From working in finance to starting her own business, Meagan Hooper of the bSmart Guide knows first hand what it’s like going from working for someone else, to working for herself. Meagan’s mission is to help other women find the resources and tools for their own life strategies, and she is definitely making waves. If you need a nudge or motivation to make a career or life change, Meagan has some advice you need to hear.
BB: How did you first get the idea for the bSmart Guide?
When I graduated college, the first few years out of school were a little bumpy trying to figure out my personal finances, being newly married, working in finance in New York City, and trying to envision the life I wanted. I pushed through these challenges and discovered many life lessons I wished someone had told me! This was in 2004 when there were very few resources for young women to navigate their life and to accomplish their goals.
After working in finance for 10 years I wanted to offer other aspirational millennial women a platform to learn from each other sharing their best advice, create meaningful relationships to expand their network, and to promote their brand, blog, or business with other women.
BB: What sparked your passion for helping Millennial women achieve their dreams?
As I advanced in my career, I was disheartened by the percentages of successful women in various industries – 5% of Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies have female CEOs (20% of women hold senior positions in North America), 2% of venture capital funding goes to women owned businesses (38% of U.S. businesses are owned by women), 19% of Congress are women and women still earn $0.77 for every $1.00 a man earns. I started to consider some of the factors facing millennial women and what they need to accomplish their goals such as flexible hours for mothers, a place to share advice for rising up the corporate ladder, and a marketplace to buy and sell from each other if they own a business. Millennial women can have a tremendous impact improving their communities and participating in the global economy – but we have a few challenges to overcome in order to offer our talents, vision, and leadership. Even with a trillion dollars in student debt and poor job market for entry-level positions, I believe with the best knowledge, support, and promotion millennials can change the world. It’s not enough to be an expert in your field – you have to have a supportive community of people to connect with and to advise you to achieve your entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial goals.
BB: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting bSmart?
When I left my job in finance, I felt like an expert in many areas – an expert in executing my work, managing others, and in understanding my industry. I love my new business, but in many ways it’s like being 21 and just out of college all over again with a new vocabulary and lack of experience on my part. When you launch a start-up, it takes at least 6 months to get acclimated to the new business and 2 years to really feel like you’re an expert in your new industry – the same amount of time it takes acclimating to a new job.
If you leave your job to become an entrepreneur, I suggest you be in a position to not need income from your new business for at least 2 years. Often people quit their start-up too early because they expect more than is reasonable for success and income when running their business.
BB: You interview a lot of impressive career women on your site! Are there any moments or specific women that really stand out to you?
I truly learn so much from every woman I interview and feel like they’ve coached me on my own journey. Laurie Meadoff’s interview about how to find your passion and purpose reaffirmed the small voice in my head leading me to start bSmart. Susan Leger Ferraro’s story about turning a babysitting job into an $18 million early- childhood development company mentored me as she spoke about investing in the lives of her employees to make a difference in the lives of the children.
Noreena Hertz helped me understand how to make objective, smart, and rational decisions versus responding emotionally to challenges. Dee Poku’s interview reminded me of why we need platforms to encourage and promote role models for women. Carly Heitlinger was a huge example to me of someone who shared the keys to her success by being deliberate, consistent, and doing what she says she’s going to do – she has a tremendous amount of integrity.
BB: As the founder of a successful career-oriented website, what’s the best piece of career advice you received?
Well there’s so much I would love to share! One piece of advice that’s worth repeating with respect to when to leave your job is to ‘leave your job when you can’t learn anymore and can’t earn anymore.’ At the time I wasn’t maximizing all that I could be learning and earning at my company.
From that advice I learned to take ownership over my career and responsibilities and to decide for myself what I was going to learn and how I wanted to contribute. I went from being an Administrative Assistant to Chief Operating Office at my first hedge fund – so I took those words very literally and wanted to see just how much I could learn and earn.
BB: You must have a crazy schedule! What’s your favorite way to relax and unwind after a long day?
It’s a huge treat for me to get a manicure, pedicure and back massage at my corner nail salon. I’m on an entrepreneur’s budget and schedule so that time feels very luxurious spending the time and money.
I also love going out with my husband every Friday night to our local Italian restaurant and recounting the week’s events. Sometimes it’s the first time we’ve had a real conversation in days! But I always know it’s coming and it’s a super special time to reconnect with each other.
BB: How do you maintain the Balanced Babe lifestyle?
I’ve found the secret to my success is to not wait until I feel inspired to dive into a project, but rather, to just do something related to each work category during a scheduled time every day. I’ve broken my day into 15 – 60 minute increments for all of my personal and business related tasks. (15 minutes to exercise, 30 minutes to clean, 15 minutes to walk my dog, 60 minutes to review a blog post, etc.). By dividing my day into scheduled tasks, I’m able to accomplish a little bit of everything that moves ‘the machine’ forward and incorporates working out, cooking, and spending time with friends (that is until my timer goes off – lol!)
BB: What are some of your go-to healthy meals and snacks to eat in the office?
I joke that I’m on the French diet consisting of bread, cheese, wine and chocolate. However, my husband’s allergic to gluten, so I’ve adopted his lifestyle and found that I love lentil chips, blue corn chips and eating a fruit, vegetable and lean protein every day. I received a cookbook when I got married 10 years ago, The Bride and Groom’s First and Forever Cookbook, and make a recipe from this book once or twice a week. It’s always a huge hit with family and friends asking me for the recipe of a delicious dish.
BB: If we could take a peek at your daily schedule, what would it look like?
You would see that I’m more disciplined than creative and more action oriented than inspired. Being creative and inspired is wonderful, but you can’t wait on the feelings of creativity and inspiration to get done everything that a business requires.
I was very influenced by the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective people that teaches how to determine your values, thus your goals, and therefore your personal and professional mission to then create a weekly schedule only doing things that pertain to your mission statement. It’s absolutely the key to feeling purposeful and that your week wasn’t wasted.
BB: Where do you want to see the bSmart brand go next?
We have so many talented bloggers sharing their experience and advice including brands, products, and services they love. We’re rolling out our bSmart brand program connecting our bloggers with the brands they love for compensation when they write their posts. By connecting the brand with our bloggers, we help to utilize their influence and passion with purpose to truly benefit our readers.
I would also love open bSmart facilities one day where all members can meet to learn, connect, and promote their business in-person!