November 20, 2016

A Mother’s Journey [Part 32]: The network effect

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Giselle Rivera-Flores / For Worcester Sun

Social Media Insider series inaugural speaker Joshua Croke addresses the gathering at Running Start on Prescott Street.

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one, a full-fledged director of a nonprofit tutoring collaborative that began officially in late January but has transformed considerably since. During her journey she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

Giselle Rivera-Flores

Nothing fully prepares you for the moment you decide to dive into entrepreneurial waters.

The timing is never right, the finances are never secure, and the ideas never seem solid enough. The constant struggle between confidence and insecurity is but one of many battles faced on a daily basis. To me, a real entrepreneur is never satisfied, never fully impressed with herself or her progress. We are in a constant state of change. Molding our brands and expanding our companies, all while never truly feeling completely accomplished.

I struggle with these ideas, with what it means to be an entrepreneur. Am I deserving of the title? I am always contradicting myself: One day I might feel like a failure, and the next day I feel like this is exactly where I should be. But as I meet more and more entrepreneurs, artists, makers and developers, I realize that these unbalanced feelings are incredibly normal. They are the feelings that fuel innovation and creation.

Launching the Social Media Insiders networking event last week was an eye-opener. Convening more than 40 entrepreneurs allowed me to understand that these inner struggles are normal — and needed. They are keeping me on track and focused on the big picture, yet keeping me humble enough to feel that my brand needs work.

Catch up with Giselle’s most recent chapter, The picture of serenity?, or scroll down for more inspiring installments

The entrepreneurs in attendance ranged from well-known local chefs to social media sensations with thousands of followers, yet there was a common ground between everyone: this notion of constant learning and molding.

As they stood up to address the room and give insight about who they are and how they made it to this point, it was clear to me that none felt fully prepared for this stage in their life. They didn’t know their skills and planning would lead them to being a hit on Instagram or selling as many products as they do. They simply set out to pursue their mission.

The finances, the timing and the ideas weren’t all solid when they began, but as they continued to work hard for what they believed had potential, their brands flourished. They humbly spoke and reassured everyone that what works for one entrepreneur may not work for another, and so the constant battles are inevitable.

If I have learned anything at all throughout my journey, I have learned to keep up with my own pace. I have tried to take advantage of the imbalance between confidence and insecurity, and use them as a learning tool as well.

This path to freedom is not easy. Of all the things the speakers had in common — dreams and aspirations, innovative ideas — the constant that stood above all others was their immense level of hard work.

There’s an old adage, often attributed to Thomas Edison, that goes something like, “Opportunity is missed because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” For me, that statement could not hold more truth.

Social Media Insider swag introduces a new word into the lexicon.

Giselle Rivera-Flores / For Worcester Sun

Social Media Insider swag introduces a new word into the lexicon.

This journey has led me to meet a wide range of people: the startup founders, the freelance artists and the brick-and-mortar owners. And then there are those with pipe dreams [Editor’s note: Alas, these folks tend to make up the majority of entrepreneurs.].  I am fascinated by the group of people I encounter every day and through my constant search of networking and inspiration, and it has led me to believe that entrepreneurship is only possible through hard work. It is only possible if you’re willing to go through the stages of unbalanced feelings between failure and success.

When I meet with people looking for advice on what to do to make their business grow, I tell them all the same thing: work harder.

As frustrating as that may sound to a novice entrepreneur, it is the fundamental foundation for success. In listening to the Social Media Insiders speak, it validated everything I believe in: hard work, dedication and the humbling struggle between the sense of failure and success.

Follow Giselle’s inspiring story from the beginning:

Part 1 — The Brooklyn trip

Part 2 — The playbook

Part 3 — The space race

Part 4 — The unsettling score

Part 5 — The point of no return

Part 6 — The poetry of motion

Part 7 — The keys to success

Part 8 — The stumbling block

Part 9 — The Learning Hubby

Part 10 — The next breath

Part 11 — The imperfect storm

Part 12 — The defining moment

Part 13 — The balancing act

Part 14 — The right turn on Pleasant?

Part 15 — The exploration within

Part 16 — The long way home

Part 17 — The road to empowerment

Part 18 — The new direction

Part 19 — The social club

Part 20 — The way forward

Part 21 — The momentum conundrum

Part 22 — The Pleasant Street exit

Part 23 — The stemming of the tide

Part 24 — The starting line, finally

Part 25 — The full head of steam

Part 26 — The kernels of wisdom

Part 27 — The Book of Hub

Part 28 — The great debate

Part 29 The girls are all right

Part 30 — The movement keeps moving

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