We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Dawanna Jones MPA, M. Ed.. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Dawanna below.
Dawanna , looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Risk taking is something we’re really interested in and we’d love to hear the story of a risk you’ve taken.
Taking risks are necessary if you wish to move to a new level in life. You will never know what can happen unless you take a risk. I started my proofreading and editing service by taking a risk. It had never thought of having an editorial service. I love to read. When I was in middle and high school, I loved to write poems and short stories. I think I have a vivid imagination. One night in 2013, I finished reading a book that I thought was pretty good but it was filled with errors. The story itself was interesting, had suspense, and held my attention but I felt the grammatical and context errors were a distraction. There were many context discrepancies and situations that just didn’t make sense. For example, the author would describe a scene in the summer but the characters would have on a coat or other winter clothing. I couldn’t stop thinking about the errors so I decided to take a risk and contact the author. I wasn’t sure if she would be on Facebook but I decided to check anyway. She was there! I honestly only wanted to share my opinion with her instead of the review section on Amazon. I sent her a private message explaining how I felt about the book and the numerous errors. She was apologetic and stated that she had been having trouble with her editor. After reading her response I thought about it for a minute. The Holy Spirit told me that I had the knowledge and skills to assist her. I was nervous, thinking that I knew nothing about being an editor. Yet, I decided to take the risk! I responded back to her stating that I could offer the service to her. I honestly, had no idea what being an editor really entailed but I took that risk. To my surprise, she asked for my prices. I did a quick Google search and responded with a competitive price. Her response was a request to send over a manuscript. I accepted! That night I did research and I created a contract. My business was born just like that! I soon discovered she wasn’t just an author of her books, she also helped other authors publish their books. After forming a relationship with me, she referred me to other authors. I soon had more work than I could handle as I was still working a full-time and a part-time job. That business was very profitable and it was all because I took the risk!
Dawanna , before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
I absolutely love serving, helping, and motivating others. I find peace and enjoyment in giving more than what I receive. I have been working since I was 17 years old and I have worked in several different industries. Through my work experience and education, I have many skills and knowledge that I use to help others. When I was in high school, my career goals were to be an attorney or real estate agent. I also knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I did enjoy a career in real estate for a while but I never went to law school. Entrepreneurship allows the freedom and flexibility of living life on your terms if you work hard enough. My passion for entrepreneurship and helping others led to me starting my first business, an errand service called The 25th Hour Co. After encountering several people who wanted to start a business but didn’t know where to start, I realized how many people needed help with creating business plans and getting their business started. I retired The 25th Hour Co. and started Senoj Professional Business Services. Over the years I’ve also operated an editorial service, craft/personalized gifts business, educational consulting, and photography.
I want people to know that my goal is to help them reach theirs. I love motivating others and pouring into them whatever I can to help them along the way. I don’t believe we should be competing with each other. We all have our own unique journey to travel. If I help someone to succeed, it won’t take away from anything that God has for me! I believe that I am different from other Business Consultants because I don’t see people as dollar signs. In fact, I always tell people that I have gotten the majority of my clients from referrals and not marketing. This is because I treat people like I would want to be treated. I like to work with people from idea to opening day. I break things down in a way that they can understand and I show them where they can find the information for themselves. For example, after I design a website for a client, I show them how they can edit and maintain it themselves. They then have the option to hire me to maintain it or do it themselves. I don’t gatekeep anything!
I am grateful to God for implanting in me the desire to create two organizations: Black Business Women of Southeast Texas and Black Business Men of Southeast Texas in 2017. Those organizations were combined in 2018 to form Black Business Professionals of Southeast Texas. This nonprofit organization focuses on recognizing, supporting, and uplifting Black-Owned businesses in Southeast Texas. I had no idea what it would become when it was first started and it is now a resource for my community and something I am very proud of. Being recognized for making a difference in their community and for their hard work has meant so much to so many over the years and I truly enjoy seeing the humbleness and smiles on the honorees faces.
My creator has allowed me to accomplish a lot in short time here and I am looking forward to what’s to come!
What’s worked well for you in terms of a source for new clients?
The best source of new clients is old clients! I would say that roughly 95% of my clients come from referrals. I learned a lesson early on in business and I still live by it today: treat others like you would want to be treated! Treat people with dignity and respect and they will remember it. It isn’t a hard strategy to comprehend. I tell my clients to imagine they were the customer or client and ask themselves how they would feel. We are all customers or clients of someone! How do you feel when you are treated like a dollar sign, without respect, mistreated etc.?
A few years back, I was contacted by someone who saw an ad that I had on Instagram. She needed help revamping her website. She told me that she wasn’t just satisfied with the service I provided, but it was the way that I provided it. She said my customer service was above and beyond. She appreciated how I took the time to explain things to her, broke it down to where she could understand, gave her tips and more. Because of the service I provided, she referred me to someone who was in a different state from me! That person then referred me to others and years later I am still getting clients that are a result of one person that I treated well! I live in Texas and have worked with people that I have never met in person that live in Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, and Louisiana all from referrals!
Let’s talk about resilience next – do you have a story you can share with us?
The invention of technology and so many social media platforms has allowed creators to lead people to believe entrepreneurship is easy. It is not. It is rewarding, but definitely not easy. Starting a business, the right way, is hard work. Being a business owner is more than just cute photos and posting on social media. You must first have a plan that you review and update as needed. You must know a little about a lot, especially if you are a one man/woman show. Understanding the local, state, and federal laws associated with business as well as bookkeeping, taxes, marketing, and growth can be overwhelming. It will make most want to give up.
The pandemic was a rough time for everyone, especially small business owners. My business was no different. Business began to slow down quite a bit. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, I used that time, like a lot of people, to learn new skills. I also read a lot and increased my knowledge in my field as well as others. This allowed me to be able to add to the services that I could provide to my clients. I stayed in contact with my previous clients and marketed to new clients.
My desire to not give up when things got hard and ability to find ways to keep going resulted in me being able to keep my business open. The key is to not give up when things get hard but find ways to be productive in the midst of a storm!
- Website: www.senojservices.com
- Instagram: @senojpbs
- Facebook: @senojpbs
- Linkedin: Dawanna Jones MPA
- Other: www.dawannajones.com @ddawannaj (IG & FB) www.bbpsetx.com @bbpsetx (IG & FB) @senojphotoz (FB & IG)