In a special tribute to National Hispanic American Heritage Month, AD Solutions’ marketing team sits down with Lynda Natalia Lizarazo, President and Chief Financial Officer, to gain insights into her entrepreneurial journey. In this interview, Natalia opens up about her experiences and the principles that have guided her path to success. Join us as we gain inspiration from her story and learn the key lessons she’s learned along the way.
Tell us a little about your personal and professional background.
I moved from Colombia when I was 9 years old. I have a background in restaurant and retail management. Before venturing into the world of entrepreneurship, I gained valuable experience managing and overseeing operations in these industries. This experience honed my skills in customer service, team management, and attention to detail. Professionally, my journey into entrepreneurship began in 2007 when Moody and I decided to start AD Solutions together.
How did your entrepreneurial journey start?
My entrepreneurial journey began in 2007 when I took a leap of faith to pursue Moody and I’s dream. At that time, we were faced with a tough choice: either build our dream house or start a workplace technology business. It was a challenging decision, but I knew we had to take a chance. We initially began as independent contractors, and that marked the beginning of AD Solutions.
In those early days, we faced many obstacles and uncertainties. The economy was in turmoil, and notably, some large competitors were struggling. But we were determined to make our dream a reality. In 2009, we continued to invest in AD Solutions, and we took a significant step forward by moving our business from our home garage to our first office location. We were positioning ourselves for growth, adding more inventory and employees.
Over the years, we continued to persevere and grow steadily. In 2020, we achieved a major milestone by completing our first corporate acquisition and our expansion into the Jacksonville market with our offices and Showroom. This was a significant turning point for us. And in 2022, we completed our second acquisition, further solidifying our presence in the market.
What’s it like to own a woman-minority-owned business?
Founding a woman minority-owned business has been an incredible journey filled with its own unique set of experiences and challenges. It’s a source of immense pride for me, my family, and my team, and it reflects our commitment to diversity and inclusion in the entrepreneurial world. It’s a journey that has not only enriched our lives but has also allowed us to make a positive impact on our community and inspire others to pursue their own entrepreneurial aspirations.
What would be your advice for new entrepreneurs, especially those who belong to minority groups?
For new entrepreneurs, especially those from minority groups, my advice would be to invest in yourself. Embrace your value and your uniqueness, and let it be your strength. Your background, experiences, and perspectives can set you apart and bring fresh insights to a project. Don’t be discouraged by challenges; instead, view them as opportunities to learn and grow. Build a supportive network, and with determination and a clear vision, you can turn your entrepreneurial goals into reality.
What’s one thing that you would tell your younger self?
If I could go back and speak to my younger self, I would say, “Embrace the journey and have faith in your dreams.” There will be challenges and tough decisions along the way, but they are stepping stones to where you are meant to be. Your background and experiences are assets, not obstacles. Keep believing in yourself and work hard. The sacrifices you are making today will lead to a future where you’re not only running a successful business but also making a positive impact on people’s lives.
What excites you? Tell us about your favorite activities/hobbies outside of work.
My family and our business excite me. My husband and I are proud parents to two amazing teenage daughters, and we recently welcomed our son into the family. Supporting Samira in her volleyball endeavors, witnessing Kamilah’s talents in acting and dancing, and being amazed by Nicolai’s developmental milestones all fill me with excitement.
Some of my favorite hobbies include traveling to explore new cultures and experiences, attending concerts and hearing live music, playing tennis, and horseback riding. These activities bring balance to my life and allow me to unwind and recharge.
What are your thoughts about people being your biggest asset within an organization?
People are undeniably the most valuable asset in any business. Our team’s skills, dedication, ideas, enthusiasm, and hard work propel us forward, making us better equipped to provide exceptional services and realize our vision each and every day. Our team culture indirectly impacts the quality of service we deliver to our clients. It’s about the people who make it all possible.
What are some of the top things that are important to you?
First and foremost is family. Spending quality time with my children and ensuring their well-being is my top priority. Our business and our team’s happiness are also extremely important to me. I’m deeply committed to continuous improvement and growth for the business.
What is your favorite motivational quote?
One motivational quote that truly resonates with me is the Spanish phrase “Querer es poder,” which roughly translates to ‘Where there is a will, there’s a way. This quote encapsulates the core of my journey, serving as a constant reminder that determination and a strong will can conquer any obstacle. It’s a testament to the power of resilience and the unwavering belief in achieving our goals, no matter the challenges we face.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
An interesting fact about me is that my entrepreneurial spirit started at a young age. When I was just 8 years old, I embarked on my first business adventure. Alongside my best friend, we made and sold character-shaped chocolate candies in our neighborhood. I found great satisfaction in the chocolate business and eventually recouped my initial investment, which fueled my enthusiasm to keep it going. Interestingly, this achievement also paved the way for my second entrepreneurial endeavor as a lender. I would lend money to my older siblings and apply interest charges for late repayments. Although both experiences offered valuable insights, I discovered that the chocolate business was less stressful and offered more predictability. It was during these early ventures that my passion for initiating new business endeavors blossomed.
What is the most important rule of business from your perspective?
For me, the most important rule of business is to never lose sight of the people behind it all. Whether it’s our employees, customers, or the community we serve, it’s the relationships and connections we build that truly define our success. Ultimately, business is not just about transactions; it’s about the impact we make on people’s lives and their businesses and the positive change we can bring to our community. When you put people first and prioritize their well-being, everything else falls into place, and that, to me, is the essence of a successful business.
What is the most important element needed for success?
The most crucial element for success is determination. With a clear vision, hard work, and a supportive team, determination is the driving force that propels us forward, even when the journey gets tough. It’s the ability to persevere through challenges, setbacks, and uncertainty that truly defines achievement.
What is the importance of workplace culture to you?
Creating a positive workplace culture is so important to ensure our employees feel valued, supported, and happy at work. We want our employees to not only work for us but to grow and thrive with us. When I first started the business, my dream was to be able to provide employees with a career where they could provide for their families and retire comfortably. For me, creating a work environment where people are happy and fulfilled is deeply rewarding.
What does a good team culture look like to you?
Collaboration and teamwork are at the heart of our business. Acknowledging and celebrating achievements, whether big or small, is a key aspect of our team culture. We celebrate each other’s successes, and our teams support one another through challenges.
What is your favorite part about what you do? Your company?
My favorite part about what I do and our company is the opportunity to create a workplace where individuals can flourish and find fulfillment in their careers. Our team dynamic at AD Solutions really provides the space to be great and get better each day. It’s about fostering an environment where every person feels valued, supported, and inspired to give their best. The bonds we create and the sense of community we’ve cultivated are what make our company truly exceptional.
What’s the most exciting development in our industry at the moment?
The most exciting development in our industry at the moment, from our perspective as a Sharp dealership, is the expansion of our product line. While we’re renowned for our multi-functional printers and copiers, we’ve diversified to offer Dynabook laptops, interactive display boards, Skywell water dispensers, and more. This expansion not only broadens our product offerings but also reflects our commitment to staying at the forefront of workplace technology. Additionally, the integration of artificial intelligence, cloud-based services, and heightened security measures in our products represents an exciting direction for Sharp, and we eagerly anticipate the innovative solutions this will bring to our clients and the industry as a whole.
How do you define success?
Success is a dynamic journey of continuous improvement and reinvestment. True success involves reinvesting in our business to adapt to industry changes and remain innovative. It’s also about nurturing our employees’ growth, providing opportunities for advancement, and creating a work culture where they can succeed. It’s about continually reaching new heights while empowering others to do the same.
How do you overcome challenges? Any tips?
My tip is to stay resilient and determined. Entrepreneurship is filled with ups and downs, but the ability to bounce back from setbacks is crucial. We remind ourselves regularly why we started our business and keep our long-term goals in mind. It allows us to prioritize what’s truly important and make decisions that align with our business’s overarching mission, to become the largest Sharp dealership in the state of Florida.
How do you motivate people to go the extra mile?
Motivating people is all about fostering a sense of purpose and connection. We accomplish this by communicating our goals to the organization, which allows our team to understand the bigger picture. We motivate our employees by offering opportunities for growth and professional development while also recognizing their hard work and dedication on a regular basis.
What has been your biggest learning opportunity since becoming a business owner?
As a business owner, my biggest learning opportunity has been the realization that every challenge we face is an opportunity for growth. From those early days selling machines out of our home garage to navigating corporate acquisitions, each hurdle has taught me valuable lessons about resilience, adaptability, and leadership. I’ve discovered that success is about constantly evolving, learning from setbacks, and staying true to our vision.
We thank Natalia for sharing her remarkable story with us. Her journey from the early days of entrepreneurship to the milestones achieved with AD Solutions serves as an inspiring example of what can be accomplished through hard work, a supportive team, and a commitment to people-first business values.
As we celebrate National Hispanic American Heritage Month, let’s take a moment to embrace our diverse backgrounds and recognize that our heritage is a source of strength on the path to success. Success, as defined by Natalia, is not merely an end goal; it’s an ongoing journey of continuous improvement. Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!