Life as a Black CEO | Part 1 of 2
So here’s the tea:
I’ve owned and operated my business, World English Tutor, LLC for 5.5 years. Over the course of the past few years that I’ve owned the company, there have been some pretty significant lessons that I’ve learned that I want to share with you all.
Note: I don’t have an MBA nor did I ever take any business classes, so the lessons that I’ve learned have been through my experience being a Black CEO.
Let me begin by giving you some background on how the business came to be.
I’m an English as a Second Language (ESL) educator and I’ve taught English in France and the US for the past 10+ years (my story about teaching in France is definitely worthy of its own post, so please stay tuned for that). Upon my return from teaching English in France, I began working at different language centers in the DC area, forging long-term relationships with some of the most incredible international students and professionals I’d ever met.
Although I absolutely loved working in the classroom, a part-time ESL teacher’s pay ($16-$22/hr on average) was so low that at times, it was really hard for me to make ends meet (Read “Understanding Alignment: Part I” for some more background on that). Once I left one school for another that paid more, there were students from the previous school who’d ask to keep working with me via private tutorials. This lasted for about 2 years before I began to consider starting a tutoring business.
Like every budding entrepreneur, I had this incredible idea that could make me good money, would grant me the flexibility and the freedom to teach what I wanted how I wanted AND I would be my own boss; HOWEVER COMMA, the biggest issue was…FEAR. I was scared!!! I had just purchased a condo that had a pretty hefty monthly mortgage so I thought “it would be pretty reckless for me to start a business when I have to come up with nearly $3000 a month to live”. What’s crazy is that I did it anyway. I felt as if I was being called to start this business and I just wasn’t going to let the four walls of my condo keep me from walking in my divine purpose.
In September 2014, the business was officially launched! The website had been launched along with the marketing campaign, I'd developed a pretty solid client base working mainly out my condo to cut costs and I'd finally had a steady flow of income. I was keeping up with my social media marketing and promotion and things were going really well. Every morning I came up with a POA (plan of action) to ensure that I was updating all of my social media outlets, responding to inquiries, creating new material for each client and preparing each lesson. I had a steady routine that I would do every day to ensure that the business stayed afloat and truly I believe this routine is what has allowed me to stay in business all these years. The first year or two were pretty steady and consistent. I’d started getting larger contracts from individual clients but I had a drive and thirst for even BIGGER contracts.
I had decided that my goal was to become the go-to person when any foreign national arrived on American soil needing improvement in their language skills so to me, no dream was too big!
I set intentions every chance I could on how far I wanted the business to go and month after month, I’d get a new client or a new opportunity. In only my second year of business, a client of mine’s success was so noticeable that her supervisor reached out to have me conduct private ESL trainings to her international staff. That was the beginning of my 4-year-long contract work at the United States Food & Drug Administration. I have contracts with several embassies and government organizations, I have worked with diplomats and ambassadors, renowned journalists, researchers & scientists, corporate lawyers, government officials, businessmen and women and Ph.D. candidates from 50+ countries around the world and that was only in the first 5 years!
As I enter into my 6th year of business amid this pandemic and having just taken 3 months off for maternity leave, there’s a bit of anxiety with regard to my return to work in June. If I’ve learned anything, however, I’ve learned that my business will go as far as I’m willing to take it. I’ve learned that my work ethic dictates the opportunities I pursue and ultimately receive and I’ve also learned these 6 key lessons…
Stay Tuned for Part 2 of 2...