Being an entrepreneur could be passed down through D.N.A. or by learning from your industrious parents. Here are some of the things I have learned on #howtobeaserialengrepreneur after many (too many) years of entrepreneurship. Is that even a word?
Last week I was asked to speak at Hirsch’s Women in Business Networking Event. They called me on Thursday and the talk was only a week away. Initially, I thought of turning it down but realized what a great experience it would be if I accepted the challenge,
Here is the presentation I prepared:
As a Minister’s wife, I was invited on an occasion to visit a dear old couple to have tea with them. The wife told me that as she had heard I am seamstress, she would like to speak to me about something.
Well, that really piqued my curiosity.
I wondered if she wanted some dressmaking done.
Nothing could have been further from the truth. What she wanted was to share her extensive knowledge of how she made breast prosthetics for the unfortunate women who had lost their breasts to cancer.
It was such a fascinating morning and so inspiring to hear of the many people she had made prosthetic breasts for, worldwide.
Towards the end of the morning, while having tea, she said she would like to teach me and for me to take over the business should I want to.
She was in her eighties and felt she had done all she could to help others, and that it was now beyond her.
Wow! what a proposition. This was all new territory for me but naturally, being a born entrepreneur, I jumped at the chance and went for a number of lessons and when she was satisfied that she had taught me all she could, she gave up her business, and that was when “Lexies”, was born.
From the time I learned about making prosthetics and by becoming known, through word of mouth, I was approached by specialists to make many and varied items to aid their patients. It was so challenging creating items of clothing or whatever deemed necessary to give the patients comfort and support.
The ability to use my imagination and creativity was extremely stimulating and uplifting. It was good to know the patients were being helped.
I was able to create a business which I had for 8 years before passing it on to a nursing friend of mine.
This I did as my mother, who lived with me and was ageing, and required more of my time and attention.
Curiosity can be what sparks a new business venture, so keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities and keep a little book handy to note them down in. You never know where your next inspiration for a business might come from.
I something you overhear (while sitting in a coffee shop – or wherever) tweaks your interest, write it down. Even if It is something you haven’t come across before, you can do the research on it later.
This it especially important when you realize, whilst eavesdropping, that It is a problem you might be able to solve. If the people having the discussion are finding something difficult, then there will be others in the same boat.
Don’t ever stop learning. There is always something new which can be turned into a business opportunity.
Become an expert on what you do by learning all you can on the subject. Enrol in courses if needs be.
Don’t ever think that because whatever you want to do has been done before, that it isn’t worth pursuing. You might have a new slant on it, you could upgrade it.
There are umpteen ways of changing an existing item into something better. That is the very reason you are a creative entrepreneur.
You will be limiting your expertise, should you ever lose your curiosity.
Another amazing thing about being an entrepreneur, it that there is such a variety of options open to having a business that can add value to those you love the most. Your immediate family and from there it can spread out to the community in which you live.
Working from home may have drawbacks but the blessings far outweigh any drawbacks you might experience. It served me well to work from home as I had my ageing mother living with me when I ventured into the arena of quilting. I was already making wedding gowns, matric dance (prom) dresses, dressmaking and also doing alterations.
Quilting and machine embroidery were creative outlets for me to pursue and were not paid work at that time. Naturally. They did eventually end up that way.
Although, it was important for me to be an entrepreneur and make money to help keep the wolf from the door, being a quilter gave me the opportunity of, “spreading a little love”. (excuse the pun), by making 68 quilts for the Maitland Cottage Hospital which caters for children from all over Africa with orthopaedic problems.
When the church group I belonged to went there to hold parties for the little patients, the drabness of the ward struck me. After discussing it with the members of the Outreach Group, it was decided to make quilts for them. This entailed a lot of collecting fabric (cotton), monetary donations, asking for helpers (a very old group of people, not many with the skill sets needed but very willing to help).
Upon purchasing the batting from a quilting shop, the owner offered that her quilter helped with the quilting, but sadly the quilter left. The only way forward was for me to become a quilter for them and between making the quilts for the shop and quilting for the Maitland Cottage Hospital, any spare time was taken up.
What a feeling of accomplishment we all felt when the quilts were delivered and laid on the beds. The difference it made to the ward was great, a much brighter and happier place in which to spend the long, lonely days of recuperation after operations on the children’s’ limbs.
We all have the choice to share our gifts and expertise, as entrepreneurs.
Being in the ministry, entailed a lot of moving about. It not always easy, in fact, I found it very difficult, to uproot my family from what they knew, and the people we had all learned to love and begin all over again in pastures new.
Not only getting to know and love new people but once again I had to start another new garden. Both really turned out to be a real pleasure but It is still nerve-wracking to begin all over again in a new town or city.
I stuck up the word – COURAGE – on my mirror, to help me get through yet another move.
Keeping up friendships was important but not always possible from a distance and I am afraid that some were lost along the way. Fortunately, however, I still have a number in all the congregations we have served.
When we moved from Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape to Vryheid in Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal, Besides the friends I left behind, there was also the sewing classes I ran, the tennis club I belonged to, and the gym classes which were run in the Church Hall.
Upon my telling Dot, the gym instructor how much I would miss it, her reply was, “when you settle down in Vryheid, begin your own”. As I had my ballet training as a child and had been attending the gym classes for many years, it got me thinking, “Why not?”
This began another chapter in my life as an entrepreneur. I attended many gym courses and even was a speaker at one of the gym courses held in Warmbaths, near Pretoria.
It wasn’t long before I began teaching sewing again. Am still friends (on Facebook) with some of the gym members and also the people who attended the sewing classes. What a lot of fun we had.
Adapting to any change can be difficult but the most difficult for me so far, it is being able to cope with the change in circumstances that you cannot control in any way at all.
We all have issues we deal with in our lives as entrepreneurs
- Should we make changes to the pattern we are currently using?
- Do we taking on staff or outsource?
- Has the time come to go bigger?
- What else can we try to improve our customer satisfaction?
- Are we using the correct fabric for the job at hand?
- Is there an alternative?
All of these questions get asked by entrepreneurs regularly to help them keep their business current.
- Depression – Please get help. It is not anything to feel ashamed of and there are so many avenues of help available.
- Illness, yours or a loved one – This can change your life completely and it takes time to accept and cope with changes one might need to make.
- Financial worry – What a burden this can be, share your worries with a trusted friend or family member. Get advice and if you feel that It is good advice and will help, take it.
- Moving house – Such a difficult time, What to give away, sell or just throw out? Things that one found necessary to have at one time are now found to be a burden. It might require you to be quite ruthless in sorting through to see what you can’t do without.
- Loss and loneliness – Take courage and join a group that will lift your spirits. Try to talk to someone every day, perhaps they are lonely too.
- Long distance relationships – so difficult, and add to the loneliness. Keep lines of communication open. We are so blessed to have options of communication open to us, use them.
These are things you cannot control but need to learn to cope with.
Find something to keep your creative juices flowing. Fortunately, you are an Entrepreneur and always open to new ideas.
As an entrepreneur, through and through, I have found that whatever you attempt to do, do it properly. If you don’t have the skill you feel it required to do whatever you are planning to take on, do courses in it until you become proficient and capable of doing the job to the best of your ability.
The great thing about doing what you love, creating a business, it that there are so many ways for creating spin-off business ventures from the one you are involved in at the time.
When I had my gym, having sewing skills proved very fortuitous, as I was able to make and sell leotards, tracksuits, headbands, all of which were necessary items for anyone who does aerobics.
I also sourced leg warmers (yes, it was in those days when we wore legwarmers) and sold them at a slight profit to cover the costs of my collecting buying and collecting them from another town where they were manufactured. You don’t actually have to re-invent the wheel, just know where to find what you are looking for.
With many of the business ventures I have had, I had ways to develop spin-off businesses’ ventures on the side.
Whatever entrepreneurial venture you attempt, be committed. Do everything you can to get it up and running as you would like it to be.
Make plans and carry them out.
Ask questions to see if this would be something that would be needed.
Research all you can on what you want to much easier now with google etc.
Be conscious of the needs in the marketplace.
If you have staff, make sure they are happy and also listen to their ideas, concerns and even their advice. Keep them happy and you will earn their loyalty.
Make sure they are adequately trained in what you are expecting them to do.
One thing I know for sure is that the Good Lord has a sense of humour. Why else would he have me be a minister’s wife?
Most people have preconceived ideas of what a “good” ministers wife should be. Let me be the first to tell you, I was probably not the most conventional minister’s wife around. In fact, I was perhaps a great disappointment to many.
There was no way that I was cut out for Women’s Meetings. I was not interested in what had happened last month but was interested in what we were planning to do next. It was not long before I quit trying to please everyone else and did things my way.
My primary concern was being there for my husband, children and also my parents who came to live with us in their later years and needed attention. Being an entrepreneur, and working from home, gave me the freedom to be with them when they needed me.
By either working in an office which I did at times during my marriage, (learned a lot but also learned that I hate to be told what to do), and by having my many entrepreneurial ventures, I was able to lift some of the burdens my husband carried so that he was able to be the great Minister and Pastor he was to the congregations he served.
It was his wish for me to take a back seat in the running of the Church and was perfectly happy for me to do my own thing, especially as it helped with the family finances.
AGE – NO PROBLEM
My journey as a serial Entrepreneur began as a child aged around 4 years, when I purloined a packet of envelopes from my mothers desk and drew pictures of poppies, marigolds and wrote the names of the seeds, which I picked in the garden (please don’t ask how they were spelt out on the packets, I am dyslexic) and went up and down our road selling them.
That was when the penny (remember them?) dropped if you sold something you got money. What a pleasure that I learned that so early in my life.
At the age of 73, I began my latest venture as an Online Entrepreneur. Boy! Was I in for a wonderful surprise when I joined Wealthy Affiliate and learned that even as I was still in training, I could earn money for something that I absolutely love.
Once again, this venture into the unknown world of the computer and the internet has entailed a lot of learning, research and such weird jargon but I am cracking it, totally absorbed in it, and I am living proof that you can never be too young or too old to be a serial entrepreneur.
Besides the learning something so completely alien to me, one of the many pleasures about doing this online course it the fact that I am also still able to help others in their journey.
Helping others has always been at the forefront of all my entrepreneurial ventures.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY?
I would love to hear what experiences you have had as a serial entrepreneur?
Why you became one – out of necessity or just for the love of learning?
How have you accomplished all you have done?