Excited about his own journey in business, Dylan Rafaty wants to encourage more people to join him.
Entrepreneurship is not for everyone, but I want to share my thoughts about it. I like entrepreneurship because I believe in building something that does not exist.
At DylanListed.com, I am trying to build a national business community focused on real jobs for job seekers with disabilities (no matter the disability) who self-identify and who continuously build their skills based on their interests. I want to set the example by continuously building my skills.
One of the most helpful traits to have as an entrepreneur is the ability to communicate and connect with all sorts of people. Even when I was in special education, I had that ability. It came out how I cared about my peers and how I sought to connect with teachers or administrators. That is how I became a basketball manager and ran for student council president.
But, communication and making your network isn’t easy. I know that it takes time to develop new connections and open up lines of communication. But, effort pays off eventually!
First, you have to find what interests you.
Since leaving high school, I became passionate about the differently abled community in regards to employment and the issue of education. The first time I attended an event where people with disabilities and their service providers come together, it was SILC in Austin. I heard self-advocates speak, and I then realized that I, in fact, am also a self-advocate. That really motivated me to grow my skills as a self-advocate and helped me in my role as entrepreneur.
Secondly, I recommend that you search for the right community that relates to what you are passionate about.
I searched online for organizations in my area and visited their websites to see what I might have wanted to get involved in. You have to reach out to them, schedule a meeting, or attend a community event. For me, the outreach was relatively easy. It may be harder for you, but if you really have passion for the community, you will reach out. I have always enjoyed attending community events, such as March for Respect, 5K walk/runs, and fundraisers. If you attend events, be sure to collect business cards. You never know when you might need to contact someone for help in the future. This type of outreach is also a great way to identify mentors, advisers, and supportive friends who can direct you to the right path. Aim for those individuals who have had many previous experiences with issues that interest you.
Third, develop a relationship with your network.
Continue to connect with them by attending events that they attend. Or call on them to ask a question on some issue. I also try to invite a friend to join me in attending an event. This way I spread awareness and understanding of issues in the broader community while spending time with a friend. I am so happy when I get a fast response from people in my network that I contact for help or just to let them know what I am doing.
Lastly, have fun while building your network! In your network, show your passion about the subject, share your positive and negative experiences, and bring new, innovative ideas to the table. With the above four steps, I believe you can achieve something quite spectacular — for you and the community you care about.