Interview with Makisha Boothe

Tuesday October 19, 2021 comments Tags: nonprofit, for profit, sistahbiz, interview, guest, systems

Any accounting business and tax advice contained in this podcast is not intended as a thorough in depth analysis of specific issues. Nor is it a substitute for format information. Nor is it sufficient to avoid tax related penalties. If you have specific questions that you need advice for, be sure to schedule a strategy session and not solely rely on information in this podcast. All right, back to the episode. 

Hey, welcome to another episode of The Nonprofit Ace Podcast. I'm your host Chyla Graham, CNRG Accounting Advisory. My goal is to help more nonprofit leaders get comfortable talking about money. And so today you're going to listen into my conversation with Makisha Boothe of SistahBiz. I invite you to send either of us a message if you have follow up questions. I love talking to her, we actually chatted afterwards and she's gonna hold me accountable to some things. So maybe you'll hear about that too, you know in a future episode. All right. Have a good listen. 

So welcome to another episode of The Nonprofit Ace Podcast. I'm your host Chyla Graham CNRG Accounting Advisory and I'm super excited to have Makisha Boothe of SistahBiz here today. 

Chyla Graham:

So Makisha, what are you celebrating? 


Makisha Boothe:

Well, let's see this week. Last week, we attended the Colorado women's Chamber of Commerce event, and they listed me as one of their top 25 most powerful women in business. So I had my family and my team is scattered across the country, and they all flew in, and we just had a ball. So that was a celebration. 


Chyla Graham:

And I support that, I will second. Thank you. So before we get going, I would love everyone who's listening in to just know a little bit more about you, and how you'd like them to connect with you. 


Makisha Boothe:

So, I am the head business coach and founder at SistahBiz, and you can find me at SistahBiz on IG, or on Facebook, on our Facebook page SistahBiz is. And then you can also check us out on Twitter, and I'm on LinkedIn as well. And so a little bit about us is we're a nonprofit slash for-profit organization that provides free and low cost coaching, training and technical assistance to black women entrepreneurs as well as access to capital through our loan and grant funds. 


Chyla Graham:

What made you decide to do that, like, for those of you who can't see, and if you actually paid attention to my pictures, I'm black, Makisha is also black. But what does made you decide to say like, yeah, this is what I want to do, I want to do the coaching, I want to support black women business owners, 


Makisha Boothe:

You know, it was kind of, there was nothing sexy about the choice other than women came to me for support and service and help. I answered the call and when I did so I recognized that they are among the most underfunded and least funded in lowest earning, but fastest growing groups of entrepreneurs in the country. And so while they needed the services, they certainly didn't have the resources that their white counterparts had. And so I just kind of jumped into service mode and part of the strategy of being able to raise funds for this cause was, you know, become a nonprofit, and make these services accessible for this group of entrepreneurs. 


Chyla Graham:

Yeah, the things you mentioned was that you're a nonprofit, you have a nonprofit for profit model. I think that's one of the things as I work with nonprofits, people shy away from, they're like, we can't charge them just like you can. What made you decide like, yeah, we're actually going to charge and not just go solely donation based, 


Makisha Boothe:

It's kind of weird. When I first started, I did start the program as sort of a service program under my for profit but when I realized that I needed funding for it, because the quote unquote customer could not afford the services, I had to go out and raise funds. And most people told me, you know, you need to be a nonprofit, go get your tax exemption, and then we'll, you know, support this and fund this and so that's how I got into the nonprofit world just kind of thrown in by just trying to make it happen. 

As the nonprofit grew, I honestly felt like I needed to keep it under control, the growth of it, and be limited in you know, structured in the way I built the program so that they could be cyclical and they couldn't take a life of their own and take over and so I had very set programming and very set capacity, aligned with the funding that came in, but I still had more demand than that. 

So I had waiting lists, and I had women who were like, I'll pay you if you just like, I don't need the free programming, like I can pay or I can pay on a sliding scale can you get me in and so, and then I just started getting a ton of emails from people saying, can I become a member and I didn't have a membership at the time, and I was like you're in. So my mentor was like, um, I feel like you should monetize this, you're the coach, but I feel like you should monetize this. 

And I also thought about the fact that, you know, one of the things I talk to the women in our community about all the time is legacy and longevity and sustainability and, and I wanted to build something that was sustainable beyond any nonprofit trends and funding. So like, when it wasn't sexy to fund us anymore, or when the funding wasn't available, like what would be something that could hold down this work, you know, in any climate. And for me, it was like, have that hybrid of nonprofit and for profit. 


Chyla Graham:

Yeah, I think that's a great reminder, because some organizations don't realize that the funding can be cyclical,  like, how do people feel in the moment where they're like, Oh, yeah, that's the hot cause. Let me give, and then suddenly you're like..


Makisha Boothe:

Oh it's so true. We act like the trendy people or like the startups in Silicon Valley philanthropists have this same kind of like, over time, kind of approach to what they invest in, and what they fund and, and so yeah, you're at the mercy of their trends. 


Chyla Graham:

Yeah. So other nonprofits out there, what are you doing to sort of diversify your revenue mix, so that you feel less subjected to those ebbs and flows? And what does this funder need and what mission drift, what new cause they want us to take up because they think that that's what we should be doing. 

So I am a member of SistahBiz and I've been a member, I'm getting close to a year. And I think my Goal Digger experience. So backup, for those of you who are listening, Goal Digger is one of the events that SistahBiz puts on, at the end of the year, as has been my experience, and I looked at it for like three years. Like I had all these things and feelings. I'm a planner by nature and I was like, December and I finally went and I was just like, oh, my goodness, like I left with so much to work on. 

I was just like, this is why I mean by December, it's too late. It's too late. I would love for people who are a little bit, you know, more early planners. What are some things, you're just like, yo, you should be prioritizing this. As you think about your goals, what are the things that you're like, Oh, this goes to the top of the list, this is how I prioritize. 


Makisha Boothe:

For me, prioritizing comes after I set a vision, and I know where I'm trying to go. So for me, my priorities center around my vision, and you know, what I'm trying to ultimately do, and then I list out the things I need to do. And then I make sense of the order of them based on, you know, whether they're time sensitive, whether they are really, you know, co-dependent, the priorities, one needs to come before the other. 

And, you know, kind of think through my resources and how I leverage my resources, my strengths, looking at the competitive landscape. So it's not a simple formula. Like I'm thinking through lots of different things. When I think about priorities. I think it's more important though, that when I'm thinking through my priorities, I have every intention on being super focused on them once I figure it out. 

I put a lot of time into it, because I say that if these are my priorities, these are my priorities because I deeply believe that if I accomplish these things, that place I said I'm trying to go, I'm going to get there. So nothing's going to deter me from completing those things, or take me off track from them. If you don't feel that committed to your priorities, you probably really haven't arrived at a place where you've really thought through them strategically enough. 


Chyla Graham:

Yeah. I think that laser focus is what helps people accomplish their goals. Like it's, if you get distracted, it's like, oh, you're still working on that? And not to say that every goal is something that you have to complete. Like, you got 90 days to finish this or you weren't serious, but if you feel like, Oh, this thing happened, and not like a pandemic. I got distracted doing the thing you're like, but they're back on course, like, what's the thing? 

What's the goal that's gonna keep you like, even if you get sidetracked for a little bit that you're like, Oh, right. I got distracted, but I'm back now like, making sure that you think that piece out. Because I think a lot of times we do get stuck in the logistics and saying, like, I cross things off my to do list. They're not things that are getting towards the goal. They're things that make you feel like, Oh, I was accomplished. 


Makisha Boothe:

Exactly, exactly. It's so important to cascade, you know, and make sure that everything plugs back into the top no matter how little it is. And to track that and to take time to constantly look at what you where your time is going. Like it's, it's a daily practice to plug back in, and a weekly practice and a quarterly practice to pay attention to where everything's going, as part of the work is just as just as important as executing on the work. 


Chyla Graham:

So as you have, you know, done your iterations of things and thought about what you find to be helping you be more productive, what are some tools or resources you think people could be using better


Makisha Boothe:

Mm hmm. So, for me, I think project management tools are really important. And I think I don't see those in use enough in the way that they could be used. And so while I might see some folks who have project management, tool subscriptions, or platforms that they use, I don't see them optimizing the use of those tools, and really using them to drive productivity. So for us, for my team, we use Smartsheet. 

And we literally invested in having a couple of data folks come in, and help us really build it out so that we could use it to drive business every day. And it's not easy to get a whole team to circulate around that. Especially if it's not something super intuitive, or, you know, you know, for everyone involved, but it's really how we drive productivity and make sure that everyday tasks are plugged into the big goals. And that we can see the data. So our dashboards and stuff are in there too. So we can literally be a data driven team. 

And then Hiver is something that I found a couple of years ago that really kind of helped us out. And that's a gmail plugin that basically allows you to create centralized inboxes, for incoming emails from customers so that you can tag or assign rather, the email to the right team member open and close the requests and communicate as a team without communicating in the email on the side, because you know, you end up sending the customer something y'all talking about internally. So Hiver is dope and so yeah, Smartsheet and Hiver, probably two things that I feel like, really helped us function better as a team


Chyla Graham:

I have used Smartsheet, I have not yet checked out Hiver. But I feel like it's definitely as CNRG grows, I'm just like, it's a growth thing. 


Makisha Boothe:

It's like as those teams start to grow, when you go from handling everything yourself with like maybe an assistant to like having a team of people, technology becomes really, really important, more important than it is when you're even working alone and, and systems for shared work, shared collaboration, shared goals really need, you know, platforms and technology to back it up. 


Chyla Graham:

Thank you. I gotta make notes for myself. What is the other thing that you feel like, Man, I wish people would ask me about this more. 


Makisha Boothe:

I think I probably wish people would ask this, this is so random, not random but it's like so disconnected from everything we just talked about. I wish people asked me more about the importance of trauma and relationship and community in an entrepreneur's journey. 

Like it's very easy to list all the platforms and the technologies and the tools and even you know, coaches and consultants you can check into, but I think people don't realize how much work you have to do internally, to succeed at what you're doing, and that that's just as important. Self care and mental health. community, finding your support system if anything else and, and although people talk about it, I don't think people really understand like, how important it is and how much more we should invest in it. If we want to see our entrepreneurs succeed. 


Chyla Graham:

I would definitely agree. I think having been part of some groups and being like, they talk about community, and then it feels very limited and like the community is only here. The community is in this room and not necessarily with me. And that was one of the things I think, from Goal Digger that was, for me, a key takeaway. Yes, this is just a big plus. I remember and not that I expected it to go there. 

Like when I did Goal Diggers, I met with my business besties Monday, okay, so like, eight months later, we're still like, connected, keeping in touch. And I think that's, that's been so helpful and being able to, like, bring them because being an entrepreneur is so isolating. I used to say the question I hated being asked was, How's business? Like, I hate that question. I'm just like, what? Tell me what you want to know. And I can answer that question. 

So yeah, I do think the importance of building that community and finding that network that you're going to be like, these are my people. And it doesn't feel like t's for show. It's not like, Oh, I get to say I know this person. Like, is that really that helpful? So yeah, thank you, thank you for creating SistahBiz, thank you for making it a membership base and I think for all everyone else who's listening, figuring out what makes sense for you, like, you have to find the right community. It's definitely a trial and error to see like, is this the right fit? 

And I think just experimenting to say like, what's the productivity tool that makes sense for me? What's the revenue mix that makes sense for me, so like, understanding your journey, and not saying, This is how we started, this is all we're gonna do. I think, talking to you today just showed through SistahBiz, I think, seeing that, like, we started off one way, you start off one way, and okay, we actually need to pivot and just being responsive to the needs that you say you want to fulfill. Just being like, we actually need to make some changes. So thank you. 


Makisha Boothe:

Appreciate that. This is good to know that. That's what I really hope as much as we provide the coaching and the training, where you can participate with our coaches and trainers. Like my vision, my dream was always that women would connect with each other outside of anything that we were formerly facilitating, and be there for each other. So that's so dope. I'm so glad to hear that y'all are still meeting. 


Chyla Graham:

Yeah. It's been great. But before you go, any resources or upcoming events we should include in the show notes so that people know what's happening. 


Makisha Boothe:

So we have coming up, our back office boot camp, yay. So we spend four weeks working on back office tasks and from accounting to regulatory and compliance related issues and all the things and human resources stuff and licensing and registrations, everything. Then in December, we got Goal Digger coming up again and we are headed to Phoenix. So I'm super excited about that. So yeah, and Goal Digger for those that are listening in. It's a two and a half day strategic planning retreat for solopreneurs and micro businesses, black women, solopreneurs and micro businesses. It's facilitated and we walk you through processes to set goals and map out your strategic initiatives and priorities for the year for the upcoming year. 


Chyla Graham:

And if you're on the fence, or you have questions, you can actually DM me I'm okay. If you’re like I have a question or  want to ask what was it really like you can send me a message. Thank you so much Makisha, you're a busy woman, and I will let you get back to at least part of your day. 


Makisha Boothe:

Appreciate it. It's a pleasure to be here. 


Chyla Graham:

My pleasure to have you. Thanks for listening to another episode of The Nonprofit Ace Podcast. Until next time, bye.



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