Business Owner, Strategist and Coach. A Conversation With Sandra Bevins Hughes

bb40b59d0f6bb1ac1c010fe3601a3fe9.jpgQ: What does being a member of NAWBO Silicon Valley mean to you?
SH: Connection and Collaboration with like-minded women business owners who remain authentic and heart-centered as they focus on their businesses, families and community are the main benefits of being a member of NAWBO Silicon Valley.

Q: How has NAWBO Silicon Valley helped you as a business owner?
SH: We don’t know what we don’t know. In a community like this, I meet women who are ahead of me in development of their businesses and provide a wealth of expertise and knowledge. NAWBO Silicon Valley has also allowed me to make meaningful connections with other members whose products and services I will utilize and refer to my clients. It is also a fun, supportive group of women!

Q: What service(s) or product(s) do you offer/manufacture?
SH: As a business strategist and coach, I offer various products, but the two that I believe offer the most value are: my 60 day online Unlock Your Inner Business Genius Jumpstart program, (with group as well as one on one coaching and a private community included) to help new business owners put a business plan in place, set realistic expectations, be clear about their customer, target market, set 1-3-5 year goals, and start to execute those goals; or the other program which is a four session Unlock Your Inner Business Genius package.

Q: What made you choose this type of business?
SH: With 30 years business experience, primarily in strategic planning and execution of those plans created, an MBA and a coaching certification and the experience of starting my own business, I am keenly aware of the foundation that is needed (and often not put into place at the outset of starting a business) to allow it to thrive and be sustainable).

Q: How did you get where you are today, and who/what helped you along the way?
SH: I had a successful corporate career, primarily with Gap, Inc. in the US and in London. I suspended my career to raise my children and when they were in college and graduate school, I decided to go back to school and get my MBA in Management, with a concentration in Leading People and Organizations, from Santa Clara University. When I was considering what to do next, I had an informational interview with a Senior Vice President at Cisco who told me that while my experience was great, because I had been out of the workforce for so long, I would go back into corporate at an entry-level position, possibly an intern. I decided if I was going to start from scratch, I’d do it on my own terms. I have felt that my biggest sense of accomplishment from my corporate career is where the people that I hired and mentored are today, here and in London. I am so proud of them. I decided to get my coaching certification and use that leadership, mentoring, and strategic planning skills to help small business owners, especially women solopreneurs, jumpstart or, in some cases, “reset” their businesses. I am passionate about guiding them to set a foundation from which their businesses will grow, thrive and prosper!

Q: What is unique about your business?
SH: I advocate a strong foundation from which everything else will grow. Instead of focusing on one aspect of a business such as client attraction, social media, marketing or building a sales funnel, by starting with a plan, we’ll touch on all of those things as the plan is developed, set goals and timelines for executing those goals.

Q: To what do you attribute your success?
SH: The opportunities that I have had and the people that I have met and that have believed in me along the way. I have always been and still am mentored. I haven’t asked—they just appeared, and I have always done the same for the people that have worked with me.

Q: What has been the role of luck in your success?
SH: I would say the closest thing to luck would be being in the right place at the right time; for example, joining Gap, Inc. when there were only a little over three hundred stores, and working there during its most innovative time (the expansion of Gap overseas, and Banana Republic domestically as well as the birth and expansion of GapKids, babyGap, and Old Navy.) With all of that came a very steep career trajectory and I got a lot of opportunities and a wealth of experience.

Q: How do you achieve work-life balance?
SH: I have set aside exercise and personal care time each day, each week, and maintain boundaries around that; although it is easy to cross the boundaries when you work for yourself and a deadline really needs to be met. I am still struggling with that a little. I have a wellness team: massage, acupuncturist, and chiropractor. I have a massage once/week and if I am stressed I schedule weekly acupuncturist and chiropractor appointments until the stress is relieved. I listen to what my body tells me.

Q: What have you learned about leadership, entrepreneurship and mentoring others?
SH: I have learned that we lead integrated lives; that our personal and work lives are meshed together and sometimes we must dial one area up and another down, always adjusting to stay in our flow. I believe that we are Integrated Leaders and that we are the leaders in our own lives, at home and at work, even if we aren’t titled “the leader.” As entrepreneurs, there is tremendous opportunity to empower our clients and customers to lead within their own lives. We have the ability to mentor and guide; there are so many women in search of that guidance and mentorship and I hope that more and more entrepreneurs step into that role. So much can be learned by one another’s experience.

Q: What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
SH: You are the leader of your own life: at home and in the workplace. Take care of yourself. Make time for self-care and spending time with loved ones and friends because you won’t achieve what you want in your career if you are always running on empty. At your workplace, you can lead from the front, behind, or the side, but you add value and make a difference. If you don’t have a great manager if you have solutions that person hasn’t arrived at, consider upward managing; that will help you, your team members and also the manager. Look for a mentor. And lastly, consider using humor to diffuse difficult situations. It served me well when dealing with difficult situations or people inside and outside an organization.

Q: If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
SH: I highly advise you to continue working in some capacity while you are just starting your business until you get it up and running; coupled with that, set realistic revenue targets to take into consideration that you are starting from scratch and there will be ebbs and flows; be prepared to pivot and maybe even start over from scratch if your original idea doesn’t work; be patient because building a business takes time; and don’t forget to anticipate your clients’ needs and meet them through your products and services; differentiate yourself so you stand out from your competition; and, figure out how you can disrupt the status quo within your niche to set you apart!

Five Things About Sandra Hughes

1. If you could meet anyone famous past or present … who would it be and why?
Maya Angelou; I think that she was a wise woman and I would love to sit and soak in that wisdom.

2. Can you tell us one of your passions in life?
I believe to whom much is given much is expected. One of my passions is giving back.

3. How do you deal with stress?
Exercise and self-care: massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic care.

4. Is there a place you always dream of visiting?
Bora Bora or Tahiti and staying in one of the hut rooms over the water.

5. What’s the best advice anyone’s ever given you?
Let go! Helping unlock your inner business genius to explore what is possible!



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