Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in organizational development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Catarina Rivera, MSEd, MPH, CPACC, Founder of Blindish Latina LLC., located in the USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I'm a public speaker, DEI consultant, and content creator. I focus on disability awareness, inclusion, and accessibility. I work with global corporate clients, offering them fireside chats, training sessions, keynotes, and consulting. Many of my clients are beginning their journey with disability inclusion in the workplace or have an employee-led group looking to broaden their impact on the wider organization. In addition to my corporate clients, I work as a disability lifestyle + accessible travel content creator on brand partnerships with values-aligned clients. I'm also a TEDx speaker, and my talk is called "Creating Inclusive Workplaces for All."
Tell us about yourself
I’m Cuban and Puerto Rican. I was born and raised in Maryland in the United States. My parents taught me Spanish as my first language. My connection to my Latinidad taught me the value of diversity.
I’ve been disabled my whole life. My first disability was being hard of hearing, and I’ve worn hearing aids since I was a toddler. When I was 17, I was diagnosed with a progressive vision disability called Usher Syndrome. Today, I have a small window of central vision, and I use a white cane to help me navigate the world.
In my career, I spent over 14 years working in the public sector in education and public health. I earned two graduate degrees in these fields.
In 2020, I started my Instagram account @BlindishLatina to share my story as a proud disabled Latina woman. I turned it into a business in 2021 and then started working as a public speaker, DEI consultant, and content creator.
I was motivated to create Blindish Latina because I wanted to see more voices like mine and be the representation I wished I would have had. I love showcasing my intersectional identities. I also reached a point in my disability journey where I was very proud of who I was and became a strong self-advocate. My life became better because of this, and I wanted to extend my impact.
My mission is to help create a more inclusive world for everyone. I want to create workplaces that are inclusive for disabled employees and customers and that prioritize accessibility from the beginning. What keeps me going is I know I’m making a difference. I save messages and DMs I get from people and treasure them.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Turning my business idea into a viable business is my biggest accomplishment. I've had other side hustles and businesses, but this is the first one that has allowed me to quit my full-time job. In January 2021, I began the journey to create a business out of my Blindish Latina Instagram account. I had to summon lots of belief in myself and my voice. I visualized every day. I had an affirmation that I would say one line was: “I will be free of full-time work and focus on entrepreneurship.” I said that every day and now I get to say, “I AM free of full-time work and focused on entrepreneurship.” That’s powerful.
I invested in a speaker reel. I shared five posts a week on Instagram. I learned so many skills. I created my own website, and I edited my own videos. I’m proud of how I put consistent, hard work into this idea. I truly believed that I could do it, but at the same time, I wasn’t sure. Would companies hire me to speak for them even though I had only worked in educational institutions and nonprofits?
I remember speaking with an established Latina public speaker who did a lot of diversity programs. She told me what she charged and encouraged me not to undercharge as it would do everyone in the field a disservice. When she told me her rate, I thought, "Wow, that’s a lot." I started lower than that and raised my rates over time. Now, I have consistently booked clients at a rate higher than the rate she told me. I'm really proud of my journey.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
As a business owner, it can be lonely and hard to structure your time. What's helped me is making sure to surround myself with other entrepreneurs and finding ways to feel like I’m part of a community. I’m a member of a community called Dreamers & Doers, which has been an amazing space. I started a group for women public speakers, and that space has been very supportive. I have friends who are entrepreneurs, and I have a weekly call with one of them. I invested in a business coach, a social media/brand partnerships coach, and other programs and support people.
For time management, it’s an ongoing journey. I love Focusmate for keeping me on track with work, and I organize weekly and daily priorities. Sometimes I also make a schedule for the day.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don’t quit your full-time job until you have a viable and tested business that is earning revenue and until you have at least six months of living expenses in savings.
- Spend time creating the right business. Spend time learning. Remember that entrepreneurs usually have started multiple businesses in their lives. Not every business is meant to be forever, and closing a business doesn’t mean you failed.
- Always follow up. A "no" doesn't mean a conversation has to be over. It can feel intimidating to send a follow-up email, but that can be all it takes to close a deal.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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