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In Part One of my profile of Ana Carolina Salazar, I introduced you to the Venezuelan entrepreneur who discovered her mojo when she let her true self show.
In Part Two below, she shares the quiet part about being an entrepreneur out loud - loneliness. Plus, she has more tips to offer that helped her as she evolved in her journey as a small business owner.
YOUR WORST ENEMY
It's one of those moments that can creep up on you and get you thinking and, at times, overthinking.
“I’m home with my computer. Me, myself and I… So, sometimes, your mind can be your worst enemy.”
Sometimes, your mind really can work against you, if you let it, according to Ana Carolina Salazar.
She's the founder and CEO of Bold Digital Marketing Studio. She talks about the psychological impact of being on your own in business and the feelings of loneliness that it can create, especially in the beginning and, especially, if you didn't expect it.
And that doesn’t even take into account the isolation that can come from working remotely in the COVID era.
Salazar says she was particularly hard on herself when evaluating how she was doing and if the services she provided measured up to her and other people's expectations.
It was tough because Salazar didn’t think she'd feel this way.
THE SOURCE OF THE OBSTACLES
Worse yet, she knew what she was doing – to herself. She said, “Oh my God. I’m the one creating my own obstacles.”
What helped her was joining a group of women entrepreneurs that meets every month and candidly addresses those issues and difficulties of being a small business owner, the ones that people don’t really discuss openly.
IT'S MORE COMMON THAN YOU THINK
“And when I realized it was common – you know – that they were going through the same things, that they also [felt] like they were alone, she felt empowered and understood.
She said, it’s hard to hear “no” over and over again. But there are issues at every stage.
“Today, we are going through the teenage years because we are growing. And, sometimes, growing is painful.”
FORMING THE FRAMEWORK
It’s all a learning process. Salazar says that’s especially true because, when you start, you need to focus on creating a structure and the framework for your business.
So how did she do it?
She says, “I applied things from my other jobs to my company, like weekly meetings with my team.”
Project management is another tool she incorporated with the help of her father, Juan Carlos, who is a project manager.
THE PUBLIC SIDE
She’s also been able to apply something else to her business that helps her with branding and business development – experience being in the public eye.
Her father was also a well-known singer and musician back in Venezuela. So starting at the age of 18, Salazar would help him by selling tickets and CDs at concerts here in the U.S., but she would also sometimes play the maracas on stage with him.
“I told my dad, I love to be here [behind the scenes], but I also like to be on the stage… I love the business part, but I also like… the show.”
She says this helped her learn and cultivate a valuable skill at a young age – networking.
Salazar says that, many times, they donated the money from the concerts to an organization. “I never saw that as work… And I used to do these big events and big concerts. But I thought it was just doing something for my community. So I think that was, like, also part of my process as an entrepreneur.”
Salazar thinks that’s part of the reason she considered becoming a journalist. But since she has an accent, she didn’t think it would work out too well in the U.S. That’s why she studied advertising and public relations, instead.
But she’s found a way to use that ease with networking, that love for community and being on stage in a modern way.
CREATING YOUR OWN OPPORTUNITIES
Salazar started her own podcast called Hablamos Spanglish. She uses it to inspire other Latino immigrants. “I invite different guests to tell their stories.”
She says, “I created my own opportunity.”
As she’s learned, it’s not that the challenges disappear when you’re a small business owner. Salazar says they just change over time.
START STRONG, BE BOLD
Getting over the loneliness of entrepreneurship and being able to channel it in different ways has helped her remember to start strong – every day.
“For me, for example, the name of my company, it’s, like, start strong. Be bold. Because I had to be bold every day to go through this journey.”
And it's the journey that's resulted in making her stronger - and bolder.
THE TIP JAR (tips passed out courtesy of Ana Carolina Salazar)
STARTING OUT: Salazar thinks it’s critical to network and join organizations like a local chamber of commerce.
PRACTICAL APPLICATION: “My dad gave me the money to become a member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce [of Metro Orlando].” She calls it “the best investment” she’s made. And that’s exactly how she suggests you look at the expense – as an investment in your business.
STEEPED IN SKILLS (mid-career): “Find a part-time job and then start doing some freelance work until you can say, "Hey, I can leave it completely. And then also have some savings… Leave at least six months of savings.”
STARTING OVER: “Be smart about the decisions of who [you] want to hire… and create a group of supporters… It’s like a team around you where you have your legal advisor, your accountant, your financial advisor...”
I’LL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN: Salazar thinks it’s important to recognize, from the start, your time is precious.
She found herself wearing too many hats in the beginning and realized, “I don’t have the time. And I cannot do everything because I also have to network and also send proposals and meet with the clients. And, then, if they get accepted, then [do] invoicing.”
BEST ADVICE FROM “LA CASA”/BEST “HOUSE” ADVICE: Salazar doesn’t remember who gave her this advice, but she thinks it’s very valuable to new entrepreneurs who have been in the workforce as employees for a number of years:
“Don’t say you’re starting. Because you’re not starting. You’re starting a business. But you have [more than] 10 years of experience doing it.”
NO NEED TO GO IT ALONE
HELP ON THE OUTSIDE...because we can all use a helping hand:
Have you taken enough precautions to protect your small business from cybersecurity threats? Do you even know the basics? This Florida SBDC (Small Business Development Center) course lets you learn at your own pace, providing lessons in bite-size chunks of time. You’ll learn areas of vulnerability, different types of threats and solutions for some common cybersecurity problems. Here’s more info:
“Cybersecurity Basics for Small Businesses”
WORKING ON THE INSIDE...because we know our culture has a hard time asking for help:
PUBLIC SPEAKING FOR BUSINESS
You can’t go wrong sharpening your public-speaking skills. As Salazar showed, there’s definitely a way to parlay it into opportunities. The more you do it, the more confident you become.
So what do you need to know and how can you use it to drive revenue? Take this workshop to find out strategies that will help you not only boost your personal public-speaking skills, but also generate business.
Ready to step into the spotlight? Here are some details on this webinar:
SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives)
“How to Take Advantage of Speaking Opportunities to Help Drive Business Success”
Thursday, March 3, 2022
1:00 p.m. EST – 2:00 p.m. EST
INSPIRATION FOR THIS ISSUE:
Some of us have a lot of interests, too many interests, in some cases, especially when we need to narrow things down and pick a career.
What’s ideal is if you can combine your hobby somehow into the profession you choose.
That’s why I wanted to discuss Ana Carolina Salazar’s strategy of fulfilling her desire to become a journalist. In Part One, she told us how she originally wanted to be a flight attendant so she could travel. In high school, she wanted to be an entertainer. She, ultimately, decided on digital marketing.
But what I found interesting is how she was able to recognize and apply her strength as a social butterfly, if you will, toward her career.
By zeroing in on the power of networking and then developing a podcast, Salazar was able to channel her strengths and passions into activities that would not only feed her soul, but also enhance her livelihood. Smart. Very smart.
I appreciated her candor about sharing her feelings of isolation and loneliness that came with becoming an entrepreneur. It’s real. And it can be soul-crushing, if you let it.
She searched for a solution and found it.
I think it’s important to bring up these kinds of difficulties because people tend to glamourize entrepreneurship and gloss over the real-life aspects that can become a problem, a huge problem, in some cases.
The entrepreneurs I choose to feature are intended to inspire you. But I also want them to level with you about the things that nobody tells you or, at least, that were a challenge for them or that caught them by surprise.
The goal is to make sure you have realistic expectations of what can go right and what can go wrong – a roadmap to guide you – should you choose to embark on your entrepreneurial journey.
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🌴 Enjoy your weekend!