Emma was lucky enough to realize that she didn't want to work for anyone but herself early on - minimum wage jobs in high school made that clear. After that realization she took matters into her own hands, began an internship at an entrepreneurial public relations firm, and eventually started her own business.
Here's what she has to say...
Tell us what you do in 2 sentences:
My name is Emma Lenhart and I am a Chicago-based career + lifestyle blogger. I am also a freelance social media manager and content creator, and have an ecoures called “The Broke Girl’s Guide to Freelancing.”
At what point did you decide the traditional 9-5 office job wasn’t for you?
I worked stereotypical, minimum-wage jobs all throughout high school, and always felt undervalued and underpaid. I knew that I shouldn’t have to dread going to work, so I quit my job at an ice cream shop and took an internship with an entrepreneurial public relations firm in my hometown, Cleveland.
What did you do next?
After my internship, I took the skills I learned and started looking to start my own, small freelancing business. I started working with clients for about $15/hour, and that quickly increased with more experience and time. Since then, I’ve never looked back and now blog to help young people realize their potential and fulfill it.
Was there an ah-ha moment in your business journey when you realized that working for yourself would actually be doable and sustainable? What did that feel like?
Early on in my freelancing career, I was Skype interviewed (and eventually hired) by someone in Australia. It really amazed me that someone across the world was willing to take time out of their day to talk to me and hear my plans for their business. I then realized then that my time and services were needed and valuable to other people, and that is one of the best feelings ever!
What has been the best part of running your own business?
Setting my own hours and having unlimited freedom has probably been one of the best things about running my own business. A lot of my family and friends are bound to deadlines and 9-5 jobs, and I never experience that feeling of having a weight on my shoulders anymore. I get to creatively express myself through my work, and choose how much I get paid, how often I want to work, and so much more. My ecourse, “The Broke GIrl’s Guide to Freelancing” teaches people how to get started working for themselves, and experience all the benefits that I just described!
Your online course looks awesome - what made you decide on creating a course rather than other options such as ebooks or coaching?
Thank you! I personally like ecourses better because you get a sense of accomplishment when you complete a course. I also was able to insert video tutorials in my ecourse through Teachable, which was really important to me. I wanted people to be able to learn from me in different ways, rather than just words on a screen.
What did your course creation process look like?
I brainstormed ideas for my course for many weeks (months?), and read a lot about how to create a great course online through blogs. I made a course curriculum in a document, and then built content around that framework. I then worked on creating a slide presentation in Keynote, and recorded audio over the presentation. I uploaded my work into Teachable, and then added branding and colors into my course. It took a lot of hours, but the final product is something I am so proud of.
What has been the biggest struggle in maintaining an online business and what have you done to overcome it?
Perhaps the hardest thing for me in my online business is realizing my worth and the worth of what I have to offer to others. It’s hard to go from being paid minimum wage in high school to asking a higher hourly rate for social media management. However, I’ve realized that I have a talent that people are willing and eager to pay for, and that I deserve to be compensated for my hard work!
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are looking to go full-time in their online business?
You can do it! Working for yourself is seriously the most rewarding thing and one of the best decisions I have made in my life. Seek out the advice of other people, and get a support group to hold you accountable to stick with your dreams.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan on working hard on my blog, www.emmalenhart.com, and building my own brand and empire. I would love to one day be able to speak to young people about how their services and unique talents are needed, and exposing generations to how I created my own business at 18 years old. I know that the sky’s the limit, and I can’t wait to see what happens next :)
Emma was interviewed as a Change Maker - a featured entrepreneur in Teachable's weekly email newsletter - Make Change Weekly. The Friday roundup features curated content to make money outside of the 9-5. To sign up for Make Change, enter your email below.