By Nicole Sado / For The Journal-Standard
Are you ready to jump? That’s the first question you need to answer as an entrepreneur. The answer has to have action, of course. I like to say that I “put the universe on notice” in the fall of 2013 when I spoke these words out loud: “I want to do something on the internet that will help all nonprofits.”
Yep, that’s how vague it was. I didn’t know what exactly; I just knew this was weighing heavy on my heart and mind for months and I needed to do something about it. After jumping, that first step is a doozy. An entrepreneur has to start moving forward, which means taking steps. None of the steps come in the same size; some feel more like baby steps, while others are like stretching across a crevasse.
Some of my steps were scribbling on a notepad what I wanted my site to look like and finding a web developer; others were traveling the country doing market research and understanding my customers. The key is, you have to keep moving.
People will give you directions, also known as advice. Listen to it all. You wouldn’t be able to act on every piece of advice and you shouldn’t, at least not right away. I have been so blessed to start this entrepreneurial venture in Freeport! It is a more supportive environment than I could’ve imagined! Thank you to everyone who has put in the time to learn and support me through this. Some of the advice I have in the back of my mind or written down for when the time is right. Some I took immediately, like when I was given the information about the NIU EIGERlab.
In 2015, I was one of the finalists in the NIU EIGERlab FastPitch competition. I won the inaugural Dale Faulkner Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award. This was a key step as it came with a one-year membership to the NIU EIGERlab Business Incubation/Co-working space.
For that year, I had the opportunity to analyze what I’ve been doing for the last two years and answer the, “What’s next?” question. Sometimes, moving means pivoting and going in a new direction. Which is what I did in January 2016, when NonProfitTHRIVE.com was conceived. I was, for all intents and purposes, starting over. Now what? Keep moving forward.
Keep moving forward meant more steps, with more commitment and investment. I stopped seeing patients (I’m a chiropractor by profession), found a new web development company, and every day meant tweaking and redefining.
Every step in the process is so important and timed perfectly, as I know that this is bigger than me. I recently finished a seven-week intense business-acceleration program with gBETA of Beloit, a division of Genor8tor, a nationally ranked accelerator that invests in high-growth startups.
To say this experience was amazing is an understatement. The next steps … I’d love to tell you more.
Nicole Sado is founder/CEO, NonProfitTHRIVE