Ever dreamed about taking your blog pro? Long-time foodie Carla Biesinger knows all about starting her own business. She’s a kick-ass online marketing coach, start-up mentor and Instagram expert who knows all about facing challenges head on and making a splash online.
She’s just one of the social media pros joining the HypeFactory Bloggers’ Academy: a new, online hub helping up-and-coming influencers to grow their audience, find their passion, and turn their brand into a fully-fledged business.
We sat down with Carla to talk about ditching her corporate job, blogging mistakes, and real entrepreneurship.
Why did you decide to start your own business?
I never imagined that I would start my own company. I actually got a great job in my last year in college working for PwC, and I was happy with my corporate job. I guess back then the idea of working for myself never even crossed my mind.
My entrepreneurial journey actually started in 2011. I was 24 at the time, living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I met a guy (from England), and together with him and his best friend (a chef from Thailand) we started hosting "communal dinner parties" - in our living room (these "puertas cerradas" or "closed door restaurants", are actually a somewhat legal thing in Argentina).
For over a year, the three of us were living in this small 2-bedroom apartment, welcoming guests from all over the world into our home, cooking for them and entertaining them. It was fun! "The Argentine Experience" became known as the #1 restaurant/activity for tourists in Buenos Aires. (We made it to #1 on TripAdvisor and were featured in BBC Travel and Lonely Planet).
But we wanted more. In 2012, we found an investor in Argentina's number 1 poker player at the time. We moved into a huge restaurant in the best street of Buenos Aires.
We very quickly realized that going big also means dealing with bigger problems. We had gone from a team of 3 to over 20 staff, from having total fixed costs of $1.000 to over $20.000 - but without 20x the clients. Needless to say, the years to come were a challenge! I learned so much in these early years in business, and from the countless mistakes we made along the way. Yes, in a way I can say we "made it" - we put The Argentine Experience on the tourist map of Argentina - but the costs that came with it weren't worth it for me. I eventually decided to leave Buenos Aires in 2015. I left behind my relationship, my business, my friends: my entire life. And then I started over.
What did you do differently the second time you started up your own business?
I started CarlaBiesinger.com in 2016. From my experience in Buenos Aires I was very clear on 2 things:
- I wanted to create a business that would allow me to travel and to work from anywhere in the world.
- I didn't want to deal with the stress of having high start-up and fixed costs, so no employees, no high rent, etc.
I think when starting a business it's so important to be clear on the lifestyle you want to live and to find a business model that works for YOU. In my case, what I wanted more than anything in life is freedom and the ability to move around. Running a restaurant definitely doesn't allow you to do that.
Did you ever feel like giving up?
Of course! Starting a business is never easy, that's why it's so important to be clear on your "WHY." I love this quote by Friedrich Nietzsche: "He who has a way to live can bear almost any how." I believe that if we're given one life: we should do everything to make it an extraordinary one! And of course, there will always be challenges and ups and downs, but there is the nothing more satisfying and fulfilling than being your own boss and having the freedom to do what you love, with the people you love. That's what keeps me going.
What is the biggest mistake bloggers make?
I think most bloggers spend 80% of their time creating content and 20% of their time promoting it. They end up sitting on tons and tons of amazing content that no-one is reading. So really, it should be the other way around: 20% creation and 80% promotion.
Social media is always changing. It can be tough to stay on top of everything. Which is also why I believe you should really focus on mastering 1 (maybe 2) platforms instead of trying to be everywhere.
What’s your best tip for bloggers who are struggling find their niche?
I love this question. I believe that the formula for success is combining your passion with your skill set in order to solve a common problem in your target market. I believe there is enough space for everyone online. We all have unique gifts and skills to share, know what makes you, find your niche, master your message, that's how you can make it happen.
What’s your best piece of advice for bloggers or entrepreneurs?
Invest in yourself. Don't try and figure it all out on your own. Investing in yourself will always be the best investment you can make.