I'm With the Band

On a Shoestring

What: A U.S. Hispanic marketing company
Who: Linda Gonzalez of Viva Partnership Inc.
Where: Miami
When: Started in 1997
How much: $500

When Linda Gonzalez moved from San Antonio to Miami to open a new branch of the marketing agency she worked for, she was devastated to learn only six weeks later that the agency had decided to close the office and fire her. So she spoke to the head of CBS/Westinghouse, the big account she had helped the agency land in Miami, and bravely asserted: "I have 12 years of international experience; I'm the one who did the presentation. What you were getting before, you will still get from me." He accepted, and with $500 on Gonzalez's credit card, Viva Partnership Inc. was born.

Gonzalez was able to keep the office, but deferred the rent for a couple of months. She only bought a two-line phone from Target and a fax machine. A single mother, Gonzalez had to get by without payment from CBS/Westinghouse for 90 days. She remembers the difficult holiday season:

"I had one other credit card, Spiegel. I bought my kids their presents with that." Handling most aspects of the business herself, she outsourced work to creative directors and copywriters.

Gonzalez slowly started adding new accounts and now projects $22 million to $23 million in billings for 2003, boasting clients like FedEx (Latin America), Entenmann's and Verizon Wireless. Remarried and now with another child, Gonzales is happy both at home and with her business, viewing the near disaster as a blessing in disguise.

-April Y. Pennington
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This article was originally published in the November 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: I'm With the Band.

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