I often questioned my efforts, wondering am I really doing all I can be doing to get to where I want to be. I can drive myself crazy with the questions, but not knowing the answers is just as bad.
Am I studying my interests enough?
Could I be reading more, taking more classes, going to more seminars and workshops?
Am I as dedicated as I preach to be?
How to can become more disciplined?
Is being too disciplined a problem?
Do I have the right amount of people in my life to act as sounding boards?
How can I find other like minded people to congregate with?
Can I do this alone?
Should I do this alone?
If no man is an island, can a woman be?
When will my preparation finally meet my opportunity?
Will I know it?
Do I need to be more for any opportunity that comes my way?
Am I doing enough?
How many others have felt this way as well?
A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine’s aunt reach out to me and asked to me notarized a deed trust package for her church — her church owns a school and are selling it — and of course, I said yes. Then I asked her for the address as she wanted me to meet them at the church, since that’s where they had the paperwork waiting at. So I Googled the address as I recalled only visiting the church once with my friend who was hosting a model call (at the time my friend operated a digital fashion/lifestyle magazine) back then. When I looked at the area to familiarize myself with it, I noticed someone’s Notary business indicated on the map. With a website. So I did what any curious competitor would do. Clicked on it and read on all their sh*t. I felt I needed to. I wanted to see how I stacked up against someone already in the biz doing it longer.
For starters, I was surprise to see that the notary charged $25 for the first 8 miles from their location. DAMN! I don’t know, I think that’s a lot of money to charge for going 8 miles in LA. But I read on. Similar to my “Discount Notary Days“, he had a list of Starbucks locations he would travel to provide notary services. And if you wanted to meet him there on the weekend, he’d knock off $5 of the travel fee. Dude, for real? Yes. He was seriously charging people to meet him at Starbucks. $20! You could at least get for over-priced coffees for that. Just sayin’. But I loved learning how he priced everything and made it very transparent for the customer.
So I arrived at the church, spent about 30 minutes notarizing the package. It turns out that my friend’s aunt was the church’s secretary, so she was present there to sign off on whatever needed to be signed on behalf of the church along with another member. After I was paid and we packed up, she walked me out and we briefly talked and I promise to touch base more frequently. Well, as soon as I turned the corner, I saw this notary business sign on someone’s lawn across the street from the church. And no, it wasn’t the $25 travel fee dude. It was another person. Two notaries within their distance and I get the job. Loved it! But of course, it was networked. My mother always keeps telling me, it’s not what I know, but who I know and who knows me.
Then it dawned on me. How many notaries must there be on my block, in my neighborhood? How much business am I potentially losing out on because someone else is there and I don’t even know it? Well, technically, I Googled it and no one came up. No one or no business in a 5 block radius, at least. But who may quietly be there? Hmm? What competitor is in my own backyard that I may not know about? So it got me thinking about how creative I need to be to put myself out there, to get people’s attention and to earn their business. I don’t know what that is yet, but I’ll figure it out. After all, you never who may be in your own backyard doing what you’re doing too!
First and foremost, let’s welcome in March! It’s the top of the bottom of the first quarter of the year (I said that to deliberately confuse you). We are blowing through these months in 2018, aren’t we? My mom was right. As you get older, time just seems to speed up.
SLOW DOWN, 2018! I’m trying to enjoy the year. I have plans!
Side hustling plans, obviously. Speaking of side hustle, I had a short enough conversation with a coworker on the way down in the elevator one day leaving work realizing something interesting about how single people and “our time” are viewed. My coworker had asked what was in the heavy bag I was carrying as we left work and I explained to her it was a project I had finished for a real estate client and I was dropping it off to them. And then she tilted her head as if to say ‘what’. I then quickly stated that I do work “on the side”. And she then replied, “Oh.” Oh. Oh, as in, how wonderful it was that I really didn’t spend all my single free time do absolutely nothing. [frowns face]. But if I wanted to, I surely be entitled to it. After all, it is my time.
Now, this coworker of mine is my age, recently turned 33, acts a little older. But that’s because she has two young kids, her oldest is 3 and her youngest is 17 months. She’s married to man who seems to constantly be in between jobs, so her salary supports all four of them. And she commutes from Palmdale to LA five days a week for work. Her plate is full, to say the least. And for someone whose plate is so full to look at me, a person whose plate isn’t as full — oh, so she may think — and to know I do more with my time than just come to work almost validated my existence. Again, the assumption that single people are lucky and have it easy.
I so do not agree with that, but I’m also a side hustler who keeps her plate full by choice.
Her validation of my “extra-curricular activity” wasn’t made because of the activity itself, but because I actually had one. I was doing more with my time than Netflixing. Forget the fact I am on path to position myself to be self employed. I’m doing more than what I need to with my life.
Over it. So over it.
Now, I like this coworker, but I will be damned before I apologize for my life choices or hers. To each their own. And I made this decision years ago that success would be a priority in my life. A good friend of mine used to tell me all the time, ‘the more you have, the more you have to give’. Damn straight!
I don’t want to be like everyone else. I don’t want to content with mediocrity and the hum-drum of every day life Low or status quo expectations are not for me. I want more because I need it. I need to know that when I leave this earth that I used every ounce of potential that was gifted to me. I need to know I tried every avenue to live the life I see for myself in my head. That doesn’t include kids before I’m ready. Or a deadbeat husband. Or even average friends.
So, yes. I spend my time doing bigger better things (within my limited scope and reach) because I want bigger better things for myself. That is the declaration I made to myself for myself.
To all side hustlers out there, you are validated in every thing you do, not because of the expectations that are placed you on and you exceeded them. But because of you and all efforts. You could have given up. You could have realized “this” isn’t working and settled for what you have right now, hoping it might get better on its own. But, no. You decided to make it better with your own two hands.
You are the shit. In case you needed reminding.
Because I don’t have an office outside of home for any of the work I do, I spend a great of my time at coffee shops. But national chains and local mom-and-pop shops. And I have a few favorite spots that I like to hit up. One spot I love to indulge in is this place called the Blu Elefant cafe. It’s on Washington Blvd, about a block west of Normandie. They started out as this cute, cozy ,eclectic throw back coffee shop with comfortable couches and old books. Now they’ve grown in customers and size and they serve meals and hosts a number of open-mic nights. Love it! But I digress.
Coffee shops are where I meet with clients, recurring and prospects. Collect payments and help good friends out with their graduate school scholarship applications. But recently, I’ve decided to add another element to my coffee shop rendezvous. I am a traveling/ mobile notary. Meaning, for a price, I will go to my client and provide notary services for their convenience. But what if I had a temporary pop-up like spot every so often? Y’know, a spot I was at where my clients could actually come to me for a chance?
So last month I decided to launch this little idea of mine called ” Discount Notary Days”. In the state of California, notaries are only allowed to charge $15 at the most. We can charge less, if we want, but no one becomes a notary for charity, so chances are, you will be charged the full $15. Well, I said to myself and myself said “hmm?” (old joke, old joke… gotta watch the Kings of Comedy) what if I offered a reduced price on notary services one day a month on a Saturday, a day I am not working and plant root at a coffee shop for a few hours, say four hours from 9am-1pm?
Great idea, right? If you won’ say it, I will.
This way I get to increase my chances of find more clients, they find me and I do I want to do — make some money (wish I had the “get ready to rumble” voice) !
My first Discount Notary Day was in January and my second one was this past Saturday. Oh…my…damn. Ingenuity is hard. I see why only a select few people are successful. Things have to fall right into place for it to work out and whether it does or doesn’t, you gotta keep at it. But they say practice makes perfect, right?
So, the first time I did it, I only advertised a week out, because I had just made up my mind that I was going to start this promotion in January rather than wait to February. A week’s worth of notice wasn’t enough time to give people a chance to find me or even read the ad. Where did I post this ad? I was lazy. I posted it on Craig’slist, BackPage, and my website. Again, I had made the decision late in the game. My bad.
How many clients did I get that day? None. But I got a lot of other work done. I liked that. And some take away lessons too.
So here comes February. The mistakes I made and lessons I learned, I was adamant about incorporating them this time around. The first time in January, I was also a little late getting there by 9am. Like, 10 minutes. I’m almost never late. I hate being late. Forget about what people say about LA traffic and being late being a norm. If people want to be on time for something important, there’s a f’n way! Trust me. [Exhales]. So, February comes around. This time I swear I’m not going to be late, because I don’t know the clients I missed if I’m not there, right? I missed by bus two minutes in January, which was why I was late. I saw that bastard pass me. That hurt. This time I was five minutes early for the bus. Not screwing that up again.
The bus was 30 minutes late! Ugh! Definitely an FML moment.
That in turn made me 25 minutes. Ouch. Who knows who I missed. But I was determined to still go and camp out at Coffee Bean for my committed hours. I am a woman of my word. In January, there was no way for anyone to know I was the Notary providing discount services. This time around, I create a removable label that clung to the back of my laptop, so when people walked in, my computer said “Notary Public”. I sat near the entrance, like I did in January. I had cash and plenty of singles like last time. This time, I printed additional Acknowledgments and Jurats, in case they were needed. I didn’t do that last time. And I advertised a little more than two weeks out from the date I committed myself to. I picked the date early so I could incorporate other clients and plans around the date without later having to fumble and possibly cancel.
My tardiness aside, February’s execution Discount Notary Day was much better in preparation than January’s. And that made me feel good. How many people did I get as clients this past Saturday?
But I felt better. I felt like I was absorbing everything I was doing. I felt like I wasn’t just aimlessly shooting hoping to get a hit. I was paying attention to the circumstances, the foot traffic and my own efforts. But being successful, even at the smallest thing, takes much more work (and time) than I think most of us realize. Preparation is half the freakin’ battle. But successful I am determined to be. Watch and see.
And so will you be.
My mom whole -heartedly supports my freelance and hustlin’ ventures. She believes just as much as I do I that I will turn all this work and energy and effort I’ve been putting into my hustles and side work into a formidable an profitable business. And I love having that from her. I love having her in my corner. But that’s not who she is. I didn’t get the entrepreneurial spirit from mother.
I didn’t get from my dad either, but, I wish I could say I got from my mama. But, no. For a very long time, my mom just wanted me to get a really good job with really good benefits. That was all. There was no more to the story. Yeah, marry good guy, give her some grandchildren. But all in all, she wanted me to find something comfortable to do that I could do for however long I would need to and be … content, I guess, with it. And I think a lot of parents think like that. They still think that jobs are safe and that by working for someone else that paid well would be all the security one would need in the workforce.
Listen, I graduated college during the Great Recession. I learned no job is safe. No job is a sure thing. Benefits come and go, and no job from someone else is going to be as fulfilling as working for yourself. In my book, at least.
There were a few times I can recall my mom being interested in starting a business for herself. I remember one time she was going to venture into something with her siblings — a restaurant — that never panned out. And there was something else she was going to start with a long time friend of hers who she later had a falling out with. So, it just wasn’t her bag. Plus, she has two kids, one now in college (my baby sister) and starting a business just seems like too much work, I imagine, for her. Well, that’s how I think she sees it. And she’s not wrong. I’ve been freelancing for a very long time and it’s always work.
But my hopes and my ambitions — she fully supports and even gives me ideas. She lives vicariously through me which makes me want to succeed all the more. I do have a few relatives that opted out workin’ for the man:
- My Uncle Fred — owns his own electronics repair business, works from home
- My Nana has a seasonal business preparing taxes, also works from home
- My grandpa, may he rest in peace, had a restaurant business that did very well earlier on in his life
- My second cousin, Darin, has an antique store in Gardena. (The Americana Antique Store)
I’m so hell-bent on being successful this time around, that I find myself inundated with information from time to time. What to do, how to do it, who the ask, how to market, how often to market, who to market to, why to market to them, finding resources, becoming resource, collecting resources, networking, with who, where, why, how and so forth and so on. I wanna shout at everyone and be like — ENOUGH. Why can’t there be one universal answer to a universal problem?
But how much sense would that make for solution A to fit the problem of person M? If we’re all doing different things, different ways at different times for different reasons, yet having the same sort of problems with our different ventures, it doesn’t make logical sense that what works for one person would work for another.
But I wish it would. I wish when I Google a question, all 150,000 results returned with the exact same answer the exact same way. Everyone agreed whole-heartedly completely.
I have to read and research and re-read and do more research just to find half an answer that may solve part of problem presently.
I can see why may people don’t venture out for themselves. It’s some real work. It’s tiring. It’s frustrating. Very time consuming. Lonely. And yet, I’m going to get up and do it all over again tomorrow. Seriously. By choice. Because I rather pour the time and energy in this investment into myself, than give it to an employer who could never give me a return on my efforts.
I may be stumped. Overwhelmed. Inundated. But I find ways to keep trekking.
I’ve known for a very long time that I’ve wanted to work for myself. I don’t have the resources I feel I need to make the transition to be completely free of the rat race, but freelancing on the side of my full time job has given me that taste of freedom and hope that I’ll get there one day. But, I don’t seem to be surrounded by others who share my desire. No, not for the spacious loft downtown with the ceiling to floor windows (still dreaming about that. I’m talking about being their own boss, working from home. Working for themselves! I can go to events and workshops and networking groups and find like minded people there, but outside of that, I know only a handful of people who share that same passion to break up with W-4s come hell or high water, knowing there’s so much hell and so much high water (reminds me of a great “Scandal” line from Eli Pope. Love that character!).
Where are my people because I obviously don’t work with them. Not many are in my family and I can probably think of three friends who are pursuing self employment as an alternative to a time clock. Where are these people I read about in Fast Company and Entrepreneur magazines who took a chance on themselves and it worked out? It is because they took a chance and failed? But how many times did they fail? Les Brown says you got to fail your way to success, so what’s the problem here? Is it that no one else wants this? How can that be? How can someone want to work for someone else for the rest of their lives? It can’t be all fear. I’ve been rejected so many times I wouldn’t know how to take it the wrong way anymore. A ‘no’ is great start for communication in my book. It means I now who I’m talking to on the other end of that funky ass Craigslist email address. And let’s not even begin to count my failures, if want to look at them like that.
Why don’t I know more people… I don’t know what to say like me, but it’s the truth. I can’t be the only one waking up at 4:45am only to repost free ads to make sure today’s looky loos gets a chance to see my services. I can’t be the only one spending money on GoDaddy buying domain names I might one day use. Or creating then editing several times my editorial calendar for this blog. Researching card stock for business cards. Meeting clients on Saturday night outside of Whole Foods on 8th and Grand. Little things to move the needle to get close to the dream.
One female, single and hustlin’ looking for other hustlers who are moving the needle little by little to get closer to their dreams. I’ll be here waiting– but working! 🙂