One Year Ago TODAY
July 1, 2020
“What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?”
This is the question I seem to get most often.
At first when I would hear this question, I felt it was some sort of badge of honor that I picked up, unbeknownst to me. The sound of adoration dripped from the lips of countless women.
Nearly a year later, I now know that although adoration may be a part of it, what women really want to know is, “Where did you find the courage to take a chance on yourself?”
I cannot remember a time in my life that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, not once. Certainly not during a thriving corporate career that allowed me to see parts of the country and the world that I might not have seen otherwise. In fact, I still love the thrill of the corporate America hustle. I have never fallen out of love with it. I do not think that I ever will.
Somewhere between 2016 and 2018 I also discovered that I had a burning desire to serve women (particularly women of color) in a larger capacity. This burning desire led me to create a women’s conference (Power-Filled), a community for women of color (Power Tribe) and lead an entire organization of more than 30,000 people to elevate the voice of women in the workplace. As I reflect on these things, I beam with pride at the impact that I have been able to make on the lives of many.
It was February 2018. I was back in my apartment in the suburbs of Chicago after my annual regional meeting. I had just spent the last few days with all the leaders within my organization. From my apartment I can see the Chicago skyline. Being able to peer off into the unobstructed view of the sky always took me to a place of relaxation and reflection. As I sat allowing the many conversations and activities to replay in my mind, a great feeling of gratitude and clarity struck me.
During my time in the North Central US I became vested in the growth and development of the women in the region. I wanted to position them to move into executive roles throughout the organization. Although this was my desire for every woman at the company, in North Central, those ladies were MY tribe.
I had just spent three days with these women and frankly I sat in my apartment with the greatest sense of fulfillment as I reflected on the way they showed up. I was proud!
It was that day that I realized that although I loved corporate America, what I loved more was seeing women win. Eventually I would come to realize that this burning desire that I had could not fully come to fruition as long as I was tied to the expectations or contract terms of a company, at least not in my current capacity.
Since that time with prayer and a lot of coaching from mentors, I have better aligned my heart’s desires with the work I am doing. Although seeing women win is one of my high priorities, my work extends to seeing all minorities win.
Recently I had the opportunity to speak to a group of women who had graduated from the YWCA Greater Charleston’s Women Entrepreneurs program. This program is specifically for African American women aspiring and current entrepreneurs. I was asked to give the commencement address at their ceremony.
My heart was so full as I watched the screen and heard woman after woman describe her business with such pride and passion.
As the time approached for me to deliver my message, I felt this great sense of responsibility overcome me.
“I have to make sure that I leave these ladies both inspired and facing the reality of what awaits them as entrepreneurs.”
Like any good speaker, I had prepared what I wanted to talk about in advance. As an experienced speaker, I do not write out my speeches in its entirety. I always leave room to connect with the people in the audience and allow my heart to shine.
I talked about my journey to entrepreneurship. I gave them tips and recommendations on how to prepare to make the leap into working for themselves.
“Share your dreams and vision with your support system. Purchase as many books on starting your own business and running your own business as you can. Write your business plan.”, I shared.
I talked about the importance of balancing working in your business versus working on your business. I even told them, the thing that I am telling everyone, up your self-care game. As entrepreneurs we get so wrapped up in the hustle of the business that we put ourselves on the back burner.
But it was not this advice that seemed to get the most response from the audience.
It was the advice I gave around money and your business.
- Do a financial risk tolerance assessment for yourself early in your entrepreneurial journey. A financial risk assessment includes many things, but it must include the answer to these questions: How long will my family be ok if I do not get things off the ground and making money? What part of my lifestyle am I willing to sacrifice to make room for my dream and my financial needs? What am I not willing to give up?
- Hiring a business finance coach. This person can help you establish good accounting practices. They can also help you understand things like, profit-loss and revenue growth. After all, in business, “if it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense.”
- Invest in the long-term growth of your business. Resist simply spending money on your business. Account for EVERYTHING!
- Your personal relationship with money can make or break your business.
- Never chase money. Chase purpose. Chase passion.
I do not know that I can fairly say which is more difficult, owning my own business or leading thousands of people inside a corporation. I think it is much like everything else in life, it is cyclical. I CAN say that I loved every minute of 20 years in corporate America. I use many of the skills I gained today in my own business.
However, as I celebrate my decision to start my own business, one year ago today, I can say with certainty, there is no greater feeling than that of being driven by your own passion.
“Every morning I wake, I express gratitude for many things—life, health, strength—most of all, I express gratitude for clarity of purpose and the opportunity to live my whole life according to that purpose.”-Kenya Dunn
Who is Kenya Dunn? Kenya Dunn is the visionary and creator of the Power Tribe, a fee- based membership community created by women of color with women of color in mind. To find out more about Kenya and the Power Tribe, www.powertribe.com. #JointheMovement Follow us on Instagram @Powertribecommunity