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‘Gain the confidence and clarity’: A Q&A on CEO Workday and supporting Baltimore founders with DeShawna Jones

The DJ’s Event Planning creator discusses her upcoming CEO Workday Event, designed for entrepreneurs looking to cowork while developing other business leadership skills, and more.

DeShawna Jones, creator of CEO Workday. (Courtesy photo)

DeShawna Jones launched the membership-based CEO Workday Group last summer to provide a free support network for entrepreneurs. On Sunday, she plans to give new and old members both time and resources to build their businesses during her first CEO Workday Event.

Jones is the founder and CEO of DJ’s Event Planning (EP), which aims to uplift entrepreneurs by curating brand launches, workshops and community events. She’s been providing these resources since 2019 and is inspired to do so by her own entrepreneurial journey that began in 2014.

Jones recalled how this path began when she was attending Western Maryland’s Frostburg State University and figuring out how she could have more money for school materials — and herself.

“In college, I had to find ways to stretch my allowance for meals, books, supplies, etc. and monetize my skills to make extra cash,” Jones told Technical.ly. “I channeled my creativity and organizational skills to start an ecommerce business selling handmade jewelry, but I soon realized the importance of building brand awareness in my community to grow my business.”

She thus launched the CEO Workday Group, which offers a space for discussion, resource sharing and alerts about in-person meetups.

Those interested can join the group’s next in-person meetup, the aforementioned CEO Workday Event, on Sunday, April 2 at Sonne Studios on East Lombard Street (between Light and Charles Streets) in Baltimore City. The convening is presented in collaboration with sponsors like Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) and its Baltimore Business Assistance and Support for Equity (BASE) Network. It’s free to those who sign up for the CEO Workday Group, $10 at the door for those who don’t and purports to provide entrepreneurs with accountability partners, support and even complimentary headshots to help them stay motivated and committed.

“Understanding the need to have accountability partners and needing the additional support to keep going and to not give up on your business is what influenced me to create the CEO Workday Event,” said Jones.

The Baltimore transplant and Prince George’s County native broke down her thoughts on the work she’s doing, the importance of brand awareness for entreprenuers and planned takeaways for CEO Workday participants in an interview with Technical.ly entrepreneurs might glean from mentors CEO Workday. This interview has been edited lightly for length and clarity.

What inspired you to start CEO Workday Group? What can people expect if they become members?

The CEO Workday Group started off with just myself going to random coffee shops to work on my business. My friends and fellow business owners joined in and found it beneficial to have accountability partners and other entrepreneurs to meet and collaborate with. I then saw the need to open up the space to other entrepreneurs within my community. Within this group, we share content, information, grant resources and communications about the next meetup sessions. This group inspired me to expand on this idea and curate an event for more entrepreneurs within my community.

How much does membership to CEO Workday Group cost? How can people join?

It’s 100% free! Registration is available to anyone who is interested on my website. CEO Workday Members attend most of our in-person meetups, like the CEO Workday Event on Sunday, April 2, free of charge!

Why are content curation, focused work and mentorship the pillars of CEO Workday Group and events? How will they factor into Sunday?

When we’re working in the business, we’re usually focused on tasks such as working with clients, promoting our business and selling our products. However, it’s important to remember that certain activities can help advance or progress our business — for instance, getting updated content like headshots or lifestyle shots is essential to represent your brand on various platforms. This can be for your website, Instagram or even interviews. It’s crucial to set aside time for focus work and to work on the business rather than just in the business. This means updating contracts, responding to emails and other important tasks that may not directly involve clients.

Also, mentorship plays an important role in advancing your business. [On Sunday], we’ll have mentors from Innovation Works, M&T Bank and more who will be available to answer questions about business or project-related tasks.

How did you build relationships with the mentors like James Peterson Jr., M&T Bank’s small business ambassador, that you invited to the event? What do you hope entrepreneurs who attend learn from him and other panelists?

I met James Peterson Jr. during a class session with the Baltimore Means Business cohort, facilitated by Morgan State University. I asked him a question about business funding for service professionals, specifically for event planners. He gave me some very insightful information about having a specific and detailed plan about the use of funding and projecting the impact in my business. I hope entrepreneurs gain the confidence and clarity on what it means to build a financial plan to request funding for their business.

As we close out Women’s History Month, who are the women in your life that inspire you or support you the most?

My mom has been my biggest motivator and my biggest supporter. She continues to encourage me and inspire me to do things my ancestors could only have imagined. Kristi Muhammed is another powerful figure that has helped me along my entrepreneurship journey. She continues to share valuable information via Instagram, but I’ve also had the pleasure of attending some of her virtual events and purchased some of her digital products.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention funding expert Stormi Banks. She has been my online business funding mentor and taught me all the things that I needed to know. Because of her, I was able to receive multiple grants for my business. Just by giving me the tools and resources, she’s an inspiration to me and inspires me to do the same.

Join the CEO Workday Group

RSVP for the CEO Workday Event

Companies: M&T Bank / Innovation Works (Baltimore)

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