Good City Chicago Women's Innovation Fund
When you run your own business, you get used to the role of problem solver. Recently, a friend of mine opened a co-working space in Logan Square. At the opening party I asked how he was feeling and he said, “I’ve solved so many awful problems during the buildout, I sort of feel like I can do anything”. This sums up the the entrepreneurial startup experience perfectly. When you’re planning, you spend weeks upon months (and for some, years), mapping everything out. You’re talking about branding and programs you’ll offer and who your ideal customer will be. Once you start, you can’t believe how much all that big picture thinking goes out the window when your opening (and thousands of dollars) is dependent on whether or not the right size light switch covers come in, or whether or not your domain transfers over before your registration opens. By the time you’re open for business you’ve solved a year’s worth of “regular job” problems in 2 weeks, and yeah, you can kinda do anything. That’s not to say you’re equipped to do anything, but starting a business quickly numbs you to the pain of things not going properly so your emotional response starts to level out. You become comfortable taking risks because you no longer fear how it will feel to experience the outcome. If you work in education, you know this experience as “grit”. If you don’t, you know it as the reason you feel both powerful and exhausted at the same time.
With all this numbing and risk taking and proverbial ordering of light switch covers can also come a feeling of isolation. How do you know if you’re making the right choices when you’re rapid fire problem solving? How do you know which problems take precedence when everything needs solving yesterday? And someday down the line, how do you train other people to order your company’s light switch covers? Last month, I found out I would be one of 5 women to receive Good City’s Women’s Innovation Fund award. Of course, this is an amazing and humbling honor and I’m proud to stand among these great women. Above and beyond the award, Good City is doing it exactly right because they know what real entrepreneurs need. It’s not just money - it’s a partner in problem solving and that’s why each woman receiving the award is also given a year of professional coaching. The experience of meeting and working with my coach has already been transformative. I’m suddenly incredibly aware of how difficult it is for me to admit I need help or don’t know the answers, while simultaneously realizing how powerful it is to know you have a neutral partner in decision making.
Thank you, thank you to Good City for granting me this opportunity (you can learn how to support them here). And for those entrepreneurs deciding whether or not to hire a coach, consider this a strong endorsement. If you’re in Chicago and you need somewhere to start, here’s where our Women’s Innovation coaches are from: http://www.startingupnow.com.