After working nearly seven years in the banking industry, Gatlin dug deep for the confidence, cash and commitment to start The Atlanta Go to Girl, an Atlanta-based concierge business, in February 2007. Wanting to pace both herself and the business, she ran the business in her spare time–while still working as an assistant vice president of consumer and small business sales for Bank of America.
“The department I ran had over 300 associates,” recalls Gatlin. “At any given time, I could be responsible for all 300 of them but about 100 associates reported directly to me.” And what convinced the 30-year old mother of two to even consider being her own boss was the difficulties she faced with her own hectic schedule.
“I couldn’t get the basics done like pick up my dry cleaning or going grocery shopping. My job was taking up the majority of my day. So the idea to start a concierge business came from my own personal experiences. I wanted to provide a service where I could essentially put busy professionals two places at one time.”
Incorporated in March 2010, The Atlanta Go to Girl helps clients tackle the time consuming, mundane-yet-necessary little things. (And sometimes big things, too.) “They can focus on the things that are most important to them like their career, family and most importantly themselves,” adds the 30-year-old CEO, whose company has about 50 clients on retainers and another 75 clients they perform services for at least 2-3 times a month. Gatlin also has 10 contracted associates strategically located around Atlanta and surrounding cities to help fulfill her clients’ requests. With its inaugural year nearing a close, she projects $10,000 in revenue.
Tiffini Gatlin didn’t make the leap from corporate professional to entrepreneur on a whim just to pursue her passion. Here, she breaks down three passion-to-profit myths you should avoid:
1. Don’t do it because…You want to be your own boss so you don’t have to work hard.
“I would work 12 hour days [at Bank of America] and then I would come home and stay up until two, three, or four in the morning writing out my business plan for The Atlanta Go to Girl,” recalls a dedicated Gatlin. “I would ask myself, ‘Did I even sleep?’ because there were times I couldn’t remember.” It’s a misconception to think working for yourself means a low-key workload. On the contrary, says Gatlin, the role of a business owner is extremely hands on. “You work ten times harder, especially in the beginning,” she says.
2. Don’t do it because…You think you’ll start it and it will run (and profit) by itself.
Building a business is an ongoing effort: “I wake up at the crack of dawn and the first thing I do is start reaching out to potential clients as well as clients I already have,” says Gatlin. Being on top of things (either in the front office, back office or both) is imperative. And let your customers or clients see you, she adds. “This shows you’re just as loyal to your business as you expect them to be to your product or service.”
3. Don’t do it because…You have a passion. And that’s it.
Sure, having passion is great, but it’s certainly not enough. That’s just where it starts insists Gatlin. “You have to also have a clear concise plan in how you’ll move forward and make the transition,” she says. And having a vision and plan for turning your passion into profit doesn’t necessarily guarantee money right away. Of course, Gatlin says those most determined pursue it anyway, understanding that the money will come. “If you cannot work a day doing your job without getting paid, then you probably want to reevaluate what you’re doing. For me, I could do this for the rest of my life and not be paid a dime yet still be satisfied.”
Tell us what you think: What other myths people believe as to why they think they should start their own business?
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