International Women’s Day: Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

By Minerva Serrano

I’m always looking for opportunities to coach and mentor others with entrepreneurial dreams, so when a colleague suggested I share my thoughts in conjunction with International Women’s Day, I jumped at the chance.

Activus Connect is a certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) and Minority Business Enterprise (MBE). In just three years, we’ve created a multi-million-dollar 100% work-at-home customer experience delivery business.

As a proud member of the Association of Latino Professionals for America, Network of Executive Women, Global Inclusion and Diversity in the Workplace, CFO Network, and Women in Technology International, I’ve always been committed to uplifting and supporting female leaders.

Speaking as a 52% majority business owner, I am grateful to share my experience and learnings made along-the-way to other aspiring women.

Overcome Fear Through Planning and Self-Belief

When launching a new business venture, it’s common to experience fear. Business owners must stay resilient and committed to their dream to overcome these insecurities.

The biggest challenge for me has been progressing despite the fear, but it’s critical, especially in the early stages, to push forward with passion, confidence, and motivation to succeed. Speaking from experience, it helps to create the necessary frameworks and supporting operations that enable you to run and manage a successful business. Otherwise, you’re efforts can be fragmented and diluted.

Honor your creative ideas by documenting, planning, flushing out, and cultivating the concept. Stay bold and try out new ideas. Everything you learn during the process is a powerful stepping stone towards making your dreams become a reality or, at a minimum, jumpstarting the next great idea.

If you genuinely believe in your business plan and you’re determined to make it work, you can overcome almost any obstacle. With the right mindset and the right approach to planning, you can tackle the inevitable mistakes and failures quickly, allowing yourself to grow as a leader, which, in turn, enables you to grow the company.

Trust in Your Mentors

If you want to be successful in owning and operating a business, don’t do it alone.

During the first year that we founded this company, I found myself dealing with many unforeseen problems. Although I’d been a leader in a large corporation for many years, this was my first time in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry. My skills were transferable, but there was a steep learning curve in familiarizing myself with a new industry.

My saving grace was to quickly develop a network of trusted mentors who were happy to lean in and help at critical milestones of the firm’s development. My husband, and co-founder, Felix, has been my most prominent teacher. He spent his entire career in this industry. Our COO, Susie Buffam, has also been instrumental in educating me in the service industry’s nuances.

My advice is to find successful leaders who will connect with you and offer valuable guidance at every step of the way. They can help point out growth areas of the business you may not have considered, and you’ll find that most of them will regularly check-in to see how things are going.

Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself

It’s all too easy to consider giving up when things get too tricky, but don’t forget that you’re only human—it’s natural to feel defeated in times of stress, so remember that these moments will pass.

Also, consider the administrative workload of setting up a business to ensure it doesn’t quickly bury your small team. Don’t be afraid to bring in help early so your firm can remain agile. Not only does it help to alleviate stress and effectively manage the tactical requirements of setting up a new business, but it also allows you as the leader to have the capacity to identify and act on growth opportunities.

To maintain the energy needed to create and foster a business, it is crucial to keep a positive mindset and rise above the challenges. Plus, it’s essential to give yourself grace. Every misstep provides a valuable learning opportunity for you and your business; consider it the blessing that it is.

Always Look Ahead to the Future

Whatever the goal, objective, or result you may be pursuing, don’t ever lose sight of it. Your vision, mission, and values are the blueprint for everything your business stands for, so you mustn’t deviate from that path.

When we launched Activus Connect, our goal was to build a company that elevates customer and employee experiences while staying true to our core values and applying them in meaningful ways. The plan was to protect the fundamental elements; our ambassadors, clients, and each and every customer.

Three years ago, I never would have believed it if you’d told me that this objective would put us on track to hit US$100 million in revenue within the next few years. It’s utterly humbling each time we exceed our business targets.

Think About How to Give Back

With all the planning and hard work that it takes to get a successful business off the ground, it’s sometimes easy to forget to share that success and pay it forward.

Start by thinking about others who might be in your position when you first started. They would appreciate the help and mentorship that you could offer. Also, consider how your business might support the communities in which you operate.

At Activus Connect, we’re passionate about investing time and money into our local communities. Along with paying our Ambassadors to volunteer at their favorite charities, we donate 10% of our annual net profits towards numerous worthy causes. Our commitment to giving back has been part of our business since the first day of operation, and it will continue to be a part of Activus Connect indefinitely.

Share and share alike, as the saying goes.