This Lady Merges Passion & Fulfillment with Financial Success: Learn How

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Caroline CENIZA-LEVINE

Partner, SixFigureStart

Caroline Ceniza-LevineDescribe your business in 3 sentences. What is it?

I help women find fulfilling and financially rewarding careers. I work with business owners, professionals and executives, and women who do both traditional employment and entrepreneurship. I use my 15 years as a management consultant and recruiter, advising Fortune 500 businesses and hiring thousands of people, to give my clients the best practices of successful businesses and careers.

How do you juggle it all?

I am a wife of 17 years, a mother of 2 daughters, a performer (improvisational theater and stand-up comedy), a volunteer at my church, a real estate investor and avid personal finance reader, in addition to being a business owner. My other passions for family, the arts, church and finance fuel my business. It would be great to have more time, but we all have the same amount of time, and it is enough if spent consciously on the things that really matter.

What did it cost to start your business? How did you find the funds?

I contribute half of my household income so when I left a big corporate job to start the business I had to make money from the business. I used my personal network to land projects quickly, some of which were outside of my exact business but still related to my expertise. I borrowed from the equity of my real estate investments. I used some savings. It is a constant hustle to watch the cash, so I do not spend lavishly on anything that doesn’t contribute revenue to the business.

How long did it take to get started?

I started a business based on expertise I gained from over 15 years in corporate. So while I am new to entrepreneurship, I am using skills honed over 15 years. I was able to start executing my services immediately. I had a steep learning curve in terms of pricing, sales, marketing, social media, even changing my printer ink!

Is your business profitable?

The business was profitable from day one. The business is a services business so there was no upfront capital investment, just my labor. However, it was only the third full year of the business that I matched my corporate income from the job I had before going out on my own. I also still have to replace the equity I took out to start the business, but revenues have been doubling each year for three years, so I am confident I made a great investment.

Do you have employees? If so, how many?

I co-founded the business with a former colleague who I have known now for almost 20 years. We have a virtual assistant, technical support, researchers, and associate coaches, but none of these are full-time employees.

What is the single biggest thing you would say an entrepreneur has to be armed with in order to succeed?

Entrepreneurs need to remember the Stockdale Paradox, named for James Stockdale, an Admiral and longtime prisoner of war in Vietnam:

You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

Entrepreneurship is going to be brutal sometimes – lonely, scary, uncertain, volatile – and you have to be flexible to respond to the market, and your tactics may have to change. But what must never change is the 100% belief in yourself: you must have an unwavering faith that you can succeed.

Is your business your passion?

I have many passions. Business itself is a passion. I am drawn to the way business works, hence my first job as a management consultant. Coaching, teaching, speaking and writing are passions. I love these activities so I selected these as the cornerstones of my business. Professional development is a passion and so it is a focus of this business. But I am also passionate about family, the arts, church and investing.

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