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Jo-Ná Williams founded J.A. Williams Law P.C. in 2011 to provide artists, entertainers and this generation’s thought leaders with ways to successfully navigate their careers and provide assistance with business, Internet, entertainment and intellectual property matters. Her clients have written best-selling books, created award-winning blogs, been nominated for Grammys, listed in the Billboard Top 100 and received International acclaim. Enjoy her exclusive Business Heroine interview…
BH: Jo-Ná, how did you end up doing what you do? Tell us your story!
Jo-Ná: When I was in my late teens my goal was to become a background singer. I wanted to be the background vocalist for Usher! That was the goal. I’d been singing and arranging vocals since I was 5. So early late in high school I decided to take it seriously and pursue it professionally. I worked with an engineer and his artists in his studio and wrote songs and sang vocals on other people’s tracks and was told that I would be credited and compensated for my work and that never happened. I realized that I’d been exploited when I heard songs with my voice on the radio but no one knew it was me.
I realized later in my life this was my pivotal step into the journey of empowering others to know their rights and also how the law could help them do even more great things in their life because knowing your rights, gives you freedom. I believe that knowledge is power and being in your power can allow you to live the life you were meant to live.
BH: What is your ‘Wake Up Call for the World?’ In other words, what is most of the world asleep about that you would love to wake up?
Jo-Ná: I think that many people start a business purely from inspiration. While I believe that should definitely be a part of it there are two things that you’re going to have to deal with if you run a business, law and tax. You can’t run a business successfully without dealing with these and for many entrepreneurs it feels scary and confusing. I want to empower entrepreneurs so they understand that they CAN change the world but they need to be fully committed to operating a business in all aspects and if you take care of the legal aspects you can sleep at night knowing your business is secure.
I think it’s incredibly important to understand that you don’t have to know everything but you need trusted advisors around you to assist you in the areas you need in order to run a business successfully. I think there is a misconception that you need to do everything yourself, especially when it comes to women. We are the doers of the world. We take the reigns and figure it out. What this also breeds is frustration and burn-out and then you can lose your passion for even the most amazing creations.
So it’s important to learn how to be a CEO that builds a trusted team and delegates to them. Part of that team is a lawyer you can trust that will be there to help you and see the legal road ahead of you and can assist you in building your business in the best way.
BH: What are the biggest challenges or aspirations your clients come to you with, and what does your work make possible for them?
Jo-Ná: I think that I have 3 varied challenges that come to me in my business.
1) People not knowing where to start. Often times people feel really confused about what to do and what specifically they should be thinking about in regards to their business. It feels scary because it’s the unknown. All this crazy legalese. So I help demystify what they need to start their business.
2) Many entrepreneurs that are on their way to the top emerging as the thought-leaders are starting to hire their first full-time employees, expanding their product line, dealing with returns or their content being stolen. I help them with that new set of challenges.
3) Already established thought-leaders I help them protect the empire they’ve built. Perhaps they are ready to register trademarks for their signature products or they are experiencing copycat branding. I help them protect their empire and continue to build on their awesomeness.
BH: We’re curious about your breakthrough moment in business. Looking back, what created the breakthrough?
Jo-Ná: I think that my first year of business I was completely obsessed. It was all I could think about, all I could do. I worked 7 days a week and 12-18 hour days. My health failed, my relationship ended, I was broke. It was definitely a huge turning point in my life. I knew something had to change. So I decided to institute self-care into my life and take care of what should be my biggest priority, me. As a result, my business started booming and I made more and had more fun than I ever did in my life. I am so grateful for that realization or I would not be where I am today.
BH: What words of wisdom do you have for all the emerging Business Heroines out there who are on the cusp of creating their own purpose-based business?
Jo-Ná: Remember you have everything that you need to be able to succeed in life. That dream was placed in you because it was meant to come out of you. It’s just a matter of setting your intentions, truly connecting to your desire and putting forth the effort. It may not be easy but it’s always worth it and it’s ok to feel the fear. Feel it and do it anyway. That’s the mark of a life lived!
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