Andrena Sawyer is the Founder and President of P.E.R.K. Consulting, an advisory firm for small to mid-sized nonprofits and businesses, and the Founder of the Minority Christian Women Entrepreneurs Network. She has been named among the “Top 30 under 30” movers and shakers in Washington DC by WKYS 93.9. She is also the recipient of The International Alliance for Women World of Difference 100 Award, and the Woman Owned Small Business Award by the Associated Black Charities. In addition to her work with nonprofits and small businesses, she is the author of The Other Side of Assertiveness, Ponder It In Her Heart, and The Long Way Home. Read our interview with the lovely Andrena below…
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
P.E.R.K. was founded after noticing a need for entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations that lacked funding to get development services that were professional and sustainable. I am a entrepreneur at heart, I started my first organization when I was 15 years old. There are many others like myself with good ideas, but without resources to engage larger and more well-known consulting firms. P.E.R.K. provides affordable services for these individuals.
Tell us about your business.
P.E.R.K. Consulting is an advisory firm for nonprofits and small businesses. We specialize in entity formation, capacity building and business development services. Our motto is “supporting organizations and empowering people.” P.E.R.K. stands for passion, experience, relevance and knowledge – these are the core pillars on which we’ve stood to serve hundreds of individuals through our capacity building workshops, and numerous local and international businesses and nonprofits.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
Yes, we are currently offering two free tickets to our annual Embracing YOU Conference. The conference is for women entrepreneurs and professionals. Details for entering the contest can be found on www.mcwen.org.
- International Alliance for Women World of Difference 100 Award
- Woman Owned Small Business Award by the Associated Black Charities
- Hope for Africa Leadership in Community Development Award
- Young Women Leaders Award from Womanline of Dayton
- Author of The Other Side of Assertiveness, Ponder It In Her Heart, and The Long Way Home.
Where is your business based?
The P.E.R.K. Consulting office is located in Beltsville, Maryland.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
When I started P.E.R.K., I first drafted a business operations plan. By drafting the plan, I was able to identify the resources necessary to take the leap and resign from my full-time employment to become a full-time entrepreneur. After I was confident that I had a viable plan, I informed those in my professional network of my plans and asked that they refer interested individuals and companies to me. I used those first referrals to begin my professional portfolio and then started to market my services to the general public.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Optimizing our digital presence, including social media platforms, has been the most effective way of raising awareness about what P.E.R.K. is doing with small businesses and nonprofits.
What have been your biggest challenges so far? How did you overcome these challenges?
Like many other SME’s, P.E.R.K. has had to face cash flow and funding issues. To navigate these challenges, it was important to go back to the drawing board to create an effective business model that included strategies for cash flow management. Cash flow challenges are inevitable for most start-ups, and unfortunately, many wait until a seeming crisis to develop a management plan. Creating a strategy before the need arose was essential for the company’s survival. As we created this strategy, we revisited and improved our value proposition so that it was clear to our customers, investors and partners.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
To stay motivated through difficult times, I choose to focus on why I started my own business in the first place. When I started P.E.R.K. Consulting, I was disheartened by the failure rate of the organizations and businesses that were in the trenches in my local community. Remembering how many of those organizations P.E.R.K. has helped stay afloat, motivates me to keep going.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
- Be persistent. As cliché as it sounds, do not give up. Entrepreneurship can be extremely stressful, and founders may find that they initially encounter a lot of rejection. My advice is to do your due diligence by ensuring the idea is viable. Get the support of trusted mentors and advisors, and push through the challenges.
- Be creative. The average millionaire has about seven streams of income. There is a lesson to be learned there – if those who are thriving financially are always looking for ways to earn more, I believe that businesses can thrive in much the same way. As long as it is consistent with the businesses value proposition, there is no limit on how creative founders can get in generating revenue or reaching their audience.
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
My favorite resource is SCORE mentoring. In the early stages of starting P.E.R.K. Consulting, I was paired with a business mentor with over 30 years of experience in business management. His advice has proven to be invaluable to me.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Website www.perkconsulting.net, www.thelongwayhome2015.com
Hashtags #MCWEN #PERKStrategy #EmbracingYOU17 #AndrenaSawyer
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
Valorie Burton’s “Successful Women Think Differently.” It is a great book with practical advice for women leaders.