From Vision To Reality: My Journey To Becoming An Entrepreneur
A picture is worth a thousand words, that’s why I am a believer in a Vision Board as a valuable tool to creatively capture a visual image of your goals. Last year, I was motivated to be intentional by creating a vision board with all my plans for 2018, chief of which was my goal of becoming an entrepreneur.
May 2019 has been eight months since I took that bold leap of faith and left my corporate job to embark on a journey that would offer me new opportunities for personal and professional growth in keep with the goals on my vision board. During these eight months, I have been laying the foundation for my own company, paving the way for me to focus on what I have always loved… Public Relations, Communications, Event Management, Editing and Writing. In addition to launching my own business, I also celebrate the achievement of other goals on my vision board.
I started publishing my monthly blog – Make Life Count, to encourage persons to live every day consciously and intentionally in fulfilling their purpose and goals. I also launched Islanders Book Club, which is a network for Caribbean professionals living in Barbados. The Club is a forum for knowledge-sharing and a vehicle to achieve personal and professional development through reading.
Since I started on this journey, I have met some remarkable influencers, who were open and willing to share lessons from their entrepreneurial journey (the pitfalls, the failures and the successes). I have benefited and grown from their insights and experiences as well as the practical guidance that they have shared by way of one-on-one consultations, personal business coaching sessions or online webinars. I salute those who have helped to empower and teach me valuable lessons as a beginner on this entrepreneurial journey: @Daphne Valcin, Business Coach, @Jacqueline Walker-Johnson, Founder/Chief Editor, TheBeyondWoman Magazine, @Naomi Garrick, The PR Chick, @Rowena Morais, HR and Career Development Specialist and others.
There are also successful leaders and thinkers such as Paul Brunson, Richard Branson, John C. Maxwell, Jack Canfield, Michael Hyatt, Simon Sinek, Arianna Huffington, Gary Vaynerchuk and many others who I follow on social media and who are, in their own way, my entrepreneurial role models and mentors. Along this, sometimes very unpredictable journey, they have motivated me in many positive ways, and will, no doubt, continue to influence me as I grow and build my business. I am also able to stay the course with the invaluable support of my inner circle – my family and close friends – who are my biggest cheerleaders and who give wind to my sail.
My entrepreneurial journey has only just begun and there is much more ground for me to cover and many more lessons to learn. Every day has been a process of unlearning and learning. I have had to challenge myself each day to release fear, self-doubt and anxiety and to trust God and the process. I have had to challenge myself to remain positive and to persevere even in the face of difficulties and uncertainties.
I have also learnt that there are some ‘invisible’ barriers to succeeding in business – things that remain unspoken. As I continue to navigate my way through what I see as a ‘maze’ to successful entrepreneurship, I reflect on the distance I have covered and the invaluable lessons I have learnt along this journey.
1. ‘INVISIBLE’ BARRIERS TO SUCCESS IN BUSINESS
There is a perception that owning your own business is easier than working for someone else or that it is always rewarding. Nothing could be further from the truth. You have to work harder and longer hours to build and sustain your own business. Nothing prepares you for some of the “invisible” barriers to success in business.
Having your own business demands that you assume responsibility for every area and every function of your business and of course you bear all the associated costs and risks. This does not mean that you have to do everything, but it means that you have to assume ultimate responsibility for every area, even if that function is delegated to someone else. You must have a clear plan for your business, stay ‘on top of the game’ and be aware of what goes on not just internally within the business, but in the external environment as well. It requires you not just to be a “jack of all trades” but literally to be a “master”.
The underlying culture and unwritten rules of engagement within which your business operates is also a key determinant of success. Failure to appreciate and understand these rules can result in the failure of your business.
Do not rely on friendships or family connections for patronage of your business. Build your client or customer base on a foundation of solid performance, on real exchange of value rather than expectations and promises. Your competence, gifts and talents will make a way for you and attract the right clients and
Your internal radar and mindset can also be barriers to success in business. It is said that the only limits to accomplishing anything are the limits on your own thinking. If you have limiting self-beliefs and a negative mindset then you undermine your ability to grow and succeed in business.
2. THE PROCESS OF UNLEARNING AND LEARNING
Armed with years of experience in Management and extensive experience in the field of Public Relations and Communications, I felt that the transition to becoming an entrepreneur would be relatively smooth. With unbridled optimism, I undertook research on the steps to becoming an entrepreneur and success strategies for start-ups. I sought guidance from businesspersons within my network, who all encouraged me to take the leap but cautioned me that going into business would be demanding, require hard work and commitment. They advised that it was rewarding as you get to chart your own course and do what you love to do while earning.
Despite all the guidance and planning, nothing really prepares you for the reality of unlearning what you thought you knew about start-ups and owning your own business.
Staying ahead of the curve is critical to achieving business success. You need to be open to a process of continuous learning (personal and professional development). This is how you will be stay on the cutting edge of business strategies, market trends and competitor activities and learn how to build brand awareness and brand value in the marketplace. There is also a wealth of knowledge to be gained from the experience of those with a proven record of success. Seek to find influencers and successful entrepreneurs as mentors or advisors from whom you can learn key business success strategies and techniques.
It is also important to learn the art of being intentional and consistent in order to succeed in business and being open to growing and evolving. Unlearn old habits like procrastination; – putting off until tomorrow what you can do today. It is really the thief of time. Avoiding the trap of disorganization and creating a consistent and efficient system for handling workflows. Overcoming the expectation gap; – Get real! Like the 80/20 Pareto rule, business success is 80% perspiration and 20% inspiration. It is not just about having a clear statement of your vision but actually doing what it takes to make it a reality.
3. BE PATIENT AND TRUST THE PROCESS
There is a process of building before we begin to achieve success. This is a necessary and foundational process on the journey to achieving our goals. A farmer before he can reap a harvest, must first prepare the land, plants seeds and fertilize and water the seeds during the process of growth.
During the process, there will be days that you feel like giving up because you don’t see evidence of progress. There will be days that your 100% efforts fail to generate the results you anticipated. There will be days that once lucrative opportunities yield zero results and your close network may not translate to clients or business prospects. Recognize that every experience, even failure, along the journey has a valuable lesson wrapped up it.
The key I have learnt is to trust the process, be patient during the process and remain open to learning and growing from every experience. When you stay the course, “…in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6 vs 9).
4. RELEASE FEAR, SELF-DOUBT AND ANXIETY AND TRUST GOD
For many persons who have started a business, the journey has its share of anxiety and fears. The struggles are real, but you have to challenge yourself each day to release fear, worry, anxiety and self-doubt. When the doubts and questions arise always remember why you started in the first place. Never stop believing in yourself and your vision. Believe in your abilities and capacity to be achieve your goals and visions. Above all, recognise that it is a journey of faith that requires you to trust God every step of the way. It is said that when you leap, you build wings on your way down as you won’t have it all figured out. Along the journey you will build tenacity, courage, resilience, and an inner strength to push you beyond the fears and doubts and to keep you forging ahead
5. PERSEVERE IN THE FACE OF DIFFICULTIES & UNCERTAINTIES
The road to building a business has its highs and its lows. You will experience challenges, frustrations and uncertainties. You will experience disappointment, defeat and sometimes rejection, but do not stay at the place of defeat and do not allow it to erode your passion and self-confidence. Persevere and keep your focus on our goals. Never discount the small wins or progress that are made and always pause to celebrate the positives along the journey. Build a supportive network and find a coach or mentor who will also help to keep you accountable, focused and motivated to pursue your goals.
Although it is easier said than done, remain inspired by the possibilities of what you can achieve and what tomorrow has to offer. Jack Ma, Chinese business magnate, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, a family of successful Internet-based businesses, states, “Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.”
If after taking this journey, you honestly assess that being an entrepreneur is not what you want to do, know that “…regardless of failure or success, the experience is a form of success itself” to quote Jack Ma.
6. INVEST IN OTHERS
The experiences and lessons we learn along the journey are never solely for our own benefit. They become seeds for us to invest in others, to help influence or encourage someone who has started their journey towards achieving their entrepreneurial goals. As I wrote in my previous article, THE POWER OF YOUR “SOCIAL IMPRINT” – THE NIPSEY HUSSLE MODEL, if all we aspire to do as entrepreneurs is to make millions or build an enterprise for ourselves, then we will fail as our real value is what we do for others, how much we help to improve the lives of others or how much we invest in others along their journey to achieving their goals.
Write your own story but write it so that it becomes a road map to guide or assist new entrepreneurs.
The journey continues . . .
Misha Lobban Clarke a Public Relations/Communications Specialist, Editing Consultant and Writer with over 20 years’ experience. She is the head of ML Consulting Services, which provides public relations, corporate communication, media relations, event management and content writing services to assist entrepreneurs and corporate entities effectively communicate and promote their brand within their industry and the global marketplace.
As an editing consultant, Misha offers her expertise to assist aspiring authors maximize their talent and achieve their dream of writing, publishing and marketing their books to audiences globally. For more visit me on LinkedIn or follow my blog at https://mlcblog.org/