While at her daughter's bedside in the hospital, Kayla Ybanez began to share her experience on social media. Along with finding a supportive community, she learned social media skills that translated into a career. Now she's teaching others how to use social platforms to grow a business.

By Maressa Brown
July 30, 2020
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Juggling motherhood and work is a challenge for many moms, but supporting a child through a medical issue can take everyday stress to new heights. Kayla Ybanez, a 29-year-old mom of two from Plainfield, Illinois, experienced this firsthand when, three years ago, her then 3-year-old daughter was hospitalized for 14 months with a rare life-threatening condition. At the time, she was juggling various 9-to-5 jobs, working 60 hours a week as a heating and cooling dispatcher, an employee of a jewelry store, and a grocery delivery person to make ends meet for her family. "Financially, we were just skating by, barely making our payments on what we had each month," says Ybanez.

Yet faced with her daughter's medical issues, Ybanez realized that she needed to switch up her professional focus. "I realized that working a 9-to-5 and leaving her [alone in the hospital] was something I didn’t feel comfortable doing," she notes. "But knowing that we still needed to pay our rent each month and pay our gas and electric bill, it was definitely a struggle."

It was during that same time that Ybanez began documenting her daughter's journey on social media. "At the time, I felt very alone and definitely wanted to be able to have the support of social media," she explains. It was only a matter of time before others asked her how she gained so much traction on a particular post or how she pulled in so much engagement. "I realized that there were skills behind it that I was using that I didn't even realize were skills that people would pay for," shares Ybanez.

It was then that she realized the power of social media for business and felt compelled to use the time spent at her daughter's bedside to learn as much as she could in order to launch a new career. Ybanez began consulting by auditing other people's Instagram pages and grew her revenue from $6,000 in December 2018 to $270,000 by the end of 2019.

Today, Ybanez runs a six-figure business that helps online entrepreneurs build an organic, strategic marketing plan and is a top industry business coach. She shares her advice and insights on heading down an unexpected path, having faith in yourself as an entrepreneur, and tapping into your gifts and strengths to build your success.

Dive Into Whatever Drives You

Driven to provide for her family, Ybanez took a leap of faith, buying a laptop on a payment plan and spending the last chunk of a paycheck to work with a mentor. These moves might sound risky, but the payoff Ybanez experienced as a result speaks for itself. She encourages others to realize that there's no perfect moment to change your professional course.

"The biggest misconception is that you have to wait for all the answers before you act," notes Ybanez. "I think clarity comes from doing. Even if you do something and it doesn’t work out, you're still learning something about the process and yourself. I didn’t just sit around and wait. I thought, 'I am going to act.'"

Embrace 'Do or Die'

Feeling strapped for cash can keep people in jobs that feel more like a trap than a path to success, acknowledges Ybanez. "It's easy to stay where you are comfortable, where you could predict what could happen," she notes.

But sitting next to her daughter's hospital bed, Ybanez opted to tap into her inner strength to make a change that would benefit her bank account and her family. "It really was do or die, and for some people, that stresses them out," she notes. "But the only thing standing between me and what I wanted was myself."

By taking matters into her own hands, Ybanez says she felt liberated. "At the end of the day, as far as job security goes, the only person who you have is you," she says. "When you are radically responsible for yourself, that's almost freeing."

After all, researching and starting her own business meant no one else could stand in the way of her family responsibilities or career advancement. "When I was in the 9-to-5 work field, I was always afraid of, 'What if my kid gets sick, is this when they get fed up, and I lose my job' 'What if I have to take a day or leave early? What's going to be the final straw?' Now, no one can do that to me. If my kid has an appointment, I am going to be there."

Use Social and Traditional Media to Your Advantage

It's no surprise Ybanez advocates that moms use social media to succeed, whether they want to launch a new professional track or market their current work.

"If you have a gift or a strength that maybe isn't even being utilized, start posting about it on social media," she advises. "Show what you have to bring to the table, because your social media really is your resume, and you can make it work for you or you can leave money on the table. You never know. There could be someone watching who leads you to a great job opportunity."

Consuming media—especially around your area of interest—is key, as well. For Ybanez, a thirst for knowledge has proved invaluable. "When I commuted, I would use the time to listen to podcasts or audiobooks, even for a bit of my trip, so I was always learning," she says. "I used the time I had in my favor."

Take Time for Yourself as a Mom

As dedicated as Ybanez is to her work and to her family, she emphasizes the importance of taking time for yourself as an individual. "You're more than your work and more than a parent," she says. "That really helped me. Even if I was just getting my hair done or buying myself something nice from Sephora. Doing something for yourself, especially during a trying time, might feel weird or wrong, but you can't pour from an empty cup, and if something is going to lift your spirits, that is going to pay off more in the long run."

It's that philosophy that Ybanez says led to her business and her success. After all, what initially felt like it was simply an enjoyable pastime—posting and sharing her story on social media—has translated to being able to support her family with joy.

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