Any new entrepreneurs out there looking for inspiration? Jen DeVore Richter of Boss Women Rock talks about the mistakes she sees new female entrepreneurs make when starting their new business. Based on her years of experience as the Marketing Executive for NASA, Jen breaks down some crucial errors that new female entrepreneurs have to avoid in order to run their business the best way possible. Even though there was a point where she had hit the proverbial glass ceiling for women in her industry, she persevered and went on to become a force in marketing and entrepreneurship. With her straightforward approach to diagnosing and creating solutions for some of the most common problems female entrepreneurs face, she shows you how you can break the glass ceiling too.
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Jen DeVore Richter: Guiding Female Entrepreneurs To Know Their Numbers
We have an interesting guest. We’re going to have a conversation with Jen DeVore Richter and she is a sales and marketing expert. Jen Richter is a former Marketing Executive for NASA at the Kennedy Space Center turned keynote speaker and marketing strategists. She works with sales and marketing teams to improve marketing results, increased productivity through systems and automation and launch campaigns that convert. She’s also the CEO and Founder of Boss Women Rock. That’s how I met her was through The Dameshich has a bunch of boss women in their group. That’s an organization which helps women in business make their first $100,000 in a 52-week program. She is going to give you guys some stats that are hard to believe with women in business and hitting that first $100,000.
She’s the Editor in Chief of Boss Women Rock Magazine and the host of the iTunes podcast, which features entrepreneurial celebrity guests like Loral Langemeier from The Secret. She’s a media contributor frequently appearing on TV radio including PBS, Huffington Post, NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox. Jen’s fourth book geared toward female entrepreneurs is Boss Women Rock: How To Go From Best Kept Secret to Sought After Expert. Her fifth book is geared towards CMOs and CEOs, which she’s what people call a fractional CMO, which is becoming very popular out there. Her fifth book is Go For Launch: 57 Out of This World Sales and Marketing Tips For Business. For hobbies because she doesn’t do enough in her business. She loves to cook Thai food, do Pure Barre challenges, hike with her husband, Will, and paint along to Bob Ross videos on YouTube. Welcome.
Thank you, Juliet.
Doesn’t the Pure Barre make your feet hurt?
It makes your entire body hurt but that’s what’s so good about it. It’s tough. It’s the best exercise program.
The one time I did it was a jumping bar thing and I barely could walk the next day. Not because my legs hurt but because of my feet. Who knew how many muscles you have in your feet and I’m a runner so I should know.You can't be so in love with your business that you'd be willing to do it for free. Click To Tweet
Pure Barre is based in barre classes in general, are based on ballet. If you think about it, ballet dancers are always on their toes. They’re always on point. They’re always on their feet. The foundation of Pure Barre at least that we spend a lot of time up on our toes doing our exercise.
I’m a Taekwondo black belt, which explains why black belt is more for me than ballet. Obviously, my feet can’t handle it. Tell us a little bit about your journey. I didn’t even know NASA had marketing.
Kennedy Space Center is one of Florida’s top five most visited attractions only after Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld and the theme parks in Orlando. Kennedy Space Center is located, if you’re looking at Florida, to the right on the space coast on the beach there. It is a very popular tourist attraction that gets millions of visitors from around the world every year. My job was to handle all of the paid media. We ran national TV commercials, we invested millions of dollars in marketing campaigns to steal people away from the mouse for a day trip from their Orlando vacation. They still do have a huge international visitor population. We were working a lot with tour companies and doing advertisements in magazines overseas. It’s a huge company. Kennedy Space Center is a business.
How did you get from there to Boss Women Rock?
When I was at Kennedy Space Center, it was the best job. It was so exciting. This is back when we were launching space shuttles. We were very active. I was going to space shuttle launches all the time. We were launching 25 space shuttles a year, celebrities and astronauts. Buzz Aldrin used to call me. I would handle his personal appearances and his book signings on base and stuff. Buzz Aldrin would call me, we were on a first-name basis. He’d be like, “Jen, it’s Buzz.” I’m like, “Buzz, what’s up?” It was so cool. It’s the best and most awesome job. I hit a glass ceiling quickly and early on in my professional career because I had that job before I was even 30 years old and here I am, managing one of the world’s leading global brands. Everybody knows what NASA is and so here I am managing what are the leading global brand, managing multimillion of dollars and advertising budget, lobbying Congress in Washington DC to get their continued support of the United States space program. I hit a glass ceiling because I had all this success at a young age. To tell you the truth, the pay was terrible because it’s the government.
I worked for everybody that works for the government, works for a contractor, but there is a pay scale that you hit and no matter what you do, it’s not like there’s this unending supply of revenue. I got bit by the entrepreneurial book because I realized, “I have all this talent, gifts, knowledge, experience and all these things, but I’m hitting a ceiling really fast in terms of how much money I could make.” Not that money is everything in the world, but at that time, it meant a lot to me because I was trying to establish myself and establish my career. I didn’t know exactly how to run a business or what it even meant to take something from nothing and launch it into a business that could support yourself. I set out on a journey to figure it out.
Over time, over a period of many years, I figured out how to apply what I knew with my Master’s in Business and my career at Kennedy Space Center into entrepreneurship. I’ve had four different companies. This is my fourth one now over the last several years. Some of them are very successful and some of them are not successful. I’ve learned a lot of lessons, I made a lot of mistakes and I’ve done a lot of things really well at the same time. It’s been a journey of figuring out how to be an entrepreneur. How to make money for yourself so that you can have a great life. How to save for retirement, have health insurance, go on vacation and all the things that you get when you work for someone else. I have so many stories to tell you.
I don’t think a lot of people realize that when you quit your job, you’re really excited about it and you don’t understand how much there’s going to be to do. I always liken it to day one. You show up at your desk. At home, you’re excited and by month four, you’re harried and hopeless. The dog is looking at you going, “Please shower.” You don’t get that it’s not as easy as going into your work all day.
It’s definitely not. When you go to work for someone else, they’ve already done the hard work of creating product, creating services, knowing what to sell to your clients and how to sell it. They’ve already got the kinks worked out a lot of times. I know no company is perfect and there are still a lot of things to learn in any company, but they’ve already done that hard work of figuring out what is it that we sell, how do we sell it? How are we going to develop this product? How are we going to develop these services? Why do people want it? How much do we price it at? There are so many decisions that go into it. When you’re the business owner and you go from having this structure to nothing, you have to figure all of those things out.
One of the big mistakes I made when I first became a business owner was not pricing myself well. I undervalued what I was doing, what my value was and I was working like a dog for not that much money. That was a huge mistake. Other mistakes I’ve made, I had a photography studio at one time. When I decided to leave Corporate America and give up the security of that, I did what everyone does when they have a midlife crisis in their twenties. I did and want to start a business. I turned my hobby into a business and my hobby was photography. I became a photographer and started taking classes. I had a mentor in photography and joined the professional association.
It was doing all the right things but the one thing that I was doing that was not great was not pricing myself for profitability. I was like, “Someone wants to pay me to shoot their wedding. I’ll do it for $500,” or some ridiculous price. I was working a lot of hours, burning out and not getting paid that much. I know that this is a big problem that almost every business owner faces and women in particular. There’s a saying that I’ve heard a million times especially with female entrepreneurs. “We love what we’re doing so much, we’d be willing to do it for free.” I was happy to not have a boss anymore and to have clients. I was like, “I’ll do it.” I was not thinking strategically about how I was pricing myself and what services were going to be included. I was giving away the farm. I made so many mistakes with that business in particular.
That’s very common though because I would say half of my female clients that come in, they tell me what they do and how much they charge and I’m like, “No.”Marketing is not that complicated, but new technologies and social media make it complicated. Click To Tweet
It’s not going to work. You have to run the numbers. I started quickly figuring out I had to go back to what I knew about business and how real businesses are run. Instead of falling in love emotionally with my business and feeling about I’m going to be creative, live my purpose and help people have a wonderful wedding and do all the soft side of it, which is where females tend to gravitate towards, I had to get tougher and harness some more different energy. You can do both things. You can be creative and have a business that’s fun, impactful and purpose-driven but you can also make money at the same time. I had to go back to basics of, “What do I know about business that is true? How do I price myself for profit? How do I build a profitable business?” That was one of the first businesses that I owned a studio.
Fast forward seven years, I ended up being a very successful photographer. I ranked number two in our entire city. I ended up teaching other photographers business and marketing classes on how to grow a photography studio, how to market themselves. For a minute there, it was dangerous. It was like, “What am I thinking? What am I doing?” You can’t be so in love with your business that you’re willing to do it for free. It’s been a journey. Now, I have Boss Women Rock, which is one, I’m an entrepreneur so I have a lot of different ways that I make money. Boss Women Rock was the thing that connected us but I’ve created Boss Women Rock to solve the problem that I had personally experienced when I first started a business, which is helping female entrepreneurs make that first $100,000. The statistics and the research shows that 88% of female entrepreneurs never make that first $100,000. That is shocking and unbelievable to me.
It’s very difficult out there to get it done. What are the biggest mistakes that some of these women who are not getting there making that you see?
Number one is not pricing themselves for profit and not knowing their numbers. Kevin O’Leary from Shark Tank, he’s Mr. Wonderful. He’s the guy that always wears the black suit on Shark Tank. I went to a VIP workshop with him in Denver. He told the group, “There are three numbers that any business needs to know before you start marketing. Number one is you need to know your market size. That goes back to understanding what problem you solve, who you solve it for and how many of these people are there out there that would be willing to pay for you to solve their problems. That’s number one. That’s the basics. Number two is your break-even point. Number three is your profit potential.”
The number one mistake that I see not just females, but most business owners in general making, is that they don’t even know what their numbers are. They’ve never sat to think about what is my break-even point and what is my profit potential? They create a marketing plan that will help them hit those numbers which lead to the second mistake that they’re making. First is they don’t know their numbers. Number two is they don’t have a marketing strategy. I come from corporate marketing where there are millions of dollars involved. That’s big accountability. I had to go sit in the NASA boardroom and explain to them where every dime their budget was going to go. I come from that background, so I get it, but most business owners don’t do that.
They don’t think about marketing strategically. They don’t look at themselves as the CEO of their company with someone to answer to. They spend money or do things in marketing without thinking about how is this going to help me hit my financial goals. They spend a lot of money on marketing that does not produce results. It’s not measurable, which leads me to the third big problem that they do, the other third mistake is that they don’t spend enough money on marketing. He or she who spends the most to win a new customer wins. Most business owners are trying to do things the cheap way. Especially now because we have social media and the internet, they think marketing is free. All I have to do is do a Facebook Live video or I have to post enough on social media without any thought to, “Is this where my market hangs out? Is this the right media for me to be on?” Am I in violation of Facebook terms of services by using my profile to promote my business too much because it’s cheap, free, easy and accessible?
I see that as one of the biggest mistakes out there. People are using the platform that they’re comfortable on, not necessarily the one where their clients are at. I see that a lot or they haven’t delved into what is the way. I have this one size fits all piece of content that I did on Facebook. Now, I’m going to distribute it on LinkedIn and put it over on YouTube, but not understanding that Facebook Live that you did for an hour isn’t a good tidbit for LinkedIn. I need to edit it down to something less than ten minutes. The strategy and the end game there are so important. What are you leading people to and how are you going to do it specifically on there?
Marketing is not that complicated but technology and social media make it complicated. It’s market message media. Who is the market specifically? Who are these people? What is the message that you need to put in your marketing that doesn’t talk about you the entire time, but speaks to the problem that your clients have? The problem that your customers, clients or patients have that keeps them up at night or gives them the outcome, transformation or pleasure that they want, that they don’t have? All of your marketing needs to speak to that. Not what I call self-serving platitudes. “We’ve been in business since 1956, we’re a family-owned business. We have the best customer service.” Nobody cares about that. Nobody is lying in bed at night going, “Do you know what I want to do? I want to hire a doctor that’s been in business since 1956 and it’s family-owned.”
They do not think like that. What is the market? What is the problem that they have? Craft all your messaging geared towards that and then pick the media last. Most people are picking media first without any consideration of, “Is this the right media? It’s just free. What is the message and is my market even on there?” Those are the mistakes that I see. I don’t blame everyone. I’m not going like, “It’s their fault that their marketing is all messed up.” These marketing gurus drive me crazy with this BS that they hand out about, “Do you know what you need? You need to be on Instagram.” They’re trying to sell you a course. “You need to know how to do Instagram Stories. Do you know what you need? You need to become a LinkedIn master. You need to become a podcaster or you need to write a book,” and they’re like, “Do I? I don’t know. Does my market listen to podcasts?”
Is your market ready for that? As a publishing company, when we created Quiz to Qualify, it was because of that big problem of going to those events. The first thing when someone says, “My products aren’t selling.” The guru in the room says, “You need a book.” If your products aren’t selling, it’s either not the right product in front of the right audience or you don’t have an audience or you’re not getting feedback in some way. Putting out a book is not going to help you because nobody still knows who you are to go buy the book.
What problem is it that you solve? What is your business? Not what is your marketing? I see a lot of that too. A lot of entrepreneurs online think that being on social media is the business. That is so dangerous.
It’s not only that. A lot of them because the coaching industry is like this, if I go to an event, all of a sudden, I’m being told I need a product coach. I need a speaking coach. I need a book coach. I need a publishing coach. I need a sales coach. I need every kind of coach you can imagine. I look at that and underneath I say, “What is your sustainable business?” It’s great if you want to go learn how to speak to promote. What is the core of your business and is it successful enough already that you can get yourself on those stages because a lot of times we create a product. I’m just saying, not me, but other people create a product in my head. That sounds like a great idea. They asked their mom who thinks you’re the best thing since sliced bread. She’s going to go, “That’s fantastic.” Without talking to the people would purchase and pull the trigger. They’re going out and adding skills on top of that to sell something that they don’t even know is a good sustainable product.Business comes down to solving problems that other people have and getting them to pay you for it. Click To Tweet
That’s what Kevin O’Leary would say, “What is the market?” That’s the first question. How many of these people are there? Are there other businesses that have a similar product that solved a similar problem? If there isn’t, there is no market. If there is no market, you’re not going to have a business. Which leads me to the 452nd mistake that I see business owners are making about creating businesses that they’re like, “My business is different. This is brand new. No one’s ever seen that.” I’m like, “That’s dangerous. You don’t want that. You want to be solving a problem that people are already paying to solve.” You can put your own unique twist on it and your own new unique delivery method or new vehicle of change or whatever the new thing is that you do for it. Business comes down to solving problems that other people have and getting them to pay you for it. That’s it. It’s not that complicated. Don’t listen to the marketing gurus with their courses that they’re trying to sell you and all this garbage.
Jen, you and I have been in the advertising world for years. We know that most of those gurus popped up in the last couple of years. They read a Facebook group and they tried some advertising. They thought they were good at it or the Google and all of a sudden, they were funnel experts and coaches. It drives me crazy because, for the most part, a lot of them don’t know basic marketing. If you took them back to old school marketing, they wouldn’t have a clue.
Which is good for me.
That was part of what got us into what we were doing was that good old-fashioned, “You didn’t do your research bit,” which you talked about a little bit. We are developing new software and I sat down with Bill Kelly from WebMD and Learning.com. The first thing he said is, “Who are the other players in your market? How are you different and how many people, how big is your potential market and what do you need to hit those numbers you just gave me?” He didn’t want to know much about the software until I could articulate those numbers and then he was like, “That’s a good start.”
This is another reason why I like Shark Tank because it shows you what investors are looking for. Newsflash, if you haven’t heard this yet, as the business owner, you are an investor in your business. You’re investing time, you’re investing opportunity cost because you can either have a job working for someone else making a whole lot more money or have some other income stream or whatever you want to do with your financial situation. With Shark Tank, one of the very first things that they do is they ask them the numbers. They don’t get involved with being in love with the business and your emotions about it. It’s just numbers. It’s, “Who’s the market? Who’s going to buy this? How many people are there? What sales do you have so far? What do you need to run this at a base level, the break-even point? What is the potential here and what’s the gap between where you are and where you want to be?”
As business owners, if we step out, if you’re a speaker, a coach or an entrepreneur, it doesn’t matter because you’re still a business owner. Step back and look at your business from a Shark Tank perspective and say, “If I was an investor in this business, would I invest in it? Do I know my numbers? Do I know my market? Am I hitting my break-even? Does this make financial sense?” There’s a lot at stake for being an entrepreneur, being a person that creates your own income stream. Your family is dependent on this. Your future is dependent on this. This is not a joke. This is no game. This is your life. This is your retirement. This is your ability to have health insurance. This is your ability to support your kids in the future. These things are important and they matter. I want in particular the female entrepreneurs to get this and to wake up and understand that this is business.
Business is run on financials, numbers and solving problems for people and then the softer stuff. It’s a little frustrating for me when I go to female conferences in particular and all the speakers are talking about all the softer, I call it woo-woo stuff. This is not going to be popular. It’s not and it’s okay. I’m not for everyone. I know that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but the woo-woo stuff, they’re like softer things. All the stuff that has nothing to do with solving problems, creating products and services and serving a market. It’s like business has turned into this personal development workshop and that is dangerous. My opinion is that female entrepreneurs are not making any money is because they’re looking at business as a personal development outlet and not an actual business.
That’s why so many of them are bootstrapping their way to bankruptcy. I talk to women all the time and they tell me stories about the kind of credit card debt they are in because they have bought all of this woo-woo stuff. You do have to stop and ask, “If I were presenting a marketing plan to someone who was going to invest in it, would they spend the money?” It’s easy to say, “I’ll invest in myself, but will somebody else do it.” It doesn’t mean you have to go out and get that financing. It just means you have to ask those questions. Where can we find you online to reach out and say hello and find out more about your workshops, your courses or your classes?
The best place is in my Facebook group. I do free coaching every Wednesday morning at 8:30 Mountain Time in my Facebook group. I’m always there to answer questions and provide advice. As I said, this group is not for everyone. We do not touch the soft topics. We do not touch the woo-woo stuff. That’s not what I focus on. I focus on no BS marketing strategies that work and produce results. I’m a direct response marketer. If you need low cost, high impact marketing ideas, please join me in my Facebook group. You can get there by searching for Boss Women Rock on Facebook and it will take you right to it.
Thank you so much. I love your straight on no BS approach.
Thank you, Juliet.
- Boss Women Rock
- Boss Women Rock: How To Go From Best Kept Secret to Sought After Expert
- Boss Women Rock Magazine
- Podcast – Boss Women Rock on iTunes
- Boss Women Rock – Facebook group
About Jen DeVore Richter
Jen DeVore Richter is a former marketing executive for NASA at Kennedy Space Center turned entrepreneur recently awarded “Innovator of the Year” Global Award Winning Business Coach 2019. She is a strategic marketing consultant and keynote speaker for industry leaders including The Ritz-Carlton. Jen is also the CEO & Founder of Boss Women Rock, an organization which helps women in business make their first or next $100K.
Boss Women Rock community members hail from across the United States and international countries. She is the Editor in Chief of Boss Women Rock™ magazine and host of the iTunes podcast which features entrepreneurial celebrity guests like Loral Langemeier from The Secret. She is a media contributor frequently appearing on TV and radio including PBS, HuffPost, NBC, ABC, FOX, and CBS.
Jen’s book Boss Women Rock: How to Go From Best Kept Secret to Sought After Expert is now available on Amazon. Her fifth book Go for Launch: Out of This World Sales & Marketing Tips for Business Growth with Real Results is currently in production. For hobbies Jen loves to cook Thai food, hike with her husband Will, and paint along to Bob Ross videos on YouTube.
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