I remember my first job at Ledo’s Pizza as a carryout girl. Well, not A carryout girl- but THE carryout girl. Basically my job was to take orders, so that’s what I did. From customers, from management- there was even a bathroom break schedule to follow. Being told when I could take a break, or use the bathroom never felt right, but that was okay because that’s just what I was supposed to do.
I won’t bore you with any more Ledo’s details, (at least right now) but there were a lot of jobs after that. Each job was different, but the base responsibilities were the same. Follow orders and pick up your paycheck. I felt like I was part of this race to get to work, overwork myself to prove I was a “part of the team”, and then drag myself home. It was endless, and little by little, I got tired of working so hard and never really feeling like I was going to be able to pay my bills and “get ahead”. Whatever that meant.
My first experience in business was as part of a company called “Primerica”. The idea behind the company is that they teach you to run your own business, network, speak with people, motivate yourself- everything you need to be a small business owner. You sell income protection- or life insurance to families so they will be covered in case something were to happen to the financial provider. Being a part of this company was a major growing time in my life. The realization that I COULD be a business owner blew my mind. For me, although I loved helping people, insurance wasn’t my calling. However, being a part of Primerica allowed me to grow and change as a person, which for me meant changing my mentality from the “job” mindset to the “ownership” mindset. No small feat.
From that moment on, I started paying attention to businesses I would walk into. The way they handled transactions, took care of customers, their logos and branding– my goal was to try to understand what the “business system” was. The sooner I learned it, I figured the sooner I would be ready to start my own business. The only problem was that I had no idea what I wanted to do.
That was a frustrating time in my life. How could I come up with a value that I could provide to people, and make enough money to support myself and my family? I started making a list of everything I was good at, and one by one, they got crossed off. At that point, I tabled the idea of starting my own business. I figured maybe it wasn’t the right time. Is there ever a “right time” to start a business? It’s like having a baby. You can prepare and prepare, but the reality is that until you get started- you just don’t get it.
Did I end up starting my own business? Yes! Has it been a journey? Yes! Owning my own business has been one of my greatest joys next to having my family. To end this I’ll say that starting your own business is an enormous amount of work, trial and error and disappointments, but it can lead to a freedom most don’t get to experience. I believe that small business is the foundation of our country, and with the proper infrastructure, guidance and support, any business has the ability to grow and prosper.