S2 EP8: Army of One: Building a Lean, Profitable Business as a Solopreneur with Whitney Hansen
Our readers always come first
The content on DollarSprout includes links to our advertising partners. When you read our content and click on one of our partners’ links, and then decide to complete an offer — whether it’s downloading an app, opening an account, or some other action — we may earn a commission from that advertiser, at no extra cost to you.
Our ultimate goal is to educate and inform, not lure you into signing up for certain offers. Compensation from our partners may impact what products we cover and where they appear on the site, but does not have any impact on the objectivity of our reviews or advice.
Today’s guest is Whitney Hansen. Whitney is a financial coach and business mentor who I’m a financial coach who helps ambitious people manage their cash flow, pay off debt, work towards their goals, and live life on their own terms.
Whitney started her business in 2010. After working two jobs to pay off her $30,000 of student loan debt in just 10 months, friends and family started asking Whitney for help with their own finances. From that grew a financial coaching and education business that’s helped thousands of clients and students pay off debt and achieve their financial goals.
In this episode, Whitney shares:
Why she decided to switch from a more scalable business model (online courses) to a less scalable one (1-on-1 coaching)
How she realized it was time to stop blogging (even though she was making passive income from it)
How she got clients in the early days of her business and where most of her clients come from now (I was surprised!)
Which side hustles she recommends to her clients based on their financial situation
Her advice for someone just getting started in their business
- The Money Nerds podcast
- Whitney’s 1-on-1 Financial Coaching Services
- Whitney’s Become a Financial Coach Course
- Book: Company of One
Note: This transcript was automatically generated and may include typos.
[00:00:00] Welcome to the Dollar Sprout Podcast, where it’s all about building a business that offers consistent income and flexibility so you can live life on your terms. And now your host, Megan Robinson.
[00:00:18] Megan: Welcome back to the Dollar Sprout podcast. Thanks so much for being here with me today. Our guest today is Whitney Hansen, who I’m super excited about.
[00:00:26] I’ve been following Whitney for a long time, or what feels like a long time. I guess it’s really been six or seven years. I don’t know. That feels like forever though. Um, but I started following Whitney back in her blogging days. She’s a financial coach and today focuses more on financial coaching. She used to do more blogging back in the day.
[00:00:45] That’s how I found her. Huge fan of Whitney. You don’t need to know all that, but there you go. I shared it. Anyway, , so I’m really excited for you to meet Whitney today and hear her story. She talks about how she decided to build a business that quote unquote doesn’t scale, um, and how she structures her work to only take coaching.
[00:01:08] A couple of days a week rather than, you know, sporadically every day of the week, which is a trap that some coaches fall into, especially in the beginning of their business. Whitney is just full of so much wisdom and in information about business. So, um, you’ll get to hear. , like I said, why she decided to switch from a more scalable business model.
[00:01:31] She started her business doing online courses, and then she moved to just doing one-on-one coaching, which is primarily what she does in her business now. Um, and a lot of the time you’ll see people go the opposite direction. They’ll start out with one-on-one services and then switch to something more scalable.
[00:01:50] An online course or a group coaching program, Whitney does the opposite, which I think is really cool. And it’s all about, you know, building a business that works for you and, and gives you the, the support and the lifestyle that you want. So be sure to listen in for that. Um, she also talks about how she realized it was time to stop blogging even though she was making passive income from it.
[00:02:13] How she gets clients now and how she got her first few clients in the earlier days of her business, and just so much more. There is so much value in listening to pretty much everything Whitney has to say. So also be sure to check out the show notes for links to all of Whitney’s, uh, information, her website and her podcast so that you can get in Whitney’s world.
[00:02:37] All right. Without further ado, please welcome Whitney Hansen.
[00:02:42] Whitney: Hey, Megan, I’m so excited to be here. Thank you so much for having me. I’m really
[00:02:46] Megan: glad that you’re here on season two. Really excited to hear you share the story of your business. Um, so speaking of your business, would you mind to start out just by telling the audience, um, what exactly your business is and what products and services
[00:03:01] Whitney: you offer?
[00:03:03] Yeah, my business is a financial content creation business via podcasts and a financial coaching business for women that are single or feel as if they’re single in their relationships, helping them get their finances in order so that they can have a little bit more time freedom and enjoy their money.
[00:03:21] So that’s what I do today.
[00:03:23] Megan: Yeah, that’s awesome. Can you, I’m curious, since you just said that, what does, what do you mean by feel as if you’re single?
[00:03:31] Whitney: Yeah, this is so fascinating. It’s, it’s really heartbreaking, but I, what I find is a lot of people that reach out to me, and I think naturally my brand tends to attract more of a female audience.
[00:03:42] And so what I found is when I was getting on these calls with people and just chatting, you know, Hey, why’d you reach out to me? Like, why now? What’s going on in your life that, that you feel like you need some help? A lot of the people that were responding were saying that they are in a relationship, they’re married or they’re dating.
[00:03:59] But their partner is not on board with finances and they feel like they have to figure this stuff out on their own. And so that was like, as a business owner, that was kind of an aha moment where I started to realize that actually was a pattern of the people that were reaching out. So that’s what I mean by that.
[00:04:15] Would love to
[00:04:16] Megan: know kind of how you got started in financial coaching, because I don’t know, some people in the audience might know, but I did financial coaching for a while. Um, and for me, you know, I started out studying finance in college and I was like on the path to become a certified financial planner and realized that.
[00:04:36] Actually did not wanna do that at all. Um, and so left school did some soul searching, couple of years of floundering and then found financial coaching. Um, so that was my path. But what was your path? Did you also start out in like. the financial field or Yeah. What, what did that look like for
[00:04:55] Whitney: you? Yeah. I would say my entry path to personal finance was, my background was in accounting.
[00:05:02] That’s what I studied in college, and I thought for sure accounting was gonna be awesome. And then when I graduated college, I worked in public accounting for three years. No, actually two years. I only lasted two and I hated it. . I was like, this is not for me. It’s terrible. So I always had a financial background, but financial coaching didn’t come for me until I had graduated college had $30,000 of student debt.
[00:05:27] And had that kind of come to Jesus moment where I had to make a decision of do I pay the minimum payments and just accept, you know, the standard repayment plan of 10 years, have this debt for a little while, or do I buckle down and pay off the debt? . And so for me it was buckling down, paying off that debt.
[00:05:45] I paid it off in 10 months, which was crazy. So I was like a staff accountant. By day I was anell technician nights and weekends doing manicures and pedicures, and so it was two jobs, a lot of hours, but that’s where I started having people come to me for advice. They were like, Hey, you paid off all this debt.
[00:06:03] Can you help me? I don’t even know how to create a budget. And I was like, girl, I got you. Let’s do this. So we’d sit down and we’d create a budget and start to put together a plan. And so that’s kind of where the business idea came from, was people were just coming to me asking me constantly for help with money.
[00:06:20] Megan: So I’m curious, when you were on your journey and you were like paying off your debt, um, were you sharing your story very publicly or how was it that people knew to come to you for
[00:06:31] Whitney: this? I don’t recall if, I think at that time that was 2010. So the, the most social media esque platform I would’ve been sharing on would’ve been Facebook, but it was mostly.
[00:06:45] Shoot, I think it was just friends and family. It was, people were asking me like, Hey, why, why are you going to work at this job too? What the heck? What’s going on here? Why are you always working? And then I would just start to, you know, tell them. And when I paid off some debt, like big chunks, I would chunk my student loan debt and I would get so excited and just kind of share like, Hey, I just paid off another $5,000 of student debt.
[00:07:07] And so I think in, in the salon environ. is where it was really catching on too, because there’s so much downtime that you just sit there and chit chat all day sometimes, especially in the slow season. And so I think that’s how it initially started catching steam. Um, yeah,
[00:07:21] Megan: I find that that’s, you know, how a lot of people get started, how a lot of financial coaches that I’ve spoken with got started too.
[00:07:28] You know, like just. , you have your own financial journey and you also had the background in accounting and finance. Um, and yeah, people come to you because it’s something that’s so needed. And even though, like, like I, when I first started doing financial coaching, I didn’t know it existed until I found it, you know?
[00:07:48] And I was like, oh, I don’t have to be a financial planner. I can do this. And that sounds way better to me. Like that sounds way more fun. Um, and now I’ve met so many coaches and there are like so many of ’em out there, but at the same time, there aren’t enough. There’s not enough. Um, so yeah, really excited.
[00:08:07] Share your business with the audience and anybody who might be interested in, in trying out financial coaching. Um, so I also think it’s funny you brought up that you were in accounting and you hated it. Um, I don’t know if we’ve talked about this before, but like I had a similar experience where I didn’t even make it to corporate accounting.
[00:08:28] I like did a summer internship in accounting cuz my major was accounting. Before I switched to finance, I did a summer internship and immediately was like, I. I am not cut out for this life , none of it. like, no. Yeah. Um, anyway, so, so you were paying off your debt as you were working in accounting and also working your nail tech job.
[00:08:54] At what point did you realize that you couldn’t just like, help friends and family, but like this was a viable option for a business? At what point did you even. Realize you could charge money for, you know, your financial coaching
[00:09:11] Whitney: services. That is such a good question. I don’t even think. Entrepreneur.
[00:09:17] I’ve always been entrepreneurial, but I’d never thought running my own business would be something I would do. It just to me, running your own business means that you’re broke. That’s what I used to believe, . So I was like, I do not wanna be broke. I want to make a lot of money. That’s why I went to college and that was a very broke mindset, but that was.
[00:09:33] The mindset I had, and so I didn’t think it would be a viable business. I went back to school for my masters and when I was in my m MBA program, that’s when I started to get exposed more to design thinking concepts and lean startup methodology and all of these things where I was like, this is very cool and very different.
[00:09:52] And so that. That style of thinking and training your brain to ask the right questions and have a hypothesis and test that hypothesis and get feedback was very interesting to me. So at the same time, I was being exposed to those concepts and having people ask for financial help. So that’s when I was like, shoot, maybe there is something here, like maybe I don’t have to be a C P A or A C F P to make money helping people.
[00:10:18] And at that time, the only. The only large example of people that were doing financial coaching was Dave Ramsey at that time. Like that was pretty much the, and Susie Orman, I should say. So there were like the two primary. Voices there that were not CFPs or CPAs that were helping people with money, but I didn’t think I wanted to be a radio personality or you know, like I, so there just wasn’t anything that I could comprehend.
[00:10:44] So it wasn’t until I started realizing that business comes in different styles and it’s not necessarily you have to do the path that. Dave Ramsey or Susie or Orman did, you could kind of create your own thing doing almost a consulting model. That’s when it started to become a little bit more of a reality that this could be a viable business.
[00:11:04] Megan: So you realized it could be a viable business, but what was the motivation in pursuing it and actually making
[00:11:09] Whitney: it one? Yeah, there was of course the demand of people constantly asking for help, but truly what has driven me to help people with money, specifically women, is that when. when I was a kid, so when I was growing up, my mom and dad were married for like 20 some years, like 27 or something crazy.
[00:11:29] And so she was a stay-at-home mom. There’s six kids in my family, and so like they were very much paycheck to paycheck. My dad ran his own business, but I wouldn’t say we were like living. A high upper class lifestyle by any means. And so I remember watching my mom, raising kids, and my parents’ relationship started to slowly disintegrate and it started to get really toxic and dangerous.
[00:11:53] And so at one point, my mom decided it was enough was enough. It was abusive, there was drugs involved. It was just a rough situation. So she said, I’m out of here. I’m taking the kids, and I’m, I’m gone. And so she moved up to Bo. Where I live now, and we were so broke, Megan, we were like sleeping on this little mattress on the floor of an apartment.
[00:12:14] Like it was just a rough situation. And I remember one day my mom and I were walking and we found a mattress in the garbage can and we were like so stoked. I couldn’t tell you how we got it back home, but we were like, yes. And so we took that home. And so at that time I was 16 years old and that’s when I would say I had that.
[00:12:33] Lesson of like, oh shoot, money matters. Like when you don’t have control of your finances, you might be stuck in a really crappy situation like this. And that has motivated me so much to just have that freedom to be able to leave really bad situations when you have money. And so that’s really what has pushed me to really help people.
[00:12:55] And so that’s kind of always been in the back of my mind and my whole. .
[00:12:59] Megan: Yeah. I appreciate you sharing that story. Um, yeah, I just, my heart goes out to 16 year old Whitney, you know, having had not the same but like, you know, similar stories around money, um, of like just seeing relationships go bad and seeing how much struggle and strife that it can cause.
[00:13:21] Um, yeah, it’s, it’s a real. Difficult thing in a lot of relationships. Um, so I am curious, so when you first started out, people were coming to you and they were helping you with, or you were helping them with, uh, like budgeting you said, and setting up debt payoff plans, I guess. Um, what was the first thing that you charged for?
[00:13:48] How long did you do it for free
[00:13:50] Whitney: before you
[00:13:51] Megan: started, you know, charging for anything?
[00:13:54] Whitney: It’s very funny because I did what most MBA students would do first, and that is do not work on anything that appears to be scalable or unscalable. Like all you’re doing is only the things that can go to the moon, right?
[00:14:09] That’s all we’re doing is just building up that, that scalable system. And so what I initially did is I initially, for the first maybe two years of my business, did not do one-on-one financial. because in my head I was telling myself, you are not gonna make money as a financial coach. You need to do courses, you need to do other pieces that are more scalable.
[00:14:32] And so I kind of steered away from financial coaching completely for the first two years and only did the method of running webinars, doing some paid traffic behind that, and then selling courses on my webinar. That was all that my business model was, and it was fine. It was good. But I still had so many people that were even going through courses that were like, Hey, I really like this stuff, but can you just like help me?
[00:14:56] Like I just want you to look at my budget and see if there’s anything that I’m missing. And I, for the longest time was like, Nope, not scalable, not gonna do it. Because that was my, my M B A brain talking. And once I started to say, you know what, maybe the way to build a good business that’s profitable and is enjoyable for me is to do what’s unsell.
[00:15:18] And so I started to focus on the one-on-one coaching, and I would say that’s where I started having a lot more fun in my business and making pretty good money and not having to constantly worry about, is this gonna grow to millions of dollars a year? It was more like, how do I get this to $2,000 per month and then how do I get this to five and then 10?
[00:15:40] And so it, it helps you really start to refocus and help people and change their lives through the one-on-one unscalable. .
[00:15:48] Megan: Yeah. That’s so interesting that you started out cuz like a lot of people that you know, I’ve talked with in service businesses, it’s the opposite. They start out doing like the one-on-one or like the whatever the hands-on delivery thing is, and then they like create a course or a, you know, a system or something.
[00:16:06] So it’s very interesting that, you know, because of your MBA experience and everything you. On the opposite end, you started with courses and then moved to coaching because you just enjoyed it more, it sounds like.
[00:16:18] Whitney: Yeah, pretty much. I think it’s the, the message of the business world. There’s a great book that I read that really resonated with me too.
[00:16:24] It’s called Company of One, and. It was such a good book because so often the message around business is you need to get this to grow as fast as possible so you can hire as many people as possible so you can serve as many customers as possible. And so it’s all of this like grow for the sake of growing.
[00:16:46] And while I do think businesses do need to grow, I mean I’m certainly not naive to that. You have to have some money in order to make a larger impact. I do realize that sometimes it’s that focus on doing what is unscalable that actually helps your business grow. And so that was, it took a long time to like almost reprogram my brain.
[00:17:03] And that book, I think does a really good job of helping you almost unlearn that and recognize that the business is the right size for you at whatever level you want it to be. And so I’ve really enjoyed that book. Yeah. And
[00:17:15] Megan: I feel that very deeply because like, I’ve never really been somebody who wanted to build an empire, but you know, I do want.
[00:17:23] A business that I don’t hate, that like feels enjoyable and can pay me full-time for maybe working slightly less than full-time would be great too, but totally. Yeah. Um, so I get that . So zooming out from your business, um, would you mind to kind of talk about what your business looks like today? So you started out with courses and.
[00:17:49] Products or whatever and then move to financial coaching. How much one-on-one coaching slash courses or other things are you doing today in your
[00:17:58] Whitney: business? Yeah, this is, you’re catching me at a pivotable moment in my business, so this is really interesting, , but I actually recently have retired. Pretty much every single course offering that I have except for become a Financial Coach course, which is a a course slash group coaching model.
[00:18:19] And so it’s kind of a hybrid that is the only course that I’m keeping. And so my two services now that I offer for the public are one-on-one coaching and they become a financial coach course. So that’s it. I used to have a lot of different moving parts and I would have all those courses, and what I found is, As a solopreneur mostly I was spreading myself way too thin by trying to promote all of these different courses and I had very like niche courses.
[00:18:49] One on specifically paying off debt, one on specifically budgeting, one that was a comprehensive financial course and it just, it was hard to get the marketing messaging very linear and laser focused and build out funnels that way when I was constantly feeling like I was being pulled in lots of different directions for courses that.
[00:19:08] between $49 and $149. So the, it just didn’t quite make sense and so that’s why that that shift in my business is currently
[00:19:17] Megan: happening. Okay, cool. So you said you currently offer one-on-one financial coaching and then your become a financial coach course. Mm-hmm. .
[00:19:27] Whitney: Yep. Those are the two offerings within the coaching side.
[00:19:30] And of course the podcast has affiliates and sponsorship income and, and other little avenues here and there, but those are the two core offers that I have.
[00:19:39] Megan: That’s awesome. How are you feeling about, um, simplifying, tearing some stuff down in your business and, you know, figuring out your new core offerings?
[00:19:49] Whitney: So, stressed out, man, , so it’s years of like, so being intermingled with like all of these email opt-ins and downloadables and like trying to go back through and making sure you don’t miss any pieces where people are trying to. By a course that doesn’t exist and getting an email, you know, two years down the road, which I fully expect will happen, but it’s.
[00:20:12] It’s very hard, and I think it’s, you probably relate to this too. When you’re entrepreneurial, you get so excited about all the different products and services that you can offer, and you’ll hear, you’ll go to a conference and somebody’s like, Hey, this is working great for me. So then you go back to home and you’re like, I gotta, I gotta do this.
[00:20:28] Too. I need to do eBooks now. Great. And so pretty soon you’re, you’re spread so thin and you’re pulling in all these different directions where if you have a laser focus of all of my energy and attention goes towards these two things, it’s so much easier mentally to beat that overwhelm.
[00:20:46] Megan: Yeah, absolutely relate to that.
[00:20:47] I have so many . I was just talking to my partner Joseph the other day. I can’t remember what got us on this subject, but we were like talking about all the things that I’ve done in my business and he was like, yeah, you’re really good at starting stuff. And I was like, Finish that sentence, Joseph, finish that sentence.
[00:21:07] Whitney: He’s just looking real comfy. Yeah. .
[00:21:10] Megan: Uh, but I know what he means. Like, and it, cause it’s so easy as a business owner, like you were saying, there’s so many different things that you can do. There are so many options for like, things that you can do, even just like, you know, your business. For example, financial coaching, like there are so many.
[00:21:30] Options for making revenue in your business. Totally. You know, like it’s, it can be overwhelming and Yeah. And I’ve found like a ton of those and I’ve started a ton of them. Can’t say that I’ve finished a whole lot.
[00:21:46] Whitney: that, that’s so funny you say that. I relate to that so much. That’s exactly the struggle.
[00:21:51] That I have two. Tony and I were saying something similar when I came across a gal that was doing a lemonade stand. I’m like, oh dude, I can do a lemonade stand too. I’m like, okay, I need to just put, put my head down and focus on a couple things. It’s really hard. It is so hard.
[00:22:07] Megan: It’s so hard. Is there anything that.
[00:22:12] Are there any projects that like you look back on that you started to do in your business and you didn’t finish that maybe stand out as something that you’re like, uh, I wish I’d done that, or any on the opposite end that you were like, I’m really glad that I did not follow
[00:22:30] Whitney: through on that. Yes. I would say the biggest one that comes to mind was initially when I started.
[00:22:39] My business, I was doing a YouTube channel and they’re still out there. Yes, they’re embarrassing, but hey, whatever. So I did a YouTube channel and I was doing blogging, and that was one where I would say I went down that path of trying to be a blogger and trying to force that so much, and you know, had enough traffic that I was in a good advertising network.
[00:23:03] But what I realized is like that didn’t. My business, like all, it gave good information, it brought people into my world, which is fantastic. But it didn’t really align with my direct business goals, which was how does this convert directly to one-on-one coaching and how does this directly encourage people to become a financial coach?
[00:23:22] Like it, it really didn’t support that. So that was one activity that I think I pushed up a hill maybe a little bit too long and kind of regret doing, um, one project that I’ve recently. Was considering, and it put it in the parking lot for now, was doing a financial like, um, like a diary. So this would be like a spending tracker and budget template using my, my systems in a physical form.
[00:23:50] And that was one that I was really quite passionate about and ultimately had to put on the parking lot in order to focus on my core offers again. So that was a recent one that kind of.
[00:24:01] Megan: Yeah. Yeah, I’m, I’m right there with you. I have like a whole notebook full of ideas that like, I’m not even doing financial coaching anymore.
[00:24:08] I started a completely different business, but I’m like keeping this notebook and I’m like, I don’t know. You know, maybe I’ll revive this one day. , it’s hard to like let go of your creative ideas, um, especially if you’re somebody like, I don’t know. Do you, do you just enjoy the process of creating.
[00:24:26] Whitney: I freaking love it.
[00:24:27] Like that is my favorite thing in the world, and that this is actually an interesting tip for people that are kind of like us. If you are going into financial coaching and you like to dabble and experiment and try different things, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It just can’t take away from your core business offerings.
[00:24:46] So what I have done instead is I enjoy testing side hustles and trying to make. On the side, like I love it. I really do. And so what I have done is I actually have very strategically tested side hustles that I thought would be kind of fun and could easily, you know, turn into their own courses or eBooks.
[00:25:05] But what I’ve done is I’ve collected that information. So when I have a financial coaching client that says, Hey, I really just need to make this much money, we can kind. Explore, how much do you need to make? What are you interested in? Oh, here, I’ve tested this side hustle. Here’s how you can make it work.
[00:25:22] And so I found a way to kind of help support the educational side of my coaching by letting myself dabble and try other side hustles
[00:25:30] Megan: which is, yeah, I mean that sounds like a great solution because it’s being productive on both ends. On the one end, it’s like allowing you to do different things.
[00:25:39] Cause it can. . Yeah. If, if you’re like me in that way, it can be so hard to stick to one thing. Um, and then, yeah, it gives you information for your coaching business. Are there any side hustles that you’ve tried that really stand out as your favorites that you would recommend to anybody listening? ?
[00:25:56] Whitney: Yes. I think it depends on how desperately you need cash.
[00:26:01] Yeah. That’s the, the barometer that I use. So if you need cash immediately, I like the on demand delivery side hustles like Instacart, like Amazon Flex. I think Amazon Flex is one of. the best. There’s usually a very long wait list to get onto that program, but if you need cash very quickly and you have your own, you know, flexible schedule, I think that’s a really, really good one.
[00:26:26] Instacart is great. It’s all about efficiency. DoorDash, Uber Eats, I’ve tested, they’re okay. Um, those ones I think are fine. I love freelance writing. If you have some competency. Deeper skill or the ability to research and, and communicate very clearly. I love that as a side hustle for a lot of people, those are, if you need immediate income, if you’re thinking a little bit more long term, I.
[00:26:50] I love real estate investing. I have to be honest, like I think if you have the cash and you have the creativity, there’s so much you could do there to really change your life. Whether that is house hacking or doing cool Airbnbs, or even long-term rentals or midterm rentals. I’m very passionate about that, but that is more of a, a long-term game.
[00:27:11] Megan: I have been following you on Instagram since like the beginning of your, I think, what was the beginning of like your, uh, Airbnb journey because you just, Like you’re officially launching, I think, what’s your first Airbnb, right? Cascade
[00:27:25] Whitney: Dome. Yep. The, the Geo Dome in the mountains. It’s been fun. And I, Megan, I totally spaced on mentioning furniture flipping.
[00:27:34] That is probably Oh, right, right. My go to side hustle for quick cash where you just buy pieces of furniture from a thrift store or. I don’t know, on Facebook marketplace or look around your, your parents’ house and you resell it. So sometimes you fix it up, sometimes you don’t. But that is a very profitable kind of fun one.
[00:27:54] But you do need to have a little bit of space to store some furniture.
[00:27:58] Megan: Yeah, we, uh, just had Robin Melissa from, uh, flea market flippers on the podcast too, so yeah, it was so, so fun and so excited to talk about them. They do wild flips. That’s crazy. Stuff that Ive never even heard about.
[00:28:12] Whitney: Prosthetic legs, like, yeah.
[00:28:15] Commercial, crazy kitchen, all.
[00:28:17] Megan: Yeah. Um, that is a, that’s a really good one. I’m glad you threw that one in there. Yeah. So Cascade Dome, I do wanna, I know this is like off topic, but I also haven’t had a chance to ask you about this yet. So you just like recently won. An Airbnb contest, right, to create an another unique rental.
[00:28:35] Whitney: Can you tell me about that? Oh my gosh, this was crazy. So Airbnb was having a global competition or fund, I shouldn’t really call it a competition, but the whole premise of that is you submit a crazy idea. It has to be pretty wild off the beaten path that would fit for their, their O M G category, which is all the architectural anomalies and just kind of these weird properties.
[00:28:59] And so I submitted an application for that, not really thinking it would go anywhere and it. Progressed into different levels and then pretty soon I got an email saying, Hey, you are a finalist, which is basically a hundred thousand dollars before taxes that will go towards building a giant flower pot in Idaho.
[00:29:20] is what I submitted. . So that is so cool. It’s crazy, but, so this is all of my next year. Which as a business owner and as a financial coach is very interesting because we, we like to do the build or at least a big portion of it. And so setting up my business now where I can increase my financial coaching prices to reduce the amount of clients that I have, but still make money and still pay my own bills, is really, it’s cool that you can do that.
[00:29:48] As a business owner, you
[00:29:49] Megan: mentioned increasing your prices and having fewer clients, um, and. Somebody who’s like has my own business. I’m curious how much time you spend in your financial coaching business right now. Um, cuz it sounds like. You have time to pursue other things. So what does that look like?
[00:30:11] Like what does a typical workday or work week look like for you in
[00:30:14] Whitney: your business? What I find is with my schedule, I will do calls Monday through Wednesday, and these are all of my meetings. This is all of the podcast interviews, this is all the coaching calls. And so typically what that looks like is. I will start my coaching calls around 11 or 12 Mountain time on Mondays and Tuesdays, and they will generally go kind of sporadically throughout the day till about eight to 8:30 PM and so that’s Mondays and Tuesdays, so it’s a little bit more.
[00:30:43] Back to back a little bit more stressful, like hopping in and outta calls pretty much all day long. Wednesdays I will do a mix of podcast interviews and calls, so that’s the time where I’ll have conversations like these. I’ll bring people onto the Money Nerds podcast and we’ll start to have. That all on Wednesdays.
[00:31:02] And so that’s how I have structured it. And the cool thing is, as a financial coach, you get to set how many people you work with. So my coaching package is three months and I work with people every single week in some capacity. And so most of the time it’s just quick check-in calls to make sure they’re sticking to their plan.
[00:31:20] We’re troubleshooting that kind of stuff. So it’s not a ton. Time all the time. It’s just occasionally you’ll have like your hour long masterminds. And so those are my, my more work days. Uh, Thursday I tend to do a little bit more content creation or just catching up on email, that kind of stuff. And Fridays I try to do half day Fridays or take the full day off depending on how the schedule looks.
[00:31:45] So I would say as a whole, I probably work about 30 to 35 hours a week. And of course, sometimes. Extra work weeks where you have to really grind out on something. But for the most part, that’s what I aim for. Thank you for
[00:31:59] Megan: sharing that. I think it, it’s been interesting to hear people talk about how they manage their time, like doing these calls with people.
[00:32:06] Um, and I think batching is like, The secret of success, . But was that hard for you as like, um, as a financial coach, as somebody with a service business? Was it hard for you to kind of say to people like, these are when, these are the hours I’m gonna work and these are the hours you can schedule your call rather than just letting people have free reign over your calendar nine to five, Monday through Friday.
[00:32:34] Whitney: Yeah, I’d say it, it was a little, it was a little hard in the beginning because I, I kind of had this feeling that if I wasn’t available for sales calls all the time, anytime I’m gonna miss those sales. And that was a little bit scary. And I would say there probably is some truth to that. The longer people think about a decision, the longer they, or the more they will talk themselves out of it.
[00:32:58] And so I do think there is an element of truth there, but you have to balance that with. The types of clients that you’re serving, and do they need you to really be on demand all the time? Like, that’s kind of exhausting. You’re, you’re just a human. And so it was really hard, but my moment of switching things up where I said, okay, no more is, I was on a road trip with my mom and we had to pull over at rest stops, like every few hours.
[00:33:24] So I could take coaching calls and that’s when I’m like, this is ridiculous. Like this does not have to be that. And so that’s when I shifted everything and I thought for sure I’d get so much negative feedback, but it was more in my head. My coaching clients saw the schedule they scheduled. That was it.
[00:33:41] But it was more like, I guess like exaggerated in my head of how bad it was gonna be. Yeah.
[00:33:46] Megan: Well, I’m glad you were able to do it and I think it’s, it is interesting like just sometimes in your own business it can feel. , I’m not allowed to do that. Or like you said, I’m gonna miss out on clients with those sales calls or whatever.
[00:34:02] But like so many professional businesses out there have normal operating hours like , you
[00:34:09] Whitney: can have set operating hours that you
[00:34:13] Megan: want that work for you. Um, so I’m curious though, how. , your time management, I guess, has changed over times from like when you first started your business until now, and I know when you first started your business you said you were doing courses.
[00:34:31] Um, yeah. How was it, I guess, what was it like managing your time and how much did you work in your business when you first got started? Um, I forget if you mentioned if you were, like, when you started your business, if you were also working other jobs or something. What was that like in
[00:34:47] Whitney: the. . Yeah, so I actually did not quit my job until about.
[00:34:53] I think it was like three and a half years into my business, so it took a little bit longer, and so I was still working my normal nine to five job, and then every single free minute, every lunch call, everything was dedicated to my business. And it wasn’t like, yeah, people would look at that and say, that is no.
[00:35:13] Balance for your life. But I was having so much fun that I really didn’t care. Like I really did enjoy it. And so what I have found is I probably worked about the same amount on my business then as I do now. But then, I don’t know what it was. I think it’s when you don’t have as much time, you’re so much more effective and you’re so much more productive.
[00:35:35] And so I look at those early days of my business, I’m like, damn. I was like getting stuff done. I was hustling. I was like producing. And there’s times today where I’m like, oh, I got my five themes for today. Done. Go me. You know, , it’s just so different. Yeah. And I don’t know, so I, I think that a lot of people feel like they have to go all in on their.
[00:35:56] And quit their job and just like focus all of their energy on there. And what I find is most people are actually very productive and very profitable growing a business in tangent with their nine to five job. And it, it works really, really well. Like I think it’s a really important thing to know as you don’t have to go quit your job and go all in on your financial coaching business.
[00:36:18] You can build it up slowly and you’ll still get great results. Yeah.
[00:36:22] Megan: It’s so funny you mentioned that. I’m the same way, like I am the most productive and most effective when I. Way too many things going on , you know? Um, but I’m like such a freaking sloth whenever I just have one thing, one project, or like one job or whatever it is that I’m focusing on.
[00:36:42] No, I need to have like way too many things. The anxiety and the pressure needs to be very high. And then I am like on it. But yeah, I, I’m not saying I love that about myself, .
[00:36:55] Whitney: I feel that, but it’s also how I operate. Yeah. . Yeah. Um, well, and I think so much of that is self-awareness and not trying to force yourself to.
[00:37:03] Perform in what we deem as a successful way. I think it’s like finding your path, your style, what works for you. And if you tend to be the person that crams before the test, like, cool, if that works for you, great. Like, we don’t always have to change everything about our natural instincts. I think we, we do that a lot.
[00:37:22] Megan: Yeah. Yeah, I agree. And yeah, so much of the last few years in figuring out my own business has been like figuring out the self-awareness portion and what, like what actually does work for me in terms of time management and the what I wanna do and how to structure my offerings and all of that. Um, I’m very curious if you have a take on.
[00:37:48] um, I was gonna say hustle culture. That’s a huge question though, but like hustle cul, you know, there is like the culture out there of like, um, just work, work, work, grind all the time. You know, if you should be working day and night, especially if you’re building a business or if you’re a business owner.
[00:38:04] And I know like a lot of the times I personally. Feel like if I’m not working on my business, I’m wasting my time. If I’m like reading a book fiction or nonfiction, whatever it is, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking like all of the things that I need to be doing in my business. So I’m just curious, um, what your take is on the idea of hustle culture, how much you should be putting into your business when you are just getting started.
[00:38:31] Yeah. And how you’ve maybe kind of let go of the idea if you ever had the, the idea or the feeling of. You had to hustle all the time. How you’ve shifted that to have more time outside of your business. It’s a lot of questions.
[00:38:45] Whitney: It’s such a good question though. I think it’s something we all struggle with and kind of go in and out of, of like, should I be like focused and only doing, you know, not coming outta my office except for dinner and then coming back and drinking more coffee and work until 2:00 AM Like we, I think we all kind of feel that way sometimes.
[00:39:01] And so it’s that, that message is very strong. What I, what I, my take is, In our lives, we are living by seasons, and so when you are getting a business off the ground, No doubt about it. I do not know a single person that didn’t have to put in more hours, sacrifice some time with family or friends or themselves.
[00:39:26] I have not met a single person that has been able to do that effectively. Maybe they’re out there, I just haven’t came across them. . And so what that tells me is when you’re first growing a business, there’s an element of you do need to put in more time and energy to get something off the ground. It’s, you don’t have that momentum yet.
[00:39:43] You’re pushing that rock up the hill, but it’s not quite self-sufficient. You’re not at the top of the hill yet, so it’s not rolling down. You have to like really heave and hoe to get that up. And so I find that when you’re starting something new, it does require a lot more hustle Once it’s going, I think you can start to slowly.
[00:40:02] Not put as much energy and effort into that because now you have that momentum. And so I think that that tends to be, the question I ask myself is what season of my life am I in right now? Am I in a season where it does require me to hustle and to put my head down and work extra hours? Cool. That’s what I have to do.
[00:40:20] Am I in a season where everything’s going pretty good and I don’t need to like force and work even more? Great. That’s fantastic. And so I think you have to really understand where you are in your business to see what is the requirement for workload. And that is one of those things too, where when you first get started in your business, you are so excited and it’s so fun and new that you will work more hours naturally because you enjoy it.
[00:40:46] I think the issue is when you’re working more hours into a business that you absolutely hate, Then it really is detrimental to your health. You don’t enjoy it. You’re having a crap time. You’re grouchy all the time. Your relationships are gonna suffer. Your health is gonna suffer and you’re gonna be miserable.
[00:41:01] But if you love what you do and you’re really excited about that process, you actually feel more energized by that. It doesn’t feel so draining. And so I don’t know if that’s just me, but that’s just what I’ve noticed in my own life. .
[00:41:13] Megan: Yeah, I think that’s, that’s very true. And I like what you said about being in seasons because it is so much work building a business in the beginning, like, yeah, I don’t know.
[00:41:25] I guess there are some cases out there or seemingly some cases where it like goes from zero to 1,000,006 months or whatever, but like. I don’t think that’s, yeah, that’s not the case for most people. And even if it is like the 12 months leading up to that was probably a lot of work. So, um, . Yeah. Anyway, I, I just like what you said about seasons and like you do have seasons where you’re busier, but like you can also have seasons where you rest more
[00:41:57] Whitney: and we should, right.
[00:41:58] Like, that’s the important thing. What I find helps with that too, is when I started to beat myself up and just be like, oh my gosh, you should be working on this. It’s, you know, 8:00 PM and you didn’t send out that email. What’s wrong with you? What I found is when. Really was very diligent about time blocking and scheduling my calendar almost very, um, maybe too much a little o c d sometimes, like from an outside perspective, it would look like, that’s crazy.
[00:42:30] Why are you doing that? But like down to like every 15 minute, 30 minute increment, what I found is that feeling of like, I didn’t do enough, kind of started to diss. Because I started to actually get a lot of stuff done throughout the day and start being a lot more productive. So that feeling of guilt wasn’t there as much.
[00:42:49] It was those days where I didn’t have a plan for my day. Maybe I had like a few things written down, but then I was scrolling through a TikTok or Instagram for God knows too long and that those were the days where I started to really feel like I should be working more is when I was noticing I was doing more of that.
[00:43:05] So I found a direct correlation with my screen time and that.
[00:43:09] Megan: Yeah, I have, I found the same thing. And also like I’m a notorious list keeper. Like I just love having pen and paper, a list of like every, everything I need to do. Um, like even if I’m working with a client, I’m using a project management tool, I’m in a sauna or whatever, I’m still gonna have my pen and paper list, you know?
[00:43:31] but I feel so, yeah, I agree. I feel so much better about that list and what I’m able to mark off of it at the end of the day when I’ve like put my items in specific time blocks on my calendar. . I don’t know how the magic of time blocking works. I don’t understand the science of it, but also way more productive when I do that versus when I’m like, I swear to God, I can have the same item on my pen and paper list and it takes me half the time to do it if I put it on my calendar.
[00:44:04] Whitney: don’t know. I’m just saying works. I think you’re onto something, pal. Like this is a legit thing. .
[00:44:11] Megan: Yeah. Yeah. It’s crazy. I wanna go back and ask you a question that I think I meant to ask you earlier, and I totally forgot . Um, but I wanna back up and talk about how you’ve gotten clients for your business, um, because, well, in the beginning, let’s start there.
[00:44:29] In the beginning, you started out with courses and you said you were doing workshops, and then on the back end of the workshops you were like selling courses. How did you start that? Where were those people coming from? . And did you, like, did you have to learn a new skill to do that ?
[00:44:47] Whitney: All the time. I feel like I’m always learning new skills.
[00:44:49] Yeah. Um, okay. So what I initially was doing is, I think this is normal for most consulting or coaching businesses. Your first clients are going to be friends, family, people that know your friends and family. It’s gonna be that referral and to an extent that still is most consulting businesses. But I’d say that is your primary source of leads when you first get started.
[00:45:12] So what you have to do as soon as you possibly can with any type of business, but specifically coaching, is you have to understand your customer avatar. So then you can start to craft messages and marketing materials and. Talks or reels or whatever the heck, even a post on LinkedIn, when you have that avatar in mind, it starts to become more of that attraction.
[00:45:35] Instead of that, like, you know, you’re, you’re, you’re a little bit more pulled than push when it comes to your marketing efforts. And so that’s the key piece to any business, but specifically there. And then what you notice is the more that you. and usually when you first start, you don’t have a ton of testimonials.
[00:45:51] You are your testimonial. Like that usually is the case. So the soonest that you can get testimonials and feedback from other people and start to put those out into the world, then the more people are gonna start to say, oh, this is interesting. And so what I think is the primary lead generator for my business now is podcast first, followed by my email list that has.
[00:46:18] we’re sitting at about, I just cleaned it up, so we’re actually at about 7,000 people on the email list. Like a lot of people are like, oh, your email list has to be massive. It doesn’t actually, it truly doesn’t. When you’re talking to the right people, you can still build a very successful business with a smaller email list, size two.
[00:46:33] And so we, we are constantly promoting we meaning me, I’m constantly promot. Emails that will like pitch coaching and say, you know, hey, if you need to, I’ve got this many spots available for the next month. And so it’s all of those efforts combined with your marketing materials and being very strategic about the content you put out there that will start to attract people.
[00:46:54] But in the early days, it was a hundred percent friends and
[00:46:57] Megan: family. Awesome. Yeah, I think you’re totally right. Like. friends and family and cold outreach or just like referrals in general is how so many service businesses start. I’m like in the midst right now of doing cold pitches and, you know, looking at partnerships and stuff.
[00:47:15] It’s the worst
[00:47:17] Whitney: Anyways, so discouraging ,
[00:47:19] Megan: so, so discouraging, so necessary. Sometimes, but it is, I didn’t realize, uh, how late it has gotten, cuz I’ve just enjoyed talking to you so much. Um, but I would love to ask you some rapid fire questions before I let you go. Is that all right?
[00:47:35] Whitney: Let’s do it. I’m excited.
Rapid Fire Questions
[00:47:37] Whitney: First question
[00:47:39] Megan: I have for you is, what is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made in your business? And it could be an investment of money or time, or energy, any of those things or any other resource.
[00:47:51] Whitney: Ooh. It was an investment of time in joining a business incubator at Boise State called Venture College.
[00:48:00] It was a semester program, no credit, uh, just for fun, where you are very diligently working on your business, and that was the hardest I’ve ever worked, but the most fulfilling and most growth I think I’ve ever had. That’s by far the best investment I’ve had so far.
[00:48:18] Megan: Very cool. . Yeah, that sounds awesome. Um, okay, second rapid fire question is, in the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life and or business?
[00:48:33] I don’t know if you can hear. My dog is like dreaming behind me right now. It’s like, like yelping and is asleep. Okay. Okay. Calm down buddy. . Sorry.
[00:48:43] Whitney: That’s so cute. . Lemme think. I would say the, the biggest mindset shift that I’ve had is it’s not about how good your product or services is. It’s about how well you market the product or service.
[00:49:00] Mm-hmm. As much as I hate that, that is by far the biggest thing that I’ve had to wrap my head around, over and over again, but especially so in this past year, you can have a great product and service, but if you can’t market it, You were gonna be broke, you’re not gonna have a good business. And so that is by far the the biggest mindset shift I’ve been having lately.
[00:49:22] Megan: Hmm. Is there any product or service that, like you’re thinking of in your business that you created and you thought was amazing but like, didn’t get the traction or the attention you thought it should because it just marketing ?
[00:49:36] Whitney: Totally. I would say the, the course that I just retired manager money, like a.
[00:49:42] Mm, man. I thought that was the best course ever. , it’s a good course, but I did not market it to the degree that it should have been. And so it, it wasn’t a flop, but it wasn’t by any means, like, I mean, it would buy hundreds of dollars worth of stuff, but not a house like it. It just wasn’t the same level. So that was definitely one that I, in hindsight, could have done a much better job marketing.
[00:50:06] Megan: Yeah, it’s so true. It is. . Very hard to come to terms with that mindset, but it is so true. Marketing is like if you don’t have marketing, you don’t have sales, so you don’t , you don’t kinda important . Yeah. Um, okay. Last question I have for you is, what advice do you have for someone who’s just getting started or maybe toying with the idea of starting an online business or a lifestyle business
[00:50:35] Whitney: that sort of.
[00:50:37] Find a mentor. I think that’s the biggest piece that you can do, and that can be a virtual mentor or it can be an in-person mentor, ven virtual meaning podcasts, or maybe you’re reading their blogs or their YouTube channels. But what I suggest for anybody that’s interested in an online business of any type or any business, find a single mentor and follow their blueprint and their.
[00:50:59] To a t. Mm-hmm. Don’t intermingle other people’s advice. Just learn from one mentor at a time, and I think that’s where you find a lot more progress, a little bit more quickly.
[00:51:09] Megan: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I, I totally agree. And I also have a question for you around like, looking for a mentor. So Yeah. Have you found. do you, do you look for a mentor who’s doing something very specific that you know you want to do and has like that exact blueprint versus like, they’re also business coaches who are kind of more general, you know, who just like will meet with you every week and talk about whatever you’re working on and give you general advice?
[00:51:37] Ha, I what level or. , what kind of mentor do you prefer there?
[00:51:42] Whitney: I prefer very laser specific mentorship, so I’ll have different mentors for different elements. Like I have, one of my best friends is a rockstar at Airbnbs that are in the unique space, so she’s my mentor for that. I only follow her advice when it comes to Airbnbs.
[00:51:58] There’s lots of great advice out there, but that’s the only one I follow for financial coaching. I don’t really have a mentor. anymore in that space. But I would say when I was first getting started, I couldn’t find a financial coach mentor. So I would look at consulting models and really track that, kind of, that level.
[00:52:16] So I had a, a college professor that was a consultant, and I would meet with them and just ask them questions of like, Hey, well how do you get clients? How do you charge to make sure that you’re not underpaying yourself? And so those were the initial mentors as just like very topical, very specific. Um, I think once.
[00:52:34] you get to a certain level. Masterminds are really great for that diversity that you’re seeking. But in the beginning, yeah, laser topical specific I think is
[00:52:43] Megan: best. Yeah. Very cool. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show, Whitney, and for hanging out with me today. Um, before you leave, where can our listeners find you and connect with?
[00:52:57] Whitney: Yeah, the best places to go. Hop over to the Money Nerds podcast. You can find out on any podcast player and there you can get some more financial advice to and fun conversations can go hop over there and listen to some cool stories.