Every August, I looked forward to trips to Target, walking down aisles lined with post-in notes, pens, backpacks, and spiral-bound notebooks. As a student affairs professional, fall meant the excitement of welcoming students back on campus.
And this year, I’m not. It’s both liberating and bittersweet.
My name is Jane Rodriguez, and I am a student affairs professional (SA pro) turned self-made entrepreneur.
I started on the path to Student Affairs similar to many other SA Pros out there. I was super involved during undergrad, fell in love with the idea of being in college forever, got my Master’s degree in Higher Education, and swore that I was going to be a Vice President of Student Affairs one day. Two years into my first full-time job as an SA Pro, I wasn’t feeling it anymore.
It wasn’t because I was in a toxic work environment or because I fell out of love with the work. I actually really loved where I worked and the work that I was doing. I left because I knew I was capable of so much more, capable of creating the life that I wanted, a life that includes financial stability and the ability to travel whenever I wanted to.
And after about 17 months of running my own business, I got there!
Let me start off by saying that the business I started in April 2019 is NOT what it is today, which just goes to show that you can pivot your business as many times as you need to.
I started off as a life coach. This was an easy transition, with all the skills and knowledge I attained as a SA pro. I loved being a life coach, but it was so emotionally draining for me--which just goes to show that coaching isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay too! My first investment in my business was a program that taught me the basics of coaching. This was the first large purchase I ever made for myself, and it made me confront my money mindset and scarcity issues.
From there, I added social media and branding coaching as another service that I fell into after realizing how much I loved establishing my own personal brand and the creative freedom I was given to shape my clients’ project.
It wasn’t until five months into my business that I got my first client: Five-months of me investing, marketing, and promoting my services, with no clients or income coming in.
But I didn’t give up because I trusted in myself and the work I was doing.
My first client was actually my business coach, Kayley. She hired me to create some branded PDFs, which turned into designing her websites. After that, I recognized my strengths in administrative and design work and she hired me as her Virtual Assistant and Online Business Manager.
Once I got my first client in the door, it felt so easy to attract other clients, most of whom came to me through The Higher Ed Entrepreneur community, which I’m so grateful for.
By the time April 2020 came around, I was making about $3k each month, which was what I made every month in my 9-5, something that I never thought would happen. This was the first time that I realized I could be doing this full-time.
In June 2020, I officially left my 9-5 and became a full-time entrepreneur. This was not an easy decision to make by any means, but once I let go, I was more successful in my business than I had ever been. At the same time, I left my 9-5, I had decided to move to another state as well. There were so many components that contributed to my anxiety around leaving, but now almost three months later and I have never been happier or more fulfilled. I tried to be as prepared as possible given that I made the decision to leave in January of 2020. After that, I tried to save as much as I could to ease some of the anxiety around money and not having a 9-5.
I currently serve as an Online Business Manager for three amazing entrepreneurs. I help them develop efficient strategies and systems so that they can focus on their zone of genius while I handle the administrative pieces, and I love every second of it. I’m always thinking about new ways to grow or pivot my business!
In August 2020, I had my first $7,000 month, which is more than double what I was making in my 9-5, all while working about 50% less. In October of 2020, I’m moving into my dream apartment in one of my favorite cities with no credit card debt and so much more freedom.
There are so many things that having a business has taught me.
Here are five pieces of advice I’d share with new entrepreneurs:
If you need support, The Higher Ed Entrepreneur community is amazing! Take advantage of all the freebies, live trainings, and the insight from the diverse members in the group. We’re all here to support and encourage you because there is enough space and money for all of us to succeed.
If you want to learn more about me and what I do, you can follow me on Instagram @_janerodriguez.
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