Latina entrepreneur

Latina entrepreneur and leader Susana Marino shares key business tips for female founders

Susana Marino is the founder and current President of the Northern Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (NOVAHCC), an international business and trade association representing people of all entrepreneurial backgrounds and industries. 

In 2019, Susana Marino was awarded by El Tiempo Latino with Power 100 Meter as one out of 100 most influential Latinos in the region, and August 2020, she was selected to receive the Women Who Mean Business 2020 Award by Washington Business Journal. In addition, she is the national recipient of the Brillante  Award in Entrepreneurship Excellence 2020 by Prospanica. 

Susana Marino, President, and founder of NOVAHCC. (Photo courtesy Susana Marino)

As a first generation Latina and immigrant from Venezuela, Susana is committed to using her platforms to help elevate Latina entrepreneurs and business owners. In her role at NOVAHCC, Susana provides strategic direction for the programs and the Executive Advisory Committee for the chamber, NOVAHCC, delivering the oversight for all organizational operations supporting the growth and prosperity of large and small businesses in northern Virginia. 

Susana decided to launch the NOVAHCC in 2018 to improve the level of access to diversity supplier opportunities for Latinos, and other multi-ethnic businesses in Northern Virginia.  

“In 2017, I researched and discovered that there was not a chamber of commerce in place in the Northern Virginia region to represent the more than thirty-thousand Hispanic businesses.  The Northern Virginia Hispanic Chamber was born to attend to the needs of growing the revenue and valuation of our business community,” said Susana. 

A strong pillar of NOVAHCC is to assist small business owners to scale-up their businesses, to make its members procurement ready to participate in the supplier chain ecosystem, and to provide strategic workforce development to people who are currently under-employed and to assist U.S. Veterans with career transition.  

Susana’s oldest son is a former Sgt. in the US Marine Corps, and she understands first hand the challenges our military can face when they transition to the private sector.  

“Northern Virginia Hispanic Chamber is a hands-on Think Tank Business Solution Center that seeks to understand first-hand the many challenges our entrepreneurs face, and we strive to stay relevant providing solutions to those challenges with technical assistance, access to capital, relevant up to date training with specific revenue making models.

Susana Marino at the Blockchain Technology Forum, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Susana Marino)

The future of minority owned small businesses beyond the pandemic 

In Latinas in Business’ March 25 virtual panel, “Latinas & Success: What it takes to make it in America”, Susana spoke a bit about the future of small businesses since the pandemic. 

“The world is divided these days by regions, every region is doing things differently, some regions are doing better than others and because of this I always tell my members don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Meaning that, if you’re able to expand overseas, that’s an opportunity. The United States has a lot of grants and resources and funding to do so,” Susana said. 

Moving forward, one of the biggest advantages business owners will have during the rebuilding season is their ability to pivot and adapt, and also solidifying a niche to stand out among others.

“This is going to be a new skillset to win in 2022 and beyond. You must know what your uniqueness is. What is your niche? And what problem are you solving with your product, faster, better, and less expensive than your competitors. Ask yourself, what is your business doing that is impressive?” 

Watch the full panel below! 

Another plus that will help Latina entrepreneurs and minority business owners succeed is to lean into and utilize all the resources available to them. 

“The biggest plus of being a minority business owner is the ability and the great opportunity we have to apply to all the certifications applicable and available as a Minority business with the purpose of having a better shot in procurement transactions with the local and federal government, as well as the private sector,” said Susana. 

More from “Latinas & Success”: From backyard chef to restaurant owner, Chef Yala shares her entrepreneurial journey and rise to success

3 key business tips for aspiring Latina entrepreneurs 

“One of the positive outcomes of 2020 is that with the use of technology, we managed to stay connected, and at the Chamber we were able to reach many entrepreneurs beyond our state, region, and country. This is the time for wise decisions. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey, and starting a business is tough, not just on the practical grind, but also financially and mentally. Building a business is grueling work, but also exciting, and inspirational, at the same time.” 

To other aspiring Latina entrepreneurs and minority business owners, Susana offers three key tips from lessons learned during the pandemic. 

  1. Finding your passion is not enough these days to keep you afloat. For this reason, finding and communicating your WHY is key. Otherwise, your business stops growing. 
  2. Don’t fall in love with your product, but instead strive every day to know your customer’s fears, desires, needs, and wants. In the process expect to get it wrong but learn and try again. It doesn’t have to be perfect. 
  3. Think long term but plan short term. 2020 taught us, one can have a futuristic vision, but make sure you always have a plan B revised. Ask yourself is there a void? and how can one fill it?

Learn more about the Northern Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and connect with Susana Marino on LinkedIn.


5 Podcasts every Latina entrepreneur should be listening to

These days, everyone’s listening to a podcast, and if you’re not then you should! Podcasts are not only a great form of entertainment—especially for the busy multitasker—but they can also be educational and inspirational. If you’re a Latina entrepreneur or career driven woman looking for a few new podcasts to motivate and inspire you on your journey, then check out our top five podcasts by Latinas for Latinas! 

Latina to Latina 

Latina to Latina is an interview series hosted by journalist Alicia Menendez. In this series, Alicia talks to remarkable Latinas about “making it, faking it, and everything in between.” The episodes are wonderfully candid and often hilarious with guests sharing both the challenges and triumphs they’ve faced on their journeys to success. As you listen, you’ll feel like you’re right there with them in these intimate and honest chats. 


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Café con Pam

Café con Pam is a weekly podcast featuring stories from fearless Latine/x and People of The Global Majority that break barriers, change lives and make the world a better place while living in the US. Hosted by business coach Pam Covarrubias, this podcast is the platform where Latinx are able to share their stories and inspire one another through conversation of course while enjoying a fabulous cup of coffee! 

latina podcast

cafeconpampodcast On this #internationalwomensday let’s talk about women in podcasting.
🤲 COLLABORATE. Women are essential to innovating podcasting in exciting and critical ways, bringing awareness to the talent and expertise of those historically excluded.
What was a male-dominated enterprise is no longer and women podcasting experts are driving this culture shift.
If you’re a podcaster, use and share #ClaimPodParity as we join together in collective action to make our collective voices heard.
Thank you all for being here and supporting my dream of sharing our stories 🙌🏽
#latinapodcasters #womeninpodcasting #womenwhopodcast #latina

 Going Forward with Angie Carillo

Going Forward with Angie is the podcast for any Latina entrepreneur looking to advance their personal and professional development. This podcast is about building a life and business you love. Hosted by content creator and entrepreneur Angie Carillo, Going Forward provides advice and actionable tools for you to move forward in your personal and professional development by creating the life and work you love without stress and burnout. 

All Things Latina Podcast 

All Things Latina is a podcast centered around business and career motivation topics. It’s uplifting, motivational, and educational. Hosted by co-founder of Latina lifestyle brand Latina Approved, Tania Estefany shares her expertise as an entrepreneur and digital marketing manager. Tania’s mission and passion is helping others find their “super power” and thrive. 


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Yo Quiero Dinero

Yo Quiero Dinero podcast is all about money!  In each episode Latinx and POC changemakers share their personal finance stories and inspire you to take your dinero to the next level. Hosted by Latina thought leader, speaker, and content creator Jannese Torres-Rodriguez, Yo Quiero Dinero helps to educate marginalized communities on topics such as financial literacy, investing, entrepreneurship, and building generational wealth. 

You might be interested: 6 Latina financial experts you should be following on social media

Take a sneak peak inside the highly anticipated book “Jefa in Training” by business development coach Ashley K. Stoyanov Ojeda

Ashley K. Stoyanov Ojeda is a business development coach, strategist, nonprofit founder and author of Jefa in Training—the first business-launching book for Latinas. 

The highly anticipated book covers the foundations of how to launch and grow your business and doubles as a workbook so that you can create a business plan while you’re reading. It also features tips from other successful Latina founders such as Ana Flores from We All Grow Latina, Marivette Navarrete from The Mujerista and more! 

As a development coach and entrepreneur Ashley has combined her experiences and expertise to create this must-read step-by-step toolkit for aspiring Latina entrepreneurs. 

Jefa in Training

Jefa in Training—the first business-launching book for Latinas.

A sneak peak inside Jefa in Training 

Jefa in Training is a much-needed guide for all of us who need a blueprint to becoming a successful entrepreneur. Not only does this book provide the tools, but it provides the inspiration we all need to make that first step! Bravo, hermana!” 

Eva Longoria, award-winning actress, producer, director, activist, philanthropist, and CEO of UnbeliEVAble Entertainment.

Jefa in Training

Taking the first step in your entrepreneurial journey. (Photo courtesy Ashley K. Stoyanov Ojeda)

Getting started is often the hardest part. Many women will hold themselves back from starting their ventures, afraid to take that first step. Ashley knows first-hand what it’s like to build a business from the ground up and the obstacles that come with it.

In 2017, Ashley launched her own nonprofit #WomxnCrush Music to help create opportunities and community for women and non-binary songwriters through programming, fundraising and marketing efforts. This project stemmed from her passion for connection. 

“I felt a need to have a support system as a woman singer-songwriter, a safe space for us to create and share resources with each other,” she said. 

Through the process of being a first-time founder, Ashley also worked on marketing and business development teams for startups and large companies. 

Ashley K. Stoyanov Ojeda is a business development coach, strategist, nonprofit founder and author. (Photo courtesy Ashley K. Stoyanov Ojeda)

“Soon after it was only natural for me to combine all of my experience and knowledge to coach other entrepreneurs to launch and grow their businesses. That is how I began working with more and more Latinas-founded brands like The Mujerista, Cadena Collective, Bonita Fierce Candles (to name a few) in 2019 and became known as the Business Hada Madrina.”

Her own experiences launching her nonprofit and working with other Latina entrepreneurs increased her desire to help build networks and communities which were vital to her own success. 

“When I first started working with The Mujerista to build our online community (The Mujerista Network), I met so many incredible rising Latina entrepreneurs who were actively seeking guidance on how to grow their businesses. They felt the same need I did when I was starting #WCM and suddenly I felt the same feeling I did when I created my organization. The feeling of wanting to fill a need for our community. And that is how my book Jefa in Training was born.”

Covering everything from imposter syndrome to micro-aggressions and bilingualism, Jefa in Training isn’t your typical small business book. Part Latinx book, it is a conversation with a special tribe of Latina immigrants, Hispanic American generations, and women of color in financial, media, entrepreneurial, and creative spaces. It’s a Latina book by Latinas, for Latinas

Featuring first-hand experiences, guest stories from successful business women in Latinx companies, worksheets, and more, Jefa in Training is the only Spanglish project-launching toolkit and female entrepreneur planner specially made for a new generation of boss women.

A business startup planner and toolkit for women in leadership, business, and beyond, Jefa in Training offers women entrepreneurs the female empowerment needed to take a side hustle to the next level. Whether it’s learning to define your brand, set up a beta test group, or draft an LLC operating agreement, this compendium of lessons, anecdotes, worksheets, templates, and quotes teaches the next generation of women in business how to work for yourself and turn your ideas into something much bigger. —Jefa in Training

Covering everything from imposter syndrome to micro-aggressions and bilingualism, Jefa in Training isn’t your typical small business book. (Photo courtesy Ashley K. Stoyanov Ojeda)

Pre-order Jefa in Training today! Releases Feb. 22, 2022

“I’m eager for Jefa in Training to get into the hands of as many aspiring business owners as possible because that is how we will create change in the world. Representation in any kind of industry is important and the more of us that take that first step into pursuing entrepreneurship, the more we can build wealth, create safe spaces and provide opportunities for each other,” said Ashley.

You might be interested: Feeling like a fraud? It’s the imposter syndrome talking

Advice to aspiring Latina entrepreneurs  

“Develop your personal “why” and work towards fulfilling that mission. And don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way!” Ashley advises. 

When she was launching her own venture, one of the main obstacles she faced was finding reliable resources and not having a proper support system throughout the process. These challenges led to consistent burnout and several versions of her first venture.

“Develop your personal “why” and work towards fulfilling that mission. And don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way!” (Photo courtesy Ashley K. Stoyanov Ojeda)

“I’ve learned that by finding a community that aligns with my values, can support me when I’m struggling, celebrate my wins with me and can share resources – it makes all the difference. Learning to let people in and trust people with the vulnerabilities of my business did not make me weak – it allowed me to grow stronger as a founder,” she said. 

Another piece of advice is to lean into your personal strengths and always be resourceful. For Ashley, one of her strengths has always been her ability to develop connection with others easily.  

“I was able to take this superpower and create a true network of like-minded and supportive contacts who could help me as I entered the next phase of my business.”

When it comes to being resourceful, Ashley says, “Building a business can get expensive but if you can find creative ways to make an impact without a large budget, it can help you get the attention you need to get to that next level!” 

If you’re ready to take things to the next level and finally turn those dreams into reality, let Jefa in Training lead you step-by-step along this exciting entrepreneurial journey. The time to build your enterprise is now!

5 Things entrepreneurs can do to achieve their goals in the new year

This year has been an extremely challenging year for us all, impacting both our personal and professional lives. It seems like everything in 2020 has required double the energy to get done. As the new year approaches, you may be feeling anxious about looking back at a year so suddenly gone by. You may be thinking: Where did all that time go? What did I even accomplish this year? And what can I do differently to achieve my goals in the new year? Some of us may still be mentally stuck in March when our lives changed so suddenly. If you’ve been feeling unmotivated or hopeless, just know that you’re not alone. This year has been hard on everyone. 

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

If you’re an entrepreneur or business owner looking to kickstart your motivation again, then read on for our go-to tips for getting yourself out of this rut of a year and achieving your goals. 

5 Things entrepreneurs can do when feeling stuck in a rut 

1.Narrow your focus and set specific goals

As entrepreneurs your mind is always spinning with goals and dreaming of your project’s potential. But the only way to make dreams a reality to take concrete steps and set specific goals. If you’re not quite where you want to be yet with your business or in life and you just don’t know how to get to that distant dream on the horizon, then it’s time to narrow your focus. 

Take that big dream and break it down into smaller, attainable goals. You need to give yourself goal posts to work toward. 

Entrepreneurs who know what they want and have set a course are more likely to accomplish their objectives. Goals act as the homing device for an entrepreneurs’ actions. At times they may need to take a step back or sideways to continue to move forward. Like the North Star guiding navigators, goals help entrepreneurs create a new course after making adjustments.

When you’re stuck in a rut, you need to find new ways to gain momentum to lift yourself out. Sometimes that means work toward something small. Once you feel yourself succeeding and accomplishing your small goals, you’ll start to feel that energy rise, and the big dream won’t seem so distant or unattainable anymore. 

As we enter the new year, try to think of one meaningful project or goal you want to accomplish. Refocus your energy toward that one goal. Take small steps. Not every race is won by long strides. Sometimes you need to pace yourself and start off slow to build up that momentum. If you take the time to nurture your small goals, pretty soon you’ll be coming up on the horizon of those big dreams! 

2. Practice gratitude  

Having an attitude of gratitude builds positive energy and keeps that energy circulating. It’s simple really: when you express gratitude for what you have it makes you appreciate your life more. 

In fact, gratitude is one of the 12 traits found in happy people. “No matter where they are, or who they are with, happy people have the capacity to see beauty where others would only see ugliness – and they’re quick to express their gratitude.” 

Happy people are also usually successful. Things come easily to happy people. Happy people attract more happy people who are willing to help them along the way. And in turn they will help others, creating a continuous cycle of people lifting each other up. 

As the 8th-century Indian monk Shantideva once said, “All the happiness in the world comes from thinking of others; all the suffering in the world comes from thinking of only oneself.”

Get out of your head and stop dwelling on your worries. Don’t give attention and energy to the negatives in life. Instead, focus on the positives. Focus on what you have. Express your gratitude and appreciation for others. We are all happier and more successful when we work together and care for each other. Instead of looking inward and only caring about yourself, extend your love and energy toward the people around you, build up your communities, and tend to your collective garden of happiness. By helping someone else achieve their goals, you’re also helping yourself.  

3. Gain clarity through fitness 

If you’re feeling tense and unfocused, one reliable go-to solution is to channel that energy into exercise. We all know exercise is good for us. I’m sure we’ve all been told over and over again how exercise releases endorphins and hormones that make our brains happy and feel good. But exercise is also simply a great outlet for all those pent up frustrations and negative energies. 

Whether it’s simply going on a jog, lifting weights, or engaging in some quick cardio, every bit of exercise will help get you feeling recharged and refocused and get you back on track with achieving your goals. 

Just a few minutes of exercise a day is all you need. Remember, small steps first. You might feel too overwhelmed right now to dedicate a big chunk of time for your work outs, but you definitely can spare a few minutes! Trust me, it’ll leave you feeling so much more relaxed and stress free. You got this! 

You might be interested: Staying fit while working remotely from home: 10 easy office exercises + tips

4. Reconnect with others  

 When we feel stressed or down, our first instincts are often to isolate. We don’t like to let people see us struggling. We think isolating is the way to deal with our problems. If we get away from the outside world and just focus on our problems, then we’ll be fine, right? 

Wrong. Isolating usually is never the way. While we think we might be sparing people from our problems or protecting ourselves from the judgement of others, what we’re really doing is cutting ourselves off from support systems and resources. Like we said above, gratitude fosters happiness. Helping others creates a cycle. Instead of cocooning yourself in isolation and trying to deal with everything alone, reach out. Ask for help. Surround yourself with loved ones that will offer their support and reassurance. You’re not alone. 

5. Never stop learning  

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Learning new things energizes us and keeps us growing and moving forward! The more you know, the more you realize you do not know. Formal education just scratches the surface and is a drop of our capacity to learn. Maybe you weren’t the best student or you feel like it’s been so long since you were in school. But there are so many ways to continue learning in life. Especially now in this pandemic, there are so many online resources to learn from, such as free online courses or even simply tutorials and lectures on YouTube. 

Knowledge, no matter how insignificant it may appear to be, gives us a reason to get out of bed every morning. Make it a habit to learn something new each day. Treat knowledge like a new friend. Life is so much more satisfying when we make a new friend every day. If you keep at it, soon you’ll find yourself achieving your goals and reaching new heights of success in the new year!