Being a founder, entrepreneur, or a business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur“ we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Nayana Ferguson.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Nayana Ferguson: My husband and I were tired of the typical corporate culture. I was getting laid off from the company I was working for and my husband kept getting moved around at his job. There was no stability or safety in our positions, we knew that we could be moved, demoted, or let go at any time, which is always stressful. We wanted to take our futures into our own hands, where we could dictate, to an extent, our own path and future. When I was training my “replacement” and my husband was being moved for the third time in 2 years, we decided it was time to make a change.
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
Nayana Ferguson: It was always natural for me to have a side business, at an early age. When I was younger, I would model locally to make extra money, which turned into a short-lived modeling career in New York City for a well-known agency. Upon my return to Michigan, I started a catering company, which lasted for 2 years. I then went on to form a business with a friend, where we put together talent completions, film competitions, and other e-commerce businesses, that lasted well over 6 years. I had these businesses, while also maintaining a corporate position. I have always looked for something more in life, but never had the consistent support needed to grow the businesses to the next level, until I met my husband Don. We both have the same mindset, work ethic, drive, and determination. We are both comfortable with being uncomfortable and we are risk-takers, which is typically one aspect of the entrepreneurial mindset.
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
Nayana Ferguson: Unfortunately, I did not have someone in my life who inspired me in business. Without going in-depth, I was not raised in the best environment, so I constantly found myself busy with school, after-school clubs, sports, and other things that would occupy my time. I believe that this is where I discovered my ability to be a self-starter, to be independent, and pursue things that allowed me to grow, challenge myself and be a better version of myself.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
Nayana Ferguson: We were told, very early on, to fund the business ourselves which put us in a tough position at one time. To grow any business, you need capital for marketing, promotions, publicity, etc. At a crucial time, we figured out a way to gain a credit line to help fund a shipment, as we were running out of inventory, a problem that could create dire circumstances for any business. This actually helped us learn a lot more about the importance of establishing business credit, which all businesses absolutely need to learn more about.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
Nayana Ferguson: It’s very hard to not get overwhelmed or “burned out”, especially when it’s something that you love. You have to create a balance for yourself, as no two people are the same. I would recommend anyone in the industry create a culture that allows themselves and their employees to take time away from work. Taking a walk, getting outside, meditating, or taking time to exercise can make a very impactful difference and help to not get overwhelmed or burned out.
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
Nayana Ferguson: Be yourself, be honest and be genuine. Learn all you can about the industry you are in and be open to mentoring or consulting others who may be coming into the industry. These things will build trust, credibility, and authority in the industry. Within their companies, business leaders need to keep an open line of communication with their employees, as well. Being able to communicate effectively in the industry will build great relationships with partners and employees.
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
Nayana Ferguson: A business cannot survive without communication and a team. A team that trusts you relies on your guidance, and supports your decisions. You have to have a team that holds each other accountable and without any of those traits, the team can implode, putting the business in a difficult situation to exist or grow. Open lines of communication build trust, which is extremely important to have.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Nayana Ferguson: The most common mistake that I have seen is waiting for everything to be perfect to start your company. There will never be a perfect time to start a business. You will never have the exact amount of money you need and you will never have all the information needed. Do your research, make a plan and take action. You can and will learn as you go along. Problems, challenges, and obstacles will always arise, but having a good solid group around you will provide support. If you do not have anyone, look for resources like free business counseling from retired industry professionals or find other mentors that may be in the industry. Constantly place yourself in a position to learn to avoid making errors that others may be able to warn you of.
Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Nayana Ferguson: When my story was published in Forbes, that was an incredible high for me. I had never thought that one day, I, along with my husband, would create something that people would be talking about. I never thought I would be a first in anything, so for Forbes to write an amazing article about my past and the brand, was exhilarating.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Nayana Ferguson: There was an opportunity, at one time, for a major television network to create a business-based reality show structured around our business and the dynamic of being a husband/wife-owned business that never came to fruition. It definitely impacted me, however, I do not continue to dwell on things I have no control over. I truly believe that the more you continue to push, other opportunities will arise and they have.
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
Nayana Ferguson: I allowed the moment to come and go. I allowed myself to feel deflated for a moment but reminded myself that it wasn’t meant to be and that other opportunities would come, with hard dedicated work. It would have been an incredible opportunity for us both and the brand however, I have learned that you cannot let anything get you so upset, that you lose focus. There will be many disappointments in life and business, but, the quicker you bounce back, the quicker more opportunities can come your way.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
To overcome all that I have in life, I have had to keep a positive attitude and mindset. With all the attention the brand and I are receiving at this time, it keeps me humble and I am grateful and appreciative of everything in life. Had I not gone through all the hardships in life, I do not think I would have had the positive attitude that I have every day.
Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.
In the past, we have had people, part of our team that did not have the confidence in their abilities, with what they were doing within the company. They were extremely hard on themselves and often, needed a quick pep talk to encourage them. I feel that keeping a positive attitude has allowed me to be able to speak to those on our team when they need a confidence boost. Being able to do so helps our team to be able to accomplish whatever tasks or goals that they have set for themselves. I truly believe a positive attitude will always have a positive impact on clients and the teams in the business.
Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
How can our readers further follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with
this. We wish you continued success and good health!