Into The Entrepreneurial Unknown (And How I Survived It!), A Founder’s Story with Jen Braaksma
Jen Braaksma is the debut author of Evangeline’s Heaven. After ten years as a journalist, she spent nearly two decades in the classroom as a high school English and writing teacher before diving into the gig economy and starting her own business as a book coach. With a focus on fiction and memoir for writers of every ability and experience level, she loves to assist in shaping stories exactly how the author wants them, from the inception of the idea through revisions.
Tell us about your childhood and where you grew up
If my childhood was a story, it most definitely wouldn’t be a thriller! More like a literary novel: not much happened, but I learned a lot. I grew up just outside of Ottawa, Canada and for a long time, I thought it was boring and just wanted to move away. When I was 12, I had a chance to visit Washington, D.C., and was so enamored with its political history. “Wouldn’t it be so cool to live in the capital of a country?” I whined to my parents. Who then gave me the most disbelieving look. “Uh, you do live in the capital of Canada,” my dad replied. Right. I grew to appreciate the city and chose to stay, first for my university degrees, then for my husband and his job, and finally for my kids and their schooling. I did get a chance to live in The Netherlands for a year when I was 5, then another year in Florida as a teenager. I also was fortunate to travel a lot, throughout the U.S. and Europe, and have been able to continue traveling with my own family now (up until the pandemic, at least!)
How did you get started as an entrepreneur?
I fell into it! I was a high school English teacher for a whole bunch of years, and I was also writing my own novels on the side. I worked with a book coach — an editor, mentor, and cheerleader all rolled into one person — and when she offered book coaching training, I jumped. It was such a great fit for my teaching skills and my own interest in writing. At first, I wasn’t sure about growing my business, since that would be a lot of entrepreneurial skills to learn, but I was looking for a new challenge beyond the classroom. Working one-on-one with my clients and building my business became my new focus. I haven’t looked back since!
What is one business lesson you would tell a startup founder?
Take your time. Go at your own pace. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything you’re supposed to do as a start-up, but there can be a lot to learn. It’s okay if you don’t know everything at first. It takes time and patience to grow any business, so give yourself that time and patience. Show empathy for yourself so you can keep up your spirits even as you ride the waves.