LNC Laura Johns | Tech Startup

 

Are you a small business owner or planning to start a business? Then you will find a treasure trove of insights in this episode. The founder and CEO of Business Growers, Laura Johns, enumerates the three primary priorities of businesses to market a tech startup. She provides tips for small business owners to lay their foundation so people leave a positive review. Moreover, Laura shares her thoughts about Business Growers and how it empowers women to start their businesses. Tune in to this episode to learn more!

 

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How To Market Your Tech Startup With Laura Johns

It is my great privilege. I’m leaving nothing the chance to welcome a new friend, a very interesting lady. I’m going to tell you a little bit about her. Laura Johns, welcome to the show.

Thank you much. I’m happy to be here.

I want to tell everybody a little bit about you because you are the Founder and CEO of The Business Growers, which is a marketing firm serving the B2B, telecom, SaaS, IT, and cloud services industry. In many years, you’ve managed marketing efforts for companies ranging from tech startups to global multi-billion dollar businesses. You’ve spent half your career as a corporate marketing executive in the telecom industry before starting your own business.

You have 50 plus clients in 15 states, being honored as top 50 Under 40 and top 50 Leading Women in Business in your home state of Mississippi. You are a graduate as well at the great University of Alabama with a Master’s of Arts degree from there as well as graduating cum laude from Mississippi College. I know also your own podcast, The Hustle, which I’ve listened to a little bit, which is for working moms, a huge sector of the economy. Also, the Know, Grow and Scale video casting podcasts for entrepreneurs. You’re a mom on top of everything else.

That’s my toughest job, as a mom.

Let’s start there. How did you get into the technology world?

It’s really interesting. You won’t find many women in tech in Mississippi. Women in tech are growing, but in Mississippi particularly, we’re not Silicon Valley necessarily, but we do have a lot of really great success stories. I wish that I could say that how I got into technology was a glamorous route. I was a sophomore in college and babysat for the CEO of a technology company that had gotten started in Mississippi. In fact, Steven Johnston is now the CEO of the company called GoodJob in Birmingham, Alabama. If I remember the story correctly, he was living in Mississippi raising his young family and got the call to be the CEO at SmartSync. The company at thAT time was in Canada and he did not want to make a big move like that.

They shifted, re-headquartered, and based the company out of Jackson, Mississippi. It was sold for $100 million in 2014 and became one of Mississippi’s great technology success stories. After I babysat for him for a few years, I got my start there. As you know, when you get into an industry, growing, and learning the ropes in your own industry, then that makes you more valuable as far as knowledge is concerned. I stayed in tech. I enjoyed being able to take complex, technology concepts and make them sound easy to digest and understand to target audiences or customers. That became something that was fun for me and I enjoyed it. I’ve been in tech ever since. That was 2005 when I started.

It makes you more valuable when you start learning and growing in your industry. Share on X

Your company is all women at this point.

We are all women and all serving tech companies. It’s cool.

Is Mississippi starting to become a hotbed of tech? I know there are a couple of different pockets outside now of Silicon Valley that are starting to pop up.

What’s cool to see is we have a lot of young students that are entrepreneurial. I don’t know if it’s this generation or if it’s Mississippi. We have more than I’ve ever seen before. A lot of sharp people with great ideas and things are taking off here. I’m a part of an organization called Innovate Mississippi. I think every state probably has something similar. I have enjoyed getting to see some of these sharp young people and watching their ideas come to life. We’ve grown a lot of successful tech companies. It’s a great place to do that and raise a family at the same time.

It’s a little cheaper than the Bay Area.

The cost of living is definitely one of our biggest assets. If you want a little space, maybe a big city does. If you got a little room to breathe, it’s similar to Dallas in terms of some grass and trees. We’ve got that and we have a lot of things going for us in Mississippi.

We talked about brand positioning and you had a brilliant story. I would love for you to share that story.

The Business Growers is the name of my company. I did not take naming my company lightly. In fact, when I was thinking about the name of The Business Growers, my first thought was, “Do I want to name it after me?” I realized I don’t want to grow a brand that requires me to be a part of every detail of it. I want to hire smart people that can do that and help grow it. I don’t want it to be named after me. I knew my name or Johns. Anything like that was off the table. Around the time that I was thinking about starting my business, my mom came over. I do not have a green thumb. She certainly does. There was a house plant in my house that was dying. I had noticed that it was dying but had not taken the opportunity to do anything about it.

She took the initiative to do that. She looked inside the plant and said, “This plant is rootbound.” Inside the pot that my plant was in had a convoluted mess of roots that essentially were stifling the plant from growth. That resonated with me so much and explained to me that that foundation, which is what you couldn’t see and maybe isn’t the bloom or the pretty flashy part, was not healthy and so the plant was not healthy. You can think about that in your personal and professional life.

That was when I thought one of the things that I feel is most important, especially in a tech startup and a new business. Entrepreneurs, CEOs, and leaders get caught up in the flashy. A lot of times those blooms on those plants maybe were the Google Ad, the conference that you’re speaking at, or some of these things that might be a little flashier or might be something that gets you a little bit more attention.

Those things are fun, but what is important is making sure that you have a healthy foundation. Part of our mission is to get organizations healthy at their foundational level. That means things like Metatags on a website and SEO and making sure that your digital presence is healthy so that you can build on that instead of starting to do some of those flashier things, pointing back to a landing page or a website that’s not healthy. It can have a domino effect on your business if you don’t have a healthy foundation. That’s where The Business Growers’ name came from. There’s a plant and a leaf in my logo. I feel passionate about making sure that these organizations have the right foundation built.

It’s such a great analogy. To your point, everything from our personal life to our business life, get rid of the weeds.

I’ve got a few in my yard I’ve got to work on, but one thing at a time.

With The Business Growers, what are the three primary marketing priorities that you have?

For our business or for other businesses whenever we’re helping other businesses?

For other businesses, what do you think about whether the rubbers not meeting the road?

It does, to an extent, vary but particularly when I look at that healthy foundation, your online presence in this day and age is very important. Making sure that foundational messaging is correct. I had a call with a company that wanted me to take a look at their website and everything on their website was about them. It was like, “Five stars. Here’s how great we are,” then the next thing was, “How many awards we’ve won.”

I’m not sure if you’ve read the book Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller. Going back to his concept, inherently there are two things that people are trying to do. 1) Survive and thrive and 2) Conserve calories. If I get to a website and you’re talking about yourself all the time, then I’m done. I’m not interested. I want to know what you can do for me. Making sure that foundational messaging is right is core to the success of a business. Outside of that, thinking about your digital presence, you want to look at three things.

LNC Laura Johns | Tech Startup

Building a Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen

This is where people are going to vet you out whether you’re selling shoes, make up, or technology that your health on Google. Even if you’re not a local business, your Google Business Profile is still very important. That’s where all your reviews are housed for Google. That’s where directions are if you are a local business or where you’re getting people to your website. That’s important to make sure that’s healthy. Also, make sure that your website looks good. I think it’s 80% or more people looking at your website on mobile.

Making sure that your website is up to date and up to those mobile standards that continuously change. You want to make sure that’s important. Also, make sure that you’re consistent and relevant on social media or not there. All of my clients, I suggest be on some form of social media. At the same time, a lot of companies ramp up and get their, for example, LinkedIn or Facebook pages going. They get busy or preoccupied and then it falls to a lower priority and then someone is going to see, “I’m curious about this business,” and the last post was in 2019.

That doesn’t say a whole lot about how you care for yourself and how relevant you are. That’s something that I don’t typically recommend not being on social media but maybe better to be not there than there and irrelevant. I don’t know if that’s good advice, but I’d say that’s something that I like to make sure my clients know. If it looks like you’re outdated, then people will see you as an outdated brand.

It’s true what you say because there are times people will ask me to look at stuff in my industry and I’ll look at their company or their personal website. It’s like, “You haven’t posted anything in three years, are you not interested in doing business?” Let’s talk about that a little bit because a lot of our readers are in direct selling space, small business owners, or just starting something. In this economy, a lot of people are starting a plan B on the side. They teach school, drive a truck, work for somebody else, 9:00 to 5:00 or whatever the hours are, and then weekends and a couple of nights a week, they’re starting something. How do they start without a marketing team?

There are a lot of things. What trips a lot of the solopreneurs or budding starting entrepreneurs, what can get in the way is we are trying to do everything, then we end up doing nothing of relevance or substantial. Don’t try to tackle it all. Do one thing at a time and focus on those things that you can do and see through.

Do one thing at a time and focus on the things that you know you can do and that you can see through. Share on X

One of the things that I think is pretty underrated is engaging on social media. Maybe it’s fifteen minutes a day but use your business social media account or your personal if you’re direct selling. You use that account to engage with people on social media directly. It gives somebody some encouragement and comment. Don’t sell, but spend time doing that. That costs you nothing but a few minutes.

Going back to that Google Business Profile, that’s important. If you’re not a personal business but you do have an actual business LLC, whether it’s brick and mortar or not, having that Google Business Profile is something you can do and control. You go to Business.Google.com. You can set it up. There are tons of YouTube tutorials out there on it and getting your Google My Business or Google Business Profile.

Getting that set up is important to that foundation. That’s also where you can drive people to leave reviews, which is important. Those are three little things with no budget that cost you your time. There are a lot of resources that I could provide you with links to my website. There are some resources that are out there like Canva and things like that that are great resources for design that you can do on a budget. Specifically, things that take your time would be getting your Google Business Profile set up so you can direct reviews there and then making sure that you engage with your audience on social media if you are on social media. Those are quick tips but important.

Let’s talk a little bit about branding because we had a fascinating conversation and as we speak, we’re watching a major company that didn’t know their customer. They did an ad that was contrary to who was taking their product. We’re talking about Bud Light. Whatever your opinion is, we’re not casting judgment one way or another. However, at the end of the day, if your customer is a certain type of person and you do something offensive to them, you lose your customer base and you have to reinvent your customer base is a very difficult proposition. How important that is that a company, whether you’re a little tiny company or a humongous company, that you know who your customer is and how to take good care of them so they don’t become somebody else’s customer?

We get sometimes caught up in all the flashy things that we forget that what’s most important is that low-hanging fruit, which are those people who are already buying from us because if they like what we do, they’ll buy more and they’re also our biggest advocates. I know there’s a statistic. You probably know it, but how many people are going to say something negative about a brand? It’s twelve times. They’ll complain if they had a bad experience but maybe 1 or 2 if they have a good experience.

You want to make sure that you’re focusing on giving your customer a good experience and that you know who they are. One of the things that I always encourage brands that I work with to do is really in those early stages or wherever you are, it doesn’t matter when you do it, but make sure that you’re always checking in on your customer. Make sure that you’re doing things like focus groups, round tables, taking folks to lunch, and giving them a free lunch for some feedback. Especially, if you have a new product launch coming up or a new endeavor that you’re trying to get some feedback on.

The worst thing that we do and we do it all the time is ask everybody internally what they think we should do and then do it without asking any customers. Why would we not utilize our greatest asset, our customers, and pay for their lunch, bring them to a conversation, and understand what they really want before we make a move? I think we underestimate the power of our customers.

Let’s talk about that a little bit more because you said a couple of things that have touched a nerve on my end and probably some of our readers. Let’s say you take that customer to lunch and you say to that customer, “Thank you for buying X, Y, Z product, brand, or service from our company where you appreciate it.” What if the customer says, “Let me give you some negative?” Sometimes, we learn more about our brand from a negative standpoint than somebody is telling us how great and wonderful we are. That’s great, but I’m really bringing you to tell me what can we do better. How do you handle that when somebody comes along and says, “I love this but I hate this?”

I need more people around me when that happens. I make sure I’m not hearing it just as me because it’s like calling somebody’s baby ugly. I want to make sure that I’m not the only ear because a lot of times, if somebody calls my baby ugly, it’s going to be easy for me to move on to the next thing and think that maybe that’s an anomaly or that’s not the general consensus. All my customers are happy. I’d like to think that, but I also know that the more ears we have listening and the people who can help me implement change, the better it’s going to be for our customers. You want to have somebody else. If you’re a solopreneur, you may want to get a good person you trust. Maybe a mentor or advisor with you to listen to it.

It’s always good to have a couple sets of ears listening to that feedback and then that person can help mentor you through that change. For me, it’s Vicky, my VP of Operations. Whenever someone gives me something that’s a little hard for me to swallow, I get her in the room with me and say, “Tell me again and say it in front of Vicky so that she can hear it too.” The good thing is it’s always good to have a yin to your yang. I move really fast. I’m a very type A and Enneagram 3. All those things that move fast, don’t shut the cabinet doors and don’t ever close the door fully because I’m always moving on to the next thing.

I’m married to somebody, thankfully, that’s not like that, which is good and then also in my business, I have Vicky who is the calm to my storm. She’s good at having that ear and then helping implement change too. if you’re doing this by yourself, I would say an accountability person that can listen to it and then help you be accountable for implementing the change. If you have a structured organization with multiple people, have somebody else in your business that you trust to listen.

Let’s talk about Business Growers specifically. What makes it so unique?

You’re talking about my baby here. I believe because I sat as a CMO and a marketing director at a technology company for many years, throughout the various startups I worked with, I saw all these struggles and experienced them myself. I saw the CEO. They had struggled with this issue or this issue and then the marketing director usually was juggling 7 or 8 different marketing vendors and was getting charged hourly by an agency who maybe I’ve told them, “I want the color to be blue,” and then they put it the wrong blue. Now I’m paying $125 for them to get it on the right blue that I want. I never really understood the model that I experienced. I wanted to create something that took all of those pain points as a leader at a tech organization and make an easy partnership, not a vendorship.

None of that might sound a little clichè, but that was what the Business Growers became. What that looked like was not an agency, but we are fractional CMO and implementation support, which means if you’re a tech startup and you need that CMO-level representation on an investor call or a board call to say, “Here’s what we’re doing in marketing. Here’s why.” You also need somebody to create the graphic, work on the brochure, and fix the website.

Sometimes it’s hard to find both. I feel like we do the biggest disservice when we hire somebody to do marketing that has a few years of experience and we expect them to know how to do search engine optimization, WordPress website development, and Adobe Creative Suite graphic design. We’re setting a lot of expectations on one hire and it’s not realistic. Where we fit is those tech companies that maybe don’t need a full in-house staff or can’t afford a full in-house staff but they need some support at each of those levels then we can fill in those gaps. We work really well with marketing teams and then we can complement them or serve as a full marketing team, or whatever makes the most sense.

The uniqueness of it as you said there because Jack of All Trades, Master of None is what happens with an entrepreneur sometimes. I know I’ve been one for many years. There are some things that I am bad at. As I’ve gotten older, I realize, “Let me do what I really do well,” which is as my wife says, “Not much.” You deal with a lot of entrepreneurs and obviously, you’re one yourself, but how do you coach an entrepreneur that you’re working with where you say, “You create beautiful content, but whatever is you’re deficient at,” without offending them?

They obviously want to continue to be a client and keep the relationship, but you tell them that hard truths sometimes exist in business that the differential between a company becoming a great company or at least a successful company versus permanent potential. You’re like, “There is a lot of potential in that brand.” You can see it walking in from the outside that they can’t see it themselves. How do you get that point across to them?

I will say in some regard, the data and analytics that you can get now online can tell the story for you. You don’t necessarily have to tell someone. You can look at low engagement on social media or no website traffic. That is enough sometimes. I will say when it comes to things like branding or messaging, that’s a little bit harder to have that conversation. I look at everything through a lens of, “Are you talking about yourself or are you talking about a problem that your customer has that, ‘By the way we can solve it?’” In that story brand framework, Donald Miller’s big thing is making sure that you make your customer the hero of the story. We’re not the hero. The customer is the hero.

LNC Laura Johns | Tech Startup

Tech Startup: Make sure that you make your customer the hero of the story.

 

One easy way to do that is to remind them. Let’s say you have a buddy that sells insurance and every time your buddy wants to connect with you, you guys go out and have a beer, a cup of coffee, or whatever. Every time you go out to eat with them, he talks about himself and doesn’t let you get a word in the whole time. How likely are you going to be to go back and have coffee or a beer with him? The number one problem that I see is that people set themselves up as the hero and they don’t understand they’re doing their brand damage. That can be on social media. We’re promoting ourselves. If I say I’m having a sale every day, nobody is going to believe that I ever am going to have a sale.

People set themselves up as the hero, and they don't understand they're doing them their brand damage. Share on X

Focusing on educational content or things that are going to bring value and benefit to your customer, free resources or things like that is good. I know that wasn’t necessarily your question, but the more thing was how do you have that hard conversation? It’s taken some time, but a lot of time the proof is in the pudding like you’re able to show them. Show them their competition and say, “Do you see how your level of engagement on social media and then your competition?” That’s another great way to do it.

It’s like built to last for example where it’s like, “This company is good, but this other company is great. They’re selling the same stuff, but how come these guys are great and how come you’re only good?” That’s the ugly baby thing. You’re good and the other guy is great. There was a movie years ago, way before when I was young, about ten men that Richard Dreyfus made, “Do you want your house to be either before or the after?” Let’s morph into something else here. We talked about this a little bit. The economy is what it is. because of that, there are a lot of young people that are looking and saying, “Maybe I should work for myself or figure out something.”

A perfect example is when I started my network marketing business, I started with one of these things which was a cassette tape. My now nineteen-year-old son is in the garage a couple of years ago. He comes in holding it in his hand and he says, “What is this?” I start giving him the sales pitch about the content and then he says, “I don’t care about that. What is this?” He’d never seen one before as opposed to his generation. They grew up with these things. Everybody had one of these in their hands.

There are all of these tools in this gig economy and all the other words that are there, when you look at that, what would your advice be to the 19 to the 35-year age group of people that are saying, “I want to figure out something to do,” whatever it is that they’re passionate about? What’s your advice to them? How do they proceed to take those steps like you did? You were in Corporate America, successful, making a good living and you said, “I can do this for me and I can do this maybe better than my competition or would be competition.” How do you get there? What are the tools that you would suggest?

One of the best resources you can utilize before you start is those people that you trust. Going back to that conversation with your customer. On this side, it’s having those conversations with those people you trust like mentors or people who you’ve seen done it before. I’ve even had people that are working in sales with clients or something.

They’ve booked time on my calendar and asked to talk to me for fifteen minutes. They’ve asked me these questions and that to me tells them that they’re serious about it. Getting as much the good, the bad, and the ugly on the front ends and you can have as much preparation, you’re never fully prepared as you well know so you can have as much mentally as you can and like. A great network to start with is to start asking these people questions and end it with anybody who might be interested in a service like this.

You can start building a pipeline for the future, but getting these people that you trust is a great first start. Before I started this business, I was honest with myself about what I wasn’t good at because I wanted to, as quickly as possible, fill in those gaps as soon as I could afford to. At the beginning, you’re having to do everything. This is how it is when you start. I knew that as soon as I could move, in my case it’s financials. I’m bad at it. I hate a spreadsheet. I can get the business closed, but after that, I’m like, “I don’t have anything to do with the billing.”

I’m not great at a spreadsheet. In fact, in the company I used to work for, every time I would turn in my expense report, I would short myself $40. The CFO would always be like, “I’m making you more money every day just by looking at you.” I was bad at it. By recognizing what you’re weakest at and being honest with yourself about that, you can grow a successful business. A lot of it is self-awareness and what you’re not good at. If you try to be the salesperson and the client success person or you try to fill too many roles because you want to have your hands in everything, then that’s going to be what causes your business to go south.

LNC Laura Johns | Tech Startup

Tech Startup: Don’t try to fill too many roles just because you want to have your hands in everything. That’s how you lead your business to go south.

 

Make sure that you know upfront and then you have a priority list like, “What am I going to offload as quickly as possible so that I can do more of what I’m really good at?” As a founder, sometimes it’s developing the product. Sometimes that’s what you’re good at and you don’t want to do the sales or the marketing or any of that. Sometimes you’re good at the sales and you don’t want to do the process or the product. It depends on the founder.

When you watch something like Shark Tank because there are a lot of spinoffs of course now but Shark Tank is still the big one, do you see the entrepreneurs take the carpet and say, “That person had a great idea, but they have no chance of making it because?” What will you think of a couple of becauses are where a small business, somebody has a good idea, and have something that’s attracted to the marketplace, but you say, “That person will fail because?” What are those couple of things that different makers do?

This is very specific, but sometimes I notice that their products or services are too narrow. The audience is too narrow. Not that there can’t be a nichè product. There certainly can be, but when you’re getting something off the ground that’s very specific, you need to think about ways, “Is there a way that I can broaden?” A lot of brands have done that really well like you’ve started a product for one particular audience and then all of a sudden, COVID hits. It’s a popular product for ten new audiences because now everybody is at home. I don’t have a specific example, but you know that they’re out there. I feel like you see some of those entrepreneurs that maybe aren’t fully prepared and don’t have it fully vetted out.

When you see those sharks start asking questions and they don’t have a profitable product, that’s something you need to know quickly. it’s like, “Is this going to make me any money? Can I sell it for more than what it costs me to make it?” That type of thing. I think that sometimes we get inspired and a little woo-woo. We get excited about our product and what we can do. We don’t think about the practical part of it, which is, “Can this make me any money?” Ultimately, if it can’t make you money, you’re not going to get any support from an investor or something like that.

We’ve talked about this before. If I had the advice to give an entrepreneur, one of the things I’ve been faced with as my business has grown that you certainly see on Shark Tank and things like that is as you grow, you will have more opportunities to give some of your business away in exchange for capital. It’s the way that it works, but sometimes, I feel like we sell ourselves a little short and we’re quick to give away something that we’ve created instead of taking the harder. It’s like the tortoise and the hair. Sometimes you need to go the fast route to meet your goal, which is fine, but sometimes you don’t need anybody else’s money.

Let’s not get too excited about some dollar bills. Let’s take a little bit longer and spend more time developing the product and you can be as successful. I want to make sure I encourage anyone who does have an idea that feels like if they’ve ever been approached or maybe they haven’t but they will be, be careful not to give it all the way up front. The confidence in yourself that great ideas can grow and flourish and don’t always need. Sometimes I do need that investment money. I think there’s a great place for that, but not all the time. Confidence in yourself is important.

LNC Laura Johns | Tech Startup

Tech Startup: It’s fine to take the fast route to meet your goal, but sometimes, you need to spend more time developing the product, and you can be just as successful.

 

That is such sage advice because I heard a story about Bill Gates when he was fairly young with Microsoft. He had a meeting with Ross Perot. He, at that time, owned EDS here in Dallas. I don’t remember that figure but it was a figure that if I was Bill Gates at 25 or whatever he was, I probably would’ve said, “I’m going to take the money. I’m going to go have a great life here and good luck. You go run this Microsoft thing and forget about it.” He chose not to take the money obviously and became Bill Gates and all the success. That’s a big story. You hear that all the time or if somebody says, “They take an investor’s money,” and now all of a sudden they bought themselves a job where their vision was different, but now the money pushes them around.

What are your thoughts on this? I didn’t put this into question, but I’ll throw you a couple of curve balls. Let’s talk about public versus private because that’s a factor now where somebody has this nice small business, it’s growing nicely, they’re making a living, their employees are making a living, etc., and all of a sudden, the big money comes and says, “We’ll take you public on the NASDAQ,” or whatever the exchanges then get you on. How do you wrestle with that decision? That’s a huge decision.

That could be a life-changing decision, but it also could be a decision where you wanted to go and do a very specific thing in the marketplace that was your vision, and all of a sudden, the public money says, “That’s nice you had that vision, but our vision is to make a profit and your vision is to save the wells. However, saving the wells isn’t going to make us the bottom line and we got to answer to these people.”

I think it depends on the business owner and their outcome. I want to support my family and have the flexibility to go to baseball games. I have a 6 and a 3-year-old. We got a lot of baseballs ahead of us and that’s important to me. We want to go to the beach and have fun. Those are my priorities. In the future, that might change. I personally get energized by the work of my team and what we’re doing here.

That brings me inspiration and energy. It depends on where the business owner is and the energy level. If you are at a point where you are no longer inspired by what you’re doing and you are looking for an outcome that can you removed in a way from that, that’s a perfect outcome as long as you’re no longer wanting to control the things that you used to be able to control.

It depends on the business owner and the season of life that you’re in. Big money does sound great, but no money, more problems is what Biggie Smalls said. It depends on your picture of success. I started an LLC in a season when my oldest son, who’s now, 2023, 6, was 6 months old. During that time, I’d gone part-time with my previous full-time job to move. We relocated for my husband’s job. The business that I started was strictly a goal of paying the bills and survival mode. That’s the only reason I have that business. That was okay for that season. Having a business to pay the bills is great. Now I have a business, I’ve started another business, The Business Growers. In this business, I’ve set out a goal to empower women.

I also was paying myself, which is great, but my objective now is I did not have any desire with that first business. I had zero desire to hire anyone. I wanted to have people paying me so that I could pay. Now it’s a totally different mindset. I’m in a different place in life. I think that that’s okay. Even in a short couple of years, the whole reason I have this business is a different reason, mindset, and plan than it was a few years ago.

What you’ve done is remarkable and the fact that you’ve got twelve people now working with you. You started this at your kitchen table and the equipment there. It’s morphed in what for you is a long time, but if you stepped back and you looked back, you’d say, “It’s not a long time.” What a wonderful business that you’ve created and you’ve got twelve employees and growing.

You got 12 other sets of headaches because you’ve got 12 people to deal with their problems and issues. Let’s wrap up with a couple of quick questions. Let’s talk about women a little bit more because my audience is obviously involved in the direct selling industry, which is what you’re familiar with. I know we’ve discussed that in our industry. What’s your advice to women, at all ages? Why should a woman start their own business, be it direct selling, or something else that they’re interested in? Why is it such a great time for women to do that?

Personally, I’m not competitive in a way I’m competitive with myself. I’m competitive with work. I don’t care if I win or I’m running a race against you. Mentally, I will figure out a way to beat you. It’s more like I play mind games. There are a lot of people who are going to tell you you can’t. I’ve been shushed as a woman for a meeting. I’ve been asked to prepare lunch or get lunch in a room full of men when I had as much a seat at the table as they did. There’s nothing wrong with being the person that gets lunch, but it’s funny to always have been in male-dominated industries. It’s always the women that are getting the birthday cards, cake, and all these responsibilities. Men do too.

I’m not saying they don’t, but it is that unspoken expectation or invisible labor. Going back to that middle competitive spirit that I have. If there’s anything that anyone’s ever told you or you have told yourself that you can’t do, that alone is a reason to prove them or prove yourself wrong. I think there’s sometimes a narrative, especially as women that we talk about this a lot on The Home and The Hustle Podcast that I have. There’s this narrative that’s ongoing that no matter what season of life you’re in, you’re not good enough. When you’re in high school, it’s like, “I’m not good enough or pretty enough to be in the beauty parade.” When you get a little older, it’s like, “I’m not good enough to handle both work and the home.”

If you’re a stay-at-home mom and I have a lot of friends who are, it’s like, “I’m not contributing to the household income,” or if you do work, it’s, “I’m missing all the school fun.” By nature, we are hard on ourselves no matter what season of life we’re in. My mom now at her age beats herself up over missing things for her grandchildren. It’s almost like it becomes this narrative of our lives that we’re never good enough or we can’t quite get there. We need to let go of that. I’ve had someone that’s very important to me tell me in this season, “Why are you expecting the same things out of yourself?” For me particularly, it was putting three meals a week on the table for my kids and cooking it myself.

She said, “Do you think they know where the spaghetti comes from?” I said, “No, I don’t think so.” She said, “There’s a place right down the street where you can pick it up hot, take it home, and feel as good about putting a warm meal on the table that’s not fast food.” For this season, I’m doing that. We’re eating the hotdog maybe a little bit more than I would’ve many years ago, but it’s the way it is.

My encouragement to a woman who might be looking at starting her own business or who is in her own business or direct selling is to release that expectation or that narrative in your head and prove yourself or prove them wrong because it’s an ongoing narrative. If you don’t learn to combat that, it can eat you up inside from what I’ve learned.

If you don't learn to combat negative narratives in your head, they can eat you up inside. Share on X

We are getting to the almost wrap-up point. I could talk to you all day and there are one million things off but I know you got two young kids to deal with. I remember when mine were that age, it was hockey practice and figure skating. At least we went to a rink, but half the time, it was a rink on the other end of town from the other kid.

Thank God for my husband. That’s another point too. When you are married, the support of that significant other is critical, especially for me. We had a long conversation before I started this business because I knew that it was going to look like less time at home. I might not be doing pickup. They got out of school and we’ve got a day where they don’t have anywhere to go or they need haircuts. There’s a lot that you look at me and say, “You’re successful,” but the big success is the man who I live with.

Also, the family that you guys are buildings is what it’s all about. It’s family at the end of it. Let’s talk a little bit real quick here everybody knows where to listen to your podcast.

You can go to TheBusinessGrowers.com. I have links to my podcast there. That might be easier or you can look up the Know, Grow and Scale Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcast, or anywhere you listen. We have taken a little break because we were both hustling pretty hard, but my friend Lauren and I have The Home and The Hustle podcast. There are a lot of really good stories from working moms that are great to listen to. I would encourage anyone to do that.

Your other show?

The Know, Grow and Scale Scale can be accessed through my website at TheBusinessGrowers.com. If you go to TheBusinessGrowers.com/LeavingNothing, we will have some resources there for you and an opportunity if you want to reach out to me to do that as well.

This has been a privilege and continued to tremendous success. Enjoy yourself with your kids and all of that. I am impressed by what you’ve done in a fairly short period of time being a market leader, employing people, and living the entrepreneurial dream there in beautiful Mississippi. Thank you for being on the show.

Thank you so much. I appreciate you having me.

Anytime. Please come back. I know you’re going to continue to do some remarkable stuff. You always got an invitation. Thank you.

Thanks.

 

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