For some, dreams really do come true even if the path is rocky and, at first, hard to see.
Monika Baraket had been working for four years as a sales manager for an international staffing company, Express Employment Professionals, when she was laid off in 2009.
“I was completely blindsided,” Baraket said. She thought her old job had been secure.
But after getting over her initial shock, it didn’t take her long to set a new career path.
“I knew that this was my chance. This had to be the time to think about what I really wanted to do,” she said.
Baraket turned to a professional group on which she had previously relied. Business Networking and Referrals International is an international networking organization whose members share concepts, advice, and business referrals. She contacted colleagues there immediately.
“I asked the regional director what I needed to do to stay in BNI since I had been laid off,” Baraket explained. “He gave me two weeks to figure out what title I was going to market myself under – two weeks!”
Pressed for time, Baraket started out with the only thing she was sure about, she wanted to work from her Lower Macungie home. As a mother, she often stressed about finding a balance between business and work. After a night exploring her options on the Internet, she stumbled across the term “Virtual Assistant.”
“I was amazed by the industry. You could be anything you wanted to be,” Baraket said. She decided to use her background in marketing to virtually assist businesses. With some initial referrals from her fellow BNI members, she was off and running and quickly transitioned from being a virtual assistant into an online marketing and social media resource.
Baraket launched Accelerate Business Resources in January of 2010, but quickly realized just how difficult running a business can be. Overwhelmed with the amount of business she was receiving, she hired business coach Michelle Landis of ActionCOACH in Upper Macungie Township to help her learn how to run a successful company.
Baraket customizes what she does to fit each client. For some she provides lectures and instruction. For others she shapes familiar social media tools to fit a clients' needs.
“Owning a business is not easy. There’s a lot more to it than knowing how to do something,” Baraket said.
Today, Accelerate Business Resources remains 100 percent referral-based. With the help of five independent contractors, Baraket provides services to 10 recurring clients. Her company’s projected gross revenue this year is $200,000.
Above all, Baraket emphasized the importance of producing a quality product. “There is no ‘I can’t do this’ in my book,” she says, adding that being involved and knowing how to sell your business are the most important elements to becoming a successful business owner.