The Life Of An Entrepreneur: Interview With Noel And Waseem Ballou

Foodeez is a boutique creative digital agency focused exclusively on creating content for food and beverage brands. The co-founders, Noel and Waseem Ballou, are brothers who have invested their own resources and bootstrapped their way to creating this full-service agency, without a single investor.

StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with these inspiring entrepreneurs and here’s what went down:

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

I came from a business management background. I started this business with my brother when we saw a need with brands lacking social marketing services and felt it was something we both truly understood. Together we both started this agency with the main focus in creating high-quality content with the appropriate brand direction.

Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?

I still don’t feel we’ve reached “success.” I always hit a milestone and feel I need to set a bigger and harder one to chase and set that as the new standard of success. It continues to push my brother, my team, and myself. Starting this company fresh out college, I had 0 income and felt that it’s now or never if I want to start a company and dove straight in – and there was no looking back. I never imagined the company to get to this size, I always envisioned it to be about 5-10 people, but we are at 30 people and working with over 75 clients every month.

What is your main source of income?

Our main sources of income come from our content creation and production departments.

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

I am always looking for new strategies to maintain lean operations yet maintain the high-quality output we stand-by. Aside from internal strategizes, we are always looking for new services we can provide to our current/potential clients as well as new avenues we can take the direction of the company that may have strong long term benefits.

What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?

High-quality content with a fast turnaround!

What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?

Word of mouth. Ever since we’ve started our business has been driven by cold calls and referral business. Only recently have we got aggressive with our PR and digital marketing. But moving forward we are focusing our efforts on traditional PR and digital marketing.

How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?

We solely do Food & Beverage and nothing else. A lot of other businesses who do production and content creation don’t specialize in it (they other their services to other industries i.e. fashion, lifestyle, fitness, etc). We have a team of true foodies that are the best in their fields.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

Expanding our office and scaling the team. As owners, we’ve really had to tighten our belts and make sure we can afford such a move. We’ve not only doubled our office space but have doubled the team to gear us towards an influx of work.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

Budgeting and sticking tight to your budget. It’s so easy to swipe your credit card and get carried away. But budgeting is crucial. Oh, and save. There is nothing better than having cash on hand especially when you need it!

What have you learned in the process of becoming successful that others can learn from?

There is no such thing as an overnight success. I read a quote that goes “An overnight success usually takes 10 years”. Don’t expect to start a company and be successful tomorrow. It’s a lot of hustling & grinding, but the return of seeing the product you built is significantly rewarding.

What new business would you love to start?

Our own line of products… Which are actually in the works! Being in the food and beverage industry we’ve been able to partner with some of our clients in creating new private-label brands that will focus strictly online vs the traditional retailer route.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

Save, save, and budget! The saying money doesn’t grow on trees is 100% true! Being a small company we’ve invested in foolish items. Looking back at it, if we saved that money and invested it in other avenues we could have been in a different place.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself, what advice would you give yourself?

Stay focused and don’t try to do too much at one time. Organize your tasks and projects and put 101% into each and everything you do. Don’t stress yourself over the little things, just develop a checklist and knock things off 1 by 1.

Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

Sell or be sold by Grant Cardone. Everything in business and life is sales, make sure you’re always ready and looking for the right opportunity. If you don’t reach for it, someone else will.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Keep your head up and stay humble.

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

When you start hiring people, make sure you hire people that truly believe in your vision and have a passion for what you believe in as well. There is a lot of speed bumps in the beginning and you want them to be there with you helping push through the early barriers.

How This Beautiful Beauty Queen Made The Leap From Corporate Life To Financial Freedom

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Have you ever heard of a stunning Beauty Queen who works in the Real Estate industry and owns two investment properties already??

Meet the beautiful Gemma White – she was crowned Miss Australia Continents in 2018 but her interest in property investment and building wealth stemmed from a very young age. Growing up, she remembers spending a number of school holidays and weekends at properties her parents would be renovating and that made her eventually realize that investing in property is the best and most consistent way of building wealth.

From the age of around15 years old, she started attending property seminars and reading property related books. The first book she read was “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert T. Kiyosaki and she also enjoys reading motivational and inspirational books, listening to podcasts, audiobooks and researching online.

She purchased her first investment property which settled in January 2017 and her second investment property in June 2018. Her goal is to own at least 3-4 investment properties within 5 years before starting her very own Property Development Company.

StarCentral Magazine recently sat down with Gemma to find out more about her journey towards financial freedom and here’s what went down.

1. Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your property portfolio? What encouraged you to start a property portfolio?

I grew up on the Central Coast NSW but moved to Brisbane QLD at the age of 20 and now live on the Northern Gold Coast with my family. I have many great memories growing up and value family time first and foremost.

At just 27 years of age, I have been working in the Real Estate industry for over 8 years and own two investment properties.

As soon as I finished school I completed my Real Estate license and Diploma in Property Services and started working in the industry. Over the years I have also completed a Cert IV and Diploma in Project Management.

My interest in property stemmed from a young age. Growing up, I remember spending many school holidays and weekends at properties my parents would be renovating… well, I mostly remember feeding bread to the ducks and taking my parents’ change to buy lollies at the corner store.

From the age of about 15 years old I started attending property seminars and reading property related books, the first book I read was Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki. I enjoy reading motivational and inspirational books, listening to podcasts, audiobooks and researching online.

I think it’s important to have goals, be dedicated, ambitious and willing to work hard to achieve your goals. It is also important to keep learning and growing your knowledge at all stages of life. My life revolves around Property and Real Estate really, I simply love it!

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2. Can you describe your journey? When did you start?

I purchased my first investment property which settled in January 2017 and my second investment property in June 2018. The goal is to have 3-4 investment properties within 5 years before starting my own Property Development Company.

I love a challenge, creating opportunities and helping people into their dream home. Working in Real Estate has helped me understand the ever-changing property market and the key elements to consider when researching for my own properties.

3. What is your main source of income?

I work full time in Real Estate as a Residential Property Manager.

4. What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your property portfolio?

Save. Save. Save.

Whilst I have financial goals that I am constantly striving for, I believe life is all about balance!

I am always trying to improve my life in every area and live with an abundant mindset. I try to save as much money as possible, this often means I give up nights out on the town drinking or other costly outings but I certainly don’t feel like I’m missing out.

By living life in balance I am able to achieve my financial goals and grow my portfolio as well as do many things I enjoy that don’t cost so much or anything at all. For example, go to the gym, get outside for a walk, go to the beach, hike a mountain, walk to a waterfall, watch the sunset, read a book, listen to a podcast, go on a coffee date rather than for a full meal and spend time with family and friends.

5. What is your idea for wealth building?

I believe wealth building comes in many forms. We can start at any age simply saving a small percentage of what we earn with every paycheck. When I started my first job at McDonald’s at 15 years old, my parents made me save 20% of whatever I earnt (I started on a mere $7 an hour). This is something that has stuck with me through my adulthood and I still strive to reach this and more every week. Every dollar counts!

We can make small changes to our daily habits that will set us up for success when it comes to wealth building. I would suggest making weekly plans and budgets, cook at home rather than buy take out, ditch the morning coffee purchase, think before making the next rational purchase for that dress you don’t really need, make specific money or financial goals, pay off any debt (car or credit cards) efficiently and build your credit rating, spend time every day learning (this could be as simple as swapping music or the radio for a podcast or audiobook on your drive to and from work) and surround yourself with inspirational and motivated people who encourage you to do your very best.

When it comes to wealth building I believe ‘where focus goes, energy flows’ and ‘we have to give to receive’.

6. What challenges did you face trying to establish a property portfolio?

The biggest challenge I think many of us face when trying to establish a property portfolio is saving the initial deposit. I know it’s important to remain focused regardless of the challenges, hurdles, and adversities we experience.

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7. What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

The toughest financial decision I have had to make in the last few months was the decision to continue saving a deposit for a third investment property or to book a months trip to Europe with my girlfriends for mid-2019.

Whilst I am very driven and goal oriented I feel it is important to live a well-balanced life. Travel is something I crave, having already been to over 40 countries.

Although the trip will put me a few months behind on purchasing another property, I know I will achieve this goal with time.

8. What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

I wouldn’t call it a mistake but would highly recommend to start investing as early as possible. In hindsight I would be much further ahead if I didn’t spend the deposit I had already saved on a 6-month backpacking trip around Europe in 2014, however, in saying this, I wouldn’t change anything. The experience, memories, and friendships I made on this trip are indescribable.

9. What new business would you love to start?

I would love to start my own Property Development Company within the next 5 or so years.

10. If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I can’t say that there is anything I would change at this point in time. I feel that we learn and grow with every step of the journey.

11. What is the best advice you have ever been given?

The best advice to remember when purchasing an investment property is to ‘think with your head, not with your heart’.

12. What advice would you give someone who wants to start building their property portfolio?

If you have thought about buying a property, there’s no better time than now! Do it. Don’t wait. Take action now!

It is imperative to do your research. I would suggest reading property books, attend property seminars and seek advice from those who are already in the property market. The most important decision you can make is to get educated and learn as much as you can to ensure you set yourself up for success.

How This Couple Made The Leap From Rock Bottom To Successful Entrepreneurs

James and Steph Purpura’s journey of transformation is nothing short of extraordinary. Before they met 15 years ago, both of their lives had hit rock bottom. Depressed, bulimic, hopeless, running away from an abusive relationship, and suffering through decades of silence after being sexually abused as a child, Steph at one point tried to commit suicide in a hotel room. James, on the other hand, was filled with self-hate and rage at the world because he felt abandoned by everyone and everything. He eventually turned to drugs and then petty theft to fuel his addictions. Later on, he found himself in prison, locked up in solitary confinement.

At the lowest point in their lives, they met and were united by a shared vision of creating and becoming more. They started the only place they could by working on themselves and helping each other grow. They believed in each other but more importantly, they challenged each other every step of the way, and never settled.

James and Steph Purpura revealed that those tragic events actually became the catalyst for dramatic life changes that brought them together, and their discovery of the keys to unlocking their perceptions, challenging their beliefs, and changing their behaviors. But it took years of trial and error using their relationship to test new ideas, theories, and practices with each other. As they created a new life together, James and Steph formulated an evolutionary plan for living that resulted in tremendous personal and professional success. Now their hugely successful Powerful U events and programs are changing the lives of millions.

Their mission is to provide a roadmap for creating meaning in people’s lives, showing them how to master their perceptions and their emotions, the two factors that separate life of desperation and unhappiness, from one of joy, love, and accomplishment. According to James and Steph, “Everything you are, everything you see, everything you experience, is determined by perception. And it is your emotions that give your life the only meaning it has.”

Money Central magazine recently caught up with James and Steph Purpura to talk about their journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down:

Please provide background about how the two of you met and how the world’s first personal evolution company, Powerful U came to fruition.

How we met is a topic of great debate around our house because we both have different stories about how it went down. But most people seem to believe Steph’s version of the story! We both worked in the same office building, but not for the same company. I saw Steph walking in the parking lot and held the door for her, (Steph swears we were 150 feet apart) but to me, it was more like 10 feet. Anyway, she walked through the door and I walked in after her, she became flushed once she realized I was holding the door for her. Steph was walking to the elevator when she turned around and introduced herself, and then we didn’t see each other until the next week. Later on, we had an awkward encounter in the parking lot where I asked Steph really odd questions like “do you eat” and somehow I convinced her to go on a date with me. The next morning I showed up in her office asking her to go to lunch with me and we have been together ever since. When we met, we were both coming out of the darkest periods of our lives and we had nothing. I was a year out of jail and Steph was 4 years out of a brutal suicide attempt. We started with nothing and were both committed to re-building our lives into what we always dreamed they would be. Years later, we sold our worldwide tech company, and started Powerful U, as our way to give back through sharing the knowledge we learned on our climb out from rock bottom.

Many are calling “Powerful-U” a movement. What are its basic fundamentals and why do you think it’s being referred to as this?

We are encouraging people all over the world to embrace and share their stories because your story only has power over you when you keep it inside. When someone has the courage to share their story it unconsciously permits someone else to do the same. If there is a movement, it’s because we are giving people permission to stop hiding from their past and embrace the power of vulnerability.

What do you find most rewarding through Powerful-U?

Giving people hope. When people tell us that our event or content pulled them out of the darkness and saved their lives. It’s truly incredible knowing that the work we are doing is having such a powerful impact on people.

What types of people tend to gravitate toward the Powerful-U platform and who would you consider your main audience?

Seekers, those who are hungry for the knowledge to shape and change their lives. People who are not afraid to question every aspect of who they are.

You have been extremely successful in various technology ventures, including that of PlanSwift. What has been the biggest challenge shifting from that world to Powerful-U?

The hardest part of transitioning was leaving the world of logic and numbers to the world of emotions and personalities. Embracing social media was very difficult for both of us.

What advice do you have for other business owners struggling to make a footprint in today’s competitive world?

Most business owners quit just before things take off, so if you feel what you’re doing is right and provides value to others keep pushing forward!

What life moments have made the two of you the successful people you are today?

Always pushing each other forward through our biggest fears, and challenging the false and limiting beliefs we had about ourselves.

What would you consider your personal missions in life?

Steph: I just started a subset of Powerful U, called Powerful Women. We had our first event in February 2020. I want to help women find their voices and step into their personal power.

James: To help and change the world into the place that I want my kids and grandkids to live in.

What career goals do you have, after accomplishing so much to date?

We want to make help available to people all over the world so they will have the knowledge they need to transform their lives.

Tell us about your award-winning documentary titled “Perception: Seeing is Not Believing” and your experience as first-time filmmakers.

We wanted to demonstrate that everybody’s life makes perfect sense when put into the right context. We want to give people awareness into what elements create their lives and what they need to know to change. Making a film was both easier and harder than we thought it would be. It was easy to film a lot of compelling content, and it was hard deciding what to use in the final cut.

Do you plan to continue in the world of film and pursue a bigger picture in this space?

YES! We have some future projects in mind that we are really excited about producing.

Who do you consider to be the most interesting and impressive people?

People who have the courage to stand up and question/challenge everything about themselves and the world around them. We are constantly reinventing ourselves and we fully understand how challenging that can be and we respect anyone who attempts to do the same.

You now have a Powerful Universe APP available for smartphones, iPads, and tablets. What drove you to create this, outside of your thirst and natural ability to thrive in technology?

The model to distribute independent movie is broken because filmmakers don’t get access to any of the customer data on the big platforms. We initially launched the platform as a means to distribute our film and it morphed over time as a way to deliver subscription content.

Which social media platform do you feel is the most powerful and why?

Facebook is still the king because they have the most flexibility in the type of content you can post

Where do you see Powerful U in 5 years? 10 years?

As an ecosystem for people who need a platform to deliver compelling content to seekers from every corner of the globe.

How do you separate work from family, considering you are married with children and work together. What is your secret?

We wake up an hour before our kids every morning and meditate together, to make sure we remain connected and on the same page. We make an effort to eat dinner together most nights as a family.

The ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round — feel free to answer individually

1. Last good movie you’ve seen: JOKER- Even though it was extreme, they did a really good job of portraying the impact of mental illness.

2. What do you consider beautiful and why? Our children- Seeing the beauty of their individual personalities.

3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? Tour Europe.

4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I’d…” Enjoy our lives more fully.

5. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? We wouldn’t change our past, because it’s taken everything we’ve been through to become the people we are today.

Get To Know The Global Multimedia Artist And Successful Entrepreneur YiZhou

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Chinese multimedia artist, influencer, and entrepreneur Yi Zhou is widely known in the international creative community for her artistic, fashion, branding and film work. Her work is admired by a highly diverse group of distinguished intellectuals, Hollywood A-listers, wealthy patrons and the young social media audience.

Yi Zhou has a degree in politic science and economics from the London School of Economics and is now continuing her education at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. She speaks fluent French, Italian, English, Spanish and Mandarin.

In recent years, she has endorsed a number of global campaigns including Persol, DFST – Galleria, Levis, and others. She was named the first-ever brand ambassador for China for Clarins in 2010. Since 2011, she has collaborated with such prestigious brands as Chanel, Hogan, Pringle of Scotland, Lane Crawford and YOOX. She also collaborated with French couture Jewelry house Gripoix, launching a special collection titled “Pineapple Secret. Her animations have also inspired a clothing collection by popular French brand Each X Other.

In 2013, she was invited as the first ever Chinese talent to be hired as a designer and creative director of a brand, to create a 360-degree project ranging from menswear, womenswear and accessories for Italian luxury brand ICEBERG. The “Breaking the Ice” capsule collection was released worldwide in December 2013.

In 2010, she created Yi Zhou Studio, creating employment opportunities for young Chinese talents to collaborate and experiment together on international projects.

A major social media influencer, Yi Zhou has been named Tudou’s art director, art and fashion advisory member at SINA.com, and beauty and fashion ambassador for Tencent.

A passionate promoter of East-West relations, she is frequently asked to speak at conferences and events around the globe, including TEDx (Paris 2012, Beijing 2013, Zheijang 2014), LVMH Labour Day in Paris in 2013 and Financial Times Luxury Conference in 2014.

Yi Zhou has contributed to many NGOs by creating art pieces for the UN Conference for World Climate Change in South Africa in 2011, the UNDP China Rio+20 Projection in 2012, as well as World Oceans Day in 2015. Most recently, she worked with Natalia Vodianova’s Naked Heart Foundation by participating in an artwork commissioned by ETAM.

Yi Zhou ‘s short films have also been shown at Shanghai Biennale, Venice Biennale, Sundance Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival. She was selected by Venice Biennale to showcase her 2011 works, as well as new works from her solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome titled “Fragments of Rome, past, future, parallel worlds.”

She is currently working on several international media projects and is developing her first feature motion picture.

StarCentral Magazine recently sat down with Yi Zhou to find out more about her journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down.

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business? 

I began my career as a multimedia artist in Paris and in China. Recently, I have relocated to Los Angeles to prepare for my first feature film and to start an investment company that will invest in entertainment and lifestyle portfolios.

My journey to success is thanks to hard work and by living in different countries. I have developed a sense of independence and survival to the new that has helped me to strengthen my skills to adapt to new environments.

I actually have a selective memory, and I am always ready to start a new chapter and a new challenge against boredom. I would never want to sit and dwell on my past achievements, but instead, I look at the future with hope and opportunities.

What is your main source of income?

I have multiple sources of income. I have divided my business and creative skills as an artist, filmmaker, and entrepreneur.

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What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

I’m preparing my investment firm at the moment and adding more ventures into my portfolio, and plan to venture into riskier as well as traditional investments.

What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?

I feel that I’m a pretty tolerant person. Therefore, I can afford some more risky investments and projects, such as my latest addition, ArtWallet, to which I’ve been named an Advisory Board Member. It’s a new concept that bridges cryptocurrency and art. I’m also preparing to launch my brand Global Intuition, a new concept for lifestyle and apparel born in China and made in LA and China.

What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?

I don’t believe in sponsored advertising in the long run for social media, as it lacks authenticity. It often feels like a Christmas tree, due to the sudden association of the influencer with a given brand. I believe things and associations must feel organic and real to the audience, who is becoming more and more savvy nowadays.

What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?

I must say that I’m an influencer myself and I often refuse to do posts that make me sound unnatural. I try always to be associated with brands that I feel close to in terms of philosophy, strategy and look. As for my own brand Global Intuition, we are preparing our PR and marketing launch at the moment.

What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?

I don’t believe in any marketing theories. I always try something new with a surprise effect.

How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?

I hope my brand Global Intuition will stand out when it launches later this year. As a brand myself, YiZhou, I feel that I am unique as I incorporate many roles and cultures into one, so it makes it difficult to copy.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

The toughest decision I had to make in the past months was to say goodbye to some projects that I was invited to work on. Along the initial path, I encountered a lot of difficulties to deal with some of the involved partners, so I looked deep inside of myself and decided not to continue, even if the projects might have appealed to me. I feel work and living happily are the most important things to me.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

Over time, I have learned that overspending and having too much overhead are mistakes. I think modern technologies are allowing us to accomplish more tasks than before, thereby saving manpower.

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What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?

I think “saving” is a keyword to learn, as are planning and making smart moves.

What new business would you love to start?

I wish to continue to accomplish the plan I laid out for the upcoming years, and my best goal is to one day create a beautiful family.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I wish to be able to see my ancestral life. But in this very life, I would not change anything, besides perhaps learning to deal with difficult people differently. I wish I would have had the chance to learn about this important skill in advance.

Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

I read a lot of sports-related books, as I believe an entrepreneur is a sportsman (or woman). We need to take the same approach.

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

Advice to a newbie: I wish to advise them to find a real-life role model and mentor, and stay in close contact with that person for guidance.

One On One Interview With Tahnee Elliott: The CEO Of TC Elli’s

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When Tahnee Elliott saw a need for a quality fashion boutique, she decided to take advantage of the opportunity to fill in the gap in the market, and the result was a successful business.

She started her business back in 2000 at the ripe age of 24. She had just graduated from college in Lubbock, Texas when she decided that she wanted to go into business. Having lived in the small college town for four years, she knew there was a serious need for a quality fashion boutique. After opening TC Elli’s, word quickly spread about her business and TC Elli’s began to grow into a beloved shop where luxury is about being one of a kind, and not about how much money you spend.

Fast forward to today, and TC Elli’s now has over 40 thousand followers on Instagram and customers all over the world. She runs her business with the help of about 30 high school and college-aged women. Part of the mission of TC Elli’s is to prepare and empower women to start a business, so by delegating essential duties such as social media, buying, and budgeting to her staff – she hopes to teach all of her employees how to start, run, and expand their own company if and when they decide to do so after college.

StarCentral Magazine recently sat down with Tahnee Elliott to find out more about her journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down.

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

I started TC Elli’s in 2000, at the ripe age of 24. I had just graduated from college in Lubbock, Texas when I decided to go into business for myself. Having lived in the small college town for four years, I knew there was a serious need for a quality fashion boutique. After opening the boutique, word quickly spread and TC Elli’s began to grow into a beloved shop where luxury is about being one of a kind, not how much money you spend.

Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?

I think as far as small business go; success came pretty quickly. As I said, there was a need and I filled it with TC Elli’s. However, throughout most of the 2000’s, our growth was fairly stagnant. We were popular locally, but our reach didn’t extend further than West Texas. It wasn’t until 2015 that things really began to take off even more than I’d ever imagined. We began promoting our products on Instagram and watched traffic to the e-commerce site soar. Today, we have over 40 thousand followers on Instagram and customers all over the world.

What is your main source of income?

The brick and mortar store in Lubbock, TX is our main source of income, although the online store is picking up sales rapidly.

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How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?

Marketing tactics aside, I think TC Elli’s stands out among the sea of other small fashion boutiques, because of the mission that drives our brand. I only employ women in high school and college. It was around this age that I decided I wanted to open a business. However, other than my formal education, I had very little real-world experience and knew next to nothing about running a successful business. I want to empower the next generation of women to excel in the ‘real world’ by training and teaching them everything I’ve learned throughout the years.

My employees now assist with everything from social media to buying. It’s a brand for young women, by young women and I really think that’s what makes us so relatable and unique.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

In this highly competitive market of fashion, I knew we needed to set ourselves apart from the competition, so I started researching SEO companies. Going through interviews for months, I finally found a great company but it was a very tough decision to take the risk or continue with mediocre online sales.

The level of trust, communication, and value when picking a company you will do long-term business with is a very hard decision. We have used SEO and marketing companies in the past but all of them seemed to fizzle out. CanIRank has been a huge blessing for our continued in-store and online success.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

This is an easy one! LOL, I always over order clothing! I truly have a passion for clothing, so it is extremely hard for me to say “no” when I have an amazing buyer who shows me the most amazing pieces each day.

What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?

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Always stay humble and grateful to those who helped you along the way. Success is a collaborative effort of a lot of people who believe in you, trust you, and support you. Save your money when you are ahead, you might need it later to continue growth or expand.

What new business would you love to start?

After 18 years of experience, I would love to consult entrepreneurs on opening up their own clothing business.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I wish I would have hired a team as soon as I could afford to take on employees. I think for all business owners when you’re just getting started it’s not an option financially to hire a team even if you need it. So, you end up taking the huge task of running a company on yourself. For me, I got used this kind of work. I loved having my hand in every part of the business so even once I could afford to hire, I didn’t. I was working days, evenings, and weekends and was on the brink of burn-out before I hired my first full-time staffer.

Today, we have a team of over 30 employees who help me run the show. While I still play a very active role in the day-to-day business as well as behind the scenes, my work-life balance is much healthier than it was in the first few years. I only wish I had acted sooner.

Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

Absolutely! I love reading so my top picks would be 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss, The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, and E Myth Mastery by Michael Gerber just to name a few.

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What is the best advice you have ever been given?

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

This quote by Rumi–

You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust.
You were born with ideals and dream.
You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don’t.
You have wings.
Learn to use them and fly.

One On One Interview With Frankie Russo: The CEO Of Potenza

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This entrepreneur confessed that when he started his business he had no idea what he was doing, fast forward to today and his business is now an Inc. 5000 fastest-growing company for four straight years.

Frankie Russo was raised in a family of entrepreneurs. His father owned a fashion clothing store for many years before deciding to change direction and going into inner-city work with the homeless. He started his entrepreneurial journey by selling t-shirts to his high school friends, afterward, he became a server at a restaurant after high school. After a chance meeting with a mortgage broker at a table, he was serving in the restaurant he used to work for, he became a part-time mortgage originator. This gave him an early jump start on his real estate career which lasted eight years and included starting her own brokerage firm with 15 salespeople.

When the mortgage crisis came in 2008, his business went down, but luckily one year before the crisis he already started a small company with his brother who just graduated graphic design – that company was Potenza. Initially, they had no idea what they were doing so they had to rely on the needs of their clients to guide them to the direction they need to take their company to. It took them five years to even figure out what Potenza really was and now it’s a leading full-service 360 marketing firm, and an Inc. 5000 fastest-growing company for four straight years.

StarCentral Magazine recently sat down with Frankie to find out more about his journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down.

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

I was raised in a family of self-starters. My dad had his own fashion clothing store for many years before changing directions and going into inner-city work with the homeless. Our family started homeless shelters and ran those for two decades. When I got out of high school and went to college, I quickly learned that a part-time mortgage originator would be the best gig I could do with the limited hours I had available after the commitments for college. This gave me an early jump start on my real estate career which lasted eight years and included starting my own brokerage firm with 15 salespeople. That all came to a screeching halt in 2008 with the mortgage crisis. Luckily, one year before the crisis I decided to start a small company with my little brother who just graduated graphic design. That company was called Potenza.

Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?

I started out selling t-shirts at my high school then I became a server at a restaurant after high school. After meeting a mortgage broker at a table I was serving in the restaurant, I became a part-time mortgage originator which was the best gig I could do with the limited hours I had available after the commitments for college. This gave me an early jump start on my real estate career which lasted eight years and included starting my own brokerage firm with 15 salespeople. That all came to a screeching halt in 2008 with the mortgage crisis. Luckily one year before the crisis I decided to start a small company with my little brother who just graduated graphic design. That company was called Potenza. The truth is, we had no idea what we were doing…. which was the best thing that ever happened to us. We had to rely on the needs of our clients to tell us what direction we will take our company. And since we were in the middle of a recession and for the first time local businesses were starting to use online media; it was the perfect dust storm for us to emerge from. We would get a client and give that client everything we had. Then get another client, and we continued to provide that client the same treatment. It took us five years to even figure out what Potenza was. And I spent the next five years reinventing that definition.

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

Reinventing the ad agency model by continuing to enhance our marketing automation and attribution software “ReturnFlight.” We have also created a wholesale division that allows for other ad agencies and media companies to reinvent themselves by white labeling our software to give them a competitive edge as well in their markets. At this stage in the game, if you’re not using data and technology to fuel your marketing decisions and create your highly personalized marketing messaging, you aren’t going to be able to compete.

Writing a book and doing talks to business communities has also been a very effective way to stand out in an overcrowded industry.

Lastly, having content generated and published constantly about the problems you are solving in your industry is a great way to attract the right type of customers to your business. I believe attraction is better than promotion when it comes to business. I always try and make sure I have something that “they” want to stay attractive. This creates a magnet for your business that attracts new customers.

How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?

We always thought differently. We positioned ourselves as an outlier that was not a traditional version of our company (ad agency). We built things in-house that other companies outsourced. Early on we were one of the only ad agencies in the area that had her own internal video production department. A few years later we were the only add agency that had an internal digital advertising department. And eventually, we created our own software product that gave us a huge proprietary niche. This enabled us to build a business that helps other ad agencies and media companies to conquer the niche in their market.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

The toughest decision I’ve had to make in the past few months is allowing my company to evolve by getting out of the way. Last year I hired some important executive staff including a chief operating officer. I learned several years ago at one of the first Inc 5000 conferences I attended that founders make crappy CEO’s. Well, this is very hard to hear, this is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received. As a founder, I can only take the company so far before I start ramming into a glass ceiling. Today I realize that it is my thought leadership and vision that is most valuable to the company since we are now too big for me to run it as we did at the beginning. This hard decision to let go and not micromanage has opened up the next chapter of our business for even more immense growth then we have already seen.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

I’m very grateful that I never had to take investment capital or get large lines of credit from banks. However, if I did it over again, I would strategically have partners that could bring investment money to the table earlier in the process as well as offer strategic business opportunities to grow our business faster. I also learned that I could never have too many business mentors who had gone before me and made money mistakes that I can avoid by letting them mentor me as I grow.

What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?

Never stop reinvesting into yourself. I made a decision early on to not divert any profits from my business into other investments like real estate and the stock market until I had fully invested in my own companies and products. As the primary shareholder of my companies, I am most important Investor.

What new business would you love to start?

I would say a music record label, but I just started one of those. I I think my next frontier will be a new business for capital ventures. I would love to be a mentor and Investor in many companies as a minority shareholder to be a part of a lot of different innovation and industries without having to be the main driver of the business.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently? What advice would you give yourself?

Don’t flinch. Never stop going all out and fail fast because your failures will bring out your highest value to your stakeholders, employees, and customers.

Meet The Woman Who Made The Leap From Freelancer To Successful Solopreneur

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Nicole Faith went to NYU with stars in her eyes hoping to get a crack at the fashion industry, but after four internships and one graduation later, she realized that she had no clue what she wanted to do. She decided to work for a startup where she ended up honing her tech and design skills by empowering entrepreneurs to build their online business.

She became physically and emotionally ill from the stress of her 9 to 5 job, so she took a solo trip to LA for two weeks to recharge. Once she got there, she didn’t want to go home because she loved solo traveling so much.

She started out just freelancing but quickly became frustrated by crappy clients who disrespected her expertise. She was tired of negotiating rates and being taken advantage of. There are many coaches and lifestyle entrepreneurs selling the “dream” of lounging in a hammock on the beach, but nobody actually makes it happen for you. She knew she could do that, so she re-branded her entire business to align with her ideal clients (sophisticated solopreneurs).

As a pioneer in the location independent movement, she is thrilled to continue to demonstrate how to choose a life of freedom on your terms.

We caught up with Nicole Faith to talk more about her business and here’s what went down:

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

10 Carat Creations is where five-star businesses are built. I build your online service business in just one week so you can work with clients as you travel the world. I grew up obsessed with fashion and had every intention of becoming a fashion journalist.

After graduating NYU, where I completed four internships in the fashion industry, I was completely lost. It was too much like The Devil Wears Prada for me, so I sought out another path. I landed a position at a tech startup where for three years I learned the ins and outs of website design and entrepreneurship as I helped entrepreneurs start an online business. I got my first job when I was 12, so there came the point when I knew I needed to transition out of being an employee and into something that offered more freedom.

I thought freelancing was the answer because so many people do it, but boy was I wrong! As a freelancer, I was just as stressed and unhappy. I kept having to chase clients and justify my rates. I felt utterly disrespected because I knew I had deep expertise I wasn’t being paid or recognized for. I not only excelled at design but had the ability to craft a business concept from start to finish in a short period of time.

I was also appalled at how unprofessional, so many so-called professionals were. I felt like the odd-woman out because I was obsessed with professionalism and attention to detail.

I had a website which is not the same as a business. After stumbling around, I re-branded my entire business to 10 Carat Creations based on my own values and not the marketplace. I packaged my services which changed everything.

I was tired of copying what other freelancers do. Chasing clients. Pitching clients. Negotiating with clients. It just felt wrong to me. If you’re an expert, I believe you deserve to command respect and premium prices. There are services, and then there are services. So few people seemed to be preaching this, so I decided to carve out my stake in the industry.

Soon after that, I founded the Digital Nomad Business Directory as the first and only online directory of location independent solopreneurs. Because if I’m going to help people craft a high-caliber business, I want to show them off!

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Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?

Success is quite the illusion! You have to act successfully to become successful. I put in a lot of unpaid hours. Thousands of unpaid hours! I had the self-awareness to know I could make a living from my ideas and I took it one day at a time. I started freelancing part-time while working my full-time job. Eventually, I had more time when freelancing was my focus. Each day I did something very small, like discover a new tactic, design new graphics or write a blog post. All of my teeny tiny actions added up to something that looks impressive from the outside but is really being held up by the smallest of building blocks. I had diligently saved a lot of money that gave me the cushion to work on my business. I doubted myself several times and went looking for a job thinking maybe I wasn’t ready to be a full-time entrepreneur. I couldn’t get hired anywhere and came to the conclusion I had outgrown being an employee. I considered this the universe’s sign I needed to double down and work on my own empire.

What is your main source of income?

Freelancers who want a custom and/or original pre-made online service business. I craft their concept, hone their niche, package their services, design their website, write their copy and set up the backend tech.

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

I’m consistently looking for press opportunities because my goal is to make 10 Carat Creations a household name for people looking to escape the nine-five and freelance grind once and for all. I also have a few projects under wraps that will make crafting a five-star business more accessible than ever. Lack of money shouldn’t prevent you from making more money. At the end of the day, money can’t buy class.

How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?

There are SO MANY brands that glorify being a “digital nomad,” but mine is the only one that meets you in reality. Most quit-your-job advice is vague like “freelance on Upwork”, “get gigs” or “start a blog” but the truth is to make a decent living doing any of those things is really hard. I believe people who have an expertise should capitalize on it in a way that attracts the right kinds of clients who will pay premium prices. People who respect themselves also respect other people’s expertise, which means if you can provide a service online there’s a market for it. 10 Carat Creations isn’t for the average person who’s interested in traveling the world- it’s for sophisticated solopreneurs with the motivation to build a business that supports their dream. Not the other way around.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

I founded the Digital Nomad Business Directory as the first and only online directory of location independent solopreneurs. Its brand was bright, colorful and punchy- the opposite of 10 Carat Creations. When I realized the two businesses didn’t match up and were confusing, I had to re-brand the directory, so it more closely aligned with 10 Carat Creations. I’ve learned change is great and usually necessary, so I’m not ashamed to say something didn’t quite work out the first time. There have been many times when I put a lot of work into a concept- only for it to be re-done shortly after that. I have to swallow my pride and just get it done because it’s more important that the branding be right than for me to be right.

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What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

When you start a business, there are so many paid tools that seem like necessities. Things like software and apps might take up a lot of time because you want to find the “perfect” tool. I almost made this mistake and am glad I didn’t.

I would recommend paying for something as a last resort because it keeps you creative and forces you to evaluate what’s essential and what’s just nice to have. You can spend thousands on nice-to-haves.  Any tools you buy should fit into your workflow seamlessly and shouldn’t detract from your actual work.

What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?

Sometimes, even when you have no money, you need to spend money on you. Take a spa day. Get your nails done. Buy the bag. Because you need to reward yourself for how far you’ve come. People who are rich, literally and figuratively, don’t run on fumes. I spent too much time beating myself up over how slowly things seemed to be going when I should have given myself a hug. It took me several months to figure out my perfect brand. It took me three months to get my first press mention. It took me five months to get 50 newsletter subscribers. And it’s all great! Nothing happens quickly, despite what you may think. It’s a very slow burn.

What new business would you love to start?

So many! That’s what inspired Business With A Bow™- the original pre-made service businesses I sell. Every idea I have for a business that I love I create and let someone with the skills and time to make it their own. I’ve wanted to do everything from spy-like consumer research to explainer videos to infographic marketing. I’ll leave my crazy ideas to the experts!

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I would have chosen a niche and packaged my services. Being a generic “freelance web designer” or “freelance copywriter” doesn’t do anything to get you, clients. I would also have focused on the benefits and not the services. No one cares that you can write a resume but if they can “Get more dream interviews” then that’s a good hook. It took me a long time to comprehend this and an even longer time to make it happen. Practice makes perfect, and I definitely had a lot of practice.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself, what advice would you give yourself?

Be ruthless in cutting wasteful people and activities from your daily life.

Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan is life-changing because it really helped me organize my life and business. The TL;dr version is “What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

I never asked for advice because I don’t like people telling me what to do. My favorite unofficial advice is from Dr. Seuss- “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

I built my business based on values I thought were missing from my industry. I was disgusted at how unprofessional everyone was. Their casual attitude towards clients and business, in general, turned me off, so I thought if I felt this way other people must as well. I recommend doing the same thing. What’s missing, and why? What do you dislike, and why? Ultimately, you can read words of advice all day, but eventually, you have to do something. Do it now.

One On One With Successful Entrepreneur Cynthia Johnson

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Cynthia Johnson is an entrepreneur, marketing professional, author and international speaker. She previously worked as a receptionist at an acting agency; she was also a server at Tender Greens and The Cheesecake Factory and she was even an event planner in Las Vegas. When she turned 25, she decided to sell all her things to find a new meaning in life through travelling the world. It was through her adventures across Asia and Australia, where she eventually found her niche skill in storytelling and helping others with marketing strategies and creating their brand image.

Fast forward to today, and now she’s a business advisor, keynote speaker, and CEO of a successful agency (Bell + Ivy) as well as an author. She is an Advisory Board member for The Millennium Alliance and GetGlobal which are leading technology, business, and educational advisory event companies serving fortune 1000 executives. She has been involved in campaigns for Outerknown, HereMedia, West Management, Chevy’s, PETA, and several other leading brands. She is also a contributing columnist to Entrepreneur, Success, Forbes, and several other industry-specific publications. Her first book will be published in early 2019 by Penguin Random House.

StarCentral Magazine recently sat down with Cynthia to find out more about her journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down.

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

I never really did anything the same way others did so my entrepreneurial journey is a bit of a rollercoaster. However, though my journey separates myself from others who took a more conventional route, I can proudly say that I’m a prime example of not really knowing what I wanted to do, to finding my “calling” when I was most vulnerable. Before co-finding Bell + Ivy, a digital marketing and personal branding agency in Santa Monica, CA with my co-founder Zach Binder, I worked as a receptionist at an acting agency, was a server at Tender Greens and The Cheesecake Factory, an event planner in Vegas, and digital marketing director for a rehab center. At 25 I decided to sell all my things and turned to find a new meaning in life through traveling the world. It was through my adventures across Asia and Australia, where I eventually found my niche skill in storytelling and helping others with marketing strategies and creating their brand image. Sometimes as a form of currency, I would share my knowledge in the communications field for room and board and made countless friends along the way. I then started speaking at more events, joining more panels and began moderating discussions. Bell + Ivy was created through the magical discovery of passion and persistence of just living and letting life take its course. Today, I am a business advisor, keynote speaker, CEO of a great agency and an author. I am honored to have been listed by Inc. Magazine as a top digital marketing person to follow, top 50 marketers on SnapChat by Mashable and top female entrepreneurs that inspire by Darling Magazine.

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

We constantly strive to uphold Bell + Ivy’s brand to the same, utmost quality, as we deliver to our clients. With the tools of digital marketing, personal branding, and storytelling, our office is comprised of the boldest and the brightest who not only deliver these aspects professionally but also in their personal lives, reflecting the power and stamina of our agency. We are humbled to say that we are in a place where a lot of business comes to us and we then get to choose who and what is the best fit at the time. Shoot us a message – our doors, and inboxes, are always open!

What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?

Storytelling using digital marketing, of course. Business owners and marketers should focus their social media efforts on creating a cohesive community with their followers and to improve the interoperability of information between all their channels. Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have such a massive following and the potential to be an impressive channel to sell and promote a product, message and/or brand. Relatable, relevant and timely content throughout these platforms will create a genuine community of followers that enhances their brand identity which then creates more brand loyalty.

How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?

Again, storytelling. Never underestimate the power of telling an impactful story to the right audience and at the right time. When you know exactly who you’re working with and how to proliferate influence, you’re golden.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

Setting a wedding date and then coordinating everything that goes into the wedding. Nobody warns you about this kind of stuff!

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

I wouldn’t say this is a mistake but more something to be aware of money. Money is a tricky subject, and yes, money helps when first creating a business. However, you decided to start a business, and that is an investment. Therefore, you must wholeheartedly invest in your company and your team and provide the necessary tools and resources to best equip your team to produce the best work they can. It’ll be worth the investment and the opportunity cost is exponential!

What new business would you love to start?

If I told you, I’d have to kill you! Totally joking of course. However, I do have some ideas up my sleeves that I can’t share quite yet. It’s a secret for now but stay tuned for more.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

Absolutely nothing. Getting lost and being vulnerable in my early 20’s is how I got to be where I am today. Sounds cliche but it’s true. But if I had to choose, maybe stay in China longer? China is an incredible country with so much to offer. However, as an international speaker, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to be able to travel, to countries like China, and experience work and play.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself, what advice would you give yourself?

Drink less coffee and start drinking more tea.

Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

Plenty! “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck,” by Mark Manson, is a classic, “Leaders Eat Last,” by Simon Sinek, and “Talking to Crazy,” by Mark Goulston. These three selections are actually from my book club, where we dissect each book to fully understand the meaning and how it can impact our daily professional lives in a positive way. Join the conversation, today!

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Just try it – what’s the worst that can happen? If you fail, that’s okay. If you fail again, that’s also okay. But next time, fail better.

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

No matter how much you think you can handle everything on your own, you can’t and you won’t; and that’s 100% okay. Be realistic, stay optimistic and ask for help when you need it. Do research online, engage with your community and see who could bring value to your team. You’re going to want to do it all by yourself, but at the end of the day, the best way a company can grow is through steller leadership and a transparent team.

One On One With Successful Entrepreneur Vanessa Rende

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Vanessa Rende is a Speaker, Writer, Entrepreneur, Consultant, and Podcaster. She is a former corporate consultant in the mortgage-backed securities industry, helping private, public and government agencies with risk, management, leadership, and business strategies.

When her career as a corporate consultant with a cushy paycheck, fat bonus and a false sense of freedom offered her an all-expense paid relocation to Denver, CO to work from a cubicle when she wasn’t traveling, Vanessa knew she wanted MORE. And she knew it was time to go all in.

A new homeowner and mom, she turned down the offer and launched her consulting firm in 2011 to help businesses and entrepreneurs with leadership, process improvement, marketing, business development and other business strategies.

Using her 12+ years of experience, formal training, and life lessons, Vanessa is among the rare few business champions who is truly results and impact-driven. It is her mission to turn the hundreds she has impacted into millions.

MoneyCentral Magazine recently sat down with Vanessa to find out more about her journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down.

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

I am a former corporate consultant who worked with the US Federal Government and hundreds of businesses and entrepreneurs across the globe before turning down an all expense paid corporate relocation to Denver, CO in 2010 to start my own consulting firm. Within one year, my firm hit multiple six figures, but I let my mindset get the best of me and shut everything down to deal with a messy divorce, domestic violence, and even child abuse. I came “back” in 2015 and had dedicated my life and business to helping others climb out of the mental, emotional and financial hole I was once in. I have been featured in Fast Company, The Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Fudding, and am about to have a spread in a popular entrepreneur magazine in Australia.

Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?

I started like a lot of people, with a comfortable corporate job that wasn’t giving me what I wanted out of life. I’ve been an “entrepreneur” since I was nine years old, helping a lady in the neighboring flea market spot market her items to kids my age. But I didn’t decide to take the leap and go all in until the false sense of freedom from my corporate consulting job came crashing down after my son was born. I love Denver, CO, but I wanted real time and money freedom, especially since I was a new nursing mom.

What is your main source of income?

I have seven streams of income, and my main ones are my consulting/writing/speaking business (mostly online and some offline) and my real estate business.

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

I am working on publishing two books this year. I am focusing on helping more people by collaborating with awesome media sources like you! I also blog for Thrive Global, The Huffington Post, and my own website. I have a podcast and live on Facebook and Instagram (for business, but I also love it).

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How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?

Same as above: the content I create is phenomenal. I don’t hold back when I’m sharing what I know, what I’ve learned and how someone can help themselves improve.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

Great question! I trashed my 2018 business plans and burned my business model to the ground. I got caught up playing the online entrepreneur game, and I lost sight of the impact I’m meant to make. So I re-designed my business model, edited it extensively, removing anything and anyone who wasn’t conducive to the new plan and boom! Specifically, this meant closing down two paid group programs (that were full), and a free Facebook community I had been cultivating for over two years.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

1) I started doing paid ads way before my business was ready. This left me struggling and more lost than I’d like to admit.

2) I fell into the online entrepreneur game. I became a launch queen, releasing one thing after the other to stay afloat without keeping my eye on the real prize: alignment. My new business design includes only what feels good, right and aligned with my purpose. If it doesn’t feel good, I no longer do it – no matter how scary it is to me or odd it may seem to the world that I don’t partake.

What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?

I have learned that wealth is a state of mind. I know money isn’t, but I understand now that I didn’t have to wait for my bank accounts to look fat to feel taken care of, wealthy and amazing. All of that started within myself, and if someone had told it to me, I would have attained it much faster.

What new business would you love to start?

I would love to open up a local yoga and juice shop! It may be selfish, but I want fresh juices and yoga every day, so why not offer it in my community where there is none of that yet.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I would have invested in a coach or mentor when I first opened my own consulting business. When I had to file for a restraining order and subsequent divorce, I closed myself off. I didn’t have someone to call me out on my bullsh*t and help me see that I was shrinking for no reason. I know that if I wouldn’t have tried to do it all alone, I’d be at multiple seven figures by now.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself, what advice would you give yourself?

Vanessa, you think it’s about strategies, revenue, budgets and constant progress, but really it’s about something much bigger: loving, trusting and believing in yourself. The moment you decide that you matter more than anything, your life will change forever (and it has!).

Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

OMG, yes. I have read The Big Leap several times, and I highly recommend it to every business owner, creator, and visionary. I also recommend Think and Grow Rich, Blue Ocean Strategy and E Squared (Pam Grout).

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

It doesn’t matter what people think of you, what matters is what you think of you.

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

Before you start planning, plotting and thinking up strategies, focus on your mindset. Do it daily, do it first. Those other things can only take you so far. Your mind is what truly pushes you through the limits you have and will create for yourself.

One On One With Skyler Ditchfield: The Once-Homeless Man Who Became A Multi-Millionaire Entrepreneur

Skyler Ditchfield

One of the most powerful rags-to-riches stories is that of Skyler Ditchfield, a multi-millionaire entrepreneur, who had a troubled childhood in rural Ojai, California. He grew up in a broken home and was bullied and beaten up at school but managed to rise above his difficult circumstances to become mega-successful.

Even though Ditchfield ended up giving up on school, he still landed his first job in Silicon Valley. He took his first real corporate job as a Network Engineer II at the Private Network Management Center (PNMC) of MCI Worldcom in Silicon Valley where he serviced high-level clients such as JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Quotron, Reuters, and more. Although he was the youngest technician in the office, he was quickly promoted to Network Engineer III because of his outstanding performance. However, when the company relocated to the East Coast, he was one of two employees that were offered a transfer. He declined the offer, and instead, he decided to return back to his hometown in Ojai, California.

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Over the next few years, he experienced multiple business failures that left him facing massive debt and ruined credit. He even tried to open up a local nightclub which didn’t pan out, and he also became homeless for a time. On top of that, his life-long battle with Chrome’s disease took a severe turn for the worse, placing him in multiple month-long stays in the hospital. His disease got so bad, that the doctors said he only had a few more years to live. Determined to outlive their predictions, he found an experimental course of treatment on the Internet which miraculously worked. Then came what Ditchfield calls his restart button – he found out he was going to be a father. With renewed health and an unexpected daughter on the way, he found a new sense of motivation for life. He regained his health and aggressively got back in the I.T. space allowing him to climb out of debt.

Fast forward to a few successful startups later, he ended up discovering GeoLinks with his cousin Ryan Hauf. Skyler bootstrapped what began as a 2-person business out of his weight room in 2011 to what is now a 9-figure (and growing) business. GeoLinks became the fastest growing fixed wireless ISP in the country and Inc. Magazine’s 2017 Inc. 5000 NO. 5 Fastest Growing Telecommunications Company in America. Under his leadership, Ditchfield has led the company to record more than 100% growth for six years straight and is on track for a seventh. Some of his recent accolades include World’s Top 5 Best Businessmen of 2017, Entrepreneur of the Year 2018, and Top 100 Innovator in Diversity and Inclusion.

Skyler Ditchfield _ Photo BOBBY CURTIS_Acorn Newspaper

StarCentral Magazine recently sat down with Skyler Ditchfield to find out more about her journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down.

Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?

I don’t consider myself successful yet, however, I feel I have traction and am on the right path. While I appreciate the recognition, success, in my eyes, would be to permanently change the lives of all my staff and others for the better. My journey was described earlier; it’s been long, grueling, and hard. I’ve calculated that I’ve put in about 20 years of normal work hours in the last seven years alone at GeoLinks. I’ve always imagined the path to success would come sooner, and I find it frustrating not being able to achieve growth even faster than we already are.

What is your main source of income?

My main source of income is the salary I earn from GeoLinks.

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

I look at new opportunities every single day. Currently, I am evaluating expanding our network into additional states, further diversifying our product line, and exploring more government project opportunities.

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What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

I face tough decisions every day. The most difficult decisions for me end up being when I have to walk away from exciting and big opportunities simply because I know (from experience) it would stretch our team too thin, or we lack the resources.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

I’ll say this—learn your accounting and always double check your books. Even if you trust someone else to do it, still learn and keep an eye on what’s going on, because if you don’t keep track of your cash, you’ll be out of business.

Skyler Ditchfield, Senator Hannah Beth Jackson, Ryan Adams

What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?

I am not wealthy in my own eyes… However, as perceived success grows, more and more people will mislead you, misrepresent themselves to you, and pretend to be your friend.

What new business would you love to start?

A health and nutritional products business—outside of GeoLinks and my family, health, and fitness have been lifelong passions of mine.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

Be ready. Be ready for more challenges and perceived failures than you can possibly imagine. Realize and prepare yourself for the fact that the problems that lie ahead will ultimately become opportunities, and never fool yourself into believing that the road ahead will be easy. Master that mindset now, and you’ll be primed for pushing through all of life’s roadblocks.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself, what advice would you give yourself?

Just start. Don’t procrastinate or worry about putting yourself out there.

Once you’ve had the courage to start, have the confidence to know that results will come.

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Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and No Man’s Land: Where Growing Companies Fail by Doug Tatum.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Cash is king, know your accounting!

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

If you can’t sell your own product, don’t start the business. Furthermore, there is definitely such thing as growing too fast. It’s easy to get wrapped up in accelerated success, and thus make misguided business decisions on projections rather than facts. It’s okay to dream big, but remember, in order to have a business or achieve a mission, you must remain in business. Another element that can be lost in quick growth is culture. In today’s modern workplace, culture is paramount in attracting and retaining top talent. Thus, it’s imperative to never forget that you’re only as great as the team you’re surrounded by. Finally, one word of advice I give to all Entrepreneurs who are starting out is to follow your gut and fire fast. Every single time I have ignored my gut or procrastinated on a “debatable” employee, it has yielded negative results. The world is full of opinions, master the art of creating your own and trusting your intuition.