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Startup: Jeffrey Ribeiro

From graduate to corporate consultant
 
It all started when I was three-years-old, Jeffrey Ribeiro shared. My parents had somebody come by our house and offer a garage door installation service. He ended up ripping us off, as well as about 20 other neighbours in our area. My dad took him to court, along with everyone else who got scammed. From there, he ended up contacting everyone who was affected, asking them if they wanted him to install their garage door for them. Many said yes, and ever since he's been in business doing these installations for over 22 years now.
I guess that's what showed me it was okay to put myself out there, and start something of my own. So when I was 16, I did a co-op at a Toronto car audio place. I noticed how much money they made off their customers, and how much they overcharged them. I understand overheads, but I really felt their mark up just wasn't necessary. And that's why, later, I competed against them. I ran my car audio business out of my garage to save costs and charge less, and that's how I differentiated myself from every other car audio installer back then.
Nowadays though, this George Brown graduate has ventured into a whole new industry: consulting ' specifically in the area of small business and environmental consulting. I launched Gold Leaf Consultants with my partner, Alex Theodore (a fellow George Brown alumni, who specialized in business administration and marketing). We offer digital strategies, online brand development, social media management, and environmental consulting. We primarily focus on small to medium-sized businesses.
Asked to explain what each of those parts actually meant, Jeffrey summarized, Well, with digital strategy, what we do is come up with the greatest return on investment through social media for a business. For online brand development, we custom design Facebook and Twitter pages, website floor plans, as well as search engine optimization, so what you'll find is the business's name at the top of Google search rankings when you search for its services or products. When it comes to social media management, we analyze a business' current social media stream and then help them manage, update, and automate their posts. Finally, for our environmental consulting, we take businesses through different workshops where we show them how to green their operations, and in return save money on their operating budgets.
Sounds like quite a mouthful, but Jeffrey was quick to point out an example of how his consultancy delivers real results. Because of my experience back when I was 16, I knew the car audio industry didn't really utilize social media, or any kind of online brand development, at all. So when we ended up working for one of those car audio companies, we created an online brand strategy that ended up seeing a 350% increase in their revenue.
With successes like that, we were quick to ask Jeffrey how Gold Leaf Consultants stood apart from its competitors. We don't just go to a business, do the work for them, and then we're done.  We actually take the time to teach our clients how to manage their online brand, on their own, after our contract ends. A lot of our competitors keep their clients in the dark to try and get more business from them after their contract runs out. Overall, our clients appreciate our extra level of support, our private workshops, and that's a big reason why we've grown the way we have.
In all, it's not only the thrill of closing a sale, but also the thrill of seeing the businesses you're helping succeed that I really value as an entrepreneur. But Jeffrey cautions those starting out, Do try to get a mentor to help you in your early stages (we got ours through SIFE). For us, our biggest challenge starting out was scheduling. We were all over business analysis and social media management, but with our first client especially, we really took for granted how long it would take to complete each step of the project, and all the paperwork involved. It takes experience to know these things from the start, and that's where a quality mentor can add value to your business and to your career.
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