Friday, January 30, 2015

BOSS Spotlight: Meet The "Startup Queen" Aundrea Y. Wilcox

AUNDREA Y. WILCOX, Brenau University MBA, is currently the Executive Director of the Kingsport Office of Small Business Development & Entrepreneurship at the Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce, Tenn.  She is also the author of Startup Savvy: Strategies for Optimizing Small Business Survival and Success; and the upcoming book Superwoman Smarts: Activating Leadership and Substance.  

The BOSS Network: What were some obstacles that you faced in the beginning process of starting your business or career? 

Aundrea Wilcox:I have always had in interest in entrepreneurship.  My parents have owned multiple family businesses, so I was introduced to this industry as a child.  They both continue to motivate and inspire me, by always asking, “What’s new?”  When they ask this question of me, I know they are being genuine and they expect to hear something pretty exciting.  

BN: What inspired you to break into your particular industry? 

AW: I started at the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce first as a volunteer.  I realized that I loved volunteering more than “working” my corporate job at the time, so I decided to make the switch to the nonprofit sector.  This risky but rewarding career change gave me the opportunity to work with many business owners one-on-one on a daily basis.  I quickly noticed some disappointing trends and behaviors, and I wanted to do something positive and bold to change the status quo.  So, I wrote my first book to help business owners avoid some of the common pitfalls and mistakes that I saw reoccurring unnecessarily.  Startup Savvy was written not only to help new entrepreneurs get started, but to help existing businesses survive and thrive.  When I receive emails and letters about how the book has helped small businesses and emerging entrepreneurs, I know that my efforts are having a positive impact on the local economy, and that I am making a real difference in people’s lives. 

BN: How do you balance your personal and professional life or have you been able to find a balance? 

AW: My second upcoming book, Superwoman Smarts, was written for professional women and women in business.  I wrote this book because I know this topic very well—this is my life, and I truly want all women to be successful.  Often, we limit our own success by creating self-fulfilling prophecies or self-obstacles, and I want this to end.  Personally, my daughter has just turned 21, and she will be entering the world as a young woman.  I would like that transition to be easier, by sharing lessons that I have learned and advice from other successful women that I have been blessed to connect with on my own journey.  We all know that success is not a point in time.  Success is a path, and sometimes it is not clearly marked.  In my mind success is obtainable to anyone, but it depends on three key things:

• Choices

• Decisions

• Actions

BN: What is an inspirational quote that you live by?
AW: Consequently, my favorite quote is, “Don’t just talk about it, BE about it.”  I don’t know who said it, but that’s not what’s important, what’s important is managing the things we can control.  What’s important is doing more than just saying. 

BN: What is your definition of a BOSS?

AW: My definition of a BOSS is a woman who is:  BEAUTIFUL inside and out—and in her own way; OUTSPOKEN—speaking up for herself and others who are not in a position to do so; STRONG—physically and mentally, and SMART—on the street, in the office and in business. 

BN: Who were some influential people or mentors that helped or encouraged you along the way? 

AW: Because of the nature of my work—being a certified small business advisor, speaker and author—my personal and professional life does intersect, and I am quite happy with that.  In fact, I welcome the blending of both worlds.  I balance all of this by taking time out for myself to do some of the things I love alone.  For example, I like to go to the gym first thing most mornings.  When I don’t go to the gym, I actually feel unproductive.  To be honest, I just don’t feel good if I miss my gym time.  I don’t choose to miss the gym because my husband doesn’t feel like it.  Conversely, everyday doesn’t have to be a grueling workout.  On some days, a good cardio workout is all I need.  I also enjoy ballroom dancing just for fun and relaxation.  I take a professional dance lesson with my husband once a week and we both enjoy a group social dance once week to show off our new moves.  Also, I purchased a cello several years ago on a whim.  My musical skills in this area are lacking, but few things are more satisfying than a glass of wine, cello music, and candle light.  And as strange as it may seem, I highly recommend every woman find a chiropractor that they are comfortable with.  I have found that having good posture helps me maintain a healthy mind and body. I try to visit my chiropractor at least once a week. 

BN: What are your “must-haves” to keep your career or business going strong? 

AW: Finally, my network is my lifeline.  Without others, I realize I am nothing.  Therefore, cultivating a strong and active network is imperative to keeping your business or career solid.  Never burn a bridge—it’s just not smart.  Instead, build bridges and build on existing relationships.  Remember that it’s not just about you, so reciprocate generously.  Help other women, help your sisters SUCCEED, and you will too!

Connect with AUNDREA Y. WILCOX on Twitter at @SuperwomanSmart and Learn more about products and services at www.aundreaywilcox.com

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