Life has taught me that picking yourself up from your bootstraps isn’t just a decision -- sometimes, it’s the only option.
My story starts when I was 18 years old. Motivated by my dreams, I decided to leave my home and start my own family. This was a decision that required many sacrifices, but in spite of this I have been blessed with four wonderful daughters whom I love. I met my future husband and we were married. We welcomed four wonderful daughters into our home. Sadly, as happens often the happily ever after for my husband and I never came and we were separated. I decided to work to take care of my growing family of four lovely daughters.
Although I have mentally prepared myself to face difficult situations, I never could have prepared for what would become the most painful trial of my life.
Since I decided to separate from my husband, I have worked to make ends meet by both doing work for others and also my own work. I’ve always been able to make enough to make ends meet for my little family. Even without attending the Academy for Creating Enterprise, I was already practicing some of the golden rules I later learned, such as “have different suppliers” and “sell what people want to buy.” I even bought a motorcycle to help me work. Looking back, perhaps purchasing a motorcycle wasn’t the best decision.
Hardships and separation seemed to consume my family. One winter day, my daughter and I were in a terrible traffic accident. My second and beloved daughter, Shellen, passed away. I lost my left leg. This tore apart my dreams and my soul became very heavy. I found myself sinking into depression. It became so difficult that my family and ex-husband stepped in to help care for my girls. I felt this stage of loneliness and depression would always be a part of me. I didn’t know how I would get through.
It goes without saying how hard this was to go through, but somehow I gathered the strength I needed to work for the means required for my girls to return to live with me. One of my veterinarian friends offered to teach me how to make food for domestic animals. With much fear and trepidation, I decided to give it a try. In the middle of this, I learned about the Academy for Creating Enterprise. When I learned that the Academy offered classes for entrepreneurs, I was filled with hope. This gave me the strength I needed to pick myself up and start my own business.
One thing the Academy helped me with (that previously deterred me from starting a business) was my lack of funds. I took a class called “Start Now!” In this course, I learned to start with what I had now to create something. This concept stuck with me and helped me focus on what I needed to do rather than my circumstances. Now that I had made my product (domestic animal food), I needed to find clients. I started with two or three, and it gave me courage to keep going. I even had a vendor spot in our market. The Academy taught me to increase my capital and keep sufficient inventory. This can be difficult as my physical challenges increase my transportation cost and I also have to buy supplies and mix the correct dosages based on the animal species and age.
One of the most difficult things from starting my business was starting in the middle of a pandemic. In my eagerness to open our doors for business and take over the market, I have stumbled more than once implementing safety protocols for delivering products during COVID-19. Naturally, this has been a concern for me, as this creates costs while I have not raised the prices of my products, reducing my profit. I also do not have a computer, which presents another challenge for me. This makes it hard to implement marketing practices and grow my client base. However, I feel grateful that (up to this point) I have made sales, despite my lack of tools (I only have a cellphone). The Academy helped me develop a self-reliant mindset. This mindset sustains me through all the ups and downs of my business. The Academy has taught me to develop new relationships, marketing plans (even without a computer), and most importantly, how to create new bio-security protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since starting my business, I have only one goal in mind; living again with my wonderful daughters. I want to be able to financially support them, provide food, watch them grow by my side, and provide advice when they need a mother’s counsel. There is nothing that is more important to me than this. I am convinced I will succeed in this goal as I work harder to find more clients and make more sales, I will have enough to purchase a computer, which can help me with marketing and finding new clients.
I also need a mixer and grinder, but starting with something small has helped me save on costs. My goal is to purchase these in 17 months.
I dream of paying my own salary. This will allow me to take care of my daughters and do the things I need to do in my home, especially because right now the only place I have to live is a space my mom has shared with me so I can run my business. This is arduous work. Sometimes I falter because I worry there is so much to do and it doesn’t leave me any time to sell.
This year, I had the great opportunity to participate in the Academy Awards. The Academy Awards gives out prizes to some of the top business owners who have participated in the Academy program. This has been an amazing learning experience because I learned many new things, such as making videos with my mobile phone and reviewing the basics, etc. It was also helpful to not be so engrossed in my business for a moment and enjoy my time during the awards program. I feel very blessed that I received an award in the Top 5 for the Young Business category! I received 800 soles (250 dollars) and will use the award winnings to help grow my business.
Remember to never give up!