How did Jo Ilfeld, Founder, Let’s Go Strolling start her online business, expand into retail, grow it to 7 figures and sell it with multiple offers 5 years later. Listen to her tips on …
- Recognizing an opportunity
- How manufacturers work with online stores (drop ship vs. inventory, etc…)
- How to differentiate your business
- Managing her retail store to work with HER schedule
- Managing Inventory – Hmm, are customers are willing to wait for the right product?
- Defining your partner/co-founder relationship from the start
- How to hire a business broker and what to expect from that relationship
- Starting her next venture, Success Reboot as a Success Coach for Busy Professionals & Entrepreneurs. Jo is offering viewers of her Best Mom Products interview a FREE one hour consultation
NOTE – Rachel Olsen, Founder, Best Mom Products acts as an independent 3rd party, not endorsing or receiving (directly or indirectly) any compensation from anyone she interviews.
Read the transcript
Rachel: Hi, I’m Rachel Olsen, founder of Best Mom Products, where mompreneurs share their adventures in business. Today I’m talking with Jo Ilfeld, founder of Let’s Go Strolling, an online store featuring strollers and accessories. She started her store in 2005, built it to a seven-figure business, and sold it in 2010 all while raising three young children. No small feat. Her current venture is Success Reboot, where she is a coach for busy professionals and entrepreneurs. Today we’ll learn how Jo created and sold a successful business and why she decided to take her experience to become a coach to help others build success in their lives. Welcome, Jo. Does that sound about right?
Jo: That sounds great. Thank you so much, Rachel. It’s lovely for you to have me on.
Rachel: Thank you. It’s a pleasure. Tell me, tell everyone, what Let’s Go Strolling is. How did that idea come to you? We’ll start with that and go from there.
Jo: Let’s Go Strolling was, or it still is though I no longer own it, but it still lives on, an online retail store for all the best strollers, diaper bags, accessories that parent’s on the go need. What we try to do is provide a high end boutique on the internet. What you often find, for a lot of people, is if you’re in New York, Chicago, or L.A. you can generally find stores that have all the high end things, but for a lot of people, they were reading about these great products on the internet and they really wanted them but they couldn’t find them anywhere. They certainly couldn’t find them all in the same place. What we offered was sort of a boutique level of service and real knowledge about the products with the convenience of online shopping.
Rachel: How did that come across? I remember you told me a story about when you had your child and the Bugaboo had just come out. Let’s take people back to before. Now the market is filled with very high end strollers, but at the time that you had this idea it wasn’t. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Jo: Sure. At the time when I was actually pregnant with my second child, the Bugaboo had sort of just come out. It was just the frog version at that time for anyone who even knows what that is now. It had been on Sex in the City. Everyone was saying, “Eight hundred dollars? Who would pay $800 dollars for a stroller?” It was unimaginable at the time. I was just fascinated with this idea with being able to face your baby for longer than just the snap and go, three to six months that’s traditional. There were a couple of strollers on the market where you could face your baby, but they were really large like pram-type strollers, not something you can easily throw in the trunk or go around town with.
I said to my husband, “I really want this.” He said, “Absolutely not. There is no way we are getting a Bugaboo.” For me, that was my challenge. I started looking at all these strollers online and all these strollers you couldn’t find in stores but were in Europe or different places that had them. That was sort of how I got introduced to the market.
There are actually places called Stroller Swap and message boards on the internet where people talk exclusively about strollers. That was how I learned first about sort of the world of strollers, but it’s also how I learned there was a real void at that time. There were moms who really interested in these types of new strollers but really couldn’t find them anywhere. Even though the Bugaboo was the most visible, it wasn’t the only one out there that had those features.
Rachel: Tell me a little about how you went about building that business. You saw that there was a need for this. What was the first thing that you did? Did you do a business plan or do research? Tell me about that.
Jo: I didn’t, but that would’ve been a great idea. I recommend it heartily to other people. I did have a business partner. I definitely want to mention that. We were very close. We still are. It was a really wonderful relationship because we really were always bouncing ideas off each other. We were always calling each other with new ideas. We were always trying to think about how to do things. What we did do is we sort of started the business really on a hope and a prayer and just sort of seeing how things would go.
Then we went immediately to one of the biggest trade shows in the industry called the ABC Show. I’m sure most of your listeners are very familiar with it. The best thing to do is go to these shows and walk them and really get a sense of what good products are out there. For us it was great because we could see what products were out there as well as sort of the competitors in terms of who else was walking the market, who else was talking to these stroller manufacturers, and what they were interested in. It was sort of market research right on the ground so to speak.
Rachel: You went to the show. Now don’t you have to have an actual product? How does that work to be able to get into the ABC show or any of these major trade shows?
Jo: You can be in the show basically as a number of ways now. One is as a buyer, which is how we went to the show. One is as a seller, which is you’re exhibiting products. The other is you can go as a media. Some people go as bloggers or to check out and do research. They say they have a blog, they have links to it, and they can go and check out all competition basically by being a blogger.
Rachel: Okay. You went to the trade show. Did you make good connections there? Did you know already about the buying process before you went?
Jo: No, we learned a lot about the buying process. For instance, we had no idea that if a product is marked up 100% that’s called keystoning a product. We learned fun words like keystoning, which make you sound in the know. We also learned fun terms like what the manufacturer suggested retail price is, like what the price they want you to sell it at versus what price they’ll really ding you if you sell it below. It’s very dicey in the industry right now as to how much they can restrict pricing because of the anti-trust rules. They try to keep control of their pricing but they’re limited by certain things. They can signal to you certain ways that they will like you or not like you to sell their product.
Rachel: Oh, that’s interesting. There’s a set price. As an online retailer, did you have somebody. . . You went. You made the connections at the trade show. Did you have a website at that time or were you in the process of building it?
Jo: We did have a website. We had the website www.LetsGoStrolling.com so there was that. We had a signed lease on a property. It wasn’t a property actually that we ended up using for our store. We didn’t get our store until later. At the time, internet marketers were not allowed at the show. You had to have a brick and mortar to get into the ABC. That is not the case anymore at this point, but that was the case seven years ago or something.
Rachel: Very interesting. A lot has changed. It shows how much influence online bloggers have and so forth. Let’s talk a little bit more about your online business. Then I also want to talk to you about how you made the decision to have a retail store and what the whole process was like. That sounds like a huge undertaking as well. Tell me the next steps in the process. You get your online store and you get it up and running. These manufacturers, are they drop shipping strollers then to your customers all over the United States? How does that work?
Jo: It really varies by manufacturer. Some of them were drop shipping. Other ones of them were not, in which case we had to take inventory. For a long time my living room was literally filled with strollers. It looked like a warehouse. My husband is a very supportive and a wonderful man. Yes, we had a holiday party where it took him like half a day to move them all into one space just so we could have the party in our living room. Yes, so there was that.
I also want to say, just because I think it’s important that your listeners think about this if they are thinking about retail, especially in this day and age, but even back then, it’s important how you differentiate yourself. That was something we thought a lot about with Let’s Go Strolling. How could we make it so that people really did come to us instead of going to. . . At that point, Amazon wasn’t selling strollers. They are now. There are places like Diapers.com now. Even back then there were the big online stores. JoggingStroller.com, I think, was the one back then. What we really offered was a level of personalized service that I think still is rare on the internet today. To be honest, it definitely at that time was almost unheard of.
We offered something called stroller consultations where people could email us in with what they were looking for, what their life situation was, and we would give them recommendations of the right strollers and baby accessories for their lifestyle.
Before we grew our stock, by the end we really had any stroller we wanted to recommend, but in the beginning a lot of places did not want to sell to a newer retailer. They wanted you to have history and credit history. We couldn’t sell things like the Bugaboo. I would not hesitate at that time to recommend the Bugaboo if I thought it was the best stroller to someone.
We were often recommending strollers we didn’t even sell. I think that really shows people in the marketplace that we didn’t do it as a gimmick. It really demonstrates how much we cared about our customers and that it was really important to us that they had the right products. It sets that level of integrity that I think remained the whole time we had the business. We were really honest with customers, like, “That’s not a really good choice for you. You can get it if you want but it’s really not going to meet your needs,” or, “I would really recommend this one.” We would recommend lower price strollers over higher priced strollers if it met our customers’ needs.
I think that in any business that you have, integrity is very important and also really wanting to make a good fit with your customer is really important instead of just making a one-time sale. That’s why people would come back to us repeatedly because we built a level of trust and relationship with our customers. That was important.
Rachel: Yeah, so how did you acquire your customers? You’re an online store. Were you advertising? Was it Google AdWords at the time or . . .
Jo: I was actually sort of thinking about this process recently like how did we do it? Literally at first it was just word of mouth. My business partner and I were both active on several mommy chat boards at the time, so people knew us through that. Then they would check out our store or we would suggest to someone, “You might want to check this out. We have it in our store if you want to take a look.” It was sort of a mix of being helpful and self-promotion. I think there’s a fine line you walk, but you can do that. In the beginning, it was really just word of mouth.
Then as grew, we had more money that we can sort of roll into advertising. Eventually we did do ads in national magazines like Pregnancy Magazine, Pregnancy and Newborn. At the time they had something called Cookie Magazine.
Rachel: I remember Cookie.
Jo: It no longer exists, but it was beautiful. Of course, manufacturers, once you’re selling their products, list you on their website. That is also something because they list bricks and mortar locations, then for some manufacturers they will list online retailers and some won’t. Some they won’t list all their online retailers, just the ones that do the best business. As we grew then we also could get listed on their online retailers and that would send a certain number of people who knew they wanted that stroller directly from the manufacturer’s website. We also did pay-per-click ads and SEO, both of which I think are very helpful, but I do think it’s also worth growing to a certain point before you do those kind of things. Otherwise they can really be time and money sags.
Rachel: Right. At what point would you give the advice to somebody listening to say… I’d like to hear about kind of what you think that the results were from your national ads and traditional publications versus SEO and at what point should somebody maybe look into that more? How much money should they have to play with to build on that in order to make it successful?
Jo: I think around the time we sort of heard the number floating around that about 10% of your revenues should go into marketing. I don’t know that we were so exact all the time, but we kept that approximation in mind. I think it’s worthwhile for people to keep in mind that if they’re only netting $50,000 in their business, then spending $15,000 to do some big pay-per-click campaign does not make sense.
Let’s just say it. It’s even more competitive now in the marketplace of pay-per-click than it was five years ago. I think what makes sense is really to find the smaller places that you can advertise. A lot of times there’s mommy bulletins, local newspapers, or smaller places that you can advertise. It’s almost a great place to test your ads out too at a lower cost to see what’s really effective, what works, what brings people either into your store or into your website, and then moving from there.
Rachel: Tell me the difference then. . . We’ll go into the retail store as well. What did you find? Did you find different thing worked for an online business versus a retail business, a brick and mortar store?
Jo: Yes, probably the manufactures who knows me now would kill me if they hear me say this. When you’re an online store, basically everyone can see what you’re doing. That’s the thing about online. Everyone can see it. A lot of manufacturers are very strict about discounting that they will allow. However, when it’s in your store and if someone comes in and has a coupon for Bed Bath and Beyond and can you match it, then you can match it more easily, whereas online you can’t advertise that kind of thing. You have a little bit more leeway in store to play, but you also have higher costs.
Staff, you have rent, and other things. One of the reasons that manufacturers have been wary in the past, and I think this is starting to change, about selling to online-only retailers is that they have no costs. They can deep discount. That basically destroys not only the reputation of the product but it really annoys other people who are giving it shelf space in their store and selling it for full price and talking about it. You don’t want to be the one who sells the customer on something when they’re in your store, and then they go online and find the cheapest place on PriceGrabber.com or something.
Also, in store you have an opportunity to really form a relationship with your customers in a different way than most online people do when you point, click, put it in your cart, and you have no idea if there’s anyone behind there or what they’re thinking. If your order works out, 90% of the time you never have any interaction with the online retailer. Whereas in store there are ways to really create customer loyalty, make it easy for people to shop, give the kids little trinkets to play with, or have a section of toys so kids can be occupied while moms are shopping. I think you have that ability to create a space that people want to come back to.
Rachel: Right. Tell me a little bit about the decision. How long were you an online store before you decided to get a retail space?
Jo: I’m trying to remember that. To be honest, I can’t remember exactly when we signed that first lease. I’m guessing it was around nine months after we started.
Rachel: Okay. What made you decide to go into a brick and mortar location?
Jo: There were two main reasons. One reason was that, for some reason, some manufacturers, even though we were only online, were putting my address where the strollers were being shipped, basically my home address on their website. People were showing at my home to try these strollers that they couldn’t find anywhere else. If they’re in the Bay Area they’d be like, “Oh this place in the Bay Area.” They’d be driving and think, “Oh this is a pretty residential street,” but they’d ring my door. One time I think I was at mom’s group and my husband called me and he’s like, “Some guy is here to see this stroller. How do I fold it?” I started allowing people to come sort of by appointment to our house and I had a little demo area of strollers. Then it was just like, “This is insane. I don’t want people coming to my house all the time to see strollers. We need to move.” As I mentioned, my living room was full of strollers so we needed warehouse space too. That was sort of one reason.
The other reason is just in terms in getting new accounts and working with new vendors. A lot of the vendors didn’t want to work with online only places. Once we had a store location, we could really expand the range of products we sold. It had that dual purpose. I think it’s an important point though for your listeners to note that we didn’t just rush out, sign a lease on a 2,000-square-foot space, decorate it to the nines, and then hope people would come. Really, we started with this bare bones website and a few different brands who would sell to us. As we got a reputation and we sold more of those, more brands would sell to us because they heard good things about us, and we signed for a very small space. Eventually, we outgrew the small space and we signed for a larger space. As I started, we sort of started on a hope and a prayer, but once we were running it, we didn’t run it that way. We kept in mind what costs were.
Rachel: Okay. The undertaking of a retail store, what was that like? What was that like on your family life? What was that like with your partner? That’s a much bigger commitment.
Jo: Yes, and I would say that we dipped our toes into it. We were always very mindful of the kind of family life that we wanted to have. We wanted to have the kind of family life where we dropped our kids off at school and then we picked up at 3:30, which is when preschool or eventually school ended. To that mind, what we did is we called it a retail showroom. Basically we were open between the hours of 9:30 and 3:00 or something ridiculous like that, or by appointment. The by appointment allowed us to stay later. If someone really wanted to, we could make plans and say, “Well, I can stay until 5:30 today if you can come in at 5.” People to make an appointment and come in off hours, but we really didn’t pledge to be there more than preschool hours.
Rachel: Interesting. How did it get to the turning point? You’re building this business. You started in 2005. How did you end up selling it? Was that a conscious decision? You decided, “Yes I want to sell it,” or did somebody come along? Tell me about that.
Jo: During the owning and renting of Let’s Go Strolling, I ended up having my third kid. For anyone out there, three is a lot more than two. That was sort of an additional, not strain, but an additional source of busyness in my life. There were also other family considerations as my boys were getting older and going into school. I think for me also there was very much this sense that while I loved running Let’s Go Strolling, I missed that sense of working with people that I’d had earlier. I really wanted to return to working with other business owners and having that “I’m really helping other business owners grow their businesses.”
My business partner and I had a long discussion and we sort of both agreed that if I wasn’t going to be in the business, we were going to sell the business. She didn’t want to run it without me. I think that’s important for anyone out there who is a business partner. I really, really recommend defining how you will end the business if one partner wants out when things are really good. We were extraordinarily lucky. It was not a difficult decision for us. It was easy. We stayed friends. We’re still friends. During the time we ran Let’s Go Strolling, we knew a number of other friends who were running businesses together and all of them broke up and it was all like a ball of flames when one person wanted out. I really can’t stress highly enough that you really need to have agreements in place. Legal is best, but even if it’s just written down agreements between the two of you how will you handle it if one person wants out or can’t commit the same amount of time that they could in the past.
Rachel: Right. That’s a very good point because everyone’s lives is in flux and they’re constantly changing. That’s interesting. You’re at a point of success when you turn to your partner and said, “I think I’m done with this and want to sell it.” Was she just like, “Oh my god,” had no idea or was it. . .
Jo: Well, luckily because we are such good friends, and we’re good friends both in the workplace and out of the work place, she knew that I’d been starting to talk for a while like, “I’m thinking of something different. I’m thinking that I’d like to work with small businesses and not run a small business.” It had been an idea that had been percolating for a while. It was not a surprise. I didn’t ambush her. It did really work well.
Rachel: How did you find a buyer? How did you go about that process?
Jo: Right. What we decided is initially we met with the Small Business Association, the SBA, which I totally recommend. There was a guy who did this great consultation with us and was like, “Yes I’ll help you. That’ll be great. You don’t need a business broker.” He told us what we needed to put together, so I started putting things together. He said I could run things by him. I would send him things and he wouldn’t look at them. I would send them again and I never heard back. It’s really hard and I think most business owners would find this. You have to keep the business running and running well or no one wants to buy it. It’s hard to keep the business running well and do all the selling stuff yourself. You need to have the business at a certain point that it’s worth it for a business broker to take on, but luckily ours was at that point.
We interviewed several business brokers and we ended up choosing one who we felt understood us and understood our market. Picking a broker who really understood our business. By that, I mean a lot of business brokers really do primarily local sales, so bricks and mortar. I have a Togo’s. I want to sell that Togo’s. Who will buy my Togo’s?
We were an oddity. We had this little location but the majority of our sales were not coming from our bricks and mortar store. Someone could buy it anywhere in the country really and run it and still have the majority of our sales. We were sort of online and bricks and mortar. It’s someone who understands what the online reputation is and that also we were online listed for a number of really high end manufacturers, which was a coveted position to get and that they no longer gave out to any new online retailers. We had sort of built up this brand equity that couldn’t be replicated if someone were just to start now. That’s really important when you’re selling something. The more money you can command is directly tied to how easy it is to replicate what you’ve done in the marketplace. We were in early enough and had built our business early enough that there were a lot of new online retailers coming in, but they couldn’t have what we had. Anyway, we started working with this business broker. What they do is a type of prospectus about your business. I also recommend “Selling your Business for Dummies.” It’s a good way to just get a handle on what the terms are in the market and how to think about it.
Rachel: No, that’s a great recommendation. Good. Thank you.
Jo: Anyway, they come up with almost like a prospectus for your business where they describe it, they describe all about the market, what differentiates you from your competitors, what are the advantages, and what are the growth opportunities. Then they list it. There are a number of different sites. In California, I think BizBen.com is big. There’s also BusinessesForSale.com. He also took care of all the legalities, like when you’re selling a business you actually have to list it in some kind registrar, like this paper, so anyone who you owe money to can come find you for the money before you sell the business. It’s a technicality, but if you want it to be legal it’s good to do those kinds of things.
Rachel: No, those are good tips. Good advice. How long do you hire a business broker for typically?
Jo: Typically the contact is for one year. The average time to sell a business is, I think, somewhere between nine months to a year. A business broker would want to have you for the whole year to sort of try it out. One other point I’ll just say about choosing a business broker is that we were able to negotiate with our business broker. Right now the market is kind of difficult for business brokers. If people do want to use them, feel free to negotiate.
Rachel: When you say negotiate, do they take a percentage of your sale?
Jo: They do. They take a percentage of the sale.
Rachel: Do you know what the typical percentage rates are?
Jo: About 10%.
Rachel: Okay. You don’t pay them anything else? They just take the 10% fee of the sale then.
Jo: Yes, but a lot of times they have a floor. In other words, if you’re selling a $30,000 business, they won’t do that for $3,000. They have a floor of like $8,000 or $9,000 dollars. Just to give the listeners sort of an idea of… If your business is really under $100,000, you’d really probably want to try it yourself through BizBen.com or Businesses for Sale.
Rachel: How long did it take to sell your business?
Jo: Well, that was what was really lucky and remarkable for us. I think it got listed in December. We had a lot of inquiries right off the bat. What the business broker does is he can sort of feel the first line, make sure people actually have enough money to buy the business. If they seem like good prospects and they want to talk to the owners then he’ll arrange a conversation with us, with the people. We don’t have to talk to people before they seem like really good prospects. We’re not fielding calls every day the way he was about our business. Then he said to us, “No one’s going to make an offer until you have year-end numbers.” You have to believe we were pushing our accountants so hard. “We need those year-end numbers. Get those year-end numbers.” Everyone wants to make sure you haven’t decreased in business. We did get those numbers and we sent them out to the interested buyers, and I think within that week we had four offers.
Rachel: Wow. That’s great, were you just thrilled beyond belief? Were you surprised, excited?
Jo: Well, at first we were completely thrilled because, to be honest, the offers were more than we expected, so that was great, and more than our broker had sort of cautioned us to expect. Because we had multiple offers, you have a situation where you negotiate. You can come back to people instead of just taking the first offer you get and say, “Well, there’s actually been some other interests. Would you be willing to go to this amount?” We sort of picked our best offer and negotiated with them. We had a backup offer, meanwhile, the whole time.
Rachel: Wow. That’s incredible. That’s very exciting.
Jo: It was. It was really wonderful. Especially because it was in 2009, no one was selling businesses at that point successfully.
Rachel: You hired a broker. How many months later did you sell your company? How long does the transaction take place?
Jo: All of this stuff is really variable. As my business broker says, “I can do things as fast as you want them. You just need to get me the things I need.” Since I was a motivated seller, I got him all the work and the numbers that he needed. I think we might have, probably, sometime in October said, “I’ll work with you.” In December, he had everything he needed and got the business listed. Then in January we got offers. Once we had the numbers, so probably mid-January. Then we were really fortunate because the offer they had was an all cash offer. That meant they didn’t need to get any financing. A lot of offers are contingent on financing or the seller financed so you sell it at a sort of a reduced price and they pay you back through time with the profits of running the business. We didn’t have any risks. Because of those things, we had a really short period. I think it was like 60 days, so we closed in March. That was, in some ways, the hard part because you’ve been running this business for five years. It’s really been your identity, your baby, and your love. Between January and March, and all of a sudden it was like gone. There were things to wrap up. We had a good month and a half, four to six weeks, of wrapping things up and closing out the space and everything. The buyers who bought it are actually in Florida so they moved the store to Florida.
Rachel: Oh, interesting. There is still a physical location
Jo: There is still, yes.
Rachel: Interesting. You go through that process. A huge congratulations to you. It’s no small feat to build a business, to sell it, have kids. Very motivational to hear that. Did you really do it between 9:30 and 3:00? Were you working on this at nights too?
Jo: I was working on it at nights. I was. I don’t recommend it to everyone. I think you need to find what the right balance is. I will say that I worked the hardest between October and March, getting it ready for sale and doing the sales process. That was the most heinous six months of my life. Before we went into the sales process, I didn’t work on creating clear boundaries between work and home, when I was going to work and when I wasn’t, having date nights with my husband, having my phone off in the evening. It wasn’t dinging with e-mails or texts or anything.
Rachel: Right. I noticed that you use the word fortunate a lot and things have seemed to go smoothly for you in growing your business. I’m wondering what some of the challenges that you had were and how you overcame those or what you would’ve done differently.
Jo: Yeah. That’s a good question. I think one of the challenges is it took a while for me to realize how much numbers matter. It matters that you have good numbers for your business, that you really know how much you’re selling, you know how much things cost, you know how much you’re making. It’s the same with pay-per-click. How much are you paying to get that person to your website? If you’re paying more than you’re getting sales for that person, that’s just a total loser proposition. I think that was one of the most important things is to really pay attention to your numbers and really be aware of them.
The other is for I think both retail and wholesale businesses that inventory matters. You really don’t want to have too much. I think in the beginning I had this mindset that I needed to have everything the moment the customer wanted it and that would make us special. What I learned as time went on is that customers are willing to wait for things. Shockingly, babies aren’t usually born overnight. There’s usually some lead time that you have. People are willing to wait for the right product and right things. It’s important for you to manage inventory because that’s the amount of cash and capital that you have tied up in your business.
If I had to do it over again, I would’ve managed my inventory better in the beginning. Also I would’ve gotten rid of losers. I think I got emotionally attached to products and I thought, “This is a great product. Why isn’t it selling? I love this product.” If the customers don’t love it, who cares? You need to just dump losers and move on. I think that’s true whether you’re a wholesaler, a retailer, even service business, or whatever you’re doing. Dump the loser client. They’re not working for you. Just cutting your losses, I think, is a really good thing to remember.
Jo: I think the other thing that’s important is if you want your business to be growing to have that mindset that you’re growing. Be willing to hire appropriately. We actually had someone who managed our pay-per-click account. It was a firm we hired. We paid them, I don’t know, $1,500 a month just to manage our pay-per-click. Did we have that money easily in the beginning? No. Once the pay-per-click got going and it had good results then yes it paid for itself. You make investments, you hire things out, and you also keep a close eye on if that’s really working. The same way you dump loser products, you dump loser employees, contractors who aren’t producing for you.
Rachel: Good. Thank you. You’ve given a lot of good advice on what you’ve learned throughout this process. Tell me what you’re doing now, what Success Reboot is, and a little bit more about your new venture.
Jo: Sure. I’d love to. What I’m doing right now is I am helping busy professionals and entrepreneurs to really handle the strains of growing your business, making more money, but also taking back control of their life. What I’ve found for a lot of entrepreneurs is that they start their business because they want more freedom. They want a lifestyle that working for someone else doesn’t allow them. They want control both over their time and their work product. What we find is that the reality is that they’re working harder, more, and they feel more tied and chained than ever once they’re an entrepreneur. I don’t think that’s the way it has to be or the way it should be. Really what I want to do is help entrepreneurs so they’re living out their vision of what they want their business to be.
I also work with professionals because I believe that a lot of professionals in today’s workplace function like entrepreneurs. If you think of lawyers who have to build their own practices or managers who have to manage a group, it’s almost like a little business within a bigger, larger company. They have many of the same challenges that entrepreneurs face, which is that they have people to manage, numbers they want to keep increasing, i.e. profits, and they have a limited amount of time and most people have families and things that they want to do besides working all the time. What I do is help people develop skills for both time management and boundary setting and how they function in the world so they can build the businesses and lives they want.
Rachel: How did you come to this particular business as sales and an online commerce store? How do you make that transition to consulting and coaching? What drives you? What made you decide, “This is the next business I want to be doing”?
Jo: I think I mentioned before but I had just really wanted to work with people in a deeper way and help people. While I had fun with products of Let’s Go Strolling, they were cute. Who can resist them? At the end of the day, I wanted to do work that changed people’s lives and made their lives happier. In the beginning when I started Let’s Go Strolling, I was able to work with people to find that perfect stroller. They were so excited and I felt like I was having that impact. As the business grew, I just became more of a business owner, running the numbers, checking the inventory, and making sure the website ran smoothly. I really missed that personal connection with people and really changing people’s lives for the better. My coaching business, I’m really just getting back to what I love doing which is just working closely with people and creating a supportive partnership with them so that they have someone on their side who they can turn to and help them make their lives better and grow their business.
Rachel: Interesting. I also noticed that you have a Ph.D. from UC Berkley in Economics. That’s a good thing to mention, I think, for what you’re doing now. You have the business side.
Jo: Yeah. It’s actually in marketing.
Rachel: Oh, it is in marketing. Sorry. I read that wrong. Definitely you’re very qualified between your education and your previous business experience. I’m wondering as a marketing person, which is basically my background, I noticed your website is very interesting. I have seen a lot of websites like this and I wanted to see if you could shed some light on it. Your website is basically one page and you can continually scroll down to get more information. It doesn’t look like there’s any other links. You have a video talking about what you do and a sign up form for, what was it, three books and an audio tutorial, The Reboot Kit. I’m curious. Tell me a little bit about why you chose that layout for your website and what you anticipate it will do or why it’s good and so forth.
Jo: The website I have now I would say is clearly the quick and dirty website. In the industry I think it’s described as a squeeze page, which is you’re trying to squeeze people’s email addresses out of them. At this point, really I’m just looking for a way to keep communicating with people. My website is not as big as I would like it to be. I would love to spend more time to develop the website. Just the same way I advise other people to be mindful of their time and where the payoff is, I am my own business too. I spend time coaching clients. I spend time trying to find helpful newsletters, information content that will help them. That’s why I did this Success Reboot kit. People can get for free by signing up on my website. Trying to create meaningful content for people, so my website has taken a little bit of a backseat in terms of development.
Rachel: Okay. That’s so funny because we didn’t talk about that before and I noticed that there are a lot of companies that you said quick and dirty, but I feel like from what I heard that it’s a very good marketing tactic too. Just try to give something of value away to get their information and then you can follow up or at least give them some information about you and your program. I thought it was smart. I was sitting there thinking, “God, I’m putting so much time and effort into my head constantly with my site in the background, but maybe it just needs to be simple.”
Jo: I heard a great quote recently which I think is wonderful. It’s that “imperfect action beats perfect inaction every day.” I think it’s a good quote to live by and definitely a good quote to run a business by.
Rachel: That is. Well, thank you for that. Maybe we’ll wrap up there. We’ll end it with your quote and I’ll just give a little wrap up now. Thanks for sharing all your successes and challenges. You’ve been very successful and it was great to hear some of the challenges that you’ve overcome. You gave a lot of good information on manufacturing, marketing, working as a partner, and how to go about those things. Thank you for your time.
Jo: Thank you so much.
Rachel: Can’t wait to hear how it all pans out. Thanks, Jo.