In Conversation with Jessica Zweig of SimplyBe. Agency
Describe your business in a few words?
We are a personal branding agency located in Chicago serving clients across the globe. We specialize in building the personal brand identities, strategies, and platforms for our incredible clients who consist mainly of entrepreneurs, executives, CEOs, and leaders across various industries. We really work on intersecting your professional expertise with your humanity.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I didn’t know any other way! This is actually my second business, and when I launched SimplyBe. it was just a one-woman consultancy. All of a sudden I got new business everywhere by virtue of my personal brand, and I decided I wanted to create a business teaching people the power of their own.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I was an actress — I went to school for theater, and I became a cocktail waitress and a professional actress! But I always loved writing and talking about places to go and things to do, so I created that go-to platform.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
No! I wanted to be a veterinarian or a marine biologist actually. I never saw myself going into business until my late 20s, when I had no business background and made a bunch of mistakes. With SimplyBe., I really became an entrepreneur.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
Honestly, it all came down to my personal brand. This is why I believe so much in the power of this work. I don’t believe you really need much of a strategy if you do your personal brand well, because people do business with people. Your personal brand is an asset that you can invest in and build up in perpetuity. My personal brand came through in blog posts, social media, and emails, and a lot of networking.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
One mistake I made was opening up seven credit cards when I was in my 20s and starting my first business, which left me $75,000 in debt even though I felt like I was making money and running a business properly. Nothing is more effective of a lesson than going broke and having to clean it up.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
My book is a big one! It was a three-year mountain climb to finish it. It’s also my team — I’m proud of creating really powerful young people in the world who will transform into the next generation of powerful leaders.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
I actually have my candidates put together a mood board, where they have to share who they are in a creative document. They really have to talk to me about who they are as people, what inspires them, and what moves their soul. I really feel like you can find the best talent in the world, but you want them to be good people who are filled with integrity and character, and give a shit about the world and not just their jobs. I want them to have a point of view and a passion to make the world a better place. You can tell a lot about a person through that.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
We’re very lucky that my business has swung in a positive direction given that people need our services more than ever. At the same time, we’ve been impacted by quarantining and working virtually, and having to navigate through that. 2020 was a tough year, but all the same I can’t believe it’s over.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
A book! I’m launching Be.: A No Bullshit Guide to Increasing Your Self-Worth and Net Worth by Simply Being Yourself in just a few weeks. And I really hope to see SimplyBe. be an internationally recognized company in a few years.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
Everything is a choice. Stay in the light, click out of the fear, and don’t subscribe to the energy of what doesn’t belong to you. You can choose your own vibration.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
Ask for help, and don’t be afraid to say you don’t know when you don’t know.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Having my husband and my tribe of close friends and advisors around me has grounded me. You really need to surround yourself with amazing people.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
No, I don’t. If you want to be an entrepreneur, a founder, or an owner of a company, just be prepared to work harder than anyone else will. And that’s okay! It doesn’t always feel great, but that’s what you sign up for. I would just say to plan some vacations and have a really powerful morning routine. Remember every day that you chose this and that it’s joyful, and you will thrive.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m an introvert! I actually like my dogs more than I like people. I really love being alone — it’s actually one of my favorite pastimes.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
- Get a good night’s sleep and don’t drink alcohol.
- Feed and take care of your body with nutritious food.
- Try and organize your day so you’re not doing 15 things at once. Take it one task at a time to stay focused and keep your energy up. This will help you pretend that things are going great, even when they’re not — fake it till you make it truly work.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
It means living fabulously, living out loud, living unapologetically, and being successful on your terms. It means being bold, shining your light, and knowing that you’re here for a very big reason and deserve to live a very big life.