When I decided to become an educator some fifteen or sixteen years ago, I was well aware that I would not be in it to make money. As long as I could support myself and my son, I figured I would be okay. It’s not like I took a vow of poverty but on a teacher’s salary, I might as well have. I make what most would say is a “livable” wage and truth be told, I do okay. I am able to pay my bills, feed myself and put gas in my car. Unfortunately, after all that, there is not much left over to do many of the things I truly enjoy like taking yoga classes, having my hair professionally done or visiting my grandson as often as I’d like. Don’t get me wrong, I can do those things but not without a plan and putting a little money aside each pay period until I have enough.
This summer, while I do save for summer break, I decided to find a part time job as well to add a little extra cushion to my financial bucket to reduce some of the stress of always being close to the end of my money each month during the school year. At the end of the summer I made the decision to keep my part time job. The extra money is great but I must say that I am definitely tired. Many of my friends and family argue that as a professional with a master’s degree, there is no way I should have to work two jobs. Well, I totally agree. My love and I definitely live below our means. We make every effort to save more than we spend. My love does the grocery shopping and recently he came home and said, “did you know the price of bananas has gone from forty-nine cent a pound to seventy-nine cent a pound? Our paychecks stay the same but prices all around us are going up.” This is so true. While we are doing our best to simply maintain our household, we are spending more on things like gas and food.
When I was in my twenties and working to finish my first degree, I dreamed of owning a home. I kind of pushed that dream to the back of my mind once I became a teacher. Being a teacher didn’t really allow me to save the kind of money I’d need to purchase a house. All I wanted to do was make sure my child was fed, that he had a roof over his head and that the power stayed on. About five years ago when I decided that I wanted to bring that dream to light, I asked questions, did research and found that I could actually make my dream a reality. I became a home owner in June of 2016.
Last year, while out of town visiting my love’s family for the Christmas holidays I had the opportunity to chat with my father-in-law at one of his stores. I joked that he should open a store in my area so that I could quit teaching and come work for him as I was certain to make more money. We laughed and then he said, “why don’t you open your own business? What is it you like to do?” My response, “Teach! That’s what I know and that’s what I’m good at.” Besides owning a home, I also dreamed of owning my own business. Again, that idea was pushed to the back of my mind as I thought there is no way I could do that on a teacher’s salary. I went through all the reason’s I couldn’t do it. I shared my conversation with my father-in-law with one of my best friend’s who happens to be a very successful event planner. She started her business from scratch and as she patiently listened to me list all of the reasons why there was no way I could start my own business she simply said to me, “why not?”
I have spent the better part of the last ten months doing the very thing I did when I decided to buy a home, I asked questions, researched all I could and found that I might actually be able to turn this dream into a reality. In my research I came across the Women’s Business Centre of Tampa Bay. The women there were more than happy to answer any and all of my questions. They helped me to make connections with the women at the non-profit, Enterprising Latins. The bridge to owing my own business is being build with each and every connection I make. Along the way, my love and my best friends have been encouraging me with each step. While conducting research, I came across a business conference being held in Dallas, TX. From the website information and reviews, it looked like a great opportunity for business owners and I said to myself, “if I get my business up and running, this would be a great way for me to learn more.” Once again, sharing what I’d found with my friend, she asked, “why not go and get all of the information now so that you are a little bit ahead of the game.” When I told her the cost and that there was no way I’d be able to afford it, her response was, “see of they have a payment plan.” Of course, she was right…they had a payment plan.
As I am writing this post I am sitting at the Dallas Love Field airport on my way home from the conference. I arrived here on Wednesday to attend the Thursday through Saturday sessions. This was probably the best thing I could have let her talk me into doing. I was able to network and hear from some of the best in the business. When I shared my business idea with attendees and told them that I hadn’t yet opened the doors on my business, they jumped at the opportunity to share all that they knew, things I needed to do, the order I needed to do them in and what to look out for. They were so encouraging and positive that I want to go home, apply for a business loan Monday morning and open doors on Tuesday. Although I am very aware that there are still a few steps left to complete in my plan, I think this conference gave me even more courage to step out of my comfort zone one more time to make this dream happen. If God did it before, I am most certain He can do it again. I am the one who has to let go of the fear and simply rely on the faith I keep saying I have.
Never let go of your dreams…:>