December 4, 2016

A Mother’s Journey [Part 33]: The original ‘Woopreneur’

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Giselle, with her daughters, Brooklyn, left, and Evian, push their new Woopreneur swag.

Courtesy Giselle Rivera-Flores

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

When people find themselves pulled in a million directions, it is often difficult to stop for a moment and reflect on your journey. When you have your eye on the prize, nothing else matters.

Lack of sleep and tough-to-navigate schedules become part of the plan. Eventually, it feels natural. People ask me for advice all the time. They ask about the nitty gritty of social media and marketing, but the question I’m asked most often is, “How do you have time for everything?”

Although from the outside looking in this all seems like organized chaos, the answer is simple:

This is my life.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter: The network effect Or scroll down for more

When you can’t see yourself doing anything else, this type of work becomes second nature. Time, for me, does not exist as an obstacle, because at the end of the day I am grateful to be in this position. Everything now is about prioritizing.

I work on every project each day, whether it is meeting with new libraries for The Learning Hub, editing photos for my husband Jaime’s photography business, planning and organizing interactive networking meetings for local entrepreneurs, writing for the Worcester Sun and Mass Foodies, or simply sitting down with the girls to work on science projects.

Each day is filled with small amounts of success. But being an entrepreneur is about improving, and leaving your fear of risk (and failure) behind. It’s about finding more value in the work than the immediate results.

This may not work for everyone. While many have said I could build the Hub faster by narrowing my focus, I don’t believe success is a race. I can either work on my several projects a day or I can solely focus on The Learning Hub, but either way the pace of my success is defined by me and the market. Is there an opportunity cost for dabbling in so many projects at once? Absolutely, but it is worth it.

Throughout the day I receive hundreds of messages via phone, email, text and social media. The best part is this excites me rather than bog me down. When I hear from other entrepreneurs asking for advice on how to reach their audience, I become excited. Or when I get to write about entrepreneurship every other week — again, I get excited.

A table full of Woopreneurs at one of the group's first meetings.

Giselle Rivera-Flores / For Worcester Sun

A table full of Woopreneurs at one of the group’s first meetings.

Starting The Learning Hub was never about me and my entrepreneurial spirit — it was about my daughter, Brooklyn, and other learners like her who needed help. I never saw it as a springboard to other business possibilities. But now I do, and that’s a critical part of being an entrepreneur: identifying an opportunity and deciding what to do with it. Helping others in similar situations is just a bonus for me.

Being part of that Worcester entrepreneurial community is something I see the most value in. Connecting other entrepreneurs to the right people, and sharing advice and insights is what I believe all entrepreneurs should do. It has become an important part of my day.

I cannot fathom entrepreneurs who stay in their bubble and who are against collaboration. What are they trying to hide? There is no secret to success or to being an entrepreneur. There really isn’t. Work hard, learn what you don’t know, but there’s no tried-and-true formula that works for everyone. So I will never understand those entrepreneurs who oppose transparency and collaboration. What they are doing is causing a negative impact on the entrepreneurial world, and I am not OK with that.

Following last month’s successful event, Jaime and I and our new event partner at @IgWorcesterMA (a social media platform connecting creatives and entrepreneurs), Julia Carrasquel – another StartUp Worcester winner for her company, Dormboard — are already planning the next one for January at Figs & Pigs Kitchen + Pantry. We didn’t create this entrepreneurial spirit in Worcester, but we want to be sure to take advantage of, as we like to call it, the Woopreneur community.

We hope to connect like-minded businesspeople from various backgrounds and industries, so everyone can gain a better understanding of how to achieve their own personal success. The first event has already sparked several collaborations between local businesses like Blue Hive Media and Sweet — Kitchen & Bar.

Figs & Pigs chef/owner Candace Murphy is working with Worcester Eats on leveraging social media, and every Saturday until Christmas will host a holiday pop-up shop at the DCU Center eatery. We hope these collaborations are but the tip of the iceberg.

Brooklyn and Evian -- apprentice Woopreneurs, themselves -- get on the work-life balance train.

Giselle Rivera-Flores / For Worcester Sun

Brooklyn and Evian — apprentice Woopreneurs, themselves — get on the work-life balance train.

Seeing all this happen is incredibly inspiring. It helps me find creative ways to boost The Learning Hub and connects me to the community. Above all, the best part of this is that my two daughters, Brooklyn and Evian, are a part of it every step of the way.

They attend some of my meetings and events, and are starting to see that life is about following your passions and helping others. I can’t think of a better teaching moment for them than letting them see everything firsthand.

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

Part 31 — The picture of serenity?

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