PHOTOS BY CAMERON ASHFORD
Who is E’Tiana Larkin? Tell us a little about yourself, where you are from, and your background.
Wow thats’ a loaded question. But E’Tiana Larkin is a mother of 2- daughter E’Lasia (19) and son Na’Sean (14). I was born and raised in Rochester, NY and I now reside in the Beechwood area. My undergraduate and graduate degrees are in Business Administration and I am finishing up a second Masters in Educational Leadership and Supervision. Professionally, I am the Director of Bethany House, a homeless shelter for women and children. I am also a co-host on the radio show called the 5eight5 Report on 100.9 WXIR FM, where we interview business owners and discuss what’s going on around Rochester through constructive conversations. It’s a fun show where I get to let my hair down a little bit.
How did the idea for your business come about?
For years I have been helping others with their businesses or projects, helping their dreams to come to fruition. People would call on me because of my strong work ethic and my reliability. I decided in 2020 that I was not going to take on any more projects unless they were my own. Then I decided if I was going to help someone with a project that I wanted to be compensated for my time. Initially, Client-Centered Consulting was supposed to be a partnership, but my partner didn’t have the time to dedicate to the business which is totally understandable. Although I was discouraged, I didn’t completely give up on the idea. One day over the summer getting my hair done, my hairdresser, Ranya and I started talking about her journey to entrepreneurship and I expressed that I wanted to start a consulting business but I didn’t want to do it alone. My hairdresser convinced me at that moment to make it happen. Ranya told me that there was a huge need for my business in our community and it would be great to see a person of color at the helm.
What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?
I love helping people. All of the positions that I have held professionally have involved helping others. Client-Centered Consulting is no different. I want to help people start their business, present a professional credible image and help them to generate more revenue.
How did you come up with the name for your company?
I want my clients to know that when they enter a contract with me, the focus is centered on them. By modeling this, in turn they will learn to provide better customer service to their clients.
Do you have any advice for other females wanting to jump into being a female entrepreneur?
Take your time. Don’t rush into a business venture just to be labeled an entrepreneur. Make sure all your business paperwork is complete, if not come see me (shameless plug). Also, make sure the image you’re presenting to the world is something you’re proud of.
What has been your biggest challenge in 2020?
Taking the leap into business on my own has been my biggest challenge of 2020. I really desired to go into business with a partner but life had very different plans for me. I went back and forth creating fears that I’ve never had when starting a new endeavor. I began talking myself out of pursuing it, instead of hyping myself up to start the business. Once I decided to move forward, I made January my launch date and I announced it on my radio show which made it even more real. Once I announced my launch date, all the challenges and fears went to the back burner and I began to move quickly in the process.
What motivates you?
I’m very self-motivated. If I want to accomplish something and I feel passionate enough about it, I am going to do it. Also, my children have been a big source of motivation for me. As a teenage mother who had two children by 21, I knew I couldn’t make excuses for the poor decisions I was making. I then decided to go back to college to provide a better life for them and when I obtained my first degree, I then went on to get my masters. If it were not for my children, I don’t think I would have even cared about pursuing a higher education.
How do you generate new ideas?
I generate new ideas by reading books, following people who are influential in the consulting field on social media platforms, bouncing ideas off of my friends and family members and also listening to the needs of business owners.
Did you have any ‘a-ha!’ moments that made you rethink your being a business owner?
There were things that my name was attached to that I knew moving forward, I couldn’t be a part of because of my business. When deciding to start a business, I also had to make sure my radio show content aligned with the image I want to portray to my potential clients.
What do you know now that you didn’t know a year ago?
The actual amount of money involved in starting a business. There are lots of fees that are involved in building a business and a substantial amount of money that you have to put into advertising and promotion but I believe everything that I have invested in is well worth it.
What was the biggest obstacle you faced, and how did you overcome it?
I was my biggest obstacle. My first thought was about the support of people that mean the most to me. But I quickly overcame it. My business is not for individuals that don’t have faith in me or support me. It’s for the individuals who have a great idea but aren’t sure of how to execute the process.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
– Confidence because there will be some people who may only know the old you, pre-entrepreneurship. They haven’t met
the person that felt brave and confident enough to pursue entrepreneurship and sometimes you have to respectfully flex on those individuals.
– Professionalism because with some customers you have only one opportunity to make a great impression.
– Impeccable customer service- News of good customer service travels fast, but news of bad customer service travels faster and often goes viral. That’s why it’s important to go above the call of duty and in turn you’ll receive good reviews and retain your customers.
Are there any resources or even advice that have really helped you on your journey?
Social media specifically- instagram, youtube have been great tools that have helped to generate ideas. Also people close to me have been great sounding boards and have provided me with useful feedback during my journey.
What do you think your unique skill(s) is that has helped you become successful?
I am new to having my own business but what I believe will help me to be successful and maintain longevity is my 15 years I spent working for Wegmans. The time I spent there has molded me into a very strong leader and added so much to my leadership toolbelt.
Where do you see yourself in 1 year, 3 years and 5 years from now?
1 year- having the need to hire additional employees
3 years- working with individuals in different states
5 years- being recognized for the work that is being done on behalf of small business owners and taking on clients in mid-size and large business.