What started out as the worst in Jennifer Allwood’s career eventually turned into the best. In 2000 she was fired from her software development job.
“I burst into tears,” says Allwood. “Until I realized I was grieving for a job I really hated.” What she loved was her nightly sideline: Using paint to transform the kitchen cabinets of her neighbors in Kansas City, Missouri, from monotonous to fabulous. That December, Allwood decided to swap a pager and tights for brushes and coveralls – all day.
Allwood started her painting business as a part-time business with annual sales of $ 90,000. She ran a thriving interior painting business until 2014, generating several six-figure revenues each year. That was enough to support her, her family of five (now six!), And a team of painters. But it was a massive drain on her energy and time. She burned the candle on both ends and offered her clients painting and design services for the home, answering business questions one by one via email to each entrepreneur who turned to her wondering how she saw so much success. Something had to change. Fortunately, she found two perfect solutions to her new problem.
Now Jennifer Allwood is a creative business coach who runs a seven-figure company each year. She is the author of the best-selling book Fear is not your boss.
This business coach for creatives has developed from a layoff to a multimillionaire who has time. For similar success, follow their advice.
Stephanie Burns: Some people are making the leap into entrepreneurship while others are pushed. You already had a successful part-time business when you were laid off. Why not take the plunge earlier?
Jennifer Allwood: I’ve always been taught to do “responsible adult things”: get a well-paying job with a matching 401k and paid time off, work hard for a raise every year, and then have fun after you retire. I knew I wanted more out of life, but I was too scared to leave this safety blanket alone. Getting released was incredibly stressful for a while. I remember lying in bed at night with my stomach knotted. But it was the only thing that made me evaluate what I really wanted in my life and gave me the opportunity to strive for it.
Burns: How did you get your business going as a busy mom?
Allwood: When I started the painting company I didn’t have any children, but I got pregnant the first year. Our budget was tight. But tight spots often offer great opportunities. I was desperate not to have to go back to a 9 to 5 desk job so I got scratchy. I’ve visited every designer I could have in person and if I couldn’t get them in person I would give them a call. By 2014, I had three children, my husband worked long days in his corporate sales job and I felt like there was just not enough return on our bank account for the number of hours I worked. After taxes, tithing, and paying my contractors, nothing seemed to be left. So I got scratchy again. I took what I was doing at clients’ homes and started teaching online tutorials on the same processes to my social media audience. The videos alone were six figures in just one year. If, as an entrepreneur, you have the feeling that the wheels are about to get off the bus and you are not seeing any results, think about what you are good at offline or one-to-one and how you can and do get it online it’s one too many.
Burns: As a business owner, it’s really easy to get thin while trying all the things. How can we rationalize and still be massively successful?
Allwood: Like many women at the moment, especially at the age of COVID-19, in my second year of business I found that I just didn’t have enough hours a day to be a mom, to be a woman, to run a business and still have energy for everything else left. I quickly learned to outsource things that didn’t need me. I hired other painters and trained them as I wanted. Then, after a few years, I hired someone to help me with email and administration. Do you want to control every single thing Your business comes from a place of pride in thinking no one can do it as well as you. I’ve traded my ego back for my time and this is a deal that pays off!
Burns: What made you decide to start a membership site in the first place?
Allwood: After I started selling tutorials online, so many people reached out to me online. They asked for advice because they saw my social media and saw my business blown up. At first I didn’t want a membership group because I didn’t consider myself a teacher. But I knew that I could reach more people in a paid group than with one-to-one classes. The one-to-one business model works for some, but if you can move your business to a one-to-many model, you can scale up significantly and free up more time for your personal life. I can work when I want and I can step back and become a mother when my family needs me.
Burns: How did you get your membership page from 500,000 to 2 million in just one year?
Allwood: For a couple of years I ran membership on an open cart model, which means people can join anytime for $ 47 a month. But I felt like we just couldn’t get over that $ 500,000 per year hump that I’d been trying to overcome for a long time. On the advice of business trainer and member guru Stu McLaren, I opted for a closed car model that we only accepted a few times a year. We told my audience that we would complete the registration and over that 10 day period we added 1,100 new paying members which paved the way for my company. Often times you have customers who cannot make a decision. So if you can force them to act, you’ll be amazed how many will finally take a step and sign up!
Burns: How did you work to keep members in the group?
Allwood: I refined the content that I shared. People cancel a membership when they feel they cannot keep up with the teachings and are overwhelmed. Instead of bombarding my members with content, I reminded myself that less is more. I also created high-touch listings. Sometimes people need a counselor more than group coaching. For people who haven’t gotten enough of membership, I’ve given them the option to upgrade to a more intense and expensive option.
Burns: Are membership sites for everyone? How did you find out they are for you?
Allwood: In my coaching I teach seven different ways in which you can make money online. It depends on where your business is currently, what skills you have, and what the business you are looking to build is like. For some people, a membership group doesn’t work, and that’s fine. I found out they were for me because I love showing up for my clients consistently and it also provides a steady income that I love too. I’ve been teaching one-to-one for a while and it felt so hard to me. I was exhausted from so many calls. And often when you do something that feels so heavy or when you literally fear it, it can often be a sign for you that it is time to turn.
Burns: Given how much we’ve all turned in the past year, what advice do you have for entrepreneurs to stay profitable and now grow to seven numbers?
Allwood: The biggest key to staying profitable is watching what consumers are doing. Years ago when I saw everyone coming to Facebook – but I realized that not many people were using Facebook for business purposes – I gave it a go. Now, if you observe people’s buying habits, they still use social media, but they also buy through email and they also enjoy text marketing. Watch your ideal customers, find out where they are and what they need, and then get creative on how to meet them where they are and deliver what they need to a way that feels good to you.
The second key is to offer your customers different options. Some people are looking for a closer touch and those people pay more to have more access to you. Instead of giving your customers a one-size-fits-all solution, think of several ways you can help them while also making sure it is a smart business decision.