Rachel always had a feeling she would tread the path of the entrepreneur. She had watched friends and family members chase their dreams and their freedom. She had seen the rising number of entrepreneurs in the world at large. It didn’t seem like a far-fetched idea. But it also wasn’t necessarily a plan. It was more of an “eventually.” Entrepreneurship seemed like something she would have to earn—work the traditional path, pay her dues, and eventually she would have the freedom to pursue what she really wanted and do it within her own parameters, playing by her own rules. But, as so often is the case, external forces seemed to push Rachel in a direction she hadn’t expected.
Graduating from Gettysburg College in 2012 with a self-designed major, "Business, Media, and Communications," Rachel was ready to find her path. She worked in a number of industries, including hospitality, event planning, and sales. She rotated through several positions in assorted companies, trying them on for size, seeing how they fit, and knowing a little better what to look for after each experience. She didn’t waste any time once she knew a position wasn’t for her. Then she ended up in a community management position for the coworking company, WeWork. In June 2015, after working there for less than year, she was shocked to be suddenly fired without explanation. As a lifelong overachiever, being fired was something she had never expected to experience and something that disagreed with the image she had of herself.
Rachel spoke with a colleague about her situation, who suggested she consider starting her own business. Suddenly she was reminded of this long-term goal she had always had, and realized perhaps she didn’t have to wait to do it after all. She was in a position that was, in some ways, perfect. She certainly had the motivation to get going. So with the assortment of skills she had developed in her previous positions, Rachel started Starlight Social, a company that provides social media services to small businesses and non-profits. As she found her footing, it became clear how much there was to learn when starting your own business. It clicked for her that a service providing guidance through this tumultuous process would be valuable and marketable. So she branched out into offering resources and training services for other women solopreneurs.
Two main events drove Rachel to create (what I think is) the most exciting aspect of her business, “Like A Boss by Starlight Social.” She attended a conference called Blogalicious, led by its founder (and Rachel's professional role model), Stacey Ferguson. After participating in a “Monetizing Your Passion” workshop, Rachel left the event with a newfound clarity: what she really loved to do was help people figure out how to pursue what they love. Another moment of realization came when one client, already over two weeks late with his payment, casually told Rachel that he would send her payment once he got back from vacation… in a month! She couldn’t help but feel that if she had been a man, he wouldn’t have felt he could take advantage of her this way. (Don’t worry; like the boss she is, Rachel explained that this was unacceptable and he remitted his payment to her electronically.)
This experience, and her passion for helping women do what they love, are what inspired her to start Like A Boss (L.A.B.), a community of ambitious solopreneur women who guide and support one another. “We face different stigmas and struggles than men do” in business, and L.A.B. is a place where women can voice those frustrations, find support, ask candid questions, and share resources with each other. Rachel says that "being part of L.A.B is truly an ongoing workshop of your business - like being in a lab." The group has several monthly meetings, including a general members' meeting with rotating topics, Power Work Sessions, and brunches. The women hold each other accountable and inspire each other. Rachel says her goal is “for every woman to go home after the meeting, power work session, or even brunch feeling inspired and motivated to execute the ideas we've shared to grow and craft their dream lifestyle and business.”
In the coming months, Rachel will be building up her virtual membership option for L.A.B. This membership will allow people who are still working full-time jobs, or who don’t live in the Washington, DC area, to get involved in this supportive, ambitious community of women. If you have a marketable service, are passionate about it, and can manage your time effectively, Rachel suggests you go for it. You don’t have to wait! Now, don’t necessarily run off to go quit your full time job, but start somewhere. Set realizable goals and begin taking small steps to achieve them. Surround yourself with people who can support and guide you. And, if you want to get serious with other go-getter women, maybe consider joining L.A.B!