Strong values — I think it’s important to know what you stand for so that you don’t make bad choices when things are tough in business. I’m all about integrity and that’s helped guide me when I’ve been offered opportunities that I might otherwise have taken in business when things were tough but for me, it’s morals over money, and having those strong values has helped.
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 interviewing Lisa Johnson.
Lisa Johnson is a self-made multi-millionaire business strategist specializing in helping entrepreneurs scale their businesses using passive income from memberships and courses. After a tough childhood spent in social housing, Lisa went on to have successful careers in law, banking, and the entertainment industry. Her background in overcoming obstacles has helped mold her into a bold, straight-talking coach, who is never afraid to be an authentic and outspoken truth-teller.
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?
I was working in a great corporate role in an investment bank when I got pregnant with twins and went back to work when they were only months old. I soon realized that wasn’t going to work for me as I never saw them so instead got a 9–5 job as a personal assistant near to my home. I was bored pretty quickly at work so started a business while there as a wedding planner. At first, I lost money as I knew so little about business but eventually that business became successful. A few years later people were constantly asking me for business advice and so I set up my consultancy to tell people what I’d learned. I found I had a natural ability to teach complex business concepts in an easy-to-understand way and the business thrived really quickly. However, after a year I realized I had the wrong business model. I didn’t have the freedom I wanted serving 1–1 clients all day so I started to look for a new way of doing things.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
I forgot to pick my kids up from school. They were 6 and I got a phone call from the school saying they were waiting! I had become so busy with client work I’d not realized the time. There is no guilt like seeing their sad little faces when I collected them and that day I knew I wasn’t doing 1–1 work anymore. I needed something that would make me more money but needed less of my time. I then heard a podcast about passive income streams and jumped right in, learning everything I could. At the end of year 1, I was making $220k but working 80 hours a week. After adding in the semi-passive income streams like courses and memberships at the end of year 2 I was working 30 hours a MONTH and earning over $1M. It changed everything and now I help others do the same.
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
I didn’t think I was an entrepreneur but looking back that was because I didn’t know anybody that had their own business. I grew up on welfare in an estate where money was scarce. But I was reminded recently by my sister that I was washing cars for money at 7 years old, an Avon lady at 15, and buying and selling at 16 so maybe it was in me all along!
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?
Where I worked as a PA my boss was an amazing woman called Geeta who led in a way I really admired. She wasn’t ruthless or walking all over everybody else to succeed as I’d been led to believe you had to be. She was graceful, fair, and inspiring. She told me that I was smart and could do so much more. And so I did. She had a huge impact on me and still does.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think we stand out because we act always with honesty and integrity always. There’s a lot of rubbish online. A lot of misleading and pushy selling in the coaching industry and right from the start I knew I wanted to show the realities of owning a business. The times it’s not all fun and games and so I did, even when my own mentors told me it wasn’t a good idea to show that level of vulnerability. But that breeds trust and so my followers and clients are loyal. We stand out because we decided not to just be like everybody else.
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?
Resilience — this is so needed. There are going to be so many times in business that you want to give up because it’s too hard. You have to have that resilience to get back up again.
A thick skin — I’ve had competitors try to sabotage me, people copy everything I do, trolling. It’s part and parcel of being visible online and I’ve had to develop a thick skin because of it.
Curiosity — most of my successes have happened because of me asking ‘what if?’ In 2020 when people were telling me not to launch because nobody had any money, I asked ‘what if we did?’ We did a $2m launch in a week because we had a product people needed. Be curious and don’t follow the crowd.
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 mentor I had in the first year told me I must do 1–1 first. Now I know that business model doesn’t suit the life I want to lead so why do it? I have plenty of my own clients that start the one-to-many model straight away because it suits them. I wish I hadn’t wasted a year doing something I wasn’t particularly suited to. I’m a big believer in choosing a business model that works for you.
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? What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
Be real and don’t hide behind your brand. Get rid of the curated social media feed and tell your clients the truth. Transparency is so important. I love the phrase ‘show don’t tell’ too — instead of telling people who you are and what your values are, show them!
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
The world is waking up to how fake so much of what we see online is and we can choose to be part of the problem where we post lives that don’t show the entire truth and make others feel inadequate or we become the change-makers that show that you can be flawed and successful.
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?
They aren’t clear on their strategy. It’s easy not to be because when you look at others you can often feel like you need to be doing what they are doing when it comes to marketing but actually jumping from one thing to the other doesn’t help. And being consistent in whatever you decide to do is really important. It takes longer than you think!
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”?
When you have your own business, there’s emotion tied in with it. As the founder there always will be so when things don’t work or when things are amazing, you’ll feel it so much more than if you were a regular employee. What I’ve found helps these dramatic highs and lows is to think of yourself as the CEO, separate from the actual business so that you can look at things more clearly.
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.
In year 3 of my business when everybody was panicking about whether businesses would survive a pandemic, we felt it too. It was scary and we decided to launch a program anyway to help people pivot and put courses and memberships out. We had no idea what would happen because so many launches were failing from our peers because of the economy. In the first 24 hours, we brought in over $1m. I couldn’t quite believe it. We doubled it over the week. I was so excited — not just about what the money could do for the business but also about how many people I was going to be able to help survive the crisis.
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.
In the first year of my business, a competitor who had been in the industry for years felt threatened by me and decided to attack me and my business online. She had a few friends in the industry and all of them grouped together to put out posts about me on the Internet. I nearly quit. I didn’t think I was strong enough to cope with that kind of thing because I’d been bullied badly as a child. But then I realized that for things like that to change, it will take people like me to change it.
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
I used the negativity to fuel my success. That’s the title of my Tedx talk I’m giving in October because showing others who have been bullied that they can still become successful is so important to me.
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.
- A support team — one of the things that have really helped is having people I can talk to when things have gotten hard. I have a mindset coach who I can’t do without. Sometimes you just need to rant to someone who understands.
- A life outside of the online business world — I have really found a new appreciation for my friends and family who don’t see me as someone they know in business. I find trust hard online and so love having people that know me with no agenda or anything they can ‘gain’ from knowing me. They also ground me when I’ve done something huge in business and remind me that my business is not all of who I am.
- An outlet — have something you do to escape when things get tough. I watch films, some people paint. It’s good to be able to walk away every now and again.
- A mentor that has been where you are — in business you can feel sometimes like you need some direction and it’s hard to know where to go for advice. Having someone I can call who I know will have gone through similar business challenges has really helped me.
- Strong values — I think it’s important to know what you stand for so that you don’t make bad choices when things are tough in business. I’m all about integrity and that’s helped guide me when I’ve been offered opportunities that I might otherwise have taken in business when things were tough but for me, it’s morals over money, and having those strong values has helped.
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 a determination not to give up when it gets hard. I believe the biggest characteristic of a resilient person is that they don’t believe in failure. They see failure as learning and so it doesn’t stall them. It’s hugely important. I don’t know a single successful business owner who hasn’t ‘failed’ at one time.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
Yes, I was bullied badly at school. I got a scholarship to a private school when I was 11 and I was the only poor kid there so was bullied from day 1. I grew to be resilient because I had to and that’s definitely helped me now. If there’s an obstacle, I’ll find a way around it!
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
I sulk for a while and then pick myself back up. I am pretty positive generally. I try to remember during difficult situations that life goes up and down and we never know what’s just around the corner.
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?
I have a mantra during difficult times that I say to myself: This Too Shall Pass. Everything does. When things are difficult, they’re only like that for so long. I started it as a teenager when things were tough and it’s never left me!
How can our readers further follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!