Dynamic Foundations Institute Presents The 2020 Entrepreneur Showcase featuring Female Founders
Welcome to DFI’s interview series, featuring female founders. Today our interview focuses on Amy Jones, Founder and Owner of Life in Merida. Amy is a serial entrepreneur that started her first business at the age of 12. With her multiple decades of experience, Amy is starting a new venture in Mexico where she is helping her clients live out their dream. Read on and learn more about Amy’s latest business venture and how she is navigating the issues facing many entrepreneurs, including Covid-19.
DFI: So, tell me about yourself? What is your background or passion that led you to start your business?
AJ: I’ve been an entrepreneur since the age of 12 and opened my first brick and mortar business at 17. Even though the industries and businesses have been vastly different, from fashion to real estate to organizing to consulting, there is one strong common thread: customer service. Learning how to help people improve their situation, feel better, look better and live a great life has always been at the core of my values. After helping people transition into new lives for many years, I felt like it was time to do the same for myself. I wanted to move to Mexico for many years and decided Merida Mexico would be my new home. At this point, I realized I wanted to start over. That is, start over with my entire personal and professional life. Not many are able to completely “wipe the slate clean” so I felt like this was an enormous gift and opportunity. I kept an open mind once I arrived to discover how I might be able to serve the community and fill any needs. After listening and chatting with locals and expats, I realized I could fill a niche here that also included helping people while keeping the core of my values, so it was a natural fit. So as a serial entrepreneur, I am now in a unique position of creating a new business from scratch utilizing my expertise and lessons from the last 40 years.
DFI: What do you think your unique skill(s) is/are that has/have helped you become successful?
AJ: I think there is one skill that all of us have but not many use or know how to use. Throughout the course of my life, the one skill I know I have is the ability to listen and hear what people are saying, recognize what they want and offer advice on how to help them. While the skill is not unique unto itself, I do know the way I use it is unique. Anyone in sales or customer service is in the “listening” business. How can I help if I don’t listen to what someone needs? There’s always more to the story than meets the eye. Listening, asking questions and uncovering the whole story is the only way to truly help others. Additionally, knowing the right questions and when to ask them is key.
It’s a learning process and the only way to learn is to learn as you go.
DFI: Looking back on your startup experience now, is there anything that you would have changed?
AJ: I would not change anything. It’s a learning process and the only way to learn is to learn as you go. Interestingly enough, every single time I’ve started a new business, I’ve done the same things which have been valuable in creating the foundations for the businesses. Over the last 40 years, I’ve had a handful of business partners, none of which worked out. Would I change having a business partner? No, but I do know I will never have a business partner again. Ultimately, the goals, work ethic, commitment to grow the business and personal issues became the reason to dissolve the partnership. I would not know this unless I had the experience of going into business with another person.
Be flexible. You can’t plan for every situation. Don’t give up. Always have faith in yourself and your product or service.
DFI: Based on your experience during this startup time, what wisdom could you impart to other upcoming women entrepreneurs?
AJ: Be flexible. You can’t plan for every situation. Don’t give up. Always have faith in yourself and your product or service. I also find it greatly beneficial to keep your thoughts and ideas to yourself. When you have an idea for a product or service, do your research, speak to professionals, or hire professional help. Don’t look to friends and family for advice. They are emotionally invested in you and won’t have unbiased information. Once they learn of your plans, they will take every opportunity to advise you (unsolicited) on certain aspects of your business or ideas. This can be really detrimental and pull you off track. Find a mentor(s) or follow someone online. Learn what they do. Discover things you like and also what you don’t like. Take all the best parts to create a business plan and structure that works for you. Don’t recreate the wheel. Everything and I mean absolutely everything, has been done before. The only unique part is what you put into it. Hopefully what you put into it will also be part of your heart and soul.
DFI: What is your business offering during its normal operating state?
AJ: My normal offerings include travel and tourism information about Merida Mexico. It’s not all the pretty stuff that other people offer such as the best restaurants or the best shopping or the best places to stay. It is about the “down and dirty” daily things someone needs to know about life in Merida. These are the basics that people take for granted. I want to take the mystery of the ins and outs of daily life and provide valuable information to navigate the culture and the city.
I also want to help them have a great experience while here (and maybe even get them thinking about moving here or visiting frequently). To expand and enhance this information, visitors may choose to have a personalized itinerary created so that they have the experience they want once they arrive – to take the guesswork, anxiety, stress and unknown away. Part of my original business plan was to offer one-on-one authentic experiences for people to have a guide when exploring the beautiful city of Merida. This part has been put on hold due to the current situation.
Having a back-up plan or two or three helps too. Never focus on one thing so tightly that you can’t see other opportunities as they appear. Being an entrepreneur means constantly adjusting.
DFI: What does the business currently look like, in terms of customers and product or service offering, now that we have a pandemic that has shuttered businesses?
AJ: The strange thing is that I started this business just as the pandemic was beginning. I had a plan and I stuck to it. I didn’t allow exterior influences to knock me off the path, but I’ve learned I needed to adjust a few things like financial goals and expectations due to the changing times. I’ve had to completely rethink and adjust my initial offerings. I’ve also had to look at ways to create different experiences for visitors online vs. in-person. I’m currently considering creating experiences on Airbnb and offering consulting to accommodate the changing environment. We are still not fully open for tourism so adjusting to that has been a curveball.
DFI: All businesses will inevitably face some financial hardships. What steps have you implemented in your business to guard against these hardships?
AJ: Being prepared for ups and downs is part of the process. At the end of every year, I sit down and create a business plan for the following year that includes financial goals, professional goals, and personal goals. For the financial goals portion, I make the commitment to review my business plan quarterly and adjust where needed. I create different income streams to help adjust for seasonal business or other slumps. Having a back-up plan or two or three helps too. Never focus on one thing so tightly that you can’t see other opportunities as they appear. Being an entrepreneur means constantly adjusting.
Dynamic Foundations Institute is a place where all entrepreneurs, regardless of education level, business experience, financial status, or whatever, can receive assistance to make their companies grow. Large companies typically have tons of money to hire external experts to help them start new companies and sources for information. Small businesses don’t have that luxury. This is where DFI can help. We know how to help small businesses because we are a small business. We provide high-quality services that fit within the budget for small and medium-sized businesses. So regardless of the type of business you have or intend to start, we all need a foundation. This foundation needs to be strong yet dynamic. We are here help provide institutional learning and consultation services in a welcoming environment. Review our courses or contact us regarding consulting services today!