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 2016 but has transformed considerably since. During her journey she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.
Days have never been longer. Managing my time has become a second job of its own the last year and a half. I continue to build The Learning Hub, but also stay involved in myriad other projects as my devotion to the writing, education and entrepreneurial worlds strengthens.
Balancing life and work is exhausting. Calendar updates, alert reminders and last-minute reschedules tangle my day into a web of organized chaos. By the end of it all, I have not only worked on keeping the momentum of the Hub strong, but I have also worked on my husband’s photography business, Brooklyn and Evian’s homeschool classes, and the hundred other side projects keeping me busy from morning to night.
In a city filled with inspiring stories and untapped markets in need of innovation, being an entrepreneur is the greatest gift anyone can give to themselves. Working for yourself or building a brand is not a task for the faint at heart. It is not just for the “visionaries” — a term that seems to flood the pages of “behind the computer” entrepreneurs on Linkedin, and one that I despise more than any other English word.
Catch up with Giselle’s most recent chapter, The movement keeps moving, or scroll down for more inspiring installments
Entrepreneurship is the one job that takes a life commitment, the one job that takes your hard work and serves you the best results, and the one job that truly showcases your ability to succeed. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone, but it is for anyone.
From the moment I realized I had an ability to communicate and tackle problems with creative solutions in high school, I knew that working for other people — no matter how awesome they were — was something I would struggle with. From early on, I created businesses that solved the problems of everyday life.
At the age of 15, I became a “productive” worker bee, working at various retail locations after school, just trying to earn enough money to buy the latest fashion trends from New York. But what I gained from the early experience was far more than I could ever buy.
My peers looked to me for advice on finding work after school. After several inquiries about the workplace and the professional etiquette required in some of the high-end Manhattan boutiques, I founded my first business, helping high school students land summer jobs. I offered resume and cover letter writing for $20. There was an immense level of demand within my community.
Elite Resumes was the name of my first business, one that I am proud of the most. Not because I made sales throughout high school, but because it was the first time I saw a void in the market and filled it. Businesses like Urban Aces Magazine (which featured music and culture articles with paid advertisements), My Modern Office (a virtual assisting business) and Writing Services for All (a copywriting and essay writing business) were but a few endeavors I have started and closed in my lifetime.
When people speak with me, their first assumption is that, at the age of 30, I have no idea what it takes to mold and brand a business. The assumption is that because I haven’t finished an MBA nor have I run a multimillion-dollar business, therefore, I am not in tune with what is needed to succeed. Fortunately for me, their assumptions fall short of the truth.
As I enter the second half of my first year as a full-time entrepreneur, I can’t help but encourage others to do the same. I have become obsessed with being in charge of my day and determining how my time is spent. I am devoted to helping others take the leap of faith and push through their goals with hard work and determination.
My husband, Jaime, has grown over the past year, too.
His love — and talent — for photography has always been there, but now that he’s breaking out of his shell and getting out of his own way, he is receiving a great deal of community support and interest in his work. Full-time entrepreneurship hasn’t been on his radar, but with each successful side project — like photographing Worcester Bravehearts games — he can see more value there than at his 9-to-5.
Now he has embarked on a two-year plan to leave his regular job, giving himself the time needed to set up his photography business and lay the foundation for his exit strategy from his current job.
Like many, Jaime fears the unknown. He fears the plunge into the dark abyss and the uncertainty of the future. But with great talent comes the inevitable, and in time Jaime will see his talents are good enough to stand on their own. He will wake up and realize that fear is what motivates us to continue pounding the pavement.
His love for Worcester and his affair with entrepreneurship has led to many opportunities. He has displayed his work at the Worcester Memorial Auditorium and has started taking photos for corporations, events, weddings and anything else that comes his way to help him make his two-year plan come to life.
With entrepreneurship in the air, we have partnered with Running Start Coworking to start a series of interactive and creative networking events to boost inclusiveness within the large population of freelancers, artists and small business owners. Our first Social Media Insiders meetup will be Nov. 17.
Breaking out of your comfort zone is never easy, but once you feel the empowerment of autonomy and freedom, it is difficult to turn back into a worker bee. Entrepreneurs are a constant inspiration for me and devoting my time away from The Hub to help build the dreams of others, is nothing but second nature to me.
Follow Giselle’s inspiring story from the beginning: