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Latinas who lead...

...and what we can learn from each other.

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I’m always on a quest to learn from fellow Latina entrepreneurs because like a fingerprint every Minority Business Enterprise’s business experience is unique.  This week some great advice came from Delia Gutiérrez McLaughlin, a 20 year old tech veteran who serves as President and CEO of AzTech Innovation, a company she founded 8 years ago.

First off, I just HAD to know because it happened to me recently: How do you get around being too small when going after big contracts?

  • Partner with another MBE to go after a bigger business. Let’s come together and become business allies, stop seeing other MBEs as competitors.
  • Be strategic about what you’re going after, make sure you have the proper expertise, if not bring in someone who does early in the game.
  • Have proper paperwork; terms and conditions laid out ahead of time to ensure distribution of work and compensation are fair.

My next question came from experience as well, and Delia knew exactly what I was talking about: Business mentors are so, so important but where do I find one?

  • Look for places that offer mentorship programs like the Small Business Administration or an organization for Women in Business such as the Women’s Business Development Center. Another source is your alma mater. If neither of these appeals to you, get the word out among your professional network.
  • Know what your main points are ahead of time so your mentoring time is productive. It helps to hear how your mentor tackled a similar situation in order to understand the thought process.

When we transition from corporate to entrepreneurship it’s like going from a paved road into, well, no road at all. So, I asked Delia: What is the main thing that you had to “Unlearn”?

Imagine you’re building a plane, if you are in a corporate environment you’re probably in charge of one component, the design or maybe procuring the interior but as an entrepreneur, you have to keep in mind the big picture. What is the end goal? We are building a plane - that is the end result. How do we get there?  Because there are no guardrails your way of structuring has to be adaptive.

And for the challenges that come at us almost daily:  What is a creative approach to troubleshooting?

Whether you’re a consultant, restaurant owner or a services agency you need to pull your team together to remediate issues. Or, if you are working to solve your client’s problem, have a clear understanding of their approach and culture as well as the vendor partners who are involved in the specific project. The ability to communicate clearly, effectively and timely with people from all levels in parallel with your team mitigating an outcome is paramount in getting to the end zone.

Delia’s final words of wisdom: Envision. Evolution. Elevation.

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