Donna Maria Coles Johnson
Donna Maria Coles Johnson
Donna Maria Coles Johnson
Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Hello everyone! Welcome to my first small business column for!

This inaugural column takes a “get to know you” approach, so let’s get started.

I am Donna Maria Coles Johnson, the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network. I teach entrepreneurship online and at live events around the country. I am an author, a podcaster, a blogger, a speaker, attorney, and award-wining home-based business advocate … but those are all details. At my core, I’m just a girl who is really good at helping people build profitable and sustainable businesses, and have fun doing it.

I met Qcitymetro Editor Glenn Burkins when he interviewed me last year for this article in the Charlotte Observer. We have remained in touch, and recently decided that a column featuring my entrepreneurial background and expertise might be the perfect addition to his lineup.

As we continue to emerge from a crippling recesion, statistics show that African Americans are starting their own businesses at record rates. This is especially true for black women who, according to a 2013 study from the Center For American Progress, are launching business six times faster than the national average.* There has never been a better time to start and manage a business, and this column is devoted to helping you do that.

Whether you want to learn how to build a sustainable brand, make more money, sell with more confidence, use social media effectively, create a website that turns lookers into buyers, attract new collaborative partners, or simply refine your leadership skills, I can help.

I want to help you build a solid and sustainable business foundation, increase your income, and use your business to create the life you love. Does that sound like something that interests you? If so, then here is what I promise you:

– No hype, just relevance.

First and foremost, I promise you no B.S. If you’re like me, you are tired of seeing ads and programs promising to teach you how to make a million dollars by next week from home in your bunny slippers. Blah Blah Blah. While I could write about the hype, I prefer to focus on the small, doable, everyday actions we all must take to remain in business over the long term. I promise relevance, based on your feedback, and I will never to advise you to do anything unless I have done it myself, or can share an example of someone who has.

– Case studies and examples.

I promise to share ideas that are backed by examples that have worked for me and for others. Not all of my case studies will come from the African American community, or from the Charlotte area. In fact, many of them will not. You’ll get case studies and examples from outside your comfort zone — and it will change how you do things for the better. If you don’t believe in shaking things up now, you will after reading my column for a while.

– Fresh ideas and stuff that works.

Contrary to what you may read elsewhere, business is less about fancy, schmancy new ways of doing things and more about basic steps forward that have worked for entrepreneurs for centuries. In this column, I share the occasional bright, shiny objects, but mostly, I’ll focus on habits and ideas you can put to work in your business quickly and inexpensively, and which will get you results.

How does that sound?

If you’re ready, so am I.

Tell me what you want!!

I prepared this quick survey to ask you to tell me a little about yourself, and to let me know what your questions are and what you’d like to see in this column.

The survey is only five questions … please take a moment to submit it so I can serve you better.

I will publish this column every two weeks, but let’s stay in touch more often than that. For a daily dose of entrepreneurial inspiration, follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

Let’s go!

Best & Success,


* Fact Sheet: The Sate of African American Women in the United States

Donna Maria is the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, a nationwide trade organization offering classes, training resources, and product liability insurance to small business owners. Click...