About 14 years ago I moved back home into my parents’ basement to have my first baby. I was single, pregnant, and my work experience entailed a varied background between being a white-water rafting guide and being a waitress. At the age of 25 I was on the express train to Nowhereville.
I have to say I had (have!) the most supportive and awesome parents on the planet – they never once judged me for what I had done, embraced me and my daughter in stride, and took care of us until I could get back on my feet again.
My father especially has always believed in me – even when I messed up. As long as I have been alive, he has always worked for himself. Maybe that spirit of entrepreneurship rubbed off on me, or perhaps I was just in sheer desperation for a better life for my new family. So when I told him that I wanted to start a crafting business in his home, he immediately got to work helping me to put together a plan. If it ever occurred to him that I was flying by the seat of my pants and had NO business experience, he never showed it.
In 1995 there wasn’t much internet to speak of. The SBA did have a website back then, and I spent hours there learning what I could. I signed up for a local community college course on business basics, and learned about marketing, taxes, & legal issues. And that was pretty much all the training I could get on the budget I had to work with.
So to be honest, where I learned the most about business was truly on-the-job training. I found markets and stores to carry my products, bartered custom designs for dental work, wrote press releases, and even got on the front page of our local paper (woo hoo!). About a year later, I finally understood what it took to run my business and actually make money at it. But I realized that in order to get the experience & knowledge I really needed, I was going to go have to work for someone else.
Yes, my first business failed. Pretty badly. But if I hadn’t done it, I wouldn’t be where I am today. The lessons I learned in that first business have been a rock-solid foundation of knowledge that I still rely on today.
But there has always been a part of me that wished I could go back in time and find a way to teach myself then what I know now. Not so much because that business was so important, more because I can still identify with being that lonely, scared single mom with nowhere to go for the help I so desperately needed.
Quite honestly, that experience has been one of the biggest driving forces behind the creation and growth of Sparkplugging. I remember speaking at SOBCon 2007, and talking about why SEO was so important to me. Sure the traffic was great, but I said the real reason that I wanted people to find me was because I wanted to reach every other single mom living in her parents’ basement wondering how the heck she could create a better life for herself.
(OMG I am absolutely bawling my eyes out while I am writing this!)
Fast forward to last year, I had an idea to start an online university. One that taught things like blogging, eBay selling, freelancing skills, even crafting business classes. A university that was affordable for everyone that had access to a computer and could trim just a few bucks out of their grocery budget every month. And a university that taught people how to start businesses that took micro-amounts of money to get started.
In short, a university built for single moms living in their parents’ basements.
It took me a long time to figure out how to do it. At first it seemed like an insurmountable task. I just didn’t have the resources to do all of that work while running my own business. But thanks to my coach Marla for pushing me to get outside of my own self-imposed limits, I found a way to build it – with the help of the team of experts that were already behind me 100%.
On an emotional level, I am thrilled and excited to bring my dream to life.
On a professional level I am proud to have put together such a fantastic, quality resource for my community.
But on a spiritual level I feel like I am finally doing what I was put on this earth to do – getting real business help to those who need it the most.
I guess the good part of it for all of you, is that while SparkplugU was inspired by my past, you don’t have to be a single mom to benefit from what we have put together. We’ve launched with six classes that I know first hand that many of you have wanted to learn more about:
Fearless Financials – Getting Past Stuck with Starla Sireno
Organize Your Home Office for Maximum Productivity Workshop with Brandie Kajino
And this is just the beginning! I have so much planned for SparkplugU that my ideas keep me awake at night as I get excited all over again about what kind of impact we can make.
I truly feel blessed to have this opportunity to work on this with the Sparkplugging team and to work with you as SparkplugU grows. I feel humbled and honored that my authors have come together to help bring this idea to life, and even moreso I am grateful to all of you readers for your encouragement, support, links, Stumbles, tweets, calls, laughs and friendship.
Sparkplugging & SparkplugU wouldn’t be what it is today without you.