Danielle Sabrina is the founder of What Vibes Your Tribe, a media company that connects the worlds of business development, marketing, and venture capital. She is also known as the “cryptoqueen” for her expertise in the fintech, blockchain, and cryptocurrency markets, and was recently named in CIO's Top 20 Female Entrepreneur to Watch in 2018. Here, Danielle shares her story as well as entrepreneurial experience and guidance for reaching success with new business ventures.
At 19 years old you had passed the Series 7 (General Securities Representative Exam) and landed a job on Wall Street, which is something that even people with years of education and experience struggle and often fail to do. What set you apart?
I’ve always stayed focus on achieving what I set my mind to do, which hasn’t always been easy when you have a lot hurdles and setbacks to overcome. Learning to overcome adversities early on taught me that many of the beliefs others had about how to go about achieving something were just their own beliefs based on what they knew to be possible and how to get there.
Working a competitive job in finance must have been a massive adjustment from your previous life. Were there any particular strategies that helped you make that transition so successfully?
Instead of focusing on what I felt I lacked, which at the time was education and experience, I put all my focus on looking for the one or two things that were important to the company and that my colleagues weren’t performing well, and did those things better than anyone else.
What was it like working on Wall Street at such a young age?
Everyone assumed I was a lot older than I was, so for the most part I was treated like everyone else. It was challenging morphing into a responsible corporate executive from a high school dropout though. I felt like I was always ten steps behind.
You left Wall Street and started over as an entrepreneur, now named in CIO's Top 20 Female Entrepreneur to Watch in 2018. What personal qualities help you consistently to achieve such success?
The same ones that got me where I am today. As far back as I can remember I’ve always felt one hundred percent accountable for the choices I make, so I’ve never wasted time looking outside myself for things or people to blame when I haven’t gotten the results I wanted. I don’t have a choice – I’m responsible for myself and my daughters. Even though they’re now adults, I still want to be able to help them create great lives for themselves.
Your startup, What Vibes Your Tribe, connects digital marketing with public relations. How did you choose this idea and develop it into a successful company?
This actually happened organically. I first launched my personal brand where I started sharing my own thought leadership with other entrepreneurs and C-level executives. At the time I really wasn’t selling anything; I was just sharing my passion for growing businesses. It was also something that has always come very naturally to me: At any chance I get to talk about it I won’t shut up. By helping other entrepreneurs and executives develop their own thought leadership, they started to get media attention from big outlets like Forbes, ABC, Bloomberg, etc. So that was the start of getting into public relations. With any business I work with or even my own, I’m always hyper focused on the moment a prospect or lead turns into a client, aka. the conversion. That’s where the digital marketing component comes in: what’s the point of having a dope creative activation that generates press or buzz and not have the proper funnels set up digitally that can follow up and nurture those potential clients until they become actual clients? Bringing the worlds of business development, digital marketing, and public relations together in a unique creative way is how businesses have to approach reaching their target market today. This is particularly true when it comes to reaching and connecting with millennials. At the end of the day it’s all about the experience you can give someone, and then having the proper infrastructure in place to continue to nurture them without disrupting their experience with your brand.
Starting out as an entrepreneur, what were some of the biggest time management challenges you faced? What personal time management tools and/or strategies do you use to keep up with the busy life of an entrepreneur?
For sure perfectionism is a killer of all efficiency and deadlines. A few years ago, I started tracking my time in a simple spreadsheet and it was very enlightening. I found I was taking so much time completing certain things that could have been done in a fraction of the time. On the other hand it also showed me that some tasks I thought only took a few moments were actually much more time consuming and I was under-billing my clients as a result. Being accountable for your time is one of the most important responsibilities as an entrepreneur. Getting a handle on it right away will also allow you to scale as you hire more people because you’ll end up with a very good understanding of how much time your workflow takes to complete so you can set expectations accordingly.
In addition to running a business, you write for publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Inc. That must make for a lot of things competing for your time. How do you decide what opportunities to pursue versus what to say “No” to?
It really all depends on my schedule. I make decisions either based on what I feel the opportunity cost is going to be, or if it’s something I’m passionate about. For example, I spoke at SXSW this year on blockchain and crypto currency, which I almost didn’t do because my schedule really didn’t permit it. However I’m super passionate about that space and it’s hard to say no to any chance I get to help others have a better understanding.
What was the most satisfying moment for you as an entrepreneur?
It was either making my first $100K, or getting my first seven figure contract. Both of those moments made me realize I wasn’t setting my goals high enough.
Thinking back on your experience, what is the biggest piece of advice you would give an aspiring entrepreneur?
Learn how to generate revenue, even if it’s doing something other than what you’re trying to launch. To me being an entrepreneur is the ability to generate revenue without any clear path. I don’t care if you’re cleaning houses or mowing lawns while you’re trying to get your business off the ground. As an entrepreneur you do what you need to do to bring in the money you need to operate. The biggest mistake I see especially new entrepreneurs make is to get loans or use their savings to get a new business off the ground, and then the second that business doesn’t work or the market changes, they haven’t learned the skill of being able to quickly adapt to keep afloat. Now, there is a time to raise capital and invest your funds into your business, but make sure you have a very clear and proven path to generate revenue. Investors are more likely to invest in a business where the founder is already generating some type of revenue related to the industry.