MI: Thanks for speaking with me today. It sounds like you’ve got a lot of exciting things going on right now. Can you tell me a little bit about your businesses?
AV: That’s right. I have two primary businesses. One of them is SBC Innovations, an IT based government company in the D.C. area.Now, I am a minority, a black-owned business on paper, but that’s not the driving mechanism. I want to establish a company that is great overall. You hear about Microsoft and Apple etc. but you rarely hear stories about the people who work for those companies. They aren’t happy.
I’ve been in the IT business for over 25 years now. I moved from New York City to the D.C. Metro area and worked my way from the ground up. I bring a uniqueness to my work and went from entry level positions to owning an entire corporation. One thing I learned from being a CEO is that businesses only care about making money. Usually, companies say that they want to build a culture where employees want to work; they want to implement this and that etc. But it’s the actions of the company that really matter.
One of the benefits I’m putting into place at SBC Innovations, is that I want to go out and identify top performers in the company. We’re then going to take those top performers and do a lottery for “Top Employee” and if an employee wins the spot, then they get a ticket for a family event to Disneyworld, or an all-expenses paid vacation. We want to highlight the value of our employees and we want to give back. For the runner up, that person will be able to win a couples retreat for the weekend.
When I first started working, I was only focused on that PTO (Paid Time Off). We always try to open up conversations with employees. The wellness program I am putting into place in my company is going to show employees that they are valued. A strong loyal employee is more valuable to me than an employee that keeps coming and going. Our company motto is Sight Beyond Cognition. We want to go places that haven’t been explored before. That’s what that means. We treat people like people and not just as employees. We want to be leaders in business AND in life.
Another one of my businesses is the Fourth Quarter Investment Group. Through this company, myself and three additional partners invested in a franchise luxury grooming store for men.
Throughout any store, mall, shopping complex, you see salons for women. What about for men? Men also want to feel good and look good. So, what we’ve done is filled the legacy for shaving and men’s hair care with a new and innovative barbering solution for men. We’re selling high end products that you can’t find in Walmart or CVS. We want to make sure that men can feel and look their best. Not only that, but we’re creating employment and a brand that is fostered on the same positive working culture. I am the first franchisee of the company but I want to be able to grow this environment.
Me and my lady are also partnered up in real estate to create some passive income. My home and modelling services aren’t just regular home and modeling services. I like to design homes with a little flair. My goal is to provide affordable housing which is beautiful and still looks nice.
MI: That’s incredible! What inspired you to create a culture of such positivity and growth?
AV: All of my businesses are about the individual, the person, the positive influence. I love my IT profession. But I learned that there is such a lack of overall support for individuals at my level. I saw that employees were just being treated as another “W-2”. I saw that and I want to take away that mind set; I wanted to change the narrative on what a W2 resource is supposed to look like. It’s like a having a union. Not just from a company perspective. But form a human perspective. I’m like a modern-day Robin Hood.
As a W-2 employee, I have a blueprint to ensure you are successful. I base them on three characteristics:
1. A is for Attitude: at the end of the day, you have the right attitude, you may not have the right skillset but if you’re attitude is great, you’ll be successful.
2. T is for Tenacity
3. M is for Motivation.
ATM. Get it? You do these three things and you’ll be heading straight to the bank.
MI: Is there anything you struggle with, as a business owner?
AV: Opportunities. It’s hard to find individuals who really want to help you work forward; finding the right individual who thinks like you. The IT world is set in its ways. Bring an entrepreneur alone is a lonely game sometimes. If you have your goals, if you have a plan and you execute on these things, you can only go so far. Look around and see who is available to help you out. Think about other entities that can help you. That’s what the 4th quarter investment group is all about. We want to help provide training to employees and people at all levels of management.
MI: With that in mind, is there anything you might tell first-time entrepreneurs?
AV: Educate yourself on what you would like to do. Not just from a feeling’s perspective but from a business perspective. You have to understand that you’re not going to see any returns on your investments for at least 3-5 years, monetary or otherwise. You have to maintain that intensity and nobody should be able to tell you “No”. I was raised with the word “No” so I know how to navigate it. All that matters to me is that you get it done. And that you try your best.
Be humble, don’t let it get to your head. Take ownership on your BS.
MI: Are you reading anything interesting right now?
AV: Oh man, I’ve got tons of books. I recently read “The 50 Laws of Power”. I like any book that talks about Emotional Intelligence. I like Psychology Books and learning about the power of your brain from a psychological perspective.
MI: How has a Business Plan, written by the Plan Writers, helped your businesses?
AV: The Plan writers was great in providing...I’ve never wrote a business plan. Everyone was telling me I needed one. Everyone needs one! The only part of the plan that matters to me is the financials, so having someone who could really understand that was so helpful. You guys had the skills and knowledge of the financials for my industry and that was a huge plus. The Plan writers not only took my ideas and made them clear and concise, but you guys put it in a graphical story that resulted in one of the best and most seen Business Plans I’ve seen. It cost a little bit, but was it worth it? Absolutely.
MI: Last but not least, would you recommend the Plan Writers to other business owners?
AV: Absolutely. I’ve already recommended you guys twice. I even used you guys twice.