Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Consultant Commandments

1.         Thou shall not do work for a client without a signed letter of agreement

Working with no letter of agreement is the biggest mistake any novice consultant would make. You are not an employee, you are not a friend, you are a consultant providing a service and possibly products to bring additional value to your client while solving a particular problem. It is good business practice to do all work with a signed letter of agreement. Think of it as a business prenuptial agreement. It’s best to outline the scope of the project and identify the deliverables, so both parties have a clear understanding of what is to be expected on both sides. This is a wise practice. Signed letters of agreement have saved friendships and work relationships for ages. It has also been a means of protection for the consultant, so there is no ambiguity and therefore room for manipulation.

2.         Thou shall be sure to provide valuable information on each proposal

As the information expert, it is imperative that you are very detailed within that letter of agreement for your client. This ensures that even if your client feels they are not happy with the services you have provided, there is a benchmark for each of you to reference and discuss appropriately. Each letter of agreement should always include:

o   Objectives
o   Metrics
o   Value
o   Options
o   Terms & Conditions

Objectives detail what outcomes will be achieved upon hiring you as the consultant for the project. What does the client need you to do? Metrics will list indicators to mark progress and completion of each step to complete the project along with a timeline to which this information is to be completed. Finally, clients are seeking some bang for their buck. It’s your job as the expert to ensure that you translate your skill set into a necessity the buyer cannot resist for the project on the table. Because every client is on a budget or will try to go the cheap route on you in an attempt to prove themselves fiscally responsible: It is a smart move for the consultant to provide at least three price options detailing what you can accomplish for your client. Detail who is in charge of what to ensure each team member, including you, is accountable throughout the project. How long will it take to accomplish the listed objectives? What are the choices for implementation? How much value does each option will bring to your client? And we can’t forget terms & conditions. Terms & conditions ensure each party is protected. Additional clauses include: project cancellation, cancellation fees, project postponement, quality of work

3.         Thou shall always ask for ratings, referrals & testimonies.

I have this gift. If I co-sign a small business on my personal Facebook page, the people will pay for the product or service when they are in need of that particular amenity. I mean seriously, it’s how potential clients jump off of the fence and into your clientele. Someone else took the risk for them! Until you gain the trust of a potential client, they will continue to opt for all of the free information you offer. Ratings on your business page are the most watched area of your social media, thus providing someone on the fence with paramount information. Referrals and testimonies of previous clients bridge the gap of trust. For those customers who wish to remain anonymous, a referral will do just fine. The goal is to continue to build your list and ultimately increase your profit margin. References, testimonies, and email addresses are gold in the consulting world.

4.         Thou shall never discuss client information with the staff of your client

There are two things you should never, ever, never discuss with their workforce: confidential information and client flaws. You are the consultant for a reason. You did not take on this project to make friends, join the coolest workplace cliques, or to gossip about the latest and greatest news everyone has heard around the office. When you hear information like this: Do not participate! While it’s true you may not be able to change the culture of the company; you do not have to yield to such unprofessional measures. Doing either of the two could lead to immediate termination of your consulting contract. If your contract is terminated, I can guarantee you will not be invited back for a future project.

5.         Thou shall never let your clients add on additional responsibility without adding additional fees to the invoice

Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Go straight to your contract agreement! Never allow the client to grab you “since you’re here anyway” to do additional work since you are “on their payroll.” Let’s face it: being a business owner is tough. There are times where the CEO feels it necessary to pinch every penny earned. If you as the consultant are not careful, you will be doing additional work to prove your worth to yourself and keep the client happy. Do not fall for this trap. When the agreement was signed, there was an objective, scope, metrics, timeframe, and pricing that was agreed upon. It is not of any concern to you that the client wants to ensure they get their money worth by providing additional services without extra costs paid to the consultant. To be clear, it’s fair to ask for an opinion of a logo or branding color “since you’re here anyway,” but should the client attempt to add additional tasks, be sure to reframe politely. For example, you reframe by ensuring they want you to complete the current project, which is of top priority and inform the client that you could send an additional proposal or amended proposal to ensure those extra tasks are completed as well for a nominal fee of course. Moral of the story: even if your client is s non-profit you are for profit. Your time, talent, and know-how are of high value. Do not fall for the "add on" trick.

6.         Thou shall know your worth

Your client pays to execute concerning three gems you possess:
a. Degrees/Certificates
b. Experience
c. Knowledge

Your execution by implementing a successful strategy or completing a project your client is pleased with all due to the gems you possess. In all fairness, because you can’t resend your degree to Sallie Mae or Navient, it’s best that you put that degree to work for you. Your fees are indeed justified because you have the experience, but also years of educational training further confirming your expertise. Don’t apologize for the rate you charge. Be sure to charge enough so that you are adequately compensated and able to complete the project without taking a financial loss. Translate your price by knowing your value. What do you bring to the table? How are you able to translate those three possession gems into a winning formula for your client? Once you know your worth, you can convey to your client why they need your services and how valuable it is to them for their current project.

7.         Thou shall always negotiate

If you don’t negotiate, you will always cheat yourself. Let me break the news to you now; you will regret that decision later should you decide to move forward by accepting the position and being underpaid for everything you bring to the table. Word of advice: deals come, and they go. Do not feel compelled to say ‘yes’ to the first deal that is placed on the table. There is always room for negotiation. Adding insult to injury, there is significant gender pay inequality, and I’m led to believe that it is because women forego negotiating better salary packages to maintain the positive reputation of “the nice girl” instead of being perceived as demanding when asking for more. If you need to walk away from a deal, do so respectfully, but negotiating is necessary. As a woman, mother, and a businessperson, I’m not negotiating to be rude or greedy, I'm negotiating for my family of seven in addition to any other financial obligations. Not only are you worthy of negotiating, but it is also very necessary that you do so to earn what you are worth instead of what the client is willing to offer. 

8.         Thou shall always be visible

As a leader in your field of expertise, it is imperative that you are visible on many platforms. Your customers are on various platforms and let’s face it: it’s more advantageous to spread the knowledge to catch new clients in places like:
o   Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Snap Chat, Periscope, Linked In, etc.
o   YouTube
o   Blogs
o   Magazines
o   Online Articles
o   Press Releases
o   Speaking Engagements

Opportunities come the more visible you are. People don’t care that you are the next thought leader of your generation or best influential architect (leader) in your area of expertise if you cannot be found. Share the wealth. Hook your potential client by sharing useful information (for free) on various platforms. The clients you secure from magazines may not be the same as your podcast audience and may also differentiate from your YouTube subscribers.

9.         Thou shall always open your mouth

The more you open your mouth, the more you grow your business. I’ve been guilty of this in my beginning days of consulting. I’ve been guilty of not using titles for humility sake and to stay in my comfort zone. And as a result, I had little to no paid clients. And I was up to my eyeballs with pro bono work. I’d given enough free work to build my portfolio. Don’t do it. Sometimes it’s a small gesture such as sharing your accomplishments and skill set is necessary to yield those lucrative projects you so desire. Opportunities didn’t start to come until I began to open my mouth. The anxiety was real! I didn’t want to come off as braggadocios but, as the saying goes, “closed mouths don’t get fed!” For those who struggled with being perceived as cocky instead of unapologetically knowledgeable: “It’s not bragging if you have the receipts!” You’ll thank me later. Be clear about what it is you can do for the client, what problems you can solve, and what value you bring to the table. You sell what you know, always be learning, and always be sharing. Open your mouth strategically.

10.     Thou shall not betray your moral compass

I’m not opposed to passing on a sound financial opportunity where I would be forced to betray my moral compass. As a consultant, do not be afraid to trust your gut. Do not betray your moral compass for monetary gain. All money is not good money! If it causes you to betray your values and code of ethics, chances are it will cost you more than you ever stand to gain from accepting the position. Believe me; it’s the experience you’d wish you’d learned from someone else instead of having to go through the unproductive experience yourself. Your personal and professional values frame the type of client and projects you are willing to accept. Do not betray the framework meant to protect your sanity as well as your brand. Follow these commandments and watch your consulting practice flourish.

The CEO and published author is a millennial M.B.A. graduate in love with helping others fulfill purpose by working in the areas of writing, personal development, business leadership, and project management. Tricia J. specializes in non-profit organizations, project management, business administration, organizational strategy, and small business start-ups. She’s also a mom to a starting lineup of 5 little A’s. Check out her business blog: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to: for the latest merger of pop culture and business tips.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Marketing: Why Teyana Taylor Missed the Mark - TWICE!

I’ve tried to stay quiet concerning all of the “body goals” posts Teyana Taylor inspired this past week. For those of you who do not know, there was a live music awards show hosted by MTV. And no matter how hard I try to enjoy a night of relaxation watching TV, my business hat just won’t stay off. Teyana had the opportunity to slam dunk in the sales arena twice this year and didn’t! Here’s five lessons any entrepreneur can learn from this mistake. 
5 Lessons Teyana should have learned twice in 2016:
  1. Seize the opportunity
I do understand that the video debut was Kanye’s, but Teyana starring in the video made her a partner in the endeavor. She was trending on Twitter because of the video! He may not have given her all of the details for the release, but her team should have had a plan ready to strike the moment the video released. By the way, who is her PR & Marketing squad? Fire them: twice! There should be a website up with a shop to purchase all the latest and greatest from her brand. Now, the Hip Hop Honors event was another opportunity she had more control to seize the opportunity to close the deal after such a stellar performance. Moral of the story: always have at lease one product ready to launch in the queue.
  1. Execute great marketing
Marketing is key: If you have not read Beyoncé’s Marketing Syllabus for Entrepreneurs please do! You do not have to be the best at what you do, but if you can monetize the gift/talent/skill then you are five steps ahead of the best. I don’t care if you are an artist, an entrepreneur, an author, stylist, consultant or whatever if you cannot monetize your talent you’re five steps behind. It is your job to be the best salesperson in your field. The best ideas must be sold. Let me share a secret with you: people buy you before they buy your product. Teyana: the people are sold on you, but you have nothing to sale! She did confirm she has Halloween costumes “the wet wig & coconut oil (Black girl hair staple) included” coming soon...but not soon enough!
  1. Timing is everything
The MTV Awards had 6.5 million viewers who were laser-focused on the who’s who in the entertainment industry. (According to the the NY Times) there were 45.8 million Facebook streams and 62.8 million viewer streams last Sunday. Teyana boasting 3.3 million Instagram followers and 1.1 million Twitter followers of her own had access to oh just about 59 million extra viewers Sunday night and Monday morning. Have we not learned anything from Beyoncé? She performed at Super Bowl 50 and immediately following opened Formation World Tour ticket sales: Marketing gold! Teyana since you’ve missed your window, might I suggest you drop the workout DVD 4th quarter as everyone is preparing to make New Year’s resolutions? Even with this frame of thinking, there is no guarantee that she will have access to 62.8 million potential buyers. Timing is everything. Timing. Is. Everything.
  1. No matter what your profession is, you sell whatever it is you do
Teyana’s last album VII was released November 4, 2014. It’s been two years; meanwhile Planet Fitness Membership Sales went up 80% after the video debut with no endorsement deal. She is a signed artist on Def Jam and the Twitter streets are saying the label is holding up releasing her next project...but they did increase her budget, thus she is back in the studio recording. It doesn’t matter when she has nothing to sell right now! Teyana can sell ab workout DVDs, butt work out DVDs, post-baby body work out DVDs, and dance workout DVDs without her music because those four benchmarks are various factors of who she is. The record label may be holding her music, but her branding team is holding her up!
  1. Teamwork makes the dream work
With the right team in place here are four streams of revenue/products Teyana could have released twice this year with the perfect timing:
  • New music (Hey Def Jam, y’all are playing with your money)
    • EP (Digital Release)
    • LP (Digital Release)
    • Single (Digital Release)
  • 2017 Calendar Pre-orders (Serving all types of slayage we witnessed in the Fade video)
  • Workout DVD (she says it’s coming soon, but soon is not now and she could have used the workout cover to start pre-orders)
  • Athletic wear
Let’s not forget how she bodied her VH1 performance honoring Hip Hop rapper and icon Lil Kim during the Hip Hop Honors. These same principles would have applied for that opportunity as well. Def Jam KNEW Kanye recorded her in his music video; they should have had something brewing. Even if she couldn’t drop an album, she could have dropped a single at 12 am the night after the awards show aired! There should be a team to assist with marketing, branding, promotions, operations, and execution. Lil Kim gave Teyana an amazing opportunity and she did well. Kanye set her up nicely and millions of people are talking. The common denominator: she did not capitalize on the hype from either event. Who is this team? They’ve got to go!
The ‘Famous’ Effect
In Kanye’s infamous words, he “made her famous,” because after two days of the video premiere, Teyana did land two TV gigs in the Viacom family on VH1. Because my snoop detective skills are superb, I’ve noticed Teyana posted a picture on Instagram where her entire body is painted in all gold using the hashtag #Champions. If you know anything about music, it is Kanye West’s first single off his forthcoming LP Cruel Winter. Take these lessons and apply it for that launch Teyana. This advice is free, next time I’ll be invoicing you!
 The CEO and published author, Ask TPJ, is a millennial M.B.A. graduate in love with helping others fulfill purpose by working in the areas of writing, personal development, business leadership, and project management. Tricia J. specializes in non-profit organizations, project management, business administration, organizational strategy, and small business start-ups. She’s also a mom to a starting lineup of 5 little A’s. Check out her business blog: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to: for the latest merger of pop culture and business tips.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Test Kitchen Theory: How You Can Learn From Kylie Jenner's Qualitative Research Experience

 You have to be living under a rock if you have not heard of Kylie Jenner. Being related to the Kardashian clan will light a fire inside of any entrepreneurial spirit. It’s an intelligent move for anyone participating in the reality TV phenomenon to use the platform to launch a product or service. Anyone that does not capitalize on this market is purely foolish. Kylie is no longer just a TV personality. She is an entrepreneur as well.
Lo and behold the topic of conversation: Kylie’s lips have turned into a lucrative cash cow. The cosmetics industry generates more than $62.46 billion dollars (Source: considering the US is the largest market of consumers. Kylie made a smart business decision using this industry with the platform she has. She took an insecurity of hers and turned it into a stream of income. Well-played Kylie. Well played. 
Here’s where it gets interesting. Most people covet the celebrities of social media. These Internet celebrities sell anything from t-shirts with their favorite slogan; detox tea, protein, teeth whiteners, and even books. Then there are the elite that venture over into retail and cosmetics. Gucci Mane’s girlfriend, Keyshia Kai’or; Love & Hip Hop Atlanta’s Rasheeda Frost; and now Keeping Up With the Kardashian’s Kylie Jenner’s lip kits. She’s joined many seeking to expand her brand. She secured a manufacturer, created a buzz, and began distribution of her lip kits to customers who preordered. Go Kylie! Selling out in 15 minutes is very admirable!
Customers were quick to rebut, “No, Kylie!” There were plenty of hiccups from shipping issues, empty boxes arriving to angry customers, used wands in secure packages, and a faulty wand to each customer. Sounds like a disaster right? Angry customers complained and completely dissed Kylie’s lip kit on all social medias platforms. Kylie ever so graciously addressed the matter and informed her fans and customers the wand would be new and the next batch! And this is where we discuss the test kitchen theory. Kylie tweeted 
If you’ve ever purchased a brand new iPhone, the latest version of Turbo Tax, or Kylie Jenner’s Lip Kit, you indeed paid to be a “lab rat” for the company. I’ll let you in on a little secret: everyone’s doing it! Small batches allow room for improvement without breaking the bank of the entrepreneur. Even though Kylie is a mega celebrity, she’s following the protocol of the greats: sticking to the budget. Small batches allow quick feedback; helps improve the product/service, and helps to avoid blowing the budget. Kylie was able to fix the wand issue by making it shorter and modified the formula for her lippies: next batch improved. 
Quality control is the process you’ve just experienced. If you’ve purchased Kylie’s lip kit, a new computer, or just about any product for that matter. The processes have been reconfigured, (hopefully the shipping issues are resolved); she’s gained knowledge for the next batch of lip kits. (No more long wands, eh Kylie?) Product inspection will occur with each lip gloss, matt3e lipstick and whatever new product her customer gives feedback on. All feedback is helpful whether positive or negative to the business. This negative feedback is actually more helpful than you think.
I understand that as a guinea pig, in many areas, it is not always a pleasant experience. Many customers including myself, spend their hard earned money on a product they expect to be perfect from the beginning. And in this phase of entrepreneurship everyone's doing qualitative research on the consumer directly. There's no way to get around it! Think of it as a test kitchen: You get to see what works and what doesn't. Sometimes the food is great. Sometimes the recipe needs tweaking. During this research and development process new products and services are developed. 
How can you apply this to your business?
1. Think like Kylie
 Think like Kylie: small batches are just right for an entrepreneur: especially when you are a bootstrapping business. It’s better to have a budget for three batches than to use all of your funding for one large and unsuccessful batch.
2. Make Mistakes
You will make mistakes: when it happens (and it will) apologize graciously and offer a new lip wand as the solution. You want to take care of your customer so they come back.
3. Listen to Your Customers
Listen to your customers: Buying power is a hell of an influencer. It doesn’t matter how fast you sell out if they never purchase your product again. And on the flip side of that coin: you can have a great product that your customers do not want. Moral of the story: open up your listening ear by analyzing your customer feedback. In fact, encourage it! 
4. Excellence Isn’t Always Expensive
Excellence doesn’t have to be expensive! I tell my kids all the time: “A half done job is a twice done job!” If you don’t get it right on the first try (you won’t,) be prepared to do it another time, better than the time before. You will go through this process over and over and over again with each product rollout. Master your process now.
5. All Change Isn’t Bad
Don’t be afraid to charge what you’re worth. Even though we pay to give feedback from our experience with the latest version of QuickBooks, or any technology, they never offer a discount. So why should you offer discounts when others are doing the same thing and following a different protocol. Kylie charged her customers $29.00 USD, plus shipping, handling, and tax for a faulty lip kit. Her prices are comparative to her competitors: MAC and other luxury cosmetic brands. Take notes fellow entrepreneurs! How will you implement the test kitchen theory in your business? 
 The CEO and published author, Ask TPJ, is a millennial M.B.A. graduate in love with helping others fulfill purpose by working in the areas of personal development, business leadership, and project management. Tricia J. specializes in non-profit organizations, project management, business administration, organizational strategy, and small business start-ups. She’s also a mom to a starting lineup of 5 little A’s.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Lessons From Prince: Own Your Art

I don’t know about you, but Uncle Prince was an integral part of my childhood. My aunt was convinced they’d be married some time in the 80’s. Time and time again we sang many of his infamous, yet inappropriate lyrics. Upon hearing the news of his untimely death I began to reflect on what I knew about him. He was a music mogul, producer, actor, an advocate, visionary, film director, trailblazer, and philanthropist as well as creative mastermind. I’m sure you’re wondering what this has to do with business and entrepreneurship: stick with the kid and you’ll see where I’m going with this in just a bit.

I personally consider musicians to be entrepreneurs. Many have turned creative ideas into some of the most popular and memorable songs in each generation. Unfortunately, the creative minds do not have the discipline to do the “hard things” like learn the business to protect their creative intellectual properties. Queue the entrance of 360 deals in the modern music world. These deals are where a music company will front the artist finances to be used for promotions, marketing, touring, studio fees, video recordings, etc. in exchange for these services and any financial advances the artist receives the artist yields a hefty percentage of all artist streams of income including, but not limited to: music sales/downloads, live performances, YouTube views, publishing, merchandising, and more depending on the contract specifics...Uncle Prince would not approve.

I’m reminded of when he changed his name from Prince to The Artist Formally Known As Prince. As a 3rd grader (don’t judge me) I didn’t understand the significance of this name change for him as an artist, entrepreneur, and fellow rebel. Today, I understand he was laying a blueprint for future artists/entrepreneurs to follow. He changed his name so that his record label, Warner Brothers would no longer own his business (stage) name along with his music.

He was such an advocate for owning your art, that he re-recorded his old Warner Brother’s albums to create a catalogue only he would own. Warner Brother’s would not let him obtain ownership of the master recordings and publishing of his previous work. 17 albums were redone just so he could own his art. In doing this, he would cut out the middle man, selling directly to his fan base and ultimately earn more money for what was his intellectual property to begin with.

To further substantiate the fact that Uncle Prince was about that life when it came to owning his are, in 2015, he took his music off of all streaming channels including YouTube, Pandora, Apple Music, and Spotify. He did later allow Tidal to stream. I am convinced owner Jay Z said some moving things in that meeting. (Side note: The primary reason Jay Z acquired Tidal was to ensure artists could own their art. That had to resonate with Prince.) Spotify pays an artist between $0.006 and $0.0084 per song stream to the artist. Many artists are not making minimum wage in the amount of plays based on current plays per song based on chart fees below:

Streaming Service
Per Play

Signed Artist
Unsigned Artist
Google Play
Reference: Knowledge Is Beautiful by David McCandless

The moral of the story is: Own your art! Uncle Prince paved the way for other entrepreneurial kings like Master P, Jay Z, and Damon Dash. These men learned the importance of having a boss mentality. These men sign the front of their checks...pretty bossy.

How can you apply this to your art?

1.  Own Your Art
It’s your intellectual property: make sure you own it. Don’t let the things that come from your mind be the thing that someone else makes a profit from. The music industry especially profits from creative artists ignorance concerning the importance of owning your art.

2.    Learn The Business Side of Your Industry
If you’re going to play the game, it’s probably best that you learn the rules. Being a creative mastermind is one thing. Cashing in on that creativity is another. Unfortunately, many artist/celebrities only earn around $30,000 to $40,000 annually with bogus contracts like 360 deals. (Thanks for the information Master P.) What you don’t want to be is a disgruntled artist angry like TLC because they’ve sold millions of albums; the world knows your name, yet they drive off from an awards show in a Toyota. You can’t afford not to learn the game if you want to avoid being tomorrow’s barista at Starbucks.

3.    Know Your Worth & Add Tax
Know exactly what it is you bring to the table. Don’t be afraid to pass up a business deal that is not a good fit for you. Don’t be so desperate for fame/money that you cheat yourself in the end. All entrepreneurs must learn the art of negotiation. Remember, Uncle Prince wrote, “slave” on his face at a major awards show? “If you don’t own your masters (intellectual property), your master owns you!” – Prince Rodger Nelson.

4.    Consult The Experts
I specifically remember Rev Run coaching his son Jo Jo on the best record contract to sign. It was better to sign and independent deal and sell fewer records, but make more money than to sign a major deal with less ownership, but more album sales. The same principle remains true in any business deal. When Master P was up and coming he consulted Michael Jackson’s lawyer for sound business advice. Beyonce even received game changing advice from Uncle Prince. They’ve paid for the knowledge through experience and education; don’t be afraid to ask (and pay for) good advice.

5.    The Independent Route Is Harder, But More Gratifying

Independence causes you to be more involved through the entire process. Freedom isn’t necessarily free. There’s a price we entrepreneurs pay for that coveted freedom. Jay Z is working double time to cultivate an environment for artists to receive the most for their intellectual properties they’ve created! Being independent allows you to be in control of your art. In our generation, we have business savvy artists like Beyonce and Romeo Miller that stand for creative freedom and demand to be compensated fairly for their contribution to the industry they work in. Pure artistry is a labor of love, but don’t get it twisted, it can still be very lucrative if you are willing to do the work the right way. 

Thank you Uncle Prince. If no one else was listening, I was. Your fight was not in vain.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Beyoncé’s Marketing Syllabus for Entrepreneurs: Lemonade

I've taken my share of marketing classes, but after watching an hour-long short movie, I learned even more about marketing than when I earned my Master's degree in Business Administration! When life gives you lemons, you learn to make lemonade. If you’re anything like me: you sell it for profit. Recently Beyoncé released a groundbreaking visual album that broke the Internet and HBO. The obvious talk was what her husband, Jay Z, allegedly did to her and the Beyhive hunting down “Becky with the good hair,” (Sorry Rachael Ray). There were also more subtle, yet prevalent undertones throughout the project illustrating girl power, feminism, Black girl magic, and most importantly, being an unapologetic woman in power.
 Lemonade is an amazing blueprint for the entrepreneur teaching:
  1. Creativity Bliss
  2. Freedom
  3. Genius
  4. Lemonade is Your Product
  5. Personable Pitch
** Taking Control 
Creativity Bliss

Baddie Bey is not afraid to have a naked conversation with her audience. Whether or not it’s her truth can be disputed, however, she was not shy about expressing these feelings through her art for business purposes. This is the time where you discover what works and what does not for your business. In an over saturated market, the critical acclaim Beyoncé received the first week of her project was stellar. Entrepreneurs, it’s okay to do something outside of the box in your industry. Bottom line: find what works for you in your area of expertise. That is your most profitable lane we call it the “sweet spot.” Besides, being like everyone else is boring! Here's the formula: Creativity + truth/experience = lemonade for your industry. Be unapologetic about your approach. Trailblazers always break away from the normal way to do business.
The most successful entrepreneurs like to live on the edge. We do “it” afraid. Many liken the experience to jumping off of a cliff and building an airplane on the way down. Taking a business risk reminds me of the pregnancy process: it’s exhilarating, taxes your body, drains your finances, it can be uncomfortable (please get used to being uncomfortable,) and you lose plenty of sleep. It has painful moments: moments of unsurety, it stretches you, makes you stronger, more flexible, and more fearless. The freedom an entrepreneur possesses is birthed through the experience that gives you your fearlessness: the birthing process. In the end, everything you experienced no matter how tumultuous, was worth it. Yes, we entrepreneurs take risks unlike any other, but what’s a normal journey look like anyway? Don’t fight it. Taking calculated risks in your can be one of the most freeing and rewarding experiences you will ever have.
In the words of entrepreneur, Ming Lee, “the best marketer wins.” And the award goes to... Mrs. Bootylicious Carter! Marketing talent is rare. She’s no Mary Kay Ash by creating network marketing, but all it takes is one post on social media and the BeyHive is spending tax money on Formation Tour tickets; paychecks on Ivy Park athletic gear; or fasting lunch to purchase the latest $20 album. How can this information help your business? Market your product/service in such a way that your customers praise your greatness without you having to tell them to do so! The best marketers know how to tell one hell of a page-turning story to grab your attention, keep your attention, and close the deal with the customer purchasing what’s been placed in the cart online. Geniuses close the deal!
Lemonade Is Your Product
It is a must you learn how to be a great storyteller as an entrepreneur. Authors typically sell their life experiences. Beyoncé took her alleged sour life experiences and turned them into a lucrative visual masterpiece. There’s no reason why you can’t sell your pain and profit from life’s misfortunes. Some take lemons and do nothing. Some are smart enough to make lemonade. Some make lemon drop martinis. But the entrepreneur distributes it as a product or service and makes a profit! Be like Beyoncé, profit from your life experiences.
 Personable Pitch
Being relatable does wonders for you no matter what industry you are in and no matter where you are in life. I don’t care how big your team is. I don’t care how great your product is: people ultimately buy you! If you are mean, snobbish, unrelatable, you will not sell...period! Making more friends, becoming more likeable at work, and in social environments helps you to close the deal! Our pitch must be relatable to win over investors, securing the dream job/interview, or procuring new clients. In being relatable, your potential client resonates with your pitch and ultimately purchases the product/service you are providing. The short film, Lemonade, was 2016’s second quarter cash cow. The notoriously private Beyoncé tapped into topics and social issues that are prevalent to her fans today. Translation: she made herself relatable. Even if the alleged affair isn’t true, she knew it would resonate with the millions of people that have been on the rollercoaster we call love. She was able to communicate with a sense of authenticity. We entrepreneurs should be able to do the same. Warning: Please don’t be dishonest or manipulative. Fake tears damage your credibility. The personable pitch heavily depends on building strong relationships. You don’t want to damage the trust of your customer just to get a sale.
**Bonus - Taking Control 
Boss Beyoncé took control of the media. All press is good press right? Well the pop empress legalized and trademarked (if she’s smart) phrases that people have recently used against her. Exhibit A: “Boycott Beyoncé” tees. She literally owned her naysayers. She made a strategic move that the infamous Olivia Pope would have publically endorsed. This is her Formation tour merchandise. Even Comcast purchases all unfavorable domain names like Comcast Take notes entrepreneurs. Companies are no longer trying to defend themselves publically. Your primary concern as an entrepreneur is to provide the best products/services to your clientele ala lemonade. Bon appétit!
 The CEO and published author, Ask TPJ, is a millennial M.B.A. graduate in love with helping others fulfill purpose by working in the areas of personal development, business leadership, and project management. Tricia J. specializes in non-profit organizations, project management, business administration, organizational strategy, and small business start-ups. She’s also a mom to a starting lineup of 5 little A’s