5 Tips to Building a Business out of Your Passions with Fitness Influencer and Photographer Mena Darre
June 2, 2017 is a special day for Mena Darre. That’s the day she plans to take the leap and quit her day job to focus full-time on working in her passions.
“No matter how busy I get, I squeeze in time for what's important.”
Teaching at an all-girls charter school, Mena has learned the importance of setting a strong example for young women. Continue reading to find out how she balances all of her ambitions.
You are a lifestyle influencer, fitness trainer and portrait photographer. How do you balance it all?
I'm not sure how I actually balance it all because I feel like I scratch off one thing just to add 10 more things to my list. I make sure I eat right, exercise, get an adequate amount of sleep, and take care of my sanity. If I'm mentally, physically, and emotionally drained I cannot be my best self. When I'm not my best I can't possibly perform at my best, so taking care of myself and managing my actions is how I am able to keep somewhat of a balanced life.
What advice do you have for other women interested in building a business out of their passions?
Advice! Oh my gosh! There are so many things I can say, but but I'll just give you my top five:
1. Read as much as you can. I've learned so much about business from reading books. There is so much to learn in this world. You are doing yourself a dis-service if you are not reading.
2. Read but also act on what you've learned. We spend so much time seeking knowledge that we forget to apply it. Knowledge is only power if we apply it in a way that is going to be useful.
3. Find a mentor. Once you have someone in your corner who has done what you want to accomplish, your entrepreneur journey will become a whole lot easier. A mentor will be your supporter. A mentor will push you and keep you moving forward. Your mentor will introduce you to new ways of thinking and doing business. Your mentor can expose you to a new network that has the potential to increase your territory and net-worth. Your mentor will humble you and give you that extra push that you need to be great
4. Put in the werk. Not work—that's for your normal 9 to 5. When you want to run your own successful business you have to truly werk, and I mean you're grinding so hard that you're crying yourself to sleep because it's that hard. T.D. Jakes said, "You want the title but not the task." If you plan to make your passion a business, meaning creating a profit and not just occasional money here and there, it will require a substantial amount of werk to run a truly sustainable business. I will be the first to tell you that this ish ain't easy. I want you to say it exactly how it's spelled. This ish ain't easy. You have to be willing to stay up late, wake up early, skip a few parties, delay your annual girls trip, and literally lock yourself in a room to get the werk done.
5. Invest in yourself. If you plan to take your business to the next level it requires new education, new tools, a new network, and a new way of doing things. In 2016, I invested in business coaching, multiple workshops plus the traveling fees, a new iMac computer, and new lenses. I just listed $6000 worth of investments and at the end of the day that's not even scratching the surface. You might not need $6000 to grow your business when you start out, but just know you're going to have to invest in education and experiences to get you to the next level.
How do you stay inspired? Where do you go to for inspiration when your creativity is running low?
I stay inspired by reading, following Myliek Teele's personal brand My Taught You, and surrounding myself around movers and shakers. I also use prayer and meditation to keep me going. Sometimes we can be surrounded by top-notch people, but if we are not right spiritually, it won’t matter how many influencers we know or how many books we read, none of that will matter.
How do you manage to balance your work and personal life? What tips do you have for someone struggling to find the balance?
Many people don't know that while I am lifestyle influencer, self-care advocate, fitness trainer, and a professional photographer, I am also a full-time teacher at an all-girl inner city public charter school. So I work 50 hours a week teaching while also building both my lifestyle brand and photography brand.
Because I have a full time job, I work on my business at home—which I don't mind because I love what I do. It's hard to believe I can have a personal life with my to-do lists, but I make time to go to the gym, cook, go on occasional dates (because a sister is still single), and on a monthly basis my friends and I have girls’ nights, and on a yearly basis we have our girls trip. No matter how busy I get, I squeeze in time for what's important. I don't know how I do it. I just do it.
If you are struggling to find balance, the first thing I suggest is to get your health in check. Your health comes first and sometimes our health is the reason we are unbalanced. Having poor health conditions decreases your focus, increases stress, increases anxiety, contributes to exhaustion, and decreases productivity. Exercising and eating healthy each play a huge role in keeping a balanced life.
Something else that will help tremendously is scheduling your days and sticking with to schedule. On a weekly basis I plan my meals, my appointments, my workouts, my mentor days, my self-care days, and days that I go see my family. Of course things don't go as planned, but when you "fail to plan, you plan to fail." Sometimes we have to step back and create a new plan, but once you have a sense of direction, you know exactly where you are going, and you know exactly what you are doing.
What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
I am looking forward to leaving my full time job. My quit date is June 2, 2017, and I am so so so very excited. Don't get me wrong, I am nervous but I am also very excited because I will have the time to focus on my businesses and the things I truly enjoy. I plan to continue to impact young girls and young ladies, connect with more movers and shakers, release two books, launch a new business, and I am also in the process of transitioning from the STL to the ATL.
Yes! I am quitting my job and taking on a new city, Atlanta, Georgia. My life is about to be crazy but, I trust my hustle and I trust God that I will be happy and fulfilled.
Keep up with Mena Darre’s journey through life by following her on Instagram, @MenaDarrePhotography.