Wearing Every Hat
Qiana Hicks at The Coven in St. Paul Bethany Birnie

Wearing Every Hat

Coming from corporate, Qiana Hicks, founder of Pathway Forward, adjusts to working as a solopreneur and tries to budget her time.

Since I took the leap last August and resigned from my 21-year corporate IT career to pursue my business, Pathway Forward, full-time, I haven’t looked back or had any regrets about my decision. Although it hasn’t been rosy all the time, it’s been worth all that has come with it.

My typical day as an entrepreneur feels like one big hour that repeats itself 24 times. Sometimes I don’t know what day of the week it is, let alone the date! I’ve convinced myself that this is the life of any entrepreneur who’s starting up a new business.

It has been a huge adjustment to go from working with a team of people—sometimes even multiple teams—to working by myself. The load is heavy and wide, and I feel every bit of it: moment by moment, day by day. I wear every hat, and I have to strategically balance them to manage the workload and ensure everything gets done as expected.

Starting up can also get lonely. Thank goodness for places like the Coven, a coworking community where I can feel like I am part of a team. The set up is beautiful and inspiring, and this membership network has been a bridge away from the loneliness of working as a one-woman team.

Being a tech startup has its challenges—raising funds being one of the biggest I’ve faced thus far. I started out on this journey by bootstrapping my business, which I continue to do as I look for and anticipate the opportunity to raise funds through grants and sponsorships for tech startups. So far, I have received a few micro-grants of $5,000 or less, that have helped me to get started. Every penny helps and counts towards something.

There are so many other great and talented tech companies already in place, some with similar missions and markets as Pathway Forward. I quickly learned that some are not so open and friendly to new market entrants while others are the complete opposite. I think, over time, there will be opportunities to leverage synergies for greater impact. I believe those partnerships will organically present themselves over time while I make new friends and support a community.

Building a software-driven business has been exhilarating, to say the least. For me, it has made this business more exciting and worthwhile as I get to create and tap into artistic abilities that I didn’t know I had. I also get to do a mix of my most favorite things: helping others, writing/journaling, and building and innovating, all while supporting art and social good.

While development of Pathway Forward’s digital platforms (web and mobile apps) are underway, I hope to use this time to move the business forward by connecting and building with my targeted markets and the consumers whom Pathway Forward has been designed to support: young people, youth-serving organizations, primary and secondary schools, post-secondary educational institutions, and businesses with a mission to create a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.

Read more about Qiana Hicks’ journey into entrepreneurship in our kickoff to the Founder’s Journal.