Many of you have been asking how I got started on my journey into entrepreneurship at age 24, then copped out for almost 4 years, then how I jumped back into it last year.
I think the PREFACE of my new book says it all.
On April 7, 1975, I was born to two incredibly wonderful, doting parents. My early memories are of my mother and I—always together, always talking. I was constantly being nurtured. My father was out hunting to provide for his family, all the while fighting his insecurities as a result of growing up lacking many resources at home and having to help his family financially at a young age.
My parents were polar opposites. My mother, a teacher and therapist, was calm and rational. My father was an astute businessman, people person, and lover of life. But they were a unified front when it came to raising me. I was taught the value of a dollar early. Whenever I received my allowance, it was half to spend and half to save. As a child, I played at entrepreneurship. Each day I would play in the basement with my dolls (I had no siblings). I would develop a new business idea each day—opening a restaurant, designing clothing, or simply selling something. I loved sales. Moreover, I was given every encouragement to work hard and to chase my dreams.
Fast forward to my twenties. I had just graduated McGill University with a major in Psychology and an undeclared minor in Marketing. I was going the business route. My plan after graduation: get a great job for 2 years, and then return to MBA School. The great job came. MBA School didn’t. I BOMBED my GMATs and found myself rejected from MBA School. I was DEVASTATED. I speak in this book about
always having a Plan B. At the time, I had no Plan B, only a Plan A. But God had a Plan B in store for me that was far greater than anything I could have dreamed up myself.
I took being rejected from MBA School as a sign. I thought, “Now is the time to finally live my dream of entrepreneurship!” I was 24, and I was still living at home. I had saved up quite a bit of money, and against everyone’s advice, I went for it! I cashed out $5,000 worth of investments, put up a website, made some ugly business cards, and got on a plane for The New York Gift Show. I was going into business for myself, and no one could stop me. Despite everyone asking me why I would enter the already competitive marketplace of promotional products, I knew I had it in me to make my venture a success. I returned home from the gift show with my samples in my suitcase, and I called everyone I knew.
On August 23, 1999, I registered my company for $37.00 and never once looked back. I worked up until the minute my water broke at 37 weeks pregnant in 2003. I was back in the office 48 hours later, pounding the pavement again. No maternity leave. Well, two days actually. I owned my own business, and there was no maternity leave for business owners at the time. I continued to push hard. I won numerous business awards along the way and accomplished many milestones and much success.
In 2006, I was pregnant again, and an opportunity fell into my hands. Canada’s largest retail chain for bags was courting me to purchase my business, and it was an offer I simply couldn’t refuse. I knew that I was entrepreneurial in spirit, and that I would be merely taking a break for a while to raise my kids. It was a great 3 years at home with my boys that I feel gave them the foundation and confidence to set them on their way (much like my own mother had given me).
Fast forward to September 2009. I was getting restless at home, and I felt a little unfulfilled. My volunteer work was wonderful, but not nearly stimulating enough. Despite having written three children’s books and a TV show while at home for those three years, my dream to connect with women around the world was so strong, so palpable, I couldn’t deny it. I had a constant voice in my head and this burning desire to speak up and help inspire women to live their dreams. I couldn’t quiet those voices. Hence the birth of my Women On The Fence Blog (WomenOnTheFence.com). Now women come from all around the world by the thousands to feel connected and inspired, to better understand their own life experiences, to laugh, and to cry. I urge them, as I do you ladies, to unlock their passion, get off the fence, and live their dreams. I am living proof two times over that it’s completely possible to dream it, and then live it. And live it large.
While I have achieved great success over the past 11 years of being an entrepreneur, I have also made a lot of mistakes along the way. I hope to pass on the knowledge to you so that you don’t repeat the ones I have made. I also figured out a few great tricks along the way, which I hope to pass on as well. Therefore, this guide is just that: YOUR GUIDE. It is not a step-by-step plan to starting your own business. You can pick that up at your local bookstore. Instead this is a coach in a pocket. I am here as your business mentor and your coach to help guide you through the start-up phase of your business. If you are thinking of starting your own business, there are things you MUST KNOW to ensure your new venture is a huge success. We women have to stick together, and it is my goal to share my knowledge with you. I say it in my blog, and I’ll say it here.
“We’re women. We are bright. We are dynamic. We are educated. We are perfectionists. We are tired. We love our husbands. We hate our husbands. We love our kids. Our kids annoy us. We want to work. We can’t juggle it all. We expect two dozen roses on our anniversary. We give. We get. We’re happy. We’re discouraged. We’re intuitive. We’re funny.
We’re women. Black. White. Asian. Hispanic. Through it all, we stick together.”
Enjoy this guide. I wish you all the success in the world in starting your new venture. What an incredible opportunity! What an incredible journey it will be.
I hope that if you’ve been teetering about whether or not to take the plunge into the unknown, this gives you the push for 2011 you’ve been looking for. Whether it’s starting your own business, taking up a new hobby, quitting your job, having another kid, or leaving an abusive relationship, I hope you have faith that the universe will support you. Just remember… it always does.
Tell us, what are you contemplating for 2011? What is your action plan?
For more info or how you can buy Erica’s new book, 99 Things Women Wish They Knew Before… Starting Their Own Business, click here.
PS – Tune in next Wednesday, December 15th, 1:30-2PM, where FOR THE FIRST TIME, I’ll be taking all your business start-up calls on CJAD – Montreal AM 800 or CJAD.com.