Jamila Souffrant 0:00
You're listening to the Journey To Launch Podcast, How To Build A Personal Brand So That You And Your Business Can Thrive And How You Can Increase Your Self and Net Worth By Simply Being Yourself with Jessica Zweig.
T minus 10 seconds. Welcome to the Journey To Launch Podcast with your host Jamila Souffrant. As a money expert who walks her talk, she helps brave Journeyers like you get out of debt, save, invest and build real wealth. Join her on the Journey To Launch to financial freedom in five, four, three, two, one.
Jamila Souffrant 0:43
Hey, Hey, Hey, Journeyers. Welcome to the Journey To Launch Podcast. As always, I am excited that you took the time to spend with me and my guest today. To sit in, to listen in on this conversation. I'm excited for you to listen in on this conversation with Jessica Zweig. Jessica is the founder of the SimplyBe Agency. She has a premier personal branding firm based in Chicago, serving clients across the globe. She has been named a personal branding expert by Forbes and a top Digital Marketer to watch by Inc. You'll hear in our conversation, that we go into her book, "Be: A No-Bullsh*t Guide to Increasing Your Self Worth and Net Worth by Simply Being Yourself" . And I'm excited to bring this conversation to the podcast, because I know I have a lot of entrepreneurs, a lot of "side hustlers", people who want to do their own thing, full time, or build a business and having a personal brand in today's social media age, in a time where people want to connect with someone, not just a bland companym is important. I've seen that in my own journey with Journey To Launch honestly, building this business. And so we're gonna hop into what it takes to build a personal brand where you can show up as yourself. Show up and be authentic, and still make an impact and more money. Plus, we also talk about scaling in a business. What that looks like. The things you should do, what you should invest in, business finances, and more. So I can't wait for you to hear this conversation with Jessica.
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Hey, Journeyers! I am so excited to have a special guest on the podcast, Jessica Zweig from SimplyBe. And I am excited to talk Jessica, and I told her I would share kind of, like, the backstory of how I found out about her until we started to record. But you know, it was interesting, because I think I first saw you somewhere online. You know how sometimes you see people, just like their Instagram pages. And I was like, "Wow, like I really love your brand!" So that was like the first thing that stood out the yellow in your brand. And then I think it was somehow because of your book. So you released a book called, "Be: A No-Bullsh*t Guide to Increasing Your Self Worth and Net Worth by Simply Being Yourself". And I think I caught you when you were releasing the book, like that whole moment, which is a lot and you're doing it in the pandemic, like, in the middle of the pandemic, and I was following along, because I also want to be an author and in that process myself. So it was really inspiring to see how you were launching it. And then you also introduced me to someone else that I really liked now. Ray afraid. Be afraid that I say that right? Like virtually I don't know her. She doesn't know me yet. But I started to listen to her podcast that she's all about writing books. And so I was just like, when we connected to do this interview, I was like, Yes, this the universe, God is bringing us together. So it was great.
Jessica Zweig 3:57
I love that. I love that she's a connecting point for us. And thank you for sharing all that. I just think that's the power of the world we live in today, you know, social media and the internet, just being... having all of this exposure, you know, to people that are doing big and amazing things. So, I'm happy I crossed your path. Now you've crossed my path. I know you're coming on my show soon. So I'm really happy to be here.
Jamila Souffrant 5:34
Yes, yes. And what I really like about your work, and then your book. So another thing is, my friend also gifted me your book, when I mentioned that I was following you. What I liked about it is that you're, you talk about simply being yourself. Your authentic self. Showing up as you are, especially in your business. And I know a lot of entrepreneurs, want-to-be entrepreneurs, side hustlers here listening to podcasts, and they want to do that. They just want to show up and be themselves, and make money, and be free. And you talk all about that in your work. So, can you just take a step back and explain exactly what your agency does and who you are?
Jessica Zweig 6:09
Sure, of course. I often say, like, it's such an exciting time to be alive. Because we live in a day and age now, where you can start a business, call it your name, and make money just doing, doing what you love. That it was not possible, like 15-20 years ago. And, so, I really wanted to jump on that bandwagon of really helping people to do that, based on my, my background. I've been a serial entrepreneur since I was 26. I started my first business then. I ran an online magazine for women in the city of Chicago called Cheeky Chicago, like cheek with a Y cheeky, for seven years. And this was the beginning of social media, like 2008, when Facebook and Twitter were the only games in town and all the major Fortune 500 brands were just getting online. And I was running this really well-known, very fast growing, popular blog in the city. And it just took off. And so I ran that for seven years, grew a huge audience, organically, 100,000 readers were our reader base. And the major brands were coming to me, at that time, looking to reach my audience and paying me you know, money to do so. So, I really cut my teeth during like, 2008 to 2014, on this thing called social media, digital marketing, content marketing, PR, I did a lot of event marketing. So, really just immersed myself in this world of connecting with consumers and turning them into fans, right? That was what I did. I always had like a knack for it. I went to school for theater. And then I stumbled into entrepreneurship. And it was sort of my real calling, right? And then in 2014, I left that business, I walked away, it's like, really tough, long story. But, anyone who's an entrepreneur knows it's like a journey of your soul. And I had to really follow my heart and walk away from this thing that I created. It wasn't really healthy anymore. And I started my own little one woman shop called "SimplyBe Agency." This was, like, in 2014. And overnight, it took off, because I had built, without.... unbeknownst to me, brand equity and my own name and reputation during those seven years running that business. And it set me on this course of, "Holy crap. This was an accident. I didn't even know I had a "personal brand". Why don't I create a whole business around this." Not only to, like, amplify myself, but to really help other people and sort of take what I had learned from working with Nike, Coca Cola, Beam Suntory, LuluLemon, Bloomingdale's, like the biggest brands in the world, and how to convert audiences, but for people. And so that was really the dawn of SimplyBe. And now we are a full-service, personal branding agency. Multi-seven figure company, that I built from 0, 0 dollars, net negative dollars, in fact, and have now a staff of 20 people. We are based in Chicago, but we serve clients literally on every continent. And it's kind of wild to think about it, kind of where I came from, to what I'm doing now. But, with SimplyBe, I sort of found my purpose, like I, I really think that the planet needs people who are in their hearts. And my clients are CEOs and founders and entrepreneurs and leaders. And whether we like it or not, the world is run by big business. And yet people are within those businesses. And so I want to really reach those people who are at the top and those are my clients, to infuse more humanity across the board, and to the way we lead, into the way we market, and the way we treat people and, and that's really, like, the heart of SimplyBe, you know, is all about authenticity. And, I know that's an overused word, but that's really what I believe in. And so I really credit, that kind of soul of what I'm doing, is what's made my business grow so fast, because I think people are really ready for that message now. And they're really hungry for that message now. And yeah, if you're interested in learning about personal branding, like that's, I hope you look to me as your girl. Now, that's what I do.
Jamila Souffrant 10:22
Well, and we'll talk a bit about it, because, it's as an entrepreneur myself, I know the importance of it. You know, it's funny, because with Journey To Launch, there's Journey To Launch the brand and there's me, Jamila Souffrant. And, while I was, like, looking through your book, you know, I was doing some of the exercises, which we could talk about for people if they want to do that too. But, it, one of the interesting things is: As the brand Journey To Launch is one thing, Jamila Souffrant is another. A nd I, I didn't always want to be tied to Journey To Launch. But I realized that a lot of the reason people like Journey To Launch is because of me, obviously, and my personal story. So, as someone who's starting a business now, can they be the personal brand, like for example, Jamila Souffrant, and have a almost not-as-intertwined, more business-focused brand, like a Journey To Launch without integrating them too? Or at this point, it's necessary to intertwine them to grow?
Jessica Zweig 11:14
I think it's such a good question. And it's so personal to the, to the objectives that you have. So, I will always advocate that a personal brand and a company brand are important in equal measure. They serve different functions. A company brand needs to be crystal-clear, have its unique market value and positioning to be differentiated from the competition, to really have a clear point of view, right? This is a clear audience. But, at the end of the day, no one could communicate emotion, or expertise, like a person. And we do business with people. People do business with people. We don't do business with logos, or products, or websites. It's at the end of the day, we're going to refer, hire, recommend buy into a company based on how a company makes us feel, and people can only make us feel a certain way, generally speaking. So, I think it's extremely advantageous for you if you're building your business, and you're starting your company, to think about your marketing strategy for your company holistically. And include your thought leadership, your presentation online, your presence online as a cornerstone and a component to your overall marketing strategy. Like, we often get hired by, like a CMO of a large company, to come in and just focus on the founder brands. But they're also doing ads, and they're doing conventions, and they're doing emails-- all on the behalf of the company. But, we then amplify the founder, so that there's a real 360 understanding of who this company is. So that's, like, one way of thinking about it. But I love your question, because, if you're looking to scale, like, I'll speak for myself right now. So, Jessica Zweig has been SimplyBe, for four and a half years. Well, SimplyBe's scaling. I want to keep growing it. Maybe one day sell it, who knows. But, I'm not for sale, right? Like, and, and, and it's a business, it's a business risk. When people call the phone and expect to talk to me. I've 20 people now. It's like, I'm not comparing myself to Mark Zuckerberg, but think about it, like, you don't call Facebook and talk to Mark Zuckerberg, like, you have to be able to pull apart the threads in, I think in time, because it becomes a business risk when you are so interwoven with your company brand. Your company brand does need to kind of stand on its own two feet. And you, as the face-founder personal brand, are the ultimate amplifier. But you're not the anchor. If that makes sense. Or you can't really truly be if you want it to continue to scale.
Jamila Souffrant 13:49
That's great! Amplifier versus anchor. I think that's a really great way to frame and think about this. And, it's funny because, you know, here I am talking about, "Oh, my brand Journey To Launch has so much of me in it. How, you know, how do I eventually separate it?" And then you have these multimillion dollar companies that are like, "Well, we need to infuse more personal brands in the big company." So, it's that, the other side wants with the other side has.
Jessica Zweig 14:13
Amazing. I love that you, that you broke it down that way. And I think that people get, like, kind of hung up on t"he shoulds". And it's just like, look at your business strategy. Look at your objectives. Look at your goals. Look at your one year, three, or five year plan. look at what's not working or connecting currently in your own marketing strategy. And how can you utilize potentially some unique ways of doing it and I'm always gonna ring the bell of a personal brand, like, no one can cut through the noise like a like a human being, and especially when you're real and raw and vulnerable and authentic, which are all the things that I talk about in my book. And, you'll be surprised at the difference in the quality of the people that want to work with you when you're really infusing your humanity into that, and then, as it scales. I mean, I've been startups and entrepreneurship my whole career. And we are literally reimagining our business every six to nine months, you know, it just it's a way that it works. So, you know, be, be in flow around it, but definitely, definitely invest and consider the power of a personal brand.
Jamila Souffrant 15:19
Yeah. And it's interesting, because you talked a little bit about what you did before simply be and how you knew, at a certain point, it was time to let that go. And I'm curious to know what that moment or those moments were, because there are people listening, and they're thinking, well, is this what I'm supposed to be doing? There's something else but they don't know yet. But what that is, and maybe they're looking for a signal. So can you explain, or go back to that time where you knew that you needed to pull away from what you were doing to listen to something else?
Jessica Zweig 15:48
Thank you for asking this. First, I'll say to your audience, those you've mentioned: listener entrepreneurs, you know, ambitious wantrepreneurs, side hustlers. But we're creating these things that we love that are ours, right? That become not just an extension of us, but they become us, right? This is our entire businesses, when you're an entrepreneur, is your identity. So when I ran this magazine for seven years, it was my entire identity. But then towards the last like one to two years, it just started to feel really off. Like I wasn't in alignment. I was so out of alignment. And, like, I knew that because, my, my body and my mind, my spirit, and my emotional state was like speaking to me. I was getting really sick. I wasn't happy. I was super stressed out. I had a really toxic relationship with a business partner at the time, she was my 50/50 partner. I had an emotional breakdown, to be totally honest. Like, I couldn't handle the stress and toxicity of it all. And I heard a higher voice, I'm a very spiritual person. And I heard like, you know, call it source God, Universe speak through me. And it told me I needed to leave my business. I just wanna pause there. Because, my point is, like, when your businesses you, hearing the voice of like source tell you to leave your business is like source telling you to cut off your right arm, like, or give away your baby, or dog, like you're like, "What, No!" It's like, unimaginable. It doesn't make sense. It doesn't compute, at first. But this is, like, the thing about hearing the call of your truth, like you can't unhear it. And that's what happened to me. And so it set me on this course, to really take a deep journey within, you know? I had to really get right and real with myself, and I hired a coach. And I started to meditate. And I went deep into my spiritual practice. And I really started to unpack the truth that this was no longer in alignment with who I was becoming. And so I walked away. And it was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. Like, that was definitely walking through the fire. I went through a very bloody business divorce, my business partner at the time was not happy that I left. She felt, like, I think abandoned and kind of came after me. And it was like a, it was like "a thing." And yet, I survived. And I chose myself. And I'm so grateful for that chapter in my life. Even the relationship I had with her. She was like such a divine teacher. And I never have regretted anything. And that was my activation point. Because my first business was a grind. I made all the mistakes, like, it was my real life MBA. And it was like the school of hard knocks, qll right? I made the biggest mistakes at that time. I went broke, I was a horrible leader. We were so green. And instead of looking at that as, "Oh, well, that was a mess. And I'm gonna go just continue to do what I want to do." I really use that inflection point as an opportunity to really like take those lessons. And this is the key, I could say I learned from them, we all should learn from our lessons. But the way that you learn from them in my personal experience is by learning how to take accountability for yourself, for the role that you played. So I could have easily, you know, there's an expression, you point one finger at someone else, and you've got three pointing back at you. That was the real work. To take a real, honest, accountable, responsible, look at the mess I had created myself, because I could, I could sit here and be like, "Oh, it was all my business partners fault, or my lawyers fault, or whatever," like, but I actually had to own it. And that really became my biggest key to awakening into my power. Because when you own your 'ish, no one can call you out, because you've called yourself out first, you know? And so that's really the journey that set me into this. SimplyBe experience of, "I'm gonna be myself. I'm gonna own it all: My dark, my light. And I'm going to encourage other people to do that. And on top of it, I'm going to share people how they can package that on the internet in a way that's magnetic and authentic to drive their businesses forward. As well as their impact in the world forward," because I think that's really what we're here to do is to serve and to give, I think that's when we're in our highest vibrations. And I was so not there, it was, like all about me. And that shift took me a few years. But, that's really, really the nut of what happened. And, yeah, I was broke at 33. And I had to ask my parents to help me pay my phone bill. That day, I actually talked about that in my book, was like the real turning point for me. I was like, I can't live this lie anymore. And I have to really figure out how I created it and how I can fix it. And that was the beginning of the beginning.
Jamila Souffrant 20:36
Oh my gosh, thank you for sharing that, and I know that this will speak to someone right now who was in a situation, whether it's a job, relationship, friendship, whatever, whatever personal or professional thing that this happening in their life right now and feeling stuck, feeling like why are they going through this and understanding that you can use this experience that you're going through to harness it, to propel you to something else. And, one of the things you talk about, which is really what you are all about, is this authenticity "simply being," and, for people who are now showing up online and using social media to help amplify their message, to tell something, to help people, how do you be authentic without being performative? And or come off as self centered? Or is it okay to be self centered? Because it is your brand? I struggle with that often, with like sharing certain things, because I'm like, "Well, I don't want people to, like, have sympathy. I'm not asking for sympathy right now. or I don't want to complain," but it's interesting the balance of authenticity versus doing too much.
Jessica Zweig 21:40
So, if you have a personal brand, and you put yourself out there a lot, there are going to be people who think you're self centered, they just will. That's what people, certain people are gonna have that projection and perception. And ain't none of your business, like that's them. They're not your people anyway. If they like, see you feeling yourself, and they're like, "Yeah, I don't feel her," like good, data, moving on, you know? There'll be people who will, the more authentic you are. Authenticity works like a magnet. You either attract, or repel. Like, that's what what happens when you become unapologetically you and your vibration. It's all just energy, right? So when you're vibrating at the frequency of yourself, people are, they're going to magnetize to that, or they're going to repel away from that. And that's awesome. Just remember that. That's one. Two. I got the advice a long time ago, and I've mentioned this before, it's actually written about in my book. I was going through a really horrible breakup. This was, like back in like 2012 ish, or I don't even know when, and I was going on Facebook. And like, catharting. Just, like, talking about my feelings, and being super passive aggressive. I was like, in this really raw heartbreak. And just, like, putting it out on the internet. And a really wise friend pulled me aside and was like, "Jessica, don't do that. That is not a good look," And she said to me, "The internet is not a place to process. Process that stuff off the internet with your therapist, your family, your friends, your journal, your dog, but don't process it on the internet, because no one really cares. You're just coming off as self indulgent, come back to the internet, when you've had a chance to breathe and understand the wisdom that you're gleaning from this experience, and talk about it from that vantage point." Because you really want to think about what is in it for the person on the other side of their phone, with each and every piece of content you share, you just you have to come from that place. Whether it's like, promoting a course, or sharing what's really happening with your life. And so, it's a fine line that I think people dance, because we want to be authentic, we want to be real. And sometimes real stuff is hard and painful. And, and so if you're going to come on the internet and share that, don't do it for you. Do it for your community, you know? And have a come from that energetically feels very much in service to your audience. And that is the key. And that can be scary. And like I said, there are going to be people who are gonna be like, "Oh, she's so in into herself. She's coming on here talking about her breakup, and she's telling me all the things she is learning so that I don't feel alone girl, I'm not alone. Like she's, she's all about. She's wack." Like, okay, like I know, we all have fans, like our followers or trolls that have that point of view and they're just not your people. And so you can't do it for them. You know, you've got to do it for the people who really get you and the more you are consistently you, the more of those people will come. So I hope that made sense. I just, I feel so strongly about this, because it's such a quagmire for people and and I'm just like, "Just get online, be you, and really give a crap about the people you're talking to," just remember them in everything you do, and you'll be, you'll be great.
Jamila Souffrant 25:00
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Another thing is, that's important, is also that you can still maintain a level of privacy and decide what you want to share. So myself, I tell them I'm a mom, you know, three littles, and then I have a husband, and despite a public facing brand, I'm pretty private, which people, some people don't believe because, they're like, "Well, you tend to share some things, and you know, like, it doesn't seem like you're, you get shy," and I'm like, I am super like introverted. But, my brand, or this calling that I've, I've come into, just requires me to be "out there." So, it's also that deciding what to share and what not to share, because I know if I shared more of my kids, more of my famil,y more of my home, my personal brand can grow, which then help the business brand. But I'm like, "I don't know if I want to do that. I don't I don't know if I'm comfortable doing that." But, I don't know if it's coming from a place of, you know, the ego. Good, in a good and bad way. Meaning, I'm afraid of judgment. Which, and what other people think. Is it really what I think or I'm afraid of what other people are going to see? And why would I let that hold me back from stepping into my truth or greatness? Or if it's really like, "No, you really don't want to do that, because it's just not you." So I struggle with that a bit.
Jessica Zweig 27:31
Have you read my books?
Jamila Souffrant 27:33
I read like 80% of it.
Unknown Speaker 27:35
So, the hologram. I'm sure you're familiar with that tool. I would encourage anyone, sort of relating to what Jamila's saying, Jamila saying, is this idea of like, "Who do I be when I don't want all of myself to be out there, but yet I still want to be authentic." And so my hologram framework really helps you kind of decipher what is sacred and private. You know, what are you really passionate about, what belongs in consistently on the internet about you? And how do you then shape a narrative that is precise, but also deep, and doesn't sacrifice your privacy or your authenticity? And that's really, it's like a permission slip, like, "Oh, I don't have to share my kids if I don't want to? But I can share my faith. Or I can share my passion for my mom, or whatever." And then have that be an equally human message, without giving away you know, what's sacred to you.
Jamila Souffrant 28:31
Yeah, I like that. It's funny, because I actually did start that exercise in the book. So everyone um, definitely pick up, if you are, like, getting into this conversation and you want work to do and the actual, like, steps go pick up Jessica's book, "Be," and then I'll link that all in the show notes. But you talked about like, identifying four things that you, that your brand, or that yourself connect to, and then getting content, or getting ideas from there. Can you just briefly go over it for anyone who's listening and wants to get like a start?
Jessica Zweig 29:01
Sure. So, I often say that if you want to be seen as an expert in your industry, like you can't talk about whatever you want anymore. The internet is way too noisy. People think content is king. You've heard that marketing term, "Content is king." That worked in 2005 through 15, when, like, there wasn't as much noise on the internet as there is today. So you could just get online and create a bunch of YouTube videos consistently in 2007, and you'd go viral, because no one else is really maybe doing that in your space. Now there's 500,000 people talking about skincare, right on, on YouTube, right? So, it's really about getting specific, and it's about clarity, right? And the way that we achieve that, at least through the "SimplyBe methodology," is through this tool called the Hologram, where it's sort-of divided into a circle in the center and four boxes surrounding that circle with little bullet points in each of the boxes. And in the center is what's called your Headline, right? So, we want people to have this immediate, gut-like knowing when they hear your name. So, when I think of like Gary Vaynerchuk, it's like hustle. When I think about Oprah Winfrey I'm like soul. You know, I think Richard Branson I think of adventure. When I think of Elan Musk, I think of engineering the future, right? Like, there's like, and there's like aspects of like, these personal brands that are super consistent, super synonymous, almost like a tagline, like Nike "Just do it." So, we we help you identify what that is for you. And having a strong sense of that is, can be a game changer. Can really inform so much of your messaging. Then those four boxes I mentioned are what we call your Brand Pillars. So, I'll often say you can't talk about 25 things. You're going to just come off as a hot mess. Master of everything, expert of nothing. And you can just talk about one thing, you can just talk about, like, you know, entrepreneurship, or personal branding, or travel, or technology, like over and over, people will just get bored. And tune you out by being overly self promotional. So four, that number, is what we have found to be a real sweet spot to achieve that clarity and messaging. Also being able to provide depth, right? Because you are more than what you do. You're, we're talking about personal brands here. So, it's it's, it's what you do, what makes you an expert, why someone would pay you money, and who you are. Why would someone want to spend time with you? Why someone would want to work with you? Because they like you, they know you, they can relate to you. And that's where we start to weave in these aspects of our personal identities. In tandem with our professional expertise. And we really strike that blend at SimplyBe, and then, inside of the Pillars, as I mentioned, those boxes, are little bullet points that are called your Unique Insights. And so, you know, Jamila and I might have "women empowerment," for example, we might have the same pillar, but your experience of what it is to be an empowered woman, to empower other women, why women empowerment is important to you, it will be completely different than Jessica Zweig's experience of personal empowerment for women, because we're different people. We have different stories. And, so, it's about cracking into those nuances. And then you flesh all of that out and you've got your Hologram. And that Hologram serves as the blueprint to then build everything off of content wise, strategically, tactically, all centering back to what's your brand. And what do you talk about? What makes you, you. What don't you talk about. And you rinse and repeat that. To be frank, it sounds really basic, but you are who you say you are over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. That is how you become known as the thing you want to be known for. Which is why I think this work is so freakin empowering. Because you get to decide, you know? You get to build that, you get to write that narrative, first and foremost, and then build the tactics against it. And you got to play the long game. I talk about that in my book, too. It's not like an overnight, they like can't expect to be known as the expert in your space after three months. You know, it's gonna take you a year to really build that that equity in the market with that consistency. That's really the, the approach. So, that's the Hologram. It can be a life changing experience for people if you really, really go into it. And yeah, so that's, that's it. That's the method that I start with in the book.
Jamila Souffrant 33:30
No, thanks for sharing that. And I want to be also clear, this is for your personal brand that you do this for, right?
Jessica Zweig 33:36
It, it is for your personal brand; however, I've taken companies through it too. In my view, it's all about clarity and humanity and messaging. And that stands for companies as much as it does for people. But, it was inspired by people, but I think brands-- I often say brands are trying to be people. Not the other way around, brands are trying to emotionally connect with their consumers. And no one can do that better than a person.
Jamila Souffrant 34:01
Okay, so I have to now speak for, like, the small entrepreneur, the small entrepreneur, more like myself, not at your level yet where I have like employees, but it's like literally, like I already have enough trying to figure out Journey To Launch content, right? And then I look at my page, and I'm like, "Well, I know this can be better." If I like, you know, did what you said and follow through with the hologram content. But, I'm like, at the end of the day, I'm tired. I'm like, I can focus on one right now, and still infuse a little bit of me in Journey To Launch. But, what would you say then for someone who is starting out small, they have a clothing line that they want to come out with, they bake, something, but they're, they have a personal brand that they want to build but they business? What would you say they should focus on or spend most of their time on as they feel this company or their brand?
Jessica Zweig 34:42
Well, I think, when you're at that stage, when you're early stage "Build Mode," you got to keep the lights on, right? You do. And like, if it doesn't make money, it's a hobby. So, what, you got to think about where you're making money, you know. Where's the greatest ROI on your time? And if it is infusing into like, baking your products, right, making sure they're perfect and making sure that market knows about your muffins like, that's okay, you know. Like, stick, stick, stick to that. When then you can potentially afford an assistant. You know, it doesn't have to be like a full-time employee at 100 grand a year, it could just be like someone you pay hourly, that gets you a little bit out of the weeds, so that you can start creating some more spaciousness to get on your Instagram more often, and do some IGTVs and reels about you, and you behind the scenes making your muffins, and talking about why you started the business and, you know, creating more of your own personal brand community. I want to break it down into like really simple steps so that people don't feel like they're missing out by not doing this work if they only have so many hours in the day. When I started my business, I was a one woman shop. I wore all the hats. And then, I made just enough money, and I had just enough clients, where I had too much work. I needed someone to help me, so I hired an assistant. And that was the year, by the way, my business tripled, because I was able to get out of the weeds. And, it was a scary thing to invest in a person to help me, because I was like, "I pay her rent." It's, like, was a ton of pressure. Now I pay 20 people's rents. And it just, you know, it's really grown. But I've taken it brick by brick. And so focus on where you're going to see the best ROI of your time. And when you really start to see the return, then you can sort of be more discerning of where you, as the founder, are spending your time. And if you really want to practice and kind of just get your brand out there. You don't have to go balls to the wall on like a robust strategy and comprehensive tactics. Like, go deep on your own Instagram channel. Write a blog once a week, and put it on your website of your business page and share it on your LinkedIn, you know. Start to drip out content. Content is king, clarity is king really.. but content, it works, you know, so, share your face. Get yourself out there and microwaves as you're building the brand, so that by the time you're ready to fly, you've got some presence. And you can really leverage that. Does that make sense?
Jamila Souffrant 37:13
It does, it does. And it sounds like, you know, your business is the product. You are sharing, on your personal brand, or you have your four pillars, and what that, what that looks like to you: The why and how behind what allows you to do the brand. And then I can tell that whatever future endeavors someone may have even for myself, like whether it's that book, and or another company that I want to start or do, like, it's easier to transition when you have that personal brand already established, versus waiting to, you know, not do it.
Jessica Zweig 37:42
100%, 100%. I work with a lot of people who deal with this. It's called, like, analysis, paralysis, or imposter syndrome, right? Like, we think that, "Who am I?" you know? Or like, "One day I'll get there when I ready." And it's like, you know what, you just got to go, because time is going to tick on anyway. And then you're going to look back and you're gonna be like, "Dammit, I wish I would have started this thing two years ago." And it's just micro actions. You know, I, I really can't stress this enough. I have a nice, small business. It's a big business in the world of small businesses, right? I mean, I'm doing fine. But people will look at and be like, "Oh my god, like, no one takes the escalator to success. Like, we, or the elevator, right? It's like a it's like a step by step staircase." And so, really, my advice to people is just start walking. And it starts to compound for you. And you don't see it in the moment, but you see it when you get to like, the 87th step, and you don't even realize that you're there and you look down you're like, "I just did that. I just walked I just you know, like I walked I've been walking that far?" You got to move.
Jamila Souffrant 38:54
Yes, I love that. And when it comes to scaling, so you you alluded to this. When you first started, the way you started to scale was you hired, you got help. Now that you are continuing to scale, what have been the things that allowed you to scale more and to get to the multimillion dollar mark from the negative dollar mark in your business?
Jessica Zweig 39:13
A lot of things. You know, I mean, like I said in my first business, I made a ton of mistakes and learned from those mistakes. So I feel like much, I was much better prepared going into running a business the second time around. So, first and foremost. I got my mind right around money, okay? I hired a financial support team. Like I hired a one a one man band for a minute, and then I you know got bigger and I outsourced a bigger team, and then I brought someone in house. But the point is getting your P+L, your budget, your money, like tight, like knowing your numbers, understanding P+L spreadsheets, like that, to me was something that I had my whole life, Jamela, up until a few years ago, told myself, "I'm bad at this. I don't know how to do this. I suck at money, I hate money, it stresses me out." When I started to tell myself, "I've got this, I'm good at money. I know how to read a spreadsheet. I love budgeting. This is fun." literally the spirit of my abundance in my business changed, because I related to the lifeblood of any business, money, so differently than I ever had before. And so that was, like, an internal journey I had to take, versus like a strategy. But that was foundational. And then, you know, hiring the right people, building processes and systems, leaning into software's, leaning into, you know, how to build like, a beginning, middle, and end client experience and mapping that out, and having that be a rinse and repeatable formula for my team to follow. Those things all took time. And, we're, you know, rewriting them all the time. I also think, I really, really, really invested in my culture. Like, even when I had three people, now I have 18, like, it is all about my people. It is all about creating a beautiful, thriving, loving, safe place to work. And you know, I have a very diverse company now, which is incredible. And I am constantly reading books, going through DNI training, like making sure this this place called SimplyBe, is a place people want to come to every day, because there's, a there's a quote that I love, and my mentor told me a long time ago, "culture eats strategy for breakfast," meaning, you can have the best products and the best systems and the best, the best marketing, blah, blah. But if your people don't love their jobs, it doesn't matter. It's not gonna work. So culture, money, process, systems, learning to let go. Like, you know, and really like having like other leaders come in, like I have a full, full leadership team. Now I have a Head of Agency, CFO, CEO, CMO, you know, directors that are managing the junior staff like, to me, that has been the hardest growth edge, to be frank, because I started this thing from zero. And it was just me and mine forever. And now, a lot of people. And so that experience of learning to surrender has also been a key to scaling. And last thing, do not be afraid to raise your prices. Do not be afraid to charge more money than makes you comfortable. If you put out a price point that makes your stomach churn you're on target.
Jamila Souffrant 42:31
I love that. Yeah. And I want to just go right back to the financial part, because you know, this is the finance-based show, although all the things we're talking about matter and relate to and feed into our money. But when you talk about getting financial help, are you talking about within your business? And what were those roles, so I know you just mentioned CFO, but for people now thinking about their business finances, because it's totally different, like handling your business finances. Some people are, like, great at that, and their personal finances and how they spend their money is, like, a mess, because their business can be making money, but they're not actually able to retain, or grow wealth from that. So I kind of wanted to, like, dive into if you want to share, like how you handle or dealt with the money in the business, versus your personal money and how you handle that if you have a team to help you with that now, too?
Jessica Zweig 43:16
So, funny you asked that, because, okay, so my first financial hire was a, an outsourced vendor, who I think I paid him like $1,500 to $2,000 a month, you know, and he did all my back office, he did my payroll, he did my invoicing. And I was doing about $300,000 in sales when I met him. So it was like,
Jamila Souffrant 43:37
For the year?
Jessica Zweig 43:38
For the year, yeah.
Then the following couple years, we started to outgrow him. You know, he was one person. And he didn't want to bring in a big team, he wanted, he just wanted to keep his his own business small. And I loved him. He's-- shout out to Pablo. He like set me up for such success. And then, I hired a bigger company that I was spending like $5,000 a month on, because my business was, like, at like, the $1.5 million mark at that point. And, they were okay. I liked themm kind of, I didn't really trust them. It was kind, of they, they were like too junior and I thought I was getting a different level of talent. It was, long story. And the pandemic hit. This is all of it. The pandemic hit. My husband is a financial advisor. And he, kind of, had nothing to do, because he couldn't go anywhere, right? And I was running my digital marketing agency, and I didn't really like this finance team. This is crazy, actually. So the PPP rolled out. And I was like, "We got to apply." Everyone was going, you know, crazy. And, my finance team, that was paying me, I was paying $5,000 a month, sent me a quote to fill out the PPP form is going to cost me 10 grand. And I was like, "This is the most counterintuitive BS I've ever seen, because this is a pandemic. I'm a small business-- this is as a loan applicant, and you're going to charge me 10 G's?" And my husband was like, "Let me do this." So he came to one meeting with my then, finance team, and took two looks at them and was like, "I could do this better than all of it." So, I ended up firing my finance team, and I've hired my husband. And he is my CFO, and I'm very blessed that I have a husband that can do money. And that's a sweet spot. And I've given my husband a whole sense of purpose. So, to answer your question, because I run my business with my husband, and like, our business is, sort of, our primary source of wealth, everything is interwoven, right? And so, I pay myself obviously salary, he gets a salary. We look at our, you know, profit margins, and we, you know, are either investing back in our business, or we're saving money and putting it aside for, you know, a house, but like, it's a both and, and that's, you know, whatever. For whatever it's worth, that's the beauty of being an entrepreneur, is that you can make those decisions. And I would really just encourage you to look at, not that people would or do but you know, your business bank account isn't your own personal piggy bank, you know? It's your business's bank account. So having really smart people, for me, it was my husband, before it was Pablo. I had, you know, people in between, but really hold me accountable to that and help me, you know? Help me, like, run the money. Because if it's yours, it can kind of feel like one big pot, but you really do need to delineate your responsibility, your fiduciary duty, really, to your business first, especially if you've got people that you pay, and sort of look at yourself separately.
Jamila Souffrant 46:42
Yeah, and it sounds like everything you've shared so far, but scaling, really requires this level of, like you said, letting go and investing. So you know, you can be making, you know, whether it's $300, or $100,000, I know, that's a big difference, but there may be points where, you can either keep on and hold that entire amount to yourself, and just to have more work and do more, or depending on the scale of what you're doing, hire out and find someone else to do that work, who has that expertise, who can get you to the next level. And I think so many people are stuck in that phase of, they're scared to try, their scared to spend the money, they're scared to trust someone else. And, you know, most times, you're not going to find it on the right, the first... you have the solution right in your household. But you didn't know it at the moment, right? Like, but you had to go through different people to know what you wanted. So, it's like, it's inevitable to make, not bad choices, but the choices that lead you to the right choice.
Listen, there's no straight line, you know? You're gonna squiggle. And that's how we learn and grow. And like, we do really well, at SimplyBe now, but I'll tell you, I still feel like month to month. I'm like, "Are we gonna make our money this month? Are we're gonna hit our numbers?" Like, you sign up for a lot of a lot of financial stress when you're an entrepreneur. I mean, that's just the way it rolls. But, one of the things that I can say has been a drastic shift. Yes, is having not just my husband in my business, but just with a few other people, again at the leadership level, who I always say, "If you're not worried, then I'm not worried." You know, people who know money, like get budget, can forecast, and like, when we, then we can make decisions with that, that point of reference. And sometimes we make big bets. And, if they're not worried, then I'm not worried. So it's really can be a real transformational thing to put people like that around you, that you trust, and to have your highest interests at heart. And you can fly a little bit more when you have that support.
Yes, I love that. Okay, Jessica, oh my gosh, this was amazing. I love that we went from personal branding. Talking about business finances is amazing. So please tell people where they can find more about you, your agency, and your book.
Jessica Zweig 48:53
So you can come find me at Jessicazweig.com. That's my personal website. And then I also have my company website, simplybeagency.com. You can come find me on social media. I'm @JessicaZweig on Instagram, and LinkedIn is where I spend most of my time. And my book is called, 'Be: A No-Bullsh*t Guide to Increasing Your Self Worth and Net Worth by Simply Being Yourself,' and you can find it on Amazon. You can support your local bookstores. It's sold it Barnes & Noble, Target... you can find it wherever books are sold.
Jamila Souffrant 49:25
Love it. Thank you so much again, Jessica.
Jessica Zweig 49:27
Thank you for having me, Jamila, and I can't wait to get you on my show. This was so fun.
Jamila Souffrant 49:34
All right. I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Jessica. I know that as a business owner and a person, right? Like, it's your business, and then it's you, right? You're also trying to manage so much. Not only that, but your life behind the scenes, and how do we do it all? Do we need to do it all? What do we focus on? So I hope that this conversation brought some clarity and some ideas where it will help you leverage who you actually are, in order to do what you love, whatever that is. Also, when it comes to scaling and investing in a business-- wow, like Jessica was dropping some gems there, because, I can attest that it is important to hire help. I would not be where I am today if I was still doing this all on my own. And I'm nowhere close to having a, you know, full time staff, or a big staff yet, but I understand, or know that, if there's a certain level that I want to reach, it's going to require more assistance and help. So hope you really enjoyed this episode. And if you did-- love for you to share it with me, take a screenshot of you listening to this wherever you listen, tag me on social media, put it down in your stories, or maybe your main feed @journeytolaunch and then you can also @Jessicazweig on Instagram.
Don't forget, you can get the episode show notes for this episode by going to journeytolaunch.com, or click the description of wherever you're listening to this and you can still grab your Jumpstart Guide for free to help you on your journey to financial freedom by going to journeytolaunch.com/jumpstart. If you want to support me and the podcast and love the free content and information that you get here, here are four ways that you can support me in the show: One, make sure you're subscribed to the podcast wherever you listen, whether that's Apple Podcasts, that purple app on your phone, your Android device, YouTube, Spotify, wherever it is that you happen to listen, just subscribe so you are not missing an episode. And if you're happening to listen to this and Apple Podcasts, rate, review and subscribe there. I appreciate and read every single review. Number two, follow me on my social media accounts. I'm @journeytolaunch on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And I love, love, love, interacting with Journeyers there. Three, support and check out the sponsors of this show. If you hear something that interests you. Sponsors are the main ways we keep the podcast lights on here. So, show them some love for supporting your girl. Four, and last but not least, share this episode this podcast with a friend or family member or co worker, so that we can spread the message of Journey to Launch. Alright, that's it until next week. Keep on journeying Journeyers.
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