Like so many of us Solapreneurs, we end up in a business for the same reason we end up in a relationship: we follow our passion.
Whether it is because we have the greatest invention, best idea to solve a problem or we truly believe that we have so much more to give, creativity and passion are front-of- mind – and many times the end result is not even in-our- mind. If we want to make our passion-driven business a success, we need to know where we are heading. That means setting a goal -- making tangible, definitive plans with a specific deadline.
I love sharing stories, in the hope that you will learn from my mistakes which I like to call My Adventures in Solapreneurship. In early 1990, with a baby in tow and working full time, the money was just not enough. My baby’s daddy was finishing college, so we decided, I would work and he took care of our little one. I needed a second job, but another punch clock job was not going to cut it. I also needed to keep my dancer body audition-ready, but a gym was too expensive and out of the question.
While at the park one day, I heard a mommy complaining about her Nordic Track being used as a hanging closet because she had no motivation to work out alone, all other moms had the same issue, but with different equipment, and right then and there, my passion sparked my entrepreneurial spirit!
I saw a need and a niche, my creative juices started flowing and with some business spunk, my dance passion and Juan Luis Guerra’s merengue, my clients started losing pounds, having fun and enjoying the company of a “workout buddy”. My fee was hourly and I have to admit I was having a blast. My sessions where creative and meant to last an hour but they usually lasted 2 to 3 hours of fun.
The concept worked
News of the WORK-OUT BUDDY, what I named my business, spread like wildfire throughout the neighborhood and it also kept me in shape. I was able to move into a better apartment, I had better exercise clothes, and yes, I was a hit. Many other mommies enlisted to work out using their own equipment and my expertise, and suddenly, a Solapreneur (my term for a one-woman enterprise) was born.
The job business
Eventually, my venture outgrew my part time schedule but I still needed the insurance and security from my full time job plus I loved the fact that I could stay active while making extra money, so I continued doing it on my own. I was fulfilling all needs, my family’s, my client’s and my new apartment’s.
By 1992, two years after I had started the business, my circumstances changed. I separated from my daughter’s father, had to find and pay a babysitter and finally had to get a car since the nanny had to be at home by nightfall. At this point I had to take a hard look at the business and how much I was making.
Working an average of 40 hours a week in my full time job and 30 more with my business, I was pulling in a whopping… drum roll, please… $3.40 per hour. THIS WAS A JOB – NOT A BUSINESS -- and one that wasn’t even pulling in the minimum wage. This was not enough money to sustain my daughter and myself with my change in circumstances, and the reality was, since I had only spent my time focused on the passion and creative elements of my business, I never came up with a strategy for the long term.
Needing a purpose
I went into my business, because I had a creative and unique idea. Even though I had some proof of concept, there was no goal, no purpose and no strategy to how the business should grow and what it was meant to achieve. I buddied many clients, they lost the pounds, referred new customers, but ultimately, I never made enough profit for it to be worth my time or effort.
I share this with you amiga, because if you are led by your passion, and don’t get me wrong, that is great, just make sure to ask yourself what you want out of your business, what is your purpose. If you don’t set goals, how will you know what direction to go in? It is totally up to you what the mission, purpose and goals behind your business are, and there is no right answer -- only what’s right for you.
For me, every time I listen to Juan Luis Guerra, I smile because it started me on my Solapreneur path, but I smile even wider, grateful that my life lessons have taught me that the only goals worth pursuing are the ones that seize hold of my passion.
Always remember, “A goal should always scare a little, and excite you a lot”.
Por: Virginia Rivera
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