A girl grows up poor in Los Angeles, drops out of high school and becomes a single mother at age 18 without a college education, becomes an early adopter of eCommerce, loses it all and rebuilds over to become an advocate for women in tech and all things digital, each time with more success.
That may sound like a made up story, but it’s part of my real life story. Learning from my own trials and errors, I went from being an insurance broker – which taught me the basics and responsibilities of owning a business, to an entrepreneur and now, managing three business roles – a full time Digital Marketing Geek for a fast growing marketing agency, an influencer with a personal brand and advocate for women in technology.
Through this journey, not only have I made many mistakes that have lead me towards success, but has also blessed me with business lessons that remind me everyday of what I need to continue to practice and believe in order stay innovative, motivated, and inspired, no matter what it is that I’m doing. Turns out my lessons in life are lessons of many entrepreneurial successes:
Business Lessons to Never Forget
Follow your passion: One of the biggest business lessons came from learning to focus on creation, letting my drive and passion guide my decisions instead of money. “Do you follow your passion or do you follow the the money?” a question that comes up from time to time. When you’re already thinking of how much money you’re going to make or already focusing on an exit strategy, you’ve already failed. I’ve learned from my journey that when I put my energy on creating and innovating, the money followed. It’s easier said then done, but it’s lesson that has always come through for me.
Don’t compromise, surround yourself with quality people: Quality vs quantity, that extends to the people that you surround yourself with, from friends, dating to business colleagues. Being surrounded by friends that were only focused on wealth and flashy lifestyles made me unfocused as some of these friends had unrealistic expectations about where they should be in life, that they ended broke. I learned from that lesson and brought it into my personal and professional life where I only work with people that I am proud to work with. When you’re surrounded with the right people who are on the same page and have a passion for what they work and believe in, much success followed as well.
Best business are those that solve peoples needs: The sound of owning your own business may sound attractive to many, but with so much noise out there, how do you plan to compete? The best inventions or innovations that can solve customer needs always win. Making the people happy will bring you success and that includes customer service. It’s those products and services that will outlast the noise as customers can’t live without them and often refer them to friends.
My past doesn’t determine my future: Raised in a low income household as a child, having failed at a prior business or not having a college degree from an ivy league education, has never kept me from following my passions. It’s a lesson that has made me realize that my past and current circumstances don’t determine my ability to be successful in the future. Only you and your willingness to work hard, work smart and keep trying do. Failures are not failures if you learned from them.
Pay it forward: “When you learn, teach, when you get, give” an important lesson by Maya Angelou, a lesson that I keep in mind everyday of my hustle. I didn’t get to where I am alone, I had someone teach me, so it’s important to me to be able to do the same. I do it, because I was once that girl eager to learn. I do it because someone believed in me and I should believe in someone too. And when you have the ability to teach and give, that alone is success.
The hustle isn’t easy, which is why I respect vitaminwater newest campaign which is supporting young entrepreneurs raise money to kick-off their startup. This past spring, vitaminwater created the crowd-funding inspired program to bring “hydrate the hustle” to life for their fans and help them chase their dreams. They invited aspiring entrepreneurs, artists-in-training, dreamers and film directors to develop an elevator pitch and submit it at www.projecthustle.com, for the chance to become a finalist and secure funding to help bring their projects to life.
This summer, they’re opening it up to the public and asking them to help decide which of these 10 finalists deserve to have their projects funded (up to $50,000 each). By using codes on participating vitaminwater and vitaminwater zero caps, people have the power to allocate virtual funds to one of the 10 finalists’ projects. Plus there are great prizes to be won by using the codes so there’s something in it for everyone.
— Lala Castro (@SparklingLala) July 19, 2015
Its easy to support a young entrepreneur, all you have to do is the following:
- Drink vitaminwater
- Visit projecthustle.com
- Pick a project in one of five categories.
- Back project with code under cap
- You get rewarded for paying it forward!
Projects get funded by redeeming codes under cap and every code equals a reward – so the creators start reaching their goals and the backer wins prizes ranging from vitaminwater product, tablets, cool subscription services all the way up to tickets to top festivals.
vitaminwater is passionate about paying it forward because it takes them back to vitaminwater’s own entrepreneurial roots and well, I’m just passionate about supporting great programs like this that help entrepreneurs achieve their dreams. Good luck and tell me who you supported on comments below.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by vitaminwater. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.