The Power of Dreams: Making a Difference as a Detroit Entrepreneur

Opinion

Those born and raised in Detroit are used to defying expectations, but making your dreams a reality is never an easy task. It involves overcoming both personal and professional hardships, which is why I named my business Make Your Dreams Come True (MYDCT). Inspired by what I wanted to do for both myself and others, I knew no other name would truly fit my vision for my business.

Business owners can play a special role in the city of Detroit. Being our own bosses means we have the power to enact change in our communities. While part of my work involves helping to enlarge Detroit’s circle of entrepreneurs through business coaching, I also strive to empower and inspire entrepreneurs outside of just building their brands.

MYDCT provides business support services, such as branding and design, to aspiring entrepreneurs, small businesses, and Fortune 500 companies. But back in 2006, at the age of 23, I worked an uninspiring day job just like many of my peers. I then discovered that as an employee, through my selling methods, I had generated $1 million for my employer over the course of six months. I decided it was time for me to take the road less traveled, start my own business, and live out my dream of being a boss.

Looking back, 2006 may not have been the opportune time to launch a company, with the national and local economies each posing their own challenges. We dealt with many employment hardships: with all the layoffs, many people were struggling to pay essential bills and required guaranteed employment, something a fledgling company like mine could not always provide. But I had a strong support system and colleagues who believed in my capabilities.

Even with their support, I experienced high employee and contractor turnover and had difficulty finding the funds to expand operations or reliable non-monetary business resources. These were some of the reasons I began looking for ways to develop my business myself, including building my company’s website.

Today, web design and digital support services are at the heart of MYDCT. However, this wasn’t always the case. When I launched my company, we didn’t have the funds to hire a professional web designer, so I decided to use a website builder to design the site myself. After trying a few different options, I finally chose Wix. That was when I realized how easy it is to build a website, and I started to incorporate this service into MYDCT.

Entrepreneurs know that their businesses are bound to surprise them. I never expected to call myself a professional web designer, but I’m proud to say that I’m now Detroit’s Wix Ambassador As an ambassador, I provide my local community free workshops on how they can create a beautiful and professional online presence, as well as help with search engine optimization (SEO), collaborating with others, and how to effectively market a business, amongst others. (People can learn about future workshops by visiting the MYDCT website.)

People love seeing their websites for the first time. Many of these businesses don’t have a physical location, so a digital presence gives them a visual platform and helps enterpreneurs  validate their business while boosting their confidence. Getting our clients online is one of the best ways we can help them visualize and realize their dreams. For many small business owners, the website is what brings their business from conception to reality—it is truly their storefront.

I’m particularly focused on helping the next generation of entrepreneurs begin to conceptualize the realities of owning a business, and to take control of their journey.

This is where community involvement kicks in. MYDCT established several programs, such as Kid CEO program, and was the co-founder of First Annual Kidpreneur Expo. MYDCT anticipates launching additional initiatives, such as the Detroit Wix co-op program, which is a web design program for high school students, and a training program that helps prepare and place participants in customer service, sales, and technical support training.

By giving back, you invest in your city’s future. It creates noise and changes our community’s self-perception: it helps Detroiters realize that they are the future and can create effective change. As co-founder of the Rohns Community Development Corporation, a non-profit that works with inner city communities, we are eager to offer these programs for free to Detroit residents.

Being a successful entrepreneur in Detroit is more than just the success of your business. It’s about lifting up your community. My advice to others is always to ignore your doubts when people tell you to stop moving forward. We’re all chasing our own dreams, but we’ll have a better chance if we do it together.

Natasha Lee-Maxwell is the founder and CEO of Make Your Dreams Come True, a coaching service for entrepreneurs. Follow @justasknatasha

Trending on Xconomy