Interview: Alyssa Miller - taking risks and starting your own business

I met Alyssa when she was attending Howard University here in Washington, DC.  She now lives in Minneapolis, MN with her husband (and brand new baby girl!) and she recently launched her own business – Real Eyes Editing (RE). I had the opportunity to catch up with Alyssa on the phone and we talked about what she’s learning on the front end of this entrepreneurial endeavor. EKO: Tell us about RE!
Alyssa: Real Eyes is a copy editing business that primarily services Christian thought authors. I do copy editing, copy writing and social media content.

EKO: What prompted you to start your own business?
Alyssa: Last fall I didn’t land a business job the way I thought I would [Alyssa and her husband took a year off from their jobs to travel to Costa Rica and Mexico to grow their Spanish fluency. When she returned, she didn’t find a job as quickly as she was expecting to.]

I started to think back to conversations Matt and I had when we were traveling, we talked about our dreams and what we would do if we didn’t have any limitations. Those conversations prompted me to do more writing while we were traveling, and I even picked up a few freelance jobs and an editing project for a family friend while we were gone.

But when we got back, I tucked that away. The easiest route was to go back to what was comfortable, what was known, and what made consistent money – the corporate world. But when those traditional doors were closed, it forced me to re-ask the questions we’d asked ourselves while we were traveling.

By early October we made the decision I would really invest in this, in starting a copy editing business.  Doing more than an odd job here or there, I moved day-by-day into the details of starting an official business.

EKO: How have you leaned on others who have gone before you?
Alyssa: Heavily – very heavily. Prayer has led me to wise counsel. I’ve met other editors, other freelance editors, other entrepreneurs – there’s something I can learn from everyone. I don’t know how much to stress how much I’ve depended on other people, helping point me in the right direction as a result of what they’ve done.

EKO: How do you approach people for help? What do you ask them?
Alyssa: I just ask people to do coffee and then I listen to their story. I think sometimes when I ask specifically for advice it gets a little awkward, they feel pressure. But when I ask them for their story, I hear “I started at my kitchen table.” Or “I didn’t get my LLC until 4 or 5 years in.” I can glean a lot of advice from their stories without them feeling pressure to say something really profound or wise.

When I first started, I thought there was ONE WAY TO DO FREELANCE EDITING. Turns out, there are TONS of ways.

EKO: How would you encourage other women thinking of starting their own business?
Alyssa: I would really encourage them to “Start with Why” – Simon Sinek’s concept. Why do you really want to do this? What is your real vision? How does it work with your natural skills and abilities? Does it line up with your long-term goals?

Once all that checks out, then go for it! Trust the Lord. It’s scary! At one point I was in a parking lot crying “I don’t know how to get clients… what am I doing? Matt’s going to think I’m a failure.” But I knew that all I could do was be faithful with what I’ve been directed to do by wise counsel, and trust God. I’ve learned not to let worry or anxiety consume me. I have to operate on faith – without faith it’s impossible to please God. (I took that one from the Bible).

Thanks Alyssa, for your time, and for sharing what you’re learning about starting your own business.

Anyone out there in need of a free-lance editor – check out Real Eyes!