Patricia Boral talks about being an entrepreneur at a young age, overcoming business challenges as an immigrant and minority, and using technology to create a thriving digital marketing agency with her sister, Brenda Boral. Watch and Listen Here.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jason Lee and Zeke Smith of the Gulf Coast Growth Show, sponsored by Chevron Pasadena Refinery and an extension of the Economic Alliance Houston Port region.
The Economic Alliance Houston Port Region’s mission is to promote the Houston Port Region for increased business investment and a thriving economy.
With over 35 years of experience, they focus on economic development through public policy, workforce development, infrastructure improvement, and quality of life enhancement.
We work closely with this organization and participate in many of its events because of our connection to the manufacturing and industrial sectors.
I was excited to talk to them about our story and what our business is up to now.
During this interview, I talked about how my sister, Brenda, and I began our entrepreneurial journeys and eventually opened a marketing agency in Houston.
I also shared some of my top tips on how to run a business and keep up your entrepreneurial spirit even when life throws curve balls your way.
It Started with a Family Business
My sister’s and I’s entrepreneurial journey started long before Boral Agency came on the scene over a decade ago. We are originally from Bolivia and grew up with a very close family.
Unfortunately, we lost our mom when we were very young, and our dad was never really in the picture.
When our mom passed away, it was up to us to keep the family business — an after-school tutoring company — running.
At the time, Brenda was in university, working, and helping to bring in clients, and I was behind the scenes making sure the after-school program ran smoothly.
Today, our business mimics that same structure; she does much of the networking, and I’m behind the scenes running the show.
While still living in Bolivia, I also started another branding agency.
When I moved to the United States, I saw that there was a market for the same services.
Motivated by the numerous economic opportunities in Houston, my sister and I decided to start our own agency, which we called Boral Branders.
How We Conquer Minority Barriers
My sister and I have experienced challenges while running a business as immigrant women.
When we started, there wasn’t as much emphasis on diversity and inclusion as today. However, we have still managed to build a successful business, and we believe it’s because of our differences, not despite them.
Here are some of my top tips for young entrepreneurs (especially young women) to overcome barriers as a minority business owner:
1. Be Willing to Pivot
When we first started Boral Branders, we tried to find a B2B marketing agency for ourselves.
We quickly realized that the marketing agencies servicing small business owners needed to be equipped to handle growing businesses’ challenges, such as website building and lead generation.
We saw another opportunity and a market that we could serve and decided to pivot our business.
We worked hard to learn about the latest marketing technology and used it to expand our offerings and help other businesses that needed help with their websites, social media marketing, and search engine optimization.
1. Remember That You Set Your Own Limits
Limitations and opportunities are two sides of the same coin. In fact, many of the limitations that you think hold you back are set by you.
Yes, Boral Agency is a women-owned business and a minority-owned business.
It’s easy to see the disadvantages of that, but let’s also look at the opportunities.
How can we leverage our limitations and use the immigrant experience to our advantage?
Let’s use another example.
Say you’re autistic.
How can you use that? How can you use that to connect with a target audience that other brands can’t?
I chose that analogy because Boral Agency supports Summer House, an organization that works with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
I’ve seen how many people can leverage their disabilities, find their unique strengths, and use them to achieve their goals and forge their paths.
Remember that the color of your skin, your abilities, your gender — all of those things make you stand out. Try to view them as strengths rather than weaknesses.
1. Live Life to the Fullest
I often get asked (and was asked during my interview with Jason and Zeke) where my innate hunger to run a business and continue my entrepreneurial journey comes from.
Simply put, when you don’t have anything else to lose, why not try it?
The last two years of my mother’s life were tragic, and I saw her continuously postpone things she wanted to do for a tomorrow that never came.
I decided to do things differently.
As a business owner, I prioritize my today because we don’t know if we will be able to open our eyes tomorrow.
It’s better to focus on today — making it as good as possible — and not worry so much about what will happen in 20 years.
After all, you might not even get there.
Learn more tips for overcoming barriers as a business owner by reading The 8 Most Common Business Marketing Mistakes.
Gratitude has been integral throughout my entrepreneurship journey.
Brenda and I even made it one of our company’s core values.
I’m, of course, grateful for my mom and that she was able to teach me the values that still guide me to this day.
I could have taken the wrong road many times but chose not to because of what she taught me.
She also allowed me to learn to run and grow a business, which has led to me having the life I have now.
We encourage other entrepreneurs to practice gratitude for how far they’ve come while also setting specific objectives to continue growing and building their businesses.
When you’re grateful for what you have, it’s easier to invite more good things in.
Look for a New Perspective
If you’re a business owner right now and feel like you’ve plateaued and that there’s nothing more to do, I encourage you to try to look at things from a different perspective.
If you’re having trouble doing that on your own, ask for help.
My team and I often meet with people who are frustrated because they’ve tried so many things and not seen results.
We can help them turn things around by bringing a new view and help them refine their message to truly see results.
What’s New at Boral Agency?
Boral Agency has grown significantly since the Boral Branders days, and we’re here to stay.
We’re also here to give back with corporate sponsorship and events that allow us to share our passion for marketing with other business owners.
Here are some of our most recent projects:
Our team recently launched a quarterly Wine Talks series for C-level Executives.
This series explicitly targets lower to mid-market companies experiencing growing pains and seeking guidance.
It also provides a fun opportunity for networking in Houston.
During these events, we’ve covered various topics like cybersecurity and Gen Z in the workplace.
We also offer marketing advice, how to run a business, and how to expand a business.
We’re excited to continue bringing new speakers to executives in the Houston area, and don’t miss our upcoming events – Check them out here!
Houston Angels is an organization that helps foster children.
Our work with this group has been incredibly impactful as it relates to my and my three sibling’s stories.
When we lost our mom and our dad was not around, we were at risk of being put in foster homes, and because of a lack of resources, we were going to be split up.
We decided to go MIA from the embassy so we could stick together.
I understand the challenges that foster children face, and I and the Boral Agency team want to give them support and inspiration.
Through Houston Angels, we are able to support the families that are fostering kids and provide those children with a mentor.
We want them to have someone they can rely on while growing up.
Live in the Moment, Challenge Your Limitations, and Use Your Drive to Level Up Your Business
To build and grow Boral Agency, Brenda and I had to change how we looked at limitations, tap into our uniqueness, look for new perspectives, and live life to the fullest, all while being grateful and not taking anything for granted.
This approach to business has helped us go from a two-person branding business to a thriving, full-service digital marketing agency — and I’m confident it can help you achieve your business goals, too!
To view my full interview, check out the video on the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region YouTube channel.
If you’re looking for more tips on how to start your business, don’t miss How My Sister and I Started Boral Agency from Nothing – or listen to the full interview here.