We had the good fortune of connecting with SJ Stephens and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi SJ, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
My business was birthed out of the pandemic. In February 2020 I launched SJS. Business Building and More and my primary focus was creating business plans and grant writing for individuals. April 15, of that same year I was fired from my position as a Program Director at a local nonprofit organization. This unexpected termination in the middle of a pandemic showed me how dispensable I was and forced me to take my business to the next level.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?

In addition to being a business builder and grant writer under my business, SJS. Business Building and More, I am also a 2 time author. My 1st book is, Business Affirmations for Bosses (November 2020) and my 2nd is a collaborative book, Blacks in Nonprofits: The Grant Writers Edition (December 2020). I also have affirmation merchandise and co-host a widely success pop up shop every other month.. In February 2021 I launched SJ Stephens Grant Writing Academy. In August 2021 I will be adding the title of Curator to my resume as I release part one of my three-part series, The Anthology of Us: Through his Eyes. Mid-September I will release my 3rd book, The Uglier Side of the Truth.

What sets me apart is my work ethic and the way my mind works.  I have the uncanny ability to successfully create whatever my heart desires. For example-I woke up one day and decided I wanted to write a book-less than 45 days later, I had 2 published books. Someone asked me to teach them how to write grants and less than 48 hours later, my Grant Writing Academy and workbook was developed. With my newest project-the anthology-I thought of the idea on a Sunday and by Monday it was in motion. I am very unorthodox when it comes to how I do business, but I always get it done.

I am proud of my success. I am proud that in 14 months I have been able to secure over $900,000 in grant funding for my clients. I sold out of my 1st book in 31 hours, my 2nd book was an Amazon best seller in its genre upon release and I currently have 14 grant writing students.

I am excited about my future, I know it’s only up from here.

The road to being a business owner, educator, author and grant writer has not been easy. It has taken a lot of long hours and I will admit that my work life balance has been skewed since I began but,,,,its been because I truly love what I do. I love helping people and making a difference in my community.

My biggest challenge has been my work life balance.

Lessons learned-the importance of being a genuine person and always moving with integrity.

I want the world to know that outside of my children, building this brand was the best thing I have done with my life. I have not only helped hundreds of individuals in over 30 states over the past 14 months but it has enabled me to provide a better quality of life for me and my children.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We will spend time on my deck because it is the hottest spot in the city. I have an amazing garden out there, seating, the grill, fire pit, lights, speakers…its amazing.

We would eat at Leftys Fried Rice, Freddie Gs, Landrys and Reign for amazing food. For late night food we are definitely crossing the bridge and going to Club Illusions.

We would drink at Narwhals because I love a good frozen drink in the summer.

We would party at Elmos. The best brunch is at the Marquee.

We would spend time touring the city via car-I love late night rides, with amazing music. I can ride literally for hours on end and be satisfied.

Our downtown St. Louis City is amazing, Maplewood and Afton, Illinois are amazing sights with dope things to do.

And of course St Louis is known for the Arch.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shemieka Butler-the owner of Body By Me Fitness. She is my Business Bestie and one of my biggest supporters and motivators.

LeJon Paynes II and LeJon Paynes III-my children. They are my reason for everything. My desire to break generational curses and ensure that my future grandchildren are taken care of is a MAJOR part of my drive.

Brandee Chambers-my photographer.

Website: www.sjsbusinessbuilding.com

Instagram: sjs_usinessbuilding

Facebook: SJS.Business Building & More

Image Credits
Brandee Chambers

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