“Have a Daily Habit that Fuels Your Growth”, With Douglas Brown and B. Michelle Pippin of ‘Women Who WOW’

Have a Daily Habit that Fuels Your Growth. One of the most detrimental habits entrepreneurs can easily fall into is this “one day” mentality. The inconvenient truth is that wild success is created based on what you do everyday, not what you’ll do “one day.” Instead of waiting on that “one day” moment that will […]

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Have a Daily Habit that Fuels Your Growth. One of the most detrimental habits entrepreneurs can easily fall into is this “one day” mentality. The inconvenient truth is that wild success is created based on what you do everyday, not what you’ll do “one day.” Instead of waiting on that “one day” moment that will catapult you to the very top, take consistent steps daily.

I recommend choosing to fuel your business growth with habits that also fuel you as the entrepreneur. If you fuel your growth with daily habits that drain you, you’ll burn out and find yourself starting over. For example, even though I crossed that magical 7-figure mark, traveling to speak on other people’s stages fueled that quick growth. This drained me and left me feeling unsuccessful regardless of income. Today, my writing fuels my business growth and also fuels me as a female thought leader. When your daily habits do both, you’ll be able to move faster, climb higher and stay longer.

As a part of my series called “Five Strategies I Used To Grow My Business To Reach Seven Figures In Revenue”, I had the pleasure of interviewing B. Michelle Pippin. Michelle is the founder of Women Who WOW which is an online alliance of seriously driven women entrepreneurs. Beginning her entrepreneurial journey with a 50 dollars investment and no financial safety net, Michelle worked with a partner to grow one income stream from an idea to over seven-figures in top line revenue, only to walk away from it all and start over. While her irreverent approach to business has been featured across countless media outlets, her most prized roles are that of wife, mother and friend.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I am essentially an accidental entrepreneur. I began my business journey over two decades ago when my daughter was born. Married to a public school teacher with 213 dollars in savings and no plan, my only real asset was a burning desire to be at home with my growing family. Back then, you may have heard rumors of women working from home, but you didn’t know anyone personally who was making a living without a job. But I was young, broke and desperate so I put in my two week notice and started hustling on what I now refer to as my “Anything for Money Tour.”

I billed myself as an “at home secretary” (The term virtual assistant hadn’t yet been created.) and mailed out a letter to anyone who may possibly have work I could do from home. I wrote resumes, typed water reports from U.S. embassies overseas and recorded charitable donations for a local political candidate… and ended up making 63K dollars in that first year of business.

Once I knew I could make money on my own terms, I dropped the “at home secretary” focus and began coaching and consulting, hosting my own events, and fell head-over-heels in love with being my own boss. I quickly learned that the fastest way to change someone’s life is to change the way they make a living so I set out to empower more women through entrepreneurism. Today, my kids are all grown and I stand at the helm of a tribe of women that I am truly honored to even stand among.

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

In truth, I lead a pretty uninteresting life. I live in a very small town on the coast of North Carolina and work from home 95% of the time. This business has afforded me some really cool opportunities, though. I’ve been able to hang with Daymond John, share the stage with Gary Vaynerchuk, and take part in Mike Michalowicz’ most recent book launch.

But I’ll never forget an attendee at one of the first multi-day events I hosted back in 2007 or so. Early in the morning on day one of the event, she burst through the door of the conference room. Out of breath, she asked if I was Michelle. I smiled, said yes and asked her name. In utter relief, she shouted, “Oh thank God you’re here!” She’d driven 12 hours to attend the event and had started wondering if she’d perhaps paid thousands of dollars for an event that was all a hoax. It was the moment I realized how critically important trust and integrity is in this digital space.

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?

At the risk of being cliche, I have so much to be grateful for in terms of those who helped me get where I am today. My parents raised me to be radically confident. I cannot overestimate how much time you save when you don’t second-guess yourself! My first coach, Steve Chandler, called me out on my victim and martyr stories and infused me with a certain responsibility for the success I either was — or was not — creating. Barry Moltz is an entrepreneurial giant who saw some potential in me really early, which I’ll never forget. Dan Kennedy has been my primary marketing and copywriting mentor for nearly my entire time in business and has literally transformed my business. I am also grateful for all of those women who underestimated me, who considered me “too regional” to succeed nationally, who shook their head disapprovingly at my jeans and cowgirl boots. Their doubts were fuel for my continued success.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion, 
And easy in solitude to live after one’s own. 
But great is (s)he who 
In the midst of the crowd, 
Keeps with perfect sweetness, 
The independence of solitude.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Since high school, this has been my life quote, and it is absolutely relevant to me in life and in business. The fact is that most brands become so commoditized, they are easily “amazon-ed,” replaced and forgotten. As I go to market with my content each day, this quote reminds me to give the market more of what they can’t get elsewhere: me.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. We’d love to learn a bit about your company. What is the pain point that your company is helping to address?

In the first year of my “anything for money tour” (my first year in business) I quickly learned that I wasn’t able to do business the way so many other women were doing business. I couldn’t afford to join their networking group, nor hire a sitter for all of the required (mind-numbing) “one-on-ones.” I didn’t have the money — nor the tolerance — for things that were largely wastes of my time. Frankly, I felt they were “playing business,” and was a bit appalled when I saw that nearly all of the entrepreneurs who were actually supporting their families with their businesses were men.

Where were the women like me? Where were the seriously driven, determined, defiant ones? When I realized that there was no gathering place for women entrepreneurs like myself to begin, belong and become… I created one. Part sisterhood, part business school, and part “success greenhouse,” Women Who WOW filled a gaping hole in the entrepreneurial market place.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We are a high drive, high touch community, but what really separates us is the results our members create. Women change when they join WOW. They walk taller, and with some well-deserved swagger. They’re more confident in their marketing and go all in on what makes them unique within the marketplace. Essentially, we grow the woman at the helm of the business which naturally and quickly grows the business she leads.

I just met with one of our relatively new members. When she joined Women Who WOW she was in business for herself, but still on government assistance. That first year, she crossed the 6-figure mark for the first time in her life. Today, she’s able to pay for additional assistance not just with her business but also with her two children who have special needs. Another member maintained her multi-six-figure income while eliminating all travel that she had grown to resent and dread. Another member opened a yoga studio during the pandemic and continues to exceed her monthly growth goals. Across the board, our income is up in 2020, but we’re also custom-fitting our income streams so that we enjoy the day to day of our businesses. These are the stories that motivate me. When a woman puts her mind to something, and then shows up every day fully backing herself… the impossible becomes possible.

When you first started the business, what drove you, what was your primary motivation?

Honestly, when I first became an entrepreneur, my motivation was simple: to replace my former full-time income immediately. This sounds so superficial, but because I was laser focused on selling, I was able to reach my financial goals faster. I didn’t worry about all of the “business rules,” which was smart since these rules lead to an 80% failure rate. I didn’t consider my branding. I started with no website and no business plan. I set out each day to make an exchange, my service for their money. This simplicity allowed me to reach my initial goals. Since that time, I’ve been focused on mentoring others to reach their goals in the simplest, most direct way possible.

What drives you now? Is it the same? Did it change? Can you explain what you mean?

This may ruffle a few feathers, but there is no way for a woman to be fully and truly empowered without being able to financially support herself. In my own business dealings, I met far too many women who were hustling their hearts out but still failing financially in their business.

Some could “afford” to fail financially because their monetary needs were met elsewhere. But, nearly all felt so frustrated and disheartened by the fact that they couldn’t seem to make the business work. On top of feeling like failures, they were working nonstop and no longer feeling present with their family and friends. As this situation became more and more apparent to me, I set out to fix it, to shatter entrepreneurial glass ceilings and help these women I respected and admired earn the money they deserved.

I was determined to simplify success so that it could be created on their own terms, to remind these women that there is nothing special about the leaders they admire, and that they are more than capable of realizing even their biggest dreams. And then I rolled up my sleeves to help them do exactly that. Doing this work is one of the greatest honors I can imagine.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Of course! I am releasing a new book soon called, Entrepreneurial Espresso: Daily Jolts of Inspiration for the Seriously Driven Woman Entrepreneur. This book reinforces one of the core truths about business success: it is created “daily,” not “one day.” I’m also launching Women Who WOW “Lite” to reach and impact more women who aren’t ready for our core membership but still need some support to shift their marketing and mindset every day. I can’t wait to see what 2021 brings for women entrepreneurs all over the world.

The topic of this series is ‘Five Strategies I Used To Grow My Business To Reach Seven Figures In Revenue’. Congratulations! Seven figures is really a huge milestone. In your experience what was the most difficult part of being able to hit your first million-dollars in sales revenue?

When I first hit that milestone, I was hustling hard, traveling too much and — even from a very middle class perspective — the bottom line income was disappointing. My overhead was too high and I’d been working in a way that drained me. As soon as I took some time to breathe, I looked at my numbers and realized that while my top line revenue was “impressive,” my take home income was less than the previous year.

At that moment, I decided to go back to working my own way, honoring my own preferences for how I actually made the money that I made, and paying more attention to profit than revenue. It was a critical and empowering moment.

On the way up (then and now) one of the most difficult situations I encountered was how resentful people can be towards those who are succeeding wildly, let alone succeeding on their own terms. This surprised me because I’ve always seen successful people as examples of what was possible for me. I wasn’t jealous or resentful; I was inspired. No green eye of envy, only the red glow of a freshly stoked fire under my butt!! The solution for this is two-fold: stay laser focused on your goals and curate your social circle so that you’re surrounded by cheerleaders rather than nay-sayers.

Could you share the number one sales strategy that you found helpful to help you reach this milestone?

Content marketing, hands down. No matter what you sell, if you aren’t using your own voice to differentiate your work from any and every other option the market could choose, you will find yourself having to compete on price. This is the worst possible position to be in, especially today. When you infuse your marketing with your own unique, authentic voice, the market pays attention. You stand out, build trust and — more importantly — build a preference and demand for your work, so that your market is willing to pay more and even wait in line to buy from you, rather than from a competitor.

Don’t just focus on speaking on or writing for your own stage though. This approach to content marketing is slow and frustrating, often leading one to feel like they’re always talking (and selling) to the same people. Instead, identify other people and brands who are speaking to your market but could benefit from sharing your approach, perspective or process with their people. I call this the OPP approach: Other People’s People.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you or your team made during a sales process? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I’ll never forget meeting with this medi-spa owner when I was selling 1:1 marketing consulting work. Because networking events were never part of my strategy, I guess I was blissfully ignorant about how other people were selling. I remember joking with the owner, saying that “My process works 100% of the time.” Now, the only reason I’d ever even joke about such a thing is because I measure results and when my process isn’t working, I change it. I’m all about pivoting for profit.

But this guy lost his cool and in grand fashion. Evidently, the last two people he paid to help him make more money in his business had said the same thing, but they were serious. And, of course, their process didn’t work after all. Watching his temper tantrum, all I could think to say was, “And you believed them?” He brought me in to help him. We made a few, simple shifts to his messaging and package offers and he soared past his initial financial goals.

Does your company have a sales team? If yes, do you have any advice about how companies can create very high performing sales teams?

We do not have a sales team, however I am very clear when hiring that every member of our team has a sales role. In any lean small business, every aspect of our work affects our members and clients. Even the behind the scenes administrative work impacts how quickly we can roll out new ideas, how confident our members are in referring their friends, and how drawn new potential members are to our brand. This is true of any entrepreneurial endeavor.

Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Strategies I Used To Grow My Business To Reach Seven Figures In Revenue”. Please share a story or an example for each.

Use Direct Mail. While there’s an enormous focus on all things digital these days, the undisputed fact remains that the most profitable companies in the world utilize printed material sent through direct mail. (Even AirBnB came out with a glossy print magazine last year.) When everyone else is relying exclusively on digital communication, show up in a category of one in their mailbox. Consider simple greeting cards to welcome a new client or even a print newsletter to set yourself apart.

Stand on other people’s stages. It would be reasonable to assume that the founder of Facebook has an enviable reach. He owns the platform and can push messages to us at will. Yet, when Zuckerberg needed to address the initial security concerns about the platform back in 2018, he took out full page ads in every state in the country and did a two-hour interview on CNN. This is instructional for the rest of us. In order to expand our reach, we need to regularly seek out other people’s stages and pages as well as keep speaking to those we have access to under our own umbrella.

Measure What Matters. Weight Watchers doesn’t have the absolute best meal plan or the most magical system, but they have a scale and they expect their members to step on it weekly. This commitment to measurement is something we should all replicate. Whatever you measure gets better, whether that’s your weight, your savings account, your sales or your income.

Unfortunately, far too many entrepreneurs fail to regularly measure the things that matter most: sales, conversations, dollars, leads, hours, effort, return. If you are serious about success, you must measure the metrics that matter to you. Otherwise, you’ll never know what’s working and what’s not, so you’ll be confused about when you can pull the plug on an ad or stop attending that networking group. Measurement informs your decisions so that you can course correct in real time to meet your goals.

Have a Daily Habit that Fuels Your Growth. One of the most detrimental habits entrepreneurs can easily fall into is this “one day” mentality. The inconvenient truth is that wild success is created based on what you do everyday, not what you’ll do “one day.” Instead of waiting on that “one day” moment that will catapult you to the very top, take consistent steps daily.

I recommend choosing to fuel your business growth with habits that also fuel you as the entrepreneur. If you fuel your growth with daily habits that drain you, you’ll burn out and find yourself starting over. For example, even though I crossed that magical 7-figure mark, traveling to speak on other people’s stages fueled that quick growth. This drained me and left me feeling unsuccessful regardless of income. Today, my writing fuels my business growth and also fuels me as a female thought leader. When your daily habits do both, you’ll be able to move faster, climb higher and stay longer.

Build Your Business Around You. Building on that last tip, make sure to honor yourself as part of the success equation and build your business around you. Do not ever fall into the thinking that there are certain things you must do in order to be financially successful. I’ve had members who crossed the six-figure mark writing poems. I have worked with women who created impressive income streams curating art for private purchase without ever hosting art shows and real estate agents who refuse to work the weekends. This business of yours is a custom build, so don’t build it in a way where you feel cramped, exhausted or unfulfilled.

What would you advise to another business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth or sales and “restart their engines”?

Absolutely. Business is such a fluid creation. While the feast and famine periods are entirely unnecessary, business does ebb and flow, often in an intimate dance with the owner. So I would ask them where they are feeling uninspired. Where have they lost their own spark and how do we get it back? A business will never outperform its owner, so when you hit a stall, it’s important to identify where you may be going through the motions but without the passion and conviction you once had. To break through any plateau or standstill, it’s important to dream and scheme again.

As for sales, this comes down simply to swinging the bat. How many times are you asking for the sale? Many times, we have no sales simply because we stopped asking for them. So, let’s dream and scheme again so we’re going to market with passion and fire and — of course — generously invite people to work with us. Selling — for entrepreneurs and those we employ — should never be an “event,” but a daily focus.

In your specific industry what methods have you found to be most effective in order to find and attract the right customers? Can you share any stories or examples?

Targeted, consistent, and authentic content marketing. Show up every single day to speak to the market you aim to serve. This does take time and effort (and heart), but the results add up fast. The goal isn’t simply to put up content every day. The goal is to pull back the curtain on the work you do so that more people can see how they are missing out! So, speak to a very specific market, show up every single day as if they are worth talking to (and as if you are worth listening to) and be unapologetically yourself. Your market is not without options, so show them what they get (bedside manner, demeanor, approach, speed, etc.) when they come to you that they will not get anywhere else.

Based on your experience, can you share a few strategies to give your customers the best possible user experience and customer service?

The best strategy really is to use the Golden Rule in your business: treat others the way you’d want to be treated. For example, consider what simple steps would make you feel special and valued at the point of purchase and work that into your sales process. Look through the eyes of your client, patient or customer and identify ways you can make them feel appreciated, supported and important. These little touches, the things that are “unscalable” go a long way towards building your brand, following and business.

As you likely know, this HBR article demonstrates that studies have shown that retaining customers can be far more lucrative than finding new ones. Do you use any specific initiatives to limit customer attrition or customer churn? Can you share some of your advice from your experience about how to limit customer churn?

As an online membership, our churn rate is unbelievably low. In full disclosure, we don’t enroll members with the infamous 1 dollar trial rate or even allow them to pay monthly for access to membership, so our members come in with a higher level of commitment than do most others. But this also allows us to really plug into our members, get to know them over a longer period of time and meet their needs more specifically. I’m proud to be at the helm of a community that is low tech, but high touch and these personal relationships are definitely part of what prevents customer churn.

Wonderful. We are nearly done. Here are the final “meaty” questions of our discussion. You are a person of enormous influence. 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. 🙂

The movement I am here to inspire is one of radical confidence for women. My desire is for women to bet on themselves over any other option, to trust their intuition and to take bold action towards their goals. My purpose is to help create a world in which women aren’t just fully empowered, but fully expressed. I’ve found that entrepreneurial endeavors are a great vehicle to this empowerment, so that’s where I am.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders 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 🙂

Absolutely. I would love to have lunch with Gloria Stienhen and discuss the current state of her “humanist” movement. I’d love to get her take on feminism today and how we can use her core principles to be more accepting and supportive of each other and usher in an even more empowered collective.

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!

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