During my long break, I sewed, I photographed, I read books that had no useful purpose. I attempted to spend more time in the now and less time thinking about the future and how to make it take shape.
Before the holidays took hold, I attended a networking event, an introduction to the Social Enterprise Alliance here in Nashville and their business plan competition. I met some amazing women: one who runs an hispanic newspaper and a catering business, another who is writing a book to encourage single mothers to start their own businesses while she runs her business sewing formal gowns and working a separate job in marketing, and yet another woman who has just started a farm to supply locally grown food to restaurants while she also practices law. They were all a bit intimidating but also inspiring. I told them about my day job and my dream of starting a program of community business education, and one of them asked if I planned to teach the classes myself.
"Oh, no!" I answered. "I need to find people willing to share their expertise for little to no cost." Finding these people, I explained, is one of the keys to the program's success. It's also proving to be one of the most challenging aspects of getting started.
During my break from just about everything, I did some self-exploration to look at whether I truly have the entrepreneurial guts to start a program on my own. The answer seems to be that I may not, at least not yet. Looking at the Nashville Social Enterprise Alliance business plan competition web site, it became obvious to me that I wouldn't be ready to move forward with the prizes--branding from a marketing company, startup money, space in a local incubator--even if I somehow pulled off a win. I am a facilitator, and I always do best bringing together existing programs, products, and needs with wants. I know how to make things happen and can see how to make things work more efficiently and more cost-effectively. Understanding my level of risk aversion and recognizing I currently lack a team to help me move forward can save me from spending time running down the wrong path. Creating a team was one of the reasons I want to pursue the Masters in Civic Leadership at Lipscomb, but I can also attempt to create an organic team of existing groups of people that may turn out to create a workable program such as I've described in past posts and not have to start a whole new business on my own.
If I sound vague, that is with purpose, as I have to keep some things to myself while I attempt to gather resources together.
In the meantime, here are the things I've learned in my quiet time:
- I have to know myself before I can sell myself. I have to know exactly what I want before I can go after it successfully. I also have to recognize my strengths and work to those strengths. My strengths probably won't look exactly like anyone else's.
- Every waking moment does not have to be work. If I'm not at my job, I don't necessarily have to be working on, or thinking about, my side projects. Letting go of constant planning has been quite the relief.
- Peace can be found in the most stressful of places, but sometimes peace takes work, too: work not to think, not to plan, work to be still.
Being the type of person who spends most waking hours planning, organizing, and doing, I can never rest for long, but it's been a great mental break to step back from the big picture and spend a few weeks learning to appreciate the moment and all the little things that happen within it.
|Some tee-tiny moss growing on a wall by my house, which I noticed during a sunrise.