Paige Tucker was 23 when she decided to start her first company, a social media marketing firm. She put a plan together, got close to starting and then...
“I had the business plan, I had my first client secured, and then I got scared,” said Tucker, now 31. “I was like, ‘There’s no way I can do this! How can I pay my bills and live my life off my own company? There’s no way.’”
In the years since, Tucker has seen other women go through the same thing. That’s part of what led her to start the Breakthrough, a small business accelerator aimed at women that opened this month in Largo. It builds on her business coaching entrepreneurs, Be Your Best You.
Tucker and her co-owners wanted to build a space where entrepreneurs could receive coaching, learn to market themselves, make connections and work in a shared space. Instead of an accelerator, she calls it an “excelerator” — “because it’s not just about you growing as a business owner,” she said. “We want to help people grow personally as well.”
In addition to Tucker’s work in business coaching and marketing, she’s been an entrepreneur herself. She’s run a jewelry business, hosts an internet radio show called the Power Plug Morning Show, and last year founded the Afro Market Exchange, a market populated by entrepreneurs of color.
In a conversation, Tucker chatted about her own journey and how she believes she can help women who, like her, might be nervous about becoming an entrepreneur. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
You studied public health in college. Then you went from that to community relations. What was the plan?
I really didn’t have a plan. I’m a woman of faith, so I deeply believe in God. I think a lot of times we have our plans, but God has a different plan. For me, when things weren’t working out in the way I wanted them to, He stepped in, and I just allowed Him to take the wheel. Since then, logic has gone out the window, and it’s just been me walking into things and trusting.
The first time you started your own company, you got scared almost as soon as you started. What scared you, and what would have helped you get over that fear?
The fear was that I wasn’t good enough, that I couldn’t pull this off, that I couldn’t do this. What would have helped me was something like the Breakthrough — having women or other business owners who have been through the process, who have walked away from corporate (lives), and they learned to stand on their own. I didn’t have any of that. I had only been in the area for two years. I didn’t have any friends. I don’t even think I was connected to my church at the time. Having African-American mentors and someone that I knew that could walk me through the process and be that support system would have been very helpful.
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Is the Breakthrough aimed only at women — and specifically women of color?
Not just women of color, all women. So many women, especially single entrepreneurs, are also trying to be a wife and mom and all these other things. We want this to be that place of refuge where they can come, they can relax, but the also can connect and grow their business. We really have created a beautiful space. People have said it’s very girly. But we have a lounge area for people to sit and chill. We also have a vanity. It’s a desk during the week, but it’s a way to provide makeup artists with an opportunity, because maybe they don’t have enough clients, but they can afford our monthly membership. We also have desks for people to come and do work outside of the home.
It’s pretty clear that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted the careers of women. How has that changed your mission at the breakthrough?
That has definitely been a driving force, just because several of us are newly full-time entrepreneurs. I’m one year in. A couple of my coaches are only a couple of months in. We see the need. And we want to be a part of meeting that need. We understand, if you’re a wife, mom or just a single woman, you’re trying to care for yourself, but you also want to help people build and leave a legacy.
How would somebody know if they need a business coach?
If they find that they are easily discouraged. If they find that they enjoy being held accountable. That’s the biggest thing, having a coach as an accountability partner. It’s not necessarily someone to tell you what to do. I lay it out for you, and if you don’t do it, it hurts you more than it hurts me. I’m here to guide and help you, but I’m not going to yell at you. I’m not going to get mad at you not doing your business. Because it’s your business.
12360 66th St. N, Suite Q, Largo. (727) 353-6968. beyourbestyoullc.com.