Co-founder of SixFigureStart Caroline Ceniza-Levine knows a thing or two about job hopping. She trained as a classical pianist, then jumped into business consulting for the banking industry. From there, she joined a boutique executive search firm, recruiting executives for corporate businesses.
But Caroline missed the arts, so she left the corporate world for acting. To supplement her acting career, she started teaching professional development classes at Columbia University. That’s when she met Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio – who also taught at Columbia – and found the idea for SixFigureStart, a career coaching business they founded together in 2007.
Since they officially launched in 2008, Connie and Caroline have been featured on CNN, CBS and CNBC, and Caroline writes regularly for Forbes. In today’s podcast, Caroline talks about ways you can find success too, and how to keep your work-life abundance thriving even if your business is still growing.
Getting Started: It’s All About the Network
Before you market your idea to strangers, start with the people who know you – people you’ve worked other jobs with or went to school with.
“We both came from big, corporate jobs,” Caroline says, “so we [already] had a network. We tapped into people who already knew us.”
“They knew our work product and they knew our work ethic and our integrity,” she says, “so the sale at that point was easier than if we were cold calling strangers.”
Going Longterm: Be an Expert
Longterm sustainability means marketing your business to strangers outside of your original network. And that means looking like an expert.
Speaking at events is the most widely recommended way to gain trust and notoriety, but Caroline says she’s surprised at how far writing got her, too. An editor at Forbesapproached her to do a regular column because she had seen Caroline’s name so many other places online.
Part of your longterm strategy should include writing and speaking for as many outlets as possible. Soon, people will recognize you without you having to put in as much effort.
Achieving Abundance: Start Now
It takes time to grow a business, and some days you might feel like you’re living for your business instead of the other way around. The first step comes in finding something you love to do. If your business serves you, the work you put into it won’t feel like work.
And don’t wait until things feel “right” before you start taking time for yourself. Caroline learned four years into growing SixFigureStart that she could carve out some personal time during the day and still earn a profit from the business.
Find something fun to do to supplement some of the “not fun” parts of running a business. Caroline told us about a time she was co-writing a textbook and had all her inspiration sucked dry. So she took a comedy class in her spare time. When the class ended, she had fresh inspiration and a new group of friends that she formed a comedy troupe with. They still perform together. Keeping your creative side healthy keeps your business healthy, too.
Being Sustainable: Charge What You’re Worth
Caroline encourages women to charge what they’re worth from the start. “Cash flow is your chance for your business to stay open,” she says. She says that entrepreneurship is a lot like acting: “When I was an actor, it was about getting that next audition. It was about sustaining yourself so that you could show up the next day, because you couldn’t really control whether it was your time. It was up to you to make sure you where there day in and day out.”
“Entrepreneurship is very much the same thing,” she says. “You can control somethings – your pricing, your message.” Things won’t always work in your favor; a recession might keep people from buying, or they might just not see the need for your service right now. But that doesn’t mean your idea isn’t good.
“Sustain yourself and live to fight another day,” Caroline says.
Listen to the full podcast below, and don’t forget to subscribe to our iTunes channel!