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September 19, 2023 21 mins

Shifting from being on the verge of burnout to launching her own successful operations team and business, Lenica Stephen, the Founder and CEO of IBOSS, shares her inspiring journey from leaving the comforts of a corporate career to stepping into the challenging world of entrepreneurship!

With her work at IBOSS, Lenica offers a unique perspective on how operations serve as the critical backbone of businesses. She also walks through her expert strategies for improving operations for business expansion that have proven successful in her own journey. 

In this episode, Sonja and Lenica also discuss the importance of finding a supportive community of business owners and the advantages of not going it alone in business.

This episode wraps up with Lenica addressing the power of networking even when it seems challenging, harnessing the potential of social media to find clients, and sharing how she has leveraged the influence of referrals and relationships to grow her business.

About Lenica Stephen and Interactive Business Optimization Services (IBOSS) Inc.
Lenica Stephen is the Founder ad CEO of Interactive Business Optimization Services (IBOSS) Inc., an Operations Consulting Management Agency, who partners and consults with E-Commerce business owners on the strategies, team growth and operational efficiencies to implement or enhance in their business to effectively scale and grow in line with their vision.

She has a passion for keeping her clients in their zone of genius while being their strategic partner and by working with business owners to take their business ideas from conception to implementation while ensuring these initiatives are aligned with their growth strategy.   

Lenica and her team believe in the importance of having a good support system whether in business or in personal life.  Lenica’s vision is for IBOSS Inc. to be the chosen authority in providing strategic partnership and business operations services who provides an environment of support and empowerment that will lead clients to outrageous levels of success.

Follow Lenica on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Learn More about IBOSS and follow them on Instagram 

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Transcript

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Sonja Crystal Williams (00:11):
Hi everyone, welcome to 10 Minute
Marketing.
I am your host, Sonja CrystalWilliams.
So today I have the founder andCEO of Interactive Business
Optimization Services, IBOSS,Lenica Stephen, joining us.
She is an operations consultant.
She runs an agency and a teamthat specializes in working with

(00:32):
e-commerce businesses andpartnering with them
strategically to look for waysto improve their operations and
enhance their business growth sothat they can scale.
So thank you so much for beinghere, Lenica.
Thank you so much.
So I want to start by diggingin and really just talking a
little bit more about how youeven got into this space.

(00:54):
So let's start there.

Lenica Stephen (00:56):
Ah, okay, that's always an interesting story.
So I am what some people havedubbed a former corporate
recovering corporate employee,left my role as a project
manager in 2018.
What prompted that was I wascoming at a point of getting to
the edge of it physically,mentally, almost like burnout

(01:18):
and I initially started withneeding a break and started
helping, seeing like people Iknew had who had small
businesses and started helpingthem on the side, like kind of
like with like admin stuff andall that and just many projects,
and just realizing I reallylove this and I love being able
to help small and mediumbusinesses because it's to me a

(01:41):
different vibe than corporate abit.
And so, looking at my skillsthat I've grown over those you
know, 13-15 plus years andhelping small businesses, I
started to go, okay, well, whynot IBOSS?
Because I had named thebusiness because it was on the
side.
When I looked at returning towork full time and then I
essentially, you know, gavemyself some time to ramp up and

(02:04):
I made the decision to move overto helping small and medium
businesses on my and starting myown small business.
And what made me get to go intooperations is when I was
helping with projects and thelike, I realized that operations
is a foundational base that alot of people didn't necessarily
have or were knowledgeableabout because they were so busy

(02:25):
doing their product or theirservice and bringing in the
sales and doing their marketing.
That that to me.
Once that's in place, or atleast getting there it helps
with the growth and thesustainability of the business.
So I really really becamepassionate about making sure
that these small businesses canbe sustainable as they're
bringing in the business through.

(02:46):
You know the great marketingand sales that they'd be doing.
So that's what's kept me in theoperation space and and that's
where I've grown over the pastfive years.

Sonja Crystal Williams (02:55):
Wow, very cool five-year journey and
in your journey of how you gotthere, on a few of these
episodes I hear those similarjourneys like that burnout from
being you know in that corporateworld and then beginning to
ship for you as you started tomake that ship.
Just curious from a personalstandpoint like how did that

(03:17):
impact?
Like your entire life andwell-being as you started making
that ship into running yourbusiness.

Lenica Stephen (03:23):
Hmm, it was how did I make the shit?
Okay, well, how did I firstmake the shift?
I had to what I'll say have aconversation myself.
Yeah, I kind of had to go okay,like, this is a different world
.
But initially, actually,entrepreneurship was always a
dream of mine.
It was always in the I believeit was always in my blueprint
and all my in my DNA, because Iknew the word from like the ages

(03:47):
seven and I just knew it fit.
But then I went the corporatepath because that was the thing
to do.
Yeah so I realized that myentrepreneur owning a business
was always a someday, not a dayin.
I didn't have a one-day, likeyou know, and so when I made
that decision to actually givethis business ago, it took, it

(04:09):
brought up a lot of personallike development stuff, like I
learned a lot about myself andI'm still learning a lot about
myself in this journey, just ina lot of different ways personal
and business.
And so the shift I had to makewas realizing I got to do for
myself, but not necessarily bymyself.
So I got mentors, I got, I wentinto community, you know,

(04:32):
joined masterminds.
I kind of like needed to bearound people that were in this
environment.
So that helped a lot.
Like soaking up the environmentof other business owners,
whether they are five, ten stepsahead of me, the same level,
you know, just being in thoughin the in community of some sort
, was amazing.

(04:53):
And then knowing that Irealizing that I didn't know
everything.
So having to seek mentorshipand talk to people that have
been there in whatever expertisethey're in or just as a general
business person, was really,really helpful for me.

Sonja Crystal Williams (05:09):
Aside, that's huge, yeah, because I
think a lot of business ownerskind of will start a business
and then be on this island, youknow, feeling like they have to
do all.
So it's very powerful thestatement you just made like
right, I'm in business formyself, I don't have to be by
myself, and you went out andsought the resources to help

(05:31):
grow you and nurture andfacilitate, especially for
something that's new.
So let's, let's check back totalking about the operational
side of things, because and inparticularly with e-commerce
businesses, with that being afocus of yours like tell for
those of us that are not in theoperations world, and plain

(05:51):
language like what does thatlook like when you're engaged
with a client in terms of thekind of things that you are
helping them scale or figure outwhen it comes time for
sustainable growth?

Lenica Stephen (06:03):
Particularly for e-commerce, because they're
focusing on building, developingor buying their product and
then marketing it to the world.
Essentially, they'll come atime where the I guess what the
good problem is that maybethrough their marketing and
sales effort, that business isrolling.
You know, product sales arecoming and what have you.

(06:26):
So then the question is ifyou're marketing and your sales
is working, that means you'llget sales, which ultimately
leaves the money on profit.
Now the questions become do youhave team, or do you have
enough team or the right team orsupport in order to sustain the
growth that's coming?
You know, have you thoughtabout if you have enough product
, looking at the sales that youhave, do you have the necessary

(06:50):
efficiencies in your business tobe able to get that product out
to your customers in timethrough quality?
You know what they have, whatthey need.
That's a big one too.
It's because more and more oftenit's inventory management,
order fulfillment are the twobiggest things that a lot of
businesses are concerned about,and making sure that that's

(07:13):
there's a way to make sure thatthat's efficient and and
sustainable is the thing,because if you're used to making
a product that takes five daysand now you're getting sales
that people are wanting it?
Do you have sustainability tomake it over five days?
Or do you have to now changehow you create the product,
where you source the product?
All those things are not cominginto play because you know you

(07:36):
want the client experience to begreat or even better.
Because now you're getting allthis notoriety because of, maybe
, the marketing and sales thatyou've done in the front end.
Now we're looking at the backend to make sure that you have
the support and more often thannot I would say you're being
able to do it alone is very,almost impossible, and that's
for any business owner,regardless of the business you

(07:57):
have.
So having the support whetherthat means that someone that's
always on your team or havingthe expert to kind of look at
the thing and say okay, you needto look at your fulfillment,
you need to look at you knowyour stuff, because it could
come to a point where yoursuccess can crush you.
Okay, if you're not carefulright.
And you know like success is agood problem to have, but if

(08:19):
you're not careful and not readyfor it, it could fall under the
weight of it.

Sonja Crystal Williams (08:25):
Yeah, it's like you have to get
through the growing pains ofhaving a business and making it
through that awkward stage to beable to grow up and carry on.
So, yeah, you hear aboutbusinesses not being able to
sustain and it sounds like it'sfor that very reason.
You just said.

Lenica Stephen (08:42):
Yeah, so it's like, once all this great stuff
in the front end is working, areyou ready for the beautiful
storm that'll come in a way togrow your business.

Sonja Crystal Williams (08:55):
Right, or the big orders.
I think about what I've watchedShark Tank in the past and how
they talk about that as part ofthe formula.
When the retail-basedbusinesses come on, can you
handle the growth?
You know, or have you been ableto handle the growth, or they
need money because they hit thatwall and it's time to figure
out the next steps to be able tohandle the growth.

Lenica Stephen (09:14):
So that makes a lot of good sense.

Sonja Crystal Williams (09:15):
Yes, very, very much so.
Wow, so all right, so that'swhat you're doing when you're
providing that service, you andyour team, to these types of
businesses.
Now let's think about on theflip side, as you've been on
this five-year journey, even ingrowing your own business and I
would imagine there have been,you know and I know I've run a
business for a while the ups anddowns of having a business and

(09:39):
then, on your end, figuring outwhat is that formula that leads
to people beginning to see memore.
What is part of the formula toyou know, turning a follower,
you know, or someone on my emaillist, into an actual client.
So, out of curiosity, Lenica,like, what are some of the

(10:01):
things that you think havehelped you along the way with
just making IBOSS more known?

Lenica Stephen (10:11):
For me.
The biggest one for me has beenbuilding relationships.
It's been like because when Ifirst started I wasn't going
down the bigger path A couple ofreasons because I felt like, oh
, I don't want to be like youknow out there seeing.
So I had a lot of.
I was more comfortable at thetime with one-on-one

(10:31):
conversations, okay, buildingrelationships, and I still am.
I do love the one-on-ones, butI'm out doing more.
But for me it was buildingrelationship and it was more at
the time.
Interestingly enough, it ismarketing, but I was more just
wanting to connect people andjust especially in the first few
years, I'm like I just want totalk to people and let's just

(10:53):
swap, like exchange ideas andconversations and naturally
because of that, people wantedto work with me because I was
sharing myself and we were justI was giving them time and they
were allowing me to get time totalk about myself or whatever
challenge they had.
So big for me was buildingrelationship.
And then through that I got tosee the pattern of like what

(11:16):
their challenges were, eventhough I kind of knew, but
hearing it from them Was, wascool.
So that now gave me what morematerial to be able to create
things for them.
You know, or when I'm talkingfrom a marketing, wider audience
perspective, I was able to talkmore intelligently, I guess,

(11:37):
because I'm not just going frommy own guesses or like
supposition to.
I've talked to these people,I've worked with these people,
these are the things thatthey're saying is their
challenge, so these are thethings that is out there.
So that's where I started wasjust one-on-one relationship
building, was I guessrelationship marketing was my
thing, it still is and then wentout to doing speaking

(11:59):
engagements as well, to talk topeople and, yeah, that's been my
main pieces just one-on-one andand then just looking at the
words I use and anything that Iput out there because of having
those conversations, Okay.

Sonja Crystal Williams (12:16):
So I'm hearing, like if we were to
break this into marketing terms,and even for those of you
listening, thinking about like,how do you present yourself,
whether that's in person or, asLenica said, like you did the
research first of all?
In those relationships, inunderstanding some of the
challenges that those businessowners were faced with from an
operation standpoint.

(12:36):
And then you said you use thewords so that that those
messages, and I guess for youwhen, when you use those words
and then it's time to deliverthem to people in an online
setting like where, where theplaces is it?
Hey, I use those words on mywebsite or my email, or I have
this really cool Instagram orLinkedIn Like where do you find

(12:57):
yourself being able to now takethat message and package it?

Lenica Stephen (13:01):
I've been.
LinkedIn has been one that I'mreally getting more into now
personally.
Um, I I'm starting to.
I wasn't not enjoying it, but Igave myself a complex about it,
so to speak.
Instagram was was one that Iwas using quite a bit as well,
and then again I took that moreinto conversations that I was

(13:22):
having.
So when I went out into events,I was no longer shy about
having bigger conversationsbecause I've gotten a lot more
like succinct and direct andunderstanding of the issue of
their challenges or how I couldbridge the conversation to start
to learn more about that.
So that was it for me.

(13:42):
It's more.
I don't consider myself a bigsocial media person, but
understanding what they could betalking about on there was huge
for me.
And then I went to events.
Whether it's virtual or inperson, I was, I felt, better in
the delivery of what I wassaying.

Sonja Crystal Williams (13:59):
Yeah.
So more confidence coming froma place of like, hey, I know
this person or profile of whoI'm really trying to speak to,
and that gives you theconfidence.
And I think that's a reallygreat point because the idea and
here's another thing, to usethe term like you were building
relationships, you wererelationship marketing.
Some people say, hey, I wasnetworking.

(14:20):
That term networking can soundreally scary Sometimes.
I know, for me in the beginningit was.
I was like I don't, I don'tknow how to do this, what am I
supposed to do?
What do I say to people when Igo to this event?
Yeah, but on the flip side, ifyou do kind of ease back a
little bit, I, and get out ofyour own head and think of this,
as this is just all aboutbuilding relationships and what

(14:42):
can I offer people, and thatgives you a big opportunity.

Lenica Stephen (14:46):
Yeah.

Sonja Crystal Williams (14:47):
How have you found, when you are looking
for those people to get inrelationships with?
How do you find those people,Whether it's an in-person
setting or whether it's avirtual setting?
How do you find the spaces tomeet people that are potential
clients for you?

Lenica Stephen (15:06):
Well, first few years it started with where I
would be interested in going to,just like I started.
These would be interested inwhere it was a multi what I'll
say faceted type of businessowners, right, so not just
people in my industry foroperations, because they would
more be connections, not clients.

(15:28):
Now I've started I actuallyasked my clients where do they
go?
Now I have a client base.
I'm like, ok, where are youguys, what kind of conferences
are you looking at?
Would this be interesting toyou?
And I've done that.
And then I would be like, ok,got it.
And so I understand that more.
I've even gone down the justresearch.

(15:51):
These are the where doe-commerce businesses hang out
or conferences and things.
So just went straight to theGoogle and did that.
But then I asked I just askedwhere are they going, where are
they hanging out, what kind ofthings would they be interested
in attending?
And understood that piece.

Sonja Crystal Williams (16:08):
So, showing up, where they're likely
to show up, I think this issuch a simple approach that
anyone can do, but it's, to yourpoint, like really approaching
it mindfully and thinking aboutwhat do I want out of this and
how do I find these people?
And asking the right questions.
I mean, that's kind of what I'mhearing you say too.

(16:29):
Just figuring out the rightquestions to ask your audience.
That helps you package it.
It also helps you figure out.
This is where I need toposition myself in the process.

Lenica Stephen (16:38):
So I love that.
Yeah, so you show up as anexpert in those spaces too,
right?
Yeah, being a good listener, Ithink, has also been a great
help.
I mean, that's what I wouldtell anybody.
I find for me, listening morethan talking was huge.
People will say a lot more thanyou're expecting, and then you
could take that and then justtake and use it how you need to.

Sonja Crystal Williams (17:03):
Yeah, people will give you a lot of
information if you give them theopportunity to.
Yeah, very much so, well, verycool.
So I'm going to ask a few otherquestions.
We're going to go into ourlightning round as we kind of
start to wind down.
So, for fun, just to get toknow you a little bit better.
Lenica, where do you like tovacation?

Lenica Stephen (17:24):
Ooh, anywhere with a beach.
I don't have a specific like.
I'm originally born in theCaribbean and it's not for that
reason, but I just love warm andbeach and water, so anywhere
there's sand and the sound ofthe ocean.

Sonja Crystal Williams (17:40):
Yeah.

Lenica Stephen (17:40):
That I love.

Sonja Crystal Williams (17:42):
I love it.

Lenica Stephen (17:43):
So that's my spot.
So point me in the direction ofa beach and I'm good.

Sonja Crystal Williams (17:50):
We all have to find our ways to unwind
as business owners.
So, yes, vacation spots,beaches, all good things to do.
Ok, and so you've been inbusiness now for five years.
Where do you feel like you canthink of, like, these are some
areas where I've had some bigwins, whether that's like with a
particular client or withinyour own processes or systems?

(18:14):
Where do you feel like you'vehad some wins?

Lenica Stephen (18:17):
Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm.
Client base getting what Iwould consider a big client at
the time, like a couple yearsago we still work together to
this day was one of the firstbigger clients that made me
really love working withe-commerce businesses, so that
was a big win.

(18:37):
And that was through actually areferral.
So that's been a big part ofhow I've gotten business too is
through the connections, justgetting to know people Even
though they weren't my clients.
They just always kept my nameat top of mind, so that's been
really helpful.
And then another big win isbringing on my team members.

(19:00):
I have three people right nowon my team, bringing on a fourth
as we speak, and it's going togrow from there.
So really really been a bighelp is having some of the team
members I have on my team rightnow.

Sonja Crystal Williams (19:11):
Yeah, that is huge.
And then on the flip side tothat we also kind of experience
again the downs or the areas oflike gosh.
I wish I would have done thatdifferently or better.
What would you say are thingslike where you've had some
lessons learned along the waythat other business owners would
kind of want to think about?

Lenica Stephen (19:31):
Lessons.
One thing I did I always say,is don't go down comparison
alley.
Don't compare yourself to, evenif you're in the exact same
field, like yeah, you do referlike what's other people in your
industry or your exact type ofrole that it's doing, but lean
into you and your own strengthsand where you want your vision

(19:53):
for your business to grow,because I initially was growing
the business in a way that otherpeople that do what I do were
doing and I was like that's notreally what I set out to do.
So going down comparison alleyled me in a funk for a bit.
That was a big lesson and thenit caused me to pivot when I
really sat and thought what's myvision?

(20:14):
Not the vision for the industryor this role or somebody in
operations.
That's been a big lesson for me.
And then just don't be afraidto ask for help.

Sonja Crystal Williams (20:26):
Yeah.

Lenica Stephen (20:26):
Sooner rather than later.
Yeah, I've sometimes waitedlonger than I probably should
have, just thinking I can handleit and get the expert help.
Don't think you can do it byyourself.

Sonja Crystal Williams (20:39):
Very cool.
I think we're going to stopright there.
That's just like sound advicethat I hope everyone's listening
to, that you can walk away with.
I picked up so many greatthings and some of the things
that you said, but that's a bigone.
Just don't wait to ask for help.
You don't have to do this alone.
So I want to thank you forbeing here, Lenica.

(21:01):
How can people find out moreIBOSS and and find you and stay
in touch?

Lenica Stephen (21:06):
Yeah, sure, so you can reach me through.
Just find me on LinkedIn,Lenica Stephen, the only one
there that has that name, andalso through Instagram
@interactiveboss is the ID, andthen my website is also
interactiveboss.
com.
Those are the three places youcan find me and I will engage

(21:26):
and answer questions.
They are very readily foranybody.

Sonja Crystal Williams (21:29):
Awesome.
So I hope e-commerce businesses, you all are paying attention
so you can reach out to Lenicaand learn how to scale and grow
with her as a strategic partner.
Thanks again, Lenica, for beinghere, for everyone else, Until
next time, thanks again.
Thank you everybody.
Thank you everybody.
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