DEIDRE N. MATHIS "Owner of Wanderlust Houston, Budget Travel Book Author, Keynote Speaker, Budget Travel Expert, 36+ countries traveled"
Most stories I’ve read about successful millennial entrepreneurs start after the win; after the company, has opened, after the funds have been raised, after the first six figures have been earned.
While most of these stories are inspirational, motivational, and encouraging, they just don’t do IT for me. What is the IT? The IT encompasses the personal stories and experiences that made the company what it is today—the turmoil, heartaches, pains, and frustrations; the ups and downs of starting and building that company. The IT tells a story.
Let me share my story. My name is Deidre Mathis, world traveler of over 37 countries, author of the budget travel book, Wanderlust: For the Young, Broke Professional, and owner of Wanderlust Houston, a private and shared modern accommodation that will be opening soon in Houston. I was born and raised in Florida, attended graduate school in Maryland and upon earning my master’s degree, quit my “good government job” to embark on a gap year where I traveled to over a dozen countries solo. I always knew I was entrepreneurial, and I knew I would eventually run my own business. I just didn’t know how. I had a mediocre credit score, only a few thousand dollars saved, and no experience with writing a business plan. To accomplish this goal, I had to stop dreaming and start working.
First things first: debt. I called my creditors and arranged a debt elimination plan and began making small payments. Soon, my debts (excluding student loans) were all paid. I cut back on credit card spending, using only 10% or less of my credit limits, and I signed up for credit monitoring services to ensure my score was going to be protected. After one year, my score increased by more than 100 points and finally put me in the 700 club. I visited my local SCORE business centers and began working on my business plan. I entered local business plan competitions. My very first business plan was about 12 pages and, looking back in hindsight, it was pretty bad. But I refused to give up. After more than six months of late nights, hard work, and countless revisions, I had a viable business plan. I eventually won two of those business plan competitions, accumulating over $5,000 in prizes for my business.
The next step was, by far, the most stressful part of this journey: the money (it’s always the money, isn’t it?). I started an Indiegogo campaign to see if the community was even interested in my business idea, and they responded favorably. More than 80 supporters helped me raise $5,100. I met with a number of investors, some of which got me absolutely nowhere. After countless meetings, I received a gracious investment from a loved one that gave me the flexibility I needed. I soon met with local banks to shop my business plan and idea. I received positive feedback from two banks, both of which offered me six figure loans! Wow, this was really happening!
Last, but not least, was learning how to maintain a thriving personal life, all while dedicating most of my time to my entrepreneurial journey. Most of my friends have jobs where they physically go to work at 9AM, begin the day’s scheduled monotony, and clock out by 5PM. The more adventurous ones proceed to their nearest Happy Hour by 5:15. But my job is different. I don’t clock-in; I’m always on duty. I don’t drive to work or have to sit in rush hour traffic; my work is done from home or my neighborhood coffeeshop. Soon after starting this endeavor, I immediately noticed that people did not understand the constant work that goes into being a business owner. As an entrepreneur, my work is never done. So now, when I hear, “You don’t have a real job,” I think to myself, “No, I have the realest job.” I work for myself, and for this, I never clock out. My job includes 12 hour shifts, with no guarantee of health insurance or a paycheck. My days are spent in meetings and working behind a computer. It can be stressful, and the lack of sleep would leave others sidelined. But the fringe benefits are amazing.
My entrepreneurial journey is still evolving as I enter the next phase: renovation, marketing, and getting the word out about Wanderlust Houston. Now, when you read about our upcoming success I want you to come back and read this transparent article so you know that before the win came so much more!
Wanderlust Houston, Owner
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