Patricia Boral’s story of how she and her sister, Brenda Boral, built Boral Agency from the ground up 12 years ago (As told to Carolina Arenas and Deanna Ruby of the Latina Leadership Podcast) – Watch and Listen here.
When I first approached my sister, Brenda, about launching a business together, she was hesitant. She was concerned we would argue too much to make the company work.
After much discussion, though, we agreed to take the plunge.
Twelve years later, we’re still going strong.
We’ve weathered many storms, from Hurricane Harvey to a global pandemic, and we’re confident we can tackle anything else coming our way.
I know building a business is challenging, especially as a minority.
I also know how rewarding the journey can be, and I want to help others with similar goals.
Here are my top tips to help entrepreneurs (especially my fellow Latina entrepreneurs) build their own businesses from the ground up.
1. Create an Operating Agreement
One of the first steps Brenda and I took when launching Boral Agency (which we originally called Boral Branders) was to create an operating agreement.
This agreement clearly broke down each of our responsibilities in the company and outlined how we would work together as siblings – as well as partners – in business.
I credit our operating agreement as one of the primary keys to our success.
Even when we disagree, we have clear parameters to fall back on, which helps to minimize arguments and get us back on track.
We still revisit it and adjust as needed to keep our business running smoothly.
2. Don’t let Heritage or Minority Status Hold You Back
Brenda and I (along with our other siblings) were born in Bolivia.
Our Bolivian heritage and minority status have significantly impacted our family business, both positively and negatively.
For example, a “negative” that I experienced was having an accent and having people focus on that more than my actual message when we first met.
Initially, I felt very sad about this and even took accent reduction classes to reduce my self-consciousness.
Over time, though, my perspective on this negative aspect of being a Latina entrepreneur began to change.
I had a change of heart when I realized that I could bring a different perspective to people’s businesses and their digital marketing plans.
My experience growing up in Latin America has also helped me to be a creative thinker.
Over there, you have to really use your creative thinking to solve problems that don’t have a solution yet.
That habit of doing that is something that sets Boral Agency apart from our competitors.
When we work with clients, we don’t stop until they get results, and we use our different perspectives and creative thinking to solve their problems.
3. Turn Challenges into Strengths
Another factor that sets Boral Agency apart from other marketing agencies is that Brenda and I are great at pivoting and shifting perspectives when facing problems.
We lost our mom when I was just 12 years old, and my father moved on quickly, leaving me and my siblings to figure things out for ourselves.
Initially, it was easy to feel like a victim in this situation.
As time went on, though, I changed my mentality and started asking what I could learn from the experience and how I could use it to my advantage.
This change in mindset encouraged me to begin taking accounting and human resources classes.
From there, Brenda and I decided to take over the after-school program our mom ran before she passed away.
While working hard to keep the program running, I discovered my passion for marketing.
It’s easy to let challenges discourage you and keep you down.
Remember, though, the importance of taking responsibility for your own mind.
It’s up to you to learn valuable lessons, continue progressing, and navigate the challenges of problem-solving in entrepreneurship (and life in general).
4. Prioritize Work-Life Balance
One of the biggest entrepreneurship challenges that business owners face has to do with work-life balance. I’ve struggled with it myself throughout my career, but I’ve also learned how to navigate these struggles and create more balance.
My number one suggestion for creating a work-life balance is to remember your why.
Many entrepreneurs launch their own businesses because they want the freedom to do what they want to do when they want to.
However, they also struggle because they always feel they have more to do, contributing to a lack of mentality.
To create a greater sense of balance and a more positive attitude overall, strive to develop an abundance mindset instead.
If you have an abundance mentality, you can stop and think, “No, I did what I needed to do today, and tomorrow will be another day. Now I need to spend time with my family.”
By adjusting my thinking and fostering an abundance mentality, I’m able to reap the rewards of my hard work without feeling guilty or like I’m falling behind.
5. Be Grateful and Determined
Two core values that contribute to how my sister and I run our business are gratitude and determination.
First, let’s talk about gratitude and why it matters for entrepreneurs.
Put simply, I may not wake up tomorrow, so I’m grateful that I’m here today.
Your life can truly change very, very quickly, so you must be grateful for all the opportunities that you have.
Sometimes we’re not sure why bad things happen, but there’s always a reason behind it.
As for determination, it’s a core value of our business because the word “impossible” doesn’t exist in our vocabulary.
I will always do what I can to find a solution and bring results to my clients.
6. Don’t Let Your Doubts Keep You Down
One of the biggest entrepreneurial obstacles we’ve faced in the last decade has to do with the importance of mindset.
I’ve faced a lot of doubts regarding my ability to succeed in marketing and leadership as an immigrant and non-native speaker without any connections or business relationships in the States.
My sister and I had to change how we handled our business to combat those worries.
Initially, we primarily assisted brands with promotional products because we lacked the confidence to tell other businesses how they should handle their marketing campaigns.
However, once we realized we had the skills to help other businesses grow, we overcame our limiting beliefs and took bigger steps to provide results-based marketing services to a variety of clients.
7. Plan Ahead and Take Calculated Risks
I often get asked what advice I have for other immigrant and Latina women interested in starting their own entrepreneurship journey, and I always say the same thing: “Make a plan.”
If you’re still working for another company but considering going out on your own, dedicate time on the weekends to work on your businesses consistently.
During this time, focus on the numbers, find mentors, find a business coach, and start networking.
Make sure you have enough savings or get a job that provides a steady income while you build your business, too.
It takes at least a couple of years for a company to become profitable.
Finally, remember that during those early years, it’s critical that you’re adaptable and willing to adjust based on the responses of your target audience.
Sometimes we fall in love with our idea and our products, but the market is telling us “No, we don’t like that!”
You must be able to change and avoid getting too attached to your product.
Instead, get attached to the type of customer you want and then hold your product to that customer.
If you need help defining your target audience, Download our FREE Audience Persona Template.
8. Giving Up Is Not an Option
I can’t end without talking about the leadership quality I admire most in my sister.
I’ve learned a lot from her and look up to her for many things, but especially her resiliency.
For her (and me), giving up is not an option — and it shouldn’t be for you, either!
To build Boral Agency from the ground up, Brenda and I had to leave fear behind and be willing to try different things.
I encourage my fellow entrepreneurs to do the same.
If you need extra motivation, you can borrow this mantra that helps me move away from fear: “No voy a ser ni la primera ni la ultima” (I will not be the first; I will not be the last).
To view my full interview with the hosts of the Latina Leadership Podcast, check out the video on their YouTube channel.
Avoid making these and more mistakes by reading The 8 Most Common Business Marketing Mistakes.
Before you dive into your marketing strategy, read 3 Things You Must Do Before Creating Your Marketing Strategy.
If you want to learn more about me, Patricia, my sister, Brenda, and Boral Agency – a full-service digital marketing agency in Houston – you can visit our website or follow us on Instagram, Facebook, X, and LinkedIn.