November's peer group meetings will mark the last for Entrepreneurs Forever as facilitator Andrea Fitting makes her next pivot. A key contributor since the early days (How early? You’ll need both hands to count the years), Andrea is handing off her NINE peer groups this month as she embarks on her next journey, one filled with family, grandkids, and the kind of unknowns that Andrea thrives on. But before she breaks in those new running shoes, we sat her her down for a few farewell questions.
How did you become an entrepreneur?
It was 1985-ish. My parents were entrepreneurs. They said, “Don’t do it.” But I did. I started with calligraphy, and the work wasn’t very stimulating. However, as I worked with stores, I realized I had more knowledge about how to drive business than they did, so I started giving them advice. Eventually, I became a marketing consultant. Through my tenacity and the roller coaster ride of business ownership, we grew to become a multimillion-dollar agency.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in entrepreneurship?
Technology. It is allowing entrepreneurs to build faster and more profitably. There are more efficiencies now. When I started in business, you had to do everything by hand and didn’t have the tools now at your disposal. Attitudes are also shifting. People are driven to become business owners because of the lack of other viable options in their lives now. Work is not at the top of the list for Gen Z and Millennials — people want other things in their lives. Plus, people today start businesses for the freedom. After all, you are free to choose which 23 hours you want to work each day.
Can you share your favorite story about working with Entrepreneurs Forever members?
One business owner comes in and is frustrated. They’re about to throw in the towel. “I can’t do this. My family is constantly telling me to quit, get a job, it’s too hard, I can’t manage my time.” I say, “Instead of quitting altogether, what is the most important thing you can do that would give you more time ... or convince your family to back off?” About a week later, that business owner comes back to tell me: “I really would have hated giving up. I solved the problem.” Sometimes we need permission not to quit!
What’s next for you?
I always pivot. And I really don’t intend not to work anymore. I know myself well enough to know I won’t be happy just being Grandma. But right now, what I really know is that I want to shape my journey in a way that’s novel.
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Meet Nicole O’Brien, a member of Entrepreneurs Forever’s South Coast group.
Nicole’s business is selling the handiwork of veterans and other people connected to the military through her online and in-person shop called Operation Made. Or maybe you’d rather meet the other Nicole O’Brien, artist and crafts person who creates custom gifts from recycled license plates through her business Unique Pl8z.
That’s right: one person, two businesses.
To say Nicole puts a lot of herself into her business ideas is an understatement. Artist Nicole started Unique Pl8z because she wanted a gift that reflected all of the places where she and a friend had visited. Business owner Nicole started Operation Made because she was a former military spouse who spent most of her adult life moving from base to base, home to home, raising her children and knew firsthand how beneficial an additional source of income can be in that situation and how tough securing one becomes when you’re always on the move.
Even with two businesses and a product to produce, Nicole is still able to keeping her eye on growth. How do we know? Because last year, Nicole doubled the space of her retail shop, which is largely manned by members of the military community and with a loyal following of the same.