- Sherane Chen started off as a waitress but now owns a six-figure marketing firm.
- She specializes in restaurant marketing and also works as a marketing lead for a business coaching company.
- To Insider, she breaks down a typical day.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
At 16, Sherane Chen started her first job at Steak-n-Shake as a waitress. By the age of 21, she’d launched a business specializing in restaurant marketing. Today it earns six figures, and Chen also works full-time as a marketing lead.
She got here by gaining restaurant industry experience, studying marketing, and having the confidence and wherewithal to spot an opportunity to combine her two areas of expertise.
During and after college at the University of North Florida where she studied communications, Chen worked in restaurants. She made sure to build a savings, because she knew one day she wanted to start her own business.
After years as a waitress, she got a job in marketing at a local place called Oceanside Grill where she learned the operational aspects of the restaurant business. When she launched her own marketing firm focusing on social media management, graphic design, video creation, and hiring in 2019, Chen landed her first clients selling marketing services door to door.
“I would say, ‘hey I found your social and saw you weren’t active and I wanted to give you some tips on how you can get more customers in the door,'” she told Insider. She would leave behind her business card and wait for them to call.
Today her company has 17 clients and makes over six figures a year, according to documents provided to Insider. Chen also works full-time as a marketing lead at a business coaching company. To Insider she reveals what her typical day is like, from walks on the beach, to endless Zoom calls with clients.
She wakes up at 7 a.m. making her first of many cups of coffee
Chen’s day typically begins at 7 a.m.
The eponymous restaurant company she founded has always been remote, which has allowed her to work from wherever, whenever. It currently has two-full time staffers including a graphic designer, a social media manager, and a part-time copywriter.
Before the pandemic, Chen used to work from local coffee shops, but now that she’s working from home, she invested in a top-tier coffee machine that keeps her going throughout the day. “I truly don’t know a marketer who doesn’t love a good cup of coffee to get all of the creative juices flowing,” she added.
After having her coffee, she then either makes breakfast or “treats” herself to a breakfast from a restaurant nearby. “Whenever I eat out for breakfast I usually take my computer so I can work on a few things while I’m out,” she continued. “The area I live in is peaceful and not very crowded so it’s usually just me getting things done while enjoying pancakes, eggs, bacon, and whatever else I decide to have that day.”
Around 9 a.m. she prepares to Zoom with her clients
After finishing breakfast, she prepares for her meetings with clients, which have been happening over Zoom since the pandemic struck.
Normally, she said, she would meet them at their restaurant to work on rebranding various parts of it, such as the menu, or develop new general marketing strategies. “We work on the strategy together and then I re-assign to my employees who took over most of the tactical things for me,” she said.
This part usually takes up most of her day. Meanwhile, Chen also makes ads for her own business, which she then runs on platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook to help attract new clients.
Aside from running her own company, Chen also spends her day working as marketing and sales lead for a business coaching company called The Unstoppable Entrepreneur owned by Kelly Roach. Chen has worked there for nearly two years and makes six figures there, as well. For that company, she helps manage the marketing team, ads, and helps coach Roach’s clients on the various aspects of marketing.
Chen always finds time to take a ‘breather’ during the day
Like most, her workload depends on what day she is having. “It’s not the same every day,” she said. “Some days are super chill and others are hectic. All holidays are really busy, and the start of each season – spring, summer, fall, and winter.”
Once Chen finishes the bulk of her workload, typically after lunch or in the early evening, she goes to get some fresh air. Her favorite place to go is the beach because it’s close to where she lives. “Taking a walk along the beach really helps to clear my head and gives me the boost of energy I need after being on the screen for so long,” she said.
Often during the day, Chen hops on the phone with her mentor Bruno DiFabio, a pizza chef who’s been helping her “learn the ropes” of the restaurant business for the past two years. Together they chat about ways to help grow her business.
And he isn’t the only mentor Chen has had these past few years – at 19, she met local business owner Nate Mayo, who does social media marketing and photography for various Jacksonville-based restaurants, and has a viral Instagram account that highlights popular food places in the area. Chen snagged an internship with Mayo around 2016 and began working for him, which inspired her to launch her own company.
Chen also counts Roach as a mentor as well. “Kelly has taught me how to be resilient and how to be the best what you do,” she said. “She taught me how to work for the things I want and never give up.”
After her ‘breather’ she goes straight back to work
She typically holds more meetings with restaurant owners throughout the evening, especially since the “lunch rush” is finished, which is usually around 2 p.m. She also continues assignments for Roach’s company.
Chen says to manage the workload of having two jobs she makes sure to always take some time off. She books vacations and takes breathers such as the walk above. Chen also sometimes gets up an hour early to clear her head and prepare herself to stay focused for the day ahead.
After her breather, she usually goes back to work but likes to make a “quick snack.” She likes to recreate YouTube recipes, such as the snack she made pictured below. “I found this on Youtube years ago and have been eating it ever since,” she said. “Brown rice cakes, almond butter, and chia seeds are really filling and hit the spot when you are not a big lunch person.”
Around 6 p.m. she takes photographs outside
Chen’s favorite time of the day is “golden hour” – around 6 p.m. when the sky is a golden-tinted yellow. Chen takes advantage of the good quality light to take photographs of food she is seeking to help advertise.
Sometimes she has to hire someone to help her do it, as work can get busy. “I don’t really get a chance to do food photography anymore,” she said. “When I do have time to go, I love it.”
She eats dinner around 7:30, this day choosing to grab Mediterranean food. Afterward, she spends time studying – reading new books to help her gain knowledge in different areas outside of marketing. She’s currently reading “Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale” by Zig Ziglar and “Spin Selling” by Neil Rackham.
She goes to bed around 11 p.m.
Chen says she doesn’t really “finish” work until around 11 pm. “People always need me all day,” she said, of her marketing exec job. “It’s a management role so I always get my team texting me at all hours.”
But when the calls finally stop and the text messages slow down, Chen has time to think about her next business idea – a podcast agency that helps brands and entrepreneurs achieve success in podcasting. She’s already started running ads for the venture.
“I’m working toward seven streams of income to be a millionaire by 2025,” she said, adding that she has a dream board of other projects she would like to helm. Asked about possible burnout, Chen let her ambition answer for her. “Just keep your focus on what you’re working hard for,” she said. “If you want it bad enough, you’ll make it happen.”