Take the Steps
How do we find those fruitful seeds? The process includes two initial and transforming steps.
1. Let go of limiting questions.
Those questions create dichotomies between “what I have been” versus “what I wanted to be” and between “what I have” and “what I lack.”
2. Engage in expansive, strength-based thoughts, and invite self-reflection into your life.
Questions take on a rapid and uplifting turn:
- What skills, confidence and knowledge does one possess?
- What lessons has one learned from successes and challenges? This allows us to observe and understand situations early, and respond quickly and strategically to developing challenges.
- What did one learn from mentors and advisers earlier in life? How would that knowledge apply for an entrepreneur?
Answers to these strength-based questions begin to pour. Surely, there are things we’ve done that required entrepreneurial skills building our confidence and expanding our knowledge.
For me, the realization of my entrepreneurial seeds emerged when I amplified the lens through which I examined my accomplishments. Rapidly, I realized that I always start projects by identifying my relevant skills and knowledge, and I go from there with confidence.
This approach always allows me to take the first step. I honed in on those assets to start my nonprofit-consulting business and made a mental note for myself. I share some for illustration purposes.
Be Aware of Assets
In graduate school, I was an insightful and effective researcher.
I negotiated academic projects and amounts for fellowships with professors and school administrators, wrote theses and funding proposals, and developed budgets for research trips. In addition, I built rapport with diplomats, business leaders, social activists and government officials in the U.S. and abroad as part of the work I was doing for my dissertation.
I delivered presentations and participated in radio and TV interviews on Latino stations in Chicago, where I lived, because I was studying Latino immigration to the U.S. The list went on, and so did my confidence, knowledge and positive outlook on business development.
I also reflected on lessons learned. On a couple of occasions, I had to draw on resilience and determination to a level I did not know I had to get through challenging projects. And I did it. So that counts, and I took note of it.
Aware of these transferable assets, I endeavored to launch my consulting business summarily. In this capacity, I researched the field of nonprofit consulting, wrote a business plan, built rapport with experienced consultants who graciously provided insightful advice, networked with business and nonprofit leaders and philanthropists, volunteered my consulting services, joined nonprofit boards, attended fundraisers and became a donor. In addition,
I committed myself to being a mentor to others after becoming an experienced consultant. I believe giving is receiving.
In less than three months, I had my first paying client. Since then, Ive served more than 70 organizations.
What I do for my clients: research, writing, connecting them to resources, negotiating on their behalf, facilitating meetings and teaming up to develop strategic plans. Did I have these skills before I launched? The answer is a resounding “Yes.” Did I need other skills? Yes, and I found ways to acquire them.
Fifteen years later, I remain fully engaged in the field and evolving with it. Interestingly, I also answered those initially unanswerable questions:
“Can I do this?” Yes, I can do this, because I have entrepreneurial seeds in me.
“How would I do it?” By applying and transferring skills, confidence and knowledge acquired before conceiving the idea of owning a business.
“Why would I do it?” Because I value the nonprofit sector, and my commitments and skills are in alignment. In other words, there is a passion for the work that I do that fuels my inspiration and determination.
I uncovered from my experience that our own seeds of entrepreneurship can catapult us toward business success. Having clear awareness of those seeds is the equivalent of capitalizing and maximizing on our tried-and-true competitive advantages: drawing on skills, confidence and knowledge, so that we can passionately carry on with our business mission and goals.