Overcoming Mental Health Challenges to Build a Mission-Rich Business

Overcoming Mental Health Challenges to Build a Mission-Rich Business

LaTonia Monroe Naylor works with mission-rich entrepreneurs and has developed an approach to integrate for-profit strategies with non-profit fundamentals. She’s battled exhaustion, depression, and anxiety, and in this interview, LaTonia shares openly about her own mental health experiences and what she’s learned along the way.

👇 Key Takeaways

  • LaTonia overcame a violent crime as a teen, which led to anxiety and panic attacks
  • She’s remained committed to authenticity and integrity while prioritizing her faith
  • LaTonia reminds us that we must recognize that mental issues are prevalent, and you’re not alone if you’re suffering
  • We must talk about mental wellness as a daily goal and not wait until a crisis arises


Business Name: LaTonia Monroe Naylor
Website URL: https://www.monroenaylor.com/
Business Location: Springfield, MA and worldwide
Year Started: 2021
Number of Employees/Contractors/Freelancers: 7

Please tell us about yourself and your business.

I have founded several for-profit businesses (Inspired-Ed Rise Consulting, LaTonia Naylor Graphics, and Designs, LaTonia Naylor Tax Professional Services) and co-founded non-profit entities (Parent Villages Inc., VITAL Center, Dwelling Place Church Ma). 

Since 2006, I’ve provided my services pro bono until I left my W-2 job and moved into consulting full-time in 2022, when I founded Monroe Naylor Consulting, LLC (the focus of this interview). My goal is to help mission-rich individuals transform their passion into fully funded non-profit or for-profit businesses. I do this through coaching, training, and strategy sessions, as well as my recently published book, Mission-Rich AND Profit-Powered.  

Also known as the Chief Business Educator, I draw from 30+ years of mission-rich experience in the public, faith, higher education, and for-profit sectors. My systems integrate for-profit strategies with nonprofit fundamentals for sustainable business success, emphasizing the balance of giving and receiving.

I couple these systems with intentional strategies of remaining centered on my faith and family while operating through an empathetic lens and using an authentic approach.

My educational experience and professional credentials include a BA in Business Administration and an MS in Nonprofit Management & Philanthropy, along with several training certifications and graduation from leadership institutes.  

Latonia Monroe Naylor and another woman
Photo courtesy of LaTonia Monroe Naylor

Can you share your experience battling depression, exhaustion, and self-doubt? What led to it, and how did you overcome it?

Life does not stop because we decide to embark on starting a business.  Likewise, our battles to find and maintain mental and emotional wellness do not cease.  I battled depression and exhaustion for decades, mostly because I had a misunderstanding of what it meant to be a faith-led individual. 

I sought solace in religion instead of my faith and relationship with my creator.  When I suffered a serious near-nervous breakdown in 2009 brought on by extreme exhaustion coupled with anxiety and depression. The experience shifted my entire perspective of my life as it drove me to spend a year of rest to re-establish my faith, connect with my husband, and re-center my health and family.

What led to this?  My inability to create boundaries and implement a regimen of self-care for mental and emotional wellness.  I allowed others to prioritize my time without regard for my own responsibilities or the things that I valued most. 

My goals became last on my list while I tried to be all things to everyone who needed or wanted my help.  I lost sight of having a schedule for my family or making sure I had structure.  Simultaneously, I was 7 months pregnant with three other children under five years old and dealing with a spouse who was battling a medical condition.

I am still overcoming my tendency to allow my mission-rich mindset to overshadow my need to set boundaries and schedule time for me to focus on the things I value most in life (family, faith, and health).  However, I’ve put a few systems in place that help me to remain focused on how to be most effective while helping others. I do this using an empathetic approach to what I do that is coupled with intentional strategies to remain focused. 

For example, I add time for my self-care, family, and marriage to my calendar, along with my work and business obligations.  I ensure that I have professional development as part of my strategic planning and make time to learn from individuals whose center mirrors mine.  Because of these strategies, I’m a survivor.  I have had a few setbacks during life-changing traumatic events, but my strategies have helped me to maintain focus and control so that I do not succumb to exhaustion or depression again.  

Latonia Monroe Naylor family
Photo courtesy of LaTonia Monroe Naylor

How did these experiences propel you forward in your personal and professional life?

I have used what I call the ABCD framework.  It was something that I created during my most traumatic breakdown.  This has enabled me to propel forward in my personal and professional life.

  • Activatable passion
  • Bankable time
  • Capacity to balance work and family
  • Deliver with empathy and excellence

What I ultimately realized is that in life, we will have negative experiences in our lives.  We can make a choice to allow these traumatic events to stop us in our tracks and use them as a guide us to a better path. 

I had to learn this as a young woman.  I grew up in a dangerous neighborhood which led to me being the victim of a violent crime as a teen. As a result, I struggled with anxiety and panic attacks into adulthood. 

In order to cope, at a young age, I had to challenge the status quo that blacks didn’t seek therapy.  I had to remain focused on academic success even though there were bullets flying in my neighborhood and drugs and prostitution were prevalent. I worked hard for as long as I can remember and took care of myself.

I define the ABCD framework in more depth in my book, Mission-Rich AND Profit-Powered.  However, in essence this framework helps me to stay focused on the things that matter most to me.  It reminds me that my time is valuable, whether I am being paid or simply identifying ways to maximize my time. 

Ultimately, I don’t see success as being overly focused on work or business success while my home life is in shambles.  Finally, it’s vital that I ensure that when I do anything, it’s done through an empathetic lens and with excellence at the heart. 

I now recognize that the ABCD framework has been part of my coping and self-development strategy throughout my entire life.  It’s helped me remain focused on the goal and look at things from both helicopter and ground-level perspectives simultaneously. 

In your book, Mission-Rich and Profit-Powered, you talk about a commitment to authenticity and integrity rooted in faith. Can you tell us more about that?

I’ve learned a lot through traditional education and experiential learning.  I have met a lot of people throughout the years.  Some were good leaders and many were not.  The common denominator of the good leaders was that they were authentic and had integrity.  

I have been and remain committed to authenticity and integrity as foundational elements of my character.  I can remember walking out of a convenience store with a $0.25 pack of gum and going back into the store to pay for it so that I didn’t steal it.  I have not and will not ever believe in the shark mentality that infiltrates the business and political worlds.  That’s because my faith compels me to hold fast to integrity because I believe I will reap what I sow.  In fact, I know that I’ve already reaped what I’ve sown.  

Mission Rich and Profit-Powered

Because I have found myself engaged in the political arena as well, walking in authenticity and integrity immediately set me apart from many people.  That’s when I really recognized how important it was to others that I be who I say I am. 

I don’t have a Facebook life where you see me one way but I am a different person in church or in the office. This has not been an easy feat.  I’ve only been able to accomplish this because I hold myself accountable to a higher power.  I take my vows seriously between my God, my relationships, and myself.  However, through the difficult and most challenging times of my life and business – my faith has compelled me to remain focused on doing all that I do with authenticity and integrity.  

What does it mean to be a Mission-Rich business?

Mission-Rich businesses are created by what many would call a social entrepreneur.  In essence, the “mission-rich” nature of the entity lies in the passion of the founder.  That is why mission-rich businesses can be for-profit or non-profit entities.  The founder is the one with the passion and goal to help improve the state of the world.  

The primary goal of wanting to help others more than making a profit is a blessing and a curse to founders who prioritize their mission over everything else.  They will undoubtedly impact individuals around them.  However, they often run the risk of running an unprofitable business because they do not focus on the bottom line.  

Learning to balance the pros of the mission-rich founder’s character and personality with the cons is the most important aspect of being effective when running this type of business.  The book provides insight into how I do this and have done this over the course of my entrepreneurial journey.

What’s the difference between a “Wannapreneur” and an “Amipreneur”? How do these compare with other entrepreneurs and business leaders?

“Wannapreneurs” are individuals who say they want to be entrepreneurs but will not do the necessary work to be successful.  These are individuals who start a business, and rather than focusing on building it, working on it, or structuring it – they only want to do the fun part.  This often leads to little or no revenue.  You will often see these individuals on YouTube or other forms of social media proclaiming to be the “go-to” or “expert,” but their business will not be sustainable.  They’re likely going to be one of the 80% of businesses that fail in the first five years, usually not making it past the first two years. 

“Amipreneurs” are individuals who often receive 1099s and can be considered business owners.  They are not set up like a business and often lose money due to missed tax deductions and revenue that can be made.  Folks who receive 1099s are often independent contractors who must pay their own taxes.  But, “amipreneurs” do not realize that they have the revenue to be a business owner and should add business structure in order to become sustainable and recognized as a business.

3 people talking
Photo courtesy of LaTonia Monroe Naylor

In terms of mental health, how important is it for entrepreneurs to have their mission or why behind them?

The mission inspires us to press beyond circumstances. It drives us to be creative, strategic, and resilient in the face of obstacles and life’s challenges. This can include the goal of mental wellness.  

When we align our mission with a goal of mental wellness, we are able to be resilient in unimaginable ways. We learn how to set boundaries and how to zero in on holding ourselves on the course of mental wellness because we recognize that we cannot accomplish our intended purpose without it.

How do you think we can break the stigma surrounding mental health issues in the entrepreneurial community?

First, it’s important that we recognize that mental issues are prevalent.  What is not okay is that we often ignore the signs of bad mental health.  This often occurs unintentionally because we are usually overworked and overextended.  Who has time to focus on mental health and wellness when we are trying to build a legacy for our families, help the community, or save the world?  This is especially burdensome when we don’t have the funds necessary to carry out our mission.

Secondly, we must talk about mental wellness as a daily goal.  We shouldn’t wait until a crisis arises or some pivotal traumatic experience erupts.  Mental and emotional wellness should be a part of our daily schedule.  It should also be part of our annual business strategic plan.

Latonia speaking
Photo courtesy of LaTonia Monroe Naylor

Are there any specific resources you recommend?

My first resource is to find solace in your faith. There is something undeniably compelling about the impact that holding ourselves accountable to a moral compass has on our journey through life. In addition to faith, I recommend finding some type of alternative health facility to ensure that you’re focusing on your health above all else.  

Last but not least, I recommend identifying a coach or two who can help you move to the next level in your business. This individual will assist you with identifying the best books, strategies, and frameworks that align with your business and professional goals. It is most important that this individual has similar foundational beliefs so that they do not lead you against your authentic self while challenging you to grow.

What advice would you give to others facing similar issues?

Remain true to who you are and the things that keep you centered.  Know you’re good enough and that there is no benefit to trying to replicate another individual nor their path.  There is something special about you and your journey that will attract people like you so that they can reap the same benefits.

Founder Reports is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.