Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Marsha Mills, Executive Director of Rhyme N Chatt Interactive Poetry Organization, located in Chattanooga, TN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Rhyme n Chatt Interactive Poetry Organization is a nonprofit organization that exists to provide a safe place for the sharing and discussion of poetry. We serve writers by providing them with a platform on which to share their art, and we serve consumers of art by providing them with access to the art form in various ways.
Tell us about yourself
I have used poetry and writing as a way to express myself since I was a teen; however, it wasn't until I joined Rhyme N Chatt in 1999 that I felt safe enough to share my poetry with others. The founder left the organization in 2004, and I took the lead position. I know the change that this organization made in my life, and over the years, I've seen the change that it has made in the lives of others. After the pandemic, I felt even more strongly that people needed access to the freedom that this organization provides and the opportunity to connect with other creatives. In 2021, Rhyme N Chatt became an official 501(c)3. I needed this organization to outlive me, so I felt that this was the way to do it. Whenever I hear someone say, "This is the first time I've shared my poetry with anyone." it fuels me and reminds me that I'm on the right path and that I'm doing the right thing.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Being a business owner positions me to make a larger impact in the creative community. I have greater freedom to shape programs and events the way that I envision them. Just this year, we were able to partner with another local nonprofit, Culture Books, to organize our city's first Black History Festival with several hundred people in attendance. We also led the charge to pair local poets and local children's book authors to create PBS programming that encourages youth to read and also to write. Amazing endeavors like this would be difficult, if not impossible, were it not for the backing of having an organization behind me.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
My creativity can sometimes surpass my resources. So, I have to reel myself in sometimes and realize that I can't do everything right now. Some things need to wait on more staff, more funding, and just better timing. That can be challenging, but I am learning the beauty of prioritizing and not taking on too much at one time. I go for quality and not quantity.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Learn all that you can from reliable resources and from people who are doing what you desire to do. Don't be afraid to ask questions, and don't be afraid to admit that you don't know everything.
- Be gentle with yourself. Everything that is new comes with challenges. Pace yourself and make time for self-care.
- Celebrate each victory, learn from the lessons, and enjoy the journey.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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