Our next interview is with a true Latina leader of our buena gente, Marta Michelle Colón, an innovative strategist focused on large social impact with vast experience in government, business, for-profit social enterprise and the non-profit sector. She’s the founder of Buena Gente and co-founder of Access Latina – a multi-market accelerator for Latina entrepreneurs to enable their economic potential by opening new channels to capital, knowledge and resources. Her passion is to serve as a mentor and sponsor for businesses in the start-up phase.
Collaboration is focused on planning development, visibility strategies and engineering for market penetration, resulting in sustainable and significant growth for companies. She dedicated fifteen years to establishing service programs in the federal, state, and municipal government to promote efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability. Mrs. Colón completed doctoral studies in Clinical Psychology, concluded an Executive Education Program of Social Impact Strategy at the University of Pennsylvania, and was selected Scholar at The Aspen Institute.
Marlena Fitzpatrick: What is Buena Gente and what inspired you to establish this organization?
Marta Michelle Colón: Buena Gente is a platform to drive performance, success and competitive advantage in individuals and organizations. After working over fifteen years, – the lack of good mornings and eye contact when I addressed people, the ineffective communication styles and how many similar behaviors, limited people’s social and professional opportunities, sparked the idea of creating something practical to positively impact emotional intelligence. It was my response to transform these negative behaviors and create social change –to have a positive effect in individuals, their families, and organizations.
Marlena Fitzpatrick: Speaking of positive effect in our people, what is the most important thing entrepreneurs need to know about launching a start-up ?
Marta Michelle Colón: Lots of grit, resilience, empathy and an incalculable commitment to the business are essential. To recognize that success is never final and failure is never fatal, so working very hard, without distractions, always drives us to our end goal. And to always find a mirror, not a pillow – as entrepreneurs we always want to be surrounded by people who tell us things as they are, instead of “cheerleaders” or “soft talkers” that only communicate what we want to hear.
Marlena Fitzpatrick: “Success is never final and failure is never fatal,” I love that. Why do some start-ups fail and how can they overcome these obstacles?
Marta Michelle Colón: Because we get tired and focus on the branches, not in the entire forest. We can never lose perspective of our end goals – we should not focus on the small obstacles, we should have a plan a, b, c, d and e, and learn to adapt. The magic formula to overcome these obstacles is to be organized, as time is the most valuable commodity, and to cancel all the noise around us – especially the negative one. Only invest time and energy on what will make a mark in the business evolution.
Marlena Fitzpatrick: You are an entrepreneur poet! “Focus on the entire forest!” Speaking of different landscapes, how can Latina entrepreneurs gain access to capital?
Marta Michelle Colón: Innovative ideas and talent are just the beginning of a successful business. We should be available to knock on many doors, listen to ten No’s, before one Yes, find mentors and sponsors, be willing to take on feedback to make our financial proposals attractive and sustainable, and be in the lookout for opportunities – which means listening, seeing, and connecting dots at all times.
Marlena Fitzpatrick: Unity, we need that now more than ever. How can all Latino/as come together and foster self-sustainability and economic empowerment?
Marta Michelle Colón: We need to be connectors and support each others’ endeavors. We need to leave behind our need for recognition or our fear of the competition. The cake is big enough, and if it run out of slices, we can always bake another one and create more opportunities. The more we help other Latinos, the more we are driving our success and enabling our community’s potential.
Marlena Fitzpatrick: We’re thrilled you took time to talk to us. Keep up the great work!
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