Tuesday, October 24, 2017

An Entrepreneur’s Adventure

May 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Aspire to Inspire

I’ve always felt that I got into business by accident. Much of what I’ve read indicates that most small businesses, especially the home-based variety get started because a parent or grand-parent had been self-employed.  That was not the case for me.  Twelve years ago when I started my adventure, I would never have imagined I’d be writing  about why or how it happened.

My adventure started back in early 1998, I received a small inheritance from an Aunt who had passed, and ‘we’ decided to try and get my husband out of his unhealthy corporate job by starting a business for him.  I found myself doing a lot of the research and each night I’d give him idea after idea of things which might suit him.  He seemed totally disinterested, but I continued to search.

Eventually I stumbled upon www.Staffcentrix.com and the Virtual Assistant industry, not for my husband, but I thought it might be something I could do part-time while my husband was building his business, and which might offer me a way out of my totally unethical corporate job.

By early summer, my husband was still not sure what he wanted to do, and I was starting to make a little extra cash doing administrative projects for neighbors and friends.  Because of the demands of my current position I wasn’t able to devote much time to marketing and growing the business, but it was becoming a profitable endeavor nonetheless.

In early July, I experienced an incidence of degradation at the hands of one of my co-workers.  I received a totally inappropriate public berating witnessed by one of the company managers, who did nothing to help me and made no attempt to stop the offender, a totally unacceptable situation!   I sat quietly until my supervisor returned an hour later,  marched into his office and gave my 2 week’s notice.

YIKES! I hadn’t even spoken to my husband or my daughter.  Even I was shocked I did it.  But the next morning, rather than feeling remorse or fear I felt incredibly relieved; I knew I’d made the right decision.  Fortunately, both my husband and daughter were very supportive,  for which I’m truly grateful!  I decided to take my part-time hobby and turn it into a thriving business.  I didn’t doubt that I could do it;  in fact I was grateful to have the opportunity to try it full-time.

There was a time two years in when I was ready to throw in the towel, it just didn’t seem like I could make a go of it. I had gone back to work part-time causing my business to stagnate because I had NO time to do the marketing, and I’d spent all my inheritance.  I just could not see how I would ever make it work, but we found a way.  I realized that I was willing to do just about anything to avoid giving up on what I’d started.  Once again my husband came to the rescue providing me with the support and encouragement to keep going.

Within a year, I was well on my way to creating a business that could do more than contribute to the family expenses. By my fifth year in business it was turning a nice profit.  Enough for us to travel regularly (something we both enjoyed), it was glorious!

Then, towards the end of that year my husband got laid off and everything changed.  Now I needed to step up the pace to help our family make ends meet.  I worked day and night, training and hiring sub-contractors and was able to grow my business to the point that I was making a significant contribution to our family finances, while still loving every minute.

I am very fortunate and extremely grateful to be where I am today.  I  would never have been able to do this  without the support, encouragement and mentor ship of many others I met on the journey.

I’ve always thought the key to my success was that I made every mistake in the book;  my ability and willingness to learn from those experiences has been my biggest assets.  My entire professional outlook and attitude made a HUGE shift over those first six to seven years.

  • I transitioned my mindset from that of an employee to that of an entrepreneur.  While I still had to do marketing and sales,  doing it for MY business, something I was personally attached to created a different persona that my employee self would hardly recognize.
  • I found that I needed to look at situations differently,  I had to be willing to look at both sides and to take the emotion out of my decision-making process.  .
  • The level of customer service changed, too.  I  realized,  what it means to say, “The customer is always right” a difficult adjustment. I learned  that when  someone feels they’ve been treated badly or unfairly, even due to their own unethical approach, there’s nothing in the world that you can do or say to change their view of the situation.  I had to reach a mindset to cut my losses, even if it meant providing the service but refunding all their money, without letting it drag me down. This allowed me to maintain my level of ethics, reputation and, professionalism while learning what I could from the situation to allow me to make better decisions.

On a personal & professional level all of this growth has helped me be positive and stay determined not to give up.

You may wonder what happened to my husband’s “dream business”. Well, after being laid off several times, my husband decided that his calling might be in  real estate investing (we already owned and managed one rental property).  We cashed in stocks and savings and sent him back to school to find out how to buy, sell, hold and, flip houses.

We learned that owning and operating a business was not for him.  He needs the structure of someone else telling him what needed to be done.  So after several frustrating years and, two bad property purchases (a very humbling and frustrating experience for both of us)  he threw in the towel and went back to work full-time

Today, three years after returning to the corporate world, he still hasn’t  been able to get back into management because he has ‘aged out’ of the market and can no longer compete with those just entering the field.  We continue to look for something in the corporate world that will allow him to better serve his passions.

Owning your own business is by no means easy, or everyone would be doing it! Even when you own and successfully operate one business it doesn’t necessarily follow that you will succeed  at another.

You may wonder why some ‘make it’ while others with the same skill level may not? I believe that although some have great skills and expertise, they lack the attitude and mindset to establish and manage a business.  Some people require structure, while others fail to understand the human factor.

To be successful in business, I believe you have to really want it bad.  You have to sacrifice a lot to make a go of it.  You have to not only think outside the box, but be willing to do some things that take you out of your comfort zone.  YOU CAN DO IT! It’s by no means easy; but it is incredibly rewarding.

I have definitely found my niche, one that is expanding beyond my initial dreams.  Thanks to the trials and tribulations in my business and, what I learned from my husband’s foray into entrepreneurship I realized there was a need for coaching in my industry,  so I started my own VA Coaching Practice to help others learn what it takes to establish and grow a VA business so they can follow their passions and do the work they LOVE.

An Entrepreneur’s Adventure © by Jeannine Clontz

Jeannine Clontz, owner of Accurate Business Services, a VA practice, is an author, writer, speaker and VA Business Coach specializing in providing professional business coaching to established and start-up virtual assistants (VA’s).  For her FREE audio CD “What’s Holding Back my Business Success?”, a 2-month trial in her Insider group coaching program, or 1-month trial of her coaching club visit: http://www.VAbizcoach.com ; or contact her at: coach@VAbizcoach.com. Jeannine’s expertise has recently been recognized with her appointed as  President of the International Virtual Assistance Association.  http://www.ivaa.com.

This article may not be copied or reproduced without permission from the author.

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Comments

13 Responses to “An Entrepreneur’s Adventure”
  1. Elissa says:

    Very inspiring Jeannine…even for those outside your line of work! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Laine says:

    Thanks Elissa,
    I’m hoping to get Jeannine to share more of her insights with us. Hope you will come back soon to read other inspiring stories. Laine

  3. Leah Oviedo says:

    awesome post Jeannine. I love this quote “You have to not only think outside the box, but be willing to do some things that take you out of your comfort zone.” Anyone can think outside the box, but actually acting on that is a different story.

    It took me some time to get comfortable with marketing via interviews. I used to prefer to just write an article or send out PR. There was always some excuse such as I get to nervous, nobody wants to hear about my story, etc, etc.. After being interviewed and doing a live chat I realize how easy and fun it is!

    Now I know that videos and audio interviews with a live person are very powerful tools for marketing your business.

  4. Thank you for your kind words, Laine and Leah – I’m thrilled you enjoyed my story. 😉

    I remember my husband saying that we had the cleanest house around when I was pretty new at working from home. Whenever I should have been doing something outside my comfort zone, I seemed to always find a load of laundry or some dirty windows that just HAD to be taken care of in lieu of making some cold calls or attending a local networking event where I might have to talk about myself and my business.

    Who would have thought that several years later I would be a totally different person who had enough confidence to be able to speak to a crowd of several hundred people.

    At least for me, the transition has been incredible. I was also very fortunate to have several really good mentors throughout my adventure, without whose encouragement I probably would not have stuck it out.

    Having my own business is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I am so much happier in my life, which spills over into my relationship with my husband, daughter, and family and friends – not a bad thing, either. 😉

  5. Thanks for your story, I loved reading it. Running my own business also fulfills me in a way that no ‘job’ ever did. I think my husband wishes I would clean when I have to do something outside my comfort zone though 😉

  6. I totally agree, Louise – I wish I had known about the freedom of having my own business, I certainly would have started much earlier. 😉

    I’m glad you DON’T clean, but do things outside your comfort zone, it’s so important to continually be growing and changing – makes the business world go round, for sure!

    Wishing you all the best.

  7. Laine says:

    Louise & Jeannine

    I don’t think cleaning counts as comfort zone stuff (lol) – having said that I know one lady who vacuums to concentrate (I guess it drowns out the noise of her children, she didn’t cook! Lou – Tell your hubby to be grateful you do!).

    We all have to find what works for us. I find I do some of my best thinking while driving, or viewing awe inspiring scenery ~ just gets the creative juices going, so I carry a voice recorder so I don’t forget (wish they’d build one into my GPS)

    Here is to the journey and the discoveries we make enroute.
    Cheers

    Laine D.

  8. Laine says:

    Very true Jeannine & Leah!

    I’ve had a lot of interest in both of your stories ~ so people (women especially) do want to hear. I learned something from each of you, in the different ways you approach issues but also in how you chose to channel what you learned into a way to help others.

    Laine D

  9. Laine – Thanks so much for your kind words. :) I’m thrilled that anyone would be inspired by my story and take the next steps in their adventure.

    I don’t do the cleaning at home any longer, I’m actually able to pay someone to come in and do it. I used to clean as an excuse for not doing those things I knew I should be doing, like marketing my business, attending a networking event, or making cold calls (ick).

    It took some time to be able to add it to my budget, but both of us (hubby, too)felt it was important that I focus on the business, not household chores.

    I’m very grateful to have a supportive husband and daughter, it can make a big difference in the additional responsibilities and stress that fall on my shoulders.

    Jeannine

  10. Mari-lyn says:

    Great article. I think it is important to share all our stories it is what inspires those of us who really need it..

    I can really relate to the idea of building a business and then your husband loses his job and now you are the sole bread winner it’s exhausting. I am fortunate I have $ support right now the 1st time I have had this. Now, the challenge and I am sure you have experienced this is the emotional support.

    Thank you for sharing

  11. Paul Novak says:

    Very nicely written and well expressed observations. I can relate a great deal because I also abruptly and without planning quit a long time career to go it on my own. I was successful for several years, and now I am once again chaging gears, this time into a totally new direction.

    Good advice in this piece, much of which is valuable because it normally only comes with the lumps that accompany the experience.

  12. Thanks for your kind words, Paul – it was so funny when I told my boss I was giving him my 2-week notice it was almost like someone else was saying it – like I was wondering who said that! (LOL) – I’m so glad you’re ‘changing’ gears again. I know I used to dread change, now I welcome it – it’s wonderful being able to reinvent yourself and try something new – and I earned each and every one of those lumps and wouldn’t change a thing – that’s how we learn.

    Wishing you all the best of success in your next adventure!

  13. Laine says:

    Mari-lyn,

    Heartbreaking when you face setbacks pity you can’t quantify the positive effect came from those negatives.
    It is not the gifts in our lives that make us but how we deal with the issues. That is why I am so proud of each of the ladies who have shared their stories – its never about success straight out of the box but trials and tribulations that get you to a place & what you do with your success!

    Laine D

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