I decided to start my ed tech company, Upliftology™, in 2015 when I realized a huge need still existed to help students prepare for their higher education goals and pursuits. I saw the disparity mostly among those in the public education system and even more specifically those who are first generation [American] children, like myself, and do not have the “luxury and benefits” of having parents who completely understand the American collegiate system.
Attending college is more than seeking to get an education; it is also about building experiences and setting oneself up for what’s to come in life, when someone graduates and becomes a “full-fledged” adult. I started to see a pattern – students applying to college because their parents wanted them to, their friends are applying to the same school, or simply doing so because it is expected of them – all common and legit reasons, but not a solid enough reason to have a 17/18-year old child sign up for a commitment that will impact the next four immediate years of the life and could have longtime effects.
I was very fortunate to have my entire collegiate career covered by scholarships and grants, with my largest sum of funds coming from the Gates Millennium Foundation (thank you, Daddy and Mommy Gates!).
With what I learned during my own college application process, I now am able to help others understand it for themselves to get the best results possible.
Oftentimes I am asked how did I start my own business (especially still working full time as a business technology consultant); how did I know this is what I want to do. The three steps below are what I always turn to whenever I think of my business and how I keep my entrepreneur and creative mindset. This will be helpful for those of you who are also looking into starting your own business:
- Create a solution to a problem.
It is “easy” for anyone to wake up one morning and decide, “I want to start my own business.” That’s truly great, but the reality of it all is:
a.) not everyone is created to be an entrepreneur (if everyone was a full-time [creative] business owner, who would be the [logical] support system who run with the idea and make it work sufficiently?!), and
b.) your business should be useful, functional, and applicable for the everyday person. If a business does not provide a solution to a problem for people, what are the benefits of a consumer engaging with your product or service?
Think with the end in mind. How do you help people be better or operate more efficiently? What transformation do you provide?
- Purpose will start you off, but passion will carry you through.
There is nothing more freeing than when you know you’re supposed to be helping people in specific way – aka walking and serving in your purpose. But knowing your purpose will only take you but so far, if you do not work for it passionately. It’s important to actively pursue your business to and accomplish the activities that make it run effectively. Carve out time to do the essential activities so that you fully engaged in operating in your purpose. If there are activities or tasks that need to be done for your business, but you are not that good in it or simply takes away from you focusing on your core tasks, do not hesitate to ask for help and outsource that work to someone else who’s better at it and can get it done quickly. And that brings me to number 3 …
- Surround yourself with a team that works hard and cheers you on.
Everyone – including family and friends – around you may not fully support or even understand what it is that you do in your business. And that’s OK! What’s key is that you create a team of people who will work hard to drive the dream to reality and cheer you on in the little wins. Those small successes leads to the big ones, and it’s important to have people around who recognize and embrace that. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely and confusing road, full of doubts, why did I …, and contemplation of sticking the good old, traditional route. Stay grounded and focused on why you started in the first place.
What business have you created and how do you help people? Let me know below.
I am wearing a Kente print shirt dress here created by Ismarh Couture. Check out my Instagram to see more designs from her.