When Lavinia Awosanya launched her marketing and public relations business, Event Mood Corp., in Lumberton, N.J., more than five years ago, she did everything a first time entrepreneur is not supposed to do. She had no business plan, little money and no financial goal or projections. In fact, Awosanya’s road to entrepreneurship was circuitous.
It was back in 2005 when she received word that her job as a manager at a New Jersey-based non-profit performing arts center was being eliminated—along with the entire program and center. The state had pulled the financial plug and the center would be shutting down for good. In other words, Awosanya was about to be jobless. The timing could not have been worse; she was just weeks away from having her second child and the looming prospect of trying to raise two children on a biweekly unemployment check would be daunting—to say the least.
In a recent interview with The Network Journal, she shared her inspirational story of her journey from department head to small business owner. “I guess I will call myself an Accidental Entrepreneur of sorts,” she said. “In my former job, I was responsible for booking, programming and marketing family shows. I loved my job.”
However, after the center lost its funding and furloughed employees, Awosanya initially decided that she would be a stay-at-home mom—at least for a while and eventually look for another job. However, an opportunity suddenly presented itself to her. “I received a call from my former boss at the performing arts center to consult on an upcoming regional event,” she said. “The event was challenging and stretched me—which I liked, and I started searching for similar opportunities.” One gig led to another and before she knew it, Awosanya had set up a home office, launched a Web site and embarked upon a small-scale direct marketing initiative. She eventually joined the International Special Events Society (ISES)—a social network of event industry professionals that develops, markets and advocates its services to a worldwide clientele.
“Through my work at the non-profit agency, I was already adept at coordinating and ensuring that all program components were in place and effective,” she said. “However, focusing exclusively on events was new to me.”
The niche strategy of social networking and hobnobbing with industry professionals worked and Awosanya managed to secure several major clients—including the Christian Chamber of Commerce and Green Tree Partnerships. The Christian Chamber assists members in growing their businesses through Biblical principle and the Green Tree Partnership, among other things, promotes awareness of autism.
Additionally, Event Mood Corp. has been retained by Green Tree Partnerships and will facilitate the organization’s national conference on autism next year. Ari Ne’eman, an autism rights advocate, will headline the event. President Barack Obama appointed Ne’eman last year to the National Council on Disability.
Despite the tough economy and turbulent financial times, Awosanya said her business has managed to remain steady. However, similar to thousands of other entrepreneurs across the country, the lack of funding remains the biggest hurdle. One way to combat – or at least minimize – the impact of draining coffers is advertising and self-promotion. “Ongoing marketing is vital to a business that’s trying to capture and maintain the attention of its target market,” she said. The marketing guru offers this tidbit of cogent advice to would-be entrepreneurs—“Brace yourself for bumps along the way, but always keep your eye on the prize and be ready to tweak your business model to adjust to the ever-changing business landscape.”