of student fashion blogger,Stephanie Ukpere.

Direct Sales
The business of direct selling is horrible!...if heard from the point of view of someone who has been bothered by friends, family, or colleagues, but from the perspective of a careerist, direct sales companies offer great opportunities for professional development while gaining experience; and they're always hiring. Through the training and development programs that many direct sales companies offer, a consultant can learn and gain experience in business management and sales. Note: Direct sales companies all come with different policies, commissions, and start up fees (no risk, no reward) —so do your research before making the leap.
Some comapnies now offer special training programs to students

Even with all the options and approaches to gaining experience available to you, you may still struggle to find available opportunities; if you find yourself in this situation, my philosophy is this: if you can’t find an opportunity, create one! With that said, try finding ways you can help a local charity or small business in exchange for a letter of recommendation, referrals, or even a JOB. Create your own project proposals or help with an existing one.

What strategies and options have you used during your efforts to gain experience? Share in the comments below!

#ShesaBoss and #theGB blog

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gaining Experience (Part I)

Lack of experience can stagnate you at any point in your career, especially as a student or young professional launching a career or just landing a job can be a challenge. In fact, in some cases you may have experience, but not the right kind. In any case, you may need to do some research on what would qualify you to land the job of your dreams.

Finding time to research can be frustrating if your current situation doesn’t allow you to slow down or waste time, but breathe and research anyway; it will save you tons of time and effort in the long run.

This article and its second part will share advice and make you aware of options you have when trying to gaining experience.

Do informational interviews with people in your desired field
MY Best Advice: Do Your Research…
Before you worry about gaining experience, first seek to understand what kind of experience — as well as knowledge, skills, and connections — you need to land an opportunity AND succeed at it.

One way to do that is through job shadowing and informational interviews. Both help with occupational research by facilitating a better understanding of work role requirements. Informational interviews give you a chance to ask a professional career related questions in an informal environment. Job shadowing allows you to accompany a professional while they carry out their daily duties and is a great compliment to informational interviews.

How do you find someone to shadow? Some career centers have placement programs that will locate and secure a professional for you; otherwise, you have to rely on the power of your network.

…then Brand Yourself and NETWORK!
Maintaining a good network is the single most important thing you can do for your career! For students and young professionals, networking can lead to internships and job opportunities if you practice good networking habits. With that said, good networkers are ones who brand themselves. They present a consistent on and offline image that mirrors their career and professional interests (you can mirror your interests through your online and offline interactions by sharing advice, opinions, and content related to your professional interests).  

Be careful not to exaggerate your qualifications or present yourself in a way that leads others to think you are in a position greater than you actually are. Be confident in your strengths, be willing to work on your weaknesses, and be ready to apply yourself in whatever opportunity comes next because not everyone is looking for an expert or seasoned professional — YOU, the way you are right now may be just what someone is looking for; it’s your job to let them know you’re available.

Other Ways to Gain Experience
Temp agencies, Volunteering, Freelancing, Blogging, and Direct Sales Companies are other proactive ways you can gain experience — experience that builds your resume and allows you to practice new skills and sharpen old ones.

Keep your eyes out for part II where each tactic above is elaborated on to include how it works to gain you your much needed experience.

#ShesaBoss and #theGB blog

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Inbox Interview 6: ...A Writer from the Start

After working for the New York State Assembly for years, one final pass up sent Lishone’ Genovese’s career in a very different direction; one that she would have complete control over. She is real, straightforward, and resilient — traits that have helped her in life and in building a successful business all without wavering on her beliefs.

Guided by faith, Lishone’ launched Zls Publishing. What is now (and has been for years), “Albany, NY’s #1 Book Publishing Company.” In addition, her company also publishes Pen and Profit$, a magazine for authors and entrepreneurs.

Read her interview to find out just what led her to owning her own business and her advice to help you do the same. Don’t judge this article from the intro; it only scratches the surface. Read on and you will be intrigued. Enjoy ©

#ShesaBoss: What was your career path like; what led you to book publishing and owning your own company?

Lishone’: My career path is nothing like I imagined it would be. When I was a little kid, I wanted to be either a writer, a singer or a dancer. When I was in high school, I wanted to be an attorney or in entertainment. When I got to college, I realized that entertainment wasn't for me and decided I wanted to be a judge. God had other ideas. I went to work for the New York State Assembly and my experiences there showed me that government and politics are not for me. I started my business after I had been passed up three times for a promotion and my boss pulled me into her office, thanked me for training everyone she had promoted ahead of me, told me I did great work, but if I wanted to move up I'd have to change my personality. What she was telling me is that I don't kiss booty and in order to move up, I'd have to kiss some behind. I wasn't raised to do that, so I knew at that very moment, this wasn't what I was suppose to be doing or where I was suppose to be.

I went back to my desk saying a prayer and asking God to lead me to where I'm suppose to be because obviously this is not it. I heard book publishing. I just accepted that. I had already been writing for a magazine for 10years, had already been published as a co-author in about 4 books at that time, had already written an article for the Buffalo Law Review, so writing wasn't a problem. I did some research, found there were no book publishing companies located anywhere in Albany, NY and started doing some research.
I heard the voice of God and just jumped into the path that he wanted to place me. There are no entrepreneurs in my family; I'm the first. Doing it just felt right. I was miserable at the NYS Assembly and so when I analyzed what God had told me to do, I just knew owning my own company was the perfect thing for me. Plus, I could leave it to my daughter.

#ShesaBoss: Besides "not kissing booty,” what other principles or values guided your career choices?

June/July 2012 Issue
Lishone’: I grew up in foster care. I was adopted but the adoption didn't work out because I was abused. While in foster care, I was lucky enough to get involved with a foster care advocacy organization where I learned about my rights in foster care. Knowing I had rights changed everything. I have always been resilient and have always been a fighter but now I had a longing for justice. That wanting to right the wrongs done by others is what had me wanting to be an attorney and a judge until I realized it wasn't for me. This is still with me, although I use it differently. No other publishing company provides as much information about publishing as my company does and for me, this is my way of making sure that authors get the right information and that if they are done wrong by someone, they have the tools necessary to make sure they don't get done wrong again and again.

I know there are so many folks that will take advantage of authors and if my tips can prevent that because an author is better informed, then that is what my hope is and that is what I'm going to do

#ShesaBoss: How do you define career success?

Lishone’: Good question. For me, it's a few things: 1) Accomplishing the stuff on my goals list, 2) Knowing that I'm helping authors out and knowing that what we provide helps them out and helps them accomplish their goals, 3) Career success is having created something I can leave to my daughter one day. It's creating a legacy to leave behind.

#ShesaBoss: With that being said, have you achieved your definition of career success; or do you have more career aspirations you plan to achieve?

Lishone’: For the most part I have. There are still some books I plan on getting out, growing the business a little more, that sort of thing. The longer you are in business, you will find that your goals and career objectives will change, so I know I haven't accomplished everything on my list as there are some things that aren't on my list yet. At the present time, I have no intentions on starting another business, but God may have other plans. I'm open to them and whatever my future holds.

#ShesaBoss: What advice would you give a young entrepreneur or authorpreneur trying to make a name for themselves inside an organization or in their community?

Lishone’: I would tell a young entrepreneur a few things: 1) Listen to your gut. You've been given it for a reason, use it as it will help you along your entrepreneurial journey. 2) Listen to the advice of others who have been where you are trying to go. They have already been through the hurdles, listen to them so you don't go through the same hurdles. 3) Spend your money wisely. Don't get over excited and waste money on things not needed for your business. 4) Have some integrity. Nothing will sink your business faster than a lack of integrity. People will talk about you, your lack thereof and it will ruin everything you are trying to do. Always be honest, remember the morals you were raised with and use them every day. Your business has a better chance of growing when you show and practice integrity.

To learn more about Zls Publishing visit Also, like Pen and Profit$ on Facebook to stay connected! It is a great resource to authors and entrepreneurs looking to get their business (or book) off the ground.

#ShesaBoss and #theGB blog

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mentor Hunting [GB] Edition

Finding a mentor is a lot like a job hunt. You can just jump right in and apply (ask someone to be your mentor), or you can follow a few simple steps before that to get better results.

In the rest of this article you’ll find steps to executing a mentor hunt and how they relate to finding a job.

Step 1. Define Your Objective
When you define your objective in a job search it helps you filter your job search and screen employers. If you think of mentors as employers, defining your objective helps you do the same thing when searching for a mentor.

Define your mentor search objective by asking yourself these 3 questions and answering them honestly:

1.      Why do you want a mentor?
Your potential mentors may want to know the answer to this question along with details of your career path thus far, and more importantly, the career you envision for yourself. Be prepared!

2.      What qualities do you want in a mentor?
Have 3-5 must have qualities, but still be open minded; if someone does not completely meet your must haves, but there is trust and chemistry, there may still be a beneficial fit.

3.      What type of mentoring relationship do you want?

Remember your answers; you’ll need them as you get closer to finding a mentor!

Step 2. Polish Your Image
If you think of a mentor as an employer, then you know they have their own set of qualifications you need to pass. A prospective mentor may not place want ads, but there are qualities a mentee should possess or develop in order to be taken seriously. If you are truly passionate about achieving your objective, these qualities should already be something you possess.

Your online image should be consistent with your offline image
Commitment. The reason many people seek mentors is because they have a career goal they want to achieve. In return for a mentors time and guidance, a mentee can at least be committed to their own cause. This means showing initiative and follow through.

Receptiveness. A mentor is someone who offers knowledge, feedback, and information; whether it be positive or negative, a mentee should be ready to receive it, process it, and improve from it. Someone who is ready for a mentor understands that they will not always hear favorable feedback, but it will help just the same (if not more).

Desire to learn. Mentorship is about growth and in order to grow you must be willing to learn. A serious mentor admires a thirst for knowledge.

Your goal now as a mentee is to present a consistent on and offline image that projects these qualities as well as your personality. Clean up your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles and adjust how you use them. LinkedIn is great for professional networking, but most people don’t use it enough; Facebook is also great for professional networking, but most [young] people don’t know how to approach it.

In addition, be conscious of (so you can improve) your netiquette and interpersonal interactions. Learn how to communicate effectively — good communication will be an asset during your mentor search and throughout your mentoring relationship.

Step 3. Prospect
DO NOT overlook step 2; potential mentors will notice your lack of effort in presenting a professional image. While you can polish your image in conjunction with prospecting, it’s best to get a handle on your image first.
Prospect online to discover who you want to seek out in person!

Unlike job searching where there are many websites and company pages dedicated to want ads, finding potential mentors is not as straightforward. Some large corporations, schools, and social organizations offer mentor programs, but good ones are rare. Doing the footwork yourself is the best option; all it takes is diligent networking!

Network by following and interacting in groups getting to know the people in them AND letting them get to know you. Attending networking events, interacting online, and meeting for one on one networking are great ways to prospect and work best when you do all three! Try meeting with people you’re interested in for one on one networking before deciding to officially move on to the final step. The entire process can be conducted entirely online, but if you’re able to take your networking offline, seize the opportunity.

It may seem like a lot, but once you get into it, you might find that you enjoy the process!

Step 4. Ask
Try to have a one on one meeting before you ask someone to be your mentor and be certain of these 3 things:

1.      You’re prepared to discuss your answers from Step 1

2.      You’re comfortable speaking to this person, and

3.      This person is someone you aspire to be like in some way, shape, or form

Once you’re certain of these things, ASK. If you ask in person (or over the phone), be prepared to answer any questions upfront. If you send a message later, schedule a live follow up meeting, in which case, still be prepared to answer any questions.

Did you find this article helpful? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

#ShesaBoss and #theGB blog