5 Faces Of Urban Entrepreneurship

5-faces-urban-entrepreneurship

Instead of posting more statistics about the rise of urban entrepreneurship, it is our pleasure to showcase the faces of urban entrepreneurs, and to share the motivation and passion behind their growing businesses.

These impressive business owners represent the entrepreneurial spirit that lives in urban communities all over the globe. BrandMakerNews celebrates every urban entrepreneur who is out there building businesses, creating jobs, fueling the economy, and making a difference in the community.

Here are five urban entrepreneurs you should know…

Serge Sognonvi, owner of Urban Martial Arts

What motivated you to start your own business?
“I had been stuck in a dead-end corporate job for nearly 10 years. I knew I didn’t want to stay, but I also wasn’t sure what else I wanted to do. I’d been studying martial arts for over 20 years and had always dreamed of having my own school one day, but it seemed like a silly pipe dream that could never come to fruition. One night, I got into a major car accident. The car was totaled, but I walked away without a scratch. It was a miracle – even the EMTs on the scene couldn’t believe their eyes. As drastic as that was, it was the wake-up call I needed to *do something*. Piece by piece, everything just fell into place and less than 6 months after the accident, I was nervously signing the lease on my new space. About 6 months after that, I was able to quit my day job and work on the karate school full-time.”

What major obstacle did you encounter along the way? And, how did you overcome it?
“A lot of people didn’t believe in what I was doing. When I told my mother I was going to open a karate school, her first words were: “Are you crazy?” Friends and colleagues were also skeptical about my starting a business during a recession. Luckily I’ve never been one to be too swayed by what people think of me, so I stayed focused on my vision for the business. I was fortunate to have my then-girlfriend, now-wife as a business partner. She shared my vision for what the school could be and that helped tremendously. Also, I knew a few other successful martial arts school owners who were great mentors to me. They helped me avoid rookie mistakes and learning from them cut my learning curve tremendously.”

What advice/words of wisdom can you offer aspiring entrepreneurs?
“Be picky when it comes to mentors. Keep in mind that old expression “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” If you’re starting a widget business and you’re getting advice from mediocre widget business owners who are only doing okay, you’re never going to thrive. Find people who have been truly successful in your field and learn from them.”

Tiffany Victoria Bradshaw, owner of Bradshaw and Co.

What motivated you to start your own business?
“Lets think back to the year 2000, The stock market was going crazy and thus the high tech sector was paying MBAs 1/4 million dollars plus stock options and I was ready to start making some real money like that.  I wanted to make a change, so I quit my job, with the intention to go work for one of these start ups, but as one company after another lost their funding, I started freelancing, loved it and then started my company.”

What major obstacle did you encounter along the way?
“The most major obstacle was learning how to actually run a business, since I had never done that before.”

What advice/words of wisdom can you offer aspiring entrepreneurs?
“I would tell them to get experience in consulting by working at an existing firm or reading a ton of books on consulting in general and consulting in your industry. Especially what to charge and how to price your services.  In order to succeed as in any business, you need a great combination of sales, marketing, pricing and branding.  The most important thing that I would say is to “know WHO your customer is and make sure you do enough market research to truly understand how and why they buy the products or services that you sell.”

Earl O’Garro, owner of Hybrid Insurance Group

What motivated you to start your own business?
“I resigned from SH Smith & Company, Inc. after a partner of the firm was terminated. When I looked at his accomplishments in contrast to mine, the things that he accomplished in thirteen years, I was proud and fortunate to be a part of his team but I quickly realized that my accomplishments would be placed at no greater value than his. And so two months later I resigned without a clear plan on what I would do. I left a modest six figure management position with aspirations of something greater.”

What major obstacle did you encounter along the way? And, how did you overcome it?
“Initially, I didn’t know that I was going to start Hybrid Insurance Group when I did, but I knew that I needed autonomy even if it came at a reduction in pay. Being out of work for five months without income and with a child under the age of two and substantial financial obligations in one of the worst economic times in this country was devastating in some ways but also motivating. I have to give it my all as the President and CEO of a privately funded startup not only because of my board, but because of the individuals on my team who have entrusted their lives to me which I appreciate and understand.”

What advice/words of wisdom can you offer aspiring entrepreneurs?
“Trust your numbers and don’t be afraid to be confident in your ability. Clearly with the support of a private equity firm there’s something to be said about one’s ability. But that’s one thing I would have relied on a bit more–my natural ability. I second guessed myself in the first few months and maybe I shouldn’t have. I don’t want to advise a CEO to be over confident, but rather not to forget what got them there. Because at times I forgot.”

Bianca B. King, owner of Seven5 Seven3 Marketing Group

What motivated you to start your own business?
“I started my company, Seven5 Seven3 Marketing Group, because I believed there was a real lack of affordable effective marketing companies that provided quality products and service to small business owners and I wanted to fill that need.”

What major obstacle did you encounter along the way? And, how did you overcome it?
“One major obstacle was making sure that I didn’t forget to market myself.  When I first started, I was so eager to please my clients that I literally spent all my time working on their work.  When my sales pipeline dried up, I had no clients, no leads, no income. Now I take the time to market my business and still keep my clients happy.  I spend at least two to three hours a week making sure Im networking or marketing my business to keep leads coming in on a regular basis.”

What advice/words of wisdom can you offer aspiring entrepreneurs?
“Do your homework. You have to really understand your brand, its value and what makes your brand different. Why would someone buy your product or service over another? If you can’t answer that question, you don’t need to start your business.  Additionally, you need to make sure you understand your target demographic (aka niche) and make sure you connect with them using the appropriate media.”

Glenton Davis, owner of Soul Pop U

What motivated you to start your own business?
“I felt compelled to start Soul Pop U for two main reasons. I realized that I have been given so many opportunities so early in my life. Why not take them and leverage them into a venture about which I was wholly passionate? I am 25 years old. Now is my time to step out on faith, to take big risks to contribute, to give back, and to make my career and my life fully my own. I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur, to run my own businesses, to grow them and watch them develop into brands, into ways of life that give back to the communities around them.”

What major obstacle did you encounter along the way? And, how did you overcome it?
“In just nine months I have faced numerous professional and personal obstacles. For the incredible blessings I have experienced as a young entrepreneur, many have also come through hard lessons that have felt debilitating, crippling even. Given these roadblocks, I have had to learn the power of faith and “persistent pavement pounding” as I like to put it.”

What advice/words of wisdom can you offer aspiring entrepreneurs?
“Define your vision, see that vision in front of you, and commit to turning your thoughts into something tangible. No matter what. There will undoubtedly be more roadblocks along the way. Some will feel larger than life, as though they cannot be moved and you cannot find a way around them. With time, learn to be strong like steel, to keep your higher purpose for change, for action, burning bright in the forefront of your mind. It will not always be easy, and it will not always feel good. Trust that with committed persistence, you will manifest tomorrow for others what you see today.”

May the stories and tips, from each urban entrepreneur above, inspire you to pursue your own entrepreneurial endeavors… if you haven’t already.

Be great!

Also read…
10 Must-Reads For Urban Entrepreneurs
5 Female Entrepreneurs You Should Know
The 25 Urban Entrepreneurs To Follow

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