When I first started my business back in August of 2002, I had no idea that I would be able to build it to a multiple-six-figure business. No idea!
I grew up with parents who had careers, very non-entrepreneurial types of careers. My dad was a college professor just like my two maternal grandparents and my mom worked in administration in the courts, a bank and other small businesses. They taught me nothing about what it was like to be an entrepreneur and I have no idea how I got that drive and passion to become one.
In high school I held a few retail jobs that earned me some side-cash for clothes, gas, etc. and they were fun for me. Through college I held all restaurant jobs, from hostess, to busser, to server, cocktail waitress at a nightclub one time too, then bartender.
I got my degree in Business Administration, Marketing Concentration but that still didn’t help point me in any direction, much less “the right” direction.
All I knew is what I didn’t want to do after college… get a “real job”.
I real job to me, meant some type of corporate job. It meant something in a big building with a cubical or something… that sounded horrible.
When I graduated college, in fact, I was still a bartender!! My mom and dad were so proud. (ha ha) I loved it though, flexible hours, good money, and I could be personable with people every day. How would I find a “real job” that provided that?
I explored a few things, one time even taking a job doing door-to-door sales! I found that from a very vague ad in the paper, but somehow the people seemed fun and interesting so I did it. This is where I met my first husband who came down from Canada and was working in the States. I met some really good friends there also plus the sales experience was off the charts great! Don’t get me wrong… it was SUPER HARD to get rejected over and over again every day but the sales I did make made me appreciate the process and looking back on it now, this was the best experience I had for setting myself up as an entrepreneur later in life.
After we found out that the owner of the company was a little shady, I went back to work in the restaurant industry just to make ends meet until we could get married and my starter husband could take a job (he wasn’t a U.S. Citizen and couldn’t work!).
From there, a good friend of mine recommended me to work at the company she was at, Enterprise Rent-a-Car. I worked in the branches doing car rentals moving my way up to Assistant Manager over the next 3 years. That company works you hard, I got really burned out of working 60-70-hour work-weeks and had to leave. (Funny that just 9 years ago, I found out that my current husband was working in the same area for ERAC also at the same time I was there but we had never crossed paths!)
After working my tail off, I needed something a bit easier… I went to work for the local newspaper doing outside sales. I took on some accounts and built up new accounts and got to get out of the office a lot visiting my customers. That was fun because it showed me the freedom type of lifestyle that I so wanted. I was top in sales for my division because I’d learned how to take a no like nobody’s business doing door-to-door! I also was very consultative in my approach and wouldn’t just try to “sell” people I called on, instead I would teach them things they didn’t know about how to get more customers, market better, sell and upsell more efficiently. I spent time with my customers that other salespeople didn’t and it showed up in some great commissions!
This job is where I began to think about starting my own business. I knew I could help so many other business owners with other aspects of their marketing or business than just by selling them ads. I had no idea where to start though or how to structure anything. I was afraid of letting go of my regular income even if it was primarily commissions plus a small base. It didn’t occur to me that those commissions are just like what I could make in the services as a small business owner.
It took ONE more job change to finally convince me to take the leap. I went to work as a Marketing Director at one of my advertising customers’ businesses, the largest retirement community around. I worked with one other MD there but we really needed a third person, we worked our tails off there too. I shortly realized that this industry wasn’t the best fit for me, it was really too hard on me emotionally to watch so many residents pass away, those that I sold into their apartments in the first place. I lasted six months there, then I did it. I took the leap!
While at this last job I decided to see one of my Business Coach friends for advice… I asked her what should I do to get started in my own business. I had no idea. She had me take this assessment for what I really was good at and what I was meant to be doing. It resulted in being a problem solver. I was toying with the idea of being a marketing consultant or starting a gift basket company…. she helped direct me to the first one so that I could utilize those problem-solving skills.
Thank God I spoke to her before jumping out on my own!! It really did save me a lot of time and money from doing the wrong thing. I was leaning towards the gift basket company but that would have required lots of pre-purchased inventory, finding things at wholesale to cut costs, and small profit margins. Whew! I dodged a bullet there.
That’s how K. Sawa Consulting was created. From there I’ve evolved the business long the way. The more I learned and did, the more I tweaked the business, my offerings, my rates and how I was serving. K. Sawa Consulting turned into K. Sawa Marketing, then about six years into my business it became Jumpstart Your Marketing© which was my brand almost up to now. I’ve changed it to Katrina Sawa, the brand, and back again and currently it’s JumpstartYourBizNow.com because I do so much more than just marketing. My company name is still K. Sawa Marketing Int’l Inc. (I’ve since incorporated) but no one cares. I don’t use it for branding or marketing, just for the legal stuff. I’m sharing this evolution of my business name and brand because too many people I see procrastinate starting their business waiting for the perfect business name or brand. Just evolve it as you go. Trust me, more than likely you will change your mind along the way and as you grow and learn more so just do what sounds good today. Your “brand” is more important than your business name anyway, what you use as your website domain name; that’s what matters. That’s what people will remember.
Today I have many facets of the company from JumpstartYourBizNow.com to website design and techy services under JumpstartYourTechyServices.com to now also a publishing arm of the business under JumpstartPublishing.net. I have a pretty good-sized team who help me manage it all and I’m enjoying that flexible lifestyle and good money that I loved when I was a bartender! I love what I do. I love that I can help thousands of entrepreneurs every year jumpstart some aspect of their business or life or both. I love having multiple sides of the business that keeps my creative brain entertained. And I love to embrace and implement new ideas when they come to me.
What is your entrepreneurial journey? Tell me your story!!
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