Name: Sonia Clayton
Business: Virtual Intelligence Providers, LLC, custom designed software for businesses
Industry: High Tech
Location: Houston, Texas, U.S.
Reason for starting: Virtual Intelligence Providers, LLC (VIP), owes its existence to a rare combination of fate and the best in human traits or key individual qualities to guarantee survivability: professional behavior, friendship, loyalty and, most strikingly, stamina to run the entrepreneurial race. VIP came into being, in September 2001, as an organization devoted primarily to providing know-how and business technologies support to enterprises of all sizes. That calamitous year (the same one for tropical storm Allison and the terrorist attacks of September 11) was rather inauspicious in Houston, and in the US at large, for starting up any type of business venture or project.
Here is where some of my former colleagues, team members and friends, stepped up against the proverbial odds by trusting my knowledge of the industry, and my ability to relate to corporate decision-makers, to use the one other avenue they had available: creating a one-of-a-kind, no-nonsense though modest outlet whose chief objective would be to produce a flexible and comparatively more affordable model for dispensing business technology services/support, relevant skill sets, and professional disciplines, all upon a menu-driven or cafeteria-style platform.
How do you define success? Many measure success in cash value. In my humble opinion success is achieving and sustaining something good that benefits others besides yourself and that changes people’s lives. Because if you are able to change a life, you are able to change an entire generation. I am talking about the ability of one to touch, change and improve another human being.
It requires constant focus on a continuous journey of dedicated efforts. It is a never ending story of never quitting and never giving up trying. It is endurance, it is innovation, scoping, exploring and constantly transforming and inventing with the objective of producing a positive change. That’s is success!
Biggest Success: Establishing a client base of over 100 clients and many fortune 100 and 500 customers. Being the recipient of 26 awards of excellence, including White House and State Recognition. To name a few others: Woman of The Year –(Mujer del año) – By Penta Communication – Revista Mujeres (Hispanic Media) 2015, One of Houston’s Top 30 Most Influential Women, 2014. G7 Award for Excellence in International Operations, 2014, Enterprising Woman USA Award, 2014 (Finalist), Small Business Today Magazine Cover Honoree Award February, 2014, Hispanic Entrepreneur of the Year 2007.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? When I first started the company, being originally from Latin America (Colombian born & Venezuelan raised), English was not my mother-language. So, trying to generate impact, while selling, with an “accent” was very difficult and challenging. I had to put tremendous effort into writing and speaking proper, professional, technical English. I had to rehearse countless hours for my upcoming meetings, calls and telemarketing strategies.
Also, learning to navigate the Tax System and understanding its challenges. I consulted experts, rely on the knowledge that other small businesses had acquired from their own years of experience. Working Capital was another issue, hence I grew the company organically and used self-investment practices.
Who is your most important role model? My mother, for being a fighter and for never giving up in life. She was an orphan and an abandoned wife with three children. She survived many things including the Narco-Guerilla Violence of Colombia (1970). The other one is, Jesus Christ who is my source of faith, wisdom, knowledge and human understanding.
Edited by The Story Exchange