My Entrepreneurial Full Circle (Part I)

In the next few blog posts, I’m going to recap my entrepreneurial endeavors so far, how they’ve taken me full circle and the business goals I have set for 2001.

In July of 2005, after ten years of active duty service in the Marine Corps I embarked on my entrepreneurial journey.  I started out as a solo practitioner – as a life coach.  Life coaching seemed like a perfect fit for me since I am very motivated to help people.  My first website was www.coachingyourfuture.com. I used Yahoo website builder and for my business cards I used one of Vista Print’s basic business card templates.  (Coaching Your Future eventually lead to Life’s Guiding Source) The biggest thing I learned starting my first business was the importance of having a network and how critical networking is to a business.  Since I had just left the Marine Corps – I had no civilian or even business contacts.  None the less, it didn’t take long, perhaps a couple of months, for me to realize that life coaching wasn’t for me because my clients just “moved too slow” so I began to focus more on business coaching.

There was something about business that naturally made sense to me, although I did not have any type of background in it.  Plus, people in business were much more willing to accomplish things at a higher tempo since what they did impacted their bottom line.  Again though, I realized business coaching wasn’t the answer either.  I ended up acting like the CEO for most of my clients’ businesses because they turn the reigns to me and this annoyed me.  This is also when I realized that being a solo practitioner was not the way to build the type/size of business I desired.  This is when I started LGS Coaching Agency – LGS stood for Life’s Guiding Source.

The plan for LGS Coaching Agency was to offer all types of coaching: Life, Business, and Executive.  I also envisioned a web base system that would handle matching clients to coaches, the tracking of a client’s progress and have other useful features. I would enlist coaches to work for the Agency and the Agency would handle all the promotional, administrative and logistical end of things and allow the coaches to do what they do best; coach.

I pitched the idea of the Coaching Agency to a good friend of mine who agreed to help fund the Agency after I presented him with a business plan – this was the first but definitely not the last business I wrote.  Thankfully, I got better at writing business plans over time but I still hate them. I went all out at this point…renamed the LLC, found a web designer, got a logo and website made.  I rented an office space, got a sign made to hang outside the space, furnished the office and even got liability insurance. I spent a lot of unnecessary money!!

None of that took me very long…so before I knew it I was recruiting coaches.  I found a handful of great coaches…as we neared the Holidays (end of 2006) we began to design New Year’s Resolution program.  This is the blog we started at the time: New Year’s Resolution Blog.  This is also the time when I met and hired Geoff Livingston.  At the time he was just starting to dabble in Social Media…

With Geoff’s help I landed a bunch of interviews with reporters doing stories on New Year’s Resolution and made it into various papers across the country – I also ended up taping a segment with the local Fox News station.  This is also when I started my journey into Social Media. I joined BlogTalk Radio when it was only six months old. It was an incredible time and I felt that big things were going to happen but nothing did.  Nada. We had zero clients sign-up for our New Year’s Program.

Although I was extremely disappointed, I picked myself and kept on charging.  I kept networking and I started attending health fairs being held by one of my on-going clients.  I joined Toastmasters and started looking for speaking opportunities. A coach who also happened to be a developer joined the team right around the start of January…and this is when I took on my first partner and started scoping out the backend (engine) that was going to make LGS Coaching Agency a shining star!!

In the next blog post I’ll cover why LGS Coaching Agency came to a startling end and the start of WhyGoSolo!

Another Year Older – Am I Any Closer?!?

I remember the year my step mother turned 33; she called it “The Age of Christ”.  Apparently Jesus Christ was 33 (and a half) when he was crucified…although that can’t be determined with certainty. Now, it’s my turn…I will be turning 33 next week.

A year older and it’s that time for some deep evaluation of where my life is, has been and where I keep want it to go.

Back in School After 15 Years

I once made the goal of having my college degree before I turned 25 after I joined the Marine Corps.  It should have been an attainable goal, except I wanted other things more badly. Eventually, I decided school wasn’t for me but low and behold…I started school last week at The University of New Orleans (UNO).

I wasn’t going to admit it to anyone…more specifically, what I mean by that is, I wasn’t going to admit it online to everyone. I’m not ashamed I’m back in school; I just don’t want anyone to think it’s deterring me from what I want to achieve.  I joke that going back to school is the ultimate failure as an entrepreneur since no self-respected entrepreneur needs the help of conventional education to amount to something.

I am truly in school to get an education; I’m not in school to get a degree. A degree is never going to come in handy for me but knowledge definitely will.  I’m enjoying being in a scholarly environment – my brain is being treated to a new blissful state but school is hardly the only demand on my brain or self. (I’ll write much more about my experiences in school)

Part-Time Consultant Full Time Entrepreneur

Besides being a full time student, I’m working part-time as a Consultant in order to pay the bills on CivDiv – a new job board for veterans set to be released next week.  I’m also actively working on my own endeavor; The Loop of Confidence.

In a way, I’m in a much better place this year because for the most part; I’m only doing the things I want to be doing and I have freedom to set my schedule. Remember, last year I was working at Marine Forces Reserve…I was back in uniform and not too happy about it. The plus side of last year compared to this year – I had money. For the second time in my life, I’m completely broke. However, for the first time in my life; I’m setting my schedule and making enough money to cover all of my basic needs.

Overall, I need to be happy with where I am.  Rephrasing: I am happy with where I am when I don’t compare it to where I expected to be and want to be. Clearly I hate being broke but I feel blessed to have the freedom I have and the ability to at least pay the rent, internet, cellular bill and my truck insurance.

Where I Want to Be by Next Year

I want to build on the foundation I currently have established.  Use the freedom of my schedule and put in the hard work in developing The Loop of Confidence into a viable business.  By my birthday next year, I want to be supporting myself and enjoying financial rewards of a growing business while enjoying the scholarly stimulation of school.  I don’t want to be doing anymore consultant work. I have already begun implementing the plan for making that happen…so I have a bit of head start!!

I’ll be blogging my progress, updates and thoughts as regularly as I can.

A Chicken Who Couldn’t Lay an Egg

I had an idea yesterday!! A new innovative, creative and pack full of potential idea – it feels so GOOD. And by idea I mean something that is exciting, energizing, and motivating me. Something that ties-in some of my interests and for the first time, it’s a non-profit, social good type of idea. It’s a concept for New Orleans and eventually for other cities to use in order to promote opportunities in their respective city, bring people together and teach people about entrepreneurship.

I’m so relieved I was able to have an idea again; I can’t really explain the joy I feel from it. I’ve been somewhat lost these last few months…an entrepreneur that can’t come up with new amazing idea is like a chicken that can’t lay an egg – I was starting to wonder if I had it in me; if I could even call myself an entrepreneur anymore. I was thinking may be I needed to go back to school and find something “fall back on”. Crazy talk.

My Quest for Life Balance

Since moving to New Orleans my life has been very different. I mean, I moved here to have a different life; I moved with the purpose of HAVING A LIFE. When I made the move here and turned a new leaf on 2009 – I made the conscious decision to add some life balance to the mix. Yes, I actually had/have to put a conscious effort into having a life. Instead of my business being my focus these last three months – I have been the focus, love/relationship and friendships have been more important and so as health and fitness.

Per my blog post on April 17th , I set some different goals for myself but I knew they wouldn’t be enough – I didn’t write about this but I was going a little mad. I had a mental block that was driving me crazy.

Insanity Plea

Besides getting obsessed with working out (again); I was way too obsessed with wanting to be in a relationship. My frustrations with that area of my life quite frankly had left me…feeling way too much like a woman. It left me feeling needy, confused, wondering and slightly insecure. I spent entirely too much time reading into things, questioning my behavior, my needs, wants, desires and actions.

Sorry, but a man is not a healthy thing to focus on…particularly on a man not focused on me. That was NOT me. That was my mind having nothing to focus on.

My Mojo is Back!

I’m not going to shut the door on pursuing my fitness goals and my desire for a relationship…I’m also going to maintain my relationships with my new friends, plus the going out and having fun. However, now that mojo is back it’s back to business, baby!!

My identity, sanity, and happiness are tied to my ability to go forth and do entrepreneurial endeavors – the balancing act needs to revolve around that.

Setting Personal Physical Goals

The initial move to New Orleans was a big whirlwind….I did after all get to New Orleans just in time for Mardi Gras. The first few weeks were all about getting settled in, adventuring out to get to know my new city, making friends, learning my new job and fully enjoying myself. The whole time this was happening, I kept telling myself that once I was settled in…I would get back to business. Getting settled in was followed by going to SXSW. For sure, going to SXSW was going to get me back into the groove. It sorta kinda did…and not really.

As much as I’m frustrated and bothered by my current stalemate state, nothing I’m doing is getting me out of it. At the same time, I need SOMETHING to focus on because now that I’m settled in…I’m getting antsy and bored. I work from 7:30am to 4:30pm, by 5pm I’m home. I have a good 4-5 hours a night that needs to be put to good use. I have no kids, no significant other…no other responsibilities than myself. (I know that for some it’s a completely foreign concept to have that much time to yourself)

Having a lot of time to yourself is a blessing and a curse. It gives you time to think about entirely too much stuff; to include what’s missing in your life, your short comings, areas of improvement, and the big one – The Meaning of Life.

Options Of How to Spend My Time

Finding Mr. Right – Failed

I’ll admit that I joined Match.com about a week after getting to New Orleans. I figured it would be a good way to 1) meet new people and 2) potentially find Mr. Right. It turned out to be quite a waste of money and a source of frustration. Just because I have time to spare…doesn’t mean that I want to waste it. Online dating in my opinion is a huge waste of time, hence why I started WhyGoSolo in the first place. Anyway, after a few weeks of it I’ve basically given up on it.

Going Back School – Good in Theory

I really, really, really ought to look into taking some college courses. I received a Meritorious Commission in the Marine Corps…basically what that means is that I still don’t have my undergraduate degree. I have the G.I. Bill so I should put it to good use and take some classes. I haven’t committed to doing that because I believe that once I get back into the business groove being in school will get in the way and be the first thing I stop doing; therefore, why start something I know I will quit?

Volunteering – Yes, I Can

I volunteered once at the New Orleans Mission and unfortunately that left me with a bad feeling of the place. Too long a story to get into. Since one of the Marines in my office has started volunteering there regularly; I’m going to go ahead and give it another try.

I have taken the mentor course for Each One Save One and I’m waiting to hear back from them and be appointed a mentee to work with…the school year will be ending soon so I hope they get back with me before it does.

Reading and Writing – Simply Not Happening

Two of my favorite things to do are reading and writing. I want to publish a book. So why not start writing?? Same reason I can’t get back into the business – I just can’t seem to do it.

Losing Weight & Training for Triathlons and Adventure Racing – Yes, I am

When my mind doesn’t want to be pushed…I always have my body I can push. It’s exactly what I’ve taken to doing. When I’m in a rut, it seems that physically challenging myself is my only saving grace.

It boiled down to either focusing on finally doing a bodybuilding competition or training to race. Since I love training but I hate dieting – I decided that doing some races makes more sense.

I did the 10K Crescent City Classic last Saturday and I’m signed up for the 5K Run Forrest Run April 26th and I have to take the Marine Corps physical fitness test (PFT) May 12th. By May 12th my goal is to have lost 5 pounds and run 7:45 minute miles (for 3 miles).

I signed up on the Gulf Coast Adventure website to find some teammates and it looks like a team has found me – meaning I’ll do my first adventure race in July in Baton Rouge. Next, I’m going to sign-up for the CajunMan Triathlon (Sprint) happening in September when the registration opens…I’ll be keeping myself busy and healthy.

My immediate goal is to improve my run time and ensure I lose at least 1 pound a week to be 140 by May 12th.

Boredom is Setting In – Shift Will Happen

I can’t stay bored for long and I will soon need more than just pushing my physical limits…when I do, my brain will kick back in. At some point, I will learn to balance it all.