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Amira de Vera | Toronto | Good Reputation!!

For the longest time, when it came to my career goals, I always pictured myself as an employee. I was incredibly confident in the fact that I was a great worker and the long-term plan was to eventually climb the ranks at someone else’s company. I never pictured myself as an entrepreneur. In fact, when someone mentioned the idea of entrepreneurship, it sounded like a completely foreign world to me. Then one day the rug was swept from under my feet, and my whole life changed.After a brief experience with a toxic work environment that essentially allowed me to re-evaluate the trajectory of not only my professional life, but my personal one as well, I was accidentally (but definitely not a coincidence!) thrown into the world of self-employment. For the first time in my life, I had no plans, no timelines and absolutely no idea what the future was holding for me. But for the first time as well, I felt incredibly liberated. Everything felt right and like it was supposed to be.

Fast forward later, I am sitting here answering questions for an entrepreneur-based media publication celebrating my company’s year and a half anniversary! It’s funny what life can bring but the number one lesson I’ve learned in this journey so far is to learn to trust that whatever is being thrown your way was always meant to be – even if you feel thrown off at times.

What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business? How did the idea for your business come about?

I started my career in Entertainment Publicity almost a decade ago and the passion was there from day one. It hasn’t changed and it’s what I truly love to do. I always knew it was something I would be doing for a very long time, but I didn’t think it would be a business that I would start. After leaving a company whose culture didn’t match my values, the Universe essentially led me back to the world of Entertainment PR and I stared freelancing and taking clients on as a way to keep me busy till I found my next full-time job. The intention was to take on one or two clients to keep myself busy and bring in some income, but two clients quickly turned to five, which quickly turned to 10 and before I knew it, I had a full roster in my hands. That was enough to give me the confidence that this could be a long-term business and after eight months of freelance work, I decided to make it official and that’s how was born.

What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?

Like any person embarking on something new, there is always that one thing that holds us back – mine was fear. My line of work consists of people trusting me with their careers and their public image. It’s definitely a lot of pressure. Although I had years of experience and a great reputation in the industry, I still had that tiny voice in the back of my head saying “Are you sure you can actually do this?! People are counting on you!” But the truth is, that voice never goes away, no matter how successful you get in life. As humans, we will always have our doubts, but you can’t let it stop you or else you will be hiding from the world for the rest of your life. I am all about jumping in with two feet so with the support of my family and friends as well as the encouragement of my clients, I knew I had to just do it and follow my heart. If you are truly passionate about something, you will find every bone in your body to make sure that you succeed and that was enough for me to silence that little voice in my head.

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?

Absolutely not. I have the most supportive family and friends and they were the ones that actually pushed me to start my own business. I am so lucky that I have parents and a partner who support and encourage me to do anything that I want to do but are also honest in terms of advice when it comes to business. I know I can count on them for their insight and feedback to help me grow as an entrepreneur and not too many people are that lucky. I am forever grateful for that support because entrepreneurship can be a very lonely place sometimes.

What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?

I think any entrepreneur would say there isn’t one single influential factor in their business success. There are just so many moving parts and elements when it comes to running your own business. For me and particularly the industry I’m in, it’s been a mix of my incredible clients, the magic of social media and the amazing support from the media and my journalist friends who I have known for years. Without all of this combined, I could really say that I would struggle with keeping my business afloat.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?

I still consider myself a baby in the entrepreneur space having only been in it for a year and a half. I’m still learning so many new things every single day, which is truly exciting. I am also lucky because throughout my decade long career as an employee, I was able to watch and witness other entrepreneurs, so I learned a lot from them and how they run their businesses. One thing I would tell myself a year and a half ago is to make sure you get the best accountant in the business! Tax season as an entrepreneur is a whole other world.

What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?

There’s been a huge growth and interest in the world of entrepreneurship in the last few years. While this is fantastic, and I truly support other people who want to start their own business, my biggest advice to young entrepreneurs is to start off by building a career first. Not only does this give you a chance to learn about your industry as much as possible, but it also allows you to gain experience, build great contacts and establish a reputation within the industry. I worked in PR for almost ten years so when I started my own business, it didn’t feel like I was starting from scratch. I already had the experience, a good reputation in the industry and I had a great rolodex. Any mistakes I am learning now and along the way doesn’t come crashing down as heavily as it might if I wasn’t a seasoned PR professional already. Experience goes a very long way when it comes to owning your own business.

Photo Credit: Becca Lemire

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