It was August 15th and I was sitting outside of a Starbucks calling my dad crying in tears and scared out of my mind! I told my dad on the phone, “I’m scared. I’m not ready. I honestly don’t know if I can do this.” He put me at ease and calmed my nerves a little bit (not much)! That night, I went to a friend’s house and practiced my talk in front of him what felt like 50 times. I slept little that night, woke up early, arrived at the high school, and found an empty bathroom at 6:30am. I practiced some more and then walked over to the gym. I was on in 30 minutes and to say I was nervous was an understatement. I went into a small dark room and practiced some more but now I started to see an influx of students and staff file into the high school gymnasium. Buzz was in the air. It was the first day of school and now over 2,000 teenagers and staff were listening to the principal make a few introductions. He proceeded, “Now, please welcome our ‘Back to School’ assembly speaker… Freddie Silveria.”
Entrepreneurship, especially professional speaking is tough stuff. The highs are high and the lows are low but owning your time and having the freedom to create your own work is a beautiful thing. So you want to be an entrepreneur? First, you need to get clear on a few things. As Simon says, start with why!
Why do you want to be an entrepreneur? You need a burning passion to fuel you beyond money. For example, my first year as an entreprenuer I went eight months without making a single dollar. Until you have the fire: discipline, consistency, and habits will only do so much without desire.
Don’t be an entrepreneur (at first). What does that mean? It’s two-fold. First, logically speaking it’s smart to have all your debts paid off and at least a 6 to 12 months emergency savings. For example, I graduated Saint Mary’s College in 2011 and did sales for PepsiCo for nearly 30 months. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to live at home and pay off those students loans in two years. I’ll never forget those two years… they consisted of sometimes working 17 hour days, going to the gym, audiobooks, and swiping right. Secondly, there is a lot to learn from working for someone else and there is a lot for you to learn about yourself. The greatest thing it will teach you is an appreciation. Debts paid, money saved, and an abundance mindset acquired.
How do you get started? There is no one size fits all. There are different ways. Some have their day job and then build up a side hustle. Some quit everything, moved to LA, and jump! My example is to have a consistent annual cash flow. That leads us to the first question I’m asked: how did you get started? I approached a mentor, Phil Boyte. Someone I knew that was doing really fulfilling work and asked him great questions. That turned into an independent contractor position. I began a year of training and started presenting for an international school culture program called Breaking Down the Walls. The experience would be invaluable to launching my speaking career.
The second question people ask is what do you do? Freddie Speaks helps solve the problem of communication between peer groups. I’ve created and facilitate youth leadership summits and retreats. Leadership summits bring together leaders of diverse peer groups on campus (high school/college) and create a safe place for learning. In addition, leadership retreats are more intimate with a small group of selected campus leaders. Team building, vision board planning, and idea execution are the results achieved.
The third question is how do you market your business? In my niche, speaking is marketing. Many times I will speak for free at an event or conference. I’ll do research before to understand who will be there and by doing a good work activity directors will be interested in leadership summits, retreats, or keynotes with their students. The idea is do good work and share it! A huge part of success has honestly been from other gaels! Gaels have seen the good work I share and they have referred me to events, organizations, schools, and parishes.
Entrepreneurship and post graduation advice:
- Relationships are everything! “Never Eat Alone” – Keith Ferazzi
- Seek mentors, ask great questions and listen. “You, Inc.” – Harry Beckwith
- Be intentional about how you spend your time and never stop learning. “The Speaker Lab” – Grant Baldwin
In sum, do it for the right reasons. Be smart about money. Listen.
For upcoming events: freddiesilveria.com