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I am so excited to launch this new series centering around entrepreneur stories and their journeys. This is an interview with McKinzie of momsmakecents.com and todaymommy.com who went from college advisor to serial entrepreneur (but not overnight). Continue below to read her story.
Tell us a little about yourself and your business.
Hey! My name is McKinzie and I am a serial entrepreneur. I love starting businesses and teaching other moms how they can start them too. Since I became a mama four years ago I’ve started multiple businesses including selling on Amazon, direct sales, owning a rental property, working as a freelance virtual assistant and running multiple blogs. It’s been a busy few years!
Having my own businesses has opened up so many doors for our family. My husband was even able to quit his job two years ago to go back to school and get his master’s degree.
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What made you want to embark on this entrepreneurial journey and start your own business?
I’ve always had a bit of an entrepreneurial bug, but I really decided to become an entrepreneur right before my first baby was born. I wanted so badly to be a stay at home mom, but being a one income family can be tight. In the months before he was born, I started my first side hustle working as a freelance virtual assistant. The extra income that came in each month allowed me to stay home with my little boy when he was born.
What were you doing before? What made you want to leave that and do your own thing?
Before I became an entrepreneur I was working as a college advisor at a medical school. It was an interesting job and I’ve always loved higher education, but it did not give me the flexibility to stay at home and the income potential wasn’t great.
I wanted to be able to be present for my children and to give them their best life and starting my own business seemed to be the best way to do that.
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Starting a business is not easy. What was the hardest thing you faced when getting your business off the ground?
By far the hardest thing for me was time. I was a brand new mom finishing my final semester in college and I was exhausted. I would work until late into the night getting my businesses going and then would get up early with my new baby. For two years I got less than five hours of sleep each night. It was hard, but the payoff has been so worth it!
Did you have any sort of savings that you applied towards getting your business up and running or did you take out a loan? Can you guide us through how that was like?
I used my profits as a virtual assistant to fund my next entrepreneurial adventures that way I didn’t have to pull from savings or go into debt. I saved my income each month from my clients and then used it to buy inventory when I sold on Amazon and covered the costs of getting my blog going.
I also took advantage of as much free information as I could. These free blogging courses helped me so much when I was getting started!
How long did it take to actually start profiting from your business?
As a freelancer, I did not incur any additional expenses going into it so the profit was pretty much immediate.
With blogs, it can take longer to start generating income and I made a goal of being profitable within six months. However, I was able to beat that goal and became profitable just after my second month.
There are lots of ways to make money with a blog but the most effective way for me, in the beginning, was doing affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is where you share others products and services and make a commission when someone makes a purchase through your unique link.
What legal issues/road blocks (if any) you experienced during this start up period?
Fortunately, there weren’t many issues getting started. I was able to work with our accountant to figure out the logistics for our taxes and she gave me guidance on filing as a business. Initially, I worked as a sole proprietorship, but as my businesses grew we formed an LLC.
What did you do in regards to finding health insurance and contributing towards retirement?
When my husband left his job to go back to school we left really great health insurance behind. I wasn’t sure how things would work out with finding health insurance, but fortunately, I had a close friend that also was self-employed and she recommended a health insurance agent.
I reached out to this local agent and he was able to help me find a health insurance plan on the market place. Fair warning many of these plans are very expensive. However, there are subsidies available if your household income is below a certain level so be sure to look into that!
For retirement, we ended up pulling our retirement plan from my husband’s previous employer and working with an independent financial planner. This allowed us to have more control over our investments. Make sure to have an open conversation with your accountant and financial advisor come tax time so you can make contributions that will give you the best tax benefits.
Money tip: For your current retirement plan, look into something like Blooom. Blooom takes the confusion out of your retirement. For free, they look at your current 401k and see how they can improve it. After your analysis, Blooom will place the trades within your account for a low flat fee.
How do you find the time to still tend to your own personal life and needs?
As a mom and an owner of multiple businesses it definitely can be tricky! One thing that has helped me a lot is creating systems. In the beginning, I was working as a solopreneur and just addressed things as they came up. That worked for a little while but was not the most effective way.
I now have written up standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the key areas of my business. This could be for my blog post publishing workflow, researching new blog post ideas, onboarding clients and more.
This is helpful to me when I need to go back and complete a task, but has also allowed me to outsource projects. As of writing this I now have four freelancers in different capacities helping me run my businesses.
What tools do you use and recommend to others to help manage your time, life and overall well-being while running a business?
I would learn how to use a project management system early on. There are great options like Trello and Asana. These can become central hubs for your workflow and organization. As you bring on team members in your business this system will help you scale.
One of the best tools in running your business is building a team. It can start with one very part-time assistant, but it will save your sanity and will allow you to grow much faster.
What was one book, online article or other form of inspiration that guides you through your day-to-day work?
I absolutely love the book You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero. Whenever I get into a funk in my business I pop on the audio book and listen to it that week. It is so motivating and makes you feel like you can tackle anything!
Another book I love for life in general, but also for entrepreneurs, is called The Obstacle Is The Way. Honestly as entrepreneurs there can be a lot of “obstacles.” This book helps you to reposition your thinking so instead of getting upset or deflated by a problem you see how this is really guiding you to your desired outcome. It’s a really cool book and I highly recommend it.
Tell us one way your lifestyle has changed since becoming an entrepreneur?
The biggest way is that I look at money much differently. Before when working at typical 9-5 job money was just a set thing. X amount came in every month and that was it. As an entrepreneur the glass ceiling is broken.
Looking back I also had a skewed perception of time and money. Back before starting my businesses if there was something that would save me $5 I would do it even if it took an hour of my time. Now that I have more control over income as an entrepreneur I realize that my time is worth so much more than that.
So, for example, if they are doing free fro-yo day but I’d have to stand in line for an hour to get it vs. going the next day and paying $5 with no line, I’ll choose the latter because my time is more valuable to me. Kind of a silly example, but is based on real-life experience.
This works with outsourcing in life too. If you can figure out what your $/hour amount is then it makes sense to outsource more things in your life. Like if your $/hour for working in on your business is $40/hour but hiring a house cleaner is $20/hour it makes sense for you to hire that out (if you are like me and don’t enjoy cleaning) vs. taking that time to clean it yourself.
What are 3 tips you have for others who are thinking about starting their own business?
- Set a timeline that you are going to be 110% invested. The main reason that many businesses fail is because they give up too early! Many businesses take 1-2 years to see success so commit to giving it everything you’ve got for that timeline. I see so many burn out in the first six months to a year right before the momentum started happening for them.
- Invest in education. Trying to figure it out all on your own takes so much longer and in the long run costs you more money. Find high-quality books, courses, or mentors that can help you achieve your business goals quicker. This will help you get those “quick-wins” early on that will help you stay motivated.
- When possible hire a team. Starting your own business can be lonely. Having a team member that is there actively helping you grow your business goes a long way. Even if this is a part-time assistant working 5-10 hours a week this can make a significant impact on your ability to scale and your personal morale.
Think back to a time before you had your own business. What would you tell the “you” that you were back then?
Start now! Don’t wait any longer. I so wish that I could have started my businesses even 2-3 years earlier. I spent too much of my time focused on other things or caving into fears that it would be too hard. Ultimately, it was one of the best choices I’ve ever made and although it was very difficult I’ve been so blessed by becoming and entrepreneur.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us! Any parting thoughts?
One of the very best ways to change your life is to start a business. Whether you are just doing a side-hustle to bring in some extra income or you’re trying to build an empire it can greatly benefit your life. Take the leap and get started!
What do you think of McKinzie’s story? Do you think it is time to start your own business? If so, what would that business be or look like? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
McKinzie is a mom of two, married to her sweetheart and the blogger behind the sites momsmakecents.com and todaymommy.com. She loves teaching other moms how to save money, make money and take control of their financial situation. You may have seen her featured in publications like Forbes, The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, The Penny Hoarder, GoBanking Rates & more.
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Daniella is the creator and author of iliketodabble.com. When her wife Alexandra and her aren’t globetrotting or playing with their 7+ animals, they are hustling and working towards a future of financial freedom.