The Collaborators

“One key to entrepreneurial success is to get a great group of people around you who believe in your idea.”

My girlfriend Mia recently found this quote from Virgin mega-mogul Richard Branson and posted it on Facebook.  You won’t find it on her main page, though.  She most certainly could have posted it there to be seen by any of her friends scrolling through their feeds, but she instead posted to a private group.  And the truth is, such a quote is not for everybody to read and consider.

Pursuing bigger dreams and goals in life seems like a worthy activity that we all should be doing, but is one that most of us never actually do.  Maybe we’re afraid to venture out on our own and leave the supposed security of being employed.  Maybe we don’t feel like we have the talent, knowledge, or tenacity to create something huge.  Maybe we simply don’t have any particularly big dreams, and are content to carve out simple lives.  But maybe all that’s really holding some of us back is the lack of a quality support system–perhaps all the people around us are telling us “no,” when what we really need is a support group of believers saying “yes.”

 

Mia currently works for a major company as a health coach, but has envisioned starting her own lingerie company for many years.  A few of her co-workers also have designs on building their own businesses, staying within the same general industry of health and fitness coaching but ultimately doing so independently.  Each business is in a rather early stage of development, but some degree of legitimate work and research has been done on all of them.  One in particular, a personal fitness training company, is already earning an income and is now focusing more on building an existing brand.

Once upon a time, Mia lived in a complex where she would often start her day by getting to pick the brains of a few other highly entrepreneurial residents over coffee.  She has, for instance, encountered a man who runs a very successful business selling medical equipment, though he himself knows virtually nothing about how the equipment works.  What he does know is how to properly build and run a business, and a large component of that is finding and employing professionals who are experts on the equipment being sold.

Mia decided it was time to bring this principle to her band of budding entrepreneur co-workers by forming a group that would meet every other week or so.  The goal would be to bounce ideas off each other, leverage each other’s backgrounds and strengths, and come up with short-term action plans of what each person could work on for the next couple weeks until the group reconvened.  It would serve as a support group of people that believe in each other’s ideas, helping each person to overcome the inevitable roadblocks along the way when confidence might be lacking.  But it would also discourage laziness by providing accountability for all involved–nobody really wants to be the one who comes to the next meeting having to admit that they failed to accomplish their own personal goals as promised.

 

Last weekend, the group met for the first time.  Mia asked me if I wanted to join them, and I was reluctant at first.  I had felt that the meeting was meant more for Mia and her co-workers, sans significant others.  Furthermore, I wasn’t quite sure what I might bring to the table in such a group, since I did not personally have my own business idea.  Nevertheless, Mia convinced me to go anyway, and I was actually glad that I did.

I should remind you that when I started this blog a couple months ago, I didn’t necessarily have a larger goal in mind with it.  There was certainly a possibility that it could evolve into a new career in some way, and that possibility still exists now.  Whether the blog itself eventually morphs into something that could be monetized, or whether it merely serves as a writing sample to be used in gaining employment writing elsewhere, I’ll acknowledge that this could be the start of something big.  But maybe not.  For the time being, it simply remains a vehicle to get me back into writing for fun, and that’s good enough.

How I first used our newfound group to hold myself accountable was by making sure that I do, in fact, keep up with writing these posts on a regular basis.  Initially, my goal was to post a new article twice a week, and of late, I had been failing to meet that goal, posting once every week-and-a-half or so.  But by declaring my twice-a-week intentions to multiple people, I would now have extra incentive to follow through–thus legitimizing my membership within a group of doers and dreamers.

For the record, my other stated goal was to finish reading Big Magic, an excellent motivational book by the author of Eat Pray Love that encourages living creatively.  It’s a book I highly recommend, even for those of us who are quite content working standard jobs to draw paychecks, because creative living is also very much about pursuing a passion in one’s spare time, whether or not it ever materializes into anything more than a hobby.  Again, for myself, that would include this very blog, among other things.

 

As it turned out, I was able to offer more value to our initial entrepreneur’s meeting than I expected.  While I’ve never actually worked in the field, I did earn a bachelor’s degree in marketing years ago.  Once upon a time, I thought it might make a great career to work for an advertising agency, helping to develop entertaining and funny commercials.  I never seriously pursued such a career after college, though, and eventually settled into a string of unrelated jobs.

That said, I seem to have developed a keen understanding of how to apply basic marketing principles to daily life, particularly when it comes to knowing your audience.  For example, as a regular karaoke performer, I maintain a wide repertoire of songs in my arsenal, and I have a strong feel for how to best use them to entertain a crowd and receive a better response.  For instance, the Snoop Dogg classic “Gin & Juice” is actually one of my top go-to songs, but if the crowd is mainly white people over 40, I’ll pick something else to sing.

Where such knowledge can come into play within our newly-formed entrepreneurial group is in helping the others to determine their target markets and focus on how to reach them.  Our personal trainer, for example, has created a very masculine logo and brand name for his company, but still wants to appeal to women.  And as for Mia’s budding lingerie company, we’ve discussed her motivation behind the business and which women she wants to target.  I actually came up with the working company/brand name, which has been extremely well-received by all who have heard it, and I’ve even used my admittedly-limited graphic design skills to mock up a preliminary logo.  We’re also narrowing down a more exact picture of “our girl” that would best represent the brand.  It’s proving to be a fun and thrilling challenge.

 

And thus, my current and ongoing quest of self-discovery has recently taken a sharp and unexpected turn.  It is quite likely that, in the short-term, I will remain employed within the same general umbrella of day jobs to keep paying the bills.  But now, a bigger picture is becoming clearer, and it looks very promising.  Perhaps this blog shall ultimately serve to document the rise of a highly visible and successful brand name from its very infancy.  I’m excited to see what lies ahead.

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