Welcome to episode 190 of Profit Boss® Radio! Today, I’m digging into the Profit Boss® Radio archives and sharing one of my favorite interviews with the iconic Ali Brown—a true pioneer in the online business world.
If you’re not familiar with Ali’s story, she left her full-time career with less than $20 in her bank account and created a successful 7-figure enterprise. Now, she is one of the most recognized entrepreneur coaches in the world.
Ali has built a coaching and consulting enterprise that ranked in the Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing companies in the U.S. She’s the Founder and CEO of the women’s business empowerment company, We Lead. She’s also the Founder and CEO of The Trust, a premier global network of entrepreneurs generating 7 and 8-figure revenue. Ali is the host of the massively successful Glambition® Radio show and has been named Forbes’ Women to Watch and was featured on the ABC primetime hit, Secret Millionaire.
In this interview, Ali shares her wisdom and a ton of great advice to help entrepreneurial women with the most common money problems and challenges they will face, the money mindsets that lead to meaningful net-worth growth, and her realizations about self-worth and how that translates to how she pays herself. Enjoy!
Here’s what you’ll find out in this week’s episode of Profit Boss® Radio
- Ali shares her secrets that led to her 7-figure income spike and how she made sure to keep the numbers high.
- Mindset secrets to being the full-time breadwinner in her family.
- Ali shares her realizations about her self-worth and how that translates to how much she pays herself.
- How she approaches marketing to promote her brand.
- Ali’s “sharp right turn” approach to staying ahead of the curve.
- And much more!
The Money Blueprint℠ for Business Owners
The Money Blueprint℠ is profit coaching that puts you in control of your business finances for good. No more Head-in-the-Sand Syndrome. No more fear, stress, or shame. Simply total confidence. Learn more here!
Resources and Related Profit Boss® Content
- Ali Brown’s Website
- Glambition® Radio
- Follow Ali Brown on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube
- 3 Steps to Improve Financial Intimacy
- Episode 22: Why Making Your Money a Priority Will Help Change the World with Ali Brown
- Ep# 154 – Master Your Financials
- Ep# 184 – Couples & Money: Planning for Wealth
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- For information on my Money Blueprint Program and one-on-one coaching opportunity, please visit HilaryHendershott.com/MBP.
Hilary Hendershott: Today, I am thrilled to share with you an amazing episode from the Profit Boss Radio archives. In this episode, iconic business coach Ali Brown and I are talking about the mindsets and patterns that lead to meaningful net worth growth. I am always confused when business owners talk about top-line revenue and ignore what’s happening with their net worth. After all, what’s the point of running a business if you aren’t able to live an abundant life?
In this conversation, Ali shares her secrets that led to her seven-figure income spike and how she made sure to keep the numbers high, mindset secrets to being the full-time breadwinner in her family, her realizations about self-worth, and how that translates to how much she pays herself and more. It’s not the first time I’ve aired this episode, so why am I sharing it today? Because what you’re going to hear is absolutely 100% still relevant to helping you achieve your financial goals, including timeless lessons of money. Here we go.
Our guest today on Profit Boss Radio is the imitable Ali Brown. If you haven’t heard of Ali, you’ve got to check her out. I personally have been following her podcast for years. Ali is the voice for women’s entrepreneurial success. She’s been dubbed The Entrepreneurial Guru for Women by Business News Daily, and she’s created an Inc. 500 ranked global enterprise devoted to empowering women entrepreneurs. She was named one of Forbes’ Women to Watch. She’s one of Ernst & Young’s Winning Women Entrepreneurs. and she’s an entrepreneur delegate for the United Nations Foundation’s Global Accelerator.
She was also featured on the ABC hit primetime show Secret Millionaire. She provides leadership and business coaching and advice to more than a quarter of a million followers via AliBrown.com, her social media channels, and her Glambition radio show on iTunes. She was also named by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the top 10 Twitter accounts every entrepreneur should be following. It’s quite a resume, right? And this interview was a lot of fun in it. Ali shares with us what led to her seven-figure income spike and how she made sure to keep the numbers high, her mindset secrets to being a full-time breadwinner in her family, including how it impacts her relationship with her husband, Brett. Not being able to afford to make a $20 withdrawal from her bank account finally motivated Ali to do that led to her highest level of profits ever and why everything you put out there shouldn’t be speaking to the past but should represent the future you.
Fair warning, Profit Boss. If you’re listening to this show with kids in the car or something like that, there are a few four-letter words that start with the letter S in the show, so fair warning.
Hilary Hendershott: Hi Ali, welcome to Profit Boss Radio.
Ali Brown: Hey. It’s so great to be here, Hilary.
Hilary Hendershott: Ali, one of the things I respect most about your business coaching as distinct from sort of everything else that’s out there is that you focus on profits instead of revenue. So, my question is, did you start out with your eyes on the bottom line? Or was that a lesson you learned?
Ali Brown: Oh, you just cut right to it, don’t you?
Hilary Hendershott: Yes, I do.
Ali Brown: You just sliced right through, like my entire life in one sensor. But you know what? I’m really glad, first of all, that you pick up on that’s how I coach now because I bring such a wide volume of wisdom now to every client I work with because I went through every phase you can think of. And going back to the beginning, I think I’m so profit-focused because really, this started off as a business. The only reason I started the business was to make an income, really. I mean, people are like, did you have some vision and dream of helping the women of the world? I said I couldn’t stand my job and I knew I had a skill and I could go out the door and probably find some clients using that skill. I didn’t know for sure what I could do, but I’m like, I probably will be okay. I’m pretty smart. I can figure this out. It may be a little messy.
And so, my big vision was the full-time income. After that, I got more savvy for sure, like with the whole revenue versus profits as my business grew. And I essentially went through three phases. The very first was that solopreneur, which is it’s easy to know your bottom line because if you’re paying the rent and eating, you’re doing okay, then you kind of start watching the numbers a little more than you realize, okay, I really need to separate a bank account and do this correctly. And then when you start that phase of growth, which is the most exciting time to be in, and I didn’t want to hear the advice I’m about to give from anybody because I was like, I’m doing this my way, blah blah blah. But you really do need to get good at the numbers. And if you’re not, don’t worry because the universe will give you a wake-up call. And at the end of the year, you’re going to figure out, wow, I owe more taxes, or wow, I don’t have enough left over, I thought I did. Where’s it all going? And you’ll figure that out pretty quickly.
So, phase two was like that expansion phase, and then phase three for me was this blow-up in a really good way, but we jumped from one million to two million and then like six million in a year. And I had a lot of people around me that were really supportive and a team at the time, and I don’t want to go into detail on this. But like a business partner who was 100% behind me, but it was my fault that I still was not sticking my nose in the numbers enough. And that’s all I’ll say.
Hilary Hendershott: Okay.
Ali Brown: And when you are in that phase of growth when we’re talking about money in this, I’m focusing on this because this is the theme of your show and that you have to make this something that you love. And if you don’t love it, you have to create systems that set you up to love it. And what I mean is, even today, I don’t quite love it, but I have time in my calendar to sit down and look at my numbers because if I don’t, I’m great at winning it, man, even now. I know I’ll figure it out and I think that’s a blessing and a curse sometimes. So, I set up a dedicated time each week and each month, it’s my money time. And also, I’m going to share, it’s my money worry time because if I start worrying about money, I say, this is going to take me over right now. Let me put this in the category of that money time, and that will be my concern then.
I’m going to get the calendar out, get all my accounts out, figure out where we need to move things, do more, spend less, or change things. And I’m kind of jumping all over right now, but I’m just giving kind of my big picture and how I’ve really learned to focus on the net. And that’s why these days, in the world I came from as I got into this internet world and the internet launches, and you would hear like, oh, this guy had a million-dollar launch. And then they kept breaking the barrier to $10 million launch, $20 million launch. Behind the scenes, what you all need to know because I’ve been so privy to this and I’ve been engrossed in it as well in my own back end, is that in many of these cases, they keep, I mean, like a 10% to 20% of that in the end.
And so, really, this whole game on the surface is about revenue, but for you, personally, and especially for women, focusing on that profit is going to be what? What gets you ahead? Absolutely. It’ll change your life because you have to remember why you’re doing this. And if your revenues on the top line are great, listen, they qualify you for a lot of opportunities. Inc. 500, for example, fastest-growing companies in the nation, you make that list. They’re not really looking at what you’re bringing home, they’re looking at the top-line growth. So, you want to show a big jump for that. If you want to make seven figures’ revenue to be invited to certain clubs or associations, then do that but know why you’re doing it because that’s the big message. And I’m done, I can leave now. I just gave you all my advice in three minutes.
Hilary Hendershott: Luckily, we still have 42 minutes and 33 seconds left. So, did that $6 or $7 million number, they call that a hockey stick in some business school programs, the year you hit your hockey stick in revenue, did that number scare you?
Ali Brown: It didn’t scare me, I tell you. I knew I was here to make a lot of money. I actually knew, I had a lot of confidence in that. I’m good at making it. And at the time, things were just moving so fast that I think what was more disturbing to me was probably the year later when I finally was like, oh alright, let me sit down and look at this year.” And there were expenses flying out the door that I wasn’t aware of. There were teams we had on board. I’m like, I didn’t even know we hired these people. I mean, it was like that fast that that stuff happened.
This isn’t a situation that you all will be in, but I want to let you know that you all look at success from the outside and you don’t know what’s going on the back end. And so, learning, I think it was the best, most expensive lesson I’ve ever learned, and I wouldn’t change it for the world because I don’t think I would be so conscious now on focusing on that for myself and my family, but also especially for my clients. I’m one of the rare coaches who will say, I want to see your P&L, and the people like, woo-hoo, I don’t like P&L. I want to make sure that you’re putting money away for yourself, that you’re taking a good salary or at least cuts of what’s coming in.
And let’s actually look at this, and I don’t know how familiar you are, Hilary, with the whole coaching and consulting world, but when you get down to the bottom line of a lot of these programs, and I get my clients to look at that, they are shocked at what they actually take home in the end. After all the RazzMaJazz and the events and the dog and pony shows and their web TV show and everything they’re doing, there are reasons to do some of those things. But then in the bottom line, there was one client, for example, I had her finally dig down, I mean, really down in what it took to, to not only launch but run a very successful coaching program she was doing. And in the end, it was really barely a six-figure take home. She’s like, I could go do a course on that, I could get two clients and make that. And I’m doing this whole year-long thing. It just changes your perspective on things.
Hilary Hendershott: And I am very familiar with that phenomenon. It’s been disillusioning for me over the last several years that I’ve been building this personality brand because I come from traditional wealth management, and it’s had me really step back and say, “What’s really happening out there?” And I think women are very subject to kind of shiny object syndrome, and I wanted to ask you about that, too. I mean, in this world of personality brands and platform building, people get distracted by chasing fame. So, are there objective things you teach people to do to keep them focused on the bottom line? Or do you find yourself in that position of encouraging them or convincing them that they need to focus on something else, other than the best headshot?
Ali Brown: Yeah, I know, it’s funny, and I think a lot of this started. We have to look at this phenomenon of all the women, especially wanting to be like this personality brand is that for the first time in history, we have this opportunity with social media and everything being so easy online to have a platform, to publish something, to have an opinion on something, to say, “You know what? I’m here, I stand for something.” Then come the glamorous headshots and then come, like jumping up in the air in front of the Eiffel Tower, it’s my favorite. You know what I’m talking about? It’s everywhere. Yeah, I can coach you. I make no money, but I can jump in front of the Eiffel Tower. And I think you have a lot of people modeling each other. It’s become very incestuous, like we’re all in a circle watching what each other’s doing. And there’s this very public competition that seems to bubble up because we can also all see each other’s followings. There are now numbers publicly attached to you in what you do, how many Facebook likes you have, how many followers you have on Twitter, how many times we retweeted today, how many YouTube views do we have, blah blah blah blah blah. And we start to use that as a measure of our success.
Now, if you’re public, the public kind of demand for you out there, this is part of what you’re building, and you’re building something, for example, to sell it, or maybe you do want a real TV show in the end or a media company, and so, your following is going to be a big part of that. Then maybe that is very important. That’s when you start spending a lot of money on building a following. But a lot of women, I think, lose track of really the immense reason that they’re here to help people. And just a quick example, I had a client I was working with, who I won’t reveal details, but she came out of corporate and she had like an MBA. She was one of the top salespeople in her field, I mean, had won awards. I mean, all this stuff that in the real world that, like you come from, the esteemed, I mean, you’d be putting this stuff front and center.
And then she went and took a course, and I won’t mention that one, but it’s someone that I mentored years ago and went off and created this whole online course to show you how to do your thing online. And they all want to be like this woman now. And so, they’re all doing the headshots and they want a web TV show and blah blah blah. And I pulled her aside and said, “Your website has pictures of you on a playground, and you’re trying to sell yourself as a business consultant, okay? You can have some fun there but look at the positioning you want to put out in the market and look at really why you’re doing what you’re doing. You want to get your numbers up, you need to work with better clients. Stop marketing to beginners.” I mean, we shifted her whole positioning, and it’s dramatically shifted where she’s going. And she’s like, “Thank you for pointing this out.” We just do what everyone else is doing in the beginning.
And I had someone come to me and say, “You know what? I want to coach with you, but I want to warn you, I’ve been in the chasing alley club for years. I’ve kind of been watching what you’re doing.” And she said, “I’m so curious what you’re doing now.” And I said, “You know what? I got over the fame, I’m just about the fortune, really.” I really am. I could give a sh*t how many Facebook likes I have now, I don’t even look at that, and it’s so liberating. I care about my clients and working with them and leading leaders. But here’s the great thing, I don’t disregard all that, like that really has helped me get where I wanted to be. So, this is where I think working with a coach or someone who’s been in the industry while is so good because it’s shortcuts, so much of these processes that you’ll naturally go through and zig-zag and will give you a little bit more of a straighter course.
Hilary Hendershott: I am going to mean that, by the way, get over the fame and chase the fortune. Definitely.
Ali Brown: I’m totally fine. You know what I think of people like Madonna, like she’s still out there, but she made most of her money now going producing other people, going behind the scenes, and finding these amazing artists and producing them and nurturing them and then products and investments. And so, we feel that front as the thing that makes the money, but that’s just the front of the machine. And when I started thinking of it that way, I’m like, that’s kind of what I become, I’m more of a producer now, I’m more behind the scenes. I’m in the boardroom versus doing Facebook videos.
Hilary Hendershott: When you say you’re in the boardroom, does that mean for your own company? Or are you taking a revenue share from your clients? What does that mean?
Ali Brown: For me, it’s more of a mindset. It’s more of a mindset than instead of me being out doing the dance in front of everyone and being so upfront with myself as a brand, it’s more about me being much more thoughtful, sometimes even quiet about what I’m doing, but more strategic. It has to be aligned with what I love at this point. I have to love to do it, and it has to make me a lot of money. That sounds just the bottom line, but I’ve come a long way, and that’s kind of where things are now.
Hilary Hendershott: So, your business is kind of in the stratosphere compared to where most people are starting. So, if we give people a framework to let them chase the fortune when you hit that $6 or $7 million revenue spike, what would you say that was evidence of that you had gotten right? What was happening in your business? Was it the messaging, the offer, the marketing, the sales? What was the linchpin for you?
Ali Brown: A lot of it, I was just ready. And I think some of you listening just know this, you know you’re here for something greater. It may be even painful to you. Sometimes you’re probably waking up at night going, “What the hell am I doing? I know I could be doing more.” For me, personally, I almost felt like I was letting down God. That’s how powerful that pull was. And it makes me just want to cry right now. I mean, just that’s how powerful that pull was that I wanted to do something greater and be part of something bigger. And so, I saw a path to start creating that, and to coach people while I was doing this. And some of you may not be familiar with my story, you can go to my website AliBrown.com and see the About there, but I’ll just give you a quick snapshot of that.
As I started to grow my own little marketing business six years ago, women started following me, and I’m kind of looking around like, listen, I don’t know if I know what I’m doing, but you feel free to follow, and I’ll share some things that I’m learning. And that turned into publishing e-books and then coaching and then just building this following online that still kind of boggles me sometimes. But it was the right time, I had so much courage at that time because I just figured I had nothing to lose. I did not want to go back to a job. I was having a lot of fun. The internet was really just taking off. And you all have to remember, this is back where we didn’t have social media, we didn’t have templates. I was doing my own HTML code if I wanted to get a sales page up, I just would learn it. I just love this stuff. But the timing was impeccable. I was really first to market in this space, teaching women how to get online and make money with their knowledge and create products and courses and take this thing off.
So, it was kind of just like all the stars suddenly aligned, and I was like, “Well, let’s just go with this, my god.” I launched a 100 grand coaching program. I had a 15 grand coaching program as well, like I was filling up these programs, and I was having so much fun, too, because I love the strategy of it, the orchestration. But I love the events and having a bit of theater, we had some fun at the events. And so, it was great. The problem was it was not sustainable in the bottom line. And also, for me, I was on that high, I was working so hard. And then the following year, I’m like maybe two, two to three years later, well, the following year, there was a lot of people who I had trained even come up and start teaching the same thing, which is a natural evolution when you’re a mentor. And I was so done with this anyway. I moved on and did women’s conferences. I did the Shine Conference for three years and I started experimenting and trying on different things. And when people say, “Oh, I look back, and you’ve done so many different things,” I said, “Really, it was just my calling,” like, I have a short creative cycle. I like to launch something classic entrepreneur. I can sustain it for a while, and then personally, I’ll start to get burnt out or want to change.
The real turning point was after I had my twins, and I’ll share with all of you. I’ve shared this publicly, but like I met Brett, and my world turned upside down in a good way, but like, I got pregnant right away. And it was kind of like, hi, nice to meet you. Remember me? No, not that bad. But within six weeks, we were madly in love. It was all just so perfect, and I found out I was pregnant with twins. And so, be careful, all of you, this can happen naturally at 41. Like, I kind of had written that off and wasn’t sure what I wanted, and then it all just happened. And then I realized, oh, I don’t want to work so hard anymore, and I want to give myself permission to figure out a way to do things differently. And I tried hiring more teams, and they ran the programs, and that went pretty well too, but it still involved too much of me.
Now, I’ve got it down to no full-time employees. I have a team of four or five girls that work for me, just part-time contractors, and I work about three days a week. And I’ll share with you, I’m actually netting more now than I did versus three years ago when I had a large team and much higher revenues coming in the door, once I really got down, and it was fun. You’d love this. I actually had this long list of expenses, and I’m like, “Take this out.” “Screw this.” “Get rid of that,” but I was on fire. I’m like, “Why are we paying for this?” “Why do we have this?” Someone who didn’t catch that we were having double charges on some things, and I just went crazy, and it was so much fun because I finally was taking back ownership of my business and my money. And now, I’m a changed woman because of it, and I’m so happy now to have this schedule with the kids and the flexibility to do this the way that I want to do it.
Hilary Hendershott: So, you’re just doing kind of the high-priced one-on-one focused services versus trying to sell something medium-priced or low-priced to the masses?
Ali Brown: Totally. And here’s where a lot of women, when they start building their business, especially these types of businesses, you get the advice like, don’t leave money on the table, create something for the people who can’t afford you, blah blah blah. And I realized, Hilary, I’ve gotten sucked into creating program after program for people who could not afford me.
Hilary Hendershott: Yeah.
Ali Brown: And suddenly, I stepped back and said, “I have been marketing to my lowest common denominator. This is not why I’m here,” because then, I have instant competition with everyone in that category. So, I pulled back. I shut down the programs. I kept them going for a little while and then kind of had some gentle goodbyes. Some of these people, I’m like, you really have to leave me, like you’ve been with me for eight years. Like, please, it’s time to let go. You’ll be okay without a program from Ali. And I said, I’m working with seven-figure women, and I’m going to run my small group, my premier group. I’m going to do one-on-one coaching and consulting and small workshops and speaking. And that’s exactly what I did. I just changed everything. And that is who I market to now, it’s who I speak to, and it’s only who I want to work with. I still have these pangs, like I’ll have lunch, and we all see someone launching something, I’m like, “Oh, I could do a big launch again.” And I’m like, “Why? Why do we?” If I have a calling or something big that maybe percolates up and I feel I should do a big promotion for something, maybe I will. But right now, it’s going really well.
Hilary Hendershott: Can you say something about how you encourage women to frame or focus in on their business? I think a lot of women get distracted chasing a business that they think is valuable to the public and they work too hard and they get paid too little. And I’ve heard you say that women should do what they love and follow the money.
Ali Brown: Yeah.
Hilary Hendershott: And so, how do you show them how to offer what people are already wanting to pay for?
Ali Brown: Like at a beginner level or when they’re more established?
Hilary Hendershott: I think from a mindset level, I see women out there saying, this is what people need. You have the wellness coaches, you have like this. And they think they know what people want and need, and they’re in love with their product or service, and that’s all fine and good. For example, I know someone who’s seven-figure manufacturing, she does body products, personal care products, and she’s not making a dime. She’s paying rent, but barely, right? Like she’s essentially working her life away to pay her vendors. And so, maybe you don’t get these people because they don’t work with you or can’t afford you yet, even though this person has lots of money, it just all goes back out the door. And I said to her, “You don’t have a product problem, you don’t have a manufacturing problem, you have a mindset problem.” Do you run into these women? What would you say to her?
Ali Brown: Just to be clear, her mindset problem is she’s not focusing on profit.
Hilary Hendershott: Well, I would say a willingness to work that hard for no remuneration.
Ali Brown: Oh yeah. Yeah, doesn’t it boggle your mind? I’m like, I’m not doing this. I’d just be like, no. I see the less likely to take salaries as well. Same theme, right? I see them willing. You’re right, and I think part of that is just me and how I think, but part of it, because I’m shocked at that, like, I get very upset of clients who come in with seven-figure business and I’m like, “Are you not at least drawing six figures a year from this thing?” Then you’re running a nonprofit. Now, I had one client who was building a tech company to scale. That’s a different deal when you’re going to be shopping for funding and things have to look a certain way. And you may have reasons why you’re doing that. But I think this is where a lot of women are missing the mark, and even in the circles I’ve been invited into, and I know some really cool programs like Ernst & Young Winning Women. I’m in there with women with these $50, $100, $500 million companies. And you can still tell that some of them still aren’t really taking care of themselves, like take the nice vacation, but make sure that you’re bringing money home for the family.
And it’s just to me, because I’ve always been a self-starter and I’ve always been responsible for myself and my money, maybe that’s why I’m so into it, and I’m the breadwinner of the family. There’s a lot of women who get into this situation, and so, I just always focused on money because if I don’t, then I’m going to be broke. Like, does that make sense? I don’t know. I don’t know. Yeah, it’s interesting. I think what we have to realize, though, when you step back in the big picture of all this, this is all so new for us as women. I mean, really, us having the financial opportunities and power and freedom that we have now is still, when you kind of step back and imagine the whole timeline from the creation of humans to like now, I mean, really, it’s this little blip right now that suddenly women are seen as equals.
Hilary Hendershott: Sure.
Ali Brown: And have all this opportunity. I just say, our courage has not caught up with our opportunity, and some of our common sense hasn’t caught up with our opportunity either.
Hilary Hendershott: Right. Well, it’s clear to me, for example, I have an opportunity my mother probably didn’t have. She’s just 24 years older than me. And so, I think you’re right, there’s not that mindset or maybe a network of conversations to support it. And so, I think this segues really nicely into your own kind of personal memories about money and what you grew up into that allowed you to experience the success that you have. Would you say a little bit about your own money memories?
Ali Brown: Yeah, we grew up, I know some years, we had money like we’d go to Disney World, and other years, we just didn’t, and I didn’t understand why. We just didn’t. It wasn’t talked about. And I think that’s why my 20s were such a rough ride, learning those lessons. When I graduated college, and I think it may have been the same when you came out, but like, the banks were lined up to give you credit cards, I mean, lined up. And I was like, “What’s APR?” I’m so embarrassed to say that, but I literally didn’t know, didn’t care. I was like, free money, I’m going to go live by myself, which was a good thing, actually, because I had four roommates, and it was getting crazy.
But I figured that out the hard way, and I think, the 20s are about a lot of money lessons and figuring out what you can do and not do and how it all works. And then, working for myself was just the best opportunity on so many levels to grow personally. And I tell women that there is no better personal development tool in starting a business because this will get you to deal with all your issues at once – confidence, money, relationships, I mean, just everything. And it’s a lot coming at you.
I didn’t have even savings, I’d say, until I was probably in my mid-30s, honestly. I was really coming at it like rough and ready. Like just I knew I’d figure it out, I knew I’d always land on my feet. And then, once you start making it, it’s very interesting how a lot of people suddenly appear, want to help you with advice, friends in real estate, who, by the way, had never owned a home, but they were realtors, they helped me. And I made these decisions, but I just jumped into a lot of things. I’m like, oh, I should buy some properties and I invested in a restaurant which went bankrupt in six months. I learned all this, I mean, it’d make a great book at this point.
Hilary Hendershott: That’s so funny. Investing in your friend’s restaurant is one of the quintessential examples I give of probably a mistake. Cook it, but it’s probably a mistake.
Ali Brown: The funniest thing I’ll tell you, my mom, who drives me crazy most of the time, but she just summed it up so perfectly at the end. She goes, I just shared it with her on the phone. I’m like, I just can’t believe I said, I should have known because the management was all fighting with each other. They were fighting over all of this blah blah blah. She goes, “You know, you never even got a good meal out of that.” I said, “You’re right. You’re right, I really didn’t.” So, these are things that we learned. You think that’s what you’re supposed to do and blah blah blah. And then I had this really kind of boring financial advisor person that was so boring to me, didn’t understand my life, that I wasn’t listening to her advice, either.
And so, the big wakeup call for me, I think, was, gosh, probably, when the kids were coming, I was like, okay, now I need to get really serious, like I was getting serious. I have to get really serious because life’s changing, and it’s not all about me anymore. And it’s funny, I wrote a blog post last year about the changes I was going through and how for me, small was the new big and blah blah blah. And someone wrote, because I’m so surprised for you to say you have a budget, and I’m like, I don’t know whether to chuckle at that or be scared for people that they think that when the money comes in, you don’t need to watch what’s going on.
Hilary Hendershott: Oh, they do.
Ali Brown: I know I kind of felt the same way. I thought, “Well, when I’m rich, I’ll be happy and I can have a closet full of anything I wanted,” and I did. I did a lot of fun things that you want to check off on the list when you first have those opportunities. And then, I wrote this really heartfelt blog post and our decision for Brett to stay home with the kids, and that this wasn’t easy. I was getting used to his six-figure salary, it was really nice. We got this big home and just all the changes that we’re making, like we decided what’s most important to us is we love to travel. We didn’t realize it until we’ve done more with the kids now. And even though they’re three years old, they’re great travelers, we just have that in our blood, I can tell.
And so, we want to go live in Australia part of the year and here part of the year, and that’s going to take some engineering. And it also means we don’t need a house with seven bathrooms like we don’t need this house anymore. It’s been great. And we thought we’d be having all these friends and family come to visit. And my mom’s here, which is great, but we had a hard discussion saying, we thought this is what we wanted, and that’s changing, but we’re going to make sure that we set up something for you. And it’s been a lot of hard conversations, but we’re so excited. We’re so excited for this new chapter and realizing what’s really important to us and honoring that. And it’s my job to make the money happen, though, which is a lot of pressure for one person. Now, you know what the dads felt like most of the time, right?
Hilary Hendershott: Right.
Ali Brown: So, for me, it’s going to be always evolving, always changing, what money means to me, what I feel is most important at the time, how I handle it. And so, in this new chapter, it’s going to be interesting to see how that shifts again.
Hilary Hendershott: So, there are all kinds of dialog out there about how women should handle it or how couples should handle it if the woman makes more. You don’t just make more, he’s not working.
Ali Brown: Like, I’m at.
Hilary Hendershott: Yeah. Conversely, did you struggle with respecting him as a man once he stopped making money?
Ali Brown: With Brett, and honestly, I can say absolutely not. I was more happy finally when he quit the job. I think I respected him less when I saw him– he took a job that he didn’t love because I wanted to move to Scottsdale, and I’m the one who wanted this house and blah blah blah. So, he’s just been doing nothing but adoring and supporting me, like amazingly. This was a joint decision too, I mean, we had a sit-down. I’ll give a little back story because there’s more to it, if that’s alright. We couldn’t find child care that we loved. We tried every type of situation imaginable for more help than we needed to less.
And then finally, I saw his face when he came home every day from that job, and he was miserable. And I said, “Would you like to take a break and be with these kids?” Because he lights up when he is with them, I mean, the man wakes up singing, like I cannot compete with that. Like, he’s so made for this job, and the kids love him. And he’s Australian, he’s just a ton of fun. And I have to tell you, my respect has gone up even more because he is that amazing of a dad, like I really probably should be paying him a salary for what he’s doing, like it’s that good. He’s just that amazing with it. In some relationships in the past, though, it’s been an issue and it’s been an issue because either I, and now, we’re getting into the dating department, you need to start a new show for these conversations.
Hilary Hendershott: I know.
Ali Brown: The money wasn’t important to me. I didn’t care if a guy had a lot of money or not, but what was interesting is that I would be like a mirror for them. And what would happen is, we usually called it the 90-day blowup, is like they could handle it for about 90 days, and then something would happen that they just couldn’t. It was up to them, really, I mean, because I’m happy doing whatever and I’m happy paying for stuff too, but it just brought up issues for them. Like, maybe they realized they hadn’t done what they want to do with their life, or they didn’t feel good about me paying for things. And that was really more about them in the end. That’s a gross oversimplification of my entire dating life, but that was a common issue. And I think until we kind of learn this dance again as women and men, it’s going to be challenging. It’s like a case-by-case basis, and you have to figure that out with your partner.
Hilary Hendershott: Yeah, you do. So, what are the practices you and Brett have to keep yourselves on track in the area of your personal finances because that’s completely separate from your business books? It’s an evil laugh.
Ali Brown: I’m laughing because I remember when we first moved here, I just remember this distinct moment that I had not been watching things too quickly. I gave everyone a credit card and was like, my God, we have twins. We don’t know what we’re doing. Just whatever you need to get, put it on the card because my mom would do shopping for us, and then Brett, obviously, and then we had a nanny who would do some shopping and stuff with the kids. And then I was going through– American Express gives you this great pie chart end of year report. I love American Express, by the way. I think everyone should have an AmEx card. It’s just the most amazing company to work with.
And our Whole Foods bill was $18,000. I ran out and just yelled, “Stop! everyone, stop!” I’m like, “What are we buying there?” And a lot of it was baby stuff. And baby stuff, by the way, is expensive, I’m just warning you. It just starts getting, then you’re buying organic booties and things. This is my style, I’ll kind of like not watch things for a while, then I’m like, everyone, stop, like, hold on. Like, okay, we can get all this sh*t at Trader Joe’s. Like, what are we doing? I had to just get control of it over again because I just hadn’t realized the kids, there’s just so much that you do for them and buy for them.
So, for now, what we do is we kind of have just like a monthly check-in. It’s not a specific day or time, but I’ll kind of– I think for couples, in general, this is a great thing to do because it avoids all that chit chat or emotion kind of out of that time, but then we’ll have like a money meeting and sit down, like, right, here’s the situation. Here’s what we’re doing. Because also, this relates to my business too, like, okay, we’re good. There’s going to be a cash flow surge here so I’ll do this. And then here, I may have some less clients in the next few months, and so, we’ll do this. So just giving him an update makes him feel really involved. And I think for any partner, I think you should be doing this together. And if you’re not making the money, then you should be knowing what’s going on with your husband’s money too, and say, let’s sit down once a month. Let me know how things are going. Is there anything I can help with or do differently? Or let’s just kind of do a check-in? I think that’s a great way to do it because then it puts off that conversation until that time, which for me is good. Otherwise, it just could spiral into a lot of just, you know, it’s emotional sometimes these conversations, and having a dedicated time for that has been helpful.
Hilary Hendershott: Yes, and complicated. Now, you have a personality brand. And not to hasten your exit from your business, but your clients who have product businesses have a more obvious segue to a sale or an exit, a liquidity event than you maybe do. Have you thought about how you might monetize your own business? And then the subsequent question to that is, I’m sure that you are planning your personal investments to coincide with that so that your standard of living can continue. How have you thought about that kind of plan?
Ali Brown: Well, I will share that what I was doing before was building the business for possible acquisition. And we actually got to the point that we had an offer. The challenge was I was still going to be asked to be too involved, that was the deal-breaker.
Hilary Hendershott: Right.
Ali Brown: And it didn’t make sense.
Hilary Hendershott: Would it have continued with your name?
Ali Brown: Yes. Yeah. And as the leader of it, but they would own the IP and the programs and the people and all that stuff. So, we got to a very near until I finally looked up and said, this just doesn’t feel right to me. My number 1 value is freedom. And once I reconnected with that, it’s helped so much with all my decisions. So, I’ll share with you right now, I don’t have an exit strategy at this point. I’m back to just focusing on this time. And for me, with the kids being so young, I know this is such a limited window for us that I’m working about three days a week when you add it up, I’m making great money, I feel like we’re really on track. And that’s not to say that I’m not working on some other ideas in the background, but they’re not forefront right now for me. For me, this is just a really magical, magical time.
Hilary Hendershott: So, then you probably have an investment team or a consultant working for you?
Ali Brown: I’m actually between them right now.
Hilary Hendershott: Are you?
Ali Brown: Yeah.
Hilary Hendershott: Very good. Do you have a money mistake that you’ve learned that you’d be willing to share?
Ali Brown: I think just like I said, just not watching, you know, not having my nose in everything enough and knowing my own hesitancy like my own procrastination, not having dedicated time or systems that forced me to look at it. Like, I just hired some new bookkeepers here in town and I told them, they’re like, “Do you want some monthly reports?” I said, “Yeah, but I want something else.” They said, “What?” I said, “I need you to make sure that I’ve looked at it and responded, and if I don’t respond, you ask me again and again and again,” and I said, “I need to be managed with my money to help me manage my money. If I don’t have a system, it’s the last thing I’m going to do.”
Hilary Hendershott: So, you create external accountability?
Ali Brown: Yeah. I think so many of us need that.
Hilary Hendershott: So, I know, for example, that you’re selling $15,000 VIP Days. Maybe some were lower, some are higher but do I have that price approximately right?
Ali Brown: Yep. I have a few different ways of working with me. One is the premier group, which is 50,000 plus for the year, and that’s one-on-one work ongoing plus we have group meetings. Like a lot there are international members too. They’re all over the world. It’s pretty amazing. And then, though, for people who aren’t a good fit for the group, you know, they’re not seven figures or they just want a day of strategy with me, that’s 15,000.
Hilary Hendershott: Okay. So, if you’re only working three days a week, are you doing the sales for them?
Ali Brown: You know what’s amazing right now? I have to tell you. They’re just coming in. I have a gal on my team who is able to talk with them and so she can answer questions or help direct them to that. Often they’re like, “Well, I’m ready to join Ali’s group,” but then she finds out the revenues are way lower. And I’m like, “Listen, we have such a strong group now but here’s another option for you to work with Ali.” And so, Jen talks to them about that option and books it if it’s a good fit.
Hilary Hendershott: So, you’re at a position in your business where you don’t have to focus on that sort of grind that it takes to get a business up and running of doing the daily sales.
Ali Brown: Exactly. I mean, and that’s why I’m making clear this is after a long, in my world, I mean, this has been, gosh, I started coaching like 2004. So, it makes me sound lazy. You make me sound lazy, but really…
Hilary Hendershott: I’m trying to help people find ways to identify. That’s all.
Ali Brown: “Don’t you all sit at home and like clients just show up?” That’s what’s happening for me. And I’m saying that kind of funny but not in that, I’m really in this amazing place of working by referrals, and a lot of women are calling and saying literally like, “All right, I’m about to break seven figures. It’s time to work with Ali Brown.” And that is after years, though, of getting myself out there, gaining a following. Like we said, there’s reasons you want to do it but make sure it’s just strategic. Make sure it’s lined up with what you’re doing. And I think that the biggest impact changer for me was making sure I was networking at a higher level. It’s a big mistake I see a lot of women doing for their business is they keep going to the same events over and over and over, especially in their industry. Your clients probably aren’t there. You should be networking out there where your clients are but then also try to network with women or people of influence at a higher level, like one good relationship that starts from that could change your business forever.
Hilary Hendershott: So, when you started in 2004 and you did share this kind of at the beginning, your business really profited from kind of a lack of competition. There weren’t a lot of people doing what you were doing.
Ali Brown: I was first to market and I was moving fast.
Hilary Hendershott: Yes. And you are known and respected for that, having been first to market. And so, now the situation is different. It’s kind of turned on its ear. It’s really saturated. So, in a world where everyone’s got the glamor headshot, everyone’s got the great website, everyone’s got a blog, everyone’s got a newsletter, everyone’s got a freemium. What is the real value-add? I see a move toward quality. I’m just not sure how to be objective about that for people. What do you see changing and how do you see people staying on top?
Ali Brown: Well, the best advice I give is if you’ve been in business for a while and everyone’s nipping at your heels and you’re seeing a lot of the same stuff, turn. Turn. Do something different. Do the opposite. I had one client, I said, “You need to be more mysterious. Stop posting your breakfasts on Facebook and start actually, you know, post when you have something to say.” You know what I’m talking about, right? Like, for me, believe me because I was doing that. I’m like, “Look at my fabulous life. Don’t you want to coach with me?” You know, now I’m like even my mom’s like, “Do you think you should post something about the kid’s birthday?” I’m like, “Eh, yes, if I feel like it. I’ll get to it.” Be more strategic. I think a lot of us, we get into this trap of just doing, to do, and feeling like if I’m not posting six times a day, then I’m not going to get clients. I want you all to stop and think, who do you want to attract? And then where are they and how can you get in front of them that’s not around all the other people? And maybe that’s getting on a plane and going to an event. Maybe it’s writing that book you’ve been putting off. Maybe it’s doing direct mail like in the mailbox instead of online and then you’re like, “Oh my God.” See, we all just follow the models to start, and then you’re going to have to do something dramatically different. The sharp right turn, we call it. That’s what happened to me.
So, look on how to be strategic to attract the type of clients you want to work with. And I’m all about high-end now because I think they’re more enjoyable clients. They’re at the level that I want to work with them. They’re real leaders and they have the money to spend. I can’t imagine the last time I was on a call and someone was like the price was an issue. They’re like, “That’s a bargain to work with you.” It’s what I usually hear. And so, for all of you out there if you’ve been doing this for a while you probably need a fresh strategy. And that could be tweaking your clients who you want to work with. It could be tweaking your marketing message. It could be just even redoing your whole business model, which a lot of women come in and they’re like either I’m sick of it or it’s not working anymore, and they need to make some big changes. And a lot of it usually has to do with positioning. Often they’re talking about themselves in their business like it was a few years ago. Everything you’re putting out there should be representing the future of you like one or two years from now as your marketing. And so, getting very clear on that market and stopping marketing to everybody is one of the best things you can do.
Hilary Hendershott: So, more niche.
Ali Brown: More niche and just really clear. Really clear. Not being afraid to – I think women, we also feel like we need to serve everybody, right? There was one point I had a $10 a month club. You got a little CD in the mail from me. It was like $10 a month because I didn’t want to leave those people out. Finally, I’m like, “They can read my free stuff. Why am I creating stuff for them?” And at the time, there are reasons too like if we were building it up to grow the business, we wanted to show a certain number of customers. Again, there are strategy reasons but getting really clear on who you are, what your purpose is, why you’re here and then your model, your message, your marketing. Having someone to do that with you during the day can be priceless.
Hilary Hendershott: Okay. One more question about your rise to success. When you were growing exponentially, how did you decide how much to pay yourself? Because as a beginning business owner, it is hard to take money out of the business and not buy more marketing, promotion, PR, staffing, like that?
Ali Brown: Yeah. Well, at the beginning, I just kept what was leftover because it’s just kind of how it is right at the very beginning. And then I just knew right away that I deserved a six-figure salary, first of all. And then I got smarter in learning. You’re not supposed to take all the money you want in a salary. You know, you should be taking that in draws instead because it’s taxed differently and all that. I just think I’ve arrived on a nice number for me that if I hit that, that’s my goal. And I think it takes some tweaking. You’ll figure out very quickly, like, “Wow, this isn’t as much as I thought it is.” The point I see most women’s lives changing when they start netting, take home several hundred thousand dollars a year, that’s when their life starts to change. The kids can go to private school, they can take more trips, they can live where they really want to. They have more freedom. So, you have to kind of come up with that number. I’ve never had a number of money in the bank number that is my magic number. I have a magic living number and that’s kind of how I operate. But it’s so funny. These questions, it blows my mind that someone wouldn’t do that and that kind of shows either I operate differently or I’m just still so maybe out of touch with what it was like back then. But I remember just being so excited to pay myself. That’s the whole reason I was starting a business.
Hilary Hendershott: Yeah. I think it’s clear that you do operate differently, and I keep asking you these questions hoping to get like the actionable nuggets. But I think what’s clear is you started with the opposite. What you said is like, “No, I was eager to pay myself. I was eager to take it out of the business.”
Ali Brown: I remember living in New York and seeing the people who had drivers going to work and the nice apartments, and I’d sneak in for some open houses and look at nice apartments. I’ve always, always felt that I deserved that and that that was going to be part of my life. And I think it’s a decision. I remember it was a decision I made, though, at that moment. I remember that because I had no money. And there’s the story. You can read it on the site but I went to the ATM and I couldn’t take out a 20. My balance was 18.56. I’ll never forget that number. It’s always in my mind. And I think that was the moment I made the decision. I’m like, “That’s enough. This is bullsh*t. This is absolutely stupid. I am too smart and I can figure this out. I’m sure I can make this happen.” At least I talked myself into that and I did.
Hilary Hendershott: Awesome. I have just one more question for you. I know you’re really passionate about empowering women, and obviously, so am I. So, if you could leave my audience with one final thought, a billboard on the freeway that everyone would see and you knew they’d take it to heart, what would that thought be?
Ali Brown: Here’s what the thing is. You’re making all this bullsh*t up in your mind. There’s nothing stopping you from moving forward, really. Just get over it. Get on with it. You know what you’re here to do. Just go do it.
Hilary Hendershott: Awesome. Thank you so much for being here, Ali. You’re a real inspiration to a lot of people, and I just really appreciate your time on Profit Boss Radio.
Ali Brown: This was great. Thanks, Hilary.
Hendershott Wealth Management, LLC and Profit Boss® Radio do not make specific investment recommendations on Profit Boss® Radio or in any public media. Any specific mentions of funds or investments are strictly for illustrative purposes only and should not be taken as investment advice or acted upon by individual investors. The opinions expressed in this episode are those of Hilary Hendershott, CFP®, MBA.