Sonia Daniels, also professionally known as Dr. Daniels, is the owner of S. Daniels Consulting, where she provides community-centric business solutions for mission driven organizations. She also works as a nonprofit organization. Dr. Daniels was born and raised in southwest Louisiana and currently lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Dr. Daniels also has a Ph.D. in Public Policy, a master’s degree in Public Administration, and a bachelor’s degree in General Studies. When she is not working hard, she loves to travel internationally, venture into the outdoors for fishing and camping, and delve into painting and other visual arts. Sonia Daniels is a sucker for afternoon naps, Waffle Houses at midnight, and house plants.
Interviewer: Can you tell us about your journey towards becoming a business consultant? Did you always wanted to become a business consultant or did you stumble upon this career by coincidence?
Dr. Daniels: 2016 was an extremely hard year for me and at the time I had a job that asked me to quit instead of providing me with some time to recover from the things I had going on. It was an extremely difficult experience for me to have a job that was so unforgiving, so I decided to start my business with the mindset of knowing that if I worked for myself, no one could ask me to quit or fire me from a job.
Interviewer: What advice would you like to give to the individuals looking to launch a business or a side-hustle of their own one day?
Dr. Daniels: My advice would be to launch something that keeps you excited (because why would you put your energy into something you hate?)! I absolutely love nonprofit work, so my business makes me excited. I’m also a problem solver by nature, so my business allows my best skills and my passions to exist in one place.
Interviewer: Is launching a side-hustle along with a full-time job a good idea?
Dr. Daniels: Yes, it is actually a great idea to work a job while building a business or side hustle. It provides stability because growing a sustainable business takes time. For a while, I thought I had to quit my job in order to focus on my business, but I realized the benefits of working a job while growing my business. The key is to have a job that provides flexibility and support. Business finances are not consistent like a paycheck, so unless a person has a solid financial backing, I would suggest working concurrently with launching a side business.
Interviewer: Should college students launch a side-hustle along with pursuing their full-time degrees? Why or why not?
Dr. Daniels: I think it can be a good thing. It really just depends on the individual’s goals and what they are seeking from having a side-hustle. Dabbling in side-hustles allows people to really figure out what they like and do not like, without the hassle of applying and interviewing for jobs and then finding out you’re not a good fit or you hate the company.
Interviewer: Where do you see yourself five years from now, personally and professionally?
Dr. Daniels: This is a funny question because I can plan as much as I want but things never pan out the way I envision. But, this isn’t a bad thing! I’ve learned to set goals but leave room for flexibility. I’m hopeful I’ll continue to be able to travel as often as possible and be happy and at peace with my life.
Interviewer: When did you come up with the idea of starting the idea of your own business consultancy services?
Dr. Daniels: I have been working in the nonprofit sector for over 10 years. And every single nonprofit organization I worked at seemed to have the same issues in regard to operations or administrative issues. So I figured there was a need there. I also wanted the freedom to be able to do the type of work that I love outside of the constraints that sometimes come with working for someone. My consultancy provides me with the freedom to learn new things and apply them to my business practices. Since I’ve been in business, I’ve learned so many useful business skills that I likely would not have learned anywhere else.
Interviewer: What is that one mistake that beginner entrepreneurs make that they should avoid?
Dr.Daniels: I love this question! One thing I am learning (because I consider myself to be a baby entrepreneur) is to not rush the process or feel like you have to keep up with what others are doing. Social media creates these issues. Behind the faux perfect post, we have no idea what others are doing to get where they are. So, ignore what you see and focus on your own journey as an entrepreneur.
Interviewer: Did you ever face any obstacles or challenges during your professional journey? If yes, then how did you overcome them?
Dr.Daniels: I feel like these journeys will always come with obstacles. The most recent challenge was having a potential client tell me that they felt like I was disrespectful after they were disrespectful to me. I wanted to be in my feelings about it so badly because it crossed my boundaries and it felt very personal, but I applauded myself for not letting it weigh me down. Sometimes, I think people forget that humans (with feelings) run businesses.
Interviewer: Working as a business consultant, what has been your best project so far?
Dr.Daniels: My best project so far has been helping a nonprofit organization write a large six-figure grant. I was actually afraid to take on the project because it seemed almost impossible. Once we got it done, I was excited and proud that I could accomplish a large feat.
Interviewer: If you could describe your experience working as a business consultant in one phrase, what would it be? Dr. Daniels: Do you, boo! Interviewer: Throughout your professional journey, what has been the best piece of advice you’ve ever received from someone else?
Dr. Daniels: The one that resonates with me the most is “Don’t do things you hate doing.” I carry that philosophy into every part of my life. If something doesn’t feel right for me or if I simply don’t like it, why keep doing it?!?
Interviewer: What advice would you provide to someone looking to pursue a career as a business consultancy?
Dr. Daniels: Confidence is key! When people hire consultants, they hire based on someone’s knowledge. It’s important to present yourself as confident and knowledgeable in your niche or area of expertise. Only you know what you know!
Interviewer: If you could go back in time, would you still pursue a career as a business consultancy?
Dr. Daniels: YES, FOR SURE and I would have done it a lot sooner! My hesitation was that I was afraid of how people would perceive me. In business, sometimes, there seems to be this narrative that a business owner or entrepreneur has to look and be a certain way. I’m such a free spirit and don’t always fit into certain business archetypes. Although I’m still finding my rhythm, I recognize that I am relatable to certain people and not relatable for others, and that’s okay because I am not for everyone.