Taking the leap into entrepreneurship can be challenging and scary. Women entrepreneurs often benefit from support resources that help build their confidence, give them the courage to take the leap, and give them the marketing and business knowledge to be successful. In this episode, APU business professor Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt talks to coach and entrepreneur Tiffany Lewis about her work to help women become entrepreneurs. Learn about mindset coaching, which helps women build confidence and get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Also, learn how women can prepare to become entrepreneurs by learning more about business and marketing strategies and why it’s so important to build a tribe of support.
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Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: Welcome to the podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Kandis-Boyd Wyatt. The goal of this podcast is to highlight our local heroes in our community who are champions of important issues affecting us on both a national and international scale.
Today we’re going to continue that conversation and talk about the importance of creating, executing, and leading a clear vision as you pursue your dreams. Today my guest is Tiffany Lewis, who is a champion of helping women build the confidence, courage, and branding to make the jump to become a successful entrepreneur.
Tiffany provides mindset exercises, motivation and keys to marketing, and how to communicate your message. Marketing is how you let the audience know who you are and what you do. Her company, which is More Meaningful Marketing, is targeted to help people understand these very important concepts and how to convert your prospects into loyal paying customers. No matter your industry, marketing is essential in today’s highly digital world. Tiffany, welcome to the podcast and thank you for joining me.
Tiffany Lewis: Thank you so much for having me. It’s been awesome. Oh, I was going to say it was awesome to join you last time. Sorry.
Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: Actually I think that’s really good to let our listeners know because we have several podcasts at American Public University. So if you didn’t get a chance to listen to her first podcast, after you listen to this one, make sure you go back and search for her. And at the time of this recording, it is Women’s History Month, so this is a very appropriate topic.
Tiffany, let’s get started with the conversation. There are so many conversations happening today about work-life balance, entrepreneurship, starting your own business, and especially looking at these concepts from a female perspective.
Can we start the conversation by having you tell a little bit about yourself and why this topic is so dear to your heart?
Tiffany Lewis: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you. I started my entrepreneurial journey, this is my third year now, where I was actually let go from my job before I was ready to make that leap. And while I had my business already, I certainly didn’t have a backup plan, a great one at least. And I really was kind of flying by the seat of my pants for a while trying to figure it all out.
And I realized very early that having a tribe that understands you and knows you and accepts your journey is super important. I’m really passionate about this topic. I’ve been in the pits and peaks of entrepreneurship, and I just really have a passion for helping other women do the same.
Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: I am a big proponent of listening to audio books. And as luck would have it, I’m actually listening to an audio book by a female who’s talking about this, that you need a tribe, that you need to have all different types of mentors and coaches, and you just need people who are going to be your support system to help move you forward and help you realize your passion. Let’s talk about some of the misnomers when it comes to starting your own business. Can you talk about some of the misnomers you’ve encountered?
Tiffany Lewis: Yeah, absolutely. I think a common one that I still encounter is on occasion I will have someone ask me when I’m going to get a real job, what I’m doing about my 401(k), what benefits look like, that it’s a dreamer’s job. I think there’s a misconception that when people go out on their own, that maybe they couldn’t find gainful employment, or they have maybe problems getting along with others. There are a lot of misconceptions.
I think today more than ever, we’re probably seeing where those dreamers are coming to life as the market kind of shifts and entrepreneurship is maybe taking a little bit more of a front seat than it has before. But I still think there are some misnomers to overcome and to really get to a place where we’re not just the dreamers, we are the innovators.
Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: I think that dreamers are essential, because what I’ve been reading in some of my articles is that many of the innovations are actually coming from entrepreneurial startups, not necessarily your traditional brick and mortar organizations or companies. But it’s these new startups with a new idea and they just want to try something new and it blossoms into something that’s really impactful. I like what you said that entrepreneurship is for dreamers and it is a real job.
So now, let’s shift to females, because I know you said that you wanted to target females in this discussion. Why are females less likely to become successful entrepreneurs?
Tiffany Lewis: I can only speak from my personal experience and what I’ve seen from my clients, but what I see when women make the shift to entrepreneurship from being in a corporate role, for myself, I was in a male-dominated industry, so it was tough sometimes to be heard and to have a seat at the table. And just from corporate in general, I was climbing the ladder, kind of living life pretty conventionally in sequential. And I realized that when I went out on my own as a woman, I had some confidence things, mindset that were holding me back. And that’s not just I don’t think exclusive to women, it’s anyone who has had a poor experience that they remember that kind of changed who they are or the way they speak up or show up.
And I noticed this with myself early on, but I waited too long to invest in the mindset piece and to really kind of acknowledge my own fears so that it could be operating at my best. What I have seen over the years is that other women just like me that have inadvertently become ideal clients because they have a similar struggle, also struggle with these same confidence issues.
Maybe they got shut down at a meeting, or pass up for a promotion, or motherhood changed what the landscape looked like. I find that women definitely, at least in my experience so far, have a really big need to overcome those hurdles early and often before they can really show up fearlessly.
Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: Yeah, you said two points that I really want to emphasize. I was like you. I was in the corporate sector, I was working a lot, and then I had my first child and life change both for me and how others perceived me as well. You’re absolutely right, that all of a sudden, some of the opportunities that I had prior to having a child, suddenly started to evaporate away because people just started making decisions for me that, “Oh, she doesn’t need to travel as much, or, oh, this is maybe a high, stressful position. We probably need to find someone more suited for that position.”
And then a second point that you said that I really want to emphasize is this imposter syndrome mentality. I think especially from women and women entrepreneurs, if you don’t see a lot of female entrepreneurs around you, sometimes, like you said, it is harder to make that leap and to break out and to try something new. Sometimes, like you said, you wonder if you’re even measuring up. I think that this conversation is so great, because it’s going to give us an opportunity to peel back the layers and just be a little more transparent.
Let me ask another question and now I’m going to shift to you American Public University. I am a professor in the School of Business and many times we have challenges connecting in the classroom to the real-life everyday experience. How do you use some basic academic practices and theories to define what’s the best strategy to become a successful entrepreneur?
Tiffany Lewis: Yeah, I think that is a really great question, because I know so many college students, including myself, you do get out into the real world and that’s where you kind of learn that hands-on experience. And maybe some of the things that we didn’t quite learn, the experience kind of trumps, right? We have so much skill set and we can be so knowledgeable, but how do we bridge that gap to better prepare? I love that, and I think it’s definitely so needed. I think that self-awareness is really important early.
And it may not be the conventional academic practice, but just always familiarizing and being true to who you are I think as an individual, as a student, as a classroom encouraging that confidence and that ability early I think can really move mountains.
When students get into the workforce, that they are kind of armed with the motivations, with the what to do if things don’t quite pan out the way that they would expect. How do you get experience when you don’t have any?
A lot of that is rooted in mindset work and self-awareness and understanding your likes and dislikes when it comes to you as an individual can put you, I think, on a really good career path. And then I would elaborate more to say that choosing a career path or a business that fosters the future that you want. Because for me, I didn’t want children early in life. It wasn’t really a conversation. I wasn’t choosing a culture or company to kind of foster what I wanted long-term.
And I think had I done that early and often and checked in with myself, I probably would have had an easier transition throughout my career, and then also in that journey to leaving corporate and into entrepreneurship.
Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: Yeah, absolutely. I really want to emphasize a couple of things that you said. Pursuing your passion is really important. It’s not so much job after job after job, but it’s, what’s your passion, what are you excited about, and then turning that into a career.
I think, like you said, sometimes people just need exposure to various opportunities to understand how their passion can actually fit into the big puzzle, if you want to call it that. I really liked how you talked about that.
And then the other thing is, is that it’s okay for your mindset to change over time. And I heard you say that you were not necessarily interested in having a child early on, but now you’re a proud mother. I think a lot of times many of the people that I talked to, both men and women, sometimes they feel like their life plan has to be etched in stone and permanent. And the reality is, for many people, your life plan or your vision for your future has an ebb and a flow. It’s more like a blueprint than an actual contract in stone. I really liked those two points that you mentioned.
You’re a successful entrepreneur. What would you tell your young self, 20 years ago on what do you need to do to be successful?
Tiffany Lewis: I think I would say get comfortable with being misunderstood. If you are a dreamer, if you have passions that are kind of beyond your current role or field of study, branching out until you find something that really fits and clicks.
I think for me in college, I was paying for my own degree, so I felt like I didn’t have the flexibility to really explore. I was lucky it worked out for me, but I have other friends and family who maybe stayed the path and didn’t end up in a happy place. I would say check your gut kind of early and often if you’re on the right path and don’t let the norm and flow of life, like you said, you can have a blueprint, but it is subject to change.
If something doesn’t feel good, check that feeling early and often and follow your dreams. Don’t give them a backseat ever. If there’s anyone who’s going to care about your dreams the most, it’s definitely you. If you know what that is and if something doesn’t feel good, just being able to change that early and maybe not stay the course for too long, because you don’t want to get burned out. If you really have a passion, anyone can experience burnout.
And that’s what you don’t want is to have this dream and this goal and this ambition and then just have it stalled by years of not doing the right thing for yourself.
Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: Wow, that’s my story. I’m dating myself, but I was an undergraduate probably about 25 years ago. And back then, it was very rigid in terms of the core structure, the number of courses you need to take, the number of electives. It was almost mapped out to a T with very little room for flexibility.
I’m really glad that I’m an online professor at American Public University, because not only do we allow students to pursue a particular degree, but there’s also some flexibility, like you said, for just testing things out and just seeing if there’s other courses that might spark your interest in some way, shape, or form. I totally agree with you that looking back on it, who knows? My path might have been a little bit different if I had started just to have this mindset of, what makes me tick?
What do I like? Where can I find ways to explore these options? Let’s talk about your clients. Does every person possess the skills to become a successful entrepreneur?
Tiffany Lewis: Yeah, I do think that everyone does possess the skills. But truthfully, as we know in entrepreneurship, not everyone makes it. I think what I have seen in my experience is that the passion just has to really be there. People will choose careers or businesses that are short-term profitable or looking for that big win and they quickly burn out. They’re quickly overwhelmed. They’ve put themselves on like a very short time limit. And if you start with passion and really pick something that you would choose every day with intention, I think that there’s no way that you can’t succeed.
That security that people want to have is something that has to be a little bit of a non-negotiable. You have to be able and be comfortable with taking risks and knowing that you’re in it for the long game in my experience.
Some people like the stability of a constant check. I’ve had people that branch out in entrepreneurship and they hate it because they’re so Type A, for a lack of better term, that they can’t separate that secure paycheck with the dreaming mentality, or they may be a hybrid. I think entrepreneurship is getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. And if you could be passionate about what you do, I don’t think there’s any way that you can fail.
Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: That’s a good point. Thank you so much, Tiffany. With many of my friends, I’ve kind of found that it is a hybrid. I think that’s the term you just use many of them, like you said, they need that stable paycheck. They’re too scared of the golden handcuffs, where maybe it’s not necessarily the job that they like, but they like the salary or the benefits, or some of the perks.
And then what happens is you have this hybrid mentality that on the side, they’re pursuing their passion either part-time manner or, like you said, maybe a full-time job and also some type of entrepreneurial activity. I do see a lot of people trying to make their passion their future, but I also see that they’re sometimes a little scared to totally make that jump and immerse themselves a thousand percent into what they feel is truly their future.
Tiffany Lewis: I don’t want to underestimate either the challenges that it brings, because I think that sometimes there’s a negative stigma around entrepreneurship and the security, but there is also a positive one where people think that entrepreneurship brings in a lot of money right away, and it must be great to be your own boss and have the flexibility. And yes, all of those things are wonderful, but there are going to be pits and peaks just like any journey. I don’t want to glamorize that climb per se.
I think that everybody has their comfort level with staying with their nine to five or leaving or when to make that leap, but it certainly doesn’t go without work. It’s a journey every day and you have to choose it so diligently and intentionally for it to work, in my opinion.
Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: I think the biggest eye opener or a misnomer as we used earlier in the conversation about entrepreneurship is that everybody has a boss. Even if you branch out and you become your own entrepreneur, everybody has a boss in some way, shape, or form. Why do you think most of your clients fall short when they try to become a successful entrepreneur?
Tiffany Lewis: There are a lot of success coaches out there, a lot of entrepreneur coaches, a lot of mindset coaches, and I’ve invested in all of those myself. But what I do see is that missing piece is the marketing piece is missed so big. And if somebody doesn’t have a background in sales or marketing, they get it pretty wrong early.
Because in 2021, I’m really seeing that we’re going to want to do a lot more relationship building than we have in the past, a lot more bringing the value and less asking for the sell. We think that marketing is just how many times can I put my offer up?
And they think it’s a numbers game. Well, if I get it out here 10 times and two people click, then I will have two paying customers. But what you’re doing is that you’re overselling your audience and then you become noise to them. They haven’t really connected with you on the personal level that it takes to want to do business with an individual. I think it’s a relationship game. I think it’s a personal branding game, and I think it takes time and authenticity. Consistency over time equals results. But I think that being yourself early and often is going to make that connection because people want to do business with people.
Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: Yeah, absolutely. Consistency over time equals results. I really like that. I’m going to quote or try and paraphrase something that I heard in a webinar that I viewed, and they said that a product that is marketed really well, even if it’s a poor product, will do better than a product that is really good that is marketed poorly.
Like you said, marketing is actually that key to really truly getting something onto the market and being successful and, like you said, over time as well. All right. What distinguishes the mindset from a successful entrepreneur versus a non-successful entrepreneur?
Tiffany Lewis: I’ve been on both sides of this coin, and there were times that I felt so deeply that I wasn’t made for conventional corporate career or that I wasn’t quite finding kind of what set my soul on fire. I felt because someone else couldn’t see my dreams or because I kind of stifled them a little bit to fit the role I was in, that I couldn’t pursue those wholeheartedly or with the feeling that I had backing from my family, friends, former colleagues. I dimmed my light often. I kind of was fitting into this box of what other people wanted me to be in, and I was unhappy.
I didn’t show up as myself, and I didn’t speak up in meetings, and I didn’t want to take the public speaking opportunities and things like that because I didn’t feel passionate about the message I was sending first, but I didn’t feel comfortable. I was scared. I was worried about being judged. I was afraid that I would say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing. I think a lot of that comes down to just being in your best self and really nurturing who you are and getting in the right mindset of you know you can instead of you think you can. I think success looks different for everybody.
If you really just tune into that authenticity and what feels good and then paying attention to the things that don’t I think can really set you on a good path forward, and then paying attention when things feel good and doing more of that with intention.
Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: Yeah. I like what you said about you don’t want to dim your light or be confined to a box. And I think American Public University really strives to do that. We want all of our students to be as successful as they can possibly be. This is a really great topic. As we start to close, what are some resources that you’ve used or provided to help individuals become a successful entrepreneur?
Tiffany Lewis: Personally, for myself, the financial piece is really important. My early hires were bookkeepers and CPAs and tax professionals. I think that’s super important if it’s not something that you’re well-versed in. And I think also, as I mentioned before, the power of mindset coaching. There are three key things that I felt that were transformational for me in my journey.
I started a Facebook group a couple of months ago called Transform from Corporate Woman to Fearless Entrepreneur, and the three key components are having the confidence, the courage, the business and marketing know-how to really propel your side hustles forward. A lot of women leaving the workforce today voluntarily or involuntarily have either had side hustles, as you’ve mentioned, of your own family and friends. I have a lot of them too.
And they just haven’t had the know-how and the confidence and the courage to go all in to really transform and be comfortable and more able to leave that security that they’re feeling with ease. It’s funny, but we talk about things like having a backup plan, right? I mentioned before I lost my job before I was ready. So I’m really passionate about helping people understand that it’s not just about taking a leap and being a dreamer and doing all of these things haphazardly. Let’s do it strategically. Let’s do it together.
Let’s make sure that other people do the mindset work earlier than I did. And then coming from a place of experience, that I can really be that tribe of support that we talked about earlier on to kind of hold these women’s hands as they walk through it and they experience the pits in the peaks and being that inspiration that they need to continue their journey with just an open mind and an open heart and just loving what they do every day.
Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: Tiffany, thank you so much. Thank you for sharing your expertise and perspective on this issue, and thank you for joining me for today’s podcast.
Tiffany Lewis: Thank you so much, Kandis. It’s been really fun.Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: Definitely. The pleasure has been all mine. And to our listeners, thank you for joining us. As a reminder, you can learn more about these topics and more if you sign up for the American Public University bi-monthly newsletter. So until our next podcast, be well and be safe.