Sunny Bonnell is a branding expert and serves as the co-founder and creative director at Motto. Motto is a comprehensive branding firm that helps visionary entrepreneurs and companies build inspiring brands using their most powerful asset: their purpose. Sunny thrives on inspiring others to pursue their passions and pushes both herself and her clients to reach beyond their threshhold to achieve success. Sunny was named one of GDUSA’s “25 Creatives to Watch in 2014” and has been featured on on Forbes, Inc., MSN Business, CBS News, AMEX, and various print and online design publications. Follow her at @sunnybonnell.
Who is your hero?
There are a few people who have been powerful forces in my life and shaped who I am, so it’s hard to choose just one. My mother for her unbelievable strength, unconditional love and for always being in my corner. She was my biggest fan. My father for his entrepreneurial spirit and optimism, his love for life has always been infectious. They both have instilled such genuine values in me that run to the core of who I am and everything that I do. I always work hard to make them both proud.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
It’s a very simple piece of advice that my parents always reinforced — believe in yourself. I heard it so often, that it’s in the fabric of who I am. Business continuously tests your tenacity, courage, and desire, so you need short mottos to keep you pushing forward. That is one of mine.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
There were times that I needed help and I didn’t ask for it. I had to learn that I didn’t know everything and it was okay to acknowledge that I didn’t. Now, I have a solid group of mentors that I go to and rely on for guidance. All you have to do is ask.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I honestly think of all the exciting things I want to accomplish and start each day by pushing towards my aspirations. I outline in my head what is most pressing; sometimes I’ll find a quiet spot and work on an article or blog post before the day starts to get really busy for me. I wouldn’t say I have any ritualistic practices, but I am an early riser and like to work.
What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
In a startup, it’s difficult to know where to put your money. Be careful not to over-invest in some areas, while under-investing in others. An example of this would be putting all your money in product development and very little money into building your brand, because you’re left with a great product and no brand to bring it to life.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Branding. The biggest challenge for startups and early-stage businesses is overcoming the mindset that you don’t need to consider branding right away. The truth is you’re building your brand from the moment it’s born, and from the moment you start asking people to support you. There are very few truly original ideas. Most of what is being created is similar to things that have already been done. That’s why branding is so important. It helps you stand apart.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
I believe success is more of a feeling — we experience a series of both big and small successes each day. It’s all in how you define it. A question like this is hard for a person like me who is furiously driven. I am in constant pursuit of chasing my dreams and fulfilling my purpose. When you’ve feel like you’ve finally succeeded, that can lead to complacency, and I’d prefer to keep achieving multiple successes rather than thinking there’s only one mountain I can climb and only one way I can reach the top.