If you asked me what I wanted to do after graduating from the University of Georgia just four years ago, I would have told you I wanted to be a physical therapist. Two years ago I wanted to be an elementary school teacher. As of six months ago, I wanted to have a fabulous job in the fashion industry. Today, I am not doing any of those things.
I always grew up thinking that if I didn’t have a plan for my life then it meant I didn’t have my life in order. I had so many friends that knew exactly what they wanted to do when they came to college. I thought I was one of them until I realized physical therapy wasn’t for me. This threw me for a loop. I was back at square one with no plan.
I’ve always had a love for children so I thought I would give teaching a shot. After multiple classes and volunteer hours in a precious kindergarten class, I decided that even though I love kids, I didn’t want to be a teacher. That revelation threw me into crisis mode. I was half way through college and still had no idea what I wanted to do.
That Christmas break, I had many heart to hearts with my mom. She knows me better than anyone else in this world. At times, I think she knows me better than I know myself. After countless tears and talks, we both came to the conclusion that I truly loved fashion. So that day, I changed my entire schedule of classes and officially became a Fashion Merchandising major.
When it came to fashion, everything just came so easy to me. I became more involved in class conversations and actually started envisioning my future in fashion even beyond college. I really thought this was it and that I finally found my path in life.
As graduation neared, I struggled to find a job. This was partially my fault as I decided that I wanted to stay in the Atlanta area. Anyone that knows anything about fashion will tell you that you need to be in New York or California to really make it. I just wasn’t ready to take that leap of faith and move so far from home. This greatly decreased the job opportunities available to me.
I couldn’t turn back now. Graduation came and went and I still didn’t have a job. This was hard on me especially since I had lots of friends starting great new jobs, moving to Atlanta together, and living life as an adult.
The weeks went by and so did many interviews. I found an opportunity in Roswell with and IT staffing firm. I fell in love with the company and prayed they would fall in love with me. A couple weeks later I finally got the call that I had been longing for. I GOT THE JOB! I felt like all my hard work finally paid off and I had made it!
Two weeks into the job and I absolutely hated my life. The technologies were not coming easy to me and I really didn’t have any interest in learning about them. I was basically cold calling individuals with great paying jobs close to home and trying to convince them why they should take a pay cut and make a longer commute to a new job.
The recruiting industry doesn’t get much respect. I spoke to many voicemails and got hung up on a number of times. Even though this was a good paying job, I decided I couldn’t live like this the rest of my life.
At the start of the third week, I decided to quit my 7am-7pm. I was living at home with no job and no prospects. I didn’t know where I wanted to go next. I went through another few rounds of tears and talks with my parents. After throwing around many ideas, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to own my own business.
In no way was this decision a cop out for not wanting to look for a new job. I grew up surrounded by family that owned very successful businesses. My parents were always calling their own shots, making critical decisions, and working hard to build a business that would allow for a comfortable lifestyle. I think it is only natural that I caught the entrepreneurial bug that they had.
One day my stepdad, Bob, ran the idea of teeth whitening by me. I really never thought about it before but was open to the idea. I had gotten my teeth whitened back in February and remembered how great I felt after I got it done. It’s crazy how a simple white smile can boost someone’s confidence.
To my surprise, the teeth whitening industry brings in about $25 billion a year. This number definitely shocked me and sparked my interest. I then came across SmileLabs based out of Arizona. With over 400 vendors in the United States and hundreds of reviews, I took the next step of having multiple phone calls and webinars on owning my own SmileLabs franchise.
After much deliberation, I decided this would be the perfect opportunity for me. I would be able to own my own franchise and it didn’t cost me an arm and a leg. Over the next few days I picked a name (SmileLabs of Georgia), made a website, and created all my social media accounts.
Before I knew it, I actually owned a real business. I started introducing myself as Megan, the owner of SmileLabs of Georgia, to other business owners. It truly felt surreal. Little did I know that this was only the beginning of a very hard, expensive journey.
Although I decided to start out mobile, after two months I took the plunge and signed a year lease for a storefront in Roswell, Georgia. This was the biggest financial decision I have made in my life. It was definitely scary putting my name on a one-year lease commitment, but it was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had.
Now that I have my store, I am focusing on getting my name out there and letting people know that I am open. This has definitely been the hardest part of starting my business. For a while, I tried to create my own cards and fliers to hand out for “free” advertising.
That is not as easy as it sounds. For this reason, I decided to try out paid advertising on Yelp.com. Doing that gives me the opportunity to reach the crowd that is interested in getting their teeth whitened.
I’m sure that there will continue to be lots of trial and error, but eventually I will get the equation right. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for giving me this amazing opportunity. I am grateful for my wonderful family that has supported me emotionally, physically, and financially.
So at the end of all of this, the moral of the story is that it’s okay to not have a plan. Sometimes you have to just go with the flow and see what God has in store for you. This isn’t always the easiest thing to do, coming from an obsessive planner like myself, but it is possible.
Chances are, you will end up in a situation ten times better than you could have planner for yourself. After all, how many 22 year olds can say that they own their own business and have a storefront?