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Archive for the tag “starting a business”

Launching a Business and Falling in Love: More Alike Than I Realized

So here we are.

I’m a scardy cat. I will admit it. I’m always freaked out about stuff before and while doing important things. I’ve mentioned that in my reporter days, I could never go out on a story without taking my “calm down dump.”

Seems like the knots in my stomach were VERY real and until I could take that dump, I wouldn’t be right to go out there and nab that story.

I am freaked out because I finally stopped making excuses and got to work on my tee-shirt website.

I worked with one do it yourself site, which required a lot of doing it yourself and I ended up frustrated, and left the work undone.

I allowed the defeat.

Finally one day, I realized, maybe I should just pay to use another, easier, more user-friendly site and keep it moving.

Pride aside, you don’t know enough to build it, or at least build it with these tools.

So with my mind made up to pay for a really great site, I got to work last night. It turns out the really great site has a free option. It’s limited, but it’s free and perfect for where I am in the process now. I will be upgrading, but I’m glad I started working on it.

The vision is coming together beautifully. And that’s what’s scary. Crap my pantalones scary, yall. Because here I am.

The photos, my models, who are my friends and the site looks mighty professional and sleek, in my opinion. I really can’t believe what I’m seeing. I’m so excited. All of my hard work since Fall 2011 is really starting to show results.

Straight up, if I didn’t have an artist of a friend of a photographer and gorgeous models who went to work and totally represented exactly what I wanted, the shirts would look like poo, if I tried to do this alone.

They elevated the game. I can’t even take credit.

But I’m scared. I had all of this planning, all of these classes I took, and now, basically the only real thing left to do is to get some inventory to get going and launch. Just put it out there and launch. See if people dig it, take some orders and go.

The planning and the learning helped me heal and gave me purpose it was an awesome distraction from my pain that allowed me to be creative. But now the nuts and bolts stuff I’ve been working toward is about to begin.

It will be time to launch. It is soon time to go out there and try and see if people feel what it is I’m putting out there. The idea I was afraid to say out loud, will be out there for the world to consume. This is no longer philosophical, folks.

Oh, that’s scary.

Deciding to follow a dream is a lot like allowing yourself to fall in love. Sometimes your expectations are too high, sometimes your expectations are too low depending on your skill level, history of success and self-esteem.

Both are highly risky, both are highly scary, but man when it works…

People looking in from the outside have all kinds of opinions. Some people agree with your choice, some question it, some hate it.  Some people think you are crazy for trying.

Launching a business and falling in love are so similar.

You find yourself thinking about both all of the time. You imagine what your future will be like if it all goes really well.

You try your hardest to make it work.

You want to be your absolute best for it.

You can’t deny the connection you feel to it. It haunts you.

You will spend a lot of money and make a lot of sacrifices and you won’t care about that unless it fails.

Something that keeps you going, that feeling reminds you that if you try hard enough, if you believe hard enough, it won’t fail.

“I Don’t Know” Soulive and Amel Larrieux

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On Seeing Myself and Other Revelations

So many things are going on in my heart and mind right now, it’s kind of nuts.

I’m inspired by how kick-ass Lancelot is, and I’m inspired by the book I’ve been talking to you folks about, “Calling in the One.”

There is a section in the book that talks about being a better you and basically having things going for yourself so it’s a lot easier for someone who has their stuff together can enter your life and you can both go do great things together.

The book, and Lancelot’s passion and risk-taking abilities speak to something I’ve known about myself all along but have kind of suppressed the last couple of years, because I’ve been in survival mode.

I do enjoy doing things that I feel are meaningful and that will help others and will allow me to be creative.

Somewhere along the way, I got lost in the sauce. And even with a new management position now, for which I am grateful, I have gotten further and further away from my passion as a writer and a reporter. I no longer professionally identify as such.

I still consider myself a journalist and editor, but I work in the digital space, with online content, primarily. I enjoy supporting my team, teaching them things and watching them grow. But, I can only take them so far, because in this world, I’ve only gotten so far myself and have been struggling with what to do next with this company way long ago.

Something tugged on my heart to go to volunteermatch.com yesterday. And there are times I have these moments. I feel inspired, I want to give back, but I search the site and either the times are bad or locations for the things I’m interested in.

I did something different with my search and put in writer as the keyword. There were few choices that popped up, but one did and it was awesome. It was for a writing coach to help low income kids prepare their college applications and scholarship essays.

I was all over it. I applied yesterday, got correspondence from the organization right away, and as of this morning, I passed the background check. I will be participating in an intense four-day program at a local university, working with a group of 4 to 6 kids, getting them ready.

Then I realized the personal mission I wrote down like three weeks ago. Connecting people to opportunities!! Yes, I am already embarking on that journey! I felt and still feel so good.

Yes, I will be taking two vacation days to do this, but I really want to. It’s important to me.

“Calling in the One” made me think about the connection to feeling good about myself, working on my purpose outside of potential romantic relationships.

I want Lancelot to be proud of me. I want to be his equal. I’ll never know how to do the crazy information technology stuff he does, but I know how to write my ass off. I know how to sit down and talk to people, ask them questions and have them share with me and feel safe. I know how to encourage people and cheer them on and remind them of the greatness they have inside them.

I want to do more of those things.

I find so much joy in talking to my mentee. I decided today to not just talk to her about her goals, but talk about the process of creativity and inspiration. So I shared with her my favorite books that spoke to me and or changed my life forever. Then I asked her to tell me what her favorite books are music are. We could take a short break from prepping our proposal to the local newspaper for an internship for a moment.

I look forward to her response.

It’s becoming clearer to me that I want to transition into working with young people and helping them gain access to opportunities. I don’t think I want to be a teacher, but I want to help them discover their talents and build a plan to help them utilize it and find a way to make a living out of it.

Seems like a lofty goal and I guess it does sound like a teacher or a guidance counselor. But I don’t want to be bogged down in the administrative nightmare of working in public schools. And I don’t want suckie pay. But, if I end up happily, ever after with Lancelot, maybe I’d have a little breathing room to do something without thinking about my rent all of the time…Can’t bank on that, but I’m just saying…

So what’s out there for someone like me? How can I blend my talents as a professional communicator with helping young people and get paid and not starve?

What masters degree could I get? What organization could I build or start?

Even with the tee shirt business, where the grand vision also included a women’s lifestyle website with articles and eventually empowerment conferences… I’ve been more motivated.

Trying to build the website on my own, I’m realizing has been holding me back and making me nuts. Just to get going, I may just buckle down and pay money for a simple site and finally get started. Just because the website I was building was free, it’s costing me more time and frustration. Sometimes you just have to jump out there.

Lancelot has shown me that, and so has “Calling in the One.” The book is gangsta. So I’m working on me. The better version of me. The version that seems to be gravitating toward working with young people and helping them reach their dreams.

One of the organizers from the event I spoke at a few weeks ago sent me some photos. Most of them were taken unaware, and seriously aside from me being dissappointed with my weight, I looked really happy. I looked comfortable doing what I was doing.

I saw myself.

I really saw the heart of who I am, in a photograph of me holding a microphone, sitting in a circle of young women, sharing with them.

It moved me.

One of my close friends saw it and said, “Just look at how those girls are looking at you.”

That was cool, if it was a look of interest and admiration, but I was more interested and fixated on what was radiating out of me. It was natural and it was the best of myself.

I had the same feeling looking at that picture, as I did in a photo of me from years ago, when I stood outside of the White House, arms folded, rocking a fabulous suit, with press credentials around my neck.

I feel my life shifting into something I’ve never expected and I embrace that. I’m happy to find myself being filled with purpose again.

Move Or Be Moved

Ok. I haven’t been blogging in a while. I’ve missed you fine folks.

I’ve been busy going back and forth visiting my friend, who nearly two weeks ago had a stroke due to blood clots in her brain.

I appreciate all of the well wishes and prayers, because they have been working. She struggles with her memory, but now she is in an inpatient rehab facility to help her get back into her normal, everyday habits.

She’s got a lot of work to do to get herself back physically, mentally and emotionally. But one thing I’ve learned is that our ability to think, to remember, to do basic things is one we really take for granted. We wake up in the morning and we assume everything should be working as it should. We never consider how difficult everyday tasks can be for those who are sick, injured or disabled.

It’s a miracle watching her improve day by day. She’s even doing a better job of initiating conversation or asking questions. But she still doesn’t want to eat much, which is driving all of us crazy and she often wants to be coddled when she doesn’t want to do something. We want her to get better and stronger, so she has to start doing more for herself.

But that update aside, other things are on my brain. My company is going through a number of transitions, which is putting more pressure on me to really get my own business started and off the ground. I’ve been prepping for almost a year and it’s time to really get going. I’m scared.

I’m taking all of the things happening at my job as a sign to move or be moved.

I need to take control of my situation, before whatever happens there forces me to move or do something I have to do, instead of what I want to do, and Lord knows I don’t want that.

So I’m taking a deep breath, and I wrote down what my short-term and long-term goals are for my business.

It’s time to really get this thing going. No games.

God, I’m scared. But I think of my friend. She’s starting over from scratch. Her whole life has changed. I can do this. I still have my health and strength and memories.

After all, the whole concept of my business is catering to women starting over, trying something new and overcoming fear to do something greater. Time to drink more of my own Kool Aid and do just that. I can’t help other women if I’m not doing it myself.

Time to go to work…

Staying In the Yellow

There’s a marvelous song by India.Arie simply titled, “Yellow.”

I was first drawn to this song when I was in a relationship, and it resonated with me even more when I got engaged.

In the song, she refers to different colors that represents the ups and downs of relationships: making her see red, being green with envy. Together,  she and her love are royal and purple.

Over and over in the chorus, she asks that they stay in the yellow.

I interpret staying in the yellow as, maintaining balance in love and life. Returning to center, even when you are shaken temporarily. Coming back to home base.

That was the hope and prayer for my future marriage. That despite the ups and downs, as long as we got back to yellow and kept coming back to yellow, we’d make it.

It didn’t work out.

I see certain things coming together in my life. I’m appreciative of the real friendships and I’m appreciative of the understanding that comes with letting folks go.

I’m thankful for this renewal of creative energy that’s been happening over the last several months and a surge of passion for myself and for my life and the things that mean something to me.

I’m single now, but the song takes on a new meaning.

I want to stay in the yellow.

I don’t need things to be perfect. That would be unrealistic and scary.

But I do know what life is like when you are so down, you can’t smile and you aren’t sure you’ll ever smile again.

I understand the paralyzing grip of depression, and what it is to feel so lost, everyday is like looking into one of those infinity mirrors. You see the same thing over and over, and there is no end. It confuses you, it scares you, you hurt your brain by trying to figure out how it works and you wear yourself out in hopes of being able to see something else if you squint and look just a little  harder.

Yellow is just fine. “Daisies in a meadow.”

Some people may think daisies are simple and not the most stunning flowers, but there is something beautiful and warm, genuine and subtle in its simplicity. It’s still pretty, it still gets the job done.

I’m happy today. Not crazy, super happy, but a subtle content happy. That’s yellow to me.

I’m going at my own pace, I’m doing things for me.

Yellow.

I want to lose weight. I’m going to keep going to Zumba at least twice a week, and try to eat better. Every time I jump on the scale I’m not going to lose 4 pounds. Some days I may even gain three, but I’m going to keep going and not beat myself up.

Yellow.

I’m moving forward with the business I’m launching, step by step. I’m not going to rush, I’m going to follow my gut, my heart and my standards and not settle. Even if it takes me longer. It’s not a race.

Yellow.

I don’t know what’s going to happen for me in the love department.

Sometimes I get lonely. I know I still love my ex and I can’t shake it and I can’t help it. I often hate myself for holding out hope, still. But it’s best I’m by myself right now.

Yellow.

I’m planning wonderful trips this summer. I’m going to go to places I’ve never been and see things I’ve never seen. I’m going to take it all in.

Financially, people try to get out of the red (debts and deficits), and get into the black (free and clear with a surplus).

All of that is cool.

But emotionally, for someone like me, who had been struggling in the grey all of last year, yellow is a fine fit.

Dream, Plan, Execute, Celebrate, Elevate, Repeat.

Dream, plan, execute, celebrate, elevate, repeat.

That came to me this morning when I was getting out of bed.

I was thinking about the business I’m working on, the creative process and success.

Dream.

Man, my dreams are big. My dreams involve a lifestyle brand involving clothing, eventually a perfume, a social networking community, blog, internet radio show and internet t.v. show. I already have planned out a photo shoot, the models, the themes and what my website will look like.

I know what my brand launch party will look like, and even the very cool space where I want to have it. I see the appetizers and people sipping on drinks and video and photos from my shoot enlarged, projected on the walls as loud music pulsates through the room. Family and friends are there, I’m being interviewed by bloggers and local media. People are buying my products.

I dream about visiting a new city and seeing strangers wearing one of my shirts, stopping them to take a photograph to put on my website and being blown away.

Plan. 

I enlisted help. I am enrolled in a program geared towards grooming female entrepreneurs and the classes are intense. But it’s totally worth it. They also offer other networking functions where you get to meet other women business owners and exchange ideas and find mentors. It’s a supportive environment where I can actually see my project off the ground in a realistic way, acknowledging my own shortcomings and where I have to grow or put in more work. They have me crunching numbers, doing research, market research, establishing my target customer, figuring out who my competition is, etc. Refining my idea, going back to smaller goals and attacking those one-by-one.

Execute.

I’m executing my plan by being enrolled in the course. By working on designs and making samples, wearing my samples and getting feedback. Working on the concepts for the blog, t.v. show, securing my models and a photographer and planning my photo shoot for the summer. I write down any and every idea and I’m constantly looking for inspiration. I study people/brands who are doing things similar to what I’m trying to do at the smaller levels and I’m studying companies doing it on a much larger scale, seeing where I can grow.

I saw the best quote ever last week. This one business owner said, that you should love the business you have started and should be working harder than your friends with the so-called “real jobs.”

So in addition to my real job, I have to put in the time on my business. My day doesn’t end when I leave my real job. I should still be working on ideas and making decisions and plans and studying.

Celebrate.

When my samples show up, I celebrate. When the photo shoot happens, me my models and photographer will celebrate. When I launch the site and make my first sales, I will celebrate. When I actually turn a profit, I will really celebrate. I enjoy seeing my ideas come to life and it makes me feel I am one step closer to the entire dream happening. As a journalist, seeing my byline in print never got old. Mini celebrations all around. If you don’t celebrate accomplishments great and small, you are going to put a lot of pressure on yourself and the distance between you and the bigger picture is going to seem a whole lot farther away.

Elevate.

After you celebrate, it’s immediately time to look over what you did and figure out how to improve upon it. Can I make this better? Is there something I see now that I didn’t see before? How can I save myself time and energy and money the next time around? Who else can I ask for help who knows a particular area very well?

Repeat.

Go back to the dream state. I always go back to dreaming about that launch party, dreaming about the photo shoot and dreaming about how the web site will look. I dream about eventually being able to use the philanthropic arm of my company to visit young women in middle and high schools and talk about dreams, their talents and about the planning and execution of their dreams. I dream about giving stand-out girls and women scholarships and internship opportunities, and jobs to support themselves and their families.

When I imagine myself as a kick-ass business woman, I envision myself giving a presentation like this someday, just for the hell of it. Love this scene from Charlie’s Angels.

Say It, Write It, Do it. The Power of Writing Things Down

paul/freedigitalphotos.net

A lot of people resolve to do big things by 30.

I think next year is going to be awesome, just off of the sheer fact that I am preparing to launch a business and I’ve been taking classes to help me prepare.

But that big thing aside, one thing I keep hearing in my class and in my research about business leader is be organized and write stuff down. That’s two things, and they actually tell you to write stuff down first so you can actually be organized.

Even the Bible gives this sound advice in one of its lesser known and hard to pronounce book of Habakkuk. And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.

It’s a simple thing, but people don’t do it enough. It has to go beyond a sticky note on your computer and the grocery list (budget experts say, this helps you not overspend if you stick strictly to the list while shopping).

I’ve been writing a lot of things down lately. When I get new ideas for my business no matter how big, small or delusional and I also write down ideas for my job as soon as I get them. I’ve learned to listen to myself and to not wait until morning. It doesn’t take that long to write it down and It’s the worst knowing you had a great idea and didn’t write it down as soon as it came to you. What you may or may not remember is totally not as good as the original thought. Train yourself not to be lazy by doing this.

Going back to the vision thing, I did actually do a vision board for my company recently, and things are going well in terms of the planning. It really does help. At a recent marketing event I attended one of the speakers said to actually go to magazines and cut out pictures of people who fit in your target demographic. Give them names and jobs and favorite stores and restaurants. I did that, and I instantly came up with more ideas for more products and services I want to provide.

Most recently, I even wrote a press release for my launch. I’m not ready to lauch yet I’m still quite a few months away, but seeing it in print is amazing motivation and when I read it, I’m kind of impressed with myself, my mission and what I’m about to actually pull off when the time comes.

I leave you with a blog that breaks down 7 Powerful Reasons Why You Should Write Things Down. I may print it out and tape it to my fridge.

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