Digital marketing expert, CEO and Co-founder of Social Vibes Media Vicky Llerena found her journey as a Millennial Latina entrepreneur after feeling bored and unhappy with her corporate job. Her company, Social Vibes Media is a digital marketing agency focused on helping small businesses increase their brand presence and teaches entrepreneurs how to get online customers with unorthodox tips for success.
“I’m a millennial,” she says, “so my idea of highly successful habits might seem quite unorthodox to some.” As for the unexpected, Vicky has some of her own tips for success that perhaps may seem a little unusual.
The highly subjective, ambiguous term “success” can be interpreted in many ways. Vicky’s interpretation is this: take care of the mind, the body, and the soul.
Here are her 4 habits for success:
1. Always take breaks. I can’t seem to sit still. I fidget and toss and turn. My legs itch, my head begins to twitch, and I feel uneasy if I sit for too long. This is the problem I had working in corporate. I almost felt forced to sit still. When I ventured into my business, I felt an ease in taking breaks. Step away from your laptop for 15 min, walk outside, and allow your muscles to relax.
2. Connect with others. I often found that the most interesting conversations happened during the most unexpected situations: on a train ride, at a coffee shop, in line at supermarket, etc. We love to connect with others; it’s part of our inherent human nature. Allow yourself to genuinely connect with strangers (of course, with precautions) because some of these folks might be potential prospects, business partners, or angel investors.
3. Mindful Meditation. Mediate when you are alone or even while typing on your laptop. Writing has been a therapeutic process for me as well. Allow your thoughts to flow in a stream of consciousness style (think James Joyce). Pray or mindful meditation reminds us that there is more to life than a lucrative business plan.
4. Hustle hard
Practicing these four habits will help enrich the mind, body, and soul, and when one is centered and content– both physically, mentally, and spiritually– success is sure to follow.
She began her business after many years working in the corporate world. But how does one suddenly decide to quit their stable corporate job to start their own business?
For Vicky it all started with an itch.
She would sit fidgeting restlessly at her desk. This was the first symptom of what she called “entrepreneurial fever.” Her corporate eight-to-five job just wasn’t satisfying her anymore. She craved more.
“I desired for work that created value in my life,” Vicky shares. She did not know exactly what she wanted to do yet, but she knew corporate was no longer the place for her.
At the time she worked for PRN, a corporate wire distribution service. There she learned about multimedia marketing and how technology worked to connect people to a company’s message. She moved up the corporate ladder from entering journalist information into a database to creating user guides and manuals as part of the editorial team. Loving the world of marketing and helping others build their brands, Vicky began to formulate an idea to start her own marketing agency.
Then one day the fever just took over.
“I told myself, ‘I really want to do this on my own. I think I could help friends and family that have small businesses.’ So, I saved for about a year and then quit my corporate job to launch Social Vibes Media!”
Learning the hard way
When Vicky began her venture the first thing she did was open up a business credit card.
“This was one of the biggest mistakes I made as a small business owner,” she says. She did not yet have the customer base to support herself and so quickly she accumulated debt and had to borrow money from her savings.
“You need to first bootstrap while you get your first few customers and start generating revenue,” Vicky explains. “Then, when you’re more confident, you can apply for a loan or borrow money or open up a credit card.”
Another issue she struggled with at the start was utilizing her resources. When the company began, they decided to start and in-house team of videographers, which meant spending money on very expensive equipment– from cameras and tripods to laptops and software. These purchases only added to her debt.
These first mistakes however have taught her a great deal about managing cash flow and being resourceful. She has learned to cut overhead expenses such as tools, software, and equipment, by outsourcing or working in partnership with another company that already has the resources.
“We quickly learned that there was a pool of really good freelance videographers, photographers, and directors that you can work with that have their own equipment, editing tools, and software.”
Art of business and digital marketing
Collaborating and seeking help from other professionals is all a part of the art of business. To be successful in business one must connect with and learn from others. From working in partnerships to saving money on resources to problem solving with a mentor, business is all about team work.
Vicky has found her mentors to be invaluable wells of wisdom and support. She urges aspiring entrepreneurs to develop mentors in their lives and to absorb as much information as possible from them.
“I can attribute mentorship to my growth and success,” she says. “My mentors have helped me develop habits, open resources, and create strategies that otherwise would be difficult to figure out.”
Mentors can be life long friends, professional colleagues, or even the author of a book you really enjoy.
Earlier this year Vicky got to meet one of her favorite authors that she had been “obsessing” over. Chris Voss, author of Never Split the Difference, reached out to her after she posted an Instagram picture of her favorite books she had recently read, which included his own.
“He’s a master at the art of negotiation,” she says. “The art of business and sales has everything to do with psychological strategies.”
The two met up for coffee in NYC and Vicky eagerly picked his sales negotiation skills like a sponge that day.
One truly never knows who will end up being a mentor, so it’s important to always be listening, reading, learning, and connecting with new people. Sometimes the best guidance is the most unexpected.
With over ten years of experience in her field, Vicky has worked at Univision and PRNewswire and with organizations such as Rising Tide Capital, Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of NJ, Fownders, Latinas In Business Inc. and Small Business Development Center.
She has been featured in NJBiz, Huffington Post, CEO Blog Nation, and many other media outlets. Some of her awards and recognition include: the 2017 Top 25 Brand Builder presented by Leading Women Entrepreneurs, the 2017 Withum CPA Strength Story Entrepreneur Award, 2017 Lead Hudson County Recognition, and in 2016 she was recognized by NJBiz as a growing woman and minority marketing agency.