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April 30, 2014

Recap: Ashton212’s Inclusivity Choice™ Initiative – March 13, 2014

Posted 3 years 207 days ago by Sheila Lewis

On March 13th, Ashton212 held its second Inclusivity Choice™ event for members and guests of the San Francisco Black MBA Chapter. Participants attending the event learned about, “The Deep Dark Secrets of a Successful Consultancy”. The goal of the evening program was to provide attendees a sampling of what one would need to know and think about before jumping into the world of consulting.

Sheila Lewis, Ashton212’s CEO, kicked off the evening by giving a little background about how she began her own career as a consultant and how her vision, passion and determination brought her to where she is now today, a partner/owner of a women-minority-owned consulting agency in the heart of Old Oakland.

To begin a consultancy business, it is best to seek out advice from trusted advisors, such as an attorney, banker and CPA.  The team of panelists we brought together for the event discussed the important steps in starting a business, plus provided insights on how to market a consultancy business and develop an effective business network. 

Ericka Curls-Bartling, Principal/Managing Attorney of Curls Bartling P.S., talked about how to structure a business as a legal entity and provided some key provisions when negotiating a contract with a potential client.

The one person you need to keep close and up-to-date in your business affairs is always your banker. As Adrian Gomez-Zavala, Business Premier Banker/Hispanic Initiative Ambassador at Comerica Bank pointed out, your banker can help direct you in the right way to fund your business. Adrian shared questions you should have answers to before you even begin the funding process.

Sheila Lewis
Sheila Lewis

Ericka Curls-Bartling

Adrian Gomez-Zavala

Details, details, are a must! Make sure not to ‘pierce the corporate veil’, which means, make sure you keep all your business transactions separate from your personal transactions. Lisa Wallace, Owner, Two Sisters Bookkeeping/Finance Manager at Ashton212, hit upon establishing good business practices, such as, tracking all income and expenses monthly, frequently performing a money health check, and creating a budget to support your business plan. Most importantly, seek guidance from a CPA who understands the challenges of a small business.

Lori Leiva, Team Leader, Customer Strategy and Planning at Pacific Gas and Electric Company, generated lots of interest when she spoke about marketing and branding aconsulting business. All marketers know about the four product marketing P’s; Product, Placement, Price and Promotion. Well, Lori gave the group four different P’s to consider when it comes to branding one’s own consulting business. She stressed to the group that Positioning, Proposition, Passion and Personality are the four most important P’s a consultant should focus on because… “You Are Your Brand”!

Denise Bradley, Founder & CEO, Harambee Consulting Group, humored the group with her techniques on “how to work it”. Besides public speaking, networking for some folks is one of the hardest skills to overcome. You truly have to work at networking to be successful. Denise focused on being goal oriented and people centered by setting bold networking goals, practicing talking to “strangers” and being curious of others first before talking about yourself. And especially, developing a support circle to help you along.


Lisa Wallace

Lori Leiva

Denise Bradley

Attendees’ felt the panel discussion was very informative and strongly agreed it was a good use of their time.  Kathy Andrews, the President of the San Francisco Black MBA Chapter, stated, “I found the event extremely helpful. I thought we met all of our objectives, and was pleasantly surprised to see new faces.”

Speaking of ‘new faces’, if you missed our first two Inclusivity Choice™ events and are interested in attending our series finale in the early summer, click here and we will send you an invite when details are finalized. We promise to have a very dynamic keynote speaker, so don’t miss out!

A special thanks to Kathy Andrews, Ainka Fulani and Tarita Whittingham, our partners at the San Francisco Black MBA chapter in partnering with us and getting the word out about Ashton212’s Inclusivity Choice™ program series.  We also thank those participants who attended our sessions; you have given us the opportunity to make a difference! 

Tags: Adrian Gomez-Zavala consulting Denise Bradley Ericka Curls-Bartling Inclusivity Choice Lisa Wallace Lori Leiva

Categories: categoryConsulting categoryDiversity & Inclusion

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