Episode 86: Nia Lewis

Entrepreneur Conundrum Podcast

Episode Summary

Nia empowers women to build enjoyable, sustainable businesses.

EC 01   |    4min

About The Guest

Nia Lewis is the founder and CEO of The Solopreneur Hustle, a platform that helps women take the hustle out of solopreneurship. She is on a mission to empower women in business to build sustainable, enjoyable businesses that are designed for growth.

She is committed to redefining how women generate wealth to live meaningful, purposeful lives of freedom and impact, plus power-connected women go further together.

Early in her entrepreneurial journey, she fell victim to the cycle that so many solopreneurs do. She wasn’t hustling to grow her business, but instead, simply to maintain it, which means that it wasn’t built for long-term success. She knew she had to streamline her business to earn more while working less to get the fulfillment – and ultimately, the income – that she deserved.



Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] VIRGINIA: Welcome to entrepreneur conundrum with Virginia Purnell where growing entrepreneurs share how they get visible online 

[00:00:09] Hey everyone. Today I’m talking with Nia Lewis about how she empowers women to build enjoyable sustainable businesses. Nia Lewis is the founder and CEO of the Solo Preneuer hussle a platform that helps women take the hustle out of solo preneurship. She is on a mission to empower women in. To build a sustainable, enjoyable businesses that are designed for growth. She’s committed to redefining how women generate wealth to live meaningful, purposeful lives of freedom and impact. Plus power connected women go further together early in her entrepreneurial journey. She fell victim to the cycle that so many solar preneurs do. She wasn’t test learning to grow her business but instead simply to maintain it, which means that it wasn’t built for long-term success. She knew she had to streamline her business to earn more while working less, to get the fulfillment and ultimately be income that she deserved. Welcome Nia. 

[00:01:00] NIA: [00:01:00] Thank you for having me, Virginia. I’m so excited to be here. 

[00:01:03] VIRGINIA: I’m excited that you’re here with us today. So can you tell us a little bit about like this entrepreneurial journey? That you were on, like, have you always done that? Have you quit work for something corporate or something like that?

[00:01:16] NIA: Yeah. So my background in terms of how I got to where I am today is kind of unique. I took a traditional path in life, really of going to college. And six months before I graduated from undergrad, I decided that I didn’t want to apply for any full-time jobs. And I wanted to start a business. At the time, just to kind of paint a picture for where I was at in this moment, I was working in internship and that gave me a taste of what a life working in corporate America would be. And I just knew that I couldn’t work eight hours a day. I knew that I didn’t want to apply for any nine to five. It just didn’t feel like what I was passionate about. And even at this point, I would [00:02:00] go on indeed and start looking for jobs. You know what I mean, six months before you graduate from college, most people are networking and making connections and looking for corporate jobs. And every time I would go in line to look for a job, nothing was standing out. Everything felt like a drag. I mean, There was just nothing I was finding that felt like, oh my gosh, okay. I could commit my life to focusing on this. My internship was in HR. And I had worked that internship for two years. And my plan at this point was to make a career out of being a recruiter and working in HR. I was good at it. I’ve always been a people person, but unfortunately I wasn’t passionate about it. So I decided to start a business. And at the time I was doing, um, communication consulting and social media marketing work for small businesses. in the Charleston area. And my background in terms of my educational background is in communication. So naturally that’s what I started my first business in. So that’s how I started my first [00:03:00] business and why I knew that working a corporate job wouldn’t be for me. And I kind of jumped right into entrepreneurship. Without much of a safety net while I was in college. And then by the time I had graduated, I gave myself six months to say, okay, by the time I graduate, I need to be able to have enough clients to pay my bills, to pay my rent, to feed myself and to pay my utilities. And so that was my six month goal. And by the time I graduated, I had done just that. And so that’s how I got my.

[00:03:35] VIRGINIA: That is awesome. So you did graduate then. Well, that’s good. It’s like so close to the finish line, 

[00:03:42] NIA: right? Yeah. Too Far to turn back. And I also, so after I graduated, I decided that next semester to go on to grad school because I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do with my life. And I am just, I’ve always been passionate about school. I love learning. And so [00:04:00] I said, well, I have the time to go to grad school. It’s not like I have a corporate job and I was fortunate enough to get an assistantship, which kind of reduced the cost of going to grad school. So I ended up going to grad school as well, which kind of, I mean, when I tell people that they’re like, but why you had already started a business and most people don’t even finish college when they decided to start, but I’ve always just been passionate about school in general. So I did go off to grad school as well. And in doing all that, I was also simultaneously building my business. 

[00:04:32] VIRGINIA: So that whole hustle aspect and being very busy, you know, really well. 

[00:04:37] NIA: Oh yeah, it was actually in that season of being in school while simultaneously building my business that I became really burnt out and I realized that I didn’t want hustle to be my life forever. And so it was, and that season where I started thinking about. How can I begin to, [00:05:00] or how can I continue growing my business without having to hustle so hard? And so that’s, I really, in that season started to separate myself from the desire to hustle so hard forever because I had been hustling for years and I just got tired.

[00:05:14] VIRGINIA: So is that kind of like a common mistake that you see a lot of. Current clients making is just too much hustle and then the burnout. 

[00:05:22] NIA: Yes. So a lot of my clients, or most of my clients now are solo preneurs. So my podcast called the solo preneur hustle focuses on how to build a solo business without hustling 24 7. And you know, a lot of my clients as solopreneurs, naturally, we wear many hats. And so when you start a business and you’re bootstrapping a lot of the responsibilities of building and growing your business fall on your shoulders. So naturally we kind of fall into this pit of hustle. I have to hustle because if I don’t do the work, who’s going to do it. You know, I’m [00:06:00] bootstrapping. I don’t have money to hire somebody, so I have to take care of it myself. So now, instead of spending time with my family, I’m hustling. To try to, you know, make my business work. That’s just naturally how it goes. And so that is something I see a mistake. I see a lot of solo preneur, specifically making when you’re bootstrapping you’re hustling and you end up on this hamster wheel hustling 24 7. And so I am passionate about sharing strategies that help solopreneurs break free from the chains of hustling 24 7. 

[00:06:32] VIRGINIA: Do you have a tip for anyone that’s stuck in that hamster wheel 

[00:06:36] NIA: yeah. So the number one tip I have for solo preneurs, when they’re on that hamster wheel of constantly hustling is to accept help you know, like when we start businesses and we are just kind of like overwhelmed with all the responsibilities that come with maintaining what we’ve built. We, [00:07:00] a lot of times fall into a pit of feeling like we have to do everything ourselves. And a lot of that stems from it stems from the inability to relinquish control. So when you start a business and you’ve been working it from the inside, out and it’s your baby, and when you’ve been doing everything yourself forever, you feel like you’re the best person to do it because you’ve always done it and so it’s hard accepting help because when someone else comes in to help you with your business, I mean, it’s scary. You don’t want people to make mistakes. that look bad on you or your business. You don’t want people to mess things up or to, for help to resolve, enter in clients, you know, turning away there’s lots of risks associated with accepting help. And, you know, there’s, there’s, there’s also other reservations, a lot of entrepreneurs experience about accepting help as well. Like the financial obligation of having someone help you. But I always [00:08:00] share that my, the first person I ever brought in to help me with my business was an intern. And it was an unpaid intern. And you know, I know a lot of people have different feelings about hiring people for unpaid work, but just because you don’t have money to offer someone doesn’t mean you don’t have value that someone else needs the intern that I hired just really wanted work experience. And I had that to offer to help her enhance her resume in exchange for. A few hours a week of help with social media. So my number one tip, if you’re an entrepreneur or a solopreneur and you’re overwhelmed and overworked or burnt out is to just accept, help and focus on relinquishing control over some things that are bringing you overwhelm. 

[00:08:44] VIRGINIA: I was going to ask you too, like who the first person was that you’ve brought in. So where did you, where’d you find your intern was there just like a college site that was local. 

[00:08:54] NIA: Actually indeed.

[00:08:55] VIRGINIA: Oh really? That’s cool I want to ask [00:09:00] because it’s been on my mind because of reading, so when you were just about to finish undergrad, you’re telling that story and you kept saying like, oh my first business. So what number are you on right now then? 

[00:09:11] NIA: Yeah. So it’s, it’s interesting because it’s been like in the process of bootstrapping and making my business work, I’ve had so many side hustles over the years, really just in finding my way. So right now, the business that I’ve committed my life to building is the solo preneur hustle. But prior to starting this business and this community in this podcast, I, so I’m a cosmetologist by trade. When I was in high school, actually my high school offered a dual enrollment program at a tech school where you could go and take college classes or do vocational classes and get a certificate. So I’d actually earned my, my cosmetology license in high school, which was really cool because. In college that gave me a taste of being able to make my own money and work for myself, working in a salon, you know, hairstylists are [00:10:00] entrepreneurs, you’re building your own clientele. And so once I saw that, that actually that gave me the confidence to be able to start my first business right out of college when I was doing social media and communication, because I already had experience building a clientele and so those were transferable skills that brought me into the next thing. So anyways, when I was in college, I did hair. And for a while I was, it was like I was operating a salon out of my dorm room. So really that was technically my first business because I did hair and I sold hair extensions. And I continued actually doing that after I graduated from college while working on my consulting business. But that’s a little bit more about my background. So aside from what I do now, I’ve done hair I’ve sold hair, extensions and wigs. I’ve done social media marketing and communication consulting work. So those are kind of the side hustles I’ve had over the years, which allowed me to find my way and really figure out what I meant to do. [00:11:00] And, you know, I think a lot of entrepreneurs put pressure on themselves to have everything figured out in the beginning, but it’s taken me like. Three or four hustles to figure out really what I want to do and where I fit. So my journey has really evolved along the way, but now I’ve kind of found what my purpose is and who I’m best fit to serve, 

[00:11:21] VIRGINIA: which you wouldn’t have found. Really, if you hadn’t had this journey and these experiences, 

[00:11:27] NIA: right? Exactly. We have to give ourselves room to evolve and find our way. I mean, you’ll, you’ll never have everything figured out in the beginning. I feel like this is kind of. What peop how people kind of operate their lives. And when you have a corporate job, you know, your first job is typically not where you end up in the end. You know, you go like my husband, for example, he works in corporate America. And when he graduated from college, he worked at a bank for awhile, and then he worked at a college doing accounting work. Now he works for Charleston county government. We’re in Charleston, South Carolina, doing [00:12:00] budgeting. And so anyway, Even in corporate America, you know, you bounce around to different jobs until you figure out really what you want to do. And that’s kind of the same approach I’ve taken in entrepreneurship to figure out what I want to do 

[00:12:13] VIRGINIA: now. What do you do to get, to get visible in front of your clients. 

[00:12:18] So the number 

[00:12:18] NIA: one strategy and the most effective strategy I use to get visible is by way of content marketing. What you guys are listening to right now is content. This is a podcast. One of the most beautiful things about content marketing or that it gives your target audience, the opportunity to just kind of sample what you do before they decide to buy something from you. You know? And so what we say in business is that if you want to build a loyal following, you have to give before you take and so content marketing allows you to create valuable resources that your target audience wants and needs from you. [00:13:00] And this allows you to create a loyal following that trusts you enough to actually buy things from you. So I get visible online, by through podcasting. I also have a YouTube channel I’m active on social media. And all of this gives my target audience, the opportunity to learn about me, to connect with me, to get resources from me, to build trust between the two of us. And then when I have something to sell, it’s a no brainer because I’ve already served and given so much. So I think content marketing is one really smart way to get visible online. And I’m sure other guests here on the podcast have probably shared some similar insight about content marketing for sure. 

[00:13:42] VIRGINIA: Yes they have, but thank you for sharing yours with us So what, a couple of big goals that you have for the next few years. 

[00:13:51] NIA: Wow. I love that question. No, one’s asked me that no one ever really asked me about my goals and interviews. So some of my big goals [00:14:00] are one to connect with more solo preneurs. I’m just really passionate. About building mutually beneficial relationships. Like when I’m out and about and meeting new entrepreneurs or solo preneurs, I am always asking, you know, how can we help each other? And so I hope in the next two years to connect with more solopreneurs, to continue to build relationships, I’m also working to grow my pod listenership. So that’s something I’m working on. I hope that the solo preneur hustle podcast will be like a top business podcast. In the next few years. And I’m also, I guess, one of my short-term goals or that I’m working on a book. So next year I’ll yeah. And next year I’ll be coming out with a book entitled, earn more work less, which will be all about how to build a solo business. That’s portable and scalable without feeling overwhelmed with the hustle. Of the hustle and overwhelm of feeling like you have to work in [00:15:00] your business 24 7. So that book will be all about how to earn more while working less, 

[00:15:05] VIRGINIA: Sounds like fun 

[00:15:06] NIA: yes. 

[00:15:08] VIRGINIA: Growing your podcast, developing more relationships, doing your book, like how will all of that affect your business?

[00:15:15] NIA: Wow, that’s a great question. So my number one goal in my journey in business is to serve. And I I’ve always believed I can, everything I do when you give things good things always come back to you. And so these goals through my business are, are rooted in stemmed in my desire to be able to give, to be able to serve and to be able to improve. The experiences of other women in business. So that’s how these goals will affect my business. They’ll continue to bring value and resources to my target customers and my following and my audience that I hope can change lives and make the world a better place. 

[00:15:56] VIRGINIA: All of the impactors 

[00:15:59] NIA: Yes. And you [00:16:00] know what, I’d love to know what some of your goals are. I don’t know if any guest ever asked the question, but I’d love to know what your goals are as well 

[00:16:06] VIRGINIA: they have not. Yeah, a lot of right, like leading through impact and being able to serve others and to help them be able to reach their goals, to be able to gain that visibility online therefore increasing the customer and the like, and trust, and then to increase their, their sales and revenue.

[00:16:25] NIA: Nice. Yeah. Those are some really powerful goals that I know of makes such a lasting impact on your audience here. I mean, that’s just amazing. 

[00:16:35] VIRGINIA: Thank you. Do you, or what do you think might be,the number one roadblocks from you getting where you want to go with your goals? 

[00:16:44] NIA: So I would say. This roadblock that I’m going to share comes from some challenges that I experienced in the past that I’m always working to not let it bubble up again. So in my, journey [00:17:00]

[00:17:00] VIRGINIA: That’s a hard one. 

[00:17:01] NIA: Right, right in my journey in business, I, in the beginning, what I, I was severely impacted by imposter syndrome. And this really kept me small when I already had the skills, the expertise, the, and the experience to go bigger. So I kept myself small when I should’ve been shooting for bigger opportunities. And it was because I felt like an imposter. When I shouldn’t have. And so I feel like imposter syndrome is something that kind of bubbles up every time we’re on the cusp of going after a bigger and better opportunity, you know, if you’re not feeling imposterish that probably means that you’re keeping yourself small, you know, you’re not going after something bigger you’re staying with within your box of what feels comfortable. And so I think the one roadblock that would keep me from accomplishing my goals and taking things to the next level, Is becoming overcome with imposter syndrome, but that’s something [00:18:00] that every single day I’m working to not bubble up into my present because it, it affected my past and a huge way. And once I overcame that, I was able to go after bigger opportunities that I should have been going after from the beginning, 

[00:18:17] VIRGINIA: So any of us that are listening. Do you have a, like a tip or something that helped you overcome that? Imposter syndrome aspect. 

[00:18:28] NIA: So one there’s several tips that I can do about this, but one really important one is to document your success and remind yourself of it all the time. I’m a very humble person. I don’t like to talk about myself or brag about the things I do a lot, but I have to do it to remind myself I have to do it sometimes to remind myself of who I am, what I’ve accomplished, and to also validate that I’m worthy and that. I can go after the [00:19:00] opportunities that I have a vision to go after the vision for, to go after. So I guess in that way, my tip is to use positive affirmations about what you’ve done, what you’ve accomplished and what you succeeded at to give yourself proof that you are worthy enough of the oppurtunities you should be going after. So in this way, what I do is I keep a journal and like every few months I’ll write out what I have to celebrate, what I’ve overcome, what challenges I’ve overcome. I’ll write it out. I’m a huge journaler. And so anytime I’m feeling imposturous or I start to self-sabotage or hold my bat, hold myself back from something that I know I should be focusing on. I go back through that journal and take a look and say, okay, Why am I feeling imposterish you know, I have all of this proof in this journal of all the things I’ve accomplished, what I’ve overcome, all of these challenges. I face that I met head on and said, [00:20:00] I’m not going to be stopped by this. I’m going to keep going. You know, I have all this evidence. So what is the point of self sabotaging right now I’m holding myself back. That is the strategy that I use to overcome imposter syndrome. I mean, really just the positive affirmations and reminding ourselves constantly, anytime you feel imposter says you’re worthy.

[00:20:22] VIRGINIA: I like that. And I think it’s really cool. I use the journaling process just like to help remind you of what you have accomplished and you know, I think that’s really cool

[00:20:33] NIA: right. And you know, a lot of times we kind of glaze over the small milestones, you know, cause we say, oh my gosh, I haven’t reached that big goal yet. So it’s not even worth celebrating, but even the small things are worth acknowledging and celebrating. Like if you, if your goal was to have 10 new clients, You only have to, I mean, now you’re basically a quarter of the way there. So celebrate that instead of just [00:21:00] focusing on the fact that you don’t have 10 yet. So that’s been one of those common themes for me is taking a look at the small milestones and saying, okay, you know, I am further along than I was six months ago. So. I am worthy of going after a bigger opportunity because I’ve, I’ve grown and I have things to offer and I have experience, you know, so yeah, that that’s been really helpful for me 

[00:21:27] VIRGINIA: What’s the best advice that you have ever recieved? 

[00:21:28] NIA: The best advice I’ve ever received is to, and I don’t remember who told me this, but it’s just been something that I constantly replay in my head. I heard it somewhere a few years ago, learn the skill and then hire someone to do it better for you as entrepreneurs or solo preneurs, or just humans. In general. A lot of times we want to focus on being the most valuable person in the room. I want to be the smartest. I want to be the most accomplished. You know, I want [00:22:00] to have the most successful business in all of that’s important, but a smart CEO focuses on finding the best talent, not being the most talented person in the room. So if you’re building a business or creating something and you want it to be great, you shouldn’t focus on being the most valuable resource that your business has. If that’s the case, then you’re really doing this the wrong way. You should be finding the most valuable resources there are to help you achieve your goals. So learn the skill, learn how to do what needs to be done for your business. Figure out what your business needs, and then find people to help you bring your goals to life. Find people who are smarter than you. More talented,than you people that have more experience than you to work for you to help you bring your goals to life. Again, a smart CEO doesn’t focus on being the most talented person in the room. They focus on finding the most talented people to [00:23:00] help them grow their business. 

[00:23:01] VIRGINIA: So true cause otherwise Like, you’re not getting any of that time. Freedom, right? Yes. You are the one that has to do everything, 

[00:23:08] NIA: right? Exactly. Yeah. Like delegation and outsourcing should be every business, business owner, secret weapon. We shouldn’t be doing it all ourselves. Otherwise it’s just, like you said, we’ll never have time. Freedom will always be the person having to do everything. And I also share all the time that, you know, if you got hit by a bus today, would your business be able to go on without you? And if it can’t then. It’s time to start outsourcing and delegating and automating things. Even automation can be a powerful tool. We can use to create time freedom. If you don’t want to hire anybody, just automate stuff so that if you were in the hospital, things would still go on without you 

[00:23:47] VIRGINIA: so true. So what’s the best advice you’ve ever given

[00:23:51] NIA: I think it’s, it’s really just the same advice I just shared, you know, I mean, that’s advice I heard and that’s advice that I give out all [00:24:00] the time. So aside from that, the only other advice I’ve given that I think is the most valuable is to not put yourself into a box of expectation. I don’t think I’d be where I am today. Had I done what people expected me to do. Going back to how my journey in entrepreneurship started. Everyone expected me to use my degree to go make a career out of my background in communication. And although I had spent, you know, a total of four years in undergrad, plus two more years in grad school. Focusing on that. I knew that, you know, I could bring those skills into my business as opposed to using those skills for, to, you know, make money for someone else’s business. You know? So I didn’t do what people expected me to do. I stepped outside of the box and decided to pave my own way. And that has been, I mean, I’ve had so many learning experiences that have shaped who I am along the way, but. Had I not done that. I would’ve never found out what I was [00:25:00] passionate about. And then next thing, you know, 20 years later, I’m having a midlife crisis because I realized I’m unhappy. You know? So I didn’t want that to be my story. I wanted to focus on really what I was passionate about from the beginning. And I think if so many more people did that, then the world would be a more happy place. You know, if more people were happy, What they created in life and did more of what they were passionate about.

[00:25:21] VIRGINIA: I totally agree, be true to yourself. Oh yes. 

[00:25:26] NIA: That is the, what it boils down to be true to yourself. Yeah. 

[00:25:30] VIRGINIA: Is there anything that you wanted to share with us today that we have not talked about yet? 

[00:25:34] NIA: No. I mean, if anybody listening wants to learn more about how to build a solo business without being on that hamster wheel of hustle and invite you to check out my podcast, the solo preneur hustle. You can find it everywhere you stream podcasts. And I also invite you to connect with me on social media. I’m on Facebook and Instagram at solo preneur hustle, but that’s pretty much it. I hope I’ve shared something [00:26:00] that inspires you or get you thinking about how you can pursue entrepreneurship as a means to create a life of freedom instead of a life of just constant hustle. That’s no way to live. It’s been a pleasure being here today and I’m just so grateful that we got to chat. 

[00:26:18] VIRGINIA: Thanks Nia I am too. Thank you again for joining us today. So we’ll keep in touch. Have a great. 

[00:26:25] NIA: All right. Thank you, Virginia. You too. And if there’s anything I can ever do to help you with your podcast or vice versa, I’d be happy to collaborate in any way. And if you ever need anything, just let me know. 

[00:26:38] VIRGINIA: Will do, thank you. 

[00:26:39] NIA: Alright, 

[00:26:40] VIRGINIA: Thank you so much for joining us today. Be sure to subscribe and leave some love through a review and I’ll catch you on the next episode.




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