If you’ve ever aspired to run your own business, but worried that anxiety, financial concerns, or business strategy might hold you back, then you’ve been where Luisa and Cassidy once were, too.
Luisa and Cassidy are both Bluevine customers who’ve started successful businesses related to helping companies manage their finances. They joined us for Small Business Week to discuss founding their businesses, withstanding uncertainty and rough patches, and what any aspiring business owner should know before getting started.
Meet Luisa and Cassidy
Cassidy Horton’s business journey began when she paid off her $18,000 student loan debt. Feeling trapped by a $32,000 academic advisor salary, Cassidy wanted more freedom and saw freelancing as her path to it. So, in 2019, Cassidy started freelancing with no portfolio, network, or experience. Since then, she’s written for Forbes Advisor, Money, The Balance, and dozens of other publications. In 2022, she created Money Hungry Freelancers—a platform for teaching and supporting freelancers as they build wealth on an irregular income.
Luisa Alberto used to work as a personal financial coach, where she discovered a need for a hands-on, holistic approach to finances, especially for women founders. Luisa became a founder and CEO herself, launching People First Finance, a 100% women-run and women-focused agency. Her business provides clients with a simplified and scalable financial strategy for their business—“bookkeeping and tax and financial strategy all under one roof,” as she describes it.
Manage your fear, doubt, and bad days
Starting a business is risky, and with risk comes worry. Learning to manage this doubt in a way that propels you forward is the first step to realizing your business dreams.
Luisa takes a stoic approach to her anxiety: “Fear and doubt won’t help me achieve my goals, so there’s no place for them in my world.”
Cassidy acknowledges that fear and doubt are “a feature, not a glitch,” but manages these emotions the same way: “I remind myself of why I started this journey.”
To manage burnout or just plain bad days, Luisa and Cassidy agree that it’s important to take the breaks you need. For Luisa, ‘People First’ is more than a moniker—she’s conscious of her customers’ well-being at work, and she extends that courtesy to herself. “I’ve learned to listen to my body, and not overextend myself.” She’s willing to walk away from her desk when work starts to feel overwhelming. “Time and space are remarkable problem solvers.”
Cassidy echoes the same sentiment. She’ll seek help from peers and mentors, including one of our most overlooked teachers—stress. “I try to pause, reflect, and get to the root of it…. Am I stressed because I overbooked myself? Am I stressed because my income has dipped? Am I stressed because I’m gearing up to do something outside of my comfort zone?”
“If all else fails,” says Cassidy, “give yourself the day off and start again tomorrow.”
‘I can succeed as a small business owner’
When we asked her which traits help small business owners succeed, Luisa was succinct: A small business owner needs “resilience to weather the inevitable ups and downs, determination to stay the course, and resourcefulness to pave your own path forward.
Both Cassidy and Luisa sketch a person who’s fiercely independent, able to level-headedly assess the risks of business, and possessing the wit and courage to move forward anyway. The time to take action is where most of us hesitate, so be strong, and—as Cassidy says—“give yourself permission to start now.”
5 tips for aspiring business owners
When we asked Luisa and Cassidy about their tips for aspiring business owners, they replied with strikingly clear and actionable advice. We’ve reprinted their five tips for you below, in their own unaltered words:
Luisa’s 5 tips for small business owners
|1. Prove that people want what you have to sell—if people don’t want what you’re offering, you don’t have a business.|
2. Get clear on why what you’re selling matters—everyone has competitors, what makes you different?
3. Find your people—people do business with people, find the people who need what you have to offer.
4. Know your numbers—sales is one thing, profit is another. Understand the costs associated with creating and delivering your product or service before you go all-in.
5. Set meaningful goals—not everyone wants to build a million dollar business, know the kind of business you want and set your own goals accordingly.
Cassidy’s 5 tips for small business owners
|1. Action leads to confidence, not the other way around. Just get started—even if you don’t have it all figured out.There is no one ‘right’ way to do anything. |
2. Just pick a direction and go with it. You can always pivot if you decide it’s not for you.
3. You don’t need to have everything planned out before you get started. Don’t get stuck grinding your gears in the planning stage. Take one small action.
4. Find a community of other like-minded business owners, stat! Building a business is scary as fudge and you need all the support and encouragement you can get.Learning to manage your money as a business owner is a skill you build over time (just like learning to ride a bike).
5. Focus on building good habits now—even if your business is small—and it’ll serve you for years to come.
A big thank you to Cassidy and Luisa for their thoughtful responses. Find more of them and their businesses using the links below.
Luisa Alberto is the CEO and founder of People First Finance, a financial services agency 100% owned and operated by women and servicing clients across the United States. Their offices are in San Francisco, CA.
Cassidy Horton is a freelance writer and creator of Money Hungry Freelancers, an education and support platform for teaching financial management and growth strategies to freelancers. She lives in Seattle, WA.Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Website