Today’s guest post comes from Laura Summersett. Laura graduated from Baylor University with a BA in Psychology in 1992. She served as head administrator for a missionary training program for 8 years, and then became a Master Cake Decorator in 2001. She began by decorating cakes as a hobby. Laura earned the title, Mom in 2001 with the birth of the most beautiful girl. She earned the title, Single Mom in 2004. Laura managed a dental office for 3 years, and took the leap into full-time business in 2008 with what has recently been renamed Sweetness Desserts. She borrowed/rented commercial kitchens long before that to do it, and has now opened/opening her first, very own bakery in September 2013!
Life has never been easy for me for very long. I survived the tumult of my teenage years by wearing a shirt I received from church camp that simply said, “DON’T GIVE UP.” It must have sunk in, because in spite of all life’s obstacles, including a failed marriage and the financial struggles of single motherhood, I have never stopped. I have slowed down, cried buckets, chosen to forgive, and learned to see the good in every situation—eventually. Though life has been difficult, it cannot stop my dreams; it only makes the journey take a little longer.
In my early twenties, I adopted John Maxwell’s perspective: “Leadership is influence.” Studying his book and learning that concept had a radical impact on my outlook. I am not one of the most charismatic or outspoken people you’ll meet, but I never underestimate the power of influence or my position as an influential leader. We all lead by influence, whether for good or bad. When my life is over, I want those who swam through the wake of my life-stream to honestly say they have been influenced for good through my life: influenced towards God, influenced toward hope, influenced to be full of thanksgiving, influenced to dream and to pursue their dreams, influenced to persevere until the end.
The second most powerful lesson I have learned in leadership is that I NEED others. American culture heralds the idea of the Lone Ranger: the one who always conquers, always rescues others, and never needs to be rescued. That only happens in the movies!
I had my own movie-like moment in 2010, and it drove this point home that I cannot succeed alone. It was year two of full time baking for me, and I was low on energy, vision, and cash. In addition, there were some very challenging family issues going on that had strained my emotions and further drained my energy. My habit was to get up each morning and exercise on the treadmill while praying, and during this season, my daily prayer for breakthrough was, “Lord, I don’t see it, I don’t feel it, but I choose to trust You, and today could be the day.” Each of those phrases was very true and very critical: I did not see hope, I did not feel hope, but I chose by an act of my will to trust that God would make a way for me.
After one such prayer on a Sunday morning, I went to church where our pastor was in the middle of a series on finances. He spoke about giving that morning: not merely tithing, but giving as there was need, and not just financial resources but time and talents as well. In the middle of the sermon, he totally surprised me and called me up on stage, told the congregation about my business dreams and single parent struggles, gave me $60 towards my business, and challenged the congregation to make up the difference. At the end of the service while we sang and individuals received prayer, people started coming up to me to hand me money. There were children with coins, businessmen with checks, single moms with grown kids who knew the struggles, and even visitors. I soon had too much money to hold in my hands, so a friend grabbed an empty tissue box for me to hold while people hugged me, encouraged me, and gave to me. My tears flowed down as the tissue box filled up by person after person showing their support in a tangible way. I have never sensed such love, affirmation, and an enormous “YES” for my business as I did that morning.
I left church that morning with three tissue boxes full of cash, checks, and change. I was so overwhelmed that I had to leave it all on my bed and eat lunch before going back in my room, seeing that it was actually still there, and counting it with my daughter. In that morning, I went from loneliness, isolation, and despair to suddenly having $10,000 worth of affirmation for my business. Wow! I still have people to this day ask about my business with vested interest because they were part of that very special morning. Though you may not experience anything so dramatic, realize that in order to reach your dreams, you need the support of others as much as I do!
Aside from this financial boost, there is no way my business could have grown to the point it has without the strategic business coaching I have received from my SOS business coach, Bill Moyer. His encouragement and input have been invaluable. I have excellent skills when it comes to baking and decorating cakes, but I am on a journey of developing skills to run a successful business. I would not be opening the doors of my very own bakery without his guidance.
Every entrepreneur should adopt this philosophy I learned from a home sales company and have proven through my experience in growing Sweetness Desserts: you are in business for yourself but not by yourself. If you’re in business by yourself, it’s time to get some help!
Visit Laura’s website at http://sweetnessdesserts.com/
Email Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org