I thoroughly enjoyed last Friday at the Focus on Entrepreneurship seminar. Although I was one of the speakers, I learnt some valuable lessons from the other entrepreneurs as well. From Khalil Bryan, I saw how he balanced his time to ensure that he included the things he enjoys such as kite surfing. Kirk Brown inspired me to be always on the look out for opportunities and reinforced the importance of excellence in building your brand. Bizzy Williams’ numerous stories confirmed that perseverance is a huge part of being an entrepreneur.
I, in turn, shared some of the things that have worked for me and today I will talk about three of those. The first one is the importance of giving back and being involved in voluntary organizations. I know that I have spoken about this several times, so I was pleased to hear Kirk Brown telling the audience how important giving back is to him (particularly to his mother) and some of the ways that he does this.
While we can give back financially (for example, to our alma mater), giving of our time and ourselves can often have an even greater impact. I shared with the audience some of the organizations I have given my time to, without any thought of how it might benefit me, only to find that the time I spent later bore fruit. The one that most stands out for me was getting involved with the BEF’s $20 Challenge when it was first introduced.
I remember on several occasions wanting to get out because of the huge time commitment and the fact that it was voluntary. I knew that the time I was spending on it I could be using to grow my business. However, I stuck it out until a proper team was in place and now it has gone to another level, which is wonderful to see.
While I was working with the Challenge I met Celia Collymore (Bajan Fusion) who was acting as an Ambassador for one of the schools. The ambassador’s role was to go into the school and encourage the children to join and help them with their projects. Unknown to me, she was a member of the Business and Professional Women’s Club (BPW). About a year or so later, when they were having a major conference, she suggested that they ask me to be on two panels. I accepted and after the conference, I ended up joining the club.
Less than a year later, when Women Entrepreneurship Day was launched in New York and the organizers were looking for women all over the world to be Ambassadors in their country, they found BPW online and contacted them. They asked for a woman who was passionate about women’s entrepreneurship who could be the ambassador for Barbados. I applied and was appointed as the Ambassador for Barbados.
Being the ambassador for three years caused me to meet many women entrepreneurs and get to know leaders and decision makers in many of the entrepreneurial organizations and various companies which support entrepreneurship. When I joined BEF as a volunteer, I never foresaw where it would lead me or the connections I would make, as that was not my motive for getting involved, but it goes to show the unexpected benefits of giving back.
Another thing that has worked for me is using SMART goals. While I can sometimes get weary of clever acronyms and the latest management tools, this one actually works for me. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound. I was very frank with the audience and told them that I don’t always set SMART goals, but I also confessed that when I don’t, things do not get done and when I do, I achieve my goals.
I shared in an earlier column that I recently finished my tenth book and I am almost ready to publish it on Kindle. In fact, by the time this article is published, it should be live on Kindle or the following week at the latest. This is the final book in The Acreage series and follows The Price of Freedom and Free in the City. For this one, my specific goal was to write and publish the final book in the series. The measurable part was to have a completed manuscript.
It was an achievable goal and realistic because I had written the other two books in the series before and, most importantly, I had set a time frame to complete it, giving myself 40 days. I managed to complete it in 30 days. So it is very important, if you want to successfully meet your goals, to ensure that they are SMART.
I shared a number of other points with the audience, which I don’t have time or space to include in this article but the most important one, which underpins all the others is a strong faith in and reliance on God. Many times in my business or in my writing or even in volunteering, I have felt like giving up or quitting and I have had to rely on H
im to pull me through.
Although things seem very bleak in Barbados and possibly in your own situation, we need to trust God and rely on him to get us through even the most difficult of circumstances. That is the true secret of success.
(Donna Every is an author, international speaker and trainer. She is also the Barbados Ambassador for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (2014 – 2016) and the Barbados Facilitator for the InfoDev WINC Acceleration Programme. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.donnaevery.com; www.facebook.com/DonnaEvery1)