Don’t overthink it – take a calculated chance!
Even as a child running around in the yard and hosting tea parties, Jay Simms found something she loved in planning events and a passion for helping others. With her eye on the future, she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a masters in Communication. Combining both passions and seeing the desire for small business owners and individuals alike to up their event game, she founded J. Simms Events and J. Simms Public Relations and Marketing. Now, with over 10 years of professional event planning and communication experience, she has branched out to share her story and create interactive experiences with entrepreneurs and a variety of groups.
On top of her dedication to her husband and two children, Jay also has a dedication to philanthropic work. While crafting brand stories, sharing her own experience and life tips, and executing unique events, Jay has also mentored youth and speaks to groups about entrepreneurship and the criminal justice system, particularly life after incarceration and how to use communication techniques to build a personal brand.
One of her main focuses is breaking the cycle of recidivism, which is a person’s relapse into criminal behavior during a three-year period following the prisoner’s release. One of the biggest causes of recidivism is lack of employment and Jay wants to change that with a hands-on approach.
Jay has executed campaigns and events in various industries, from beauty to finance. Her work has been featured on Fox 5 DC, Let’s Talk Live DC, Wake Up Washington, Great Day Washington, and more! Jay’s hope is to continue to elevate brands across the DMV area and use her connections to positively impact the lives of those in her community and beyond. She was also named 2019’s Top Forty Under 40 for Prince George’s County.
Where did the idea for J. Simms Events and Public Relations come from?
I’ve always had a love for planning events. As a child, I would plan events for family and friends. When I started college, friends and business owners within my network began asking me to plan their events. It was then that I realized I could make money from doing something I love.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Everyday is different — which is my favorite part! I wake up early (around 5 am) and read and meditate. I then begin tackling items on my list for today. I like completing client deliverables when it’s quiet and others aren’t sending emails! I then wake my family up and get my children ready for school. After that I try to have a healthy breakfast and read trending news. Then I start working on client portfolios and projects. Mapping out my days in advance is a huge help! Also prioritizing items — everything can’t and shouldn’t be done at one time. So I focus on getting the most urgent items completed for the day. Planning ahead has helped me tremendously! I also use a physical planner and a task management system.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I’m naturally a creative person! I’ve always been really whimsical, so ideas naturally come to me. I like to keep a notepad in my purse, in case I get great ideas. I don’t want to forget them. When implementing ideas I start at the end goal, then I build backwards. Thinking of everything that needs to be done to achieve that goal.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I love that people are taking events from just design to experiences! They are really thinking about the guests, the feeling that they want to evoke and tying it into the overall event. From the flowers, to the entertainment, to the food — events have become extremely well thought out!
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I’m a naturally organized person! I love task lists! To be a successful entrepreneur, it’s really important to be organized. You deal with so many aspects as an entrepreneur. From budgeting, to team members, to client meetings. If you’re not organized, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and it will reflect in your work and mood.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Take a chance! I had an idea to start an event planning company YEARS ago. But I kept overthinking and planning. I wish I wouldn’t just planned my first event and launched the company despite my fears!
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe that ANYTHING can happen! I’m extremely optimistic and most people don’t feel that way. I feel like logic can get in the way of our instincts and trusting that the best is yet to come despite how you may currently be feeling.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Always evaluate your processes and how you do business. It’s easy to get settled into what’s working. It may work for now, but as times change it can hurt your business. Look into how business is changing and adapt. You don’t want to be left behind. Pay attention to trends in your industry and incorporate them.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Picking up the phone or meeting prospective clients in person! In the digital age, it’s a lost art. I’ve landed more deals by calling companies or going to their location. Emails often get lost and people can’t hear your passion behind your mission and focus.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Switching my mindset from freelancer to owning a company. When you freelance, you’re planning events and taking home the money and it’s more about you. When you become an entrepreneur that’s focused on growing a business and brand, there’s a different level of responsibility. You have to think about projections, growing a team, growth of the company. Shifting my mindset was extremely hard. At times I didn’t feel like it. I had to have a serious conversation with myself and ask what I wanted. And if I wanted a company I knew I needed to be all in.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think there’s a huge market for weekend and evening childcare centers. I know a lot of people with children that don’t have traditional schedules. I think a service that caters to alternative schedules (like those for entrepreneurs) would be great!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I’ve recently spent is towards my new company logo. We’ve been in business for a few years and it’s time to rebrand. I’m in love with the new logo and happy about the investment.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Asana! When I initially tried it, I was completely overwhelmed. I signed up for a systems program and the owner helped me to understand Asana and how to use it for my business. I use it for everything! I add meetings to it. My team and I plan our content within the system. I also assign my team assignments with due dates in the system.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I really liked “The Magnolia Story” by Chip and Joanna Gaines. I love their TV show and reading their book helped me to learn more about them. As entrepreneurs, we go through challenges and reading their challenges and triumphs was really inspiring!
What is your favorite quote?
“And the Day Came When the Risk to Remain Tight In a Bud Was More Painful Than the Risk It Took to Blossom.” – Anais Nin
- Don’t overthink it – take a calculated chance!
- Organization is key (in your life and business)
- Embrace what you do well! Don’t take that skill for granted.