From elementary school teacher to online entrepreneur, Mackenzie Armstrong went through quite an evolution after having her first child. Wanting to prioritize her family but still make some money on the side, she quit her full-time teaching job and tried her hand at a few virtual careers before finally deciding to launch her own business.
Find out the story of how she built Armstrong Virtual Solutions and the challenges of starting and growing her Pinterest strategy consulting business. In this interview, she tells us about the people, tools, and strategies that have helped her from the early days to the present and her top three tips for someone venturing into the world of entrepreneurship.
Table of Contents
- Armstrong’s Background
- Armstrong’s Leap Into Entrepreneurship
- Early Business Days
- How Armstrong Grew Her Business
- Armstrong’s Advice to Entrepreneurs and Handling Burnout
- How Armstrong Overcame Her Biggest Challenge
- Armstrong’s Recommendations
- Wrap Up
- More About Mackenzie Armstrong
What does your business do, and who are your customers?
I empower entrepreneurs to grow their audience and email list by adding their already created content to Pinterest. My customers are coaches and solopreneurs who have a blog or podcast.
What first got you started working on your business, and what motivates you each day to do what you do?
I like to say that in “another life,” I was an elementary school teacher, but when I had my daughter in 2016, I decided I could not give 110% in the classroom and 110% at home. So I chose to stay home with my daughter, which forced me to find other means to help my family financially. This led me into the world of teaching online, which did not end up working out, but it helped me realize that I could start my own business and career solely online. I choose to stay home and be an entrepreneur so that way, I am able to be present with my kids and in my family life. I don’t want to miss the little things.
How long have you been in business?
Armstrong’s Leap Into Entrepreneurship
How did you decide to start your business and take the leap into entrepreneurship?
After working online as a teacher, teaching English to Chinese students, I decided that I felt confident enough to dive into the world of entrepreneurship. When I first started on my journey, I did not know what niche I wanted to work in. So I started as a virtual assistant so that way, I could dabble in all things surrounding entrepreneurship. After working with a few clients, I really decided that social media was not something that I love to do, but I loved the aspect of creating graphics. This led me to the world of Pinterest because, contrary to popular belief, Pinterest is a search engine, not a social media platform. And the rest is history.
People: I am a Solopreneur, so it’s just me.
How did you manage your time during the transition to entrepreneurship?
To be honest, because my daughter was one when I started my business, I mostly worked during nap time, and when she went to bed.
Early Business Days
What were some of the challenges you faced in the first year or early on in your business, and how did you overcome them?
When I first started my business, I invested in a program that was centered around helping new entrepreneurs to set up and grow their businesses. This was a challenge because I had never done anything like this before. It wasn’t very clear which program was right for me, and that could help me on this journey of starting my business. Another thing that I struggled with was the confidence in myself to grow my own business and reach out to people I did not know to see if they needed the services I could provide. Really, the main thing that helped me overcome these obstacles was time. Meaning I needed to really jump in feet first and get a feel for what I wanted my business to be like. That way, I could grow my confidence.
People: I truly worked as a Solopreneur, so I worked by myself.
Tools: Early in my business, I really utilized Trello to help me keep myself organized and my clients organized. I also started using Dubsado to help me streamline my interaction with clients and contracts.
How did you manage your time early on?
Early on, I really worked when my kids were asleep. Also, I really had the support of my husband, who was able to take care of the kids when I had deadlines to meet and needed some extra time during the day or on the weekends.
How Armstrong Grew Her Business
Between your early days and today, what have been some of the challenges you faced, and how have you overcome them?
One of my biggest challenges from when I first started my business to now is really learning the type of client that I wanna work with. When I was first starting out, I was taking on any client that would come my way, but as I’ve grown in my business, I’ve been able to find clients that really align with how I run my business as well as on a personal level.
People: I still work as a Solopreneur, but occasionally may hire out for one-off projects.
How do you manage your time today or since ‘early business’?
Now that my kiddos are older, I am able to block my day around their school schedule. I do allocate Mondays to be CEO days and try not to work on Fridays. I do have designated days throughout the week that are solely for client work, and the others are solely for building my personal business.
Armstrong’s Advice to Entrepreneurs and Handling Burnout
What are the top 3 tips you’d give someone who’s interested in starting a business?
- Have confidence in yourself and your abilities.
- Remember, you can make your business what you want it to be; you don’t have to follow what anyone else is doing.
- Remember to have fun! If something isn’t feeling great in your business, you always have the ability to change up what you’re doing!
What is your relationship with burnout?
I don’t think I’ve personally experienced burnout with being an entrepreneur, but I will say that I do have times when I get more things done and times when I take things a bit slower.
What is your gross annual revenue in US dollars?
On average, how many hours per week do you work? [in and on your business]:
8 – 10 hours
How Armstrong Overcame Her Biggest Challenge
What is one of the most difficult things you have overcome in your business?
My confidence level and knowing when/how to pivot in business
What are you most proud of when it comes to your business or journey?
I am most proud that I am able to run a successful business and still be able to be present with my kiddos!
What are some books, podcasts, and social media accounts that you would recommend?
Are there any other tools, software, apps, etc. you use today that you haven’t mentioned?
Armstrong’s ability to try different ventures, learn from them, and pivot have definitely helped her create a business she loves. But while her previous experience of teaching online and providing VA services guided her decision to start specializing on Pinterest, she struggled with confidence and fleshing out what she wanted her business to look like. Four years on, she shares that the only way forward for her was to take the time to try things and learn along the way.
It is quite impressive that she hasn’t experienced burnout! Her early investment in a program guiding new entrepreneurs and her familiarity with online business and a lot of tools must have helped. Ultimately, it is her focus on being present with her family and making her business what she wants it to be (which includes selecting clients who are aligned with her values) that dictates the way she manages her energy and time. Having a clear vision for her business definitely paid off.
More About Mackenzie Armstrong
Mackenzie Armstrong is a former educator turned Pinterest strategist. In the words of Johnny from Dirty Dancing, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” Instead of being the best-kept secret with hidden content in the corners of your website and social media, Mackenzie teaches coaches and entrepreneurs with blogs and podcasts to fill their audience with ideal clients using Pinterest. She believes that Pinterest is an underutilized strategy for most businesses–especially coaches and podcasters. Feel relieved and confident using content you’ve already got (and everything you create in the future) to reach the right people without spending all your time posting.