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Minding Our Business: Celebrating Middle School Entrepreneurship!

By: ellis j. still

Young people are the cornerstone of our future. Minding Our Business (MOB) is an outstanding example of actively reinforcing that sentiment by partnering with middle schools to provide young people with real life experience of what it is like to be an entrepreneur.

For the past 15 years, Minding Our Business (MOB) has been challenging middle school students not only come up with business ideas, but to create a balanced budget in terms of what it would take to run a business, apply for and present their business to judges, and upon approval of the budget, get funding to launch & run their business on Market Fair Day (outcome presentations are attached at the end of this blog post).

I had the opportunity to volunteer as a panel judge for the kids’ funding presentations. They were teams of kids (each team represented a business) who as individuals had separate roles such as a president/ceo that was responsible for the vision & mission of their company, and various vice presidents that included marketing, finance, operations, project management, and sales. They presented to the judges their idea, target market, how the business would run, budget and proposed funding requirements. Judges then had to assess the presentation and decide if the requested funding was warranted.

The presentations were quite awesome, not what you would expect from middle school students. The kids were well versed in their subject areas and it was evident that they rehearsed their presentations at length.

SUCCESS STORIES

In addition to the program mentioned above, MOB also has advanced and summer programs for those who wish to continue the entrepreneurship track beyond the initial program. Here are some success stories as a result of MOB’s programs:

  • Trevon Molder (MOB 2006), age 17 and CEO of Tick’s Toys started his toy business six years ago and still runs it successfully. Trevon is a senior student at the Trenton Central High School. He plans to go to college and study biochemistry.
  • Pula Jusu (MOB 2003) Took over father’s B & B Home Movie Productions. She is planning to start a business with her two other sisters selling clothing. Pula is very close to finish a master degree in business.
  • Tanaya Butler (MOB 1997) Helped her dad create a cleaning business from the ground up using all the know how acquired through MOB. Swans Brothers Cleaning is a successful business. Tanaya is planning now to open a beauty salon. She’s studying to become a register nurse.
  • Qaysean Williams (MOB 2003), who is a fashion designer and CEO of Mannequin, a fashion design business that recently displayed its garments at the Sun National Bank Arena Fashion Show.
  • Shawntae DeVlugt (MOB 1998) She owns a cake business.
  • Tamar Levy (MOB 1998) He is the owner of a small accounting firm.
  • Abberin Hoagland (MOB 2003) Non-profit summer arts program. “Both Hands” and she is teaching film.
  • Bryan Lane (MOB 2001) He owns a barbershop.
  • Kimyatta Perry – She owns a Hair Salon
  • Jonathan Knight (MOB 1998) He owns an E-Commerce business involving drop shipping.
  • Albert Matlock (MOB 2004) Mentoring Program called the Elite Club, He also sells clothes to fund it. He wanted to help inner-city youth and to fuel his passion for clothing.
  • Eric Hallet (MOB 2001) He owns Outdoor Flicks – A business renting out inflatable 30 ft. movie screens.
  • Jamar L. Robinson (MOB 2001) He owns two businesses. One is called Project DBR (Dreams Becoming Reality) an internet blog for promoting and discussing all types of artists and musicians. The other business is called “Life Crooks” selling clothes and graphic Ts.
  • Kyle Barrett (MOB 1999) He owns a Take-out out of home restaurant.

MOB students talk about their experiences… (video will open in new window)

MOB is a unique program that allows kids to learn and make long term career choices through real life activity. The program’s track record of success is a role model for others looking to make a difference in urban communities.

Below are attached PDF outcome presentations for MOB’s programs, which can also be downloaded directly from MOB’s website (right-click to open in a new tab or window):

MOB’s success is opening doors for it to expand well beyond the confines of Rider University and Trenton, NJ, and into being an independent 501(c)(3). If you would like to take part in this expansion and meet its founders and some of the success stories in person, MOB is hosting its annual “Bridge to the Future” fundraiser in Lawrence, NJ. If you cannot make it in person, or of you  wish to contact them, Dr. Hernandez can be reached at 609-895-5509 or email: hernandez@rider.edu

Question: How would your life be different if you had been exposed to entrepreneurship at an early age?

© 2012, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

__________________________________________

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like what you read and you are not yet a Subscriber to my blog, why not subscribe now? All posts are original, there is no fixed schedule, so you would not have to check my blog regularly, and you will be receiving an authentic review of books, organizations and life experiences as a husband and entrepreneur. If you change your mind, it is easy to unsubscribe. Once you sign up, visit your email inbox to verify your email address. Check your spam folder if you don’t receive any verification

IFEL 2011: Believing in the genius of your dream

by: ellis j. still

It seems like yesterday that I was a finalist for the 2nd Annual Institute for Entrepreneur Leadership Business Plan Awards. I can still feel the nervousness… the clammy hands and sweaty fingers, feeling like at any moment I would pass out while on stage standing in front of my peers, potential investors, city officials, and media. But I got through it, and I did the best that I could with what I had at the time.

Since then, The Burning Bush Christian Bookstore (TBBbookstore.com) has grown to the point of being able to giving back to the institution that helped start it all by way of being a marketing partner and prize sponsor. For the first time I can just sit, relax, enjoy the festivities, and reflect on things as they happen. Here are some highlights of the afternoon:

  1. Opening remarks by Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker: Mayor Booker comes from a line of entrepreneurism in his family, and therefore appreciates all that entrepreneurs have to fight through in order to be successful. Statistically speaking, most businesses fail. But it is in your failure that you gain experience. Likewise, small business is the engine that drives America in that small business creates the most wealth. Wealth not only in terms of money, but in terms of quality of life, of your well being, and of your contribution to others. As an entrepreneur, it seems like the whole world is against you. People will think that you are crazy for being an entrepreneur, saying that your idea is to bold or that it will never work, or having people around you that does not get your vision. However, when you stand up and out, you will inspire others to stand with you. Believe in the genius of your dreams!!!
  2. The visionary behind IFEL, Dr. HenryJohnson, Sr. will be stepping aside as CEO of the Institute for Entrepreneurship Leadership and Jill Johnson will assume the responsibility. IFEL is a trailblazer in that Dr. Johnson had the foresight to meet the need to provide a platform from which entrepreneurs can flourish and grow. While there are other successful business / entrepreneurial programs in the regional area, IFEL is different in that it focuses on laying the foundation for creating successful businesses. Nothing can survive or prosper if it does not have a solid foundation from which to stand on.
  3. Of course, the main event was the entrepreneur finalists. Drum roll please…  
  • Diamond Doobies (Heather Kollar, Owner) is a boutique organic salon in Downtown Newark offering affordable luxury to women who want rich, healthy hair. (Newark, NJ).
  • Family Travel Marketing Services (Luisa Frey, Owner) brings parents and children together through shared travel and leisure experiences. FTMS then brings this influence to its travel company clients via: social media including FTMS’ teen-written blog, www.teentraveltalk.com; family travel fairs; and consulting. (Nutley, NJ)
  • My Salon Scoop (Veronica Woods, founder & CEO) is the ultimate beauty matchmaker for women of color. It publishes an online magazine and salon directory, and provides salon marketing services. (South Orange, NJ)
  • Pebbles Playhouse (Michael Amegashie, Owner) brings a mix of awesome inflatable structures, a clean, climate controlled environment, incredible customer service, and non-stop excitement in a private-party and open play atmosphere. (East orange, NJ)
  • And the winner is… fohawx! (Jocelyn Fine, Kelley Dineen, Co-Founders) is a product development LLC. Fohawx! Will design, manufacture and sell a line of helmet accessories. Our vision is to become the leading brand of helmet accessories made by moms for moms. (Bayonne, NJ)

My takeaways from the afternoon:

No one can survive as an island in itself. It is in our failures, success, and growth that we encourage others to be better. Before the luncheon began, one of this year’s finalists told me how much he appreciates that I have already been a finalist, and that TBB is still growing. He labeled me as a role model of sorts from for those who are coming after me. I took these comments to heart, as if at that moment a burden was placed on my shoulders. Not ‘burden’ in a negative way, but as a responsibility to build wealth not only for my family, but for the greater society as a whole as well.

Every year the competition finalist luncheon is held in a great space with a great atmosphere of networking and mutual support. I had a great time, and connected with some people that I will undoubtedly keep in contact with, as well as reconnected with those who have helped me along the way. If you are an investor or in a position to support, IFEL [501(c)(3)] is a great institution to partner with. Likewise, if you have an idea that you are serious about bringing to life, or if you already own and operate a business but need a focus to take it to the next level, visit IFEL’s website, and then contact them to see how they can help you.

Question:  Do you take your dreams seriously? What are your thoughts?

© 2011, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

 ____________________________________________________

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like what you read and you are not yet a Subscriber to my blog, why not subscribe now? All posts are original, there is no fixed schedule, so you would not have to check my blog regularly, and you will be receiving an authentic review of books, organizations and life experiences as a husband and entrepreneur. If you change your mind, it is easy to unsubscribe. Once you sign up, visit your email inbox to verify your email address. Check your spam folder if you don’t receive any verification emails. Thanks!!!
ellis

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Building Great Businesses Blog Series: Newark Regional Business Partnership (NRBP)

by ellis j. still

This year The Burning Bush Christian Bookstore (TBB) became a member of the Newark Regional Business Partnership (NRBP) for the first time. Prior to joining, I had previous experience with the NRBP since my previous employer (Newwork Real Estate) was a member. The NRBP’s assortment of events had a lasting impression on me, such that I knew that I wanted TBB to become a member.

The Newark Regional Business Partnership (NRBP) is the preeminent business organization in the City of Newark, and has been active in the Newark community since 1869. The partnership is known for its frequent marketing and networking opportunities, its information about Newark’s economic conditions as compared to the trends of the United States, and its information on contributing to the revitalization of Newark, New Jersey. 

What is interesting is that the NRBP does not compete directly against the other business organizations that I have been involved with in Newark, (see IFEL posts 01 and 02 -  & EPI posts 01 and 02) but compliments them in their programming throughout the year. Likewise, although the NRBP’s goal is to be an impetus for business connections, a greater goal is to do so for the betterment of the City of Newark. 

On many occasions people approach networking opportunities with an agenda in terms of what they wish to accomplish. Others go into it not really knowing what the outcome would be, but are open minded to new and creative opportunities and solutions. The NRBP provides a forum for both lines of thinking or a combination of the two. I have attended three events this year thus far as of this blog post, and as a result made several valuable connections (and won a free copy of Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010). Here are five reasons to join the Newark Regional Business Partnership:  

  • Great networking opportunities several times per month
  • Insider information about Newark related initiatives
  • You get access to the infamous black-tie Annual Museum Dinner & Reception
  • Discount tickets to area professional and college sporting events (hockey, baseball, basketball, etc.)
  • Newark, NJ is a great city to grow, network, and to do business in!!! 

It does not matter if you work, live, are a short train ride away, or just have an interest in networking, the Newark Regional Business Partnership is a great way to connect with others. To learn more, visit rbp.org today!!!

Question:  The Newark Regional Business Partnership has a rich history of serving the Newark, NJ community. Why not partner with an institution that can add value to your business? 

© 2011, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

 ____________________________________________________

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like what you read and you are not yet a Subscriber to my blog, why not subscribe now? All posts are original, there is no fixed schedule, so you would not have to check my blog regularly, and you will be receiving an authentic review of books, organizations and life experiences as a husband and entrepreneur. If you change your mind, it is easy to unsubscribe. Once you sign up, visit your email inbox to verify your email address. Check your spam folder if you don’t receive any verification emails. Thanks!!!
ellis

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Entrepreneurship Pioneers Initiative – Class of 2012

By: ellis j. still   

Wow… It seems like yesterday since I graduated from Rutgers School of Business’ Entrepreneurship Pioneers Initiative (EPI). EPI is a comprehensive program that develops entrepreneurs in the State of New Jersey. Several business relationships and friendships resulted from attending the monthly classes, in whom I continue to confide in for feedback, and they in me. The classes were great, and much (if not all) of the topics discussed implemented in my business, or have plans on implementing in the future. The EPI program is a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to mature both themselves and their business in many ways.

Rutgers University is currently holding information sessions for the EPI Class of 2012. There is no obligation to attend, and is a great introduction about what the program is about, and how it can bring your business to the next level. During the year that I attended the information session, Dr. Robinson described the difference between a business owner and an Entrepreneur. This really fueled me to learn more about the program. In business, and in life, you know what you know, you know what you don’t know, and you don’t know what you don’t know. It is in supplying answers to this third category that brings value to the EPI program. There are a lot of really good nuggets from which to learn from, reinforced by building relationships with your peers. I have blogged about this program several times in the past, yet I will continue to do so in the future. It is a program that is genuine to entrepreneur’s needs for growth and succeeding (and affordable), and I encourage you to step outside of your normal regime to invest in yourself and your business.

Click here to visit Rutgers’ EPI website.

Question: There is nothing to lose, and everything to gain. What is stopping you from contacting Rutgers EPI about being a part of the EPI class of 2012?

© 2011, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

 ____________________________________________________

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like what you read and you are not yet a Subscriber to my blog, why not subscribe now? All posts are original, there is no fixed schedule, so you would not have to check my blog regularly, and you will be receiving an authentic review of books, organizations and life experiences as a husband and entrepreneur. If you change your mind, it is easy to unsubscribe. Once you sign up, visit your email inbox to verify your email address. Check your spam folder if you don’t receive any verification emails. Thanks!!!
ellis

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IFEL 2011 Business Plan Competition: Grow Your Business!!!
by: ellis j. still
http://TBBbookstore.com
 

In 2009 I was a finalist in the IFEL (Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership) business plan competition in Newark, NJ (see previous post). Since then the first phase of my business was launched, and has grown at a near exponential values ever since. Much of my personal growth and the business’ success are attributed to my experience with IFEL.

The business plan is essentially a snapshot of your business. It is easy to come up with the idea for a business, and even to start a business. Yet for a business to thrive in the long run you need a solid business plan that outlines all of the key factors that goes into your business. The business plan is not necessarily about the plan itself as a document, but the plan as a thought process that allows you to think through of all of the things that make up your business

The 2011 IFEL Business Plan Competition is currently underway, and you do not want to miss out on this tremendous opportunity. Since 8 is the number of new beginnings, here are the top 8 reasons to participate in this year’s IFEL Business Plan competition:

  1.  If you do not currently have a business plan, it is a chance for you to map out your business
  2. If you already have a business plan it will allow you to test and tweak you model via a panel of experts.
  3. The competition will allow you to expose your business to funders, consumers, and the general public
  4. The competition will force you to not only think about the vision, but also the execution of your business
  5. Finalists get to present their elevator pitch at the Next Level Conference / Awards Luncheon on March 31st, 2011
  6. You get feedback from business, banking and entrepreneurial leaders
  7. It will be good practice in putting together submission packages
  8. You get to win some cool prizes, including cash ($10,000), a digital branding package (value $15,000) and professional development resources from TBB. 

While the submission deadline is this Friday, February 11th, 2011, there is still time to participate, whether you already have a business plan in place or not. Simply go to ifelnj.org, and all the information that you need is there. If you do not already have a business plan, IFEL has templates and outlines for your use such that you can quickly begin to formulate your thoughts on paper. I also participated in the competition in 2008 at the last minute. My plan was horrible, but if I had not participated, I would have been trying to go forward with a horrible plan in 2009 as well. 

Question:  What are you doing to grow your business to the next level?

© 2011, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved. Photographs provided by the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

 ____________________________________________________

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like what you read and you are not yet a Subscriber to my blog, why not subscribe now? All posts are original, there is no fixed schedule, so you would not have to check my blog regularly, and you will be receiving an authentic review of books, organizations and life experiences as a husband and entrepreneur. If you change your mind, it is easy to unsubscribe. Once you sign up, visit your email inbox to verify your email address. Check your spam folder if you don’t receive any verification emails. Thanks!!!
ellis

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