The Life Of An Entrepreneur: Interview With Meg Barnhart – The CEO Of The Zen Of Slow Cooking

Meg Barnhart originally began her career in the hospitality industry which eventually led to trade show management. One of her early careers was working on the Fancy Food Show on behalf of the Specialty Food Association. After she had children, she began her own business but by 1998 with the birth of her third child, she decided to put a pause on her career to look after her 3 children who were under the age of 5 and her middle son, Doug, who was diagnosed as developmentally delayed. Meg spent the next several years helping him learn how to navigate Doug’s world which eventually led to the creation of the “zen of slow cooking.”

MoneyCentral Magazine recently caught up with Meg to talk about her entrepreneurial journey and here’s what went down:

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

I began my career in the hospitality industry which eventually led to trade show management. In fact, one of my early careers was working on the Fancy Food Show on behalf of the Specialty Food Association. After I had my children I began my own business but by 1998 with the birth of my third child, I decided to put a pause on my career for a couple of reasons. The first reason was the simple fact of having 3 children under the age of 5 and the second reason was my middle son, Doug, was diagnosed as developmentally delayed when he was thirteen months old.

I spent the next several years helping him learn how to navigate his world. In 2010, I started studying what life would look for him when he transitioned out of school and found that only 24.5% of adults with developmental challenges were employed. I couldn’t envision a world where he couldn’t shine his light and decided to create a business for him which eventually led to the creation of the zen of slow cooking.

Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?

My business partner, Jane McKay, and I began the business in 2012 with the intention of helping home cooks find success and a little Zen while creating employment for adults with employment barriers. We have stayed completely focused on both of those dreams and am happy to say that is the source of our success. I wasn’t sure we would come this far when we began, but keeping our intention pure has made the entire journey very rewarding.

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

We’re out in the markets all the time to build our retail channel. We are also working on a strategic plan to build a more robust presence online.

What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?

We haven’t done anything beyond Facebook ads. We focus on supporting non-profits with product donations to spread the word.

What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?

Aligning our energy with causes that we are passionate about. By simply staying true to our mission we meet all sorts of people who are interested in helping us grow.

What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?

We spend a lot of time supporting other entrepreneurs and cultivating relationships with businesses that we admire. We feel passionate about conducting business and growing our brand in a meaningful way.

How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?

We’re building a “speed scratch” category (slow cooking using slow cookers or electric pressure cookers such as the Instant Pot) that doesn’t exist in B & M, so creating a “clean” product aligned with our mission helps us stand out. We also sought our Non-GMO certification so our consumers know that our Slow Cooker spice blends don’t contain any fillers. We also became a Certified B Corp to demonstrate our commitment to business being a force for good in the world.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

Determining the best path toward national distribution.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

Design. We have very clean atheistic. We encourage other entrepreneurs to invest time in doing their own research before they employ a designer to bring their vision to life. We are fortunate after trial and error to have someone who is completely aligned with our mission.

What new business would you love to start?

I would love to create a business where I can help other people fund their dreams.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

At this point nothing. I needed to go through the hiccups of starting/failing with other start-ups, so that when I created the zen of slow cooking I had a clear vision of what I wanted to create.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself, what advice would you give yourself?

To have faith. When you begin a business there are always ups/downs and it’s easy to get distracted, lose hope or feel overwhelmed. Stay positive!

Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

I love “Let my People go Surfing”, Sacred Commerce and Mission in a Bottle. I also love Pema Chodron’s book Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

My parents, especially my mother, encouraged my brother, sister and I to be principled, bold, conduct yourself with integrity, stand up for your beliefs and be kind.

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

Spend time asking yourself the “Why” you want to start your business. That question leads to many other ones which are really important in manifesting your dream.

The Life Of An Entrepreneur: Interview With Julie Dugoff Waxman – The CEO Of Baked In Color

Julie Dugoff Waxman is the founder and CEO of Baked in Color, a rainbow and custom colored chocolate chip cookies company. Launched in May 2016, Baked in Color now operates a New York City location and they ship their cookies nationwide. Their customers love their cookies and they are positioned for further growth to keep up with the demand.

StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Julie to discuss her journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down:

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

My name is Julie Dugoff Waxman and I am the founder and CEO of Baked in Color, a rainbow, and custom colored chocolate chip cookies company. Launched in May 2016, Baked in Color now operates a New York City location and we ship our cookies nationwide. Baked in Color offers the first rainbow and custom colored chocolate chip cookies. Happy, fun and delicious, these cookies can be customized by color for all of life’s special occasions: holidays, mitzvahs, corporate events, college acceptance, school spirit, sports events, birthday parties, you name it!

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

As a student at Cornell, I founded and ran a cookie delivery business, Quickie Cookie. We baked, packaged and delivered fresh cookies, with a quart of milk (think Insomnia cookies). I sold the company and spent the next several years working in Corporate Retail at Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s. While working for these companies, I developed my skills in business development, strategic and financial planning, merchandising, team building, negotiation, and marketing. After twenty years in corporate retail, I was excited to launch my own business.

Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? How did you get the idea to start Baked in Color?

Chocolate chip cookies are America’s #1 dessert and colorfulrainbow desserts are the #1 social media dessert trend. I was inspired most by the rainbow bagel. Rainbow bagels look incredibly cool but don’t taste great. I had a delicious recipe for chocolate chip cookies and knew that if I could figure out how to execute color, I would have something very trend right and extremely marketable. Thousands of test batches later, Baked in Color was born.

What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?

Social media has been the big driver for Baked in Color. We started posting our cookies on Instagram and were quickly noticed by food influencers who posted the cookies on their Instagram and Facebook feeds. Six months after our launch, INSIDER took notice and shot a feature for their INSIDER FOOD and INSIDER DESSERT platforms. The video went viral, receiving over 7 Million views on Facebook, in addition to millions of views on Instagram. Baked in Color was also featured by Today.Com, Huffington Post and Spoon University. The media exposure drove our sales tenfold, putting our brand on the map and driving corporate business, such as Goldman Sachs, Barney’s NY, and Time Inc.

Where/how can we get our hands on your cookies?

Baked in Color has a New York City location at TurnstyleNYC, the underground market at Columbus Circle, at 58th street and Broadway. We deliver throughout Westchester County and NYC and ship nationwide. We specialize in both personal and corporate events. Orders can be placed online at www.bakedincolor.com. In addition to our online offering, we customize cookie colors and packaging to make the perfect dessert or party favor for your special occasion or event.

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

GO FOR IT! Be patient and stay positive. Work hard and move forward each day. Things will not always go well but don’t get discouraged. Some days will bring opportunities and others will bring knocks. Hang in there. It’s a long haul. Don’t take rejection personally just move on to the next opportunity, of which there are countless. Be aware of the competition but don’t get bogged down by it. Network, network, network. It’s free to ask so ask others for help; people are generally happy to help. You can learn from most people and often each meeting leads to another opportunity. Follow your instincts but pivot when things aren’t going well; cut your losses and move on.

The Life Of An Entrepreneur: Interview With “The Digital Dating Disruptor” Lori Cheek

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Lori Cheek is an NYC based architect turned entrepreneur, Founder, and CEO of Cheekd that removes the “missed” from “missed connections.” After working in architecture, furniture, and design for 15 years, she came up with an idea that lead her into the NYC world of technology and dating. She has been coined “the Digital Dating Disruptor,” listed as one of 12 “Inspirational Women in Tech to Follow and as one of AlleyWatch’s 20 most awesome people to know in the NYC tech scene. She’s also a Shark Tank Vet, a TEDx Speaker and has been featured in Forbes, The NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, The NY Observer, Entrepreneur Mag, Fast Company, Inc Magazine and so much more.

When most people would have quit years ago, she only hustled harder to keep her dream alive! She could be the walking poster child for the age-old phrase, “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” It wasn’t an easy ride but she’s never been happier in her life. A lightbulb moment 9 years ago changed her life forever, she left her $120K a year (60 hour work week) design job and now she owns a business that Wired Magazine recently questioned, “Is this the future of online dating?” She has gone from 15 years of helping others build their dreams to a life finally dedicated to building her own.

StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Lori Cheek and here’s what went down:

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

I’m Lori Cheek, an NYC based architect turned entrepreneur, Founder, and CEO of Cheekd that removes the “missed” from “missed connections.” After working in architecture, furniture, and design for 15 years, I came up with an idea that led me into the NYC world of technology and dating. I completely threw away my design career and I’m no longer building structures, I’m now building relationships.

In February of 2008, I was out to dinner with an architectural colleague. He’d spotted an attractive woman at a nearby table and scribbled, “Want to have dinner?” on the back of his business card and slipped it to her as we were leaving the restaurant. He left with a date. I left with an idea. After over two years of brainstorming how to remove the “business” out of the business card, I launched Cheekd– a deck of ice-breaking dating cards with a unique code that lead the recipient to the privacy protected online dating profile of the mysterious stranger who slipped them the card where the two could start communicating online. It was like online dating but backward. We’ve since pivoted Cheekd into a hyper-speed mobile dating app that gives users the ability to never miss a real-life potential “love connection” thanks to a cross-platform low energy Bluetooth technology, which sends users an immediate notification when someone (within their criteria) comes within a 30-foot radius of them. It’s real-time and works on a subway or a plane without any cellular connection.

Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?

I’ve got a laser-focused vision to succeed and will do almost anything to keep this business flourishing. I’m actually not surprised by my determination because as long as I can remember, I’ve been extremely stubborn. When most people would have quit, I only hustled harder. I think my personal approach, passion, and dedication mixed with my relentless conviction that failure is not an option has been the recipe that has lead to my current success. I could be the poster child for the age-old phrase “what doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger.” No matter what… in the end, I’m going to have a magical story to tell.

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

Social media and international PR coverage have both been our strongest tool for growth other than our epic brutal bloodbath on ABC’s prime time reality show, Shark Tank, over four years ago. It’s one of the most-watched television shows in America and not only did we gain an outrageous number of customers after it aired but our episode re-airs on CNBC all the time. We always get a blast of users downloading our app all over the world after it airs.

What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?

We’re on all of them but mainly use Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, and Instagram.

What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?

Over the past eight years, our business has been featured in dozens of the most prominent news and technology websites including The New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Tech Crunch, Inc, Fast Company, Wired Magazine, and countless others.” We’ve been very fortunate to have the press on our side. We’ve built a unique way for singles to break the ice. We’re giving our members a new real-life tool to use as an alternative to missed connections taking place every day.

While there are over 102 million single adults above the age of 18 in America alone, a 25-year-old online dating industry is experiencing serious fatigue and has failed to create a viable alternative to the existing online model. People want to make connections in the real world. We are doing our best to give our customers the most organic, unique real-life experience based on initial chemistry and that’s what has consistently made us stand out above the others.

What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?

I discovered early on that in a very saturated startup space, it’s crucial to make a splash. Creative marketing quickly became my forte. Not only has it paid off in so many amazing ways, but it’s also been loads of fun. I’ve managed to land myself in The New York Times, The Washington Post, TechCrunch, Fast Company, Inc., Shark Tank, Forbes and many many more publications all over the world. One of my favorite stories was from Dublin’s Web Summit when over 800 startups were exhibiting (90% of them were men) and I decided to stand out by wearing Angel Wings throughout the conference (I have a dating business). When I was checking out of my hotel, I looked down at Judy Dench on the cover of the Irish Times and there I was right next to her (me on my laptop with my Angel Wings— inside there was another 1/4 page picture mentioning my business). Ireland knew about Cheekd.com.

How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?

Our dating app sets itself apart from our competing billion-dollar companies because it gives you the option to interact with a match before starting a virtual relationship with the compatible user. After setting up your profile and desired filters, Cheekd will then send you notifications when a potential match is nearby. Instead of encouraging users to continue to hide behind a screen, Cheekd pushes you to engage in social settings while paying attention to potential matches in the area. Our new dating app gives us the power to light the spark face-to-face first and leave the talking for later. And because Cheekd uses Bluetooth, it doesn’t require an Internet connection to function so connections can be made on the subway, a plane… anywhere— You’ll get a notification if someone who meets your criteria is within 30 feet of you. If you’re near a potential spark, Cheekd makes sure you know about it. It’s like online dating but it starts in the real world.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

When we got covered in the New York Times nearly eight years ago, our site got traffic from all over the world until Cheekd.com crashed. Once the site came back to life, we got orders all over the country. The Cheekd business model was based on a recurring subscription model once users made their initial purchase. Soon after, we realized that our web developer (based in London) had the button ticked “OFF” that captured our user’s credit card information and was unable to enroll them into our recurring subscription. With hundreds of new signups, we lost nearly $30,000 from this simple mistake. I joke now that our London based web developer is lucky that he didn’t live in America at the time. We immediately got that button fixed.

What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?

My definition of wealth has changed drastically since I started my business in 2010. Cheekd has been the most powerful thing that’s ever happened to me. Building this business has been an incredible learning experience. I’ve taken a major risk (both financially & mentally) and surrendered my career in architecture & design, but my heart and mind are in this project every waking moment. I’ve never been more dedicated to anything. Despite the occasional overwhelming stress, it’s been loads of fun. I feel like I’m living the American Dream. I’ve gone from 15 years of helping build someone else’s dream to a life dedicated to building my own– Success to me is to be able to spend your life in your own way. I no longer have a job, I have a lifestyle and am miraculously always working but I’ve never been happier because I love what I do.

What new business would you love to start?

Aside from my mission in hopes of connecting people in the real world, my other passion is fitness. I, personally, am always looking to make workout buddies and can rarely get my own network to join me. My new app idea is to connect like-minded people that can connect to work out together. I think it’ll be such an amazing motivation for everyone to stay committed while making friends at the same time.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

Having brought the wrong team on board when I first started building my business nearly five years ago. If I’d known what I know now… I wish someone had told me the importance of having a technical co-founder on board when I started out. I had a team, but the two gentlemen I brought on had the same exact background. I didn’t need two of the same skill sets. The technical aspect of my business has been one of the bigger challenges I’ve faced and it’s the one thing I definitely would have approached differently from day one.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself, what advice would you give yourself?

I wish I’d been able to tell myself that building a business doesn’t make for an overnight success. I believed so much in my idea that after our launch, I thought I was going to be a billionaire by the end of the year! Eight years into the entrepreneurial hustle, I’ve learned that entrepreneurship is being on a mission where nothing can stop you. It will take twice as long as you’d hoped, cost exceedingly more than you’d ever budgeted and will be more challenging than anything you’ll ever try but if you give it your all and refuse to give up, you can trust it will be the ride of a lifetime. No matter what… this has been the most rewarding journey of my life. My advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs is to be brave and follow your instincts. You can’t cheat the grind, but if you give it your all, you can trust that the payoff will be worth it.

Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

My favorite brain fuel right now is Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg— an engaging read where the author shares all sorts of fascinating secrets of being productive in both life and business. He explains how in today’s world, managing how you think rather than what you think can transform your life. Not only has the book helped me reassess my daily motivation and goals, but it’s also helped me create some interesting new productivity hacks to allow me to get things accomplished smarter, faster and better.

As an avid guerrilla and creative startup marketer/ tech startup founder, another one of my favorite business books is The Purple Cow by Seth Godin. It’s all about standing out from the masses and transforming your business by being remarkable.

One of my favorite quotes out of this book::: “You must design a product that is remarkable enough to attract the early adopters – but is flexible enough and attractive enough that those adopters will have an easy time spreading the idea.”

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Surround yourself with the people you want to become.

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

My strongest advice for others considering taking the leap is if you truly believe in your idea, give up excuses and doubt, surround yourself by a trusted and talented team, bulldoze forward and DON’T. LOOK. BACK.

The Life Of An Entrepreneur: Interview With Noel And Waseem Ballou

Foodeez is a boutique creative digital agency focused exclusively on creating content for food and beverage brands. The co-founders, Noel and Waseem Ballou, are brothers who have invested their own resources and bootstrapped their way to creating this full-service agency, without a single investor.

StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with these inspiring entrepreneurs and here’s what went down:

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

I came from a business management background. I started this business with my brother when we saw a need with brands lacking social marketing services and felt it was something we both truly understood. Together we both started this agency with the main focus in creating high-quality content with the appropriate brand direction.

Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?

I still don’t feel we’ve reached “success.” I always hit a milestone and feel I need to set a bigger and harder one to chase and set that as the new standard of success. It continues to push my brother, my team, and myself. Starting this company fresh out college, I had 0 income and felt that it’s now or never if I want to start a company and dove straight in – and there was no looking back. I never imagined the company to get to this size, I always envisioned it to be about 5-10 people, but we are at 30 people and working with over 75 clients every month.

What is your main source of income?

Our main sources of income come from our content creation and production departments.

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

I am always looking for new strategies to maintain lean operations yet maintain the high-quality output we stand-by. Aside from internal strategizes, we are always looking for new services we can provide to our current/potential clients as well as new avenues we can take the direction of the company that may have strong long term benefits.

What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?

High-quality content with a fast turnaround!

What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?

Word of mouth. Ever since we’ve started our business has been driven by cold calls and referral business. Only recently have we got aggressive with our PR and digital marketing. But moving forward we are focusing our efforts on traditional PR and digital marketing.

How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?

We solely do Food & Beverage and nothing else. A lot of other businesses who do production and content creation don’t specialize in it (they other their services to other industries i.e. fashion, lifestyle, fitness, etc). We have a team of true foodies that are the best in their fields.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

Expanding our office and scaling the team. As owners, we’ve really had to tighten our belts and make sure we can afford such a move. We’ve not only doubled our office space but have doubled the team to gear us towards an influx of work.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

Budgeting and sticking tight to your budget. It’s so easy to swipe your credit card and get carried away. But budgeting is crucial. Oh, and save. There is nothing better than having cash on hand especially when you need it!

What have you learned in the process of becoming successful that others can learn from?

There is no such thing as an overnight success. I read a quote that goes “An overnight success usually takes 10 years”. Don’t expect to start a company and be successful tomorrow. It’s a lot of hustling & grinding, but the return of seeing the product you built is significantly rewarding.

What new business would you love to start?

Our own line of products… Which are actually in the works! Being in the food and beverage industry we’ve been able to partner with some of our clients in creating new private-label brands that will focus strictly online vs the traditional retailer route.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

Save, save, and budget! The saying money doesn’t grow on trees is 100% true! Being a small company we’ve invested in foolish items. Looking back at it, if we saved that money and invested it in other avenues we could have been in a different place.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself, what advice would you give yourself?

Stay focused and don’t try to do too much at one time. Organize your tasks and projects and put 101% into each and everything you do. Don’t stress yourself over the little things, just develop a checklist and knock things off 1 by 1.

Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

Sell or be sold by Grant Cardone. Everything in business and life is sales, make sure you’re always ready and looking for the right opportunity. If you don’t reach for it, someone else will.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Keep your head up and stay humble.

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

When you start hiring people, make sure you hire people that truly believe in your vision and have a passion for what you believe in as well. There is a lot of speed bumps in the beginning and you want them to be there with you helping push through the early barriers.

How This Beautiful Beauty Queen Made The Leap From Corporate Life To Financial Freedom

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Have you ever heard of a stunning Beauty Queen who works in the Real Estate industry and owns two investment properties already??

Meet the beautiful Gemma White – she was crowned Miss Australia Continents in 2018 but her interest in property investment and building wealth stemmed from a very young age. Growing up, she remembers spending a number of school holidays and weekends at properties her parents would be renovating and that made her eventually realize that investing in property is the best and most consistent way of building wealth.

From the age of around15 years old, she started attending property seminars and reading property related books. The first book she read was “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert T. Kiyosaki and she also enjoys reading motivational and inspirational books, listening to podcasts, audiobooks and researching online.

She purchased her first investment property which settled in January 2017 and her second investment property in June 2018. Her goal is to own at least 3-4 investment properties within 5 years before starting her very own Property Development Company.

StarCentral Magazine recently sat down with Gemma to find out more about her journey towards financial freedom and here’s what went down.

1. Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your property portfolio? What encouraged you to start a property portfolio?

I grew up on the Central Coast NSW but moved to Brisbane QLD at the age of 20 and now live on the Northern Gold Coast with my family. I have many great memories growing up and value family time first and foremost.

At just 27 years of age, I have been working in the Real Estate industry for over 8 years and own two investment properties.

As soon as I finished school I completed my Real Estate license and Diploma in Property Services and started working in the industry. Over the years I have also completed a Cert IV and Diploma in Project Management.

My interest in property stemmed from a young age. Growing up, I remember spending many school holidays and weekends at properties my parents would be renovating… well, I mostly remember feeding bread to the ducks and taking my parents’ change to buy lollies at the corner store.

From the age of about 15 years old I started attending property seminars and reading property related books, the first book I read was Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki. I enjoy reading motivational and inspirational books, listening to podcasts, audiobooks and researching online.

I think it’s important to have goals, be dedicated, ambitious and willing to work hard to achieve your goals. It is also important to keep learning and growing your knowledge at all stages of life. My life revolves around Property and Real Estate really, I simply love it!

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2. Can you describe your journey? When did you start?

I purchased my first investment property which settled in January 2017 and my second investment property in June 2018. The goal is to have 3-4 investment properties within 5 years before starting my own Property Development Company.

I love a challenge, creating opportunities and helping people into their dream home. Working in Real Estate has helped me understand the ever-changing property market and the key elements to consider when researching for my own properties.

3. What is your main source of income?

I work full time in Real Estate as a Residential Property Manager.

4. What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your property portfolio?

Save. Save. Save.

Whilst I have financial goals that I am constantly striving for, I believe life is all about balance!

I am always trying to improve my life in every area and live with an abundant mindset. I try to save as much money as possible, this often means I give up nights out on the town drinking or other costly outings but I certainly don’t feel like I’m missing out.

By living life in balance I am able to achieve my financial goals and grow my portfolio as well as do many things I enjoy that don’t cost so much or anything at all. For example, go to the gym, get outside for a walk, go to the beach, hike a mountain, walk to a waterfall, watch the sunset, read a book, listen to a podcast, go on a coffee date rather than for a full meal and spend time with family and friends.

5. What is your idea for wealth building?

I believe wealth building comes in many forms. We can start at any age simply saving a small percentage of what we earn with every paycheck. When I started my first job at McDonald’s at 15 years old, my parents made me save 20% of whatever I earnt (I started on a mere $7 an hour). This is something that has stuck with me through my adulthood and I still strive to reach this and more every week. Every dollar counts!

We can make small changes to our daily habits that will set us up for success when it comes to wealth building. I would suggest making weekly plans and budgets, cook at home rather than buy take out, ditch the morning coffee purchase, think before making the next rational purchase for that dress you don’t really need, make specific money or financial goals, pay off any debt (car or credit cards) efficiently and build your credit rating, spend time every day learning (this could be as simple as swapping music or the radio for a podcast or audiobook on your drive to and from work) and surround yourself with inspirational and motivated people who encourage you to do your very best.

When it comes to wealth building I believe ‘where focus goes, energy flows’ and ‘we have to give to receive’.

6. What challenges did you face trying to establish a property portfolio?

The biggest challenge I think many of us face when trying to establish a property portfolio is saving the initial deposit. I know it’s important to remain focused regardless of the challenges, hurdles, and adversities we experience.

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7. What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

The toughest financial decision I have had to make in the last few months was the decision to continue saving a deposit for a third investment property or to book a months trip to Europe with my girlfriends for mid-2019.

Whilst I am very driven and goal oriented I feel it is important to live a well-balanced life. Travel is something I crave, having already been to over 40 countries.

Although the trip will put me a few months behind on purchasing another property, I know I will achieve this goal with time.

8. What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

I wouldn’t call it a mistake but would highly recommend to start investing as early as possible. In hindsight I would be much further ahead if I didn’t spend the deposit I had already saved on a 6-month backpacking trip around Europe in 2014, however, in saying this, I wouldn’t change anything. The experience, memories, and friendships I made on this trip are indescribable.

9. What new business would you love to start?

I would love to start my own Property Development Company within the next 5 or so years.

10. If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I can’t say that there is anything I would change at this point in time. I feel that we learn and grow with every step of the journey.

11. What is the best advice you have ever been given?

The best advice to remember when purchasing an investment property is to ‘think with your head, not with your heart’.

12. What advice would you give someone who wants to start building their property portfolio?

If you have thought about buying a property, there’s no better time than now! Do it. Don’t wait. Take action now!

It is imperative to do your research. I would suggest reading property books, attend property seminars and seek advice from those who are already in the property market. The most important decision you can make is to get educated and learn as much as you can to ensure you set yourself up for success.

Get To Know The Global Multimedia Artist And Successful Entrepreneur YiZhou

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Chinese multimedia artist, influencer, and entrepreneur Yi Zhou is widely known in the international creative community for her artistic, fashion, branding and film work. Her work is admired by a highly diverse group of distinguished intellectuals, Hollywood A-listers, wealthy patrons and the young social media audience.

Yi Zhou has a degree in politic science and economics from the London School of Economics and is now continuing her education at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. She speaks fluent French, Italian, English, Spanish and Mandarin.

In recent years, she has endorsed a number of global campaigns including Persol, DFST – Galleria, Levis, and others. She was named the first-ever brand ambassador for China for Clarins in 2010. Since 2011, she has collaborated with such prestigious brands as Chanel, Hogan, Pringle of Scotland, Lane Crawford and YOOX. She also collaborated with French couture Jewelry house Gripoix, launching a special collection titled “Pineapple Secret. Her animations have also inspired a clothing collection by popular French brand Each X Other.

In 2013, she was invited as the first ever Chinese talent to be hired as a designer and creative director of a brand, to create a 360-degree project ranging from menswear, womenswear and accessories for Italian luxury brand ICEBERG. The “Breaking the Ice” capsule collection was released worldwide in December 2013.

In 2010, she created Yi Zhou Studio, creating employment opportunities for young Chinese talents to collaborate and experiment together on international projects.

A major social media influencer, Yi Zhou has been named Tudou’s art director, art and fashion advisory member at SINA.com, and beauty and fashion ambassador for Tencent.

A passionate promoter of East-West relations, she is frequently asked to speak at conferences and events around the globe, including TEDx (Paris 2012, Beijing 2013, Zheijang 2014), LVMH Labour Day in Paris in 2013 and Financial Times Luxury Conference in 2014.

Yi Zhou has contributed to many NGOs by creating art pieces for the UN Conference for World Climate Change in South Africa in 2011, the UNDP China Rio+20 Projection in 2012, as well as World Oceans Day in 2015. Most recently, she worked with Natalia Vodianova’s Naked Heart Foundation by participating in an artwork commissioned by ETAM.

Yi Zhou ‘s short films have also been shown at Shanghai Biennale, Venice Biennale, Sundance Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival. She was selected by Venice Biennale to showcase her 2011 works, as well as new works from her solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome titled “Fragments of Rome, past, future, parallel worlds.”

She is currently working on several international media projects and is developing her first feature motion picture.

StarCentral Magazine recently sat down with Yi Zhou to find out more about her journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down.

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business? 

I began my career as a multimedia artist in Paris and in China. Recently, I have relocated to Los Angeles to prepare for my first feature film and to start an investment company that will invest in entertainment and lifestyle portfolios.

My journey to success is thanks to hard work and by living in different countries. I have developed a sense of independence and survival to the new that has helped me to strengthen my skills to adapt to new environments.

I actually have a selective memory, and I am always ready to start a new chapter and a new challenge against boredom. I would never want to sit and dwell on my past achievements, but instead, I look at the future with hope and opportunities.

What is your main source of income?

I have multiple sources of income. I have divided my business and creative skills as an artist, filmmaker, and entrepreneur.

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What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

I’m preparing my investment firm at the moment and adding more ventures into my portfolio, and plan to venture into riskier as well as traditional investments.

What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?

I feel that I’m a pretty tolerant person. Therefore, I can afford some more risky investments and projects, such as my latest addition, ArtWallet, to which I’ve been named an Advisory Board Member. It’s a new concept that bridges cryptocurrency and art. I’m also preparing to launch my brand Global Intuition, a new concept for lifestyle and apparel born in China and made in LA and China.

What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?

I don’t believe in sponsored advertising in the long run for social media, as it lacks authenticity. It often feels like a Christmas tree, due to the sudden association of the influencer with a given brand. I believe things and associations must feel organic and real to the audience, who is becoming more and more savvy nowadays.

What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?

I must say that I’m an influencer myself and I often refuse to do posts that make me sound unnatural. I try always to be associated with brands that I feel close to in terms of philosophy, strategy and look. As for my own brand Global Intuition, we are preparing our PR and marketing launch at the moment.

What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?

I don’t believe in any marketing theories. I always try something new with a surprise effect.

How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?

I hope my brand Global Intuition will stand out when it launches later this year. As a brand myself, YiZhou, I feel that I am unique as I incorporate many roles and cultures into one, so it makes it difficult to copy.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

The toughest decision I had to make in the past months was to say goodbye to some projects that I was invited to work on. Along the initial path, I encountered a lot of difficulties to deal with some of the involved partners, so I looked deep inside of myself and decided not to continue, even if the projects might have appealed to me. I feel work and living happily are the most important things to me.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

Over time, I have learned that overspending and having too much overhead are mistakes. I think modern technologies are allowing us to accomplish more tasks than before, thereby saving manpower.

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What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?

I think “saving” is a keyword to learn, as are planning and making smart moves.

What new business would you love to start?

I wish to continue to accomplish the plan I laid out for the upcoming years, and my best goal is to one day create a beautiful family.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I wish to be able to see my ancestral life. But in this very life, I would not change anything, besides perhaps learning to deal with difficult people differently. I wish I would have had the chance to learn about this important skill in advance.

Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

I read a lot of sports-related books, as I believe an entrepreneur is a sportsman (or woman). We need to take the same approach.

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

Advice to a newbie: I wish to advise them to find a real-life role model and mentor, and stay in close contact with that person for guidance.

One On One Interview With Tahnee Elliott: The CEO Of TC Elli’s

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When Tahnee Elliott saw a need for a quality fashion boutique, she decided to take advantage of the opportunity to fill in the gap in the market, and the result was a successful business.

She started her business back in 2000 at the ripe age of 24. She had just graduated from college in Lubbock, Texas when she decided that she wanted to go into business. Having lived in the small college town for four years, she knew there was a serious need for a quality fashion boutique. After opening TC Elli’s, word quickly spread about her business and TC Elli’s began to grow into a beloved shop where luxury is about being one of a kind, and not about how much money you spend.

Fast forward to today, and TC Elli’s now has over 40 thousand followers on Instagram and customers all over the world. She runs her business with the help of about 30 high school and college-aged women. Part of the mission of TC Elli’s is to prepare and empower women to start a business, so by delegating essential duties such as social media, buying, and budgeting to her staff – she hopes to teach all of her employees how to start, run, and expand their own company if and when they decide to do so after college.

StarCentral Magazine recently sat down with Tahnee Elliott to find out more about her journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down.

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

I started TC Elli’s in 2000, at the ripe age of 24. I had just graduated from college in Lubbock, Texas when I decided to go into business for myself. Having lived in the small college town for four years, I knew there was a serious need for a quality fashion boutique. After opening the boutique, word quickly spread and TC Elli’s began to grow into a beloved shop where luxury is about being one of a kind, not how much money you spend.

Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?

I think as far as small business go; success came pretty quickly. As I said, there was a need and I filled it with TC Elli’s. However, throughout most of the 2000’s, our growth was fairly stagnant. We were popular locally, but our reach didn’t extend further than West Texas. It wasn’t until 2015 that things really began to take off even more than I’d ever imagined. We began promoting our products on Instagram and watched traffic to the e-commerce site soar. Today, we have over 40 thousand followers on Instagram and customers all over the world.

What is your main source of income?

The brick and mortar store in Lubbock, TX is our main source of income, although the online store is picking up sales rapidly.

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How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?

Marketing tactics aside, I think TC Elli’s stands out among the sea of other small fashion boutiques, because of the mission that drives our brand. I only employ women in high school and college. It was around this age that I decided I wanted to open a business. However, other than my formal education, I had very little real-world experience and knew next to nothing about running a successful business. I want to empower the next generation of women to excel in the ‘real world’ by training and teaching them everything I’ve learned throughout the years.

My employees now assist with everything from social media to buying. It’s a brand for young women, by young women and I really think that’s what makes us so relatable and unique.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

In this highly competitive market of fashion, I knew we needed to set ourselves apart from the competition, so I started researching SEO companies. Going through interviews for months, I finally found a great company but it was a very tough decision to take the risk or continue with mediocre online sales.

The level of trust, communication, and value when picking a company you will do long-term business with is a very hard decision. We have used SEO and marketing companies in the past but all of them seemed to fizzle out. CanIRank has been a huge blessing for our continued in-store and online success.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

This is an easy one! LOL, I always over order clothing! I truly have a passion for clothing, so it is extremely hard for me to say “no” when I have an amazing buyer who shows me the most amazing pieces each day.

What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?

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Always stay humble and grateful to those who helped you along the way. Success is a collaborative effort of a lot of people who believe in you, trust you, and support you. Save your money when you are ahead, you might need it later to continue growth or expand.

What new business would you love to start?

After 18 years of experience, I would love to consult entrepreneurs on opening up their own clothing business.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I wish I would have hired a team as soon as I could afford to take on employees. I think for all business owners when you’re just getting started it’s not an option financially to hire a team even if you need it. So, you end up taking the huge task of running a company on yourself. For me, I got used this kind of work. I loved having my hand in every part of the business so even once I could afford to hire, I didn’t. I was working days, evenings, and weekends and was on the brink of burn-out before I hired my first full-time staffer.

Today, we have a team of over 30 employees who help me run the show. While I still play a very active role in the day-to-day business as well as behind the scenes, my work-life balance is much healthier than it was in the first few years. I only wish I had acted sooner.

Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

Absolutely! I love reading so my top picks would be 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss, The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, and E Myth Mastery by Michael Gerber just to name a few.

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What is the best advice you have ever been given?

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

This quote by Rumi–

You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust.
You were born with ideals and dream.
You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don’t.
You have wings.
Learn to use them and fly.

Meet The Woman Who Made The Leap From Freelancer To Successful Solopreneur

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Nicole Faith went to NYU with stars in her eyes hoping to get a crack at the fashion industry, but after four internships and one graduation later, she realized that she had no clue what she wanted to do. She decided to work for a startup where she ended up honing her tech and design skills by empowering entrepreneurs to build their online business.

She became physically and emotionally ill from the stress of her 9 to 5 job, so she took a solo trip to LA for two weeks to recharge. Once she got there, she didn’t want to go home because she loved solo traveling so much.

She started out just freelancing but quickly became frustrated by crappy clients who disrespected her expertise. She was tired of negotiating rates and being taken advantage of. There are many coaches and lifestyle entrepreneurs selling the “dream” of lounging in a hammock on the beach, but nobody actually makes it happen for you. She knew she could do that, so she re-branded her entire business to align with her ideal clients (sophisticated solopreneurs).

As a pioneer in the location independent movement, she is thrilled to continue to demonstrate how to choose a life of freedom on your terms.

We caught up with Nicole Faith to talk more about her business and here’s what went down:

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

10 Carat Creations is where five-star businesses are built. I build your online service business in just one week so you can work with clients as you travel the world. I grew up obsessed with fashion and had every intention of becoming a fashion journalist.

After graduating NYU, where I completed four internships in the fashion industry, I was completely lost. It was too much like The Devil Wears Prada for me, so I sought out another path. I landed a position at a tech startup where for three years I learned the ins and outs of website design and entrepreneurship as I helped entrepreneurs start an online business. I got my first job when I was 12, so there came the point when I knew I needed to transition out of being an employee and into something that offered more freedom.

I thought freelancing was the answer because so many people do it, but boy was I wrong! As a freelancer, I was just as stressed and unhappy. I kept having to chase clients and justify my rates. I felt utterly disrespected because I knew I had deep expertise I wasn’t being paid or recognized for. I not only excelled at design but had the ability to craft a business concept from start to finish in a short period of time.

I was also appalled at how unprofessional, so many so-called professionals were. I felt like the odd-woman out because I was obsessed with professionalism and attention to detail.

I had a website which is not the same as a business. After stumbling around, I re-branded my entire business to 10 Carat Creations based on my own values and not the marketplace. I packaged my services which changed everything.

I was tired of copying what other freelancers do. Chasing clients. Pitching clients. Negotiating with clients. It just felt wrong to me. If you’re an expert, I believe you deserve to command respect and premium prices. There are services, and then there are services. So few people seemed to be preaching this, so I decided to carve out my stake in the industry.

Soon after that, I founded the Digital Nomad Business Directory as the first and only online directory of location independent solopreneurs. Because if I’m going to help people craft a high-caliber business, I want to show them off!

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Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?

Success is quite the illusion! You have to act successfully to become successful. I put in a lot of unpaid hours. Thousands of unpaid hours! I had the self-awareness to know I could make a living from my ideas and I took it one day at a time. I started freelancing part-time while working my full-time job. Eventually, I had more time when freelancing was my focus. Each day I did something very small, like discover a new tactic, design new graphics or write a blog post. All of my teeny tiny actions added up to something that looks impressive from the outside but is really being held up by the smallest of building blocks. I had diligently saved a lot of money that gave me the cushion to work on my business. I doubted myself several times and went looking for a job thinking maybe I wasn’t ready to be a full-time entrepreneur. I couldn’t get hired anywhere and came to the conclusion I had outgrown being an employee. I considered this the universe’s sign I needed to double down and work on my own empire.

What is your main source of income?

Freelancers who want a custom and/or original pre-made online service business. I craft their concept, hone their niche, package their services, design their website, write their copy and set up the backend tech.

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

I’m consistently looking for press opportunities because my goal is to make 10 Carat Creations a household name for people looking to escape the nine-five and freelance grind once and for all. I also have a few projects under wraps that will make crafting a five-star business more accessible than ever. Lack of money shouldn’t prevent you from making more money. At the end of the day, money can’t buy class.

How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?

There are SO MANY brands that glorify being a “digital nomad,” but mine is the only one that meets you in reality. Most quit-your-job advice is vague like “freelance on Upwork”, “get gigs” or “start a blog” but the truth is to make a decent living doing any of those things is really hard. I believe people who have an expertise should capitalize on it in a way that attracts the right kinds of clients who will pay premium prices. People who respect themselves also respect other people’s expertise, which means if you can provide a service online there’s a market for it. 10 Carat Creations isn’t for the average person who’s interested in traveling the world- it’s for sophisticated solopreneurs with the motivation to build a business that supports their dream. Not the other way around.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

I founded the Digital Nomad Business Directory as the first and only online directory of location independent solopreneurs. Its brand was bright, colorful and punchy- the opposite of 10 Carat Creations. When I realized the two businesses didn’t match up and were confusing, I had to re-brand the directory, so it more closely aligned with 10 Carat Creations. I’ve learned change is great and usually necessary, so I’m not ashamed to say something didn’t quite work out the first time. There have been many times when I put a lot of work into a concept- only for it to be re-done shortly after that. I have to swallow my pride and just get it done because it’s more important that the branding be right than for me to be right.

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What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

When you start a business, there are so many paid tools that seem like necessities. Things like software and apps might take up a lot of time because you want to find the “perfect” tool. I almost made this mistake and am glad I didn’t.

I would recommend paying for something as a last resort because it keeps you creative and forces you to evaluate what’s essential and what’s just nice to have. You can spend thousands on nice-to-haves.  Any tools you buy should fit into your workflow seamlessly and shouldn’t detract from your actual work.

What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?

Sometimes, even when you have no money, you need to spend money on you. Take a spa day. Get your nails done. Buy the bag. Because you need to reward yourself for how far you’ve come. People who are rich, literally and figuratively, don’t run on fumes. I spent too much time beating myself up over how slowly things seemed to be going when I should have given myself a hug. It took me several months to figure out my perfect brand. It took me three months to get my first press mention. It took me five months to get 50 newsletter subscribers. And it’s all great! Nothing happens quickly, despite what you may think. It’s a very slow burn.

What new business would you love to start?

So many! That’s what inspired Business With A Bow™- the original pre-made service businesses I sell. Every idea I have for a business that I love I create and let someone with the skills and time to make it their own. I’ve wanted to do everything from spy-like consumer research to explainer videos to infographic marketing. I’ll leave my crazy ideas to the experts!

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I would have chosen a niche and packaged my services. Being a generic “freelance web designer” or “freelance copywriter” doesn’t do anything to get you, clients. I would also have focused on the benefits and not the services. No one cares that you can write a resume but if they can “Get more dream interviews” then that’s a good hook. It took me a long time to comprehend this and an even longer time to make it happen. Practice makes perfect, and I definitely had a lot of practice.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself, what advice would you give yourself?

Be ruthless in cutting wasteful people and activities from your daily life.

Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan is life-changing because it really helped me organize my life and business. The TL;dr version is “What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

I never asked for advice because I don’t like people telling me what to do. My favorite unofficial advice is from Dr. Seuss- “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

I built my business based on values I thought were missing from my industry. I was disgusted at how unprofessional everyone was. Their casual attitude towards clients and business, in general, turned me off, so I thought if I felt this way other people must as well. I recommend doing the same thing. What’s missing, and why? What do you dislike, and why? Ultimately, you can read words of advice all day, but eventually, you have to do something. Do it now.

One On One With Successful Entrepreneur Vanessa Rende

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Vanessa Rende is a Speaker, Writer, Entrepreneur, Consultant, and Podcaster. She is a former corporate consultant in the mortgage-backed securities industry, helping private, public and government agencies with risk, management, leadership, and business strategies.

When her career as a corporate consultant with a cushy paycheck, fat bonus and a false sense of freedom offered her an all-expense paid relocation to Denver, CO to work from a cubicle when she wasn’t traveling, Vanessa knew she wanted MORE. And she knew it was time to go all in.

A new homeowner and mom, she turned down the offer and launched her consulting firm in 2011 to help businesses and entrepreneurs with leadership, process improvement, marketing, business development and other business strategies.

Using her 12+ years of experience, formal training, and life lessons, Vanessa is among the rare few business champions who is truly results and impact-driven. It is her mission to turn the hundreds she has impacted into millions.

MoneyCentral Magazine recently sat down with Vanessa to find out more about her journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down.

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

I am a former corporate consultant who worked with the US Federal Government and hundreds of businesses and entrepreneurs across the globe before turning down an all expense paid corporate relocation to Denver, CO in 2010 to start my own consulting firm. Within one year, my firm hit multiple six figures, but I let my mindset get the best of me and shut everything down to deal with a messy divorce, domestic violence, and even child abuse. I came “back” in 2015 and had dedicated my life and business to helping others climb out of the mental, emotional and financial hole I was once in. I have been featured in Fast Company, The Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Fudding, and am about to have a spread in a popular entrepreneur magazine in Australia.

Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?

I started like a lot of people, with a comfortable corporate job that wasn’t giving me what I wanted out of life. I’ve been an “entrepreneur” since I was nine years old, helping a lady in the neighboring flea market spot market her items to kids my age. But I didn’t decide to take the leap and go all in until the false sense of freedom from my corporate consulting job came crashing down after my son was born. I love Denver, CO, but I wanted real time and money freedom, especially since I was a new nursing mom.

What is your main source of income?

I have seven streams of income, and my main ones are my consulting/writing/speaking business (mostly online and some offline) and my real estate business.

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

I am working on publishing two books this year. I am focusing on helping more people by collaborating with awesome media sources like you! I also blog for Thrive Global, The Huffington Post, and my own website. I have a podcast and live on Facebook and Instagram (for business, but I also love it).

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How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?

Same as above: the content I create is phenomenal. I don’t hold back when I’m sharing what I know, what I’ve learned and how someone can help themselves improve.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

Great question! I trashed my 2018 business plans and burned my business model to the ground. I got caught up playing the online entrepreneur game, and I lost sight of the impact I’m meant to make. So I re-designed my business model, edited it extensively, removing anything and anyone who wasn’t conducive to the new plan and boom! Specifically, this meant closing down two paid group programs (that were full), and a free Facebook community I had been cultivating for over two years.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

1) I started doing paid ads way before my business was ready. This left me struggling and more lost than I’d like to admit.

2) I fell into the online entrepreneur game. I became a launch queen, releasing one thing after the other to stay afloat without keeping my eye on the real prize: alignment. My new business design includes only what feels good, right and aligned with my purpose. If it doesn’t feel good, I no longer do it – no matter how scary it is to me or odd it may seem to the world that I don’t partake.

What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?

I have learned that wealth is a state of mind. I know money isn’t, but I understand now that I didn’t have to wait for my bank accounts to look fat to feel taken care of, wealthy and amazing. All of that started within myself, and if someone had told it to me, I would have attained it much faster.

What new business would you love to start?

I would love to open up a local yoga and juice shop! It may be selfish, but I want fresh juices and yoga every day, so why not offer it in my community where there is none of that yet.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I would have invested in a coach or mentor when I first opened my own consulting business. When I had to file for a restraining order and subsequent divorce, I closed myself off. I didn’t have someone to call me out on my bullsh*t and help me see that I was shrinking for no reason. I know that if I wouldn’t have tried to do it all alone, I’d be at multiple seven figures by now.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself, what advice would you give yourself?

Vanessa, you think it’s about strategies, revenue, budgets and constant progress, but really it’s about something much bigger: loving, trusting and believing in yourself. The moment you decide that you matter more than anything, your life will change forever (and it has!).

Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

OMG, yes. I have read The Big Leap several times, and I highly recommend it to every business owner, creator, and visionary. I also recommend Think and Grow Rich, Blue Ocean Strategy and E Squared (Pam Grout).

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

It doesn’t matter what people think of you, what matters is what you think of you.

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

Before you start planning, plotting and thinking up strategies, focus on your mindset. Do it daily, do it first. Those other things can only take you so far. Your mind is what truly pushes you through the limits you have and will create for yourself.

One On One Interview With Nicole: The CEO Of ROF Industries Inc

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Nicole started her career in printing 15 years ago with her father, a legend in the printing industry, Robert Pittman. She began her career at Trend Offset Printing, was Executive Vice President of SMP Inc. and is now President and CEO of ROF Industries Inc. – a company that provides video production, photography, and printing services. She helps clients achieve their goals with various marketing platforms. She started her current business in 2013, and their sales have grown to numbers she never imagined.

StarCentral Magazine recently sat down with Nicole to find out more about her journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down.

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

I learned about business from my father, who was an entrepreneur. I was lucky enough to work with him for 12 years before starting a business with my husband, Chris. My Dad taught me to always focus on marketing and sales. You can have the best product/ service in the world, but if no one knows about it, it won’t do you much good. While working with him, I also had a side business that specialized in photography.

Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?

My journey has had highs and lows, like everyone I’m sure. I started my current business in 2013, and our sales have grown to numbers I never imagined. When I was in my early 20’s, I felt too young and inexperienced to have much confidence in my sales ability. After many years, I have learned that people buy from who they like and if you are your true self, people will buy from you. When my clients see that I really care about helping them and their business, a true relationship begins.

What is your main source of income?

Our primary source of income is from our video production, photography, and printing services. We help clients achieve their goals with various marketing platforms.

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What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?

Some may say it’s dead, but for me old fashioned cold calling has worked wonders. Recently I’ve had a lot of luck sending customized video emails. For me, happy clients have always led to repeat business and referrals, which have both been the key to our success.

How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?

I believe our brand has stood out because my business partner/ husband Chris is amazing at what he does. Video production is his true passion, and you can see it in his videos. Clients are always so impressed with what Chris can accomplish. He is so easy to work with and tailors each video to fit our client’s specific brand/ style.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

The decision to redesign our website. We are still finalizing the details, but it was hard to make such a big change. When we first started our company we weren’t 100% sure who our main client would be. Now we know the majority of our clients are corporate and our website needs to reflect that. It was a big decision for us but important to change.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

Before hiring anyone to help with SEO and social media, be sure to do your homework. Many companies promise huge rewards and then don’t deliver. I have learned to be more selective with many of my vendors.

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What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?

Always trust your gut. Sometimes when you want something or like someone you will try to con yourself into decisions, even though your gut is warning you. Don’t ignore it.

What new business would you love to start?

I have a real passion for travel. I would love to create a business that focuses on how to travel to unique locations with children. We have taken our kids to unique locations like Galapagos, Costa Rica, Ireland, Norway and Turks & Caicos. We have learned so much from our travels.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I wouldn’t have spent so much time on small dollar ideas. I would’ve focused on larger, corporate clients and longterm contracts.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself, what advice would you give yourself?

Have more confidence in your abilities! Trust when others tell you how much they love working with you. Fight that negative voice inside your head that tries to hold you back. We all have it; the key is to tell it to go away.

Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

“The Sell” by Fredrik Eklund, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini, PH.D. and Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Try to live in the now. It’s easy to regret things in the past and worry about the future but make sure you’re not missing the amazing things that are happening right in front of you. Take time to stop and focus on the positive things happening at this exact moment, no matter how small they might seem.

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

Find a mentor to help you along the way. Be ready to work extremely hard. When you own your own business, it is constantly on your mind. You never really check out. That’s why travel can be so important to help you focus on something other than your business.