Can you really turn your passion into a full-time business in the middle of the pandemic?

When people think about quitting their jobs to go to full-time entrepreneurship, 80% of people would run the other way because of fear of failure, of self-doubt, and of lack of support either from friends or family. But during the height of the pandemic, Suzie noticed the increase of side-hustles and passion projects that became a source of income to many people, primarily to replace the income lost, either from reduced work hours or from getting laid off from their jobs. She noted, “It turns out, everyone is capable of starting a business when pushed to the wall. But starting and sustaining are totally different stories. I don’t want people to just start. I want them to imagine a life where they can feed themselves and their family through a job they created for themselves, to wake up to a business they love and succeed, without the need to go back to their 8–5. Because it’s possible.”

She has the most cliche story of “following your passion”, from quitting her job in the big city to creating business in the hospitality industry because of her love for traveling. Moving to an island to run the business, she said “it’s not all surf, sunrise, and sunsets all the time.” She understands fully how hard it is to start a business from scratch while being a breadwinner to the family.

When the pandemic hit the tourism industry and the business struggled to maintain the cashflow, she continued creating strategies to keep the business afloat despite feeling anxious.

While thinking of getting back to the 9–5 to keep herself from burning her savings, few women from her network approached her to ask “How did you start your business?”. From that pain point, she realized, there are so many people, most especially now, who need guidance on how to turn their ideas into a real business, clueless about where to begin or how they can raise funds to start one. From here, she gathered her friends from different sides of the world who need her help and created a program to teach them online about lean business planning, the same framework she used to raise five million pesos (more than 100,000 USD) for the funding of her first project and execution of her idea.

A lot of people skip business planning because it would seem like the most boring and inconvenient part of the business compared to marketing or sales. But she doesn’t agree. She believes that business planning doesn’t have to be a boring 20-page document that nobody wants to read. “It’s not much about the plan, but the process. So many people love tens of thousands of likes and follows without knowing why they need it or who they actually want to target”. She uses a visual tool to let her students plan while stimulating their minds to visualize exactly what they want and be creative in their execution. Her role as a coach is to keep their plans close to reality, drawing from her experience as an entrepreneur, while removing those mindset blocks so they can see possibilities of growing their business beyond their fear. Every student had to create their own business plan which at the end of her program shall be presented to her and other guest mentors.

“When people know exactly where they want to take the business and why they want to be there, everything else becomes part of the process- validating, putting structure, reverse engineering your numbers, creating a timeline, putting the product out there, and learning some other skills. Did I imagine myself learning all these social media algorithms, email marketing, and copywriting before? No. I actually hated it at first! haha But it turned out, I had to do it or hire someone to do it if I want to achieve my business goals.”

From the success of the first batch, with few students quitting their jobs after the program to keep up with a growing business, she thought that this can make a huge difference to the lives of other women and herself. As an entrepreneur, she decided to turn her passion for teaching to pivot to digital entrepreneurship, answering the pain point of new entrepreneurs by creating an online coaching company. Suzie shares that The Modern Maria Co exists with the purpose of empowering individuals to start small and think big- that at the beginning, you don’t need to overthink how much money you need or connections you got or the courses you need to take. You need to know where you’re going and create a plan from there.

She envisions that one day, more individuals will choose this path and entrepreneurship will become a norm especially in her home country, the Philippines.

“Small businesses are the heart of the local economy and we need more heroes in the form of entrepreneurs- individuals with big ideas- to save us especially during this time”.

Suzie is currently running two separate START PROGRAM for entrepreneurs and for coaches. She turned her group coaching for new entrepreneurs to an online course while she recently started a 1:1 coaching program for new coaches. Visit her page @themodernmaria.co on Instagram and The Modern Maria Co on Facebook to know more details!

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Giuliano Gonzalez

Giuliano Gonzalez

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