As a full-time volunteer and founder of a new nonprofit organization (The World is Your Oyster), I have to juggle daily eight-hour commitment of my day job with the commitment of my own nonprofit. But this is the life of a “practical dreamer”: someone who is in the process of taking on entrepreneurship while maintaining a 9-5 (or traditional job) until the entrepreneurship yields enough financial returns to be full-time.
Yet beyond my drive to launch a social venture, I have found that being around like-minded individuals is a great source of inspiration, motivation, and action. To that end, I had the pleasure of interviewing a fellow social entrepreneur, Georgianna Pinto to get her perspective on being a practical dreamer, the benefits of it, and the challenges. Georgianna is a fellow millennial with a new social enterprise, Arienne. According to Georgianna, the goal of Arienne, which is launching later this year, is to provide a roadmap for aspiring female entrepreneurs who want to start their businesses online.
Georgianna has a schedule that is probably more jam-packed than my own – but like all of us practical dreamers, she’s committed to making it work.
Q: Georgianna can you tell us about how the idea for Arienne came about?
A: While studying Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, I was surrounded by amazingly talented, intelligent, ambitious women as my peers. However, as we went out into the work world, I noticed that their entrepreneurial dreams and aspirations were put on the back burner and replaced with too little time and too much stress. In college, we founded The Walk Magazine and did a million activities just because we could. But now I understand how hard it is to start something with a full-time job and to feel stifled, creatively. Arienne not only allows me to combine my interest in online marketing with my background in web development, it is my creative outlet.
Q: You mentioned that now you understand how difficult it is to balance working full time and launching Arienne. What challenges have you experienced and how did your motivation help you?
A: Well, initially, I started building web sites as a hobby for my personal projects and friends and family. Then, when I started taking on more clients, I found it helpful to transition to working part-time so that I would have reliable income while getting the hang of acquiring new clients consistently.
On the other hand, having more free time on your hands can be a double-edged sword. You have to make sure to be productive with your new-found freedom. When you are under the pressures of the corporate world or whatever your situation may be, its can be easy to say what you would do if you just had the time. You have to be very disciplined and focused to set measurable goals for yourself. As they say, if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.
Q: Great advice! Before I ask for more, I’m curious about the roses (the good) and thorns (the challenges) of being a young social entrepreneur?
A: The best part about being a young entrepreneur is being able to realize your potential. I figure you can’t score the points if you’re not even in the game, right? Entrepreneurship is exciting to me. It’s all about changing your mindset and dreaming bigger. I realized that no matter what job I had, even if I loved it, there would always be someone else that owned that job. Why couldn’t that person be me?
It has been challenging as a young person, to position myself as an expert- and to communicate my knowledge in a way that supports my business. I have to make sure that I accomplish my goals first, then teach others. I think the most difficult part about being a young entrepreneur is executing on your ideas in a way that is beneficial to an actual market. Sometimes we don’t have as much insider industry experience to guide our ideas but as an entrepreneur you have to be committed to figuring out what works and pivot if you need to.
The benefit of an online business is that you don’t have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to open a store to then figure out if your products will sell. Many of the best online marketing tools are free.
Q: Once again, great news we can use as “practical dreamers” what are some other words of wisdom and resources that you use in your work?
A: Two pieces of advice would be to seriously consider not just “being your own boss,” but really research the business model that you want to build your company around and actually get to know your market. You can write an entire business plan based on your own assumptions without ever talking to an actual customer. Many times in business plan competitions they will ask, “Have you actually asked anyone if they would pay you for this?” You may think you have a million dollar idea in a billion dollar market, but if you fail to reach out and touch anyone, you don’t have a business.
In addition, having an active blog is definitely a way to gain exposure and position yourself as a thought leader, however – consistency is key and it is easy to get burned out on a daily posting schedule that you can’t keep up with. I see blogging as a tool, and it can generate strong leads for your business; but sometimes bloggers who write without business goals have trouble monetizing their site. The Arienne blog will be launching later this year to specifically coincide with opening the site up to new members. It is important that your analytics look at what is driving traffic to your blog and which “calls-to-action” are most effective.
Obviously, I’m a big supporter of online business models: digital products, subscriptions, and anything that is scalable and gives you the freedom to travel or work from anywhere- but most importantly, do your research!
Q: I’ve definitely found research and social media to be key for TWIYO as well! What are your go to resources and do you have any final words of advice for the “practical dreamers” reading this?
A: Three resources I refer to constantly are the Hubspot blog, Copyblogger, and The Next Web. I also read HBR.org and the American Express OPEN Forum frequently. I wouldn’t recommend leaving your existing job without savings and a clear plan of what you are going to accomplish. If I had to sum up the more important things I would say planning, research and knowing your target audience are essential to making entrepreneurship happen!
Interested?! For more information about Arienne (pronounced “R-E-N”) visit www.Arienneonline.com, email email@example.com and follow @Arienneonline. To learn more about Georgianna Pinto visit www.georgiannapinto.com.
Anne is currently serving a year in Americorps’ Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) program as a Communications/Development Associate at Urban Dove. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of her own youth development nonprofit – The World is Your Oyster launching this fall. Read all of Anne’s post on YNPN-NYC.