I wish someone had told me that being and entrepreneur while being a stay at home mom was going to be one of the hardest things ever! You’ll be surprised to know how many times I’ve had to type with my left hand while breastfeeding.
As a part of our series about entrepreneurs who transformed something they did for fun into a full-time career, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ana Ruiz.
Ana is a Travel Mom of 2, Family Travel Coach and the owner of Monos Viajeros. She helps Latin mamas navigate the moving pieces, emotions and logistics of traveling with kids. From breaking through fears, to conquering the planning, so they can turn each trip into a family experience.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?
Sure thing! I was born in Ecuador and lived in Guayaquil for 22 years. The only travels I remember doing back then were the usual family visits inside the country. We would always go to the capital, Quito to visit my grandparents for Christmas. Within my family I never had an entrepreneur role model. All of my direct family members were used to working for other companies and never really questioned it. But since I was very little, I always had this big question mark in my head wondering why “going to school, graduating ang working for someone else”, was the only road out there. It took a lot of years for me to discover these other roads. I really didn’t discover Travel until I moved to LA in 2010 and Entrepreneurship until very recently.
What was the catalyst from transforming your hobby or something you love into a business? Can you share the story of your “ah ha” moment with us?
It all clicked with the birth of my first daughter Nala, when I got to experience in real life, how it was to transform myself from a traveler, into a family traveler. I had so many questions! And didn’t seem to find anyone to look for inspiration, guidance or help. Most of what my environment said was “Now that you have kids, you need to settle down”, “You can’t travel around the world with a baby”, “You must be crazy to think you’ll enjoy traveling with kids”.
But you know what, I did it anyway! I realized that my love for travel and my love for Nala did not have to exclude one another.
During my journey I discovered that there were so many other moms in the same situation who, in contrast, had decided to put their travels in pause because of the lack of resources, support and community from other travel moms. And that just turned my “ah ha” moment into a deeper sense of purpose.
There are no shortage of good ideas out there, but people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?
One of the main things I did was invest in knowledge, specifically from people who were already doing it successfully. Learning from others gave me so much light into how to translate a hobby into a business by putting focus in various things like my “why” of starting a business, the results my business would create for someone else, or who this someone else was.
I also learned that we shouldn’t let thinking big stop us. Sometimes we see these giant goals and freak out about all the steps we’d need to take, so we quit before even starting. Big goals can be broken up into smaller goals and with little steps we eventually end up taking massive leaps.
What advice would you give someone who has a hobby or pastime that they absolutely love but is reluctant to do it for a living?
I don’t think every hobby, talent or pastime we love should become a business. Sometimes making it our job might just erase the magic and joy that it brings us. If the person is reluctant because they want the activity to happen freely, without any expected results, then I’d say they’re doing the right thing. On the other hand, if someone is hesitant because of fears, lack of business knowledge or not knowing exactly where to start, I’d say they have some homework to do. Start finding the knowledge you need, read books, surround yourself with people who are already doing it. Make sure to test your ideas. When we love to do something that much we tend to be biased. Always keep in mind that the main ingredient in order to have a business is to be solving a problem for someone. Loving to do it is just a bonus.
It’s said that the quickest way to take the fun out of doing something is to do it for a living. How do you keep from changing something you love into something you dread? How do you keep it fresh and enjoyable?
Even though I don’t think I could ever dread traveling, there are so many other pieces in running my business that have nothing to do with travel. Email Marketing, Accounting, Creating Offers, Designing, Networking, they are all part of my traveling business, and they can become repetitive fairly quickly. One of the things I like doing is thinking long term and writing all my ideas in my agenda. This activity gives me something exciting to be looking forward to creating in the future. Also day-dreaming about all the new places I’ll visit does wanders to my creativity and inspiration. I feel very lucky to be serving women in the travel industry.
What is it that you enjoy most about running your own business? What are the downsides of running your own business? Can you share what you did to overcome these drawbacks?
In my particular business I love that I learn about beautiful family travel stories and that I get to help create new ones.
As a business owner I enjoy that I’m in control of what happens in my business. I chose when to work, what to work on, who to partner with, when to share an offer, when to host free trainings, etc. Which can also be a downside since I’m the ultimate responsible for the success of my business. Another downside can be the blurry lines between your life and your business, especially when it involves something that you love to do (in my case traveling). Something that I do as much as possible, even though it can be challenging as a mom of 2, is to have designated work areas to help set these barriers.
Can you share what was the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
Sure! At first I thought that all I needed to do to find clients was to create + post my web and my offers and then just wait for clients to come to me, when in reality, I had to be the one constantly looking for that special mama needing my services. Creating my offers was just a tiny piece of my role. Exposing myself, meeting my ideal customers where they are, attracting and nurturing them are all things that I learned to do in the process.
Has there ever been a moment when you thought to yourself “I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to get a “real” job? If so, how did you overcome it?
Oh no! For me there’s no looking back. Being an entrepreneur is a real job and I’ve accepted that it will be very hard sometimes. I know for sure that being a Travel Coach won’t be the only thing I do. But being a business owner definitely will. Other business ideas might find me on the way and I’ll be ready to take them on.
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?
Perhaps getting super excited about creating an LLC right from the start before having any of my business foundations ready. I really thought that having a registered business was the most important thing to do first so I pulled the trigger on that and spent $800 the first year without having my income streams set. Now I work as a Sole Proprietor and one the first things I did was direct my focus into defining my niche, my brand story and my income generating offers.
Who has inspired or continues to inspire you to be a great leader? Why?
I find inspiration in many of the women in business I’ve learned from. Marie Forleo and her book Everything is Figureoutable changed my inner eyes on how I see life and the things I can achieve. I also set some time aside to connect with other female coaches and entrepreneurs. Networking, collaborating and seeing what others do, will always spark ideas and push me forward.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
I think that by doing what I do, I’ve helped families expose their children to the many benefits of travel. I’m a firm believer that the more we learn and understand about each other, the more love the world will have. Travel is a way to show our kids, since very little, to be curious, open minded, accepting, resourceful, brave and it’s also a way for them to know that even though we may seem different from other people, in reality we are still all the same.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- I wish someone had told me that being and entrepreneur while being a stay at home mom was going to be one of the hardest things ever! You’ll be surprised to know how many times I’ve had to type with my left hand while breastfeeding. (I may or may not be doing it right now haha)
- I wish someone had told me that the idea of competition is an illusion. You’ll find success when you combine your ideas and strengths with others. Recently I’ve had Podcasts and IGTV guest opportunities thanks to this collaboration mindset.
- I wish someone had told me that things that I’m working on at this moment, may not give me results until a year from now. Don’t underestimate what you’re doing just because you don’t see results right away. Every action matters. Because I worked on my blog in 2019, and kept adding content in it, I’ve been able to grow an audience who now wants to keep learning from me.
- I wish someone had told me that my environment matters. If you surround yourself with doubters and negative people, you’ll catch that type of energy. On the other hand, be around people who always have a YES mindset and trust me, there’s nothing that you’ll feel you can’t do. Every time I finish a group coaching session, training or mastermind, I feel myself vibrating at a higher frequency.
- I wish someone had told me that my body, mind and spirit are all connected. If you want to be your best self for your business, you must care for your body by feeding it right, by exercising, by giving it rest. And the same goes for your mind and spirit. Make time to meditate, journal and do things that bring you joy.
What person wouldn’t want to work doing something they absolutely love. You are an incredible inspiration to a great many people. 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.
I would focus on what we teach our children since they are little. We are the first source they have to understand the world, and bit by bit we start shaping ideas and beliefs that will stay with them forever. I would love for more kids to see money as an energy instead of a problem, to see languages as connectors instead of barriers and for them to feel ok about questioning things.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I have many favorites but, one recent one that comes with me in everything that I do is “Clarity comes from Engagement” which I learned from the amazing Marie Forleo. It has helped me keep the momentum even when I wasn’t sure of my next steps. By getting out of your head and deciding to take action, you’ll be able to find the answers you’re looking for.
We are very blessed that 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 to share yummy food, good laughs, some dance moves and a lot of business talk with Marie Forleo. She’s given me forever life and business advise through her book and I’ve learned immensely by taking her B-School Course! I can’t even imagine how incredible it would be share some time with her.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.