Last year, Fortune magazine reported results from a Harvard Business School survey about access to entrepreneurship. The stats of the survey indicate that it’s easier now to open a business compared to a decade ago, and that barriers have been lowered considerably.
But that doesn’t mean that challenges dont exist. And according to longtime lifestyle coach and media expert Harriette Cole, sometimes we ourselves represent the biggest challenge keeping us from launching our dream business. So, Cole created an avenue for aspiring entrepreneurs to get the information, training and contacts needed to bring their business ambitions to life.
I launched Dreamleapers because we are living in a time when so many people are contracted; people have lost their jobs, people are in debt, or simply not making enough money. There is a lot of negativity that is very present, and in a time like this it is important to let people know that it is still possible to make the things happen in life that will benefit you and others. It has always been my way to look for the positive so I thought it would be important to share that with other people, Cole told TNJ.com in a recent interview.
A New York-based coach for entertainers and corporate executives and a motivational speaker and teacher for the past 20 years, Cole says it was important for her to craft and bring together a healthy group of experts to support people to make their dreams come true. Many of us are too fearful to consider that there is something within us that is so great that we will soar if we offer it to the universe. America exists based upon small businesses thriving. There are others who have been able to activate their dreams over all these years, and I think its because they dared to allow themselves to dream. And they surrounded themselves with people who would support them, she explains.
Billed as a multi-pronged educational initiative, the Dreamleapers inaugural one-day retreat took place last month in Harlem and brought together 20 industry professionals who shared their expertise with participants about everything from branding to financing, topics that are a must for todays savvy entrepreneur.
Part of the reason I wanted to bring so many people together is because it is hard to find so many professionals in one setting and it can be expensive to have all of these experts at your disposal. For example, there was an excellent accountant on-hand for people who needed one; there were also several people there from the NYC Government, which I thought was important; there was someone from NYC Business Solutions in Harlem, which is a free service. In fact, there are several free services out there for entrepreneurs. These places often don’t have enough people walking through their doors because people dont even realize that these services are available. Or, people are afraid they dont have enough going on yet to approach these services, but they are willing to help people even before they start the business, Cole explains.
Guests speakers included Lisa Price/Carols Daughter, Elaine Welteroth/ Teen VOGUE, Teneshia Warner/Egami Consulting Group, Latham Thomas/MamaGlow, John Henry/CoFound Harlem, Blondel Pinnock/Carver Bank, Jeff Shick/Money Miners, Christian Damiba/NYC Business Solutions, Kenneth Knuckles/UMEZ, Curtis Archer/HCAC, ShirleyAnn Robertson/Prudential, Sidra Smith/Gatepass Entertainment, and many more.
And what of those nagging stumbling blocks that make the dream of entrepreneurship seem elusive and out of reach?
There are many, notes Cole. The first is not being clear about what you want to do. People will tell you the first problem is finding money, but its not – even though it is hard to get money. If you are not crystal clear about what you want to do and how it will play out in the marketplace, then its hard for you to make it manifest and attract, clients, customers, and finance. Thats what I mean about accessing the dream. Accessing the dream is really about figuring out exactly what you want to do. Or, you might be someone who has been at it for a long time but maybe you cant do that elevator pitch. If youre not clear about what youre doing, you need to get clear. And then, make sure it is viable today. Is now the time for your business idea? Does your pricing work for your market? Also, get the financing you need. A big part of the retreat talked about getting financing.
In addition to last months one-day event, dreamers, as Cole calls her attendees, will also be invited to follow-up webinars. Says Cole, One day is usually not enough, so we did a survey at the end of the retreat to determine what helped people the most and we will create webinars to support them. One aspect of the retreat that got a lot of buzz is the part called Speed Leaping, which is like Speed Dating. At the webinar, I will have over a dozen experts who will address how to write a business plan, how to work with a bookkeeper, how to turn your business into a brand, how to be a leader, time management, and a broad range of practical information that people will need to be successful.
For those who missed this inaugural event, there might be another opportunity next year. “This year, I partnered with Harlem Park 2 Park, which is a consortium of 130 Harlem based businesses. The interest was a focus on entrepreneurs. We will do an assessment to see if next years event should also remain on entrepreneurs,” she says.
In the end, Cole wants dreamers to walk away and look to becoming leapers. I want them to be ready to take the leap. So, if you need to take a class to learn what you need to know, take it. Or, if you need to stay in your day job and save money to make a smooth transition, then stay. I want people to walk away clear about what the leap looks like for them so that they take the right actions, she concludes.