As I reflect on my first year as an entrepreneur and business owner, I share some of the many gifts of this past year. In transparency, I resisted accepting some of the gifts only to learn that even though we do not ask for certain opportunities, they show up anyway, many times unannounced. My motto has been: learn and grow, repeat.
The benefit of working in the known world of boss- employee relationship is there is the known. Not a lot of unknown. Basically, that means putting my skills and personality to work with someone else’s agenda and following their plan of action. Although I worked hard and put in many hours, at the end of the day, it was someone else’s dream. Take into account I was a teacher for many of those years; I experienced the pendulum swing back and forth on accepted teaching practices and changing my style of teaching to accommodate such swings. It was both good and sometimes frustrating. All in all, being in a position to inspire and motivate young people as they grow academically, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, is where the gold in teaching lies. Turns out, this was a perfect breeding ground for my future. I just didn’t know it at the time.
All my experiences in my first 50 years of life were great until it no longer served my calling and the way I desired to serve others. I learned some valuable lessons through the many years I was in the work force of teaching and ministry work. All of the lessons, every one of them, good, bad, happy, and sad, are great lessons that I was called to learn in order for this moment to happen. I had some amazing mentors who loved me well. They taught me not only about the business side of ministry, most importantly, about life, loving each other, and the value of life-long friendships. I was blessed to teach many children along the way; although truth be known, I mentored more than I taught. I was their biggest cheerleader and still am today. I encouraged parents to be the very best parents they could be; raising children is the most difficult job in the world. It is also the most rewarding. The time came to move on. I knew I was being called to journey into another unknown destination, discover new meanings to my purpose, and take on adventures I could not experience otherwise.
With a little help (okay, a lot of help) from some friends and huge support from my husband, off I went. It was like watching the slow-setting sunset in paradise and waking up the next morning to the sun quickly rising as I stood in the chaos of the overcrowded, busy streets in New York City. All those rushing cars, honking horns, and the hustle and bustle of people going nowhere, but yet somewhere.
Yeah, it has been a crazy, happy, frightening, confusing, laughing, crying, lack of sleep kind of year. I have loved almost every moment.
This is a wonderful moment for me: my first year as an entrepreneuring woman. I consider this blog my anniversary party to myself. As with any anniversary celebration, there is a call to reflection about days past and what I have learned.
I have chosen not to research “things you should learn in business the first year.” Instead, I am sharing from my own learnings, “Five Things I’ve Learned In My First Year of Business.”
The five lessons I have learned over the past year.
- I define my own success
- Know, like, and trust – use intuition
- Either you run your schedule or it runs you
- Networking is sometimes daunting and I’m an extrovert
- Make new friends but keep the old
I define my own success. Success looks different to each of us. When I first began thinking about starting my own business, I thought making money would define my success. My background is in ministry, so the idea of making REAL money was exciting. The longer I sat with that, the more incongruent I became. I quickly realized that making money is not my number one reason for creating You.Empowered Services; it wasn’t even number two. The reason I love what I do is I get to help people get over themselves. Yes, that’s pretty much it! Once we can take a look at what is holding us back from living our definition of success, we are free to roam around in our imagination and dream. Oh, that is so exciting! To get to be a part of a woman’s life who struggles with a divorce, parents who need to put in place a parenting plan that restores order in the household, a business professional in the middle of a career that is no longer the dream, or a young person who cannot get clear on what the future is calling him or her to in order to thrive, is the greatest blessing of all. That is when I feel my personal success: giving wings to a client who has earned them and now is ready to fly!
My relationships in life have been based on know, like, and trust. In the last year, I would say know, like, and trust, on steroids! Some of my learning has been incorporating intuition into those as well. There have been some hard learnings and many gifts as well. People have to know, like, and trust you in order to want to do business with you. I get that. I also get that when you want to know, like, and trust and your intuition is telling you to take a step back, take your heart out of the situation, and then step back into the relationship, LISTEN to it! Otherwise, OUCH! Another hard lesson learned. My heart is usually what shows up first, I am learning that is not always a wise. Sometimes I wonder if honesty is always the best policy and then remind myself that is who I am so that is where I stand. At the end of the day, the only person I can change is me; others have to do the work on their self. That is why I became an empowerment/life coach: help people change their thinking, choices, and life to suit their dreams.
Either you run your schedule or it runs you. I need to be completely transparent here. This is my biggest struggle. That’s why I have been awake since 3:30 this morning. A couple of months ago, I even took the Franklin Covey Time Management course! (If you were to look at my report card as a child, “uses time effectively” had an “NI” by it on many occasions.) I learned the Franklin Covey way of how to set priorities and manage my time. I learned those two things; putting them into practice, well, that is a whole other ball game. It is very different as an entrepreneur; I was trying to be everything to everyone. It is exhausting. As I gain wisdom, I am learning that I get the same 24 hours that everyone else does; staying focused will result in fewer sleepless nights and 18 hour days. I must remind myself what a friend used to say to me, “Baby steps, Derlene, baby steps.” Living by the schedule I set weekly remains a challenge for me, but I’m up for it because it is part of my success plan!
Networking is sometimes daunting and I’m an extrovert. As an extrovert, I love meeting people, hearing their stories, and seeing how I can help them reach their goals. That is how I get my energy. I really love it! If I would have known how amazing it is to show up at unfamiliar places and walk out knowing you have met a new referral partner, connected someone to a need, or gained a new friend, I would have started long ago! Having said that, I find my time at home much quieter. I enjoy the peace of quiet. I am in awe of my introvert friends who are called to network; I can only imagine how incredibly exhausting it is for them. The best practice I have stayed true to is drinking a cup of coffee in the morning while praying/meditating and being completely quiet. No phone. No email. No talking to my husband. Ahhhh, then I am ready to go for the day!
Make new friends but keep the old. I have found that many of my old friends (and family, for that matter) may not understand why I chose to start two businesses after I turned 54 years old, and that is okay. My journey calls me to live out loud! This is my way of doing it. As I began dreaming about You.Empowered Services, I wanted to know what it feels like to be an entrepreneur and business owner. There is only one way to make that happen! DO IT! As the year progressed and the opportunity came to purchase the TEAM Referral Network, I was already enjoying (professional) networking. It made sense I would act on that opportunity as well. I do not stay as connected with the old gang as I used to but I know what I am doing is pursuing a dream that was dormant for many decades. I do think on some days, how easy it would be to revert back into the old pattern of work, collect a paycheck, run around all weekend, hit repeat. No getting to ride my bike like I have the last couple of years is one of the sacrifices I miss most. I do, however, appreciate every time I get to ride, even if it is at 6 am! The friends, the many new friends, I have made over the past year is gold. I reflect on how very different my life would have been had I not met my fellow entrepreneurs. We share our business, experiences, trials, and most of all, friendship. Solid gold!
I would not exchange this past year for anything. I understand my greatest strengths are also generally my greatest weakness. I know that people are learning to know, like, and trust me outside of the teaching/directing circles I have known for so long. Mostly what I know is that I am blessed beyond all measure. I want to live those blessings; changing the world and the world changes me. Happy Anniversary to You.Empowered Services, LLC!