The Business of Business series is a look at an emerging intrepid group of women. We [Forgotten Magic] have approached 8 women in divergent industries from around the world. These women are creating a space for themselves in their respective industries to strive, grow & glow.
These women are ardent beacons in the fight for women empowerment & equality.
For this interview, we head over to San Diego, California to converse with Nicolle Soto. Nicolle @sotosocialmgmt is an Instagram Marketing Strategist who works with small business owners across the United States. She recently started her own business about a year and a half ago, in September 2016.
Soto Social Management was created to help small business owners build a community of loyal customers or clients, sell their products, grow their business using Instagram, and get back to doing what they love.
With Instagram emerging as a huge platform for businesses we had to get some insight from Nicolle.
What did you want to be when you were younger? What changed?
I wanted to be a graphic designer who specialized in designing magazine layouts. It’s something I didn’t pursue in college because I fell in love with learning everything I could about marketing and advertising!
In a world that is constantly developing its technological advances, nothing is ever certain.
If Instagram gets deleted tomorrow (hypothetically), does the mission of Soto Social Management fall away as well? How do you recognize Soto Social Management without Instagram?
Great question… if Instagram disappeared tomorrow, Soto Social’s mission wouldn’t change. I would still focus on helping small business owners get back to doing what they love! I’m constantly learning new ways to market small businesses better, but right now, Instagram is the BEST social media platform for connecting with your audience and increasing sales for your business.
What do you think the phrase ‘The Business of Business’ means?
The business of business means making a positive impact on this world and on yourself. We went into business to pursue our passions and build a life we love while doing what we love. Every choice we make impacts our lives, and the lives of others, in some way, so it’s up to us to ensure that those choices set us on a path that leads us where we want to be.
What is the reason, aim or goal behind your business?
I started Soto Social Management to help busy small business owners get back to doing what they love. The people I work with wear a dozen different hats, from business owner to accountant to marketing director. With so many things going on, it can feel difficult to get back to focusing on why they started their business in the first place. My goal with Soto Social Management is to help these amazing business owners by taking one major thing off their plate — marketing their business on Instagram. I strive to ensure that my clients feel comfortable, happy and relieved when I work with them. I’m lucky to work with such incredible business owners and to hear them say that I’ve helped them and that they trust me with their business makes it all worthwhile.
What is your perception or definition of fame?
To me, fame means being widely known beyond your industry as the go-to expert in your field. When I think of famous social media marketers, I think of Gary Vaynerchuk. And while I want to make an impact in my field and help as many small business owners as I can, fame isn’t something I’m striving towards.
What is your perception or definition of success?
For me, success takes on multiple forms. It means waking up feeling excited to get to work, having the freedom to travel and explore every inch of this beautiful world, being busy without feeling overwhelmed, and working with people who feel like friends.
What motivated you to go into this particular industry?
Marketing and advertising are two topics that have always interested me. In college, I would obsess over different ads and make mental lists about why one worked while the other didn’t. When I saw businesses start to use social media as a way to connect with their audience and promote their business, I became obsessed! I would help family members and local small business owners set up and manage their accounts for free because I loved it so much, and at the time I didn’t think it could become my career. It wasn’t until I spent some years working for large digital advertising companies who sold one-size-fits-all social media marketing packages to local business owners that I realized I could, and needed to, do better. I took that motivation and desire to help small business owners with personalized social media marketing that actually worked for their business and started Soto Social Management.
What is your biggest struggle in the industry?
The biggest struggle for me personally is falling into the comparison trap. Because I’m on social media for the majority of the day, it’s inevitable that I’ll see what other entrepreneurs are doing. Sometimes it can feel like what I’m doing isn’t enough. When I start to feel that way, I know it’s time for me to step away from social media for a couple hours and refocus my attention.
Who was your biggest inspiration and help in getting you to where you are?
My mom and my boyfriend are two people who continue to support me endlessly in my entrepreneurial journey. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am now and I am so grateful for their love and support.
How do you achieve work-life balance?
This is definitely tough, especially because my job requires that I use my computer and phone almost constantly. Work-life balance is something I’m still trying to figure out, but right now I focus on being purposeful with the time I spend on my computer and phone. If I’m on Instagram at night, it’s because I’m scrolling through my personal account, not my clients’ accounts. Social media is still so fun for me, but I can easily become burnt out from being on it all day for work, so I’m actively trying to create a separation in my mind of social media usage for work and for fun. Other than that, I make sure to get outside at least once every day because the sunshine makes me happy and helps me clear my mind. Ultimately, if I find myself on my computer after typical work hours, I try not to beat myself up over it. As long as I’m enjoying myself, that’s all that matters.
What is social media/technology’s role in your business?
Social media plays a major role in my business. Not only is it the platform I use to grow my clients’ businesses, but it’s the platform I use to grow my own business and connect with so many people around the world. That’s one thing I love about social media, and Instagram in particular — it’s so easy to meet and connect with people you may have never met if it weren’t for the platform. On the flipside, I can sometimes forget that social media is a highlight reel of people’s best moments. This is something I try to combat by sharing more about my struggles with starting a business, working alone 99% of the time, and the emotional stress that comes along with being a business owner. I find that mixing real-life stories in with aspirational posts not only helps to balance out the highlight reel, but it also helps people connect on a more personal level.
What have you learned about entrepreneurship, leadership and the 21st century as a progressive female?
When I first became a business owner, I was taken aback by the support and encouragement I received from fellow female business owners. The women in this community (that I mainly found on Instagram and local meetup groups) welcomed me with open arms, answered any and all of my questions, and invited me to join them in meeting even more entrepreneurs. Through them, I gained perspective and confidence and benefited from their wisdom. Without their advice and support, starting my own business would have been 100 times more difficult. What I learned is that finding a community that welcomes you and encourages you, especially when you’re just starting out, is incredibly important. And if you look in the right places, there are entrepreneurs out there waiting to lift you up and help you grow.
Are there any collaborations or events that occur in your industry to unite women?
Definitely, and especially here in San Diego! There are so many groups and meetups happening all over the city and so many incredible female entrepreneurs doing their thing here that it’s really difficult not to meet other women in my industry. I really love that about San Diego.
What advice can you give to young women looking to go into your industry or business in general?
My best advice to you would be to focus on what you’re doing, not what everyone else is doing. The comparison is something I struggle with a lot, but especially so when I first started. Reach out to local businesses and entrepreneurs, and join fun networking groups like the Rising Tide Society’s Tuesdays Together to meet other entrepreneurs, make connections, and expand your friend group. Once you find your community, pay it forward to a new entrepreneur. I owe a lot to the women (many of whom I’ve only met online!) who encouraged me and pushed me to be a better version of myself and a better business owner for my clients.
Finally, know that starting your own business takes a lot of hard work. It’s not uncommon for months to pass before you really gain your footing and start seeing steady clients and income. Know that when starting a business, there’s no such thing as success or failure. You will ALWAYS be striving towards new goals and tweaking your services and learning as you go. And that’s okay!
Words you live by?
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
What are your greatest achievements?
Taking a leap of faith and starting my own business is my greatest achievement thus far. Don’t get me wrong, there was a ton of planning, hard work, and preparation involved, too! But believing in myself and my ability to help small business owners grow their business using Instagram in a more personalized way took guts, and I’m so proud of myself for taking the leap.
Who is your industry role model & why?
I truly admire Emily McDowell. She’s a badass business owner and designer who isn’t afraid to share her struggles along with her wins on Instagram. There’s something to be said about a woman who’s so comfortable with herself, and I really admire that about her. Plus, she designs cards that talk about real things, like cancer and anxiety and depression. Life isn’t perfect, and the fact that she embraces her life and shares it with her audience is so inspiring.
Where to from here? What can we expect from you & your business?
I’m working on exciting stuff for the near future! You can expect to see more digital products and resources to help you grow your business and take the stress, confusion, and frustration out of using Instagram.
How can we reach you or your business?
You can find me at SotoSocial.com and on Instagram at @sotosocialmgmt where I share Instagram tips, real-life stuff, behind the scenes peeks at my biz, and chat about entrepreneurship’s highs and lows. Come say hi!
Image credits: Kiley Shai Photography