Storytime – My ups and downs of getting started in business

I don’t really talk about me or my business on here because I’m so consumed with giving you guys useful information to help you on your business journey. But I set a goal for myself this year which is to open up more and let you guys get to know me.

Today I decided to take you back to 2003 before it all actually began. In 2003 I was 23 and attending Ivy Tech State College which is a Junior college in East Chicago, Indiana for Computer Information Systems. By the way I was born and raised in Hammond, Indiana.
In order to prevent employers from telling me I didn’t have experience upon graduating with my degree I decided to find internships while in school. That way I could have both and not get shuffled around and increase my worth. Mind you while I was in school I had a 4 yr old son and 3 yr old daughter (insert picture). So juggling all 3 wasn’t going to be an easy task!

I applied for several internships in Chicago. The daycare that I took my kids to was a in-home daycare and the husband of the owner happened to work downtown Chicago for a Non-profit organization and heard that I was looking for an internship. He was able to hire me as a Technology Systems intern but I had to work for FREE! I had to pay for my train ticket to commute to/from Chicago everyday. Now remember I have 2 kids and school, It was tough scraping up the money and juggling everything but I was determined to have some experience on my resume once I graduated.

So I worked for free for a little over a year and during this time I had one of the best ever mentors, Audra!!!! She really took her time with me and literally started me off with taking computers apart, replacing parts and putting them back together. I eventually started managing all of the servers and other tasks. I learned so much from her and we became friends. About a year in they decided to hire me as a Technology Systems Assistant, Wooo Hooo and I was getting an actual paycheck. I can’t remember what I was getting paid but anything was something coming from nothing lol. A year later I moved up to a Network Associate and got an increase in pay.

In 2005 the company started to have quite a bit of turn over and my direct boss left, Mike who was the CFO and whom got me the internship there left and the organizations energy drastically shifted. The new CFO made it a daily thing to remind me that I didn’t have a degree and although I was doing everything needed and above for my position he refused to acknowledge me. I remember feeling less than and it really got under my skin that he looked down on me.

So I started looking for another company. I also graduated that year with my Associates in CIS. I eventually took a position at a Law firm and collection agency as a Information Systems Team Lead. I overall enjoyed the job because it challenged me. While I maintained the servers there as well I also began programming to automate processes for the firm which was fun. After 3 years of working there my partner at the time decided to move to Texas for a position and the kids and I followed. I proposed to my job to work from home while in Houston until they were able to find a replacement and they agreed.

So in 2009 I packed everything I had and moved across the country to Houston Texas. I was excited to experience something new and I always wanted to live somewhere where the weather was always warm. No one in my family, dad or mom side had really moved away from home so I was stepping outside the norm lol. I forgot to mention in 2008 I started attending Kaplan University online to obtain my Bachelors in Web Design and multimedia.

Ok so I get here to Houston and relationship isn’t going well. The kids are getting adjusted to moving and new schools and I’m managing working from home and school. About 6 months after getting here my relationship is a wrap and I get the call from my job that they are letting me go. Talk about the shit hitting the fan lol. On top of that, they tried to not pay me unemployment by saying that I caused them to lose clients. So I promptly contacted the HR department to have them mail me my entire HR file as I had never been reprimanded or wrote up the entire 4 years I was there. They knew I was on to them and fortunately my direct boss at the time knew it was bull and fought for me and got them to drop it. God rest his soul as he passed a few years later in a car accident.

To recap, I’m now jobless and on unemployment, in a new state with no family/friends and my relationship is over. Listen I’ve dealt with a lot of obstacles in my life and I wasn’t going to let this one conquer me. I got my own place and started working a few temp to permanent jobs to try to get into the corporate world here but my heart jus wasn’t in it anymore. Every job I started I was never really there mentally and my attitude was so bad. I knew I had to do something and that working for someone else was no longer it for me.

While I was in school for web design & multimedia, I realized my love for designing and coding. I started to tinker with the idea of working for myself. Since I didn’t have any real world experience in web development I decided to reach out to local Houston web design companies to see once again see if they needed an intern. When I think back on it now man I was hustling and thank God I had unemployment to get my kids and I thru those times. I literally googled companies and went to their contact page and completed the form asking if they needed any assistance or needed an intern.

I finally got a response from a company called Iconix Marketing. Him and his wife ran their business from their home. He started me out working on templates and I learned a lot from front end and back end business stuff. I really appreciate them taking me on as it solidified my desire to step out on my own. I started coming up with a plan for my own business and although I didn’t know where to start I knew the name would be Evielutions Design which is combining my name with the word evolution. I always wanted to help others evolve and become their best self so that where the name came from.

In 2009 Evielutions Design was born. Remember I had no clue what I was doing but I knew what I wanted and that was to help businesses achieve their business goals and the freedom to make my own schedule to be able to be there for my kids. My business didn’t really take off for about 2 years, why because again my background is IT, help desk, sitting at a desk programming and little to no interaction with others. By the way I’m a introvert too lol. So the business side of marketing and sales I had no idea about until I joined the Cy-Fair Houston Chamber of Commerce around 2011. I love the chamber, it really help me grow business wise and personally. This is where I learned that in order to get business you have to go out and get it, just because you started a business the phone isn’t going to ring.

I learned how to network, become a leader, be more sociable and be more involved in my community. This is when things really started to change for me. I remember my first client, LaJoyce Lawton with the Multitude Experience. I was so excited that someone decided to take chance on me. From there clients started to roll in all because I was dominating in networking. I even won business of the year in 2013 and was featured in Houston Top 100 professionals in 2015!

I love meeting with new clients and learning about them and their business. This not only gave me the opportunity to get to know them but find areas where I could help them streamline their business with a website. I think most people think of websites for just information purposes and back then maybe so but now websites literally can function as an employee. As business owners we are always trying to juggle a million hats and if you’re anything like me its hard to let others assist. So I really wanted to focus on offsetting tasks to the website to free up owners to focus on more important things without breaking the bank on an employee if not actually necessary.

Fast forward 11 years later and I am grateful to still be in business. It’ll be 13 years this year. As you can see I’ve endured some trials and tribulation but still survived and made it! Although I’ve always been a strong minded woman I think the biggest lessons I’ve learned thru all of this is to never settle and there’s nothing I can’t accomplish as long as I put the work in.

Another thing is especially now with social media I think we get so caught up in comparing ourselves to others and setting goals that align with what’s hot or with what someone else is doing. A piece of advice I learned later in business is don’t let others define your success . Success is different for everyone and it may not look like “I want to be a millionaire” and thats ok. It may look more like mines, which was to make a comfortable living, have the freedom to do the things I want like spend time with my family and travel and help other small business succeed. Simple right! We make things so complicated nowadays when we just need to peel back the layers and focus on what’s really most important.

Alright guys that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I’m completely amazed at how far I’ve come and the obstacles I’ve tackled. Hope you learned something about me and I can be an inspiration to someone. You’ve got this!

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