Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kristel Yoneda, Owner of Ikigai Marketing, located in Fullerton, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I own and operate Ikigai Marketing, which offers purpose-driven marketing and business coaching. Based on the Japanese concept of "ikigai" (reason for being), I help clients identify their own brand of ikigai and integrate that into a marketing strategy. I work with a wide of clients - from therapists to adult performers, authors, sex educators, restaurants, magazines, and so forth.
Tell us about yourself
I didn't set out to become a marketer. I used to want to be a fiction writer, and not-so-surprisingly, I found it was a natural fit between the two. I started doing copywriting, which naturally found its way into marketing and bigger-picture planning for businesses. My primary job has been working in the business sector of the adult industry for the last 13 years, and I was able to use what I learned and share it with others. Let's face it; it's a unique skill if you can convince customers to pay for their porn. Anyway, I work in the trans adult sector, and a few performers I know approached me about PR representation over five years ago. I told them at the time I hadn't considered it, but what they were searching for was someone who understood how to market trans performers both authentically and respectfully. This became a jumping-off point for expanding my client base to a variety of different sectors.
I like consulting with others - I find that's one of the most enjoyable aspects of my work. I like talking to individuals about their brands and seeing them get excited about the possibility of creating something authentic to who they are. It doesn't matter to me what product they are promoting, even if it's something they consider to be "boring." If they are excited about it, it's going to show in the work we do together and in the branding we concept together.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is represented behind the scenes in the successes of my clients. Some have won awards, others have hit financial goals they did not think possible or received media coverage they always wanted, and many have found new meaning and purpose in their work.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things about being a business owner is that it requires accountability in a very specific way that I would not have if I had worked for another company. As the owner of my business, I am responsible for its growth and also responsible for its setbacks. As an independent business owner, I work with a small team, and I have to hold the weight of being financially responsible for others. As a requirement, I need to be self-motivated and present in my work every day.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Dream and plan accordingly. In those beginning stages, allow yourself to dream about the possibilities and then create concrete, functional plans.
- Consult with people you trust and respect. It was so helpful for me to bounce ideas off people I trusted when I first started. They helped me identify my blind spots and also inspired me in a way that I don't think I could have done if my creative process was just on my own.
- Be patient. Running your own business is really an exercise in testing your distress tolerance. Be patient and self-compassionate as you get things up and running.
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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