A commitment to time and action management. Every single to-do list item for my week is put onto my calendar as an appointment I make with myself. Time blocking allows me to clear my mind and not have to remember so many things. This opens me up to creative thinking and problem-solving.
Being a founder, entrepreneur, or business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewingJen DeVore Richter.
Jen DeVore Richter is the former head of advertising and consumer research for NASA at Kennedy Space Center. While there she implemented their first-ever direct response TV advertising campaign helping to make KSC one of the top 5 most visited tourist attractions in Florida.
Jen made the switch from marketing executive to an entrepreneur in 2003 and in 2019 was awarded “Innovator of the Year” for her creation of a direct response marketing concept called the Instant Media Mogul™ “magazine funnel” as well as her contribution to rising female entrepreneurs in “Boss Women Rock” which has over 730 members from around the world in its community.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
My career started in television learning the ropes about media, marketing, and advertising while working for ABC TV. Eventually, I ended up as an executive for NASA at Kennedy Space Center responsible for managing all of the paid advertising campaigns and consumer research projects aimed at attracting tourists from around the globe. Working for NASA was a major highlight in my life because I was surrounded by people committed to excellence at every level all working for a larger mission. It was a very inspiring time and I will be forever grateful for that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but the long hours really started to impact my personal life. Eventually, I left KSC and landed a lucrative job in the pharmaceutical industry that was more friendly to work-life balance, but I still felt like something was missing.
In 2003, I decided to take a chance on myself and began my journey as an entrepreneur. My first business venture was a high-end photography studio. It was a success almost immediately because I didn’t run it as a starving artist, so to speak, I ran it as a money-making venture fueled by my marketing background. This was my introduction to small business and the highs and lows that every entrepreneur faces regardless of their industry. My studio started to get the attention of the professional associations and I was asked to host marketing and sales workshops for photographers and other wedding/event professionals.
After seven years I went back to my marketing roots and opened an agency working with small business owners.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
In 2013 I was struck with a debilitating health challenge that forced me to reinvent my model. Over the next two years, I had four organs removed in three surgeries. Dealing with that challenge showed me that life is too short to be tied to a traditional business model with a big office, partners to compromise with, and employees to manage. I had also fallen into the rut of trading time for money managing website builds and branding projects chasing after clients the traditional way of using the RFP or Request for Proposal model. I decided to reinvent myself once again and started developing my speaking skills, writing books, and building a business that was scalable and could be done from anywhere in the world from my laptop.
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
The gifts and talents I was born with include creativity, problem-solving, and determination. Building on those traits does make me able to thrive along the entrepreneurial journey, but I wouldn’t say I was born an entrepreneur. Growing a business as an entrepreneur can be learned and I did develop the aptitude over time. That said, I did intentionally choose to get a BA degree in Communication Arts/PR and an MA in Business Management to set a solid foundation. From there, I have worked daily for decades to develop the skills they don’t teach you in school that entrepreneurship requires. I invest in coaching, personal development, professional development, and contribute to my professional associations as a board member so I can surround myself with people who are more successful than I with the goal of learning from them.
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
My husband Will has always been my biggest cheerleader traveling with me to speaking engagements when his schedule will allow it, being a sounding board for new ideas, and propping me up when I feel discouraged. As an entrepreneur, it is important to have a spouse that supports your aspirations. This is not a path that can be traveled alone. Having ditched the traditional business model for a home-based business requires that my husband supports my success because he sees the day-in and day-out realities up close and personal.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Getting client results is what makes my company stand out. One of my clients is a consultant in the retail industry which everyone knows has been hit massively hard during the pandemic. After going through my program and using our company’s services during this trying time, she launched a new Attraction Marketing system that is resulting in big contracts in retail despite the challenges. We repackaged her service offerings to meet the new industry trends and clarified her position as the go-to expert in addition to creating evergreen marketing assets that tell her story and demonstrate her value 24/7 without her chasing clients or cold calling.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
The three character traits that were most instrumental to my success are creativity, problem-solving, and determination.
Creative thinking is a superpower as an entrepreneur because the only thing that is constant as a small business owner is change. In 2020, I was able to apply creative thinking strategies to overcome the challenges of having live events being canceled and potentially losing ⅓ of my revenue by building a robust video marketing campaign, hosting live webinars, and speaking for organizations on virtual summits. I set up an entire video studio with lights, cameras, and professional audio equipment to adapt. My tv background has proven to be invaluable during this time.
Problem-solving goes hand in hand with creativity, but to take it a step further, I love the saying “there is no winning and losing, only winning and learning.” Being able to take challenges and look at them from the perspective of what can be learned versus what will be lost is important. It will make you a better problem solver when you can train yourself to look for opportunities. I created the “magazine funnel” service offering by solving a problem for myself first and then started offering it as a service to clients. When I was reinventing myself as a speaker, I wanted to get on stages and build my authority fast without spending tens of thousands on self-publishing a book, so I launched my own magazine. Without selling ad space, I’ve generated multiple six-figures in revenue in the last two years.
After 18 years as an entrepreneur, I have never looked back and regretted giving up my corporate career. Determination and a quest for true freedom have fueled me to get up every day and get better at entrepreneurship and business ownership. This is an important lesson for new entrepreneurs. Treat your business like a job. Get up every day, get dressed, and get to work. Just because you don’t have traditional office hours, set a regular schedule for yourself. Be committed to excellence in everything you do.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
Every experience in our lives (good or bad) leads us to the path we are meant to take. That being said, the worst advice I ever received came from my ex-husband before I was an entrepreneur. He advised me to chase the money and get a job that was lucrative but would not be the best use of my gifts and talents. I followed his advice and ended up miserable for two years working that job. I literally would come home at night and cry in frustration. He would pat me on the back and tell me to suck it up. However, that job was the push I needed into entrepreneurship where I could be truly valued and use my skill set to the full potential.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
In order to avoid “burnout” or overwhelm, it’s important to create a work culture that values the individual as a whole even if you are the only person in your company. When starting a new venture, it’s easy to fall into the trap of overworking. “Hustle” culture is especially dangerous to an individual’s health. When I had my health issues it forced me to reprioritize many things, slow down, and create new processes and systems that would enable me to get the same or a better result with less effort. My business tripled while my effort and hours worked cut in half. It’s possible.
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything you want in life if you just help enough other people get what they want.” This is a mantra to live by. Being a servant leader is the best way to build trust, credibility, and authority. Help without expectation of anything in return. I do this by providing free video content on my YouTube channel, featuring other entrepreneur stories in interviews on the channel and in my magazine, and by serving as a board member for the National Speakers Association — Colorado Chapter where I am the Director of Marketing. I also host free monthly virtual workshops for business owners and lead a community of over 730 members. Give more than you get and you will move from best-kept secret to sought-after expert in no time.
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
It is essential to provide value to your prospects, community, peers, and clients because that is how buying decisions are made in the modern marketplace. Your target audience is made up of human beings with real problems that keep them up at night. They are savvy and skeptical of advertising or pushy marketing techniques. By creating information and marketing the information “you are positioned as a welcome guest and not an unwelcome pest,” as my mentor Dan Kennedy says. When you match your marketing to the way that people buy, you build in the know-like-trust factor quickly and more effectively while spending less. Those are valuable benefits that are a win-win for all involved.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
The most common mistakes I have seen new entrepreneurs make is that they don’t have a clear Market Dominating Position, they don’t have a unique offer, and they ignore “future” buyers in search of “now” buyers. A great example of a Marketing Dominating Position is Domino’s pizza and the 30-minute guarantee they used to gain massive market share in the 1990s. They didn’t promise to use the finest ingredients, but they did promise fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less. That one guarantee became the backbone of their marketing campaigns for many years when delivery was a new concept.
Having a unique and Irresistible Offer is another low-cost strategy that is important, but a costly mistake if not done correctly. I love to watch late-night infomercials to see the “But, wait! There’s more!” offers to see what’s working in real-time. Even if you don’t sell products on TV, you can still build in great offers to make it a no-brainer for people to want to do business with you. For example, if you’re a consultant you could include complimentary access to your online course, send your clients a “Wow Box” with free gifts, or offer a free seat on your virtual mastermind. All of these ideas are low-cost but will have a high impact on your clients’ perception of value.
There is a concept called the Buyer’s Journey which is applicable to any business no matter what you sell and who you sell it to. Basically, the Buyer’s Journey is the process that your customers, clients, or patients take that moves them from being a Future Buyer to a Soon-to-Buy Buyer to a Now Buyer. Only 1% of the population is what we consider a “Now Buyer” meaning they are actively looking to hire someone like you to solve their problem. 99% of the population is at the beginning of the process and needs the right information at the right time on the right media to help them make buying decisions. Ignore the 99% at your own peril for you will miss out on major revenue opportunities if you do.
Those three strategies alone are absolutely necessary to any service-based business and should not be missed.
Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?
No matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows because success is a moving target. For example, a common first goal is to make the first sale, then make 100K dollars, then it becomes to scale to seven figures, then “10X”, and then potentially sell. Because the goal is always moving, the highs and lows reset at each stage and many, many times in between. I live in Denver and we have a joke that we have all four seasons here, sometimes even on the same day. You never know what you’re going to get. The same is true for entrepreneurs. Every day on this journey will be filled with extremes, so be ready for anything.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
The best feeling I’ve had to date was when I met my goal of becoming a paid keynote speaker and received a standing ovation at one of my first engagements. The program was for a Chamber of Commerce women’s leadership conference. I had put so much effort into crafting my message, fine tuning my program, and writing the companion book. It was an amazing experience to receive such immediate feedback! I literally teared up with gratitude as I walked off stage. I will never forget that moment.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
The lowest and vulnerable I have felt as a result of my business was when I was recovering from one of my many surgeries during my health crisis in 2013. I was stuck in the house for 30 days recovering. One day, I had an intuitive feeling that I had to close the office and start over with a better business model. Because I had built my client base solely on my personal network, I lost everything when my fledgling business came to a screeching halt because I didn’t have a scaleable, unique offer that other people could sell. It was a case of the “cobbler’s child who has no shoes” because I had not built my attraction marketing systems to generate leads on autopilot. While that realization was one of the worst moments in my career, it was also the best because it forced me to reexamine how I was working. Without that experience, I would not be where I am today.
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
To bounce back, I applied what I learned from managing million-dollar campaigns for big brands to my small business. I took the very best marketing strategies that most other small businesses think are too expensive to implement and used them to my advantage. I built my authority and began writing books, speaking on stages, publishing magazines, sharing content on social media, creating videos every week, and most importantly, building my email list of “future buyers.” I don’t do anything that can’t be scaled. I focused on owning my own media. It was a strategic combination of the right principles in the right order at the right time that led to my success.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.
The five things you need to successfully ride the emotional highs and lows of being an entrepreneur are:
- A “why” that is bigger than making money. There are going to be challenging days where you feel like giving up. If you have a purpose larger than you or just financial gain, that will be the fuel that keeps you going.
- A mentor that you can model or follow. Success leaves clues. It’s faster to follow in the footsteps of someone who has gone before you.
- A community of people with a variety of backgrounds, perspectives and experiences. You are the five people you spend the most time with, so choose wisely.
- A commitment to time and action management. Every single to-do list item for my week is put onto my calendar as an appointment I make with myself. Time blocking allows me to clear my mind and not have to remember so many things. This opens me up to creative thinking and problem-solving.
- Your health. Taking care of your body, mind, and spirit is your top priority. You can only perform and produce at a high level if you are operating at peak performance.
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience is the ability to commit to a goal and see it through no matter what. Resilient people believe that there is no such thing as failure. Tony Robbins describes failure as feedback. It’s just information that you can use to make different decisions to improve upon what you’ve tried. Also, resilient people recognize that their worth is not found in what they do (or don’t do) it is found in simply who they are.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
The biggest factor growing up that contributed to my resilience is the fact that I come from a military family. My father was a Lt. Colonel in the United States Air Force. We moved six times before I turned 18 including being born in the UK and living in Germany before moving to the states at age eight. Being the new girl in school every couple of years taught me to adapt quickly to new cultures, new environments, new people, and new situations while still being true to myself.
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
During difficult situations, I do try to keep a positive attitude. Instead of asking “why is this happening to me?” I reframe the conversation to “what can I learn from this?” That simple repositioning is very helpful. Also, I try to remember that if you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not growing. There is always something to be learned even in trying times.
Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.
The reason why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team is that energy is contagious. If you as a leader want great results and great relationships, you need to be great. Seeing the best in people and always keeping a servant leader attitude in deed and word will do wonders for your business.
As a business coach and marketing consultant to small business owners, I have seen entrepreneurs struggle on an entirely different level since March 2020. This year has been challenging for a myriad of reasons and has impacted each person differently. Instead of shrinking back and going into a negative space, I decided to do something about it and launched a virtual mastermind. Our group meets every other Monday. In preparation for each call, I have to first work on my attitude and ensure that the energy I’m showing up with sets the tone for the meeting. I know that me having a positive attitude will be felt by each member. My members have experienced major breakthroughs due to shifting their energy into what can be done and not focusing on what can’t be done.
Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
My favorite quote that motivates me to pursue greatness is Zig Ziglar, “You can have everything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want.”
If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to become an expert at problem-solving. When you can see the world from another person’s perspective and consider what they need to help them get to where they are going, you become highly valued.
This approach is relevant to my own life because it inspired me to create the Boss Women Rock program for aspiring entrepreneurs. After meeting thousands of business owners at women’s leadership conferences, I started to see and hear their struggles. But, instead of thinking about what I could take from them, I switched my mindset to what I could give to them and my business skyrocketed into new levels of success.
How can our readers further follow you online?
The best way to follow me online is on my YouTube channel www.YouTube.com/jendevorerichter.
I release two new videos every week with Attraction Marketing tips and strategies. I also have inspiring success story interviews with six and seven-figure entrepreneurs who have overcome the obstacles that hold us back.
For LinkedIn connections, you will find me at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenrdevore/
Also, if you are an aspiring entrepreneur, please join my free Facebook community open to both men and women at https://www.facebook.com/groups/BossWomenRockSuccess.
Connect with her at www.JenDeVore.rocks
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!