I have begun declaring 2013 as 'the year of young businesswomen'. More young women are mapping their entrepreneurial journey but there are those who are petrified at the thought of venturing into unchartered waters. I'd like to say to them: GO FOR IT! It is better to try and fail than fail to try.
What if Nadia Batson believed that she was too dark or overweight to be a lead vocalist? What if Mary J Blige conditioned herself to think that because she did not get her GED, she would never amount to being worthy of public praise? What if Fantasia felt that because she became a single mother at the age of 17 years and was still illiterate at 21 years old, she could never win the 'American Idol' contest and have a successful music career?
What if Denyse Plummer decided that after having orange remnants and garbage hurled at her by patrons moons ago, she shouldn't pursue a career in calypso? What if Mariah Carey believed that she was forever destined to sing back-up vocals for Brenda K Starr by day and be a waitress by night? What if Wendy Fitzwilliam believed the nonsense voiced by locals that she was "too black" to win a Miss Universe pageant? What if Giselle La Ronde, a young woman from an average town, didn't think she could ever win a Miss World title? What if Michelle Xavier didn't even bother to attempt a career in soca because she looked different than the 'regular' soca artistes?
What if…? What if…? So what if people in your community never did what you dream of doing? So what if everyone in your family has a 'traditional' job? So what?
You might be a cashier with a gift of making 'award-winning' meals. Why not make sandwiches and sell them to co-workers for breakfast or ask a trusted friend at a large organisation to sell them to their co-workers? Maybe you're a bank teller who's very skilled at designing and making craft items? Prepare small gift baskets and sell to friends and relatives. Just do ten or however many you can afford to do. Do it as a sideline job. You just never know. People might place orders for special occasions or just everyday use.
Maybe you're an accountant but you can give Beyonce a run for her money. Seek avenues to sing at weddings or special functions. Distribute call-cards, use social media to advertise among friends and relatives so that they know you're serious. You might be a security guard with a knack for songwriting. Approach a recording studio and seek opportunities to pen songs for artistes or approach artistes directly if you can.
There are some of you who can go into your desired field full-time. It can be scary but so worth it. No one said that it would be easy but faith and passion go hand in hand. Dismiss your boyfriend's or husband's lack of understanding about your interest. Ignore the doubting Thomases and Thomasitas. Rebuke those who say that you'll fail. If it is your passion, your dream, you have to fight for it!
Several years ago, I grew tired of the corporate world and decided on a career in media and entertainment. Still employed, I registered for a broadcasting course, and at the end of that course, I was voted 'Best Female Student'. That was encouragement and on a high, I recorded a demo and shopped it around to various radio stations.
One station called and I sat with confidence as the Programme Director listened to my demo. Then came the "Don't call us, we'll call you." I waited…and waited and came to the realisation that no call was forthcoming. However, I knew that I would get an opportunity; it was just a matter of when it would manifest.
Fast forward SIX YEARS later, I was still at my 8 to 4 job, hoping. I got a lucky break as an actress and was on stage, not knowing that a radio personality and their General Manager were in attendance.
Weeks after, I learned that they felt that I would fit into their plans for a morning drive programme! I was practically hired on the spot without even being asked to do a demo specific to the programme! It blew my mind! I experienced instant success on that show.
Still, I encountered cynical people. A year into my career change, an aunt asked, "So when are you going to get a REAL job?" I was flabbergasted. Was I not earning a legal income?
Yet, I had taken a leap of faith. I had quit my 8 to 4 job and went into radio full-time. As a rookie radio personality, I did not receive a full salary so penny-pinching was the game.
Just before acquiring that job, I had gotten my first apartment. My father paid my entire rent for several months and my mother secured some household items. I endured days, before I could afford a washing machine, where I would wash my thick(!) bath towels by hand. At times I would travel to a certain point in my area and walk the remaining distance – which took almost 30 minutes – just to save the extra dollars of taking another taxi to my home's exact location. Sometimes I would wonder if it was worth it and the answer was always an instant 'YES!'. As time went by, I started making more money and I began paying half of my rent while my father paid the remainder. Eventually, I paid my entire rent.
Now, yes, males can garner from this but sorry, I directed it at the women. So, girl, maybe you don't feel that you have a sufficient support system. Surround yourself with means of inspiration. You can achieve what you desire. Listen to Mariah Carey's "Make It Happen" 20 times a day if you have to!