Rachel Rodgers Podcast Transcript

Rachel Rodgers Podcast Transcript outlines How she Doubled Her Income from $2 Million in 2019 to $5 Million During A Global Pandemic

Host – Keisha Blair:

Okay, great, Rachel. It’s so great to have you and to do this interview, I’ve been following along on your journey actually for some time now. So I’ve seen you in various publications and your story, and it’s an awesome story. And I just wanted to dive deeper into it with you and also to share, of course, some lessons learned and in terms of the passion economy and your journey so far. So Rachel, I know you were in the law, in the legal field or some time, tell me more about how you pivoted from that, to this current business that you’re in.

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

Yes. So I started out right after law school. I did a clerkship with a judge who was awesome, and I’m actually still in touch with him, and it was a great experience. And during that time, it’s a one-year clerkship. And then when that one year is over, you’re out, right? Because a new clerk is going to come in. And so during that time, I was looking for a job in the legal field and government jobs, law firms, just all different places that I was applying, but I really didn’t find, first of all, it was super competitive, it was the middle of a recession when I graduated in 2009. And so it was challenging to find the job that I actually really wanted, that I could get really excited about. I was offered a few jobs, I turned them down and I said, “You know what? I’m going to start my own practice.”

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

And so I did that and I practiced for about six to seven years before I started to transition into coaching. And really what I’ve found is that I absolutely loved running a business. I loved the strategizing, I enjoyed marketing. I enjoyed selling. I enjoyed managing a team. I really loved every aspect of running my business. I didn’t love doing the legal work though. But because I was good at running the business and I was good at marketing and sales, I was able to bring in team members and really hire other attorneys and other team members to help me deliver the work. And what happened was my practice grew, we were making probably around $700,000 a year, and a lot of my clients were coming to me saying, “How are you making this much money? Teach me how to grow my business this much.” They wanted me to do legal work for them, but then they also wanted me to help them grow their businesses.

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

And so I was charging for the legal work and giving the coaching and business advice for free. And at some point I was like, “I wonder if I could do the opposite and just give legal advice for free and charge for the business strategy and advice. And so I just decided take on my first coaching client, someone who had come to me and said, “I really want to learn from you.” And so I decided to do a one-on-one coaching package with them and just try it. So I’m fully running my law business, fully immersed in my law practice. That’s where all of my income is coming from, but I was like, “Let me just try it. So I almost did it as a side hustle really, and took on my first client, really enjoyed it. She had a ton of success. We both got so much out of that experience, and had other people coming to me. So I decided to put together a small group coaching package for four months.

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

So I was trying to sort of dabble in it in a low commitment way and not bet the farm on this idea. And as I dabbled into it, I saw that there was a ton of interest and I really loved it. And then I started kind of plotting my transition. And it probably took me almost 18 months to two years of transitioning. So I was still running my law practice, taking law clients, and then selling business coaching and taking on one-on-one clients and doing more and more coaching until I got to the point where I didn’t need to do the law practice anymore.

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

And so I wound up dismantling the team. One of my core team members had personal stuff going on, and so she decided to leave. And once she did that, it almost gave me permission to shut down the law practice. And so I officially took the leap. So it was a transition. And if people are thinking of transitioning out of what they’re currently doing into something else, know that you can do it slowly, it doesn’t have to be jumping off a cliff. You can jump off a cliff, but for me, I was the sole breadwinner for my household and my family, and I didn’t have the option to not have an income. So I had to do what I had to do.

Host – Keisha Blair:

For sure. And so it sounds like this is really your passion, Rachel, which is great. And so I wanted to ask just to get specific, because I know many women are listening and they’re like, “I wonder how much it’s going to cost me to start up.” What are the startup costs like? And I know it’s a bit different because you were transitioning, but can you give us a sense of what the costs were in terms of starting up and what your monthly net revenue looks like now?

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

Yeah. So when I first started my law practice, which was my very first business, this was my first foray into entrepreneurship. I started off with, I had some income, because it was a recession and because I technically lost my job because it’s a year term and then you’re done, I was able to get unemployment benefits, which was allowed during that time. They kind of loosened up the rules. If you were starting your own business, you could get unemployment during, because we were in the middle of the great recession in 2009 and 2010. And so I was able to get some unemployment income, which that helped to supplement my income. I moved out of my house and rented it out and moved into a tiny little basement apartment with my husband. I got rid of my nice car and got a janky little Altima that cost me $800.

Interviewee – Rachael Rodgers:

I seriously downsized my lifestyle so that I could live off of a lot less temporarily so that I could start this business. So there was definitely some sacrifice there. And my startup costs were $300. The only thing I spent money on was professional liability insurance, which you need when you’re practicing law, and business cards. Everything else, I used my laptop that I had from law school, I had a law degree, and I passed the bar, right? I was licensed to practice law. So I was the business, I really was just selling my own services directly. And so there wasn’t a lot of startup costs. And I recommend that. Even if you want to sell a product, if you don’t have the capital, you can sell services.

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

Franklin Covey, which is that big company that sells planners now, they started out as a consulting company and then decided to create a planner and transitioned into a product based business. And I’ve seen a lot of that happen with my clients. And so I think that that is a good path. You can also raise capital. That’s an option too, harder for women, definitely harder for women of color just because society is what it is, not because we’re not extremely capable and talented entrepreneurs. And so I think that’s a good way to start, but yeah, so in the beginning, I lowered my household expenses. It was just me. I emailed everyone that I knew, got my first few clients that way. And in that first year, I think I made about $60,000. So it was enough to cover my lifestyle. Was it a huge amount of money? No, but I could live off of it. And of course, those first three to four months, it was much less than that. But then it started to pick up after a couple of months.

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

And then the second year, my revenue jumped from $60,000 annually to $300,000. So it can happen pretty quickly. If you give it a solid two years, you’re going to start to be really happy with what’s coming in. And I think that the resources out there now with the software, the Facebook ads, there’s so many different ways to reach people that were not available 10 years ago when I started, I think you can even make that timeline shorter, but that’s what the money looked like when I first started. And now, our businesses at $5 million this year, so a lot can happen.

Host – Keisha Blair:

Amazing. For sure. That’s amazing. So Rachel, I know you talk about really refining your business offering, and I know you tell your clients that a lot. And so how have you done that? In terms of your core service offering and how have you really streamlined that to maximize your revenue?

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

Yes. Well, I started to just look around when I was at that five, six, $700,000 mark, and I really wanted to get past that seven figure mark and hit $1 million or more, I kind of plateaued around that time. So I was making the same amount of money in my business for probably a three-year period. And I think a big part of that was that I really didn’t want to practice law anymore and it was time for me to transition, but I think another piece to that was I was doing too much. And there was one year where I sat down and just reviewed my books. And I went and did a spreadsheet for how much of each thing that we’re selling, we sold that year.

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

So how much money did we make from our digital product? How much money did we make from trademark services? How much money do we make from contract negotiations? And I just kind of laid out each skew, if you will, right? Each service that we sold, how much money did we make from it? And what I found was that the vast majority of our income, probably 80% or more of our income was coming from two things. One was trademark services and the other one was our digital product, small business bodyguard. And so what that told me is, okay, I’m going to cut everything else except those two things. And then I’m even going to transition out of doing trademark work and just focus on the digital product and making money from that. And so that’s what we did.

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

And I think most businesses will find this to be true. If you actually look at your books, if you’ve been in business for a couple of years and you look at your books and see what actually sells, there’s probably one main thing that is bringing in a whole lot more money than everything else that you sell. And so what I found is I’m running around like a crazy person doing copyright applications, doing contract negotiation, doing all of this work that requires a lot of lift, right? There’s a lot of delivery involved. There’s attorneys that I’m paying to work on it that I’m supervising that are on my team, right? So as a company where there’s a lot of expense related to those few services, and those services don’t even bring in 25% of our total revenue, I’m like, “What a waste, right?” Cut it. Cut the fat and stay focused on…

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

And so we went for about a year or two, we went all in on trademark services. And majority of our income was coming from trademark services. We were able to really systematize it because we only had that one main thing. That, and the digital product that we were selling. And so that made it just really easy. When people came to us and they wanted anything except trademarks, we’d be like, “Buy the digital product and we’ll give you contact templates. It’ll help you do all of those things.” And then if they wanted trademarks, yes, we’ll take care of your trademarks for you, and we made more money with less work, less headache, less team members, more streamlined. And so I just decided to always stick to that plan. And so when I started my coaching, I tried a lot of different things. I tried classes, I tried masterminds, I tried doing group coaching. I tried one-on-one coaching. And I dabbled for a little while.

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

And I would say if you’re going to do that, when you start a business, you’re going to dabble for a little while, then when you figure out what’s working, what is your client excited about? What delivers amazing results? What do you really enjoy doing and what delivers revenue for you? Streamline, cut everything else and just focus on that one thing. And I mean, that’s how we got to $5 million. People ask, “How did you make so much revenue?” It’s because we focus on one offer and just went all in on that offer. All of our energy is on making it as good as possible. And our marketing is all focused on that one thing. So customers aren’t confused. They’re not like, “Should I buy that? Or should I buy this? Or should I buy?” They know exactly, there’s only one thing to buy. So you either you want it or you don’t.

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

I think that that really helps and they look around. Yes. I see so many businesses that the most successful ones that are making $10 million and more, they have one offer and they’re focused on that one offer and that’s what’s helping them do that. So that is my advice to small businesses, if you want to make more money, do less.

Host – Keisha Blair:

Yeah. No, that’s great advice for sure. And so since we’re also talking passion economy and which has really accelerated this year, as people find themselves jobless and are thinking about, how can I make money off my core passion? Any advice for someone in that situation for how they can launch out that way? And how is Hello Seven a core passion for you, Rachel?

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

Yes. Well, one of the first things that I recommend that people do is really take stock of their own skills, experience, natural talents. And one of the easiest ways to do that is with an assessment. So you could do strengths finders, there’s disc, there’s Colby, there’s all these different personality assessments that you can take, and skills assessments where you can really get a good sense of what are my natural talents and skills? What are the things that I’ve been drawn to, even when I was a child? And I think those can often start to point you in the right direction. And then I would also take stock of your work experience, the kinds of work that you enjoyed the most, or looking at your current job and saying, “What parts of this job do I love and what part don’t I love?”

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

For me, when I was running my law practice, I loved being a CEO. I love marketing. I love selling, I loved all of those pieces. I did not enjoy doing the legal work. That’d be the last thing on my list. And so it helped me to see, “Oh, I really like being out there. I like teaching. I like talking to people. I like managing people.” I don’t like kind of sitting behind my computer doing a lot of detail oriented work over long periods of time. That I did not enjoy. I love strategizing with a group and that kind of thing. And so that’s what made me realize, “Okay. So if I can put myself in a position where I’m doing what I love 80% of the time or more, then I’m really going to enjoy it. It’s not going to be hard to be consistent.”

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

Sometimes we think, “Oh, I lack discipline.” No, you don’t, you’re just doing work you really don’t want to be doing. If you were doing work you were excited about, you wouldn’t lack discipline, you would show up enthusiastic every day. Right? So I think all of those things can start to point you towards a passion. And at some point, we do need to stop over analyzing and just try something, right? If I would have never ran a law practice, I would have had no idea how much I enjoyed being a business owner and how much I enjoy business in general. I would have never known that. I didn’t go to business school. I didn’t study business law when I was in school. This was the only way to find that out. So it’s good to start with something and you can always pivot and change course later.

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

And I really have, now in my business, our core offer is the club, which is a membership for women entrepreneurs. And we teach them how to build and scale a business and coaching and teaching and events. And I absolutely love it. And it’s a community. A big part of it is facilitating this community of professional women. And that is so enjoyable. I love everything about it. Everything that we do in the club is totally aligned with my strengths and what I really enjoy doing. And it’s a mission, right? My goal is to help more women, especially women of color, build seven figure businesses, because the stats are abysmal about that. Less than 2% of women entrepreneurs ever get to seven figures. And I want to change that. And so this allows me to do that. So it’s connected to a mission that I care about and it’s doing work that I enjoy. So it’s not hard to show up.

Host – Keisha Blair:

It’s amazing, it’s amazing work. And so I just wanted to pick up on a point that you mentioned before in terms of COVID. And I’m just wondering if you’ve had to transition in terms of the current climate. Have you had to adjust anything in terms of COVID and women looking to start businesses, or have you found the opposite? Have you found that that more women are coming forward given the high unemployment rates have more women coming forward or what’s the transition looking like in terms of this current climate?

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

Yeah. Well, for us, we started out this year. The club is a relatively new offer, which we launched in April. So it was the result of a pandemic pivot. We were doing similar work, but it was in a small group mastermind. So it was a high cost and more working really closely with people one-on-one and in very small groups, we had 50 clients. That was our whole business was approximately 50 clients. And they each paid thousands of dollars each to be mentored and coached by myself and my team. And then we found that we weren’t enjoying it as much anymore as we had been when we started. There were aspects to it that were getting really hard. And then on top of that, when March came, we had several clients drop off, because it was a big expense, it’s a couple thousand dollars a month.

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

And because we were doing such hands-on, deep diving into your business, we needed to charge for that. And so it was not a low cost kind of service. And so we decided, “Okay, let’s go to our clients and ask them, what are they looking for from us?” Because we’re going to need to pivot. We need to figure out what that pivot looks like. We did have time. We had a solid emergency fund and we had plenty of runway to figure out, “Okay, this isn’t working long term. We’re not in an emergency state, but we are going to be if we don’t change something soon.” And so we went to our clients and said, “What are you looking for from us?”

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

We we only had 50 clients, but we had 70,000 people on our mailing list. Right? We had huge amounts of people listening to our podcast and they were like, “We want to work with you, but we can’t afford your high end service. And we’re more like beginners or earlier on in our business journey. And we want to work with you in a more affordable way.” And so that’s where we came up with this. We were like, “Okay, well, how could we possibly do that?” And we had to figure out a business plan that would work, a model that would work. And so we did that, and we wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for the pandemic. And they wound up being a reason for our growth. We ended in 2019, we were at $2 million. We’ve more than doubled our revenue this year. And it is largely because we pivoted and now we were more accessible, more affordable. And now we have 2,000 clients.

Host – Keisha Blair:

That’s amazing.

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

Big difference.

Host – Keisha Blair:

Yeah. No for sure. And so even getting the jump in clients, was there a formula for that? Was there a reason, one specific reason that you can identify, or was it that just it became so much more affordable that more people were able to hop on?

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

Well, here’s what happened. I mean, we initially had, when we launched the club and the membership community, we initially had about 350 people that signed up right away, which was amazing. And we were thrilled. And then George Floyd’s murder happened, and then the country started talking about things. And I would say, honestly, I’ve always been outraged about the way police interact with black people, ever since I was a kid growing up in New York City and having my own interactions with police that were racist and uncomfortable. But that one, I think it really radicalized me on a level that I hadn’t been before. And I was just angry on a whole nother level.

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

And so I started seeing in my small business community, very well known entrepreneurs, all of whom were white, responding to George Floyd’s death with the sort of typical, “Thoughts and prayers, donate here,” kind of thing. And I was just like, “No, no. Nope, not acceptable. You’ve got to do more than that.” And where people wanted to talk about it in the business community, people who had communities of customers who were black people who were saying, “I’m really devastated by this and I don’t even know how to show up in my business this week because I’m so hurt by this.” And then saying, “Well, this is not a place to talk about race or politics. We’re only going to talk about business here.” And of course race and politics, of course it affects our business, it affects our lives.

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

And so I was so outraged. I recorded a video to talk about this good, white liberal response, right? The response that people who consider themselves good, white liberals, they say the right things, but they don’t really do anything. They’re not really allies in this fight with us. And so I just started to talk about it because I was upset and it was just my truth in the moment. It was not a business move. It was not for any reason other than that, I just had to get this out, what I was seeing, and that video wind up going viral.

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

So many people saw it. So many people responded to it, thousands of people. And so what happened was all of those people started pouring into our membership community. So if there is a formula, I would say, speak your truth, right? Say what you have to say, have an opinion about things, stand up for what you believe in, because that draws people in. You think it’s going to push people away and it probably does push certain people away, but those are not your people anyway, it will literally attract your clients to you because they know who you are now. They know what you stand for. They know what your values are. And we all want to be purchasing from companies where our values are aligned. And so I think if there was any formula that it caused our growth this year, that was it. Although it wasn’t a business model, that was just a, “I’m outraged and I need to speak my truth right now,” move.

Host – Keisha Blair:

Yeah, yeah, no, no, for sure. And yet, so true that speaking your mind and being authentic is the way to go. So I just wanted to ask one very important question as we wrap up, and that’s if you were to leave listeners with one key to success that everyone can emulate, regardless of what product or service they’re providing, what would that one key to success be?

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

Okay. So this is it. There’s actually a stat that shows that 95% of your success or failure can be predicted based on who you spend time with. And so the one thing that I would say that I think is so crucial to success that people often overlook is surrounding yourself with like-minded people, with other ambitious women, with people who are going after what you’re also going after. I think the effects of that, and there are studies in universities where they study kids who are hanging out with a bunch of kids who are getting great grades and kids who are hanging out with people who aren’t getting great grades. And it’s not like they’re choosing their friends based on their grades. It’s just who they happen to be hanging out with. That affected the kinds of grades that they got. And if they were hanging out with straight A students, their grades wound up going up. If they were hanging out with kids who were failing classes, they started failing classes.

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

And so I just think we really underestimate how much the people that we regularly spend time with are influencing us. And so allow that influence to help you, to lift you up, to push you towards where you want to go. So the best thing that I ever did for myself was join a community of women and people of color and people who had a shared experience similar to mine who were going after building a business and who are ambitious and who wanted to make big things happen. And when I started hanging out with them, I got resources and connections and ideas, and someone to bounce ideas off of and brainstorm with, someone to lament with when things got hard, someone who didn’t think I was crazy for starting my own business. And once I haD that, I mean, it just all got easier. So if you want to make this journey easier for yourself and faster, spend time with other entrepreneurs who are out there doing the same thing that you want to do.

Host – Keisha Blair:

Yep, no, great wise words. And of course I have to ask you before we go about the ranch, and I feel your story… My book is called Holistic Wealth. And when I look at your story and I look at the things you’re doing, I’m just like, “Oh my gosh, this embodies it.” So I want to know what’s happening next with the ranch? Of course, I want to know if you’ve always just had a lifelong passion for the sport and how that came about and what’s next?

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

Yeah. So no, I’ve had nothing to do with farming or horses or anything. I grew up in a apartment in Queens. We had no land, we had no house, we had no backyard, but it was something that my husband and I, we traveled a lot around the US and something that we noticed is people who have these large pieces of land and could do all kinds of cool stuff with it. And there was a point at which we were like, “That would be really cool. That’s a dream. I would love to do that one day.” And so that was just a dream that sort of stayed in the back of our minds. And we wound up moving down to North Carolina, we bought our dream house, we built it. We felt like, “This is the house we’re going to live in forever.” And then we found out about a piece of property that was for sale. And we went and came and saw it. And the day we saw it, we knew. We were like, “This is it, we’re doing it.”

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

And we weren’t even thinking about having a big piece of land or anything. We were content in our little house that we loved. And then this opportunity came up and we just couldn’t pass it by. And this was February before the pandemic and we were like, “We’re doing it.” So we did it. And we bought this 50 acre ranch. And so we’re about to get horses in the next couple of weeks. We have a retreat house here. So we’ll be able to welcome people, and we’re going to start a farm and we’re going to be planting early next year. So I’m just really excited. And it’s a way for me to provide balance. Right? A lot of my work is on the internet and I’m on a computer all day. And I just love having this piece of land with these private trails and getting my hands dirty and playing with horses, and just, it’s important to have hobbies and have other interests outside of work. And so it kind of feeds that.

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

And I’m really excited about providing a place for black people to come. Our plan is to do workshops and provide horseback riding lessons. And it’ll be its own separate business, not something that I really want to make a lot of money off of, but it’s just a passion project because I don’t think that for us as black people, as people of color, a lot of us don’t have the experience, who don’t have access to horses, or to coming to a place like this where we don’t have to worry what the experience is going to be like, right? Where we can build faith and have access to nature and farms and things like that. So our plan is to just make this accessible in some way. And so we’re still figuring that out, but we’re really excited and we really enjoy it.

Host – Keisha Blair:

Okay, perfect. Yeah, I know for sure. Holistic Wealth in a nutshell. Okay. So thank you for sharing. Thanks for sharing with us, Rachel. Can you tell people where to find you online?

Interviewee – Rachel Rodgers:

Yeah. They can check us out at HelloSeven.co is our website, and I hang out on Instagram, and I am Rach Rogers Esq on Instagram. So check me out there.

Host – Keisha Blair:

Okay. Perfect. Sounds good. Great. Thank you for being here and sharing with us, Rachel. This is awesome. Thank you.

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