An Insider's Look at the Black Entrepreneurs Blueprint to Success Summit: Alisa J. Henley
In preparation for the Black Entrepreneurs Blueprint to Success Summit on August 6, we spoke to Alisa J. Henley, a small business owner in the Kansas City area and one of the many featured speakers for the summit. This, is her story:
How did your company get started? Why?
I was working in human resources and got pigeonholed in my position. I had become the employment/employee relations expert. However, I wanted to do some things in human resources, like training or benefits. But every time I would apply for a job they offered something in employment or employee relations, so I branched out on my own. I started by forming an LLC two years before leaving my former employer.
What does your company do?
Destiny Consulting, LLC. provides human resources and organizational development consulting services. We do leadership development training, strategic planning facilitation, business growth consulting and personal and leadership coaching. And in 2015, the Sunshine Organization expanded its training programs to include leadership summits for faith-based organizations.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in starting or growing your company? What challenges have you faced specific to being a black entrepreneur?
The challenge is networking and getting the word out that we exist. Because I’m a black woman who looks younger than my age, people expect my work to be lacking. However, I always over deliver, then they seemed surprised!
What sacrifices did you make in your personal life to become a business owner?
I sacrificed a lot of material things. I also had to put getting my Ph.D. on hold.
As a business owner, I am my biggest investor. The vision is my baby, so I had to give up some things to have it!
What organizations have helped you overcome challenges and build your business?
The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce connected me with a business mentor (which, by the way, I recommend every entrepreneur have.) SCORE taught me the ins and outs of a budget. And a program out of the UMKC Innovation Center taught me how to network and get the word out about my business.
What makes Kansas City a great place to start and grow a business?
I am originally from St. Louis, but KC has been good to me. The market is not over saturated and people seem to always want to help.
What should Kansas City do to be more business friendly for black entrepreneurs?
They should have more business development programs specifically designed for minorities. Also, they should have more contracting opportunities and more forums advising business owners on how to do business with municipal government.
What advice do you have for other black entrepreneurs?
Do not become an entrepreneur for status reasons, but become one to make money, an impact and an imprint.
Thank you, Alisa!
While you wait for the Black Entrepreneurs Blueprint to Success Summit to roll around on August 6, here are a few reads about some of the expo's featured speakers that you may enjoy:
Chris Goode: Ruby Jean's Juicery Whips Up a Healthy Start
Dre Taylor: Kansas City Entrepreneur Builds an Oasis in a Food Desert
Kansas City Multicultural Entrepreneurs in Action
A Coalition for Kansas City's Multicultural Businesses
Register for the Black Entrepreneurs Blueprint to Success Summit
now. And head over to Facebook
to invite your friends. We’ll see you there!