I have been a mentor for youth (and even adults) on the subject of Entrepreneurship for a few years now in Ottawa. It first began in 2014 through a program called Start It Up which was at PQCHC. It was actually because of this program (which is no longer around) that was the catalyst for starting my non-profit A.R.T. In Action. But more on that another time.
After Start It Up came Launch! and then Hope Ventures at Bethany Hope Centre. Now I am part of a database on YENGO (Youth Entrepreneurship Networking Group of Ottawa), with organizations committed to teaching youth on Entrepreneurship. Recently I received a request from the coordinator of the Arts program at Ottawa Innercity Ministries to develop a one day workshop on Entrepreneurship for next April 2017. Through these programs, I come in and share my knowledge, advice and insight with others who want to start their own business.
My goal when sharing information on this subject that I eat, breathe and sleep is to make sure I share the good, the bad and for real, the ugly. I am now in my second year mentoring the Launch! program at PQCHC and I realized that because of my background in many, many industries (more to come on that later because I tried practically everything) and through my personal challenges and experiences (being on your own since 14 can teach you some things), I realized I have a lot of information in which I could share. And I should be sharing it! In the same enthusiastic way that I share reducing waste and zero waste knowledge!
So this is exactly why I'm here now, to share what I've learned in 3 years of business and 8 years of freelancing and well... 16 years of hustling (needing to make money at 14 to pay rent taught me how to hustle). Since there is a lot to cover, I have broken it down into small parts that I will share over the year.
So if you can make it through these 3 lessons and still want to continue on in Entrepreneurship, I'm here to support you.
Let the lessons begin.
Lesson #1: Know your purpose
This is where it all starts. Who are you? What kind of person do you see yourself being? What do you want your legacy to be? What do you want for your life? Most people start with: I want to be rich or I want to be famous. But what kind of message do you want to leave behind when you're gone? For me, it was important that I lead a life of value that is based on love and helping others. It meant that my business NEEDS to help others.
And not just in the way of service and product deliverables, it meant that to me it is important that when I am laying on my death bed, I know that I did EVERY THING I could to give back. Long before the term social enterprise was coined, I was already donating the sales of my art work to charities and non-profits because I wanted to use my gifts and my services to benefit the lives of others as well. Yes, I get paid. Yes my goal is to earn income, but I wanted to make sure someone else could be rewarded too. That is the very foundation of my business.
Think about what you want your business to be about. What is your purpose?
Lesson #2: How much do you need to live?
Most people spend and spend and see bills and get frustrated. They know they want money. Some think a bigger house will make them happier. A fatter bank account will mean they can finally buy the things that they want. But they hardly break it down to the core of what most people ACTUALLY want, which at the essence is simple: A comfortable life with the basic necessities and the time to spend with people they love. According to this article, we in the western world ARE the richest people on Earth.
This realization invites us to pursue happiness elsewhere. If I already exist in the top 2% of wage-earners in the world, is reaching the top 1.8% really going to increase my happiness index significantly? Maybe having more money is not the answer, maybe I will need to look elsewhere. -
Quote source: www.becomingminimalist.com
I was taught that what you need to live is your "Life line." This is your minimum that you need to survive. It is your rent, your car insurance, your gas, your groceries, your cell phone bill. If you know what you pay every month, you know what you need to survive. If you can sacrifice purchasing your daily coffee, you can start to use that money and begin to save. The problem is most people don't take the time to think this through. They want money and they want it now. Almost all wealth is acquired through time. Take your time, know your bottom line. Work towards it.
Lesson #3: Know yourself
This may sound like the first lesson, but it's not. Entrepreneurship takes a certain kind of individual. It takes a lot out of you mentally as a person, like this article discusses. It's considered risky. You have no one to own up to but yourself. It's 6AM and I'm up before my four year old for once. I'm up because I needed to get work done. Is there someone breathing down my neck and asking me if I did the work I need to do? No. It's all me. Do I consider it worth it? Yes, absolutely! I make my own schedule, plan my own holidays and work from bed sometimes!
When you get into this type of self-employment, of freelancing or being your own boss, you need to ask yourself some serious questions, such as:
Are you the type of person that needs direction? If you're serious about Entrepreneurship but can't think for yourself, find a group of like-minded people that you can bounce ideas off and share your struggles with, so that you can feel motivated and find your own direction.
Are you the type of person that can spend countless hours alone? Listen, Entrepreneurship takes a lot of time. You have to make sacrifices. My son goes to bed and I'm on the grind as soon as he's snoring. I'm not out having drinks at the bar with my friends. (Most of my friends are Mom's anyway). I'm not sitting on the couch watching T.V. (I don't have a T.V.), and I'm not wasting my time just thinking about an idea, I'm actually trying to make it happen.
Before you can start working for yourself, you need to make sure you really enjoy your own presence, because the hours you will put into your company, refining it, planning it, testing it - are not hours spent with others.
Ask yourself, are you the type of person that thinks they need a steady income? Can you wake up and work 8 hours for someone else and be happy getting a pay check? If you're happy with that, don't do Entrepreneurship, but if something in your soul is calling out to you and you feel unhappy, test out the waters. Keep your job but start a side business. As we talked about in Lesson #2, once you know your "Life Line," you'll have a clearer understanding of what you need. According to this article, money contributes to very little of our overall happiness. If that's the case, meet your bottom line (whether that's part-time work and part-time business) and focus your efforts on Lesson #1: the type of person you want to be, the message you want to send out to the world and the legacy you want to leave behind.
Get to know yourself and find out what works best for you. Your compass and how to know if you're on the right path? The amount of happiness that comes out of you and reflects back into your life.