Community: Why entrepreneurs need to be around others who are just as crazy as they are.

“Sometimes the best way to make money is when most people say you are wrong and nuts.” — Carl Icahn

My sister, Katrina and I partnered up to start a business in 2014. It was a business idea I had since 2007 and it was finally coming to fruition. It was not glamorous at all. It was unique and required educating our customer base because no one else was doing it. It was trash can cleaning for our community with a future plan to build trash can cleaning systems for others as well. To summarize, a lot of people thought we were crazy. We were both happy with the arrangement though. I would be the working partner and be the one getting it all off the ground and she would be the greater financial partner and basically a silent partner, but would help with the engineering side later. Even though I had been patient and waited seven years to start this company, it was still a challenging time to actually go for it. Katrina’s job at the time sent her to Australia for a year, my husband had sold his business months before and gone back to school full-time (with my support) and I had a four-month-old baby and a two-year-old toddler. So this “infant’ of a business was, in fact, a challenge for me. Even when Katrina returned from Australia she traveled a lot and was never able to be involved in the business, until that is, I planned to move to another state (over 1,000 miles away) for my husband to attend Graduate School.

Katrina and I presented ourselves with two options. One option was to sell the business and the second option was Katrina quitting her six-figure income job and running the operations for our business, herself while I continued to run the administrative and marketing side of the business from out of state. Neither of us wanted to sell the business so we choose the second option. Although this option was not an easy choice either because at that time Katrina had never run a business and was becoming quite unnerved at the idea of it all. Hang in there because I’m going to clearly tell you why community among entrepreneurs is a big deal. During the three years leading up to the point where Katrina and I began sharing roles within our business, I increasing felt alone as a mom and alone as an eutreprener. I felt trapped in my home many times. I felt I was too busy as a mom to get out and mingle with other business owners and too busy as a business owner to mingle with other moms. But I knew I was missing community so I desperately tried to find a community somewhere. First I sought out a community in a “mommy group”. They were so nice and kind but looked at me funny when I had to leave a playdate early to go clean trash cans. I didn’t feel understood when it came to my passion and the big picture that was in my head regarding the business we had started. Some of the ladies had their own businesses, but their businesses were more direct sales (Mary Kay and the like). We didn’t share a common problem of paying payroll to employees even when you can’t pay yourself or being responsible for paying to repair broken equipment or spend thousands of hours and/or money on marketing an idea so I still didn’t have friends to confide in or relate to. Secondly, I found the women who were my community before I was a mom didn’t seem to identify with me anymore. They didn’t understand why I would want to try to stay home to raise my kids while the kids were still babies instead of just finding full-time sitters or daycare and focusing all my attention on my business. I continued to struggle with having a community of people who understood where I was coming from. I needed a community who understood that my crazy ideas were really great, big ideas and that they could work. I just needed support to pass through the pain and difficulties of a start-up. I needed cheerleaders and motivators in my life.

There was one place I found regular motivation. With the help of the internet and iTunes, I was able to tune in regularly to an amazing podcast. It was the only thing that made me feel like I wasn’t alone and I loved when there was a new episode to listen to. It’s called the “The Quick Talk Podcast” and the host, Josh Latimer was podcasting from Costa Rica at that time. Josh is an energetic family man who has tons of crazy business ideas, who thinks big, and who understands that an entrepreneur is someone who sometimes seemingly jumps out of a plane and builds the parachute on the way down. I also loved that Josh wasn’t afraid to say he loves Jesus and loves his wife and kids. It was clear he has the heart to help others. This was my kind of people. This podcast kept me going and kept me energized so I listened to every episode I could find and signed up to be on the email list. I was officially a follower of this wild and crazy entrepreneur who frequently talked about how people like us tend to not have a good community of other entrepreneurs in our lives because we also tend to be confident and think we can figure it all out on our own.

Skip ahead three years later. I have moved out of state and now my sister, Katrina and I are working on this big project, our business, together. Katrina is beginning to learn our business, reluctantly though. In her own words, she was coming along while “kicking and screaming” and still not really sure she even wanted to do this. She still believed in the business and knew we had a lot of great customers and a good business but wasn’t sure she wanted to work in the business. That was hard on me, but I was not mad at her as I realized it was never her intention to be so involved in our business. I began sharing this podcast with her, having her listen to as many as she would. She liked them and I could sense she was starting to understand how I thought. Skip ahead another year. We are just over four years in business and I present a crazy idea to her. This guy, Josh Latimer from the Quick Talk Podcast was putting on a unique business event. Josh, along with many other successful business owners, would be mentors and work with us one on one to work through specific goals for our business. For this event, you come with your spouse or business partner to find Community, Clarity, and Accountability so you can CONQUER in your business. I know we NEED this and I really want exactly what they are talking about. I was elated when Katrina excitedly said: “let’s do this!”. It was a big sacrifice for us. Money, time, travel, etc. but we both felt like we had to do it. Skip ahead to October 2018 when we find ourselves in Michigan at this event. Excitement and nervousness start to take over. I’m mostly excited. Katrina is mostly nervous, but only briefly as one-by-one we meet other business owners and their spouses and find they are like us. The same challenges, the same fears and the same courage to brave the unknown and do something big and different so they can create change in our world. These people have the same big pictures ideas for their success and purpose in life. They have had failures and successes that we identify with. The mentors are the same way. Wise and humble as they let us know we are not “normal” because most of society does not take such huge risks with their careers and finances. At the same time, they tell us we are “normal” entrepreneurs because everyone in that room and at that event has gone through or is going through the same things. Katrina and I not only experienced an unmeasurable amount of leadership and guidance, but we gained wind in our sails and a filling of our imaginary buckets, so much that now I feel it is spilling out.

The truth is, without the community this event brought together, Katrina and I would not have the clarity and accountability we now BOTH have. We are finally unified in the understanding of our duty and the purpose in our lives. We both have to say “thank you” again, from the bottom of our hearts. Thanks to each and every one of the people who organized things and those who worked as mentors at the Automate Grow Sell Experience for 2018. We left AGSx2018 feeling unified with each other in our approach to our business and we feel empowered by the community we now have with many of our newfound entrepreneur friends. If you are reading this and are an entrepreneur who is lacking community, I would like you to know there is a great group of people out there. We understand your heartaches and challenges and we care about your purpose in life. We understand why you do what you do, even if family and friends think you are crazy for doing it. Reach out and find us, we are waiting to commune with you as well.

#community #entrepreneurs #businessowners #businessleaders #trashcancleaning #entrepreneur

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