Why Diversity Is Needed

I've been in a lot of discussions lately regarding perspectives and diversity. I remember when I started my current job at the hospital I work at, I was required to go to a diversity training seminar. This seminar focused on trying to be openmined to other cultures and practices that are different from our own. With that came listening to others from a different culture and the way they view society, the world, or even business practices. It is important to have a broad view of the way people operate and taking that into consideration when making business decisions.

One of the most recent mistakes was a commercial from Dove. They had a commercial that came off very racist without that being the intent. When that happened many people online protested the company and said they would no longer buy their products. This was probably an issue with a lack of diversity on the marketing team. Here is the Dove commercial. https://youtu.be/pAIgDredHpw

Another company who probably didn't have a diverse team when releasing a commercial was Pepsi. They released a video in the midst of a lot of the police brutality being fresh on the news and they made it seem like their beverages could calm everything down. Even if that isn't what was intended, it was how it was received by many. That was an error on their end. Here is the video if you haven't seen it. https://youtu.be/73P9STckPLw

Even if you as a business person meant something great by your advertisement or promotional video, you have to think of how it can be perceived by different cultures. That is why having a diverse group of individuals who are great at their job is important. Surround yourself with individuals who see things a little differently from how you do and you will have a better chance getting the right message across.


The Important Launch

As many of you may know, I have started an Anchor channel this week. This is another platform for doing audio content like podcasts, interviews, etc. When I started playing around with this app, I let a friend know about it who I thought would get some great use out of it. This individual has a community of supporters who were able to help him launch his station. Having that community allowed for him to chart high on his launch. There are two important factors when preparing for a launch.

  1. The first step is making sure you have a launch team ready. This consist of people who will give you accurate and honest feedback on your content leading up to the launch. They can make suggestions on particular things that would improve the overall content. The most important thing is having a lot of people promoting the content once it is released. This will help download numbers and exposure to a new audience/consumer base.
  2. The second important thing is making sure the content is top notch. You want to make sure you are putting out the best representation of yourself and your content. To do this, you want to carefully prepare your content for a first time listener. They say first impressions lasts a lifetime. This is also true for your business or creative content.

With saying that, I do want to make another important point. You don't have to perfect your content because you may never feel like it is ready to be introduced into the world. If you are waiting for your content to be perfected, you may never release it. Make sure you don't do that. Set a launch date and make sure you are working as hard as you can before that launch date. Your launch team will be able to help you with that journey.

Investors And Debt

As we hear about start up companies in today's world of tech, we know of so many companies raising funds and trying to eventually become net positive within 'years.' I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound too appealing to me. Once that money runs out, they raise more funds. It is a repeating cycle for so many companies. When there are no more funds to raise, debt becomes the next go to. It is so common for folks to go into so much debt to start a company and it can become dangerous. This is the way most people think you have to start a business in today's world. I submit to you to think of a better way.

First, I want to address the investor aspect of this. When people are raising funds they are selling a portion of their company. The more money they raise, the less of the company they own. Eventually, the owner could end up loosing controlling interest of the company. This means that the other owners could kick the current owner out of the company. Usually they can't take their equity away, but they can take them out of a position of control and change the company all around. This isn't a fun experience for business owners. Debt is another big issue for companies. Business owners usually take out debt that they are personally responsible for when starting out. This is a super stressful thing for business owners to go through.

There is a term that is used in small businesses called bootstrapping. This is where you put up some kind of money to start a business, then use the profits to run the company and grow slowly. This is an old school approach before there were angel investors or big banks for loans. This is the way I recommend any small business owner to try to grow and operate. Owning a business is like maintaining a household. The more debt that is accumulated, the more day-to-day stress will be seen. It is just overall a bad situation. Some people will try to rebuttal with the company's growth rate being higher than the interest rate of borrowing money, but that doesn't take into the rate of risk and environmental factors. I may dive into this topic a  little more at a later time, but for now, I hope this has been somewhat helpful.

What Is Your Unfair Advantage?

One of the most important questions when starting and growing a business is what is your unfair advantage. Unfair advantages are those abilities and distinctive competencies that give you the edge over your current and potential competition. This can exist in many different forms and work differently for people. One example of an unfair advantage is a wealthy family. Having an investment from a family member to help you get the start up materials can be an unfair advantage over others who may not have family members who are able to do the same. The same can go from receiving an inheritance from a loved one that can help you start your business in some way.

Another unfair advantage could be a person's work schedule. Most small businesses start as a side hustle for those who have full time jobs to pay bills. For example, I currently have a job where I work overnight for a week then get a week off. This allows for opportunities that I may not get with a traditional 9-5 schedule. Some people work 4 10-hour workdays and get a three day weekend. This is also a great way to spend a few days a week working on that side job.

In some cases growing up poor is an unfair advantage. I know it sounds a little crazy, but those who had to work harder for what they received, usually appreciates the rewards much more. They also are usually the most hungry for success. Every little small win give them a boost of confidence. Even though it may not seem like it, growing up poor can actually help with the drive more that growing up wealthy.

I would say one last unfair advantage would be having a supportive circle of friends and family. Everyone doesn't have both parents or siblings to be there for emotional support. It is helpful to have a loving spouse, parents, children, or great friends to be there when times are hard and you start doubting yourself. This isn't something you can necessarily create, so that would be an unfair advantage over those starting this journey by themselves.

The whole purpose of this post is to show that these "unfair advantages" are not a bad thing to have. Everyone has a different kind of advantage over their competition just like in sports. Football players shouldn't feel bad because they are naturally fast runners. Basketball players shouldn't feel bad for being a foot taller than their teammates. They use these things to their advantage to help the team and build their career. Don't let anyone make you feel ashamed for having a certain advantage over others. Just don't use it in a negative way. The purpose of any business should be to serve others with what they need in the best way possible. Using all of your resources to do that and making a profit is a good thing. So go and find your unfair advantage and use it to the best of your ability.

How Big Should Your Company Be?

When you look around at different businesses, you will see the different sizes that exist. Some people look at businesses like Hobby Lobby, Chick-Fil-A, and other major national chains and feel like that should be the goal. The truth is that not everyone is meant to have a huge business. Sometimes businesses are best to stay on a smaller scale. Being a performing artist is one area where this is true. A lot of individuals feel like they need to do national tours or have a global platform. I do not feel this is true for everyone. Sometimes it is best to stay on a local scale and share your music in that way. The bigger the platform, the larger the amount of stress that comes into play. Other businesses are similar.

I notice that some companies do a great job being in a niche market. They then try to branch out into many other areas when they are number 1 in their current market. They could possibly go beyond their capabilities and end up in a negative position. This can be due to lack of expertise, bad timing, or this not being part of their purpose.

This is often hard for me to address because I do feel that growth is healthy and we should all be trying to do and be the best we can. In some situations, we just need to stay small and be the best in that small market. It kind of fits the "Riches in the Niches" idea. Ultimately everyone should pray and ask God how they should address possible opportunities and whether or not those are a part of his plan for you.

Whose Dream Is It?

Ever hear the phrase “work-life balance?” It is a common idea that gets tossed around as a normal part of having a career. I would venture to say that I am constantly learning how to manage this in my life. One of the biggest realizations I encountered was that my life’s future is not just my life’s and my dreams do not just affect me. When two people become married, the two become one. We all know that right? Our dreams also become combined. When we get married we have to see what the purpose of our family is and what our family’s dreams are. Our spouse may also have a dream that is impacted by our dream. They affect each other. There must be a mutual agreement for the family team on what they future looks like in regards to that families mission.

Starting and running a business or even a ministry involves the whole family. There are sacrifices made by the entrepreneur as well as the family. When a business owner is spending so much time away from home to get this business up and started, the family has to continue to keep moving. Think about military personnel and how their families have to maintain while they are deployed. The whole family is affected not just the soldier. The reason I point this out is to help others realize, like I continue doing, that every move that is made in a business affects that individual’s family. Major decisions that affect scheduling, family time, finances, and even ministerial duties need to be run by the family team, especially your spouse.  Just like a board of directors has others in the room to make sure every decision made is a serves the mission of the company, you need to have your own board of directors making sure the decisions are lining up with the families goals and dreams. I am far from perfecting this attitude in my life, but I am starting to build on it more and I hope you do as well.

Relationships > Networking

This week on the Business with Bordeaux podcast I shared a little about my journey thus far. One of the biggest lessons for me is building relationships. There have been a few people who have been helping me connect with other Christian business owners and I am super grateful for that. In order for that to have ever happened, it took me building a relationship with those individuals. Chretien Dumond shared in his book "Sky Full of Stars," about the importance of this idea.

When we strictly network, we stay focused on what others can do for us and not enough of what we can do for others. We must always be focusing on what good we can deliver to others, paid or not. When we reach out to others, it should not be to suck everything we can out of that relationship, but to build a friendship where both parties are helpful to one another. If you are only looking to gain as much as possible from someone, rethink that relationship.

There is a time and place for networking. At major events or conferences you don't have the time to build a relationship with everyone there who may want to buy a product or hire you for a job. Sometimes business just takes place and everything is just transactional. That is fine for a short term goal. Long term partners form great relationships in order to sustain that ongoing. I am grateful for those who I have been able to form relationships with over the last year and will never take them for granted. I hope you feel the same about those in your life.

Is Your Business Self-Serving?

One of the biggest things I hear kids talk  about is starting a business so they can have money, be their own boss, not have to answer to anybody else, etc. Starting and successfully running a business in today world is hard. It isn't as easy as people think just because so many people are starting "businesses."  A lot of people do want to start a business for mostly personal reasons and not because there is a need for it. I would consider this self-serving. Now don't get me wrong, business owners can see great personal benefits and there is nothing wrong with that. I want people to want to start a business because they care about the work they are doing and knows it will positively impact others.

When you do something just for yourself, it is easier to quit. When you are doing a work for someone else, it gives more motivation and drive. I'm sure some people would disagree with me and thats fine. This is a big reason for having a mission statement. If you have one, then you can make sure that mission is being fulfilled in all the decisions being made. We hear about so many scams and money laundering because of self-serving business decisions. Don't be a person with these problems. Make sure you are creating a business out of a need for others and because you want to help meet that need. That isn't just a Christian idea, but an overall business strategy.

If you haven't yet started your business, make sure you form a strong and clear mission statement. If you already have a business, make sure you stick to your mission statement. If you didn't have one, then look back to the overall purpose of your company, and create one to keep you in check with all of your decisions. Don't let your business be self-serving.

Don't Ride The Wave

There have been countless times where I have heard this company is going to be the Uber of the food industry or another company is going to be the Airbnb of cars. So many new companies are trying to be the imitation of other successful companies. Most of those companies end up failing. This is due to the lack of creativity and innovation. There is a difference in adjusting to working business models and trying to imitate another versions of leading companies. The important thing is working on innovation for your business.

You always want to stay up to date with current technologies and look to where the marketplace is going. You need to assess your company and find ways that you can differentiate yourself from the competition or other companies in general. If you are in the clothing industry, you may want to think about investing into e-commerce based off the declining sales of in-store purchases. As you look at the market in general, those changes are important for all companies to follow or even try to get ahead of.

This is a little different from copying other companies business strategy such as Toms. That shoe company is pretty well known for the buy one give one model. For every pair of shoes purchased, they donate one pair to a needy child. This model has a social purpose and makes the buyer feel good for shopping with them. If a coat company came into the clothing industry with the same exact model, they may be looked at as imitators. The other problem is that if this coat company has to always follow the trends of other companies, they will never get ahead.

The big trend in millennials is social enterprise. So keeping that in mind in a business model, the coat factory in the previous example should try to find their own way of making a difference. If they can find a way to make a difference in their community, that would be beneficial to everyone. I have used Humble Beast as an example several times, but I would like to point out their innovation once more. They decided a long time ago that as a part of their ministry mission, they would make all their music available for free on their website. They built their model to run financially off of other services that they do as a part of a company. Now that album sales are not as high as they once were, it doesn't impact them as much as other record labels. They made this decision before streaming really took off. Their innovation set them up for future success.

The main idea I want you to think about is how can you be innovative with whatever it is you do. Make sure you look at the marketplace trends and not just one individual company for guidance. If you are only able to get ideas from other companies, you may want to find a business strategist to partner with. Otherwise you may be riding behind the wave instead of being in front of it.

It's All About Execution

How many times have you heard a person say, "I had that idea a long time ago." Many people have great ideas that they think about from time to time. I'm sure you have had an idea that later was implemented by somebody else. That is one of the problems many of us have. It isn't the lack of great ideas, it is the lack of executing those great ideas. We need to be able to get a game plan and execute. Here are a few steps to being able to get the execution process started.

  1. Write down the idea. I use to get so many great ideas and I would just let it flow right in and out of my mind. It usually came up when I was out and about. I have decided to start writing down all my ideas that I feel are valuable. (I actually type them in my notes on my phone.)
  2. Reverse engineer the idea. Start with what you would like to do and work backwards to break down the end goal into steps that you would have to take to reach it. For example, if you want to make a certain amount of income per year you need to figure out what that would look like broken down monthly and possible weekly. How much will the business cost to run and how would you generate a profit? Then you would think about what it would  take in terms of labor and cost of production. Finally, you can look to see what is required to get started. Reverse engineering works well for planning. It goes along with Luke 14:28, "Which of you, wishing to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost to see if he has the resources to complete it?" You need to know what it will cost before you get started to see if that is possible and to save yourself from getting started and find yourself stuck in a situation that you didn't think about. There are always unexpected occurrences, but try to keep those at a minimum.
  3. Pray for Spirit leadership. Make sure this journey is something that is God ordained. As a Christian in business we have a slight advantage over other who do not have the Holy Spirit to lead them. We have a little extra help when we are in need. I say this because as business owners, entrepreneurs, and future leaders, we may get so caught up in strategy and planning that we forget to involve Jesus in all of our decisions. For this reason I wanted to make sure I included Spirit leadership in this list.
  4. Get started. For a lot of people, the hardest part of anything is just getting started. There is a book by Jon Acuff called "Start." I highly recommend this book. It help you get past the idle stage many of us get caught in before starting a venture. We often are waiting and waiting to start anything when we need to have started yesterday. We are waiting for the perfect launch pad or perfect timing, when in reality there is no perfect timing. We have to pray, count the cost, and actually START. Please don't become a slave to procrastination.

We have to do more than generate an idea. We need to actually implement those ideas. Getting started is the hardest part, but once you do it, you will be glad you did. Go ahead and do it today.

Do’s And Don’ts Of Submitting Music PT.3

We have covered some important topics when it comes to submitting music to christian websites. The first week was about font and NOT USING CAPS. Last week we talked about cover art and some important factors about that. This week is the most important and that is why I saved it for last. When submitting music, make sure the quality is radio ready. There is an assumption that Christian websites will post music just because they are Christian and are expected to post up any Christian content. We are in an error of Christian Hip Hop where there are almost as many artists as secular hip hop. With there being so many artists out there, you have to make sure your music is top notch for it to stand out.

Make sure you have quality audio engineers mixing and mastering your music. If levels are off or not balanced, then it will not be a good start. You want to make sure the song is ready for radio play. Listen to other artists and listen at the quality of the song and see if yours sounds as clean. You could even listen to other indie artists that have been played and see if your music is at least comparable to theirs. You probably do not have the budget for big name producers or engineers, but you should either hustle to find a way to hire someone to do it for you or learn how to do it yourself. Either way, make sure your music sounds great.

The main idea is to make sure you are giving a great first impression. If you start sending in bad music, then that stigma may be attached to further submissions. Make sure that you are consistently getting better and improving into your craft. Quality over quantity. Do your best and give it your all.

Do's And Don'ts of Submitting Music PT.2

We are continuing with our discussion on best practices for submitting music. Last week we discussed the problems that arise when people use all caps when submitting songs. You can check out that article here. This week we are going to discuss another huge aspect of music submissions, which is cover art. Cover art is important for music in general, but it also helps with submitting music. Cover art is the first impression people get before they even hear your music. That is one of the big reasons it is super important to make sure it is on point. Here are two main points to keep in mind when thinking of cover art:

  1. When designing or having cover art designed for you, do not include any kind of advisory label. Most people will add in some king of wording like "Spiritually advisory" or something like that. Artists with explicit often submit their music to Christian music sites and because of that, a lot of the music submitted is explicit with the parental advisory label attached. When reviewers are looking through a numerous amount of submissions they might be inclined to ignore any with labels like that. Christian artists with a variation of that label might accidentally get passed up on as well. By avoiding this label on the cover art, it will reduce that likelihood of getting passed up on by accident.
  2. Another thing that can throw off music submission reviewers is if the cover art has other things that look suspicious. If it looks sexually explicit then it may get passed up. The same goes if there is a lot of drug looking paraphernalia or alcohol bottles. Those can confuse the person looking at the cover art because they can assume that it looks like you may be promoting those items. One time an artist had a bunch of pills as a part go the cover art and the biggest reason I knew it was probably a Christian song was because of the well known features. Other than that, it looked like the song was promoting drug use. Even if the content is not promoting that, you don't want to confuse the audience by the cover art. Remember that your artwork gives the first impression.

Though there aren't many points in this discussion, the points I shared are important. I try to encourage others so much to make sure their artwork is great quality and it is important that it show the message that the song carries. I really hope you take these ideas into consideration when you are sending in your music to Christian websites for promotion.

Do's and Don'ts Of Submitting Music

The next set of posts from Business With Bordeaux are going to be directed to independent music artist. I want to cover some best practices of submitting music and not have artists get passed along for little mistakes that often take place during the music submission process.

First, let's cover the use of caps, as it seems to be commonly used. I have noticed artists using ALL CAPS WHEN TRYING TO GET THEIR MUSIC NOTICED!!!!! There are a few problems when doing this:

  1. It is not astetically pleasing to the eyes. This is a simple but important mistake that should be avoided. Sometimes we think that using bigger lettering will draw more attention, but often it looks like spam. This should be avoided in the comment sections of other influencers platforms, as well as through email or social media platforms.
  2. It gives the impression that you are shouting at people through technology. Imagine being at a party with 20 people. At the party, people are walking around networking and talking about their music. After a few minutes, someone comes into the room and starts shouting their own name and album title or website domain. It really isn't going to have anyone running to them to get more information. It will most likely push people away because it is an uncomfortable disruption to the party. This is what it looks like when someone goes into a comments section and uses ALL CAPS TO GET OTHERS ATTENTION!!!
  3. When people use all caps, it looks like they may be overcompensating for the quality of their work. They may not be able to get people to listen to them by just putting out great music, but they feel they need to find a way to draw extra attention to their music. This would be like a lady wearing way too much makeup. She may not feel pretty without the makeup, so she overcompensates through wearing way too much of it. This is similar to what using all caps in promoting or sharing music is like.

Why do I bring up these points in the idea of music submissions?  When you send in music submissions, all these ideas apply in regards to submitting with text in all caps. I often see it in subject lines and in the text sent in with the song and cover art. If you want to include some information or bio when sending in music, please do so in regular text font. It looks much more professional when done like that.

Thanks and God Bless

How Soon Should My Business Be Profitable?

The goal for any business, well at least for for-profit business, is to gain profit in order to grow and deliver more service to its customers/clients. There are a few businesses that have a model to break even and are fine with that. In this discussion I want to talk about businesses who are looking to grow and expand in the marketplace. In order to do that, businesses must gain a profit. In today's up and coming entrepreneurs, a question of how fast businesses are profitable often arise.

There is a saying that it takes 15 years to make it overnight. This is because many times it takes companies years before they ever take off and make a huge appearance. A lot of that '15 year' period are companies working out kinks, growing their company, and gaining a customer base. Bigger companies are usually living off of investors money. Smaller companies are growing their companies on the side. Either way, making a profit often takes years to accomplish. When getting your business started, you should expect it taking awhile before it is completely self-supporting. I share this because I don't want anyone to be discouraged that they are not fully self-supporting yet. It is a common occurrence for small businesses to need outside financial support to stay going.

In the music industry, most artists are working other jobs to support their music. They need to keep lights on, families fed, and keep a roof over their heads. If a person thinks they can just jump into a small business full time and accomplish these things, they probably haven't talked to many other small business owners. Getting started is often a rough phase in a companies life. Very few start off at an accelerated rate or even self-sufficent. Many times CEOs are the last ones to get paid in bigger businesses because they have to employ others to do a lot of the ground work. There are stories of CEOs hiring 25 employees while they are barely scraping by. Again, this is not uncommon. It is just a warning for anyone who wonders how soon they will be able to make a profit in their business.

Just keep grinding and working unto the Lord.

Double Down On Your Strengths

When I was in high school sports, I remember my coaches telling me to work on my weaknesses. The idea was to become an all around strong player. They would have the linebackers run, run, and then run some more. They didn't really build on the strengths of the players. I am not a sports coach, but one thing I am learning is that those in business need to build around their strengths. The areas of business that are not a person's strengths can be passed along to a person who is strong in that area. In the business world it is much more effective for people to focus on their strengths and build off of those. This is what I mean by doubling down.

Doubling down on your strengths is a way to focus on your personal niche. If you are a great salesperson you should practice making sales, not performing data research. There are people who like to work with data and do research and do it well. If you spend a large amount of time learning how to do that, you may fall behind the competition in your sales ability. One huge area that is more relevant to music is how many label owners and business men think they need to become artists. They try to do all areas of music including all the behind the scenes workload. CEOs who do this are doing their label and fans a disservice.

I think this idea is really hard for those who are good at many areas of life. We have many passions and interests and want to work in all of them. There isn't anything wrong in having other things we work on aside from our main focus. This also goes back to our purpose in life. Going back to music, I know of a great artist who also is a manager for other artists. This individual could easily make music themselves and be successful, but they want to help others strengthen their craft of music. This is a calling from God that this individual is working out.

Hopefully by now you know what your strengths are or have some idea of what it may be. Ask those around you what you are good at and pray to God about what it is he wants you to do. The second part is easier said than done, but is still true and important. This week try to seek out what your strength is and build on it.

Awareness, Following, Sales 'Steps to Success'

A lot of what we have covered in these blog postings have been geared toward start up business owners. This will be no different. What happens when you try to make a sale to those who don't know you? How do you know if your are at a point where people will buy your product or service? What should you really be focusing on at this point of your journey? We will cover these ideas briefly in this post to help you make sure you are focusing at the right areas in your business.

I've found that before a sale takes place, a company needs to build awareness and a following. If those two are not in place, then the sale may only be a one time transaction. It is much easier to retain customers if they are following you and for them to follow you they obviously need to have awareness of your brand. I find that in any area of business, awareness needs to be the first focus. When promoting your brand, you should focus first on making others aware of who you are and what you do. This is where giving aware free stuff comes into place. I discussed a little while back the importance of that in my Freemium post, which you can check out HERE. Making videos for Facebook ads to do this is a great way to build brand awareness. You can also sponsor other businesses with a large following. Just keep in mind, this is not the stage to start asking for people to buy your product. They need to be more familiar before they take that step.

The next step of success is building a following. After people become aware of you and your brand, they will need to get to a point where they are tracking what it is you are doing on a consistent basis. For this, you need to make sure you are pumping out some kind of content on a regular basis. This can be doing FB live or Periscope live streams of what you are doing. It could also be posting on Instagram or Snapchat. Another great thing you can do is share your journey. If you have the attention of people and they are seeing you build your brand, they will most likely want to see you succeed. People love success stories and if they can be a part of it, they will likely try to help.

At this point, after building awareness and gaining a following, you can start looking for people to want to support the business as long as you have quality product or service. They now have time invested in your brand by watching, sharing, and socially supporting you. There are many people or businesses that I support because they have a great product or message and I want to see them succeed. I know the owners heart and mission because they openly share it with others. If you want to mention that services or products are available for sale so they can support your mission, there is nothing wrong with that. Remember people love and want to be a part of a success story.