Today, we have Jennifer De Leon with us. She is the CEO & Founder, Staryard Logistics Services. She started her business with no capital. She trusted her vision and started off with 5 clients in the logistics and customs brokerage industry. Her company has grown now to 75 clients and is serving successfully in Manila, Philippines.
Hope her story of running an ethical business will inspire you and will help you learn some insights from her experiences.
Jerin: Happy to have you with us, Jennifer.
Jennifer: My pleasure Jerin
Q1: So let me start off by asking you to do a quick introduction about yourself. Tell us, more about you?
Well I am the mother of 4 grown kids and a grandchild. I’m 45, started my business 6 years ago with a handful of clients, 5 to be exact.
Q2: That’s nice, tell us more about your business? What exactly is your service?
Staryard is a logistics and customs clearance company handling imports and exports of different products.We have partner warehouses all over China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
I started with no capital. Having spent most of my career in the industry, clients would tell me why not set up your own? So with their trust and a lot of guts. Staryard was born. It was actually born out of a crisis. It is the classic case of turning crisis into an opportunity then to a blessing.
Q3: Oh! that’s truly inspiring. Starting off with no capital and sustaining and growing for more than 6 years. By the way, Jennifer, what kind of crisis you are talking about?
Jennifer: Well, I was working with my sister, who was the original “broker”. We had an argument and we decided to part ways. I was there, wondering how I was going to survive and feed 4 kids.
I was working 3 jobs at that time… sleeping only 4 hours per day for 2 years. It was a very challenging time. My friend, who later joined me as my co-founder and my ex-husband encouraged me to venture into my own.
Believe me Jerin, I was so scared at the time. But I figured, hey I don’t have anything to lose as it was already rock bottom. And who knows, it might work.
Jerin: That’s right. When we are in the rock bottom, the only way we have is to go up.
Jennifer: There’s no other way but up, correct.
Q4: Okay, so during this 6 years journey, in the initial days you must have really struggled as most entrepreneurs do. How did you manage the stress?
Jennifer: With a lot of prayers. In my country, there is a holiday called Holy Week. In those weeks, I would go to as many churches as I could and offered prayers asking the Blessed Mother for success in business.
Stress is a part of every entrepreneur’s life. We need to deal with the uncertainty of not having a stable paycheck. For a single mother that was really scary. We need to deal with the stress of the competition and the challenges of being innovative and keep our clients happy.
My faith is very strong. I lean on no one but God.
Jerin: Prayers do deliver miracles! I am also a strong believer in prayers (regardless of which religion or God we believe in).
Jennifer: Yes prayers = miracles.
Q5: Superb! Your point made me ask, how do you make your clients happy and I see you have 75 active clients, how do you make them stick to your business than go to your competitor?
Jennifer: We go the extra mile for them. It sounds cliche’ but really in this business of rock bottom prices, our only way is to innovate. We offer complementary services that make their life easier. So they can completely rely on us and focus on growing their business.
Jerin: That’s a cool way to make clients happy – complementary services. I think many of us can use this advice.
Jennifer: For instance, a client prefers us not for our fast releasing services, but the way we take over coordination with his suppliers, and stripping/stuffing to transport it to another area of the country, making it an end to end solution. All they need to do is choose their goods, pay and we take care of bringing it here and getting it to them.
Q6: Cool, there are two crucial stages in the entrepreneurship journey. One is starting up and another scaling up. You have shared with us how you started up turning your crisis into a blessing. Now tell us what’s your secret sauce to scaling up?
Scaling up for us involves adding more to the team and adding more services. We have also started building a fleet of vans.
From me and my co-founder, we are now an 8 person team. We have also added services like:
- LCL consolidation – we pick up shipments from anywhere in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and consolidate release, deliver to our different clients’ doorstep.
- Through our global trade partner, we offer exporters funding to ship their products to the US, Europe, Middle East, Japan and Singapore.
We scale up by adding more services as we go along, as we feel out the needs of our clients. If they need something, we build a solution even if it is not within our scope of service.
I am passionate about taking our business to the next level. We recently signed up to a business mastery program called Industry Rockstar, they are business growth coaches.
Q7: Awesome. how important has been the business development and personal development training for your entrepreneurship journey? What programs and books do you recommend?
Very important, I am passionate about continuous learning. Now that my kids are grown, I spend Saturdays just attending seminars and learning something new. Keeps us feeling young.
I listen to podcasts basically – from Robin Sharma and Tony Robbins.
I read biographies of Steve Jobs and Oprah. I love Oprah’s story and legacy, she is my champion.
Q8: Super cool! I too love Steve Jobs like most entrepreneurs. Now, this is my favourite question, what are your personal definitions of ethical business and ethical entrepreneur?
Jennifer: I knew you would ask!
I am sure you are aware, our industry is laden with corruption. It is prevalent in my country but our government is already taking steps to improve it.
As an ethical conscious business and entrepreneur, I have encountered offers to earn easy money – big enough to secure my future and that of my children. I choose though, to stay responsible and avoid it. What if that was my son who gets hurt by a drug addict? Or uses it? I would rather work hard and earn money with a clear conscience than be filthy rich with the blood of drugs on my hands.
An ethical entrepreneur is one who stays true to her values and beliefs, knowing that what I am building is for my children and the next generation.
Jerin: That’s truly a wonderful sharing which inspires many entrepreneurs to stay ethical no matter what. When we can think about the long-term consequences than the short term gain, we can choose to be an ethically conscious entrepreneur.
Jennifer: When you are in business, you go a long way by thinking long term in every relationship, and see how you can add value.
Q9: Cool, so we are about to wind up the session, let us know why we should visit Manila, Philippines, other than to meet an awesome person like you?
Haha! My country is beautiful – we have awesome beaches, our people are very friendly and welcoming. Filipinos are perhaps the only race in the world who smiles through adversity. Check the pics after Yolanda (was one of the most intense tropical cyclones on record. On making landfall, Haiyan devastated portions of Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines)
Q10: Awesome! So for those who have been reading this interview, do you have any special offers for them?
- For the readers, it has been my pleasure. If you need a logistics and customs clearance agent in the Philippines, please check us on our Facebook page: Staryard Logistics.
- If you also need funding shipping goods to the countries I mentioned, please let me know!
- Lastly, we are also open for BPO companies doing services for multinational companies as clients, we can fund through our global trade partner, present in 17 countries
Jennifer: Thank you for the opportunity to share my story. Every business has a story to share. Just remember it is about the journey, whatever the challenges there is always something to be grateful for.
Jerin: Jennifer, I have personally learnt a lot from you. Hope those who have been reading this would also benefit from this conversation. Thank you so much for your time with us!
Jennifer: You are welcome! Pleasure is all mine Jerin.
Please comment below in case you want to ask anything to Jennifer which I missed asking.
P.S. In case you believe that businesses should be run ethically, do join this group of ethical entrepreneurs who want to inspire each other. Join our Ethical Entrepreneurs WhatsApp community here: https://chat.whatsapp.com/05GkKyRNn2F7UWfe0U1aCq
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