Camilla Gazal and Flavia Naslausky are two women who understand how to make the transition from Wall Street to starting a small business. Camilla and Flavia first met on Wall Street where they launched their careers in the finance industry. When the markets crashed in the 2008 financial crisis, Camilla and Flavia decided that they needed to make a change in their careers. The two decided they were ready for a new challenge; one that could allow them to maintain a better family and work balance. The answers to their problems came with starting their own business. Camilla and Flavia are co-founders of Zaniac, a community that facilitates small classes covering 21st century skills for kids. Their story highlights five key tips and tricks to follow when navigating the intimidating process of leaving behind one business to start another.
1. Find a passion.
When making this transition, the first step is to focus on what you are passionate about.What excites, inspires, and motivates you? Having a passion is key to any business as it will propel you towards venture success.
With 40 years of experience working in the finance industry between the two, Camilla and Flavia initially found it difficult to step out of their comfort zone and invest their time in something new. They met regularly, running through ideas, trying to find the perfect answer to the questions: What do we know well? What do we do well?
At this point, both Camilla and Flavia were tutoring their children at home. When teaching, they emphasized a forgiving learning environment; one where mistakes were encouraged for academic growth. Camilla and Flavia realized that changing the learning environment in which you present math to kids may help them to enjoy it.
“The moment that sparked this to Camilla and I was when our kids on a Saturday said, ‘Hey Mom, let’s do more of that math!’” – Flavia Naslausky
Camilla and Flavia’s involvement in their own kids’ education and passion for math, along with other STEM disciplines, prompted the two to create a business that fostered an educational community. This community would be a safe place for kids to take risks, something that is not usually seen in a normal education environment where performance, grades, and instant gratification are emphasized.
2. Confront your weaknesses and disadvantages early on.
As an entrepreneur, you might end up filling a wide variety of roles within your business. While this is what makes everyday new and exciting, it is imperative that you are able to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Entrepreneurship does not have to be a lonely process; it is okay to ask for help with the things that might not come as easily to you. Confront these weaknesses and disadvantages early on to combat any setbacks.
Camilla and Flavia did exactly this. Neither of them had a background in education. They recognized this as something that might work against them when establishing their business. To combat this, Camilla and Flavia began looking at other franchises and programs. They ended up discovering an existing business known as Zane Prep that had a philosophy similar to their own. Camilla and Flavia were permitted to franchise the program to establish Zaniac.
3. If you are in a partnership, make sure you are on the same page.
A partnership in business is like a marriage. It is important to embrace your differences in personality and skill, but have the same set of core values.
4. Create a customer profile.
Customer profiling will allow you to target your ideal customer, contributing greatly to company success.
Before Zaniac could take off, Camilla and Flavia had to profile their customers. They invested their time in a hands-on approach, going to schools and asking parents about their children’s education. This was a very important process as they discovered a gap in STEM education. There is a strong emphasis on STEM in the professional world, but schools have not not yet adapted to these changes and often lack strong STEM programs. By connecting with the surrounding community, Camilla and Flavia were able to adapt their business model to fit the needs of their customers.
5. Establish your company and run with it!
Once you have thought through these steps, it is time to take action! Turn your ideas into a business. Build your company from the ground up one step at a time, while maintaining adaptability, flexibility, and a strong work ethic.
Since its founding in 2013, Zaniac has adapted and expanded to continue the lasting impact its educational services have on students.
“I love being my own boss. It is exciting. Everyday is a different day and that’s what I enjoy the most.” – Camilla Gazal
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