I “launched” my first business in 2009. It was a flop, so I use the word launch loosely. I wasn’t prepared. I did not have a clear vision, marketing strategy, nor an audience. The recipe for a business disaster, right?
What I did have was passion and purpose attached to that business endeavor. Ever since I was young, I always mentored girls who were younger than me through organized mentorship programs and independently. I’ve taught dance to at-risk youth through a ministerial non- profit organization in the inner city and was a big sister through Big Brothers Big Sister. My heart is to reach youth and empower them to rise above any circumstance to achieve greatness.
Growing up and even now as an adult, cheerleading and praise dance has always been my outlet. It is a creative way of expression that allows me to walk in my own uniqueness. As a high school cheerleader, my teams often hosted camps for kids and those were always an enjoyable experience. It enabled me to share my gift with others.
“Dance is the hidden language of the soul.”Martha Graham
Fast forward to 2009, I found myself laid off for a period of time right before I was set to start graduate school. I decided to fill those few months by starting a business.
I knew three things for sure:
- I wanted to have an impactful business dedicated to youth
- I wanted to earn enough money to get me started with graduate school (ie. book money, gas money, etc)
- I wanted to earn an income from my passion and skills
Looking back on my experience, I was well intentioned but under prepared.
Presently, I spend a lot of time in entrepreneur circles, follow threads on social media, and talk with many aspiring entrepreneurs. As I listen to their stories, I see many commonalities to my well intended first business. They are passionate, skilled, full of purpose, and they feel (just as I did) that passion is enough for business success.
In 2009, I took the three things I was certain about to the Secretary of State and incorporated my business, completed all of my filings, found a space to host my camps, and paid the deposit. I was so excited. I was passionate and pumped. Who wouldn’t sign up for my summer program?
Back then, social media didn’t have as large of a reach as it has now. I posted signs, put a sticker on my car, and waited for the registrations to pile in. I waited and waited…
From this experience, I learned some hard lessons. The first being, passion alone does not equate to success in business. Yes, it is a foundational pillar, but you can’t launch out with passion alone. You need an audience or presence where people can get to know, like, and trust you.
The beauty of learning hard lessons is that it equips you with valuable information for future usage. I dissolved that entity, and the financial loss was extremely immaterial. So I moved on, but I did not give up. I studied more about the business startup process, launch strategies, and marketing. It was also helpful that I was in school for my Masters in Business Administrations (MBA), so I was able to network and connect with peers who were studying entrepreneurship and those who had businesses…
Stay tuned for part 2 where I share my comeback story!
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