Tuesday, August 4, 2015

4 Years of Entrepreneurship: What I've Learned

On August 4, 2011, I officially solidified myself as an entrepreneur by filing for a fictitious name and obtaining my business license. Although iWrite4orU was legally born on this date, I discovered my passion for writing close to 17 years ago. Before acknowledging my interest in company ownership, my aspirations did not expand any further than composing new poems and freelancing for newspapers and magazines. However, God had other plans for my gift(s). I finally accepted the responsibility, after a conversation with my aunt (and first paying client). She told me to, "stop giving your talent away for free." But who would adhere to self-calculated rates and fees from a budding writer who was solely driven by pure passion? I thought. As soon as I stopped doubting myself, I learned that actively showcasing a never-ending passion for what I love to do would be the main attraction for potential clients. This purpose walk hasn't been anything close to easy, but I've persevered through various setbacks and failures and along the way, I've also learned that:

1. Fear resides in comfort zones.

Jacksonville is the place I call home. It is also where I feel most comfortable. As I started to gain momentum with my business, I realized that I could only stretch so far. After a while, promoting my services and products to a select group of people became very redundant. I ran into the same faces at events and noticed that my network was very stifled. In the beginning, I was extremely afraid of going where I was unknown and not being accepted outside of familiar territory. I slowly built up enough courage to travel to nearby cities, and eventually to the Middle East, which provided a new level of confidence. But I soon realized how much I tend to rely on the security of my comfort zone. Even though it's where I feel the safest, every time I return to it, I am even more afraid when it comes to planning a permanent exit.   

2. Transitioning is a good thing. 

An entrepreneur must constantly seek growth, understanding that success won't always be steady. During the start-up stage, there will be more inactive moments than busy moments. I personally became a victim of instant gratification; an impulsive decision-maker, when I noticed the sudden results of my labor. Just 2 1/2 years into entrepreneurship, I decided to quit my "day job" so that I could focus on my dream full-time. I don't regret the decision at all because managing my own time provided options for traveling more and also led to greater opportunities. I had to make myself available in order to prosper, but now that those short-term opportunities have ended, I am dwelling in an uncertain space, (im)patiently awaiting what's to come. This idle period is forcing me to be still and observant, something that I haven't really done since establishing iWrite4orU

3. Save some motivation for yourself.

No one desires to reach the top alone, which is why it's normal to see many entrepreneurs publicly sharing tips and words of encouragement, attempting to motivate others. But there are times when we can't muster up the energy to motivate ourselves and, unfortunately, that is quite difficult for our supporters to comprehend. Success is more about giving than getting, and oftentimes our giving isn't reciprocated. I now make more of a conscious effort to equally motivate myself to ensure that nothing interferes with my positive mindset. I never want to be so mentally exhausted that my giving begins to feel like an obligation.  

4. Faith over Finances. 

I strongly believe that many people with original ideas, accompanied by unique talents, refuse to pursue entrepreneurship because they are not willing/ready to deal with the financial risk. Yes, it is best to be prepared and plan accordingly for all possible circumstances, but hesitation and procrastination go hand-in-hand. The longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to genuinely work your faith. I've never let the amount of money in my bank account control the outcome for my endeavors. And despite how much I plan, the blueprint is hardly ever accurate. The most valuable lesson that I have learned is that my faith is the only determining factor for every goal I set for myself. If I don't allow it to function properly, it is impossible to claim the entrepreneur title, with dignity.

Being a business owner is one of the most gratifying experiences in life. As I continue to evolve and secure my legacy, I will remain optimistic, and forever grateful that I survived four years of self-employment. I'm anxious to celebrate the milestones that year five will bring. In the meantime, I will continue to spread my LIVE YOUR DREAM message, hoping that I can inspire an unlimited amount of people to make the present sacrifices that are necessary for a future of fulfillment.