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Today's story will remind you, you really can do it. And I'm going to try to help you get there.
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Today's Tip Jar section below will address something you may not have thought that much about as you build your business - employees and financial records.
But first, get to know this mother-daughter team who show what it means to adapt to make things happen: Karina Perez and Ana Gabriela Roosen.
Ana Gabriela Roosen has some pretty dramatic memories of her mom trying to find a job when her family moved here to the U.S. from Venezuela.
Roosen says, “When she [her mom] started working with this company, we were all like, what are you doing? You know, getting in the lake with alligators. She would come in at 9 p.m. So dirty. Didn’t eat all day, just to provide a future for us.”
INDUSTRY: Lake Restoration and Management (Commercial and Residential)
Karina opened her business: April 12, 2012
Ana Gabriela joined her mother: June 1, 2016
Karina - Born in Venezuela
Ana Gabriela - Born in Venezuela
Karina – Degree in Marketing – Instituto Superior Universitario Mercadotecnia (Venezuela)
Ana Gabriela - Bachelor’s degree in Biology – University of Central Florida
DREAM JOB AS A KID:
Karina – Waterskiing champion
Ana Gabriela – Doctor
BIGGEST GOAL YET:
Karina: “[Have the business] grow enough that I can be in the background.”
Ana Gabriela: “Make sure her [mom’s] dream happens. I’ll eventually not be in this business, I guess. I want it to get to a point where it’s kind of self-sufficient where I can start other businesses… I want to have an events business.”
GIVING IT ALL UP
Roosen’s mom, Karina Perez, gave up her marketing research company of 17 years in Venezuela to come to the U.S. She’d been separated from her husband and came to the U.S. with her four kids: Roosen was sixteen years old. Her youngest brother was just six years old.
In Venezuela, Perez says she could usually be found in high heels and a dark-colored dress. Here, it was a night and day difference. She was a laborer doing lake maintenance work.
BOOTS AND MUCK
Perez says, “When I [started] here, it was boots, muck - all day.”
But Perez needed to feed her kids. So she did the work.
And she surprised her co-workers and her boss with her grit.
On her first day of work, Perez and four other men had to move 20 tons of rock into a lake. First, they had to clean the lake.
“I started moving like crazy. When we finished the work, the person who hired me said, ‘Oh my God. You worked like three men…’”
Then, at the age of 46, Perez decided to open her own company, Karina Lakefront Maintenance.
In the beginning, Perez admits she sold herself short. She charged a fraction of what she should’ve billed for the work. She convinced herself that’s what she should do because she didn’t speak English and because she’s a woman.
She was that hungry for the opportunity.
WHO’S GOING TO DO THE JOB?
“People would say, 'But who’s going to do the job?' I said, 'I’m going to do the work.' They looked at me with distrust. But I said, 'Yes. Yes.' And they gave me the opportunity.”
Little by little, she went from having only one client to getting work from her neighbor and then another.
Roosen says, “Not giving up is the most important part because people would say no, no, no.”
MOM NEEDED HELP
Then, Roosen had an idea. She had originally planned to use her biology degree to go to medical school. But then she decided she needed to help her mom.
“I thought I was just going to kind of get my mom stable because it was kind of hectic. And I didn’t like to see her chaotic… I wanted to kind of organize her and go back to what I originally intended to do.”
WHAT THEY DON’T TELL YOU
That didn’t happen.
From figuring out the legal aspects to figuring out employees' needs, it was an adjustment.
Roosen says, “Nobody talks about how hard it is to manage all the different personalities…”
Even the mom and daughter duo found a way to complement each other’s different personalities to grow the business to a staff of about eighteen.
Roosen is the planner. Perez is the spontaneous one.
The journey has been difficult at certain points. But, in the end, Roosen learned a lesson about happiness.
“As time went by and I saw all the opportunity and all the love that she had for the business and all the things that I was learning, I kind of realized that I didn’t really only need to be doing medicine in order to be happy and feeling accomplished and full with where my life was going.”
Perez, a former national waterskiing champion in Venezuela has used her entrepreneurial experience to enjoy what she has always loved as a kid – the water and being outside.
“In my mind, when I’m working, I’m working. Nothing stops me. Nothing. No sun, no [rain], no cold. No, nothing stops me.”
THE TIP JAR (tips passed out courtesy of Karina Perez and Ana Gabriela Roosen)
Karina: “Be employed first. So… when you need to hire somebody, you [will have been] in that position and you have the [knowledge] to know what [is] required for the other person. But you need to be in that place first.”
She recommends a person starting out spend at least two years working for someone else.
Ana Gabriela adds to that by saying, “Learn how you feel being an employee and what you wish your employer would do [differently].”
She also says, “Be able to recognize opportunities and niches of your industry.”
STEEPED IN SKILLS (mid-career):
Karina: “Do it… And don’t think too much about that. You know, you don’t need to be 100% prepared for that. If you feel confident that you have some experience in the basic things to start, don’t stop.”
Ana Gabriela: “Don’t lose sight of why you started the business.”
She also says, “Be honest with your clients. You know, always be honest [about] where you are and where your business [is]."
Ana Gabriela says you also need to know how to say no to your clients when you feel you can’t accomplish something.
Karina: “Save everything… Save all your receipts.”
She says this is especially important because the bank will ask you for all kinds of financial records, particularly when you start.
Ana Gabriela: “Have a business plan. Even if you don’t have to present it in front of a bank or lender or whatever. Do it for yourself and focus on that business plan. Because, when you start having a business, all these things will start to show up, and you’ll be like, "Oh, but I can do this. Oh, but I can do that…' You have to stay focused [on] your business plan.”
I’LL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN:
Karina says, in the beginning, she agreed to do everything. “I kept saying yes, yes, yes. I can do it… I will do it. But it’s a little dangerous.”
She says it’s really important to say yes to only what you think you can realistically do. Otherwise, she says, it could backfire and end up costing you clients.
“Because that client definitely will have a bad experience. The best way to grow is to be 100% good [at what you do].”
Ana Gabriela: “Make sure you do the taxes from the beginning… Don’t try to cut corners or get around that…”
She also suggests, as soon as you start hiring employees to “make sure you have a handbook, or some rules… about the things that you expect from them.”
BEST ADVICE FROM “LA CASA”/BEST “HOUSE” ADVICE:
Karina: “La peor diligencia es la que no se hace.”
Translation: The worst errand is the one you don’t do. In other words, don’t be lazy.
Ana Gabriela: Her best “house” advice comes from, of course, her mom.
“Really seizing every opportunity. [Seizing] opportunities has always been her motto. But another thing she taught me is to kind of realize when you have to switch off… She’ll be, like, telling me, switch off. Because you overthink and… develop anxiety and stress… and that means stop thinking about it. Don’t think about it anymore – like a wall switch.”
NO NEED TO GO IT ALONE
HELP ON THE OUTSIDE...because we can all use a helping hand:
Getting a federal government contract for your business can end up being a huge financial boost, especially if you’re a woman. Where do you start? How do you qualify? What about self-certification? Get answers to all these questions, and more, during this FREE SBA (Small Business Administration) webinar. Here are the details:
Federal Contracting Certification: Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB)
Tuesday, February 8, 2022
11 a.m. EST – 12:30 p.m. EST
WORKING ON THE INSIDE...because we know our culture has a hard time asking for help:
Leadership skills pay in dividends, in business, in your personal life and in your relationships. Entrepreneurs need to learn leadership skills fast. This SBA blog post from Brett Farmiloe gives you ten different sources for learning leadership skills. From listening to podcasts to asking for book suggestions, find out the best way to approach these tools from experienced leaders.
"How to Learn From Experienced Leaders: 10 Things To Do"
INSPIRATION FOR THIS ISSUE:
Karina Perez definitely knows a thing or two about being flexible.
I initially wanted to do her story because I liked her focus on the environment. I also appreciated that she was in a business most women don’t pursue.
When I heard how she trudged in the muck herself to support her four kids, I knew this was definitely a woman of grit.
Any way you look at it, lake maintenance is not easy work.
For most of us, at one time or another, we’ve had to do something in life we didn’t think we’d have to do.
We constantly make plans, sometimes, only to have our hopes dashed or things take a completely different turn.
Especially now, being flexible is even more important.
Things frequently don’t turn out the way we expect. That's reality.
When that happens, how do you react?
More importantly, when this happens in the future, how will you react?
Will you let it drag you down or will you rise to the challenge and turn it into a positive?
One of my favorite sayings is Charles R. Swindoll’s quote: “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
The next time you’re handed some bad news or are in a really difficult spot, think about how Perez turned a bad situation into a fulfilling business and purpose-filled life.
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🌴Have a beautiful day!