It was the summer of 2007, when the journey of entrepreneurship began for me. I was a transplant New Yorker, by way of Memphis, and I had no idea what I was actually getting myself into; I knew I had to do it. Simply put, I had a dream, and I jumped for it. I didn't pack a lunch, a blow up boat, not even a life jacket. I just jumped, and it was one of the absolute best decisions of my life.
That jump, seven years ago, has bloomed into a movement with a life of its own, impacting thousands of people I don't even know. From time to time, I receive emails from absolute "strangers" living states away from me, telling me how much they admire the work of Harlem's Fashion Row, and how inspired they are by the movement. In those instances, I just sit back and say "Wow." It reminds me of how important it was for me to make that jump.
Here's what I need you to get: You have a business inside of you. We all do. We were born with a purpose and calling for our lives. Most of the times, that calling comes so natural to us that we don't consider it a business idea. You might bake the best sweet potato pie (pie shop) or you might throw the best dinner parties (entertainment book) or maybe you know the ins-and-outs of the best underground treasures in New York (NY treasures website). Many of you have thought about taking the jump, and may have gone as far as actually writing out a plan. The easy part is conceptualizing, discussing and considering an idea. The most difficult thing you MUST do is to just jump.
Starting any business, or acting on an idea, brings up fear. Why? Because we have no idea what is on the other side of the jump. It's like walking in the dark. When we start a new venture there is no guarantee of what is down the road in three months, six months or even a year. We truly don't know what the future holds, ever. But if you never take the jump, you will never know what the future looks like with your dream in it.
Every step of Harlem's Fashion Row has been a jump. Every single step. Producing the first fashion show was a series of jumps that included cold calling for help, putting a downpayment (of my own money) on the venue, sending out invitations (not sure who would turn out) and sharing my vision for the company with the designers who took the jump with me. Taking that first series of jumps caused a great deal of fear that I had to feel and was necessary for my growth as a person and entrepreneur. I kept my eyes wide open and did it anyway. The fear will be there, and yes, you can do it.
You have everything you need. Take some time to look around you. Resources are everywhere. You have to start believing that.
So now, take a deep breathe and just jump.
Brandice Henderson has worked as a business consultant for the Harlem Business Alliance as well as conducted multiple speaking engagements throughout New York. She has been featured in New York Times, Essence.com, NY Daily News, NBC NY, Huffington Post, and BET 106 and Park for her work with Harlem's Fashion Row. She is now accepting registration for her new workshop, "The Cliff Jump," an interactive workshop that turns ideas into businesses with a hands on approach. Her next workshop will take place Saturday May 31, 2014.