Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lyndon Brathwaite, Founder, and CEO of OPAAT-SWY Consulting Ltd., located in Port of Spain, Diego Martin, Trinidad and Tobago.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My company is a Sales Enablement company, the first in the English-speaking Caribbean. Sales Enablement is a fancy word, but it generally means that we focus on helping clients change how they sell to meet how their existing and potential customers buy. To do this, we have to focus on any or all of three things, 1) People, 2) Processes, and 3) Technology.
Based on my corporate experience, the industries we focus on are Automotive, B2B Tech, Office Equipment, Higher Education, Insurance, and Real Estate. While we have and are open to supporting clients in other sectors, these six are our core for now.
Tell us about yourself
I'm an easy-going chap who believes in going after whatever I put my mind to or what's in front of me. But it wasn't always like that. Growing up, I was not very good at school. I had confidence issues because I could not pass a test. Even though I felt there was more to who I was when I was younger, because of my poor academic performance and the way that was and still is frowned upon in my country, I felt like a failure.
That all began changing when I was given the opportunity to do something I wanted to do, and my potential started to shine. Also, I always tell people that sales changed my life because it gave me the opportunity to be innovative and creative and connect with people. I started sales in 2003 and fell in love with it. While I was never a top salesperson, I studied sales and consistently got better at it and found that people started coming to me for tips, advice, resources, etc. From there, somewhere in 2014, the seed of becoming a sales trainer or coach was born, and as I said earlier, I love helping people and am also very focused, so here I am today.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Good question because there are many little ones that have made a huge impact on my journey as an entrepreneur/business owner. I'd say my biggest accomplishment has been being able to get myself out of debt and support myself and my daughter over the last four years. That journey has not been easy, but I'm in a good place now and just working on building from there.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things I had to deal with was imposter syndrome. Deciding to leave the corporate umbrella and "go solo" was hard as I felt exposed. My personal and company brand was not well-established, and I knew it would take time for people and companies to trust me to do what I said I could do. If I had to be really honest, I even doubted myself sometimes, but the more I persevered and committed to learning and growing. My confidence built, and things got easier as time passed.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Get Your Money Right: My biggest mistake was not having enough set aside and thinking that the business would do well early so my lifestyle would not be too affected. Boy, was I wrong! Be realistic with yourself and about your entrepreneurial aspirations, and put the right things in place. Consider things like loans, spending habits, lifestyle, etc.
- Plan & Execute: Planning in business is extremely important. I started planning and mapping out what I wanted my business to look like. While it looks different from the plan today, having that plan was a big help. Second to planning is execution. Too many entrepreneurs get stuck on planning without executing, and you would know how good your plan is unless you try executing it.
- Patience & Support Systems: We all have different business aspirations, and some will do well faster than others. If things are taking longer to bear fruit, it does not mean that what you are doing isn't good; it might just mean you need to revisit your plan or have more patience. Lastly, a good support system is important inside and outside your journey. Stay close to people who can guide you in your business, and have a circle that can help you take your mind off your business. Why? Because sometimes the best ideas come when you're not thinking about them.
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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