Episode 186: Navigating Business & Family - Jennifer Kok's Epic JourneyFeb 06, 2023
Veteran business consultant Jennifer Kok started her first business two days before giving birth to her second child, turned it around in the middle of a recession, and then sold the company for a profit after growing it to a national brand. She makes her experience an asset for owners looking for the next wave in their business journey.
She is the founder of Next Wave Business Coaching where she helps existing businesses uncover hidden opportunities for revenue and profits by developing a business strategy for them to gain focus, clarity, and a roadmap to get results to build a sustainable business.
In this episode, you will learn the following:
- How a corporate career inspired Jennifer Kok to become an entrepreneur and how she balanced work and family life during her transition.
- How Jennifer Kok launched her own business and the lessons her children learned from watching her work.
- How Jennifer Kok pivoted her business during the 2008-2009 recession and the unexpected success that followed.
“Let's just support women wherever they are, whether they choose to work full time, choose to stay home full time, or something in between. Let's just support people's choices."
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Welcome back to your next stop. This is Juliet Hahn. In this episode, I speak with Jennifer Kok. She is a veteran business consultant. You can find her at Next Wave Business coaching. You can also find her on LinkedIn. When Jennifer and I met, we basically were like, okay, let's meet for 15 minutes, see how we kind of jive, see our synergies. And we spoke for over an hour and then I had to stop part because I was like, okay, I don't want to know anymore. I need to kind of hear your story unfold because I love asking those curious questions. So as much as we spoke for an hour, we still didn't dive into her actual story. Jennifer jumped into Franchising, literally went to work two days after her first was born, pivoted during the recession with her franchise, ended up working there for 20 years, sold it to her manager and this was like a business that was her baby. And it just came out. It just blew up. And she was super successful. So now she helps people be able to do what she did in the world of business. You guys don't want to miss this. Again, you can find [email protected], you can find to her on LinkedIn. Her last name is spelled Kok. You can find her on all the socials at nextwavebusinesscoaching. And you really are going to enjoy this. I don't know if you know this, but I am a storytelling consultant.
So what I do is I help.
People be able to articulate their story, to be able to connect deeper with audiences. So whether you are a small business on the podcast circuits, if you're an entrepreneur, an inventor, you're doing Ted Talks, you're an author, I help you put those pieces of your story together that are going to connect deeper and be able to articulate those. So I can help you articulate in a 30 minutes. If you're doing a podcast, it's a 30 minutes or you're doing a media circuit and you're on for ten minutes, I can help you get those pieces of that story out and be able to practice them so you really connect deeper. I help you connect those dots. You can contact me at info at imjuliet hon.com for a free 30 minutes consultation to see if we're a fit again. You're going to love this episode with Jennifer Kok and we'll see you guys next time. Have you ever been listening to your favorite podcast and that moment comes up and you think, oh, my gosh, I need to share it? Well, now you can with picked cherries. What I love about Picked Cherries so much is that when I'm listening to my favorite podcast and that moment comes up that I want to share, I.
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Cherries, are you really listening to podcasts? Welcome back to your next stop. This is Juliet Hahn. You know, I say it every episode, but I am so excited to bring you someone else that has followed a passion. Welcome Jennifer Kok. How are you?
I'm wonderful, thanks for having me. How are you?
I'm great. So Jennifer is a business coach company, Next Wave business coaching. You can find her on our website, next Wavebusinesscoaching.com, also on Instagram, Next Wave with Jen. And if you also want to find her on LinkedIn, it's Jennifer Owens Coke. And Coke is K-O-K. So when Jennifer and I met, we were going to do a 15 minutes call and right in it, we talked for hours.
Talked for hours and probably could have kept going, we really could.
And so I love what you are doing, but I also love your journey. So I can't wait for the listeners to really get into this. So if you can give us a little background who you are, where you grew up, if you went to university and then we'll kind of dive into the rest of the story.
Awesome. Well, I grew up in Michigan and I moved like five different times before 9th grade, all within 15 minutes of where we were living. So I was just that kid whose parents always wanted a different house and I ended up in a different school. Right. And then I was a tennis player. I played tennis and ended up going to Fair State University, which is in Michigan, to play tennis. And that's where I met my husband. And we've been married 31 years, we have three wonderful kids and I just became a new grandma as of twelve days ago, which has been really congratulations.
Oh, that's amazing.
Thank you. And I've always just been had a heart for business, had a heart for being an entrepreneur. And my journey started out in corporate America like a lot of people do. You go to college, you get a degree, you go off to work for someone else. And about 24 years ago, pivoted that from corporate life to entrepreneur life.
I love that. And tell me because I know when we talked, I believe it was like snowing or getting ready to snow. It was like in the beginning of the winter and you guys had a school day like you had a snow day. So what are the ages of your kids now?
My oldest is 28, who just made me a grandma and she's married, lives here like 15 minutes from where we live, which is wonderful. And then my middle daughter is 24, she just graduated from college about two years ago and she's getting married in June. And then our youngest is a boy, he is a senior in high school, he's 18. So my kids kind of grew up with me as I was building businesses, and they are now older, which has been really fun to kind of that transition in your relationship, because we're now friends, we do a lot together. We travel together, we actually do businesses together. So our family is kind of unique that way.
Right? I love that. So tell us a little bit about what you studied when you went to university.
I studied sales and marketing with a focus mostly on marketing.
Okay. And then when you jumped into corporate America, did you use your degree? Because there's so many people that we talk to on this podcast that's like, I didn't use my degree, I fell into this. And then even if they started their own business 1015 years later, it was like, no, I studied this one thing that I thought, then I ended up here and then didn't want to do any of it. And sometimes it kind of goes full circle. They get into what they studied in school as their entrepreneur business. So I would love a little bit of insight from you on that.
Well, I think a degree is just an opportunity, right. It's a piece of paper that helps open doors. You don't have to do that with a degree. Most of us, a lot of us do choose that path. I didn't know any different. I went off to college, and back then, we didn't have the Internet and 50,000 choices where kids today are probably overwhelmed with what to do. Right. So I started out in international business, which is really funny because my stepfather was very visionary. He was a design engineer for Ford, and he was always 20 years ahead of his time. And I can remember being a junior in high school, and I'm trying to fill out all the paperwork, and I'm trying to pick a degree. I have no idea what I want to do. And he said to me, go into international business, because the world's going to get smaller and the world's going to do more business with each other, and it's going to be more accessible. So I said, all right, I'll go into international business. Well, I started out freshman year, international business. Started my sophomore year of college, went into Spanish 201. Couldn't remember a word of Spanish from Spanish 101. And I thought, okay, this is that for me. And I was always creative. So I jumped into marketing and back on. Honestly, I had no idea what marketing was even was. But to answer your question, yes, I did start my career in sales and marketing. I started out in Craft Foods, wonderful company, loved my time there, and I was there for ten years, and I was in sales, and I did a lot of promotional stuff and just kind of pushed a lot of the different craft products. And the reason I left that and jumped into entrepreneurship wasn't because I didn't like corporate world or didn't like what I was doing. But back then, in order to move up the corporate ladder, so to speak, you had to keep relocating. And my husband and I started out in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We moved to Kansas City and then we moved to Chicago. And then I had my first daughter. And I can remember thinking, I don't want to keep doing this. I don't want to keep moving them in different schools like I went through. And it's not fair to my husband's career. Something has to give. And you got to remember, this is the women were really, there was a lot of pressure to when you're at home, act like you're a mom. When you're at work, don't act like you're a mom. And we had to really navigate that and act like a man, but we're not. I went back to work after having my daughter, and I worked full time for ten months. And for me, it just wasn't what I wanted. I wanted to work, but I also wanted to be with her. And no judgment to anybody who's doing full time because we have to pick what works for us. But back then, nobody talked like that. We just followed a path.
No, and I love that you said that. You brought up so many good points. And I talk about this a lot because there was a period of time where it was where they said, women can do it all. And I believe we can do it all in different stages of our lives, not all at the same time. And I remember when I went into corporate America after I graduated school, it was the late ninety s. But it was like when I had my first son, it really was, okay, you can do it all. You can go back and do this. And I just remember sitting there being like, I'm not going to be effective in all areas. Like I'm going to give a lot to I'm going to give like half to work, half to this baby, and then my husband's really going to probably get nothing because I don't do that well. And I think some personalities do that well, and some personalities need to. But my sister said something to me, and I'll never forget. I was talking to a nanny. We lived in New York City at the time, and she said she was going back. We literally had kids a week apart. She was going back, but she was in corporate real estate, so she was allowed to go back one day a week into the office. I worked in alternative advertising. My hours were crazy. I was traveling, I was all over the place. And she said, well, what's going to make you the best mom and wife? And I didn't even pause. I said, oh, staying home? She goes, well, what are you doing? She's like, I've never seen you flail. Like, I was always the confident one knew what I wanted. She was like, you always wanted to be a mom. And I was like, I know, but I live in the city, and literally everyone I'm surrounded with has these high powered jobs, and they're getting a nanny, and they're doing it. I just feel like I don't want to be making the wrong decision. And she's like, you could always go back. And I was like, you're so right. And I always wanted to be a mom. It was like what? I babysat my whole life, and it was like, this is what I want to do. But that is that societal pressure that I never even thought that I would ever succumb to, because that's not who I am. But I did at that moment because I was vulnerable. I just had a baby. I had all these hormones, and I was like, I just want to do the right thing for everyone. And it was a terrible time. It really was. But then when I made that choice, I was like, oh, my gosh, thank you. So I also love that you brought back the fact and this is like, love connecting the dots in this situation that you moved around a lot, and you didn't love that part, so you didn't want to do that to your family.
Right? And I was so jealous of my husband. He grew up in the same house for 20 some years and went to the same elementary the whole time, and he remembers teacher's names, and he remembers people from his childhood where I can't even remember the school I went to. So, yeah, it was just a choice we made. And back then, we didn't talk about it like, what we were just saying. And I love that in today's world, people are talking about it. Let's just support women wherever they are, whether they choose to work full time, choose to stay home full time, or something in between. Let's just support people's choices. And I think that's evolved, and I'm glad to see that, right?
Because there was a period of time, it was like, oh, it was, oh, you're a mom. That's amazing. And then there was a time like, oh, you're just a mom. And it was like, well, wait a second. I kind of think that was around there. And I'm like, just a mom. I mean, we do so much stuff, and so I think it's really important for even the listeners to hear that you went back being like, okay, I love my career, right? I don't want to stop this. However, there's things that are more important, and if people don't know, like, packaging is, like, even, like, beverage, you do move around to offices. It is a that kind of industry where there's some industries. My husband's in advertising, and mainly most places are in New York or in Late. They're bigger hubs now. But back in the day, it was like, you're either in new York or you're in La. And so you are kind of staying in the same areas. When you work in certain industries. Certain industries, the way you move up is, as you said, you have to be relocated. Yeah, so that's hard when you had your first daughter, and then it was what Pivot happened from there? Did you just kind of stay home, or is this when you started creating?
Actually, no. I went to my company and I said, I would like to work part time. And I went on the job board, and I applied for a different job that was within the company that was part time, and I had to drive to a different office. So I did that for a few months, and that kind of filled the need of staying home part time, but it didn't fuel me because it was a task oriented job. It was a job. And so I did that for a while, and my husband was traveling, and I'm driving 45 minutes one way in Chicago traffic. And something's got to give, right? Once again, we can't do this all, and something has to give. And we realized how important family was for our children, and we wanted to move back to Michigan to be closer to my in laws and to be closer to family. And so that was kind of the moment when I decided that we want to move. And my husband could work from anywhere. So his company allowed him to move to Michigan, and he was going to be the breadwinner. And I wanted to open up my own business. And so I decided to jump into the space of opening up your own business. I was completely naive. I had no idea why I wanted to do it. I just knew that I wanted to do that. And so I found a franchise that I was able to buy into and start from the ground up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. And I'll never forget, I reached out to this franchise, did all the due diligence, and we were approved. Well, at the time, somebody else was going to open that location up in Grand Rapids, so it was off the table. So we go about our lives, and next thing I know, I get a call from them that says, hey, the Grand Rapids market is open. Do you guys want to move? And so I looked at my husband and I said, sure, let's do it. Signed on the dotted line, put our house up for sale, sold in a couple of days, moved in with my in laws because we were going to find a house in Grand Rapids. Well, I found out through that process I was pregnant with my second daughter. And, okay, we can still do this, no problem. I'm going to have this business open in 60 days. We're going to move in May. It'll be open by June. And she doesn't come till the beginning of end of September. We're good. Well, it didn't quite go that way.
Like it never does, right? But so I have to ask, what was the franchise?
It was called Cookies by Design. So it was a gifting company that specialized in fresh baked, hand decorated cookies. And the funny part about my story is I didn't even like to bake. I didn't bake at home with grandma. I didn't have all these home recipes. But it was a family friendly business. I love to eat the cookies. And once again, my sales and marketing background kicked in. And honestly, I think that's what made me so successful because I ended up owning that business for 20 years and growing it and pivoting it. And I really think that is the reason is because I didn't get stuck inside the four walls building cookies. I was using my sales and marketing.
And building a business that really is amazing. And I love that you said that because that's again, I'm such an out of baker. I mean, it's so funny when I stayed home and it would be like, who's going to bring the cupcakes or the cookies? And I was like, I'll go to Whole Foods and get the cupcakes and the cookies. But I think I've maybe made cookies twice. I usually eat the batter and so it's like kind of pointless. So I love that you were kind of forward thinking and doing that. So now you're living with your in laws. You have a young child, you have pregnant with your second. You just open this franchise. So take us through a little bit. What that looks like?
It looks like chaos because we ended up living mainlaws for nine months because we couldn't find a house in a neighborhood that we like. So we ended up building a house too. So let's just add that layer in there because why not, right? And I don't know at the time when I look back at that, I really don't know how we got through it. My husband and I joke that we can get through anything. After getting through that, I think it was just like a day to day. Like, okay, what has to be done today? We're just going to keep one step at a time. So I opened our doors, finally got the business open because bakery is a full bakery. We're talking plumbing, the whole bit, health code. It was not a 60 day. I can have this business opened. I didn't know that at the time. And I guess ignorance is blessed. Sometimes you just jump in. And so I opened on a Monday, August 17, and literally my daughter came two days later. She arrived like 21 days early.
Oh my gosh.
I mean, the poor girl is probably like, I got to get out of this woman. Who is this woman carrying me? She's crazy. So I'll never forget it. I had just a couple of employees that I had hired to start. We opened the doors, and when you're part of a big national franchise, you kind of get orders like day one, because you're getting supported by other people. So we started getting orders day one, and then I went into labor two days later and blessed my family's heart. Some of my mother in law is calling in sick to her work, just showing up at my bakery, just like, I don't know what I can do, but I'm just here to do. And I'll never forget my husband picked me up from the hospital, and we didn't even have the car seat put together. So the poor nurse is sitting there looking at us like, who are these people? Do I release this baby with these people? And he had cookie bouquets in the back of a car that we had to deliver on our way home from the hospital. And then I got up the next day and went to work.
Oh, my gosh. So did you have employees? Was that something I know you just kind of opened and so you had to do the whole interviewing process and had employees, but were they employees that you knew? So you were like, okay, I can be out for a couple of days, or they were employees that you didn't know that you just hired, and you're like, I have to be there.
They were employees that I didn't know. I mean, they came highly recommended from referrals. And I had a baker because once again, I didn't bake. So I had somebody who could bake the cookies. I had someone who could decorate the cookies. And there was a new hire that was supposed to start, like, a sales person, front counter person, and she started the day that I was in the hospital. So no training just got thrown into it. But a lot of these employees stayed with me for years, so blessed their hearts. But I went to work with my baby, and I never had a maternity leave. She came with me, and the blessing of that, she was with me for about six months in the front carrier with me. We just made it work. We really did. It was chaotic, but I didn't have a choice. I had put a lot on the line. Right. When you open up a brick and mortar, there's a lot of cost involved.
Totally. Now, how old was your first daughter?
She was like three, three and a half. So she was going to part time daycare. She was getting watched by some family members, and then she'd come into the bakery in the afternoon and pour frosting all over the cookies.
Right. I mean, really, the picture I love that you just painted, because as a mom, I can just see, like, the kids must have loved, you know, especially not the newborn. She doesn't know, but she's with you, so she's happy, you know? But the three you know, three year old. That must have been so cool for her to watch what you build and be a part of it. I mean, she obviously, now that she's older, have you guys ever had conversations like she has these amazing fond memories? Or was it like memories that are like, there was a lot of chaos, it was fine, that's how it was. Or was it like something that she really has those? Like, this is amazing that my mom did that now that she's older.
I think that's probably one of the things that I'm the most proud of. You can build a business, you can sell a business, you can make a lot of money. But I own that business for 20 years. So by the time I sold the business, my oldest was 23 and my youngest was 20, or my middle child was 20. And both my daughters came to work for me when they were like 1314 years old, sometimes even younger. They'd come full boxes, they'd come thicker bags, they would do those kind of things. So they had a front row seat to watching what it takes to build a business, what it takes to operate a business. And I will tell you what they learned from watching. I could have never taught my children. I wouldn't have thought to teach them intentionally. They learned perseverance, they learned grit, they learned the value of hard work, but they also learned a lot of problem solving, because problem solving is always coming up for business owners. How to deal with people, how to really pay attention to the details, because I was in kind of a gifting industry, so you had to really pay attention to those details, how to manage people. Both my daughters in the corporate world now, and I know some of those things that they learn just from being a part of it is helping them. And they probably wouldn't even label it or realize it, no.
100%, because as you said, it's not something that you intentionally teach, but it's things that we all should be learning. So it's like you did it kind of where this is what's happening because of your path, which just led for your kids to really learn some really awesome lessons and life lessons and things that are just going to make them better.
I hope so. And like I said, that's one of the things I'm the most proud of.
Completely understandable. So when you decided to sell it, where were you on kind of that journey?
So another piece of the journey is ten years into owning this 2008, 2009 recession happened, and I was sitting there with a brick and mortar, a lease, still had loans against it, had about ten employees at that time because we did a really good job of corporate sales and marketing. And so we had a lot of corporate business that would go out what I would call the back door and get delivered to clients. And all that started drying up, right? Those that remember the recession.
Oh, I remember.
Well, at the time, cupcakes were becoming popular. So out in California, food Network was starting a show called Cupcake Wars. And I looked around our market and I said to my manager, we're going to build Cupcakes. We got to do something. We just need some new life. I don't know if this is going to work or not, but we just need something. Something that's going to excite us. So that's what we did. So we started making these cupcake recipes, and next thing you know, I turned it into a brand. Next thing you know, I ended up franchising it, and it's still out there today in 56 stores. We ended up launching Cupcake by design.
And I will tell you, the recession was the best thing that ever happened to me as a business owner, because it forced me to get out of my comfort zone. It forced me to pivot a little bit and to do something different. And by the grace of God, it worked, right? So that was really fun moment for me and our business. And then I owned it for another ten years after that. So then it was 2018, and I think I just got to the point where I was like, okay, I'm out of ideas. As far as the baking business goes, I've done all I can do. I was getting a little burned out, especially with the employee issues, because that was about the time that it was really hard to find employees. And I always hired a lot of young high school college students, and they just weren't applying like they used to. So it was time. And my manager ended up buying it from me. And that was kind of fun because I got to mentor her and kind of be there. But then I got to kind of turn it over to somebody that I knew and trusted. And it was so funny because I'll never forget how many people said to me, you better be careful. You're going to really struggle after you sell the business. And I would say why? And they would say, because your identity, you're the cookie lady, you're the cupcake lady. You know, all these people in your market from marketing your business, what's your identity going to be? And I was so scared of that. I was really scared of that. But I'll tell you, I never looked back. I sold the business and it was almost kind of like, no, it's my time. And so that felt good too, because I felt like I knew it was the right timing, right?
Which I think is so important because I do think people I was actually just talking about this podcast yesterday. Sometimes people leave things too early, not after 20 years, but you know what I mean? Like they start something and they're not. Getting the success that they have right away. So they are like, okay, I'm quitting, but it really was too soon. And I think it's so important that people also were saying to you, what are you going to do? But that also gets in your own mind. It's like, okay, oh my gosh, what am I going to do? And I do want to take it back to the cupcakes because I think it's so cool. With your marketing backgrounds, I feel like that really kind of helps. You also pivot and be like, okay, we need to do the next thing. What can you do? So you're obviously a very forward thinker. You said your dad worked for Forward, so he was creative. I mean, you really did that. Was your mom a stay at home mom, or did she also work out.
In my parents have an amazing story because they're British, and they grew up in London, and they grew up during the World War II. So my mom was a little girl during World War II living in downtown London, and so she has an amazing stories of just surviving that. And my stepfather was a little bit older, and he was a World War II Royal Air Force pilot. So that really kind of, I would say determined and kind of paved the way for who they were to become. They moved over to the States for a better life. And so my mother was really a stay at home mom because of the war. She never went back to school, and I know that kind of stopped her because she's a brilliant woman. She's very good with just problem solving and people. But she stayed home and took care of the family and took care of my stepfather. That was kind of her role. I don't know where my visionary comes from, but that's always just been a skill set of mine and just something that I can walk into a business and be like, oh, what if you did this, this and this? That's just who I am. And I think sometimes we just have those traits that are just inherited.
We're born with them 100%. I definitely think that's why I always ask. I love when I look a story like yours. It's like, oh, wait, this is so interesting. Did you see it? Or was it because sometimes it's the whole nature versus nurture, right? There's things that you learn because you've seen or things are just really inherently bored with. And I think entrepreneurism is one of those things that there's people that are just built to be entrepreneurs. There's other people that are just not built to be entrepreneurs, and that's something that is a gift. But then there's also the people that see it around. Maybe like a neighbor was an entrepreneur, and they just were fascinated with it. So then they taught themselves to kind of run that entrepreneur world, and it just sticks for them because they have this visionary. So I think it really paints a picture. Your parents had, obviously your mom with the grit, doing what she was doing in War World, too, and then raising you, you guys moving around. There was definitely stuff that you were learning and seeing, but then also were probably just really born with. So, I mean, I think it's so amazing that you were like, okay, we need to pivot. How long did that pivot take? Was it really just months of just everything dwindling and be like, we need to pivot because we have no other choice? Or was it really before you kind of hit rock bottom, was it like kind of in the middle pivot?
I would say it was probably near the top, not quite the middle. I'm a pretty quick start kind of person, and so I think it was when I first started seeing it kind of happen. And you know what, when the light bulb went off, is I actually was hiring. I actually needed to hire somebody. And we received 50 people out the door with applications, and we were talking people that were in banking and finance and upper management and men in suits coming to apply at my little cookie store for a front counter job where back then was probably paying $9 an hour. And I think that's when I looked at that and thought, okay, this is real. Nowadays we would say this isn't just the media making it up to be, but what can we do? So I've always been kind of proactive and didn't wait for it to hit rock bottom, but I think that's also the entrepreneur spirit, kind of like what you're just talking about. And one of the things that I love about working with entrepreneurs is they never very few settle. They're always looking for either the next thing or always wanted to grow. Like, if you ever want to get with a group of people that are really into self reflection and self improvement, hang out with a group of entrepreneurs, right. They're always reading the next book. And I think that's just another trait of a business owner.
No, totally. And it's the curiosity and the okay, let's be curious. Let's ask questions. What's next? I mean, sometimes it can also be the adventure of it, right? Sometimes we jump into things a little bit before we're ready, but sometimes that also is what's important because you need to have that, like, quick. Okay, I love that. I'm curious. Let's see what's here is next. That's where this is going to take me. So I think it's fascinating what you did. So then I want to kind of go, you did the cookies ten years, then you pivoted to the cupcakes, then you sold to your manager, which I think is amazing. I love that because you're right, it still stayed in the family and probably felt really good to you, but also that you grew something that you cared about and you had someone that bought it that you also cared about, which I think is really cool.
It really was. And I think that's a piece of the entrepreneur journey that is often overlooked is how to plan your exit. When you're in it, you love it, you don't think about it, but I always encourage people to think about it before you're ready to be out of it. Because I didn't get to a place of burnout. I was headed there, but I had a solution, and I figured out that solution where a lot of people will wait till they're burned out or things aren't really going well, or something changes in their family dynamic, and then all of a sudden it's a fire sale, like, I got to get out. And so I really was appreciative of that gift, that it really was kind of a journey and that it took a couple of years to transition the business to her, and then I stuck around for a year after on a very minimal basis, but more like a consultant basis. And that was nice too, because it gave me that time to kind of reflect on what I wanted to do next, what I'm calling my encore career. And I think that stopped me from having what everybody scared me to death, that I was going to have this identity crisis and I didn't because I had a nice transition.
Right. So that's going to be leading me to my next question. And I love how this is really just flowing, where it's going. So when you stayed on as a consultant, is that when you kind of fell in love with the business? Coaching?
Yes and no. Part of it was when you own a business for 20 years, people come to you all the time anyway. So I would meet with people all the time, and I love that. I love stories. I love connecting. If you and I were in the same town, we'd be hanging out, having wine or coffee, sharing stories. I love that. And my husband always like, sorry, I drive him crazy because I'm the person who will talk to the person behind me at the checkout and, you know, learn their life story in about 30 seconds. Right. So I liked that. Anyway, people would naturally come to me and just ask me questions, and I would mentor and work with, you know, some people in the area. And then, yeah, I enjoyed the transition piece with my manager, but it really kind of came to a head when the pandemic happened because I was sitting there looking at what was going on with all these small businesses, and I thought, you know what? I have a skill set that can probably help some of these people. I weathered a recession. This is sort of similar, sort of different, but I can give people hope. They don't have to throw in the towel, what can we pivot? What can we do? And I know we all get sick of the word pivot during the pandemic, but it was a real thing. And so that's when I decided to really jump in with both feet and make it a business and make it a company. I also was watching the online space and all these coaches were popping up. And I will tell you, that is a blessing and a curse because everybody's labeling themselves a coach and a lot of them haven't walked the talk and they just went on YouTube and taught themselves. So having known that now, I probably would have called myself Next Wave Business Consulting because I'm really more a consultant. But that's really what kind of pushed me into the space, is I thought, you know what? What am I going to do? And I did go back to work for somebody else. I thought, okay, I just want flexibility and freedom. I'm just going to work part time for somebody else. I did that for about three months and I thought, I don't like this and I don't know why. It's not because I have a problem of authority. I like to do things my own way. I want to create my own thing, and I like my freedom and flexibility. So that also kind of helped me decide to start another business and blessed my husband because he looked at me and went, what? We're going to build another business, right?
Oh, my God, I love that. So when you sold the Cupcake Cookie Company, when was that? What year?
That was in the fall of 2018.
Okay, right. So then you stayed on for a year, helps your business manager, and then you had really kind of led us into when the pandemic was hitting. So that's so interesting how there was obviously a little bit of a period of lull and then that did so I think it's so true because it really is. Coaches popped up all over the place and again, yes, it was a blessing and a curse because it was like, okay, you can find a lot of different people. But I love that you kind of thought forward again. I mean, you're obviously such a forward thinker. It's like, okay, where can I help? But you also have a service heart that I'm feeling that you really enjoy helping people. Like, you have the knowledge and it's like, you know what? Let me take my knowledge now and go to this next stage of my life. So tell us a little bit about what you do with the business coaching.
What I love to do is I like to meet existing business owners where they're at because I'm very strategic, very visionary, but I also like to have some data that we can work with. And so I like business owners to get out there, get their feet wet, get a few years under your belt and then what I do is I come alongside them and really what we do is we look at all the elements of the business. I'm a big believer and let's get the foundation right because you can't build anything if you're just chasing ideas, if you're just like half heartedly going after this and putting this together. I'm really big on a lot of different pillars of what I call a strong business. So I take them through a process of re evaluate those areas and we look for the areas that they should focus on next. That's going to move the needle the quickest, right? Because people come to a business coach or business consultant because they're trying to fast track their growth. And most people come to me because they want to accelerate the profits. They want more money, they want more revenue. But what I find is that when we go through this process, there's something else that needs to kind of be a little bit fixed first before we can accelerate those things. And a lot of times as business owners, you're in the day to day, you are grinding it out, you're everywhere, you're loving it. You got all this passion so you don't see it. I get the beauty of seeing the big picture. I get to see the whole thing where a lot of times you don't. You have really narrow focus. So I meet them there, we analyze what's going on and then we're going to create a roadmap. We're going to create strategies that are real world, tried and trued. None of this get rich quick stuff because that doesn't work. And let's just one week at a time chip away at these things and build a strong business so that it's going to be sustainable, it's going to thrive. And ultimately, I'm trying to help you get some freedom in your life. Because here's the thing. What I love about small business owners, they all jump into a business because they have a passion for something or a purpose or want to solve a problem. And they all want freedom and flexibility. They all want to leave corporate world so they don't have to relocate or work 60 hours a week. And then what do they do? Work a bazillion hours a week. So I try to help them learn how to start delegating, learn the elements that you need, follow this roadmap. Let's put some strategies in place that fit your vision and then let's go after it and do it together. And the biggest piece of it too is accountability. We all have that shiny object syndrome and I encourage the shiny object but I also try to rein it in for people because I, I've talked to entrepreneurs, I have about ten projects going right now and that one's finished, right?
Well, I mean because that is against the personality. It's the excitement of chasing and following and it's the adventure. And again, it's the brain that on this podcast. I love speaking to so many different entrepreneurs because I was talking to someone the other day and I had a kind of a reign of engineers, and it was really interesting. I was like, oh, my gosh, another engineer. It was so interesting to me. And it was a lot of engineers that then went into business themselves and became entrepreneurs. They went to school, they were good in science and math. They became an engineer, went into the engineering world, but realized, I don't think I love this. And some time in their life pivoted, whether it was two years, ten years, 20 years, but it fascinates me the way people's brains work, because there's the entrepreneur that is like, right, they're doing it because they're kind of all over the place and they don't like to sit at a desk, and they don't want the authority. They want to do it themselves. And sometimes they need that structure. And then there's the entrepreneur that is very into systems and very into the spreadsheets, and this is what I have to do. But then they're missing kind of the exciting, I need to go out and step out of my comfort zone. And so it's really interesting when you combine the two because everyone has those strengths and weaknesses. We all have that kind of, this is what I'm really good at, but I need support here. And when you first start a business, sometimes you don't have that extra funds to go find it. So I think it's really important. What you're saying is you kind of want someone that's been it in a couple of years because then you can really help shape and mold and then help them grow, right?
Yeah. We're going to scale a lot faster, and we're going to talk about who on your team you need. And that is a tough conversation for small business owners. I always say it's kind of like your baby, right? You're building this baby and then how do I let it go? How do I drop it off at daycare? Kind of thing. I love that. And I do have a passion for small business owners. I always say they're the heart of our communities. They're the people that hire our kids. Usually they're the ones in March and the 4 July parade. You know, it's there's just something about the heart of a small business owner. They really are connected to their community.
I love that. So are you working mainly with brick and mortars or do you also work with consultants and other coaches as well?
I work with service based businesses that are servicing their local market. So they're looking to leverage their local market. That's really where I can help them shine. I'm really good at helping them figure out how to create the strategic connections, how to ask for things, where to grow your business and how to find the right team and all the elements that it takes.
I love that. And you lived it. I mean, that's what's so cool. You lived it, and that's what is important, because, again, there's people that get certifications, and then there's people that really have lived it. And that certification is life. I walk through it. I've had two businesses. I've pivoted. I've done this. So I think that's so cool that you're doing that. I just have to say thank you so much for joining your Next Stop, Jennifer. This has been awesome.
Well, thank you. I really appreciate your time, and I love the stories that you're sharing, and thanks for having me.
I appreciate it. You guys, you know what to do. Rate review like and share, because you might be listening to this saying, oh, that's such a cool story. I love the chills that I got here. And then you sit on it, but you don't know who needs to hear this. You don't know who in your community, who of your friends, family needs to hear this because they're at a time in their life where maybe they're pivoting or they need to kind of figure out what their next stop is. And so if you're sharing this, they're listening to someone that obviously has found a passion and has turned it into a business but has done that multiple times, which is just so cool. So, again, thank you so much, Jennifer.
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