Allison Monroe is the Founder and CEO, a quintessential entrepreneur, couldn’t find a company with the resources she wanted to teach her 4 children multiple languages. So, she started one that has since evolved into an Innovation Center for the global education industry.
Allison moved to the Middle East 6 months after 9-11 and learned Arabic in the Peace Corps. She has an International media background and was the only woman photojournalist during the war in Iraq in Jordan. She has since run businesses in Australia, USA and Jordan. Community service is at the center of Allison’s life. Currently, she serves on local and international non-profits as the fundraising and community sponsor leads. She believes community, language and communication are gifts we give our children and is committed to raising her 4 young children, as a single mother, to become trilingual, global citizens.
This is her interview
Tell us about your business.
We connect buyers and sellers in an online marketplace for educational resources in all languages. Parents and teachers can purchase digital educational resources such as activities and lesson plans, as well as educational toys including puzzles, games and blocks in multiple languages.
Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?
I was born an entrepreneur— in elementary school I would make mudballs and sell them. I also wanted to be a connect, world citizen. When I decided to teach my kids Arabic, I noticed the resources were scarce. That is when I began Syraj Kids, a retail and wholesale distribution company for fun and engaging Arabic resources for children. Then I realized, what I did for one language, I can do for many, and that’s how Language Learning Market came to be. To me, being a business owner means being able to prioritize my children and having control of my freedom.
What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
My mentor Ashley Tran helped me a lot in creating a business plan. She is a Vietnam refugee who was left stranded aboard with 200 people after their ship was pirated. They wound up on an island near the Philippines where they lived for a year or two. Eventually, Ashley accompanied by 20 others immigrated to the U.S. where they all lived in one apartment, and she put herself through college at the University of Texas at Arlington. Now, she is a multi-million dollar entrepreneur. She really inspired me and helped when creating my vision for Language Learning Market.
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
There are so many highlights from working at LLM thus far— being featured in Dallas Morning News, a publication I grew up with, our first grant, Accelerator Impact Ventures. Something I am most proud of, however, is building this company up without debt and borrowing money. You can’t let money stop you from following your dreams, there are always ways to be resourceful and get things done.
What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?
Building the right team is the most important part. In the book Good to Great, author Jim Collins says “start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.” As we have become more acclimated within our company, we are now each working in areas that match our strengths and skillsets and are able to move forward so much faster.
What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?
We did PR training with Uptin Saiidi, who spent a month training us, writing about us, and preparing us. PR training has really helped and has been the best for marketing thus far. Learning SEO and having resources such as UberSuggest (Ubersuggest.com/training) has been very helpful as well.
What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
Something I have learned that I am also most proud of is not allowing money to stop you from following your dreams. There are always ways to be resourceful and get things done.
Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you run your business?
Having advisors and mentors is the best think to seek out. Wingsdallas.org has helped us with creating a business plan for our launch and we are currently in the running for a grant from impact-ventures.co/ to help fund our business.
Do you have any new projects coming up or recently launched?
This year we launched our two platforms: a marketplace for the best digital language learning materials and educational products from around the world, and our directory, the most comprehensive industry directory for online learning, educational businesses and services.
What do you do for fun/relaxation?
I love traveling and enjoying the outdoors with my four kids.
What is Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?
Now that our platforms are launched, we hope to meet our company revenue goals, for us and our distributors.
You want to write a book on …
My life story and how I’ve overcome the struggles I have endured. I went from living alone, post-divorce, in the Middle East six months after 9/11, to being CEO of a company promoting education for all.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Giving back to the community is very important, within own community’s needs and world needs. It is very motivating for your team to know you have a greater purpose and mission.
What’s the best way for the readers of WE Magazine for Women to connect with you?