Maria Florio is a freelance entrepreneur, online marketing consultant and writer. In this exclusive interview, she shares her passion in helping other entrepreneurs succeed and thrive. Her goal is to help the world at large by helping entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life while connecting with their customers.
Her biggest piece of advice to entrepreneurs starting a business: Go to your chamber of commerce, network and expand your reach. Learn more about Maria and get daily social media marketing tips by following her on Twitter. Enjoy!
What motivated you to become a freelance entrepreneur who helps other entrepreneurs bring their businesses to life?
My motivation to becoming a freelance entrepreneur who helps other entrepreneurs bring their businesses to life comes from my desire to help the world at large to become a world where we help each other, people helping people.
The idea to become a freelance entrepreneur came about in time, as I helped businesses with their online marketing, it became clearer and clearer how well I could relate to entrepreneurs and help them out, not only in doing online marketing effectively, but also in showing them how to share their message and purpose with their own voice.
It was then that I knew I was not only an online marketer, but an entrepreneur who could help other entrepreneurs bring their business to life in a way that would be effective for business growth and that would also fully embody the true purpose behind their business idea.
When times get tough, what would you say motivates you to keep going? To not hit the snooze button and to keep fighting for your goals.
What gets me through the tough times as an entrepreneur is my firm belief in what I do. I know I’m helping other entrepreneurs with their business goals and with keeping their own spirits up when they’re going through the tough times.
The knowledge that I can help even only one business owner reach their objectives and be so happy that they are accomplishing their goals is the best feeling in the world. It motivates me and I know that things will always work out as long as I keep going.
Also, there really isn’t anything left to do when you’re caught in a tough spot; you either keep moving forward or you stop. If you believe in what you’re doing as an entrepreneur stopping is not even an option in your mind.
What is unique about the way you do business? Is there a competitive advantage that you have over the rest?
The unique way I do business is that when I take on a client or even when I’m offering free consultations, I am committed to that business as if the business were my own. I not only give 200% to ensure their success, but also my clients become family.
In fact, even when our business collaboration has ended, we stay in touch and update each other on our progress as business owners. Essentially, I build true relationships with my clients, they are not just a contract that comes and goes.
Have you ever gotten a disappointed client or customer? If so, how did you handle the situation?
I’ve never had a disappointed client. I’ve had clients that have come to me with concerns and questions about something we were doing or something they wanted to do. Thanks to open communication and trust being at the foundation of our business partnership, we were always able to tweak what was going on and/or adopt what they wanted to integrate in the mix in a way that made them happy, but also kept what we were doing successful.
However, if I had a disappointed client, I would do my best to understand what they’re disappointed about and I would do everything I could to resolve the issue. As long as what they’re disappointed about has to do with something related to my services and not just a way for them to get out of paying for my services (this happens!), I would be able to find a solution, even if that meant referring them to someone else.
To this question I have one last thing to add; something important that every entrepreneur should keep in mind for the success of their business: the clients I do business with are my ideal client. What I mean by this is that we share the same values and we respect each other, as well as trust each other. I’m pretty sure that this is why I haven’t had a disappointed client.
What is the biggest business mistake that taught you a powerful lesson? Would you mind sharing how it made you the person you are today?
I can think of two mistakes that taught me powerful lessons: rushing things and trying to set concrete expectations instead of flexible ones. When I rushed to get my first domain name up and running, I felt really great about it; as time passed, I realized that I could’ve waited a little longer instead of having a domain name that is now hard for me to use the way I want to.
It’s not the end of the world, but at the same time, now I find myself stuck with trying to figure out how I can best use this domain or I’ll basically just have it sitting there. This experience ties in with setting concrete expectations, the reason I chose the domain name was because I had created a vision of where I was heading without really knowing what was to come.
When you’re an entrepreneur driven by your passion to help the world, you can’t necessarily give it shape and actually all the entrepreneurs I’ve met along the way have gone through the same transformation. They started out with a set idea and then found themselves in a totally different place they thought they would be.
I call these mistakes, but essentially they are life experiences that help us remember to keep our heart in the forefront and to trust that the shape of our business success will show itself in time. Step-by-step actions and trust in what I want to achieve with my business are the lessons I gained from those experiences, “mistakes.”
Are you using any apps that help you stay on track from day-to day?
I don’t use any apps to stay on track, but I do use pen and paper to take notes of my to-do lists and to rework my long-term business plan. The only thing I use is my Google calendar to keep meetings organized and get those amazing reminders days in advance so that I don’t forget about any appointments and so that I don’t overlap any of them either.
Looking back, what’s one thing you would do differently with your business? Why would you change it?
The one thing I would do differently is wait to register my business as an LLC. It’s a business that I wasn’t ready to take action with and it’s separate from my main business. I would change it because I could’ve waited without having any major repercussions to my long-term goals and to avoid the unnecessary costs.
Is there any resource that helped you write a solid plan for your business?
The resources that helped me with my business plan were other business owners. Particularly, two entrepreneurs helped me by sharing their own business plans and they shared support as I was writing my own business plan. It was an invaluable experience; I was so thankful to have their help.
What are the three best pieces of advice that you would give to anyone starting a business in Florida? What do they need to know from the very beginning?
My first piece of advice for anyone wanting to start a business in Florida is to go to your chamber of commerce. They provide an array of helpful services for business owners. Not only do you get help with the laws and regulations that you will face, but you also find experts that can help you in different areas of your business.
Number two is networking. Go to your local networking events, meet other entrepreneurs in your area so that you can collaborate with them and/or you can support each other as you grow your businesses. No one can relate to the entrepreneurial journey, as much as another entrepreneur.
The third piece of advice is that even though you’re planning on doing business in Florida, don’t forget about expanding your horizons. Florida is a great state for starting and growing a business, but don’t be closed off to going beyond borders.