Nichole Hawkins is an entrepreneur, an educator, and a strategic risk taker. She recently stepped into the Program Coordinator role at reSET. MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price spoke with Nichole about risk taking, what she brings to her new position, and the importance of providing others with access to resources.

NAN PRICE: How did you become involved with reSET?

NICHOLE HAWKINS: I got involved with reSET as a 2020 Impact Accelerator cohort member with Legacy Lineage, my early education and family support organization. I was very excited to be a part of their program.

I had found reSET totally by accident when I was looking to expand my business and researching support in the community. I met reSET staff and was impressed when I learned more about how they support small business owners and connect them with resources in the community.

Because I had such a positive experience as an Impact Accelerator participant and was looking at a shift in my own career, the Program Coordinator role seemed like a good fit. Also, I wanted to be a part of an organization that’s supporting other small business owners because I understand how it can be when you’re isolated and you’re trying to find all the answers yourself. Business owners need a support system.

NAN: As someone who has gone through the Impact Accelerator program, you can speak to how it’s helped advance your business.

NICHOLE: Yes. reSET provides opportunities to receive mentorship and meet other small business owners and talk out our processes. There’s so much benefit to being with a cohort of business owners who are all doing something different and all on different levels. We’re all trying to get to the next phase of our businesses. We’re trying to figure out what’s working and what’s not working. It’s so helpful to share these experiences.

It’s the idea of taking risk, stepping out of your comfort zone, and believing in yourself. It’s also helpful knowing you have an organization that believes in you. That kind of support is powerful.

NAN: Tell us more about the concept of taking risks. Is stepping into this new role a risk for you?

NICHOLE: I think there’s always a risk with stepping into something new—I have to believe in myself enough to know that I have the skills. Coming into this, I saw myself as just an early childhood educator professional. I wasn’t recognizing the business aspect. In reality, I ran a business for 10 years. I’ve experienced all the ins and outs of being an administrator, marketing and applying for grants while still finding time to hone my skills with additional business classes. All of that was on me and I was able to do so successfully.

Believing in myself was what made me apply for this job. I took a risk. I filled out the application and thought, we’ll see where it goes from here. But I also took a risk in thinking about how to go about this. It’s a different skillset. I’m in a different room altogether. I’m speaking a different language. If I was in the early childhood profession, I would be well-versed in speaking that language. So, I think there’s a risk in saying, I’m able to learn something new. I can do this.

As a result of the pandemic, our 2020 accelerator cohort shifted and was virtual. During that pivot I learned the importance of resiliency. I began using a different skillset as I developed a digital presence and utilized marketing and various platforms, which so many businesses now regard as necessary for success. In retrospect, my belief in my new skillset and confidence in what I bring to the table was birthed. That experience and this opportunity fuels my passion to bring others along and encourage them to take the same type of risk I’m taking, no matter what challenges arise.

NAN: That’s such an entrepreneurial trait, saying yes and figuring it out and telling yourself you can do it. But you’re going beyond by showing other people you’re walking through this and they can too.

NICHOLE: Right. Also, I went through this accelerator program. That’s another big selling point for me to tell people. I took that risk and I did it. I found this great, supportive community.

I think my time spent with reSET is my skin in the game. I was involved in this program and I believe in this organization. I want to see reSET do well because I know there are entrepreneurs out there who are isolated and need this type of support.

The idea is not to give up on yourself. Not everyone makes it to that point. Some people decide it’s too hard. They don’t know what type of support is available, so they give up. I don’t feel like resources should be hidden from people. They need to be out front and accessible.

NAN: In terms of resources, how can reSET help those delving into business ownership?

NICHOLE: If you’re a business owner—or even if you have an idea and you don’t know where to go from there, it’s still an ideation—reSET can help steer you toward the questions you should be asking. Everything from how to get started to the legalities attached to a business.

That’s where reSET steps in. We offer an intake call, provide coaching sessions, and help you develop a business plan. Also, we welcome people who don’t have it all figured out. If you have an idea, we’ll help you determine what’s next. Then, once you get those business coaching sessions and you’ve had a chance to see if there are any legal hours needed, we’ll help you figure out where you belong. Are you in the incubator phase? Is your business at the accelerator point?

reSET can also connect you with partners. I feel like everyone who is touching base with our organization needs a warm hand off to some type of resource. If we don’t have the resources you need, we can point you in the right direction. What’s important is that we have an ecosystem—let’s share it so everybody can succeed and prosper.

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