Q:This being your first business, what inspired you to start a business?
A:One of my mentors (Justin Jones-Fosu) told me, "Even if you start small, start now,” so I did. I have always envisioned owning my own company. As a young kid, I used to sell candy in school. I used to cut grass and contracted five to ten individuals to help me.
Being an entrepreneur is better than I thought it would be. I love going to work every day. Half the time it doesn’t even feel like work (unlike the Fortune 500 company I resigned from). I love that I have the opportunity to help people be successful and live out their dreams.
Q:What has been your biggest challenge in starting your business?
A:My biggest challenge in starting my firm was credibility, or the lack thereof. When I started the firm I was 19 and in my second year of college. The feedback I received for why proposals were not being accepted was due to perceived youth and inexperience. Since then I have worked twice as hard as my competitors, if not more, to be competitive. I focused on building my image, organic growth with core clients, and using their testimonies to gain new business. I improved my understanding of how to deliver value to prospective clients.
Q:How long can you see yourself being an entrepreneur?
A:I will be an entrepreneur for the rest of my life! Even now, I’m thinking through my next several ventures in the future.
Q:What programs at your school were the most helpful in starting and growing your business?
A:I owe my success to the Entrepreneurial Studies Institute (ESI) at AACC as a whole. If I had to narrow it down to one program, it would be the Student-Business Owner Incubator program. I was given office space, meeting space, computers, and everything a start-up would need to be successful. But the most important benefit was the access to experienced advisors. My advisors are experts in the areas of accounting, business law, marketing, human resources and management. All of my advisors are successful entrepreneurs.
Q:What do you think the most important things community colleges can do to help encourage and support young entrepreneurs are?
A:For community colleges to effectively help entrepreneurs, they need interactive and relevant curriculum. The classes have to be set up in a way that it’s not so much about a grade, but student specific and focused. Everything done in class should focus on a student being able to form an idea, create a plan and execute. At AACC you work on your idea and form it into a business plan. Then the professors help you develop strategies that will help you be successful.
Q:What advice would you give to a community college student who has no entrepreneurship experience and wants to start a business?
A:The advice I would give to someone looking to start a business would be to plan. Writing a business plan is the most important way to better your chances of success. When you plan out what you want to do, it allows you to prepare for pitfalls that may come. For example, you think you need $20,000 and later you discover you actually need $40,000. You would have found this out through your research and not six months into operation.