My name is... Naya the Creative. This clearly isn’t my government name, but it’s how I introduce myself on the Internet :-).
My companies are… Naya the Creative and Side Hustle Business School. Naya the Creative is my personalized brand therapy business and blog, and Side Hustle Business School is an online program I created to teach others how to start their own enterprises.
They launched in... 2016. Naya the Creative made its debut in January 2016, and I kicked off the Side Hustle Business School that summer.
Before I started I… did a lot of different things, including working as a web developer, a copywriter, a designer, a youth program director, and an operations manager.
My first career aspiration was… to be a singer (but I also had about a thousand back-up plans). In first grade, my teacher gave me a piece of paper with the outline of a person on it and told me to draw the uniform or outfit related to the profession I wanted to be when I grew up. My drawing was like a lesson in fractions — 1/16 firefighter, 1/8 businessperson, 1/8 police officer, etc. I was wearing tons of different uniforms, though in keeping with my dream at the time, I still had a mic stand and many, many speech bubbles full of lyrics in the background.
I made my very first dollar… selling Spice Girls chewing gum — yep, those packs that came with the stickers — in my neighborhood.
My ideal day includes… waking up leisurely, with no alarm, and then reading something inspiring or really entertaining. Checking in on my people. Eating a really tasty breakfast that I didn’t have to cook. Doing something productive, like writing or meeting with a client. Going to a great lunch with people I enjoy. Getting a little more work done. Happy hour and dinner with people I enjoy. Bae time.
My typical day includes… waking up to the sound of my roommate getting ready for work. Sending a few emails before I remember that I require many calories to function. Cooking and eating breakfast. Moving through tasks on my to-do list in Trello. Lunch. More emails. More tasks. I try to end my work day with client calls. If it’s a really busy day (like if I’m close to a deadline), I’ll work a lot more slowly through the rest of the evening until I eat dinner and/or get outside for some air.
Right when I wake up… I think through whether there’s anything on my to-do list important enough to stop me from hitting the snooze button.
Right before I go to bed… I assess my to-do list for the next day so that I can hit the ground running in the morning.
It brings out my best… when I’m well-fed and not looking raggedy. Even when I’m working at home alone, I work better when I feel cute.
I’m motivated by… those lightbulb moments when my clients, my friends, and the people I meet along the way realize that there is a way for them to turn their dreams into reality.
My career heroes are... Richard Branson (Have you ever heard the story of how Virgin Airlines started?), Regina Anaejionu, Issa Rae, and people who’ve created something that they wanted to see in the world out of next-to-nothing. I admire people who don’t let their fear of starting scrappy keep them from starting at all.
I’m worst at... having to be somewhere at a specific time. I always meet project deadlines, but me getting somewhere on time is more of a struggle.
I’m currently excited about… how much time and mental anguish my new automation systems are going to save me. Also, the exciting trips I have coming up with the people I care about.
My biggest entrepreneurial leap of faith was… launching Side Hustle Business School. I had been giving away free content in the form of something I called “Side Hustle Summer School” for three months, and I pre-launched Side Hustle Business School at the end of the free summer course even though I hadn’t created any content for it yet. I was basically asking people to pay me for something that I intended to do but hadn’t done yet. But I did it, and people paid. I didn’t know that I had earned that level of trust in people who had never met me in real life.
My rock bottom moments... have been hard/crushing/difficult times related to my family and personal life. The most devastating ones were before I started working for myself exclusively. After I got through those, I figured entrepreneurship couldn’t be any worse and that if I could deal with and survive all of those things for other people, I owed it to myself to attempt reaching my own goals.
My biggest triumph was... the first time a client told me they took my advice and immediately made money from it.
The biggest question I haven’t yet answered is... At what point will I feel that I’ve made the difference I want to make?
I define success as… setting goals that you can meet and then meeting those goals. Success is subjective and personal. We often “fail” because we decide that other people’s goals should be our goals. If I decide that, today, I want to make sure to write one blog post and draft one email, and I do those the way they need to be done, then I’ve had a successful day.
If you’re thinking about starting your own company, I dare you to remember… a time that you weren’t good at something you’re amazing at now. Remember that you are capable of learning and growing.
I dare you to forget… the notion that failure is a bad thing.
My best advice is… to start small so that you are always clear on exactly what you need to move to the next step. Don’t try to skip ahead or take too many steps at a time. Also, be specific about your asks of friends, customers, mentors, partners, and sponsors. Most importantly, be specific about why you’re doing this. There will be days when it feels like nothing's going right. But if you know what your specific mission is, you can determine if you’re just having a hard day or if you’ve strayed too far from your path and need to get back on track.
Images courtesy of Naya Scarbrough