Cameka Smith has been blazing the trails of innovation for quite some time. As founder of The BOSS Network, a global online network for Professional Women of Color, she has managed to cross the bridge and bring forth diverse and positive dialogue among women from across the world while instilling the message of working together and building to be the best you, you can be.
The Bringing Out Successful Sisters Network is one that exudes sisterhood, strength, determination, confidence, success and hard work.
On Thursday, April 5th, Cameka and Alan Hughes, Editorial Director of Black Enterprise Magazine will team up to host an intimate evening offering engaging conversation from Chicago influencers and power players in the entrepreneurial industry.
Here, the BOSS Lady speaks in-depth about the Summit and if you really pay attention, there are a few entrepreneur survivor perks to gain! Hope to see you Thursday.
What can attendees expect to take place at the Midwest Entrepreneurial Summit?
The Midwest Entrepreneurs Summit is an intimate evening of informative discussions surrounding topics that matter to black business owners in the City of Chicago. This event brings out some of Chicago key influencers, decision makers and entrepreneurs who have been successful at starting a business. We hope to start the dialogue with these Chicago influencers to take back to their communities the importance of The Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference being here in May.
How did you team up with Alan Hughes and Black Enterprise for the summit?
Taking advantage of opportunity and building good relationships. I attended the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference for the second year and both years I assisted in promoting the conference to my network because I saw the value not only for me but for the women that I service to get access to more resources and evening funding opportunities through attending.
I happen to have the opportunity to share a cab on the way home from the conference last year and there was my chance to pitch to Alan Hughes, the Multimedia Editorial Director, on how The BOSS Network was a huge force to be reckoned with in Chicago! I knew the conference was coming to Chicago for the first time and I wanted to be on the team to make it successful. We followed up from there with another meeting with him and the BE team and the rest is history.
Who are some of the business leaders that will be attending the summit and how did you go about finding these individuals?
As a connector it is my job to know who the movers and shakers are in Chicago. We have some of the most successful entrepreneurs and business minds who have shaped this city.
In attendance will be people like Andrea Zopp, President of The Chicago Urban League, Faye Ferguson Co-CEO of Burrell Communications, Reyahd Kazmi on behalf of the Chicago City Treasure, Valeisha Butterfield, Director of Youth Vote for Barack Obama, and Devatio Samuels, EVP and Director of Client Services at Global Hue, to name a few. We reached out to the Chicago community of business leaders and they responded.
Being that you started the BOSS Network and encounter various entrepreneurs and businesses, what are three vital pieces of advice and/or information people need to know when starting their own business?
There is so much information on how to be successful and business in the forms of books, conferences, workshops, etc but the three tips that stand out to me the most would be:
1. Know your industry. You cannot afford to just start a business and not do the research it takes to succeed in that industry. It will save you a lot of time and money.
2. Don’t run away from failure. If you are not making mistakes you are not working hard enough.
3. Just Start. Don’t wait for the perfect time because that will be “never”. No time is better than the present.
If you are still working that’s great because you will have an income to support you.
Since being honored as one of the top 10 business websites by Forbes, in what ways have you seen The BOSS Network grow and how do you use it as a way to influence and guide others looking to branch out and reach a broader demographic and really network?
Since being listed in Forbes The BOSS Network has grown because of the positive marketing it brings being listed in such a respected publication. It has given us the opportunity to have conversations with brands and other businesses like Black Enterprise who have more access to resources that we can then partner with to give our members access too.
I believe in good business. It’s all about collaboration and being able to build a great brand through mutually beneficial partnerships. Our accolades have shown major brands that we are a serious network of business professionals who want the exact same resources that are available for entrepreneurs and career professionals in the minority marketplace.
What do you think the biggest misconception about being your own boss is?
That it is easy. I tell people you work harder for yourself then you ever will for any employer. If you don’t work you don’t eat and there isn’t a paycheck coming in every two weeks whether you put in the work or not. You get out of business what you put in so plant good seeds.
What are some ideas and actions you hope people leave with after attending the summit?
We know that the attendees of the Midwest Entrepreneurs Summit are leaders in Chicago and they are the influencers that people listen to. We want them to see how beneficial this conference is to current and up and coming entrepreneurs so they can go and share with the community.
I am a firm believer in “you know what happened when you don’t do something but you never know what could happen if you show up.” My hope is the Chicago entrepreneurial community shows up and takes advantage of the wisdom from great business minds like John Rogers and Melody Hobson during the Entrepreneurs conference May23-26th.
What’s next for you and what should we be on the look out for from The BOSS Network?
What’s next for BOSS is to continue to grow as a leader in this industry and build partnerships so that we can assist minorities and women alike in getting the access to resources and opportunity for their professional growth. Earl Graves Sr. said, “It is not enough to create self-employed black entrepreneurs; we must build more black owned businesses that create jobs”. That’s the goal!
**BONUS: Attend the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference on May 23-26 and use discount code BSSNTW.