14 Jun June 14, 2019 – Social Proof Jessica Zimmerman, Brave Workplace Moe Carrick and Modern Dr. Dolittle Rachel Augusta
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I don’t follow anyone else in my industry on social media. I am not distracted by how they are doing things.
Jessica Zimmerman, founder of Zimmerman Events, is on a mission to help creative entrepreneurs turn their passion into a wildly profitable business. But she didn’t start out that way. Jessica was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy working 16 hour days, with a daughter at home who barely knew her mother, infant twin sons, and an ill-husband who lost his job. From broke to boss, she took massive action. After successfully scaling a 6-figure floral design company designing $100,000 weddings that attracted A-list celebrity clients, Jessica scaled to 7-figures in one year – with no advertising and no affiliates – working less than 30 hours per week.
Moe Carrick – Consultant and Best-Selling Author of Fit Matters: How to Love Your Job
We know our companies through our immediate boss, so if I am a front line supervisor, the person who matters the most for me spending some time with that employee is actually me as their immediate supervisor.
Moe Carrick is on a mission to help people thrive at work. She’s passionate about creating workplaces that work for them messy, complex, and delightful human beings. Moe believe that organizations from all sectors can and should be a force for good, and that the way we work with one another matters far more than we even fully understand. “Together” means everything at work because the social capital that exists between people at work is what solves problems, greats innovation and gets results. In her years consulting to companies, Moe have heard story after story of people being miserable at work. When we are suffering at work, we cannot possibly bring our best. Companies — and the individual people who work there — simply do better when the fit is right. She founded Moementum, Inc., a Certified B-Corp, in 2001, and believe business can and should be a force for good.
Rachel Augusta – Modern Dr. Dolittle
Animals are highly telepathic which means that they read images and humans when we talk and when we think, we create images.
Rachel Augusta Rachel Augusta works with animals around the world who are sick, injured, diseased or suffering from old age or trauma from past abuse.
Highlights from Jessica’s Interview
Without going into just a ton of detail, the short version is that I always knew that I wanted to own my own business. My sister died when I was little, when I was three years old. And I grew up with a mom who, after her oldest daughter died, she was left with me. And she poured all of her energy, her heart and soul into the one remaining child, and I realized when I left to go to college, what a struggle that was for her, what a hard time she had. And I realized it was because she didn’t have anything that was her own. She put everything into me, and then I left. As we naturally do.
I knew that I would one day want to be a mom, that I would want to be as present as a mom as my mom was to me, but that I also needed something that was mine. That was my own. And that that was okay. And I didn’t know what that was. I didn’t really care that much what the business was, I just wanted it to be my own. I wanted to be able to take my kids to school, pick them up from school, go on vacation whenever I wanted, and not have to ask permission. I don’t do real well with that.
And so I wanted to learn business. I went to the University of Arkansas, I got a degree in Communications. And I don’t really think that it was necessary in the path that I have chosen to take, but I did do that. After college, I said, “You know what, I’m going to be a wedding planner.” I made up a business card, and I sat on the couch for a year. Because I knew nothing about marketing, I knew nothing. I just thought “Well, the business card’s printed, people should be calling.” But they didn’t.
After that, I decided I’m going to go learn how to do business from the only person that I know who’s done it well. I live in a small town in Arkansas, Conway, Arkansas, and there’s a store here. They it’s called a kitchen store. They did this little retail store, and they did really well with it. So I went to them. And I said, “Can you teach me how to run my own business?” And they taught me everything they knew. It was a wonderful experience.
When the time came where there was really nothing else for me to learn, I left and I ended up buying a business called Southern Tradition, which was a rental company. They did rentals for weddings and events. And that was such an interesting time, because I thought, “Well, gosh, I’m having full circle moments already at 28 years old. I thought I was going to be a wedding planner, and sat on the couch for a year. And looky here, I ended up buying this wedding business.”
I thought that I was going to come in, and I was going to change things, and it was going to be amazing. What I realized is, I didn’t know what I was doing. There were things that I had learned from that kitchen store experience. However, there was so much that you just don’t know until you get in the game, until you start. I was paying people incorrectly. I didn’t know how to manage my time efficiently. I was up here, and I was working at my studio 18 hours a day. And I had nothing to show for it. I felt like a fraud, because people would say, “How’s business?” and I would say it was great, when really I didn’t know if I was going to be able to pay payroll the next day. It was really a horrible time.
I had my daughter, and I came home one day, and it was about eight months after she was born. I reached for her, and she didn’t want to come to me. And I realized, she didn’t want to come to me, because I’m never here. I’m working all the time. And that was the point where I had to reevaluate and go, “This is not why you went into business for yourself, you didn’t do this so that you would be working all the time, and having nothing to show for it.”
At this time, my husband was the sole provider. Every single dollar that I made, went back into the business, and then I quickly lost it somehow. So I made some adjustments at that point. I got rid of rentals, I ended up just doing flowers, because I realized, even though the revenue stream coming in isn’t as great, the cost was much less for me. That was my first aha moment into, “Okay, it’s really not about the amount of revenue you bring in. It’s about what you’re spending, and then what your profit is,” which you would think I would have known that by then. But I really didn’t until I took the time to sit down and analyze the numbers.
I think that’s the problem when most people dive into their own business, or they just get right into entrepreneurship. They’re always on to the next big idea, instead of looking at what’s going on, and analyzing the data, and saying, “Here’s what works and what doesn’t.” It’s actually much simpler than we think it is.
I did that, I ended up having the surprise of my life, and getting pregnant with twin boys. And about six weeks after I gave birth to my twin boys, my husband got very ill very, very ill to the point where we were in and out of the hospital several times that year. I was told to prepare myself to go to the Mayo Clinic. And at that point, I had a two-year-old daughter and newborn twin boys. And I got this overwhelming feeling that he was probably going to lose his job, because he wasn’t able to work. Here is someone who for 11 years, had fully financially supported me. And I looked at him, sick in a hospital bed, and my three babies and I said, “You have to get serious. You no longer can play around, and pretend like this little side hobby is a business. You have to make it a business.” And that’s what I did. I learned everything I could; I got serious about it. And in seven years, I built a seven figure business.
It was lack of experience, I think. And I think honestly, it was a little bit of ego. When I first had the intention of learning from the people at this kitchen store, that was a great experience, I learned certain things, but I know I certainly didn’t learn everything that goes into running your own business, nor do I think you really can until you’re in it. I learned things about inventory, and how to work with buyers, and how to deal with customer service and sales. But I didn’t know how to work with employees, how to pay them properly, that there are different pay structures other than paying someone an hourly rate. I didn’t realize that that’s where almost all of my money was going. I was paying employees hourly rates, and they were having to work overtime, and it never dawned on me that there could maybe be a different pay structure, and that could actually be more motivating.
There’s just so many things that go into it that, and I think you know, once you own your own business, there’s a little bit of ego at the beginning to be totally honest. I have a building in downtown. It’s beautiful building, and it’s 6000 square feet. And I was insistent that I be in the whole building, all 6000 square feet of it. And it’d be named Zimmerman on the front of the storefront, where all the traffic is and everything. It wasn’t until I really sat down and looked at the numbers and said, “You know, if you will rent that space out, this is going to take care of such a huge problem that you have financially.”
And it really took taking a moment, and sitting down, and really looking at how is the money coming in? How is it going out? Where can we make changes that are going to make me more profitable? I think honestly, that one change alone, and showing how different the profit could be, and how I could actually bring home money, it really made me start to analyze everything and go, “Is this necessary? Is this necessary?” And how can we work together, not harder, in every single way.
It built from there. I learned bad things about, or I had negative experiences with a couple of employees. And that just taught me the hard way how to hire really smart from the time I had that experience. I’ve never had anyone quit, or I’ve never had to fire anyone, or anything like that, since that one bad experience. Changing my mindset and shifting it to, instead of something bad happening, and looking at it in a perspective of why is this happening to me, really taking any of those experiences, and going what am I supposed to learn from this? What did I not like about this experience? And how can I make sure it never happens again? And then I just became way more efficient, way more productive. I decided that I’m only going to do the things in my business that I’m good at, and that I love, and that I have a passion for. And then I’m going to hire out all of the other things, and outsource those so that this business can run properly, and that we can have as many strengths on the team as possible. I think it’s just a bit of experience. And there was a bit of ego involved at first, which thankfully, as you get older, that stuff goes away.
The first jump happened in 2016, the beginning of that year, I really started to analyze data. I really started to record everything, all of the revenue that was coming in, and not just have it on the computer, but take time every year to analyze it, and figure out what to do with it. And what I realized was the month of June and the month of October were our two busiest months of the year. So I started to go, when you travel, when you go on a vacation, there’s high seasons, and there’s low seasons. I might want to go to St. Bart’s, and the resort I want to stay at might be three times as much one month than it is at another time in the year. And I thought, what if I did that with weddings?
I think a key to this is really hard for a lot of people, but it really isn’t that hard for me. And I think it’s because it boils down to needing to be as efficient as possible. I don’t follow anyone else in my industry, like on social media, or anything. So I’m not distracted by how are they doing this? I need to be doing it this way. I really think about it as if I’m the only wedding business there is, and how can I do better?
In this situation, it was just, “Okay, what if I decided that on the month of June and October that my minimum was higher.” At that point, I had a $3,000 minimum, typically to work with a couple. And this was just on flowers at this time. I decided that for the months of June and October, anyone who inquired, I was going to say our minimum is $10,000. I remember that I had read something, I wish I knew who it was by or what it was, but it was something along the lines of, “If you don’t ever set that boundary, if you don’t ever make that decision, you’re never really going to grow.” You’re going to keep taking these $3,000 winnings, and then there’s never going to be an opportunity for a $10,000 one, because you’ve said yes to all the threes. And so I made that decision.
I got an inquiry for an October wedding. This was in April of 2016. And they said that their budget was $8,000. And, man, I wanted to take that, because I hadn’t done a lot of $8,000 floral orders at this point. I wanted to take it so bad. But I said to myself, you have got to stick to that boundary that you set. So I emailed back. I said if you can raise it $2,000, then I will gladly accept this. And they said no. I thought that I had made the biggest mistake. But the very next week, I got an email, and it was an inquiry from a from a couple. They inquired about the exact same date that the $8,000 bride had inquired about, and that ended up being my first six figure wedding. That is what catapulted me into karma. Weird karma.
Isn’t that crazy? When you decide, and when you put out there, “I want more, I want better, I want to do more.” When you do that, you can’t just say that, you have to act on it. And I think the fact that I just stuck to my guns and I did that, that is why that came along. If I had said yes to that $8,000 inquiry, I would not have been able to take on that six figure client.
I noticed I was very smart in my marketing with that. I had a videographer come and video me behind the scenes, doing this wedding and producing it. It was the first wedding that I fully produced, meaning I did all the planning as well. I took that on because, I honestly didn’t really want to. Maybe this is a little ego too. But I didn’t want to work with anyone else on it. I wanted our team to head this up, because I knew that we could, I knew we were capable of doing something great. We just needed the opportunity. And now here’s the opportunity. And I knew we were prepared for this, and success can’t happen until preparation and opportunity meet, and it had happened. I just knew that we had to give it everything. And we did, and we had such a great experience with it. We got some press with that.
Out of that, I was asked to go speak at a retreat for wedding professionals, which is where I met a Nashville, Tennessee wedding planner, Jessica Sloane. She had a client in Nashville who was getting married, and because we had met at that retreat, she contacted me and said, “Hey, they’re getting married in Arkansas. You’re the only person that I know in Arkansas. You want to do the flowers?” I said, “Absolutely.” And that’s how that happened.
With weddings, when we finally figured out how to do this as a business, and how to really make money doing it. I had a year that I made $480,000 off of three weddings, and I thought, at the time, my passion for weddings wasn’t really there anymore.
But I was talking to people, and I was mentoring people, who still had this great passion for weddings. And I thought what if I wrote down what I’ve learned, and my exact business model, like maybe that might help some people. At the time, this was the beginning of 2017, April 2017. I think I had 700 people on a newsletter list. I had less than 3000 Instagram followers. And I made $40,000 on this course that I wrote. I thought I would sell it one time, and be done with it.
When I started to get the testimonies–I never even asked for testimony–I didn’t know to do that. I didn’t know anything. I look back at that first launch, and it’s so funny, because I knew nothing. I just thought this could be helpful. But people would start emailing me and messaging me, and saying how this had really changed their life. And so I thought, “Okay, well, we’ve got to share it again.”
My business has transitioned now from doing weddings to teaching people how you have a wedding business that is successful or a creative business that is successful. Like I said, I didn’t have a huge following. And I still don’t, I’m still what they consider a micro-influencer. And I thought, yeah, I’m good at sales. But I’m asking a lot of money for this thing. I am asking $2,000 for this course, and I can sell it all day. But at the end of the day, people are going to want to hear these transformation stories, like that transformation story that someone emailed me. That’s what made me want to sell it again. I knew how powerful that was.
Now, what we started doing at first was emailing and saying, “Hey, could you give us a testimony? We’d love to put it out there.” I realized, first of all, that it takes a lot of time, and that a lot of people don’t want to. It’s not that they don’t want to give you a testimony. It’s just, we’ve all been in those situations where we go to the grocery store, and they give you a receipt, and they say, “If you go to the this website and take a survey,” it’s like, we’re not going to do that, we’re busy. We don’t have time. And a lot of my audience is, they’re moms, and they’ve got two businesses, and they’re busy.
I set a goal to have 100 testimonies by my 2018 course launch. And I thought, “How on earth am I going to do that?” And it just came to me one day, I said, “Let’s make a link, just like on a form survey, where it just says, Here’s your name, what did the business Behind the Blooms mean for you, upload your picture.” And we make it as simple as that, but I realized you really do have to give someone an incentive to do that. And I wanted honest reviews. If you don’t like it, tell me if you love it, tell me whatever. But what we ended up doing is, we sent that link via email to all of our students who had gone through the course. And we just said, “Listen, I have a couple of weddings next year, I’ll fly you in to help me with those. You can have one-on-one experience with me, behind the scenes, producing an actual wedding, and work with the Zimmerman team, and see how we do this. I’m going to make a selection.” I think it was 14 people from the people who filled out this survey, this link. And from that I made the selection.
I had the three weddings that I was doing that year. I charge my clients setup and delivery. I ended up, instead of paying regular contract laborers to come in and do the wedding with me, I ended up using that money to fly students in. So they did two things for me that easily got me over 100 testimonies, because they wanted the chance to come and work with our team. And then I took it a step further. I said, I’m going to have 14 students here, so I had a videographer come. And he did video testimonies of them. And I think that video testimony did a tremendous service to us in selling what we sold in 2018. So really just thinking outside the box.
The first thing that you can do, if you are a listener and are like man, I need to get efficient, and I need to get productive with my work day. That’s something I’ll say that I’ve mastered, you can text JimPodcast, all one word, to 44244222. That’s going to give you a free download of mine. That is all of my efficiency and productivity tips. And also just going to ZimmermanEvents.com. You will be able to find everything there is to know about me, and then the business BehindtheBlooms.com. That’s my course, and all of my information with that.