CEO and Founder, Akorbi Group
Member-At-Large | WPO Board of Directors
What inspired you to start your business?
I created my own language and technology business after losing my job during the dotcom crash. Desperate for work, I turned to the Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce seeking employment. Instead, they suggested that I consider starting a business of my own. During some free time, I helped at the racetrack with our horses and was called upon to assist equine workers with their translation needs at a seminar. That experience led me down the path towards providing language services to non-English speakers. As a result, that nonprofit referred me to paying customers and the 2000 Census data showed me the fast growth of diverse segments of the population. I realized that these individuals had difficulty communicating and that corporate clients struggled to reach them as well. I recognized that technology could be used as a delivery mechanism for these much-needed language services. And so Akorbi was born.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in business?
As an entrepreneur, I've faced countless roadblocks and challenges - but I've come to realize that these obstacles are simply part of the journey. In fact, it's often the challenges we face that make our work so rewarding. Every day, my team and I are presented with new challenges from clients or within our own organization. It's our job to have the endurance and creativity to overcome these obstacles and find solutions that work for everyone involved. Of all the challenges we've faced, one of the most significant has been reaching certain revenue milestones. We've experienced periods of exponential growth followed by stagnation, only to reinvent ourselves and push on to the next revenue goal - which brings its own set of challenges. But despite these struggles, I believe that a business without issues is dead. Just like a rodeo rider who falls off their horse - it's not IF they fall, but HOW they fall that makes for a beautiful journey. So if you're facing roadblocks or challenges in your own entrepreneurial journey, don't be discouraged - embrace them as opportunities for growth and learning.
What is the best business advice you have ever received?
One of the most valuable pieces of business advice I ever received was from Professor Lynda Applegate during my time at Harvard Business School. She said, "narrow scope, narrow opportunities." This advice has stayed with me over the years, and it's become a guiding principle for how I approach my work as an entrepreneur. It’s true, that by focusing on a specific area or niche, we can become experts and create unique value for our clients or customers. However, narrowing our scope can also limit our opportunities and growth potential. It creates tunnel vision that keeps you from seeing the big picture and innovating. True success is about finding a balance between specialization – honing in on what you do best and innovation - being open to new ideas and possibilities. Overall, this advice has helped me stay focused and strategic in my business endeavors, and I'm grateful for the wisdom that Professor Applegate shared with us.
How has being a WPO member helped your business?
Being a member of the Women Presidents Organization (WPO) has been an incredible asset to my business. Through this organization, I've been able to connect with an inspiring network of women who have provided me with peer support and guidance. One of the most remarkable aspects of being a WPO member is the opportunity to learn from other bold and courageous business owners who have overcome adversity with grace. This has given me invaluable insights into how to navigate challenges and grow my business in new ways. Additionally, as a WPO member, I was granted a scholarship to attend Harvard Business School - one of the most prestigious institutions in the world. This experience allowed me to join a global business network and gain new perspectives on leadership and entrepreneurship. I've also had the chance to take on leadership roles within the Women Presidents Organization itself, such as serving on the board. These opportunities have allowed me to share ideas with remarkable professionals and travel the world networking and empowering other women business owners. Overall, I'm incredibly grateful for what being a WPO member has done for my career and my personal growth. I owe thanks to Doctor Marsha Firestone, Camille Burns, Phyllis Newhouse, Margery Kraus, and all the amazing women I've met through this organization.
What lesson have you learned that you can share with other women entrepreneurs?
As a women entrepreneur, I've learned that the bigger the business, the bigger the challenges. It's important to isolate our personal life from our work life and avoid mixing them together, which can lead to sadness and misery. To grow a business, we need to focus on sales and delivering a good product or service. Honesty and kindness are also crucial values for success. Most importantly, we should start thinking of ourselves as investors rather than just operators of businesses. The Women Presidents Organization taught me to think strategically instead of just being an operator. I encourage all business networks that support women entrepreneurs to adopt this approach and help us thrive in our respective industries. Let's continue pushing towards success with these valuable lessons in mind.
About Akorbi Group
Since 2003, Akorbi has provided organizations with enterprise-level language solutions that include interpretation, multilingual and technical staffing, multilingual business process outsourcing, and localization. Based in Dallas-Fort Worth, Akorbi partners with institutions across the globe to help them build bridges and cross linguistic boundaries in over 170 languages. To learn more, visit akorbi.com.