there is no formula

Never in a bajillion years did I think I would be in the position of ENTREPRENEUR.

Jacob (a brother figure who left us WAY too early at the age of 18) was the entrepreneur. He was the business man and I was the designer. The plan was for me to be the creative one that ran around making stuff look cool and he would be the one keeping me from running off the tracks. I even joked in his eulogy about the time I asked him to help me invest money and he kindly shook his head…he knew better than to get me involved in business things!

After Jacob died, we gifted students scholarships for their entrepreneurial endeavors and I was on the team who picked what students were going to be the hustlers, the ones that would make Jacob’s name proud as they pursued their entrepreneur dreams. I picked ’em but never needed/wanted/desired to join ’em.

To validate Jacob’s business savvy, at the time of his death he was in the works of a multi-million dollar real estate deal… AT 18 YEARS OLD. He had already bought and sold land (when he was 15) and refurbished a car in high school “just cause”. On the other hand, at the time I stood for his eulogy, I was still 800+ dollars in the hole with my parents for senior photos I HAD to have and haven’t looked at more than 10 times since.

I never, literally EVER, thought about running my own business, being my own boss or hustling for my own paychecks.

Even working for Chick-fil-A, always hearing about entrepreneurs and the entrepreneur mindset, never, literally NEVER thought that was me. During a five-week training program where I learned all the stuff the Chick-fil-A Operators learned about cooking chicken and running the business, the HR rep for my department stopped me in the hall and said with a smile, “don’t even think about leaving us to become an Operator!” I laughed because I hadn’t even considered it. Okay, that’s not true. I can remember one split milli-second I thought “yeah, I could do this” but immediately didn’t want the:

  • responsibility
  • burden
  • risk

But now here I sit, in a Starbucks around the corner from my house at 2:57pm on a Monday afternoon, wearing yoga clothes and my favorite hoodie, swiping our BUSINESS debit card for my caramel apple spice so during tax season I can hand over a bank statement to our accountant, as she files us as a S-CORP.


My caramel apple spice is a business expense because here I sit, investing in my team… YALL I HAVE A TEAM…and carrying all the responsibility, burden and risk of being an entrepreneur.

Team Fortunato is no longer just a fun catch phrase for our family. It’s actually our LEGAL name for our business. There are two parts of Team Fortunato currently — one part is being independent contractors (Lukas full time and me part time) for the new business we are a part of getting off the ground. The other part is my oil business. No… not oil you put in your car… essential oils! Read more here.

I’m wearing shoes I, again, NEVER (have I said that enough??) thought I would be wearing, hats I never wanted anything to do with, and I laugh because that’s just the way God has always worked in my life. Looking back, the BEST things in my life came from things that weren’t even on my radar.

The top (and life changing!) examples:

My dreams have always been way smaller than the ones He has in mind for me and the above “pivot points” (when my life changed forever) could never have been achieved with any amount of preplanning or “following a formula” preparedness. Since the title of this post is “there is no formula”, I should probably get on to that part…

I’ve mentioned to many of you I have been WAY overwhelmed… I used the word “exhausted” in my latest post. I’ve blamed my overwhelmed-ness on being newly married, losing our dream job, or moving (all totally legit things) but even writing this blog post to you, I see that DUH I’VE BEEN OVERWHELMED, I’m a freaking entrepreneur who for 29ish years thought she would be anything BUT.

It’s territory I’ve never navigated before. Setting my own schedule and not being told what to do is PHENOMENAL but our success depends on not just how hard we work but how smart we work. No one is telling us how to “make it” and no one is promising a paycheck. Every decision I make when I get up in the morning can lead me towards achieving success for our family or away from it. If I decide to scroll on Facebook for hours that’s nobody’s time wasted but my own (and Team Fortunato LLC!!) that could be spent working towards putting food on our table.


I’m sure there are eye rolls here because if you just Google **How to be successful** you get 1.1 BILLION responses and the top page is flooded with people that promise me they have the answer.Screen Shot 2017-12-04 at 3.31.59 PM

Because if I’ll just do X, Y, Z I’ll be super successful and mega rich. There’s even a website called I can’t make this stuff up. I need to add here — NOT ONE OUNCE OF HATE on that guy because man, he’s working it and he’s literally the very first search result on Google for folks who are hungry for success so he’s obviously doing something right…HIS something right.

As a new and and still mega green newbie entrepreneur, I’ve done my fair share of searching. I’ve watched webinars. I’ve studied social media algorithms. I’ve paid for Facebook ads. I’ve learned about hashtags and hot words/phrases. I’ve read books and journaled a ton. I’ve written my why and posted it on my bedroom mirror. I’ve tried different apps and websites. I’ve watched videos where people promise me if I just do ________, I will make it. And I do it and then I don’t see the results I want and all I end up with is a huge pile of growth.

Growth. The theme of my latest business newsletter was “progress not perfection”. I could easily look back on my past few months of being a newbie entrepreneur and regret anything I’ve done or wish I had done differently. But I can’t, that’s exhausting and I’ve had enough exhaustion lately. I am moving forward and learning and I’m smarter and better today than I was yesterday and I pray with everything I have that tomorrow I’ll be even further along than I am now.

And the thing I learned (for the hundredth time in my life today!) — THERE IS NO FORMULA — and I have to stop hunting for one. I realized this morning in my Jesus time I’ve been on the prowl for a formula, for an answer, an easy button to tell me how to do this whole entrepreneur thing well. I just want someone to tell me “do these things and then you’ll make this money and then you and your family won’t have to stress about how to pay the bills”. And it’s tempting to Google search and spend the cash for the quick fixes. But that’s not how entrepreneurship works… shoot, that’s not how LIFE works.

There is no easy button.

There is no quick fix.

There is no formula.

There’s just life and Jesus and people and forward momentum.

Psalm 139:6 was a part of my reading this morning…

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

“I cannot attain it” — attain means achieve, accomplish, REACH.

“Such knowledge is too wonderful for me” — wonderful means exciting wonder, astonishing, MARVELOUS.

There is no formula. It’s out of reach, it’s unattainable.

And I can either be frustratingly mad that some formula Mr. Sethi has come up with for “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” is out of my reach or I can celebrate that not having the formula is marvelous.

There’s a secret sauce of “Who Virginia Is” that made the roles I’ve played over the years the perfect spot for that season — ministry intern, grad student/instructor, Chick-fil-A designer, and now ENTREPRENEUR. I don’t have access to the formula, but I know the One who does. The One who knows me so intimately that I don’t need a formula to figure it all out, I just need Him.

 God, investigate my life;
    get all the facts firsthand.
I’m an open book to you;
    even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
    I’m never out of your sight.
You know everything I’m going to say
    before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you’re there,
    then up ahead and you’re there, too—
    your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
    I can’t take it all in!

I had hoped by the end of this post, I could spell entrepreneur without auto correct but unfortunately, I have not mastered that skill yet. Are you allowed to be an entrepreneur when you don’t even know how to spell the word?? (insert hand to forehead emoji here!)


xoxo, va