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Marcela Berland, a pioneer in working from home, combines work and maternity

Marcela Berland is the President and CEO of Latin Insights, a strategic communications firm  that focuses on the Latino market and Latin America. LI bases their strategies on research and digital and AI tools and develops digital and marketing strategies to help clients achieve their goals. LI’s clients include political candidates and heads of state, corporations and nonprofit organizations. 

Building a successful consulting firm from the ground up

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Marcela Berland eventually came to the U.S. on a Fulbright scholarship and began working in New York in strategic communications and polling. At the time she did not expect to launch her own consulting firm and embark on her own entrepreneurial journey. However, life circumstances would soon steer her onto this path.

It was 1996, after the birth of her daughter, Isabella. Marcela asked her then-boss for five extra months of maternity leave so she could work from home taking care of her newborn. She had done the same before when her son was born so Marcela did not expect to be told “No.” After her 3 months of maternity leave, Marcela announced her resignation. 

Marcela Berland, Frank Gomez, Latin Insights

Marcela Berland and Frank Gomez. (Photo by Max Canovas)

“They realized then that they needed me. Many of my clients wanted to work with me so, they agreed to let me work primarily from home.  Now, too little too late, I positioned myself as an external consultant and negotiated a higher salary for fewer working hours. They agreed to all my terms.  However, I was very disappointed at the whole situation and had already made plans to consult for other clients,” said Marcela. 

After three more months, Marcela left for good, showing them that it was possible to work remotely from home and be effective– even in the late 90s! 

In 2000, Marcela decided it was time to launch her own firm. As a Latina, she had a unique perspective to bring to her company, understand the multicultural market in a deeper way, and she was already committed to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, in addition to women’s issues. 

The brand new entrepreneur began to plan and gather as much information as possible. She was nervous to set out on her own, fearing failure, but determined to try. Soon, she reached out to someone she admired to help her build her business: communications, media, and political expert, Frank Gómez.  

“At the time, Frank was working at a corporation but thinking about retiring. He not only gave me great advice, but he ended up leaving his job and joined me as a partner. I was thrilled. And that’s how Latin Insights started, just the two of us at first,” said Marcela. 

Conquering the fear of failure and following your dreams 

After over 20 years, Marcela’s venture has become a success. She now serves a variety of clients that include political candidates and heads of state, corporations, and nonprofit organizations. As a successful Latina, she is also often the only woman in the room when working with Presidents and political candidates in Latin America. 

And she has proved that working remotely from home and being successful is possible. This was especially evident this past year during the pandemic when Marcela and her team worked remotely on a presidential race, developing a successful and highly effective strategy that ended with their candidate winning a very tough election. 

Despite her successes now, the early days of her entrepreneurial venture were full of doubts and fear of failure—a common fear for many new entrepreneurs. 

“The first obstacle I faced was overcoming my fear of failing. I was doing very well just consulting on my own, but starting a new company, becoming an entrepreneur had a completely different meaning. What if I didn’t make it? How could I sustain a business? Take care of all the financial and administrative needs associated with it?” Marcela shared. 

Like all newcomers, she soon learned the antidote to this fear was knowledge. Now, whenever she feels doubts, she takes this as an opportunity to learn and come back stronger. 

Latin Insights Founder and CEO, Marcela Berland. (Photo courtesy Marcela Berland)

“During my career as an entrepreneur, I learned that you need to reinvent yourself, adapt to the ever-changing times and take risks. It is the only way to grow. Learn from your mistakes. You need to be open and humble enough to admit that you made a mistake and change direction. Also, become associated with people who share the same values and mindset. I was very fortunate to find Frank early on. We sometimes disagree, but in more than 20 years, we have never had an argument.” 

You might be interested: Rosita Hurtado shares how she transformed a childhood passion into a successful design export

With over 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur, Marcela has found that success is not about winning alone, it is about making a difference. Additionally, each success is made all the more enjoyable because she loves what she does and loves helping her clients. For her, the work is more than just work, it is something she is passionate about. Having that passion pushes her to “go the extra mile” because she believes in delivering the highest quality service for her clients.  

To aspiring entrepreneurs, Marcela urges that you follow your dreams and go for your passion. She shares her pillars of advice for new entrepreneurs: 

First, be well prepared. Have very clear goals of what you want to achieve and develop a product/service that distinguishes you from others. Next, find the right partners/team to support you and ask for help from the right partners/associates/mentors. Check for resources that can help you and also make sure you help others on your way to success. Don’t give up even when you fail. Network strategically. Raise capital if needed (many organizations can help you with this task).

Finally, never stop learning; make sure you learn something new every day if possible, and always honor your values, treating others with respect. 

Professional Hispano Entrepreneur

4 Tips for becoming a professional Hispano entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship is a popular way for millions of people all over the world to make a living. It allows people to follow their passion, be their own boss and control their own destiny in life. While any type of individual can become an entrepreneur, Latino and Hispanic entrepreneurs are opening new businesses at a rate unlike anyone else. They are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the USA, and this shows no signs of slowing down.

But no matter your background or ethnicity, starting a business can be quite difficult. There is a lot to handle as an entrepreneur, and trying to juggle everything is often far from easy. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to give yourself a better chance of success. With that in mind, this article is going to go over a couple of helpful tips to become a professional Hispano entrepreneur.

Use online resources

Being an entrepreneur can often feel like a very lonely endeavor. However, it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of online resources that can provide you valuable information every step of the way in your journey to becoming a professional entrepreneur. Many of these are completely free or very affordable, so you might as well use them.

These can often provide Hispanic career guidance, let you know the various grants and programs in your area, and simply answer any questions you might have about being the best professional Hispano entrepreneur you can be. Also, places like forums and message boards can also be a great option to speak with like-minded individuals and potentially create some important relationships.

Have a plan

Latino and Hispanic people are some of the most passionate people on the planet. As you could imagine, when running a business, this passion is incredibly important. However, in addition to this passion, it is a good idea to have a plan. A business plan should go over the concept of the business, the strategy you hope to employ, touch on the finances and revenue projections and various other things.

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

This plan helps you stay on course and gives you a bit of a blueprint as to how the business should operate. A complete business plan will give you the best chance of success. While things don’t always go according to plan, it’s better to have one than it is to need one and not have one at all.

Figure out the financing ahead of time

Once you have a plan and/or idea for a business, you need to figure out financing. No matter how large or small your business, or what industry you are in, it will cost some money to start and operate your business. There are many options for getting the funding you need, such as getting a loan, taking on investment or handling the costs yourself by bootstrapping the business.

Many Latino and Hispanic entrepreneurs will bootstrap their business and aren’t afraid of a bit of hard work to get it going. While bootstrapping and starting your business without borrowing money is always ideal, it’s not always possible. If you do need to borrow money or take on investment, be sure that the agreement is fair for you. You never want to give away a huge portion of your business simply to get it off the ground.

You might be interested: Best use of PPP and other financing strategies for Latina business owners

It is important to think about financing from the get go. You don’t want to be put on the spot and not know how you plan on getting the financing you need. Think long and hard about which method will work the best for you. If you are stuck, a simple business loan with a relatively low interest rate is generally a decent choice.

Build the right team

While nearly every entrepreneur starts out as a one-person operation, there will eventually come a time where you want to grow your team. In order to ensure you scale correctly and the quality of your business remains up to par, you need to hire the right people. Your team should be made up of individuals that are not only educated or experienced, but also that you can trust and fit the culture of your company.

The products or services you sell are important, but it is often your team that can make or break your success. They should be able to work well together, see and appreciate the vision of the company, and be willing to put in the time to help the company grow.

Of course, be sure to incentivize staff and treat them fairly. A high amount of employee turnover can not only be costly, but can hamper the effectiveness and efficiency of your company. Once you find the right team, treat them well and you should see sustained and continued success.

We hope the information included in this article has been able to help you become a professional Hispano entrepreneur. If you can build the right team, figure out the financing, have a plan and use the right online resources, you should ultimately find success.

digital marketing

Latina Millennial Vicky Llerena shares digital marketing unorthodox tips for success

Digital marketing expert, CEO and Co-founder of Social Vibes Media Vicky Llerena found her journey as a Millennial Latina entrepreneur after feeling bored and unhappy with her corporate job. Her company, Social Vibes Media is a digital marketing agency focused on helping small businesses increase their brand presence and teaches entrepreneurs how to get online customers with unorthodox tips for success.

digital marketing

Vicky Llerena, co-founder and CEO of Social Vibes Media

“I’m a millennial,” she says, “so my idea of highly successful habits might seem quite unorthodox to some.” As for the unexpected, Vicky has some of her own tips for success that perhaps may seem a little unusual.

The highly subjective, ambiguous term “success” can be interpreted in many ways. Vicky’s interpretation is this: take care of the mind, the body, and the soul.

Here are her 4 habits for success:

1. Always take breaks. I can’t seem to sit still. I fidget and toss and turn. My legs itch, my head begins to twitch, and I feel uneasy if I sit for too long. This is the problem I had working in corporate. I almost felt forced to sit still. When I ventured into my business, I felt an ease in taking breaks. Step away from your laptop for 15 min, walk outside, and allow your muscles to relax.

2. Connect with others. I often found that the most interesting conversations happened during the most unexpected situations: on a train ride, at a coffee shop, in line at supermarket, etc. We love to connect with others; it’s part of our inherent human nature. Allow yourself to genuinely connect with strangers (of course, with precautions) because some of these folks might be potential prospects, business partners, or angel investors.

3. Mindful Meditation. Mediate when you are alone or even while typing on your laptop. Writing has been a therapeutic process for me as well. Allow your thoughts to flow in a stream of consciousness style (think James Joyce). Pray or mindful meditation reminds us that there is more to life than a lucrative business plan.

4. Hustle hard

Practicing these four habits will help enrich the mind, body, and soul, and when one is centered and content– both physically, mentally, and spiritually– success is sure to follow.

Entrepreneurial fever

Vicky Llerena, a Millennial Latina digital marketing expert

She began her business after many years working in the corporate world. But how does one suddenly decide to quit their stable corporate job to start their own business?

For Vicky it all started with an itch.

She would sit fidgeting restlessly at her desk. This was the first symptom of what she called “entrepreneurial fever.” Her corporate eight-to-five job just wasn’t satisfying her anymore. She craved more.

“I desired for work that created value in my life,” Vicky shares. She did not know exactly what she wanted to do yet, but she knew corporate was no longer the place for her.

At the time she worked for PRN, a corporate wire distribution service. There she learned about multimedia marketing and how technology worked to connect people to a company’s message. She moved up the corporate ladder from entering journalist information into a database to creating user guides and manuals as part of the editorial team. Loving the world of marketing and helping others build their brands, Vicky began to formulate an idea to start her own marketing agency.

Then one day the fever just took over.

“I told myself, ‘I really want to do this on my own. I think I could help friends and family that have small businesses.’ So, I saved for about a year and then quit my corporate job to launch Social Vibes Media!”

Learning the hard way 

digital marketing

winner of the Withum CPA Entrepreneurial #StrengthStory, Vicky Llerena of @SocialVibes

When Vicky began her venture the first thing she did was open up a business credit card.

“This was one of the biggest mistakes I made as a small business owner,” she says. She did not yet have the customer base to support herself and so quickly she accumulated debt and had to borrow money from her savings.

“You need to first bootstrap while you get your first few customers and start generating revenue,” Vicky explains. “Then, when you’re more confident, you can apply for a loan or borrow money or open up a credit card.”

Another issue she struggled with at the start was utilizing her resources. When the company began, they decided to start and in-house team of videographers, which meant spending money on very expensive equipment– from cameras and tripods to laptops and software. These purchases only added to her debt.

These first mistakes however have taught her a great deal about managing cash flow and being resourceful. She has learned to cut overhead expenses such as tools, software, and equipment, by outsourcing or working in partnership with another company that already has the resources.

“We quickly learned that there was a pool of really good freelance videographers, photographers, and directors that you can work with that have their own equipment, editing tools, and software.”

Art of business and digital marketing

Collaborating and seeking help from other professionals is all a part of the art of business. To be successful in business one must connect with and learn from others. From working in partnerships to saving money on resources to problem solving with a mentor, business is all about team work.

Vicky has found her mentors to be invaluable wells of wisdom and support. She urges aspiring entrepreneurs to develop mentors in their lives and to absorb as much information as possible from them.

“I can attribute mentorship to my growth and success,” she says. “My mentors have helped me develop habits, open resources, and create strategies that otherwise would be difficult to figure out.”

Mentors can be life long friends, professional colleagues, or even the author of a book you really enjoy.

Earlier this year Vicky got to meet one of her favorite authors that she had been “obsessing” over. Chris Voss, author of Never Split the Difference, reached out to her after she posted an Instagram picture of her favorite books she had recently read, which included his own.

“He’s a master at the art of negotiation,” she says. “The art of business and sales has everything to do with psychological strategies.”

The two met up for coffee in NYC and Vicky eagerly picked his sales negotiation skills like a sponge that day.

One truly never knows who will end up being a mentor, so it’s important to always be listening, reading, learning, and connecting with new people. Sometimes the best guidance is the most unexpected.

With over ten years of experience in her field, Vicky has worked at Univision and PRNewswire and with organizations such as Rising Tide Capital, Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of NJ, Fownders, Latinas In Business Inc. and Small Business Development Center.

She has been featured in NJBiz, Huffington Post, CEO Blog Nation, and many other media outlets. Some of her awards and recognition include: the 2017 Top 25 Brand Builder presented by Leading Women Entrepreneurs, the 2017 Withum CPA Strength Story Entrepreneur Award, 2017 Lead Hudson County Recognition, and in 2016 she was recognized by NJBiz as a growing woman and minority marketing agency.