Why I Do What I Do

Andrea with paper routeI’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart.  When I was 5 years old I went from door to door selling my paintings for a penny.  I always sold them all.

I had various lemonade stands, a fresh squeezed orange juice stand (that didn’t work out so well) and a farm stand where I sold my dad’s beets from his garden in the backyard (that also didn’t work out so well).  I also had a paper route when I was about 10 or 11 (as you see in the picture).

What I’ve always loved about the entrepreneurial journey is that you are in charge.  You are in charge of how successful it is, how much you decide to work, and how you incorporate your skills into your business.  It’s exciting (and scary) to build something that is all your own.

When I went to college, there wasn’t as much information on startups and being an entrepreneur as there is today.  So I decided (with a little help from my dad) to be an Engineer and got my degree in Mechanical Engineering.  I enjoyed math and it was a good fit but I was always more on the sales side of Engineering which was also a good fit.

I ended up in the world of Telecom at Agilent Technologies as a systems engineer helping people navigate through the complex equipment.  When the telecom bubble burst, I was laid off from that job.

But by that time I had a 1-year-old son and I was happy to spend more time with him at home.  My husband and I decided to make the severance package I got stretch as far as we could.  We budgeted better.  We didn’t travel as much.  And some months it was pretty tight.

By the time my second son came along I knew I didn’t want to leave them for a traditional job but I was itching to do something that didn’t involve diapers.  So I started an in-home wine tasting job (actually the perfect complement to being a stay-at-home mom and sort of my dream job).

I was working with a network marketing company that sourced all the wine and had the system in place.  Although I had built a decent team and worked hard, the company went out of business.

That’s when I knew…..

I wasn’t going to let anyone else be in charge of my destiny ever again.  I was going to tap into the entrepreneur in me and build something that was mine.

It was hard sometimes.  Really hard.  And some nights, when I’m up late with a deadline, it still is.

But it’s also been amazing.

When I started, I also decided to bring something that I loved doing into my business – my comedy.  And so Grandma Mary started to blog.  Grandma tells her side of the story in this video:


She also shares a bit about why you shouldn’t be afraid to be different and how using your unique gifts can help your business.

I took my love of marketing and helped businesses get more customers through social media.

But I also wanted to help others do what I did – have the freedom to stay home with their kids (or do whatever they wanted to do) while starting their business as a social media manager or consultant through Social Media Manager School.  Phyllis Khare and I started this a few years back and we are now running it twice a year.  We’ve helped hundreds of students start their businesses and make a good living while doing what they love. Classes start Thursday April 17th and the next one will be in the Fall.

The thing I didn’t expect from all of this is the wonderful feedback from both my clients who have their own businesses, and from the people who have taken the course.  That is what keeps me going – it’s knowing that I’m helping someone on their entrepreneurial journey and giving them freedom.

SMMS testimonial

While that keeps me going, it’s not my true “why”.  The true reason I do what I do is so I can be home for my kids before and after school while I help people on their entrepreneurial journey.

It’s not always easy.  But luckily, I get to spend more time with my reasons every day. While this picture is from a few years ago, it’s an image I treasure – running around the park and having fun. I am truly blessed.
Walden

About Andrea Vahl

Andrea Vahl is a Social Media Coach, Speaker and Strategist. She is a co-author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies. She also sometimes likes to wear wigs.

  • kaicongroup

    Thank you for sharing Andrea. And believe me I get every single word.

  • http://felixrelationshipmarketing.com/ Juan Felix

    Andrea, it’s a pleasure to work with you at Social Media Examiner and I’m happy we had a chance to meet in person and talk at the #smmw14. Thanks for sharing this personal story, a lot of it resonates with my why :)

  • http://www.antavo.com/ Zsuzsa Szabo

    Andrea, I am so happy to read about your own story. It’s inspiring. Marcus Sheridan’s keynote is coming to my mind when he forced us to think you why we do all this, what is our main reason.

  • http://www.AndreaVahl.com/ Andrea Vahl

    You are welcome Val! Thanks for reading!

  • http://www.AndreaVahl.com/ Andrea Vahl

    Thanks Juan! So nice to meet you and work with you too and so glad you get the chance to stay home with your kids! It’s a great time we live in to have such flexibility :)

  • http://www.AndreaVahl.com/ Andrea Vahl

    Thanks Zsuzsa! So glad you enjoyed it!

  • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

    Love it! I’ve never heard this side of you before, Andrea. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.AndreaVahl.com/ Andrea Vahl

    Thanks Jon! I thought I’d share something a little different in this post :)

  • http://socialnotz.com/ Kimberly Reynolds

    Awesome post! Too funny that I am reading it now, after my email to you earlier this am. :) Nice work, Andrea!!

  • https://www.mythirtyone.com/Boulder Vickee McFarren

    Andrea, I remember your wine business! I remember when you started Grandma Mary! But what really shines through in all the years is your HUMOR. Just looking at you makes me smile! In a good way! That’s the thing I love most about you. The fact that you’re super successful at the social media thing is just the icing on a beautiful cake.

  • Angela Ponsford

    Lovely to hear about your ‘Why’ Andrea. Thanks for sharing with us all :)

  • christiantoto

    Love it. Years ago I wrote a story about millionaires, and each one told me they started their own businesses at a very early age (well before college). Your story is both illuminating and inspirational!

  • http://www.AndreaVahl.com/ Andrea Vahl

    I know! So glad to have you as a friend Vickee since about the time this photo was taken – when my oldest was 5ish :) I appreciate your thoughts here and so glad to share both or our senses of humor :)

  • http://www.AndreaVahl.com/ Andrea Vahl

    Thanks Angela! Much appreciated!

  • http://www.AndreaVahl.com/ Andrea Vahl

    Thanks Christian – when I really thought about my whole journey everything made so much more sense – I’ve been doing this my whole life and I didn’t know it :)

  • http://www.stephaniesammons.com/ Stephanie Sammons

    Great to read your story Andrea! Thanks for sharing it :). (P.s. I had lemonade stands too)!

  • http://www.mikegingerich.com/ Mike Gingerich

    Great to hear your journey! Grateful to get to work with you on different things and partner together!

  • http://mikedelgado.org Michael Delgado

    Andrea, I loved learning about your “Why.” And really enjoyed watching your inspirational and hilarious video.

  • http://www.AndreaVahl.com/ Andrea Vahl

    Thanks Stephanie! Yes, I’m a big fan of the lemonade stands :)

  • http://www.AndreaVahl.com/ Andrea Vahl

    Thanks so much Mike! It’s great to work with you too!

  • http://www.AndreaVahl.com/ Andrea Vahl

    Thanks so much Mike! I had a lot of fun with that video :)