Building your own business from the ground up is no easy task, but with determination, focus, and good business practice, it’s completely possible. Connie Chi, founder of the stand out branding agency The Chi Group, has dealt with the struggles and successes of the entrepreneurial world, and is still checking off goals as she continues to build her brand.
Connie has acquired countless gems of knowledge in the realms of business and entrepreneurship, and I felt that she would be an excellent entrepreneur to feature in order to discuss her daily tasks, fighting through hardships, and advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Check out our interview below.
What was it that made you decide to start The Chi Group?
It took me 17 years to realize that I was working for other people’s dreams. It was then, I made a decision that I wanted to start my own business and leave a lucrative NYC corporate job of selling diamonds and advertising.
What would you say was the most difficult aspect of going all in and starting your own business?
Fear of failure. Before The Chi Group I had three failed businesses and the one constant about entrepreneurship is that you will fail over and over again. The hardest part is re-framing how we experience failure and understanding that in fact the notion of perfection is actually unrealistic.
Self doubt tends to be one of the biggest detractors from people starting their own business and going after their dreams. Would you say you’ve dealt with self doubt through your entrepreneurial journey thus far? If so, how did you overcome it?
Of course. We all have self doubt especially when starting something that we’ve never done before. The key is to take one small step that’s outside your comfort zone to achieve your goals. It’s that single step which becomes the foundation to building confidence. It’s all about courage and the willingness to take a risk whether calculated or not.
How important would you say it is to not only invest in your business, but into yourself (i.e. clothing that fits your industry, certifications, courses on public speaking, etc.)?
It’s a must! If you’re not willing to invest in yourself then you can’t expect your future clients to invest in you. I’m a strong believer in constant learning and having endless curiosity about things. Personally I’m an addict to online courses, I’ve take numerous courses from how to build a business to speed reading. Certifications are also a great way to establish your credibility as an expert, at least on paper. Investing in yourself gives you a leg up from the competitor.
Networking is a major part of growing in brand, even in today’s social media dominated world. What are some dos and don’ts as it pertains to networking and building connections?
When it comes to building connections you need to have a very clear vision of what you want out of each connection or collaboration. Time is the one commodity that can’t be bought so having a clear goal going into every networking opportunity is imperative. As a general rule I never do coffee meetings and steer clear of anyone who says to me that they want to pick my brain.
Often times, people only think about the potential end goal of a successful self run business. What would you say are some things that NEED to be considered/prepared for before the end goal of complete success is conceptualized?
It’s important to never get comfortable. A lot of times when people feel like they’ve reached the pinnacle of “success” it’s easy to get complacent. So preparing for those moments is crucial and getting into the habit of being curious and always learning will keep you striving for growth. I believe that success is something that’s ever changing because once we’ve reached a certain level it’s only natural that we as humans will look for what’s next. What’s the next challenge to tackle? The next business I can start? The next certification or even the next big client I can get?
Did you ever feel like you wanted to give up if things weren’t going your way?
Never, I’ve felt disappointed yes when things didn’t go my way. But it becomes an obsessive challenge to find a solution. I know that it’s about asking the right questions, speaking to the right people or even adjusting my approach, ask and strategy.
What were some of the dynamics of your life that changed once you began your own business?
There’s so many things that change. I’ve lost friends, gotten used to the idea that there’s no such thing as failure always lessons, power naps does wonders, don’t put yourself through analysis paralysis- just take a step towards your goals, and schedule in reminders to eat and drink water.
What do you think are some false preconceived notions that others may have about becoming an entrepreneur that need to be debunked?
Entrepreneurship is definitely not a quick get rich scheme. It’s a lifestyle choice that entails patience and the willingness to fail. This isn’t for everyone and you have to be comfortable going full throttle, head first into so many unknown situations. People see the finish products of entrepreneurship but know that for a fact on the back end it’s not as pretty matter of fact you will struggle and spend hours building your craft.
What’s a day in the life of Connie Chi like?
Mornings always start with a gratitude and mental priming exercise. Everyday is a little different but I spend a lot of time reading, listening to podcasts, taking online course, interviews, working on my new book or attending conferences. Emails are answered at certain times of the day and the rest of the time I’m working on client projects, calls, speaking engagements or writing articles. My schedule is broken up into 15-30 minute intervals allowing time for meditation, a power nap, and shifting my mental state from project to project. The day always ends with a quick meditation or the gym.
What’s been one of the most fulfilling moments of your entrepreneurial career thus far?
I would say its the freedom that comes along with being an entrepreneur. As your own boss you get to dictate the trajectory of your business and life. There’s no red tape to go through and it allows you the flexibility to utilize a full range of your creativity.
Where would you like to see The Chi Group in the next 10 years?
I see The Chi Group having an even larger global presence and recognition. My goal is to have offices in London, China, and Dubai, it’s lofty but I always love to aim high.
What advice do you have for any entrepreneurs who don’t know where to start or who don’t know where to find resources for their business ideas?
As for the starting point, start anywhere-literally anywhere. So many people go into extreme research mode which can take up to months. You will never be able to research everything about starting a business. Simply gather the basic information and start building out from there. Today it’s easy to get information, anything you don’t know about there’s a blog, a course, a podcast and Google which are all great resources. If you can find a mentor that would also be a great idea as well. Remember business is about building so it will take time.
All in all, it’s safe to say that there’s a lot that goes into building a successful brand, and taking that initial step into entrepreneurship is one of the most important aspects of living out your dreams. Be sure to keep up with Connie on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.