Enjoy & Learn About Hometown African American History

Co-authored by Nita Black and Paula Milner

Communities all over the globe have experienced significant change due to Covid-19.  Most of us are searching for enjoyable ways to spend our time and learn from where we have been, what is different, and where we want to go.  The untold story of a small business ATOP shows what you can do to overcome hurdles during a Pandemic.

Have you ever visited Memphis, TN?  If so, you have surely heard about Elvis, BBQ, and Beale Street. However, have you spent any time digging deep into the rich and vast history of where Memphis began and what it is today?

As a native of The Bronx, NY, Carolyn Michael-Banks is known as “Queen” and Founder of A Tour of Possibilities, ATOP Memphis for short .  Six years ago, Carolyn moved to Memphis, set up shop, and did her homework as she organized unique African American history tours for tourists as well as Memphis area residents.  ATOP takes you to places in the city that you have never been before or in some cases you have been there but were not aware of what happened there years ago.  The tours show you areas of African American history that speak to the importance of the City of Memphis and why it is a place that people can be proud of as well as understanding what happened in the community over the years.    

Compared to what happened to black slaves years ago, then working hard and yet being told what to do while being excluded from the freedoms and opportunities that others enjoyed, the tragedy of COVID-19 and the negative economic impact experienced by many are just as real today.  In March 2020 there was an abrupt halt to social gatherings which was a huge hit to Carolyn’s business and the entire hospitality industry. She was forced to cancel all tours, refunding all clients who had prepaid.  With the passion for sharing her love of the city she now calls home; the impact was emotionally taxing.  However, after several days of unbelief and shock, Carolyn put her faith in the vision of a hopeful outlook for the future.  

Within six weeks of the initial Pandemic hitting Memphis, Carolyn launched her first caravan tour. This was a new concept using digital tools that allowed a caravan of cars to hear the tour narrative about Memphis.   On the turn of a dime, ATOP transitioned from stalled out to what many businesses refer to as the “new normal.”

Although challenges in 2020 continue, ATOP is operating full steam ahead.  And it is all about following your passion, staying connected with resources in your community, and helping out when you can.  

If you would like more information about ATOP Memphis and how ATOP is overcoming hurdles during a Pandemic, please contact Queen to hop on the next tour.  And who knows, she might be willing to help you with your own hometown tour.

We hope you enjoyed this blog – co-written by Nita Black with NitaBlack.com and Paula Milner with Kelem VA

Business Owners Empowered!

Empowering Business Owners to Reach Their Full Potential!

Lessons Learned from a Mortgage Expert/Dynamic Networker

Covid-19 has negatively affected many different markets across the globe including restaurants, car dealerships and small-town stores.  Thinking back to the beginning of 2020, if you had plans to purchase your dream home, or just a new one, how has COVID-19 affected your decision?

According to DaveRamsey.com and the National Association of Realtors (NAR)’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, the coronavirus’s impact on the real estate market was a “temporary softening”—believing a “strong rebound” will likely follow once this virus goes bye-bye.

Time will tell how this all plays out.  Meet Jo Garner.  Jo is a mortgage officer with extensive knowledge in tailoring mortgages to her customers who are refinancing or purchasing homes all over the country. She offers conventional, FHA, VA, refinances, Rural Housing or other loan programs for refinancing and purchases.

When the Pandemic hit in March of 2020, Jo Garner had been in the real estate/financing business for over 20 years.  An expert in the mortgage business, Jo was already set up online, but during COVID-19 she had to swivel, ramping it up a notch to be in compliance with the new guidelines.  This was in addition to keeping up with the new housing regulations so that she could provide her current and potential clients with all the information they would need to make informed housing decisions.

Extensively involved in the community, Jo Garner is also Founder and CEO of Talk Shoppe, a networking group that educates, equips, and engages professionals who want to increase sales and serve their community.  Prior to March of 2020, the group was meeting at a local college with professional speakers every week and had been for over 16 years.  When Covid-19 shut down all businesses and gathering places in the Memphis, TN area, Jo was quickly able to segue her weekly networking events online, using zoom.  She did not miss a beat swiveling from in-room to online networking so that her clients and sponsors could continue promoting their businesses and connecting with potential customers.  Talk Shoppe continues to offer sponsorships in exchange for a wide platform multi-media platform of advertising, including videos, social media posts, ads on digital flyers distributed weekly, mention on zoom chat-room logs weekly, and discounts on weekly radio shows as well as a wide range of choices for radio advertising.   

If you would like more information about Jo Garner and how she is still making housing dreams come true during a Pandemic Join Jo Garner live on News Radio AM 600 every Saturday 9AM to 10AM CT or on IHeart Radio at 901-535-WREC, phone: (901) 482-0354, email: Jo@JoGarner.com .

We hope you enjoyed this blog – co-written by Nita Black with NitaBlack.com and Paula Milner with Kelem VA

Business Owners Empowered!

Staying Mentally Stable is Key

Co-authored by Nita Black and Paula Milner

Have you or your co-workers ever missed work due to depression or anxiety?  Has this resulted in difficulty maintaining mental health or healthy lifestyle?  Staying hopeful is key to surviving crisis such as a Pandemic.  Agencies like Visions of Hope can help you stay healthy.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression alone costs the economy an estimated $210.5 billion annually.  Depression causes more lost workdays and impairments than arthritis, asthma, back pain, or diabetes (www.psychiatry.org).

Visions of Hope is in Memphis, TN, operating as a licensed substance abuse and mental health company.  The agency serves clients living in the mid-south community.  Their mission during this time of COVID crisis and beyond is to be a one-stop-shop for clients suffering from depression and anxiety. 

Services help keep individuals mentally healthy which minimizes missed work and improves workforce performance.  During the Pandemic Visions of Hope has adjusted services to include zoom meetings and follows social distancing guidelines to provide on-campus drug testing. 

Several contract opportunities won by Visions of Hope during the past year include gaining relationships with the Department of Justice, the Parole Board, and the Service of Probation and Parole.  They also received licensure to fund some services for the Department of Human Services and the courts.  With these wins, there have been some challenges in 2020.  Visions of Hope is moving forward to become more tech-savvy in the subsequent year so that they can provide more Telehealth and increase remote services.  As in many businesses, funding can be a challenge although the agency is hopeful that they will become better equipped to serve individuals who need help so they can continue to work and maintain stability in day-to-day living during the Pandemic.   

The topic of mental health and substance abuse is not easy to discuss, but if you or someone that you are close to need help, please reach out to Annie Ivory and Visions of Hope Behavioral Health Services. They currently accept appointments by walk-ins, referrals, or phone calls.

We hope you enjoyed this blog – co-written by Nita Black with NitaBlack.com and Paula Milner with Kelem VA

An IT Consultant Can Be Your Best Friend

Co-authored by Nita Black and Paula Milner

With so many people working from home these days and not having your own personal geek close by, having someone to call is important.  Meet our IT expert, Shannon Honadle, who can show you how to fix anything computer.   

IT consulting may be more necessary now than at any other time in computer history.   Shannon Honadle, the Founder of Honadle.com, started her business in 2007.  She has a long-time passion for computers and teaching others all about new tools and ways to enjoy technology and get the job done.

Due to the Pandemic, onsite client visits have been greatly reduced resulting in more of an emphasis on remote support.  Shannon has developed several new ways she works with clients to keep their equipment in good working order.  She is now offering a monthly maintenance plan for clients so that they are included on a set maintenance schedule.  This helps minimize surprises when she needs to work on their system or when the client needs to depend on their system to operate their business efficiently.  

Honadle.com is a one woman show, having worked solo from the start.  However, during the past twelve months Shannon has been successful in partnering with a local computer store as well as being able to sell Office 365 accounts.  Honadle can access new and refurbished computers requested by clients.  Due to price volatility during the Pandemic, the company watches for the best time to order computers at the lowest cost while accessing quality hardware and software chosen by clients.  Soon, Honadle will introduce a new podcast with a tech slant using an educational and enthusiastic theme for clients to enjoy.  Part of Shannon’s job is listening to client needs or just what’s going on in their business and keeping them happy.  Many clients have been heavily impacted by the Pandemic so it’s important for Honadle to be considered one of their best friends to ease client anxiety.    

If you have questions and/or are not completely tech-savvy and need help, please contact Shannon Honadle to confirm a date to get your computer system checked out so that it will be  reliable when you need it.

We hope you enjoyed this blog – co-written by Nita Black with NitaBlack.com and Paula Milner with Kelem VA

Empowering Business Owners to Reach Their Full Potential!

What is an Enneagram Anyway?

Co-authored by Nita Black and Paula Milner

Why do we get angry when someone makes an irritating comment? Why does being in a certain place or situation upset us? The Enneagram assists us by helping find the answers to these types of questions.  As business owners, it is often very difficult to hold things together, particularly during a pandemic.  Knowing how to stay calm can be hard for anyone.    

What is an Enneagram anyway? Milton Stewart, the Founder of Kaizen Careers, shares that an Enneagram is like taking a personality test, rather than vaguely listing your likes and dislikes.  It also explains your reactions and how you relate to events. The Enneagram is a 3×3 configuration of nine personality types in three Centers. There are three types in the Instinctive Center, three in the Feeling Center and three in the Thinking Center.  Every Center consists of three personality types that have the assets and liabilities of that Center in common.  

You might wonder why Enneagram should be important to a business owner and really anyone else who takes the test. Milton explains that the Enneagram gives you a deep analysis of your actions and “allows you to acknowledge them and make any necessary changes to react better to the circumstances.”

As parents and teachers, learning about Enneagram is a good idea to use in the classroom or as a home activity. As a school-teacher and passionate advocate for inner city kids, Milton agrees that it is advantageous to offer the Enneagram test as part of the school curriculum. The perfect add-ons to an Enneagram program for children include having them invest in ways of self- and personal-growth, offering them something positive to put in their ears daily, and providing advice on how to think about what they want to be when they grow up (not just for kids, for parents too!)

Over the next 12 months Kaizen Careers foresees making a positive impact on families and classrooms by offering three different online courses. An online coaching program is now being offered to parents who may be experiencing “cabin fever” while practicing the Covid-19 social distancing guidelines while staying home from work with their kids. Also, the company plans to launch a new book on the Enneagram which will be used in conjunction with Enneagram services offered. 

If you want to explore the use of the Enneagram both during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, please reach out to Milton Stewart with Kaizen Careers, so he can share his extensive knowledge of how to use the Enneagram to stay calm during a Pandemic in your home and your business. If you love your business and have a passion for doing what you love to do, but need help with the business side of things, please contact us.  We hope you enjoyed this blog – co-written by Nita Black with NitaBlack.com and Paula Milner with Kelem VA

Empowering Business Owners to Reach Their Full Potential!

Co-written by Nita Black and Paula Milner

Often business owners start out with an idea that quickly turns into sales.  But then something like Covid-19 hits and the way you have been doing business doesn’t work anymore.   Knowing how to pivot using new strategies or sometimes just starting over can be hard for anyone.

When you think about drones, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Most of the time when we consider a drone, we think about the plane-like crafts observed in the park on a sunny Saturday afternoon flying alongside the vibrant kites. But S2S brings a whole new twist to what a drone can be used for.  

Meet Cedric, a drone expert and founder of S2S who help business owners qualify for new contract opportunities.

Cedric was first licensed by the FAA as a drone pilot in 2016.  Playing with drones and gardening were Cedric’s favorite hobbies.  In 2019, after many months of planning and researching, Cedric formed Soaring to Success, Inc., a 501 (c) 3 non-profit. 

About the time that S2S was starting its initial drone training program in schools, Covid-19 hit.  Because of social distancing requirements, parts of the program were re-vamped to be offered online.  The in-flight training component, however, was in person and was therefore put on hold.  As of the date of this blog, FAA is currently not issuing any new licenses which is another snafu, delaying the licensing benefit after completing the drone training.

Due to these challenges and others, S2S pivoted by offering drone consulting to businesses so that they could qualify for drone work as specified in government contracts

S2S educates businesses working with government agencies to understand the benefit of using drones in their everyday workflow.  Sometimes this means knowing how to assess potential damage of property from the sky without putting workers at risk.  Other times this means using drone data collection to evaluate soil conditions and identify ways to control pests so that crops are of better quality and harvesting costs are reduced.  Often drone technology is used for project inspections to reduce costs and improve worker safety.

For anyone interested in learning more about business drone usage, please feel free to reach out to Cedric Divine at www.soaring2success.org for more information.

If you love your business and have a passion for doing what you love to do, but need help with the business side of things, please contact us. 

We hope you enjoyed this blog – co-written by Nita Black with NitaBlack.com and Paula Milner with Kelem VA

Empowering Business Owners to Reach Their Full Potential!

As seen on SixtyandMe.com

Let me guess: You are a woman over 55, getting busy with holiday preparations, traveling plans, and family gatherings with children and grandchildren. Maybe you have your business matters to wrap up and touch base with friends. Or maybe, for once, you just want to stay home alone.

How do you balance everything at the end of the year: the time you spend (coming and going), the energy (going out of your way to nurture someone in need), and the money side of things?

Years ago, as the holidays were approaching, I was going through a painful divorce, having to be a single mom to my two daughters at 3 and 5. It was December, and I had landed my first job as an accounts payable clerk at a national bank.

This was a great opportunity for me in a lot of ways. However, it broke my heart to leave my girls during the day with their Grandma so that I could work at a paying job. My monthly salary was $450. My house note was $387. That did not leave a lot to pay for food, clothing, utilities, and transportation.

With two young children and working, I was always behind on doing laundry. Like it was yesterday, I remember my friend Jennifer stopping by on Christmas Eve to say hello. She helped me fold clothes! So, that year, she was my “Santa Claus.”

We all need a thoughtful friend, so let me share 5 tips I’ve used to help myself and others to keep smiling.

Tip #1: Smile at Everyone

Smiling prevents wrinkles – seriously! When I look at pictures of my Grandmother, I see myself in her, and not just because fat cheeks run in our family. When we smile, it’s like a Christmas tree, all lit up. And when we frown, our checks sag, showing how unhappy we are.

Even if you don’t have fat cheeks, smiling creates positive energy that boosts your spirit from the inside. It’s a great way to help yourself be happier while also spreading the feeling to those around you.

You should try smiling at someone who looks miserable. If you keep smiling, they will almost surely follow your example.

Tip #2: Give Time to Someone New

If you’re not yet retired, or have decided to continue working a bit longer, you probably know that getting paid by the hour defines time as money. So, giving time to someone new – helps you keep things in perspective.

When I say ‘things’, I mean having a home, a family, food in the fridge, transportation to come and go, network of friends, other things. Think about making a ‘blessing’ list of all the things that you have, which you often assume everyone has.

When temperatures were below freezing last year, I met someone new at church – a guy named James. He was sleeping under a bridge with cardboard as a mattress and a thin blanket coverlet.

He told me he was new in town and had landed a job that started the next Monday. After he got paid, he would be able to rent a room somewhere until he could afford something better.

James made me think about all the things I was taking for granted in my life. James was simply thankful to have a job lined up and had no complaints of his current circumstances. He made me more aware and got me thinking about how I could share what I had in ways I had not thought of before.

Tip #3: Balance Your Checkbook Before Going Shopping

Years of balancing your checkbook (or maybe not enough years?) have probably made you despise doing it. But go ahead and balance it today. Why? So that you can plan ahead for any extra expenses during the holidays.

One method I have used in the past is the envelope system. With so many bank transactions now electronic, sometimes it is easy to lose track. So, you can simplify the balancing process by setting aside money for gifts and party expenses using an envelope for each category.

That way, your budget is in each envelope, and you can manage how much you spend or save during this time of the year. When the envelope is empty, hopefully you will have made all your planned purchases and will not be tempted to keep on spending money that you don’t have.

Of course, these holiday spend envelopes would be in addition to keeping up with your regular bills and expenses. However, starting the new year with a clean slate and being up to date on paying your bills creates a good feeling!

Tip #4: Look Up and Out, Never Giving Up

For those of us who own a business in retirement, we are familiar with the phrase “working on your business, not just in it.” This tip is to look up and beyond today.

You might consider using the following steps for goal-setting and timelining your next steps:

What is it that you want to accomplish next year? (For example, make another $1000 a month = $12,000 next year.)
What action steps do you need to take in the next 30 days to work toward accomplishing your goals? (For example, identify and connect with job opportunities that you expect will lead to at least $250 additional income every week.)
How do you want to measure success? (For example, number of contacts made for job opportunities; number of contacts who said “yes”; dollar amount earned toward the monthly goal of $1000 in additional income.)
Repeat every 30 days for 12 months to reach your goals for the year.
You may also find helpful my Cash Maker Goal-Setting Calendar template, so email me if you want to try it out.

Tip #5: Prepare for the New Year

In the preparation stage is where the real fun begins, when we purge the old to let in the new. This tip is twofold – financial and non-financial.

Do Up the Financial Side
Gather all your financial and other documents for the previous year to organize for your year-end reporting. Consider using Dropbox or Google Drive to scan and digitally store your yearly documents, setting up similar files for the coming year.

De-Clutter Your Home and Office to Free Space
Make a visual inventory of your home and workspace to identify clutter. This is an ideal time to de-clutter by storing or discarding items (or even giving things away) that are not creating joy in your life.

By de-cluttering, your mind will be more agile so that you can engage in new conversations and new activities without being bogged down.

Use these tips to help you do what you love and enjoy what you do! Be blessed.

How do you prepare for the holidays in relation to your personal and business life? What tips do you have for ending the year with a smile? Please share in the comments below!

Let’s Have a Conversation!

The last quarter of the year can become quite stressful, especially for those of us over 60. In some parts of the world, October is filled with more outdoor events with family and friends because the weather turns cooler while the sun is still generous.

November brings traditional Thanksgiving dinners, often with large family gatherings and lots of cooking. We buy more food and cook more, which results in higher utility bills. During December, many of us exchange gifts with family members, friends, and clients.

All of this will cost us more money than we spend in any of the other months of the year.

We love our families and want to be engaged with them, but most of us need to do it in a cost-effective way. If we plan ahead, the financial part can be managed. Here are some things to consider.

Tip #1: Organize Your Records Year-Round

Take time to organize your financial records year-round in ways that are fun, so that you will love doing it. Start by looking for the best organizer tools that will make your life easier.

If you are a ‘paper’ person, we suggest that you shop for a cool three-ring notebook in your favorite color, colorful 1-15 numbered tabs, and clear sleeves that can hold documents with several pages. (Estimated cost = $30 US for materials plus an hour of your time to shop.)

Just so you know, my favorite color right now is lime green and my notebook is so cool!

One three-ring notebook should last for an entire year. Label it on the outside so that you can find it easily. For instance, you could write: “Your Name – 2018 Records”. Set up your tabs to organize “Cash In” and “Cash Out.”

Tabs can be named for things like monthly bank statements, monthly credit card statements, important receipts, past years tax returns, a cash budget, real estate records organized by property address.

If you are a ‘digital’ person, set up these same tabs as a folder on Dropbox.com or on Google Drive.

To get you started, a sample Table of Contents for your tabs or digital folders is shown below:

  • Bank Statements (including copies of cancelled checks and deposit information)
  • Credit Card Statements
  • Child Care Costs
  • Transportation Costs
  • Insurance Policy and Monthly Receipts
  • Charitable Contributions Receipts
  • Cash Budget – Current Year
  • Retirement Account Statements and Contribution or Withdrawal Documentation
  • Tax Return – Last Year and Year Before
  • Income Records – such as Pay Stubs
  • Medical & Healthcare Records – such as Explanation of Benefits, Invoices Received/Paid, Lab Reports
  • Birth Certificate & Passport
  • Property Deed and Real Estate Information – by Property Address
  • Automobile, Other Vehicle – Titles and Other Information
  • Calendar of Deadlines for Filing Taxes and Dates to Pay Bills

Tip #2: Annual Cash Budget

Prepare a cash budget annually for each month during the year. This is a tool that you can print to keep in your three-ring notebook (or digitally) to refer to from time to time. Your budget will help you stay on track so that you are able to sleep at night and not worry about finances.

I recall the year 2008 when I closed my coffeehouse. We had been open for five years and, although it was a lot of fun, the coffeehouse did not make a profit. At that time, I put together a monthly cash budget to manage “Cash In” and “Cash Out.”

I used a one-page Excel spreadsheet and printed a copy to carry in my purse. That way, when I did have money to spend and needed food, clothing, or gas for my car, I would pull out this one-page budget to help me prioritize what to buy with the money that I had.

This budget tool was a life-saver for me and it helped me save my personal credit also – by being able to pay bills on time, using my budget as a guide.

These days, I still use a monthly cash budget to estimate how much I will need to pay bills, when they are due and what amount should be left over for savings or to put back into my business. Your budget should include all “Cash In” and “Cash Out.”

Be sure to include necessities like food and medicine, plus auto repairs and gas if you own a car, or transportation costs. It should also include entertainment and planned discretionary expenses. (Estimated time to prepare budget = 1 to 3 hours annually and half-hour updates monthly.)

Tip #3: Use Event Calendars

Consider developing an Entertainment, Birthday, and Special Events Calendar to help you track all activities a mature woman must engage in. This will help you plan ahead so that you can manage your money and organize your expenses.

If you own a business in your 60s, this type of calendar becomes even more helpful. It will help you know how to plan your spending on activities that are sporadic as well as spontaneous.

For a complimentary one-page calendar design, email Nita Black for a copy. (Estimated time to prepare calendar = 1 to 2 hours annually and half-hour updates monthly.)

Use these ideas to help you do what you love and enjoy what you do! Be blessed.

How do you organize your finances? Have you tried going at it on a monthly basis rather than doing it annually? What tools do you use to help you organize your finances? Please share any strategies that you find useful!

This article first appeared on Sixty & Me