We had the good fortune of connecting with Renae Symone and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Renae, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
The driving thought for starting my own business was the belief that there had to be something more for me out there. No matter who I worked for or how much money I made, I always had a relentless internal drive to work for myself. I grew up in a factory town, so at the age of 16, I started working at a perfume plant to provide for my newborn son. During the day, I would attend high school and then work second shift at the factory in the evening. This was frustrating. I believed that there had to be more, so I dropped out of high school and enrolled in an accelerated adult diploma program, and graduated early. Then, I registered in the local community college for radio broadcasting and marketing and began to carve out a career path towards my passion.
Those early years weren’t easy, and through all the hardship and opposition, the persistent thought “There has to be something more, I want something more” rang loudly in my ears. In my mind, “more” looked like dressing up, going to work in a nice office, and attending business meetings. I had no idea then what “more” would look like for me in the future.
I took an elective business plan writing course and it was my first memorable exposure to entrepreneurship. I was intrigued. Over the years, as I built my career in marketing, hospitality, sales, and event planning, the consistent pull to entrepreneurship was nearly irresistible. Without fail, at some point, I’d find myself crying before walking into every job I worked due to discontentment. However, the fear of instability paralyzed me, so I remained stuck in the cycle.
Fed up at the age of 28, I quit my job and started my own event planning company. It failed miserably due to a lack of planning and funding. I lost everything, and I had to humbly ask for my job back. Nearly six years later, after losing a beloved mentor, my heart screamed again, “Is this all there is? There has so to be something more; I need there to be more!” Again, motivated by discontentment and a new respect for life’s preciousness, I sacrificed my savings and started my second company. This time, I had a little more wisdom and a well thought out plan.
I decided to work my business like a second job until it replaced my first job, I set a financial “exit” goal, and then I began to work on my company. I developed my services, prospected clients, and spent my nights, weekends, and lunch breaks doing sales and networking. Eventually, my business earned enough to take me from full-time to part-time, and then one glorious day, I had to decide to either stay at my job or step out on faith in my new company.
With a grateful heart, in November 2020, my company will celebrate seven years of business. I have had the pleasure of serving over a thousand entrepreneurs, partnering with some great institutions, and meeting some amazing people. I believe entrepreneurship is a part of my life’s calling, and though I’ve experienced some ups and downs in business, I have never regretted my decision. Today, as I encounter new opportunities that I know will require faith and resiliency, I find myself moving forward because I am now intentional about finding the “more” in my life and my company.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My company’s name is Step-by-Step Businessolutions and we specialize in small business training, consulting, and strategizing. Our goal is to help small businesses manage the business side of their businesses so that they can get back to doing what they love. We have conducted training on topics such as marketing, customer service, business plan development, and special event planning at Small Business Centers, Universities, Chambers of Commerce, Nonprofits, and Veterans Business Outreach Centers. Our one-on-one consulting is ideal for individuals who need guidance in bringing life to their vision in a realistic and detailed plan. We are distinct in that we stand by our name in offering step-by-step solutions and instructions within our seminars that participants can easily apply to their businesses when they get home. We also work diligently with our partners to identify their attendees’ needs and adjust our training to complement the organization’s goals and best serve their clients.
I am most excited about the launch of the new Community Inspiration branch of our business called C.R. Symone, Inc, which focuses on sharing my story to inspire entrepreneurs and the communities that they live in. Our goal is to work with nonprofits, corporations, and civic organizations to inspire and motivate their audience to think differently and to implement change that gets results. From single parenting to parenting a successful adult, from to high school dropout to PHD student, from factory worker to successful entrepreneur, my life has been filled with colorful experiences that have broadened my capacity for intentional change and produced practical proven strategies on how to overcome the obstacles and limiting beliefs that hinder the pursuit of our dreams. Our new keynotes are vulnerable, educational, and entertaining and span topics such as the Humanity of Customer Service and Diversity, Overcoming Self Sabotage, The Power to Decide, and Keeping Pace with Your Capacity. These seminars are my passion project as I get to share from the heart, help others to learn from my mistakes and successes, and inspire people to hope again in the possibility of their dream, healing, or wholeness.
The beauty of my company is that we are in the midst of a definite growth phase, and the more that we grow the clearer we get on our legacy goals for our brand. We want to curate, in house and through partnerships, incredible businesses, programs, and content to help people realize their dreams, find hope in their situations, and to utilize our tools to pursue change with intention.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
To have my best friend in L.A. would be simply amazing. We have this tradition of literally eating our way through a city and seeing all of the “beautiful things.” She is a nature enthusiast, so we would start our day with a beautiful walk and devotional time at the Mater Dolorosa Passionist Gardens & Retreat Center because you can’t buy that kind of peace and tranquility. Next, we would dive into some breakfast burritos and head to downtown L.A. to shop and enjoy the city vibes. Then, on to Rodeo Drive to shop, eat, and act touristy and, of course, visit Amornio’s to indulge in their amazing hot crepe filled with delicious gelato and smothered in caramel and whipped cream that reminds me of our trip to Paris. Then I would introduce her to L.A. traffic as we head up the scenic Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu. We would enjoy an amazing meal at Mastros Ocean Club, tour the beautiful campus of Pepperdine, and drive up the Malibu hills up for a stunning view overlooking the valley and the sea. Before she heads out, we would be sure to stop by the Huntington Library and then embark on a full-fledged Cali “taco spot” tasting tour. We would have a going-away dinner at Houston’s and spend the night at the Ritz Carlton so she can see the city at night. It would be a wonderfully random good time!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
From idea to inception to growth, my entrepreneurial journey has been influenced by a countless amount of incredible mentors, coaches, and simply lovely cheerleaders who have been there to encourage, motivate, and bless me along the way. To them all, I want to say thank you. Next, I would say that I am an absolute believer in the power of accountability groups. I am living proof of their ability to cause exponential personal and business growth in short periods of time. So, I have to thank the three accountability groups who pushed me to get to where I am, PPC, SOG, and WDT. You know who you are. Thank you, ladies! Lastly, I have to shoutout my two Q’s. To my son Quarry, thank you for being my rock, my inspiration, and my ride or die. We counsel each other before making moves, and no matter what mine are, you are my number one supporter and my voice of reason; you believe that I can move mountains and aren’t afraid to hop on a plane to help me push when necessary. Thank you, Q. Growing with you has been the best part of my life, and I am so proud of you. To my Goddaughter Q, the essence of you makes my soul glad. Thank you for your unconditional love and support and for letting your brilliance shine!