( ENSPIRE She Did That ) Pennix-Brown Talks Small Business, Leadership, and Planning for Success in Interview with ENSPIRE Magazine
ENSPIRE Contributor: Adam Cetorelli
Founder and CEO of Lady Bizness Chisa Pennix-Brown won’t let COVID-19 slow her down. With a multitude of projects all geared toward helping others get their small businesses to reach their full potential, North Carolina-based Pennix-Brown is busy working to bring women- and Black-owned businesses to the forefront, even during the challenges of a global pandemic.
Check out ENSPIRE’s interview with Pennix-Brown on her businesses, growing a small company, and forecasting of 2021 as the “Year of Audacity” in response to the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.
What is your story? What did you do before Lady Bizness that led you to it?
Before starting Lady Bizness, I was attending Elon University studying Corporate Communications deciding what type of boss I would be. After graduation, I started managing a group of poets and getting them paid when no one was paying poets. I decided that managing other people was not what I wanted to do. I found that event planning and selling jewelry were talents that I wanted to pursue, and I did that between jobs. I turned to a full-time business owner in 2010 and never looked back.
You have several businesses and projects that are geared toward empowering people to be successful in their businesses—Lady Bizness, Pod Biz Studios, Real Glow Getters, and The Black Biz Group. What are the differences between these projects, why did you decide that having separate projects would be beneficial, and how do they interact, if at all?
When I started my company, I knew that I wanted to have a media empire. I wanted to have something that served all my areas of interest while simultaneously serving the community. Lady Bizness is like the bottom of the pyramid, It is my place to teach others how to start and grow their businesses. My primary clients there are schools, universities, and private clients that I teach for or manage their marketing.
PodBiz Studios is my podcasting studio, which helps to get out my message as well as that of our clients. We create podcasts and videos that resonate with our audience. My most popular is Real Ass Affirmations, which was started last year to be your own life coach.
Real Glow Getters is my nonprofit that I run with two other businesswomen that are great in their fields. We tend to focus on the branding and internal systems of women-owned businesses. This organization is membership-based and currently only open to women in N.C. We have discussed expanding it but want to maintain a personal touch and in-person gatherings.
The Black Biz Group is an online-only membership-based platform that is designed to focus on growing Black-owned businesses. We have experts in their field who cut the learning curve and reduce barriers to entry as well as connect business owners with the information they need to sustain.
Each project/business has a core that follows the Lady Bizness mission of enlightening, enhancing, empowering, and enriching the community in which we serve.
What was it like to write your book The 90 Day Focus? How was the audience reception of the book?
The 90 Day Focus debuted in March of 2016, and it was my first book. Since that time, I have written several e-books. I am always working on something and plan on releasing more titles. The audience has found this book to be immensely helpful in achieving their individual goals. Most people tell me that it is a way of life for them, and that makes me proud because it is a way of life for me too. I like to space out everything in 90-day increments and give things time to breathe. Your level of focus is more intense when you can really plan something out and see the results of a finished project.
How has your business changed during the COVID-19 pandemic?
My business has grown during COVID. I feel that it gave me the time to really focus on creating my courses and on-demand classes, which is something that people have asked about for years. It’s easy to always find something else to focus on when the world is open but having to be in the house created a new level of commitment to the future me.
In your opinion, what are the qualities of a strong leader?
Strong leaders must be willing to listen and do the work themselves. I think that the willingness, even if the requirement does not exist, is important. Often times, people forget simple courtesy and appreciation. In my experience, the weakest leaders are those that don’t value your time and ask for things at the last minute, which makes you resent their lack of respect for your time. I don’t think that money is important…respect [is], and the best leaders know that.
I listened to a few of your Real Ass Affirmations and absolutely loved them (especially “Juicy Fruit”). Where do you get all this wisdom? Do you have a team or is this all you?
This is all me. I listen to what is happening in the world and take experiences that I have had to devise the affirmations. Sometimes, I will see a quote or a meme that inspires the theme. I then formulate what I want to relay to people and do each of them off of the cuff. I want to always tell a story that will resonate with people. I love Maya Angelou and Dave Chappelle. Both can wrap you into a story and provide a point that might sting, but the truth always reigns supreme. That feeling mixed with wisdom, humor, breathing techniques, a mantra, and a little cussing all feel good to me.
What is your #1 tip for small business owners?
Plan to be successful. There are a lot of people that want to start a business, but they do not take the time to plan from the bottom up. Find what makes the most amount of money, solve a problem, and create a system for success.
What’s on the horizon for your business?
The future in general excites me. I like to always be future-oriented. I am looking forward to merging some of the brands. I can say for certain that mental health will be a focal area because this year has tested us all. It will also include much more on-demand content as well as summits that will coalesce topical information together. We will continue creating excellence, but in a virtual setting going forward. Expect to see more from me as we walk into what I am deeming 2021 as the “Year of Audacity.” I plan on Audaciously Giving it to the People.