Originally from Queens, NY, Ebonni Chrispin, Owner and Founder of The Idea, Inc., a Marketing and Management Agency for Policy Shapers, Community Activists and Arts/Culture Creatives, made a monumental change following The Great Recession. At the time, Chrispin was working as a Marketer and Program Manager on Wall Street. Like many others during that difficult time, she was laid off from her position. Rather than allowing herself to wallow in self-pity or succumb to defeat, she decided she would never again work for someone else. It was time she controlled her own destiny.
“A lot of things transpired back then,” she said. “No one knew what to do, but you had to figure it out. You had to move forward. A friend of mine mentioned ‘purpose work’, which back then was a relatively new thing. The idea is to do work you were meant to do and to exist in the world to help and support others. That same friend needed help with the management and launch of a social entrepreneurship endeavor. It became clear that my purpose in the world was to help her and others through the lens of a business mind.”
Looking to make a change, not only in her professional life, but also her personal life, Chrispin moved to South Florida in 2010 to be closer to family. She spent the next three years working as a freelancer. In 2013, she made it official and registered The Idea, Inc., with the state of Florida. Even though Chrispin has clearly made it over the ‘hump’ and now maintains a solid list of satisfied clients, there were a handful of challenges she faced as she scaled the business and discovered her specific niche.
“My initial challenge was a lack of confidence,” she said. “Was this something I could do? During the first three years, I was one of hundreds of freelancers and consultants in South Florida. I’d do workshops, organize webinars around startups and managing non-profits and even spoke at thousands of conferences, but others were doing this too. It came down to discovering and understanding my unique buying power.”
Chrispin’s ‘buying power’ is assisting others with launching profitable social entrepreneurship businesses or non-profits through business planning and marketing support. She offers a variety of consultative services and also provides platforms to make it easier for her clients to manage projects, ideas and events and also to improve their marketing and communication campaigns. She’s grown the business through a combination of word-of-mouth referrals and by networking, especially when she initially launched.
For Chrispin, whether it’s working on a large scale event, such as the FL Aids Walk, which annually draws over 3,000 people, or assisting the South Florida Community Land Trust with small philanthropic events, the purpose behind her work remains the same.
“I love when you can shed light on a person’s idea that helps them to further their own purpose or mission,” she said. “Helping them shift from just an idea to seeing it come to fruition is extremely fulfilling.”
Her work with AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a nonprofit provider of HIV prevention services, testing, and healthcare for HIV patients, and their annual Florida AIDS Walk, led AHF to raise $1.5 million between 2017 and 2018.
Looking ahead, Chrispin is quick to admit that, even though having your own business is extremely rewarding, it can also be an arduous and thankless process. To that end, she’s focused on launching more evergreen services and finding ways to restore the creative juices that existed when she first started the business, while still providing clients with the same level of service they’ve come to expect.
What advice does Chrispin have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “First of all, I think more people need to consider business plans,” she said. “There’s a reason why it was created in the first place. It does help you to look at the basics. That includes a SWOT analysis and what’s unique about your product or service. Second, it’s important to make the distinction between entrepreneurship and solo ownership. Entrepreneurship requires you to be able to build something that someone wants to buy. It’s more than just setting your own schedule and wanting to work from home. In most cases, owning your own business isn’t going to be sexy or interesting. It’s also not meant for everyone. Third, you should spend three to six months testing your idea before you go out on your own. You need to see if this is something you really want to do for a living.”
Chrispin continued, “The last thing I’ll say is to pay your quarterly taxes, have an exit strategy, and know when to pivot. An idea at any stage can be improved, and a great business is always looking for ways to innovate."
Ideas need you to take them and make them into something real. Contact The Idea, Inc., to get started!"