Diversity Woman Magazine

FALL 2013

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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DW Life Be Your Own Boss Carving a path to entrepreneurship THINKSTOCKPHOTOS B By Pia Sarkar y day, Chris-Tia Donaldson works as an attorney in Chicago for a global software company. But in the late evening and early the next morning, she is throwing herself into her own business—a line of natural hair care and body products she developed for African American women. Donaldson started the business in July of 2009 upon publishing her book Tank God I'm Natural: Te Ultimate Guide to Caring for and Maintaining Natural Hair, which she was motivated to write after years of frustration with having to hide her curly hair in order to ft into law-frm life. Her product line, which goes by the acronym of her book title, TGIN, has been di ve rs i tywoman. com a labor of love. But juggling it with her full-time job has not been easy. For Donaldson, it means long hours and little sleep until she can fully transition into her business. "It's sucking the life out of me," she says bluntly. At 34, Donaldson knows no other way. Having toiled through 70- to 80-hour work weeks when she started Money her career at a law frm back in 2003, she continues to work those same hours today. But instead of giving all that time to her employer, she is fnally keeping some of it for herself so that she can grow her business. "I want it to be big," she says, almost with a sense of urgency. "I want it to be a big deal." > To other women hoping to become frst-time entrepreneurs, Donaldson offers this piece of hard-earned wisdom: "It's going to be a lot of hours, especially if you want it to be successful on a certain level. If you want it as additional income, you can work less. But if you want to eventually quit your job, then, yeah, you have to work these hours." Donaldson joins millions of women who seek fulfllment from working not for others but for themselves. Tat entrepreneurial spirit runs through an estimated 7.8 million women-owned businesses in the United States, a number that has grown 20.1 percent between 2002 and 2007 and has generated $1.2 Matters trillion in total receipts, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), using data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau's survey of business owners. Te process of starting a business is as varied as the businesses themselves. But there are fundamentals that anyone thinking of going down that path should know. Fa ll 2 0 1 3 D IVE R S IT Y WO MAN 53

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