This Q&A interview was conducted and written from the perspective of Kristina Hart, Assedo’s former Marketing & Communications intern, in May 2020. It was recently reformatted by Jaden Yanovitz as part of our Employee Spotlight Series for National Black Business Month.
Assedo Consulting, LLC is a firm that provides urban and community planning, public outreach, and marketing/communications services for projects in the planning, design, and construction phase of development. While the firm deals with several large-scale infrastructure projects, Assedo is a small business with 16 employees that is rapidly growing. The President and CEO, Odessa Phillip, has grown the business in a challenging industry. I wanted to sit down with Odessa, virtually of course, and ask her a few questions about how she became a successful entrepreneur.
When did you first decide that you wanted to start your own business?
“That is a hard question to answer directly because I thought about it several different times. Over the course of my career, I had been working for about maybe 10 or 15 years, and I had worked for a few different companies. The last company that I worked for before I started Assedo was doing things that I really loved and every now and then we would come upon a challenge. I thought maybe I would have a different way of solving it. That’s what really made me finally decide to take the leap and start Assedo.”
Did anyone inspire you to take the leap?
“I met a woman who agreed to be my mentor when I was participating in a leadership program with Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS). She lives in Atlanta and once had her own company. Talking details with her made me really think more about it. She and I got to be close over time just talking on the phone about my thoughts and asking her questions. I also talked to probably about five or six other business owners I knew and the combination of all those conversations made me say, ‘I think I could do it. Let me figure out how to go about doing it.’”
What was your biggest challenge in starting your own business?
“The actual process of getting things going and figuring out how to pay for the company to operate. I knew it was going to be just me by myself for several years, so I had to make sure I had enough money saved, that I could live without getting a paycheck for a little while. That was the hardest part, because no matter how much money you save, it’s never enough.”
What has been your most memorable moment being a business owner?
“I think it was getting my first real check. Up until that point I had never had a check written to me that large. I also remember after opening our Laurel office having our logo installed on the wall. Anyone who knows me knows that I cry all the time, and I REALLY cried as I watched that. I was 6 years into being in business, but it finally felt real that day.”
Do you have any big plans or things you want Assedo to accomplish in the next year?
“I want to open up a Baltimore City Office – that’s really important to me. I really want to grow our offices. I think we have a good formula for how we do outreach, and I think it is really important in minority communities, especially in underrepresented communities, to have people who care. I do not hire people that just look like me – I hire people who feel like me. If you look, our team is very diverse, but what we have in common is that we care about our work. If you listen to anybody on our team talk about our projects, you can tell we care about people and we put them first. I want to be able to do that for projects all around the country.”
Since this interview was conducted a year and three months ago, Odessa Phillip has made her dream of opening a Baltimore City Office a reality! Make sure to be on the lookout for more information about our new office coming soon.