The Set Up...
Focus, focus and more focusing! Moving to a new state gave me no choice but to focus on myself. I was alone and without very many friends to distract me from my thoughts, my ideas and my overall sense of purpose. I wasn't being invited to go places, spend money or waste time and that allowed me to actually focus and put things in my life into perspective. I'm in no way complaining about not being invited out because being alone helped me grow and discover myself a bit more.
"Expenses like rent and bills don't wait, don't stop and don't care about pandemics or shut downs!"
I've always been an entrepreneur at heart ever since I was a teenager, but work, friends and life itself kinda got in the way of being able to master my entrepreneurship goals. My mind is constantly coming up with ways to earn and invest money so being alone really helped me hone in on those thoughts and turn them into my reality.
Back in December of 2020 I quit my high paying job due to a lack of transparency in the workplace. I had been transferred and relocated over 2,000 miles to a new state during the height of the corona virus pandemic.
I transferred to Georgia in July of 2020 and thought I'd be getting straight to work- but things didn't quite work out that way. Due to the shut down I was unable to work and had to just wait it out like the rest of the world. However- as we all know, expenses like rent and bills don't wait, don't stop and don't care about pandemics or shut downs. So rather than just sit around and wait to be called back, I looked into a few "recession proof" businesses that I could start up in the meantime.
One of the first businesses I came across was a Notary Public. It seemed like a good idea at the time and the start up costs were very minimal. I did some research on the average yearly pay of a Notary and discovered that it could be a lucrative business to start up since people would always need documents signed and verified. I decided to invest in the process and signed up for the online course. I took the class, paid for testing and passed the exam on the first try. I then went and had my fingerprints and background check done in order to earn my certification. Once I was cleared to go, I started my mobile notary business here in the state of Georgia. That decision secured my first source of income within 2 months of my move.
Shortly after getting my first business up and running I decided to form an LLC. It allowed me to protect my assets by having limited liability when it came to business matters and established me as a legit business owner within the state. With that I started my content creation business to capitalize on my social media usage.
I've always enjoyed making short, entertaining videos on my Facebook and social media pages and knew with the right marketing strategies I could monetize it. I was already beginning to network with small businesses to become a brand ambassador and influencer so I turned what I normally did for free into a way to make money. That's how I was able to generate my second source of income. Although I wasn't making a whole lot, I now had 2 incomes to help me get through being (technically) unemployed.
Eventually Summer turned into Fall and sometime in late November I was called back to work. I was relieved, excited and eager to go back. Unlike most people- I actually liked my job and wanted to get back to a steady, more reliable form of income. However, when I returned it was a completely different ballgame. They had me doing all sorts of things that weren't in the description of what I was hired for. They also hadn't increased my pay or agreed to the terms that were initially discussed prior to transferring me and that just didn't sit too well for me. After discussing it with the manager I was basically told to be happy that I had a job and to just do what they say without question. Yea.... that didn't last long. I was back at work for about a month before deciding to quit.
The End of an Error...
Even though I'd signed a contract with the company to stay with them for a minimum of 1 year after the move, the pandemic cancelled about 50% of that time since I wasn't technically able to return to work for 5+ months. Also- due to the uncertainty of the world shutting back down and the corporate decision to close the location I was supposed to work at- I found a loop hole that allowed me to get away without being held liable for the 1 year contract. Not only that, but I quickly realized that they had me doing a lot more for a lot less and they hadn't kept their end of the deal. I guess it all ended up working out in my favor and as they say "God works in mysterious ways!"
But the reality of the entire situation was that my job was now interfering with the time I needed to work on my businesses. I was driving nearly an hour to and from work in traffic plus completing the 8 hour shift. That was 10 hours of my time that I could've been using to dedicate to my businesses. By now my mobile notary business was beginning to pick up and I didn't like turning down business to go to a job that wasn't even paying me what I'd make if I went to my appointments.
It was a tough decision to make and I would never encourage anyone to quit a job without having another guaranteed source of income first. Always plan your steps and be precise about your decisions.
As for me- even though I didn't know how I'd survive (long term) with just my Notary and content businesses, I still took a leap of faith anyway. I decided that I would be using my time, energy, dedication and entrepreneurship skills for my own benefit. Before submitting my resignation I prayed about it and left it in God's hands.
The Come Up...
2 weeks before quitting my job I went out on a limb and purchased my very own billboard. I advertised my business services the only way I knew how to in a new city. What better way to market yourself to the masses than on a giant 15 foot billboard in a busy city? Til this day I can definitely say that it was one of the best investments I've made as an entrepreneur. Just 1 week after my billboard went up my phone began ringing non stop with people who needed my services.
That's when I knew my prayers had been answered and it was time for me to make my transition.
After officially quitting my job and becoming a full time entrepreneur and business owner, I've not slowed down nor looked back. I know that my future is ahead of me and that's where my focus lies. I went full steam ahead and delve into multiple different ways of making money. I started driving for Lyft, the popular rideshare company that allows you to set your own hours and be your own boss. It was fun and gave me something to do with my time when my other businesses were slow. But most importantly it allowed me to network with lots of different people, learn my way around the city and bring in some extra money on the side. It added a 3rd source of income for me which helped out a lot.
I like to credit my billboard for getting me the leads I needed to run successful businesses. It would make me proud when people would call and say "I saw your billboard!" That alone for an entrepreneur spoke volumes. Something that I invested in out of my own pocket was beginning to pay off for me in a major way and I've been ever so grateful since. I took a chance on something and it worked out for me. If you aren't willing to take risks, take losses and fail a few times, entrepreneurship might not be for you. It's not always full of wins and success stories- sometimes it's struggling and fighting to even stay strong and push through. But in world of working for yourself there is no giving up.
Little did I know my billboard and social media marketing would lead me to gaining radio, podcasts, news and magazine features. People wanted to learn more about me and my story on being a rising entrepreneur in the city of Atlanta and I was always happy to share my journey. All of that promo played a huge part in helping me succeed not only in business, but in life and I take none of it for granted.
More to come...
After successfully establishing myself as a local entrepreneur I continued to work on more ways to earn money.
Through reading, listening and learning more about how to create additional sources of income, I came across a podcast that taught information about government contracts and how to get them. I followed the steps and ended up registering my LLC with the federal government. That solidified my business as a government contracted entity and made me eligible to receive grants and contracts from local, state and federal agencies. I won't lie, it's been a difficult process and I'm still learning the ropes but one things for sure- the potential is definitely there.
While sharing my milestones on social media, I began to have other entrepreneurs reach out to me for help with forming their LLC's and getting their businesses legitimized. I've always believed in the saying that "a rising tide lifts all boats." I used what I'd learned while establishing my own business to teach others how to do the same; and without even trying I'd secured my 4th source of income. I'm now the business person who helps others become business people as well.
When you work hard and help others along the way, you'll always receive more than what you expect. I enjoy helping others grow, succeed, thrive and accomplish their goals in life. Because as people if you can't help others- what good are you to the world?
Never Give Up!
Although I have a few different sources of income, by no means am I in a position to stop now. In fact, I now work even harder to earn even more. As entrepreneurs- we know that if we don't work, we don't eat. Nothing comes easy so we have to push through even when we don't want to.
Throughout the ups, downs, setbacks, failures and disappointments, I never gave up. There were plenty of times where I wanted to quit and seriously thought about it. But I knew that giving up would yield no results greater than continuing to believe in myself. Through self belief all things are possible and through hard work and consistency you can have anything you want.
Speaking of consistency, by remaining consistent with blogging and sharing my adventures on my website- I'd begun to receive companies that would contact me for collaborations, sponsorship opportunities and affiliate marketing gigs. Some of them wanted me to write blogs or reviews for them, others wanted me to add their services as links throughout my blog and some just wanted shout outs to my readers and followers. The incentive for me is that many of them are paid gigs.
When you work hard and apply yourself, the things you want have no choice but to move in closer to you. You're letting the world know that you're serious and in return the world rewards you for it. While blog posts, reviews and affiliate marketing adds a small source of income for me, I know the potential for more is out there and I won't stop until I get it!
With hard work, sacrifice, dedication and accomplishing my goals- I've since been able to purchase a luxury vehicle for my business to use in addition to my personal vehicle. It was a business decision that I made in order to create another income opportunity. As I said before, my mind never stops thinking of ways to make and invest money. I made an investment in a luxury car for the intent of using as a rental when people visit the city. With the help of an app called Turo, I've been able to rent my vehicles out and generate my 6th source of passive income.
This business venture is still fairly new for me, but so far it's been going well and I know that it'll only continue to get better from here. I'm definitely looking forward to what the future holds for me.
My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, people looking for signs to move on to the next phase of their lives, small business owners and anyone who's struggling to make sense of how to proceed-- sometimes just going for it is the only way to know what will happen. Trust yourself enough to know that YOU won't ever let YOU fail and neither will God. Believe in the timing of your life and know that all things happen when you prepare for them. Nothing happens by chance so we must prepare our minds to receive the things we want in our lives.
There's an expression that goes "if you stay ready, you don't have to get ready!" I take that to heart and encourage others to stay ready! You never know when your time will be, but if you're lagging- opportunities will surely pass you by. I believe in your success like I believe in my own and worst case scenario if things don't go as planned, returning to the job market is never a bad thing! Don't ever let anyone shame you into believing that having a job is worth less than being an entrepreneur. Anything that provides a stable income, feeds your family and keeps a roof over your head is a good thing to have. Don't forget it!
If you need more advice on any of the businesses I've mentioned in this blog, feel free to reach out to me and I'll be more than happy to help with what I know. You can also visit my personal website at www.AshawnaLane.com if you're thinking of starting your own business. I offer different start up packages to help people get going with their business goals and dreams.
Everyone is capable of being a success story, you just have to pick up the pen and start writing yours!
Thanks for reading and I hope this inspires you to never give up, believe in yourself and keep working hard. Your time is coming, stay ready!!
XOXO- Ashawna Lane