Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Path to Entrepreneurship

As far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur.

Yes, that's my version of the famous "Goodfellas" quote, but also very true. I can think back to being a kid, and how I always wanted to own a business.  I started martial arts when I was five. I don't have a whole lot of memories of the experiences at five years old, but I can remember looking at my karate teacher and thinking "I want to do that". It wasn't only the teaching that interested me, but I loved the leadership of it. I loved the independence. Seeing him do whatever he wanted and knowing it was his own business. With his hard work, integrity, and dedication, he made it a successful one.
I got a taste of it when I earned my black belt at 10 years old. Even though I was so young, I was helping run classes. I had to be able to look up at a grown 30 year old man (and I was also very short for my age!) and tell him what to do. I remember thinking it was weird, but I also remember them listening to me. By the time I turned 12, I became an Assistant Instructor. I changed karate schools after my family moved, and I had to get to know the new environment. It wasn't long, however, before I became the Assistant Instructor at that school as well.
Dreams and goals can always change throughout your life, and they definitely did with me. I started serving in college. No experience, but my friends were doing it so I figured I could make money doing it too. Wasn't long before I knew I wanted to own a restaurant/bar. I was serving and collecting tips, but also striving to be the best server and eventually get to management. I didn't want to own a karate school anymore, but I did have it as a back up plan.  One day, however, I remember talking to the manager and she was saying how she wanted to start serving again. I found out that she was putting in double the hours, hated her job, and got less pay than I did. I felt like that didn't make sense. My goal of owning a restaurant quickly changed.
I also wanted to own a recording studio/record company. I did music on the side. I started writing when I was 12, and I wrote everything! I wrote poetry, short stories, R&B, Rock, Hip Hop, and eventually, even a full length movie script. I found it as a way to get my thoughts out and express myself. I noticed that when I wrote, I felt stress free. The feeling developed and so did my music. I eventually focused on Hip Hop and spent most of my time with my Hip Hop/R&B/Acoustic group. They were my closest friends and we always spoke a big game of making it big. In college, we started to really make a name for ourselves around New Brunswick, NJ. We did every show we could find and eventually opened up for The Cool Kids and performed at Miss Brasil USA in Philadelphia. After college, we all continued work in entertainment, but went our separate career paths. I sometimes still wonder how far we could have taken it, but I know we're all working towards our own goals now.
So then I graduated. One of the only days that can be both the most scary but exciting time for someone. Like many others who earned their degree, I walked up on that Rutgers stage in 2009 clueless on what I'd do next. I went on job searching sites like and looked for anything. Everything from music stuff to business related positions. I found that there were so many sales positions, but that scared me in a way. I've never done sales before. None of my friends or family had either. After interviewing at a sales office in New Jersey, I took the position anyway. I figured "What's the worst that could happen?" If I didn't try it, I would never know if this was something I could do. The pay was all commission. I remember that on my interview, I didn't even know what commission was. When it was explained to me, it made sense. You get paid for what you do. The better you do, the more you get paid. When the average rep was making like 500 bucks, I could work harder and possibly make 1000.
It was a lot of hard work and attitude adjustments. It took me about six weeks to really get consistent at it, but soon I was training and interviewing for positions. After exactly a year, I got to Assistant Management. It was around this time that I knew this was for me. I was going to own a sales office. The office I worked in did sales for Verizon FiOs. It was a huge client, and I sold a lot for them. Not only did I make them a lot of money, but I trained other people to do the same. FiOs was expanding. They wanted more outsourced marketing offices, and they needed the managers to do it. I knew that once I was ready, I could approach them and get an opportunity to do my own thing.
Sure enough, the time came. 2011 arrived and I had an opportunity to open my office in Staten Island, NY. I'd get to chose a company name, get incorporated, bring a team with me, and start my empire. I finally reached my goal- entrepreneurship.
A lot has happened since 2011. There's been ups and downs. I've lost people and gained people. I even moved my office from Staten Island, NY to Syracuse, NY. Throughout my experience though, I can confidently say that I would have never got to where I am now without having big goals. I still have big goals. I will be promoting out my Assistant Manager to a second location. I will be promoting a second Assistant Manager and start training them to do the same. I will create an organization of entrepreneurs who share the same dedication and work ethic that I had. I run my business based on it's name- Long Term Goal.