Becoming an Entrepreneur: Taking a Leap of Faith
Like many of us, Darryl Howard spent 30 years working in corporate America until one day he realized that his career was stagnant and his work was not fulfilling his needs. I met Darryl at a networking event in the Raleigh area in early 2009 and a month or so later I received a two sentence email that read, “OK Bill, my career is in the dumps and I know I need a change. Are you willing to work with a middle aged, tired sales guy that thinks he wants to do something different?” Within a month, Darryl and I started working together to clearly illuminate what was missing for Darryl, what was holding him back from pursuing his dreams, and to develop an action plan toward finding his purpose and passion in life. Darryl worked hard and dug deep within himself and is now the proud owner of Space Logix, a collaborative, co-working facility located in Greensboro NC with a mission “to deliver a welcoming, dynamic and environmentally friendly workspace – at the lowest possible cost – that energizes the business professional and provides the necessary amenities to promote creativity and productivity.”
I recently sat down with Darryl to have him share his journey and the lessons he has learned about himself and about going from a long career in Corporate America to being a business owner, an entrepreneur.
How long were you in corporate America working for someone else? How many companies did you work for throughout your career?
I spent over 30 years in corporate America. My entire career was spent in the technology sector concentrating in internet equipment sales and services. I worked for 9 different companies during my career.
What did you like most about being part of a company, a larger organization?
Extensive training and advancement opportunities due to the high growth rate of the industry. Additionally, the income level that supported my family, including the cost of higher education for my children and all those weddings, certainly was a great thing about being part of a larger organization.
When did it stop being enjoyable or gratifying? Why?
Probably around my early 50’s. The work started to become routine and I felt like I had done it all before and could not see anything meaningful for myself down the road. During a two year period, I quit four jobs because I felt they were not a fit for me. Basically, I was the one that was unhappy in my career.
How many years did it take you to make the leap of faith to venture out on your own? What were your beliefs, people, situations, etc. that were holding you back? Describe your life during that period of time.
It was about a three year period before I went out on my own. It was the most difficult time of my life. I was unhappy with what I was doing, I did not understand why everything didn’t seem to be working and I was not facing up to the fact that my life was in turmoil. Once I let go and realized the truth of my situation, I was able to put my foot forward and make a new start.
What were the primary motivations, beliefs, people, situations, etc. that enabled or supported you to take the “plunge” into working for yourself?
My primary motivation was I needed to be in a creative environment and be creating something daily. I also needed to be surrounded by people to share ideas and collaborate with as well as to help others be successful. My wife was my biggest supporter. My faith as well helped me work through this time of transition. And last but not least, my personal coach brought to the surface what my true passion was by holding up the “mirror” to my face for me to evaluate my life and to see my blind spots that were holding me back.
Your newly launched business, Space Logix, didn’t happen overnight. Briefly explain the process you went through to make this dream a reality. Offer some lessons to the many aspiring entrepreneurs out there.
Diligence and research is my advice for anyone starting a business. The time I spent from concept, to business plan, to research and final execution was a total of two years. Once I opened the doors to Space Logix I realized that the “real” work as far as finding customers and supporting them was just beginning. And, the most important thing you can do to help you with success is to seek advice. There are some good resources that are out there and can help you with your strategic business plan. Look into the SBTDC, developmental coaching firms, along with community colleges and universities in your area.
Now that your doors have been open for business for about 3 months, what keeps you up at night? How do you deal with these issues?
Of course the concern with covering the financial overhead keeps me up at night. Action is what keeps me going. Never stopping long enough to worry and always thinking about what I can do better is what gets me through each day. Also, having great clients working at Space Logix and bringing their positive energy to my business help keeps me motivated.
Has it been worth it thus far? Why?
Absolutely! I get up every day with a purpose. At one time a few years ago I did not. Of course there is fear associated with the uncertainty of tomorrow but now I am in charge of my own destiny.
In closing, if you are at a “crossroads” in your career and are needing some help navigating the transition, please give myself or my partner Dave a call for a free consultation to explore whether we may be of assistance.