The Labor Pains and Growth of an Entrepreneur

My strategic game plan for my business and heart to serve others in a greater capacity has been subtly shifting for the past six months. Admittedly, I’ve been stuck between the now and not yet. This constant juggling between my current client work and burgeoning online teaching and consulting work has caused several labor pains, late nights of design work, planning for the future, rise in expenses with little ROI and late and early morning prayers.

The idea of helping people and organizations define their identities, find their voices and ultimately building brands to engage their customers and adding value to the lives of people has me geeked and very excited. Therefore, in order to capitalize on the momentum I’m shifting gears with that hopes that I’ll become a lot leaner and selective in my approach to accepting client work, mastering small business consulting and chasing entrepreneurial goals so that I can connect to and maximize my dreams.

I currently have a handful of interviews, articles and other items in the queue for this website. In addition, I’ve recently gave my website a facelift over the last 3 days (after getting hacked) with more rollouts to come.

And I think that’s the beauty of entrepreneurship… it should constantly evolve because it’s a living organism like us. Our visions should mature and we should become better at our crafts as we keep pushing.

Food For Thought:
How are you shifting in order to realize your dream?
What value are you adding to others?
How can you tighten up the loose areas in your life?
How do you handle labor pains without missing a beat?

The Multi-Talented Entrepreneur – Ebony Combs

I had the pleasure to meet Ebony Combs last Summer through a mutual friend and my wife. Her story and passion for helping others goes beyond her inspiring Facebook posts and Twitter following. She’s sincere and authentic in every since of the “words” in real life. In addition, I recently ran into her at an event in Downtown Dallas, almost a month ago, and she was super humble and excited to be a part of this series. She’s a mover and a shaker who has garnered a handful of accolades and accomplishments under her belt on a national level in a short amount of time.

It is my pleasure to kick off the “Entrepreneurs and Influencers Series” by presenting to you, The Multi-Talented Entrepreneur – Ebony Combs

Ebony D. Combs, MS

Oklahoma State University- Stillwater, OK

Master of Science, Educational Leadership Studies—Higher
Education and Bachelor of Science, Business Administration—Human Resources Management

What do you do?
I wear many hats, but the one I’m most proud of is Mommy! Being a mother has led me to my purpose of being an entrepreneur, more specifically, a single moms coach. For title sake, here are my roles: Creator & CEO, | Full time Single Mom | My Black Is Beautiful Ambassador | Blogger | Speaker| Goal Strategist | Single Moms Coach

What started you on your journey?
My journey started on May 21, 2007, when I gave birth to my daughter, Zari, and journeying alone. She opened my eyes to a world I didn’t know, and that was a world of transparency and purpose. She has been my reason for living to see another day and fighting until the final round.

When did you realize you could achieve your dream?
I realized I was capable of achieving my dream once I got out of my own way and sought the help of my Creator. He showed me a strength I didn’t know I possessed; when I had to simultaneously learn how to parent my daughter alone and figure out life. God began to open doors that only he could and shut the ones that were no longer for me—one’s that I’d passed the test and the season had ended. I applied for and was chosen one of six women to become the first-ever ambassadors for My Black Is Beautiful (MBIB)—a Procter & Gamble initiative designed to empower and motivate Black women. Receiving this opportunity confirmed my faithfulness and obedience to my life’s work.

What is a quote you live by?
[inlinetweet prefix=”RT” tweeter=”imebony” suffix=”#quote”]“Do one thing every day that scares you.”― Eleanor Roosevelt[/inlinetweet]

What is a tough lesson you learned? And how did you recover from it?
A tough lesson I learned was that life will knock you flat on your behind, but staying there is optional. As a single mom, I got hit with a ton of bricks when my daughter’s father checked out on us. I wasn’t sure of the direction I should take, coming from a two-parent home, the experience I had of ‘family’ gravely differed than that of my daughter’s. I wasn’t accustomed to a one-parent home, weekend visits, split holidays, and child support. I still have days where this is a challenging concept to wrap my brain around, especially with its inconsistencies—he tends to parent when it’s convenient for him. Our views of the relationship were extremely different and the ‘love’ I believed we had, was a tough pill to swallow in seeing its truth. I learned to swallow the pill with one big gulp of forgiveness, a changed mindset, and radical moves toward a better future for my daughter and me, but it took some time because I often blamed myself. I knew that forgiving myself of his cheating—it wasn’t my fault, and barring that bitterness from my heart was the only way I’d be able to fully embrace my new experience as a single mother and woman searching for her purpose. I owed it to myself first and foremost, but then to my daughter. I couldn’t pour into her, when my well was dry. I recovered by drastic goal setting, getting my own life coach, and stepping out on faith.

What advice can you give aspiring, entrepreneurs, leaders, influencers, artists and dreamers?
Advice I’d lend to aspiring entrepreneurs, leaders, influencers, artist, and dreamers would be to trust God! It’s a simple as that. Trust him, his plan, and his timing. You must do your due diligence in seeking your purpose and applying action steps in getting there. Use one revenue stream to invest in your purpose and just flat out BE STILL and listen! Don’t be afraid to ask for help, you won’t know how to do everything, don’t be afraid to fail—your greatest blessings.

What’s next?
What’s next is the March 2015 release of, “Fabulous New Life,” a book I’m co-authoring. Then, it’s publishing my first solo book project, “NAKED MOMMY TRUTH: The Single Moms Unique Guide on Complete Restoration, Resilience, and Prosperity,” under my publishing company, B.A.R.E. publishing. 2015 is the year of open doors and supernatural blessings. I also plan to host intimate events for single moms to be rejuvenated and poured into, along with a little pampering. These events will fall under my single mommy society—a group for single moms to meet on a quarterly basis and support one another, our children, and dreams.

How can people get in contact with you?
Twitter: @imebony
IG: @imebonyc

Recharging the Battery

Well, it’s a bit late but Happy New Year anyway! I took the month of January off to recharge the battery and focus on my vision for my life, family and business. It is very difficult to walk in your full potential if you don’t escape life’s muck and dirtiness without recharging the battery every now and again. If you don’t recharge, reignite or fan the flame you (your life, family and or business) will die a horrible death. More, if studies have proven that you need sleep in order to be more productive during the day then how much more rest do you need in order to recharge only to come back to home plate and hit a home run?

You become a better manager of your God-given dream when you take the time to recharge your battery.

A manager is responsible for the application and performance of knowledge. – Peter Drucker

While recharging I thought about the thousands of dreamers my website reached last year and I wanted to come up with a campaign, that I’m launching this month in honor of Black History, that would spark life, innovation and recharge the lives of others called “Entrepreneurs and Influencers”. This idea will initially highlight the achievements and successes of Black and African Americans who are living out their dreams. Then after February I’ll highlight the achievements and successes of other Entrepreneurs and Influencers in other cultures.

Along the way they’ll talk about their ups, downs and give practical tips for other dreamers who want to succeed, do more and be more while designing the lives they believe they were created to live.

Therefore, hang tight and enjoy!

6 Qualities Every Entrepreneur Needs

In elementary, jr. high and high-school I learned that school was all about getting good grades, giving it your best and behavioral modifications that would help a person be presentable and likable to teachers and peers and also keep them out of trouble. I also learned the better a person did in these areas the more that person was recognized and applauded for their talents, intellect and achievements. In undergrad, I was taught how the idea of getting a college degree would open up doors to new opportunities, a great job with great pay, amazing benefits and career advancement.

Everything was going according to plan and had worked out the way I was taught. It was smooth sailing compared to the money I made as a paperboy when I was younger so I was happy, 30k a year was great! THEN, somewhere along the way something happened. The dream I had for my life was modified and I received some serious, yet subtle, surgery. I realized I wanted more for my life than just a job with pay and benefits. I wanted to be more than just a YES MAN (a person who loves kissing the boss’ derriere).

That’s when the light bulb went off and I started searching.

I discovered a new set of ideas that pulled my heart and life into a very unique entrepreneurial journey. But didn’t my formal education prepare me for this?

I was 26 when I left my job and started working with what was in my hands and mind. I didn’t know where to start, I didn’t have the slightest clue what my skill set was, I didn’t have any business acumen or vernacular that could wow fortune 500 companies and techies or future clients. I just had passion and a VERY supportive wife. My journey has consisted of ups, downs, failures and success but I’ve learned of at least 6 Things or Ideas every entrepreneur needs in order to be successful:

    1. Vision – Gives significance to the otherwise meaningless details of our lives and businesses. It brings our world into focus and helps us order our priorities. Vision enables us to see every challenge and opportunity differently.
    2. Creativity – Requires that we use our imaginations for concepting ideas. Every idea deserves a seat at the table before it’s value is discrediting. According to James Webb Young in his book A Technique for Producing Ideas (published by Waking Lion Press) [inlinetweet prefix=”RT” tweeter=”jeremyqbutler” suffix=”#idea #produce #creative”]no idea is original.[/inlinetweet] It’s rather 2 or more ideas with a fresh spin. Which came first? Myspace or Facebook?
    3. Initiative – Means one thing… Go-getter. Go-getters go the distance, the extra mile and will climb over obstacles and mountains to get to their destination(s). They don’t need anyone to drag them out of bed because they can taste success.
    4. [inlinetweet prefix=”RT” tweeter=”jeremyqbutler” suffix=”#dreamer #entrepreneur #success #disney”]The way to get started is to quit talking – Walt Disney[/inlinetweet]

    5. Risk Taking – Has the ability to pull out of you what you didn’t know what was in you. Eddie Murphy’s soon-to-be wife in Coming To America toward the end of the movie storms off the train and a petite old lady comes up to his character, Hakeem, and says, “…If your really a prince I’ll marry you.” He’s tired, beat and ready to give up on his dream of finding his wife in Queens, USA… Sometimes that’s what taking risks looks and feels like. However, he gets the woman at the end of the movie. But sometimes we don’t get what we want by the end of our movie. Here’s the caveat, never allow fear of taking risks to paralyze you because of rejection or failure.
    6. Problem Solving – Necessitates us to think on our feet, immediately and critical about obstacles. More, it’s important to look for solutions that have the lowest cost and highest impact.
    7. Self-Governance – No one is more responsible for your day today activities than you. Being timely and detailed is an important factor in maximizing your sucess.

    This is not a definitive list but rather one that helps you start!

    Action Steps

    1. Are you currently implementing some of these ideas?
    2. What will you do in order acquire the necessary acumen and skills to see your success through?
    3. How will you grow your vision?

Practicing Your Dream

The definition of insanity is when someone continues to do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. I’ve found out in my short life that many people have dreams of being this or that or achieving this or that but will ultimately never realize their goals because they will not practice at making their dreams a reality.

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. – Walt Disney

Over the last year I’ve been determined to achieve my dreams be learning more via reading, watching informative videos, observation and practicing. And here’s what I’ve learned:

Don’t fear the Shoulda Coulda Woulda

Months ago I read a book titled Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda: Live in the Present, Find Your Future by Les Perot. The premise of the book takes a therapeutic approach to overcoming failure, regret and past mistakes. I read this because I was struggling to wrap my mind around some things that transpired in my past and I needed an outside voice that would give sound reason, wisdom and strength to my troubled mind and failing heart. I left off from this book thinking a few things:

  1. It’s never too late to take charge. In the famous words of Outkast, “Git up Git out and do something”.
  2. Regret is a temporary, if you take action. You can never allow your present circumstances to define who you are or your future.

You Have To Sow Seed In Order To Reap A Harvest

  1. In order for anything to grow you need to plant, water and cultivate it.
    1. Some plants take longer to germinate than others
    2. Some plants are seasonal and can only be planted and watered in specific seasons.
    3. Before a plant can grow the seed MUST die in order for the plant to sprout. Sometimes giving birth to your dreams will feel like death, a set of restrictions or handicap. But preserver, and look at your dream from a different angle because growing pains are a part of the process.
  2. Grass and Crabgrass are very different. They both start out as seeds but one is the real thing and the other is an imitation that passes itself off as the real thing. And they both grow up together and are necessary! If crabgrass is untreated it will overrun and ruin the good Grass. You’ll have to learn the difference and make adjustments to eradicate the crabgrass as you grow into your dream.

Which brings me to the video in this post. My handsome son along with his beautiful mother allowed me to utilize his “likeness” while recovering from a cough… and since I’m actively practicing my dream I went out and grabbed 2 gallons of paint from Home Depot to paint the walls, some furniture (Desk, Shelf and Wall Frames), customized artwork from a dear friend (that’ll be here very soon!), a couple of new lenses, 15+ hours of video production work that included storyboards, motions graphic elements, 10+ hours of manual labor and my “Handsome Son” in order to make this part of my dream a reality. Hence, within the next couple of weeks I’ll be adding vlogging to my content mix on my website with the hopes of helping other dreamers like myself realize that they can dream and achieve. Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees (In my Napoleon Dynamite Voice)!

Action Steps

  1. How do you plan on practicing your dream?
  2. What resources will you need to get started?
  3. What is holding you back?

Why I Will Never Buy Michael Jordan Shoes

First off, I love Michael Jordan! He’s considered one of the greatest if not the greatest professional basketball player of all time. One thing that most critics, opponents and spectators have agreed on was his ability to change the sport. More, upon changing the sport he reaped the bountiful rewards. In addition, his rewards have spanned long after his professional playing career into an international brand that has spanned over generations and made a lot of people a lot of money, including himself.

My first pair of Air Jordans (J’s or Jordans) were some scuffed and beat up hand me downs via my cousin back in 1994 when I lived in California. Students who wore J’s were considered elitist and a part of the in-crowd. Therefore, I felt empowered when I traded in my purple tiger striped Payless Attack Force for some 2 year old off-white 92 Retros with the remnants of old peeled skin! Needless to say I grew out of them in a couple of months. Afterward, my uncle bought me some Reebok BlackTops but they were not Jordans! They looked and felt different.

My 2nd pair of Jordans came as a gift from a web client in the Spring of 2014. I was honored that my client would give me something so valuable in addition to my hourly fee. And to my ignorance I did not know a lot of people wanted my Jordans until I began to receive comments about about how “DOPE” they were every other day.

I have only owned two pairs of Michael Jordan Sneakers in 20 years. And in 20 years I have learned some very valuable lessons about financial literacy, entrepreneurship and branding.

… Do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do… – Forest Whitaker, Great Debaters

I have held on to this quote from the Great Debaters for a long time because I believe it speaks volumes to a group of people who want instant gratification today without working for their tomorrow. I also believe that this simple idea can build a better future for everyone who puts in the work. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=”#Jesus #MichaelJordan”]God blesses the work of our hands (Deuteronomy 2:7)[/inlinetweet]. Ultimately, my experience and love for people have led me to the conclusion, “I will never buy Michael Jordan Shoes”.

  1. Here are my superficial reasons on why I will never buy Jordans
    1. They are overpriced
    2. They scratch the back of my heels
    3. People do not play basketball in them like they did back in the day; which to me defeats the form follows function principle therefore, I can’t buy in.
    4. I refuse to stand in a line for hours or get into a fight or get shot for a pair of shoes that will not last a year
    5. I love Chucks because they are cheaper and less riskier
    6. I can get 2  to maybe 5 pairs of Chucks for the price of one pair of Jordans
  2. Now, here are my sustainable reasons on why I will never buy Jordans
    1. I am all for entrepreneurship because I’m an entrepreneur, so “amen” to Michael Jordan for building an empire that has been profitable, scalable and a truly iconic brand! But I cannot buy into his brand because every dollar counts when you are building your own personal and professional brand. I can buy a nice pair of sneakers for $100 less than what I would pay for Michael Jordan’s coveted shoes and then put the extra money to use in a number of different ways.
    2. Heck here’s how you can put that money to use:
      1. Take an online course that will enrich your life by adding a new skill set to your repertoire or strengthening an existing one which in turn makes you more valuable to an organization or more equipped to pursue your own entrepreneurial interests
      2. Buy a domain in order to build a website for an idea or business venture
      3. Go to your local county clerk and get a DBA (Doing Business as an Assumed Name) to start a business you’ve been dreaming about
      4. Buy a set of e-books or real books from Half Price Books that will help you turn your passion(s) into profit
      5. Join a gym and buy healthier food
      6. Remit an extra payment to pay off your car, student or mortgage loan a bit earlier

My issue is not with Michael Jordan’s shoes but with the priorities and dreams we set aside in order to pursue vain interests and fleeting objects that do not build us up in the “right now” or position us to succeed at a greater level in the future. Therefore, whatever your “Air Jordan” dilemma is put it in the proper perspective and make an informed decision. To buy J’s or not to buy J’s, that is the question.

  • [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”@jeremyqbutler” suffix=”#goals #achieve”]What are you willing to sacrifice in order to achieve your goals?[/inlinetweet]
  • What are you willing to set aside in order to do more in the right now and future?

Achieve More.