Calling yourself an entrepreneur seems to be a new fad, everyone wants to be their own boss, because it sounds fun. The truth is behind the boss babe hashtags, empowerment brunches, and millennial pink instagram accounts being an entrepreneur takes more. Actual businesses have to run and money needs to be made. I’ll tell you what inspired me to become an entrepreneur, because sometimes hearing about someone else’s journey can help you on your own.
The first business I ever had was selling snacks from my own house in the 3rd grade. At the time my uncle worked for a food company which meant there always extra boxes of things on hand. Granola bars, cereal, hot cereal packs, etc. my ingenuity allowed me to realize that the amount of time my friends spent trying to get a snack at recess was a waste. I figured out a way to solve the problem – bring snacks to the kids, rather than them going to the snacks. The business worked because I figured out early on how to solve a problem. Looking back now it was genius, but it was also my first foray into who I was called to be. Most self-help books on discovering your passion say, “think about what you loved as a child. What you were good at, let it be your guide.”
It used to be that reading those guides would frustrate me.
Because as a kid I was playing, reading endlessly, while planning for my life as a lawyer and judge, at 6. I know, crazy. But when I stopped being frustrated and annoyed I began to think. What I consistently kept coming back to was my desire to create and my ability to problem solve. In all of the things I enjoyed doing those were present every time.
People often ask, “What inspired you to do what you do?” or “How did you get here?” and while it may look like it was overnight or all success and no difficulty, that is certainly not the case. What inspired me to take the leap at being a full-time, work for myself entrepreneur was a bad job experience. I was working an unfulfilling lackluster internship and I inquired about the possibility of being brought on full time. I was told by the manager I looked up to at the time, that no company would care about me being a mother, that she felt as though she could not tell me what to do, and I was too smart. Things she felt were negative and knocks against me, motivated me. Completing college at the height of the recession proved to be exactly what I needed to finally pull the trigger.
Rather than allowing her vision of me to become a burden, I made a vow that I would never again work for someone else or be at their whims. I wanted to make my own dreams come true and I would do whatever it took to make that happen. Believe me when I say that it did not come without challenges. There was feedback from people who believed I was making bad choices by trying to start my company, Sweet Knowledge Clothing Company. I was told it wasn’t a good idea, there was no market for collegiate apparel for HBCU students & alum. Five years later the company is still here and thriving. Imagine if I had let those naysayers dictate my moves.
Each day after I quit that job I got up in the morning and worked. Whether on my novel, on my business, or on my former blog I made it a priority to invest in myself. I pushed through bouts of sadness and worry. Through trials of depression and failure I knew on the other side of sorrow, was my joy and my win. I ended up creating Let LESLIE Tell It and Butter + BROWN during that time. Life as an entrepreneur isn’t easy, but what if Travis Kalanick or Garrett Camp said that? You wouldn’t be Ubering anywhere. What if Emily Weiss decided there were enough beauty brands in the world? You wouldn’t have glossier in your arsenal.
OUTFIT DETAILS: dress – Zara // purse – Henri Bendel // mules (similar)- Jeffrey Campbell // sunnies (similar) – Celine
What inspired me to be an entrepreneur is simply this, I wanted to dictate the path for my life. I plan on changing the world. I want to solve a problems. And I always have. I have always been dedicated to trying to find ways to make life better. It’s at the core of who I am. So if you’re wondering how great business owners and titans of creativity do it, take it from me – they decide to. Our eyes are always focused on figuring out how we can help. I wondered for so long what my calling was, who I was created to be; now I don’t wonder any more. I know. Most entrepreneurs are focused on trying to find the great solution, we can’t help it. That above anything inspires me to continue.
Being an entrepreneur is about more than just saying you work for yourself, it’s about working for everyone to make their world better than the day before. What inspires you?
Until next time,