Posted by: Monique McLeod on Wednesday, August 31, 2022


Imagine this.

It is summer 2019 and you are discovering that men and women across the country are breaking into the entrepreneurship space by packaging their expertise to serve others. They are providing done-for-you services, creating courses, coaching, and consulting people with their knowledge and lived experiences to make money online. Then, the pandemic hits in 2020 and those same people have developed a viable business model that others can replicate to maintain their livelihood as the whole world pivots to operate online. It becomes easy to feel like many industries are over saturated with the same types of professionals within your frequented spaces online. Imposter syndrome also begins to build when you think about breaking into the same markets as your favorite people in your industry while knowing that you don’t have the same experience, an existing customer base, or the exposure to compete.

Fast forward to right now, where you are about to learn how I overcame those circumstances with starting my business online and how you can too. I have found that many people aspire to join all the popular, highly marketed programs and accelerators shared with us via paid ads on Google and social media for teaching, networking, and resources. What I have learned is that a lot of the support and resources that entrepreneurs need exist in an abundance within their local communities. I made the decision to take my talents offline and go local. My strategy was led by three trains of thought:

  • I needed to figure out who I could help now at this early stage of my business to gain experience.
  • I knew that the knowledge I had to give may have been common in my online spaces, but the opportunity I had to share my brand, educate, and nurture my local community was untapped potential.
  • Success leaves clues. I needed to research the origin stories of my favorite local business owners to learn about what they did at their early stages of entrepreneurship.

What I found was the trend of early entrepreneurs becoming active in their local community. They were developing professionally through accelerators and mentorship, growing their networks, and giving back to their communities. They also used their skills to willingly support other businesses in advancing their missions. My research led me to join the Tampa Bay Chamber because of the many opportunities for support and development presented in their offerings. My programs of interest are:

  • Emerging Leaders Mentor-Protege Program
  • Minority Empowerment Program
  • Minority Business Accelerator

I joined the Chamber in December of 2021 with the intention of joining the Emerging Leader’s 2022 Mentor-Protege program. I was paired with a well established local entrepreneur in Tampa Bay, Cammie Chatterton, CEO of Bay Food Brokerage. We are currently 6 months through our year-long commitment with the future of a lifelong relationship to come. Cammie’s vested interest in my success, accountability, and continuous nurturing of all of my endeavors is invaluable and crucial for my current stage in entrepreneurship.

I look forward to joining the Minority Empowerment Program when enrollment opens in 2023. I believe that the MEP will bring me into the fold of local minority owned businesses in Tampa Bay which will help me to grow my network and connect me to opportunities that will allow me to serve in my expertise. I feel that my participation in the MEP will position me to be an excellent candidate for the Minority Business Accelerator. I would expect my participation in the MBA to prepare me for access to capital and the infrastructure necessary to scale my business.

Other local activities I have done include becoming a member of a local women’s entrepreneurship organization, Babe Crafted, which gave me support, a platform, and a community to share my expertise with. Lastly, I support the local entrepreneurship ecosystem by volunteering my time working with Synapse Florida assisting their Director of Programs with speaker management for the 2022 Synapse Summit. This is an annual event that I hope to remain a participant of in a similar or greater capacity in the years to come.

Overall, the lesson here is that although there is always room for your emergence in the online space, take action now by developing your brand and gaining your experience locally to ensure you are meeting the needs in your community with the products and services that you have to offer.