Color Full Lives, Season 5
Your favorite trio is back for an all-new season of our Color Full Lives podcast!
Hosts Angela Yee, Aminatou Sow and Tonya Rapley return to help women realize and achieve their financial dreams. For Season 5, the ladies are breaking down money matters tied to major milestones, everything from starting a business to balancing money and marriage. Tune in every Wednesday from Oct. 2 until Nov. 6, to get inspired and take steps toward living your best life!
Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Business
Ep. 6: Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Business
It’s time to get your business off the ground! For the Season 5 finale of Color Full Lives, hosts Angela Yee, Aminatou Sow, Tonya Rapley and special guest Amina Daniels, help you tap into your entrepreneurial spirit with “Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Business.”
Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Business
Angela Yee: (00:00)
Welcome to an all new episode of Color Full Lives, presented by State Farm. This season we've been focusing on all the things that we wish we knew before major life events. So far we've covered everything from getting into debt, to having a baby.
Aminatou Sow: (00:17)
Angela Yee: (00:17)
Aminatou Sow: (00:17)
Angela Yee: (00:20)
And this week's episode we're going to dig into the things that you should know before starting and managing a business.
Aminatou Sow: (00:26)
And all three of us are business owners and some of us even own more than one business.
Angela Yee: (00:34)
Oh man. Well listen, I will say yes, I have a couple of businesses now. Since we did the last season, I have launched a new business called Drink Fresh Juice.
Tonya Rapley: (00:42)
You did. Yes. Yes, you did.
Angela Yee: (00:44)
That's right. It's only been a few months and we've definitely, early on had some growing pains because I think what we envisioned for that particular business isn't where it is right now. And it's only been a few months.
Angela Yee: (00:55)
So when we first launched we were like, this is going to be heavy online, heavily subscription-based. People can order these juices, a six pack at a time and get it delivered. What we didn't anticipate was the high delivery costs and the margin of error for the distribution place when they send it out. And the shipping and just anything that can go wrong.
Angela Yee: (01:15)
When somebody's not home and they don't get the delivery-
Tonya Rapley: (01:17)
Oh my God, and your juice has been sitting out on the-
Angela Yee: (01:19)
Tonya Rapley: (01:19)
Yeah. On the steps.
Aminatou Sow: (01:20)
And you know how customers are.
Angela Yee: (01:20)
Aminatou Sow: (01:21)
So as a customer myself.
Tonya Rapley: (01:23)
My juice was on the porch all day.
Aminatou Sow: (01:27)
How are you rolling with those punches? I feel like being a business owner is like you're always rolling with the punches.
Angela Yee: (01:32)
So what you have to do, and what we did was we really had to sit down and regroup. And we did bring in an outside person to help us figure out what is it that we need to do differently.
Angela Yee: (01:41)
So we moved away from what we thought would be the core of our business because it is what was making us the most money, which was the person-to-person distribution. Where it was just, online, get your subscription, get your juices delivered that way. And we actually shut down that part of the business for now, which is definitely not what we anticipated doing.
Angela Yee: (01:59)
So what he told us we should do is concentrate on doing festivals and getting into actual stores and restaurants because it is a larger payout for less work, because we don't have the manpower right now to have a person dealing with each complaint. This didn't go right or, "I wasn't home." And then the delivery delivery didn't get there. And then it got sent back.
Angela Yee: (02:19)
So it's just a lot of different variables when you deal with each person and it's very little cost that you ... You don't make enough to deal with one person at a time. So now we've been working on getting our products into different festivals where you can make enough in one day that she would make it one month.
Angela Yee: (02:33)
And that's not something that I even thought would happen-
Tonya Rapley: (02:36)
Because you guys were at Afropunk last year, right?
Angela Yee: (02:38)
So what we did last year ... We hadn't launched yet, but we made some samplings for Afropunk for one particular client.
Tonya Rapley: (02:46)
Got you. Okay.
Angela Yee: (02:46)
So it was just at their booth, they were giving it away for free. So what I've been doing now is just doing events, and we're in some restaurants, and we're in some stores where you can go and buy it. But it's more like a mass purchase than getting it one-by-one. And then of course I have the juice bar, Juices For Life. And it's three years since that juice bar. So it's three years this year.
Aminatou Sow: (03:06)
It seems like you just opened that.
Tonya Rapley: (03:07)
Angela Yee: (03:07)
Yeah. And I will say that business has been running pretty smoothly. We worked out a lot of the kinks. Fortunately, like you know, I hooked up with Styles P who already has three other juice bars. So it was pretty smooth. Like, he knew how to deal with whatever might come our way. So that's been a lot easier. A lot smoother.
Angela Yee: (03:24)
The only thing about that is having a brick and mortar location. It's always something. Like, I'll be in the middle of doing something and get a text, a pipe burst in the basement and there was water gushing everywhere. So now I'm like in the middle of working and then I have to get a plumber and then get that done.
Angela Yee: (03:39)
And then of course dealing with employees and making sure that ... It's a lot of turnover when it comes to that. People are leaving and going to school, people are getting other jobs, people are coming in late and having to get let go, having to deal with personalities. But that's an ongoing thing.
Angela Yee: (03:53)
But I will say as a far as a business, as long as you have good management and a good team of people helping you, that's been easier.
Tonya Rapley: (03:59)
That's really good. That's really good. I mean, I think having the baby has really forced me to look at my business differently. So we launched our membership club, which is a recurring subscription for our audience because you really want to make sure that you have that planned residual income coming in each and every month.
Tonya Rapley: (04:18)
Like this is what I know we're making, this is what we can do with the business. Because I have a team that I pay and so just because we have an off month, they still have to get paid. They still have bills. And so that was really good. So now I pay them out of the income coming in from the membership club, so I'm really happy about that.
Tonya Rapley: (04:35)
And I've been looking into another business venture guys. So thinking about getting into government contracting.
Angela Yee: (04:41)
That's a great idea.
Tonya Rapley: (04:42)
Yeah, looking at-
Angela Yee: (04:43)
Tonya Rapley: (04:44)
My husband is a videographer and so looking at getting him set up for contracting services for the government, as far as providing videography. So hopefully maybe he shoots an army commercial or something like that.
Angela Yee: (04:53)
Aminatou Sow: (04:54)
That's so great.
Angela Yee: (04:55)
People get really rich off of that.
Tonya Rapley: (04:56)
I know I was talking to a woman and she said, especially for black women or minority women, there are so many set asides and so forth. And under a certain amount it's easier to qualify for. So like 150 thousand dollars, she's like, that's a drop in the bucket for the government. But it's like, 150 thousand dollar or 300 thousand dollar contract, we're doing pretty good. I'm helping a few people out.
Angela Yee: (05:16)
I've been checking into that too. That's great because I got my WMB, as you know.
Tonya Rapley: (05:19)
You did. Yes.
Angela Yee: (05:20)
You know I did.
Tonya Rapley: (05:21)
Yes, it's important to get those certifications because they help you when you're going up for competitive projects and so forth.
Aminatou Sow: (05:28)
I love that you were thinking about it in such a flexible way also, because I think that a lot of people who do creative work a lot of times don't think really broadly about, "Where are my services needed?"
Tonya Rapley: (05:41)
Aminatou Sow: (05:43)
And so something like government contracting, it doesn't sound very sexy and it doesn't-
Tonya Rapley: (05:46)
Aminatou Sow: (05:47)
It's like, you're not going to win an Oscar off of that. But also that's hard work, it's good work, and your work is seen by literal millions of people.
Angela Yee: (05:55)
And it's good money.
Tonya Rapley: (05:56)
Aminatou Sow: (05:58)
The government is the best employer probably. Everything is transparent.
Tonya Rapley: (06:01)
It is. They're the biggest buyer.
Aminatou Sow: (06:02)
Yeah. This year has been really interesting for me because I spent most of it finishing a book that will be out in 2020.
Tonya Rapley: (06:10)
I'm so excited.
Angela Yee: (06:11)
That's so exciting to me, you don't understand.
Aminatou Sow: (06:13)
We've been talking about this book for three seasons [crosstalk 00:06:15] and it's still not out.
Angela Yee: (06:17)
No, but it's a process.
Aminatou Sow: (06:18)
It is. It's a really long process and I think that as somebody who works really online digitally, it's taught me so much about putting your head down to do work. Because everything that we do is always like you do something and then people see it and you get rewarded for it immediately or it fails immediately. And I just forgot what that was like to be like, "Okay, this is a three year process no matter what."
Aminatou Sow: (06:40)
You put your head down, you do the work, and then you pass it onto someone and then they're doing the editing, and the marketing, and all of that stuff. And it's not even going to be out for another year. And so it was really ... It really challenged me a lot in the beginning because I'm just not used to working on longterm projects like that, but I really decided that I want to focus more on things like that actually.
Angela Yee: (07:01)
I like that.
Aminatou Sow: (07:03)
Because also being an author is not ... People don't get into writing books for making money. Like, nobody is getting rich off of writing books. Let me-
Tonya Rapley: (07:12)
A few people.
Aminatou Sow: (07:13)
We had a year to write it and when we turned it in I was like, I could have taken another year to do this because it's a lot of work and sometimes it's very emotional work. So working on a deadline on a project that's personal, usually that's not how you're dealing with it. But I think that the thing that it's made me think about the most is how, Oh yeah, the thing that's good about this is that I can always have one project that's in the background and then I can add on whatever else I want to be to be doing.
Aminatou Sow: (07:39)
Because it's like I run basically the LLC that hosts my podcast with my two friends, and Freedman, and Gina Delvac. And that business does really well. I was like, "Oh yeah, we now have like four or five people that work for us." And that's-
Angela Yee: (07:55)
Aminatou Sow: (07:55)
When we set out to do that podcast five years ago, I never thought that would be possible. And I'm like, we're out here running payroll, you know?
Tonya Rapley: (08:02)
Aminatou Sow: (08:02)
I was like, we're paying taxes for people to work for us and it's really exciting, but it also ... As you know, there's just that pressure of, "Oh, we should make enough money to pay everyone now."
Tonya Rapley: (08:14)
Aminatou Sow: (08:14)
I'm just not responsible for myself, there are other people's dreams and their rent and their whatever. They depend on us for that.
Angela Yee: (08:24)
I definitely had jobs where my checks would bounce or we would get paid late in the past yeah and I never want to be that type of-
Tonya Rapley: (08:30)
You don't want to be that person.
Aminatou Sow: (08:31)
Yeah. I never want to be that employer. So it's a good kind of fire to light under you. But I also think that for me, I am a reluctant business owner. I was doing what I wanted to do and the next thing you know there's checks you need to cash, there's accountants you need to ... It happened accidentally for me. So I think that I'm learning as I'm going, but I am also balancing that with the fact that I am also a business and it's like, I have my own personal LLC. That's what I run all of my business through. It's really challenging for me because my brain is so ... I'm such a creative person. The logistics of what it takes to do this sometimes are hard, but I'm really excited about the team that I have. It's like, I like my agents, I like my lawyers. I love my accountant. There are so many people who are part of the team now to make me just ... To keep the trains running.
Aminatou Sow: (09:23)
But I think that it's so ... Even if you're not someone who has like a brick and mortar store or there's not a thing that you do, you still do need to think of yourself as a business.
Tonya Rapley: (09:32)
Yeah. Everybody should.
Angela Yee: (09:33)
Aminatou Sow: (09:34)
And for me, it's like it's changed my career trajectory, it's changed my motivation for a lot of things. And it's also made me a little bit more ambitious. Like, I really want ... One of the goals that I gave myself for 2020 is that I want to make something and I'm like, I want to make something and I want to sell that. And I think that it's probably going to be like in the skincare realm.
Angela Yee: (09:53)
That would we great.
Aminatou Sow: (09:55)
Tonya Rapley: (09:56)
I'll buy it.
Aminatou Sow: (09:57)
It's good to challenge yourself-
Angela Yee: (09:59)
You know we will.
Tonya Rapley: (09:59)
Yeah. We'll buy it.
Aminatou Sow: (09:59)
Thank you. I'll give it to you. But I know you will also support. But I think that for me I'm just like, I'm trying to find ... Like, what's something that I care about, that I want to try and what's a skill set that I'm trying to learn? And I think that manufacturing is something I'm curious about, skincare is something I'm curious about.
Aminatou Sow: (10:16)
But also selling something is something that I've internally been curious about. So I think, you ladies motivate me a lot to try new things.
Tonya Rapley: (10:24)
I think we motivate each other-
Angela Yee: (10:26)
Tonya Rapley: (10:26)
... [crosstalk 00:10:26] motivate me so much.
Angela Yee: (10:27)
Listen, I've got to get my book done.
Aminatou Sow: (10:28)
Listen, let's talk about it.
Angela Yee: (10:30)
Yeah, got to get it done.
Tonya Rapley: (10:32)
Well then, also in thinking about business, you have to have business insurance and it's really important. But it actually might be more affordable than most people realize. And so the right insurance for your needs helps protect the business, its employees, your customers, and your assets. Because like you said, it's not just you now that needs protection. It's everyone who comes in contact with your business.
Tonya Rapley: (10:54)
But there are also a number of different types of policies available. Most people don't realize that. Yep. So you want to find out which policy fits the size and the scope of your business because it's not one size fits all with any type of insurance, but business insurance especially. We all have different businesses.
Aminatou Sow: (11:09)
So you're saying that if somebody is just like ... You're just like you're a one woman business and you're working from home, that there is still some sort of insurance that can work for you?
Tonya Rapley: (11:17)
Yeah, absolutely. I mean-
Angela Yee: (11:18)
All different kinds.
Tonya Rapley: (11:19)
Yeah. You have to think about it. I know that going into maternity leave and everything and adding to my family, I had to think about what that looks like and what would happen if we experienced a significant loss of income because I didn't bounce back from having the baby as soon as as I planned. And I actually did extend my maternity leave three months.
Tonya Rapley: (11:36)
So yeah. You have to think about that. You have to think about, "What happens if my spouse is injured? What happens if someone who works for me is injured?" Just all those different things are really important. And you have general liability insurance, you have business owner policies, professional liability insurance, errors and omissions insurance.
Tonya Rapley: (11:53)
I know this all sounds fun. I know it does, but-
Aminatou Sow: (11:57)
This is where my eyes start glazing over and I just get stressed out.
Angela Yee: (12:00)
But it's really important.
Tonya Rapley: (12:01)
It is. But then there's cyber liability insurance. I think that's a millennium thing. That's like a Y2K-
Angela Yee: (12:08)
So if I lie on the internet, you could sue me?
Tonya Rapley: (12:10)
Angela Yee: (12:11)
Is that what that is?
Tonya Rapley: (12:12)
Especially you Angela. Especially you. Yeah.
Aminatou Sow: (12:15)
I mean, you work on the radio. So lets get into it.
Angela Yee: (12:17)
My job better have that, okay? That's not on me.
Tonya Rapley: (12:21)
And then if you have employees, you definitely want to look into worker's compensation.
Angela Yee: (12:24)
Oh yeah, we have worker's comp.
Tonya Rapley: (12:25)
Angela Yee: (12:25)
All you need is for somebody to say, "I slipped and fell at work and now I'm going to sue you guys." You have to make sure that you're covered for that.
Tonya Rapley: (12:31)
And then it's on you. Yeah.
Angela Yee: (12:32)
Or somebody really does get injured somehow. I mean, we have blenders-
Tonya Rapley: (12:36)
Angela Yee: (12:36)
... juicers, knives. Anything could happen.
Aminatou Sow: (12:38)
Injuries happen and I think also people always think of insurance, especially young people. They're like, "Oh, I don't need that." And it's like, well, guess what? Life happens.
Tonya Rapley: (12:46)
Aminatou Sow: (12:48)
Life will happen to-
Angela Yee: (12:48)
You could lose your whole business from not having-
Aminatou Sow: (12:49)
Life will happen to you.
Angela Yee: (12:49)
... the right insurance.
Aminatou Sow: (12:50)
And that's the whole point of insurance. Is that fingers crossed, nothing happened to you, but if something does happen-
Tonya Rapley: (12:57)
But if something does.
Aminatou Sow: (12:57)
... then you're already protected because you've been paying into it.
Angela Yee: (13:00)
Tonya Rapley: (13:00)
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. So I know that ... Yeah.
Angela Yee: (13:06)
You're like, "Yeah, I know that."
Tonya Rapley: (13:08)
But we're just going to keep that story to myself.
Angela Yee: (13:09)
Uh-oh. You're like, I don't want to get sued. But one thing I noticed is how becoming a small business owner actually gives you a new perspective on work. As you've said, Amina. Do you think it's important for the relationship between employer and employee to be mutually beneficial?
Angela Yee: (13:23)
There's a lot of things that you can offer employees beyond compensation that will make them feel valued. And I definitely try to do that. Like at the juice bar, we had this employee of the month thing and they get to vote. So whoever gets the most votes-
Tonya Rapley: (13:36)
Oh, that's interesting.
Angela Yee: (13:37)
Yeah. And you can't vote for yourself, clearly. So they sent me their votes. And so I've done things like took the two people ... There was a tie one month and they got to go to the Nets game and be in the suite with me-
Tonya Rapley: (13:47)
Angela Yee: (13:48)
... at a Nets game. Or I might do something like, there's a store in Brooklyn, Woodstack where I'll give you a gift card and you get to go and buy some sneakers and just things like that. So every month somebody gets something like that. And then also once a year, I like to have a dinner at my house. So everybody gets to come over, relax ...
Angela Yee: (14:03)
Once a year, I like to have a dinner at my house. So everybody gets to come over, relax, listen to music, eat, drink, have a good time and relax. But I think it's important for employees to see that they are valued. Sometimes we get mad when people aren't doing what they're supposed to do, but when do we say, "Hey, great job." You know?
Tonya Rapley: (14:16)
Hey, yeah. I'm coming to work for Angela, so I can go [crosstalk 00:14:18].
Aminatou Sow: (14:16)
I know, I'm trying to work at the juice bar.
Angela Yee: (14:21)
I don't know if you'd get Employee of the Month.
Tonya Rapley: (14:21)
I would get Employee of the Month because I work hard.
Aminatou Sow: (14:21)
I'd vote for [inaudible 00:14:26].
Tonya Rapley: (14:27)
I'd be like, "Amina, Amina."
Aminatou Sow: (14:28)
I'd vote for [inaudible 00:00:28].
Tonya Rapley: (14:29)
Dial me in.
Aminatou Sow: (14:31)
I have a really hard time thinking of myself as a boss because even the staff that we have on Call your Girlfriend, I always say they work with us.
Angela Yee: (14:42)
Yeah, I use the word with too.
Tonya Rapley: (14:42)
Yeah, they do.
Aminatou Sow: (14:45)
Because for me, a lot of that is just semantics. Nothing makes me angrier than when you're at some sort of networking event and somebody is like, "Oh, here's someone who works for me." I'm like, "What are you like, what are you trying to flex?" Right? It's like, if the point is that we're all a team, then people work with each other. And managing people also is like very delicate. It's actually a skill set and it's a skillset that a lot of people are not trained for.
Angela Yee: (15:09)
Aminatou Sow: (15:10)
Like people go to school for managing. For me, when I worked at a tech startup, I really struggled with managing people because I was like, "This is not my calling in life," one. Two, I like to manage projects, I don't like to manage people. And also when you're managing people, you have to do your job on top of it, right? It's like you're everybody's coach, you're holding their hand, but you also have your own stuff to do.
Aminatou Sow: (15:29)
And the thing that works really well for me is that I like to really over communicate with people that I work with about what their goals are because I don't assume that whatever it is that we're doing, that's what they want to do in life.
Tonya Rapley: (15:42)
Like this might be just be how you're getting a paycheck.
Aminatou Sow: (15:44)
So I think a lot about anybody who works with me. I was like, this is a stepping stone for the next thing that you're going to do. So how do I empower you enough that when you are ready to go, one, you can feel free to do that, but also too how do we help you do that, right? Every job should be an opportunity to learn. And so for me it's like it's really important, I will always introduce people that work with me to other people that they want to know in other industries.
Aminatou Sow: (16:08)
I'm like, if it's within my power to make introductions for you or to set you up on coffee dates and like intro meetings, I will always do that. In my check-ins I always ask them like, "What is it, what do you want to do? I know that your goal is not to forever be the second producer on a podcast. Like clearly there are other things that you want to do. Like what are we going to learn about that?" And also, you know, I think that being generous is really, really, really important. I love what you were saying about having people over to your house for dinner or taking people to games because I think that, especially for millennials, part of our damage with work is that we don't feel that we're valued at work, right? And I know that a lot of people want to make fun of that. They're just like, "Oh, like why do, why do you care so much?" I'm like, "We care because that's what they told us the workplace would be like."
Aminatou Sow: (16:54)
But also if you're going to spend all of your time somewhere, I'm like, it doesn't matter what you do. People want to feel that they bring something because it allows you to be your full self at work and I-
Tonya Rapley: (17:04)
Angela Yee: (17:04)
People also work harder and better when they feel like they're part of this-
Tonya Rapley: (17:07)
When they're valued.
Angela Yee: (17:07)
... and valued.
Tonya Rapley: (17:09)
I love my assistant and I hear you on like helping people move to the next level, but you're stuck with me if you're watching [inaudible 00:17:24]. I love my assistant and it took me five other assistants to find her. But what's great about her is she calls herself a sanity support specialist and she specializes in helping business owners maintain their sanity.
Angela Yee: (17:30)
I love it.
Tonya Rapley: (17:30)
But I do make sure that I take care of them. We did a business retreat, we do a team retreat every year. So we went to Atlanta and we all got a house and we just holed up in the house and just, it was like self care, also business planning and so forth. So we do that every year, but it is just doing nice things. Just like, "Hey, I saw that you moved into a new place. Here goes a gift card to furnish something in your place," or, "Here's something to do," or, "Take this offer."
Tonya Rapley: (17:54)
I know that a lot of times with my team, they don't have paid vacation so it's like if I can give you a bonus before you go on vacation, that way you can, you know, use the money and so forth. And now we have, [Karis' 00:18:04] nanny who also I want to make sure she's happy because she's watching our child.
Angela Yee: (18:08)
Absolutely, you don't want her to be upset.
Tonya Rapley: (18:11)
[crosstalk 00:18:11] happiest, and so making sure that she's happy and comfortable and I just make sure that I extend opportunities to her and introduce her to other people and bring her along. She's here with us in New York and this is her first time coming to New York. So, you know, just always listening. I think listening is one of those big things that I've learned as a business owner. Listening to your team. Like they don't just listen to you, you listen to them.
Aminatou Sow: (18:33)
And you have to give credit. I think that if you are a good leader, you know that you can only do the work that you do because there are so many people who support you and for me, I always notice that. People who just, they take credit and they never credit their teams. I'm like actually the people who work with you are instrumental to anybody's standing. Like if you have an opportunity to be an outward facing leader, it's because there's so many people behind you who do that for you.
Angela Yee: (18:58)
That's right because I am a mess on my own. I would tell you. I Am definitely a mess on my own like some days I'm like, "I don't know what I'm doing. I need some help." But even like my makeup artist, she's here with me today and she does my makeup at work for Revolt, you know, we're on on Revolt every morning, and I always made sure whenever there's an opportunity for her to do something else or somebody's like, "I need a makeup artist," I'll always refer her because she does great work. I know she's professional, because as an employee you also have a responsibility too, right? To make sure that you're professional, you're on time so that people will want to say-
Tonya Rapley: (19:27)
Angela Yee: (19:27)
... and I can co-sign that person. That person is great at what they do. And so I think that's important to to make sure that you can't just expect somebody to do things for you and reward you when you're not really going and doing your responsibilities and sometimes beyond that.
Tonya Rapley: (19:42)
That is so true. That is so true. Be the person they talk about.
Angela Yee: (19:44)
We're talking a lot about starting and managing a business in this week's episode, and we do hope that sharing our perspective helps, but of course this podcast is not the only resource. There are nearly 19,000 State Farm Agents across the United States and they're waiting to help protect what's important to you and guide you through major life milestones. For this week's Ask an Agent segment, we reached out to we got some practical advice that you'll want to consider before going into business.
Zanetta Glover: (20:14)
Ladies, I'm sad that our season is coming to a close, but I am excited that we're talking about starting a business this week. I have definitely learned a lot as a business owner over the years. Here are some of the things I wish I figured out sooner.
Zanetta Glover: (20:28)
Manage your cashflow. Most small businesses fail for a number of reasons, but the most common is running out of money. You should know where every dollar is coming from and going, so establish a budget, stick to it and review it on a regular basis. With a new business, you're going to be hit with expenses from every direction. Accounting software can help you remain organized, track your spending, making it easier when tax season comes around.
Zanetta Glover: (20:55)
As your business grow, the accounting will become more difficult. When that happens, you might want to consider working with a full time accountant. In the early stages limit fixed expenses. Allocating most of your capital to growth is critical to your business longevity. Keep money reserves in a savings account as an emergency fund. Pay yourself. Don't overcompensate in the beginning, but make sure you pay yourself enough money to live comfortably eliminating that personal financial stress that will allow you to stay focused on building your business.
Zanetta Glover: (21:28)
Create financial goals. Make sure they are reachable, measurable. Monthly, weekly, and daily revenue goals will help you stay on track. This will help you identify when adjustments need to be made for reaching your goals. For more financial tips on operating and sustaining a small business, talk to your Local State Farm Agent or visit us at statefarm.com.
Tonya Rapley: (21:53)
Okay guys, so for the second half of the show we have Amina Daniels.
Aminatou Sow: (21:56)
Tonya Rapley: (22:00)
Amina is the visionary behind the Live Cycle Delight and LCD HOT in Detroit. Thanks for joining us, Amina.
Angela Yee: (22:06)
Yes, thank you, Amina.
Amina Daniels: (22:07)
Thank you for having me.
Aminatou Sow: (22:09)
I love your name, Amina.
Amina Daniels: (22:10)
Me too, [inaudible 00:22:12].
Aminatou Sow: (22:13)
When people look at you now, they see a mogul who's really putting it on for her hometown but every business that's big or small starts with a dream. Can you tell us about your own journey from dreaming to being a doer and how you found your passion?
Amina Daniels: (22:27)
Yeah, well, it started from leaving New York, which was very hard. It's still hard to come back and live in the city. So it's really about trade-offs, which is really entrepreneurship and really entrepreneurship from the startup is what can you let go of or what sacrifices are you willing to make for the name of your business? So I packed up my car, I left a whole bunch of clothes. I'm like, "What happened to that dress?" Left it when I moved away and I knew that Detroit had an opportunity to be healthier. Especially being a black city and within the black community, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, those are all the leading three causes of death and they're all preventable with diet and exercise.
Amina Daniels: (23:17)
So I wanted to move back home and be a catalyst of change. And I also had lived in Atlanta and in New York obviously, and you see when gentrification happens, what's the disconnect within the community? So I really wanted to be that catalyst of change and almost like a partner uniting both sides, the neighborhood that has been there and obviously the neighborhood that is coming.
Amina Daniels: (23:43)
So I moved home in 2013. I started working at a gym just to kind of get a better understanding, which was even taking a complete step back after having a career and a job and a salary and doing all these things in New York and then coming back home and working at a gym. But I really wanted to understand the marketplace and I wanted to know what Detroit needed and also what they wanted.
Amina Daniels: (24:11)
Two months into moving back home, I got hit by a car while on my bike, just biking through midtown. I biked in New York all the time, but that was my, you are no longer in New York, wake up call. So I spent the next two and a half years in and out of surgery, physical therapy, but it was really great because I could cycle. That was the one thing that I could do. I could always cycle and then I was able to connect with general population who did not exercise, who were not active since the age of 18.
Amina Daniels: (24:50)
In 2014 I enrolled in TechTown's Retail Boot Camp and then the following year I entered the Hatch Detroit competition. I won $50,000 to help open my brick and mortar location. I thought, "Wow, it's going to be so easy. Now I can find a place, I can get a loan, this will be great." It was actually the complete opposite. I looked at 92 properties.
Tonya Rapley: (25:16)
Oh my gosh. Nobody's counting. Nobody, 92?
Aminatou Sow: (25:21)
Amina Daniels: (25:22)
That was 91 nos. A lot of different nos. One landlord told me that I needed to pay the entire rent for the year up front. When somebody says, no, it just means not with you or not right now. There was one woman, she was a black woman. She wanted me to invest $200,000 into her property and then make it a revolving space for other pop-up businesses.
Angela Yee: (25:48)
Why would you do that?
Aminatou Sow: (25:49)
That's not how that works.
Amina Daniels: (25:50)
Because it was for her.
Angela Yee: (25:53)
[inaudible 00:25:53] Okay. For that you could have bought your own space.
Aminatou Sow: (25:58)
Right. I love this because your passion is what is fueling you, you're turning your passion into action.
Amina Daniels: (26:04)
And during this time I was trying to figure out what I could do so I was popping up around the city. I was leading bike rides outdoors and just still looking and, you know, not becoming discouraged. And finally I was Motor City Matched in 2016 which was great. It was another grant process and I found a lower level space, which in Detroit was unheard of. People were like, "You can't be successful. Nobody lives there. What are you going to do?" It's been great. We revitalized a neighborhood corridor. We hire teens from the community-
Angela Yee: (26:46)
Oh, that's good.
Aminatou Sow: (26:46)
Love to see it.
Amina Daniels: (26:47)
... so that's great. I like to say they're the backbone of our business and we expanded to a second location last year in 2018-
Angela Yee: (26:57)
Aminatou Sow: (26:57)
Look at you.
Tonya Rapley: (26:57)
Aminatou Sow: (26:57)
That's so good.
Amina Daniels: (27:00)
It's a labor of love,
Angela Yee: (27:00)
I always love the idea of not expanding too fast sometimes too, because sometimes people get something, it's working and then they're like, "Okay, we're going to open five more locations." And I'm very into like, "Okay, let's get the growth, but let's do it in a timely manner."
Tonya Rapley: (27:14)
But do you feel like people are always asking that, like, "What's next?" And I think we have a responsibility not to do that to business owners because sometimes people will be at their first grand opening. They're like, "Okay, so what's next?" It's like-
Aminatou Sow: (27:24)
I just ask them, I'm like, "What's next for you?"
Tonya Rapley: (27:25)
Aminatou Sow: (27:26)
"Like, what are you doing?"
Tonya Rapley: (27:28)
Yeah, but it's important to let people just grow at their pace sometimes.
Amina Daniels: (27:32)
And it's also important to understand what your vision is and not the vision of the developer. So it's like I'm attractive to a developer, but it's like you're not paying me to open up a business. I'm paying you to make it more desirable for your customers. But that doesn't work for my bottom line. So I think it's important to learn, what does growth look like for you? I mean, we absolutely want to grow, but do we really need to grow in Detroit or do we need to grow to other emerging markets, and
Amina Daniels: (28:03)
... or do we need to grow to other emerging markets? And then it's like before you grow to emerging markets, I want to connect with more women of color because that continues to be the disconnect. Unfortunately, that's not my primary customer. So it's like how can I reach African American women sooner? So we can have more opportunities and access to fitness? So it's not such of a bad relationship when we're in our thirties and forties because it's hard.
Tonya Rapley: (28:33)
Yeah. Have you guys ever done a spin class?
Aminatou Sow: (28:35)
Tonya Rapley: (28:36)
Oh, my God.
Angela Yee: (28:36)
Aminatou Sow: (28:37)
It's painful, it hurts. [crosstalk 00:28:38]
Tonya Rapley: (28:38)
Like the next day.
Aminatou Sow: (28:39)
But what I like about it is you can go at your own pace.
Tonya Rapley: (28:42)
[crosstalk 00:28:42] The next day though. I couldn't sit down for like two days.
Angela Yee: (28:48)
But you know I run and everything doing the spin class, it's a different type of workout for me, but I also appreciate that people aren't like staring at you, watching what you're doing. Everybody's minding their business. And you can go at your own pace so you don't have to go as hard as everybody else does. If you're just beginning, you go at your whatever you can do.
Aminatou Sow: (29:06)
I mean I think we just have to go to Detroit to do the class.
Tonya Rapley: (29:08)
I think so, I think so.
Amina Daniels: (29:09)
I think we do.
Tonya Rapley: (29:10)
That is such a good workout.
Aminatou Sow: (29:11)
Well here's what I want to ask you. I think that this conversation about growth and all that stuff, sometimes it's so easy to just daydream. Like if you sit and you're like, "Tell me what it is that you want." I can vision board that for days and days and days, but nobody really talks about the accountability piece. Right? And so I'm just like wondering how you stay motivated to be accountable and how do you make goals? And how do you keep to those goals?
Amina Daniels: (29:37)
Well, I always want to learn more. So whether it's more fitness, certifications, I have all the TRX certifications, I have Forest Cycles, certifications. I have my 200 yoga hours, I want my 300 but it just becomes time. I should be going to Dartmouth this fall on a building a high performance business. So I'm always-
Aminatou Sow: (30:01)
Amina Daniels: (30:01)
Thank you. Looking for more opportunities because I don't have a boss, but I do have a network of bosses, so we kind of connect with others. But when I'm pouring into young people, I always tell them you need to max out at your job. Because you want to be a boss for yourself, but you're never going to be able to work for yourself if you don't know that you have to improve. And there's always more to give. So I always pushed myself to more. But-
Aminatou Sow: (30:33)
Do you journal, or write any of that down?
Amina Daniels: (30:35)
I do journal. I don't journal as much as I used to. It's more note-taking, it's just copious amounts of notes. I was listening to you guys talk about your team and I'm building a team and then again I'll have good team players and then they go off to college.
Tonya Rapley: (30:52)
Yeah. Oh yeah. Because you work with teens. [crosstalk 00:30:55]
Angela Yee: (30:53)
But you're doing-
Aminatou Sow: (30:53)
You're just making amazing college students.
Amina Daniels: (30:53)
Angela Yee: (30:59)
You're building the next generation though of people who are going to be entrepreneurs.
Tonya Rapley: (31:00)
Yeah. And maybe they'll graduate and they'll come back or they'll help you open up your next location and another emerging market.
Amina Daniels: (31:06)
I get the other ones in a gap year and they'll be great. They're like, "Okay, Amina, I'm going to grad school." So I tried to identify the other ambitious people and lean on the ambitious people, but I'm just really driven and there's so many black women, I mean, I'm sitting at a table with black women that are killing it. So there's always more to give. And then in this society where Instagram is right there and Instagram looks perfect and everybody has these curated lives. I always tell people that I'm not the glamorous founder. It's very rare that you'll see me in makeup. I'm always running from a class to a class. It is very real, but it's good to look at those people, not at what they're doing, but the hard work that is behind that.
Aminatou Sow: (32:00)
Yeah. I mean, nobody puts their business plan on Instagram. Right? You just see the mirage. But you don't see the work that goes into it. You don't see that like even hearing you talk about your business, I'm sure that it is meticulously planned. And nothing is a coincidence or an accident. And so how do you convey that to other people? That you're out here? Like you are grinding hard so you don't have time to be to be taking makeup selfies all day.
Amina Daniels: (32:32)
Sometimes it's just noes. I always say no. So again, when you're going back to just choices or the overall, how do you stay focused and on track? Just like what are you trying to do? So when I go back to, I'm trying to make communities better and I'm trying to create more pathways for African American women to be healthy regardless of the roadblocks. So it's like, what else can I do? What else can I do? What else can I do? So yeah.
Angela Yee: (33:06)
You know what I do appreciate? You talking about how you worked at a gym. Because sometimes people want to start a business but they haven't built up the foundation of knowledge that they need to know to build a business-
Amina Daniels: (33:15)
Angela Yee: (33:15)
... and that does take patience and sometimes taking a step back in what you were doing prior to that.
Tonya Rapley: (33:20)
Angela Yee: (33:21)
Humbling yourself to go work some place so that you can learn the ins and outs of some things so that when you're ready to start your own, you have that basic foundation because some people don't do that.
Amina Daniels: (33:30)
I worked at a gym, I worked at a yoga studio, I worked at a Pilates studio, I worked at a bar studio and now-
Tonya Rapley: (33:36)
All of them, yes.
Amina Daniels: (33:37)
And now like at 30 so you know, and listening to people and really learning the systems and even traveling. Everywhere I travel, I like to go to the studios that are supposed to have the best instructors. I want to see the communities and I want to see the instructors. So some classes are really great branded experiences in New York, but there is no connection with the instructor in the community. So it's good where you can travel and see what you can take and see what works.
Angela Yee: (34:16)
I'm excited for my class.
Amina Daniels: (34:18)
Yeah, me too.
Aminatou Sow: (34:18)
So your pitch strategy though? Like when you are talking about your... I'm thinking about the people who are at home who are like, "Okay, I've never pitched someone before, I don't know how to talk about my business." How do you do that in a way where you are conveying your ideas? But also you are speaking about a business that like money is about to exchange hands.
Amina Daniels: (34:38)
Say it with conviction. I was telling people for three years that I was opening a cycle studio and people were like, "Girl, you crazy." I'm like, "No, I'm opening a cycle studio." And you know a lot of people get really defensive when people are like, "Girl, you can't do that. Dah, dah, dah, dah, dah." I would listen to the noes. And so I would use, how can I make this more digestible? So by the time I'm ready to pitch, everybody had already told me I can't do this. So I had already created more pathways and what was really hard for people to understand is that how are you going to get people to unite and sweat? They were like, "People are just going to ride on a bike in a dark room listening to music?" And I'm like, "Absolutely."
Aminatou Sow: (35:25)
Angela Yee: (35:26)
Amina Daniels: (35:26)
Yeah. And I said, "And people from all different backgrounds are going to realize that they're more alike than they are different." And in the current times, everybody in my studio really kind of leans in, girls that have landed in Detroit have friends, they have clients, they have sitters. There's just so many things. So going back, staying concise, not being in your nerves and-
Aminatou Sow: (35:57)
And practicing a lot-
Amina Daniels: (35:59)
Aminatou Sow: (35:59)
It sounds to me that you were pitching people before you had a pitch to make.
Amina Daniels: (36:03)
I was [crosstalk 00:36:04] pitching to my banker friends that are all about facts.
Tonya Rapley: (36:08)
That's great. Yeah.
Amina Daniels: (36:09)
And they're like, "Not enough facts."
Angela Yee: (36:11)
That is the most important [crosstalk 00:36:12]. To have your research. That's what people care the most about when you're making a pitch, the numbers. Like what does it come down to? How is this going to make some money?
Amina Daniels: (36:21)
And I would say listening to yourself. I recorded myself and I was like, "Oh my God, that sounds terrible." And I also do that with teaching because you're like, "Oh, I said that five times." I need to be more-
Tonya Rapley: (36:37)
Yeah you need to be more mindful next time. Yeah.
Amina Daniels: (36:39)
Less jargon and more concise. And then whatever it is, if it's five minutes, be five minutes. Don't try to be the 10 minute, keep it concise with the facts.
Tonya Rapley: (36:50)
Aminatou Sow: (36:50)
I just really appreciate so many things that you said because the subtext of all of this is that sometimes people say no to us and doors close and opportunities close. But it doesn't mean that that's the end of the idea that you have. And so I'm just really going to take that with me about channeling passion, but also matching it with action all the time and staying true to your own convictions. And so this is actually a perfect segue into today's Money Meditation. It's that time again, y'all. And today we just really want to think about all the ways that saying no can actually be a good thing. And I just, I am making space to really receive this. I want all of us to be in that mindset.
Aminatou Sow: (37:38)
So, let's think about this. Have you ever had a door close in your professional life? A job that didn't work out, that led to something amazing down the road? The truth is some of the opportunities that look the best on paper aren't all they're cracked up to be. And hindsight is always 2020. Looking back, what's something that didn't work out the way you thought, but wound up leading to something even better? I would love to hear from all of you.
Tonya Rapley: (38:02)
I'll start. I guess we can go this way.
Aminatou Sow: (38:03)
Tonya Rapley: (38:04)
It was a job. I wanted the job. I was like down to the third interview to get hired, and I didn't end up getting hired for the job, but if I would've gotten hired, I probably would not have gone as hard with My Fab Finance and probably wouldn't be working for myself today.
Aminatou Sow: (38:17)
Tonya Rapley: (38:18)
So it was not getting a job that I thought I wanted.
Angela Yee: (38:21)
For myself it was being at a job that they didn't treat me very well there. And they didn't understand my value at the time. And so I was there for six years and at one point I was just like, I've hit a plateau, this isn't working out for me. I went to them and had conversations, didn't go the way that I anticipated, so I ended up quitting to go somewhere else and it actually ended up being a scary thing for me, but actually being an incredible way for me to advance my career.
Aminatou Sow: (38:55)
Wow. For me, it was I really wanted to go to law school after I graduated college, and it was during the recession, and I just couldn't afford it. I had to go to work, and I had to support my family. And I remember just being really upset at the time because I was like, "This is going to derail my life in every way, shape, or form." And it was such a lesson that life just happens. Sometimes there's no money, it's nobody's fault. That was a huge fork in the road for me. But now I'm like, oh yeah, I work for myself, and I'm a resilient person in the workplace because I didn't let that be a defining thing that I couldn't do.
Amina Daniels: (39:31)
Yeah. Well, I think I touched on this a little bit, but I would say Downtown Detroit or Opportunity Detroit not giving me an opportunity was a much better opportunity. I landed up in a neighborhood, and I have the best community, and I'm able to do more with teens. So that's good.
Angela Yee: (39:53)
All right, well, we do want to hear what you came up with. So let us know your response to this week's money meditation by posting on social media. You know what our hashtag is, hashtag live Color Full with two L's at the end of color full. That's the words live, color, full with a double L at the end.
Aminatou Sow: (40:11)
Yo, is this really the end?
Tonya Rapley: (40:13)
Angela Yee: (40:15)
Aminatou Sow: (40:17)
Y'all, every time we're together it just feels like time just flies by. It's so amazing to see all of the likes, the retweets, the five star ratings. Thank you.
Angela Yee: (40:28)
Yes, that's why we came back again.
Aminatou Sow: (40:30)
Even the SoundCloud comments, the Apple podcast reviews all season long. That has really carried us. So thank you so much to everyone at home who's listening, and we just want to thank you for all of the support because we feel it. So whether you're a day one listener, or you're just tuning in, we really, really, really, really appreciate you.
Angela Yee: (40:50)
Tonya Rapley: (40:50)
And we hope that you think back to some of the advice that you've heard from the season. Next time you're getting ready for your next major milestone in life. And above all, don't forget to live Color Full.