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Jennifer Garcia

Jennifer Garcia tells you how to leave a secure job to launch your dream business

Jennifer Garcia is a multi-faceted business professional and leadership coach with a passion for empowering people and transforming businesses. She is the Chief Operating Officer of Latino Business Action Network (LBAN), a collaboration with Stanford University driving research, providing education, and cultivating a growing ecosystem of 800 scaled Latino and Latina entrepreneurs across the United States and Puerto Rico, who contribute nearly $4.9 billion in annual revenue. 

Jennifer Garcia, founder of Fluential Leadership. (Photo courtesy Jennifer Garcia)

Jennifer is also the founder of Fluential Leadership, a business and leadership consulting firm focused on elevating small-to-medium-sized business performance through developing and executing growth strategies, recruitment, and retaining talent.

Cutting the ‘golden handcuffs’ to start business from zero 

Like many entrepreneurs, Jennifer was driven to start her own business out of a desire to pursue her passion and make an impact. For fourteen years, Jennifer worked in the finance industry and in a variety of leadership roles at Bloomberg, a global financial data provider. Through her work, she recognized her strength in developing people, transforming teams and departments. 

Her work at LBAN has also allowed her to continue elevating Latino businesses to the next level by creating growth pathways. Jennifer’s passion for helping women and Latino business owners and leaders grow is what ultimately led her to launching her dream project, Fluential Leadership in 2018. 

Jennifer wanted to make a greater impact and use her expertise as a leader and consulting coach to help others achieve their own career goals and dreams. 

“I positioned myself to equip business leaders and elevate small-to-medium-sized businesses, which are the driving force in the U.S. economy,” says Jennifer. “I have a unique perspective with a long corporate career, first-hand experience as a business owner and a birds-eye view supporting businesses through LBAN and Fluential Leadership. I’ve learned that there are systematic challenges and barriers for women in professional careers, and in entrepreneurship.”

Launching Fluential Leadership was the first step for Jennifer was both exciting and challenging. She was stepping into the unknown and leaving the comfort, certainty, and stability of her career. 

“I stepped away from a successful career, a secure job inclusive of all the benefits provided by a top-tier corporation. I often describe it as the cutting of ‘golden handcuffs’.  The challenge was going from zero to one, building from scratch, doing the role of a CEO, CMO, CFO, content writer, content deliverer, and much more,” says Jennifer. 

entrepreneur, leadership, mentor

Jennifer Garcia mentoring at an event. (Photo courtesy Jennifer Garcia)

However, these initial challenges only helped to further fuel Jennifer’s passion and determination. Launching Fluential Leadership afforded her the opportunity to pursue something she was passionate about and build something that was all her own. She says there were many long days and nights, but she put in the time and effort, determined to make an impact and follow through on her dream. 

“Each of our journeys are unique, our entrepreneurial dreams or careers are personal, and so is the price that is paid for it,” she says. “It’s important for me to understand my ‘WHY’. Why am I doing this? Why am I putting in the long hours, why did I step away from a secure career?  It is that understanding that sustains me through the season.  And I do remember that seasons change.”

Owning your story

Like the changing seasons, life can be unpredictable. However, change is good and necessary for any progress or growth. Every entrepreneur is on their own personal journey and that journey becomes your story. Where you started from, how you worked to get to where you are today, where you stumbled and failed, and where you succeeded. 

“My story is my unique strength, and so is yours,” says Jennifer. “It is my story and experiences that shaped who I am today, how I approach business, and the lens in which I propel other business leaders. I grew up selling Christmas trees and firewood on the side of the road with my father, not around the dining room table discussing stocks and bonds or venture capital. The conversations and the work I do today with my kids, with women professionals and business owners, has the ability to empower and elevate leaders, creating exponential and generational impact.  Regardless of my starting line, my purpose is consistent and that is to move the needle for women, business leaders and the Latino community.” 

business, leadership, mentor, storytelling

“Don’t mute your story. Let the world know!” (Photo courtesy Jennifer Garcia)

For entrepreneurs, both established and aspiring, embrace your story and own it. Your story is what will set you apart from others. Your story is uniquely yours. 

“Don’t mute your story,” says Jennifer, “let the world know!” 

Writing your story, telling it to the world, and following through on your dreams can be daunting and even downright terrifying. But the alternative is never trying, never sharing, never starting. Jennifer took a chance on her dream, stepping away from the comfort of a corporate job to build something new. 

You might be interested: Employees are quitting in record numbers to start their own business

To the aspiring entrepreneurs looking for that final push, Jennifer says, “Go for it! Jump and grow wings on the way down. There will always be logical reasons why today is not a good time to start your business or aspire for the new career move.  I’ve found that opportunity doesn’t always present itself in opportune times and we just need to embrace it.  Learn what you can from the season.  To borrow a few lines from the powerful poem by William Arthur Ward:

Believe while others are doubting

Plan while others are playing

Begin while others are procrastinating

Work while others are wishing

Persist while others are quitting

Grow with Google: Lucy Pinto discusses digital tools, trends, and resources for small businesses 

A report conducted by Grow with Google in partnership with the Connected Commerce Council found that since the pandemic began, 72% of Latino businesses are now using digital tools to reach customers online and keep their businesses open. 

Post-Covid Recovery: Trends in technology and digital tools 

Since the pandemic hit in March of last year, the impact on small businesses has been tremendous. Across the country, small businesses have struggled to stay afloat as restrictions continue to disrupt their business flow. Some of the small businesses that have been hit the hardest are minority-owned small businesses. 

During Latina in Business’ March virtual panel, “Latina Small Business Post-Covid: Recovery Resources and Trends,” panelists discussed how the pandemic has shifted our relationship with technology. Now more than ever, businesses are relying on digital tools to connect with customers, grow, and thrive. Lucy Pinto, who is the Manager of Diversity and Community Training programs for Google joined the conversation, sharing insights and resources on digital tools for small businesses. 

As the Grow with Google Program Manager, Lucy works to level the playing field for communities who face digital divides and barriers to digital resources. She manages the Grow with Google Digital Coaches Program which delivers free digital skills training for U.S. Black & Latino small businesses. 

Lucy Pinto shares digital trends and resources 

Lucy Pinto, Grow with Google Program Manager.

Pilar Avila, Latinas in Business Board Member and Chair of Finances and Governance, moderated the virtual panel. Below are some highlights from her conversation with Lucy Pinto on how small businesses can utilize digital tools, such as the Grow with Google program to help their businesses thrive. 

Pilar Avila  4:09  

So Lucy, access to technology. Digital Access has been, before, during and post pandemic critical for the growth of businesses. However, in many communities, many families, we have seen that the digital divide, and the lack of access to resources…has been accentuated with a pandemic. However, we know that you at Google are addressing exactly those challenges through your program Grow with Google Digital Coaches. Can you tell us about the program and the impact that it’s having as well as any growth trends that you’re identifying through the program, or any other services and programs at Google?

Lucy Pinto  5:45  

Yes, absolutely. Thank you so much for that. And thank you for the opportunity to be here….So Grow with Google is really Google’s initiative to provide digital skills training to Americans across all states. And so, as part of that initiative, one of our main focuses is to really focus on small business communities because we know that small businesses are the backbone of the country. And when you get a little bit more granular, what we do know, as data will show is that the rate at which Black and Latino businesses in the country are growing far extends those of other peers. And so we know that Black and Latino businesses, Latina businesses, as well, are fueling new business growth in the country.

And so in 2017, as part of an effort to help those businesses, those new Latino businesses that are launching and growing, we developed a program called the Grow with Google Digital Coaches Program to specifically cater and reach small businesses that are Black-owned, or Latino-owned. And through the Digital Coaches Program, we provide free digital skills training and coaching to help these small businesses grow and thrive online. And since 2017, we have actually helped train over 60,000 small business owners, where we have digital coaches.

Our coaches deliver workshops in English and Spanish as well, because we know that sometimes they’re you know, in these communities, especially, you have a lot of immigrant communities that come in, you know, they’re starting their businesses, they’re launching, and sometimes they prefer to get information in Spanish. And so we want to make sure that we’re not leaving anybody behind. And we have, we have those workshops in Spanish as well. 

When COVID hit, we really had to pivot our own program plan, because all of these trainings and programs were done in person. And so when COVID hit we pivoted to virtual and that April, I remember last April, we saw such a tremendous interest in learning about these digital tools. So much so that as a Grow with Google team, we ended up partnering with the Connected Commerce Council to lead a report on what are the trends that we’re seeing during COVID? What are our small businesses doing? How are they feeling? How are they thinking? And as part of that report, we actually found some very interesting facts, very specific to Latino small businesses.

You might be interested: Latina Leaders share small business post-Covid recovery resources 

Key findings from the report 

  • Since the pandemic began, a large percentage of Latino small businesses are relying on digital tools as a safety net. 
  • 32% of Latino small businesses have been forced to close because of COVID. That’s 1 in every 3. 
  • 72% of Latino businesses (compared to 60% percent of the general public) adopted Google tools and digital tools to reach customers online, to update their customers, and to expand their reach and stay open.

How to grow your business with Google

Grow with Google Digital Coaches Program delivers free digital skills training for U.S. Black & Latino small businesses. The program has trained over 60,000 businesses on digital tools and works on initiatives that invest in communities that are underrepresented online to untap their potential, help them succeed, and drive bottom line impact. As our world becomes increasingly more digital, these skills and tools will be vital to business growth and success so be sure to take advantage of these free resources. 

Additionally, the Grow with Google Small Business Fund through the Opportunity Finance Network provides financial support to minority-owned and women-owned small businesses. The Fund will allow community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to support both the short-term recovery and long-term financing needs of America’s small businesses by providing low-cost, fixed-rate loans of up to 10-years with an option for interest deferral. 

Since the fund launched it has distributed $90 million in funding to businesses across the US through the local CDFIs and there is still $80 million left to deploy. 

For more information on the fund visit the Opportunity Finance Network.

team building Bellaria Jimenez

5 Proven team-building strategies by co-author Bellaria Jimenez

Bellaria Jimenez, President at MassMutual Tri State, and Co-author of The Team Game shares proven team-building strategies for business leaders, executives and entrepreneurs.

Bellaria Jimenez, Co-Author of The Team Game (Credit courtesy of Bellaria Jimenez)

She is passionate about business and leadership. With over 25 years working in finances, she has gained the expertise of leading and coaching teams within a business.

When she began her career, she had the desire to help people understand what to do with their money and empower individuals and business owners to make smart choices to grow their assets and protect their family. Beginning as a financial advisor, Bellaria worked her way up. 

During her time as assistant manager she grew her leadership skills by supporting the training needs of her office and stepping in whenever someone needed support. These leadership experiences fostered her love for coaching and would eventually lead to her love for team-building.

“Throughout the years I felt the most energy and joy when I was coaching individuals,” says Bellaria. “When I began focusing my time and attention to developing teams, I became even more energized. This became the start of my love for team-building.” 

Why teams?

Throughout the years of team-building, Bellaria has seen firsthand the impact that collaborating and combining unique skills and abilities has on the overall success of a business. 

“Financial advisors, for the most part, build their practices as solo-practitioners,” says Bellaria. “When we started partnering advisors that had different skill sets to complement each other we were pleasantly surprised with the financial results and an improved experience for the client.” 

After fifteen years of coaching, mentoring, and developing their own teams, Bellaria and business partner, John Brucsek, finally share their proven methods in their book The Team Game: “How Your Business Can Dominate Year After Year.”  

Described as “the definitive playbook for business leaders, executives, entrepreneurs, and managers to build and develop highly efficient teams,” The Team Game takes Bellaria and John’s unique process of creating, coaching, and doubling productivity through teams and breaks it down into strategies that can be adapted to fit all businesses. 

Growing with change

Bellaria Jimenez with her son (Credit courtesy of Bellaria Jimenez)

One of the key takeaways from The Team Game is how teams can allow businesses to continue to exponentially grow ones’ practice in an unpredictable, ever changing business climate. 

In such a competitive business climate where change is so rapid, businesses need to stay competitive and flexible to stay relevant. Often though these changes happen too quickly, and individuals struggle to keep up. Technology is one of the key culprits to staying competitive. Another key issue top performers battle is time capacity. 

“There gets to a point when top performers just can’t keep up with the high demands of the business or growing client base,” says Bellaria. “They reach capacity and their business stalls. Teaming allows them to continue to exponentially grow their practice.”  

You might be interested: Bellaria Jimenez, a Latina leader’s passion helps others achieve their dreams

The 5 Fundamentals of team-building

team-buildingFive key team-building strategies to form a successful, long lasting team: 

1. Compensation: Having transparency on how team members get paid and the positive results of attracting new clients creates a strong culture within each team. How will my actions impact my compensation, including in a commission/fee-based business or an incentive-driven practice? We teach you how to come up with a compensation agreement for both fee-and non-fee-based practices. Once you receive the input from the team, that agreement can be refined. 

2. Client SegmentationSegmenting your book of business is a key to marketing your practice effectively, but it requires you to go through each client and categorize them as your A, B, C, or D clients. Once they are categorized, assign each segment to the appropriate member of the team who will work with them. The top achiever should be focused on the A clients.

3. Roles and Responsibilities: Making sure that everyone on the team understands their role on the team is a critical part to a successful team. It provides clarity and transparency. It is also a key part to good communication. It’s like football. There are 11 players on the team. Each one has a different job. If each one carries out his or her job effectively, the team is going to be successful. Whether you like the New England Patriots or not, most of you know what Bill Belichick says: “Do your job.” That’s critical.

4. The Sales Process: Allow team members to focus on a specific part of the process. You must have a uniform process that all team members are following. That uniformity allows you to identify team players with specific skills and to efficiently meet client needs and create superior customer experiences because everyone on your team has a specific role to play and each does it well.

5. The Client Experience Matrix: The most valuable assets a business has are its customers. If they feel loved, if they feel they are being serviced and getting attention, then they are going to do more business and they are going to refer more people. Remember, we live in a referral world. Think Yelp or TripAdvisor. Referrals can greatly impact your business, both positively and negatively. Just think how videos can quickly go viral.

In her book, Bellaria further breaks down in detail just how team-building works to increase growth and productivity with her top fundamentals from the team-building process. With these tried and true methods, any business leader or entrepreneur can create a winning team.