About 3 years ago I had lost everything, my savings, my Manhattan apartment, my advertising job, almost my life and my landlord was suing me for back rent. This all happened in the same month. I had spent the last 15+ years working for other people and became extremely saddened by the lack of fulfillment I gained from working on other people’s dreams. Throughout those years I was laid off from job after job. Many of the management team would never implement my ideas which I knew were bound to better the companies I worked at. I knew I needed to have my own business where I could implement ideas that were bold, creative and would never have to worry about being laid off. It took some searching, lots of notes and online courses later that I finally discovered my passion. I now own The Chi Group a branding agency humanizing brands through experiences.
What made you take the leap into entrepreneurship?
The moment I realized that my well-being and happiness was dependent on something called a job it woke me up to another possibility that had always been in my blood but I never had the courage to take a leap of faith in myself and that was being an entrepreneur.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
This is probably something every entrepreneur can relate to, how can I get people to know about me and my company. How do I even get clients? It takes a lot of grit and the willingness to put yourself out there. I studied people like Tony Robbins, Gary Vee, Tim Ferris, Jordan Harbinger, Danielle LaPorte to see how they were putting content into the digital world. Eventually I started my blog writing about branding, then it gave me the courage to write for other people’s blog, it then turned into creating my first podcast, “The Brand Academy Podcast,” that’s available on iTunes and Google Play and much more. The biggest thing is to really cross promote yourself and your company using different digital strategies from email, to social media, and even cherishing the power of referrals.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
I had some family members tell me how it’s risky and that I was being careless in my pursuit of being an entrepreneur. I looked at them and saw that their lives revolved mostly around taking pictures of food posting it on Instagram, shopping and other mundane activities that didn’t appeal to me nor was there value there. So I had to ask myself is it the smartest move taking advice from people who weren’t really contributing to changing the lives of others? Was the advice worthy of listening to, even if it’s family? I realized that their advice was coming from a position of fear and that taking advice from people who aren’t living the life I wanted is out of the question. I was fortunate enough to have a childhood best friend who kept pushing me and cheering me on to take on the entrepreneurial journey. Though it took her 5+ years of cheering me on but I’m finally here.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
I would say it’s strategy. When you look at what goals you want to achieve or the outcome you are aiming for, you need to come up with a plan. It’s a delicate balance because you don’t want to spend all your time planning but you also need to be bold enough to say, “I don’t know, but I’m going to take one small step everyday in the direction of what my goals are.”
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
Fear: false expectations appearing to be real.
What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Dare to be different. I think there’s beauty in creativity where one actually uses their mind to strategize on how to accomplish their goals, I call it “creative living.” Don’t get so stuck on social media and think that that alone will take your business to the next level or that someone will eventually discover you. If you want something go out there and get it, no one will just hand it to you. You need to work for it. Have the courage to put yourself out there because it can change your life.