Liz Roncevic was working a full time retail job in northern New Jersey, but knew she wanted more. Her $10 an hour salary wasn’t cutting it and her manager treated her terribly. She had always had the desire to be a business owner, so in spite of friends advising her against it, she decided to strike out on her own and start her own business. Today her company Bizmap serves over three dozen small businesses in the United States and Europe, helping them with the complexities of digital marketing so that they can focus on what they do best.
Roncevic’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
I started Bizmap with a handful of freelance clients who would regularly use my digital marketing services. At that time I was going through my own professional and personal hardships. I was struggling to support myself and also dealing with family issues that were affecting my personal and work life. At that time, I was working a retail job. I saw that retail was being affected by e-commerce and it was hard to support myself. I knew that, although I didn’t have many professional skills (I had studied fine art in college), retail clothing as a profession was on its way out. But I also knew that I had always had the feeling that I would be a business owner. So I ran with it. After having a terrible experience with a manager who treated me very badly and questioned my ability to do menial tasks, I realized that my future would be similar to hers (and she was clearly bitter and unhappy in retail). The terrible experience motivated me to do more. And the rest is history!
In my opinion, success is not in any way related to money. Success is doing what you love and finding fulfilment and meaning in it. I think we often equate success with a six or seven figure income. But there are many people who have that and are still unhappy. That is not success. Success is doing something, finding your niche, and getting satisfaction from it in some way. You could be making $10 an hour or $300 an hour. It doesn’t matter. It’s an emotional state that is defined by fulfilment and happiness.
One of my biggest successes was leaving my full time retail job because I knew I wanted more. Everyone I spoke to advised me not to leave my full time job, but I knew I was unhappy and couldn’t support myself on a $10 and hour salary living in northern New Jersey. It’s been the best thing I ever did and I’m so grateful I had the strength and independence to take that leap of faith.
My other greatest success was to persevere in spite of a very rough upbringing. I grew up with two alcoholic parents who suffered from addiction and mental illness. I had a lot of my own problems due to the neglect, shame, and lack of support I experienced. For a while, I let the lack of stability and love define me and anger me. Today, I’ve made peace with that part of my past and I’ve developed close relationships despite that struggle. I have a wonderful fiancé and people in my life who are supportive of me, and I couldn’t be happier.
My top challenge has been “being too nice.” I have a natural inclination to help and trust others, and although that is a very good thing, there are times when I shouldn’t try to help when it puts my business and wellbeing in jeopardy. Knowing when to say no and when not to work with a client who is draining and toxic and knowing when not to hire someone who may not be reliable has been a challenge. I have experienced a few bad professional decisions where I took on people who I knew weren’t really putting in the time and effort for my business. What I realized is that it’s human nature to start slacking after a certain point I think. But certain warning signs at the beginning shouldn’t be ignored. So I’m trying to make better hiring decisions, trust my intuition right from the start and not micro manage people. I’ve had more positive experiences with employees since doing this!
My most important role model has been my Aunt Seka. Although we are very different people, she has shown me a lot and I’ve always admired her. My aunt is always kind to others and she is very selfless. She would do anything for anyone and she never has a negative thing to say about it. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her talking badly or negatively about anyone which is a wonderful quality. It’s very humbling to watch her and the way she leads her life and I always have felt inspired to be more like her.