Life as a Black CEO | Part 2 of 2
Welcome back fam!
Despite all the turmoil going on in the United States right now, I hope this post finds you in comforted spirits. We're all dealing with a lot so I hope this post adds a little "inspo" to those who are either considering launching their business or for those who have recently launched a business and are in need some advice! **ENERGY SHIFT**
Lesson #1: You will be tested...time & time again.
So Part 1 of this two-part series left out all the times when I faced a bit of a drought, meaning, I was getting fewer prospective client inquiries than I’d anticipated and subsequently endured moments of genuine doubt and financial turmoil. Being new to entrepreneurship, I had to learn through (tough) experiences that there were serious ebbs and flows to business and in my first year, I had to simply survive both!
There were times when I'd made just enough to pay my mortgage and that.was.literally.it. There were times when my friends would go out and would have to spot me because I couldn't afford much (shoutout to my Spelhouse tribe!). There were times when I was tempted to go back to traditional teaching because what I'd envisioned as an entrepreneur simply wasn't my reality. I was broke, I was struggling and I was barely making ends meet. I kept saying to myself "If this is what it means to be an entrepreneur, I'm not sure I have what it takes!"
The truth is, you absolutely have what it takes if you have the resilience to endure the tests.
Lesson #2: Understand that entrepreneurship can be lonesome at times.
Entrepreneurship, particularly when you are initially starting out, can sometimes be a lonesome journey. A lot of the challenges you face, you may face alone. You're going to have a lot of questions, many of which you'll have the find the answers to on your own. The lows and the highs of entrepreneurship in the beginning are especially tough because your friends and family who work standard "9 to 5"s simply won't be able to relate to what you're going through.
The world of brainstorming, planning, executing, starting, restarting, doubting and rising above it all can be a solitary one. This is again because there are few people willing to take the major risk of starting their own business so you'll have to be comfortable being alone if this is the world you want to be a part of. While others are celebrating the holidays at their company holiday parties, you may not be. While others are doing leadership training and team building retreats, you won't be. While others are attending conferences for their specific industries, you'll have to be intentional about the ones that fit your niche as an entrepreneur.
It can be lonesome for sure, but what I love about it is that it forces you to be creative and to find avenues for leadership training and business development that are specific to you. In time, I got comfortable with the new normals that I'd established for myself and my business understanding that I was simply on a different path from others who work traditional jobs.
Lesson #3: Be prepared to hustle but be okay with taking a break.
I learned the hard way to never be complacent and to never get comfortable. Contracts aren’t permanent. After a few months, they end and you’ve got to be prepared for that. That means that even when things are going really well, income is flowing, and you’ve got a steady work/life balance, you still have to keep working at keeping your business afloat.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have a Plan B if you're current contract isn't renewed?
- Are you prepared for a contract to end suddenly?
- Do you have enough overhead to cover yourself in the event of a payment delay/disruption?
- What if a client quits suddenly, do you have a replacement?
- Are your marketing campaigns solid enough to recruit clients/business while things are good?
Although it's critical to ensure that you're prepared for anything, it is equally as important for you to rest. Nothing that you use in your business is constantly up and running all day, every day and you shouldn't be the exception. Your mind, your body and your spirit must rest to avoid burnout, which for an entrepreneur is far more detrimental than for that of a regular employee. If you burnout while you're running a business then your whole business could collapse.
You have to be able to turn it all off and have a little fun. Spend time away from the business, doing what invigorates your spirit, calms your mind and rests your body.
Balance is key to success in quite literally everything we do.
Lesson #4: Have a plan, execute, adjust if necessary.
When you're starting out, you definitely want to create a business plan and execute accordingly. The important thing, however, is that you don’t get too attached to certain ideas/plans because sometimes things don’t pan out the way you want them to. It’s important to be flexible because as you encounter ebbs and flows in entrepreneurship, your vision must sometimes be equally as flexible.
Lesson #5: You must have time management skills.
With no intention of being harsh, let me say this: If you lack time management skills then entrepreneurship simply isn’t for you. When you launch a business, unlike having a typical 9 to 5, there isn’t anyone checking in on your progress or reminding you of deadlines. There's nobody holding your feet to the fire to ensure that tasks are completed and done so in a timely fashion.You have to be accountable for your own work. You’re responsible for meeting your own deadlines. You are the one who must be able to avoid distraction and stay focused on ensuring that deadlines are met, goals are achieved and progress is made. If this isn't a skill that comes naturally to you, then I strongly encourage you to strengthen your skills before pursuing entrepreneurship.
Lesson #6: DO NOT GIVE UP.
I can’t stress this enough. I can’t tell you how many times I thought about returning to the classroom which was more structured, paid more consistently and was a lot less stressful. There were times when I doubted myself & my ability to successfully run World English Tutor, LLC and there were times were I legitimately regretted having started the business in the first place. I’ve made my share of mistakes over the years but I’ve certainly learned from them, made some adjustments and kept it pushing.
Why? Because I truly and wholeheartedly believe that I was called to do this. I believe that I was called to work with the most fascinating international professionals to equip them with the skills necessary to perform competently in English in each of their respective fields. I get the rare opportunity to teach them about the United States from a young, Black woman’s perspective and that is something that no challenge, no obstacle, no setback could ever keep me from doing!
Feel free to like, share and/or comment below! We're a community of unique experiences and I'd love to hear yours.