From L’Oreal and Unilever to becoming a self-employed brand & marketing strategist

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Sorah Kim is a NYC based brand and marketing strategist, writer, and public speaker. After working eight years climbing the corporate ladder at L'Oréal and Unilever, Kim gradually realized that the typical 9 to 5 grind wasn’t for her. Like many white-collar workers, she was unhappy and burnt out with her work, and decided to take matters into her own hands by becoming an entrepreneur. She began her journey by taking classes at Progress Playbook to learn more about entrepreneurship and what it takes in NYC. Today, she finds happiness and success in independently consulting with beauty, health, and wellness companies.


Sorah’s Steps

  1. Reflect on your life - are you happy?

  2. Assess your skill-set to identify your niche

  3. Experiment with ideas and concepts you believe in to secure clients

  4. Make a decision and set your goals

  5. Start and grow your business!

  6. Continue to find and pursue opportunities

 

Sorah’s Resources

  1. Social Media and Blogs (Instagram, Thrive Global)

  2. Networking Outlets (sorahkim.com, LinkedIn, TEDx)

  3. Personal Skills and Character (consulting expertise, passion for beauty and health, self-promotion, confidence)


1. Reflect on your life - are you happy?

Do you feel fulfilled working your current job? Can you see yourself pursuing something that can bring you success and happiness but are too afraid to take the leap? These are all questions Kim asked herself when contemplating leaving her job at Unilever to become a NYC entrepreneur.

2. Assess your skill-set to identify your niche

In business, there’s a niche for practically everything. Combining skills from your career with outside knowledge of what you’re passionate about can lead to great, innovative ideas. After excelling in the advertising and branding departments of top international companies, Kim was able to confidently boast her expertise in branding and marketing. By leveraging her professional experience and personal passion for beauty and health brands, she was able to create a niche working with smaller brands in those industries and promote herself to prospective clients.

3. Experiment with ideas and concepts you believe in to secure clients

The experimental phase of your entrepreneurial dreams is important. While at her corporate job, Kim picked up side-hustles (one-on-one consulting, writing blog posts, etc) that not only gave her experience in beauty and health consulting, but also gave her reassurance in her abilities. Surprisingly, Kim gained her first clients unexpectedly after introducing herself to a group of strangers at a yoga and meditation event.

While working with her first client, Kim struggled heavily with “imposter syndrome” - feeling like a fraud despite accomplishments like working in brand marketing for six years and having a Master’s Degree in Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing & Management proving otherwise. She felt incompetent in her branding and marketing abilities, wasn’t used to working alone, and missed the validation she used to get from collaborating with coworkers. This stress manifested into feelings of anxiety, burnout, and depression.

Through tapping therapy, Kim was able to complete the project and ultimately gained the confidence in her abilities to eventually quit her job at Unilever.

4. Make a decision and set your goals

Visualize where you want to see yourself in a given time period - whether it’s working towards starting your own company or improving your work-life balance. Create realistic goals and work toward achieving them. For Kim, this meant planning months in advance to resign from her job. She decided to phase out from working as a full-time to a part-time employee, to help maintain stability in her life while experimenting with side-projects. This helped her to stay organized, motivated, and remain focused on her decision.

5. Start and grow your business!

Already having clients and networks from her previous projects, Kim put herself into a position of success before she officially became a full time entrepreneur. During her first week as a self-proclaimed “freelance brand and marketing strategist”, Kim found opportunities to promote herself and network, like speaking at a Business Network International event to pitch her brand in front of 50+ strangers. Before, she felt burnt out and feared the possibility of failure as entrepreneurship became her main focus. However, she came to the realization that her dive into solo consulting should be driven by freedom - not fear.

Marketing yourself, planning ahead, and constantly taking steps to work toward your goals is instrumental in becoming successful.

6. Continue to find and pursue opportunities

Look for the potential in everything and use every resources at your disposable . Network with everyone you talk to, promote your brand on social media, and don’t be afraid to approach clients are all steps Kim took to grow her business. She updates her personal blog to give advice to people looking to improve their quality of life and tell her personal struggles, and recently secured the opportunity to speak at a TEDx event about her journey of self-discovery, self-care, branding and purpose.


Sorah’s tips to gain confidence and find your purpose

  1. Cut out the unnecessary noise from your life: excessive spending on things you don’t need, wasting time on the couch, and bad influences.

  2. Reserve time to de-stress and focus on yourself. Activities like meditation, yoga, reading books, and exercise can help to clear your mind.

  3. Don’t give up! While rewarding and fulfilling, starting your own business comes with plenty of obstacles. In Kim’s case, getting over the mental block of feeling like a fraud for selling her expertise to companies was one of the many obstacles you could face.

  4. Make time to spend on doing the things you are truly passionate about. Even if it’s for a hobby or entertainment, pursuing these things will help improve your daily happiness and life.

  5. View everything as an opportunity for self-improvement! Getting over the inevitable obstacles and mistakes with entrepreneurship not only helps increase your productivity, but also benefits you as it helps to develop the character and the drive to become successful!

How this life coach gets into the press

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Pervis Taylor III is a NYC based life coach, author, and speaker. Over the last several years, Pervis Taylor has been featured in over a dozen media outlets, including Essence magazine, Black Enterprise, Fox News, The Today Show, Vibe Magazine, BET, Centric and Arise 360 to name a few

We asked Pervis to walk us through the steps he took to get one of his first features in Black Enterprise.


HOW TO GET INTO THE PRESS: PERVIS TAYLOR

Pervis’s Steps

  1. Identify the media outlets that you want to be featured in

  2. Research the editors that cover your industry

  3. Create and pitch your story via email

  4. Be persistent and follow up.

  5. Land the write-up

  6. Maintain the relationship 

  7. Secure more write-ups 

 

Pervis’s Resources

  1. G-Suite email service  

  2. Twitter

  3. Google

  4. Skills: research, copywriting, followup, persistence.  


1. Identify the media outlets that you want to be featured in

To build brand awareness and attract more clients, Pervis set a goal to either be a contributor or be featured in a national media outlet that his target customers reads and trusts. His first step was to make a list of all the media publications that he wanted to be in. One of the names that he added to his list was, Black Enterprise, because many of his followers on social media shared articles from the publication.

2. Research the editors that cover your industry

Whenever his followers on social media shared articles from Black Enterprise, Pervis studied them to see who the editors were. Pervis then researched the contact information of one of the Black Enterprise editors on their website who wrote articles that aligned with his work.

3. Create and pitch your story via email

Pervis created a short and to the point email that outlined, 1) who he was  2) what he did as a life coach 3) the impact his work was having on his clients and communities 4) links to his other media features, mentions and testimonials 5) his ask of being a contributor for Black Enterprise 6) At the top of his email he referenced and complimented the editor on her articles.

“Publications like Forbes, Huffington Post, and Black Enterprise are always looking for niche contributors. Pitch your Niche.

— Pervis

4.  Be persistent and follow up

A few weeks passed by and pervis had not heard back from the editor, so he followed up with a second email, where he asked if she had a chance to review his email and if she had an interest in learning more about his work and story.

To his surprise, the editor responded to his second email with wanting to learn more.

5. Land the write-up

After Pervis’s first conversation with the editor, he was referred to another writer at Black Enterprise, who loved his story and eventually wrote a feature on him in the magazine, entitled, From Diddy dreams to helping teens: Pervis Taylor III Story.

6. Maintain the relationship

Pervis maintained a relationship with the editor who he reached out to initially at Black Enterprise. He followed her on social media, engaged with her content and even attended several of her events. 

7. Secure more write-ups

Because of the relationship that he built with the editors at Black Enterprise, Pervis was able to secure additional features and his own column, including, passion to purpose and his contributor column 


Pervis 5 tips to pitch the press

  1. Be as niche as possible when deciding what to pitch to the press. 

  2. Be an expert in your field. Believe in your expertise and remember they need you. 

  3. Invest in having someone help you pitch. 3rd party pitches are better than doing it yourself in most cases. 

  4. Know what publications you want to be in and why. Is the publication in alignment with your market, story and work? 

  5. Don't be afraid to reach out. Be bold and persistent.

Progress Playbook startup story

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As a kid growing up in Brooklyn I always wanted to start a business but lacked the confidence, resources and support to make it happen. Despite that, I never stopped dreaming. I spent my career supporting entrepreneurs as a banker, teacher and public servant, but knew that I could do more, so I started Progress Playbook, a learning and media platform for entrepreneurs.  We believe that anyone who has a dream to build a business that will benefit the world should have step-by-step support along their journey.  


Lloyd’s Steps  

  1. Build an audience

  2. Create a business plan

  3. Establish your brand

  4. I quit my job

  5. Land your first customer 

  6. Set up your business foundation

  7. Tell as many people as possible about your new business

  8. Secure more clients

  9. Expand on your brand assets

  10. Hire others to support you 

Lloyd’s Resources

  1. Meetup.com

  2. Constant contact

  3. Business plan

  4. Host monster

  5. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

  6. Squarespace

  7. Canva

  8. Sole proprietorship form x-s01

  9. Chase, IRS

  10. Upwork


1. Build an audience

I started building my audience years before I launched Progress Playbook. I built relationships with  entrepreneurs, service providers and organizations by organizing a meetup group, sending out business newsletters using constant contact. teaching business classes and finding ways to help everyone I could. All these activities and others helped me to build an audience with hundreds of people and establish my personal brand.  

2. Create a business plan

I am a planner by nature, so I created several mini (1-5 pages) business plans that mapped out my mission, my customer profiles, problems/solutions, product phases, potential revenue streams and my marketing/sales approach.

3. Establish your brand

Once I had my business idea and plan, I had to come up with a business name. I landed on Progress Playbook, because it was catchy and represented the entrepreneurship journey of making continuous progress. I purchased the Progress Playbook domain name on Hostmonster and also secured the name on all social media platforms, including, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I then hired a graphic designer to create my logo, and then built my own website on squarespace and used canva for deign support. 

4. I quit my job

After 5 years of working for New York City government, managing 2 of their business service centers at NYC Business Solutions, I decided to quit my job. My workload was becoming more and more demanding and all I could ever think about was starting my own business. With the push of a few friends, I finally made the decision to quit my job and give my notice into my boss. I was terrified but excited about what was possible. Because I had a great relationship with my boss I was able to negotiate working part time for 5 months while I worked on my business. I also had about 3 months of living expenses saved and had a few teaching gigs lined up that helped me get by. 

5. Land your first customer

What are the odds that one month after I decided to quit my job a colleague that I worked with in the past reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in being a consultant for The Actors Fund to design an entrepreneurship program for performing artist and entertainment professionals.  I said, YES.  After a few interviews with the Actors Fund, I landed my first customer, and worked with them to design the Creative Entrepreneurship Program. My initial business plan did not account for working with organizations to  design entrepreneurship programs but I adjusted my plan based on this new need I found in the marketplace. 

Relationships bridge the gap between you and the next level.
— Lloyd Cambridge

6. Set up your business foundation

In order to work on my first project I had to get some things squared away.  I went to the county clerks office and registered my business as a sole proprietorship (we switched over to an LLC a year later). in kings county (a.k.a Brooklyn - my home and favorite place), because it was the easiest legal structure to set up and the least expensive I applied for a EIN number on IRS.gov, opened up a business bank account with Chase and applied for a business credit card. I was officially in business. :) 

7. Tell as many people as possible about your new business

I had great momentum and wanted to keep it up, so I set up several meetings every week with people that I thought could help me. I shared my vision and told them that I was looking for clients and support. I scheduled 3-5 meetings a week and had a goal to close 6 customers in my first 6 months. 

8. Secure more clients

The meetings paid off. My contacts referred me to several organizations and some of them were looking for support in designing and executing entrepreneurship programs. I closed 6 deals in 6 months, which I was able to do because of my experience and the relationships I built over the years. 

9. Expand on your brand assets

After months of going to meetings and business events and not having a business card to give out, a colleague and friend of mine, designed and ordered my first set of business cards. I also signed up for a gmail suites to get a professional business email address and number. 

10. Hire others to support you

 I work harder now then I have ever worked before. As a solopreneur I was responsible for everything, including getting customers, servicing customers, developing products, business planning, bookkeeping, networking and the list goes on. To alleviate some of the workload, I hired a virtual assistant on upwork who supported me for 10-15 hours a week and handled things like scheduling, invoicing, basic research, CRM, email marketing and other administrative tasks.