A business coach and an artist turned business owner share insights and tips to navigate employer relations while running a side business
On Wednesday, November 18, we kicked off episode one of #LiveWithNadya, a weekly talk show hosted via Facebook and YouTube live to fuel our growth by having open, honest and raw conversations on womanhood, motherhood and career. I asked business coach Michelle Soto and Phoenix-based artist and business owner Luisa Leon to share insight and tips to help freelancers, part-time consultants and aspiring business owners navigate the sometimes complex space of employer relations.
According to SalesForce, millennials and Gen Z are 188 percent more likely to have the aim of creating a side business compared to Baby boomers. We’re seeing this become more common in our circles. Throughout my career, I’ve been in this situation many times myself. The side hustle has been a part of my life since I was in college. I’ve always had the main job to pay the bills while working on something on the side that relates to my passion so I’ve seen both sides of it. In some cases, I’ve been blessed to have supportive employers cheering me on while in other instances I’ve had employers who’ve taken issue with me wanting to grow beyond the limits of their scope.
Lo Que Aprendimos Platicando Del Proceso de Crecer Como Emprendedoras
“We’re always becoming. You can’t ever stop growing. It’s going to take people a lot to see you as the person you are trying to become.” -Michelle Soto
Michelle says that it is not our job to make people see you as the future business owner or the successful entrepreneur. It is important to understand that people are not going along with you as you are working your way up to grow into your dreams. Be prepared for people to be uncomfortable or not as supportive with the process of you growing.
Both Luisa and Michelle agree that there is value and growth in the process of becoming. Rather than focusing on achieving the final goal, the key is to remain mindful throughout the growth process to learn from the ups and downs.
“Who you’re becoming is more important than the end result of your growth journey.” -Luisa Leon
Lo Que Aprendimos Platicando con Michelle, Business Coach and Owner of Success Love
Michelle Soto, owner of Success Love–a brand focused on empowering the voice of women while helping them launch their own business–started her first business ten years ago and is teaching her clients the roadmap to success.
On Understanding Company Culture
“It is important to understand what the culture of the company you work for is and also to remember you have the right to privacy.” -Michelle Soto (MS)
Michelle advises her clients not to feel pressured to over share information on what they do outside of their work hours simply because other colleagues do so.
“Remember that once you share specific information on what you do outside of work, people’s perceptions of you at work might change. If you feel uncomfortable and are having hesitations, that is a good sign that it is best not to discuss your side business openly in the workplace.” -MS
However, Michelle warns her clients that what they share across social media is public so it is best to be prepared to address questions on your side business. Conversations might arise from coworkers who are active on social media and curious. :-)
“If you share information about your business on social media or if your side business has an online presence, be prepared for coworkers to ask questions so you can answer accordingly while setting healthy boundaries.” -MS
A lot of her clients keep their side business private while others are open about it. It all depends on your circle and the company culture.
On Asking for Help and Working with a Business Coach
“Latinas, don’t be afraid to reach out to your network and ask questions. Just understand that some people provide guidance, coaching and mentorship as part of their business services so there might be a cost involved so be prepared for that as well.” -MS
Michelle’s List of Essential Tools to Set Yourself Up for Success Early On
1. A notebook - Get your thoughts on paper! Whether you’re old school and use pen and paper or use your phone’s note-taking app, research studies have proven that writing things down helps the human brain retain information and can improve your personal efficiency. Notebooks are rather inexpensive. Your smartphone most likely has a free built-in note-taking app. So there’s no excuse not to take advantage of this piece of advice.
2. Browse the internet for free resources on launching and growing a business but be mindful that searching online for all the answers is time consuming and can be overwhelming. Before you know it, you might find yourself in a rabbit hole with more questions than you started out with. To avoid this follow the steps below:
Write down one question and one question only being very specific about what you’re aiming to learn.
Set a time limit on your research and stick to it.
If you catch yourself spending more than a day or two trying to figure things out on your own, consider consulting with a business coach who might be able to help answer your specific questions in detail. This saves you time, headaches and money. To learn more about Michelle's business coaching services reach out to her on Instagram: @michellemelvin24 and to join the Success Love Tribe follow: @successlovetribe.
3. Track your business expenses including mileage, internet, travel, and your business phone to prepare for tax filing. Consult with a tax professional or accountant ahead of tax season. Michelle’s digital business planner might be a good first investment if you’re feeling lost and unsure where to start. The planner has a monthly expense tracker, a sheet to write down your upcoming expenses and a section to set business goals. The best part is it’s on sale now for $9.99.
Lo Que Aprendimos Platicando con Luisa, Artist, Muralist and Owner of Az Lotus Art
When she’s not encouraging others to live in color through her art, the Phoenix-based artist and muralist, is hosting art workshops or spending time with her daughter.
On Acknowledging Your Special Gift and Trusting the Process with Patience
“Remember that whatever you’re doing is not just your passion but it might also be what you've been called to do.
It may seem like your business just came together quickly but at the end of the day, it is your calling and it is intentional. Everything you’ve been through, what worked and didn’t work, it all lines up for things to snap into place. It is important to acknowledge the special gift that we’ve had for years that it just happens to have manifested itself a little bit more at a certain point in time.” -Luisa Leon (LL)
“If you’re thinking about leaving your job and talking to your employer about it–goals are important–but try to digest the process in between by really embracing who you are becoming through these changes. That is what is going to keep you motivated to celebrate the small wins every day and make every day a masterpiece instead of expecting to create the Sistine Chapel at the end of your journey. -LL
On Building Up The Courage To Follow Her Passion
“I built up the courage just saying–this is going to be a struggle and this is going to be a risk but I’m willing to take it because I felt that the risk of keeping things the same would be greater than the risk of making the changes–so I decided to go for it and make a plan.” -LL
Before becoming a full-time artist and starting her business, Luisa gave her notice to leave her highly-demanding job because she wanted to spend more time with her little one. Luisa’s supportive employer offered to negotiate to meet her needs and encouraged her to stay but, instead of taking the offer Luisa prepared herself to make the necessary sacrifice to start her own business.
It has been two and a half years since Luisa left that job and has been dedicating herself to “painting, and creating and sharing this inspiration and colors with others.”
“June 29, 2018, was my last day at that job. Since then, my little one has gotten to see me create as my full-time career. Although it’s not easy to create for a living–it really isn't–I wouldn’t want it any other way” -LL
On How Nuestra Cultura Views Creatives
“It’s unfortunate that it is not a very common profession to have, people think that you can’t make a living out of art, so I took it as a role for me to prove to younger generations, specially young Latina girls, young girls that are told they’re not good enough to be an artist, to have the courage to do so. That’s what I’m here for.” -LL
3 Tips from Luisa She Wishes Someone Had Given Her To Start Her Business
“Ask yourself how you can turn your business into a service.” –Luisa started sharing her art as a service by doing face painting, maternity art, teaching group classes at local colleges and showing children how to paint at art centers. Her strategy was to share her art as a service and through those experiences, people could get to know her and appreciate her art. By turning her business into a service and addressing people’s needs or problems, she then landed commissioned work and bigger projects.
“Find something that makes you authentic and is true to you.” –According to Luisa, your business will have a longer life if you stay true to yourself and avoid falling victim to the comparison trap by trying to figure out how to copy other people’s work.
“Gratitude changes perspective and is the most important thing to do ethically.” –Every single year, when Luisa starts her vision board or is embarking on a new project in her career, she starts it with gratitude–paying back, helping others, donating, assisting others with something they need help with, sending thank you notes to reach people. Luisa encourages business owners to show others gratitude and says it is the most important thing to do to grow your business and achieve brand loyalty.
Thank you for sharing this space with me. We hope this open, honest and raw discussion fuels your growth and encourages you to do more of what moves you. If so, let us know in the comments below.