Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Yulkendy Valdez, a consultant, facilitator, & public speaker based in Brooklyn, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant and public speaker. I work with leading organizations across sectors to support them in building more equitable systems. The majority of my work now focuses on the tech entrepreneurship ecosystem, working to mitigate funding gaps for founders of color.
Tell us about yourself
I am an Afro-Latina from St. Louis, Missouri. I immigrated at a young age from a small town in the Dominican Republic. I am a product of hard-working parents, grandparents, aunties, and uncles who came to the United States with a huge vision yet faced tremendous hardship. I am motivated every day by their hustle, resilience, and curiosity.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I worked with huge clients from SAP to the City of New York; however, what makes me proud is the ability to create safe spaces where people feel seen, heard, and valued in all corners of the world, from the U.K. to Chile.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The most challenging thing that comes with being a business owner is letting go of perfectionism. As entrepreneurs, we are uber-talented and very productive individuals. Yet, I had to work hard to unlearn what I was taught as a young girl - that failing is wrong and that you shouldn't let anybody down. You let many people down in business because you have so many things going on at once. Therefore, it's essential to prioritize your joy and well-being as you build.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Always be selling. As a young woman and a woman of color in particular, I was trained to "give" instead of "ask." Therefore, I needed to switch mindsets and focus on acquiring customers immediately. To do this, I had to be confident in the value I was providing and not be afraid of hearing "nos."
- Build a team of champions around you. This includes focusing on building a stellar team that complements your strength. However, entrepreneurship requires an entire community around you. Building reciprocal relationships with mentors, sponsors (leaders and executives who can provide opportunities for you in your industry), and other entrepreneurs is essential. Trust me, I am an introvert, and it is draining, but figuring out a way to do it authentically will be enriching.
- Invest in thought leadership. Everyone is an influencer these days, but that's a great thing. Incredibly, we are at a point in society where sharing our stories is accessible. Use your voice to dismantle the status quo and create a movement around what you care about. This pays dividends for your business.
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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