I shared the Lil Nouns story earlier today because I wanted to be transparent with the community. It hasn’t been easy getting here, nothing has been handed to me. The support from people has meant the world to me, but I value honesty.
Here’s some honesty: starting a business isn’t easy. It’ll tear you apart, and there will be a million people who think they have something insightful or valuable to tell you about how you want to do things. Take every single thing anyone says with a grain of salt. You know the story behind your business more than anyone else. Sticking to your story, and why you’re chasing that dream matters more than trying to incorporate every person’s feedback, or bending your value proposition so you’re listening to mentors. Not every business is a $1billion Unicorn startup that needs to report metrics to potential investors that aren’t realistic, period. It’s ok to go at your own pace! Take it step by step. People are going to tell you your idea is great, people are going to tell you you aren’t doing the right thing. Don’t let either of those deter you, stick to it.
I want my story to show that even a founder who has made mistakes and has bad credit can navigate the uncertainty of launching a startup. Against many odds I persevered, when it came time to ask for help (DEC 22) the answer was a resounding yes. From people I know and love, and from people I’ve never met before. This displays the pitfalls of the traditional financial system, how the status quo of “small business ecosystem building” and the lack of funding for marginalized entrepreneurs in our community can leave entrepreneurs who desire to leave a positive impact on their communities, isolated and confounded.
In a meeting recently I was told, “If no one wants to invest in what you’re doing, maybe you aren’t doing the right thing.” This bothered me for a few days, I had a bit of an existential crisis of sorts. I had to remind myself that this is one person’s opinion, and I can take it with a grain of salt, and it’s not going to stop me from moving forward.
Putting formerly incarcerated people to work isn’t a novel concept. It’s a movement that’s gaining traction all over the United States. Here in Alaska, traditional small business owners haven’t made the widespread realization that formerly incarcerated people make trustworthy, hardworking, capable, and loyal employees, yet most have great stories to tell. On the macro level, we don’t talk about how formerly incarcerated people live and work here in our community, and play a pivotal role in moving our city and state forward. Just recently at an AEDC event there was much talk about our State’s workforce issues, with little to no mention of how formerly incarcerated people fit into the labor economy. We can do better! Small business owners, investors, ecosystem builders, community members and civil servants all play CRITICAL roles in determining the success of reentering and formerly incarcerated Alaskans. Let’s do this work together!
This isn’t a zero-sum game. I’m in it because I know that people who were there for me when I needed an opportunity made all the difference in the outcome of my life, and I wanted to extend that experience to more people in vulnerable moments in their lives.
I’m so excited that with Get-By I can change the world just a little bit, a little bit more empathy, a little bit more understanding, all mixed in with a healthy serving of hardwork. We all know the world needs it.