I come from a pretty long line of entrepreneurs.
Although I didn’t fully realize it until recently, my entrepreneurial spirit was inherited and ingrained.
In fact, my maternal great-grandfather was what we contemporarily refer to as a freelancer – he was a bounty hunter. In addition to his main career, my maternal grandfather was a farmer who purchased his own land and sold his harvest each year – even up until a few years before he passed away. My paternal grandfather also ALWAYS had a side hustle. His entrepreneurial pursuit? He was a mechanic (it’s only fitting because I’m from the Motor City). My maternal grandmother also helped my grandfather with the farm. Even at the sprightly age of 89, she has a growing canning and preserves business. Her products are even sold in a local store in her small town. That brings me to my mother, who established her own successful catering business and cafe/restaurant as a chef.
I’ve talked before about my journey and how I fell into this current venture and all the struggles I faced during the first 6 months. In fact, I tell people I was a reluctant entrepreneur, primarily because I always knew what it took to become one – blood, sweat, tears and everything else one could muster up, WITHOUT a guarantee that any of that effort would manifest success.
I always knew I eventually wanted to run a business of my own, but never did I anticipate that it would be at the age of 26, in other words, so soon.
But, life has a hilarious way of almost never turning out the way I plan it, so after two years of procrastination and fear-based reticence, I stepped into the jungle.
It’s been a wild ride, rife with wins and losses. And honestly, up until recently, I was taking more L’s than making W’s. And I felt every twinge, every pang of self-doubt, defeat, discouragement and hopelessness along the way.
I’m sure many of you reading this are asking why I chose this. Call me a masochist, or just crazy, I guess.
But in all seriousness, I really feel as if entrepreneurship chose me. And after unsuccessfully resisting its clutches, I decided to give in – reluctantly. So, after testing the market with a few one-off projects and one long term client relationship under my belt, I made it official. My baby, The Champ Media Agency, was born around this same time last year.
I had some semblance of business savvy because I spent the large part of my late childhood and teenaged years immersed in an entrepreneurial household. But still, I felt underprepared for what I was stepping into because this was different. This was mine and mine alone.
Much like parenting, who could ever really be prepared for the endless sacrifice that come with building a business?
I truly think that there was very little preparation possible for what I was about to jump into a year ago. Well, for what I was thrust into.
I say “thrust” because after all but giving up on petitioning for acceptance in the traditional job market, yet knowing I had marketable skills and incredible work ethic, entrepreneurship became my focus. I was worn down mentally and emotionally by the job hunting.
Honestly, part of my reasoning for stepping into the “jungle” was this: if no one will hire me, I’ll hire myself.
I didn’t know how I was going to build this thing, exactly. I just knew that I had to. I knew that in order to be happy, motivated and feel like I was doing something meaningful with my life, I knew I had to do something on my own terms.
The prolific theologian and civil rights leader Howard Thurman once said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
I had really found what made me come alive. Correction: I had to create what made me come alive. And I’ve learned anytime something is conceived and birthed, it will likely be a painful, challenging process.
So if I thought job hunting was tough, being a business owner was twice as hard. But the difference between job hunting and building up The Champ Media Agency was that I had a different kind of hunger for it. I really wanted to do it. I mean, I wanted to find a well-paying job in my industry, too, once upon a time, but this was different. I saw that the potential for CMA was unlimited and it could grow as big as I wanted it, so long as I was willing to strategize and work incredibly hard toward that growth. I knew all of that was possible and the biggest inhibitor of that success that I could think of was myself. The thought alone excited me.
But, fast forward to six months into this thing and I wanted to quit.
Actually, months seven, eight, nine and ten were pretty rough, too. Having to finally accept the fact that one of my clients was probably not going to pay the thousands of dollars owed (despite being led on for months with the ever elusive, “the check is in the mail” lie), there was a point where I felt just too mentally and emotionally drained to focus. That experience took a lot out of me and it was hard for me to tell whether I would rebound from my biggest business disappointment to date.
That’s the thing about business. It’ll show you what you’re really made of when you get kicked in the teeth. And if it’s just you, it can feel incredibly lonely – even if you have a vibrant entrepreneurial village to lean on.
But something in me just couldn’t let this thing go. I had given birth to it and it was something I couldn’t just abandon without giving it a few more good college tries.
So, I kept trudging along, scaling the mountain with one foot in front of the other, never really knowing when I would see my way. Coupled with the growing frustration of being over educated and underemployed and not exactly being excited about my day job, the discomfort I felt going to work at what I call the #paycheckplantation was enough motivation to dig a little deeper.
Upon reflection, though, I realize that constant state of discomfort and restlessness I felt were imperative for my growth as a businesswoman.
God knows exactly who to give what to and I know had I come out of grad school with a cushy job, I would have delayed my entrepreneurial calling even more than I already had. I know for sure that my discomfort was the main keys to the little success I’ve attained thus far. When you’re faced with going hard or going home and when stuff starts to get real, it gives you a kind of resolve you never thought you had. It took me a while to accept that, but when I did, my whole world shifted. That’s when the hustle got even more real to me.
Even in my discomfort, I still believed…like really believed deep down that I had something worth sharing with others. Even when the evidence was stacked against that conclusion, even when my bank account read, “Girl you are TRYING it today,” and even when I felt like I had exhausted all options.
I often revisited with the idea of whether I should devote more energy to looking for a “real job” in the industry to gain the experience I knew I needed, first. But interview after disappointing interview proved that my energy was best spent building my own business. Plus, nothing ever seemed like it quite fit. Because God knows I wanted to it to the opposite way. It just didn’t pan out like that.
My goal date of going full time with this thing whizzed past me. So I stopped chasing arbitrary dates and just decided to do the work instead of concerning myself with time frames over which I had very little control.Then I got connected to this acquaintance of a friend of a friend. (Yea, I know that’s complicated). Originally, I wanted to connect with her for mentorship – to learn more about how to create systems that would help me create scalable solutions for my business. Working off of the freelance/consultant model, I knew I didn’t want to stay in this phase forever. After what was supposed to be a 15 minute conversation, turned to a 45 minute one, we realized that we both had something each other needed. Even better, we both had values and goals that aligned in business.
After meeting physically for the first time over dinner, we decided that we wanted to work together in some capacity. So, we chose to start with a project to see if we really were as much of a fit for each other as we thought we were.
(As an aside, one important thing I’ve learned about business relationships is that for someone who’s passionate, a big picture thinker and a visionary, it’s easy to get caught up in the what ifs. It’s easy to fall in love with certain ideas and partnerships that you think you can forge with other people. After getting burned a few more times than I care to admit, I’ve learned how to “date” in business. Meaning, I’ve learned how to take things slow, vet the people looking to bring me on (or vice versa) let things unfold organically while being as discerning as possible before hurling myself full force into projects and partnerships that only sound good.)
I knew that this project trial run was important, because it would set the stage for all business dealings with this potential client of mine. So I knew I had to beast it. With a pretty quick turnaround necessary, I also knew I had to ship that -ish quickly because time was of the essence.
I did it, she was pleased and the vetting continued.
This potential client of mine was so excited about the possibility of us working together that she told her husband about our conversations and she asked for another meeting – this time with hubby in tow. Clearly impressed with my knowledge, savvy and passion for digital and social media strategy, I got buy in from him, too.
A couple of days later, I get an offer letter in my inbox. They wanted to retain me as a consultant – with a fee large enough to allow me to chuck the deuces at the day job.
It meant that I could finally go into full time entrepreneurship like I’ve dreamt of doing since conceiving and finally birthing The Champ Media Agency.
I didn’t expect the offer to come so soon, since I made sure to note that even though I was excited about the possibility of retaining another big client, I also knew that since they didn’t know me, we needed to pace ourselves and do a few one-off projects together first to determine fit.
But, as always, God has a way of laughing at our plans.
After some negotiation, another impromptu and urgent project and contract review (I hired a lawyer! This was DEEP), we sealed the deal.
So, it’s official…I’m a full-time entrepreneur!
My dreams are coming true.
But this awesome news is not just for me – there’s something in it for you, too!
It means I’ll be able to deliver even MORE valuable social media, marketing and business insights to you more often.
It also means that I now have the capacity to welcome more clients and help more of you create compelling content marketing strategies to nurture and engage your online communities!
That’s right..there’s more of The Champ to go around and I can’t wait to devote my full attention to you – to helping you address your pain points and to help you win :).
Feel free to check out the services I offer, right over here.
Before I end this, I must say that all the struggle, the tears, the disappointments and even the small wins led me to this point and without each one of those experiences, I highly doubt that I’d be ready to take this plunge.
Am I nervous?
HECK YES I AM.
But knowing that this was something I had been working toward for the past year, I know I’m ready.
Plus, what’s the worst that can happen? That I’ll have to go out into the job market? Been there, done that. Not even scared to do it again.
And that’s the beauty of the struggle. It makes you resilient. It makes you more and more fearless. It makes you determined. It makes you ready for whatever. What’s even sweeter is that the struggle makes you so appreciative of the wins.
So, can you do me one favor before you leave? Can you hold my MacBook Pro while I schmoney? 😉
What’s your journey into full time entrepreneurship been like? Any words of advice? I’d love to hear from you!
P.S.: I can’t end this post without taking the time to thank my homies in the entrepreneurial struggle, my A1s since day 1 (my friends), my very supportive family and #bae for dealing with all my neurotic and crazy shenanigans throughout this journey. Hang on…there’s more to come! I’m so glad you’re on my team. Thank you. I love you.