Woman Owned business Series: Amy Blitchok
Relishing a perfect cup of coffee, as I wait in a quiet corner for of . It is a balmy spring day in Durham, the perfect weather for a cup of coffee and a book. Our first meeting takes place at Bean Traders coffee shop, with customers bustling in and out and the smell of espresso shots fill the air. We have an organic exchange as we honor our love for coffee and transition into a casual chat.
The past can unlock the future
Amy grew up in the Detroit area in Michigan. After undergrad, she trekked east to North Carolina State on scholarship to pursue her passion in reading and writing – she was an English Literature scholar.
Stacy: Jumping into the ‘real world’ must have challenged your determination to continue your pursuit in the world of literature. What did you do after Graduate school?
Amy: I knew what I loved and it shaped what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t have a defined path or picture of what everything looked like, but I could start with myself and my passions. So, I applied to jobs all over the country, and oddly enough, I landed a job at a community college in the middle of North Carolina. I taught remedial english.
Stacy: Was the job challenging? And what did that first job teach you about yourself?
Amy: It was certainly a challenge in that it wasn’t an ideal situation for anyone in that room. I had students from all walks of life, former factory workers to recent high school graduates. Some of them cannot read or write at all, but everyone in the room is behind the standard. I decided to frame this class in humor and fun. It’s so much more motivating to learn and work when it’s fun. With that, I witnessed some amazing results from amazing people. They worked hard and they got the results they worked hard for.
Amy made the jump from teaching into a Marketing job. Her target audience didn’t change too much, she was still providing services to people with special requirements or needs. This time she was developing content around mobility aids.
Stacy: This was your last office job and it was a career change before turning into an entrepreneur. How did this marketing job nurture or transform your path?
Amy: The idea of writing to help and improve businesses was born some time before the marketing job actually. I knew that is what I wanted to do in college, but at that time, the industry wasn’t ready for serious business blogging and there weren’t many businesses using platforms like Facebook yet. I was lucky enough to land this job with a really supportive and patient manager. He nurtured this quest by providing an opportunity for me to blog for the company. I started blogging. I buried myself in research. I immersed myself in this community of bloggers and before I knew it, I witnessed this company’s website explode on the industry scene. I was also receiving all sorts of fun gifts like orthopaedic socks from the readers!
I never really shelved my idea of writing for business, even when people scoffed at it. I remained open to every opportunity and took advantage of every chance to learn more.
How blog writing has shaped the literary world
As Amy and I chat, I can tell she has a passion for the literary arts. She loves to read and when I ask her about her hobbies, she says she favors going down the rabbit hole with her books. One book often leads to another on a particular subject as she enjoys consuming every bit of knowledge she can on that topic or author.
Stacy: Writing a blog or content for a website looks a little different than classical literature. How has blog writing changed your literary worldview?
Amy: Well, it is certainly different! And while I know it won’t change classical literature, I’m sure it’s shaping today’s literature in its place in history. The content I write for business is not as complex, for sure. It’s an adjustment I am constantly having to make, but it makes for more easily digestible reading. I’m writing a book right now, and I am tapping into this new skill to make sure what I am creating is written for the audience it is meant for.
Entrepreneurship for the English major
Amy has recently written a blog about Millennials and their aptitude and desire to move into entrepreneurship. It’s a tale that I think resonates across every age group, including myself. There are common challenges and stories across industries, but the first step is always the same, and it’s always hard.
Stacy: Taking the leap to work for yourself is hard! How did you do it?
Amy: I started everything from scratch. I built a pipeline and grew my networks while I was working full time. I created a nest egg to live on in my savings because I knew this is what I wanted, to own my business and work. The basic formula is quite simple, you just have to be willing to put the time and work into it, because there is a lot of work you need to do up front. It’s calculated leap of faith.
Stacy: What has been the biggest challenge as an entrepreneur?
Amy: It’s been a journey of self-awareness. You need to recognize who you are and be honest about it. I’m learning how to sell this business and my work, and with that, I know that the best time for those tasks are early in the morning when I am fresh and probably a little more amicable because I have a lot more energy at that time.
I find myself inspired as we talk a little more about the challenges that women in tech face. Personally, I think the transition from corporate contributor to entrepreneur can be difficult after years of being second-guessed and passed over for promotion. We find the commonality in that we aren’t always agreeable when faced with staying silent over business decisions we don’t necessarily agree with.
Stacy: Being a woman in the technology industry has commonly known challenges, has that changed since becoming an entrepreneur?
Amy: Nope! I still run into clients that like are condescending or patronizing because they think I lack knowledge in this field that I own a business in. My friend calls it “correctile disfunction.” Sure, my emails are probably ignored because the name is female and not Robert or something. It’s not fair, but you know what, I get to be selective too as an entrepreneur. I know my worth, my value, and when another person doesn’t respect that or my company, I can walk away because there is another organization that can benefit from what we have to offer and it makes me proud to help those businesses achieve their goals.
Find your inspiration
Inspiration comes in all sorts of ways. There are common motivators, but when it comes to nurturing the seed that creates your dream, it’s rare that we share the exact same moment, person, or thing that inspires. Amy is no different. As I talk to her, her answers are consistently surprising me because she is just as delightfully complex as expected. I’m not hearing any of the answers that I expect. The responses are genuine and raw, she takes her time as she digs for her responses because she’s not throwing Mark Twain on the table as her cornerstone for inspiration.
Stacy: What or who inspires you?
Amy: I firmly believe that if you do what you love, you’ll motivate yourself every day. But, there are certainly people around me that remind me what inspiration is, and what pursuing your dream looks like. I have a friend that loves to Hula-hoop, her name is Sara Phoenix. Seriously, this woman loves to hula hoop. She turned this into a business, Cirque de Vol, which has turned her into a world traveler. People see her as an expert in this field and she travels all of the world to share this passion with others. All because she loved to Hula hoop… I find her inspiring.
Stacy: What has been the best decision you have ever made?
Amy: Starting my own business.
Stacy: What has been the worst decision?
Amy: Attending the most expensive private school for college, haha! Education is so important, but you’re really learning HOW to learn in school and it doesn’t matter what university or college it’s coming from. Learning is a skill, and so is developing a sense of curiosity. With these two skills, you have the baseline to achieve anything you put your mind to.
Silence your critics
Amy confesses that she doesn’t believe in good luck. I get it, I can tell she’s put in a lot of her own blood, sweat, and tears to create her own success. She’s proud, and she is passionate about her life’s work, she doesn’t need luck.
Stacy: You’ve had a few doubters along the way. You’re also doing what you love now. How did you move past all of that noise?
Amy: Ignore the critics, silence your own inner critic when it’s telling you to turn back. If you work hard enough, it’s going to pay off with something. It may not be exactly what you were targeting, but it’s one step closer to that dream. When you’re open to that mindset you’ll fall into a rhythm that will open doors that you will step through because you’ll be ready.
Stacy: I think that’s called having faith.
Amy: I guess so! Having faith in yourself makes you a powerful and unstoppable force of nature.
This brief time with Amy reminds me that the process of starting a business is a long game. I’m fortunate enough to have a partner that doubles the effort that is going into 3 Bossy Bees, but even then, we gawk every day at what needs to be done. But the daily routine is bogged down with details, tasks, and endless to-do lists. There is no quick-fix for getting your business from the bottom to the top when you’re resources are just you and your brain. Fortunately, there are people who have been there before, a plethora of resources to leverage, and the most powerful tool of all, yourself. I realize I don’t need luck to make it all the way to the top, I have myself, and I have a great partner who believes in this too.
Special thanks to:
- Amy Blitchok for providing an hour of her busy workweek to meet with me.
- Bean Traders for providing some great coffee and a place to conduct business.