How do you feel to be part of the Millennial Generation?
“I feel so fortunate to be part of the Millennial Generation, I cannot imagine a world without the internet, social media, and texting. Growing up with technology since birth makes Millennials incredibly tech savvy, and therefore very adaptable to change. I am proud to be a Millennial because we are passionate and want to make a difference! Millennials get a bad reputation for being dreamers, feeling entitled, and having “unrealistic expectations”, but maybe that is because we are raising the standard. I relate to most Millennials in that I am more interested in work life balance than in monetary compensation. I am fortunate to work for myself, and I honestly would not have it any other way.”
Why did you choose your profession?
“Today I am marketing consultant, but if you asked me what I would be doing while I was in college, I could not have given you an answer. When I first started school at Penn State I pursued a degree in management, because I wanted to be a leader. As time progressed, I realized I could still be a leader with a degree in marketing. I chose a marketing degree to use my creativity and a minor in Psychology to understand how people make decisions. Entrepreneurship has always interested me, so I became involved in the Innoblue entrepreneurship club, took new venture creation classes, and competed in case competitions. After graduation I worked in two corporations, one publicly held, one privately held, but I wasn’t satisfied. I yearned to break out on my own and follow my own vision, so I started E Harris Marketing. I choose the clients I work with and own every aspect of my projects. My current job is both challenging and all encompassing, I wear many hats. I am an entrepreneur, manager, marketer, psychologist, salesperson, customer service representative, and the list goes on. Each day is a new opportunity, and I am always excited to see what solutions and value I can provide for my clients.”
What separates you from the crowd?
“My personality definitely separates me from the crowd. If you asked my peers to describe me, they would say I am energetic, optimistic, and driven. No matter the time of day, I always have energy to spare. People think that optimism is just about positive thinking, but it is more than that; I am confident the future will be successful because I give my work 110% effort. Finally, when I set my mind to something, there is nothing that can stand in my way. I am extremely driven and goal oriented, I won’t stop until the job is done to my standards. My contagious personality is one of my greatest strengths.”
What are some of your common habits around money?
“One habit my parents taught me is to live within your means. Too many people live paycheck to paycheck and more than half of Americans are in debt. Some debt is necessary; I have student loans for example, because it was an investment in myself. However, I wouldn’t take on credit card debt buying a luxury car or taking a lavish vacation if I didn’t have money in the bank to pay for it.”
What are some of your common struggles around money?
“Most of my money struggles were when I was starting my business. First, I had to select a business structure, which affects your assets and taxes. The three main types are sole proprietorship, limited liability corporation, or s corporation. I needed to learn how to keep my business and personal finances separate and distinguish myself as a real business. I did this by starting a separate business account with my bank and filing for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Businesses, hopefully, generate profits; hobbies are not intended to make a profit. If you don’t meet the government’s business requirements or incur losses for too long, the IRS considers the activities as a hobby, which means you cannot get tax deductions related to the business. You must make sure you are keeping records, so I found accounting software and learned how to balance my books. Finally, I determined how much I would need to set aside from my billings to cover taxes and save for retirement. There are a lot of great resources to help with every aspect of starting a business, just make sure you are getting information from a credible source.”
What are your other daily obstacles?
“A huge obstacle for me is time management. My issue is not staying on task, as I am very disciplined, but working with other people. At times I will have a potential client who wants help with marketing, but they are vague and don’t have a clear definition of their goals. It is my job to give guidance, but I can’t offer assistance if there is no direction. It is frustrating and an unproductive use of time for both of us. I have also had to create clear expectations with family and friends. I’m happy to make time for people I care about, but when working a deadline I have to focus on my work. As an entrepreneur, time is one of your most valuable assets, so you have to use it wisely.
My Executive Designer, Daphne Alva, and I, face other obstacles on the business side as well. As projects come, we continue to face obstacles of client needs changing and digging deeper with analysis to capture the right product while somehow making the necessary time to meet set deadlines. We work very well as a team, Daphne having a powerful design background, and myself having the psychology and technical background. As projects continue to arise, we work in an agile method that is catered towards client needs. Each client is different, some deserving more time then others.”
Is there a passion you are pursuing or long term goal to achieve—financial or otherwise?
“One of the reasons I specifically started my own business is to travel. The beauty of digital marketing is that I can work anywhere I have a laptop and internet connection. My long term goal is to become a digital nomad and earn a living while I wander the globe. I love to travel because you can fully immerse yourself in someone else’s culture- the sights, sounds, smells, and food! Traveling also allows you to learn unexpected things about yourself.”
Any other topics you would like to discuss or express (business, personal, etc)?
“Since starting my own business, I have had so many people that come up to me and say “I wish I could do what you’re doing, I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur”. In response, I say “why not?” There is never going to be a perfect time to start a company, you have to decide how badly you want it. I kept going back and forth trying to decide if I wanted to start a business, but I realized I will never be this young and hungry with so little baggage. I’m not married; I have no kids, and no house. I had very little to lose, but everything to gain. If I decide to switch gears, a corporate job will always be waiting there for me, but if I didn’t try to open my business I would always regret the unknown. ”