Entrepreneurship can be scary, admits Vanessa Vaughn, founder of Asfalis Consulting, which provides crisis management, business continuity plans, disaster exercises, and emergency response solutions to companies large and small.

But fear can be a game-changer, both personally and professionally, as it was for Vanessa after she survived a tornado in 2008 that struck the heart of Atlanta, Georgia. Her car—with her in it—was lifted into the air by winds blowing nearly 200 miles per hour.

“It was the first time in my life that I realized I was not in control,” the Savannah State grad exclaimed. “But because of that experience, I have never been confused about what I’m doing with my career.”

With a background in homeland security and emergency management, she’s been working mainly in the transportation and aviation fields. In these post 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina days, the federal government is continually developing ways to implement structured responses from the private and public sectors.
Vanessa is a certified business continuity planner (CBCP), which is a fancy way of saying that she helps businesses create a plan B. Small businesses generally have tight resources, so it’s critical to have a plan in place to help them survive. “Such plans keep the company going,” she noted and suggested the simplest things for starters—backing up paper files and customer contact lists.

She’s extremely comfortable in her Plaza Midwood neighborhood among dozens of other entrepreneurs. Outspoken as a result of the work she does, she confesses a fondness for solitude. One of her favorite hangouts? “The library!” she laughed.

The Virginia native teaches a business continuity management certification course at Queens University minutes away from her home. “I know I was given a gift, and I can help others now.”

Nominated by NBMBA
Photo by Sofi Preslar