Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Making It as an Entrepreneur: 3 Important Lessons

Filed under: Work — by at 9:00 am on Thursday, June 24, 2010

I was asked to write a newsletter article for the Douglas College Self-Employment Program, from which I am a graduate. I’m sharing it here too – it explains why blog posts have been sparse lately.

Without any employment opportunities appearing on the horizon in the fall of 1998 – no doubt my cerebral palsy and wheelchair scared off potential employers – I plunged into the Self-Employment Program. My business idea was to work with businesses and organizations to improve accessibility of their websites. By making their websites accessible, businesses would increase the number of people, including 10% of the population living with various disabilities, capable of accessing their sites and, in turn, increase their customer base, translating into increased profits. Their corporate image would also improve because no group, including their own employees with disabilities, would be excluded from using the website.

By March, I had landed my first paying project with a local dot com company. My task was to develop guidelines for choosing website colour schemes readable by people who are colour blind. I was to write a report on a topic I knew absolutely nothing about. Fake it till you make it became my new mantra.

Next came a contract for choosing colour schemes to be used on the Government of British Columbia’s website. Seeing my colour schemes on the provincial government’s site, I felt I had accomplished something of significance for those people living with colour blindness.

With those two small projects under my belt, I thought I was on a roll. But I soon realized it was beginner’s luck. Over the years I landed several contracts; some of which were related to web accessibility, many of which were not. However, with these varied projects, my husband and I saved enough for a down payment for a condo, a home we’re still enjoying today.

Over time websites changed and other programming languages were added to the mix. I began feeling this red-headed chick wasn’t geeky enough to keep up with the pace of technology. Although I was still passionate about making websites accessible so that people with disabilities could use and benefit from the web, I was less and less confident that I could provide clients with the depth of expertise they required and that one day I would be “found out”.

Around that time I discovered blogging and set to learning as much as I could.  I was content diving into this exciting, new phenomenon. Yet, paying projects still landed in my lap without needing to chase after them, constantly pulling me back into the web accessibility field.

After a lengthy internal tug-o-war, last year I decided to combine my two passions by bringing the web accessibility concepts and techniques to the blogging community. Since then I have been full speed ahead!

Last week I launched Blog Accessibility Mastermind – a six-lesson online course designed to introduce bloggers to web accessibility. Also on my over-heaping plate are two web accessibility audits to conduct – both repeat clients, one of which is a blogger; two speaker proposals to write for upcoming blogger conferences in the States; and, one presentation on blogging and people with disabilities to prepare for a conference in Virginia – all in less than six weeks!

After struggling at being self-employed for nearly twelve years, I finally have a crystal clear picture and plan of where I am headed; one I am excited and passionate about.

Through this entrepreneurial journey, I’ve learned three important lessons:

  • Being self-employed doesn’t mean always doing things myself. There are ways to collaborate and work with others, even on a thinly worn shoestring budget.
  • To surround myself with supportive and knowledgeable people who I can go to with questions and to act as sounding boards. Likewise, I need to give freely of my own expertise and experience.
  • To be continually learning, whether it be new and innovative marketing strategies, how to use the newest social media tools, or keeping up with changes in web accessibility.

Earlier this week I heard “Entrepreneurship is controlled chaos.” Very true. But, man, what a ride it is! I am glad I’m not stuck at a boring 9-to-5 job!

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Comment by Barbara

June 24, 2010 @ 6:08 pm

I am glad you are not either, Glenda. If I thought there would be any reliable means of obtaining the data, it would be great to know how many people you have already ‘opened the door’ for to enter the internet.

Comment by karen

June 24, 2010 @ 7:59 pm

Hurray Glenda! Congrats on the marvelous successes. I’m reserving time for a celebratory dinner (complete with those chocolate cupcakes with dark chocolate ganache frosting) that I’ve posted on your facebook page, for after this chaos subsides and/or you find an evening to spare!

(of course plenty of leftovers for the freezer)

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