In 2014, I started my entrepreneurial journey because I was ready for a change. I participated in the Institute on Educational Leadership’s Education Policy Fellowship Program which solidified my interest in educational leadership. As a former instructional coach, I always enjoyed facilitating professional development, and collaborating with administrators on devising school improvement plans. The classroom limited my flexibility in getting involved in education policy on the local, state, and federal levels. I felt that divisiveness in education was affecting the students, and wanted to become a change agent.
Unfortunately, research confirms that zip codes predict students’ academic future. Since my teaching experience was in both urban and suburban school districts, I saw how the disparities were affecting the students’ education. Many inner-city students are graduating from high school unprepared for college due to accessibility, familial status, and socioeconomics issues. In Cleveland, the high school graduation rate is 66%, and there is a correlation between high crime rates and education attainment.
Last year, I was an assessment coordinator for Cuyahoga Community College’s Adult Diploma Program (ADP). Tri-C (Cuyahoga Community College) was one of the five educational organizations chosen to pilot this program. Adults 22 years or older simultaneously meet their high school requirements while participating in an industry credential program. Tri-C received over 2,000 applications for the first cohort, and only had enough funding for 300 participants. As an interviewer, I heard the reasons why they dropped out high school. Many of them were overwhelmed with personal issues such as teenage pregnancy, family deaths, and incarceration. While the others met all their high school credits, but did not receive their high school diplomas because they were not able to pass the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT).
I knew in order to improve the educational and economic outcomes of my community, I had to first reach the parents. They are their children's first teachers, and crucial in student achievement. These social problems prompted me to launch CHARPED, which uses a two-generational approach to provide culturally-competent family and community engagement workshops.
When I decided to become an entrepreneur, my interests were broad. I knew that I did not want to limit myself to just providing family and community engagement workshops, and I was interested in facilitation/training, evaluation, education and workforce development.
This year, I reflected on my business, and saw that I was not satisfied with its progression. Businesses that started later than mine were flourishing at a faster rate.
What was I doing wrong? After conversing with other entrepreneurs and business mentors, I concluded that I was having difficulties in staying focused. Distractions became the detriment of my business success. Here are some suggestions for new entrepreneurs:
Create a daily planner sheet (or purchase one) to schedule task allotment and to-do lists.
STOP multitasking, and complete the tasks that require the most creativity first.
Do not start another venture until the first venture reaches a certain level of momentum.
LISTEN to your business mentors at the beginning of your entrepreneurial path so that do not waste time. Have them assist you in developing an action plan with milestones.
You can still feed your other interests through participating in committees, boards, and organizations.
Have a strong elevator pitch when interacting with prospective clients.
Do a personal and business S.W.O.T. (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) Analysis.
Participate in webinars and workshops to assist you in becoming an expert in your field.
Take care of yourself. Exercise regularly, eat healthy, and get enough sleep.
Enjoy time with your family and friends.
Exercise your brain through participating in brain teasers
Have a growth mindset and not a fixed mindset. Dedication, hard work, and resilience will assist you in reaching your goals.
Now two years later, I decided to go back to the original idea that prompted my interest in entrepreneurship. Although I am no longer in a K-12 capacity, my mission is still the same which is to eradicate poverty through education.
I believe that you only have one life to live, and it is important for you to fulfill your purpose. Being an entrepreneur is risky but it is a journey worth traveling.