BY NATASIA LANGFELDER
What do you do and why?
Tonie Snell: I am a problem solver…a socially impactful entrepreneur. I own 2 companies, 360HR– A DiversityForward™ talent solutions firm, committed in not only in a diverse workforce but inclusive workplaces where talent can bring their entire selves to work. We offer talent solutions all geared toward inclusion. We help companies understand they don’t have a diversity problem, they have an inclusion problem.
Our other company, Ayous Companies, LLC (Ayo is Joy in Yoruba) is our newly founded Tech company launching it’s first app in the Spring, OutNSocial™- a social networking event app hybrid. Inspired by but different from Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp or Meetup… OutNSocial aims to move the conversations offline, to put the human back into connections. Besides, imitation is not the highest form of flattery, inspiration is.
OutNSocial™ addresses the fact that we are no longer a separate part of society, longing to be connected, not segregated or “closeted” in exclusive spaces but valued, accepted and respected in all the places we live, work and play.This is not to say exclusive spaces are passe, it only means that it is not the sum of us.
I started both companies because I have to do more than breathe and consume. I have to create a better place for my 5 children, 11 grands, the spaces I live, work and play.
What did you do before you started your company?
Gosh, I did some of everything to stay afloat as a single mom with 5 children. I have worked in sales, the medical field.
What’s the single most important piece of advice you received when first starting your company? What would you tell a young entrepreneur in turn?
Solve a problem, don’t do it to get rich. Understand you can never skip the hustle.
Your wife,Angella Guajardo, is also involved in both 360HR and OutNSocial. What is it like working with your wife? How do you two keep work and play separate?
Angella works with our companies part-time and all the time if that makes sense, she’s included in everything. Her full-time profession is in the Aviation/Aerospace industry as a planner/project planner. The way that translates into our business – she is very spend conscious and detailed oriented. I am big picture and just want to know the price, let’s pay and keep it moving.
We discuss major purchases and processes all the time and if Angella doesn’t agree with the why and the how, she doesn’t pacify me. LOL, she has “27M questions – her phrase” which keeps me questioning, which lead to better decisions. I am the dreamer, she is practical. It’s a concerted effort, major balance and candid conversations. 6 years and counting!
What aspect of business ownership came as the biggest surprise to you?
Even when you are smart, have a great idea, execution is where all the work begins. What do you do first? What do you do first with a limited budget? And there is always something else to learn. It can be overwhelming.
What do you find most rewarding about owning your own business?
Mentoring future business owners, the chance to mellow business owners who want to create an impact.
Where do you see yourself / your company in five years? Hopes / dreams / plans?
I am so humbled to be where I am today. A child of addicts, a high school drop-out, 5 children by age 21, a survivor of depression until I gave myself the freedom to come out. It took me 30 years to life. I shouldn’t even be where I am… I am so high on my today that I can’t even begin to imagine the awesomeness of tomorrow.
What resources would you recommend to someone who is contemplating starting her own business?
My first go round as a business owner with 360HR, I did everything myself, today I know how I to lean to the strengths of others. So with OutNSocial, we used Legal Zoom, Score is still awesome, read “Play Bigger” and always educate yourself.
What would you say is the single most important key to sustaining a business long term?
To continue to create meaning over money and solve problems. Whatever you do, do it for people, to live better, be better, do better.
What obstacles did you face in establishing your company and how did you overcome them?
Understanding what I didn’t and don’t know and connecting with people who can fill the void and bring a different strength. Groupthink kills…ingenuity, innovation…
For more on 360HR and OutnSocial visit http://360hr.co/ and http://www.outnsocial.com!