“I thought I knew what it was like to be resilient prior to 2020,” said Noni Banks, Founder of business development and coaching company The Diva Movement, which helps women entrepreneurs market and grow their business with confidence. “But I did not know [then] as much as [I know] what that means [now].”
Last year, we interviewed Banks for the first time, asking about the COVID-19 pandemic — how she had pivoted and evolved, how she was starting to think about the future, and what advice she might offer to other business owners.
“Don’t stop creating,” Banks offered, explaining how she had been creating more content at the start of the pandemic than she had the entire year prior. “This pandemic reminded me to keep my head on a swivel, to be aware of my blindspots, potential threats and possible opportunities.”
Over a year later, we caught up with Banks back to see what she’d been creating and which opportunities she’d been going after ever since. Read on to learn about how Banks has been hustling and growing in 2021, and in case you missed it, tune in to the Facebook Elevate #BuyBlack Summit to learn how to drive sales ahead of the holiday season and connect with other Black business owners.
Last June, you mentioned a few goals you had set for the year. What progress did you make?
We launched our Hustle and Grow content club membership. The content club is a membership for entrepreneurs who want to build high-quality content and market your business with confidence. This membership helps women entrepreneurs to: learn how to create engaging and compelling content, market their business with confidence and grow their brand. We have had three rounds and have served 120 women in the first 6 months. Our social media and marketing clients have increased by 15% and our new digital product sales have increased by 20%. I am pleased by the growth, and I look forward to serving even more women.
Can you tell us more about Hustle and Grow?
We launched our podcast and livestream show called The Hustle and Grow Series, where we interview women entrepreneurs. These conversations are designed to help women in business increase their income, influence and impact. I love that I can have conversations with women around the world. We have talked with entrepreneurs about various topics from marketing to publishing your book. It has been well received by my audience and there continues to be high engagement.
What are some of the things you’re most excited about for the future?
We are excited to announce that we are in the final stages of launching our nonprofit. The mission of this organization is to educate, equip and mobilize young female leaders for social, political and economic change. With the rise in social unrest across our country, and the increasing number of young girls of color killed in my community, we knew that we had to do something to help to make a difference. Girls who participate in our programs will become active change agents and leaders in the areas of community organizing economic empowerment, public policy and social justice.
What have you learned?
I learned to extend myself more grace and acknowledge that I do not have it all figured out, and that’s ok. I also more deeply understood the importance of knowing your audience. Because I intimately know my audience, it was easier for me to understand what they needed in this season. I immediately reached out, provided support and offered useful resources on our social media groups and through our email communications. It was important for me to educate my audience about new social media and marketing tools and technology that would help them during the period when we transitioned to an all virtual world.
Speaking of an all virtual world, what’s an example of The Diva Movement’s offline to online journey over the last year?
I launched a new virtual marketing assistance service. This team focuses on helping entrepreneurs tackle their marketing tasks from social media to video editing to podcast production. We are helping women manage the daily marketing tasks that often fall through the cracks. Marketing remains one of the top challenges for our audience and we wanted to provide additional support to the women we serve.
How have you spread the word about the new things you’re doing?
I utilized Facebook Groups for the members of the Hustle and Grow Content club. Historically, my Facebook Groups were primarily public with no paid subscription fees attached. And over the last year, I estimate I have increased my use of Reels by 70%. I spent a considerable amount of time learning best practices on how to leverage this tool. I also added shops on Facebook and Instagram for my digital products.
I also added some guides to my Instagram regarding social media, and marketing tools and resources.
What advice would you give to other small business owners who are figuring out what to do next?
Relationships matter. Building great relationships has been one of the key factors in my ability to continue to grow and sustain a business during a pandemic. Your network is truly your net worth. My approach has always been to add value to every relationship. Make sure to stay in touch with your network and customers. Make sure that they keep you top of mind, by communicating regularly, and asking how you can help them reach their goals. Relationships never work if they are one-sided, always add value
If Banks’ story inspired you, let us introduce you to Ashley Rouse, Founder of Trade Street Jam Co. and Isis Asare, Owner of Sistah Scifi. If you want to learn more about connecting with other Black business owners and driving sales, you can still tune into the #BuyBlack Summit.