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From a Founder: Tanisha Colon-Bibb on Balancing Two Businesses

Editor’s Note: Welcome to From a Founder, a monthly entrepreneur profile about the highs, lows, and plateaus of building a successful brand or business.

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For Tanisha Colon-Bibb, becoming an entrepreneur and owner of two businesses — talent management company, Rebelle Management, and the Rebelle Agency, a communications company — was a gradual career progression. While she transitioned to full-time entrepreneurial work two years ago, the process of ideating, launching, and scaling her now successful companies has been nearly a decade in the making.

Throughout her career, and through building Rebelle Management, in particular, Tanisha has learned to push through the uncertainty that comes with pursuing a business idea, and to navigate the inevitable ambiguity of working in undefined spaces like influencer marketing.

She talked with Squarespace about the logistics of building a venture from the ground up, how branding is integral to a business, and why she considers failure a necessary step on the path to success.

Squarespace: What inspired you to launch Rebelle Management

Tanisha Colon-Bibb: I would say it was less inspiration and more necessity. I have started two businesses in the past eight years and both were born from this feeling that something was missing in each respective industry. Specifically for my management company, I was actually asked to start managing due to my deep understanding of people and ability to negotiate. Once I started, I realized that there weren’t a lot of representation opportunities for rising talent (especially for talent of color) and that talent and influencer marketing agencies didn’t always treat influencers or content creators as talent brands — and therefore stifled potential opportunities outside of just social partnership. I am changing that with Rebelle Management.

SQSP: What was the first step you took to make it a reality? 

TCB: Registered the business. Legal documentation always makes things a reality!

SQSP: In every entrepreneurial endeavor, there are unexpected risks and challenges. What was the biggest risk you took? 

TCB: For Rebelle Management, the biggest risk I took was that I had no formal training. For nearly a decade I had honed my skills as a Communications professional, and some of those skills overlap, but I was very aware that I was stepping into a completely unknown territory when it came to talent management. Additionally, I started with two influencers — and the influencer marketing industry was (and still is) figuring itself out in terms of budget, engagement, ROI, etc. I had to quickly learn what worked well for our talent clients, specifically, and approach each opportunity with an individual lens, which was time consuming and risky.

Another risk was figuring out the financial structure of the business because managers take a commission of talent fees and don’t get paid by retainers, like in my PR agency. Thankfully I already had an operating business and income but it definitely took almost a year for the business to start consistently operating in an efficient fiscal manner. There were many reasons for this, but the main one was working with rising talent instead of talent that were already heavily sought out by brands. But that was the whole purpose of starting Rebelle Management: helping to build those talent brands to a level where the inbound opportunities came frequently.

SQSP: What surprised you the most? 

TCB: What surprised me the most was how disciplined I became as a person and professional. I heard once that how entrepreneurs show up in real life is how they show up for their business. There were a lot of changes I had to make personally, like sticking to a schedule and executing follow-through that transferred over to my business and stuck. It also surprised me how friends, family and other people were “inspired” by me and my decision to be an entrepreneur. I always say, I wish I was the type of person who naturally fit better in a 9 to 5 job! I never saw my decision to be an entrepreneur as this big life choice, but when I think about it and hear how others want to take the leap, I get really surprised that I have been able to be an entrepreneur full time for the past two years. It is definitely a lifestyle choice that continues to reveal and teach you things about yourself daily.

SQSP: After a challenging day, week, or month, what keeps you motivated? 

TCB: I am motivated by my team and their desire to learn and grow, and my responsibility to provide them with the resources to do so. I am also really motivated by failure and ways that I can improve my business. You may have heard this time and time again but it is true, the best entrepreneurs are those who are activated by failure and solving problems.

SQSP: How has your online presence contributed to your business success? 

TCB: You know I used to hate that having a brand was almost a necessity when building a business. I had to get used to understanding that people wanted to see the person behind the business, they wanted to learn from my experience and that they wanted to root for me! I have started to share more content on my journey so far, and really provide valuable insight and information to those that follow me and want it. Most of our new business is by referral so showcasing what my companies can do and my expertise has definitely been a lifeline for the business.

SQSP: How do you see your online presence evolving in the future? 

TCB: I am operating at Level 1 with my online presence, so I see it evolving so much in the future with more content related to me as a business owner, the ins and outs of the Communications/Talent Management industries, my passion for Diversity and Equity, and more. At the end of the day I believe a purposeful life is the catalyst for so much good in the world and if my presence can help guide a few people to finding their purpose and executing on it, then I have fulfilled my reason for being on this Earth at this time. 


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