A conversation with Shena Omotola, entrepreneur and Columbia alum

Shena Omotola is proof that you can design the career of your dreams. As the Founder and Broker Owner of Skyward Reality, she is actively transforming the real estate experience in the Chicagoland area. It’s no coincidence that Shena is also a graduate of Columbia College Chicago.

After graduating from Columbia College Chicago, Shena spent nearly a decade working in marketing and media. When she finally realized she wanted more from her career, she fearlessly went back to school to get her MBA and made the move from employee to real estate entrepreneur. Shena shared with us how she used her experience at Columbia College Chicago to navigate her career through media, real estate, and marketing.

Shena Omotola

What do you love most about your job as a real estate broker and entrepreneur?

I love having the ability to provide my clients with top tier service. By being my own boss, I get to create my own marketing and advertising and create my own programs to help consumers.

What entrepreneurial skills have been key to your success?

You need to understand how to plan for the short term and long term. I also learned the importance of customer service, consistency with your branding, your message and your performance. You also need to know the behind the scenes operational skills and budgeting.

How did your experience at Columbia inform your career in media, real estate and now as the owner of Skyward Realty?

My major at Columbia College was broadcast journalism with a minor in radio. These are a few skills I learned that helped me have a successful career:

  • Writing skills. Being able to write advertising copy, create commercials etc. was vital in my career.
  • Interviewing skills. So much of owning your own business is knowing how to talk to people, engage them to open up to tell you their story, and create a bond that allows them to share their story.
  • Marketing skills. My marketing background helped me define my product and choose the best advertising avenue to capture my key audience/consumer.

How did you know you were ready to take the leap and go back to school for your master’s?

I worked in media for 10 years. I knew when I hit the glass ceiling. I was ready to take a leap to become my own boss in order to grow my brand and grow my income without limits.

You run a company, a website, a blog and are about to launch a new podcast—have any tips for balancing work and life?

It’s tricky, but you have to be organized. Time blocking is key and prioritizing things that matter. Clients will respect you more when you stick to a schedule and not react to every inquiry.

What is the best advice you can give someone who wants to run their own business one day?

Make sure you have at least six months of expenses saved, have a plan (it doesn’t have to be a very detailed plan), and take steps every day towards your business.

How have you had to adapt your business strategies through the Digital Age?

I listen to podcasts and participate in webinars and seminars to help me grow. I take risks with new online ads. I try it out for 3 months to see what works and what doesn’t. I also look at the numbers and the stats of the average consumer to see if it’s congruent with my ideal client.

For people just getting started in business, how do you build a good team?

I wouldn’t focus right away on building a good team. Focus on your process—branding and increasing sales. When it’s time to build a team, you want to find like-minded people. It’s difficult because people can “say” that they are good performers, but they need to “show” you that they’re good. I suggest that you give people a 3-month trial and re-evaluate each year. Focus on performers rather than people you like. Remember, this is a business and you need to be profitable.

Read more > 10 Most Marketable Skills for 2019