As I transition from homeschooling mom season to a full-time mom entrepreneur season, I want to welcome other mom entrepreneurs to my blog. Today, I am sharing the journey of Romela ‘Roms’ de Leon of Getsomecola from being an employee to an employer. Oh, and she has a book, too!
Who is Romela de Leon?
Romela is a work-at-home mom managing Getsomecola, a remote-based digital marketing agency. She has been working from home since 2013 but set up her own business, in partnership with her husband in 2016. They have a small team of skilled professionals whose varied expertise and experiences enable them to serve clients in the Philippines and abroad.
Professionally, her background is in SEO or Search Engine Optimization. She started working in this industry in 2005, dabbling in multiple roles from being an SEO Copywriter to Marketing Head of corporate organizations, and remote companies.
*Side note: I met Roms at an SEO workshop where she was the lecturer/facilitator. I found her again on Facebook many years later.
Married for almost a decade, Romela is now a mom of two: She has a daughter and a son. Outside work and family, she and her husband serve in Catholic communities. They live in Cavite, Philippines.
Why shift from employment to business?
My baby was turning 1 in a few months and I was worried about her slow weight gain. (Later we realized, it was her body type lol) Our pediatrician asked if anyone, aside from the yaya, stays home with my child. There was no one else. And that was my cue to prioritize my baby at that critical point in time.
I was still single when I experienced working remotely. It was a great experience for me, so I wanted to have the same lifestyle when I start my family. Because I work in the digital space, transitioning was easy. Thank God!
How important is time flexibility for you?
It’s super important! Maybe more important pa nga than money! Haha! Of course, we all know that when you’re a mom, you wear different hats. When you’re raising a young family, schedules can be fluid, day in and day out. So I need to have a flexible schedule to attend to both domestic and work demands. It took a few years for me to realize that I cannot keep a job that pays by the hour because I simply do not have or want to have 80% of my waking hours dedicated to work.
I think today’s moms need a lot of breathing space. There is so much distraction, unlimited options, and confusing messages on social media that can leave a mom feeling stretched out or inadequate. It’s so essential that we give ourselves time to sit down, plan, and choose a schedule that really works for our family.
Why put up an agency? Why not a traditional business? What other business ideas did you have in mind then?
It was really a natural progression for me and my husband. We are both in the creative digital sphere, so it was really the next right step for us to take. I remember attending a creative workshop with my husband back in 2016. After that, we had lunch, and we talked about quitting our jobs and going full-time to set up Getsomecola, our little creative marketing agency.
Of course, reality dictated we don’t quit our full-time jobs asap, but we knew it was the direction we had to take. It didn’t happen immediately, but we knew it was a project without a deadline that we cannot just put on the back burner.
We once tried a traditional business, a milk tea shop. We launched it during the ECQ season. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. However, we are thinking about putting up our own co-working space in the future to double as our office. But we know it would be a different ball game altogether, especially since we are still in the pandemic. So that remains on the drawing board.
What was the transition like? And what were the challenges you faced during the transition?
Work-wise, the transition was quite easy because we already have the skills to get started. Money-wise, it was a different story! Suddenly, we had to do the lead generation ourselves, secure contracts, and ensure they last for the long term. Also, we didn’t prepare for the financial aspect of the transition from employment to entrepreneurship. We were naïve to think we could just wing it, as most freelancers do.
But, boy, were we so wrong! There was no comfortable fixed income to expect. We had to start from scratch while having a baby to take care of. We had some clients, to begin with, but they don’t always pay on time.
Add to the mix was losing our long-time house help. It was exhausting doing everything ourselves, from household chores to setting up our business. But hard work pays off. Our first client was a former office mate connected with a national brand in the country. Eventually, we had our mojo going. But it wasn’t always smooth sailing.
What are the perks of having your own agency/business?
We don’t do all the work ourselves. We have a team of digital specialists who take on 60%-80% of the actual work. It is fulfilling to support other working parents by outsourcing projects to them so they can also stay with their kids at home. We don’t hire them as full-time employees (they don’t prefer this setup, anyway). They are all consultants who do remote work, manage their own schedules, and work on a per-project basis. We just monitor everyone’s progress through meetings and management tools. That is why it is important to maintain long-term clients to secure work for the team.
By the way, our consultants are highly skilled at handling projects. This translates to even more time and location flexibility for us as a family.
Did you feel that motherhood limited you as a mom entrepreneur? How did you address that?
I have a confession to make. I often feel insecure as a work-at-home mom because I feel like I’m shortchanging either my kids or my clients. Time management is a monster I constantly contend with.
But what I found helpful was prioritization. Accept only the stuff I can finish. Even if my team takes over the work, managing them still takes up time. So I say NO to a lot of things now. I remember what is my priority, my business aim, and what truly matters to us. It’s liberating when you practice that.
Were there any mentors or books that helped you embrace being an entrepreneur?
Yes, but I’m quite selective because not all will resonate with my values. I read/listen to Bo Sanchez, watch Christine Maisel of the Portable Entrepreneur, and follow Arianna Huffington, and recently Chris Do. They are all entrepreneurs/CEOs in their own right. They’re all parents and creatives, so I can relate to most of what they teach.
What is one thing you learned as an entrepreneur that was never taught in school?
Financial literacy! Focus on the profit hahaha!! Don’t charge low. Don’t exchange your time for money, but sell the value you can provide.
Develop sales and interpersonal skills even if I am an introvert. To be honest, what fuels this business is word-of-mouth (referrals) and networking.
The most important lesson entrepreneurship taught me was to accept failures and move on. Success will not come unless you fail at some things. Eh, sa school pag bumagsak ka, kawawa ka naman. Katapusan mo na. Haha! Hindi ka na makaka honor student. But in life, there’s no such thing as an honor student. You take your own path and compete with yourself.
Let’s go to your book. What made you decide to write a book?
I had this message in my heart that I felt needed to be shared (cue in dramatic music, haha!).
Kidding aside, I want to affirm other work-at-home moms or mom entrepreneurs to keep going when the going gets tough. Entrepreneurship and freelancing are so romanticized online that it’s making people think it is an easy way to get rich, that it’s a sure path to becoming the next phenomenal social influencer.
People are quick to share their 6-figure incomes, new assets bought, etc. But what you don’t see are the tears, hard work, and struggles that play out behind those successes. We all want to listen to the aspirational to the point of being blind to the realities of doing business.
My book wants to teach and acknowledge the common struggles agency owners go through. When you allow yourself to be transparent and vulnerable, you become relatable. It is my way of patting you on the back to say, “Ok lang yan. It happens. Kaya mo yan. It will produce fruit.”
To order a copy of Roms’ book, fill up the google form here.
What would you advise women or moms who are afraid to step into entrepreneurship?
- Know your priorities to avoid overwhelm. You know best how to take care of your own family while running a business.
- Take your own pace. It’s not a race. No matter how fast or slow you go, what’s important is you keep in the right direction. Progress is still progress, no matter how small you may think it is.
- Make a plan. Don’t depend on passion alone. Feelings change – even if we know the reasons we went into business. Having a business plan will save the day, especially when you don’t want to show up.
- Invest in self-development. Choose to learn and remind yourself you don’t know everything yet. So be a lifelong learner.
- Nurture your faith. It will be your fuel to weather the waves of entrepreneurship and life (naks!).
Starting and keeping a business afloat is not simple. It’s not about the social media posts or the number of followers. It is hard work! So, if you have a friend who is a mom entrepreneur, cheer them on. Support them by buying their products or services, liking their social media posts and pages to create traction, recommending them, or partnering with them. If you do the latter, you’ll become a mom entrepreneur yourself.