From what I have mentioned about my mother in part one you could say that being an entrepreneur ran in the family and I came by it at an early age. At the age of thirteen, I was running two home based businesses with a robust client base and baby-sitting on the side to earn additional cash. I will always remember having my first business bank account at that age and going to the bank once a week and handing over my little bank book to the teller to be updated (man am I giving my age away). From there I kept trying to find different ways to make money that always seemed to border on how they could be bigger and better.
I went on to higher education as everyone seems to be encouraged to do - to get an education that will stand you in good stead no matter what life throws at you. So I did just that and somehow in mid my 20’s ended up in a commission job in the life insurance industry. Despite all of the ups and downs from a monetary standpoint and having to find my own clients, for the most part it was one of the best parts of my career.
After the birth of my daughter, I looked for more stability and took on a management role, but never quite felt the same rush again when working 9-5. Life took a turn for the worse and after the death of my husband, I was forced to stay in a corporate role in order to put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads.
In 2008 I could not stand it any longer, I had lost my raison d’être and my passion was gone. Therefore, I held my breath and made a bold decision to leave corporate life behind once and for all. I quit my job, took a year off because I could and thought about whom I wanted to be when I grew up. I remember saying to someone how my sides had stopped hurting because I was no longer trying to shove a square peg into a round hole, that to me was profound.
Hence began my journey back to being an entrepreneur. Today I am an author, professional speaker and a consultant and I am living the life I was born to lead. No more 9-5, no more bosses telling me what my job is – today I am totally in charge of the future and I have never felt more energized. I get up each morning, excited, curious and sometimes I must admit a tiny bit apprehensive about what the future will bring. However, I would not have it any other way!
Here are some of the tips I shared with the Master’s students at Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship & Technology Centre, in Waterloo, Ontario about being an entrepreneur today and tomorrow.
When you first start out you are the ‘Jack of All Trades’, you’re the president, receptionist, marketing manager, sales person, accountant, bookkeeper and sometimes, yes, even the janitor. You wear all of the hats and there is no one else to shift the responsibility to.
It is critical that you develop and hone your marketing skills because if you cannot articulate what your business is all about and have a decent conversation with people you are in deep trouble.
You have to have total passion and belief in your venture. There is no one else who is going to be able to communicate this to others but you.
Knowing about both sides of the fence is critical to your success. If all you do is go around jumping from idea to idea, even though living in a creative world can be exhilarating, it does not pay the bills and can become quite exhausting. You have to understand the financial side of your business and have some safety nets in place in case of a financial emergency or heaven forbid something worse.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t always easy and there will be days when you will truly question your sanity for going this route. Sure we have all heard stories about those who have made it big overnight but one thing I know from all of my years of experience is that it takes about 2-5 years to build your business and to get a really solid foundation under your feet both client and financial wise.
Finally, yet importantly – realize that we make mistakes along the way. The idea that seemed like ‘a sure thing’ to you at 3am when you have been up all night for yet another sleepless night just might not make it in the daylight hours.
So sometimes, the ride along the way might seem bumpy but if you put your seat belt on, tighten it and can hang on for the ride you just might come out of it on the other side on a long, glassy and sunny highway to success.
Good things come to those who work for it. Good luck!
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