The Truth About Working For Yourself – An Interview

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A member of the Maker Mentors community recently asked if she could interview me for her Creative Girlprenuer project. She is interviewing entrepreneurs about how they started their business, and gathering real-life insights to share with others.  I tried to be as honest as possible in this interview, and asked if I could share it here. They obliged.
You can follow the Creative Girlprenuer here on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
1. What was it that prompted you to start your business? e.g. circumstance, financial gain, work life balance
I got pregnant right after high-school and needed to build a career that would allow me to work from home and support my family. I ended up managing online advertising programs for Disney Interactive, and was able to work remotely. They eventually wanted me to move to New York, and I did not want to move to New York. So I left to start my own business. I had three months to replace my full-time income, and started freelancing for online marketing companies. Once I had replaced my income, I focused on building a business doing something I was passionate about.

2. What were the first steps you took? e.g.. launch website, get social media accounts?
None of the above! The first thing I did was tested my idea to make sure I could build a business around it. I knew I wanted to host online workshops and I had a huge network of influencers I had worked with at Disney. I started helping bloggers launch online courses on their own websites, and took a commission of the revenue. I hosted 5-6 of these courses on different sites before I decided to build the business.

The next step was building the website and lining up 10-12 instructors to teach our first batch of classes. Most people get distracted by all of the social media and marketing opportunities. Its easy to get lost in the frae. I have always needed to earn money to pay our bills, and never had time to waste. I needed to know that everything I was doing was going to result in revenue so I could pay my bills.

3. Did you plan to rent office space or work remotely?
I work from home full-time. I tried renting an office and using a co-working space. I was never more productive in these atmospheres, and wasted alot of time getting ready and traveling to the office. I found it more efficient to work from home. And I like being here when the kids get home from school.

4. What business knowledge/background did you already have in your new field if any?
I spent 5 years running online marketing programs for big brands. I had a really good understanding of how to market my business online. I have always been really good at sales and spent a lot of time studying how other startups built their business. I think its important to spend time learning about the industry you are trying to break into, and figuring out how to use your existing knowledge to get an edge in the space.

5. What were the biggest hurdles to going it alone?
Running out of money!! There is nothing scarier that having no money in your bank account and a pile of bills on your table. We have had our water shut off and our electricity shut off. I have almost been evicted three times. There is no savings account to tap into when sales are slow, and there is no corporate bank backing up my business. Everything relies on my ability to earn money. I was always able to get our utilities turned back on and our rent paid up, but it didn’t make the experiences any less scary. People don’t talk about how hard it is to do a business on your own. Its really hard work and you will run out of money and there is no one to save you. I guess that is why entrepreneurs have the highest depression rates.

6. What was the most valuable lesson that you learned in the first year of business? Was the business a success immediately?
That things will get really hard but they wont stay that way forever. In the first year, you think you will die every time something goes wrong in your business. You learn how to navigate all of the issues and you get stronger as time goes on.I learned that every business owner goes through this. Its a process, and you have to remember that you are not alone. there is no business that is a huge success right out of the gate.

7. If there was an online workshop available to help with this problem, would you have taken it? If not, why not?
Yes! I took lots of workshops in the beginning. Mostly on blogging and running a startup.

8. Would you consider taking online workshops in the future to help with your business? If not, what kind of support would you like if at all?
I think all businesses hit a certain point where they need one-on-one coaching more than workshops. Every business is unique and you hit a point where you need really customized advice.

9. Who is your business role model?
Penelope Trunk has been a huge influence on my career
Marie Forleo has built the most successful business in this space (in my opinion)

And I have a huge network of amazing mentors that continually support all of my crazy ideas, and cheer me on as I go.

10. Finally, tell me a little about you, your business and feel free to add your links.
Modern thrive hosts online workshops that help people build successful creative careers. You can learn more at modernthrive.com

Maker Mentors is a free online community that helps creatives build successful businesses. You can learn more at makermentors.org.
Are you interested in starting your own business? Or building a career working from home? I am teaching a three-day live online workshop next month that I think you might enjoy. You can learn more here.
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