I come from a pharmaceutical sales background, and after a lucrative career in pharma sales, I wanted to become my own boss. In 2004, my best friend and I started a children’s clothing, called "Tuni & G," which featured trademarked interactive phrases on onesies for babies/kids and t-shirts for mom. Our brand was available at Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, and dozens of boutiques nationwide, but our profit margins were too tight to sustain this business long term. One of my major roles was that of PR / Marketing, and in the 4 years of handling that role for our brand, I had learned how to seed products with influencers and celebrities, and to strategically publicize our brand offering, conveying this offering to the end consumer through the media, through both traditional and non traditional means. In 2008, I decided to take this knowledge, experience and success with our own brand’s PR, along with the use of education and sales background, to create my my own PR Firm: GG Benitez & Associates PR, Inc.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
The biggest initial hurdles were learning how to create a new business contract, and what promises could and could not be made to a potential client in order to maintain integrity and set up clients for realistic expectations; knowing how to delegate my time per client; and, learning how to “shut it off.” In order to overcome this, I found business mentors who were already significantly successful in the field of PR, and paid them a percentage of my earnings to have everything pass through them in order to ensure I was doing strategically. As for the hurdle of learning how to “shut it off,” a few years after providing myself with my PR business, I started letting older and new clients know that I would be out of the office on Fridays, answering only time sensitive subjects.
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?
I’m currently reading some fiction stories to distract myself from the stresses of everyday life :) But, I do stay up on the latest business and marketing trends though actively reading articles online, including on Forbes, Inc., Business Insider, WorkingMother, Entrepreneur.com, and more. Also, because a large part of my business is centered around celebrities, I am constantly keeping up on who is pregnant, etc., though People.com, US Weekly, E! News, and other celebrity angled media. When I first started my PR business, I had purchased every book at the bookstore on PR, Marketing, Social Media, and self business creation books.
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?
As a working mother, there have been many times that my kids would complain about me working and not being “present.” In order to handle this, I have ingrained in them the importance of follow through and accessibility for work, while also learning to take time away to focus just on them. In fact, I even now take Fridays off for myself, in order to help me transition into a family weekend.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
Self Motivation; nobody has to push me. Nobody has to email me requesting something twice. Nobody has to follow up with me. Or, I should say, that rarely has to happen. I have an intense desire for success, probably stemming from the time when I was a single mother and had no option by to work had to be able to take proper care of my daughter. With this self motivation and desire for success, comes follow through, strategic thinking, integrity, and other qualities that have helped me gain a strong reputation in my industry.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
Better time management.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Research how to start a business. Enlist the help of an accountant immediately to ensure you are doing all you need from that perspective. And, find a mentor, but don’t expect free time. Make an offer for an exchange, whether financially or otherwise, to motivate a mentor who has already proven to be successful in your desired field.