On today’s episode, I am chatting with Brandi Mowles, Founder of Serve Scale Soar and the Beta to Biggie Accelerator. She’s a wife, mom, podcast host, an online marketing expert dedicated to helping more people, and specifically women, experience the life-changing freedom that comes with not being stressed about money. So Brandi and I actually met in 2018 when I hired her to run the ads for launch, actually several launches for Marketing School for Birth Photographers, and she did such a phenomenal job for me. And it’s been so fun to see the growth that she’s had since then. Let me tell you it’s been pretty incredible and I know that her story is going to inspire you today. So in two years, she’s built a seven-figure-a-year online education business that has helped hundreds of service providers and course creators scale to six figures and beyond with simplicity.
She lives in North Carolina with her hubby and her daughter. They live for Taco Tuesdays (same, girl!), spontaneous vacations (double same!), and Fridays spent together as a family and weekends on their boat. And she and I also share a love for all things Disney. She’s just a great human. We covered a lot in this episode, but I think my favorite thing that we talked about was the two things that Brandi focused on to scale from zero to a million in just about two years in her business all while caring for her daughter who was just a few months old when she started her business. So let’s get into the episode.
Tavia: Okay guys, I am super excited to have Brandi here with us today. Brandi, thanks for doing this.
Brandi: Thanks for having me. I’m super excited to be here.
Tavia: Yeah, me too. So I want to dive into your business, but first I think it’s going to be helpful for everyone to understand, just who you are, who you serve, what you do, why you started your business–all that good stuff. So just tell us about yourself.
Brandi: Yeah. So I’m a wife, I’m a mom, a podcast host and a CEO. And so I started my business as pretty much like doing all the things as a social media manager, email marketing for other online businesses and quickly niche down to running Facebook and Instagram ads for people and grew really, really fast and created a membership. And now we have a membership of course, and a higher group coaching program that helps service-based entrepreneurs create a second revenue stream with a course or membership and launch it four times. So it has been such a fun ride. I’ve had my business for two and a half years now and I love it so much.
Tavia: That’s awesome. Okay. So let’s go back to like, I don’t know, 2016 Brandy. What was your life like back then? Were you married?
Brandi: Yeah. So 2016, I was married. We were living in Florida and I was top 1% in a direct sales company. Free car, wearing stilettos every day, full face of makeup, living a very different lifestyle than I ever thought I would. ‘Cause I had went to law school and everything and then quickly moved up in direct sales and found myself in Florida wearing high heels and lipstick and selling it to other people.
Tavia: Okay. So it was lipstick. I was like, what about high heels and lipstick? That was just like your, that’s who you were, that was your persona, I guess, because of the, like in the direct sales world or whatever.
Brandi: Yeah. Not ever me until that point. And I learned real quick how to walk in high heels and wear lipstick.
Tavia: That’s funny. Um, I avoid high heels at all costs. So back then, then you started working an online business and started an ad agency. Is that right?
Brandi: Yeah. So I left that whole world behind when I was eight months pregnant and we were making pretty good money. And my husband was like, “Whoa, wait, what?” And I was like, “Yep. I called, they’re coming to pick up the car. I’m done.” This is not where I want my life to be. This is just not what I want. And he was like, “Well, what the heck are we going to do?” And I was like, “I don’t know. We’ll figure it out.” And my daughter was five months old and we had to figure it out. So that’s what we did.
Tavia: So what led you to drop that? You just felt like it wasn’t you? You were so successful with it, what made you want to do something different?
Brandi: I always joked that it was hormones. Like you should never make life-altering decisions when you’re eight months pregnant, but I’m so glad I did. But I was looking at it and I was like, “Wow, I really let myself get caught up.” And my identity and who I was being tied to what I did for work. And the type of car I drove was part of my identity, the diamonds that I earned, all that. And with having a little girl come in the world, I didn’t want her to ever feel like her identity was tied to what she did for a living or also the possession she had. And it was just, it hit me one day and I was like, “We’re done.”
Leaving Corporate Job and Retiring Husband
Tavia: I love it. So, okay. So somebody listening to this is interested in retiring their husband from his nine to five or they’re interested in themselves leaving their corporate job. So what did that experience look like for you guys? Because your husband was working when you started the online business, right?
Brandi: Yeah. So he worked my whole first year in my online business. He has always been—we went to college together and then he became a chef. And so we’ve moved around a lot because he opened up new restaurants and all that kind of stuff. And when my daughter was born, he had a week and a half off that he was there and then he went back at chef’s work, 14, 16 hour days. And they’re also working the weekends and long nights, early mornings, that kind of thing. And he was just missing out on so much of Riley’s life. Like we would wake up, he would usually leave before she was up in the morning and then he’d get back just in time for dinner, bath, and then put her to bed. Like that was our story. And we were like, we can’t do things on the weekend as a family, we couldn’t travel.
And it got to a point where I was like, “I really want to move back to Florida.” ‘Cause at this point we were back in Virginia where our family was. I was like, “I want to move back to Florida and I want to be able to travel. I want you around more. I want to bring you home.” And he was like, “Absolutely not.” And I was like, “Well, what if we can profit?” And I gave him a number and I was like, “I’ve already figured out the insurance piece. I’ve already figured out all this, this is the number we would need to hit for this to be like possible and still live the lifestyle we wanted to live.” And he was like, “Yeah, yeah, sure. When that happens.” Well, and that was in May that I told him that August 1st we were moving to Florida and he quit his job. So I was on a mission to make it happen.
Tavia: That is so cool. So he was resistant at first. Was he resistant ’cause he didn’t want to quit or because he just didn’t think that it was possible?
Brandi: I don’t know. So the thing I think also is coming from direct sales, you would always hear these women that were like, “We retired our husbands and they work in our business now.” And I think that coming from that, that’s what he saw coming home would be like him as a background person to my business. And he didn’t want to work in my business. And honestly, I didn’t want him working in my business either. Like that was not the dynamic that we have. And so I think that that was the hold-up in the beginning. And then when I painted the vision, “Hey, like how amazing would it be on the weekends to be able to go do stuff or to pick up a week and just travel.” And once I was able to show him the possibilities and what it looked like for him to be at home, everything, he was much more open to it. Also once we got like, “Here’s what will happen with insurance and all this kind of stuff,” he was so much more open to it. It was just showing him like, “You’re going to miss your daughter’s entire like childhood if we keep this up.”
Running a Business and Taking Care of Kids
Tavia: Yeah. That’s so cool. Okay. So your daughter was a baby in the early stages of business. And I know a lot of my students and a lot of the listeners either have babies at home or they’re pregnant or they have toddlers. They have young kids. And so one thing that I hear often from people is just, “How do I do all of this? How do I like virtual school my kids and run a business?” And, and, and. So how did you manage your days growing a business with a baby at home?
Brandi: Yeah, so like I said, the most of my, we grew to over six figures with my husband working all the time and Riley attached to me 24/7, not by choice but because it was the only way we could survive. She slept on me non-stop for seven months of her life. The first of months, naps everything. So in the very beginning of my business for a good three months, she was attached to me for the whole thing. And then it just became nap time-hustle status, where I’d wake up super early, getting the bottles together, packing for the day, making sure that we were set up for success for the day before she got up. Then doing as little bit of work as I could when she got up. Then when it was nap time, I’d get into hours of work. And then once she went to bed and after my husband was home and we got an hour together, it was right back working. And I would be up some nights until twelve, one o’clock. But I was so committed to making this happen. And I knew that this was going to be a short-term thing. I knew that this would not always be my situation, but it was in that moment. And now I look back and I’m like, “How the heck did I have that little bit of time and get all that stuff done? And now I can waste a whole day doing absolutely nothing.”
Tavia: I know I can so relate to that. Now that I have all this time, I still need to be that person. I could definitely still do the things that I do and work 3 hours a day because that’s what I used to do. So I can totally relate to that. So what were you doing in those hours? You had such a short amount of time to work on your business, how did you prioritize? Sorry, I’m going off of our list of questions. I’m sorry. There are just things that are popping up in my head. So what were your thoughts? What was your thought process in those two or three hours a day that you had to actually get work done? How did you know what to do? Because I know sometimes people just sit down and they’re like, “Okay, this is the time I have to work.”
- Focus on the Needle-Mover Activities
Brandi: Yeah. So I think the big thing is focusing on the needle mover activities. So even now with my business, how it is, I posted 24x on my Instagram grid in 2020. That’s two times per month. And I’m pretty sure 90% of those were “Hey, the doors are open to my program.” All promotion, which everyone’s like, “You’re not supposed to do that.” Well, you know what? It brought in money. So that’s what I posted. And I really focus on what going to make me money, what is going to build me relationships. So those are the two things I’m always focused on, especially when you’re short on time. So even now where no, I don’t have a baby in my…well, she’s 3. I mean, she’s still a toddler, but my husband takes care of her for most of the day.
But last year I took off every single Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and set those boundaries. So only working 4 days a week, there’s things that get cut. Social media does not happen for me because it’s not going to move the needle as much as getting up a sales funnel and running Facebook ads to it. So I’m always looking at what is going to build me relationships. What’s going to make me money. And those become a priority. Everything else is just extra. If I have time, great. If I don’t, fine. And I will say, I always made time for coaching. So I’ve always had a mentor. I’ve always had been in some type of program where I’m always learning, getting ideas, but I take action. I’m not someone who just consumes, consumes, consumes. I get what I need, run with it. And then I’m done.
Consume, Consume, Consume
Tavia: That’s so important. The edutainment phenomenon in our communities right now is, I mean, I am a hundred percent guilty of pretending to work, but really I’m just listening to something and not really implementing anything from it. And so I love that. You said that yes, coaching and mentoring is important, but also looking at are you using it as a sense of entertainment almost and like pretending that you’re working?
Brandi: Yeah. And it’s even like reading a book, I don’t understand. And I hope I don’t offend anyone and I probably will, but I don’t understand. You don’t get a gold star if you read 24 books in a year. No one’s like, “I’m so glad you did that. Here’s like a thousand dollars because you did that for me.” I may only get through a business book, maybe I get through 3 in a year, but you better believe if I read that thing, I implemented at least five things out of there that are making me money today. So that’s the other thing we don’t have to consume, consume, consume. No one’s giving you money for consuming. They give you money when you take action.
Tavia: Yes. I love that. So we talked about this already, looking back at retiring your husband and all of that stuff, so from what I remember you saying, logistically, what did that look like? You guys were like, “Okay, if we have this much money in the bank, then you’re quitting.” I mean, is it as simple as that or what?
Brandi: It was kinda like, “Okay. So remember when I told you that this is what was going to happen? Here’s our profit. I did it. And now I also applied for an apartment and they have one available. So are you down?” Because the thing in Florida is you have to get on wait list. It’s not, especially ’cause we weren’t gonna have, you know, we didn’t know what it was going to hold. We definitely had planned for thinking that this take us longer, maybe a year to get all this ducks in a row and everything. And I don’t know why my husband thought that, but I moved pretty fast and I had put our name down on the apartments that we lived in before. We love them. And but three bedrooms in Florida are like super hard to come by. So we had to get on a wait list and it just happened that because we live there, previously, we got moved to the top of the list and they caught us and they were like, “We have four other families that want this. If you want to apply, you need to do it now. And we’re not going to have another one come available for at least a year.”
And I was like, “Yes, hold on.” And I was like, “Austin, here’s the deal. If we want to do this, now’s the time.” And he was like, “Well, we can apply.” I don’t know. And we ended up getting it and then they were like, “Oh, and you have to be here in 30 days.” So it was, but we had already hit the numbers. Like the numbers were there. I’d already looked into insurance. We had already got all those ducks in a row. It just happened very quickly.
What to focus on?
Tavia: Nice. So that’s awesome. So what would you say to somebody who’s listening to this? And they’re just like, “I don’t know what I need to focus on. I feel like I don’t have the time.” We’ve touched on that stuff already, but I can just feel my listeners being, “Okay. But like, you know, I have three kids at home and we’re virtual schooling and I have like one or two hours a day and I don’t know what to focus on. And I feel overwhelmed with time and mentally I’m struggling and just like all the things.” For that person who’s sitting here, this sounds amazing. I would love to do this in six months. What do I need to focus on? What do I need to do? What are my next steps?
Evaluate Weekly Screen Time Report
Brandi: First thing I always tell my students is on Sunday, look at your weekly screen time report. Honestly, just look at that. Because I think that so many times you can watch Social Dilemma and have your opinions. But, if you look at that your screen time thing, you would find a whole lot of time and people like to hide that stuff, but there’s your time. And so instead of spending that time, so let’s even say it’s three hours. Well, you just found three hours. Even if you take two hours of that and put that towards your work, holy cow, you can accomplish a lot in two hours. If you’re not scrolling, if you’re not procrastinating. But then you look at your activities and what have you been doing? What are the things that make you money? You can see. And what are the things that, you’re like, “Well, I’m building up to it. One day, it will bring me money.”
Focus on What Brings More Revenue
And then I would say focus on the things that are bringing you in money now and the things that could bring you in more revenue to build more choices now. So it’s always one of those things. Once you have money coming in, more choices just open up, doors open up, and you’ll be able to bring in help. So then you can focus on these other things. But first off, look at how much screen time you’re looking at. That’s going to be a big wake-up call. And then also just focus on during that time that you do have things that are going to get you to the next step right now.
Be Clear on Your Primary Role
And for every business, that’s going to be different. I know for us, we spend a lot of time in our marketing. That is where 90% of my time is spent is in my marketing. So if that’s Facebook ads, funnels, launching, that’s where my time is. And then we have people on our team that are responsible for certain aspects. So my right hand person, 90% of her time is just spent in the inbox, making sure our clients are happy. So really getting clear on what is your primary role and what is going to bring in the income for your business right now.
When To Hire People?
Tavia: I love that. And you mentioned having a team. At what point in your journey did you start hiring people to help you?
Brandi: Yeah, so I didn’t hire anyone until I hit six figures, which was 10 months after starting my business. And then I brought in a VA because I wanted to create a membership. So I knew the service side of my business. I had handled, but if I wanted to bring in the second stream of revenue that I was going to need help. And so she came in just to do like upload videos into Kajabi or send out some emails, things like that. And now she’s grown with our business where she’s my right hand woman. Now she takes care of all of our students. She does retention, all of that, but even now we did over a million dollars last year. And we still have an extremely small team. We have a podcast manager, a graphic designer, me, and then Janessa, who’s my right hand person.
And then we have a few other people now and then like a copywriter that comes in every now and then, but that’s pretty much it. We run a very lean team and that definitely has to change for the upcoming year. But I mean, we were just very efficient and we say no to a lot. I think that’s the thing is we don’t have to say yes to everything. We just say yes to the things that matter. And so even with this, I don’t do a ton of podcasts interviews, but I love TV. And I was like, I’m going to go on here and hang out with her and chat. So we haven’t done that in a while, but this falls into that. I’m either building revenue or relationships and this is building a relationship.
Tavia: So good. Um, let’s talk a little bit about when you hired your VA for the first time. Were you fearful? What was that thought? What was your thought process of, “Can I support a team member?” Because something I encourage my students to do all the time is choose something small that you don’t like doing in your business and find someone to do that for $10 or $12 an hour, like editing your photos was the very first thing I started out sort of thing because I hate doing it and I can train somebody else to do it for 10 bucks an hour or 12 bucks an hour, whatever. But I know a lot of people have resistance towards that. So what was your thought process like bringing on your VA for the first time?
Brandi: Well, I think that’s a great thing about contractors is they’re not as big a commitment as an employee. You don’t have to start with employees. We actually have zero employees, part of the team that will change this year. But everyone’s contractors. And the great thing about contractors is there’s not a ton of paperwork that has to happen. It’s a contract between y’all too, but like you can let them go if it’s not working out. I was very clear that this would be for $15 an hour. It is $15 an hour. These are the tasks that I would need you to do. And when I interviewed, I even asked people, what is your year goal? And a lot of them were like, “Oh, I want to grow this massive business.” And I was like, “Heck no. Heck no. Heck no.” And I got to the person who was like, “I just want to support people who are doing really cool things. I like being behind the scenes. I just want to make some extra income for my family, just for the fun stuff.” And I was like, “Oh, heck yes! You are my person.” And so I think it’s just being very open. What are you going to pay? How many hours are you going to give them? And then being a VA is not a permanent role. You can terminate those agreements any time. It’s not as high pressure as bringing on an employee.
Ideas Worth Implementing
Tavia: Yeah. So good. I totally agree. So last question, looking back at 2016, Brandi in her stilettos and lipstick to today, what’s the one thing that you’re really glad you did or implemented in your business?
Brandi: Yeah. So I have two things. Can I say two things?
Tavia: I mean I said one, but if you want to cheat…
- Implement Systems
Brandi: One is systems. 100%, systems are the reason that we can do what we do with such a small team. And some people get scared. They think I love systems and I do love systems, but I don’t love sitting there and setting them up and stuff like that. I hate spreadsheets, that’s not my thing. But I love how much time and money they saved me. So that’s why I implement them. And I would say as soon as you can jump on the bandwagon of getting systems in place and knowing how your business runs, that is definitely the best thing I’ve ever done is just create systems. So we can run with a smaller team. We can be super efficient and we stay out of the back end of a lot of the business because we have systems that are running it for us and we’re not always recreating new stuff. It’s just everything runs like it’s supposed to because we have those systems. So I would say that’s number one.
- Embrace Who You Are
And then I’m going to cheat and give you a bonus one and that is I have embraced who I am. So I’m not trying to be someone else. 2020. I totally embraced all my flaws. I embraced my uniqueness, my difference in standpoints, and I’ve just become very transparent. My podcasts with the income reports is the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever done in my life and it was just me. And so I think that that is the second thing where before 2016, Brandi was so worried about fitting in to what everyone else viewed as success. Now I can honestly say my definition of success is having fun, being a million dollar mama, and traveling and creating memories. And if you don’t want to get on that bandwagon, then that’s okay. And I have just really stepped into that. So I think that’s the second one.
Tavia: So, so good. Embrace who you are and in everything that you do just be yourself because you’re going to attract your people that way. And I know that’s cliche and people always say that, but it’s a hundred percent true. You will attract your people when you’re being you. And it just feels so much better. You’re not feeling like you’re trying to do something that you’re not or be something that you’re not. So, so good.
Brandi: It’s way easier to be yourself than someone else.
Connect with Brandi!
Tavia: Totally. Not quite as exhausting. Yeah. Awesome! Brandi, thank you so much for being here. What is the best way for everyone to follow you and connect with you?
Brandi: Yeah. So my podcast Serve Scale Soar, new episodes every Tuesday on there. All about scaling your service-based business. And then also I don’t post a lot on Instagram, but I’m always in my DMs. I respond to all my DMs. I love doting relationships. So you can always DM me @brandimowles and I would love to chat with you there!
Tavia: Awesome. Thanks so much, Brandi.
Brandi: Thank you.
I know. Chances are you found so much inspiration in Brandi’s story. She has a way of making business seem like so simple, doesn’t she? I love it. And even though her business might be different from yours, she was a service provider with her ads business, which is exactly what photographers are–a service.
Just like at the end of every episode, I encourage you to write down a few action steps or learnings or moments of inspiration that popped into your head from this episode. So ask yourself, what can I take away from Brandi’s story to incorporate into my own business? It doesn’t have to be something huge. It can be one or two small things.
If you’re enjoying this podcast, please hit subscribe wherever you’re listening. And thank you so much for leaving the show a review on iTunes. Reviews are basically like money. They’re currency for podcast creators. I read each and every one and it helps this podcast reach more people, so thank you. And my friend, if you have a passion, it’s not an accident. Not everyone loves photography or whatever it is that you love. Whatever your passion is, it’s there for a reason. So what are you going to do with that passion? I hope that you get out there and make it happen. Have a great week.
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Connect with Brandi by leaving her a DM on Instagram @brandimowles. Listen to the Serve, Scale, Soar Podcast!
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