Elaine Rau is the founder of LadyBossBlogger.com. She covers inspiring stories of women’s entrepreneurship on her blog. In this article, she shares her entrepreneurial story.
Before starting LadyBossBlogger.com, I was in the wedding industry in Chicago. I had worked my way up the corporate ladder and in two short years went from being a sales rep to working as the National Wedding Sales Manager for a global photo and video company.
My job was my life, and I loved it because I loved what I did.
I worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I always had my phone on me and took calls at all hours, literally from when I woke up in the morning to when I closed my eyes at night.
I was blinded by my drive and didn’t realize I was burning myself out.
Then one day my husband (who was living in Honduras at the time) called me to tell me that his brother… had just been murdered. I was devastated and unsure what to do, but what I did know was that I had to be there for him during this time. So I asked my boss if I could go see him… and you know what he said? “No. It will affect your work, and we need you to be 100% focused right now.”
That was the exact moment I realized that my boss didn’t care about me at all.
Even after I had dedicated my life to the company, worked remotely during the holidays, and was always coming up with inventive ideas to drive more sales… I wasn’t even able to get a few days to go bury my husband’s brother. So I decided to quit, pack up my entire life in one suitcase and move to Honduras!
However, my boss WOULDN’T LET ME QUIT.
I had to hire a lawyer to help me quit. I know this may sound crazy and you’re thinking why didn’t you just leave? Part of the reason was that I still felt responsible for my clients I booked and couldn’t just leave them. But another reason which was unknown to me at the time was that I was in a terrible place emotionally after working there for two years.
Imagine having your ideas, no matter how big or small, get devalued and pushed aside every single day. Imagine working in the wedding industry which caters to women, but being surrounded by all male employees under a company all run by men.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against men.
But working in that environment day in and day out really took its toll on me. I was terrified of my boss (who was the owner’s son), I never knew if he would blow up at me that day or even yell at my clients. I was always walking on eggshells hoping it was going to be a good day. I had zero self-confidence and believed that this job was the end all be all for me. Finally, when I was able to quit, I cried for a week from relief. Then I moved down to Honduras.
Unfortunately, it was not as smooth a transition as I had imagined it would be.
I had left my home, my friends and my job (which had become a huge part of my identity) and had moved to a foreign third world country where I didn’t speak the language or understand the culture. Also, all my “job skills” I had acquired were useless there. I started to feel lonely and regretted my spontaneous decision. Ironically, I had moved to be there for my husband, but being the most caring and most amazing man that he is, he ended up being there more for me.
He encouraged me to take this time to find out who I was and who I wanted to be.
So I decided to start a blog to focus my thoughts, occupy my mind and help me find purpose again. I remembered back in Chicago when I lived in Greektown, I had met so many amazing entrepreneurs who were making tons of money and doing what they loved and I wanted to do that as well!
I decided to write about who I wanted to be… a female entrepreneur!
I didn’t know the first thing about entrepreneurship and couldn’t afford a mentor, so I joined online entrepreneur forums, created an interview with targeted questions and sent it to several female entrepreneurs to gain insight from them. I started posting their interviews on my blog and learned something new from every interview I received.
I realized that my interview series was interesting to other people as well when I saw how many views and shares I was getting per post. At that moment, I realized that I was creating something of value not just for myself but for other people as well!
Using my background in sales, I crafted a sales packet to market my interviews.
I sent it out to some leads, and it came back a BIG HIT! I couldn’t believe it! Female entrepreneurs from all over started flooding my inbox asking to be interviewed… and that was the day I made my first entrepreneurial dollars.
I decided to interview myself since I had officially become an online entrepreneur and it got 183 shares on Facebook alone! You can check out my interview here which will also lead you to the blog where you can explore other interviews and posts!
Readers can connect with Elaine through her blog ladybossblogger.com