Editor’s note: Since September, 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 Pleasant Street tutoring center that opened in late January. Her journey, though, is far from over.
The number one thing standing in my way to entrepreneurial success is me.
As I write that on the overcrowded whiteboard hanging above my desk, tagged with endless “notes to self” and meeting memos, I realize this is the truest statement I have ever written.
Becoming an entrepreneur isn’t about taking an idea and turning it into reality. That’s the easy part. Being an entrepreneur, a successful one, is about taking who I am and turning it into who I want to be. It is about envisioning my goal and tackling it full throttle, about changing my lifestyle, my schedule and most of all, my mindset.
Read one of Giselle’s most popular entries to date: Part 14 — The right turn on Pleasant? Or scroll down to follow along from the beginning.
Every conversation I have had the last few months with families, prospective affiliates, business prospects and my team, has been about the impact of my business. I have spoken about our goal of elevating an entire platform of students to meet high standards of academic success, but what I haven’t spoken about is, how, in order to achieve this goal, I have to reevaluate myself as an entrepreneur.
This, of course, is much easier said than done. People have doubted my abilities. They have doubted my professional background and its irrelevance to the education industry. They have doubted the concept of The Learning Hub and have labeled it an “oversaturated” business model in Worcester – and pretty much across the nation.
Through the doubt, I have stood firm on my beliefs. I have always countered their claims with an appropriate response full of confidence and ease.
Through the confidence, I have realized a flaw to my demeanor. I have failed to view the obstacles of The Hub with a clear mind.
When your goal is burning with passion and the vision is ever-so clear to you, it is hard to step aside and see any flaws in your mission. You think to yourself, “How can this business not be successful?”
As I battle with my own identity through this process, I come to conclusion that the success of this business depends on the success of me as a person. I am stepping back and reevaluating who I am and how my contributions to The Hub will lead to its success. I have begun to analyze who I am, my strengths, weaknesses and my overall relationship with ensuring The Hub’s success.
I remember the reasons I started The Learning Hub. Starting The Hub has always been about my personal experiences with Worcester Public Schools and the gap between supplemental education services and the students who need them.
It has been about my daughter, Brooklyn, and her struggles with reading and the lack of individualized reading services in school.
The Learning Hub was started to help students who mirror Brooklyn’s needs but who come from different adversities, challenges and obstacles. With all this put together, I find my first strength in creating success for The Hub: experience.
Through the long-term goals I have planned and prepared, detailing every month with new expansions, I realize the goals of The Learning Hub are bigger than me. The social impact it will have is so big, only a great team of community leaders can take on the task of creating the greatest center around for underprivileged children.
Becoming an entrepreneur is about letting go. Taking control of my business at every corner puts me in the center of the action. And although that may be where I want to be at all times, it can lead to clouded judgement. The Hub is a business model built from bad experiences with the school system and in that, I have found my weakness: emotional tides.
If there is anything I have learned most about entrepreneurship it is the likelihood of becoming public enemy number one. As I reevaluate my role in The Hub, I have come to the conclusion that I am extremely susceptible to change. In fact, I vouch for change in every situation I see fit.
While I keep hearing, “Don’t change what isn’t broken,” I continue to push the envelope. I continue to reach out to anyone remotely involved in education and remain persistent. But in turn, it feels like I have been slapped with a label of negative impressions on who I am and my business.
I am vocal about the need for change in the school system and I am vocal about what I believe will be The Hub’s positive social impact. Throughout my advocacy, I have gained a new level of dis-approvers, but striking a nerve within certain departments and school administrators has led me to conclude that there is a certain magic in my business pitch.
It has led me to accept the notion that The Hub is exactly what is needed to close the gap in the local public school system, and has lit a fire in my pursuit of achieving this goal. Hearing the backlash from departments has allowed me to understand my greatest contribution to The Hub: exposure.
Throughout my self-evaluation, much of which I’m not ready to share, I have discovered many great assets and several areas in need of improvement.
Working on who I am and how I need to evolve to achieve success has been a great gift to myself. It has removed the clouds from my judgment and has allowed me to perceive my business from a different light.
The best part of reevaluating myself has been the overall sense of awareness. The big picture is clear and my role of entrepreneur has been redefined to fit the model of my business, and not vice-versa.
Follow Giselle’s story from the beginning: