How to find those seeds is to ask the right questions and take the steps to entrepreneurial success.
Entrepreneurial endeavors are challenging; occasionally, the demands of the endeavor can shake us. We may ask: “Are we ready for this?” That’s where self-reflection becomes a genuine asset and a valuable tool. Self-reflection means tapping into a personal source of abundance, where our entrepreneurial seeds reside, and where we discover skills, confidence and knowledge conducive to entrepreneurship. Skills, confidence and knowledge are key elements for Hispanic business achievement.
For emerging Hispanic business owners, these three attributes are drivers towards success. Skills may include rapport with others; abilities to plan, organize and communicate effectively; as well as financial savvy. Confidence stems from awareness of our skills and how to consistently apply them. It is good to be clear on what we know and what we need to know, remembering that there is also what we don’t know that we don’t know.
By confidently embracing resourcefulness and resilience, we can respond, address or adapt swiftly to developing scenarios. In life, as a student and a worker, we put to use some of our best qualities, innate and acquired. Life offers opportunities to be determined, inquisitive, resilient and resourceful. Are we cognizant of the abilities we possess? Have we tapped into these capacities to systematically apply them to our emerging business? How can we do that?
Ask the Right Questions
A bombardment of questions surfaced when I started considering building my nonprofit fundraising and strategic-planning consulting business back in the late 1990s.
I asked three fundamental questions:
- “Can I do it?”
- “How would I do it?”
- “Why would I do it?” And again, “Can I do it?”
Having earned a doctorate in sociology earlier, I had trained for research, writing and theoretical thinking. So I asked myself, “Can I do it? What’s the use of my academic training in a practical sphere such as nonprofit consulting?”This can be a burdened and limiting question that reinforces the urge to ask it again.
Rapid breakthroughs happened as soon as I realized that I needed to reframe my questions and engage in self-reflection. Soon, I discovered my entrepreneurial seeds. Those seeds turned me from an emerging Hispanic business owner into an advanced entrepreneur from the very start. Those seeds have carried me through a successful and inspiring 25-year career as a consultant.
Take the Steps: How do we find those fruitful seeds? The process includes two initial and transforming steps.
1. Let go of limiting questions.
Those questions create dichotomies between “what I have been” versus “what I wanted to be” and between “what I have” and “what I lack.”
2. Engage in expansive, strength-based thoughts, and invite self-reflection into your life.
Questions take on a rapid and uplifting turn:
- What skills, confidence and knowledge does one possess?
- What lessons has one learned from successes and challenges? This allows us to observe and understand situations early, and respond quickly and strategically to developing challenges.
- What did one learn from mentors and advisers earlier in life? How would that knowledge apply for an entrepreneur?
Answers to these strength-based questions begin to pour. Surely, there are things we’ve done that required entrepreneurial skills building our confidence and expanding our knowledge.
For me, the realization of my entrepreneurial seeds emerged when I amplified the lens through which I examined my accomplishments. Rapidly, I realized that I always start projects by identifying my relevant skills and knowledge, and I go from there with confidence.
This approach always allows me to take the first step. I honed in on those assets to start my nonprofit-consulting business and made a mental note for myself. I share some for illustration purposes.
3. Be Aware of Assets
In graduate school, I was an insightful and effective researcher. I negotiated academic projects and amounts for fellowships with professors and school administrators, wrote theses and funding proposals, and developed budgets for research trips. In addition, I built rapport with diplomats, business leaders, social activists and government officials in the U.S. and abroad as part of the work I was doing for my dissertation.
I delivered presentations and participated in radio and TV interviews on Latino stations in Chicago, where I lived, because I was studying Latino immigration to the U.S. The list went on, and so did my confidence, knowledge and positive outlook on business development.
I also reflected on lessons learned. On a couple of occasions, I had to draw on resilience and determination to a level I did not know I had to get through challenging projects. And I did it. So that counts, and I took note of it.
Aware of these transferable assets, I endeavored to launch my consulting business summarily. In this capacity, I researched the field of nonprofit consulting, wrote a business plan, built rapport with experienced consultants who graciously provided insightful advice, networked with business and nonprofit leaders and philanthropists, volunteered my consulting services, joined nonprofit boards, attended fundraisers and became a donor. In addition,
I committed myself to being a mentor to others after becoming an experienced consultant. I believe giving is receiving. In less than three months, I had my first paying client. Since then, I’ve served more than 70 organizations.
What I do for my clients: research, writing, connecting them to resources, negotiating on their behalf, facilitating meetings and teaming up to develop strategic plans. Did I have these skills before I launched? The answer is a resounding “Yes.” Did I need other skills? Yes, and I found ways to acquire them.
Over twenty years later, I remain fully engaged in the field and evolving with it. Interestingly, I also answered those initially unanswerable questions:
“Can I do this?” Yes, I can do this, because I have entrepreneurial seeds in me.
“How would I do it?” By applying and transferring skills, confidence and knowledge acquired before conceiving the idea of owning a Latino business.
“Why would I do it?” Because I value the nonprofit sector, and my commitments and skills are in alignment. In other words, there is a passion for the work that I do that fuels my inspiration and determination.
I uncovered from my experience that our own seeds of entrepreneurship can catapult us toward business success. Having clear awareness of those seeds is the equivalent of capitalizing and maximizing on our tried-and-true competitive advantages: drawing on skills, confidence and knowledge, so that we can passionately carry on with our business mission and goals.