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Movers and Shakers | Juanita Rosenior | TGRG

Juanita Rosenior is the founder of TGRG, a multidisciplinary boutique agency with a passion for marketing, (internal) communications, PR, events & talent management. Their clients are atypical visionaries with the desire to uplift, empower and inspire. She has been in business for over 15 years.

What inspired you to start your own business?

I like to think it’s in my DNA. My paternal grandmother was a businesswoman and used to sell fish in the markets of Freetown, Sierra Leone, my home country. My dad also owned and built several businesses, so I believe it was inevitable.

My own entrepreneurial journey really began after the birth of my son. I wanted autonomy and flexibility when it came to his care. One former employer expected me back at work within six weeks of having my son because “that’s what my wife did.” Another used my challenges with childcare to actively pit my colleagues and I against each other. Enough of these incidents made me realise the power of being in control of my own opportunities.

 It became clear that my employers were leveraging my ambition solely for their own gain and were never going to support my growth. I decided not to keep jumping through the hoops they kept putting in front me. I had started and sustained a business before so I returned to that.

What were the first few steps you took to get the business up and running?

I got an accountant and worked with them to create my limited company. As I run a service-based business – which is primarily based on my skills – I only needed a laptop, access to the internet and a phone to run my business.

Once I was officially ready to go, I spoke to people in my network, letting them know I was available for hire. I believe that when things are meant for you they come naturally and every time I’ve started a business I’ve never been out of work.

How far ahead do you plan and what keeps you on track and motivated?

I always have a vision for the business a year to five years down the line though I try to keep things a little fluid. Not sure we would have survived COVID let alone everyday business challenges without that. More recently I have been looking at the concept of the 12 Week Year where you try to achieve what you’d do in a year every 12 weeks. It does give an urgency to do more in a shorter space of time rather than putting things off.

Are there any sacrifices you’ve had to make as an entrepreneur?

Woi! Are you able to be an entrepreneur without sacrifices?! The thing is the benefits outweigh the sacrifices. I can be home for my family. I can pick projects that edify my soul. I chose my hours – though I need to choose to do less as I work a lot. I control my path which means a lot to me. But yes, there are challenges.

You have to have friends who love you enough to know you can’t be there all the time. It can be hard to juggle with children. However, when you’re not missing parents’ evening because your Chief Executive wants his blog to go up on the intranet at the last minute, you know you’re in a much better place.

What has been the most amazing day in your entrepreneurial life so far?

Clichéd but every day is amazing? There’s something to be said about knowing you can sustain your life and the lives of others through your business. That and the day we made six figures for the first time. 

What has been your scariest moment?

When I started my first agency it was on the back of an employer making us reapply for our contract roles despite the fact the team was short-staffed. My son was three at the time, I was living at home and I decided this was the best time to try and start a business. I handed in my notice. No business plan. No client list. Nothing. I left that Friday and woke up Monday morning looking at my sleeping child wondering what the [insert expletive of your choice] was I going to do. That morning I received a random phone call from someone who had seen some work I had done on an independent project and they asked if I would do some freelance work for them. It all flowed from there.

For me I’m always nervous: I have a team of three (which I’m looking to up to 5 in 2022) to pay, being VAT registered is scary, being clear and strategic on where money is coming from is scary but, you know what? It’s also exciting and freeing. I’m confident that no matter what happens I’ll figure it out. Life dictates that you have to.

How do you work on making your business grow?

 I am always reading about other businesses in my sector. There aren’t a lot of talent management agencies that are run by Black women but there are global agencies and businesses that have had whole books written on them. I am always watching what is happening in the wider world.

When COVID hit, the news was consistently on in our house so prior to it landing in the UK I could see how it was devastating other countries. I called all my clients and told them we’d needed to pivot online. Some took a while to believe that it was going to be anything more than a moment in time, others jumped on board straight away. I know that that early assessment meant my client’s businesses were kept sustainable as we prepared for any eventuality.

I think it is about watching what’s going on in the world and in your sector and also being intentional with the work and activities you choose to do. Is the work we’re doing ultimately going to bring in decent money? If it’s not then move on to something that will.

What is the best thing about being your own boss?

The fact that I can be around for my children, the autonomy, being able to pick the projects I work on, being able to walk away from the projects that don’t align with my values, the challenge of making something succeed, the wins after things hit the fan, the satisfaction of knowing you built something from the ground up. The list is endless.

What are the challenges of working for yourself and how do you tackle them?

It can be lonely at times. Sometimes I wish I had a business partner but I like my autonomy. Instead, I started a board of advisors early this year.

Also balancing the demands of my business, family and taking care of myself. Honestly, I haven’t cracked that one properly. I am aware I need to do more and am starting to take baby steps towards giving myself time to recuperate.

I’ve booked in quarterly weekends just for me. I am going to do one creative activity during the week as it’s important for generating ideas for clients and I’m going to try and reinstate things like massage days.

Who do you admire or look to for inspiration as a business owner?

Every December I do a mood board and I pick people who I admire because of their strides in business. People that have been on there for at least the last four years are:

  • Bozoma St John – Currently CMO at Netflix. Not only has she broken ground in her professional career but she’s a mum and lives her best life. I really relate to her.
  • Rihanna – the woman built a billion dollar empire across multiple categories. No need to say more
  • Akua Agyemfra – She is essentially a woman that makes things happen. Currently working with Stormzy, she delivered on the Cambridge Scholarship he has in place and turned a request from Penguin to have Stormzy write a book into an imprint deal which spawned #MerkyBooks. To top it off she is a Black British (Ghanaian) woman. Though we’ve never met, I’m proud of her. She’s a reminder close to home that things can be done.
  • Ozwald Boateng – This man is an icon. Classy, creative, cutting edge, unapologetic about his Africaness. I fell in love with his work ethos after watching his film. He is always pushing boundaries.

What piece of advice has had the most impact on your business? And who was it from?

There have been a couple of titbits over the years like ‘don’t invest in an office’ – I didn’t listen and it became a noose. I was glad to have learnt that lesson for myself though.

‘Where’s the money coming from? You are not Gandhi’ is also a particular favourite which I grew to understand over time.

Also a piece of advice I’ve had to give myself is that I don’t have to have all the answers nor do I need a blueprint to follow. I worry at times as I don’t work like other traditional agencies and often have to remind myself that maybe that’s the thing that makes us so interesting.

What are the three books, websites or resources (professional or personal) that you would recommend to other business owners?

Oooooo books are the quickest way to my heart (…and Supermalt). My top recommended book is The 4 Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. This is a book that looks at how we navigate other people as we are all living our own experiences and the four things we should keep in mind on our day to day:

  1. Never take things personally,
  2. Always do your best,
  3. Don’t make assumptions,
  4. Be impeccable with your word.

 I rarely read books twice but I have read this multiple times and have it on Audible.

Other than that, the books that have impacted me include:

  • The Five Love Languages – again another book that helps you navigate the way you intract with people
  • The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau – when I was first thinking of becoming self employed I hadn’t seen that life up close, I had only heard about it. This book affirmed so much of my thoughts and made me realise I wasn’t crazy to want to go out on my own.

Connect with Juanita: @tgrguk on Twitter and Instagram and LinkedIn

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