Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in marketing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Juan Alanis, Founder & Chief Content Officer of Big Oak Tree Media, located in Houston, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I own two public relations and marketing firms. The first is Big Oak Tree Media, which I founded in 2016, and is a full-service agency working with large-scale corporations and brands interested in connecting with diverse audiences and specifically the Texas Latino market. In 2020, I also founded Market Street Consultants, a sister company to Big Oak Tree Media, which focuses on working with diverse communities in Texas and Northwest Arkansas. With Market Street Consultants, we have been able to expand our services to include community engagement, podcast production, and custom marketing offerings to nonprofit organizations and small businesses. We have also successfully leveraged our relationships with responsible corporate citizens to partner with them in a unique business model that allows us to provide more accessible pricing options for underserved communities.
Tell us about yourself
I am the first-gen son of Mexican immigrants who raised their children along the Texas-Mexico border and then moved to the most diverse city in the United States, Houston, Texas. I studied communications there and worked as a journalist, a spokesman, and in the agency environment before launching my first business. I also had the great fortune of meeting my wife Anjelica there, who is first gen as well and just as driven as myself. Together we began building our presence online through social media in 2010, starting with a blog that has now evolved into two podcasts and an entire team of talented storytellers, marketers, and communicators.
To me, what is most motivating about the work we do is being able to create opportunities. Be the opportunities for underserved communities, for our own team members' personal and professional growth, for our clients, the communities we call home in Houston's East End and in Northwest Arkansas, and of course, for ourselves. Being able to create a welcoming space everywhere we go is invaluable. I think we really value that as a team because we know firsthand what it is to not have had those same experiences.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I would have to say the team that I am continuing to develop. Followed very closely by the trust we have been able to earn with our clients and within our industry as trustworthy professionals and reputable agencies.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Sometimes when you are starting out, you don't really understand that not everyone is starting from the same starting point and not everyone is playing in the same sandbox. It can be easy to want to compare and contrast, but doing so is really not a good thing. While I am definitely always honest to criticism and listen to different perspectives, I have also learned to keep my attention on what I am doing and how we as a team our building and moving forward. I can't invest too much energy into looking at what anyone else is doing, and I don't want to. There is enough business to go around, and when someone else wins, I want to be able to celebrate with them instead of thinking about how I measure up.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- First and foremost, please make sure that you understand the financials. And by that, I mean making sure you have separate personal and business accounts, that you are separating your expenses, and that you are informed about what taxes you are paying and when they are due. I would say definitely work with a CPA.
- Secondly, it is so important to invest in your business. Money comes in, and you put it back into the business. Even when doing so is scary or if it means your lifestyle isn't changing anytime soon. It sounds cliche, but to make money, you really have to spend money - and it's going to feel like taking a leap of faith a lot of times. You are just going to have to go for it. Take the risk.
- I guess the last thing I would say is to make sure you have the right team in your corner. A lot of times, we stay in situations that are less than favorable because we don't want to ruffle any feathers or make any drastic changes. In business, I think you have to learn to make decisions and take action. The longer you delay a decision, the more of an impact your business will feel in many cases
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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