In 2009, I began the process of developing an entrepreneurial mindset. This shift in consciousness was inspired by a trip to Brazil with the school where I taught the African-Brazilian martial art called capoeira that combines dance, music, acrobatics, ritual, and self-defense. During this trip, I witnessed the ability of capoeira to empower young people, encourage community, and continue a legacy created by enslaved Africans.
My students from Village Leadership Academy (VLA) in Chicago did an excellent job of demonstrating what they learned in my class. They communicated via short phrases in Portuguese, they played the music and performed the movements of capoeira. It was evident to me that the exposure to capoeira combined with the trip to Brazil would make a lasting impact on their lives. VLA's school principal and manager, the school’s co-owners, saw the potential with capoeira and planted in me the seeds that blossomed to the entrepreneurial mindset.
A key component of the entrepreneurial mindset is identifying a problem and the product or service that can offer a solution. In Chicago, too many young people of color attend schools where they do not see themselves in the curriculum. Black students are taught a version of their history that does not include how they used creativity to resist the brutal institution of slavery. In many underserved communities of color, there is a lack of access to healthy food options and safe spaces for recreation activities. My employers saw this problem and suggested that I create a business that complimented their work in the school and provided a healthy culturally relevant service to youth and adults.
It didn’t take much to convince me to start a business where I focused on impacting health, wellness, and culturally relevant physical education curriculum via capoeira. I majored in African-American studies for my undergraduate degree, worked with a non-profit organization that served communities of color, and at the time was enrolled in a graduate program in policy studies in urban education. The problems that plagued the Black community were apparent to me, and I believed I had the skill set to respond.
For eight years, I have worked at creating a sustainable business and developing the entrepreneurial mindset. My company has expanded from teaching capoeira, selling clothing apparel, also to include business and education consultation services. Throughout this process, these are two important takeaways I have learned about the entrepreneurial mindset.
Think about addressing a problem before profit. If your service or product meets the need of a well-researched problem, the money will follow.
Embrace failures as an opportunity to learn. Failures should not and cannot define you; they are merely a part of the process to helping you reach your full potential.