Business Focus: Dominica Alicia

Dominica AliciaSocial media entrepreneur Dominica Alicia recently gave a presentation at Paddington Library’s Business Information Point. Afterwards we spoke to her about how she approaches her business.

What’s your professional background?
I have been an employee for almost 12 years. I started working at the age of 15 because I wasn’t getting any pocket money and felt worse off than my friends and classmates. I got my first job as a sales assistant in one of the clothes shops in my town. I was attending college from Monday to Friday and working over the weekends. At the age of 19, I passed my exams to get into business school, but due to lack of funds, I was forced to find a full-time job and study part-time. I have two faculties: Finance and Strategic Management.

My first “real” and full-time job was as a sales assistant in a mobile phone shop, where I got promoted to a shop manager within just 2 months. That’s how my “employee career” started… My friends were telling me that I had been born with a silver spoon because at the age of 19, I was in a high management position and earning good money. Over the next 8 years, I climbed the career ladder in big international companies such as Orange and Yum!, where I was responsible for day-to-day management, marketing and recruitment.

What made you decide to start a business?
As a child, I wanted to become a doctor. I loved helping people out and for me, at that time, being a doctor was the only way to do it. When I was 12, I met my grandpa, who was a successful entrepreneur, and he became my first business mentor. My meeting with him had a huge impact on my future. Over the time, I knew that I wanted to have my own business in the future, a business that would help people. Despite the fact that I have been very successful in my job, something has always pestered me. I have had in mind all the lessons my grandpa taught me. I had so many ideas but it was difficult to implement them in my work place. I felt limited, like a slave. I earned a lot, but I hardly had any money. My childhood dreams about helping people kept coming back to me, but I had no idea how to make a business out of it. Finally, to my friends’ amazement, I left my job and moved to the UK. And that’s how everything started.

What is your business model?
I have a couple of businesses at the moment, or let’s call them “income streams”, like consultancy, training company and a marketing agency. In Wealth Business Experience, my team and I help businesses to attract more clients using online marketing techniques, mainly local marketing and social media. I am also an internet marketer, so I follow the newest strategies and apply them to my businesses first. If they work for me, I use them also for my clients. I am a totally results-driven person and if a client pays for a service, he/she must receive Return On Investment.

Before you started the business did you have a business plan?~
Yes and no. As soon as I left my job in the UK (as I was working here for a while), I started an eBay business. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but, at least, I had some freedom and could implement my own ideas. One day I received an email from some unknown source with an invitation to a marketing seminar. I decided to give it a try and went to learn new strategies on how to advertise my eBay shop.
It was the biggest eye-opening event in my life. Over 3 days, I learnt more than I had during my 5 years of formal studies. I realised that if I learnt this stuff, and offered it to businesses, I would be able to not only build a strong business, but help people at the same time. It was also a great consultancy opportunity, something that made me even happier, since I love meeting new people. Right after the event I started applying some strategies to my eBay shop and my sales increased by 250% just over a two-month period.
My friends got interested and since they were running some businesses as well, I started sharing with them some ideas. They got results and sent me some referrals. To be honest, I had no idea what I was doing at the beginning, and there was no plan at all. Howeve,r before I decided to dedicate myself to this business and close the eBay shop, I spent a good couple of weeks on doing market research, analysing the competition, identifying a profile of my ideal client, setting up goals etc. I started small with some online marketing consultancy, but my business took off the ground very quickly and I knew that I would achieve whatever I wanted.

Where did you get the capital to start? Was it easy to get funding?
I started this business with next to no money. I did invest in an online marketing course and mentoring, which helped me to start with my consultancy. It was around £2500 from my savings. I have never asked for any capital to grow my business. I did not need to. I had enough clients in my first month to make a living. I am still investing in my knowledge, but I don’t hesitate to do it, because it helps me to provide outstanding services and better results for my clients:

Better Results = More Happy Clients = More Referrals = More Money

How long have you been in business and what are the key challenges you have faced?
I’ve been in business for 2 years now. There were many challenges. When you are an employee, others organize the time for you. There are some rules and guidelines, which you need to stick to. When you are working at home, there are plenty of distractions around you, like a ringing phone, distracting and time consuming websites, preparing another cup of tea… to name but a few. You really need to master the planning and stick to it. Otherwise, you will fail…
Another challenge is having undecided clients. There’s nothing wrong with them, we are here to help and advise. However I once had a client for website development. I did not sign a contract with them and the project took 8 months. They had no idea, what they wanted and kept changing the design… It cost me a lot – not only money and time, but also shattered nerves.

What’s the most important part about running a business?
You need to be really persistent, as there will be some ups… and downs! Running a business is not a rocket science though, if you have a plan. Set up your goals and measure your progress. Lots of businesses do not monitor their results. You have to know your numbers. What is your financial goal for this month, this week? What is the lifetime value of your client?

What’s your approach to cash flow?
As you probably noticed, I am really focused on numbers. And I know my numbers. I constantly monitor and measure my results. I know exactly how much I spent on every area of my business. I always pay 10% of all income to my “Financial Freedom Account”. This money is being invested in gold and forex and creates some passive income for me. This is always first. Then I pay all other expenses: salaries, trainings, stationery, etc.

What advice would you give someone thinking of starting their own business?
Do proper planning. Set up your goals. Ask yourself what you would like to achieve in 1 month, 1 year, 5 years…? How do you see yourself in 1 month, 1 year and 5 years? Research your market? Find out what the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors are. Define the profile of your ideal client. Brainstorm some marketing ideas. That’s really at least 70% of success. Ensure you measure and monitor your progress. Know your numbers: how much and by when?
You need to get it right. Time management and other skills – you can learn them over the time, but planning is the most important part.

[Francis]

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