Ali Brown runs an entrepreneurial empire. She went from being a young marketing exec with less than $20 in the bank and is now an entrepreneurial guru worth millions. Her company Ali International, LLC, which mentors, guides and inspires women who want to become entrepreneurs, was ranked on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies in 2009. Forbes.com named Brown as the No. 1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. She will also be featured on the ABC’s upcoming show, “Secret Millionaire,” which debuts March 6. Her website has nearly 50,000 members around the world.
Brown told BusinessNewsDaily what it’s like to run her own successful business and how women are entrepreneurs are different than men.
BusinessNewsDaily: What is the most rewarding part of running your own business?
Ali Brown: When I started my first business 11 years ago, it was because I wanted to control my own time and income. After I got on my feet, women started asking me how I did what I did. So I began creating programs to help women thrive by becoming entrepreneurs. Nothing makes me more proud or excited, often to the point of tears, like when I see my clients and members have a big breakthrough, share a success story that changed their lives, or multiply their income in ways they could have only imagined.
BND: Do women face unique challenges as entrepreneurs?
A.B.: Women make great entrepreneurs and we do work differently than men. The blessing we bring to the world of work is we mostly start businesses with a passion, purpose, or cause in mind. Or to support the lifestyle we want which typically involves raising a strong family. But I see too many women go into business without doing their homework to ensure they will make money! I sometimes have to remind them the purpose of a business is to make a profit. You can use your business as a vehicle for change, but it has to support itself... and you.
BND: If you weren't doing what you do, what fantasy small business would you love to own?
A.B.: I know when I start fantasizing about moving to Mexico and making jewelry that I'm working too hard. Perhaps I'll do that in retirement!
BND: What's the biggest mistake new business owners make?
A.B.: Listening to the wrong people. When you are launching a new venture, most everyone around you will tell you that you're crazy, or charging too much, or being too bold, etc. They often mean well but you have to remember to only seek advice from successful people who have done what you want to do. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely, especially for those of us who work at home and run micro-businesses. That's one of the reasons I founded my Millionaire Protege Club.
BND: Who is your entrepreneurial idol?
A.B.: Richard Branson is my entrepreneurial idol and my imaginary boyfriend. Ha ha. Kidding aside, I got to spend time on his private island in BVI a few years ago, and to see him in action was incredible. Life and business is one big playground for him. He makes gazillons of dollars and is also going to leave the world a better place. What more can you ask for?
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