For me, entrepreneurial journey just happened. It wasn’t something that I planned-Sushana Cole.
Life poses challenges to everyone, business owner, goal-getter, careerist, but it is our ability to be distinct and never give up that keeps us in the game. The entrepreneurial journey is one that requires a unique voice, one that distinguishes you from the rest, no matter the hurdle. Your ability to strive makes you an entrepreneur, and there are some who have successfully achieved this feat because there are times when the things we are faced with become an opportunity to be someone dynamic. To some, they are deliberate about how their business started, while to others it was unplanned, but they still have something to give to society.
Meet Sushana Cole in her interview with GABI Media as we talk about how she has made it with her brand and dynamic tips for young entrepreneurs. She is an author, a speaker, a serial entrepreneur, and a go-getter with the personality to stay focused and achieve goals. She is also the founder of soigneebyshanacole and strictly 4 motivation. She has achieved so much and also transformed businesses based on her experience and through her services.
Can you tell us who Sushana Cole is?
I am a mom, an author, and also a serial entrepreneur. I have been an entrepreneur for 11 years. I am a go-getter. I am a person who is serious about my goals and my life. I take nothing for granted. I am grateful for everything. That pretty much sums me up.
What has inspired you to walk this path? Both in your entrepreneurship journey and personal journey.
My entrepreneurial journey just happened. It wasn’t something that I planned for. I had a situation, and I went back to Jamaica to live. I went there, and I was broke. I had no money at all. I called my friend and explained I was broke and didn’t know what to do. That friend sent me some makeup and advised me to sell them to buy food for me and my son. I sold the makeup and my business started right there. I said I wasn’t going to spend the money. I re-invested the money and bought more makeup, and that’s how I built my business. That’s what turned me into the entrepreneur I am today.
As a person, I had to fight to become this person. I was very unstable as a child and went through a lot of things. I went to jail and have been through the worst of times as a female. I decided after I had my son that I had a human being that is looking up to me. I had to change my life for the better. I have to do what I do for him because he’s depending on me. That’s how I had to fight to become the woman I am today.
How many personal brands do you have and could you tell us what you do with them?
Right now I have strictly for motivation and it is geared towards helping other female entrepreneurs to find themselves, be a better version of themselves, and run their businesses well. I teach entrepreneurship and business mastery. I teach people to be the best at whatever they do. I have Soignee which is my clothing boutique. I have the Shanacolecollection which is my makeup line. I have Sushana Cole, which is me.
An entrepreneur has a problem to fix in society. How does one fit into the mission they set out to achieve with their brand?
You need to have a plan for your brand. When you decide you are going to launch a brand, product, or service, you have to have a plan for it. You have to have a roadmap. Ask yourself questions like this. How am I going to do this? How am I going to do this to the best of my ability? What am I going to do each day to get to my mission? Who is going to help me get to my mission? What do I have to do? People want to build a brand or a business, but they don’t have a plan. They don’t have a roadmap. They are not disciplined enough to even stick to their plan if they do make one. To achieve your mission, you have to stay focused on your goals and remember on your journey to completing your mission. When it comes to building your brand, you are going to get tested. At times, you are going to feel like it’s not working out. You have to stick through the low times to get to the high times. In all, make a plan and stick to it.
A lot of entrepreneurs these days want to build their brands, but they don’t know how to go about it. Can you tell us five things a young entrepreneur should know before starting any business?
They should know who needs whatever it is they want to start. How is it going to help who it is they are going to sell to? For instance, if I want to start a makeup line, I will give you a long list of reasons why I want to start a makeup line. I may want to start a makeup line because I have used a lot of makeup and none of them worked for my skin, but I probably created something that worked wonders for me and I know that other people have the same issues that I have, so I am going to go out there and share the word so that other people see that there’s a solution. It could be a solution to a problem of heavy scars on their faces, oily skin issues or solving dry skin issues. They need to know how they can help. They also need to know how to fail forward. Prepare to fail. As an entrepreneur, it’s nothing easy. You are going to have to be creative, especially right now when everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. There are a lot of people out there doing business. You have to be creative to stand out. You have to be authentic to stand out. You have to be your true authentic self when building a brand. They should do their research on whatever it’s they are going to put out. Know the ins and outs, and study. There’s a lot of information on the internet. There are a lot of courses that you can buy. There are a lot of seminars that you can take. I would say definitely, learn whatever it is you are putting out; inside and outside so you speak about your product or service confidently when you’re putting that out there. Another thing is having patience with yourself. Be patient. Patience is key. A lot of people want to start a business that is successful right away. It takes about 3-5 years for a small business to really start seeing a profit, so patience is key when it comes to starting building a business.
Conceptualization is something related to what you do. Give us five things that could breed ideas for conceptualization as an entrepreneur.
Connect with other entrepreneurs. Whatever business, service, or product you are starting, look for somebody who’s doing it big. We see ideas around us all day, every day. We just don’t pay attention. For me, with my clothing line, to get ideas, I would look at Louis Vuitton, Dior, Gucci, and Denmark. They have been in the business for a long time, so their ideas are working for them, so I try to market like them. Look up to people that are way ahead of you. Ideas are all around us. I am natural. I wake up and I sleep with ideas. Also, you should do what everybody else is not doing. A lot of people like to follow the crowd. You have to stay away from the crowd. Do what everyone else isn’t doing. Be unique. When it comes to ideas, I began reading. I read a lot of business books. So many people do not want to read. Ideas come from books that I read also. They come from seminars that I attended. They come from courses that I take. There are a lot of things they could do to be different, stand out, and make it work as an entrepreneur.
The growth of any brand is determined by its positioning. What can you say can help build brand positioning?
You have to think about your customers when it comes to building a brand. What do your customers say about you when you’re not around? For instance, I sold something to you, and when you get your package, you are like, Oh! The packaging is nice. The delivery was on time. That’s the key to building a brand. Customer service! But if I send you a package and a customer says, Oh! It took two weeks to send that package. What is the customer going to say behind my back? Brand positioning includes customer service, how you treat your customers, and how you nurture your customers. Remember, your customers build your brand. If there’s no customer, there’s no brand. You have to make sure that you treat your customers well. Customer service is key. I would say it’s a must for me. That could position you to win as a brand. The key is customer service. Your customers should be the priority. If you don’t have customers, whose money would you use to build your business? Who is going to support us if we don’t have customers? I pay attention to details. When it comes to my customers, I make sure they get their goods on time. I have a time frame. My orders have to be shipped out within 2 days. That’s one of the things I put in place to make sure that my system is in order. I send them emails, I nurture them, and I tell them good stuff. I send them self-care information and stuff like that. You have to figure out how to build your brand and how to nurture your customers. Make them know that you appreciate their spending money with you. Because with no money coming in from customers, there’s no business.
What does the business world mean to you and how does one scale in the creative world of business?
The business world means everything to me. I am obsessed with business. Everyone looks up to me for business advice because I am super creative. As I said, I just have this creative mindset; it’s in me. I love business. I grew to love it. I didn’t plan it. I didn’t plan to be an entrepreneur, but when it happened, I was hungry for more, so I started reading books, learning more and tapping into other entrepreneurs who do it, and tapping into self-development. Remember, we can all make money, but can we all keep the money that we make or do something good? Are we giving back? As an entrepreneur, I give back to society. I give back to my community. My business allowed me to do all these things, which is why I appreciate it.
How does one scale in a creative world? Focus on blocking the noise out. When you decide that you are going to go into business, you have to take it seriously. You have to know your numbers. A lot of people don’t check how much they make each week. They don’t check their expenses. They don’t check their insights. They don’t check traffic to their website. They don’t check a lot of things, and these are all part of building a brand. A lot of people don’t send emails. When it comes to building a brand, I think it’s not just about selling. You want to nurture a relationship with your customer. You scale by a customer telling her sister and her cousin about your brand. And now, she has her entire family shopping from you. That person is going to tell somebody else, and that’s how you scale. In summary, focus on knowing your numbers, treating your customers, and building relationships with them.
Show up for your brand even when no one shows up for it. Dress as you want to be addressed. Treat your brand as if it’s a Louis Vuitton, a Dior, or a Gucci. Even though it’s a small business, you are going to promote it like it’s a big business. Your website is going to be set up properly like a big business. It’s going to be structured like you’re running a business and not a game.
As an entrepreneur, and truly an inspiring one, where do you see your brand in 5 years?
I see all my brands bringing in millions of dollars and more in 5 brands. I have built a million dollars with all my brands combined, but in 5 years, I am going to see each of my brands be multi-million dollars. Because I am going to show up like they’re already multi-millionaire brands. That’s where I see all my brands in five years. When I started my makeup line, I was in trouble, so I couldn’t do the things I was meant to do. I put that behind me, so it’s like I am just in a peaceful state and growing, so I know that it’s going to happen, definitely a multi-million dollar brand separately.
As a health enthusiast, what advice do you have for young entrepreneurs on keeping their health in check?
Your health is super important. Health is your wealth because you can have money and if you’re not healthy, you won’t be able to enjoy your money. Personally, I take my health very seriously. I watch what I eat. I workout. My mental health is also important. Spiritual health is really important too. It’s not just physical health, it’s everything mental and spiritual. A lot of people don’t take it seriously, but I would recommend it for anyone starting a business to build mentally, physically, and spiritually. There are days that you don’t want to, and if you have mental strength, you would get up and know you have to do this. You have to be healthy and have the strength to get up and run your business every day. So why not treat your body right? Self-care: get a massage, run, and feel good about it. When you feel good, you look good and you do good.