How and why did you become an entrepreneur?
I never imagined I would be an entrepreneur. I always thought I would be a career government employee. I came from a household where every adult I knew worked for someone else, and I was excited to follow that same path. I studied Political Science & Public Relations at Barry University in Miami Shores, FL, fully expecting to use my knowledge as a foreign affairs officer and one day, an ambassador.
I technically became an entrepreneur when I was told I had to. When I was in college, I ran a fashion club with another student. We hosted fashion shows and other events on campus. After a series of very successful events, the school administrators let us know that the events earned “too much money” to continue banking on campus. We were told we had to spend the money, or we had to open a business bank account off-campus to store it.
My partner was from Grenada and didn’t have the proper documentation at the time for a business bank account, so we used mine. A couple of signatures later, and I was an entrepreneur!
I embraced entrepreneurship many years later, after working in corporate America. I share the story in detail in my debut paperback, Stumbling Through Adulthood. To make a long story short, I had been asking for a raise while maintaining freelance projects. One day I was offered a project that would pay me more than my salary, and I decided to give myself a raise.
What excites you about entrepreneurship?
No day is ever the same, and I love that. The best part of this lifestyle is control over my time. I’m very passionate about possibilities. I like that by pursuing my dreams; I get to make room for other women to see what they can achieve. This past year, I got married to my favorite person, I published my guided journal Stumbling Through Adulthood, and I provided jobs for others. It feels incredible to wake up and do that every day.
At the same time, this year, I had a health scare, which turned out to be overgrown fibroids in my uterus. I had to be on bed rest for 90 days to fully recover. Being an entrepreneur allowed me to take time for self-care in a way that would not have been possible if I worked for someone.
What do you think are the most common mistakes novice entrepreneurs make? How can they avoid making them?
I think a common mistake is trying to do everything yourself. I think people who have the courage to pursue entrepreneurship have the self-confidence that is, let’s be honest… a little out there. Your average person doesn’t take risks that business owners take. People with that predilection often struggle with asking for help.
Sometimes it’s because you think your way is the best. Maybe you don’t ask for help because of pride. It could be that you want help, but you don’t know how to ask. Regardless of why I’ve seen not asking for help is a common challenge.
You can avoid this issue by being self-aware. I wrote my guided journal Stumbling Through Adulthood, to help readers step outside themselves and reflect on behaviors that might be hindering them from showing up as their best selves. Another way to increase self-awareness is to see yourself through other people.
Flourish Media Conference is a business conference for women business owners. During the conference, we focus on branding, visibility, and funding for minority women. One of the bonuses that come from spending time with leaders at your level or above is exchanging ideas and best practices to improve. When we come together, we can learn from each other’s mistakes. We can make those errors less common.
How do you achieve work-life balance?
I don’t know if I believe in a work-life balance. The more I grow in my business, the more I think it is a myth. I like to think women business owners can have everything they want from life, just not at the same time.
I live my business. From the moment I wake up to the moment I close my eyes, I am working on my passion. If my eyes are open, I am working, and I love it. My business is built around my personal area of genius, and if I weren’t getting paid to do it, I’d be doing it for free. Like all things, moderation is key.
Flourish Media Conference grew from that energy. Over two days, we welcome women business owners to South Florida. Those women connect over a common goal – securing funding to grow their small business – yet we do it in a beautiful venue, over drinks, good music, and better people.
Instead of work-life balance, let’s strive for working on things we care about in places we enjoy with people who get it.
What three tools (apps, books, podcasts, etc.) would you recommend to anyone trying to start her own business?
Google Drive is life!!! I would not be able to manage my businesses the way I do if it wasn’t for that app. Google Drive’s system is user-friendly, compatible with mobile, and very easy to access when I am traveling for clients projects or my book Stumbling Through Adulthood. Another tool I highly recommend is Trello. Trello is a project management system that also works well on mobile. Last I would say UberConference. We had been using Google Hangouts to manage virtual meetings, but this past year we are loving UberConference. We use it every day.
Which female entrepreneurs inspire you the most? Why do you look up to them?