Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Veronica Cruz, CEO of Cruz and Associates, LLC., located in Silver Spring, MD, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Cruz and Associates is a consulting firm that specializes in Forensic Social Work (criminal defense), continuing education, and psychotherapy. We work hand in hand with attorneys doing mitigation work on criminal and civil matters. Our cases range from fraud to murder.
We provide assessments, reports, and court testimony- all aspects really help bring the critical pieces together in order to have the best possible outcomes. When not working on cases, we focus on curating evidenced based workshops and webinars on an array of topics. We often concentrate on the area of trauma and ethics.
Tell us about yourself
I am habitually rooting for the underdog and trying to tell the stories of voices that are often unheard. My passion for social justice and helping others lead me to the field of forensic and clinical social work. I started my career as a psychiatric social worker, and being in the emergency room taught me so many skills that I continue to explore and sharpen to this day. Since the age of sixteen, I have been working for someone else. When you work for someone else, you don’t get to make decisions freely.
In 2015 I left a very comfortable job because I felt signet and knew I needed to spread my wings and take my skill set to the next level. I wanted to be in control of my work, and I wanted to carry out my vision for my career would be. I always told myself I would own my own company and become an entrepreneur. I removed the fear and self-doubt and embarked on a journey of personal and professional self-discovery.
It wasn’t easy to leave a 9-5 job with a steady paycheck, but venturing into building my own brand and business has helped me to immensely grow both personally and professionally. I have always been a firm believer that if you love what you do, it never feels like a job but rather an intentional choice, and as a result, more is accomplished.
I also think it is extremely important to understand the significance of creating and maintaining a strong and loyal team. I surround myself with individuals that are smart, driven, transparent, and aren’t afraid to share their ideas and concerns with me. Having a solid support system and network only makes me stronger and pushes me to continue to set goals and achieve them.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is setting an example for my niece and nephews that we can believe in the beauty and strength of our dreams and become entrepreneurs or anything else we want to be.
The implications of that notion extend beyond my immediate family and set an example to other fellow women, in particular women of color, that we can be CEOs, run companies, and be limited only by our own imaginations and drives.
I took many risks and the first year was very challenging, but now, with every passing year, I am not only creating a legacy for my immediate family but for other little girls that look and sound like me. I want them to know that they can be their own boss, too, that they can be agents of change.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Time management is one of the hardest things about being a business owner. I feel like I am constantly balancing my work and personal life. I have to continually remind myself to slow down, breathe, and always think and calculate my next move. It is important to take time off. Even if it’s a staycation, take time off. It will help you to regroup, recharge and reprocess.
Those 3 R’s are fundamental for achieving success. I always reflect on a quote by Maya Angelou (We delight in the beauty of the butterfly but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty). I think this quote captures the essence of being a business owner. We delight in the concept of being a business owner, but we don’t always stop and think about all the sacrifices it takes to really achieve, in this case, succeed in the business world.
I am constantly learning to slow down and enjoy the journey and process of everything, rather than just keeping my eyes on the end product.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Prepare by having a nest egg (it does not have to be much) for 1-3 months so that decisions to take or not take a job are based on the merit of the work and not the size or need of the paycheck.
- Remember, you might be the perfect fit for a client, project, work assignment, etc., but that does not mean that they are a good fit for you. It’s okay to say no.
- Never lowball your skills and values. Be intentional with your time and efforts, and make sure you are always compensated for what you do. It’s important to know the value you bring to a project.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
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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