Souny West is bent set on creating a movement in supporting small businesses. The Washington, DC native is the Founder and CEO of CHiC Capital, LLC, a social network launched last year that is built by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs about entrepreneurship. CHiC Capital provides tools that make business collaboration personal, purposeful and profitable. Members can find opportunities, share resources, promote their business and connect with like-minded entrepreneurs in a collaborative and sharing environment.
CHiC Capital is West’s second entrepreneurial endeavor. Her fist business was the W Salon, which was located in Burke, Virginia and consisted of a team of 20 stylists, makeup artists and salon coordinators. After five years in operation, West sold the salon. “It goes without saying, that I am most proud of the W Salon’s footprint and its legacy” notes West. “It will serve as a beacon in my life as a reminder to always Dream Big and support others. This belief led to the growth of a small business in Burke into a prominent brand with a regional following. “
West, member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs, recently shared some of her entrepreneurial hits and misses.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
My business partner likes to quote Maya Angelou, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” He always stresses that people are exactly what they do and that we shouldn’t make excuses or accommodations for bad behaviors. I’ve taken that to heart. In reflecting on business and personal relationships that have disappointed me, I have had to concede that the signs of the behavior were present long before the behaviors manifested themselves in a way that impacted me. My intuition had warned me, but I — thinking I was being a good person by affording them the benefit of the doubt — made excuses or accommodations for them.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
One of the biggest mistakes I made was not realizing how valuable my company brand became. We worked so hard in building the brand and incorporating our style and presence, that to build our brand further we needed to work with everyone. A mistake I made in the first year of our business when I collaborated on an event that I was not proud of — from initial design of the flyer, the use of my company logo, and the overall feel of the event and what it represented. Since that mistake, I have protected our company logo and presence, and have been more careful in making sure that our brands complement each other.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I’ve started something new. I now recite daily affirmations that help to prepare me for tasks ahead, as it helps me to stay focused and with purpose: “Today is the beginning of the rest of my life! I’m mentally, physically and spiritually prepared to meet the task put before me. I have been blessed with a mind that can reason, a body that can carry me, and my belief that can restore me. I know the joy found in love and the warmth found in friendship. I have everything I need to succeed… everything I need to make the right decisions at the right time for the right reasons.”
What’s ONE thing you recommend all aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Be the best at knowing your market, your products or services, your cost and revenue lines.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
In business, there is only one measure of success. Making an honest dollar from an honest effort that yields an honest result. Our success is measured daily in the quality of the advice we provide, the strategies we employ, the relationships we build, and the events we sponsor. Our goal is to help honest entrepreneurs succeed in the global marketplace of ideas and commerce. Success is a daily pursuit and a daily accomplishment at CHiC Capital.
A version of this story appeared on the StartupCollective, a virtual mentorship program designed to help millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses, which was launched by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC).