The self starting mantra has sprung to a new level, cascading into a movement of small start-ups who want to make their own way in the world, build new and exciting gadgets and push the limits of enterprise. This is very different then what Baby-Boomers did to pull themselves up by the bootstraps. Today’s entrepreneurial spirit is a community of creatives.
This social and entrepreneurial movement has led small business owners to take the lead. Cincinnati, Ohio native Cam Newton , founded BlaCk OW ned Outerwear (www.blackowned19xx.com), a clothing line which promotes excellence. Newton describes the clothing line as ” representative of every person who owns the moment; every culture, every generation and every style.” And since its official launch in 2012 the company has been seen around the country, on red carpet runways, BET Awards shows and on the backs of celebrity personalities.
Newton is not alone. Fellow Cincinnatian (though born and raised in Northern Kentucky) K.A. Simpson ( kareemsimpson.flavors.me ) founded BookMark Enterprises (www.bkmkpublishing.wix.com/bkmkenterprise), a group of companies specializing in creating opportunities for those who otherwise would have had none. Not surprisingly, Newton is a former client of Simpson’s.
You don’t have a traditional marketing background and started your education in biology. What made you switch gears and begin a tech-focused startup?
Simpson: Like many of us, I’ve done a lot of things in my life. Yes, I started out as a Biology major at the University of Cincinnati. But when I couldn ‘ t pass C hemistry, I went into Linguistics. This landed me as a Korean Linguist in the US. Army. After 4 years in the military, I tried my hand at Library Science and then Economics. I guess Economics is what stuck, but I also wanted to incorporate that with my love of helping others and giving back.
Simpson: I looked at it as an opportunity to get me to the next step in my personal development. I’ve been helped so much along the way, that I felt it was only the right thing to do to pay it forward.
Many entrepreneurs credit mentors with helping them navigate the world. Who are some of your mentors, or advisors?
Simpson: One that really helped me a lot early on is my mother. She really opened my eyes to what is possible. She always told me that, as an African-American, I will need to work twice as hard to be considered just as good. That was the inspiration and the beginnings of my intense work ethic.
You’ve conducted several business plan writing seminars, from Coffee and a Business Plan to Tacos and a Business Plan. What are some tips to making a killer business plan?
Simpson: Have a cohesive and solid plan. Making sure you’re hitting all the major information in a flow that works and your projection numbers are based on research. And if you are in Cincinnati, you can check out my next business plan writing class (www.bkmkonline.com) in May 2014.
What’s next for K.A.?
Simpson: Right now, I’m working o the audio version of my first book, “Chronicles of a Boy Misunderstood” ( http://www.bkmkpublishing.com/#!titles/c1x9v ) which is a compilation of three short stories about how young, gay, Black men navigate our society. Also, I am supervising the roll out of my publishing wing’s Short Fiction Contest (http://www.bkmkpublishing.com/#!short-fiction-contest/c21jb). Just doing the whole thing and really looking to work with as many budding entrepreneurs and authors as possible.