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Celia is an entrepreneur, motivational speaker, D&I champion, blogger, composer, musician, photographer, and filmmaker. She currently resides in southern California with her family. She is an Asian Indian who identifies as Gender Fluid and expresses as a Non-op trans woman of color. She goes by She/her pronouns.
Growing up as a lonely closeted trans kid in a conservative middle-class Christian home in southern India who lived with stigma, discrimination, and gender dysphoria, Celia writes and speaks passionately about her struggles and challenges she faced in her family, work, school, and community both in US and India.
Professional Background: She is a management consultant with over 20 years of demonstrated success in operating, growing, and spearheading strategic media, healthcare, and life sciences engagements for the fortune 500 companies across the globe. She has been consistently recognized for customer satisfaction aligning with global cross-functional teams with enterprise vision, strategies and plans, and maximizing ROI for multimillion-dollar healthcare and life science programs. She has a master’s degree in computer science.
As a diversity and inclusion champion she educates, empowers and advocates for transgender and gender non-binary individuals in the corporate world.
Community Advocate: Celia brings an amazing intersectional blend of ethnicity, creativity, culture, religion, and corporate experience in her activism. Currently, she does pro bono work for a couple of startups and volunteer for a few non-profit organizations, churches, institutions and community resource groups in United States and India, that support marginalized families and individuals by providing a safe space to address various issues relating to bullying, gender discrimination, medical, behavioral, mental and suicidal thoughts.
Celia brings a wonderful blend of ethnicity, culture, religion, and corporate experience in her “trans-evangelism”, as she calls it. She is currently focused on educating and building allies with local communities, businesses, churches, police dept, therapists, doctors, and organizations that fight for civil rights, transgender violence, youth empowerment, education, and employment.
• Received the 2019 Human Rights Campaign’s equality award for “Outstanding commitment and service to our community” .
• Served as the INTERNATIONAL AMBASSADOR for Sahodari foundation in 2018–2019, an India based transgender organization that empowers the transgender and gender non-binary community through education and training in creative arts.
• Contributed to the policy changes along with TransLatino Coalition in LA to make recommendations to the State for the trans/gnb community in California.
• Received the “2017 Visionary Award” from Satrang, a southern California south Asian LGBTQ+ community to honor the vision, bravery, and speaking strongly against injustice in this political climate against the Transgender community.
• Serve in the community advisory board for Fordham’s HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute (RETI), funded through the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
• She currents leads the Indivisible:Conejo LGBTQ+ ( Civil Right organization ) and active volunteer with TransCanWork, Diversity Collective, Toastmasters, PFLAG and FFLUID support groups in Southern California.
May 27, 2020 (updated May 27, 2020) Published by Dennis Velco
OutBüro – Let’s chat, share, learn, grow, and be inspired together. In each episode, we’ll have casual and informative conversations with interesting LGBTQ professionals. We’ll chat with LGBTQ entrepreneurs about their inspiration, strategy, startup journey, successes balanced with insights from lessons learned. We’ll also talk with leaders in Diversity and Inclusion and community allies across many sectors. Please subscribe to the podcast and join the online community at www.OutBuro.com.
April 28, 2020 (updated April 28, 2020) Published by Craig Derene
We are facing unprecedented times, and the world may not look the same when we come out on the other side. But we will come out on the other side.
True entrepreneurs understand that opportunities are embedded crisis. You may have already been dreaming of business ownership or found yourself in an unanticipated career transition, but now could be the perfect time to make the decision to regain control of your financial future. We’ve already seen a shift in “essential” industries. We are all re-learning the value in sanitation and respect for senior citizens.
Entrepreneurship in the time of COVID-19 doesn’t just mean selling face masks (though we truly appreciate those). If opening a business to help rebuild the country’s spirit and enhance our found-again values aligns with your entrepreneurial dreams, then the right franchise could be your ticket to career freedom.
This crisis will end
Whether it ends in a few weeks or a few months, there will be life after lockdown. You’re taking precautions to make it through the pandemic, so why not take precautions to set yourself up for success after it? The journey to business ownership isn’t a fast one. In fact, the process of researching franchises to being awarded one can take between 8-16 weeks. The decision to embark on this path isn’t a purchase decision, but rather an education and timing decision.
At the end of this road, there will be business casualties. But rather than letting fear of that dead-end keep you from opening your own business, take advantage of it. Lean into the presented opportunities of prime retail space, a motivated workforce, and hungry consumers ready to resume life outside their own 4 walls.
You have support
You’ve received an email from a business or two (or ten) reminding you to support your local businesses. You could own one of those local businesses.
We acknowledge that sounds overly simple and is not intended to discount the hardships encountered over the past month. You’ve seen businesses forced to close. You’ve witnessed friends experience layoffs. You yourself may be a casualty of the economic times. We don’t say this to make light of your personal situation, whatever it may be. We say this to motivate. Humans are resilient and determined and come together most during hardship. As of right now, there are millions of Americans rallying to support each other. To support you.
In addition to the communities rallying to support local businesses, state and federal governments are falling over themselves to pass laws to increase the cash flow for businesses. They have already passed the unprecedented $2 trillion CARES relief act, with more money to follow. Also, the “Impact For Small Business Act“ has secured an additional $50 Billion in SBA funding for the remainder of 2020 alone*. SBA rates are currently extremely low, with additional incentives as well, making it an ideal time to explore funding.
Have Questions? Let’s Chat
Uncover Your Next Step with Franchise Connect Pro
It’s our passion to link professionals to a franchise perfect for them. As a Certified Franchise Consultant, I am passionate about helping everyone, including LGBTQ entrepreneur, find their best business opportunity match.
January 22, 2020 (updated January 23, 2020) Published by Dennis Velco
As an LGBTQ entrepreneur with startup business should a competitor analysis to help you launch, remain focused, grow, adapt and own your market.
There are an estimated 1.4 million LGBTQ businesses total in the United States, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. As LGBTQ business owners we can face challenges others do not, Some of these include disclosing their sexuality to their angel and venture capital investors, traditional loan officers, staff, co-workers and customers, landlords perhaps, and being a victim of harassment and discrimination based on who they are. This could be an outright blatant, conscious yet not visible and simple unconscious bias of others.
Why bother? I know what I’m doing.
There are many things a LGBTQ entrepreneur with startup business should have to help them launch, remain focused and grow including a business plan, a clear understanding of your target audience, a clear mission & vision, general marketing, great content marketing in all forms and clear understanding of the direct and indirect competition to become the front runner in the competitive landscape you are trying to grow your business in.
Completing a competitive analysis will help you to better understand your industry market trends, identify your competitors, evaluate opportunities, analyze threats to your business or organization, adjust your go-to-market and positioning strategy accordingly. Looking at our competitors analytically uncovers what works and doesn’t work. It helps you find that golden nugget of how to differentiate yourself in the market. Unknowingly they are essentially being a mentor to you and your startup.
So, let’s get growing your LGBTQ owned business so you can create job opportunities for others and grow your personal financial freedom and hopefully give support to the great LGBTQ non-profits supporting our community.
How Gay is This?
Now is creating such documents uniquely GAY? Of course not. Your sexual orientation does not play a role in the mechanics of creating a business plan or doing competitive analysis. However, the individual(s) who are LGBTQ entrepreneurs can face challenges their heteronomative competitors may not. There is little entrepreneur content out there that is LGBTQ centric – so we are helping to create it and OutBüro is a publishing platform for you to add to the collective knowledge and resources via posting your own articles. It can be leveraged as marketing your knowledge, skills, products, and services targeting predominantly LGBTQ professionals and other entrepreneurs.
Perceived Competitor Maybe Synergy
I’d also like to add that we’d love to think that everyone in the LGBTQ community is open, welcoming and supportive of all other LGBTQ. That sadly is not the case. In business, it is the same. You may have other LGBTQ businesses and even non-profits view your business as a competitor. Maybe you are. Maybe there’s some overlap of products and services yet the majority is different. Unfortunately, even if another LGBTQ owned business or non-profit perceives you are in some way and scope encroaching on what they believe to be their domain – you are their competitor. So you might as well do a competitive analysis on them to better understand their mindset. Maybe you are a competitor. Or maybe it’s an opportunity to partner. After having done your homework, if they accept a call/meeting with you, you would be able to clearly articulate the synergies and joint opportunities and dispell their assumptions and maybe a partnership would improve both companies/organizations.
Your competitors can come in many forms depending on the type of business you have. Maybe you are a dentist opening an office in an underserved community. It’s a potential that a medical non-profit serving that area could view you as a competitor since their funding may be based on numbers served.
Your competitors have likely been operating for a while. They have clients/customers and therefore making money. Those clients/customers to some degree like them, find value in them and respect them. No matter if you are opening a new local ice cream shop, bar, legal office, dentist office, or launching a potential industry disruptive technology, in all cases, you must understand your real and perceived competitors to ensure:
What they’re doing better than you right now so that you can strive to do it better?
What are their marketing strategies and tactics that seem to be working>?
What mistakes in your humble opinion or that’s been publically reported that you can strive to avoid and possibly capitalize on?
Don’t be modest here. What do you believe you are doing better? How are you different? Leverage these in your marketing.
Competitor as a Mentor
Well, most competitors won’t sit down over coffee and share their entrepreneur journey or provide business advice to help you not make the mistakes they have made. But they have achieved, to a level of success, what you strive for serving a similar target audience. Think like that, they’d make the great mentor. You still can learn a lot from what you can observe through completing a competitive analysis.
Even just one insight into how your competitor operates can give you great ideas. But after a full competitive analysis, all the gathered can drive your competitive strategy.
Who are your competitors?
There are two kinds of competitors to consider:
Companies/organizations who have similar products or services – i.e. McDonald’s and Wendy’s
Companies/organizations that have different products or services but who compete for the same dollar – i.e. McDonald’s and Papa John’s Pizza
Consider the example of Hulu. They don’t just compete with other streaming services, they compete with movie theaters, cable TV, YouTube. They are competing for your couch time. So the gym, social events, social media, and gaming could all be considered competition. Focus on your direct competitors first and then expand to consider indirect competitors too.
Questions while completing a competitor analysis
Starting off with the big questions like:
Who are the major players serving this market?
Use internet searches and other resources to locate them for the geographic area you intend to cover
How is the market split up between them?
If there aren’t reports, you might find their revenue reported on their website, or in articles and lastly, you might find the company tax reports.
Next go a little deeper, with more specific questions like:
How does the market think about these competitors?
Check out online reviews. Search for articles online.
What is their target demographic? Do they market to a target age group or income level? If B2B what size and kind of company is their ideal client/customer?
What sort of experience are they offering?
If a physical location, check out their office/store. Interact with employees. How is their customer service?
If they offer professional services such as consulting, check out their employee profiles on sites like LinkedIn. To be a real sleuth, create a temporary account so the competitor employees don’t see that it’s you checking them out.
How does their product or service look and feel? How does it work?
If local, check them out. If online and you’d like to sign up for their email marketing newsletters and maybe have a sales discussion including a product demo then again being a sleuth, use a pseudo name (i.e. John Smith), create a new Gmail email account, get a Google Voice phone number to use.
How are they delivering?
What do they charge? How do customers order? What reviews do they get?
Search, search and then search more.
Along the way keep asking if your business can differentiate itself in some way.
Identify competitor strengths and weaknesses
You’ll begin to see which ones will challenge you most as you learn more about your competitors. They might be in your region, or they might target the exact same market segment as you. List the strengths and weaknesses of these competitors.
Strengths might include things like:
huge brand awareness – they’ve been around forever and people trust them
great distribution – they’re in all kinds of shops, all over the place
really good networks – they’ve built lots of great relationships with buyers
low price point – It may be impossible for you to compete on the price. However, in many markets leading on price can be perceived as low quality.
Weaknesses might include things like:
Reputation – clients/customers don’t get a thrill buying from or interacting with them
Cheap packaging – their product packaging is not aligned with the target audience’s expectations
Lack of depth – the competitor has remained limited in service or scope that you may offer
Bad reviews/perception – clients/customers aren’t have left bad reviews online or you hear industry talk of clients/customers desiring an alternative
Poor client/customer service – consumers don’t feel valued which may tie into bad reviews
Lack of innovation – their product or service offering has not improved or evolved over time
Poor messaging – their online and offline marketing content is dated, stale and lacks excitement.
By understanding your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, you can figure out what differentiates you – and where you fit in the
When doing a competitor analysis, it’s important to consider your advantages. There may be things about your business that others can’t replicate, like:
Patents or licenses: Are you the only business that can produce a certain product?
Exclusive supply arrangements: You might be the only business in your area that can sell certain products.
Special processes: You might have a way of working that others don’t know about.
Innovation: Maybe your product or service is an industry disruptor.
Costs: Maybe you offer a wider service or better products at a similar cost. Again, don’t just try to be the lowest-priced offering.
Social reach: Maybe you are good at social media and content creation to attract the attention of clients/customers/members.
Customer Happiness: Maybe you provide such a great service/product and in all touchpoints, you and your team excel at customer service creating happy customers/clients.
It’s important to know where you have advantages like these. Leverage them in your online and offline marketing.
Do it again and again
Be sure to schedule at least every 6 months to update your competitor analysis and ask:
Have new competitors popped up?
How difficult would it be for a current competitor or a new company/organization to replicate you product/service and strategy? If easy, what can you do to make it more difficult?
Have current competitors made changes to their business/organization?
Have they improved on their weaknesses?
Have they added new products or services?
Have they updated their marketing?
Have these changes affected your own competitive advantage positively or negatively? If so, adjust to the evolving market in whatever manner is most effective to regain your competitive advantage.
Start your competitor analysis today
You don’t have to have an exhaustive competitor analysis to get started. It can take weeks to complete your first version working it into your business daily and weekly schedule. But, put it on your calendar so you are to be sure to get it done with as many competitors as possible at first, even if that is only 2-5. Fill in what you can find easily and then add to it as you go to learn more. It won’t complete itself and is a vital tool to understand your competitors and ensure your product/service and marketing is on target.