Miko Branch & Tanisha Sykes on How to be Financially Fabulous

Miss Jessie's Miko Branch and multi-media content specialist Tanisha Sykes on being financially fierce and how to start your business the fabulous way.

ESSENCE.COM Jun, 11, 2015
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Joining me to discuss how become financially fierce and powerful, are multimedia content strategist, Tamika Sykes and CEO and cofounder of Miss Jessie's LLC, Miko Branch, ladies, thank you so much joining me.>>Thank you for having us.>>Thank you, thank you, Essence Live. Bring it alive. And we're talking about something that some people shy away from, which is finances. Yes. And being financially savvy. Now many of our essence.com audience, it's not just about taking control of their personal finances at home, but they have passions on the side that they want to make businesses or more lucrative. Yes. So we're just gonna jump right into that with some really helpful tips for them. Yes. So, of course both of you are well versed In the business world and you've turned your passion into profits. Taneisha, I'm gonna start with you. Sure. Give us some tips for aspiring entrepreneurs. Like what are some basic fundamentals that our folks out there need to think about before they start their business? Yeah, I would I don't really think the first thing you should think about is, really don't go feet first. I think oftentimes with entrepreneurs, particularly the Essence reader. Millions of women, I talk to them every year for eight years almost, as the Senior Editor of Personal Finance and Careers. And what I noticed is, they would go into the business, but not really have the basics of the business down. Okay. So my first piece of advice would be, create a business plan. Yes ladies, it takes time, just like anything. But if you do a lot of that front work, and figure out: what is this business? What skills, or services, or products do I have to offer? What is it that my unique selling proposition is? And what is the competition? Because that'll help you to figure out, is this really a viable business? And can it be profitable? And something that you should pursue. Yes, absolutely. Something to put your money into. Miko, what are your thoughts on it? You've grown an empire, started from within your home. What do you feel are some things to take into consideration? Well, it's a bit different. Titi and I- my sister Titi and I- we created our business by jumping in feet first. We didn't have training, we didn't go to business school. Actually, we didn't have any mentors. So what we did was we just went for it and I'm so glad that we did. We learned some lessons along the way. It took us longer to build our business because we didn't have that formal training, but those lessons definitely stuck, and it was the building blocks for Miss Jessie's, which we consider to be very successful. So My philosophy might be for people who want to try it, go for it. If there's any lessons you need to learn, learn them and then use them for the next time.You can't go wrong. And that's something important to point out. As you learn lessons and make mistakes, be okay with making those mistakes. And then, being okay with pivoting and making a change. Now, you as you mentioned, you had your sister, a partner When do you know if you're picking the right partner to start a business, especially when it's a family member? Yeah. Partner picking is so important and it really starts with your personality. Some people, they're better when they have someone to support them, other people are better working independently. So that little bit of knowledge, that's a huge bit of knowledge, knowing You know, how do you function? How do you do best? For me, my sister complimented me, you know, the yin to my yang, so whatever I was weak at, Titi was strong at, so that partnership really led to our lessons, our mistakes, and together we were able to figure it out. But, at the same time, someone has a stronger personality so that means you do things independently You definitely want to know that on the front end because that partnership is gonna be a bit difficult when you have two different people who have maybe two different ideas or opinions on things. Right. So basically also too, what I'm hearing from both of your answers is that you need to be honest with yourself, okay? Don't lie to yourself about what your strengths are, your weaknesses are. Right. Your personality, because sometimes you're good friends. May not be a good business relationship. Right. Tenesha no one achieves success without help. Yes. As we kind of touched upon earlier. How much of a priority is it to hire a teen to support to. And identifying. Yes. Who or what parts you may need. Yeah. For your team. I do think as you start your business and you're growing it and you're trying to maintain it, it's really important to have those team members along the way. I know as an entrepreneur myself, that what I found is I really needed up front that accountant. That was very important to me so that I could figure out what the financials are for this business, what the expenses are for this business. And then, eventually, what is the profitability and over what time period. So that was always important. And also, depending on what type of business you have, you need an attorney. Because there's gonna be contracts that are gonna have to be figured out, at the very least you're going to start your business and grow your business, and figure out the type of business in terms of an LLC or an S corp or an incorporated business that you want to create. Those can be one time things. But it's always good to have somebody that you can call, if initially, and I understand is in terms of the entrepreneur route, If you're just starting out, you may not be able to have somebody on retainer. Right, right. So I'm certainly not saying, you know, do anything like that, but be able to have people you can call, and how you find those people is, go to people that you know that are within your circle already. Who do you know, who do you trust, and who do they know. That they can refer to you because, perhaps, there can be a consultation for a smaller fee and that'll inform some of those decisions you're able to make going forward. [CROSSTALK] off the ground, get you going. Absolutely. Do you have any tips for us, Miko? Well, you know, there is many different phases to our Our business. Right. And we started our business with no money, so we just didn't have the luxury to hire an attorney when we had no money. So, we had to be creative. TT had to read the manual, TT had to read the contracts. I did the hair. Those kinds of things we found beneficial. Because again we learned probably more than what we would have known had we hired an attorney. We knew more about the legal side of the business. So but then there was a time when we had a bit more money, and you know, we could hire an attorney, we could hire an accountant. I certainly, you know, advise if you have a little bit of money, definitely invest in that, having someone who is expert in their field of business is definitely a benefit to your business. So, you know just a little bit of mixing and matching, it goes a long way. I'm really curious to know. At what point did you and TT look at each other and say this is a business. We can make this passion of ours into something profitable. We could really build something there because there may be folks out there who are good at carpentry or good at doing hair. Just Good at different things and may not know, I don't know if I can make this a living, you know. How did you know, yes, I can make, this can work for us, this can be a great foundation to something big for us? Well TT and I stumbled upon one another's talent. I was doing hair in the house Yeah, okay.>> and TT decided she was gonna leave her job at ABC Eyewitness news. And start a repping business. I don't think Titi knew who she was gonna rep. [LAUGH] [LAUGH] But she started repping a little bit of photographers, and a little bit of talent, and we realized we were in the same industry, which was the Beauty business. Right. Fashion, hair, makeup, and we partnered up together. And for us it was very quick, we knew once we got that first check that this is something that we can do, this is something that we can build on Tiki had secured a job with me for Ashley Stewart. I worked for a week. We got $8000 dollars which was the seed money for our first salon. So very, very early on we knew that we had something and we build it on our talent. My talent was hair. Her talent she was a great organizer. A great communicator. So that partnership was made. So your partner complimented where you may not have had necessarily those strengths. Yeah, I was just going to say I think your points are great. And the other thing I would say, the point at which an entrepreneur realizes maybe this is somethings that's bigger than what it is Is when you're doing that thing already. Mm-hm. Sometimes you may be doing it for free, you're doing it for fun. Maybe, you know, people are paying you maybe they're not. But when people are constantly asking you, can I have more, what else do you do, what are your specialties, can you come and do this for a bigger event or a conference or a show that we're having? That lightbulb should be switching on to say, hey. I'm on to something. And they're gonna yell at me but I have to ask this one additional question. Yes. When do you know, that you need this time to pivot. And they say for example, you start off on journey A. Yes. And you're finding that maybe your audience is receiving you differently, or certain products or services that you thought were gonna be popular, were not and other things are. When do you know that it's time to make a pivot, or maybe this isn't the proper business for you? Do you have any tips on restrategizing, if you will, if someone's already started that entrepreneurshipial journey? I think that you figure out when you're pivoting when it's not working for you. I would really say to entrepreneurs, don't wait for long periods of time, because That can really mess up your money. My grandmother always says if you study long, you study wrong. So I think as entrepreneurs we have to be aware enough of our businesses, always be looking at that plan and going back to that business plan from the original. Original point. Where has it shifted? Also be thinking about what is the market asking me for? Because if they're asking you for something different, or the market or the trends are saying hey, you might need to tweak this a little bit. Then it's up to you to really turn that tide. Sooner rather than later. Very hard for me to say oh, do it in a month or do it in a year. Right, right. Yeah. But I think you do it specific to your business. And I'll give you a perfect example. So I owned real estate, and I still own some real estate, but I got caught in the housing bubble. Before it was a burst or before they called it anything. Right. Not gonna name the bank [LAUGH], but I was in a land deal. I thought I was in a great deal. I'd done three deals in 90 days, right, which was great. It was great. I was gonna make all this money. It was gonna be fabulous. But very long story short the bank pulled out. Before I knew what was really going on, and I say heed. And it tool me let's say another year to get out of that deal For which I lost that seed money, exactly. Mm-hm. So I took too long, and so that was just a lesson learned for me. Perhaps maybe six months in I should have released it, and at least got a portion of my money back. But I wouldn't release it because I thought I could fix it, but it was bigger than me. It was bigger than you. Because the whole landscape had changed, but you didn't know. Mm-hm, right, and you have to just pay attention to that. And even as a journalist Right. I just didn't know. Even though I was well read and knew everything I thought I knew at that time about the real estate market. So it's just important to pay attention, pay attention, pay attention. Yeah. Common sense goes such a long way Amen. [LAUGH] [INAUDIBLE] You're putting in more hours. Right And you're not and you're getting in less money, it's time to reevaluate it, no simple approaches to business, you know, if it's not working just stop, or maybe start considering something else. And always trust your gut. That is so important, sometimes we don't trust our gut, but it's very important that we trust our gut. And before we wrap, I wanna point out Your book is out, it's available everywhere? .Com, Barnes and Nobel, Amazon. Please definitely check it out, show some love and support, essence.com. I want to thank both of you for joining us I know we didn't talk about this all day, but [INAUDIBLE] these lovely ladies on social media, and on their respective sites. I want to thank Tanisha and Meko for joining us and for sharing all of their financial wisdom.