I have been lucky enough to work for and help grow some pretty great companies that allowed me opportunities to learn, grow, get involved in the community and realize what makes companies amazing and what makes them not. Something was missing though, I always dreamed, as many of us do, of going out on my own, taking the leap and becoming an entrepreneur, but as many of us also do, I dismissed the idea over and over again. Fear, failure, debt, lack of stability and the idea of doing this alone were just some of the reasons that I never acted on my desire to start my own company. This year, though, I decided it was time to jump in with both feet and oddly enough, fear, failure, debt and lack of stability were some of the driving forces behind this decision, I had finally uncovered my entrepreneurial spirit that had been buried so deep inside my own head. I gave in to the voices in my head.
I didn’t just wake up one day out of the blue and say “today is the day, I become the boss lady,” there were a series of life events, circumstances and chance meetings that lead to this decision. A little over a year ago, I had a chance encounter with Lee-Anne Scalley, founder of OneinaMil, she is an entrepreneur through and through, she loves working, she loves pushing the envelope and she’s not fearful of failing, her energy is infectious. Lee-Anne, like myself, helped build great companies and she also knew what made companies great and what made them suck, it all boiled down to recruiting, HR and culture. Lee-Anne took that idea and started OneinaMil with those philosophies in mind. She and I had been following each other's stories for years and we traveled in some of the same professional circles, but it wasn’t until she asked me to have coffee one day that we started to learn what each of us were capable of. We immediately clicked and started working together on side projects. We essentially dated for a year, learned one another’s strengths and weaknesses and also got a glimpse of each other's work ethic, and through all of this it was becoming clear that together we can build OneinaMil into something to amazing.
Prior to starting this courtship with Lee-Anne, my life was turned upside down when my mother, at the age of 63 was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. I spent months traveling back and forth between SC and MD to spend time with her and eventually I made the decision to move home. Strange as it may seem, it was at that moment that my entrepreneurial spirit started to appear. I left my full time job, but was lucky enough to continue working part time remotely from MD. I also left behind my boyfriend, dog, house, car and all of the financial responsibilities that came with those things. There were a lot of moving parts but we made it work, no balls were dropped, no bills went unpaid and I was able to spend time with my mom that I will literally never get back. In August, 2015 my mom lost her battle with cancer, but she left this world with her legacy and she was a total badass. I even documented much of her (and my) journey here, so friends and family could also rejoice in her wonderful life. My mom was fearless, super smart and she didn’t take crap from anyone. She had three young kids in the 80’s and even though daycare for three didn’t make financial sense, she refused to leave the workforce. Her and my dad made the decision that it would be more detrimental for her career to leave to take care of the kids, so they made it work and she continued her career as a successful public defender, private attorney and eventually a juvenile and family law magistrate. She never let her fears hold her back from doing what she wanted to do and getting to where she wanted to be. My mom taught me that I can do anything I put my mind to as long as I am willing to put in the hard work, because nothing in this life is easy. We speak with Jacquie (my mom) often in our office and when we celebrate big wins, we cheers to her with her favorite Maker’s Mark.
Over the past year through happenstance, hard work and tragedy I learned a lot, set aside my fears and realized that life is too short to live in fear and to wonder “what if.” In January, I took the leap, formed a partnership with Lee-Anne and joined the team at OneinaMil. I go to work everyday excited to conquer the world and see what amazing things our team can accomplish and I often wonder why I didn’t start this journey years ago. We are a month in and everything is amazing, our team is growing, our client base is expanding and we have new work coming in everyday. My advice to anyone who wants to be their own boss and build something great is to put the wheels in motion, don’t make any rash decisions, but don’t wait forever to make your dreams come true. Take your future into your hands and believe in yourself, life is too short for missed opportunity.