We had the pleasure of speaking with Darlisa Diltz, the owner of North Texas Entrepreneur Education & Training Center.
In this episode of EntreNetwork we cover several key topics including:
· How I got into entrepreneurship
· How I got into entrepreneurship full time
· Starting the Entrepreneur Certification Program
· Relinquishing control
· Your faith will bring you back to it
· Go for it
· My focus on ecosystem building
Connect with Darlisa!
· Check out her website: nteetc.com or thecenterntx.com/
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Team RMG 00:00
Welcome to entre network brought to you by revisione Marketing Group. This podcast is meant to serve as an entrepreneurial knowledge base of wisdom and practical tips in marketing, branding and technology to help grow your business effectively.
Sidney Jackson 00:18
So Darlene, so welcome to the entre network podcast. Thanks for coming on to the entre network podcast is meant to serve as a knowledge base for entrepreneurs to get education one, but also just insight into what it’s like being an entrepreneur, and hopefully, some of the good, the bad, the ugly with different entrepreneurs and helping other people navigate the overall realm of entrepreneurship. So Dr. Lisa, thank you so much for coming on board, kind of tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into entrepreneurship.
Darlisa Diltz 00:55
Thank you so much for having me. First of all, the great opportunity excited to be a part of the entre network and the things that you guys are doing. So yes, I’m Charlie Seville’s. How I got into entrepreneurship. Great question. When I raise St. Louis, Missouri, I’ve always been kind of a entrepreneurial spirit, I guess. I enjoy people, I enjoy just kind of learning new things. And also like, helping people learn what I’ve learned in a lesser fashion. So for me, I was kind of pushed into entrepreneurship. I graduated number seven in my high school class, wanted to follow the path that they taught us, you know, go to college, get the education and climb the corporate ladder. And I realized my corporate ladder was a step stool. I had various challenges in my corporate stint, I was always seen as a threat, for whatever reason. But senior leadership actually loved me. So I had an opportunity to travel, I did a lot of trainings, I created programs. And middle management hated me. So it was because I helped a friend of a friend with a project that they had, they were recently appointed Executive Director for a nonprofit organization. And I had recently completed I want to say it was my MBA program. And they asked me to help them with their strategic plan. And I did it because it was fun, right? Didn’t know anything about entrepreneurship, first time entrepreneur for my family. And I helped them. And they asked me, How do I how much do they owe me? Like, you don’t owe me anything. It’s just, you know, favorite boyfriend? And they were like, No, seriously, how much do we owe you? Because you’ve helped us tremendously. I believe he was able to do my good things with the strategy. And so he paid me. And then he referred me to other people. And then they started reaching out for help. And then they were paying, and I’m like, uh, what’s happening here? And like, I was married at the time cemetery, but married at the time, small kids, and it’s like, well, my husband, I think I’m like, turning tricks on the side for this money. So I had to find out what entrepreneurship really was. So I buried myself into learning about becoming an entrepreneur, because for me, entrepreneurship was white guy, Sue, glass building, you know, executive C suite type stuff I didn’t see every day. Entrepreneurs, like, thought, Hustler, you know, that kind of thing is like, we know how to get out there and get it. I just didn’t realize like, it was a thing. So from that I started teaching these classes at the library at the YMCA, sometimes on a street corner. No, not really. But, um, I just started teaching these classes on how to become an entrepreneur at the time it was $25 to acquire an LLC in St. Louis, Missouri. And so the classes will be full. I mean, we would have an amazing amount of people. So I started a little consulting call DJD in depth consulting. And that’s kind of what got me started. I’m very grateful to the organization, the SBDC and Missouri, if it was not for them, Lynette Watson to be exact. She saw something in me that I didn’t really know I had, she made a referral and I became kind of like a territory person for entrepreneur training in St. Louis, Missouri. So her Kevin Watson, you know, all these people on the Missouri side, a took me and and I was just, you know, a little token in a wheel and the rest is history.
Sidney Jackson 05:27
Hmm. So what made you come to Dallas or Dallas market?
Darlisa Diltz 05:32
Great question. So I’m going back to that stint in healthcare. I stayed in healthcare. Um, I worked there for 11 years. And I, it was just horrible. It was horrible. Um, but I can tell you more COVID If this was geared, right, um, and I honestly, you know, I prayed and I got, I was like, I needed a change. I came in, I visited my aunt, and it was 2010. And I loved it, the air was different, the sky was bigger, like, there was just something about Texas that I absolutely love. So when I prayed about it, and I started applying for jobs here, and all this kind of stuff, and I kept getting denied. So it was like, Well, okay, I guess we’re not supposed to take this. But continued in that effort, because it was really kind of on my heart, we have two children, and they’re into sports and whatnot. So we’ll take me Texas being, you know, avid in football, you know, sports in general. Um, I kind of kept it all my prayer list. And in 2015, kind of started making strides to actually come this way. I had worked with that small business development center down here, with several events, certifications classes, I work with some of the universities from the Missouri side. And then they started what was called gala Startup Week, and I will come down and now volunteer and, you know, just kind of make connections, hoping that one day I would, you know, get my ticket. And sure enough, one of my colleagues at the time through the SBDC, reached out to me and said that they were going to have an opening for position with the SBDC here in Texas. And she asked me if I would be interested in it. I was like, yeah, so I came down on w two position with the SBDC.
Sidney Jackson 07:47
And then, so what happened after that? How did you make the transition to full time entrepreneur?
Darlisa Diltz 07:55
So great question again. Um, I worked with SBDC, the Cullen SBDC for two and a half years, and it was great, you know, I had the opportunity to learn the Texas landscape because it was a lot different from the Missouri landscape. So gave me a chance to learn the Texas landscape. I met some amazing people, and was able to connect deeper into like the Dallas have fold. But I lived on the Fort Worth side. So I lived in Tarrant County. So my commute was an hour and 30 minutes one way without traffic. So going from entrepreneurship with small kids being able to attend parent teacher conferences and PTA meetings and booster clubs. Coming to where it was, ideally, it was a desk job. So I came and worked with the SBDC it was it was tough, you know, culture shock, the landscape of change and everything. So, um, of course, I prayed again, and I got an opportunity to take a position with a bank that was coming to the area. And it was a remote position, it would have paid more than what I was making potentially six figures. And so I took the position and all excited to close it out with the SBDC gave my clients about a month and a half lead time and four days or so before the lending position started the government shutdown. And so they pull their position and I was left without a job. Um, so you know, again, the Lord just kind of tapped me on my shoulder was like, so out. Then entrepreneurship thing. Yeah, going on. Um, and I, I just, you know, kind of stepped out on faith. I had some funds and savings and the was like, Okay, if this is what you want me to do then okay, you gotta have to lead me through it. So we found a battlespace over in untapped community. So it untapped meaning lack of business resources. So I called them in cities. And I found a location, about 1000 square feet. And I wanted to focus more on education because I came from the SBDC. And I realized they are an abundance of resources, right. But if you don’t know how to utilize those resources, or if your business is not at the right stage for those resources, then it’s really kind of not the best starting point, right. So of course, you have score, you have those kinds of organizations, but again, score, mostly volunteers, mostly older white man. And it just kind of there was a gap. So I had done research on like, the failure rate of entrepreneurs, um, kind of what some of the barriers were, and work in entrepreneurship. I knew that. So it’s like, how can I be intentional on closing that gap? First and foremost? And then how can I help entrepreneurs, or people, right, that were like me, they didn’t see entrepreneurship, they didn’t know entrepreneurship, they don’t have a network of people to guide them through entrepreneurship. And they were really kind of just like out here, on this limb themselves. So thus, their businesses were failing, because they did not have a resource to go to, that will hear them out. Right. So it’s like, okay, let’s provide some education. Because sometimes the entrepreneurship thing can offer a pie in the sky type theory. You know, let me grab a latte. And let me go to some networking groups. And let me rub elbows with the influencers. And thus, I’m going to have this great business, but that’s really not entrepreneurship. Right. So we started up a program. It was called an entrepreneur certification program, it was a six month program, where 12 Weeks was focused on just pure education, teaching, Mindset development, strategy, development, target marketing, you know, assumptions, financials, cash, flow, you name it, whatever, encompasses entrepreneurship. So that was the first 12 weeks, the second 12 Weeks was implementation. So we had the participants to actually go through different steps that you need to do as an entrepreneur, cold calling, making, um, visits, or hosting events, right, like information sessions, doing pitching. So like with 1 Million Cups, or, you know, connecting with maybe it’s your economic development department, talking to an SBDC. So that was a part of the next 12 weeks establishing yourself fundamentally. So entity formation bank accounts, insurance, that was a part of the next 12 weeks. At the end of the program. The goal was either you had gotten started with your business, you understand it, and you feel that you have what it takes to keep that business going. Or you realize, ah, entrepreneurship may not be for me right now or ever. And I think I’m gonna go back a little clock in and I’m gonna be the best, you know, an employee that I can be we hit establish some partnerships with like, Texas work for Tarrant County Community College, you know, all those kinds of things to help place people if they decided entrepreneurship was not for them, or with other local startups where they could be entrepreneurial, but not carried the love. So we did that. We were the first private sector, business service organization in the DFW metroplex, one that was established by a woman, a minority woman at that, too, that focused specifically on educating entrepreneurs. But that time we kind of were like, if you were to marry, say SBDC with like a co working space. That’s kind of what we resemble at that time. And that’s kind of what started our journey here in the Metroplex.
Sidney Jackson 14:46
Awesome. So as far as entrepreneurship would has been, for you one of the toughest roller coasters you had to face.
Darlisa Diltz 14:56
Great question. Um, initially was just acceptance. Right? Um, we offered something. It seems like yeah, that makes sense, right? Um, but when you are in a community, and there’s lots of resources, right? There’s lots of federal funding to programs. But the need is not being met. When you come into that fold. They’re not happy, right? Because it’s like, Well, why don’t we send people to you, when this is what we do? Will Tell me more about what you do. And then you would see it replicated within those organizations. Right? Um, so I would say, for me, in the beginning, the biggest challenge was just acceptance and understanding of what we were started to do. You will hear people talking about the gap in so many conversations, right? But no one. And when I say no one, I’m meaning organizations want to accept our partner with that concept out of the gate, because it’s like, oh, well, we can do that. No, we’re not gonna pay, or we’re not gonna partner. Um, because were you, like, were you? Like, why would we partner with you? Um, next, I would say, I’m just for me personally, just staying focused, right? I wanted to give up so many times, because it’s hard. Very, very hard. Um, and me asking for help, was kind of a challenge, too, because it’s like, will you establish yourself to be the hill? So how can you ask for help? If you’re offering Hill, you know, that kind of thing. So then it will be like, well, forget this, I don’t want to do this. Um, and no one was helping me per se. But I would say, if it wasn’t for my faith, I probably would have just said, forget it. But the greater good and understanding that it’s not about me, first and foremost, I think that is kind of what kept me going.
Team RMG 17:32
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Sidney Jackson 18:15
Yeah, for me, as far as like, the tough is rollercoaster ride, I think the first initial one was hiring, where I had to hire the first person. And it’s a ongoing process where we have developed like different SOPs to lighten the load of it. And as soon as we get enough revenue, probably hire someone to handle that kind of stuff. Because for me, it’s just a lot.
Darlisa Diltz 18:41
It’s a lot of is lonely.
Sidney Jackson 18:46
Indeed, it is.
Darlisa Diltz 18:47
It is very lonely. Indeed, it is,
Sidney Jackson 18:51
I think one of the second ones was becoming a leader, where it’s like, Hey, your words have a lot of power, especially when you start to grow a team. And for me, not seeing a lot of people in leadership or in leadership on a day to day basis, where you see the emotions that they go through and insight into what they’re going through internally, because you can see strong leaders on the outside and say, Oh, wow, and be impressed and everything, but what’s going on inside that and individual. So just become an overall leader to the team. And I’m having conversations, tough conversations, right? And then getting to the point where it’s like, oh, oh, I need to pay more attention to this aspect of it because it affects the organization and affects this individual this way. So I think that some of the bigger two ones that I had to kind of navigate,
Darlisa Diltz 19:54
and it’s definitely a big one. Yeah, I agree. I totally So I had like contract people that I work with all the time. And I think, to that end, I didn’t want to commit, meaning, I didn’t want to have the burden, right of having an employee was like, contract. Okay, here’s our MOU, getting done, right. But you’re right it and when your organization does grow to the point where you do need to bring it in house, and you need to bring in staff versus the outsourcing, it is tough, it is very tough. Especially because you’re releasing your baby, I told my, my first employee, it’s like, giving your baby over to the nanny for the first time. You know, it’s like, you carry this thing, and You’ve nurtured it. And, you know, you’ve been the one feeding it for so long. And so put it in the hands of someone else with the expectation that they’re going to take care of that baby just like you would, it’s like, oh, wait, don’t. And the baby is still getting taken care of right? It may not be exactly how you would do it. But it’s getting done. So I agree. Yeah, bringing on staff is challenging to different personalities.
Sidney Jackson 21:21
Mm hmm. A lot of fun. But, um, oh, yeah. It’s also fun to see the growth. Because when I first brought on board, not my first person. But Mikayla, she’s our were and website and graphic designer, but she’s grown into pretty much a project manager now. And I am delegating a lot of stuff to her. So she came on board as the website and graphic designer. And I had to give her ownership of that, like, Hey, this is my baby, I have built connections around the city and got these contracts and stuff like that. So my name is going on there, but I’m giving it up to you, and then trusting that you can do the job and all of this stuff. Because on the other side of it, I still have to go out there and network and get some more own revenue and contracts and stuff like that. So you have to relinquish control. And this worked out beautifully. But on the other side of it, we just hired someone else a marketing coordinator. And we’re pretty much going through the same thing where it’s like, Kayla has done a website designs, but she’s brought into project manager, so she has to relinquish creative control over to overhaul website design and focus on some of the strategic stuff. That’s not so fun. Right. But that’s necessary to have that overall vision for the next person to kind of fill in. So it’s it’s a learning process, though.
Darlisa Diltz 22:53
Absolutely. I agree.
Sidney Jackson 22:56
So for you, so for you. What’s your experience with just consulting with different businesses, business owners and entrepreneurs? What character trade Have you seen? Make someone successful?
Darlisa Diltz 23:14
That is a great question. Um, I’m gonna say, first and foremost. So having a strong faith is key, simply because that’s what brings you back to it. People that don’t go into it with the pie in the sky mentality. And I understand, yes, I have to put in this work. I know it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s okay for me to not be 100% successful in all things all the time, because that’s just not reality. I think those individuals get it, right. They understand. And they have the potential to go a lot further. It’s a lot of times when the people have misappropriated expectation that you tend to see some failures early. And those people tend to be the ones that don’t go that far. Because they they go into it with the wrong mode of thinking they’re going to make a lot of money thinking they’re going to, you know, become this overnight success. And they see that top layer but they don’t really understand the grunt the great the, you know, all of that information. I think that kind of differentiates for me.
Sidney Jackson 24:40
So as far as biggest roadblocks for the students, or do you call them students, participant participants that go through your program? What’s the biggest roadblocks that you see? Not just within the program, but after, like before they hit that growth phase and everything
Darlisa Diltz 25:01
Don’t say capital. And how to maneuver without capital, I’m sorry, how to maneuver without capital, trying to tell these people to come in? I’m sorry. Come in open. Sorry about that. Um, can I tell them give me one sec? Oh, I think it is capital without the capital, they feel like they can’t move forward. And so it puts them at a mental blockage, because they want an infusion of capital versus building revenue, and establishing a strategy to help them accumulate or become profitable. Um, it puts them into, I can’t get past this point, type of a mindset. So that is like one of the largest roadblocks outside of that, um, I want to say outside influence, seeing, hearing, trying to replicate what other individuals are doing. And then them not having the wherewithal to actually get to that point, really kind of puts them in a different place. Because they’re trying to do things that these people are doing, not understanding the background, not understanding the work that has gone into it. And then they haven’t done those steps to get to that point. So again, that Miss approach, misappropriation or misunderstanding of the process, hmm. Now,
Sidney Jackson 26:55
I love that one. Because as far as like competition, and just comparing yourself to other people, and that’s what I always tell people, when we’re talking about personal branding, and given off all of the business secrets, quote, unquote, it’s not so much as other people can actually duplicate your success. Because one, they don’t have the connections, they don’t have your personality, they don’t have your expertise or knowledge in this thing. So as far as like, sharing of information and sharing different knowledge, it’s, it just doesn’t make sense to hoard all that by yourself, in a sense. And then just to kind of piggyback off your approach when in terms of, quote, unquote, duplicating resources, or people not partnering with you, because it’s like, okay, are you competing for the same clientele, and things like this, but you see the overall gap, and the need that has to be met. So you were able to be strong and actually pushed forward to try to close that gap, which is incredible. It is incredible and tough. Um, but know that that’s incredible. So as far as entrepreneurs, what’s the biggest? The biggest thing you would tell them? Um, as far as anything motivational?
Darlisa Diltz 28:25
So I don’t want to say, go for it. Um, that is the biggest piece of advice that I can give. Because, first of all, if you don’t go for, then you won’t know, right? It’ll always be a what if or should have could have would have, when entrepreneurs are going for it, understand what your boundaries, know what your limitations are, don’t try to capture the world, in your first month, right? Because it’s not going to happen to ask questions, be vulnerable, be transparent. You don’t have to be the superhero. We have, you know, all these other heroines out there. Just focus on what you want to do within your business, find that target market, understand the value that you bring to the market, and just go after that. There’s a lot of pieces to the puzzle. And so a puzzle is not one piece, right? There’s various pieces, I would say be comfortable but with being a piece of the puzzle instead of the whole puzzle, because it takes a bunch of pieces to accomplish that but you have to go for it. Right? You have to put it out there. You have to share it. You have to fail, right? Because in failures comes learning knowledge, wisdom, understanding. If the expectation is that you’re going to win right out of the gate, yes, largely, you will win, but expect to bump your head explode. to scrape your elbow, expect to not write, because you’re going to learn so much along the way to help you get to that next step. I’m often reminded, through my experiences, that the toughest losses remain the biggest triumph. And the reason for that is because when you fall, you reposition your thinking like, I’m not gonna do that again. Like, I’m not going that route. So without those insertions, you don’t have that. So I say, go for it. Push connect with the right people. And if people don’t buy, don’t take it personal, you know, you just got to move on to the next one. Because, yeah, you’re going to get the nose but you’re also gonna get yeses. And so don’t spend the time focusing on the nose, but just prepare for the yeses. And keep going. Incredible.
Sidney Jackson 31:05
And, um, kind of tell us about the new facility that you just opened up. This? Well, Wednesday, I open into Mahara?
Darlisa Diltz 31:15
Yes. So through progression, my focus is ecosystem building. So I really like to focus on bringing people together in a communal sense, pairing of resources, sharing, allocating, so we just opened a space called the Center, North Texas. And in theory, when you hear the center, you’re thinking about a physical place, right, the center, North Texas, but really, this place is designed for reattachment to people’s core. What do you get up in the morning eager about? What brought you to your decision in the first place? What keeps you sane, right? How do you get back to who you are as a person. So the Senate in our Texas is like a coffee shop, but it’s a business center. So you come in, it’s open seating, flexible workspace secure network, you have access to printing, copy, scanning, faxing, shredding, you name it. And there’s a place for a lounge where if you want to take control of the remote, watch some Netflix, and just offer yourself a change of scenery. Hopefully, when you’re there, you can meet some people, you can make some connections, you can find out what’s happening in the community. And it’s a place where when you come through these doors, the hope is that when you walk out of it, your demeanor has changed, your mood has changed, and you’ve captured something that you can take with you to give you that extra push that you may need. We are the very first in North regional hills. So we have so much support from the city as the first flexible workspace in this community. And it’s not just for entrepreneurs, it’s for anyone, if you work from home, and you have children, pets, maybe you and your significant other both work from home.
Sidney Jackson 33:14
They just want that change of scenery change of energy. Yeah. So next time I’m in over there, because we’re somewhat expanding over there into the Dallas market. And when I say Dallas is pretty much encompassing place, correct? Yeah. Because we’re in Shreveport, which is smaller? Well, obviously, but definitely trying to make some connections out there. So probably I’ll be stopping by quite often after the baby grows up a little
Darlisa Diltz 33:45
bit. Absolutely, absolutely.
Sidney Jackson 33:49
But um, yeah, this was incredible as far as you the individual been extremely busy. What productivity hack or productivity tool do you find yourself using are find your participants use and alive, just to keep a clear head and be as productive as possible.
Darlisa Diltz 34:13
For me, it’s definitely my calendar, I had to commit to my calendar. If it’s not on my calendar, it doesn’t exist. If it’s not on my calendar, it doesn’t exist. And so that may take a couple of days, you know, for people to access me or weeks, right. But I did have to commit to that. And I had to realize that you know, it’s not that I’m trying to do it on purpose, but I’m have to commit to a calendar. I’ve also started doodling and doing like task lists. Because if I don’t offer good so just kind of keeping note and keeping tabs of what I need done and then kind of prioritizing it. That’s what we’re For me, a lot of people are candidates. They don’t like CRMs. Reminders, bells, whistles, software’s that stuff, I get confused, like,
Sidney Jackson 35:14
yeah, it’s definitely a lot, because we use a CRM, and then we have something called sprints. So just whatever overall team, we have different projects. So we have these massive tasks, items that we have to do. And some of them are dependent on multiple team members. So our approach was just putting everything in a CRM, or our project management tool, to the point where it was just like too many items. So we had to get back to the basics. So we just kind of put it in a Google Doc, and print it out every day, and then have a standard meeting every single day just gone over test items, hey, what’s holding this one up? Or hey, do you need additional support on us? So we can come back to a place of just being organized, and then systematic in terms of the CRM. But those two things recently anyway, has changed a lot of stuff. Because my test item, it’s like, a page long. But
Darlisa Diltz 36:18
imagine it gets crazy. Well, yeah, my calendar holds me accountable. It makes me accountable.
Sidney Jackson 36:25
That’s incredible. So Darley so where can people find you?
Darlisa Diltz 36:32
Speaking of Google, typically, if you Google, and so funny, Google just like turned on my phone. Um, you can Google me. so darn, Lisa Dilts is my name. Typically, if you Google me, some of everything will pop up now omit the negative stuff if there’s anything out there. But um, so the North Texas entrepreneur Training Center, our website is www.in tetv.com. And it’s those set of letters across all platforms. And then for the new location, which is the center empty x, which stands for North Texas. It’s the center and tx.com across all platforms.
Sidney Jackson 37:24
Incredible. Well, thank you so much for coming on. It was a pleasure as always talking to you and learn about entrepreneurship. So thank you.
Darlisa Diltz 37:35
Thank you so much for having me and I’m looking forward to the outcomes of this amazing podcast. You guys are doing a marvelous job and thank you for thinking of me to be a guest,
Sidney Jackson 37:48
of course. Thank you. Alright,
Darlisa Diltz 37:51