Haifa Blanchard always had an entrepreneurial spirit, but her career in the corporate world took precedence over it. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in accounting and was recruited on campus to work for one of the top accounting firms worldwide. She started her career in audit before landing her dream job as the Director of Finance & Business Operations at a nonprofit organization in Miami, FL. While thriving in her career, she felt a calling to write the book that she had planned to work on during retirement and fulfill her desire to help and inspire others.
Apprehensive about the impact of these new endeavors on the successful career she had built thus far and the trajectory she was on, Haifa ignored the ideas that would come to her mind. After a year of weighing the pros and cons, she decided to welcome the opportunities that were on her way and allow herself to grow professionally and personally. She let go of the limiting belief that she could not have the best of both worlds- a promising career while becoming an entrepreneur.
In 2019, Haifa published her first book, Aim Higher: Turning the Storms of My Past into My Biggest Accomplishments, an inspiring memoir and compelling self-help book. Ever since, she has been establishing herself as a spiritual and self-development author and working on different projects while thriving in her corporate career. She has learned that having a corporate job and being an entrepreneur are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, navigating both worlds can bring even more success.
Briefly, what led up to this book?
A near-death experience at 8 years-old and various challenges had a negative impact on my faith and outlook on life. After years of being unable to cope with these challenges, I hit rock bottom at 27 and was faced with a choice: living a downtrodden life and feeling like a victim or becoming the person I always knew myself to be and reaching for the life I deserved. I chose the latter and went on a transformational journey that I share in Aim Higher.
What drove you to write a memoir?
I wrote Aim Higher to inspire others to discover their inner power to transform themselves and live to their fullest potential. I understand first hand how hard it is to shift your life around when you have been hit too many times and you start thinking that you are meant to live a defeated life. I hope that people will find themselves in my story and understand that if I could change it around, so can they.
What is the one message you would like to convey to your readers?
There are many lessons in the book, but the most important one is a reminder that regardless of what happened to you and your past or present circumstances, you have the power to turn your life around for the better.
How do you deal with less good days?
I used to feel bad for feeling bad, but I learned to accept that not every day will be great. On less good days, I always go back to the 2 choices at hand: staying in the funk and not feeling great or finding the brighter side of things and moving forward. Realizing that my options are very limited and having the power to choose lift my spirit right away. However, when the day is really not going well, I go to bed early, knowing that no matter what is going on, tomorrow is a new day and I get to choose again.
How do you turn storms into accomplishments?
Turning storms into accomplishments is about making something good and meaningful out of an unfortunate experience. It takes a lot of inner strength and work, but it is achievable when you acquire a positive mindset, understand that you are the architect of your life, and know that everything happens for your greater good. You find the wisdom and humility to accept what happened, learn from it, and thrive because of it.
Explain to us what do you mean by navigating the corporate and entrepreneurship worlds?
Navigating the corporate and entrepreneurship worlds is about being part of each and witnessing how the experiences that they bring enrich each other. I have had a corporate job since I graduated college, but I recently joined the entrepreneurship world when pursuing a passion that turned into a business. At first, I was apprehensive about taking up this opportunity, but I am pleasantly surprised to notice the positive impact it has had on my corporate career. I have learned a lot on this journey and developed new skills that I did not necessarily need in a career in accounting. I feel that I am becoming a better businesswoman every day.
How do you balance work and life?
It can be challenging to balance work and life, especially for an entrepreneur, when the lines are blurred. However, I have learned a long time ago that having balance doesn’t mean that both areas are equally balanced. It is a continuous give and take, and I am fine with that. I also don’t compartmentalize the different facets of my life, rather I see them as a lifestyle. I prefer being present and flexible than reaching for balance.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Don’t wait until you are ready to start; otherwise, it may never happen. Start small and build from there. Also, focus on one thing, especially at the beginning, and do it well. Find your niche, understand the market you serve, and always bring value. Being authentic in your delivery is also very important. This will help to set you apart from the competition.
Any advice for entrepreneurs on moving beyond a failure?
Failure is inevitable, and you must overcome the fear of failure if you want to achieve anything in life. I believe that failure is a great teacher, and in order to move beyond it, you have to change your mindset about it. Failure doesn’t mean that it is time to give up. It can be a reminder to take a step back, figure out what went wrong, and make necessary changes.
Share with us some tips for women who are in doubt of leaving their secure job and starting their own business.
There is always an element of fear when it comes to doing something new. That said, it should not stop you from building your own business. I am a true believer in following your instincts and avoiding a life of regrets, but you must take a calculated risk. A secure job should be seen as a security blanket while you are testing the waters and building your business. Most businesses are not an overnight success, so keep your job as long as you need. When the business is generating a steady flow of income and is financially stable, then, it may be time to consider leaving your job.