Category Archives: strategic planning

Black Business Owners: Digitize Your Business for New Market Growth


   By Pon Angara, VisionReady storyteller

“Despite the ingenuity and striving of generations, Black Americans have found their opportunities systematically limited by racial inequities in virtually every aspect of society and the economy.”

— Senior partner Shelley Stewart and senior partner emeritus James Manyika from their report “Building business ecosystems that support Black entrepreneurs” published by McKinsey & Company

Dismantling the barriers that have kept Black Americans from fully participating in the US economy could unleash a wave of growth, dynamism, and productivity. One of the most important pillars in this effort, according to authors Stewart and Manyika, is building business capabilities and facilitating knowledge sharing.

Organizations working to support equity in entrepreneurship can compensate Black service providers to lead these capability-building efforts. This work would protect and strengthen Black-owned businesses and build business networks with Black-owned SMBs as hubs.

The private and social sectors—particularly anchor institutions—could provide resources, including help with re-skilling and up-skilling Black-owned businesses’ workers, to make Black-owned SMBs nimbler. On-the-job training and web-based courses are both resources that can be easily shared among multiple businesses. Business-services providers could also facilitate digital transformations to help Black business owners identify new market opportunities.

VisionReady works with communities of color to guide them in digitizing their businesses. Learn how we can provide strategic planning that creates a blueprint for your company’s digital transformation, capacity building, and market share growth.

For more information, send an email to or call (305) 791-2610. You can read the full report at

5 Best Business Books for Entrepreneurs in 2023


   By Pon Angara, VisionReady storyteller

Quoted from Entrepreneur | Updated: January 9, 2023

Many of the most successful business leaders, from Warren Buffett to Oprah Winfrey to Tory Burch, share a common thread: They are voracious readers. Books have the power to educate, inspire and give you a fresh perspective on what you can do to improve your business and personal growth.

As 2023 begins, Entrepreneur’s editors have hand-selected the following list of best-selling books that will give you a concrete roadmap for your entrepreneurial journey ahead. Whether you are launching a business, side hustling for the first time or looking to ramp up your existing business, this selection can be your blueprint for a successful and fulfilling year.

VR_Blog2_Books_1_StartyourOwnBusinessStart Your Own Business

Now in its 8th edition, Start Your Own Business covers every detail of what entrepreneurs will face in their first three years of running a business. Okay, we know a lot of books profess to be a “one-stop shop” for everything you need to know, but this edition more than lives up to that claim. Experts from all industries chime in with clear, concise, and easy-to-understand advice to get you on your way. It is an indispensable resource that you will find yourself returning to repeatedly as you progress. Simply put, it is the bible of startup business books

VR_Blog2_Books_2_TheBestofNoBSThe Best of No B.S.

After 30 years of telling it like it is, we’ve collected legendary millionaire-maker Dan S. Kennedy’s best sales and marketing wisdom into one.  The Best of No B.S.Kennedy’s frank and, well, no b.s. approach to educating readers is fresh, fun and most importantly, it works. Kennedy breaks down what really matters in your marketing, how not to get distracted by ego-centric goals that don’t add up to any monetary value and so much more. If you want realistic, straight-talking marketing advice, this is the book


Facing debilitating fatigue and depression, best-selling author Ben Angel set out on a 90-day mission to find and conquer the root of his issues. Enlisting the help of biohackers, neuroscientists, doctors and New York Times bestselling author Dave Asprey, Angel discovered a world of wellness and in Unstoppable shares tactics that have helped him reduce stress, increase focus, improve physical performance, and eliminate fears. This is a compelling and useful guide to healthier, happier, and more productive living.

VR_Blog2_Books_4_MillionDollarHabitsMillion Dollar Habits

Based on interviews with hundreds of successful people, leadership, and success coach Brian Tracy’s Million Dollar Habits shares insights from their habits that we can all use to work more effectively, make better decisions, and ultimately boost our income. Tracy breaks down how getting into the right habits will give you a better handle on your finances, give you better physical health, strengthen relationships and help you turn your personal and financial dreams into reality.

VR_Blog2_Books_5_WriteYourBusinessPlanWrite Your Business Plan

This comprehensive companion to Start Your Own Business is a deep dive into what can be the most critical step to launching a successful business. Before you spend a penny on your idea, Write Your Business Plan will help you vet your concept, fine-tune it, and give you advanced insights into where your advantages and pain points lie. Unfortunately, there are no crystal balls that will let you know with certainty if an idea will succeed, but having a solid plan is the next best thing.

What business books have you read recently or will be reading soon that you can recommend? Let us know by emailing or calling (305) 791-2610.

My New Year’s Resolution: Go on a diet…an information diet, that is!


   By Pon Angara, VisionReady storyteller

According to Ben Angel, bestselling author of Unstoppable and Australia’s leading marketing authority, “the number one most bankable skill you must have in 2023 to succeed is a skill that the average adult spends two hours and 27 minutes each day sabotaging.” But when you master it, life becomes easier. You edge out your competitors and increase your earning potential. That skill is FOCUS.

Focus has a very real monetary value. Technology researcher Jonathan Spira estimates the interruptions and information overload cost the US economy one trillion dollars per year. Entrepreneurs and world champions go to extreme lengths to sharpen this skill.

The biggest cause of all is, of course, social media. Information has become the new drug of choice to distract us from our lives—and it’s just as addictive. It rewires your brain to keep scrolling. From an evolutionary perspective, it’s not surprising our ancestors were more likely to survive the more information they had. We seek it out to increase our chances of success, be part of a tribe, get a dopamine hit, and escape the stress of everyday life.

Ask yourself, “Is information addiction costing me success and derailing my focus?” The overexposure and over stimulation to information uses up mental bandwidth that could be better applied to learning a new skill, implementing a new business plan, or de-stressing. But how do you manage the onslaught of information that is altering the way you think, act, and feel? It could be time to go on an information diet.

A mindful approach to information consumption is not just about quantity; it’s about quality. Just as we have the food pyramid, we can use an information pyramid to help us refine what we’re exposed to. For example, if you’re in business and your goal is to increase your sales, your information pyramid might have Entertainment at the top which is where you’ll spend your least amount of time. Second, you’ll have Creativity and Leadership, followed by Problem Solving and Sales, while Marketing being the most important depending on your priorities.

You can personalize this pyramid by identifying your highest priority goals and challenges you must overcome to achieve them. From there you define where your focus needs to be placed. You can quickly retrain the social media algorithms to provide you with content you want to see simply by searching for the topics in your information pyramid, so you’re exposed to content that will actively help you achieve your goals.

The next step is to schedule your content consumption. Just as you should avoid caffeine in the morning, you should avoid social media as both can negatively spike a key hormone. In anticipation of wake time, your circadian clock sets off a torrent of hormonal activity that increases your stress hormone cortisol. Past the early morning spike, your cortisol levels gradually decline as the day goes on. If you’re prone to morning anxiety, coffee and social media will amplify it setting up your day for failure. Instead wait until after 9am to have that first cup and take your information offline by having a book on your nightstand. This is like switching from cigarettes to sunlight for your brain. This will also help you to reserve your mental bandwidth for the goals that will move the needle in the right direction for you.

The next step is the most powerful of all and that is to actively train your brain to focus and be more productive. According to research, around 80 percent of our thoughts are negative. Social media’s echo chamber helps to confirm negative biases we have of ourselves. Escaping the echo chamber and reprogramming your negative thoughts require seeing yourself in a different light. Visualizing your future and the steps you must take to achieve it helps to narrow your focus from a floodlight to a laser. It also helps to reduce multitasking that can reduce productivity by as much as 40 percent while increasing stress and decreasing your IQ.

Overall, having a clear intention from the beginning is important to be more focused. Figure out what tools and techniques help to filter out the noise and distractions. Only then can you find your groove, get in the zone, and be at your best.

If you’re struggling with being intentional with your goals and focusing on what’s important in order to succeed in your business, contact us by emailing or calling (305) 791-2610.

Is My Idea Ready
to Be a Business?


   By Pon Angara, VisionReady storyteller

Speak directly to your target audience…

The more specifically defined your niche audience is, the better your brand can be differentiated from your competition. This helps your target customer to perceive your product or service as a more unique offering. This is how you get customers to engage as early adopters who can help you build your brand, and from there, you can scale on to different audiences.

…However, do not be in a rush to scale your business.

Ask yourself first if you have a valid reason to scale. You might be perfectly happy making $50k a year AND have enough time to explore other interests, instead of making $1M but being bogged down by having to manage more overhead and/or staff. Only scale if you have a repeatable business model that works, is profitable, and allows you to look for the next best option regarding audiences and the kind of team you will need to support that.

Identify missing components of your plan preventing you from reaching your goals.

While keeping your team lean for as long as possible, create your Objectives and Key Results for the next quarter and for the next year then figure out what is missing. After identifying what you need to move forward with these goals, you can determine who you’d want to hire. But start with subcontractors to give you the flexibility regarding staffing that aligns with the ebbs and flows of your business before you hire anyone full time.

 Take a “problem-first” approach to ideating.

Ask yourself if you’ve done enough audience research that tells you specific needs and wants from your target demographic. This is the key to an audience-driven approach to designing your offering instead of product-driven. It’s an opportunity to create a hot audience database of individuals who are willing to fully engage with your pilot or proof of concept. This enables you to build trust with a community of potential customers around your brand who will be looking forward to the time you’re ready to launch.

Overall, the key to READINESS is building an audience of partners and stakeholders and giving them the opportunity to become involved in shaping a working business model that answers their need.

If you think you’re ready to turn your idea into a business, contact us by emailing or calling (305) 791-2610.

Story Helps Leaders Get Everyone in the Groove

In spring 2017, the Association Forum invited Barkada Circle® to conduct a CEO Exchange about organizational storytelling and its role in leading transformative change.
Participants shared how they engage members to tell their own stories and, on the flip side, what challenges they have in explaining their mission to a new audience.

The discussion revealed the following common questions:

  • How do I tell a story that encapsulates everything
    that the association does for its members?
  • How do I communicate my vision in a way that
    prospective members can understand?
  • How do I navigate change with everyone on the same page?

To meet these objectives, a leader must first connect with people on a personal level. Story is an emergent form of communication that taps into people’s unique experiences and into their emotions which hold the triggers for their actions. Story helps people realize their shared experiences and become open to dialogue.

Satisfy a basic human need for connection.

Harvard Business School published an interview with screenwriting coach Robert McKee in 2003 where he describes how leaders can use a storytelling framework to motivate team members to work toward common goals. Why does it make a world of difference to go
beyond rhetoric and present your case in a story? According to McKee:

“A story expresses how and why life changes. You want
to display the struggle between expectation and reality
in all its nastiness. It demands vivid insight and
storytelling skill to present an idea that packs enough
emotional power to be memorable.”

Whether they are aware of it or not, CEOs, directors and managers tell stories every
day–either to others or to themselves. They talk to staff about values, objectives and
procedures. They create scenarios in their minds to help in decision making.
Their biggest challenge is in leading people from different backgrounds and with
different belief systems toward mutual understanding and cohesive action.

Cultivate shared vulnerability.

Brene Brown–author, scholar and research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work–has spent more than ten years studying human connection. During her TED Talk in June 2010 about vulnerability, she concluded by saying:

“Ultimately, by accepting that we don’t always
know and we don’t always have, we start
gaining the courage to take risks and make
truly meaningful connections.”

A great leader tells stories that convey her own personal journey–that she is only one
person, in need of many–to fulfill the mission. Knowing why it matters to one helps
to build understanding for why it matters to many. By embracing vulnerability, a leader
can provide a safe place where story sharing inspires collaboration, builds trust and
empowers individuals to band together and meet the challenge ahead.

Dance with change.

British philosopher Alan Wilson Watts, author of The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety, said it best:

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge
into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

Treat change like a moving target. Develop the habit of rewriting the organization’s story every now and then. Pooling together the collective imagination of the members, volunteers, staff, board and community partners shapes an environment that allows creativity to thrive and encourages innovation. It’s a culture shift where change seizes to be the enemy and becomes music with a new rhythm. Are you ready to lead everyone in the dance?

The daunting task of telling a compelling organizational story is a common feeling among association CEOs and directors. Let Barkada Circle® help you harness the power of story to lead with courage and compassion. Send us an email or call us at (773) 852-3522.