This is a guest post from Debi Auger from Designs by Debi
I’m retired from the medical field and on a new journey. A few years ago my life was unexpectedly turned upside down when an unfortunate chain of events left me medically unable to return to my career. I was a Radiologic Technologist specialized in Interventional Radiology and CT Scan.
While on a medical leave of absence, I began working with beads and wire as a kind of self-imposed occupational therapy in an attempt to regain my fine motor skills and return to caring for my Veterans at the job I loved so much.
Unfortunately, that was not to be. I lost my career and I was devastated. I needed to grieve, pick myself up and find a new path… something I never expected I’d have to do. And, not only did I need to start over, I needed to work for myself! Best way to describe that discovery… shock… and terror.
My entire education and background was in medicine. I had no business education at all… zero… none. The thought of starting my own business never even crossed my mind until it became a necessity… and I had no clue where to begin. But, all that occupational therapy I was doing had produced a whole lot of jewelry!
My Mom loved what I was doing and was wearing my creations to work.
People began showing an interest in my jewelry and I needed to come up with a business, so Designs by Debi was born. Thank God for somehow leading me to discover a talent I otherwise never would’ve found and giving me something I desperately needed at that point in my life… hope. But now what?
Starting My New Journey
I started my business and formed my corporation, Makana Mai Akua, Inc. The name is Hawaiian and means ‘gift from God.’ It’s the parent company for all my business endeavors. I had A LOT to learn and a lot to do, but no money because, as medical catastrophes often do, mine left me in a financial mess.
That meant I had to to learn how to do everything myself… jewelry design; branding; marketing; digital photography and editing; graphic, web and logo design; bookkeeping; etc. Lucky for me, I’m a do-it-yourselfer and good at figuring out how things are made and done. And, thanks to my parents, I had an excellent education. So, even though I had no idea what I was doing, I did know how to learn. And learn I did. I’ve basically gone and gotten myself my own customized MBA!
I started my handcrafted jewelry business, Designs by Debi , and brought it online in 2009.
I’ve learned everything I know about business by figuring out what I needed to learn, researching it and then learning by trial and error. In the process, I also found I had an incredible knack for internet research. I was good at it… unbelievably good. So, once I learned it was a marketable skill, I began offering my services as an Internet Research Specialist.
Amazing Opportunity with Perfect Timing
All together I had come up with plans for a 7 division corporation, but I was frustrated. In addition to medical issues affecting my progress, I was becoming overwhelmed. I had tons of ideas scattered in my head. I needed to pull it all together; get focused; eliminate the trial and error; and get efficient… in business, online and on social media…quickly!
One of the gems I uncovered in my research was Natalie Sisson, the Suitcase Entrepreneur, and I had been following her and her valuable content for quite a while when, by an unbelievable twist of fate, I was lucky enough to attend the launch webinar for WE Mastermind.
This is where I met Natalie MacNeil for the first time.
The Natalies had put together a powerful program, essentially a blueprint for success to help you build the lifestyle of your dreams.
Perfect… EXACTLY what I needed! Before it was even half over, I knew I HAD to find a way to do it.
And I did. I joined up and decided I would use it as a tool to launch a new business I had in mind and help my Designs by Debi business along the way. Well, you know what they say about best laid plans…
My “Eureka” Moment
About a month into the program I had a “eureka” moment… which also completely changed the plan I had for my WE Mastermind experience. I suffered a couple of shattering losses and, coupled with the material we were covering in WEM at that point, was led to do some honest, deep down, soul searching about what I want, where I’m going, what I do and, most importantly, WHY I do the things I do.
It’s simple really… I like to help people and I like to share. That is when I’m at my happiest. It’s probably why I ended up in the medical field. It’s also why I do so much custom designing and memorial jewelry… it helps people. Through my jewelry, I help them celebrate, express themselves, champion causes, grieve and remember. I love creating jewelry that holds deep meaning for people.
Upon close inspection of myself, I realized that helping people is the driving passion behind everything I do. I’ll often put aside my own massive To Do list to help someone else with a business question or problem… and I didn’t realize just how often I was doing it…but I did realize how much I like it! So the result of this honest evaluation was the concept for a new business… aWAEHQn dreams Success Coaching.
I’ve done extensive amounts of research over the last 8 years and cultivated a range of business skills. Through networking with other artisans I realized this intense research doesn’t come as easily to everyone as it does to me. I have a wealth of information they could benefit from and I could really help them! I was already doing it… without even thinking about it. So I began to imagine how many women I could help if I actually tried, focused and promoted my efforts.
WAEHQ stands for Women Artisan Entrepreneurs HQ. It’s a Success Coaching business because I intend to address more than just business. And aWAEHQn dreams because, as my tag line says… “Awaken YOUR dreams… and live the life you’ve imagined.” My mission is to give women entrepreneurs the knowledge and tools they need to successfully make a living from their passion and run their small business on a small budget while also empowering them to grow as big as they want to be and live the life they have imagined.
And Well, Those Plans They Go Awry
Unfortunately, I had a few relapses and ended up side-lined for most of WE Mastermind. So I’m doing it again in May. Even though I have the materials, for me, the experience is priceless. I’ve kept working so I’ll be prepared because there will inevitably be bumps along the way this time, too.
The WE Mastermind Effect
Joining WE Mastermind was the best decision and investment I’ve made since I started my business! It has been an amazing experience. I’ve had the opportunity to learn from experts; to work with other like-minded, goal-oriented, women entrepreneurs in a fabulous, mutually supportive mastermind group. I was provided with top-notch information, resources, tools, support and great feedback that allowed me to focus my ideas and craft my big-picture plan into actionable steps to achieve my goals. It’s easily worth 10 times what I invested.
The Natalies are passionately invested in the success of others and they have an absolutely infectious enthusiasm that just propels you forward. That positive energy flowed through every aspect of the program and gave me a wonderful environment to work on my dreams. I was blown away by how these two incredibly successful, busy-beyond-words women managed to dedicate so much time to so many people so successfully.
I learned A-to-Z not only how to launch a product, but a business. I took action on setting up my brands; monetization plans; and became more productive and proficient with social media and online tools. I was even challenged by two other WEMers to jump out of my comfort zone, record and post my very first video ever to YouTube. (Thank you Jo & J9 for that video challenge!)
I grew my Designs by Debi list by 62% and my online engagement by 79%. I learned how to take a product from idea to launch. And I got a complementary business…and its products…well into the development stage.
I learned and accomplished so many things and milestones. But, because it will affect my whole business and the rest of my life, I’d say the most significant thing I gained was a mindset for success. It has changed my whole outlook and given me the confidence to achieve my dreams. I’ve realized that not only are my ideas and dreams possible, but that I CAN achieve them. AND I’ve designed a a solid roadmap for what will ultimately be a 7 division corporation located in Hawaii.
I was expanding on my ideas and plans for aWAEHQn dreams, setting up the blog, Facebook page and Twitter account @aWAEHQndreams, preparing to take it through to launch during the next WE Mastermind. But, when Facebook changed all business pages over to timeline it kinda took on legs of its own!
Luckily I had enough work done to take advantage of that and, quite unexpectedly, launched aWAEHQn dreams Success Coaching on March 30, 2012! It was what I learned in WE Mastermind that allowed me to hit the ground running when the opportunity came knocking… even though my target launch date was months away!!
In 3 weeks, I’ve already started getting followers on the blog; have increased my Facebook fans and Twitter followers; started the aWAEHQn dreams Mastermind Group; and done design work for clients. It may not sound like much, but it was all done without any promoting… I’ve been too busy just dealing with what’s coming to me!
In response to needs voiced by my audience, I published my first eBook “Creating Your Brand – Packaging Your Gift to the World” and I’ve started my second one.
I offer a combination of free and paid products on short, laser-focused topics that can be used/purchased in an à la carte fashion depending what the artisan needs; graphic design services; and one-on-one coaching.
What Am I Up to Now?
Right now I’m working on my Success Plan for 2012. I’ve re-evaluated Designs by Debi and decided to make some big changes. I’m taking the opportunity during this re-focusing to review, refresh and improve my blog and website and implement what I learned in WE Mastermind.
I’m working on the blog, website and more products for aWAEHQn dreams and reaching out to more women in hopes of turning this into a buzzing community.
WE Mastermind gave me the confidence to attempt a full-length book, so I’m working on that as well. It’s geared toward the unique situation and problems faced by women entrepreneurs. It’s going to cover an expansive list of topics, both personal and professional, guiding women to plan for and transition from one year to the next in life and in business, and thereby plan the life of their dreams. It will include the success planning I do; tools I use; productivity and efficiency tips; and much, much more.
I still have medical problems that I deal with every day and they definitely affect my progress. But WE Mastermind and the Natalies have changed my life forever. They’ve inspired me and given me courage and support. I’m blessed to still be working in a Mastermind with my fellow WEMers and those relationships will likely last a lifetime.
My journey is far from over… I have BIG plans! My ultimate goal is to be a philanthropist and start my own charitable foundation to help Soldiers, Veterans and our Military Families.
And WE Mastermind helped me believe I really can do it… ALL of it!!
P.S. If you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to participate in WE Mastermind, DO IT!! It’s the best investment you’ll ever make in yourself, your business and your future!
About the Author: Debi Auger is an Entrepreneur, Jewelry Designer, Internet Research Specialist and Success Coach – President/CEO of Makana Mai Akua, Inc.
Located in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, USA and blessed to be working with clients worldwide!