This is a guest post by Vernetta Freeney, one of the most active and effective networking women I’ve ever met online. Please welcome Vernetta to the HBW Community!
As I write this for you, I can honestly say I am in a happy place in my professional career. But it hasn’t always been that way. In fact, the last two years have been one of the roughest stretches. Let me take you back where my transition began. In 2010, I was a first grade teacher. I loved my job. My kids were amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better year. But rumors started to circulate that things in education were changing and they would never be the same.
From a Stable Career to Being Forced to Resign
I didn’t worry because I’d always received better than normal evaluations. The next semester, I was told that I needed to be careful. My name was on the chopping block. I was alarmed because again, I had great evaluations and my kids always performed well. Well, I received the letter stating I needed to schedule a meeting with my principal. I was struck with confusion. We met and he said a lot of untrue things. Many believed that he and his supervisors were upset at a blog post I had written in 2009. To be honest, if I had to do it all over again, I still would have written the blog post. Anyway, I had my union rep on campus come with me to the meeting. She looked shocked as well with what was being said. I resigned from teaching during that meeting with tears in my eyes. I rushed out and locked myself in the restroom and cried. I could not believe that after nine years in education this was how it was going to end. I finished the year per my contact.
Figuring Out What to Do Next
During the summer, I began to seek options on what to do next. I had no Plan B. That was a big mistake. I could not find another teaching job. All of the districts were tightening up due to budget cuts statewide. I eventually found a contract position teaching English as a Second Language to corporate employees in the oil and gas industry. Since it was only contact work, I had so much time on my hands. I would go to the public library between students and just read. I would read anything related to business. After losing my job the way I did, I knew I never wanted that to happen again. I knew my only option was to be an entrepreneur. But I had no clue what I wanted to do. So, I would read books on things that interested me in hopes that maybe I found something I could pursue as a business.
In August of 2011, I came across Happy Black Woman. I saw she was doing her 31 Days to Reset Your Life Challenge. I waited until September to start with the next cycle. By this time a friend and my mom said I should start blogging again to occupy my time. I think I was annoying them because I was extremely bored with so much time on my hands.
Making the Decision to Start Women Are Gamechangers
During the challenge, it just struck me. All of the exercises Rosetta had us doing really helped me see that I should start my business now and not wait. So one night around midnight, I was up Googling adjectives I thought described women. All of the clichés were taken. The word “gamechanger” just came to me out of the blue. It had to be God. So I Googled the word. The only things that came up were athletes and Nike. I thought to myself: women are gamechangers. Well, that’s how I got the name for my blog, Women Are Gamechangers!
My blog originally started off with the intent to share stories of everyday women. Eventually, I was asked to do work and get paid for it so I filed as an LLC. I began to start changing the direction of the blog from just telling stories and sharing empowerment messages to focusing more on business. Attending events, I noticed a lot of women weren’t handling themselves effectively while networking. I read a book by Vickie L. Milazzo called Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman. I had heard both she and Stedman Graham speak in 2011 at the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey. The last chapter in Vickie’s book was called “Fusion.” She wrote about how she helped connect her friends to each other. I realized that I had been doing that for as long as I could remember! So, I created a networking event called “Fusion.”
A New Direction for My Life and Business
This was the direction I knew I wanted my new business to go in. I learned a lot of lessons in 2012 as a full-time entrepreneur. The most important lesson I learned was not to do something for others even if they were paying me just because I was good at it. I needed to do something I was passionate about. Towards the end of 2012, I reevaluated my goals and direction for Women Are Gamechangers. I shut everything down. I needed clarity. All of this was still new to me. I was so used to working in a structured system that I had not created a system for Women are Gamechangers. I created one during that time I shut my business down.
This year, I am more focused and determined to build Fusion into a national tour. I am starting with six cities. But I would never be in the happy place I am today, doing what I enjoy if I did not go through the traumatic experience of being forced to resign from the job I thought I loved. That led to a new door being opened that fits my skills, interests and talents much better. Being an entrepreneur is not easy. It probably never will be.
But I am using the skills and talents I have to make a difference in the lives of women and getting paid to do so.
Vernetta R. Freeney is an award winning business blogger and entrepreneur based in Houston, Texas. Check out her blog, Women Are Gamechangers and her upcoming 6-city Fusion Tour for women entrepreneurs.