Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lauren Machta, Owner of Down to Earth Spanish, located in San Diego, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Down to Earth Spanish is a Spanish learning website that offers specially crafted and curated online Spanish courses for people looking to learn Spanish effectively at their own pace. Down to Earth Spanish also offers private online Spanish lessons for those customers who want custom and tailored Spanish lessons.
Tell us about yourself
I have always liked learning languages and about other cultures from a very young age. Like most students in the United States, I learned Spanish in high school, and then while attending San Diego State University, I studied International Business with an emphasis on Western Europe. At that point, I started learning German and ended up graduating with a minor in the German language.
During my studies in Western Europe, I came back to Spanish after meeting my now husband and decided to get my Master's in Spanish Linguistics and Literature from San Diego State University and then a Professional Certificate of Translation and Interpreting from the University of California San Diego. I taught Spanish in person for over a decade. When the pandemic hit, I decided to change my business model and go exclusively online.
It turned out to be a gift since Down to Earth Spanish allows me to teach Spanish to students from all over the world without restrictions on time and location. I can still interact with my students via video chat, messaging, or email. What really motivates and, in actuality, inspires me is seeing my students improve their Spanish and help them accomplish their goals.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment has been being able to pivot my business from an in-person model to an online model during a difficult time. In addition, I created an online platform and developed from scratch everything from beginner courses to niche Spanish classes, such as Spanish for medical professionals and how to use Spanish written accent marks. Seeing Down to Earth Spanish form from concept to full operation makes me very proud.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Teaching Spanish is something that I find to be fun and never a chore. But there is much more to Down to Earth Spanish beyond Spanish language teachings, like needing to deal with finances, marketing, customer service, and more. It has been a big learning curve, but I happily accept the challenge.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Manage your expectations. It is not possible to do everything at once, so I had to learn to prioritize and make to-do lists with more specific tasks in addition to broad tasks. This allows me to take things one step at a time and feel like I am accomplishing my goals on a daily basis.
- Create a roadmap and an inspiration board. When you can visualize and think long-term, it helps to think about the big picture and then takes concrete steps and adapt along the way to achieve your goals. I also love having a plan, even if rough, because whenever I feel a little lost and out of focus, both the road map and inspiration board can bring me back into focus.
- Do not give up. Even when it gets tough, it is important to stay positive and creative. Sometimes I need to step away from my work to re-energize, and then when I least expect it, I have a brilliant idea. You've got to keep trying new approaches and not stay stagnant.
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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