Tallahassee entrepreneur's companies turn resilience into revenue
A Tallahassee entrepreneur has turned her many years of public sector crisis management experience into a very successful private business. That dynamic young women is Princess Ousley, CEO and founder of Elite Business Strategies.
Ousley admitted that she seemed destined to be a "master of disaster."
"My first week on the job, I was working at Elder Affairs and I was deployed for Hurricane Katrina."
That was such a stimulating experience, said Ousley, that it wasn't long before she set her sights on working for Florida's Catastrophe Central. Otherwise known as the Office of Emergency Management. There she was mentored by the guy who would eventually go on to head FEMA, the legendary Craig Fugate.
"I tell people I'm through and through emergency management. So when you look at Elite Business Strategies, it's my version of what I learned when I worked for the state."
Elite Business Strategies, says Ousley, provides other organizations with the same kind of planning mechanisms, contingency strategies and other tools that are commonly used by government disaster response teams.
"I started this business with $250. So now that we've grown to where we are today, not just doing the services, but also looking at the full scale of what happens in emergencies; what happens before and after. How do we participate in all phases? I'm proud to say that, as a woman entrepreneur, that, although I was hit with a lot of no's, we're still here and standing strong."
In fact, she said, the advent of the pandemic only served to strengthen her business even more. First, because the organization was fully prepared to take it one, and secondly, because there were suddenly a lot more customers who needed Elite's advice and counsel.
"I recommend this for every company, no matter the size. You have to have a business continuity plan. A business continuity plan allows you to plan for the unexpected and put things in place so you're able to pivot quickly. And I'm fortunate enough that I knew about it and understood the process, but I had that plan already in place and the partnerships and relationships in place that we were able to pivot and take advantage of the new emerging economy that was coming out of COVID."
An economy that required actual merchandise, as well as the need for advice and counsel. Elite quickly expanded its operations in the realm of providing pandemic-related supplies and equipment to customers who found such provisions hard to obtain elsewhere.
"PPE was a very small piece of what we provided already, but during COVID - as you can imagine - it skyrocketed. But because we already had some relationships in place, we were able to go back to those vendors and say, 'Look, we know our spend is typically over here. But now we need these supplies and commodities. We have a proven track record. Will you sell them to us?' And we got a yes, because we had the relationship already established."
Ousley stressed that the Elite family of operations continues to leverage those relationships, and operational partnerships. That includes the provision of many technical services free of charge to women-owned businesses through the Comcast RISE program that launched back in November.
"This is my labor of love. I tell people all the time, I have 3 kids: an 11 year old, a 7 year old a 3 year old. Those are the ages of each division of my company, because they're my babies!"
The words of Tallahassee's own Princess Ousley. A pioneering business woman who's found a consistent way to help organizations survive and even thrive in the face of catastrophe.