This interview is a very special one to us here at Detroit CEO Magazine for a few reasons. While we get many solicitations on people that would like to be featured, there was something magnetic about Natasha Lee-Maxwell and her powerful story. She is someone who you either need to know, or need as a go-to resource that provides valuable services to our community, as a whole. She is driven, family-oriented an a powerful pillar of motivation.
What inspired the name of your business?
Make Your Dreams Come True just stuck with me. The face that I was able to make my dreams into a reality. So I thought it was fitting to name my business in honor of what I hope to do for my clients.
You started your business venture at a very young age. How have you evolved as a professional?
I’ve always been really mature for my age and had the pleasure of working around many professional people since I was 15. However, at 23 I was just learning who I really was and I was very expressive, outspoken and had a matter-of-fact attitude, if you will. So I’ve learned how to use my inner voice, how to listen and how to deliver my services and messages more effectively. Also, I dress like the person who I say I am. I now can define who I am, be who I am and dress the for my role!
How did you finance your business, and what was the process like?
I financed my business with the very sweat of my labor. To date, I haven’t received any loans from any institution. My loans came from my husband (lol) and my mother, family and friends. Starting out, when I was in a bind, I would go to them for support.
I see that you also provide job placement assistance to the visually impaired, which is a niche specialty. How has your success rate been?
It’s been very successful. In fact, to date, we have a 90% success rate. I spoke at an event last April at the Double Tree Hotel to empower the visually impaired to start businesses and work independently as independent contractors. There’s so many opportunities that are available for the visual impaired. We’re their eyes to gain work from them. It’s been amazing and a true blessing to assist in this area.
How did you decide on the physical location for your business (located in St. Clair Shores)?
It’s a really comfortable place on a main road where anyone can find me.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire most and why?
Oprah and her network, OWN. Oprah went from the Oprah Winfrey Show, which was a huge success, but it was managed and created by someone else. She took the experience that she gained and the response that she received from her audience and turned it to a network. She’s just an inspirational woman. I hated watching Oprah as a kid, but my mother loved that show. When I got a little older, I formed an opinion that Oprah didn’t like the skin she was in, based on her topics, her audience and her guests. As I got older and became a professional, I actually paid attention to her business, her model, her image and her message. I began to love and admire her as a woman and business owner. I realized that she empowered all people and not just a race and culture. The OWN Network was built by Oprah and it reflects her intelligence and her ability to lead, create and continue to reach the hearts of her clients and viewers. Just profound!
What personal challenges have you faced as a young entrepreneur?
The fact that people assumed that I couldn’t possibly have knowledge because of my age. Then when I merely speak, it’s realized that age is simply a number. I’m not attempting to sound cocky or haughty (because I’m a very humble), but people tend to judge a book by it’s cover. So my challenge has to been for people to read my book and not judge me by my cover.
You are a success story because, not only did you begin your business venture at a young age, but you were also a young parent. What kind of challenges did you face, in that regard?
I was a teenage mother. In fact, I had both of my sons while in high school, but that only made me try and work harder. Each one of my children help me gain a characteristic or helps me define who I am. I became pregnant with my son Rashard had the age of 15. I thought I would never escape the embarrassment of being pregnant so young or the trails that would come with being a young mother. He’s a great representation of strength that’s within me. It was said that, based on a stereotype, that young African American women who conceive a child as a teen would drop out of school, get on public assistance and have a minimum wage job. My son gave me the strength to fight not to be a statistic. I wanted him to look at his mother and be proud. I never missed a beat in school. I remained on the Honor Roll, worked two jobs to assist my husband to take care of our son. We didn’t rely on my parents. However, obviously I didn’t take the first lesson of not getting pregnant serious enough because we had yet another son, who was born a month before prom. “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” is how I feel about my second oldest. He represents overcoming mistakes, and finding beyond normal strength to deal with an adverse situation…to fight harder than I ever had to fight before to fulfill the dreams that I had. At 17, I had two sons, yet I graduated at the top of class, received almost $100,000 in scholarship money and attend Lawrence Technological University to study Computer Engineering. Yet still, I had the strength from my boys to carry on, to beat all odds, to run the race with endurance. Still, I lacked the ability to find myself beautiful. Jehovah knowing all things, gave me a reason to feel so beautiful, with the birth of our daughter Tia. When I held her in my arms the first time, I thought to myself from that moment forward that I gained the confidence and the inner beauty that was missing, or SWAG as my sons would say. I’m happy that my husband and I created the beautiful children that we have. I stumped out the statistics and I’m loving the people who helped me to do so Jehovah, My Family, My husband and my children.
What are the most crucial things you have done to grow your business?
I speak about my business all the time where every someone speaks about a job or needed assistance. I speak at engagements, free of charge even. I attend networking events and I create profiles, or purchase memberships in associations that will help my business strive. You must market.. market.. market, and not just utilize word of mouth. Networking has contributed to the most crucial advertisement for my business. Collaborating with the right people can make the world of difference.
What have been your most effective marketing techniques?
Seminars and joining platforms that allows me to sell my services.
Have you ever received any bad business advice?
Yes, to write your business plan first. It’s totally not necessary. Write a business strategy, start working on those goals and find the resources to accomplish those goals. It could be valuable to some people, but it wasn’t for me because I still haven’t used my business plan to date. I just like to get straight to the nitty-gritty regarding the things I’m trying to accomplish. I’m a go-getter type of girl and didn’t see the need to utilize a business plan. I used bullet points and worked my way down the list to start my business.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Leadership, Determination and A Matter-of-Fact Attitude.
How do you define success?
Creating a goal and accomplishing it by all means and against all odds. Never let anyone tell you who your are and where you are going, but define for yourself who you are and who you will become.
Who motivates you?
Hands down, Jehovah God motivates me. Without Him I am nothing and would have nothing. He teaches me how to love, how to be a better person in every sense as a wife, mother and business owner. Jehovah has given me with a structure that will lead me straight to success. Read the bible daily. It’s the best thing before sliced bread.
Make Your Dreams Come True (MYDCT) Corporation is located at 27113 Harper Avenue, St. Clair Shores 48225. You can find this company on the web at http://www.mydct.net. You can reach Natasha Lee-Maxwell via phone at 866-996-1115, or via email at NLee@mydct.net