• The Formerly

Money Talks with Laura Lea from LL Balanced

For our first Money Talks series, we are so happy to introduce Laura Lea from LL Balanced, a holistic chef based in Nashville, TN. Not only is she kind and beautiful, she’s immensely talented and a killer entrepreneur. We love Laura Lea for her amazing cookbook, genuine Instagram stories, and her Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough bites (YUM!). Find her at any of the below:

Website: llbalanced.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/lauraleabalanced

Cookbook: www.amazon.com/Laura-Lea-Balanced-Cookbook-Everyday/dp/1940611563

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?

I feel like the answer to this question is still yet to come, as my business continues to evolve, and I learn lessons every day! However, so far, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that the hard spots/the sticky places should be embraced and capitalized upon. Every time you reach a difficult spot in your entrepreneurial adventure, it’s a sign of growth and an opportunity to improve or streamline some aspect of your business. It’s not a cause for disappointment, frustration and fear. This mindset shift has been a game-changer for me.

What’s your best advice for someone wanting to start their own business that might be hesitant or scared?

Do it anyway. Hesitation and trepidation aren’t just normal; they’re an inescapable fact of the experience of creating. And, guess what? They don’t go away! Your concerns and fears will morph throughout your journey, and you (hopefully) will learn to appreciate them (see above). But they don’t go away. Thus, they CANNOT play a role in your decision to start a business, all else being equal. There are plenty of important factors to consider when it comes to beginning an independent venture, and they will vary from situation to situation. The sense of terror that comes with potential failure is not one such factor. In fact, it’s not even real, it is simply a story you’re telling yourself. You can choose to re-write that story.

What is your favorite thing about working for yourself? What is your least favorite?

I have to be honest, I love everything about working for myself. Truly, I cannot think of a ‘least’ favorite. Even the logistical stuff of expensive insurance, slightly wonky taxes etc…it’s all manageable, and I wouldn’t trade it for the nicest, most robust benefits package in the land! My favorite part about doing my own thang is that every single day, I bring my dreams to life. Talk about telling yourself a story—I have countless opportunities to write new stories and enact them. The utter freedom and sense of possibility is just the greatest pleasure.

What is your best piece of “money advice” to your 20-something self?

I know it’s difficult, but please TRY to internalize the fact that you will not always be 20! Having some sense of the big-picture, long-term consequences of your financial decisions is incredibly powerful. I promise—you will get older, and you will wish that you had begun saving money earlier. As you’re making financial choices, try to get in the habit of asking yourself “is this something that will have been worth it in a few months?”. Often, the answer is no, especially when it comes to trendy clothes, fancy restaurants or the newest version of whatever. Growing up, my mom often reminded me that no matter when you walk into your favorite department store or browse your favorite online retailer (the 2019 version), you will ALWAYS want something new. You will never…I repeat, NEVER be satisfied, if you aim to achieve satisfaction through purchasing stuff.

If you were to track your expenses for the week, what would we see as one of your biggest guilty pleasures?

Probably trying new health foods and wellness products that I hear about from a friend or on Instagram. I want to be in the “know”, so that I can share about fantastic finds with my people! But not everything is a hit, so I’ve definitely drained some dollars on oils, bars, leggings etc.

What’s one money habit you are wanting to break?

I don’t check my bank account statements as often as I’d like to. I go through everything about once every 10-14 days, but I’d like to get in the habit of every 3-4 days.

How did you learn about finances in relation to your business or personal life?

Ugh, the hard way…aka trial and error! I knew next to nothing about managing my finances when I graduated from UVA and was officially on my own. I was not particularly responsible with money in college, as I didn’t have a grasp on the impact of my financial choices. When I moved to NYC, I was completely financially independent, and I learned quickly/painfully what monetary choices served or hurt me. I specifically remember the first time I calculated how much of my bi-weekly paycheck I was spending on lunches and Starbucks (every day). It was nauseating! However, by forcing myself to get a clear picture of my income, my expenses and my goals, I taught myself how to manage my finances on a rather small budget (read: saying NO to lots of invitations and saying YES to lots of pb&j on rice cakes!). When I left NYC after five years and began LL Balanced, I had a nice chunk of savings and an arsenal of financial knowledge. This has helped me immensely of the years when regarding my business. I’ve learned when to invest in myself, where I can stay ‘lean’ and how to best utilize my skillsets to add value and create value.

Rapid Fire:

Favorite day of the week?

I love them all. I know that’s a lame answer, but I just love every freaking day.

The one thing you can’t live without?

Peanut butter.

What is your favorite recipe to cook or make?

This changes weekly. Right now, it’s this creamy blended coffee drink. I blend unsweetened almond milk with soaked cashews, cinnamon, vanilla extract and some drops of stevia. Then I mix it with cold brew coffee and it’ divine.

Favorite place you’ve ever travelled?

Asheville, NC. It’s my city spirit animal.

Currently binging or reading?

How to Get Away with Murder with my BF. We cannot get enough.