Last summer, my business was SLOW. I mean, really slow. I’m going to be brutally honest about where I was a year ago. I made $300 in my business in June 2018. That’s it. I was at a point where I was questioning myself and wondering if I was doing the right thing.
This is my story of how finding the right support through networking groups completely changed the course of my business, and helped me grow to earn a sustainable income while serving amazing clients.
I’m not making excuses here, but I am a first-generation business owner (is that a phrase?). June 2018, I had ambition and goals but zero business background and didn’t know the first thing about building a business.
I felt lost and, quite frankly, like a loser. My family and friends were, and are, incredibly supportive of my entrepreneurial journey. It’s not that they weren’t supportive or helpful. I did share snippets of my business with friends and was supported, but I was too dang embarrassed to share the whole picture. I felt lost, but I also felt a pull forward. I was determined.
How did one make this entrepreneurship thingy work? What was the secret?! At that point, I didn’t dream of earning a million dollars or six-figures. I just hoped to make $500 a month...
June 2018 - Meeting Tara Watterson and Finding WMAI
I decided to learn everything I could about owning a business. One of my 2018 year goals was to dig in and learn everything about owning a business. I’m so glad I made that goal and followed through on taking a class. I took my first noncredit business class at WCTC’s Small Business Center spring 2018 called “Organizing Business Finances.” Thank you, Kathleen Bue!
Luckily for me, my instructor shared that it’s a great idea for entrepreneurs to find CPAs. I found CPA Tara Watterson and reached out to her for help with *gulp* accounting and tax prep. She and I met for coffee to see if we’d be a good fit.
We ended up having a splendid time, and she invited me to join her for her weekly WMAI (Women Making an Impact) meeting in Delafield the following Friday morning. Thank goodness I said yes. I LOVE my Friday mornings at WMAI, surrounded by boss female business owners and leaders.
March 2019 - Finding eWomen Network
Fast forward to March 2019, things are growing in my business, and I feel as though I’m on the right track. Tara invites to me something I’ve never heard of; the eWomen Network’s annual Summit. I’ll be honest I didn’t even look up the event or group! I just said sure and went with Tara.
I’m so thankful I did.
Summit was spending the day in a room packed with 100+ female entrepreneurs from the Milwaukee area learning from industry experts. The speakers were incredible, and the energy in the room was inspiring. One of the speakers was from Google, and the other was the founder of the organization Sandra Yancey. Sandra’s mission of the eWomen Network is to help 1 million women make $1 million.
Another person in attendance was Mike Dejong, owner of Nothing Bundt Cakes in Brookfield. He also felt and saw what I did. He realized this organization is something he needed to support, so he generously offered to donate several year-long memberships for young female entrepreneurs to join.
I’ve gotten to know Mike through my involvement in the Delafield and Brookfield Chamber of Commerce. He is passionate about helping local businesses and organizations. I’ve attended several events with those delicious bundtinis as a donated treat (I may have once left a Chamber event with a chocolate one in my purse shhhh!)
April 2019 - Applying for Emerging Leader
After Summit, I start attending eWomen Network events and finding inspiration with every meeting. In April, I receive an email from Jamie Shibley, the Managing Director of the Milwaukee Chapter, “How old are you? Possible cool opportunity.” After replying, I find out that I was nominated to apply to be Milwaukee Chapter’s Emerging Leader for the eWomen Network. I was shocked and thankful for the opportunity.
I went ahead and applied with another nominee Jessica Omelian. She is the owner and founder of Atmosphere Collaborative Space (among other cool things).
We found out in early June that Jessica is the Emerging Leader Finalist from Milwaukee and I am the runner up! Heck yes! I went from feeling like a complete loser to being nominated for things like Emerging Leader?!
As runner up, I was gifted one of the donated year-long memberships for the eWomen Network from Mike at Nothing Bundt Cakes. I’m so grateful and thrilled to be part of this group!
Present Day - Networking and Finding My People
It’s July 2019, and I’m happy to report that my business is doing well. I have two team part-time members who help me kick even more ass (whoops! I swore). I’m on track to earn more money this year then the full-time salary I walked away from in 2017.
I believe everything happens for a reason and that everything falls into place when you trust yourself. Had I not struggled, had I had not said yes, had I not gone through that period, I might not have taken the actions that I did and found my network.
Without finding my people through WMAI and the eWomen Network, I can genuinely say I wouldn’t be here.
Without business owners like Mike from Nothing Bundt Cakes ambitious female entrepreneurs like me, we wouldn’t be able to have opportunities like this to surround myself with other boss babes and learn from incredible business leaders.
If there’s another lesson from this, it’s this: find your people. Whether you’re starting a business, creating a nonprofit, writing a book, starting a project, or whatever it is you’re doing in your life. Find the right support and surround yourself with those who will be your cheerleaders.
If you’re a business owner like Mike, who understands the importance of finding the right support as an entrepreneur, then I encourage you to seek out organizations, like the eWomen Network and asking how you can offer support.
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