Army Veteran and Certified Veteran Lending Specialist, Cierra Jones has a passion for paying it forward to ensure Veteran’s have a chance at homeownership. and Mortgage experience.
Founder and CEO of Michelle Financial Group, Cierra helps military veterans and their families maximize their veteran benefits and educates them on the importance of using VA Home Loans to create generational wealth as first-time homeowners. Cierra’s has helped thousands of Military Veterans, spouses, and their families to leverage their credit to create strategic habits for homeownership. With 25 years of combined experience in the financial and credit industry, her company has helped more than 500 veterans buy a home using a VA Home Loan and boost credit scores of over 700.
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Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Cierra Jones: I created Michelle Financial Group with one goal in mind, to prepare Military Veterans to become homeowners. In 2015, when I was denied my very first VA Loan, there was no one to show me what I could do to improve my credit profile. After being denied three more times for my credit scores, I created a strategy to directly improve my mortgage credit scores. My Mortgage FICO Scores increased by 200 points in just two years and I was able to close the deal on my VA Loan in just over 35 days.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up?
Cierra Jones: As a single mother. I constantly struggled with living in high crime areas and dangerous living conditions with my then 3-month-old daughter. I worked two and three jobs and even sold my things in order to save for my very first house. Even during the storms and rain and wanting to give up many times, I persevered and use this same determination to create Michelle Financial Group to give Military Veterans the same chance of creating a stable life for their families.
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Cierra Jones: Many entrepreneurs make the common mistake of giving up too soon. Starting a small business can be daunting and many entrepreneurs will quit after not seeing immediate results. The key to achieving a successful business is celebrating even the smallest wins and some of the losses too. These are the setbacks that can help you create a profitable strategy to help your business grow. It’s important for an entrepreneur to not despise the small beginnings but embrace them because they will be the stepping stone to the success of their business.
Has the pandemic and transitioning into mostly online shopping affected your company positively or negatively?
Cierra Jones: Like many CEOs, I’ve had to overcome some turbulent times due to the pandemic. While in some aspects, it did affect my company negatively, I was able to use these critical times and convert them into creating strategies that would help leverage my business. I was able to provide hybrid training opportunities to my team and thus expand the impact we have on helping our customers. We have also seen an increase in veterans interested in taking charge of their finances which has given us the ability to serve those who serve.
When you think of your company, 5 years from now, what do you see?
Cierra Jones: When I think of my company 5 years from now, I think of the continued mission we have to serve military veterans. Our goal is to be able to open 10 storefronts on Military Installations in order to serve our military personnel in person. We also strive to help veterans close $1M in VA Home-loans in the next 5 years.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Cierra Jones: Three important character traits that have aided in making me a successful leader would be optimism, perseverance and, being solutions-driven. Oftentimes excuses stand in our way and prevent us from being laser-focused on the business objectives. These character traits are the core of what continues to help me run a successful business.
What have you learned about personal branding that you wish you had known earlier in your career?
Cierra Jones: Capturing your brand story is so important in people being able to connect with you. I honestly wish I would have told my story earlier because my story has impacted so many people and has helped me coaching other military veterans to become successful homeowners.
What’s your favorite leadership style and why?
Cierra Jones: I use a “hands-off” approach in my leadership style. It’s important for me to allow my team the opportunity to prove their capabilities and be there to coach or mentor them as needed. I promote a team-focused environment where at Michelle Financial, we are all leaders and have the ability to coach, mentor, and train one another in order to accomplish the goals of the business
What would you say is the main difference between starting a business at the time you started yours and starting the business in today’s age?
Cierra Jones: Automation has definitely proved the be the change engineer businesses need to leverage and scale their business. This is the key difference and component to when I started my business versus starting a business in today’s age. We have so many opportunities for automation marketing and technological innovations that weren’t around years ago.
What’s your favorite “life lesson” quote and how has it affected your life?
Cierra Jones: My favorite life lesson quote is by Maya Angelou. She said, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
As entrepreneurs, we often measured success by how much we’ve done and how much money we’ve made but that’s not what totally makes us successful. Loving what you do and making an impact is what helps you in being a diversion entrepreneur.
Larry Yatch, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Cierra Jones for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Cierra Jones or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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