Make no mistake about it! When you meet Carrie, you will be “carried away” with her presence, her can-do business attitude, and her Energizer Bunny mentality. From the outside looking in, it seems as if she balances her family, career, and personal time with unimaginable ease.
But like most good things, it takes work. And work she does – putting in over 100 hours per week to make all this magical stuff happen! I think when Carrie was born, she was sprinkled with some extra strong pixie dust that made her into a modern-day Wonder Woman. And even though Wonder Woman was a butt-kicking, take-charge champion, she still had to balance her life as a superhero. And that is what Carrie is doing! She is prioritizing her life, her work, and her family so that she can be there for others as well as herself.
She works tirelessly to balance all aspects of her life so that she can be the best mom, daughter, girlfriend, and business owner – of 3 thriving businesses I might add. Doesn’t seem possible, right? In this candid interview, she gets very frank about what it takes to juggle all the aspects of her busy work-at-home life.
Refusing the 9 – 5 and Earning Her Freedom
Independent to the core, she moved into her very first apartment only 2 days after graduating high school. Guzman says, “It was a little rough for a couple of years, but I continued to put my priorities where they needed to be. So I studied Business Management at Jefferson Community College and knew that I wanted to own a business, but I didn’t really know what kind of business at that time. I wanted to own a salon or a store like Once Upon a Child.”
Carrie remained “all over the place” not really knowing what to do with this passion stirring inside her. “I was just out of college and didn’t know anything about business. I just wanted to jump into it.” Her husband at that time owned a mobile DJ business, and she came up with the idea to get into promotions so she could advertise his business by doing trade shows.
She was thrilled! This allowed her to work at home while being a stay-at-home mom. “And that’s how the wedding shows started,” she says. Eleven years now, and she’s not looking back! In a modest tone, she says, “Never in a million years, did I believe I would be where I am at today.”
When asked about how she funded her startup, Carrie said that she was really blessed “in the fact that I had a husband (at that time) that had a great job, and he could provide for the family. It allowed me to work show after show after show. I obviously wasn’t making any money, but I didn’t have the pressure to HAVE to make money. I did it because it was fun, and I loved it! I knew that one day, I was going to succeed at it because that’s what I do with everything (laughing)!
Dear “Me…” Advice for My Younger Self
“Looking back,” I asked, “what advice would you give your younger self?” Guzman says, “That is a really good question. Because I feel like I am still very true to the same person that I was before. The one thing that I would tell myself is ‘to make sure you stop and smell the roses and don’t take things for granted.’ I still have to tell myself that now and again.”
Self-Employment Super Power
When asked what trait she has that makes her most successful, Carrie laughs as she answers, “I don’t know if you want to call it OCD or perfectionism. It’s just a constant internal consciousness that’s always telling you not to settle. You can always do better. If you know you can do better, do it! Don’t settle for this (holding her hand down low), go up here (as she raises her hand high in the air). So I feel like my OCD is definitely 100% my strong suit, but it is also probably equally my downfall. It’s really hard to find the balance between the two.”
Speaking of Balance, How Do You Juggle Life?
“I’m working on it. I’m doing better than I used to but plan on getting better with each day,” she says. “I’m super excited when school starts back because I have dedicated myself to exercising every day again – at least 5 days a week.”
Guzman said she used to exercise and take care of herself, but then started getting stressed from all of the things she had going on. She actually got really sick with reactive mononucleosis for about 5 months. “It had me down to where I couldn’t hardly get out of bed. I thought my quality of life was over. I couldn’t exercise. I couldn’t even get up and cook a dinner without being totally exhausted,” she says.
She was able to overcome that episode, but a few months later was faced with it again. For over a year, she remembers battling “the whole nines. I was really struggling. And it was then that it really dawned on me, ‘Hey! I have to somehow, some way, put me as a priority.’”
Part of being your own boss means taking care of yourself. Carrie admits struggling with guilt over taking this time, but says, “Even though I am frugal and don’t like to spend money, I do need to get a massage every now and then. I do need to find times to meditate or exercise or to do something for me – or I can’t take care of everyone else!” Good advice for all of us!
She is inspired by her boyfriend (Casey Besaw), who is a huge advocate of meditation. Guzman says, “He gives me so many things that I am lacking in my life. He’s like the yin to my yang.” In other words, they balance one another out. She jokingly says, “I tend to be stressed and pessimistic, and he’s completely opposite. He has been my optimistic, spiritual enhancer to help off-set all the things I am battling in my life.”
She says, “I know there’s something to it (meditation), but part of me is still saying, ‘I wish they’d quit telling me what to do!’ I’ve got to turn that off first. You have to also WANT to let it in. I feel like I have this natural brick wall, and I don’t want anybody to tell me what to do or when to do it. I have to want to do this for myself.”
Does Being Self-Employed Suck? The Good and the Bad
Guzman says, “The best part is I have 2 children (two small boys ages 5 and 11). I can decide whether or not I want them to play sports or when I want them to play sports. I have a very, very sick mother that has lived with me for the past 7 years, and I feel like one of my purposes is to be her biggest advocate. I spend a lot of time with her in doctor’s offices for appointments, and I am always by her side.” Carrie recalls that this week has been especially hectic with school starting back and having to take her mom to the doctor, but she still admits that having her business at home is the best decision she ever made.
She says, “The worst aspect BY FAR is the fact that I probably work over 100 hours per week.” The upside, Guzman says, is “the benefit of being able to do about 70% of my business in my home.” Carrie calls herself the “chaos coordinator” and compares her life to a big spider web. She says, “You’re just constantly deciding what’s most important and what’s not. So…it’s a battle.”
The Business Trifecta
Carrie is quite successful in her career. She promotes two trade shows in the Louisville, KY area and partners with Stewart Promotions for a wedding and event venue called The Regency (formerly Oxmoor Country Club).
“Meet Me at the Altar” Bridal Show
Meet Me at the Altar Bridal Show – For the past 11 years, couples can come meet wedding professionals face-to-face and plan their wedding under one roof! Wedding photographers, wedding venues, caterers and bakeries, DJ’s, dress boutiques, travel experts, and so much more!
Louisville Kids Fair
Louisville Kids Fair – Eight years and going strong! Over 130,000 square feet packed with fun for the WHOLE FAMILY!
- Over a Dozen Incredible Inflatables!
- Huge Carnival Rides, Zip Lines & more!
- Meet Black Panther, Iron Man, Dora & Princesses!
- Amazing Lifelike Dinosaurs!
- Interactive Martial Arts Demo by Hwang’s!
- Play Miniature Golf!
- Petting Zoo & Pony Rides!
- Stage Entertainment & Magic Shows!
- Tot-Town for Toddlers
- Air 60 Police Helicopter and Police Hummer
The Regency Wedding Venue
The Regency Louisville wedding venue – Guzman owns in partnership with Terry and John Stewart of Stewart Promotions (who operate the big flea market and the Louisville Christmas Gift and Decor show at the fairgrounds.
The Regency is Louisville’s newest wedding & events venue, boasting an immaculate 24,000 square foot mansion, rolling greenery, and exquisite lake views conveniently located in Louisville’s East End. With event spaces for up to 250 people, the Regency is the perfect spot for memorable weddings, corporate events, and everything in between.
The Regency is located at 8900 Limehouse Ln, Louisville, KY 40220. Rental Information: 502-744-7000. Website: email@example.com
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Guzman responds, “I honestly love what I do so much that I don’t think that I would change much. Other than I hope that each business continues to grow enough to where I can have a full staff – like 2 or 3 assistants.” Right now, she has 1 part-timer that is in training to work at the Regency (wedding venue). Her new assistant has worked a few shows and is in training right now to start working for her other 2 businesses.
She says, “I would like to be able to take time away like I did recently for my girls’ trip. This was the first time in my entire career that I had 2 girls that I could leave at my wedding venue with 100% trust – knowing that I could go have a relaxing weekend, and it would all be taken care of.”
Admitting that she is a “control freak” like so many self-employed business owners are, it’s hard to let go of the reins. Saying that her name and reputation are like “way up there, and I will not let anybody or anything take that away from me.”
Guzman says she now knows there’s a way to let a little bit of that (control) go. “There is a time and a way to balance a professional career, being a mom, being a daughter, and a good girlfriend. But I am only able to do all of this if I do take these trips,” she says. Now that she is building a trustworthy team, she can do just that.
Advice for People Aspiring to Start Their Own Business
Words of Wisdom
“I love to listen to an aspiring business owner, I love to be around them, I love to let them shadow me! I do want to inspire people and show them all the positivity that can come out of it – and there’s just so much” she adds.
Guzman worries about the “20-somethings” that might not have the right mindset for small business ownership. “It’s hard work, and life is not just handed to you,” she says.
If you are aspiring to take your passion to a business level, draw from her experience. Shadow or apprentice and get experience in your area. Form your own ideas like she did and stay true to your inner calling. Do it for the passion and not the paycheck. At the end of the day, it is hard work – no two ways around it!
To all entrepreneurs-in-the making – take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves, and just get started! Get involved with groups, shadow or intern, and learn your trade. Carrie suggests picking the brain of anyone who is an expert in their field. See if they’ll share some of their hard earned wisdom.
Still asking how you chase your dreams? One step at a time! Eventually you’ll get there as long as you keep on the right path.
In addition to her many roles, Guzman is also an active member of W.I.N. Women in Networking group for the past 9 years.
About Today’s Author
I am happily married with one daughter and two step-sons. I have owned and operated a small wedding cake business for over 25 years (Stir Crazy Cakes, LLC) and most recently started a new company handcrafting carved egg shells (Christi Murphy, LLC). A truly unique talent.
In owning and operating small businesses, I have personally experienced many successes and failures along the way that have made me a seasoned DIY entrepreneur. I don’t claim to be a professional marketer or consultant. Just consider me your new best friend that is sharing my personal knowledge and experience.
I welcome your comments and input, so please feel free to share. Each week, I post a new topic or interview with a successful small business owner.
Follow me, comment, like my page… I appreciate your feedback! Thanks!
Hope to see you next week!
Believe in yourself and your dreams!