APU Business Careers & Learning Leading Forward Podcast

Women Entrepreneurs: Four Pillars for Success

Podcast featuring Dr. Aikyna FinchFaculty Training Developer, Center for Teaching & Learning and
Marsha Guerrier, founder, HerSuiteSpot

Women, especially women of color, are among the fastest group of entrepreneurs. In this episode, APU’s Dr. Aikyna Finch talks to business coach and author Marsha Guerrier about her work helping women entrepreneurs succeed. Learn about her four pillars to help women entrepreneurs.

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Dr. Aikyna Finch: Greetings everyone, and welcome to the podcast. I am Dr. Aikyna Finch, and today, I’ll be talking to the wonderful Marsha Guerrier. Marsha Guerrier is a well-known business coach, public speaker, and bestselling author with a corporate resume spanning over 25 years.

Her achievements and bold stance as a leader in women’s empowerment has afforded the opportunities to be featured by TEDx, Black Enterprise, FOX 5 New York, and countless other media outlets. How are you doing today, Marsha?

Marsha Guerrier: Oh, I am doing so well. I’m so excited to talk to you, Dr. Finch, on today.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: This is so exciting because we are going to be discussing the four areas of business success today. And so can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you jumped into this business arena?

Marsha Guerrier: Absolutely. So like you said, I’m the founder of HerSuiteSpot, a private network for women advancing as leaders and entrepreneurs. And many years ago, I have been working so many years in the Fintech space, as you know, and I have been making rich people even richer. And one day, it dawned on me that I needed to give back and use my skills to support people who look like me, people who were not so rich, but were trying to enter into the arena of entrepreneurship.

As I worked with startup tech companies, I said to myself, I could use my abilities that’ve helped, again, make rich people even richer. Take my skills as an analyst, as a software test engineer and really support my community in helping them build the economic success that we all been looking for.

The African American women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs out here, and I just wanted to be able to give back to that group of people that look exactly like me.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: And, in the process of all your great work, you have come up with a formula to help women of color and people that look like you to become amazing with the four steps to business success. Can you share a little bit of those and tell us how you came about that?

Marsha Guerrier: Absolutely. So, it is my four pillars of success for advancing in your career or your business. I think that there are areas that we tend to overlook when we are trying to advance ourselves in any arena, whether it is as entrepreneurs or as career professionals climbing the corporate ladder. And, for me, the four pillars are mindset, money, marketing, and media.

And with mindset, I can take you down just a journey about each pillar that I like to ensure that women get the basic principles around these four pillars. For mindset, I strongly believe that it takes a certain type of mindset in order to believe in yourself and achieve the things that you want to achieve in your life.

And with money, we tend to overlook our money mindset and our money history and behavior. And, especially, when I lean into women of color and particularly Black women, there are some historical money habits and/or mindsets that we grew up with, that we’re really trying to help women overcome, understand their value and earn the income and the type of money that they richly deserve.

And in marketing, oftentimes, women don’t really realize when they’re seeking new employment and when they’re seeking to advance in their career, it’s marketing. It’s personal branding and marketing themselves, whether you’re doing it for your business or for your career. We help women get the marketing tools they need to advance.

And, for me, Dr. Finch, we love media and all forms of media. So, I like to teach people the importance of getting media, both online and offline, and in all forms to advance themselves as thought leaders within their industry.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: I love that. And where have you noticed that you seem to get the most pushback or the most interest in out of those four pillars?

Marsha Guerrier: So what is fascinating to me with every new person I meet and every new person that enters the sweet spot, as I call it, is the mindset pillar because they come to me seeking to increase revenue, to increase their income with the money pillar, right? They come to me seeking to improve their marketing knowledge, skillset, and abilities for their brand and their business.

And then, as we begin to unpeel some of the layers that possibly been blocking them from advancing, we get to the mindset issues and the blockers. And oftentimes, people are so surprised at the breakthroughs that they get when they pay attention to their mindsets and what’s been blocking them from advancing.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: So, that is a wonderful thought. So people come to you with all the other pillars and never even think about needing a mindset shift. So how do you kind of hit them with their heads, they say? How do you hit them with the fact that it’s not really a money problem, it’s really a mindset problem? It’s not really a media problem. It’s a mindset problem. How do you address that?

Marsha Guerrier: As we go through the planning phases within each phase and within each pillar, we really are talking openly and comfortably. It’s a safe space that I create for my entrepreneurs and for my professionals to open up about their blockers, their past behaviors. And I really do start, when I’m working with someone, I really do start to get to know them personally. And so that I can understand what I believe are some of the blockers.

Now, in a technical form, yes, they may not know concepts. We may reintroduce them to concepts that they’ve known before and forgotten, but when they think about what has caused them the blockage to forget and/or to increase their prices, that’s one of the major things that we work on, the fear of increasing prices because of our worthiness, and all of that stems from your mindset about yourself, the mindset that other people have placed on you.

And so what’s fascinating is that generally they may have a strong mindset for themselves, but they don’t realize the limiting beliefs that people put on them, that they are creeping up into their mindset, into their processes, and it blocks them from continuing to achieve or to advance and achieve the things that they want to achieve.

So, it’s really a process of getting to know, I work with a lot of coaches, and I work personally with coaches that generally don’t really work with the whole person, right? They sit and they niche into their business, and they look more so what are your marketing needs, and they work on that and that solely. And really, I think for me, it’s important that I incorporate all four pillars into the work and the community resources that I provide women inside HerSuiteSpot.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: I love that. Let’s talk about the breakdown. So, now that they know the four pillars, they know where they’re falling, they’ve addressed that mindset, let’s address the money.

Marsha Guerrier: Oftentimes, we are used to earning what other people say we should earn. When we talk about and think about our career and our salaries, I think now is such a fascinating time in corporate world and corporate America, in the workforce, where minimum wage is being challenged throughout the country. We’re trying to advance even at the minimum wage level.

But women, particularly, are demanding that the wage gap get closed. For every dollar a man makes, I believe it’s 70 cents that a woman would make, and for women of color, it goes even further down.

And in the sectors or the areas of women of color versus African American and Latino women, Asian women, it starts to dwindle down. And I think in the last year, probably two years, as the #MeToo movement started, as the, I think, This Is Us, there are a couple of movements that have started in the last couple of years that really have shined a light on the disparities of revenue and income that women are having. And many companies I’m seeing are really working towards closing that gap, and that’s been a great thing.

But for many women inside HerSuiteSpot, we’re filling that wage gap through entrepreneurship. People seek entrepreneurship as a way to make extra money or to make the first set of money, as their primary source of income. Why? Because the workforce has not afforded them the opportunity to make the money that they need to thrive and/or basically bare minimum existing.

So, entrepreneurship has been a great way, and that’s why women have been at the forefront of building more businesses. As we’re building businesses, we’re also getting access to less money, or we’re not getting the access to money. So, there is a full circle thing that’s happening when it comes to women—our need to earn as much and more, and yet our ability to be seen and valued and given more.

Marsha Guerrier: And, right now, getting access to funding for entrepreneurs and especially the women and women of color has been something that has been made public. And all of the organizations that I am so happy that are finally now doing the research, the McKinney report, American Express small business, women business report that comes out, that shines a light on the disparities that women face when it comes to money.

And our pillar focuses on teaching women where to get money, how to get money, how to be confident about money. We were taught so many years ago, Dr. Finch, not to speak about money. Women were raised to be money-humble, as I say, humble about money. Even now, the wealthy and the uber-wealthy, they don’t talk money. We don’t talk money. It’s something that’s been passed down. And women are bold now. We’re sharing what our salaries are. We’re sharing what we’re making in order to help support the next female coming up to earn more.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: Ooh, I love that. Now, we’ve covered the mindset. We’ve covered the money. Now, we’re getting ready to cover the marketing because that is where people find out about you and how you can serve them through your business. So, tell us a little bit about that marketing pillar.

Marsha Guerrier: It’s that personal and professional brand. It is a story you want to be told about yourself and what you want people to talk about you, the reputation that you build based on your values, based on your character. Your marketing efforts are built completely around the business or the career that you are trying to advance in, your ability to be effective, unique, and deliver the things that you say you want to deliver and are capable of delivering, and connecting that to your ideal customer, and if it’s your career, to your ideal company that you want to work for.

It is understanding that line between your self-assessment and the perception. What are people saying about you when you’re not in the room? What are people saying about your brand when you are not in the room?

I did a workshop recently on personal branding, and I showed the group several different logos, and I asked each of them to go through and tell me the first word, the first emotion that comes to mind when you see different brands. And without even realizing it, I showed Disney, Mickey Mouse. When I showed that without realizing, everyone smiled, because that’s what you feel when you see and you think about Mickey Mouse, and you think about Disney World or Disneyland. It’s a place of joy and happiness.

And that’s really what your brand says about you. When you are sharing, especially as the digital world has become the mainstay for connecting, with other people and other resources, as you have your digital footprint created and built, that is what you are putting out into the universe, into the world for people to see exactly who you are and what you stand for.

People think, “Oh my God, marketing, it’s just doing ads and really just coming up with catchy jingles and catchy sayings,” because they’re looking at big corporate commercials and such, but truly, marketing is such a vast area. Because of the digital landscape and technology, there are so many avenues to market and build a personal brand. And social media has been a really great space for many people to build the personas that they would like to be known for.

And we teach people how to do that effectively. We teach people how to be authentic in building their brand and marketing themselves. You’re marketing yourself before anything else. Half the time, people buy from who they know, like and trust. We’re all in the market for a pair of shoes. Everybody’s got to wear shoes on their feet. But we’re buying from Nike because Nike inspires us to just do it, versus Yeezy, who’s all about the rap or relates to a different and a younger population of people. It’s all in the building of the personal persona that you want people to connect with you on.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: Now, we’re going to address the media. What do they need to know about that?

Marsha Guerrier: Our favorite subject, Dr. Finch, right?

Dr. Aikyna Finch: Yes.

Marsha Guerrier: Media, and we talk about all forms of media. People think media is just social media, but, the reality TV being such a main source of connecting people in one aspect and social media being the new face of what television looks like. Before, you could only be what’s, quote, known as TV if you were literally on ABC, NBC, all the channels that we know, but because of YouTube TV, social media, we have learned that there are so many ways to connect with people through media.

I personally believe that it is everyone’s, I was about to say right, but I think everyone should seek media and a way to—like a podcast, this is the fastest rising form of media for people to communicate with their ideal community, to build community, to share information that is relevant and important to a group of people at the same time. I think podcasting is one of the forms of media that is pretty much here to stay. We are able to share and talk about the things that we’re passionate about and be thought leaders in areas through podcasting and outside of just watching a video, outside of just showing pictures.

Social media is great, but it fades and it doesn’t last as long, right? Although they say, “Watch what you put on social media, because it is there forever.” I saw someone say the other day, “Well, where are all the websites where you would put content?” And then now, those websites are gone, like the Myspaces, the very first type of community spaces. All of that is gone now, but it lives somewhere. It does live somewhere. Those who need to find it will find it on media.

But, media, I think, it’s important that when you are trying to build your brand as a thought leader in your industry, that you know how to properly interview, how to be, nd the art of storytelling is one of the things and the principles that we teach when we talk about media inside HerSuiteSpot. How do you get interviews for podcasts? How do you get interviews for blogs, writing on people’s blogs, other websites? Blogs is a form of media for you to share more of your thought leadership, so that you become the go-to person and the expert within the industry that you are serving.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: Since you mentioned HerSuiteSpot, tell us how HerSuiteSpot puts all of these four pillars together.

Marsha Guerrier: We do it in a number of ways, primarily through group coaching and our membership platform. And we help you develop your business plan using those four pillars as the foundation for developing a plan for you to achieve your goals for your business.

And we also have our platform, which we host different experts, such as yourself, that come in and teach in the areas of mindset, money, marketing, and media, to help our members get the skillsets that they need to advance in their career or their business.

And one thing that we also do is host events, live events, our annual women’s conference, where, again, we use these four pillars as a way to create the content that we know our community is seeking.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: So, if you were able to put all four of these pillars in a nice, neat bow, if you had that 30-second elevator pitch, as we all know. What would you say about these?

Marsha Guerrier: I would say that our four pillars of success are the tools and the resources women need to advance, to reach their economic success, because without them, we are really not going in the direction that we need to elevate.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: Oh, that’s awesome. Marsha, I want to thank you so much for being with me today. This was amazing. And, for the audience, if you’re looking to start a business, if you’re looking to elevate your business to the next level, consider these four pillars that Marsha just spoke about, and, better yet, reach out to Marsha. Her contact information is going to be here in the notes. And we would be so excited to hear which ways you’re going and how this podcast truly affected you.

Marsha Guerrier: It was such my pleasure. Thank you, Dr. Finch, for having me on your show. I really appreciate this conversation and being able to share my thoughts on what the four pillars of success or what the roadway and roadmap to business and career advancement with you and your listeners.

Dr. Aikyna Finch: Well, thank you so much. And, until next time, I’m Dr. Aikyna Finch. Be safe and be well.

Dr. Aikyna Finch is a Faculty Member at American Public University. She received a Doctorate of Management, an MBA in Technology Management and an Executive MBA from Colorado Technical University. She has an M.S. in Management in Marketing, an M.S. in Information Systems in IT Project Management from Strayer University, and a B.S. in Aeronautical Technology in Industrial Electronics from the School of Engineering at Tennessee State University. She is a podcaster, social media coach and speaker. She is a member of the Forbes Coaches Council and a contributor to Huffington Post, Goalcast, Forbes and Thrive Global. She can be found at DrADFinch on all social media platforms.

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