Meet Shakira M. Brown, the “Small Biz Whisperer”
Shakira M. Brown is an entrepreneur and CEO of her own PR and Branding firm, SMB Strategic Media, that helps small businesses understand their customers and competitors. Ms. Brown is one of the keynote speakers that will be featured at the Black Collegiate Conference where bloggers, PR, and marketing brands will attain tools and resources to expand their knowledge. I had the opportunity to interview this vibrant soul before the conference and get to know how Shakira Brown started her entrepreneurial career. I would not even call it a career because the way she speaks about her work, is like she is having fun everyday doing what she is destined to do.
Coming from an entrepreneur household, working for herself came naturally to Ms. Brown. By owning their own businesses, Brown’s parents were great examples that encouraged Brown to have her own money at a young age. “By the time I was 12 or 13 years old, I was buying my own clothes. If I wanted my own telephone, my sister and I scrambled to get the money and pay the bill. It was a way to instill in us some kind of work ethic that I have definitely passed on to my own son.”
Brown knew early on that she wanted to be in Television news from reading news articles for class and now she is a “13-time award-winning public relations, corporate communications and branding professional.” With over 20 years of experience, how does someone stay motivated and inspired? “One of my goals was to increase my speaking engagements so that I could reach young people.”
College students must take ownership of their future and understand that what they want takes patience. Brown’s great-grandfather, a farmer, used to say, “plant your seeds early, don’t wait until you are hungry to plant your corn.” Brown is a prime example of planting your seed early when she was younger by carrying her resume with her everywhere she went, even while riding the bus to work in New York City. While working as a temp at HBO after graduating Boston University, Brown noticed a gentleman wearing a CNN jacket and confidently handed her resume to him. “No one told me to walk around with my resume, but I am always looking for opportunity.” In return, Brown worked as a successful TV news producer at MSNBC for programming for “Brian William (NBC Nightly News), Ann Curry (Today Show), Steve Capus (CBS News Exec Editor & Evening News Exec Producer), Soledad O’Brien, Lori Stokes (WNYW – TV), Dan Abrams (ABC News America legal analyst). “Every seed that I planted back then I am still eating off the harvest.”
One thing for sure, Shakira Brown knows her stuff and has the ability to go into any situation and blend in. You may look at her resume and see all the communication background, but Brown is a continuous learner that watches documentaries and read articles outside of her industry. “I ask a lot of questions of people that I meet who know things that I don’t, that allows me to be able to go into any situation and bring up a topic to get someone chatting with me and getting them comfortable with me.” I know some people have a hard time asking someone a question that could potentially benefit them in the end. Sometimes our pride takes over and stops us from asking for help when you want to grow your business and as a person. “This is so valuable because it helps you to establish a rapport with someone when they can see that you can speak that way or at least ask an intelligent question. I know enough about a little bit of everything or at least make it seem like I’m not clueless about what someone else knows.”
If you are interested in something, what’s holding you back? During one of her interviews at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Summit, Brown received great advice “To be innovative it’s important to find out what’s going on in innovation.” Attend an event that you wouldn’t go to normally, read an article about something you didn’t know before, or talk with someone that has the same interests as you. “In the right situation, you can mention something that you know about and suddenly that person becomes calm and comfortable with you because now you can speak their language.”
Brown “did a lot of things out of instinct that were right. It felt right for what I wanted.” She left her corporate job to scale up her side hustle business and now is helping small businesses clarify their message and competitive advantage to reach their desired audience. She recognizes it’s hard for some people to leave their everyday job that help pay bills to start their own business and taking a chance. She has established a webinar series, Functional EntrepreneurTM, that helps budding entrepreneurs with a side hustle to figure out when to leave their day job. “Leaving your day job is the only way you are going to succeed as far as you can. Your efforts diluted will never grow a business.”
What’s next for Shakira Brown? The Growth & Success Conference, a virtual small business conference happening September 17th and 18th. The conference will have speakers that market their brands and give knowledge to the registrants. You may visit Growth Success Con for more information and to register for free. And of course, she will be speaking at the Black Collegiate Conference at Prairie View A&M on February 8th, 2018. You may register for the conference at BCBPM Conference.
Amber Peters86 Posts
Amber Peters is a current MBA candidate and full-time Accountant. She is a proud Alumna of Texas Southern University. “Faith without work means nothing”