#Smallbizchat Podcast LIVE is a monthly video interview show where small business owners can get answers to their questions.
The focus of #Smallbizchat is to end small business failure by helping participants succeed as your own boss.
Barbara Casey is a customer engagement and text marketing expert. She has 30 years of marketing experience. She was a member of the team which launched the very first frequent buyer program in the country for AT&T. She is the CEO of Mobile High 5, which provides full-service SMS marketing solutions. For more information: https://mobilehigh5.com
SmallBizLady: What is the biggest benefit to adding a text marketing program?
Barbara Casey: It’s all about the data, baby. Today, owning your customer’s data and being able to personalize your outreach is the magic sauce. With text marketing, we are able to ask for that edata, and build target lists based on this criteria so messaging can be highly personalized.
SmallBizLady: Isn’t text marketing intrusive? What if I don’t want to bother my customers?
Barbara Casey: Because they will have provided explicit written permission for you to text them, meaning they are ASKING you to please text them. Today, more than 75% of us would rather get a text from a favorite business than an email.
SmallBizLady: How do I build a list? Do I go buy one?
Barbara Casey: ABSOLUTELY NOT. That would be illegal! You must obtain explicit written permission to text someone. We build our lists using a proprietary kiosk we place in our client’s business, which allows the customer to enter their own number if they’d like to join. We can also help a client promote the program via their email list, on social media with text-to-join functionality. We can create signage with a QR code that customers can scan to join and we can add a webform to a client’s website so customers can join there. This 5-pronged approach is why we can build a list 5x larger than just a simple text-to-join functionality which is the only way to join these DIY programs.
How to Become a Second Act Entrepreneur
Eric Brown is seasoned in urban housing development and serial entrepreneurship. In 2000, he founded Urbane Apartments and developed over 16,000 market-rate apartments on a national scale. He is recognized as a vanguard in the multi-family housing industry for his innovative social media marketing strategies. Eric recently stepped away to create new side hustles with UrbaneFarm. His new company UrbaneFarm is a purveyor of 100-Unique Hot Sauce Brands, Fish Sauces, Salsas, BBQ Sauce, Rubs, Gourmet Salts, Beef Jerky, Eclectic Art, Cast Iron Cookware and Cut Flowers in Season. Eric recently launched his first book, Second Act Entrepreneur.
SmallBizLady: How did you start your entrepreneurial journey?
Eric Brown: My wife’s parents thought that I needed to secure a “Real Job”. I have always had multiple side hustles to generate cash flow, since the start of my career, some 45 years ago, and have done fairly well with them. Back in the day, the term Entrepreneur may have existed but was not referred to as it is today. We were newly married, and had twins on the way, so a “Real Job” seemed to be in order. With that, I landed a job at Kenton International Car Company, a manufacturer of Train Cabooses. I lasted two and a half days in a factory environment and I quit. Not sure what to do, on the way home I stopped at the local Ford Dealership, and with no money and no credit, the owner, Willie Anderson happened to be on the floor. He knew me and my family, and my wife’s family. Willie was a wildly successful Entrepreneur, albeit back then, that wasn’t a common label. He asked me what I wanted to do, I promptly said launch a construction business. He stood up and said go out on the lot and pick any new truck you want. I did that, and he gave me the keys and told me to stop in at the local bank the next day, to sign the loan documents. Willie happened to be on the Bank’s Board of Directors. And so it began, I was in business, and have never looked back. The point here is that there have been many people along the trek like Willie Anderson, willing to help, and I am very much grateful.
SmallBizLady: What does it mean to be a second-act entrepreneur?
Eric Brown: A Second Act Entrepreneur to me is, finding a way to fund your passion, and develop a sustainable business around that, later in life. About eight or nine years into our Urbane Apartments Ventures, my wife and I were squabbling about something, and she turned and looked at me with daggers in her eyes and said, “How long are you going to toil at this business?” She then went on to say something to the effect of “You are Living Your Dream” In my head, I’m thinking as long as it takes, however, after eight years, we had yet to take any money. We didn’t turn a real profit until year ten. I made a host of mistakes that nearly sunk us. My reply to the “living the dream” comment was that a property management company is not and was never “My Dream”, it was just there, and I started doing it. I was able to successfully find capital to do developments and ten years turned to twenty and beyond. I think many a business owner just started doing something, and it grew a life of its own. It may not have been their dream, but if you can develop a passion for business, it can be a good life.
SmallBizLady: What kinds of concerns do 50+ business owners need to consider?
Eric Brown: There are many advantages to starting a business later in life, particularly if you ran someone else’s business, or gained management and leadership skills along the way. Second Act Entrepreneurs typically have available capital too. Concerns are things like having the energy and technical skills to start a business from scratch. Also, examine any competing priorities like aging parents or young grandchildren. However, for all of the advantages we have, they can also be a double-edged sword, if we are not “listening” to those around us, and not paying attention. Stay curious, and watch the money.
New Program to Support Black Women Entrepreneurs
Renee Johnson is an Advocate, Policy maker, Innovative strategist with over fifteen years of experience advocating for women of color in politics, policy, entrepreneurship, and leadership. As Co-Director of Reimagine Main Street and Senior Advisor to Public Private Strategies, Renée develops innovative strategies to impact small business needs with a focus on access to capital, especially for small business owners of color. Renee’s tenure includes serving as the Training Director at The United State of Women and serving as the District of Columbia Department of Human Services Director of Legislation and Policy in a variety of roles. For more information: https://www.publicprivatestrategies.com/
SmallBizLady: What is the Backing Black Business program?
Renee Johnson: The Backing Black Business Small Business Grants program is a project of Reimagine Main Street, which is dedicated to ensuring Black women-owned small businesses and others nationwide achieve an equitable recovery from economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program awarded $2 million in cash grants, ranging from $5K to $50K, to more than 200 Black women entrepreneurs who either started their businesses during the pandemic or who successfully navigated their businesses through the pandemic.
SmallBizLady: Why was it created?
Renee Johnson: COVID-19 hit Black women business owners across the country hard. Now, as signs of recovery emerge, Black women are starting new businesses at record rates and we recognize the power of Black women-owned small businesses! By providing cash grants, advertising support, and other valuable resources to women who launched their businesses during the pandemic or made it through, we can collectively fuel the aspirations and boost the trajectory of more than 200 Black women entrepreneurs across the U.S.
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