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It’s the great resignation as they’re calling it. Many are starting to venture out of their comfort zone from working with one boss to become their own and as many of us fellow entrepreneurs, women in particular, we know all too well the journey they are about to take.
I want you to take that journey. It’s your chrysalis; transforming yourself, your mind, your habits to be able to step up in your new role — I will warn you, it’s not going to be easy. There are going to be days when you want to quit everything and regret leaving your former employer, but you can’t! You have to keep going.
To help encourage and inspire you, to keep that momentum going, I had the beautiful opportunity to interview entrepreneur, Lara Schmoisman. Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Lara Schmoisman is the founder and CEO of The Darl, a marketing strategist and coach, host of the Coffee N5 podcast, and an international speaker. By her early teens, she was bursting through the doors of her first job in the entertainment industry, learning the skill sets that would ultimately launch her into her true passion –– empowering entrepreneurs. She learned how to understand what people need, how they need it delivered, and how to automate systems to provide the best results.
What do you find is most valuable to achieving a goal?
Be patient, resilient, and strategic. I say this because while some startups/businesses may achieve success fast, the reality is that slow and steady growth wins the race. There’s no elevator to success, in fact, there is a long messy road to cover between starting out and achieving your goals.
Running a business is challenging; the trick is to know your audience and choose wisely where to hang out and create what I call “3C’s strategy” (comprehensive, cohesive, and consistent). I don’t think I would be able to accomplish anything without strategy in my life. Like an onion, your core is what holds your business together. Your business is exactly the same, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, starts at that core. These are what we call your “core beliefs.” Being a business owner is like cutting the onion; you can choose to take a shortcut and cry, or you can do it with a strategy and keep your makeup intact.
What do you love about being an entrepreneur?
The challenge. I am thrilled by the idea of coming up with creative solutions for our clients, and I love the adrenaline that comes with taking risks. I love being busy and lucky for me, there is never a boring day at the office, there is always something to do, a call to hop on, or things that need approval. Also, because we have clients from different industries, we have to constantly think outside the box which keeps me and my team sharp. I think that if we specialize in one specific area, it could get a bit robotic for us.
What inspired you to start your business?
When I first moved to the United States, I had to make my own way in the industry. With a lot of hard work, I moved up the ladder working in the entertainment, digital marketing and advertising industries. In all of these, I picked up different skillsets and tricks. Then, the time came when I was done with working for other people. I remember I was working as a project manager in an advertising agency, and being my sassy self I would often voice my opinions about the different projects. That was until one day I found a note from the CEO saying, “Tell Lara not to give opinions during client meetings”. This made me turn to a headhunter and look for a new job, but she basically told me that because I didn’t have a linear career and my experience was too broad that I should consider just staying home taking care of my kids because no one would hire me. That was a breaking point for me, so I decided to quit for good. I was ready to start driving for Uber. But just before I started, I ran into some friends who were starting their medical practice and needed assistance. One thing led to the other and I found myself needing more people to be able to manage all the work. That’s how The Darl was born. Now, we are a 360 Marketing and Production boutique agency that specializes in digital.
What do you think are the top 3 mistakes people make when starting a business?
Bad hiring. You might be lost as to whom you need to hire and desperate to fill a vacancy, so you take anyone just to get the job “done,” but settling for less will only hurt you. Not only do you waste money on someone who was not the right fit, but you also lose valuable time. You’ve invested in this person, trained them, given them the tools, and it just didn’t work.
Trying to do it all by myself. When first starting, all founders want to be part of every little thing that goes along with their company. And that’s ok and completely normal. But, as your business grows and evolves, as CEO, you need to learn how to let some things go, hire professionals who you trust will take care of your business and start focusing on other things you know your business needs and can only be done the best way by you. You know your business and what it’s lacking to be its best version, so focus on that and delegate what you can.
Accepting all clients, even when I knew they weren’t a good fit. Every business leader in the world wants their business to succeed, and in my case, I needed clients to do that. But, what is very important to keep in mind is that not every client is a good client, sometimes the relationship is not meant to be. When your trusted team is telling you that they can’t work with a client, this is a big deal. Always try to be fair and to give very clear and explicit warnings, everyone deserves a second chance. With that being said, my team is my chosen family, and they are the reflection of me and my beliefs. For me, my role as a leader is to protect my team first. They are the ones in the trenches fighting for the company.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
One of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned in life is how to adapt. And honestly, this is coming from someone who’s fallen down a lot and had to get back up to reach her goals. I’ve had to be scrappy and earn my rightful place in the industry. Proving that I can get the job done regardless of my non-American education, ethnic background, or imperfect English language skills.
Ultimately, you may think you know what you actually want to do and that you are carving your path in a certain way, but life might have a different idea. And sometimes it throws curveballs your way. It then becomes your ability to be alert and catch them that makes you unique. Success only happens after you learn how to fall, get up, and try again.
How do you stay focused?
I keep a clear vision of what my end goal is, what the client’s goals are, I write everything down and keep close notes. So if I feel that I’m not on track or losing sight I try to map out what I need to get back on the horse. Also, seeing results helps me stay motivated and focused.
How do you stay driven and motivated?
Two things: my kids and my team. In some way, they are both my family. I want to be a good example for both of them, so I strive to be the best mom and wife I can be while still putting in the work necessary to change lives.
When I was looking for people to join The Darl, I knew I had to find talented and passionate individuals that I could rely on. My team is my chosen family, and the reflection of me and my beliefs. Together, we get to do what we love every day.
Best piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
You’re unique and your business is unique in its own way, you just need to find that spark. I would say that they need to have an idea before they start. However, without branding, it will never truly come together. Start-ups and entrepreneurs have to be ready to make mistakes because they will make a few along the way. The only way to learn is through trial and error. Don’t be afraid to test the waters and try new things. It is also ok to ask for help, you don’t have all the answers when you are starting out, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice or find yourself a mentor.
One of the biggest mistakes I see is people trying to copy other people’s strategies. Marketing isn’t one-size-fits-all. The fact that something worked for a friend or colleague does not mean it will work for you. Each business is unique, so you need to create a strategy that is uniquely–tailored to fit YOU. You need to learn how to outsource and delegate and create your own workflow.
If you started your business again, what things would you do differently?
Never work for free. I must confess I still sometimes struggle with this, but when you are starting out a new business you feel the pressure to sign up as many clients as possible. Sometimes in order to keep those clients happy and with you, you find yourself negotiating and giving them things for free. Here is the thing, while a few free perks here and there are ok, most of the time clients take them for granted or assume that you will always be able to provide them with free services. But at the end of the day, this is a business and you need to make money. Your time is also money and should never be taken for granted.
What are some challenges as being a Mom and as an entrepreneur?
I’ll never forget this particular moment, it was a breaking point for me. I had two kids and I was still working at a marketing agency. I was not getting back home until really late at night. One day, right around Christmas, my son’s school decided to play Secret Santa, and the girl he got wanted a sewing kit. I remember buying it from Amazon, but it got delayed, so we had no gift. I found myself, late at night, crying at a gas station trying to find a way to replace the gift in the little free time that I had. I remember thinking “I can’t do this anymore, I’m done with this industry.”
Advice would you give other moms who might be considering starting their own business?
Everyone who decides to start a business is already taking a big risk. It’s up to every entrepreneur to make decisions based on those risks and once you acknowledge your situation you can make a balance and know if you can assume them or not.
Start-ups and entrepreneurs have to be ready to make mistakes because they will make a few along the way. The only way to learn is through trial and error. Don’t be afraid to test the waters and try new things. It is also ok to ask for help, you don’t have all the answers when you are starting out, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice or find yourself a mentor. It’s also very important they learn how to outsource and delegate and create their own workflow; you can’t, and you shouldn’t be doing everything yourself.