Ashley’s Current Anthem: Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls)
I’ve always been a fearful person, partly due to my big imagination. I don’t need a lot of inspiration in order for my mind to take off in a million directions. As a child, I’d convince my mother to let me watch America’s Most Wanted even though I’d be scared for days. My grandmother tells stories about taking me to the grocery store. I’d wander off to another aisle and promptly freak out when I realized I was alone. During my first trip to the beach, I was terrified of the waves and stayed on shore while my cousin splashed happily in the Gulf of Mexico.
Fear will paralyze you dead in your tracks. So will self-doubt.
My love affair with writing started as soon as I could pick up a crayon. English was always my favorite subject in school, and my first journalistic experience was serving as a “TV reporter” at my elementary school. I began writing for my high school paper even before the first day of ninth grade. It’s little wonder that I declared Journalism as my major in college. Writing was the only thing I ever wanted to do. Then I began working as an editor at a business magazine. I fell in love with stories about entrepreneurship, and even earned a Master’s degree in the subject as a result.
Six months after my graduation, I was laid off from the magazine. It was then that I started to think seriously about making a business from writing. I’d written magazine articles on the side since I was 19, but could I make a real business out of it? I wrote for publications and companies off and on for about two years, but was too chicken to pursue it full-time. I was intimidated by the feast-or-famine nature of freelance writing. I wanted the comfort of a paycheck every two weeks and worked 9 to 5 gigs as a technical writer, marketing manager and public relations professional. I kept entrepreneurship at a safe distance, preferring to interview business owners, but not believing I was ready to become one. Still, entrepreneurship continued to tug at me. I devoured my copies of Inc Magazine and Fast Company as soon as they arrived in my mailbox, read business blogs while munching on my breakfast and, somehow, kept attracting communications clients.
In March 2011, I finally decided to finally to jump in. I dove head-first into entrepreneurship, and it really was sink or swim. But a crazy thing happened — I succeeded. I told my off-and-on clients that I was pursuing the business full-time, and the projects came pouring in. Clearing my mind of fear made room for incredible opportunities. I started to meet just the people I needed, and finally feel like I’m on the right path.
I was scared of entrepreneurship for so long, but didn’t realize that I’ve always had an affinity for business. I typed up construction proposals for my dad starting at age 10. Growing up on the sugary white sands of the Florida Panhandle, I’d fill my plastic pail to the brim with seashells, turn them into jewelry, and sell them from my grandma’s porch. I was the kid who sold the most candy for the Beta Club, hosted garage sales for my mom and sold my books on Amazon.com to make extra dinero. I finally realized that I was the one thing holding myself back from starting a business. Now, the possibilities are endless!
Advice from Ash
- Act. I’m a brainiac who likes to research a topic to death before making a move. I’m a perfectionist and I hate being wrong. But as Elbert Hubbard said, “The man who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.” Have a dream? Put it on paper, add some deadlines and do one thing every day to get you closer to achieving your goal.
- Pick your price, and stick to it. If you don’t value your services, no one else will. Once you give away the farm, it’s hard to start charging. You have to be your biggest advocate. No one can negotiate for you.
- Good enough is good enough. Ask questions to really zero in on your clients’ needs. Anything and everything can be improved, but don’t obsess on being an over-achiever on every project. Find out what your client needs and deliver it.
- Eat the frog. Procrastination is costly. Do your most critical task or the one you’re dreading the most first in your work day.
Ashley Cisneros is a Florida-based professional storyteller and creative strategist.
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