By Janice Taylor (Founder, Just Be Friends) Two years ago, I was busy being a successful pharmaceutical sales rep - married, raising two little girls. The only thing that has stayed the same since that time is raising my 2 little girls. My marriage was over, my career was over and I was starting, over.
Out of my own desperate situation came the idea for Just Be Friends (JBF), a lifestyle tool for women to meet and be matched with other women for friendship.
When my marriage ended most of the women I had known for the better part of 12 years were the wives of his friend’s. I had only one true friend from high school, other than that, my entire social world disappeared. This was when the inspiration for JBF came, when your life changes (and it will) how do adult women make healthy, positive friendships? Not the kind of friendships that are currently depicted on mainstream media, but healthy friendships.
Friendships, which the youth of today could aspire to have in their own life. What if you move, get married, suddenly widowed, have a baby, change jobs, on and on and the group you currently have are doing everything opposite to you? What then?
Women need an alternative to the current social networks being offered, we need a sanctuary from all of the chaos that has infiltrated the majority of women’s lives. As a single mom, I became this woman on a mission to understand, research, interview, find, you name it, anything to fulfill this purpose. In University, my Psychology Honours thesis was on Women and Self-Esteem, invaluable research I had abandoned when I got married, which was now at the forefront of my research.
I took a business planning course, joined a local technology incubator and started the long trek into building a technical company with a Psychology focus. This trek is full of ups and downs and I am only getting started, but it is so worth the effort. When you find what you are looking for and it speaks to you at the very core of your being, you have no other choice but to keep on going.
Deep within myself, I knew having someone; anyone to validate the idea would also be key to it getting off the ground. Who better than Oprah Winfrey? I always said that JBF would go through Oprah in some capacity; she is the most powerful woman in the world. After all, her friendship with Gayle has endured over 25 years a great example of female friendship.
I immediately set my sights on Oprah; I launched the site locally and within 6 weeks I got the call from the Oprah Show! I am almost passed out! I was chosen as one of her Ultimate Viewers based on my idea and vision for Just Be Friends. I was then fortunate to go to Australia with Oprah, give Oprah an impromptu speech and network with some incredible people. JBF went from local to National overnight.
As I now start the next phase of JBF, from my hometown of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada on my way to San Francisco, I feel equipped with some fairly good lessons (with many more to come).
This is what I know so far:
- When you get to the future first it can be lonely, stay the course. Go where you can to meet the future (San Francisco here I come!)
- Don’t get lost in the HOW before you even start. The 1000s of steps to get you from A to B, may stop you before you even start. (I live in a city that rhymes with vagina with the balmy temperature of -30 today, I made it to the Oprah Show and now San Francisco is in my sights, anything is possible).
- Have a vision/passion and purpose that is equal to the utility/service you are providing (it will take you through the bumps in the HOW).
- Spend just as much time understanding yourself as you do your business plan. You are the filter. Be very clear, know your weaknesses and then get out of your own way!
- Have a good team… Being that I am miles, miles from the epicenter of anything, I am on a search for a great team! Let’s chat at Women 2.0 Conference!
Most importantly, we get one shot to live this life, why not make it absolutely fantastic, so have some fun with the gifts you have been given, what do you have to lose? But most importantly, Just Be Friends. Find One. Be One. In business and in life.
Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Janice Taylor is Founder of Just Be Friends. After growing up to a single mom in poverty and facing the challenges of difficult circumstances, Janice has turned her life experiences and education into a winning combination. After a successful 10 year sales background, she built a successful real estate investment portfolio. Two months after launching Just Be Friends, Janice was chosen as one of Oprah’s Ultimate Viewers of all time.