As a part of the CNN Black in America documentary I sat down with Soledad Obrien for a 1 on ! interview. This segment talks about why i feel there is a need for minority incubators.
My response to the following article on Entrepreneur.com “Creating an Ecosystem for Minority Entrepreneurs“
As I’ve said for some time now that once we go down the path of relying on the government to regulate the Internet, the pattern of regulation would extend far beyond any restrictions that are being proposed for Internet providers. Here are a couple articles about “search neutrality” that describe potential restrictions that need to be placed on Google.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/28/opinion/28raff.html?_r=1 . In this article from the New York Times, the writer makes the case that Google ignores search algorithms to promote its own products. My first thought was that Google is a business and it was never said anywhere that a business can’t promote its own products. But what was even more interesting about this article was that the person writing this post was the founder of a company that has created its own search technology and feels Google has stifled their success. He actually says, “Google’s treatment of Foundem stifled our growth and constrained the development of our innovative search technology.” This is just one example of the ways that people can start seeking additional government regulation of the Internet just to protect their own interests. For each person like this who blames large companies for their lack of success there are thousands like myself who credit access to broadband and the tools on the Internet as the keys to our success. But it’s only through the current competition and openness of the Internet that has made my success, and the achievements of others, possible.
The next story I came across was a blog post that basically accused the author above of “More Whining About Google.” While he makes a good case, I find it funny that this author does not see the parallels between the whining about Google and the whining about Internet providers that is done by some Net Neutrality advocates. We have more choices to broadband access now than ever and those companies compete for our business by innovating just like Google does. I say let’s stop the whining altogether and focus on making sure everyone has access to the Internet and the tools that companies like Google provide.
This is part 3 of my series “Creating the next generation of entrepreneurs.” You can read part 1 and part 2 here as well. First, let me say thank you for all the feedback on my earlier posts. I don’t pretend to know everything, but I have been blessed with some great experiences and I feel compelled to share what I have learned from them with the hope that they help you in some way or at least get you thinking about these topics. I plan to write more often as the New Year begins. As you get ready for the holiday many of us will have some down time on our hands, so I wanted to share some things to think about during that time. I also know that we will all start the New Year with new resolutions, and my hope is that many of you make the resolution to start your own business (specifically a web business). In the hopes that you do, I wanted to share the advice below.
Once you have made the decision to start on the journey, I believe there are 3 things that are crucial for you to think about.
1. You have to do your homework so that you’re bringing your “A” game. Someone else has thought of almost any idea you have come up with. The difference between you and them is knowledge and execution. True story: I met with some potential clients and they shared their idea with me. They wanted to launch a dance site where people could upload dance videos; they could have contests and create a community. They were ready to spend money and work on launching the product. I asked them who they thought their competition was, and they said they felt Myspace was their only competition. I quickly asked if they had ever heard of DanceJam, McHammer’s dance site that has been live for over a year. They replied “ I’ve never heard of that.” My point is that if you don’t research what is already out there, how can you create something unique (and that’s just one of the things you need to think about)? There is a lot that goes into starting a company, raising capitol and scaling that company Before you make a move spend some time reading sites that talk about this process. Here are a few places that I frequent and a good place for you to start
• Both Sides of the table: This blog is written by an entrepreneur who is now a venture capitalist. He gives a no-nonsense approach to what to takes to be an entrepreneur.
• A VC: Fred Wilson, A leading venture vapitalist gives great advice to start-ups on a regular basis
• Venture Hacks: A great site that offers advice to start-ups
• 37signals blog: This company wrote a book called “Getting Real” (that you have to read), launched basecamp to become one of the leading project management services online without any outside investment, and -oh yeah- one of the founders created Ruby on Rails ( the language that was used to build Twitter)
• The small business and Start-up pages of Alltop.com: Lists current content from a whole bunch of sites
2. Immerse yourself in the space: I spend some time everyday reading about start-ups. I’ve watched start-ups go from inception to growth and sometimes to failure on sites like Techcrunch, Mashable, and Blackweb20. Each time I read about a company, I go to their site and see what changes they have made, how they are communicating with their audience. I look at each story for a chance to educate myself. It’s also good to see that success is possible and that people are winning. You need to find motivation anywhere you can because it’s easy to think there’s no upside.
3. Believe in yourself, and Let your haters be your motivators: I was going to write a whole post about this but decided it fit better here. Almost every site I mentioned that talks about what it takes to be successful will tell you that you need tenacity and the ability to be able to turn a “no” into a “yes.” But I want to speak about the doubt that will surround you throughout the process. From people close to you asking, “what are you thinking?” or “This will never work, you should just get a job,” to people you don’t know who will knock, criticize or downright blast your efforts for whatever reasons they have. I heard a sermon from TD Jakes not too long ago about turning your haters into your motivators. Use those people to fuel your motivations and press on. If you have done items 1 and 2 in this list and you have an idea your passionate about, then don’t let anyone stop you from having the faith to see it through. And lastly, we have to identify one last person who can de-motivate you. YOU!!! There are going to be many times when you are going to tell yourself it’s time to quit, it’s too hard or nothing seems to be working. I’m here to tell you that’s its at that moment that you are just around the corner from your next success. You just have to turn the corner to find it. There is a great book I read called “founders at work and another called “Once you’re lucky, Twice your good” that give great examples of this.
So as you get ready to plan for the New Year do your homework, get your focus, and get ready to take 2010 by storm. That’s what I’m planning to do. Have a blessed Holiday.