Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life Series!
If you’re new here, this is a series where I interview people who have designed their dream life. You can find all the interviews here on the Design Your Dream Life Page.
I’m so happy and excited to have Bola Sokunbi on the blog to share her story today!
To give you some context, Bola’s bio reads: Bola Sokunbi is a certified financial education instructor, money expert and the founder of Clever Girl Finance, an educational platform that provides online personal finance courses for women who want to improve their finances and live life on their own terms. Bola has been featured on time.com, Money Magazine, the Washington post plus more and is passionate about women succeed at achieving their dream lives.
Finish the sentence “I knew I was living my dream life when…”
I knew I was living my dream life when I looked over my old journals and realized that all the things I am doing now are all the things I had dreamt about, written on and planned to do. I didn’t know how or when it would happen but it did over time.
Funny enough, it takes looking back over time to realize that you are closer to your dreams than you realize.
Living the dream, however, is by no means easy – it’s a ton of hard work but I’m here and I’m doing it and most importantly I love it.
I have the opportunity to spend more time with my family, I can set my own schedule, work on my personal development as a boss and a leader, helps others and give back – it’s totally worth the pursuit.
What was your life like before all this that led you to make a change?
Before I started Clever Girl Finance and went into business full time, I worked full time in technology. I have a computer science and business degree. While I loved working in tech (I did it for 11 years), I got to a point after I gave birth to my children (boy/girl twins) where I started to feel really unfulfilled with my job.
In retrospect, I believe it was one part postnatal depression and one part self-awareness, but I kept feeling this weight that I needed to do something that really mattered to me and that would make my children proud to have me as their mother.
My technology job was great and I did an amazing job and exceeded expectations of my senior management but despite working in technology for several years I was not passionate about it.
I had dabbled in entrepreneurship in the past everything from selling Avon to being a wedding photographer (which earned me $70,000 one year) but it wasn’t just an entrepreneurial itch I was trying to scratch this time.
I spent two years basically brainstorming (I have full notebooks from this period) and trying to determine what it was I could do and it dawned on me I could help other women succeed with their finances.
Money was one of my favorite topics, I talked about saving and investing a lot, plus I had shared my story of saving over $100,000 in the 3 years after I left college and my friends were interested in learning how I did it. Not only could I help people by sharing my experiences, but it would be tied to something I was passionate about.
So, I started blogging. Along the way I got certified as an educator, and here I am!
What’s your lifestyle like now?
I split my time between working from home and going into New York City where I typically have meetings.
Because I set my own hours, it means I can take my kids to school and pick them up and spend time making dinner for my family and watching TV with my husband (we usually pick one night a week).
I spend my working time engaging with students and my team and it’s a really great feeling to be able to do things and run my business on my own terms.
How many hours per week do you work?
To be honest – too many to count but it doesn’t feel like work to me.
I’m at a place where I’m building and growing an early stage business which is essentially like a baby that requires a lot of my time and attention.
While I find myself working early in the morning before my family wakes up or late into the night after they have gone to bed a lot, I try my best to make sure I’m well rested, eating well, and making time for my mental health and overall well being. Sometimes it’s a challenge, but I also recognize that I’m a work in progress!
How do you make money?
I make money in my business through the online courses we provide through our learning platform and from various partnerships and collaborations with brands.
How did you get started?
Once I figured out I wanted to focus on financial education, I started blogging. I shared my personal experience with money as well as actionable tips and suggestions for my audience.
As time passed I started to build a following. I began one on one coaching because people asked for it!
It was an incredible experience because it really helped me get to know and understand the women I was creating content for – their motivations to succeed, their pain points and much more.
Once it got to a point where one on one coaching was no longer sustainable for me, I built my first course and created a community as a way to help more people but still engage and keep the experience personal for each person participating.
I didn’t always know what the next step I needed to take would be, but I figured it out along the way.
It has essentially been a lot of testing and pivoting and then more testing and pivoting. I’ve made many mistakes but they’ve all been lessons for the next test!
How long did it take for you to make $1k per month?
I made my first 1k within the first 6 months. It was pretty exciting in the sense that it gave me validation that I was on the right path with what I was doing. For me that super important especially in the early days when I wasn’t entirely sure if I was creating things that would resonate with the people I wanted to help.
How long did it take for you to make six figures per year?
That’s this year! So essentially 3 years from when I launched.
What do you wish you knew when you were starting out that you know now?
To be honest, I’m not sure that if I knew everything I know now that I would have gotten started lol.
But on a serious note, I wish I knew more people who were building businesses and powering through it all.
I was a little late to find my tribe of sister-prenuers. Building a business is incredibly hard work and for me personally, it would have been super helpful to find a tribe of like-minded business women (like Natalie!) much earlier, especially to have as sounding boards and to exchange stories on the experience and journey of entrepreneurship which can sometimes be isolating.
Now that I have a great tribe, the hard days are not as difficult because I have my support system to lean on.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting out and wants to design her dream life?
My advice would be to find your tribe early and don’t feel like you have to go it alone. Lean on them for support, encouragement, and advise.
I would also say pace yourself and remember that achieving a dream life takes time – so many people are in a rush and allow themselves to get overwhelmed by social pressures all of which takes a toll on your overall well being.
Create a plan and start working towards it and in the meantime enjoy the life and opportunities you currently have.
Where can people find you if they want more?
A Final Note!
I can totally relate to Bola on sooo many levels!
I love how she says that if she knew everything it would take to grow her business, she’s not sure if she’d even get started. That is some truth right there.
I also really connect with her finance to business story, since I can personally relate to it.
And I totally agree with finding the right tribe of people. It makes all the difference.
A HUGE thank you to Bola for her amazing story. She’s amazing!
Are you inspired by Bola?! Let her know in the comments!
P.s. If you want to start an online business, join me in Online Business For Her!