You will make mistakes and you need to bounce back from them — I have made numerous mistakes while building my business. I have hired people who I thought were the right fit for the job but it turned out that they did not have the right experience to do what was needed. I have spent a lot of time working on initiatives that had a negative ROI, and marketing and advertising in the wrong place. I have paid for courses that I thought would be useful and build my knowledge base but turned out to be a waste of time. A lot of these mistakes have been learning experiences. I know where I want to focus my efforts and my time. I know what type of experience I need if I choose to hire for that position again.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mikaela Walker.
Mikaela Walker is the owner of Orlando Parents, LLC. When she had her daughter, she realized how difficult it was finding fun, enriching activities to take her daughter and then her son to. She decided to start a company that would fill this need for parents, taking away the work required to plan fun family activities.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
My parents are from Jamaica, so I spent the earlier part of my childhood there. I moved to the US when I was 9 years old and finished out my childhood in New York. From an early age, I wanted to be in business. I sold items from catalogs door-to-door and I delivered the Pennysaver to earn my own money. As soon as I was able to, I got a job working at McDonald’s at age 16 and I have been working since then.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” By Zig Ziglar. Many people, including myself come up with plans for a business, but for some reason or the other they put it off or never get started. Even if everything isn’t perfect, even if the time isn’t right, and even if others don’t support you, you need to just get started and start moving forward. I am definitely a perfectionist at heart, as many entrepreneurs are, and I was afraid of launching my business until everything was perfect. In my mind, I needed to have great content, a great-looking website and Instagram-worthy photos. But had I waited for all of these to occur, I would never have started the business.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The book The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes has had a great impact on me. The book is about having the willingness to put yourself out there, get out of your comfort zone and try new things. With the type of business that I have, I am constantly putting myself out there and I have to be more visible than I am comfortable with. The book makes it clear that it is okay to be uncomfortable, the important thing is that you are willing to do it anyway.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
Before the pandemic I was working as a strategic consultant for pharmaceutical companies. I spent a lot of time traveling across the country to work with clients in California, helping them create their business plans, launch new products, and do research with physicians. I also had a travel business part-time, helping people travel the world and have new experiences.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
I pivoted to running an online lifestyle and entertainment magazine for local parents. The magazine provides information on things for families to do together in and around Orlando, as well as at home. I had “started” the magazine a few years ago on paper at least, but I hadn’t done anything with it. The pandemic was an excellent motivator for to work on building the magazine into a viable business.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
When I had my daughter 11 years ago, I realized how difficult it was finding activities to do with her. It was sometimes almost like having a part-time job looking for fun, enriching activities to take her and later my son to. If I was looking for this information, I figured that parents like me were also looking for this information. When I when I relocated to Orlando, I decided to create a location where this information would be easy to find.
How are things going with this new initiative?
It is going better than initially expected. My magazine is mainly focused for Orlando families to do outside of the home, but people were not interested in this when the pandemic hit. I had to pivot and create a lot of content around at home activities that families could do together. Parents needed ways to keep kids entertained, so they were actively looking for new and interesting ways to do this. I also provided educational activities that kids could do at home to in place of schooling, when the schools were closed, and to supplement schooling when we switched to online learning
As the state opened back up, people were looking for ways to be outdoors safely or activities that they could do that were socially distanced. I provided information on activities that would fill this need for families. I tried to continuously shift my offerings according to where my clients were and wanted to be.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am grateful to Vanessa Perez at Womantrepreneur. When I decided to build this business, I saw an advertisement for her group and I joined right away. Vanessa has been a sounding board, motivator, and cheerleader. She gives tough love and holds me accountable to what I say I am going to do.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
In the last quarter of the year, my magazine has been more visible, so I have been invited to a variety of media events. I have been to media events for amusement parks, events for the launch of fall festival/halloween season as well as local holiday attractions.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- You will need to “go back to school” — While, I have both an MBA and an MS in Marketing, and those are somewhat useful for my business, I have had to go back to school and take courses such as Facebook advertising, SEO, affiliate marketing, etc. that are useful for my business.
- It is more work than expected — When you are building your business, you will work more than expected. I thought that having my own business would mean being able to spend more time with my kids. While I am physically present at home more, I find that I work more hours and work on the weekends to try to move my business forward.
- The “buck” stops with you — Even if you hire someone to do work for you, if the work is shoddy you are the one that will be responsible. Most of the content for my magazine is created by external writers. I do not currently have an editor, so I have to review everything myself which can sometimes be time consuming. But if I put something on my site that is incorrect, it reflects badly on my business, not the writer.
- Know when to outsource — You need to know when to outsource some activities to others that can do it better and faster than you. In the beginning, I was spending a lot of time trying to do the back-end work on my website. It would sometimes take me hours to figure something out. A few months ago, I signed up with a website support company. When I have an issue, I send it to them and it is solved quickly. I can spend the time that I would have spent trying to figure out the problem working on moving my business forward. Think about the opportunity cost of your time not just the cost that you are paying for the service.
- You will make mistakes and you need to bounce back from them — I have made numerous mistakes while building my business. I have hired people who I thought were the right fit for the job but it turned out that they did not have the right experience to do what was needed. I have spent a lot of time working on initiatives that had a negative ROI, and marketing and advertising in the wrong place. I have paid for courses that I thought would be useful and build my knowledge base but turned out to be a waste of time. A lot of these mistakes have been learning experiences. I know where I want to focus my efforts and my time. I know what type of experience I need if I choose to hire for that position again.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
I spend less time scrolling through social media than I did before. I utilize it almost solely for work at this point. I am also trying to spend more time outdoors, going for a walk or a bike ride. It allows me to clear my mind, without all of the stressors of work and home being around. I also try to unplug from the computer for at least one day a week and a couple of nights a week. I spend time with my family doing a fun activity, read or watch a silly tv show.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would love to be able to offer non-traditional loans to women and minorities who would like to open a business. Having your own business is the best way to build wealth for yourself and for future generations. Women and minorities too often are cut off from this funding, which limits their growth.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why?
Maybe we can tag them and see what happens! I would love to have lunch with Tyler Perry. He started from nothing, but he had a dream of where he wanted to be. When doors wouldn’t open for him or he couldn’t get a seat at the table, he made his own door, built his own office and bought his own table. From him, I have learned that I can’t wait for others to give me an opportunity, I need to create it for myself.
How can our readers follow you online?
I can be found on the web at orlandoparentsmag.com. My social media handles are facebook.com/orlandoparents, instagram.com/orlandoparents and tiktok.com/@orlandofamilyfun
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!