Much like musicians, an entrepreneur may seem to share the same dreams, such as being on stage, seeing shiny lights and being in a world of fans. The platform in which entrepreneurs dream about may be a little different, they will experience online recognition, millions of followers, books, TED talks, etc. But just like all dreamers, the amount of work, time, and patience that is required is definitely a blur. Dreams are funny that way.
The reality is vastly different. What may look like instant success, has probably taken years to achieve for some. “To do disruptive innovation, you have to be willing to be misunderstood for a very long time,” said Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon. It took him almost 10 year for people to finally get his vision. “If you can dream it you can achieve it,” we’re told. What is rarely discussed is that the dream may take longer than you anticipated and a lot more hustle than you ever imagined.
So for many, the realization of this keeps people at their 9 to 5 job, not busting moves on their passion. Who says you have to go all in? Why do things have to be all or nothing? If you can set aside your ego, why not start by building a platform for others? A platform where you do what you love, while highlighting other entrepreneurs who are already doing it successfully. It can be as easy as starting a blog, podcast, or even an opportunity to do an internship at a startup. You may be thinking, I’m not even doing it for myself. If happiness comes along with paying your dues, why wouldn’t you?
LETTING OTHERS SHINE
Take Kanye West, for example. He put in work and paved the way for others as part of the equity to live his dreams. Many musicians were/are producer, writers, heck even label managers and the marketing department. I don’t think Kanye minded helping Jay Z with his dream, or the many other well-known artists he worked with as a former producer. Not only did Kanye set a stage for others, but the platform and relationships he built, while taking a back seat, were invaluable to his success today.
It may not bring a lot of profit up front, but the network and knowledge you’re building will feel like you’re making millions. Helping others build their platform allows you to experiment, where otherwise you would hold back. Take being a contributor for example, you get instant feedback on what is and isn’t working, both from the audience and from the founders. Knowing if you bring value to any business is the key to knowing if you’ll be able to do the same for yours.
If Kanye West was able to put aside his ego and help others in their pursuit of their own dreams, I think many of us can agree we can allow others to headline, while we work behind the scenes.
Doing things behind the scenes also requires a lot of promoting. That’s all part of building a platform that headlines others. Whether you’re doing so through a podcast, site or at a startup. Positioning yourself as a top promoter makes you invaluable to others. I’ll give you an example. Many radio stations bring great artist and put on great events. They’re known for having the best guest and shows. How do those artists coming to the station know that they’re the stations to be on? They have the best promotions.
Do the same for your platform. You may be thinking, I just started and don’t even have a lot of people who know or follow me. Not to worry, it’s not about having thousands of followers, although that does help. Any audience you have is an opportunity for another entrepreneur to reach a new audience. Don’t concern yourself with the amount of people you don’t have, be concerned with the ones you do. Ask yourself this:
- Does what I’m posting about bring my followers value?
- Does my audience know about or need to use my product/service?
Make your answers to those questions your focus. Then promote the heck out!
When I started out, I first told friends on Facebook, then I created a Facebook Page, Twitter account, and joined several Facebook groups that I knew would love the info. I even attended events to reach the right audience. All for the purpose of connecting the two worlds of a successful women entrepreneur of color with aspiring ones.
Being a business woman is not only about doing what you love, but it requires work we may not love like sales, marketing, and promoting. But if we believe in what we’re doing and we know it helps others, then it becomes almost an obligation to spread the word to others. You’ll need to do the same for those you’re working with. Just make sure you love and respect their vision.
EXTEND YOUR REACH – KNOW YOUR GOAL
My vision was to take away the excuses many women have for not living their purpose and starting that business. From not enough time, to not enough money, to having a family and/or being single moms. My goal became to bring them, women (and men), who had the same obstacles and are running business successfully.
This goal remains the same whether I’m a contributor on other sites, to highlighting others on the podcast. I made sure to work with others who want to do the same. This is how you extend your reach. Not just by aligning yourself with others who share in that vision, but those who’ve taken that vision to the next level and expanded it.
If you want to create change, influence and extend your reach you have to start by extending the reach for others. I’m not just talking about those who are further along than you, but those who may be starting out as well. The more you learn, the more you help others, and the more knowledgeable and expansive your reach becomes. You become the go-to person. You’ll soon realize that starting in the background has not only brought you into the spotlight, but gave you a larger view of what it is to be a headliner.
Photo credit: dancinonair.com