Today in my networking challenge I’m speaking with Sirena Thomas-Moore. At the age of 21, Sirena started her own company and it’s now a multi-million revenue generating company. I’m really excited to get her advice today on starting your own business. Thanks so much for sharing your advice with us Sirena!
NOTE: Sorry if the audio quality is not that great but the interview was really fun and informational!
In case you are reading this at work and can’t watch the video, you can read all of the great advice below instead!
Advice For Starting Your Own Business from Sirena Thomas-Moore
1) Where did you start when you were starting your own business?
Ever since I’ve been old enough to speak I always want to be the boss. I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur, always. My last year of high school I actually had twin girls. And I graduated and that summer I need to get a job.
So I started working with my father who’s been working in a construction industry for the last 20 some years at that time. So I started working on a construction site with him in the office doing administrative work and understanding how the project has been run and he worked in the field.
While we worked on that project, we found out the contractor issued a six-figure contract to do basically what he was doing for an hourly rate. We got a copy of that contract and my father was like if you can figure out how to start a business I can do the service and we can have our own business. And that’s like with the idea for Elohim Cleaning Contractors came from. So we got on the internet I am as green as they come I didn’t know anything at all. I basically scan on the internet and was like what’s a corporation, what’s LLC, what’s sole proprietorship like, how do you go to EIN. I did all this very easy research online and that’s how we got to began to develop the company.
I think a lot of people think they have to go to business school or get their MBA to start their own business but you don’t have to do that. No, as a matter of fact, I think our ignorance was a blessing because there were some things that we are not aware of and it was great. It was great that I wasn’t aware of it because solely focus on building a business, generating revenue, and living life. Like, I wasn’t focused on economy and statistics and I don’t know anything. I think that was a blessing.
2) What would be your advice to someone thinking about starting her own business?
My advice would definitely be to seek out every single free resource that you can humanly possibly find; whether it is a free efile at tax time or simply a good piece of advice from a seasoned professional.
You can get pulled in to spending money on classes, spending money on software, spending money on networking or joining organizations but what you really need to do is get your base established first, so seek out as many free resources. I went to women business development group that’s in here in Philadelphia.
Every college, business school has a small business development center and the SBA has free online services like there’s so many to choose to online or even at these development centers or enterprise centers that are free. And they can help you build your business. So that’s one I would say seek out free resources to definitely surround yourself with people that are, where you would like to be. Not necessarily a lot of people that like one what you want but people that actually are there so that you can learn from them. So those are probably the two pieces of advice that I would recommend if you’re interested in starting your own business.
3) How do you manage your life as a career woman and a mother? You said you had twins when you first started your business.
I have twins, and now I also have ten month old baby boy. And I’m recently married so now I’m wife, mother, entrepreneur, speaker, and world traveler. To be honest, it happens some days and some days it doesn’t. Some days my time is managed very very well and other days I drop ball like everyone else.
But I’m really, really stuck on managing time wisely because I’ve truly understand that time is the only thing that I cannot get back. So I can’t waste my time and since we all have the same 24 hours its just about how you used them. I always have a plan for the most part. What my days are going to be, I try to prepare ahead of time so that nothing catches me by surprise. That happens some days its just us. But time management techniques are important.
4) What do you use to manage your time like to have to-do list or a Blackberry?
Yes I do. I have all the above. I’m a gadget geek. So I totally am into like gogo gadget everything so I have an iPhone, I have an iPad. At the end of the day I mean I use the to-do list for sure. I’m big on teaching people about moving projects from your to-do list. You can have a list like it says make a doctor’s appointment or you have another list that says clean the basement that’s not the to-do, that’s like a project.
Start one thing at a time. It really is about having tasks because people do projects, people do tasks, and its easier to check things off of your list that way. I only have meetings certain days of the week and I don’t meet everyday of the week. Its Tuesday or Thursday and when I meet its all day. I don’t do a meeting come back to the office do a little something go back out do a little something because you’re not really being productive when you do that.
I do certain tasks on certain days like Monday, it’s business development, and follow-up. And Tuesdays all about bills, finances, sales. I assigned tasks to certain days as much as I can to streamline things because that’s the best way to manage your time and be productive.
5) How networking contributed to your success?
Networking has been huge to my success. Especially in the contracting business and then certainly in Sirena Speaks, which is my other business.Those are kind of my focus and am doing a lot of speaking, teaching and helping other entrepreneurs build their business. Networking has been absolutely huge.
People want to do business with people who they trust and, unfortunately, a lot of my contacts, a lot of people that I need they’re not as tech savvy as I am. I may never see them on the internet, but I will see them at chamber board meeting.
And for me, it was a lot of kind of being in the place where my potential customers were and I just kind of showed up. I knew they’re gonna be there I did my research at a time. And finally somebody would say, “Who the heck are you? What do you do?” And that’s the opportunity to introduce myself. Networking has been really really big for me. It all happens through networking. Someone hearing my story, listening to me, talking to me and referring me.
6) What is one thing you wish you had known as a young professional woman just starting out in her career?
Since I am still not that old, one of the things I would tell my younger self is expect to be talked about, expect to be misunderstood, and expect to be hated on even. But don’t let anything stop you from pursuing what you know God has really given to you to pursue. Just don’t let anything stop you. Live a life of knowing and don’t stop for anything.
7) Where can people find more about you online?
I’m just about anywhere. Twitter. I love twitter so you can follow me @Sirenaspeaks and you can also go to Sirenaspeaks.com. And am also on Facebook and am also on LinkedIn under Sirena Moore or Sirena Moore-Thomas, my married name. And just simply Google me find me just about anywhere.
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