At the intersection of ingenuity and purpose-specific planning, we find marketing maven Jamila Guyton and her team at Prosync Consulting. Judging by the professionalism of her establishment and the confidence with which she speaks, it is tempting to assume that Jamila arrived at entrepreneurship while joy riding down easy street. On the contrary, it has been quite the journey. The road to becoming and remaining a black, female business owner has been riddled with crossroads and potholes, wrong turns and detours, and being under construction, both personally and professionally. Yet with a look in the rear view mirror, Jamila can clearly see how the journey has helped to shape her into the woman she is today. The ride was preparation, leading her to the owning and operating of Prosync Consulting, marketing and strategy communication for small businesses.
“I had always dreamed of being an entrepreneur,” Says Jamila. Now a mother and entrepreneur she reflects on how her father inspired her to want to be the boss. Her father “always owned his journey,” taking himself from nothing to something throughout his lifetime. She proudly speaks of his rise from the hoods of Northern California to a world traveled, decorated, Special Forces serviceman who could speak 3 languages. After retiring from the service he grew to president of a government contracting business. Watching her father chart his own course planted the seeds in her that she could “be a superstar in this world.”
Being a business owner is about planting those same seeds in her son, taking a path the he can look at as she did her father’s and see proof that anything is possible. It is also an opportunity to teach him that possible does not come without obstacle but you can indeed overcome road blocks because I did.
The highway to entrepreneurship is paved with good intentions and great ideas that don’t go the distance because they get trapped in potholes. Jamila can attest to this as she has had fantastic products that she never launched. Only to later find out how fantastic they really were as she watched others successfully launch similar ideas. Pursuit of the American dream was the pothole that swallowed up her dreams at the time. She was in college and she had to put her all into studies and an internship. We’re often told to get an education so we can get a great job but not told enough that we can create our own job with the right knowledge and resources to push an idea forward. Jamila wants to help other female college students avoid this pothole by being that resource for them. If we can’t avoid the pothole we must at least choose not to park in them. Prosync is proof that Jamila did not and she eventually regrouped and moved forward.
The act of helping others not make the mistakes she made is part of the reason she does what she keeps going. She speaks passionately about being useful to the community, helping others. Not only is being useful great business advice but it also points to taking the social responsibility of giving back and paying it forward. It reminds us that business is not just about making money. It is about being an example, mentoring those who come after and leaving a legacy to our children everywhere.
Before going into business Jamila was caught in the hamster wheel of corporate America and hated every minute of it. She had hit the ground running with a college internship. She lived well, had a good paying job, a family but was not fulfilled. She calls this being trapped by the “golden handcuffs.” But the second of two layoffs finally brought her to a cross-road. “Jamila what are you doing?” She asked herself. “You can either spend the next few months looking for another job or you can spend that time building a business.” She was tired of using her skills and qualifications to bring money to other people’s organizations. She had a choice to make. Entrepreneurship was risky business but she decided to take the leap. With no full-time job to rely on until the business was on it’s feet, she took the leap. With faith and passion, she leaped. Being a business owner has been “the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It’s like labor, like having a child,” Says Jamila.
This has been the ride of her life and it has ultimately grown and changed her for the better. One of the struggles that this journey has been helping her to overcome has been her inability to recognize success in the true sense of the word. Success is not always a monetary thing. She describes it as the ability to see growth in people she works with. If they have moved forward in any way then she has succeeded. In this light she has learned that seemingly small victories are worth celebrating. She is learning to be grateful for each mile sticker that has been passed, recognizing the forward progression.
Being raised to be a private person was another struggle she had to overcome. Authenticity is so necessary in business. This requires letting people in. As a military kid she was raised to do the opposite. Yet, she has pushed past her upbringing to do what is necessary. This is one of many things owning a business has helped change in her.
There are so many lessons Jamila has learned on this ride that she passes on to others. For example the fact that business takes time. It may take years to become a profit-making business. Can you persevere through the process?
“Take your time, listen to your intuition, research so you know what you’re talking about…Stay true to who you are and don’t let having or running a business change who you are on the inside,” She advises.
Jamila describes her journey this way, “This journey has been empowering, life changing, eye-opening and purposeful.” Staying the course has shown her what she is capable of and what is possible. The lessons have not just been business learning but life lessons that she is able to share with others to empower them. The challenges along the way have altered the course of her life, giving her reasons to continue pushing forward. Everyday Jamila continues in her mission to help small businesses but she ultimately continues in her passion to help people live up to their potential.