Small Business Interview: Yetunde Shorters, Founder, Icy Academy & Afropolitan Chef
Meet Yetunde Shorters, a serial entrepreneur and founder of ICY Academy and Afropolitan Chef. She is a public relations and branding guru, and also a best selling author! She's super inspiring and her positive energy is contagious. Needless to say I'm a huge fan of hers! In this interview, Yetunde shares the 5 things she thinks are most important in order to successfully run your business, managing small business finances, her biggest business challenges and successes and so much more. Enjoy!
Please introduce yourself and tell us about your business. What is it called and what services do you offer?
My name is Yetunde Shorters. I am a lifestyle serial entrepreneur in the business of doing the things that I love. Founder and Creator of ICYACADEMY.COM and AFROPOLITANCHEF.COM.
I believe that if we all stepped fully into our purpose the world would be a better place. I help female entrepreneurs step into their purpose doing what they love, helping people and building profits.
I do this by creating a personal brand with women who are ready to hug their fears and live in abundance. Together, we create an engaging, fun and result driven personality brand that encompasses their full self. The services I offer include Publicity, Marketing and brand development strategies that provide results.
Can you share a bit about how you choose this line of business? What transition did you make to owning your own business?
I chose to get into Public Relations/Marketing in the summer of 1999 in college, when I realized the power of the media to influence people’s decision making with a simple ad. I wanted to be a part of that communications world to be intentional about the message about my clients I got to share with the world.
From my internship with CBS that began in the summer of 2000, to my last corporate job as the Director of Marketing and Public relations for a classical music and dance events planning company, deciding to become a full time entrepreneur was planned.
I spent the years prior paying off debts, I saved a comfortable amount of money and in January 2009 I resigned from my position and decided it was time to cheer entrepreneurs on in living their purpose. I was able and still doing this through my PR company, ICY Public Relations.
Do you have any special training?
Yes, I studied communication in college with a focus on PR and Advertising.
What are some of your biggest accomplishments as a business owner?
As a business owner my business accomplishments have ranged over the years, from working with Award winning entertainers on their music videos to producing and self publishing 3 Amazon best selling books in the last 3 years. I have also appreciated the power of developing my own system that allows my business to run more efficiently.
How soon after you started did you start seeing profits? Or when do you project to begin earning a profit?
I started ICY Public Relations in 2007, so I worked on it while I was with the classic music company. Profits officially started coming in 2010, once I opened up our pr offers to include project and brand management. We found our sweet spot.
How did you decide how to price your services? How did you determine what your services were worth?
That was a bit tough because I went full-time into my business just when the economy went into a depression. At that point I decided to have 2 price points. One for my new solopreneurs and the second for my high-end clients. Trying to decide the value of our services, I did some research on what others in my industry were charging.
I used google, I called some older publicists, then I also estimated how long things take to get done and I averaged out to what I felt comfortable with. The biggest determination was helping my clients understand VALUE, so my costs are the least of their concerns.
What mistakes,if any, have you made with your business? What have some of your biggest challenges been? What did you learn from the experience and how did you bounce back?
Oh! I have made so many mistakes. My biggest was spending too much time developing proposals for prospects that I did not vet properly. I found out that some publicists use my template to pitch their own clients.
I was flabbergasted when a couple of prospects sent me the proposals from other publicist so I could see what they put together. I was reading it like “OMG! these persons used my proposal layout and words verbatim”. I have since developed a more secure process to our proposal submissions. The biggest challenge was and has been time management and learning to delegate. I am so much better at this now.
I have hired 3 new team mates and I learn to take time for myself to recharge. Because I realize, if I am not balanced, my business suffers for it. So I strive for balance, and I pay people to do what they are great at so I can focus on the “business” of my business.
What do you consider the most important elements of running a successful small business?
There are 5 things that are important to running a successful business:
1. Understand what value you provide to the marketplace
2. Realize WHY you are in this business
3. Invest in hiring good employees
4. Keep communication open with your clients. ( Don’t go AWOL on them) Integrity is priceless
5. Above all, have fun with all of it. You’re an owner, Your power lies in understanding what ownership means.
Do you have any start-up advice you can share with women reading this who would like to launch their own businesses?
For women looking to start-up their company, stop by my blog and check out this article - THE 21 Steps to Entrepreneurship: START TODAY!
These were the steps I followed to launch my own business. I recommend it to every new entrepreneur that I counsel.
Do you have any advice on managing your small business finances?
Yes, your accountant is your best friend. But until you find one, keep track of EVERYTHING. How much things cost, how much comes in, how much goes out, yes, even gas when you go on meetings. Above all always remember your money should make you money. If you think of an idea, figure out based on what services you offer how your business can come up with the funds itself, without you coming out of pocket.
How do you balance work and life owning a small business?
I had to learn this the hard way. After experiencing Adrenal Fatigue 3 years ago. I had to learn to listen. The balance is in listening to your body. Have some respect for your body. It's the shell that you'll be in till you transition.
It's not like a car, you can't buy a new one. So maintain it so it can keep performing at optimal level. Remembering that I am valuable and worthy of happiness give me permission to honor my passion, my body and my soul.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years I see myself teaching thousands of more women how to master their purpose in a way that is beneficial to themselves and those they are supposed to support and help. I am a cheerleader for women ready to LIVE IN THEIR PURPOSE.
Please share a fun fact about yourself
I dance when I am happy about what I am eating. I am very unconscious of it :)
Thank you for such an awesome interview Yetunde! You can find her by logging on to her website at www.yetundeshorters.com