Even at a young age, Maya Elious had passion. She was building websites on her family computer as a hobby at only 10 years old. Originally, there was nothing commercial about this pastime. For Maya, creating content on the web served as a source of entertainment. When describing her early days as an entrepreneur Maya remarks, “When I first started out, what I really cared about was creating things and making things look good online. I really love branding because it helps you to paint a picture or create a portrayal of things that really matter to you. So, although I was helping people build their brands before I even knew what the word ‘branding’ meant or even knew that it was a phrase, I knew I was helping people look a certain way online. I wanted to make them look cool; I wanted to make them look popular. I thought it was really amazing that I could create something out of nothing.” These online projects changed over time, but the elements of design, storytelling, and strategy persisted. This powerful focus on building brands remains a key part of Maya’s experience. This mission plays such a huge role in her life that Maya acknowledges it as one of God’s gifts to her.
Offering a variety of services, Maya and her team have helped thousands of entrepreneurs build their brands through seminars, personalized coaching, and a network of peers. Her different endeavours fall under a broader umbrella that describes her personal and professional ethos: Built to Impact. Such a journey requires hard work, intelligence, confidence, and a hunger to help clients achieve their full potential in business and life. Maya’s story shows how powerful it is when women of color recruit, uplift, and support each other.
Courtesy of Maya Elious
BUILD A TEAM WITH SHARED VALUES
Maya is self-made and driven. At the same time, she has recruited and established a talented and diverse team to help continue her mission. Three coaches work with Maya and they each have their specialities. Dayka Robinson is a messaging maven who offers personalized coaching. Digital strategy is Sandra Ocasio’s expertise. For entrepreneurs in need of clarity, Natarsha Wright is the go-to person. These three skilled individuals are also women of color, and they bring technical skills, lived experiences, and candid perspectives to their work. In addition, Maya emphasizes a few core tenants when it comes to curating a team culture. Maya explains, “The first word that comes to mind is ‘kind’. I really want people who are kind. Kindness is incredibly important to me…I sat and thought about what are the values that I wanted for my company. I think I had listed out my own personal values, but I was actually involving my team in the decision-making process of what we want our core values to be…I’m glad we have done that because as we scale as a company we serve more people, which means we serve more personalities and emotions.” Maya has no interest in enabling a toxic work environment. Instead, Maya leads from understanding and fosters an environment of engagement and empowerment. Maya and her team look like the women they work with, and they can empathize with the challenges they encounter. Their impact is widespread. In 2021 alone, Maya and her team served 1,503 clients.
REMIND WOMEN OF THEIR WORTH
A 2020 study by Hired.com revealed that women continue to receive less pay than their male counterparts even when they advocate and ask for equal salaries. It reinforces an unfortunate reality: the pay gap persists. It is especially notable for Black women, as they are paid only 63% of what men make. Therefore, Maya focuses on helping her clients achieve proper compensation. Financial empowerment represents another mission for this visionary. Maya states, “I want women to feel confident in their voice and their skills. Confidence is so important in women because it impacts how they show up. I love teaching people how to articulate and position their value.” Maya and her team have gone above and beyond in this department. According to the company’s 2020 year-end report, Maya’s top six clients generated $1.4 million in revenue during the year.
ALLOW WOMEN TO WORK WITHIN THEIR IMPACT ZONE
Everyone has unique skill sets, perspectives, and experiences that drive their productivity. Maya has aptly coined the term “Zone of Genius” to describe this optimal point. Working within the Zone of Genius means that you are comfortable, capable, and committed to the task at hand. This can be especially relevant for the entrepreneurs of color that Maya has as clients. According to the BBC, women of color feel less qualified than their white counterparts even when they have impressive credentials. Entrepreneurs should not dwell on their shortcomings or gaps in knowledge. Leveraging their expertise and abilities is a better use of time. Maya advises, “Teach from your highest level of success. If you have done it successfully, then teach from there.” This is a reminder for BAUCEs to take inventory of their strengths and build a professional identity around them.
EMBRACE THE EVOLVING ECOSYSTEM
Given the focus on online branding, Maya’s business has adapted and adjusted over time. Throughout her career, Maya has built brands using MySpace, webpages, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. When reflecting on the ever-changing nature of social media, Maya confirms that there is a certain element of consistency that enables agility for an entrepreneur. Maya notes, “It has been a whirlwind for everybody. I need to be innovative as well… [but] you’re not necessarily doing things differently. Messaging has been the same and the audience has been the same [whether it’s] newspapers, blogs, radio or tv.”
CELEBRATE MILESTONES AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Each year, Maya and her team take time to acknowledge the strides that their clients have made. Through the Women of Impact Awards, entrepreneurs have a forum to see how far they have come and to uplift their peers. Creating this space is important for Maya as she believes that progress merits celebration, even for the smallest milestones.
Maya embodies the attributes of a true BAUCE. She is hardworking, driven, commercially savvy, and mission-oriented. In addition, Maya has established an impressive team of visionaries to do the important work with her. Dayka, Sandra, and Natarsha are also BAUCEs in their own right. Overall, Built to Impact helps empower entrepreneurs and build brilliant businesses.