We often read or hear stories about how entrepreneurs became entrepreneurs by accident, well that's definitely my story.
I never planned on becoming an entrepreneur; a series of events happened in my life, which forced me to think creatively about how I could generate income; essentially turning my passions into profit. My first company came about as I was looking to work at a creative or digital agency; but none would hire me (in spite of having 6 prior years of experience) because I have never worked at another agency before. So I ended up doing a whole bunch of freelance projects for individuals and then businesses started to reach out; and before I knew it, I was running my own full-service creative & digital boutique agency; which then helped me to land a permanent full-time job with a company I was freelancing for.
The next two businesses that I started was an immediate result of losing my job due to the collapse of Wall Street; I became jobless, then homeless, and had to HUSTLE! And I was HUSTLING HARD... building websites and designing MySpace page layouts for various artists & record labels; shooting video interviews; writing & blogging for publications; selling handmade sweet potato ice cream in SoHo in the summer; and created a podcast (before that was a thing), which spun off into a non-profit. My fourth company, BrassKnuckle Ballerina was birthed after a really bad breakup. I started taking jewelry making classes to help distract me, and seen a lot of success with this business, but I knew it was a very expensive hobby (playing with metals and gemstones)--so I ended up getting a 9-5, and didn't have the time or passion to continue and I stopped.
But all of these accidental companies, were really just 'stable side-hustles'; I always worked a 9-5, until 2014 I decided to leave my REAL JOB, with no back-up job in place; to discover and pursue what I was really passionate about. One year later this lead me to create FlyTechnista in 2015; after 15 years of working across multiple industries and coasts, in various technical & creative roles, yet seeing the lack of women or people of color in these spaces; I wanted to try to help change this. So I found myself in the entrepreneur seat again, but this time with new eyes, and much more clarity & purpose.
In your area of expertise within the tech and digital space, what are some trends you foresee that will disrupt the industry?
Some things that I am REALLY excited about in the tech and digital space are AI & bots, and machine learning; not only will these things change how we live and do things; but how we interact and better understand each other. I'm really excited to see how we can create empathy and inclusion with technology.
I've been saying this for a few years now, how bootcamps and online courses will disrupt how we learn.
I have already seen how they have disrupted traditional institution education; and brought education & skills to people who otherwise wouldn't have access to learning the skills they need, to get the jobs they want, and the jobs of the future. Bootcamps and online courses have already reduced student loan debt, SIGNIFICANTLY!
I'm also excited for virtual learning environments.
How do you stay organized and on track with your passion projects?
It's pretty easy for me to stay organized and on track with my passion projects because...
1. I am a Virgo... which means, I take pride in being naturally organized; so that I can be efficient! Lol.
2. I am a developer... I pretty much use the same project management skills & tools that I've developed to be organized within a project; and apply then to almost all areas of my life. I'm a big fan of writing stuff down on my To Do List, daily; and I'm a HUGE FAN of Google's products like Calendar & Drive... they help to keep me super organized.
Also, It's pretty easy for me to stay on track because I am doing something that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE DOING! Everyday I wake up excited to be doing what I'm doing, and there are many nights that I can't go to bed, because... I'm so excited to be working on whatever I'm working on. I have stayed up many nights just coding or creating stuff; it's like really my happy place--sometimes I feel slightly insane, but then I remind myself... 'rest is necessary', and taking breaks are okay. Lol.
What has been the biggest obstacle in your journey and how did you overcome it?
I have been able to face & overcome many obstacles; through passion, focus, and determination.
When I started coding in 1998... I didn't have a role-model, or the resources that exist today; and more importantly... I didn't even own a computer, and I had no idea where to look--to further learn how to code. But my curiosity and passion led me to Barnes & Noble, in the computer programming section. I would go there after school and sit to hand-copy the code: ActionScript, HTML, DHTML, CSS to my notebook; and then practice it on the computers in my schools library. My determination helped me to teach myself 8 programming languages, in about 1 year! I was so focused, and practiced every single day that I could!
But, in spite of being proficient in 8 programming languages; I still didn't have the confidence to pursue an education in computer science when I entered college.
I always felt that this held me back from fully navigating my career in tech; so I had to face my fear and enrolled in CS101, and then Algorithms, APIs, and then I explored other web dev technologies, and then human computer interaction... my new found confidence, enhanced skills, focus, and passion changed my trajectory.
What advice do you have for people who want to start their own entrepreneurial venture?
Having successfully lunched 3 revenue generating ventures, and having to dissolve 2 horrible fiery messes; three pieces of advice that I often offer people who want to start their own entrepreneurial ventures is:
1. Register, Copyright, and Trademark; before you Setup (your website, facebook page, social handles, etc), Sell (products, services, etc), Share (with other people: clients/potential partners, friends or family). Get educated about the legal side of your venture; to stay compliant, and protect your idea & your personal assets.
Plan, Execute, then Brag.
You REALLY need to PLAN how you're gonna change the game, change the world, disrupt the industry. etc. (plans can change, plans can evolve, but you have to have a plan that exists outside of your head, somewhere in real life. WRITE IT DOWN! When you write it down, it becomes easier to EXECUTE or ITERATE. And once you've actually; built, created, launched, sold, whatever it is... then people will know that you're bout your business.
3. Hustle with Heart! Doing things JUST FOR MONEY, sucks! Don't build a business or sell products that you're not passionate about.