Work on your money mindset and your familial wealth trauma before launching your business full-time. I didn’t even know what a money mindset was when I began my business in 2007. Once I started working on it for myself in 2015 I was able to see very quickly why I hadn’t made enough money in my fashion brand to support myself. I realized how many beliefs I had about my inability to make money, where the money had to come from (an employer), and how my skills and expertise weren’t worth paying for. The second I started changing my beliefs, I started making money in my business. I do wish I’d done that work while I still had money coming in from my job because it wouldn’t have placed so much pressure on me to be figuring out how to make money while I was doing the healing work.
I had the pleasure to interview Entrepreneur Coach Bri Seeley. Bri is catalyst and natural truth-teller with a history in counseling, psychology and entrepreneurship. Bri learned from a young age how to powerfully create a clear path towards her desired future. From studying in Italy, to running a successful fashion brand, to pivoting into an incredible coaching and consulting career, to writing a best-selling book, and fulfilling her deepest desire of moving to Manhattan…. She has found the natural ability to identify her visions and confidently walk in the direction of them until she successfully brings them to life. Bri combines a lifetime of entrepreneurial experience with psychology, hypnotherapy and Universal Laws — plus, over a decade of coaching and counseling expertise to help entrepreneurs around the world to build and scale their business into profitable and impactful companies. Bri’s best-selling book, Permission to Leap, is available now on Amazon. You may have seen her on NBC’s The TODAY Show, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Yahoo!, Thrive Global, Medium, New Day Northwest, and Huffington Post.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?
I was raised by a single mom in a small town in Southern Minnesota, and began to develop my entrepreneurial spirit at a very young age! After school, I would spend my afternoons at work with my mom where I would entertain myself by stocking shelves, talking to customers and training employees to use the cash register. My mom later opened up a daycare and later bought a candy shop, both of which I was involved with when not at school.
When I completed my Master’s of Fashion Design in Italy, I moved back to the states and got a job which I didn’t like, care about or want to do. I said yes for the paycheck. In order to keep my creativity flowing and my skills current, I started a fashion brand in my off hours. That business grew little by little every year. It went from local fashion displays in the Pacific Northwest to winning awards, gracing runways, selling a collection to Zappos, dressing celebrities, and more.
Then, while in the 8th year of business, I began to feel frustrated. My business wasn’t where I wanted it to be. It was incredible expensive to operate. I was on the verge of adrenal fatigue and experiencing anxiety attacks weekly. After a particularly powerful meditation in 2015, I made the decision to close my fashion brand for good.
72-hours later I was an entrepreneur without a business. But after some soul searching I came to realize the next step in my entrepreneurial journey.
What was the catalyst from transforming your hobby or something you love into a business? Can you share the story of your “ah ha” moment with us?
Once I had closed my fashion brand, I had nothing but space and time to explore what was next. I came to a few realizations during that time:
- I love being an entrepreneur. The thought of working for someone again was enough to send me into a spiral of fear and anxiety. I knew I would never go back to a traditional employment setting.
- I loved mentoring people. I hired my first intern in 2011 and was constantly talking to people to help them grow their businesses. One of my greatest skills is seeing possibility within people and helping them to create their visions.
That’s when my a-ha moment came into view. People had been emailing, texting and calling me for at least a year asking me to be a formal mentor or consultant in their business. I had turned them all away because I only saw myself as a Fashion Designer, but once I closed my brand and my ego let go of the label I’d been defining myself by, everything changed and I turned something which had been a hobby into my new business.
There are no shortage of good ideas out there, but people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?
I don’t believe businesses should be based on good ideas. A good idea is a spark, however it’s not something which can sustain the highs and lows of entrepreneurship. I believe in building businesses based on your core values and your zone of genius. Business is an inside, out experience.
My business was built on the foundation of who I am and my natural, innate skills. I knew this business had to be created differently from how I had created my fashion brand. The first nine months of my new business were spent in deep soul searching, inquiring about the value I bring to the world and listening to what others had to reflect about the impact I’d had on them. Because I knew those were the true foundational pieces which were necessary not only for the success of my business, but also for the longevity of it.
What advice would you give someone who has a hobby or pastime that they absolutely love but is reluctant to do it for a living?
Don’t rush the process! Entrepreneurship is a journey that can unfold over years (or even decades). My journey officially began 13 years ago and I am just getting to the place where I feel full confidence in my expertise, marketing and leadership abilities. That being said, I could have cut my process into a much shorter period of time with some different decisions along the way.
The first seven years of entrepreneurship I had a job which supported me. I encourage people not to quit their jobs too soon in the process. Use the foundation of a paycheck to support you in building the momentum you need for your business to take off. There’s no need to push the timeline — you will know when it’s time to let go of your job and fully leap into your business.
It’s said that the quickest way to take the fun out of doing something is to do it for a living. How do you keep from changing something you love into something you dread? How do you keep it fresh and enjoyable?
I keep things fresh and enjoyable with two very important strategies:
- Delegate, delegate, delegate. I know what tasks give me energy and which tasks drain my energy. If I’m operating on empty because I’ve drained my energy, I can’t lead my business nor serve my clients. So I’ve built a team around me to take the draining tasks off my plate. It helps my business continue to move forward and allows me to stay in the excitement of my business.
- Have a flexible and ever changing schedule. Every single day looks different for me. Whether I vary up where I’m working, who I’m talking to, the focus and tasks for the day or simply the playlist blasting in my ears — I crave variety. The newness of my environment, conversations and tasks also helps keep me out of my comfort zone because everything is always changing. I am not able to get into a rut or monotony.
What is it that you enjoy most about running your own business? What are the downsides of running your own business? Can you share what you did to overcome these drawbacks?
I most enjoy the immense freedom and being 100% responsible for my results. The biggest downside to running my own business is the immense freedom and being 100% responsible for my results. It’s empowering to be able to create whatever results you want, but can also be discouraging if things don’t go as planned. What I’ve done to overcome this duality is loads of inner work, surrender and trust. I set intentions about my desired results, put forth extraordinary effort and then work with the Universe to allow whatever outcome happens by trusting in its perfection (yes, even if it doesn’t look like the perfect outcome!). Being an entrepreneur is a constant balance of putting in 110% while also being open and letting go of your expectations.
Can you share what was the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
Both with my fashion brand and my coaching business, I said yes to them for the opportunity to build a freedom based life and business around my Zone of Genius. I have engineered much of my business now to be in my Zone of Genius, but at the end of the day there are still tasks that need to be done. When I began, I absolutely thought that having a fashion brand meant I would be designing and creating 24/7. I hadn’t understood all the other business responsibilities I would need to tend to. My actual time spent designing and creating was more like 7–10% of my time.
Has there ever been a moment when you thought to yourself “I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to get a “real” job? If so how did you overcome it?
There have been so many of these moments! I actually did attempt to get a job after the first nine months of my coaching and consulting business. I was applying for waitress and barista jobs to have supplemental income, but no one would hire me. I was deemed ‘unemployable’ and ‘ambitious’ by every place I applied. Instead of letting it break me or be a point of failure for me, I took it as a sign that I wasn’t meant to quit. Every time since then I’ve even had the thought to get a job, I am shown again and again that is not my path. I watch and listen for guidance constantly. The more I became open to following my intuition and the guidance of the Universe, the less I questioned my path as an entrepreneur. I can honestly say I haven’t had a single “I need to quit and get a job” moment since February 2018. This is the longest stretch of time I have held my vision and trusted in the unfolding of it.
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?
Not sure if it’s funny or not… When I had my fashion brand I would send out massive outreach campaigns to bloggers and stylists. I was emailing so many people and wanted to be efficient, which meant I used a copy/paste strategy. I would get going so fast, I would forget to change emails and business names. I had a few people call me out on it, knowing they were receiving a template email. Since that time, I do my best to send individual messages and personalize them. Anytime I’m pitching myself for a story or podcast, it’s 100% unique to the outlet I’m contacting.
I understand the need to save time, but now that I’m on the receiving end of the pitches I know what bad form it is. I can always tell who is genuine in their messages, and who is sending out the same email to hundreds of people. Now I get to educate entrepreneurs on the art of genuine connection, networking and pitching.
Who has inspired or continues to inspire you to be a great leader? Why?
My clients. They are the ones who, whether they know it or not, inspire me to get out of bed, face the hard days and take my own advice. I believe leadership starts with ourselves, and I know a lot of leaders who have forgotten this. My clients are always reminding me that I have to go first. I would never give them homework or advice which I am unwilling to take myself.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
Honestly, it’s really pretty simple. I look for ways I can positively impact the lives of my community, my friends and my family. One of my top core values is love. Whether that means I over-give to my clients, make it a point to connect with five people I haven’t talked with recently, answer a budding entrepreneur’s questions, help a former employee apply for grad school, travel across the country to meet my bestie’s new baby, send hand written thank you notes, genuinely connect with the people I encounter in Manhattan everyday or more. I want to make people feel seen, heard and loved. Whatever ways I can do that, without depleting myself, I’m in.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Rejection is not a bad thing. Looking back on some of the ‘no’s I’ve received over the last 13 years, all I can think is — thank goodness those things (be it potential clients, opportunities, partnerships, etc.) didn’t work out! I see each ‘no’ as me getting closer to an aligned ‘yes.’ Just this year I thought I was going to take my business down the path of doing corporate hypnosis, and the one big introduction I received didn’t pan out. I’m so grateful it didn’t because that’s not what the focus of my business is meant to be on. It forced me to look deeper and commit to my business in a different way.
- If you don’t ask the answer is always no. In 2014 I saw Arianna Huffington speak at a conference, wherein she gave her email address at the end of the talk. The following day I was let go from my job. I was sitting on my couch in a panic about how I was going to make money when a little voice popped in telling me to reach out to Arianna to thank her and tell her about a new project I had begun. It was like in the cartoons where the devil sits on one shoulder and the angel on the other, battling it out until I finally decided to just do it. Her response was to ask me to begin writing for The Huffington Post, which led to me writing a viral article that earned me an interview on The Today Show. None of that would have happened if I had failed to reach out and make the connection.
- Most people want to help you succeed, and anyone who doesn’t isn’t worth your time. When I decided to take my business growth seriously in 2017, I made a video on Facebook declaring my intention to create a 7-figure business. Immediately following that video, I had people reaching out to me telling me how inspiring and motivating it was. But I also had people reach out shaming me for how ridiculous I was for wanting to grow my business and even had a very close friend call me a narcissist. It was a clear and defining moment for me. I walked away from several friendships after this because I was able to see who wanted to be on the path of growth and expansion with me and who didn’t.
- Work on your money mindset and your familial wealth trauma before launching your business full-time. I didn’t even know what a money mindset was when I began my business in 2007. Once I started working on it for myself in 2015 I was able to see very quickly why I hadn’t made enough money in my fashion brand to support myself. I realized how many beliefs I had about my inability to make money, where the money had to come from (an employer), and how my skills and expertise weren’t worth paying for. The second I started changing my beliefs, I started making money in my business. I do wish I’d done that work while I still had money coming in from my job because it wouldn’t have placed so much pressure on me to be figuring out how to make money while I was doing the healing work.
- Don’t waste your time hustling to take all the actions, focus on the inspired actions and let your excitement be your guide. I worked myself to the bone and complete burnout in my fashion brand and struggled to make ends meet. Now, I work a mere fraction of that time, doing my best to focus on the impactful and inspired actions, and my life is fully thriving. More actions doesn’t equal more success. The right actions, however, do.
What person wouldn’t want to work doing something they absolutely love. You are an incredible inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I want to inspire a movement of entrepreneurs to create impactful businesses and defy the 50% failure statistics. Really, what this means to me is an entire group of humans who can create freedom in their own lives and help others in leading by example, as well as through their businesses. I want to help thousands of people create 7-figure businesses and become financially free.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Just Keep Swimming” has been a particularly impactful quote for me since I first saw Finding Nemo in college. It helped me through homesickness while living in Italy for several years. It helped me through the days when I hated my job. It helped me remember not to give up on my dreams. And for me, it’s about more than just determination and will power. Nemo was a movie to me about following your personal journey, letting the Universe conspire to help you and being led by your heart.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest 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.
Elton John. For a few reasons… 1. I grew up listening to his albums on vinyl and he was my first concert when I was 9 years old. I still listen to his music almost every day. 2. His ability to let the Universe work through him is incredible and inspiring. I would love to witness his process and talk to him about creating. And 3. I would also invite my mom because seeing her meet him would make my life complete. I’m getting teary eyed just writing about it here.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.