5-9er Interview: Laura Cheek
What is your “day job” and how many hours do you work in a week?
Currently, I’m a waitress. I like to say I’m living the full entrepreneurial lifestyle by hustling and bustling during lunch, late nights, and weekends. I was freelancing doing various jobs from bar tending, event planning, and social media management, to name a few, for the last 6 years. One year ago I decided to lighten my freelance load and pick up a waitressing job to provide more time to work on my start up.
What is your business? (What do you sell/who do you serve and why?)
My new venture is Insperience It (link: www.insperienceit.com). We are a social branding company specializing in branding and social media management for small to mis-sized businesses in New York. We make our clients realize the power of their brand by leveraging social media with innovative content and strategy. Additional services include, content creation, web design, digital marketing, and various business solutions.
For how many years have you run a business alongside your regular job?
I have being living the 5-9ers life for nearly two years. I was working at another start up before it failed. It was in April that I decided to fully break free from freelancing and thus, Insperience It (link: www.insperienceit.com) was born.
Why did you decide to start a business?
While I was scrambling for ways to fund my first start up that inevitably failed, I became addicted to researching digital marketing, blogging, branding, and social media. While I found great excitement in my newfound researching hobby and accumulated knowledge, I started to turn bitter to the whole idea of this start up company of mine. I was frustrated. But through freelancing, I started utilizing my knowledge of social media and digital marketing and provided it as an add-on service to my freelance clients. A few months later, I realized, mid conversation with a client, I had a new business that was flourishing!
In your first 6 months of starting your business, please list out the top 3 pain points you struggled with:
- Appropriating funds where they are needed and not spending unnecessary money.
- Obtaining clients. Working with small businesses is tough. Most are sceptical and set in their way, they need an extra push.
- Time management. Being a one woman team is tough when you’re in demand constantly and need to be in more than 2 places at one time.
How did you overcome these pain points?
Firstly, I didn’t want to make the same mistakes in the past. So I realized I don’t need hundreds of thousands of dollars to start this business; as I was under the impression while starting my first start up venture. I don’t spend a dime on my business unless it will directly make me business. For example, I use a less expensive web site hosting service and I use as many free trails for various social media management softwares as possible. Secondly, I’m always working on ways to refine my “pitch.” I changed my approach while speaking with prospective clients. Being a small business myself with little funds, I think of how I would want someone with a meaningful service to approach me. Thirdly, my time management is something I work at everyday. I run a tight ship. I schedule everything! I use productivity apps and services like Trello, Pocket, Evernote, and Sprout Social to automate some mundane tasks.
How good are you at delegating tasks to others?
Delegating tasks is something I’m learning. Right now, I only have a few clients so it is manageable. But I am growing, hence a growing need to get my business in good running order so that taking on an intern or an employee is possible without manic chaos.
Do you feel you have a good balance between your job, business and personal life. If yes, how did you achieve this? If no – why not?
My answer to work-life balance is that there is no work-life balance! When you love what you do, you aren’t working. I’ve never worked more hours per week in my life, but I couldn’t be happier. You need balance in all you do. But it gives you a different perspective on “work” when you’re living your passion. It may seem overwhelming working 9-5 and then again 5-9 but it is so worth it when you’re finally able to put in your 2 weeks!
What are your top 3 tips for people starting a business alongside their regular jobs?
- Don’t get bogged down in the details. You never really know what business you’re in until you’re in business. Don’t waste your time thinking everything out.
- Don’t spend unnecessary money. Keep it to the essentials for setting up shop.
- Don’t give up! Working on your passion 5-9 is tough because it may take you that much longer to make it come to fruition. But that is okay. Rome wasn’t built in a day!
If you could change one thing about your start up process when you started your business what would that be?
One thing I wish I did differently when starting this business was not getting in front of and speaking with my prospective clients sooner. I spent a lot of time creating my service process and service descriptions; I really wrote out so much detail. Now that I have clients, their needs don’t exactly match what I thought their needs were. I wish I spoke to them sooner instead of creating elaborate services without their input.
Do you have plans to transition to full time business owner? Why?
I cannot wait to quit my job! I have been slowly giving up my shifts one day at a time. I started working 5 days, then 4 days, then 3 days, then 2 days, and now I’m down to 1 day a week. I hope to be a full time boss lady by the end of October! For those that work full time, in a 9-5 professional position, don’t quit too soon but don’t quit too late. Save your money, wait until your business can cover your minimum living expenses, then go for it!
For those that are starting their business and are considering using social media as a way to promote, check out my post and free worksheet download, Social Media 101: The Ultimate Guide for Setting Up Your Small Business for Success (link: http://www.insperienceit.com/single-post/2016/09/01/Social-Media-101-The-Ultimate-Guide-for-Setting-Up-Your-Small-Business-for-Success) Feel free to reach out with any questions or input! Would love to hear from you and connect with my fellow 5-9ers!