Side Hustle City

Tech Talk: Laura Johns on Balancing Career Growth and Entrepreneurship in Technology Marketing

August 31, 2023 Adam Koehler & Kyle Stevie with Laura Johns Season 4 Episode 41
Side Hustle City
Tech Talk: Laura Johns on Balancing Career Growth and Entrepreneurship in Technology Marketing
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever been close to giving up your 9 to 5 but can't quite fathom how to turn your side hustle into a main gig? You're not alone. Today's episode is a genuine heart-to-heart conversation with Laura Johns, the founder and CEO of the Business Growers. The company serves technology companies who need modern marketing. From cyber security firms to fintech startups, Laura and her team understand what it takes to build efficient niche-specific marketing strategies and implement them with precision.

Laura's journey to the head of a thriving tech-focused marketing company is not just motivational but also a guide for aspiring entrepreneurs. In a candid chat, Laura shares her passion for empowering her employees to pursue their side hustles, her belief in work-life balance, and the importance of having the right team.

We also delve into the nitty-gritty of operating a successful business with insights on the value of a VP of operations, the challenges of setting boundaries within a company, and the art of hiring and maximizing time. Drawing on the wisdom from Dan Martell's book, "Buy Back Your Time," Laura talks about the process of calculating your buyback rate and deciding when to hire or bring a service in-house. Our cohost, Kyle Stevie, shares his perspective on how some employees' contribution transcends profits and significantly increases a company's value.

We round off this dynamic conversation with an in-depth look at the power of side hustles and extend an open invitation to join the Side Hustle City Facebook group for motivation and idea-sharing. So, whether you're a budding entrepreneur, an employee itching to jump into the world of entrepreneurship, or just someone fascinated by tech and business stories, this conversation is worth a listen.

More About Laura

For 18 years, Laura managed marketing efforts for companies ranging from tech startups to global, multi-billion dollar businesses. She spent nearly half her career serving as a corporate marketing executive in the telecommunications industry before starting The Business Growers. Her career focus is developing marketing strategies for technology companies that lead to tangible success. Today, The Business Growers serves over 50 clients in 23 states.

Laura has been honored as “Top 50 under 40” and “Top 50 Leading Women in Business” in her home state of Mississippi. Today, she is a m

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Adam:

Welcome to Side Hustle City and thanks for joining us. Our goal is to help you connect to real people who found success turning their side hustle into a main hustle, and we hope you can too. I'm Adam Kaler. I'm joined by Kyle Stevie, my co-host. Let's get started, all right. Welcome back everybody to the Side Hustle City podcast Today's special guest, laura Johns. She is the founder and CEO of the business growers. Laura, welcome to the show.

Laura:

Thank you for having me. I'm so excited to be here.

Adam:

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm pumped and, ariana Suarez, you're with us as well.

Laura:

She's yeah, she's hanging out with me her first week on the job, so she's getting to learn and hang out.

Adam:

So look at this. Well, I mean no better way than to listen, you know, be a part of a podcast where she explains the whole business to us. So that's awesome.

Laura:

I can't wait to hear what she has to say it's going to be great.

Adam:

So you've been doing this it looks like for 18 years. We talked a little bit before the show started here about you know your experience and some of the education that you had and you know the schools that you went to. Now just talk about, like I mean, what got you into wanting to be a business owner in Mississippi.

Laura:

Yes, that's a great question. Well, I mean, I'm sure that you this might, may or may not, resonate with you. I don't know that anybody's born. You know thinking, you know you hear six and seven year olds I have a seven year old and a three year old now, so I'm going to kind of speak thinking about them. But you know they want to be doctors or lawyers or teachers or scientists, or, you know, astronauts, but no one ever thinks I want to be the CEO of, I want to be an entrepreneur, I want to, I want to grind all the time.

Adam:

That's just, I want to work 80 hours a week.

Laura:

Right, right. But really, you know, I would say I'm one of those that was definitely an accidental entrepreneur, although looking back, I do see, you know, seasons and pieces of my life that makes it, you know, looking back, make it very obvious now why this was a fit for me. I have always had a side hustle and I think it's funny that almost every girl that you know woman that works for me also has multiple jobs. So that's, you know, kind of the culture that that I guess put off. But that's definitely something I've always done, even from, you know, starting. You know I worked at a snow biz, a snow cone stand, and, and junior high and always babysat, so I always did more than one thing. And then, growing up, I always worked in college. You know I had parents that were kind enough to pay for my education but you know, any extra money outside of my tuition was something that was my responsibility. So I always, you know I don't know that I've ever had one job, I've always had multiple jobs. And then you know, I've always I've never been one that if there was something that I wanted that I wouldn't just figure out a way to work to get it. So that's really, you know, that's my whole life story. And then when I, when you bring a husband and a family into the mix, you start to realize the things that really are important to you. And it wasn't that I couldn't have made it at work at an eight to five for someone else, but you know, you pull up to an office enough when you're working for someone else when you realize, hey, I have have have a skill that I think that it's proven based on my experience, that people need and I know that I could do this and also not have to ask permission to cut out for the school program or to pick up my son. And so knowing that really is what drove me. And I do also feel like once you, once you know that, once it kind of settles into your soul, then you really can't go to work very much longer before you implode.

Adam:

Oh, my God, and I've talked to enough people on this podcast. They all, they all say I could never go back Like at this point, like the freedom is too intoxicating. Yep. It's. It's crazy that there are people out there and we take it for granted, I think, sometimes, because I can just schedule a lunch meeting with somebody to do some networking, we can grab a coffee, you know, that's easy, that's nothing. Sure, yeah, let's do it next Thursday or whatever, right? But there are people who literally don't have the time to get away to network. And I think that's the hardest part about having you said eight to five job. You know, for some people, if you're on salary, it could be, you know, seven to seven or whatever, but you're literally an indentured servant to these people and you can't get out and it's terrible. And I love what you said about encouraging your own employees and people that are working for you to have a side hustle, because you I mean, I don't own, you, like I'm not, you know do what you've got to do Right, allow them the freedom to be able to do what you did. I mean it's awesome that you do that.

Laura:

Yeah, and I think that is. I really should attribute that mindset to the previous bosses that I've had. So I was never I never felt imprisoned or I never felt stuck. I always had an element of freedom, just because I've always worked for really understanding and great people. But I do think like that, paired with I know that what I do is something that could benefit a number of businesses versus just the one that I'm in, and once I had that conviction I knew that it was certainly something that I needed to do elsewhere and with other companies. But my team is based on their performance and the way that they work is based on a number of different key performance indicators and things like that. But it's relevant to what they're doing in my business and I really we talk a lot about our core values, which trust, balance, growth, a lot of these things that really I couldn't say, hey, balance, growth, trust are huge core values for us and this is what we mean, and then have any sort of negative comment about them having a little picking up, a little side hustle. I've got one team member. She gets excessive with the side hustle. She's got a spray tan business. She's got a photography business. She's got pretty much. Every time she comes up with an idea, I encourage her to do it, but I do that also with that trust core value. You say, okay, with trust comes accountability and I am gonna keep you accountable to do your job while you're working for me. So there's a balance there, I think.

Adam:

Oh yeah, my cousin, she started a daycare app. She sold it. The guy who bought it from her didn't really do anything with it, sold it back to her pretty much gave it back to her. She sold it again the next day. Then she started a mobile tanning business. So, like your employee with the mobile tan, like they drive to your house and they'll tan you at your house and stuff, and yeah, that's awesome. Yeah, we did the logo for her and everything. It's just like she keeps starting businesses and I'm like go ahead. And we've actually got one of our previous episodes. We have a women's business accelerator here in Covington, kentucky. It's called Aviatra and she graduated from it. We have a woman that rents ironness coworking space. In the basement of it is a commercial kitchen. Well, the woman who rents from me she also graduated from their program. She just hit a million dollars in business, a million dollars in revenue, which the people from Aviatra told me only 3% of women owned businesses ever get to a million in revenue, believe it or not.

Laura:

Interesting. She said a lot of times it's lifestyle businesses.

Adam:

Right, it's because they're doing the lifestyle businesses. But trying to encourage women to think bigger, to get into more technology type businesses, I mean, look at you, you're doing stuff that you rarely hear. Hey, you ask a girl hey, do you want to get into telecom, do you want to get into IT cloud services? They're not thinking like that and it's like sign me up, sign me up for this SaaS marketing business that I want to create. What got you down that path?

Laura:

Yes, that's a great question. So when I was in college this is also a bit of an unconventional entry into an industry, but when I was in college they'd be sat for a family who the husband and the family was the CEO of a very up and coming tech company for utilities. It was a company that put a cellular embedded module inside an electric meter so that a meter reader never had to come to your house. It was all done through so many times. Sure, so I worked. So after I graduated college I went to work for that company. They needed that. No marketing really to speak of. It was very new. I think I was the 30th employee maybe. And then fast forward eight years later. The company grew and sold for $100 million to a bigger technology company and I got to be a part of my first acquisition and seeing how that worked and it was just a really cool experience for me. And then, I think, when he sold the company, we were over 100 employees. So to go from being the 30th employee to the over 100 employees then went to work for the company that bought us for several years and that was a cool experience Because it was an $8 billion global company that I was one of 60 to 80 marketing team members and so I got to see, I was able to experience what it was like to be on that side of the business. So really just taking a step in something as insignificant as a babysitting job got me into technology. And then I started making connections. Once you're in the industry for 10 years, you start making connections and through I was on a business trip. This is how it always happens, but was on a business trip for my current job, found out that a friend of mine from church was in San Francisco at the same time. I was in San Francisco, we had dinner and started talking about his telecommunications business. That was a locally owned business. I'd just gotten married and was really not sure that I wanted to be making quick trips to Singapore like I was. No, I had to up and go to France last minute and a couple other things. So I loved travel, but I knew that this next phase of my life was probably not going to include a whole lot of global last minute travel. So he, pretty much there at dinner, said offered me a job and that put me in another type of technology, but a very similar managed services provider, fiber and net provider technology position. So it was through that particular job. That second career move for me where I really saw his company was about 25 employees. It was founder led and owned very tight knit, but really they didn't have a budget for a full marketing team like me as the CMO. I was their budget, their marketing budget pretty much, but we needed some really specialty marketing and use a digital marker. You know this. So you still need your SEO expert and you still need your graphic designer, and typically that's not one person, it's fractional marketing.

Adam:

And that's what we on my website. That's what we promote ourselves. As is offsite team. This does fractional marketing and you have fractional CFOs. I think that's probably the most fractional position to have, because CMOs are really, really expensive and fractional marketing is no different where, yeah, you have so many teams. I mean, do you want? And the funny thing is, these guys do not know how to staff a marketing department, like they wouldn't know the skills that you need to staff a fully functioning marketing department. They need to outsource that to somebody who actually does.

Laura:

Yeah, yeah. So what I saw were that agencies, or you know, agencies that I had as CMO at a tech company I was experiencing working with a lot of agencies that really were providing getting more like vendors, like they were giving me a website and then I was done and I really felt like no one was partnering with me and I was all they had from a marketing standpoint and he was expecting me to deliver. So a lot of pressure on those marketing leaders and so, yeah, so we, specifically for founders and tech companies, that particularly was a need that I saw, that I knew I could deliver on.

Adam:

So when what I love about this story too, and what I I think if people are listening right now and they're involved in any kind of business, you know they're working in nine, eight to five, eight to eight to eight. Whatever in the world you're involved in, what you did was you didn't come out of college thinking, hey look, I'm going to start a business doing this and serving these types of customers. You adapted to what you were given. Right, you were in this position. You worked for a company. You saw and it's funny because we lead parallel lives, I think because I also worked for an ad agency where I was like a marketing guy, designer, and we sold the business. So I saw someone who was an entrepreneur, who was my boss. Yeah, I saw him sell a business, see that success and then off I go with this entrepreneur, everybody that worked for him ended up becoming a freelancer or an entrepreneur of some sort. And you know, you just don't know where your life's going to take you, but you roll with the punches as an entrepreneur and that's what you did Right, and I did it right around COVID with a newborn. Which I yeah, I haven't had that in practice. Yeah, that's a whole new setup.

Laura:

Yeah, Entrepreneurship was Gary with a newborn was Gary.

Adam:

Motherhood plus entrepreneurship, yeah, tough.

Laura:

And COVID. So I had COVID. Yeah, gosh man, I just went big. You know, I went big all at one time, so, but it worked out.

Adam:

Sounds like. It sounds like. So talk a little bit about the company now. You know how does it operate. How is it structured? You know it sounds like you guys are. I mean, you got 50 clients, 23 states that's huge. Maybe even more by now since you wrote this bio. But tell me a little bit about how you structured it, because we all have to be a little bit different as marketers and we all have a specific pitch to the niche we serve.

Laura:

Yep. So we're a bit different. Our, you know, the typical agency. Like I said, we don't work, I don't do any one-time projects, so there's no one-time exchange of any. You know, you ask for a website, I deliver it and my hands are clean, but none of that. And again, that goes back to just my personal conviction of what I learned as the CMO at a tech company when I really needed a partner and I didn't feel like I was ever really getting that. So I work in and you know we're. We have, obviously, like, we have the SEO expert, we have the graphic expert, we have the web development expert, we have all of these team members that essentially a tech company would need. And then we have your account manager and, depending on the level of support you need, we have our junior, you know JV team and then our, our senior team, you know kind of fractional CMO or senior client success manager. So, depending on your level of need, you would have somebody you know hands on all the time, based on the level of support, and that person really becomes your in-house, you know marketing account manager, team member, project manager, etc. And and we're really structured. You know, when I first started I will say, I took an employee with me that I planned to hire at my other company and midstream, which was, it was a blast by the CEO of the company. He's a very good person, like I said, and so she was my first employee, grace. She's still with me today and you know those first, you know, couple of months, I was taking whatever I could get. I didn't specialize in anything, I was just thinking whatever we can do to make sure we make ends meet. And that carried on for about six months until I stopped and looked at the numbers and realized, okay, what, what do I enjoy doing, what makes me the most money and where do I feel like we're making the most impact? And I took all of those three considerations and looked at my P&L and, from there, made the decision to pivot into technology. And that's again where I really felt like we were making, you know, big impact. We're also making money and and really having a lot of fun, because I saw these lightbulbs go off in these minds of CEOs who had been saying what they did in one really complicated manner for a decade and we were able to simplify it and really get that message right for them. So so all of that to say you know how are we structured? I am, of course, leading and right now, thanks to Ariana, who has joined our team recently, we've grown into a little over two years to 15 women. I've managed to have hired women only up until this point and I can't say that that's like totally strategic, but now, at this point, it's like you know, I'm sure no man is what it is now.

Adam:

Yeah, yeah, hey, I'm. Most of the places I worked with were full of women and I was like one of the only guys there, so, yeah, and it was all marketing stuff too. So I think women are just attracted to marketing. There's something about it, something communal about it, something that you know women are just good with people, I think, and just naturally understand how to sell and how to talk to people, especially when it comes to project management and client service. Yeah, relationship, yeah, there's not a lot of guys that are. I don't know good salespeople, but not necessarily. You never see them in the client service roles, really.

Laura:

Right, well, and you know it's interesting. I'm glad that you said that, because and I wasn't going to say that, but I will say that specifically in technology, I feel like you know that industry excuse me, that industry is really, you know, desperate for connectors, like we need. Technology is not always that simple and we need people who can communicate, who can connect.

Adam:

Yes.

Laura:

And who can take, you know, high, maybe potentially very complex technology concepts and make them simple for the buyer, and I really do believe that women have a unique way of doing that and that has proven to be part of our success so far. So again, we have those senior level account managers. Obviously, we have our production team that includes our specialist and all these different services. We have Vicki, who is our VP of ops and she's kind of running the show. That was one need that I knew that I needed really quickly because I'm not good with the details, and so we have. Really I feel like now that we've hit just past the two year mark that was June 1st was the two year mark I really feel like we are getting in a groove where I'm getting out of the day to day, which is better for everybody the business and the client. We're on the business, not in the business, really working on the business, which I, honestly, if you had asked me two years ago, I would have said that's not possible, and it just in a short time frame which seems like kind of long but also short, it really is possible. So it's working now, which is exciting.

Adam:

Well, you need levels of people before anyone can get to you, because and that's with a lot of things I mean you, your regular employees, don't necessarily need direct access to you. They need to go through an operations person or whatever. Otherwise people. I mean it just it makes the I don't know there's something about it. I mean, my wife deals with it too. She's got a spa and you know, sometimes it gets really really hard when employees want something and they feel like they have a friendship with you and they can just go directly to you and it just gets really uncomfortable for you and then other employees kind of it's not a good thing. So you really do need levels. You need to get to that point. But you know what people are going to ask, especially women owned businesses that you know might be smaller, one or two people. How do you get to 15 people? You know, how do you take it from this freelance kind of thing to, because people are going to say why don't I have the money for an employee? I can't, but you can't free yourself. You can't free yourself to work on the business, not in the business, until you can put these people in place. But how do you get to the point where you can actually afford these people. Do you go out and get a business loan? Do you, you know, raise some money from friends and family, like what do you do, and then how do you have the confidence to do it? It?

Laura:

Yeah, I did not at first have the confidence to do it and now I'm just like hiring people left and right and hoping that you know we have the money to.

Adam:

And they do their job yeah.

Laura:

Yeah, I will say now, looking back, I have read a book since. That really put it very plainly. So I'll tell you about the book here in just a second. But I knew so I had actually had a little side hustle before where I was. I knew that the intent of the business was so that I could not have to drive as much for my job. So I actually went part-time before I started this business with my previous employer when I had my first son, just because I needed. I was in a car for like 17 to 20 hours a week and had a newborn and with my first son and just knew that wasn't right. So I actually started a business at the time just to make up the other half of my income and I went part-time with my previous employer. So that job was just my whole point of owning that LLC was to make half of my salary to pay the bills. So, I had no interest in managing anyone. I had no interest in growing the business. I had no interest in it being anything other than a financial resource for me to have my family and support my family. So then, fast forward to starting this business. When I started this business, I realized really quickly this is something I want to grow. So when I started I made the sacrifice. Thankfully, I've been profitable since my second month of business, so I've not had to borrow anything or ask for anything. I will say a line of credit has been very helpful and just with cash flow early on yes, cash flow can be a problem. Yes, but in terms of actually having to make any financial alone or anything like that, have not had to do that. But I will say I've read a book called Buy Back your Time by Dan Martel I believe is the name, and Arana and I are reading it together again now. But he actually creates what he calls your buyback rate. So it's a great book for entrepreneurs. It has totally changed my life and it tells you, it gives you some things to calculate and tells you here's how you create your buyback rate so that you know how to get rid of some of these things that you know you shouldn't be doing. He puts the different types of tasks that you do, like what lights you up but doesn't make you money, what doesn't make you any money. So you have these four quadrants and then you're able to actually say, okay, everything in this quadrant I need to use my buyback rate, whatever that dollar amount is and it's not your hourly rate, it's something different, it's actually a calculation. But once you calculate that, you know, hey, can I hire somebody for this amount to do these things in this box today? And if the answer is that rate is reasonable for that type of role, then go do it every time. Don't worry about anything else. Don't worry about anything else?

Adam:

Oh wow, that's some good insight. Yeah, so it looks like Kyle Stevie just joined us on the call here. He was on the phone with some insurance people, I guess, and here he is, kyle, you there?

Kyle:

Yeah, but no, I was with Mark Willis. He was one of our guests, I don't know how long ago.

Adam:

Yeah, I remember that, yeah, yeah. So sometimes we get guests, laura, that are awesome, and we're like, hey, wait a minute, why don't I use them for this thing, whatever it is, or recommend people for things, or whatever we end up doing. But yeah, so okay, kyle, you were doing that Awesome.

Kyle:

Yeah, setting that up, so then I can work with Monica as well.

Adam:

Nice, okay. Well, laura essentially does a lot of what I do. She's focused more on a particular industry, more IT technology type of industries, even tech startups and stuff like that. So we're chatting about how to get over the hump of, or the fear, I guess, of hiring employees, and then how do you know you've got enough money coming in to be able to hire that employee? And also, laura, some of these employees they don't make you money necessarily, they're just there to make sure that your clients don't get upset with you because you're not writing them back or getting with them on time. I mean these client service people, they're kind of an expense and I mean that can be a really expensive expense.

Laura:

Yeah, it can be, and the way that I look at it, though, is and now my VP of Ops, we have a new it's not an unspoken, it's a spoken role is that I can't take all new clients without her approval, because my problem is that I'll try to manage them and. I'll know that that is not what we need to do. We've been, we've found that that's not the best route to take. But I have the tendency to feel like you know, if I know that, I will say they don't all make you money, but they do when you look at should I be doing it or should someone else be doing it. If you know the answer is not me, then that certainly makes the hiring decision a lot easier and, again, like you, kind of start to know. You know I'm doing a vendor assessment right now and looking at my vendors that I'm using for things, some of the services that I'm offering, and I'm thinking, you know, could we bring this in house? Could this be something that needs to be a person that's sitting with us every day versus, you know, versus a partner that we're using to offer the service? So those are types of things that you can also kind of figure out as you go that can help save you money in the long run.

Kyle:

I just I kind of I don't know I kind of agree, disagree with that outlook that they don't make you money because I don't know if you have a good defensive basketball player and they might not score eight points a game, but they're going to keep the, they're going to make the leading score from the other team. Play below, like eight or nine points below their per game average.

Laura:

Then they're actually, they actually are.

Kyle:

They're increasing your value. So you may not see the revenue, but the value of your company goes up. You may help you penetrate accounts with customers that you didn't, that you you were having a hard time with, but they like talking to this person a little bit more. They like talking to you and you just have to go more with the operations role with them.

Laura:

Right, and, kyle, that's exactly what I meant by if it means me doing it or some hiring somebody else to do it. And you know, I know what I know now better than I did when I started the business, what things I'm best at, and so if there is a hole that needs to be met and I'm trying to fill it with someone who's not equipped for that role, then that's costing me money. And that's really when I read the book by back your time I was just mentioning this, kyle, just a minute ago to Adam. I read a book called by back your time and it gives you a calculation to to figure out your by back rate as a CEO or entrepreneur and with that rate, you kind of figure out like here are all the things that really I'm not good at and don't need to be doing, and it gives you, you know, a very tangible way to know how to offload that, because the CEO's feel like we should be doing things if there are holes that need to be filled. But truthfully, it can cost you money if you're doing it and you're not great at that or not equipped to do it. Details are becoming less and less something that I need to be involved in, and I'm learning that that it's gonna cost me if I continue to do that.

Adam:

So so, laura, if you were to write a book, what would the book? What would the book be about? Like, you've got this you know we just talked about, you know this book that you like and you found helpful. But if you could write a book and help someone with their business or maybe it doesn't even relate to business, maybe it's you know something else but what would you write that book about?

Laura:

You know, I really think it would be, you know, not to get too into female empowerment, but that has definitely. You know, I have, definitely I've always had male bosses, let's start with that Always had men as bosses and they have always been exceptional to me, with the exception of one. I have one that shushed me in a meeting and that was not enough for me. Yeah, but that's a different podcast. We'll do that one later. But I have always, I have never felt limited, starting with my dad. My dad was at a judge and an attorney. I didn't go the legal route but I have never felt limited by really there has never been a time where I felt like I couldn't do something if I didn't like I mentioned earlier, if I didn't just put my mind to it and figure out how to, you know, get the resources and do it. So I think that, especially in the South now I'm in Mississippi, where a lot of women tend to get married early, earlier than maybe, say, in New York City or something, Sure. well, they wait until they're 50, so Right, right, but honestly, I tell people this all the time. I married at 31, but had I met my husband that I married to now, when I was 21, I would have married him then. He's 100% the right fit for me. So the fact that I married him late was not necessarily intentional. That's just when he happened to come along. That's right bye. But I will say that part of what my vision is at the business growers is to make sure that every woman that works for me doesn't feel like they need something else or someone else to fulfill their passion and their dream. And so that would probably be. You know there are truly. You know. You have everything within you to accomplish what you want to accomplish, and that's it would be something along those lines. I don't know what it is, but you know something along those lines. And you know, I changed my own tires, I hung my own curtains, I plunged my own toilets, I cut my own grass. You know I did a lot of that before I got married. So I feel very passionately about you know and my husband would say I'm hardheaded, but you know, I feel very passionately about knowing that there are truly no limits if you, if you set your mind to it. So that may be a little cliche, but that's true. I mean, it is very. There is no other woman that's leading a tech focused marketing agency in the state of Mississippi. I can tell you that so that you know that that means something to me.

Adam:

That's right. That's right and I think you're doing a major service for not just you know the city you're in, but even the state. I mean you're winning awards, you know 50 under 40, you know that kind of stuff, and you know to be in Mississippi to be a female, to hire, the vast majority of your staff being female the fact that you're focused on technology in a state that nobody is, you know, mississippi is not top of mind for most people when it comes to technology Right In tech hub, exactly In startups.

Laura:

We do have a whole thing going on, right.

Adam:

Yeah.

Laura:

Yeah.

Adam:

And I'm actually working with Kentucky right now to try to make Northern Kentucky the side hustle hub, because, you know, nobody thinks the Northern Kentucky is the startup hub. But you know what? There's a lot of people here who are very industrious. They can, you know, they come up with things. They're they're good with their hands, they, you know, and start at. You know, side hustles don't have to be technology based. So you know, we're trying to kind of position Northern Kentucky as the side hustle hub. But the fact you're doing all of this is a major benefit to not just the economy down there, but it's an inspiration for people that this may not be the the thing that they would go into, you know, but it's an inspiration for people and I definitely I mean, if you were to write that book, I think, as a person from a state that is in that situation, being a female bringing other females into that business I mean that's a unique story that should probably be told.

Laura:

Yeah, well, maybe I need to write a book, maybe that's not, it's not that hard.

Kyle:

Kyle just wrote his book.

Laura:

Yeah, it took him two years I thought you were about to say it's not that hard to have a tech focused marketing company in Mississippi. Oh no, it hasn't been easy.

Adam:

Kyle's crazy. He's not stupid, Just say that offline.

Laura:

Kyle yeah.

Kyle:

Yeah, look, I'm just gonna add, I'm just gonna guess. So let's move on. Kyle wrote a book.

Adam:

It just took him two years.

Kyle:

Kyle what's the?

Laura:

name of your book.

Kyle:

Digital Melting.

Laura:

Okay, I'm looking at it About tokenization of real-world assets.

Kyle:

Real estate assets like just taking private interests and different equity interests and whatever syndication or private reader whatever and being able to trade it on the secondary markets, with the SEC saying it's compliant and you're okay, it's a page turner, you're gonna read it and you're gonna not be able to put it down. So carve out about an hour and a half of your time, I guess.

Laura:

I can't wait.

Kyle:

Exactly, my wife bought the first book, first copy, and I don't think she's made it past page like six.

Laura:

Oh well, it's probably for a specific reader, is what it sounds like.

Kyle:

Oh yeah, slightly in niche markets.

Adam:

Yes, If you're into crypto, then you would probably be interested in this book, and Kyle has a law degree too, so there's like some legal stuff in there and everything else, but you grew up with a father that was a lawyer, right, so maybe it's something that you just wrap your head around right away or whatever, but yeah, I'm trying to do a better job of keeping one book in front of me at all times.

Laura:

I will say I have a little problem like sitting down to watch a full TV show. My husband tells me I've never closed a cabinet door fully. So I'm that person. I don't know that. I've never been diagnosed with ADHD, but I may have it. I'm always moving on to the next thing. So I'm not really good at yoga. I'm not really good at sitting down for long periods of time. So the audio book trend has really changed my life. So I do try to do it a bit better at that.

Kyle:

Same with me.

Laura:

While I'm doing something else. That really is a game changer for me.

Adam:

That's right. Well, I ask everybody have you ever done your Myers-Briggs?

Laura:

You know, a long time ago. I have a client who called Good Job. That is a software that basically you take this assessment, similar to that, and they actually, through their technology, get all of their current employees to take the test and the assessment. And then every this is not a promotion for them, but I'm coming full circle Just give them a say yeah, yeah, yeah, and then you tell their team who you're front runners like top dogs are, and then anybody who applies for the job where you've got a top dog, you want their assessment to look similar to the top dog assessment oh smart. And it's very yeah, it's a very cool software. So the last few years we've been using their technology and also Strengths Finder, but I can't tell you what Myers-Briggs, what that is.

Adam:

Well, there's a few of them that are entrepreneur based, and the fact that you can't sit down and pay attention and stuff leads me to believe you're. You're one of those main types and, yeah, you got all these ideas and it's hard to stay focused on one thing and you're constantly bombarded with new ideas that you want to try, but it's like the shiny object syndrome.

Laura:

Yes, yeah, I got that. I do complete things. I just sometimes it takes me a little time to do it. So now I have a team to help me execute on the ideas, which is the best of both worlds.

Adam:

You've got to have a team.

Kyle:

You're in that I call it. You're like an oh shit worker, or it's kind of like, oh shit, I gotta get this done and then all of a sudden you can sit down and get everything finished. So that's kind of like how. It's like not quite a procrastinator because you don't wait till the last minute, last minute, but you're like, oh shit, it's getting close.

Laura:

I'm prepared, you know, and I just like I'm telling you, arianna, I'm really glad you're sitting on this podcast because this woman in four days she started on Monday as my assistant Kyle. She has color coordinated and emoji. It looks so good and she's getting into my click up. She's asking me things like you know, how you know, do you like, are you a visual person? She's trying to get my task kind of organized to where I can like enjoy them. When I look at them I'm like that's a, that's amazing.

Kyle:

Yeah, I would have that person on my life for about month and a half and then they would get so sick of rearranging the color coding. I feel like you're just not paying me enough.

Laura:

She's the boss. I tell her she color codes it and I'll follow her rules. So I'm good.

Adam:

Well, that's good. That's good that you guys got that kind of level of trust. You know it's it's hard for people, I think, to hand over their lives to an assistant and or somebody who can actually help you in that way. But once you have it, it's hard to realize that you had a life before that and you used to do that.

Laura:

Yeah, I think the tipping point for me, you know, again, I have a seven-year-old and a three-year-old, so the tipping point for me over these last few months has been the, the level of late hours and and again reading that book and seeing, okay, there are a lot of things that I'm doing every day during the day that really could be handed off to someone. I'm the person that's just gonna, that's I'm just gonna do it myself kind of person and that's not healthy again for the business. So you know, my goal is eventually for her to recognize what those things are and pass them off for me. So I don't even get, they don't even get in front of me.

Kyle:

Yeah right yeah, I'll throw this, I'll throw this out there just for you, for you and for young parents in the same boat. You don't and everybody says this, but you don't get it back like. I'm in the middle of like kind of like a midlife crisis myself. So my boys are 22 and my daughter's 13 and we I'm 43, so the boys were young or early, so we weren't quite as prepared financially as we wanted to be, obviously, but the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach, like I should be, this could all go away tomorrow. I should be working, I should be taking care of I got something I gotta take care of. I can go. I'll take them out tomorrow for ice cream, or we'll go to the park tomorrow or whatever. I'm just telling you because I did this myself and he sounds like you have your priorities far better than I ever dreamt, ever did yeah is that for people listening? is that tomorrow it turns into like 10 years later and they don't want to be around you 10 years later? They then you gotta wait till the mid 20s when they're like, oh, he's not so stupid, right? Take advantage, take advantage of that.

Laura:

All that assignment, that work or whatever it's going to be there in the morning, just wake up a little bit earlier yeah, and I saw, I saw something like right as a time that I was reading this book, kyle and and I actually went to a conference in June of this year and sat down at a table with a bunch of CEOs of agencies that all of them had assistance and I was like, what am I doing? You know, it was a really I open her for me just hearing one of these CEOs saying I just went on a week long trip with my family this summer and I put my phone in a locker and didn't pick it up the whole that's unheard of unfathomable all my birthday, 40th birthday trip to Mexico. My friends took pictures of me last December working every morning while they were at the pool. Yeah, like, like, that's not okay. And I, you know, I'm starting to have like some of those things. And I saw something the other day that said, the only person that are going to, the only people that are going to remember that you worked late at night, or your kids, and that was really opening for me because they, you know, I see my three year old, he'll play, work sometimes and it kind of, you know, I've got to be, I've got to think about how I want him to perceive or even work, and what that looks like for mom and what that looks like for dad. So so that's a very real thank you for saying that. It's very real thing that I'm, you know, currently in the middle of and trying to figure out. It's why Ariana's here wash wash she is part of our team now is to really help me, kind of like that, so that I don't look back and have any regrets or miss anything well, god bless you, ariana, for taking on this, this project, and growing with this company, and it's gonna.

Adam:

It's gonna help you, laura, obviously it's gonna. It's gonna help the business and it's gonna end up trickling down to all the employees too, because they don't have a stressed out CEO running around, you know yeah, and I'm not.

Laura:

I don't like myself when I am stressed out, so I'm glad to have some relief and and really be, you know, the leader and visionary that I want to be.

Adam:

So I'm excited well, what's next for you guys? What's, what's the what's the next thing? Where do you want to take this and are you, do you want to stay in this niche of these, the clients you want to go to?

Laura:

I mean, I'll list them out here b2b telecom, sass it, cloud service industries yeah so that is really again my passion and, honestly, because I have been head down in cloud work for the last two years, I have not really started selling, which is amazing. When you said that that that statistic about three percent of women on businesses don't hit a million, we hit a million 13 months in annual recurring revenues. So that right there is makes me excited because I know that we're doing something that is meaningful. But we've done that without me going to sell or without me actually putting much effort into going to find that ideal client. So now that I feel like every client has a home and I'm not technically over owning any of the client relationships right now or the primary owner of them, I'm going to find our ideal clients and start growing the business intentionally and and selling to the right folks and making sure I'm getting in front of the right folks. I'm really excited about that.

Adam:

Yeah, well, what are the services you're offering? Like, so you said you don't do one off projects, so somebody comes in and says I need a website. You're like sorry, unless you want to do this, yes we're not going to take you on as a client. What are those?

Laura:

Yeah, but A, b and C option, depending on how fast you want to grow, kind of starting at the website and SEO package and then going into social media management if you're interested in that, and we go all the way up to digital ads. We do over the top ads connect to TV, google, the whole nine yards. But really the foundational and we also do. Included in that foundational package is your branding messaging. We have a certified story brand guide that helps us with our messaging and making sure that our clients brand messages is dead on. So that's all included in that very first foundational package and then, if you're really looking to grow and scale, kind of have the foundation laid. That's where you kind of step into package number three. But we have just three packages that if we're a fit or you're somewhere in between, you got to pick one. So that actually was a tactic that I and a strategy that I have implemented, because I have trouble saying yes, like most CEOs do, and then I'm realizing that my yeses sometimes impact my team negatively because nobody really knows where that client fits and what they're supposed to be doing. And so this way having an A, b and C allows us to really streamline the work that we're doing.

Adam:

You can create processes and then, now that you've got processes, you've got reoccurring revenue. That makes your business sellable. It's no longer a lifestyle business, and I think that's what a lot of people maybe listen to the podcast have to understand is you don't want to be working in a lifestyle business. I mean, you're leaving a company, right, and you think, oh, I'm my own boss. Well, now you're essentially a slave to your business. At some point you probably want to sell that business off so that you can then retire at 50 and go do whatever you want in Mexico. Yeah, start out. Yeah, this is the problem, this is what we're doing is just one problem with us.

Laura:

This is the problem with us? Yeah, we got these problems.

Adam:

This has been awesome, laura. I really appreciate it. Ariana, god bless you. Thank you for helping Laura out and allowing her to grow and get her sanity back, because it can be tough. It can be tough and hopefully you stick around as long as possible and start your own businesses too. You never know, that's right, I told her.

Laura:

The only thing I don't like about her is that I don't think she's going to be my assistant for very long. She's very talented, so I think she's probably going to move on for me. We've got plenty of room for her here at the business growers, so hopefully she'll stick around, but she's got lots of opportunity ahead.

Adam:

I love it. I love it. Laura, tell us how people can reach out to you.

Laura:

Yeah, look for us at the business growers. We're everywhere, linkedin the biz growers, I think. Business growers on Instagram. We're on Twitter, but I hate Twitter and you can look me up, laura P Johns, I'm on Instagram as well, but mostly just look for us on the business growers and you'll see a lot of traction and all the new people that we're hiring. We like to post about our new hires so you'll see who we've got on board.

Adam:

I love it. I love it. Well, it's good to see people that are in kind of the same industry here, that are that are rocking it out and doing what they're supposed to do and growing businesses, and I wish you all the luck in the future and, ariana, good luck with everything you do and thanks for being on the podcast.

Laura:

Laura. Thank you, Adam.

Adam:

All right. Thanks for joining us on this week's episode of Side Hustle City. Well, you've heard from our guests. Now let's hear from you. Join our community on Facebook, Side Hustle City. It's a group where people share ideas, share their inspirational stories and motivate each other to be successful and turn their side hustle into their main hustle. We'll see you there and we'll see you next week on the show. Thank you.

Turning Side Hustles Into Main Hustles
Career Growth and Entrepreneurship in Technology
Structuring a Marketing Agency for Success
Exploring Hiring and Maximizing Time
(Cont.) Exploring Hiring and Maximizing Time
(Cont.) Exploring Hiring and Maximizing Time
Work-Life Balance and Personal Reflections
The Power of Side Hustles