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Today's newsletter is all about showing you how you can make adjustments as a working parent and boss.
Hope it inspires and encourages you!
Erica Martinez-Rose says the pandemic “has really shown that there [are] going to be times when you have to choose between business and family.”
It was hard enough before the pandemic for working moms. Martinez-Rose, like many other moms, had to add home-schooling to her already full schedule.
Plus, she’s the owner of a small business, Tech Rage IT, which provides tech repair and support services.
Then there are always the surprises that pop up, like her 3-year-old son coming down with a fever the day I interviewed her.
STARTED BUSINESS: 2015
LATINO/HISPANIC CONNECTION: Parents are Colombian
EDUCATION: Florida International University – Bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Mass Communications
DREAM JOB AS A KID: “I wanted to be a magazine editor.”
BIGGEST GOAL YET:
“For the business, I would say, be the most profitable business where we can serve our clients and take care of our people. And that goes back to just being financially smart and pricing things correctly…People are depending on us for their livelihood.”
“Personally, my biggest goal is to eventually be able to let the business run itself…where I can open up my own dog rescue.”
MOM, PLUS 1
Martinez-Rose has made adjustments along the way, like sometimes taking her child, who was 8 months old at the time, to her business incubation classes.
Or, for example, coming to terms with something that can be difficult, like making meal choices for her family.
HOW ‘BOUT THOSE CHICKEN NUGGETS?
“There [are] times when I have to literally choose between making my kid a healthy meal or chicken nuggets, so I can finish something.”
And guess what?
Some days, the chicken nuggets win.
“I feel guilty, sometimes. But it’s like, well, I’m trying to make a better life for us. And, you know, chicken nuggets is not going to kill you.”
DON’T GIVE UP ON “AVERAGE”
It’s interesting because the self-described “average kid” who made “average grades” has made smart career adjustments that have resulted in a business that now employees eight people, besides herself and her husband, who is an IT professional.
Sales increased 58% last year, despite the pandemic. This year, she says they're on track to beat last year's sales by 76%.
The IT world is certainly not the world she thought she'd end up in while growing up in Miami. Her dream was to go into magazine publishing – after getting a subscription to “Sassy” magazine while a tween.
Yet, her pivots have paid off, despite her fears.
Take, for example, moving to New York from Miami.
THE BIG SECRET: DESTINATION BIG APPLE
She was terrified of telling her parents she wanted to move to the Big Apple – even though she was 23 years old.
Those of you who come from a strict Latino background will understand this. I know I definitely did.
She explains, “You can’t tell your family you’re leaving them because they’re completely offended by it. How dare you want to leave your house?”
So she came up with a plan.
“I didn’t tell them until the week... I was moving. I packed my bags up – two suitcases. That was it.”
Wouldn’t you know? The second day she was in New York, she met her now-husband, Matt. He was the IT guy who helped her set up her computer when she started temping.
HOME IS CALLING
She thought it would be incredibly tough to compete for a job in New York because she didn't have an Ivy League education. But she got multiple offers and ended up working for a global advertising company and, then, a global publisher. She believes she got hired because of her passion for the work.
Still, she knew she would eventually return to Florida.
So after five and a half years in New York, she made her way back to Florida. This time, it was with Matt. This time, they settled in Orlando.
Even though Martinez-Rose says she really enjoyed working in communications and as a 4th grade teacher upon her return to the Sunshine State, once she became pregnant, she realized she had to shift gears.
“While I had a newborn, I’m one of those people that just can’t sit still… I have to be multi-tasking.” So while writing articles as a freelancer, she seized on the opportunity to do some project management for the client her husband was consulting for - and that turned out to be key.
It introduced her to IT project management and helped them start building their own client base.
“I started taking on more of a supportive and administration-type of role, helping with finances, helping with all the administrative tasks. And the scales started to tip a little bit.”
THE BIG LEAP
Martinez-Rose decided to start a business with her husband. But she would own a 51% interest in the company.
For a time, she says they struggled, trying to figure out the business’s identity. But, then, she decided to take on an even bigger role.
IT ALL COMES TOGETHER
“I took on the rebranding of our company.” She says, “With my branding, my marketing and journalism experience, I turned the company [into] Tech Rage IT – and that’s where we really gained traction in the business and made a name for ourselves.”
Martinez-Rose says, when she had her second son, she applied for, and was accepted into, the UCF (University of Central Florida) Business Incubation Program.
That made a huge difference.
“They taught you everything on how to run a business – from finances to legal to cash flow.”
The guidance helped her realize the company would be better off offering subscription-type services vs. consulting, so that income wouldn't be so unpredictable.
Participating in the incubation program also allowed her to qualify for the Advisory Board Council through the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida. She says, together, both of those free resources helped her leverage the company the last 2 ½ years.
And that brings us back to Martinez-Rose juggling motherhood and growing the family business she started.
GIVE AND TAKE
“Although we are a woman-owned business, my husband and I are a team. And there is a give and take where, sometimes, I have something [to do] and he needs to be, you know, full-time dad and single dad… And, sometimes, vice-versa.”
But she’s made peace with the struggle of being a good parent, while still working on her business with her husband.
BEING “IN THE MOMENT”
“I can’t feel guilty about working. But I need to be 100% there when I’m with my kids. Whatever, if it’s an hour, or if it’s a weekend, I really need to just not worry about my phone” or about answering an email.
Besides, she’s noticed her 8-year-old son is learning some valuable life lessons while listening to mom and dad discuss work. He’ll ask them questions.
Her son even took it a step further.
“The other day, he created a poster for our company – like an ad. Completely unprompted.”
She says her son’s “ad” even had a “call to action" included.
So while Martinez-Rose admits, she’d love to make some really cool bento box lunches for her kids, “That’s not happening. That’s just not doable.”
“But [I’m] trying to make it more special when I am with them.”
THE TIP JAR (tips passed out courtesy of Erica Martinez-Rose)
STARTING OUT: “Start with a business plan. That was something that we didn’t start off with right away. And I think it could’ve helped with some answers that we figured out later.”
She also recommends seeking out the SBDC (Small Business Development Corporation) to help you write the business plan to answer questions like the following:
-What problem are you trying to solve?
-How much money do you need?
STEEPED IN SKILLS (mid-career):
“Knowing what you’re good at and what you need to hire [for] is really important. You don’t know what you don’t know in having really good resources to help you... If not, you’re going to lose that passion, if you’re just really frustrated thinking it was going to be a lot easier.”
STARTING OVER: “Just know at what point you’re going to have to say, this is not working out, or this is working out. Because, to put yourself into debt is just not the way of life…And there’s nothing wrong with failing. It’s just knowing at what point, enough is enough. But, I’m a huge advocate of taking the chance. You just have to be very financially responsible.”
I’LL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN: “I think it’s really important to know every single area in your business.”
PRACTICAL APPLICATION: “I’m not a numbers person…And it took a long time to get our books in order. And I vowed that I will learn every part of the business to the point that I can then hire for it.”
“If you don’t know what’s happening, you have no idea…if money’s being stolen, if clients are being served correctly [or] if the hiring process is compliant. I think you have to know – not saying do it – but you have to know every area in your business.”
BEST ADVICE FROM “LA CASA”/BEST “HOUSE” ADVICE: “I think it goes back to what my dad said of make sure you’re self-sufficient and not let a man support you...I know where he was coming from and what he was trying to say.”
“It even took me a long time to let my husband…buy me things and even… pay more rent than I was paying – because I just did not want to be supported. I have kind of changed a little bit, but that was something that was very ingrained in me – of being self-sufficient. I think that that’s just helped me to be where I am today.”
NO NEED TO GO IT ALONE
HELP ON THE OUTSIDE...because we can all use a helping hand:
A cash crunch can devastate your business. If you're a start-up or have a business and need to find funding because of cash flow problems, you need to know what options are available to you. This FREE class will go over different funding sources and the criteria you must meet. Check out the link to register:
The National Entrepreneurship Center & SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives)
FUNDING YOUR BUSINESS
Thursday, November 18, 2021
6 p.m. - 9 p.m. EST
WORKING ON THE INSIDE...because we know our culture has a hard time asking for help:
When you're asked to "do more with less" over extended periods of time, it'll likely be only be a matter of time before you experience burnout. Even though this report from Deloitte is from March, I found it to be very thoughtful in addressing burnout and how companies can try to minimize it for their employees. The report doesn't just address incorrect "assumptions", but it offers steps to fight burnout by looking at the problem through a lens of work culture, relationships and even physical design of the workplace.
Let’s face it. While many fathers help with child-rearing and housekeeping, the burden still tends to fall more on the shoulders of moms.
So I was especially interested in finding out how a mom, who’s also a CEO, is handling the extra challenges COVID is having on work, life and motherhood.
Sure enough, when I interviewed Erica Martinez-Rose by phone, she told me she had tucked herself away in a room at home so she could answer my questions without interruptions.
Even though I chose a different track (broadcasting), we both chose to pursue a Communications degree. We discussed how a career in journalism can be very unforgiving when it comes to working late nights, weekends and holidays.
When Martinez-Rose first came back to Orlando, she realized the late nights weren’t going to work as a mom.
I admire how she was able to pivot her career, working in advertising and publishing in New York, shifting to communications and teaching, before finding her knack for project management. She was able to build on all the skills and experience she acquired along the way and use them to start her own business.
It’s clear she enjoys her work. It’s also clear she’s been very conscientious of making sure her career choices haven’t jeopardized her personal and family life. On top of it all, she says her dad’s mantra of being self-sufficient has led her to make responsible financial decisions. Her company has no debt.
Martinez-Rose laid bare the not-so-perfect parts of being a working mom. But for someone who, again, described herself as “average”, with “average” grades, she’s shown she’s been anything but “average”.
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