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Top 5 Secrets to become a successful entrepreneur

These five secrets are not new; however, they are a good reminder of what it takes to move forward on your entrepreneurship journey. Some may practice these actions on and off, while others will turn them into habits. It’s those that ingrain these actions into their life that more often than not become successful entrepreneurs.

Top 5 Secrets to becoming a successful entrepreneur (Photo created by cookie_studio on freepik)

Every entrepreneur hopes that their venture will be successful. Many times, entrepreneurs are taking a big risk, leaving behind corporate jobs or traditional careers all for a dream. At Latinas in Business, we are always sharing the stories of our fellow entrepreneurs and leaders in our community, and time and time again we see overlap and similarities in their successful journeys.

While some believe the toughest part of launching a new business is arriving at a great idea, more often than not the toughest part is actually acting on your dreams. So many of us are guilty of this: we dream up a great idea only to put it on a shelf “for later” and forget about it. Then, “later” we discover someone else has developed our idea, acting on it where we didn’t, and they are now successful for it.

Action is what makes a successful entrepreneur. Constant and consistent movement is what sets successful ventures apart from the others.

“It’s critical once you believe in an idea that you make the step to some form of action right away in order to start building momentum towards your goals,” Jon Gillespie-Brown wrote in So You Want to Be an Entrepreneur. Many new entrepreneurs “talk a good game but do not follow through.”

The importance of action is not just pertinent to a business launch. Owners of established businesses may also be stopped in their tracks in the face of challenges posed by regulations, advances in technology or the overall economy. A successful entrepreneur is someone who, regardless of the challenge, keeps moving though not always forward.

A successful entrepreneur know that success is not always a linear upward progression and understand that obstacles arise. Those who are ultimately successful do not become paralyzed by challenges but instead find a way around them. They don’t sit still. They keep moving. They adapt.

Entrepreneurs who are unable or unwilling to continue to move forward or backward or seek an alternative route are destined to doom. Without movement of some sort the entrepreneur’s venture gets stuck and eventually fails. If you’re determined to make your venture a success that stands apart from the rest, then take these actions and ingrain them into your business building process.

Top 5 actions that make a successful entrepreneur

  1. Set goals.

Set goals to put your plans into focus. (Photo by Jess Bailey Designs from Pexels)

Entrepreneurs who know what they want and have set a course are more likely to accomplish their objectives. Goals act as the homing device for an entrepreneurs’ actions. At times they may need to take a step back or sideways to continue to move forward. Like the North Star guiding navigators, goals help entrepreneurs create a new course after making adjustments.

  1. Don’t fear failure.

Often people are taught that failing is bad. Yet without failure few entrepreneurs would know the way to success. Failure can be a powerful teacher. It shows you what needs changing, where you need to adapt and improve. Entrepreneurs seldom get it right the first time. But having the ability to keep moving by making adjustments improves the odds of success.

  1. Take risks.

Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec once wrote, “Accept that there is a chance you will fail to make the leap across a chasm, or the rock you are about to step on may crumble, but understand that the rewards outweigh the risks.”

Indeed there is truth to the saying “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Taking risks is the first step to making something happen. If you stay stagnant and still, nothing will change. Remember, success is achieved through action. 

  1. Don’t settle.

Some entrepreneurs may strike gold the first time out. Others require more time, energy and perhaps the alignment of some planets.

Don’t become discouraged. Keep moving. Evaluate your business plan and make necessary adjustments based on feedback and results. Sometimes moving past a large obstacle means going around it and not necessarily over it. If you want your venture to really be a success, don’t let yourself get stuck or settle for something that is only half of what you dreamed.

Seek a mentor to help you navigate the world of entrepreneurship. (Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels)

  1. Seek a mentor.

The entrepreneurs who freeze and do nothing when they come to their “moment of truth” may do so because they don’t know what to do next. The best way to achieve success is to work with someone who has already been down the same road. Plenty can go wrong in business but the right mentor can help an entrepreneur navigate the pitfalls and keep moving forward, improving the odds for success. Joining a community of like-minded individuals and entrepreneurs is a great way of connecting with people who have been there before, and can guide you through your journey.


This article was originally published in 2015. It has been updated for relevancy. 

How this Latina owned makeup brand is inspiring self-confidence and empowerment

Melissa Polanco is the co-founder of Ella’s Eve Cosmetics —a Latina owned makeup brand that promotes confidence and celebrates inner beauty. Co-founded with her sister, Lissa, the two are working to build a community centered around self-confidence, authenticity, and empowerment.

Ella’s Eve Cosmetics Co-founder, Melissa Polanco (Photo courtesy Melissa Polanco)

Representing Latinas in the makeup industry

Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Melissa and Lissa, moved to the U.S. to pursue their college education. Neither had plans on launching a beauty brand, with Melissa’s background being in higher education and Lissa’s in event planning. However, both found a love for makeup that grew from a hobby to a passion and would eventually become their brand, Ella’s Eve.

It was two years ago that the sisters got to talking about starting their own makeup brand and becoming entrepreneurs. Neither one had any formal background in cosmetology, but over the years they had found a love for makeup while watching YouTube tutorials and following their favorite influencers on social media.

“We have passion for it, so we learned by researching shades, products, manufacturers, etc,” says Melissa.

While doing their research they noticed that there were not that many Latina owned makeup brands.This further motivated them to pursue their dreams and make their brand successful.

“We wanted to join the world of entrepreneurship and show women like us that you can do it too as long as you put in the work and have the passion for it,” says Melissa.

In 2018, the sister-duo finally launched Ella’s Eve, offering 5 shades of liquid lipstick. Later they would expand their collection to add a variety of products including lip lacquers and an eye shadow palette.

Ella’s Eve Cosmetics “Velvet Posh Liquid Lips” (Photo courtesy Melissa Polanco)

Being Real

As a Latina owned makeup brand, Melissa and Lissa wanted to make sure they were authentically representing their brand and their roots. From the start they knew that self-confidence and authenticity would be at the heart of their branding. We see too much with makeup that it is considered “fake” or inauthentic. Many see makeup as a mask, but Melissa and Lissa wanted to redefine people’s relationship to makeup. Their mission was to create a brand that would provide quality, cruelty-free products with honesty and help people highlight their natural beauty and boost their confidence.

Confidence comes from being real, the makeup only enhances the beauty that was already there. This authenticity can be seen in every aspect of Ella’s Eve Cosmetics. It’s in their founders, in their products, and in their branding.

Sister-duo, Lissa and Melissa, Co-founders of Ella’s Eve Cosmetics showing off their liquid lipsticks (Photo courtesy Melissa Polanco)

“Because we are a small business, we have very limited resources. We literally wear many hats while operating Ella’s Eve,” says Melissa. “We are the marketers, the faces of the brand, the customer service, the photographer, etc.”

This can be overwhelming at times, but Melissa loves that she gets to be so involved in every aspect of the brand. This gives them the ability to reach their customers on another level. By being so involved, they are easily approachable.

“One of our main focuses is to be reachable and relatable in a way where our customers feel free to reach out to us and feel like they are reaching out to a friend,” she says. “It can be just reaching out to ask a question about our products or even sending us a DM to share the love for our brand or products. We are building a community around love and acceptance and I believe our customers see that.”

In one of their recent promotion videos, their authentic selves shined through unexpectedly, and it was a success among their followers.

What was supposed to be a serious “ad” turned carefree and fun. The “this is me” outtakes that Melissa filmed of her sister wearing one of their lip shades ended up being what they posted to their social media.

A new addition to Ella’s Eve, the “Make It Your Eve” eyeshadow Palette (Photo courtesy Melissa Polanco)

“Our followers loved it and even commented how real and refreshing it looked because it was different. That is what we want,” says Melissa. “We want to promote the real us, which reflects our brand and remind everyone that what is important is to be you and love who you are.”

Inspiring confidence in your dreams

Loving who you are is the first step to taking over the world and achieving your dreams. Melissa and Lissa want to not only inspire people to feel confident in their appearances but also in achieving their dreams.

When they began Ella’s Eve Cosmetics, they were inspired by the lack of Latina owned makeup brands in the industry. They wanted to make a change and show others that they too can achieve their goals.

“We now get approached by fellow Latina women who share their support and how proud they are that two Latina sisters are going for their goals. They love how relatable we are and this is one of the things that I love the most because it makes me feel proud that I am representing us in this industry,” says Melissa.

That representation matters. It shows Latinas all over the country that they too can make their dreams come true. It gives them confidence.

You might be interested: Success for 21st Century women entrepreneurs

“Never put yourself down,” Melissa says to other minority women looking to start their own business. “Put yourself out there and go for it. There might be instances where some doors are shut or things don’t go as planned, but always look forward and never give up.”

Just be authentic. Love yourself and be proud of who you are, inside and out. With confidence, anything is possible.

Giving back during the Holiday Season Shinny names on a donors' wall

Ugly lies about giving back during the Holiday Season

Giving back during the Holiday Season is a usual practice that reminds us there are others in need in the world. Philanthropy  is a practice that has helped many. It has built non-profit and religious organizations that are now larger than corporations; it has sustained the poor, the suffering and the excluded. However, philanthropy also hides many ugly lies.

Giving back during the Holiday Season Shinny names on a donors' wall

Shinny names on a donors’ wall

Let’s face it, though, big giving is a big fat lie for most large philanthropic donations made by millionaires and billionaires during exactly that time of year when they still have time to receive succulent tax deductions in return-as if they needed them.

Among them, we find different kind of givers: Some choose charities of their preference –not always those that help the most in need– such as the arts, the ballet, or a museum, usually for activities they enjoy the most.

Others prefer to give abroad, malaria in Africa or hunger in Latin America, some unknown place they don’t have to deal with on a daily basis. Then there are those who support organizations that sustain their religious beliefs such as anti-abortion and anti-gay organizations, denominational charities and the like.

Still there are those who donate to sick children, animal organizations or the veterans, all good causes that strive to really help. But, in my opinion, the world of charity is a world that sustains a system of unfairness and inequality. Otherwise, why do we still need philanthropy?

Giving back during the Holiday Season, where does the money really go?

giving back during Holiday Season Koch Foundation website

Koch Foundation website

Three quarters of wealthy people give to causes that are either of their personal preference or provide them personal benefits, according to Eric Friedman, the author of Reinventing Philanthropy: A Framework for More Effective Giving.

And Dan Kadlec in his article “Why the Rich Aren’t Good at Giving” shares the information provided by the Chronicle of Philanthropy in an annual list of charitable gifts of $1 million or more.

According to the list, in 2012, 73 such gifts were as follows:

  • 21 gifts of $1 million or more (22%) went to the arts, museums, sports, or historic preservation, or to foundations with a significant emphasis on these areas.
  • 37 gifts of $1 million or more (39%) went to colleges and universities.
  • 15 gifts of $1 million or more (16%) went to health-related charities and hospitals in the developed world.

He also shares that billionaire David Koch donated $65 million to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, for an outdoor plaza renovation, while he spared the National Museum of Natural History $35 million for a dinosaur exhibit hall, as examples.

Tax deduction, the real reason about giving back during the Holiday Season

Poor people receiving food instead of economic empowerment

While the wealthy proclaim giving as a way of helping –it undoubtedly does–, it is also a way of helping themselves. Let’s not forget the large tax deductions that go to those who freely donate their money, which otherwise will go to taxes for government created programs and resources. Those programs are designed for all without preferences or discrimination of any sort.

in Non-Profit Quarterly, Rick Cohen mentions that, “Evidence of a disconnect on the topic of taxes was found when advisors cited a belief that 40 percent of HNW [high net worth] individuals would reduce their giving if the estate tax were eliminated, and that 78 percent would do so if income tax deductions for donations were eliminated—whereas just six percent and 45 percent of HNW individuals, respectively, indicated that they would reduce their charitable giving if these tax policy changes occurred.”

And he continues, “Only 10 percent of the high net worth survey participants report that reducing their tax obligations is the motivation for their charitable giving, but 46 percent of HNW advisors believe that reducing taxes is the reason.”

Choosing where to allocate their charity money is a privilege to receive a privilege, one that many don’t have. When a low-income person spares a dollar at the grocery store to see their names go on a green shamrock or a few coins into the Salvation Army’s hanging basket, they don’t run to deduct that amount from their taxes.

The untold -and ugly- truth: Giving back instead of paying fair wages

march-for-15-wage

However, the same wealthy population that so freely gives this time of year would deny their workers a fair wage, will fight back regulations that protect employee benefits and resist rewarding their employee’s hard work with a fair share of their profits.

They support –with unbelievably large amounts of money- those in government that deny the people’s right to earn fair wages and live with dignity and in safety. They would fight back on giving immigrants the opportunity to build a decent life for themselves and their children. They would prevent veterans the care and services they desperately need after sacrificing their lives –and their families’- for their country.

The philanthropic act of giving is an act of otherness; the “haves” and the “have –nots” are separated by that act. There is no link, no bond in between that would change the status-quo. Philanthropic giving is not an act of kindness, it is an act of selfishness; it does not strive for community economic empowerment but it underscores individual humiliation.

If you ever had to depend on charity of any kind to provide for yourself or for your family, you know that receiving charity is not a good feeling –it is mortifying and deprecating. In a way, it is a “reminder” that we are vulnerable, inept and unable to provide for ourselves. We have fallen off the ladder and it is unlikely that will be able to climb up again.

When asked if they would prefer to receive charity or recover their dignity, I’m sure most people would choose the latter.

So next time you are thinking of giving, think less in terms of what you want to give and more of what others might want to receive: give another human being their dignity, their ability to fight for their own rights, their ability to feel whole again, and the ability to choose their own destiny.

women of color lack of access to capital

Achieve the American Dream without losing your Latin Soul (free session)

Attractive Hispanic Woman Leaning on a One Hundred Dollar Bill.

What is your American Dream? Family, values, traditions? Money, fame, achievement?

What is your American Dream? And what does that mean to you? Are you living it?

If you were like most young Latinas, you dreamed about what your life would be like when you grew up. And like many American girls, you may have imagined marrying your Prince Charming, living in a beautiful home, having children and perhaps even a career of your own. Some of you may even have dreamed about traveling to exotic places, being independent and breaking traditional female gender roles.

Childhood dreams never truly die: they lie within you seeking to someday be fully realized!

For most Americans today, the American Dream means living in a home of their own, having a successful career or perhaps their own business. For others the American Dream means achieving fame, amassing wealth, or accumulating an abundance of material possessions.

For me, the American Dream means having the freedom to control my own destiny. Living the Dream means I have discovered my purpose in life and am free to pursue my vision of happiness, wherever that road may lead me. Although the American Dream may possibly mean different things to different people, one thing is certain:

For Latinas in America, achieving the American Dream is meaningless if they lose their Latin Soul in the process!

The soul is that part of you that seeks meaning and purpose and a connection with something greater than yourself. After all, isn’t it your connection to your faith, family and culture that nurtures your Latin soul and gives meaning to your life?

Who are you, as a Latina, without your familia, native culture and religious traditions?

Happy Hispanic Family Portrait Sitting in Grass Field with Ghosted House Figure Behind.

Who are you, as a Latina, without your familia?

And for us, family doesn’t mean just the traditional nuclear family consisted of a man, a woman and 2.3 children. No, for Latinos family means the extended family of abuelos, tíos, tías and of course primos with whom you grew up and created mischief when you were young. For Latinos, without these relationships life feels empty, void of the bonds that give meaning to our lives.

This is the challenge for Latinos in America today . . . We live in two worlds!

On the one hand, we grow up in a world where faith, family and “frijoles” are values we hold dear. On the other, we live in a society where independence, notoriety and achievement are esteemed above all else.

In the Latino world, we give a warm abrazo or beso when we say hello or goodbye, even to someone we just met. In the other world, a firm handshake or even cold shoulder is considered an appropriate salutation even when you have known someone for years.

As a Latina business professional, you face a dilemma because in our world it is considered bad manners to brag about your accomplishments, flaunt your wealth or attract attention to yourself, and yet to succeed in America today, you must often stand out from the crowd.

Yes, Latinos live in two worlds!

One reason is because our core values, the soul of Hispanic culture, revolve around our extended family. Our family is part of our identity and is included in our hopes and dreams. Success in business and life in general is meaningless for Latinos without family with whom to share our good fortune. Our family is our foundation, inspiration and a source of strength.

So what is the secret to achieving the American Dream without losing your Latin soul?

startups, small business, launching a business

Have you defined your core values?

The key is to bridge the gap between your two worlds. As a Latina living in America you are influenced by the values of two distinct cultures. In fact, it is virtually impossible to succeed in school or in the workplace without incorporating into your life at least some traditional American cultural values.

The way to bridge the gap between worlds is to orient your life around your core values. Core values are the essence of who you are at the deepest level of your being. Core values are things that give your life meaning and purpose. Core values are what you find meaningful, like beauty, justice and family, when all your needs are met.

Have you defined your core values?

In my coaching practice, I always make sure my clients clearly define their core values before they set any business or career goals. The reason being too many business professionals, Latinas included, chase after success with the erroneous assumption that success will make them happy. It does not!

You may be able to achieve success without living your core values, but you may also find that the ladder of success you worked so hard to climb was leaning against the wrong wall. True and sustainable success, in business and life, is a consequence of living according to your core values and sharing your natural gifts and talents with the world. By bridging the gap between your two worlds you can achieve the American Dream without losing your Latin soul!

 

YOUR VALUES are the behaviors and activities to which you are naturally drawn.  Values are who you really are and they include: … Creating, … Contributing, … Adventure, … Beauty, … Teaching and… Spirituality.

Don Daniel offers a free 40-minute coaching session to those who would like to start working on his Tru Values™ Program: this program helps you to understand values, discern your top 4 values and puts you on a path to honoring them. Sign up now! Only 3 free sessions offered!

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Daniel Ortiz Daniel Ortiz (Don Daniel) is an award-winning author and host of the popular TV show “American Dream – Latin Souls,” which shares the inspiring story of Hispanic business success. To learn more or purchase his book visit www.LatinoSuccess.com.

 

Delfin Carbonell

Women in business better qualified than men?

Welcome to our new LIBizus contributor Delfin Carbonell Basset!

Queen Isabel from Spain

Queen Isabel from Spain

By Delfin Carbonell Basset

I find it hard to believe that during my lifetime the world population has more than doubled. Over seven billion human beings now populate the earth and are fast growing. Luckily there is plenty of room for more newcomers before we hit the ceiling, whatever that ceiling may be. The highest estimate is 16 billion by the year 2100. However there are prophets of doom who reckon the figure will go down to 6 billion. Go figure.

Out of the current 7 billion, half are females, perhaps a bit over 51 percent. At ages 85 or over there are more than twice as many women as men, but those are statistics and such studies have little bearing on society at large. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 1913 the number of females was 161 million, while the number of males was 156 million. These are only bare facts, statistics, and have no pertinence on the climate upheaval we are suffering.

The world has been undergoing changes since time began and man has created societies, cultures, religions and rituals to suit given historical moments. Evolution did not stop with humans but affected everything humans created. Drastic shifts of late have righted erroneous ways of thinking on the part of man. The changes, the novel ways of seeing things, have attempted to fit in the new world. Not all societies keep the same pace with these changes, much to their harm.

Women have always been in business, ever since our cave-dwelling ancestors decided that females, being physically weaker, should take care of the business of homemaking and child rearing. I am chagrined to say that they keep business as usual, mainly because they are better qualified. As I am a man you might think that this is a male’s excuse to keep women under our thumb. Not so. Read on.

Up to the XX century the workforce or labor force of a country was made up of males, probably at a ratio of 80-20. In many countries today this ratio is even more disproportionate, probably 90-10. The core of the problem at present is that we no longer need a workforce but a think-force. The brain force many countries are wasting by not tapping women brain power is detrimental to their future. Today we need people who think, who have ideas, who can innovate, who are able to make changes and make a difference. And our society can ill afford to do without half its population by using values of yore applied to the needs of today.

I have said above that women have always been in business. Isabel la Católica comes to mind as a paradigm (“certainly one of the most interesting personages in history…” William H. Prescott). She went into business with a certain Christopher Columbus, pawned and risked her jewels, and signed a contract (Capitulaciones de Santa Fe) with a foreigner who had a dream that had been rejected by many. Isabella’s husband, King Fernando of Aragon, was not interested. Her business deal with the Genovese paid off. She had foresight, entrepreneurship, business savvy, and took a risk. The history of the world changed the day she decided to sign that contract. And for better or for worse here we are, thanks to her.

Our present technological society cannot do without the brain power of women; over half the population, they can supply to the pool of ideas, of new ideas they can advance and implement. Latinas in business will be up to the challenge Isabel la Católica set for them as an example, a while ago, in 1492. And as Cervantes put it: in the nests of yesteryear, there are no birds this year… so go for it, all the way.

 

 

Delfin Carbonell

A Spaniard by birth and American by choice, Delfin Carbonell Basset, PhD, is a linguist and lexicographer graduated from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA and later joined the faculty of Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania. He has written numerous books, compiled dictionaries on his own, with no teams of experts, and is the creator of the Unialphabet system for bilingual dictionaries. For over twenty years, Carbonell Basset was the Director of the Marshall Institute of Languages in Madrid, Spain.

 

2015 economic empowerment

10 steps towards economic empowerment in 2015

2015 economic empowermentThis past year, news about the economy has been a mixed bag for the hard-working American middle-class. On one hand, the DOW  reached its highest in history at 18000 points while the House of Representatives refused to pass the minimum wage increase bill. The employment rate has been growing at a slow but steady pace and consumers’ confidence in on the climb.

If you are a small business owner like me or you are just starting one, trends have been a little better. According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the “Optimism Index” has almost risen to historical levels before the Great Recession, which means entrepreneurs are hopeful that two developments will take place: the business conditions will improve and their sales will increase in the next six months.

So now that the recession is not a justification for failure or low business performance, you got to play ball. It is time to start solidifying your finances and weeding out old habits replacing them with new and productive ones. After all, the end of the year is the time to think of “New Year’s Resolutions.” Why not make them all about growing your business and personal finances?

Here are some tips that have served me well through the years. I did not change my old behaviors in a day or two but I wanted to share these thoughts to see if you find them familiar:

  1. dolalr sign economic empowermentStop doing the same thing expecting your finances will change. If your business is not growing at all or as much as you would like it to, sit down and think in terms of the big picture. What are you doing that is preventing you from acquiring economic power and growing your business to the next level? What are your financial goals and how can you improve your enterprise and your personal life? What have been the main problems or mishaps in your business in the last three years? Make a fearless inventory of your activity and put it in writing. After all, taking a good look at your problems is the first step to find solutions.
  2. dolalr sign economic empowermentStop refusing to manage your life in numbers. Oh, I was great at that! I was a “concept woman” with great ideas and little regards for my finances. I used to think that if I had the next creative idea, did a good job and worked hard, money and recognition were going to follow. Well, it doesn’t happen that way. Every project, every idea and every business decision has to have a set of numbers attached to it in order to plan and create the financial environment for success. Don’t be afraid of thinking in terms of money. Your work has two values attached to it: one is the good it does; the other is the money it makes –which in turn helps you do more good if you so choose to. Unless you are volunteering your work, both have to grow together to produce results.
  3. dolalr sign economic empowermentValue your work in a dollar amount. When we start a new business or a new project, we tend to disregard the value of our work in terms of numbers. How much is the time you spend and expertise you apply in setting up your business worth? Do you know how much is your hour of work worth? I discussed this issue once with one business owner I was mentoring. I suggested she joined a professional association but she felt that paying a membership was too much money to invest– in an organization that would have provided her contacts, peer discussions, resources, etc. However, she was spending hours and days of work in trying marketing strategies that were unsuccessful. When we figured out how much those hours were worth in terms of a dollar amount, she realized that the price of the membership was pennies compared to the time invested in unproductive hours. Come up with a dollar value for your hour of work and make a note of how much money you invested in your business at the end of each week and compare it with results –sales, revenues, etc. Give it some time and then evaluate if what you are doing is producing results or you have to try something else.
  4. dolalr sign economic empowermentGood credit is your starting point and your only hope. Managing your credit is one main issue that will assist you in achieving economic empowerment. I cannot stress enough the importance of having good credit. It can mean the life or death of your business –and your personal finances. Unfortunately, we live in a society that regulates our lives with the “money stick” and if we want to play, we need to play by the rules. Monitor your personal and business credit as closely as your accounting. You can request a free annual copy to each of the credit bureaus and see if there are mistakes or errors to be fixed that are lowering your scores or affecting your credit. You can then work with the bureau to fix those errors –not a complicated process; it just takes time and persistence.
  5. dolalr sign economic empowermentPromise half, charge double. I learned this lesson way back when I started my translation side-business. In the eagerness of getting the contract, I used to promise the world to attract new clients –low rates and short turnarounds without charging extra. There were two problems though –and lessons to be learned. First, clients looking for a cheap translation –or work of any sort– are not loyal to your service but loyal to their budget. They constantly shop around for low price without giving quality a consideration. Second, maybe I could deliver what I had promised if the job solely depended on my skills but if I had to hire a copyeditor, they did not necessarily lived by my rules and I would end losing money or giving the job away. Charge the right price according to the quality of your work, and let the client ask for discounts without volunteering them up front. There is always time for negotiation and you would be surprised how good clients agree to your price and conditions once they respect your work.
  6. dolalr sign economic empowermentPlan ahead and save. When money is short, it is hard to think of saving it. As with any diet, sooner or later a person will feel deprived of the food they crave so they might go on a binge. Haven’t taken a vacation for a long time? Your car visits to the shop got more frequent? Is your computer ready for retirement? Before disaster hits –or you feel you cannot take it anymore– and blast your credit cards, plan ahead. You won’t believe the power of small automatic payments to a savings account; $50 every two weeks –the value of a dinner out– can land you $1200 at the end of the year without much pain. Can you save more? Better yet. Open a savings account for each goal and set up payments you can afford with your goals in mind –one might be $50 bi-weekly and the other $40 monthly depending on time of need. There is a great sense of accomplishment and little pain in saving small amounts of money and you pay cash for your goods with no interest!
  7. dolalr sign economic empowermentGet rid of high yield credit cards and loans. This is difficult to do but not impossible. High interest rate credit cards are easy to get and hard to pay. When you need to access capital or consolidate your debt, shop around. Easy to get loans usually charge the highest interest out there. Check cooperatives and small community banks, they have small business programs that might help you with a more personal service, more flexible conditions and lower interest rates. If you have extended debt and cannot consolidate it, then make a list of all credit cards starting with the highest interest rates to the lowest. Make higher payments to the top of the list first and cut the card with scissors. Continue with the second and third. Beware of services that help you negotiate credit cards –check if they are reputable but keep in mind that even if they help you, your credit score will be affected.
  8. dolalr sign economic empowermentEducate yourself as much as you can. Learn from others, read as much as you can even if you do not seem to grasp much at first. Do not dismiss the value of self-education. Attend seminars and participate in all activities at your professional association or chamber of commerce. There is a wealth of resources –usually offered for free– at your disposal. Read industry magazines and digital publications and follow the news. Isolation does not provide any good advice; on the opposite, it prevents you from understanding the conditions surrounding your business and what you need to do in order to keep it going.
  9. dolalr sign economic empowermentMake a list of goals you’d like to happen in your business. Do you want to increase your sales/revenue? How can you decrease cost and expenses? Do you need to raise prices or improve your margins? Do you have extended debt at high interest rate? You need to improve your cash flow or plan for certain payments at certain times of year? Be specific and be detailed. Write down one by one and analyze what you can do to fulfill each one. Brain storming is a good way to go; do not dismiss any ideas even if they seem to be “out of the box.” Many times, that is exactly the kind of ideas you need!
  10. dolalr sign economic empowermentSet your goals for 2015 in writing. Better yet, tell them to someone you trust, discuss them with this person and verify if they are realistic, especially those related to your business. Realistic does not mean you cannot have high expectations for your business or yourself; it simply means you need the right strategies for whatever you attempt to accomplish.

If you are a business owner or an aspiring one, keep in mind that discipline is the key to success. Yes, owningWe_Can_Do_It! a business gives you some freedom –for me, especially, having control over my time and my life is essential. However, it doesn’t mean I have little discipline. Control means I can plan my day to achieve my goals in a way that is suitable for me, my interests, my energy levels, etc. I was never a 9 to 5 person –although I did it for many years– but my biorhythm does not follow the regular corporate schedule. So you might find me writing or preparing work at 10 o’clock at night when phones are not ringing and Twitter is calmer. I also like to travel so I expanded my business to several states and had the opportunity to visit many places. Thirdly, I like to make my own decisions, which can be difficult at times, but I have learned to handle the risk by surrounding myself with people I can trust and to whom I can ask for advice.

At a business presentation I recently attended, the speaker –a businessman who has made several million dollars in his trade– said something that caught my attention, and I paraphrase: “The color of opportunity, access and justice in America is not white or black or brown or yellow; it is green.” I believe his words were aiming at the center of the problem. We can only build opportunities for ourselves, our families and our children, when we become financially solid and independent. Let’s work together, then, to make 2015 the year of economic empowerment.

Monica Taher when crisis sets the path to financial freedom

Monica Taher

Monica Taher

A scary moment in our lives: who has not had it? But when everything crumbles around you, then it seems hard to see where to start and how to keep it going. An emotional crisis is usually the first step into a series of disasters that can include deep financial problems.

Monica Taher, a Latina in business who defines herself as a serial entrepreneur, faced the turmoil of splitting with her lifetime partner in 2011. Today, she shares some tips on how she came back from the ashes and acquired financial freedom doing what she loves.

“As much as I was devastated when she deserted me with a mortgage to pay and a daughter to take care of, today I can look back and find a real blessing in that moment,” Monica said.

Despite the emotional pain caused by their separation, she quickly realized that a huge part of the impact was financial. “I had enjoyed the flexibility of a dual income household and suddenly, I needed to reevaluate my personal finances, assets and most importantly, the business I wanted to launch. My partner of 13 years was never supportive of my vision, and that moment of cruel realization was a turning point in my life,” she said.

Like Monica, many Latinas do not think in terms of protecting their personal finances. It is a cultural “treat,” a behavior that is passed on from generation to generation by most women in our families. We trust that our partner, husband or significant other will take care of us, and eventually, we expect our children to do the same.

However, life is not as stable as it used to be and children have their own plans and problems to worry about. “We can’t make excuses not to prepare ourselves for the eventual situation of facing a crisis,” Monica said.

The first thing she did was to dive into research about personal finances and entrepreneurship strategies. “At first, I really didn’t understand much. However, the more I read, the more it made sense,” she shared. Finally, the opportunity to launch the startup of her dreams became an obsession.

She was taught by her parents that education was the path to financial freedom. But how would she manage to continue her studies while supporting her family, saving money for her daughter’s college education and her own retirement, and graduating without getting into further debt?

“Instead of taking out student loans, I founded fellowships at the university in exchange for registration fees, and consequently graduated with zero debt. I finished my Masters degree at UCLA while working full-time,” Monica said.

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Monica Taher at her house in Los Angeles, CA

Appointed in 2009 as Director of Business Development at a leading digital multimedia producer, Getty Images Latin America (GILA), Monica invested in that company some money she had put away and became a partner. In her current role, Mónica supervises the penetration of GILA’s digital assets in the US Hispanic and Latin American markets.

“I turned into an avid reader of financial literature, raising my credit scores from the low 600s to the 800s and realized I had increased my chances of maximizing wealth for my daughter and me,” Monica said. “It took about two and a half years to get out of the woods but now I own two properties and I’m financially stable.”

She is now in the process of launching a second startup, ClipYap, an app that would allow users to chat using movie and TV shows’ lines and actions in the form of motioned GIFs seamlessly put together.

These are some tips Monica shared with LIBizus about facing a life crisis and how to make the best out of it:

  1. If you own assets with a husband, partner or significant other, your name should be on every deed or investment;
  2. Do not make excuses; you cannot be so busy that you cannot take care of your own financial protection;
  3. If you have a vision, a dream, if you are an entrepreneurial being like I am, educate yourself and focus on it;
  4. Although it is easier said than done, you cannot be with a partner who is not supportive of your ideas or do not help you fulfill your dreams.

“I know I’m in a much better place today that I would have ever been if I had stayed in that relationship. As Latinas and as immigrants, we have to fight harder to get into places and prove that we have a brain. We need to make conscious decisions, and have the courage to work through the pain with tenacity, resilience and creativity,” she concluded.

Economic empowerment for the poor

Holiday Season time of giving or time of economic empowerment

Economic empowerment for the poor

This time of year we are bombarded with requests from all sorts of organizations who remind us that it is again “this time of year to give.” Giving to charities or to churches is a practice that has helped many. It has built non-profit and religious organizations that are now larger than corporations; it has sustained the poor, the suffering and the needy.

We find different kind of givers: Some choose charities of their preference –not always those that help the most in need– such as the arts, the ballet, or a museum, usually for activities they enjoy the most.

Others prefer to give abroad, malaria in Africa or hunger in Latin America, some unknown place they don’t have to deal with on a daily basis. Then there are those who sustain organizations that sustain their religious beliefs such as anti-abortion and anti-gay organizations, denominational charities and the like.

Still there are those who donate to sick children, animal organizations or the veterans, all good causes that strive to really help. But, in my opinion, the world of charity is a world that sustains a system of unfairness and inequality. Otherwise, we will be not talking about the subject. Here are my views:

Three quarters of wealthy people give to causes that are either of their personal preference or provide them personal benefits, according to Eric Friedman, the author of Reinventing Philanthropy: A Framework for More Effective Giving.

And Dan Kadlec in his article “Why the Rich Aren’t Good at Giving” shares the information provided by the Chronicle of Philanthropy in an annual list of charitable gifts of $1 million or more.

According to the list, in 2012, 95 such gifts and 73 were as follows:

  • 21 gifts of $1 million or more (22%) went to the arts, museums, sports, or historic preservation, or to foundations with a significant emphasis on these areas.
  • 37 gifts of $1 million or more (39%) went to colleges and universities.
  • 15 gifts of $1 million or more (16%) went to health-related charities and hospitals in the developed world.

He also shares that billionaire David Koch donated $65 million to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, for an outdoor plaza renovation, while he spared the National Museum of Natural History $35 million for a dinosaur exhibit hall, as examples.

While the wealthy proclaim giving as a way of helping –it undoubtedly does–, it is also a way of helping themselves. Let’s not forget the large tax deductions that go to those who freely donate their money, which otherwise will go to taxes for government created programs and resources. Those programs are designed for all without preferences or discrimination of any sort.Poor people receiving food instead of economic empowerment

Choosing where to allocate their charity money is a privilege to receive a privilege, one that many don’t have. When a low-income person spares a dollar at the grocery store to see their names go on a green shamrock or a few coins into the Salvation Army’s hanging basket, they don’t run to deduct that amount from their taxes.

However, the same wealthy population that so freely gives this time of year would deny their workers a fair wage, will fight back regulations that protect employee benefits and resist rewarding their employee’s hard work with a fair share of their profits.

They support –with unbelievably large amounts of money- those in government that deny the right of people to earn fair wages to live with dignity and in safety. They would fight back on giving immigrants the opportunity to build a decent life for themselves and their children. They would prevent veterans the care and services they desperately need after offering their lives –and their families’- for the country.

The philanthropic act of giving is an act of otherness; the “haves” and the “have –nots” are separated by that act. There is no link, no bond in between that would change the status-quo. Philanthropic giving is not an act of kindness, it is an act of selfishness; it does not strive for community economic empowerment but it underscores individual humiliation.

If you ever had to depend on charity of any kind to provide for yourself or for your family, you know that receiving charity is not a good feeling –it is mortifying and deprecating. In a way, it is a “reminder” that we are vulnerable, inept and unable to provide for ourselves. We have fallen off the ladder and it is unlikely that will be able to climb up again.

When asked if they would prefer to receive charity or recover their dignity, I’m sure most people would choose the latter.Begging With Sign

So next time you are thinking of giving, think less in terms of what you want to give and more of what others might want to receive: give another human being their dignity, their ability to fight for their own rights, their ability to feel whole again, and the ability to choose their own destiny.

The art of negotiation for women with Dr. Yasmin Davidds

YazminDavidds_high_res

Dr Yazmin Davidds

The USC Career Center, USC Alumni Association and the USC Society of Trojan Women are joining efforts to bring the first-ever livestreamed virtual USC alumni career event “Negotiating for Women” conducted by the renown Latina best-selling author and empowerment specialist Dr. Yasmin Davidds. The event, hosted live at the USC University Park Campus, will be broadcast simultaneously to the worldwide Trojan Family via livestream technology on October 29th at 6:15 PT.

The highly interactive workshop will focus on building essential negotiating and leadership skills for women. Dr. Davidds has dedicated her life to empower women by taking personal responsibility and improving their self-esteem.

Dynamic speaker Davidds will teach the art of negotiation using internationally recognized best practices, while discovering women’s personal negotiation style based on their own strengths. She will address important questions such as:

  • Why negotiation training just for women?

  • Are strategies and tactics that different for women?

  • What are the organizational implications for a “women only” training?

The program will help prepare women to negotiate in a confident, professional manner in all areas of life to improve bottom-line results and enhance relationships with clients, colleagues and stakeholders.

 Yasmin Davidds has trained and counseled more than 2,000 corporate leaders in 200+ blue-chip companies throughout 22 countries. She established the Women’s Institute of Negotiation (WIN), dedicated to the teaching, instruction and development of negotiating skills and leadership competencies primarily focused on women in professional, academic and corporate settings.

Access to this livestream event is free to all USC alumnae worldwide and the general public. Simply complete the registration form and you will be emailed viewing instructions. Not in your time zone? Not to worry! Simply register and you will receive viewing instructions for both the livestream event as well as how to access the archived video to watch at a later date.

Free livestream 6:15 – 8:15 p.m.   Register here