“I had no clue what I really wanted to do with my life before, during or after college. My path into the corporate world was based on what everyone else told me was the best way to live the American dream.
I was hired to work a corporate job in my last semester of college before I even graduated and man, was I on top of the world about the opportunity, which would involve me relocating from Brookhaven, MS to Omaha, NE. I had also enlisted in the Air Force Reserve a few years earlier, so was able to transfer to a reserve unit at Offutt Air Force Base about 25 minutes away from where I would be living. But throughout the 6 years that I worked at my corporate job, I found myself being attracted to entrepreneurial people, ideas and programs. They ignited a spark in my heart. I started to read everything that I could find and listen to on entrepreneurship and starting an online business.
It wasn’t long before I found myself writing my resignation letter. I had a handful of clients already—I’d begun supporting small business owners with content creation, and helping them to maintain an active online presence—and figured I could continue to build from there with all the extra time I’d have. Little did I know that the next few years would be some of the lowest points in my entire life. I never factored in that I would need to be prepared for all the ups and downs and clients moving on, or that I would have to market myself consistently.
My husband was working a traditional job, which was a blessing, but the unstable income that I had meant we could not live at the financial level that we had been living at when I had a guaranteed salary. I had to get a job making about three quarters less than what I was making from my corporate job, and I felt so ashamed. I felt so disappointed in myself. Here I was: an educated woman with a Bachelor’s degree and military experience, now working a job that someone from high school could do.
Once the dust settled and I came to terms with my new normal, I became content with working two jobs at a time, and gave up on my business plan for a few months. Although I kept a positive attitude, I still felt a huge amount of shame on the inside, especially every time I ran into someone from my old job who would ask how the business was going. I would tell them it was going great, even though it wasn’t.
Eventually, I came back to my original business idea and started redefining my services in a way that worked for me, and taking on clients once more. I started to grow into myself and realized I could be proud about what I’d accomplished and the risks I’d taken, without shame or explanation.
Something a lot of people don’t talk about is the fact that entrepreneurship requires patience and hard work. It’s not for the faint of heart, and there are no overnight successes. You have to do more than your clients expect and look for ways to go the extra mile on every project.
I dismissed the local business market for a while, not realizing that people in the local community wanted to help and support me. Now, I make it a point to be involved locally and support other local entrepreneurs, and continue to build wonderful relationships all over the world. I’ve traveled to Orlando, Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago for events (one for free, because I won an award). I get referrals more now than I ever used to. My business income has increased each year, and I can actually pay my monthly expenses now. I even work with a tax adviser, which is huge for me.
If I ever feel like I need to work a part-time gig or event to boost my business or accelerate paying down any debt in future, there’s no shame in my game—not anymore.
Geniece, Blogger, Social Media & Online Business Manager