Today We had the pleasure with speaking with Aiyana Anderson, Founder of She SWIFT Transportation Services.
In this episode of EntreNetwork we cover several key topics including:
· The Importance of Networking and Word of Mouth Marketing
· How your previous skillset can benefit you in Entrepreneurship
· Becoming a role model for women in a trucking career field
· Growing outside of your comfortable surrounding
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Connect with us on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/entrenetwork-podcast/
Interested in joining us on EntreNetwork? Visit our website at www.revisionmg.com/entrenetwork and reach out today!
Sidney Jackson 00:00
Welcome to entre network brought to you by revision marketing group. This podcast is meant to serve as an entrepreneurial knowledge base of wisdom and practical tips in marketing, branding and technology to help grow your business effectively. So ultra network welcome the host, Sydney Jackson, and I basically started this podcast to allow different entrepreneurs to just kind of listen in and get a feel for what it’s like being an entrepreneur, the good, the bad, and the ugly. So this podcast is kind of meant to serve as a knowledge base for different entrepreneurs. So with that, we want to get into kind of like the meat and potatoes of what success is for you. And all of these different things, the biggest thing that we’ll kind of talk about is, you’ve been successful outside of the smaller city. So when I talked to you, probably two or three weeks ago, it probably was like two months ago, actually, when you are saying once you left Shreveport, and then you went to the outskirts of Dallas, you could be you became more successful, you’d opened up your eyes, and stuff like that. So we’ll definitely touch on all of that the format of the podcast is going to be two parts, one is going to be kind of like the pre interview that we’ll just kind of use to get warmed up, and have some really good sound bites of the different responses. And then a next section, next section is going to be the actual podcast where we talk about the meat and potatoes. So if you want to kind of introduce yourself, and then yeah, where are you from? And then how did you get into the trucking business?
Aiyana Anderson 01:50
Okay, my name is first of all, now, my company is successful the name I actually created my business about five years ago, I started industry. Number one, there was not enough women in the industry that was being recognized as the arm behind the brand. And it wasn’t a lot of females. In the heart, core parts of the transportation actually be in the driver’s seat to work in warehouses. We weren’t being recognized. In a male dominated field, for I just felt some kind of empowerment emotionally, start being more involved in the transportation industry and bringing more women into the industry. And I was I start in Shreveport, Louisiana, and kind of in time, this other circumstances pressed me to have to get a more stores or locations. So I went through the next biggest thing, which is balance for me. And since I’ve been here I’ve seen the growth, I was able to see the difference between a smaller sector versus a larger city, and just the overall of how things operate.
Sidney Jackson 03:22
NATO NATO, I think now that’s incredible. So for you right now, what is your definition of success? And do you feel you have reached that as an entrepreneur?
Aiyana Anderson 03:38
You know, honestly, I don’t think I’ve met my highest level of success. I think what I have done is absolutely checked off my list of goals and accomplishments that I’ve made in my business as an entreprenuer, I still have a ways to go because I still have clothes and I’m still trying to get more women into the industry and males, I just want to see your overall difference in the transportation industry. And so I still have clothes that I need. And I still have things that are still on my list. And so until I start getting, you know, the rest of my list ticked off, I’m successful as I go along, as long as I’m accomplishing the goals, and my services are out there. You know, we help in the industry. So everybody,
Sidney Jackson 04:34
indeed with that. That’s incredible. What’s the biggest way you actually market your business because you said you was in an industry or you started the business four or five years ago what’s the most actionable items that you have taken to kind of put yourself in positions for opportunities
Aiyana Anderson 04:55
so all to you. This is why By the rule of law, who is always going to be word of mouth, my biggest marketing is word of mouth. My biggest piece is someone saying, Oh, you know her own. No, they do this. Again, people telling other people telling other people telling other people is like a real ritual for me, in the trucking world. And I just say that for any business, you can tell someone, hey, I’m opening up a smoothie shop, that person tells their friend, their friend tells their friend, and now we’re all facility staff, you know, so again, my word of mouth is a big part of where my networking and my marketing is coming in it. People just putting my name out there. My son is a truck driver, he carries my cars and he’s putting it out there. Also, word of mouth has been like one of my biggest platforms, my children as to how to sell me Mom, you got to get on meetings, you got to get on those I don’t, I don’t operate social media, you know, I don’t really amount of social media, no fan like that. But when I realize that, that’s where the rest of my customers or people that I’m trying to reach are that I had to reverse and flip that platform and make it something that usable for me to mark it out. So besides the word of mouth, I am using social media platforms to kind of educate people with my services out there. Just talk about the freight transportation industry in general.
Sidney Jackson 06:31
In the indeed, with that, absolutely. So word of mouth. Yeah, that’s how we actually got started as well, I remember when we was in the office together. And it was super slow for me as an individual, because I was kind of new to it. And then word of mouth slowly started picking up extremely slowly, right. But it’s a really good marketing tool that you can have in your arsenal. And then, especially with social media, you can really take that to the next level, and build your personal brand, and then your business’s brand. And then it just kind of takes off from there.
Aiyana Anderson 07:10
But we’re so digital right now, like, I still have cards from three or four years ago who the heck did I mean, give us your business cards, but you don’t we’re so digital and electronic that you know, I could spend my time and act as a pseudo part now, people can get the website and see information. Now, suppose I Why am I passing out business cards? Oh, I still have and you know, of course, I’ll hang them up. And I’ll post my flyers out there or whatnot. But in a world that we’re coming into everything is technology, digital base. But even now with SDN and COVID, we’re at home One more. So I’ve had to figure out how to get across to people via call, podcast, you know, things of that nature. So I always believe that in any business that we do, we have to be able to evolve, where we’re at in time, what we were doing three and four years ago, in our businesses, or as an entrepreneur may not work, we were going forward and may not work what we’re in doing at the moment. So we always have to be able to evolve and what you know, in what our business is doing?
Sidney Jackson 08:20
Absolutely. With that. So four or five years of evolution, pretty much constant improvement, and getting the wrong a lot probably
Aiyana Anderson 08:32
wrong. and ready to quit. Keep going he did
Sidney Jackson 08:38
indeed. So I’m pretty sure it’s like a lot of hills and valleys within that four or five year stretch, right? But right now, in a moment, are you enjoying what you’re doing?
Aiyana Anderson 08:51
Right now, in the moment, I absolutely am enjoying what I am doing. I would not trade anything for for the world right now. I believe when I left healthcare five years ago, maybe even just three years ago, because I was still operating my trucking company as I was exiting my healthcare career of 43 years. And so even with that being said, I don’t regret leaving. I totally feel where I’m at now. And I feel way more comfortable way more confident in knowing what I’m doing now. So yes, I do feel like I’m in a great place, even with a pandemic going on. I’m good.
Sidney Jackson 09:35
Aiyana Anderson 09:37
My business is good. We will survive.
Sidney Jackson 09:39
indeed have to love to hear that. So that was kind of like the pre the pre question. There is our pre interview, which was really good content. Now we’ll just kind of segment our way into the interview where I just kind of repeat the question or kind of tell me what you do. But first, I want to welcome you to the entre network podcast. Thank you for coming. Great. Indeed. So kind of tell us about yourself, and why you actually got into entrepreneurship.
Aiyana Anderson 10:16
Well, for the longest time, as I previously mentioned, I was in healthcare for 23 years. And I want to say it was a career there, I got into further instability and further comfortableness. I was raising kids as a single mom at that time. And you know, once you’re in a career, you don’t want to get out, you can’t, you can’t do that for the kids, you have to be stable. I remember being motivated to be in healthcare. But as it changed, I felt like that wasn’t all I wanted to do in life. I’m never in a million years thought that I will be an entrepreneur, like actually owning my own businesses, and definitely not in the world of freight transportation, like something that was totally a male dominated field. And let me back that up not to sound like that. But a white male dominated field, even for my top eight answers for like, No, we were getting, we’re getting stepped on because everybody figured that the transportation industry had to be male dominated. So I never thought that I would be at this level in life, in this field, in this industry, with my own business now. So freight from medical care, definitely a major change and a major eye opener. But it kind of gave me a little bit more of motivation for my next journey. And like, like my next, you know, health, the world kind of thing. So this is just a new door for me for the next 20 years.
Sidney Jackson 11:54
Indeed, so from your previous career, how did that actually translate to the transportation industry as far as like skill sets,
Aiyana Anderson 12:03
that, you know, my skill set for customers, and there’s always wanting to be a change or in the community, that has never changed? What I will say is, in the healthcare industry, as it was changing policy for changing, our city in Shreveport was changing. And so I roughly get laid off, which surprised me because early on, everybody thinks, you know, healthcare can’t die out, or that a hospital would never go away. But again, if you’re not evolving with what the times are, things will die out, money will run out, I was laid off from three different hospitals. And so I had to start thinking about it the plan, hey, you know, stuff is not working here. Am I at my top for healthcare? Is there anywhere else that I wanted to go? and healthcare? No, there wasn’t because I kept getting shut down. And so it was just like, Alright, God, and you tell me, you know, let’s change position here. And so when I got into freight, it was definitely a new ballgame. But almost the same industry, I still had clients who do have customers, we still have to deal with the people, there was still a need for things. And so I kind of just transition the skills that I already had over into how do I make the freight industry better? How do I make it better for customers? How do I make it better for shippers? How do I advocate for my drivers? How do I advocate for my women who want to come into this industry and don’t have the resources to do so. And so I probably just took that skillset to build up she was that’s how we got to successful women in freight transportation. And so this shift shifted, and here I am four years later, you know, still doing what I need to do.
Sidney Jackson 13:55
Well, how, and I will conversation previously, you touched a lot on advocating for women. When did that actually come about? for you as a business owner? When did you know that you wanted to be an advocate advocate for women, specifically in a transportation industry?
Aiyana Anderson 14:14
Well, what ended up happening was, is I thought I would get a lot of mail, replying and reaching out to me, when our reality I had a lot of women reaching out to me, and I was like, Whoa, like I wasn’t prepared for more women to be saying, oh, what do you do you know, how can I you know, I wasn’t prepared. I thought more males would be like, Oh, I want to come on or I could do this. I got you know, but I had a lot more females reaching out to me saying how did you do that? Like, what do you know? So that starts putting me in the mind frame of, yes, I need to be able to show other women that this can be done. And that we do have a voice out here. I have agents who have worked in where warehouses before and do nothing about anything else that was their only position was the warehouse, the higher up weren’t letting them move up or down. And so that’s a big problem in the freight industry, I had women coming to me asking how to become a truck driver, Hey, can you give me a program? Do you know what program I could take? You know, how do I do this with having the children. So again, trying to make women more successful in this industry that we want to be in that we think we can handle to be and but we need the resources to do so. And I’m just, I just want to be one of those best.
Sidney Jackson 15:34
And I think you are absolutely that. That’s incredible Ayana with that let’s, which was the lowest point you had in your business, at least something that you feel comfortable sharing, because I know a lot of entrepreneurs, it’s kind of like a lot of hills and valleys. So when it’s on top, they feel like, okay, everything is good. And then you hit that, that period where it’s just like, everything is going.
Aiyana Anderson 16:03
funding, I will say the pandemic, I really, it really hit hard at first, just due to funding because everything froze. And so for me, I really was one of the entrepreneurs that saved my own personal monies and was putting it out there, I did not go to a bank at all. And don’t get me wrong for those, you know, entrepreneurs who do end up at the bank perfectly fine, if you can support it, if you understand what they’re signing, if you know, when you’re getting wrong. For me, I did not go bank terrified. So I ended up saving a lot of my money to be able to put into my business. So my personal was turning into business business turning into personal, and then you hit emergencies or pandemic. And then you’re realizing that you’re feeding money from your personal into your business. So if there’s one that can deplete you, and I’ve been there already, again, we will have those ups and downs, but I’ve literally have depleted down to where I had to stop using my personal coming into my business for financials. So if you’re able to do grants, loans, and things like that, legitimately, than by any means have a way to backup yourself for capital, and never make your business with your personal, I put a loss at the time not realizing it, but I put my whole house in jeopardy, not realizing that, oh my gosh, I’m feeding out of my personal just to make my business survive. But that’s how hungry that’s how sacrifice, you get some time for your businesses that you literally take your personal and send that into your business. And for sure, I’ve been there for lack of words to say, like really getting down to the nitty gritty of what I had and think that.
Sidney Jackson 18:08
Yeah, that’s a super terrifying, I can only imagine, because with the pandemic, a lot of businesses were hit extremely hard. But it’s really good to see that she was able to overcome that and in providing so much knowledge to different business owners, so they wouldn’t have to repeat that. So the educational piece, I really do love it.
Aiyana Anderson 18:32
And yeah, don’t be scared of the bank. Don’t be scared of the health, you know, I really was scared. And that was just me being an educated in banking and financial, when you’re being an entrepreneur, you know, when you’re first coming into your own business, you’re still trying to figure out your numbers or what things mean. And so that was just me being afraid to go and get the assistance. But if you need to reach out to a bank or accounting services do so it makes sure that you have your flows of money in the right places for emergencies, or when we run into a pandemic, that was really shut your business down.
Sidney Jackson 19:09
Indeed, and with that, as far as like being afraid of banks and stuff like that, it’s a really good resource, the Small Business Development Center, have a lot of good consultants across all 50 states that just kind of help you and prep you for that conversation with the bank. So they can just kind of review the financials and get you prepared to say you say this, or, hey, you need to get this in order first. Because it is scary, kind of go into a bank x and for money, especially when you need it right? A lot. A lot of good bankers, they say hey, come to us when you don’t need the money and you’re more likely to get approved. But true, indeed. But as far as like the lowest point what was the highest point that you felt and not I’m particularly in a sense of fine nachos. But in the sense of probably like happiness, and fulfillment as an individual
Aiyana Anderson 20:08
with highest points, we’re just knowing, like once I got the business license and got the certification, those were like the highest points for me fans, you’re in this, like, this is a business, you are certified, like you got an Ei anger, you know, my main highlight, like, you are having your own business. And once I start realizing, after the people are retraining people for dispatch, I will train people to open their own companies. When I see them successful. That’s my highs right there when they’re calling me like, Oh, hey, I added another truck. Oh, Miss A, I got another dispatcher. Like, those are my highs. When I know the information that I put out there in the universe comes back with him telling me, hey, it works. Hey, I mean this now Hey, do you think you know that my side so when I had those papers, I knew it was serious, like you are a real business owner. And you have to take this seriously. I put my whole heart into a lot of the business that I do to my trainings that I do. My mentor said, like, my whole everything is in that. So that’s why my that’s what people say, Oh, you’re seeing with with us with Dan, for successful women in freight transportation, just to know that I’ve overcome that hump with even being a woman and a woman of color in transportation. Like, I’m two flags on the field, you know what I mean? So it’s like, my friend, I’m coming, you know what I mean? And I’m bringing in a worldwide of women with me.
Sidney Jackson 21:48
It’s always good to celebrate those victories of fulfillment within because of course, entrepreneurship is just a rocky roller. roller coaster. So it’s really good to see that you have those high points and you celebrate them. Yeah, those high points are not really tagged to money. true fulfillment that you get from seeing other people succeed. That’s incredible.
Aiyana Anderson 22:14
Yeah, I love their stories I love when they call me I love when they say, you will thrive, you know, or Hey, that did work. I mean, that’s my heart. That means I know I gave the right information,
Sidney Jackson 22:26
indeed. So with Shreveport, you started the business in Shreveport, right? And then you’re now in? What is it? Outside of Dallas?
Aiyana Anderson 22:36
Yeah, I’m in my little case, it’s called red oak. It’s just like a lot of small outside town of Dallas, but really up and come in, I’m counting down nearby like the Waxahachie area. So it’s kind of like on the outskirts of the inner city of Dallas. I do commute to the inner city, though, because that’s where all my trucks are at death where a lot of freight is a lot of warehousing, a lot of distribution. So I’m consistently going into the city, just to maneuver just to kind of see what’s coming in and out of us how many trucks are actually on the road? Where are my trucks parked at, you know, just, again, staying involved with what’s happening around me is their land where we could build another truck, you know, things like that. When I first started in Shreveport, I felt like it was such a smaller city, that I thought it would be easier and quicker to grow a business. But for me, I was wrong. Because what my customer base is, I couldn’t get a lot of that out of Shreveport District Court alone weren’t large enough. When you’re in the freight industry, you need to be around enough manufacturers, distributors, people who are just in transportation, period, and we just didn’t have all those entities that I needed to get me growing at that time. And so what I noticed when I got here to Dallas, because it was a lot larger, with a larger network, I was more needed. Versus me being in a smaller community where we’re kind of just all you know, everybody’s kind of doing the same thing. So with me being in the larger cities, my need Facebook more so I think that’s what allowed me to grow more and kind of grow at the pace that I that I was needing to grow. I had a lot more manufacturers, I was able to network. Again, I’m more in your face, I’m knocking on doors, I’m showing up to businesses, hey, you know, I’m here you know, I have services that could help and so I had a lot more outreach here than what I did in Shreveport. Do I still do this especially for absolutely because that is where my roots came from. And so I will forever try to bring business and bridge business between the two As definitely just be and have more opportunity come into a larger area.
Sidney Jackson 25:06
No, that’s, that’s incredible with that once she was in Shreveport, right? When did you? Or once she was in Shreveport, did you see? Or did it feel like a lot of opportunity as far as like you’ve been busy. And before you was kind of aware of, okay, Dallas is kind of booming and I can be successful there. Because I think once you’re kind of in it within a small community and you have blinders on, you can’t really see the full potential of your business. So did you kind of experience that? And
Aiyana Anderson 25:39
did I did I kind of just, I wasn’t even looking outside of this report, really, because I was so gung ho on just building around our community, this building around three, four, Bowser, you know, this has been tougher here and there in companies, but I wasn’t seeing the bigger picture of the need, that needed to come in through there. And I just as much as I tried, I just couldn’t face it. From there. It was like I could send the work industry for that I couldn’t pull it out. So I had to take off the blinders and actually look at bigger areas, what am I missing? In my business? You know, okay, the shippers where are they coming from? And when I started doing the research, they were coming from larger cities. And so it was like, Okay, let me try something. And so and I did, I thought I would already be back to three, four, but I’m not two to three years later, I’m still gone. And that’s only because I was able to grow from here. I really thought that I would get out here and it’d be too large of a scale. But actually, the freight transportation, this was the perfect scale. For me, Shreveport was too small to scale the way that I needed.
Sidney Jackson 26:53
So what was the biggest change, going from Shreveport to red oak?
Aiyana Anderson 26:58
Oh, my gosh, traffic people, I just felt like we’re so used to each other as report. But what do I do kind of see the same people a couple times a week, or will go to the same area, it was so large here that it took me like a year to even get to the other side of areas that I probably needed to get to. So the large proximity was a big deal for me, like, I’m used to getting somewhere in 10 to 15 minutes to get to a business meeting to where now planning an hour at a time, you know, at some time. But for me the biggest change with this. Also I’ll say too, is I am a little bit more accepted here. I don’t know why. But, or maybe just because it’s such a larger city with a little bit more diversity that I’m not, you know, when I come through their doors, they’re not surprised to see me, you know, they’re not surprised to see a female coming through. So that was a big change, particularly acceptance. That’s what I say. So besides the traffic, and just the larger proximity, the acceptance here versus
Sidney Jackson 28:06
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Aiyana Anderson 29:39
Yes, it did it. You know, again, when they, when you think of trucking people always think of, you know, the big guy in a truck, you know, and so I’m working with so many different cultures now that are in the freight industry. And I feel like we can learn from that area. Everybody’s cultures are different. And they all take trucking and transportation differently to, I have some truckers that I work with that are from Kenya, I have some that are from India. And everybody, what I enjoy is our work ethic. Everybody has a different work ethic. And for people who are of different culture than that just Americans, their ethics are really strong. And I have liked that. So it’s been nice to just learn by their ethnicity, and just see the other people in trucking in general, even behind the truck. And in the office buildings. I’ve walked into, you know, other companies, and yeah, they might be agents, but they’re in trucking, you know, but they got the best fruit and vegetables on on the truck, you know what I mean? So you meet just like a lion. The other part is the local peer support us smaller trucking companies. So if you have farmers trying to get in product, they rather fall the smaller companies. So again, the expected of everybody knowing that we’re really all in this industry together, no matter if we’re from Cali, Florida can hear that we’re really trying to bridge it on one page has been nice. That feeling has been nice to feel that we’re not in always such a competition all the time. And for me, like, I hadn’t really just mentioned this, but in one of my business plans, first off, I stated that I wanted school, in this school, so that it would have the ability to cater to a few different people, a few different people’s schedules. There’s trucking, schools and principals everywhere, but they’re not necessarily getting all the information, all the training. So it would be nice to experience that, you know, and get this in a training, where we all understand curriculums, we all understand great, you know, senior people over here, you know, just whatever. But that’s kind of in my long term version of having some kind of educational institute where I could put out.
Sidney Jackson 32:09
Wow, no, that sounds incredible. I mean, I’m super excited to kind of talk more about that, because, well, to the listeners, we are doing your website. So in the process of redesigning and then talking more about the educational side of it, and just been a resource to different people who want to get into the home transportation industry. So that’s extremely exciting. With that, your personal journey from the last four to five years and probably even before that, what would you change, if anything, with the knowledge that you kind of knew today?
Aiyana Anderson 32:51
What would I change them on my personal journey? You know, I will go into that Thank you. Got it that day. No. I you know what, to be honest, I don’t think I would change things. Because, again, I love healthcare, I was in healthcare, 23 years, I loved it. But I think I outgrew it. So which kind of allowed me to trance fire and transfer into a new energy, or into a new industry that I actually enjoy. Personally, I feel like I did it right in time. I’m not getting any younger. And so where I was at that last layoff, it kind of opened the door for me to go and grow. And so personally, I think I was right on time to start my entrepreneurship. My children are not we’re all of a dental school. So if I had to eat ramen noodles for a week, ramen noodles, and neighbor friends, you know, the sacrifices that I was able to do this for myself, and now helps to feel like I had the children on the line as well. So personally, I feel like I did this just right in the nick of time, that had I completely just even sound at business. Heck, I got time to go back to work, you know, so in my mind, I was very set up on you know, no, we’re gonna step out on faith and actually do this. I even think my transition from moving Shreveport to Dallas, I think that was actually time at the right time. Even when I hit into pandemic, you know, I was only there six months and we were locked down. And so I’m like, okay, no work and you’re entrepreneurs. So I mean, there were some real points where I was just like, you gotta keep going. And so my kids, another personal PowerPoint with them, fishing for them. These days, we’re talking about not just leaving your kids money behind, but we’re trying to leave some legacies behind. We’re trying to leave some things behind that they can continue and to keep carrying on as well. And so I had to keep pushing, I had to keep pushing, I had to keep pushing. And they were personally on the on the team that was you have to support behind us that was an evidence of good personal for me having support. I wouldn’t have been able to make it here, I don’t think. So all that aligned. So personally, on the personal journey, I probably wouldn’t have changed. I think it will fall into timing and all in the right time. And me just making the steps that I needed to make, not being afraid to do so with an intrapreneur. We can’t be afraid we have to do it scared. And I think he’s doing it in a little fearful thing. I just did it. And here I am. Well, I don’t think I would change personally, but I did it.
Sidney Jackson 35:51
And the execution, you have the X amount of what? Because if you’re scared, that’s, that’s normal. But would it You still have to push forward and get past it. And it becomes a learning experience because, right, either fail or succeed. But either way, it’s going to allow you to learn quickly, and then just kind of do it again and again, in a sense. But as far as entrepreneurship, what’s the biggest thing that you wish you would have knew before you got started?
Aiyana Anderson 36:26
What do I wish I would have known before I get started to be ready and don’t quit so easily. I wish I would have had more mentors in my ear. Honestly, I wish I would have had more mentors in my ears telling me, Hey, don’t give up, don’t quit, it’s gonna get rough, it’s gonna be tough. Because I had those moments, but I, I had to figure out how to breathe those out, I had to figure out my own tools, and always to decipher how to keep going how to keep pushing, because everybody won’t be a cheerleader for you, you know. So but I wish people would have told me Hey, get yourself a mentor, someone who’s going to be a positive vibe to you, and who’s going to help you nurture whichever, you know, going through help your business