Starts, Stops, and Lessons Learned Along the Way: One Woman’s Journey as an Entrepreneur

I’ve been an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember. Along the way, there have been starts, stops and lots of lessons learned. I wanted to share with you some of those lessons so you can learn from my mistakes (and my successes) to help build your career and be your own boss. Entrepreneurship is exciting and fun, but also challenging and full of stress. This article offers a few bits of wisdom I feel all entrepreneurs should know before getting started.

Deciding to leave corporate America and become your own boss can be the scariest path to walk if you have not done research and devised a plan. The decision alone can only be made by you. It should be a private decision that you have clearly been able to receive clarity on. The reason being, the energy of other outside influences can create anxiety and fear of transitioning. At this stage, no one else’s opinion matters, and this is why I stress to my clients to “KEEP QUIET”.

Where it all started

My name is Falan. I have been working since the age of 8 back home in New York City, starting off as a grocery store bagger and babysitter. By the time I entered high school in the Bronx, I was already running my first business out of my locker reselling discount store items and beauty products to other Catholic school teens with strict parents.

I saw a niche, and I dove right into it. I was making so much money from my locker that I could have paid part of my tuition fees had I not already had a free ride due to academics. I wanted for nothing in freshman year.

Facing adversity

Despite this early success, however, my personal life was in shambles. My family at home and I had to relocate to Virginia Beach suddenly the summer of my freshman year, and I never returned to New York.

Once in Virginia, I went to public school my sophomore year. It was honestly a shock to my system. I could not function in that environment. I began working at a laundromat, doing hair and reselling from my locker once again. The money I saved paid my junior years’ tuition at a Christian Academy. Things seemed to be headed in a positive direction, but that wasn’t the case.

As my life at home began to unravel again, I decided to shift direction and opt for a GED. The emotional toll of everything going on was too much for me to be able to focus on my academic success. I decided on emancipation by marriage to a young teen Navy man, and I moved in a different direction with my life, never looking back at just 16 years old.

Lessons learned

In the years following, I started multiple businesses, some failing, some succeeding. Through these years in the startup world, what I learned was how to invest in myself and build a personal brand, brand my niches and identify critical points of a demographic group in which to sell or market my business for optimizing success and ROI in your first quarter.

Now although, I went to the school of hard-knocks with no formal business training, I did attend Le Cordon Bleu and studied the success of the hospitality industry in which I have worked 17 years successfully until my pending 2020 retirement, but that’s a whole other story for another day. Thanks to some free courses and a focus on continued learning, I’m in the midst of another career shift and headed down an exciting new path.

Continued learning (for free)

Throughout the years, I have utilized self-learning platforms such as UDEMY and which is now LinkedIn Learning as of early 2019. The platforms make it very easy to learn skills quickly and effectively for little to no money at all. There are tons of free resources to help you boost your career potential out there, but let’s focus just on these two for now.

UDEMY offers skill classes for $10 and up. LinkedIn Learning, on the other hand, is free. I find value in both options, but LinkedIn Leaning is my go to for recommendations on courses ranging from business to creative topics with over 13,000 FREE courses. Everything you can imagine learning is available on LinkedIn Learning, content ranging from photography to data analysis and technology. It really is unbelievable.

With these tools at my fingertips, I made it my mission to leave the culinary industry after multiple significant injuries and explore the corporate world, beginning with a dive into Real Estate and HOA/ Property Management. That lasted about five years.

Another shift (learning to pivot and improvise)

After lots of negative experiences in the real estate and property management fields within only six months of launching my startup within the industry, I planned to exit. Initially, things were going well, but then,  like a volcano, I erupted just 60 days before my carefully planned exit in an email outburst that left me staring at having no job within 48 hours. I realized I had not been prepared, and it hit me hard.

I had no choice. I was forced to put my chef jacket on and get to work. At the time, I had been planning a new resourcing and media startup. This stumble ended up putting me a full year behind my target for the official launch

The importance of emotional intelligence

I can’t stress enough the importance of gaining control over your emotions, as well as having a willingness to seek guidance, support and an outlet for the negativity that can build up inside as the stress of launching a startup mounts.

A wonderful texting support line I use is 741-741 to get me through the darker days of self-employment. Just remember, not being in control of you will cost you in the end. The only one hurt is you. The support line is 24/7 and free, but your standard text rates apply. You do get the human connection you need from the text support line, and it’s immediate.

Dealing with the failure and staying strong

As we all know, business keeps going after you leave a company. Your position is filled swiftly, and the memory of you is erased. Often, communication with your colleagues with whom you previously spoke on a daily basis ceases. This can take its toll emotionally, so I decided to offer my story as a guide, starting with several guest blog posts.

Additionally, my next book The 48 Hour Entrepreneur, due out in late Spring 2020 will detail everything you need to understand about how to quickly create a brand, a business structure and sellable content literally overnight.

Although your skill sets will differ from mine, this is where the LinkedIn Learning or UDEMY comes to play. In two days, you can have an entire business outline and begin the steps to launching it effectively all while learning from the mistakes I made along the way and understanding the mindset you need to acquire in that process.

In my posts and my book, I explain how to avoid the pitfalls of not being in control of your mind at that time when panic and desperation sets in. I hope that this article will serve as a guide to help you avoid the pitfalls and embrace the successes.

In closing

I hope that my story has given you some direction and clarity on how to make it full-time in self-employment. It is ok to have multiple income revenue streams from all of your talents. My goal is to have my base income come from my writing instead of my cooking classes and catering which is why I am planning the retirement in 2020. If you get the chance to subscribe to my blog for more tips, the podcast and motivation on self-employment and startups for women in business.

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Falan Blake
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