PHOTOS BY: KAMERON ASHFORD, CHRISTOPHER CARDWELL & SOUTHTOWN IMAGES
In this edition of Rochester Woman Online, we had the chance to meet up with our latest cover woman, the inspiring tax professional and female entrepreneur, Annette Campbell. This lady boss is not only beautiful, but has brains and the perseverance to own her own business too!
Tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your background.
My name is Annette Campbell and I am 29 years old, born and raised in Rochester, NY. I graduated from the school of Business, Finance, and Entrepreneurship at Edison Tech. I went on to study Business Administration at MCC and then Accounting at SUNY Brockport.
They say you usually become like those who you try and help. That led to my passion for helping other people financially because of overcoming my financial struggles in life. Three years ago, I lost everything. I had worked in the banking industry for five years when I lost my job, and my entire life changed. I could not buy out my auto lease, leading me to walk and ride the bus again. The lease to my apartment was up, so I made the tough decision to move back in with my family. I was devasted because I had worked so hard to achieve so much in life, and I felt like everything I worked for was stripped away from me. I ended up living with my grandma for a while I started rebuilding my foundation. I was able to get a new car and job, but during that time I also ended up going through a mini-depression. I had to constantly reminded myself that I had to keep going.
Unfortunately, moving in with my grandma didn’t end well. She was still using drugs, which I wasn’t aware of which ended up negatively affecting my path for succeeding. I grew up in foster care because it was my grandma who introduced my mom to drugs. My mom had also grown up in foster care, so that was a generational curse I just had to break.
After my grandma kicked me out, I moved in with a close family member, who at one point made me sleep on the floor. I manifested during that time, telling myself and the universe that I would have my own tax business and that I would continue to fight to create a better life for myself.
I was eventually able to get a new apartment and a job working for the Department of Education. Life was finally heading in the right direction and going well. All the obstacles I endured lead me to my passion for helping people financially with their goals because I knew what it was like not to have good financial habits.
What made you decide to start your own business and become a female entrepreneur?
After three years at H&R Block, I took that leap of faith and was able to start my own tax business! Scared and all, I did it. I launched my business at the end of 2019. It was challenging running a business, still continueing to work full time, and working for the Department of Education where you couldn’t even have your cell phone in the building. I was at risk of losing my job because I was going over my break times and trying to respond to as many client emails as possible. I told myself that 2020 would be my last year working for someone else, not knowing that a global pandemic was about to hit and I would end up getting laid off.
For a second, I feared losing everything again. But, this time around I was prepared because I had my own tax business that I had started building. I immediately started pouring so much more into my business. I studied and invested more into my business, telling myself, “Annette, you are not going back to a job. You will expand your tax business.”. I hired a business developer to help me put the pieces to the puzzle together. In December of 2020, I was tested to the point where I almost didn’t open up the doors to my business. I cried for a whole week trying to figure things out but, God got me through. With only 11 days away from my grand opening, things got even worse, but I stayed faithful.
January 2nd 2021, I opened the doors to my business, The Tax Experience. I was on the news twice and also did a radio interview. My business is now exploding with clients! I said last year that 2021 would be the year my life changed. I took the risk to bet on me because I knew my purpose was to help individuals and businesses create wealth which would lead them to create a legacy. If this foster kid can do it, so can you. COVID wasn’t going to stop me. I am now in control of my life , and I want to help thousands gain control over their life as well.
What made you decide to open a business like The Tax Experience?
I think being your true authentic self will help you build out your dream. I have a strong presence on social media because I let my followers into my journey. They are invested and motivated by my entrepreneurial journey. It is a journey of not giving up, risk-taking, and believing in yourself.
As a business owner, what are your top three priorities for both your business and also for your clients?
I know that God put me on this earth to fulfill my purpose of helping others financially. I know what sets me apart from other tax and financial firms is my passion to build and help business owners build wealth. I will help develop business owners to become 6 and 7 figure businesses and to understand the steps to take to build strong, profitable and sustainable businesses. That will be through tax prep, accounting and bookkeeping, and wealth management.
To be able to educate my community about the importance of financial literacy is what is going to help push generations forward. I went through a lot of challenges in my own life which led me to lose everything. I am relatable because I once was that person who struggled financially. It was my own struggles that lead me to my passion to help others gain control over their financial freedom. It wasn’t easy, but I never gave up no matter what.
I’ve learned so many lessons during my entrepreneuial journey. The number one thing is that family and friends will not always be the first to support you. They won’t understand it in the beginning, so try not to take it personally. Strangers become your best customers and cheerleaders. I also had to believe in myself more than anybody else. You must push yourself past any fears. I use to be so shy, but I knew that in order to grow, I would have to learn to network. Now I am the networking queen!
How do you market your business, and which tactics have been most successful, especially during a pandemic?
I also had to heal and work on myself and confidence along my journey. You are powerful, dig deep. Investing in yourself is important, a lot of business owners don’t do this and it is vital to your success. You pretty much need an Annette on your team. How bad do you want to succeed is what I also ask myself and that is what rings through my ears when I feel like giving up. Find your passion and skill in life and monetize it to create your dream life.
What was your key driving force to become a female entrepreneur, especially in the tax business working with small business owners?
My critical driving force for becoming a female entrepreneur, especially in the tax business, is after taking my fall three years ago. I didn’t want people in my community to go through what I had to, or struggle financially. I wanted to start a business that would give people hope and resources to understand that you don’t have to work your whole life. I want to help people fire their boss and live out their dream life. I want to help business owners build out their dream businesses, and that all starts with your financial foundation.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, would you do anything differently and why?
If I had to start my career over, I would have made better choices financially when I first started out. But, I feel like I went through everything I did for a reason. It has molded me into the boss lady I am today.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be successful in your business and as a female business owner?
The top three skills needed to be a successful business owner are first and foremost, passion. You must be passionate about what you do. There will be times in your journey that you will feel stuck or want to give up, but your passion and why will keep you going. I think also having excellent customer service and experience is very important as well. Lastly, being organized financially with your responsibilities like filing taxes and proper booking is essential.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My greatest inspiration is God; without him, I am nothing. He has carried me through my journey. My team has also inspired me including MJ Allen and Bonita Smith Jackson. My foster parents also encouraged me; they have left a lasting impression on my life.
How do you define success?
I define success as the ability to overcome challenges to get closer to dream and goal fulfillment. I think success is the courage to rip back a layer of your old self to evolve into what you are truly called to be. I also think success is the ability to impact and influence people. To be bold, brave, and fearless.
Is word of mouth working to your advantage, or is social media where it is at now?
Word of mouth is the best form of advertising, and I use it to my advantage. I do right by my tax clients, and they do the marketing for me.
Do you spend more time lighting fires or putting them out?
I spend more of my time lighting fires. The more I grow and evolve, the more influential the fire becomes.
Tell our audience what makes you a hustler and an incredible lady boss…
I am a hustler and lady boss because I have an incredible level of ambition. I have this idea in my head that I can truly change the world. I am the definition of resilience. No matter what life throws at me, I will come out on top. God blessed me with purpose, and I will keep living, growing, and building to every part of my soul is fulfilled. I know my goal is to serve people financially, and I am on a mission. I am unstoppable.
Where do you see your business a year from now? What about 5 and 10 years?
I see myself in 5 to 10 years as a billionaire. I see myself married with kids and living a very purpose-driven life. I know that by that time, I will have a tribe of financially empowered families that I have helped along the way. I see myself with my tax franchise and other businesses too.
Do you walk your talk?
I do walk my talk. I am an executor; anything I say I am going to do, I do. One of the most important parts of entrepreneurship is holding yourself accountable, which means never to give up and keep pushing yourself forward in life and business.
Do you think being a minority has helped or hindered you in business?
I think being a minority own business has been liberating and, of course, has its challenges. I am proud to be one of the first in my family to create a business, to change the trajectory of my bloodline going forward.
What is one thing you have done that not many people know about you?
One thing that I have done that many people may not know is, that I do volunteer my time a lot to non-for-profit organizations.
What is your ‘why? ‘
My why is to lead millions of people to financial freedom. I want to impact and influence people to chase after there dream life. I will do that through financial education which involves taxes, personal finance and accounting for business owners. I have a goal to be apart of bridging the wealth gap in America. I want to make sure I can be apart of creating millionaires and billionaires.
How do you balance work and life responsibilities?
I balance work and life responsibilities by making sure I plan out my months. I try to make sure I remember to put my first because as entrepreneurs we tend to neglect our self care. I make sure I work hard then enjoy the fruits of my labor.
As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career and how did you overcome it?
The most significant barrier I had to over come was losing everything 3 years ago. My journey is a journey of never giving up. I had to dig deep to understand when those tough moments happen in your life is to now mold and develop you. No excuses you have to keep moving forward no matter. I asked myself how bad do you really wanted it. Looked myself in the mirror and pushed myself through the hardest moments of my life.
What is some of the advice you share with young women entering a male-dominated profession?
Advice that I would give a female dominated industry is to walk unapologetically. I had men make me feel I couldn’t do this but I proved them wrong. Stay focused and reach out to the right help to guide you. Move mountains because I know I am.
What do you love most about yourself?
I love me because, I feel like I am a very ambitious person. I have the spirit about me that I can get through anything in life. I love that I have a big heart and love to help others. I love that I am very determined and work my butt of for everything I have.
What gets you truly excited about life?
I think the fact that God has given me the opportunity to be living on earth and complete all the desire of my life. To build my dream live and people to break generational curses as I build wealth for my family and my future. I think knowing that the odds are against foster kids succeeding my breaking through glass ceiling make some so happy. Every new level and new person who enters my life inspires me and push my higher.
How do you define your purpose in life?
My Purpose is life to lead millions to financial freedom. I know that my passion to help people financially. I truly care. I know by going through my own financial problems lead me to that purpose. To help people become financially stable. To let them know there is hope to live a live that is not full of financial struggles. I want to make sure the next generation is equipped with the tools to make sure they can lead generations forward. As I chase after my dreams fearless to show people that is possible helps unlocks other people’s destiny.