Ariel Schiffer of Dream Pro Courses: “A strong vision”

A strong vision — To be real, in the beginning of my journey of entrepreneurship I didn’t necessarily have a vision- but I did see my company eventually being something more than myself. Eventually as I found my place in business, my vision has become crystal clear. Keeping this vision of where I see Dreampro is what […]

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A strong vision — To be real, in the beginning of my journey of entrepreneurship I didn’t necessarily have a vision- but I did see my company eventually being something more than myself. Eventually as I found my place in business, my vision has become crystal clear. Keeping this vision of where I see Dreampro is what I tie all of my business decisions to and keeps me grounded.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ariel Schiffer.

Ariel Schiffer is a 6-figure CEO and Founder of Dream Pro Courses, the host of The Dreamers Lounge Podcast and holds a Masters in Industrial-Organizational Psychology. After working with large corporations from Diesel to Lowes Ariel shifted her career from the corporate world to the online business space.

She offers expertise in creating courses and programs with a mission to improve the quality of education and offerings in the online space. She has successfully served over 200 entrepreneurs by developing binge-worthy courses through her detailed service offerings.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Before I started my company, I got my Master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology and spent about a decade in the corporate world developing professional and leadership training programs for a Fortune 50 company, non-profit organization, and several private companies across several industries. I fell in love with the problem-solving aspect and creativity of developing curriculum and learning experiences. To see hundreds of thousands of people’s lives and careers change from what I was creating was incredibly fulfilling. Ultimately, I left to start my own business because I wanted to lead my own path and have ownership over the type of work I was doing and the flexibility that comes with that. After taking a few not-so-great courses in the online business industry, I realized my instructional design background was a huge need and leaned into it head first!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

This isn’t necessarily a story but what is really interesting to me is I started my business thinking I was starting from scratch and that there were so many things I didn’t know… which to some extent, is true! Shifting from a corporate environment to working with online-based businesses and entrepreneurs has its nuances. But what I found was at the end of the day, my years of corporate experience and working with high level executives on massive projects was the foundation I needed to also get ahead in business. That, and my HR experience. I think sometimes we think because we are doing something new that we are starting from scratch, but we never really are. We just use our experiences and skills in new ways.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One of the funniest mistakes I made when I first started my business was thinking that I could bypass “the work” by investing in an agency to create a funnel for an offer I never really fully created. I laugh at it because I think anyone who is starting a business is always looking for the easiest way to be successful and the path of least resistance, and I was no different. And, I really thought it would just automatically make me thousands a month! It was a 10,000 dollars mistake that taught me a big lesson. The big lesson was, I needed to do the work, and I am now grateful for that. Showing up consistently, creating content, and truly working on building authentic relationships taught me what I needed to learn about myself, my ideal clients, and how to actually market myself. And in case you are wondering- that funnel did not magically make me thousands of dollars per month, but I did get one great client out of it who I have now actually hired as our graphic designer!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Absolutely! I feel really fortunate to have to think hard about this question because I felt like there have been several people that have been nothing but supportive during every season in my business. One person I can’t help but thank is Taylor Slango, who has been my business mentor since I first started my business. I actually came across her through one of her advertisements for her signature launch program. She held a free challenge about launching (which at the time, I had NO idea what launching was, but I participated because it felt like something I should know!) and I was hooked. Years later, I still work closely with her. She has seen every up and down of my business and was always there for me in any way that I needed her. To come full circle, my agency also recently helped her revamp that same signature launch program!

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

From my perspective as a business owner and someone who has also been in the corporate world, I think what holds women back is a combination of fear and the historical suppression women have faced in their careers. Fear of doing something new that no one else in their family has done before. Fear of trying, but ultimately failing. Fear of sharing their dream with their spouse or partner and not being supported. Fear of not being good enough, or not being what they see as what a business owner looks or acts like. I also see women who don’t go all in because they feel as though it is selfish to do as a mother, while they would want their daughter to know that she can have it all.

Especially in the corporate world, women historically have had to face more obstacles than men to advance in their careers, make at least as much as their male counterparts, and be respected for what they can bring to the table. I remember countless times not being taken as seriously because of my gender and sometimes age. Experiencing this on a regular basis can definitely subconsciously create a belief that you are not good enough or it will be that much harder to succeed as a business owner.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

I think as individuals, we have a duty to ourselves to not give up on what we want. No one will care or look out for your best interests as much as you do, and if you have a dream in your heart it is there for a reason. It is because you can do it. As women, I think it is even more important for us to do it for us and show others that they can too.

As a society and government, I think the little things matter to really make the biggest difference in the way women are treated professionally. Things like having accessible nursing rooms in workplaces- this shouldn’t be a fringe benefit, this should be a standard. Realistic, extended maternity leaves. More women starting and leading companies.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

There is nothing more rewarding, beautiful, and fulfilling than a woman sharing her vision and passion with the world. When you are able to create something yourself, there is nothing more empowering. And guess what? You can. If you have a dream in your heart, it is there for a reason. Do the damn thing.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

To be honest before I started my business, I thought starting a business would be something incredibly complicated and expensive. Don’t get me wrong — I am always learning something I didn’t know, and I have definitely invested a lot into my business, but it does not take much to take the first step. Don’t feel as though you need to know EVERYTHING in order to do that — the knowledge will come. Just keep your eyes open, do your best, and the path will appear. Taking the first step is the hardest step. Another myth is that you are giving up security. Especially after Covid, I think more and more people are realizing that the benefits of employment do not equal security. I have never felt more secure as a business owner because I have full power to create the life I want and obtain the things I want on my own terms.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

I think that founders and entrepreneurs may share some qualities, but there isn’t one type of person that would make for a successful founder. I think it is actually one of the most beautiful things I have seen- so many different types of people excelling. Some of the qualities that I think most successful founders share are grit, passion, and consistency. You need to have grit to withstand the things that will challenge you to see how bad you want it. Passion is what keeps you creative, innovative, and excited about what you do. Consistency is what creates the momentum you need to become successful, even when you don’t see evidence of it yet.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. A strong vision — To be real, in the beginning of my journey of entrepreneurship I didn’t necessarily have a vision- but I did see my company eventually being something more than myself. Eventually as I found my place in business, my vision has become crystal clear. Keeping this vision of where I see Dreampro is what I tie all of my business decisions to and keeps me grounded.
  2. A unique perspective — Having a unique perspective and process for what you do to differentiate your brand from others has helped Dreampro become such a unique agency. Sure, there are other curriculum and instructional designers, but no one is doing what we do to the extent that we do it. And personally, I have a unique perspective when it comes to courses and programs that many people appreciate. When I was starting my business originally as a coach, I felt like “just another” coach. It made it hard for me to really market myself in a way that showed people why they should work with me. Once I truly found my voice, perspective, and niche, business skyrocketed. Lean into the ways you’re different.
  3. A great attitude — As a business owner, you’re leading your company, which means you’re also responsible if things don’t go as planned. Something I always tell my team is we don’t have problems, we just have solutions. It’s not about dwelling on what might seem to be going wrong, it’s about finding the solution, because there always is one. Having this attitude has helped us navigate challenges and keep the culture of my team positive and resilient.
  4. A kickass team you trust — Speaking of team, surround yourself with the best. Something that I had to get over pretty quickly in my business was not trusting others to do work for me. And I think almost every business owner feels this way sometimes. In the beginning of my business, I made some not-so-great hires, but when it came time to truly scale my business, I focused on hiring the absolute best. Hiring people smarter than me at what they do has helped me stay within my own zone of genius and our clients are now being served at an even higher caliber.
  5. Gratitude & space — It is easy as ambitious women for us to set goals, achieve them, and then move onto the next. We get so caught up in trying to achieve our dreams that we forget that we’re already living our dreams right now. If I saw myself where I am today 5 years ago- I would be in awe. Take the time to be grateful for everything- both the small and big wins. And even though it is nearly impossible to stop thinking about your business, take the space you need to live life OUTSIDE of business. Taking space allows you to come back to your work with more creativity than ever.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

When you think about the ripple effects of your business as a founder, it is incredible. One of the most rewarding things for me has been being able to provide women employment. I used to work in several toxic work environments and to be able to provide women a place to work that they actually enjoy and feel appreciated makes me feel like this is another way I can make the world better. Another way is through the actual work we do. Creating more high-quality educational programs helps those students learn and achieve greater things in the world, which creates even more ripple effects. We have likely impacted millions already just through some of the courses we have developed.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Something Dreampro has been (and will continue) focusing on is raising the standard of quality for learning in the online business industry. We want to influence people who create and sell courses to focus on quality as much (if not more than) they focus on marketing their courses. I believe no one should feel like they didn’t get what they paid for, especially when they are making an investment in themselves or their business for hundreds or thousands of dollars. Instead of pushing marketing that focuses on creating a course in 2 hours and selling it for 5K dollars, let’s focus on developing a program that is proven and truly creates transformation and success for most of its students.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Some business owners I admire include Sophia Amoruso, Monique Mosley, and Sara Blakely.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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