Who would have thought this would ever happen? To me?
Sure, I’ve thrown the idea around my head of someday writing a book. As many of us have and do. But, we all know that intention is far from action and even farther from realization.
How did it transpire then, that I actually got started on my author journey?
I blame my son. While we were home schooling last year, I kept my eyes open for interesting activities or workshops that we could participate in, and I came across this one by a publisher about writing a book. Cool! I took no time in signing us up. However, what I didn’t realize was that it was only for adults, so my ticket arrived in my inbox, but there was no ticket for Matthieu. Oh, well, my ticket stayed unopened in the box and we went on to other activities, other workshops, other outings.
Before I knew it, the school year was over and Matthieu was driving away to his dad’s house on the last day of school. All of a sudden, it hit me like a ton of bricks that our home school year was over and the precious year I had to spend just with my son was over. The opportunity to spend this kid of time with him was amazing and it was over. And, I cried. A lot. Big ugly cried. For a long time. There was no one to save me from myself: my son was gone home with his dad, my partner was off to a sporting event, my friends were celebrating the last day of school. And I was not exactly in the celebrating mood. I moped for awhile and not really knowing what else to do with myself, I checked my email. While checking, I came across that ticket for the book writing workshop. The workshop was on that very night, on that very weekend. It was starting downtown. In 45 minutes. I had a decision to make: was I going to stay home and feel sorry for myself all night? Or, was I going to get out of the house and maybe learn something?
Had I stayed home and moped, there wouldn’t have been much of a blog here. As it is, I cleaned up, put on some makeup, got dressed up and headed downtown arriving about 5 minutes before the workshop started. The publisher running the workshop gave all kinds of advice about the whole writing and publishing process and it stirred up all kinds of questions, all kinds of thoughts about that desire to write a book. I had to make a decision: was I going to go through with this? Was I going to actually make the commitment to write a book? Over that weekend, I did lots of agonizing (fear of failure; fear of success; self-doubt; self-worth…) and lots of praying. As soon as I had made my decision and said yes to myself (and to the publisher) I felt relief and calm. Once I had made the decision, I knew it was the right one. By the end of that weekend, I had started writing my first book. As simple and as complicated as that.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business? How did the idea for your business come about?
Confession: To tell you the truth, I’m a great shopper. When I need something, I love to look for the deals, look at the latest trends, and decide how I’m going to spend my money wisely. I love to support local and home-based businesses to help entrepreneurs in their efforts; I love to buy books of local and upcoming authors, too. But something about being on the other side of that transaction has never really been my thing.
Likewise, when I started my sabbatical year, starting my own business was the last thing on my mind: I was going to travel, teach my son, spend time in leisure pursuits. (I’m thinking my life partner was laughing at this and bracing himself for what was to come! Hah! You think you know me, Q!) But, there I went and asked the universe what I should do. And, things started happening.
Lesson: Never say never!...and, be careful what you ask the universe because you might get it!
For more confessions and Lessons of a first time business entrepreneur, visit my blog on my website: antoniacetin.com
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
Not having ever had a business before nor any real sales experience, I didn’t really know where to start, so I wondered how I was going to do this. One thing I did know was that my friend who showed me the product in the first place was doing it, and so was my friend who just started. So, I thought we could figure it out together. As soon as I made the commitment to start, my friends got me into some training, provided me with literature, and encouraged me along the way. I started to seek out people and things that would help me learn and succeed, and slowly, people and things that would help me learn and succeed started seeking me out, too. Partnerships were created, and relationships were built. Through the whole process, there has always been someone to reach out to and learn with. I just needed to take that first step and realize I was not alone.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
Don’t ignore the whispers of your heart. You need to be true to yourself and be who you were meant to be. If there are people who are not supportive or your dreams and goals, find people who will be supportive and encourage you and surround yourself with them. Have supports in place, have honest conversations with your partner, keep your priorities in order and stick to your work schedule so it doesn’t impede on family time.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
The most influential factor would be realizing that I don’t know what I’m doing, and then, doing it anyway. Realizing that I am afraid, and then doing it anyway. Along the way, I’ve been learning how to do it. Mistakes were (are being) made. Anytime you do something new, there is fear and there is a learning curve. And, that’s ok. Anytime you’ve wanted to do something badly enough, you just did it. There was no manual to explain to you the mechanics of walking; there was no curriculum for surviving adolescence; there was no consensus between experts on how to raise a child, but you did it anyway. You did all of these things and you learned along the way.
I’m not saying it’s not worth listening to some experts, doing some reading, and getting some advice. I’m all about learning and growing and being informed. In fact, I think I may be addicted to learning. What I’m saying is you don’t have to have everything perfectly in place before you start. Otherwise you’ll never start. If you wait to do it until you know how to do it, it won’t get done. The learning will happen and the learning is continuous and imperfect. I’m still learning. But, I’m doing it. By doing it, I’m realsing I can do it. Do what you would do if you weren’t afraid.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
When I first got started, I didn’t realise how challenging it would be to find the balance between home and work life. I realised that I could very easily get carried away by trying to fit just one more thing in, read one more email, send one more thank you, make one more contact. I realised that I needed to take charge of my time. Since I was the one filling out my calendar and deciding how I spent my time, I was the one with the power to decide what to do and what not to do. So, I started scheduling in time for those things that were important to me, but that I never got around to - like taking some time for myself! I started scheduling short segments of time for my various activities. Keeping them on my schedule meant that that time wasn’t going to get eaten up by something else. It also meant that I was spending a little time here and there on each project instead of thinking I had to do everything all at once. Little steps, I realised, in time add up to long distances.
Another realization was that balance is not static, rather it’s achieved over time. There might be something you need to do for yourself or someone you love that might take you out of balance for a while, but then, you make sure you re-balance. When I feel like I need more time with my son, more me time, more family time, more couple time, or even time to do nothing, on the calendar it goes. Guess what: I do have time for the things that I value!
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Know your why. If you haven’t read Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why, run, do not walk, to the bookstore. In essence the message is that “People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.” You need to be clear on why you are doing what you are doing. For me, I care about the health and happiness of my son and my family. Because I care about the health and happiness of my friends. Because I want to empower them and I want to empower you with the knowledge of another way to live your life: running your own business, spending time with your children on your own terms. For me, for those who are close to me, for you, I want us not just to survive, but to thrive! I want to see you live the life you love! Also, I wanted my son to have the example of a mother, his mother, who went after her dreams and created the life she loves. What better way to show him than to give him the example of his mother helping other people find life balance and create the lives they want while taking care of the health and wellbeing of their families! I wanted him to see me live my dreams, so that he would know he could live his dreams, too. First, be clear on your why, then, talk to people, build rapport, spread your message and get to know the people who you want to work with. Your business cannot go anywhere without the people who are there to support you and whom you are there to help.