In this episode of the Get Clear with Crystal Ware Podcast, Patricia Boral shares her journey of building a successful career and business with Crystal Ware, a lawyer and former Fortune 500 corporate leader. Listen Here.
Patricia originally came to the U.S. from Bolivia and faced various challenges, including the loss of her mother at a young age and moving to a new country without connections.
Despite these obstacles, she started her own marketing agency, Boral Agency, with just a laptop and $300.
During this interview, she discussed the importance of passion in driving her success, her ability to choose her team and clients to align with her desired lifestyle, and how she turned personal and professional challenges into opportunities for growth.
Patricia also touched on her experience facing pay disparities and gender-related biases in her early career and how she used these experiences to motivate herself and push for positive changes.
Additionally, Patricia emphasized the importance of mentorship and the need for women in business to be more proactive about negotiating salaries and discussing financial matters.
Hi, I’m Patricia.
I had a rough childhood.
There’s no easy way to put it.
I lost my mom when I was 12, and my dad left the family.
On top of that, I was living in Bolivia, which was considered a third-world country.
I often get asked how I got into being an entrepreneur, especially as a woman and minority, and the truth is that I kind of fell into it.
I had to take care of my mom’s business -an after-school program- after she passed away, and I quickly learned how to keep a business running and navigate the natural ups and downs.
That experience taught me the importance of marketing and I realized I wanted to make that my career.
I also started another marketing business in Bolivia with my mom’s best friend, which is still running today.
My Top 6 Strategies for Empowerment and Success
I eventually moved to Houston, Texas, when I was 23 years old, after finishing college and university back home in Bolivia.
At the time, I had no connections, didn’t know anybody, and had to build everything from scratch.
However, I was able to leverage these strategies to create a successful digital marketing agency that has now been around for over a decade:
1. Be Willing to Ask for More
In whatever job I’ve had, I’ve always had the philosophy of working as if I were the owner.
I’ve tried to bring new ideas and concepts to the table and implement new processes to help the business run smoothly.
When I started working as an assistant, for example, I developed the entire process for how the company vetted vendors and its buying system.
I’ve always over-performed in corporate roles, but there are also constraints that come with that type of work environment.
For example, I would often finish my work quickly, leaving room for my imagination to wander and develop new ideas.
I would bring those ideas to my superiors and get a lot of push back due to all the bureaucracy in corporate America (and in corporations worldwide).
My desire to strike out on my own also stemmed from being fed with too-common financial struggles as a woman in the corporate world.
When working in a traditional 9-5 job, I learned about a coworker making more than twice what I was making, even though I was working on larger accounts and bringing in more revenue for the company.
I decided it was time for a salary negotiation and asked for a 50 percent raise around the time of my annual evaluation.
However, I had no HR support and was told I wouldn’t get a raise because I wasn’t the head of my family.
When I received that message after asking for a raise, my decision was made.
I told my boss, “No worries. You’ll have my resignation letter later at the end of the day.”
Now, after leaving a corporate career and as the owner of a marketing agency, I’m getting paid for my ideas, and I’m being paid what I’m worth.
I can’t have a better job than that!
2. Let Passion Drive You
After quitting my corporate job, I went to my siblings to discuss launching a family business.
My sister, Brenda, decided she wanted to join me.
Initially, I was helping my sister get Boral Agency (then called Boral Branders) off the ground while working a full-time job and helping run the business back in Bolivia.
I was working 14-16 hours per day, easily.
I don’t think I’ll ever do that again.
However, when you’re really that passionate, you don’t see the hours.
I encourage those who are considering leaving their corporate jobs to start their own entrepreneurship journeys to let passion drive them.
Think about it.
Whenever you have to do something because you have to check it off your list and it’s not something you really enjoy, you’re going to drag that thing until the last of your list and do it with half of your energy.
On the other hand, when it’s something that you really look forward to, you wake up earlier than usual to do that.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Keep Your Day Job
One of the most challenging aspects of launching your own business is related to financial struggles and cash flow (or a lack thereof).
I started Boral Agency with my laptop and the $300 needed for the LLC.
Attending events and networking is hard when you don’t have much money. It can absolutely be done, but it’s much more challenging.
If you have some seed money or can secure some investments for your business, that will make your life much easier at the beginning.
I also recommend keeping another job if you have one to have a more reliable income stream.
For example, around the time I quit my corporate job, I got an offer from Hewlett-Packard to run digital campaigns across the country.
Doing that job in the background helped provide some stability while I built Boral Agency on the side.
4. Turn Self-Consciousness into Strength
I also felt self-conscious at the beginning of my journey because I’m a Latina woman with an accent.
My first boss in the United States would frequently mock how I spoke, which contributed to my insecurity.
Initially, I decided to join Toastmasters to work on my public speaking skills and feel more confident giving presentations.
Having my boss completely and constantly make fun of my accent would put me back and make me really shy.
However, I didn’t let that stop me.
Instead, I used that as a jumping-off point to focus on confidence-building and personal growth.
I joined Toastmasters, became an international speaker, and won awards, which proved him wrong.
It also gave me the confidence that I needed and the skills that I didn’t have.
I can now speak very comfortably with an accent or without, in English or Spanish, in front of a crowd regardless of the size, which is great because now I’m giving speeches in front of 300 or 400 people without any problems.
5. Choose the Right Clients
As a business owner, I’ve also learned the importance of choosing the right clients.
I’ve had plenty of clients yell at me on the phone, and I’ve made the difficult decision to cancel those contracts.
Some customers think they own you because they pay you for a service.
You don’t have to accept that kind of treatment, though.
Hurricane Harvey was also a pivotal time for us.
When Harvey hit, we lost almost 60 percent of our clients because they lost their businesses.
That’s when we decided to pivot and taught our business model to other business owners.
During that transition, we realized that we needed to be very strict about the types of customers we took on and needed to ensure we were working with people who would help us grow and help us on our mission of giving back to the community.
That’s also when we started saying “no” to customers.
If they didn’t meet certain criteria or have a specific budget, then we couldn’t work with them, and we would give them other tools.
At that time, it was tough for us to say no to those businesses.
Now, though, we look for ways to give back.
I put out videos on LinkedIn about marketing and try to educate the community.
We also host workshops and act as mentors to teach people the skills we wish we’d had when we first got started.
Avoid making these and more mistakes by reading The 8 Most Common Business Marketing Mistakes.
6. Choose Your Lifestyle
One of the biggest breakthroughs I’ve had as an entrepreneur is the realization that I can choose my own lifestyle.
By starting a business and carefully choosing my team, I’ve been creating it around the lifestyle I want, not the other way around.
I’m not just building a dream career, but I’m also building a dream life.
Many entrepreneurs need to realize that to be a business owner, you must step out of your business and let it scale.
You have to give power to your team.
That’s why choosing the right team members is extremely important.
If you read our reviews, our clients talked highly, not only about the company’s owners but also the employees.
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.
I genuinely believe that with dedication and the right mindset, we can be the CEOs of our own lives, regardless of our heritage and in spite of the gender bias we might face.
Follow the success strategies outlined above, and you’ll be on your way to achieving your goals.
You can listen to the complete podcast interview here.