The Betrayal, The Bank, and The Babies

by Dawn Olivares

The Betrayal, The Bank, and The Babies

What final touch of insanity puts you over the edge to start a business? Circumstances, ambition, lifestyle choices, job security, and financial freedom are just some of the reasons that come to mind. Personally, self-employment wasn't my first career choice but, I chose this road for all of the above.

After my first child was born, I felt emotionally torn between being a great Advertising Art Director, with all the excitement and long hours accompanying the title, and June Cleaver, the quintessential perfect "Mom". The turning point occurred during a critical deadline when I received a phone call from the day care center stating that my 1 year old was very sick and had to be picked up immediately. Not being at liberty to leave, I simply called my husband. He refused for no other reason than he felt it was not his responsibility! To make a long story short, after exhausting all other options I left in the middle of the deadline. My superiors declared me unreliable and unprofessional for doing so, and, just like that, no more job. Up to that point I had been considered a valuable asset to the agency.

I felt betrayed by those around me and in despair questioned everything from my professionalism and career choice to my marriage and parenting skills. I desperately needed to find an acceptable compromise between personal priorities and career goals yet still meet my financial obligations. Hence, the idea to create Dawn Olivares - Advertising & Graphic Design, a home-based Advertising Agency and Graphic Design Studio that would provide creative services to the small and mid-sized business community.

Ideas are easy, however, turning them into reality proved a bit more difficult. It seemed as if the list of questions went on forever. Was there a demand for my services? How much should I charge? How would I locate clients? How would I finance startup? What did I need to know about business structure, accounting, taxes, legalities and insurance? How would I handle my spouse's lack of support? What if I failed? And, when I learned the answer to one question it forced me to ask another twelve. I read every business and marketing book I could find yet still walked around with my head reeling at the sheer volume of what I didn't know.

After five long years of finding answers, working unfulfilling jobs, and preparing I finally felt ready. With a huge smile on my face, I tendered my last written resignation on my company letterhead. From the word go every day offered something new and exciting and for a brief time I was truly happy. Unfortunately, as my business grew, so did the problems in my marriage. Once again, I found myself in a lose, lose situation where I had to choose between family and career, except this time I refused to allow someone else influence my priorities. I took a leap of faith and kept the business, the kids, and the house. I haven't looked back.

    *To anyone thinking about starting a business or becoming self-employed consider the following advice.

    *To succeed you have to set goals you believe in and be able to motivate yourself to reach them.

    *Define your own idea of success. It's personal and different for everyone.

    *Believe in yourself and your ideas. Your own negativity is your worst enemy with naysayers ranking a close second.

    *You will make mistakes so get over ALL of them now. Mistakes are nothing more than a learning opportunity.

    *Forget you even have a "comfort zone."

    *Treat your customers with respect and do not make promises you can't keep.

    *Negative publicity works faster and lasts longer. The customer is not always right but if one walks away mad you can be sure a lot of people will hear about it.

    *Hire professionals to handle the areas of business you do not understand, especially in accounting. The IRS will appreciate it.

    *Develop a marketing plan that uses a variety of techniques and stick with it even when business is booming.

    *Every time you hand out a business card, send a letter or leave behind a brochure make sure it presents a professional image. It doesn't have to be expensive but, if it looks cheap, that's the image the prospect will walk away with.

You may notice that half my advice involves emotional issues. There are literally thousands of books written by experts on the subject of marketing and business startups but, what you cannot learn from a book is how you will react as a business owner. If you cannot keep yourself "up" when business is down, and the thought of doing without a regular paycheck makes you break out in hives, this isn't for you. On the other hand, if you thrive on challenges and change, you are bound to succeed.

Now that I'm celebrating my seventh year in business I look back and reflect. Would I do it all again? Certainly! I've experienced an enormous sense of personal and professional growth and have successfully weathered some pretty severe downs. I work long hours but, I have the freedom to be flexible, I'm here for my children when they need me, I earn as much as I want or as little as I need, and I wear so many hats I don't have time to be bored. I'm happy. What more could I ask?

Dawn Olivares is the owner of Dawn Olivares -Advertising & Graphic Design, providing print advertising, graphic design and printing services to small- to medium-sized businesses. Phone: 770-925-2021 e-mail: