Photo Courtesy of Shonda Carter
“Why aren’t you a millionaire yet?” a question Shonda Carter hears often from her four encouraging children.
Shonda Carter is the CEO of ShoStopper Productions, a wife, a mother and an entrepreneur. Her journey began when she decided to quit her well-paying comfortable job in child support for a minimum-wage part-time gig as an assistant producer for KSWO-TV News Station.
“We’ll hold your job for three months till you get over this phase, Shonda,” her boss offered.
Of course Shonda declined that offer and followed her calling to a new lifestyle.
“I’ve gotta be like Abraham and not look back,” Shonda said, referencing the story of Abraham and his nephew, Lot, in the Bible.
For 15 years she directed, created and acted in productions for her drama ministry with The Christian Center in Lawton, Okl. It was something she truly enjoyed and wanted to pursue as a professional career. Her experience with her church and as a producer for the local news station got her thinking about starting her own business.
She took drama classes to learn the behind the scenes action and after a year with the tv-station, gained experience in video editing and story writing. She discovered she was an amazing storyteller.
At the age of 42, Shonda bravely decided to be an entrepreneur and start up ShoStopper Productions in 2014.
In the year 2014, 11 percent of women ages 35 to 44 boldly embraced the entrepreneurial lifestyle, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) USA 2014 report.
“Right now, I’m a one-woman show. I am the camera, the director, the producer, I write the scripts for my clients and I tell them what to do. Then I go home and edit all the video and send it to them,” Shonda said.
Shonda teachers her entrepreneurial clients the key points to visual productions. She teaches them how to use props in videos and speeches and how to create great strategies for videos. She then gives her clients nearly six-months’ worth of videos for social media and teaches her clients how to market the videos on social media.
“Basically, I grab the audience’s attention. I’m like an expert at that,” Shonda said.
Video Source: ShondaCarter.com
A lot of Shonda’s clients include life coaches, such as Pamela Brunner, church ministries and non-profit organizations. Her business purpose is not strictly for Christians or Christian organizations, but she does use her Christian morals, principles and wisdom to operate her business to ensure success for her clients.
“Jesus was the greatest marketer there was. We’re still talking about him 2000 some years later. If you are going to be in business and not think you can learn stuff from Jesus, you’re crazy! He’s still got the best-selling book,” said Shonda.
She shares her business strategy in an upcoming book, Show Stopper, which will be available for purchase from Amazon on January 20, 2017. Publishing a book has helped her gained a lot more recognition, since success didn’t quite happen as quickly as she imagined.
“Being an entrepreneur is really hard and nobody tells you that. I thought it was going to be a fairytale. I’m gonna quit my job, be obedient to my calling and a red carpet will roll out. People are gonna be knocking down my door,” Shonda said wishfully.
A lot of people have this misconception. We tend to think business owners have “the life,” which is easy and laid back. It’s actually the opposite with a lot of early mornings, late nights, trials and errors and mind-battles to overcome.
“I can recognize good for other people. I don’t recognize good for myself. It’s called the imposter syndrome, which is like, ‘I’m good, but am I really that good?’ I have to fight those thoughts constantly. It’s exhausting. It really is exhausting,” Shonda explains.
This thinking not only affects her emotions but also her compensation. She has repeatedly undercharged clients because she didn’t think she was good enough to ask for a more adequate price. It doesn’t help that people are always asking for discounts. When people ask for discounts, she takes it personal by thinking her services are not valuable.
As a woman in a male dominated film industry, Shonda deals with insecurities and notices that because she is female, she feels as though she has to prove her worthiness twenty times more to get paid as the men in her field (even though her work is way better). Currently she is struggling to ask for her worth.
“It is pretty debilitating,” she said looking down.
62% of men believe they are capable to start a business and 50% of women believe they are capable. This suggests that men have more confidence in their ability to start a business or have had more relevant training or experience (GEM 2015).
Often times women cut themselves short, by downplaying their roles and worth. Shonda notices how the men in her industry are so sure of themselves and have no problem asking for a pricey compensation. She is realizing this issue as a setback and is “correcting that.”
“I just started [having clients pay for travel expenses]. I did it with one client and she paid. She said, ‘Oh yeah. You’re well worth it.’ Got a good ego boost and then the next two clients were like, ‘Oh never mind.’ So it was like the back in forth. I gotta keep being consistent. I know it is designed to make me go back to ‘Oh I just want your business so bad.’ I will end up being paid 50 bucks by the time all the expenses are done.”
One thing she is realizing with the help from her business coach is that her cheap price is attracting cheap people. Higher quality clients are not looking at her because she’s trying to cater to the lower end clients.
Her business coach put it this way, “People do not go looking for a Mercedez at a Volkswagon lot.”
Shonda is really conquering this devil by still branching out and speaking to many people in different cities, including Dallas. She is not letting those evil lies stop her from moving forward and that is a sign of confidence.
When she began this journey of entrepreneurship her biggest fear was failure. She hired a coach for $5,000 and worried about making her money back on her investment. Entrepreneurs needed a median level of $17,500 to start their business in 2015 (GEM).
“It costs a lot of money to invest in yourself. Taking that type of investment in myself was very fearful. Moms don’t do that too often,” said Shonda.
But being a mom motivates her to keep her eyes on the prize and not give-in to her fears by quitting on her journey of being a successful entrepreneur.
“The fear of not only starting, but the fear of making all those sacrifices and turning back. Like what am I saying to my children? You know I’ve been doing this and then I give up on it,” Shonda said with watery eyes.
Despite all of the responsibilities and obstacles an entrepreneur willingly endures, Shonda is not one that is stressed. She exercises a lot by kickboxing and running to keep her mind and body healthy, but her main tool to keep the stress levels low is laughter.
“I laugh at myself a lot,” she said laughing. “Because I do a lot of Bible skits, I can kind of recognize when terrible behaviors are about to start popping up and I’ll make fun of myself.”
Shonda also recognizes her husband as a stress reliever. Thanks to him, Shonda is not stressing about bills getting paid or providing a roof over her head or food on the family table, when she has an unproductive week.
There are times when she feels guilty for not providing more financial support to the family, as many career-oriented women feel during professional delays (such as myself).
“I have to remember that this is temporary and this is building towards having a lot of money. If you don’t remember that, you’re not gonna make it. You’ll start the woes and why am I doing this,” Shonda encourages. “People have slept on the sidewalk because they believed in themselves and their business. So get over yourself. Realize it’s a dip in the road. Not an explosion. We’re gonna be fine.”
Her optimism is so contagious! Her determination ensures us that she will definitely reach her huge goal as an entrepreneur.
“I love love doing parodies. My dream job would be a Christian skit show. Like the Bible marries Saturday Night Live. That’s what I LOOOOVE doing,” she said with widened eyes.
In the meantime, she will continue perfecting her skills and talents and get paid for doing what she loves, which she says is the best part of being an entrepreneur.
“You’re not going through this for no reason. It’s building towards a journey. As long as you remember that God never wastes anything,” said Shonda.
Global Entrepreneurship Monitor