The CEO skills you need to have fun and freedom in business with Nina Marinaro
Nina is a NY-based lawyer & former lobbyist. After years of working with some of the most powerful (& demanding) industries in NYC, Nina quit her job in 2018 to travel and find a “freedom lifestyle.” During her travels, Nina met many online entrepreneurs who had no access to basic legal protections (like contracts), let alone a lawyer. This inspired her to create more accessible alternatives to hiring a lawyer. In 2019, she started her flat-fee law firm (where she handles US trademarks & NY business law) & niche-specific contract template shop (for online coaches & consultants).
More than that, she helps female entrepreneurs step into the role of the CEO in their business. Helping them improve and organise their systems and business so they can spend more time in their zone of genius.
Nina always dreamt of being a lawyer. She got a full scholarship to law school and a job as a lobbyist immediately after graduating. She was living her dream. Or, what she thought was her dream.
Though she had grown up dreaming of the life she was living, she also knew that something just didn’t feel right. Through yoga, she maintained a different kind of awareness of the world that she didn’t get through her law school education.
“I always felt like I had one foot in 3D reality and one foot in 5D reality. And for everybody who is on that like woo path, you probably feel me on that. So I felt very out of place all throughout law school, even though I felt like I was excelling at it.”
Despite those feelings, she took a job after law school with her best friend as a lobbyist. It was the kind of job that she always thought would feel like “the dream”. It was their job to network and negotiate with people all day, every day. But it just didn’t feel aligned.
She suffered from burnout and quit that “dream job” in January 2018. She set off travelling and, along the way, realised she wanted to start a business. She toyed with ideas of mindfulness for lawyers and then in 2019, started working with me as a coach, and went full steam ahead in pursuing the success of her business.
Soon enough, she was having conversations with other entrepreneurs and hearing the struggles they were having in their businesses regarding contracts and payments. They needed access to a lawyer they could actually afford.
“I felt very invited by the world, by my new network, to step into this role of being a lawyer for online entrepreneurs. And so my digital, niche-specific, contract shop was born.”
From that experience, working with a lot of online entrepreneurs, she got to see the insides of all of their businesses and quickly realised they weren’t coming at their business from the viewpoint of a CEO.
“I was able to compare it to all of my years as an ex of experience as a lawyer and lobbyists in New York. And so that’s where my business mentorship program CEO skills was born.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING IN ALIGNMENT
“It was weird for me because my whole life, I was planning to become a lawyer. I got a full scholarship to law school. I landed my dream job, and I was still feeling unfulfilled. And so how that was manifesting in my body and my energy was me, you know, going out at night for happy hour and drinking with my friends rather than focusing on my personal development, like I was doing during law school, when I had more free time, as weird as that sounds.”
For Nina, it manifested in her not wanting to show up fully for clients, procrastinating a lot…Those are some of the signs to look for when you are questioning whether what you are doing is in alignment with you and your purpose.
And then it’s up to you to shift.
“How it started for me was I just put the idea out there. I put the idea out there that I want to start my own business. And I would brainstorm all these different things, just journaling to try to figure out what it would be, but you can’t force your way. You can’t think your way into starting a business. It has to kind of come to you as that intuitive hit.”
It will take patience and grace for yourself, but remain open to what the universe has to share with you and you’ll find your way. Just make sure to take action on the opportunity once it presents itself to you.
“Then you just decide, this is who I am now.”
MAKING THE PIVOT
I know so many entrepreneurs who’ve started a business, and maybe they’re having some success, or perhaps they’re not having success at all, but they’re just so afraid of making a pivot towards a business that lights them up.
But, you need to start looking at the world through the lens of opportunity and make the most out of the group programs or Facebook groups that you’re in.
Are there problems you could solve for them that seem fun to you? Are there questions you’re often asked?
“My other friends in that program [Simply Business Academy] were coming to me with questions about contracts and things like that. And so it invited me to make that pivot. I didn’t have to think too hard about it.”
So, if you’re always struggling to feel inspired or motivated in your business, consider taking a step back and assessing where things need to change so that you can feel lit up every day. That’s where your growth will come from, lovely.
“I didn’t think too much about it. I just went with the flow, and I think that’s how it might feel once you just stop overthinking it.”
The path you are genuinely, truly supposed to be on will be frictionless. The steps will fall into place much easier than if you’re trying to push towards something that isn’t really lighting you up.
You will, of course, still face challenges, but if you stay the path, your growth will be exponential.
“I just trusted the universe, and I kept going. And then later that month I got a couple of collaborations that picked up, gave me more exposure. And from there it was like an exponential growth snowball effect…”
There will be times where you have that friction, but that’s why organising your business from the get-go is so important. Focusing on those other departments of your business when you’re not making sales makes life so much easier when you do start to get that traction.
If you do keep going with what you know, what you’re passionate, and what you really believe is your journey things will start to come to you. Just trust and keep going.
THE 5 DEPARTMENTS YOU SHOULD HAVE IN YOUR BUSINESS
First things first, every entrepreneur should spend time focusing on building their CEO skills. Things like being able to see the big picture, integration, delegation, time management, being able to weigh business investments, being able to make decisions with intention. From there, you can create more time to focus on how you’re showing up as a community leader as a team leader because that’s what the CEO really does at the end of the day.
Five departments that everybody should have in their business:
Admin, which includes your Legal and Financial tasks.
Systems: This is your operations department (figuring out workflows, etc.).
Leadership department: This is about community leadership (making sure that you have proper diversity, equity and inclusion training, making sure that you are a good team leader…)
From there, you can break down your business into each department. And then you can focus on those things in a few different ways. You can really make sure that with your calendar batching, with your prioritising, when you look at your business over the scope of a year, you’re hitting on all of those departments so that they’re all growing to whatever degree they need to be in your business.
“I feel like you [Erin] talk a lot about calendar batching and all those productivity hacks and prioritising. And that to me would all fall under Systems Department tasks. It’s taking those CEO days, making sure that you’re organised and things like that.”
IF YOU’RE JUST STARTING, DON’T WORRY…
You do not need to have all of these things in place in your business right now. What you need is to have your version of these departments for whatever stage of business that you’re in. Even if it’s the beginning stage, even if it’s a really advanced seven-figure, multiple seven-figure stages.
So if you’re at the beginning stage thinking about your team, maybe you should stop once a week or once a month to audit your tasks and see what you’re spending a lot of time on, that’s not revenue-generating, what’s giving you a lot of resistance—seeing what’s adding a lot of stress and making a list. Then set a goal: “Okay, as soon as I can make X amount of money, I’m going to invest in a VA or someone to do this for me.”.
Planning out who you’re going to hire is a big piece and a big obstacle of hiring people that no one teaches you about. So that’s something that you can do as a beginner stage entrepreneur.
Just start with tracking your time (Toggl is a great free app and Google Chrome plugin). Doing this will allow you to take a realistic view of how long you’re taking to do things and what you might want to consider outsourcing when you’re ready.
YOUR LEGAL DEPARTMENT
A great thing for you to prioritise when you’re thinking about your legal department is just a basic one-on-one client contract, assuming that’s your first offering.
If you’re first offering a course, then invest in a product or digital product terms and conditions contract, which is essentially the contract for the course download.
Invest in an excellent contract for that interaction. Even if it’s a free product, that one contract can help you avoid certain liabilities. You can make sure that people hold up their end of the bargain, even if you don’t have a business entity just yet.
It’s crucial that, at first, at least you have that contract.
Don’t forget to create a contract for your beta relationships as well because it’s not just about the exchange of money; it’s about the exchange of energy and time. And you want to make sure they show up on time. You want to make sure that they are giving you something in exchange that it’s an even energy exchange, even if it’s for a testimonial or honest feedback.
POTENTIAL DANGERS OF NOT HAVING A PROPER CONTRACT
This is not to harm you or make you feel afraid, but this is more so to empower you, to allow you to understand what you’re getting into. If you don’t have a contract, there’s a couple of things that could go wrong.
You wouldn’t have disclaimers. So, for example, if you are a life coach, you wouldn’t have a disclaimer that clearly states that you are not your clients’ therapist. If you’re a health coach, you wouldn’t have something that says, “I’m not your doctor”. If you’re a business coach, you wouldn’t have anything that says, “I’m not responsible for your decisions”.
You wouldn’t have protection of your intellectual property. So, if someone that you’re coaching or you’re working with is in the similar industry, you want them to be able to use these tips for their business, but not as their business, but that’s not going to be clear to people if you don’t lay it out.
Your payment plans and payments aren’t protected. So even if someone pays in full, that payment’s not guaranteed because people might issue what’s called a chargeback with their credit card company. And the bank, the credit card companies, no questions asked are going to give them their money back.
Can’t filter out bad vibes. If someone in the contract signing process is going to give you a hard time and they’re going to question you on everything, then that’s a red flag that I wouldn’t want to work with them.
Having contracts in place means you are really empowering yourself from the beginning. When you just put those things in place to protect you, it’s not, you know, it’s not necessarily a barrier, but really it is just to make life easier for you in the long run.
PROTECT YOUR ENERGY
Use a contract: That whole process of getting them to sign it and everything will really allow you to get to know someone and the way they work with you.
Be really mindful of the sustainability of your business. If you feel like it’s not sustainable because you’re on this content creation hamster wheel or because you don’t have any team members, you don’t even know what to outsource, or you have zero systems, zero workflows, then that needs to change. Because that isn’t a pace, you can maintain. So, make sure that your business is sustainable.
“You do need to focus on making this sustainable because we’ve all created this business for more of a freedom lifestyle. And the reason why I even started going into CEO skills when I first created it was because I was so sick of feeling like I was working another job and not leading a business. And so by organising myself and taking a couple of steps backward to take ten steps forward, it was the best thing I could’ve done.”
WORKING IN A BUSINESS VS ON A BUSINESS
Anytime that you’re focusing on your plans for the year or for the quarter or how you plan to reach your goals, that’s working on your business, not in your business.
In those moments where you feel like you were taking a big picture view of your business, you’re sitting down with your goals, with your thoughts, your intuition, your journal, that’s working on your business, not in your business.
When you’re sitting down to actually create content, that’s working in your business.
When you’re answering emails, that’s working in your business.
“For me, it’s taking out, I have this one notebook, right. Bring out like my favourite coloured markers. And I know it’s like an intimate date with myself when I sit down with this notebook and I could just think about, and brainstorm ideas. That’s working on my business. When I’m sitting at my computer, that’s working in my business.”
Just make sure, when you’re working IN your business, it’s on something that either brings you joy or is a revenue-generating activity. Remember, the key is to create a sustainable business, To get to a point where you’re only really doing things in your business that bring you joy and that, as a by-product, make you money.
These actions are what will ultimately create freedom in your business (and life).
It can take one legal dispute to really ruin your day and to really put a bad taste in your mouth around your business. But, if you’ve got your contracts in place and if you’ve got those systems in place to handle that ahead of time, you’re setting yourself up for success and for simplicity.
MAKE SURE TO GO CHECK OUT NINA Here”
are you ready to be seen as a well-known leader in your niche?
You desperately want to become a successful online entrepreneur who gets to live out her dream every.single.day doing exactly what she loves with the people who inspire her.
But, it’s hard to know which route is THE ONE that’ll lead you to that exact lifestyle of freedom, consistent profit, and an amazing community.
Well, my proven process will teach you the exact steps to take to be a wildly in-demand brand!