What is your business (include name) and when did you start?
My business is my personal brand, Kay Fabella, The Story Finder for pivoting entrepreneurs. I’m originally from Los Angeles, California, but started my business here in Madrid, Spain, where I’m based, in 2014 .
What inspired you to start your business?
When a work contract here in Spain fell through with no warning, I had to reinvent myself… fast!
I had always loved communication, languages, and helping people connect. So I looked into Master’s degrees in online marketing. But all of the Master’s degrees wanted someone with experience. And all the companies where I could get experience wanted candidates with Master’s degrees! What started as a way to build my portfolio as a freelancer to apply for a Master’s turned into my full-time business.
Tell us about the journey you have been on with your businesses?
Let me tell you, those first clients did NOT come easy. I repeated mantras in the mirror to boost my confidence before networking events (especially the ones in Spanish!). I studied every video tutorial, online course and book that I could get my hands on. I worked in front of my laptop until my eyes dried out, clicking around between social media and blogs to find customers.
I was running around in circles because initially I didn’t bother to understand what customers actually wanted from me. More importantly, I didn’t have a clue who I wanted to serve in the first place!
And isn’t that the point of being your own boss? To work with people you actually enjoy being around?
So I took a step back. I thought long and hard about who it was I wanted to help. Then I put in the time to connect with and deeply understand them. Once I had spoken to enough people… I was able to create a service for them that practically sold itself!
Everything changed when I upgraded my story. My message became clearer and more confident. My marketing became more targeted towards my ideal customers. My revenue, my team, and my business grew. I started a bilingual brand and website agency. I’ve worked with Fortune 500 companies and entrepreneurs from all over the world. I was featured as a storytelling expert in media like The Huffington Post and El País and started giving workshops all around Spain. I became a part-time professor for an internationally-ranked business school.
I now have personal and financial freedom, and get to live life on my own terms.
How do you handle the naysayers?
Teddy Roosevelt once said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
I first learned about this quote through Brené Brown, and I keep coming back to it whenever I find myself worried about naysayers. So if you have constructive criticism you want to give me, I want it. But if you’re in the cheap seats, not putting yourself on the line, not in the arena getting your ass kicked and just talking about how I can do it better, I’m not interested in your feedback.
How do you balance everything? What are your top tips?
I theme my days based on the most important priorities in my business, a.k.a. Monday is for administration, marketing and sales. Tuesday is for content creation. Wednesday is for client work. Thursday is for meetings. Fridays is for training and development.
I never work on weekends unless absolutely necessary, because I believe in self-care and soul time with my husband, family and friends. And I follow a daily morning routine of journaling, exercise and meditation every day without fail.
Where do you envision yourself in the next 5 years? How do you plan to do this?
In 5 years, I’ll be a published author of at least one book in English and Spanish, speaking on stages and inspiring other women to build businesses around their passion to make income and impact. I’ll be leading a movement in the online space highlighting vulnerability, authenticity and transparency instead of peddling another six-figure launch fairy tale. I’ll be lifting up other women through my story coaching programs, charity work and social contributions.
I know that the consistency, goal-oriented mindset and clarity in my goals is guiding me towards making these dreams a reality. And for anything that I need to work on or build up in myself, I seek out help from a support system of mentors, colleagues and friends to help me get there.
What has been a challenge you’ve had to overcome that has shaped you and your business?
Easily every day that I’m in Spain as someone who’s a native English speaker has its share of challenges. From managing expectations with Spanish clients and colleagues to prepping scripts before I speak with my Spanish accountant and financial advisor, there’s never a dull moment! But it teaches you to be humble and celebrate your small victories.
In June 2017, I flew back home to California for my sister’s law school graduation, which was the same weekend as Father’s Day in the US. In the midst of the festivities, my grandmother was being shuffled in and out of the hospital. She had suffered two strokes in years prior that left her unable to walk or speak. And the week I was home, her health started deteriorating quickly.
I was torn. The expat struggle of having your heart in two places felt more real than ever. After long talks with my grandfather, my parents, my sister and family, I decided to go back to Spain on the original flight I had planned. I kissed my grandmother goodbye in her hospital bed, squeezed her hand tightly and said I loved her. She left us a few weeks later, just shy of her 90th birthday.
Grief affects us all in different ways. Losing my Lola (grandmother in Tagalog) made me question the type of person I wanted to be and how I wanted to move through the world. It also made me take a long, hard look at my business.
I wanted to get back to the type of work with storytelling that had attracted me in the first place. I wanted to get back to helping entrepreneurs who felt pressure to fit a mold of “hustle hard and sleep when you’re dead” that was being peddled online. I wanted to get back to helping business owners with a burning desire to make income and impact, who prioritized being of service to their audience. And the only thing stopping them from serving the people they were meant to help was clarity around their message.
Losing my Lola reminded me that our impact is ultimately measured in the legacy of love we leave behind. And it’s a commitment I uphold every day as I move forward in my business.
Why did you choose to start at such a young age?
I started my business by accident as I said before. But I’m grateful that I’ve already learned some of the hardest lessons in life and business, and that I’m clearer than ever on my mission, values and purpose moving forward. And the best part? I still have a whole lifetime ahead of me to keep learning, growing and serving others with what I have to offer!
What would you say was a key to your so far success?
Persistence. Determination. Openness to receiving guidance, learning and feedback from others. And, of course, my strong global support system that inspires me to keep moving.
What has been the biggest tip you have received off someone that has stuck with you?
Imperfect action > perfect inaction. Perfectionism is just a pretty way to say fear. Anytime I find myself staying stuck in my comfort zone instead of moving forward and learning in the process, I remember this mantra.
What is a tip that you would give to a young person thinking about starting a business, but not sure how to start?
Talk to people who’ve walked the path before you, listen intently to their experiences, and actively implement their advice. Read, read and read some more. Never stop learning and invest in your development in skills that you can use for any business, especially marketing, finances and sales.
What are your top 3 biggest lessons you have learnt in your business?
It’s never to late to rewrite your story. If you don’t like the way things are moving in life, take charge of your destiny and start a new chapter.
Relationships are everything. Collaboration and community over competition wins every time. Invest in mentors, coaches and communities to guide you. And take time out for the most important people in your life who’ll love you no matter what.
Your biggest limits are the ones you place on yourself. Take time to question your limiting beliefs, perceptions and outlooks, and ask yourself if they’re really true. When you change your mindset, your life and business respond accordingly.
If you could meet an inspirational leader, who would that be? Why?
Oprah for her ability to highlight others’ stories, to communicate in a way that calls people higher rather than calling them out and for her ability to take action and inspire change across various industries.
What was one of the first goals you smashed in your business?
My first 3K month came my first year in business, then my first 5K month happened my second year in business. It showed me that I could make a living helping others find and tell their story and to sell successfully!
What would you say to your younger self?
Trust the timing of your life. You’re where you’re meant to be, and happiness is something to continually choose, not achieve.
Where can we contact you?
If you want to rewrite your story starting with your About Page, you can download my free guide at https://kayfabella.com/start-here.