Coqui with cream in the morning

Ingrid Hernandez of InGrid Design. spoke this morning at GLI’s Small Business Breakfast Club on “Leveraging Your Individuality to Drive Business Growth”. While most of us don’t work in the creative industry, these concepts can be applied to yourself, your team, your department, or your company.

Hernandez and her individuality
Originally from Puerto Rico, Hernandez came to the US to study graphic design at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design. Making her first goal to stay in the US after graduating and working in Massachusetts for a while, she set about getting a new job, which she did through a headhunter from New York. A geographic family tie nudged her decision to accept a job in Louisville, Kentucky, where she excelled at an agency, staying there longer than any other designer had, eventually becoming an Art Director at another company. Her work and dedication at other companies prepared her to eventually start her own home-based business, which has grown out of the house, and employees a team of top notch talent.

Building on her passion for design and a strong work ethic, (give 200%), one of Hernandez’s important unique selling points is her heritage. Through this she can address English and Hispanic markets, a great asset when working for companies with diverse audiences like hospitals, government agencies, and international clients like Yum! Brands.

5 steps to leverage individuality to drive business growth

1. Identify your passion and trust it completely.
Material gain is a nice byproduct but not the goal.

2. Act on your passion and develop it.
Do this through continuous learning.

3. Write a plan and execute it.
Writing it down gives you a direction.
Adapt your plans but never compromise your goals and individuality.
Timing is key to success, although there is never a perfect time to start a business.

4. Brand yourself or your business.
Leverage the ability that makes you stand out.

5. Keep your fires of passion burning.
Keep up with new technology, nurture a creative breakthrough.

10 keys to growing business:

1. Network, (she just started networking three years ago!)

2. Sponsor events, (this can be done in-kind as well)

3. Share your knowledge, (through blogging, public speaking, participating in panel  discussions)

4. Learn from your mistakes.

5. Grow according to market/client needs, (keeps your eyes and ears open on industry trends; what are clients wanting?)

6. Build strong client relationships.

7. Empower your employees and keep them motivated, (through bonus programs, peer recognition, office wellness – she has a trainer do a one hour class each week at the office – fantastic!)

8. Adopt best practices, (this can come through networking, panel discussions, etc.)

9. Give it your 200%.

10. Periodically review your business for areas of improvement. (Conducting a regular SWOT analysis is always a good practice.)

What is your usp, your unique selling point? What is meaningful in the work you do, to your clientele, to your company? That is your driver, your passion in your work. If you have none, maybe start assessing your individual strengths for another reason, a job search.

Now, about the Coqui. The Coqui, (koh-KEE) is a little brown frog unique to Puerto Rico. It is named for the sound it makes. On each table was a stuffed coqui that made the sound, with a Puerto Rican flag embroidered on its belly. Any time I get to leave an event with a stuffed animal, I am coming away happier. With this little item, she has left a brand impression, and I have learned something new and fun. With that, her closing call to action was to go out and make our own coqui call heard. Coqui!

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