Don’t avoid numbers. You have got to know your numbers. How much are you spending? How much are you making? Each business, each industry is going to have specific metrics that matter. You have to know which ones matter to you and you have to pay attention to what the numbers tell you. For so long I avoided looking at data. But as an online business owner, once I started tracking email open rates and click through rates and conversion rates and started making changes to low performing emails, revenue increased dramatically.
As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Micala Quinn, a wife, mom, online course creator, podcaster, and work at home enthusiast. Her mission is to revolutionize what it means to be a working mother.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
When maternity leave was up way too soon after my daughter was born, I started desperately searching for a way to be a work at home mom. I knew I did not want to join an MLM and I did not want to settle for $10 an hour working for a call center that would require me to be in a quiet work environment from 8am-5pm. I wanted something that would let me work early morning while my daughter was still sleeping and during naptime, so we could get out, explore our city together and make memories.
After a lot of searching, I finally found my next career move. I started a virtual assistant business. As a virtual assistant I quickly tripled my take-home pay, working 15 hours a week. Compared to the 55+ hours I worked as a teacher and the pennies I made, freelancing was a no brainer.
Once I quit my job, I kept getting asked by other women, mostly moms, how they could do what I did, so I started helping them. One by one, until there were over fifty women asking me to help them at once. I saw a huge hole and a huge need and the market, so I set out to launch a company that would help women build profitable and flexible businesses from home.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
This one is a hard one. I am actually a pretty boring person, but when I was in the very early stages of starting my company, my son, George, passed away unexpectedly.
In this unfathomable experience, one of the few things that brought me comfort was the memories and time I had with him at home. I truly woke up each day and went to bed each night so thankful for my life and my family, and living in this world where I was able to create what I wanted.
Our typical day was me waking up early before the kids got up (5am) to get started on my work, so that when they were up I could be present with them.
George would wake up around 7am, we’d snuggle and I’d nurse him in his room, and we’d rock and cuddle. I’d sip my hot coffee, until big sis would wake up. Then we’d get her up, dressed, and we’d all go downstairs for breakfast. I’d carry one baby on each hip and my daughter would look at me with the biggest smile and say “two babies!” Every single morning.
After breakfast — this was my favorite part of the day — we’d turn on music and dance (mostly to Proud Mary by Tina Turner, Shake It Off by Taylor Swift, and Uptown Girl by Billy Joel) to get ourselves in a good mood for the day.
Life was perfect.
We never had to rush anywhere.
I was able to work as a freelancer and still be the hands-on mom that I dreamed of being.
Losing my sweet George reminded me how short and unpredictable life is and what truly matters. I want to live a life where I am in control of my time, where I am able to prioritize my family, but also where I am still able to use my talents and gifts in a way that allows me to not lose myself in motherhood.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I went to a business conference and was chatting with a woman in line for coffee. She was asking me what I did, and I was asking her what she did.
Turns out she was actually one of the speakers at the conference and someone famous. Since that conference, I always research and follow the speakers beforehand, just in case I bump into them in the coffee line!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We are a community of moms who accomplish big things, but keep our family at the front. In lots of my videos, podcast episodes, pictures, you will find me working with my kids. We are a family and mom friendly company. Everyone is able to make their own schedule and we do not work traditional 9–5 hours.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Nothing new. Just trying to continue to grow our message and raise awareness about the options for women to work from home. If I see instacart praised as a viable option for mothers looking to earn an income from home one more time on the big media outlets, I may lose my mind!
Why would an overworked, overbooked mother take on early morning or late night grocery store runs for strangers? I cannot think of anything worse than driving to the store, meticulously parsing through someone else’s grocery list, selecting or substituting all their items, loading it into my car, then driving across town to deliver. And yet all the media outlets act like finally! Women can have it all! Praise be!
I am hoping to grow my audience and podcast to show more women that there are better options and help them take the first steps towards making it happen.
I know that freelancing has the power to transform lives of millions. I see it everyday in my Facebook group or in my inbox or on social media. Moms are happy again because they are in control. Because they can do work that truly matters AND be there for family’s. And they can do it on their terms. Not someone else’s. Everyone has different needs and goals and freelancing is not a one size fits all career. It can be minimal, part-time, full-time, or even a full blown empire! The opportunities are endless and helping moms discover that is one of the best parts of my job.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
Be very intentional with the culture and community you want to create. Have the vision in your head, verbalize it, and come back to it often.
The culture and community I have established for my team also carries out to how they represent the company and the brand out in the public.
When people encounter our brand and company, I want them to feel included. I want them to feel welcomed. I want them to be inspired to take action. Our community feels like a family and my team and the women I work with on a daily basis feel like part of my family too.
I model how I want potential customers and partners to feel when they interact with us in how I treat my team.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
First the role, requirements, and expectations need to be clear from the start. As the CEO of a growing company, but also the mom to a growing family, and the wife to a Construction Litigation Attorney (who happens to be a Kansas City Rising Star, I do not have the ability to, nor do I want to work 24/7. I only want to work 20–25 hours a week. Max. In order to do so, when I delegate, I delegate complete ownership. I give my team members the vision, and I trust they will implement to the best of their ability.
Also, do reviews and check-ins. Not just on their performance but yours as well. Give your team an opportunity to give you feedback, too.
Some of the questions I like to go over are: what’s working for you, what’s not working for you, how can I help support you?
My biggest piece of advice is happy people do better quality work.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. 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?
Dana Malstaff. She is the owner and founder of Boss-Mom, a movement helping women to raise their businesses and their babies at the same time. She has modeled what it looks like to be a leader, has mentored me, and helped me to dream big AND accomplish those dreams. We mostly connected virtually, but I went to her Business conference in September of 2017. I remember sitting in the front row, smack dab in the middle.
Not only did I learn the tactical things I needed to do to grow my company, but she helped me to uncover my why and how to get in touch with the emotional side of my business. I firmly believe that deep understanding of my why is what pushed me to persevere and keep going during the hard moments of life and when I felt like a failure.
She also throws really fun parties and the last night of the conference was a karaoke night. I have never been an all eyes on my person. I am not a performer, but I forced myself to get out of my comfort zone. This particular conference was at the very beginning stages of starting my company, and I told myself if I am going to grow a multi-million-dollar company, I am going to have to get over my fear of being on stage.
What was the worst that could happen?
To make things a little less intimidating, I decided to do a duet with another woman there.
All was well until she accidentally clocked me in the face with the microphone. My stage debut ended early, with blood, and a black eye.
Despite those injuries, I learned a very valuable lesson that day. It’s okay to conquer your fears and it’s okay to make mistakes and for things to not go perfectly. I am forever grateful for Dana’s mentorship and friendship. My business would not be where it is today without her.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I grew up going to Catholic School and in the early years, a song we sang a lot was “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” And that’s exactly how I feel about my business. I have found a way to work from home and truly love my life and what I have created. I know there are millions of moms out there who feel like I felt: stuck, depressed, and resentful. I found a way out, and it is my responsibility to help others out. help inspire women to go after their dreams and help them to accomplish that.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- It’s okay to say no. I am a people pleaser through and through. I wish someone would have sat me down and taught me how to say no. It sure would have saved me about a thousand hours of worry and regret. I don’t like to tell people no, but I am learning that when I say yes to something that does not serve me, my family, or my goals I am saying no to something that does. Not that I have to be super selfish with my time, but when I over commit and take on more than I can handle that has an effect, most of the time it is my family that feels that.
- Not everyone is going to like you. The weekend before I was launching my podcast I sent an email out with the subject line “can you help a mom out?” One lady replied back, NO! I was devastated. I got a ton of replies back that were very encouraging and sending thanks and well wishes, but the one that was mean held so much more weight in that moment. Since then, I have learned some people, thanks to the computer screen are comfortable being mean for no good reason and it’s not really about me, it’s more about them and what they are going through.
- Read Profit First. If you are a business owner, you have got to read profit first. As a former English Teacher, accounting is not my strong suit, nor is money management. Profit first has helped me prioritize paying myself AND maintain the financial health of my company.
- Don’t avoid numbers. This kind of goes along with #3. You have got to know your numbers. How much are you spending? How much are you making? Each business, each industry is going to have specific metrics that matter. You have to know which ones matter to you and you have to pay attention to what the numbers tell you. For so long I avoided looking at data. But as an online business owner, once I started tracking email open rates and click through rates and conversion rates and started making changes to low performing emails, revenue increased dramatically.
- Don’t just set goals, set the daily tasks you are going to do each day to accomplish those goals. This was one of the most valuable lessons I learned, two years into my business. I am a goal setter, but I rarely ever accomplished my goals, and it was because I only focused on the outcome I wanted to achieve, not the how. Once I broke my goals down into actionable steps, I actually started to accomplish them. Big lesson learned, thanks to Dana Malstaff!
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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If I could inspire a movement, I would inspire a movement that aims to revolutionize what it looks like to be a working mom.
I want every mom out there to know about freelancing and to have the resources and support she needs to make it happen (if she wants to of course).
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Done, not perfect. So many people get stuck in a place of perfection, wanting everything to be perfect, and wanting to make the exact right choice. That is never going to happen. I didn’t have everything fully figured out when I got started, but I didn’t let that stop me. Perfection is unattainable, but instead I learned to be done enough.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I would love a lunch date, coffee date, play date or even happy hour with Jenna Bush Hager. I love her passion for education and literature.
Thank you for all of these great insights!
About the author:
Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click here to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.