Welcome to Eventual Millionaire. I’m Jaime Tardy and today we have Nicole Wright on the show. I am really excited. She is a serial entrepreneur. She has had a bunch of different companies and the one we will primarily focus on is FoodBodyME.com. They do yoga and meditation and cooking classes, tons of really cool stuff. She is also really analytical so I am really excited to talk to her today. Thanks so much for coming on the show, Nicole.
NICOLE WRIGHT: Great. Thanks, Jaime.
JAIME TARDY: Let’s actually get into it because you’ve created quite a few different businesses. Tell me about your first business and how you started that and how long ago it was.
NW: Sure. In college, I was studying psychology and I wanted to be a therapist and I was convinced that that was my path. However, I really enjoyed working with my clients but their families were crazier than they were and I was so young. It was very stressful for me. While I concurrently had full-time therapy positions I also was in finance as an accounting manager and I loved it. I loved consulting with those clients. When I told them 1+1=2 I got no pushback. It was really beneficial and helpful for me to just have that analytical side of my brain and to just work with money. I mean there are really amazing financial principles that I was really grateful to learn from a young age.
When I was 23, I kind of, I guess I mostly just was fed up with corporate politics and just a little disillusioned by it so I actually did not follow my own advice. I had no savings. I had no plan. I just was so passionate that I had to make a shift. I took a month off. I traveled. I wrote. I just kind of did everything to nourish my soul and then just after I had turned 24, I created my finance firm and then I began consulting for tech companies and that afforded me a very luxurious lifestyle. It all happened just in the blink of an eye.
JT: It sounds a little crazy because you are 23 and you’re doing sort of two things. You have a totally different path going to be a therapist and then you just totally changed direction into finance which is two very different things. Did you have any trepidations or were you worried about anything? Was it really weird going, because you went to school for that, right, and then you veered off into something else completely different?
NW: I was doing both. I feel very lucky. My parents are business owners. My grandparents were business owners. My mother, it was very important for her to educate us. On both sides of my family, they are in real estate and so my mom, she owned multiple houses and when I was 12 she had me balancing her checkbook and she had me reading contracts before she would buy a new home. I was very familiar with the business world and I just preferred therapy. But again, it was just emotionally. Emotionally I wasn’t mature enough to deal with clients’ issues and finance is really safe and I knew a lot about it and I enjoyed it. It’s kind of nice to be young and right about things.
JT: How did you take that? How did you start your own firm? At least you had a good core background is what it sounds like, but what did those first few months of starting your own firm look like?
NW: It was impossibly easy.
JT: What? Wait!
NW: I really believe that when things are right they just kind of manifest. I already had had a five-year background in accounting management. You learn to be very good at sells and selling yourself. I found a real estate client who needed financial advisement and I signed a contract with them. They wanted to pay me X amount and I had read, I had just finished reading Win Win Current Negotiation and I told them that what they wanted to pay me wasn’t enough. I told them that I wanted actually $25,000 more and because I had just read that book, I used all my tactics and they ended up giving me like a $25,000 bonus. It was pretty phenomenal.
JT: One book, all right, everyone is going to write down that book and go use it too. That’s awesome. Why did it seem so easy for you? Just because you had done it before, you were in sales; you knew how to get clients before?
NW: That’s a good question. I think experience and knowledge makes it easy and I think the more experience and talented we get perhaps the more self-doubt that we might have and so we kind of mentality prepare ourselves that we think it’s going to be harder but when it’s in alignment, when we really can back up what we think we can do, then I think it just comes together pretty naturally.
JT: Yes, I can hear the confidence. You’re like I asked for $25,000 more for one of my first clients, which is not exactly something that most people would go to when they’re nervous or scared or anything like that. That’s awesome. How big did you grow that and how long sort of tell us about the growth of that.
NW: Right Financials was absolutely amazing. It was an amazing company. I grew it 15 percent every single year and, at the best, at the most magnificent point, I actually took a year off to write a book and I had a private chauffeur and I had a private chef and I had a home in Santa Cruz and in San Francisco. My company had just really afforded me quite a luxurious lifestyle.
NW: That was fantastic.
JT: And you were in your mid 20s at that point? How old were you?
NW: I was! I was and it was so funny. When I went to Santa Cruz to write my book, I still was doing a little bit of consulting but, at that point, I had just amassed so much wealth that I didn’t really need to. I had worked for Ann Mitchell for five years and they were a tax office and I asked her if I could be her intern and I wanted to work for her for free and she laughed at me. She said, “Nicole, my firm has way too many clients and you’re not an intern. I’m going to go ahead and start sending you my overflow.” She started sending me all of her tax clients that she couldn’t handle because she had such esteem for me. She had more esteem for me, at that point, than I had had for myself.
JT: Tell me about and I don’t know if you’re okay with sharing numbers, but either how many employees you had in how many years, maybe revenue, if you’re okay with sharing that. What did the company look like that way, in numbers?
NW: I am definitely guilty of under billing myself for sure. Right Financials was just me doing consulting and I had a range. I billed clients anywhere between $12 to $120 an hour. In the San Francisco area, it is about normal to go ahead and invoice a client about $50 an hour and so I think the most I ever, I’ve had a few clients where I’ve charged $300 an hour, because they were really esteemed by expertise. I was still struggling with my own self worth and there was some clients that I just charged $12 an hour.
JT: Really? That’s good to hear. It’s not like oh I am great and I am new, I was worth $300 an hour right out of the gate. That’s really interesting. It’s funny; you did that, how long was Right Financials around for?
NW: I started that in 2006 and it is still going. Actually in 2010, 2011 and 2012 I’ve had to turn away a lot of clients because I just couldn’t handle the work. However, I’ve just accepted like six new clients and basically every single week people are actually scouting me out and contacting me and asking me to help them with their startups. I guess I am transitioning back to do more finance work.
JT: Interesting. Do you have other people working on that or is it just you?
NW: I do have one employee. I like to do a lot of the work myself. With Food Body ME, I don’t like to do the work myself. I like to outsource it. But with Right Financials, I get a lot of satisfaction from doing the work by myself.
JT: You did Right Financials and that was going; how did you transition into something new? It sounds like you really enjoy that. It gave you a great income. What made you change from that?
NW: I think it was just constant struggle for me with corporate politics. I just don’t think corporate politics are ethical. I have a lot of ethical issues with corporations in general. Historically, I have worked for companies that are socially helpful. There just seems that there is always problems at work and it was sort of similar when I was a therapist and my client’s families were crazier than my schizophrenic clients were and I just didn’t want it. I just didn’t believe that life needed to be that way. So while things might go really smooth at a corporation for a year, inevitably some kind of drama would come up and I just wanted to get out of that world.
In 2010, very disillusioned with corporate politics yet again and I took some time off. I was a consultant and I essentially told my boss that I was going to work from home for a month. Subconsciously that was my way of quitting although I was not in touch with myself, at that point. I bought a train ticket and I went around the country and I had already seen most of America but I really wanted to travel by train and I really wanted to see all the places that I hadn’t seen yet.
I had a lot of money and a lot of time and I just took off and I traveled and I explored and any city that was fascinating for me I stopped and hung out and made new friends. I went on retreat and then I came home and I was still working for this company. When you become a certain level, when you gain a certain level of expertise, it’s kind of amazing what people will put up with.
JT: They are like no we love you, it’s okay, we love you.
NW: I came home and I guess maybe being a therapist has always kind of taunted me. It has always kind of been something that I didn’t, I hadn’t followed through with, when I was younger and I thought that I maybe had more maturity to kind of deal with emotions, at that point. I went to the Hypnotherapy Training Institute, which world renowned. It’s the number one hypnotherapy graduate school in the country and I did an immersive five-week program and I earned three certificates. Three plus graduate certificates in hypnotherapy and I just, it was like night and day.
When I was working with finances I felt really amazing for helping companies succeed. Small businesses are really important to me but when I was working with people, like with their subconscious minds and just helping them heal themselves, it was just a completely different reward. I got so inspired that I decided to create Food Body ME and I actually created three companies within 30 days. It’s really intense.
JT: Tell me about that. First, this is 2010, what made you decide to do three companies in 30 days and what did that look like?
NW: I just, maybe I was a little overconfident. It was intense. It was intense. I generally have more energy than more people. I had already been doing finance for startups so I already had all the background and the knowledge. To me, it just seemed like a great idea. I definitely underestimated how much exhaustion that would bring to my life. But financially, it has been a really good move for me.
JT: Tell me about the three. How did you figure out what those three were? What you were going to move forward, if there was even a market for it, like what was that beginning time like for you for those three?
NW: It’s a great question. I had just gotten my three plus graduate certificates in hypnotherapy and so I started a hypnotherapy practice. That company is just my company. It’s like a gift I give to myself. I’m not really concerned about revenues for that company. It’s just something that nourishes my body and soul. I created a real estate company to help to provide rent for a space for other practitioners. A lot of practitioners just starting out can’t afford an office so they need to rent by the hour and they feel really overwhelmed and there is like a self-confidence issues.
I knew just a lot of therapists and so I wanted to create a space where they could rent a therapy office of $10 and come see their client. It just took a lot of the fear out of the equation. Then additionally my family was real estate business owners and it is a good market to be in. Food Body ME is a holistic lifestyle and I’ve just heard from so many people that you cannot be profitable while doing something that’s good for humanity and that’s not true. You can have a socially responsible company and maintain profitability.
I guess Food Body ME was kind of my way of giving back. Also, I was going to have, I had amassed so much wealth that I was going to have a very significant tax burden and when you ago ahead and put that money into a new company instead you kind of make it go away. It was a financial decision but also something that I can go to sleep at night feeling really amazing about what I am doing.
JT: Do you mind telling us like how much did you put into Food Body ME to get it started and why don’t you sort of tell us exactly what you do, right, what generates revenue in Food Body ME.
NW: Sure. Food Body ME is a lifestyle for the body and mind. It’s designed to run holistic health. The aspects of health are eating good food, detoxing, doing physical movement and also making sure that your mind is good with meditation. We provide celebrity chef cooking classes. We do juice cleanses. We do donation based yoga and also meditation. It’s kind of like the complete package for health. I started a company with $40,000 of my own cash and the very first month, in business, we did $60,000 in sales.
JT: Let’s talk about that!
NW: We did a million in sales the first year.
JT: Let’s get into that. You had $40,000 because you had this tax burden and you were like okay we are going to invest into a company and grow it. Of course it’s funny that you made more, but where did that $40,000 go? Do you remember? I know this was a couple years ago. Do you remember what exactly did you get?
NW: It was $40,000, a lot of it, like half of it went to the space, getting a space. It was very scary. It was the most money I have ever invested and it was my own. I had to take all the responsibility. About $20,000 went into the space. It was really scary. My space rent is $60,000 a year not to mention insurance and cleaning. I mean that’s the amount of money that some people’s salaries are and that’s the amount of money that I am paying for my company. It’s a big commitment.
JT: It does seem like it. How did you justify that? Did you do a lot of research beforehand to know that hey this is good I’m going to make more than this definitely?
NW: No. I am very intuitive when I make business decisions and I kind of just go with my gut and it has really paid off for me.
JT: Okay, awesome. So what did you do? So $20,000 went to the space. Let me know what the other $20,000 went for and how you grew that big in one month.
NW: The other $20,000 just went to salaries and operational expenses.
JT: How did you get $60,000? Did any of it go into marketing or did you just open the doors and people just flooded in?
NW: Yes, 30 percent did go to marketing. Our company is based on pre-sales. We pre-sale our product before we provide the service and we did online marketing. We started with a Living Social deal and so we got 497 clients within 24 hours of opening our doors. Since that is all pre-sales, we basically just schedule them over the next upcoming months that we could get them in the door and take care of them.
JT: What did you have for products and services, when you first launched?
NW: It was just celebrity cooking classes. We are the only Bay Area, there is a lot of cooking classes and actually with all of the cooking television reality shows on TV, there is tons of small businesses doing cooking classes in the Bay Area. We’re the only one who does it with celebrity chefs. It’s like a novelty. I get to hang out with celebrities every week and clients want to do it too. Like, you know, their heroes they see on TV, they can actually come and cook directly with them.
JT: I have to ask – how did you get them? How did you get to have them be part of, especially if you didn’t have any, did you have any contacts with anyone beforehand?
NW: I guess I just did it. I just posted ads for celebrity chefs. I got most of them through Craigslist. I think that when you work with people you get to know who is a con artist and who isn’t. When you see video submissions, when you are hiring, you can kind of tell who has clout and who doesn’t. Also, when somebody gets to a certain affluent status, it’s really easy to check out their background online. The Bay Area has just got a lot of experts and a lot of famous people and so it was actually extremely easy to get chefs that had clout as celebrity.
JT: How do you define a celebrity chef? Who did they have to work for, like that sort of thing? How do you define that?
NW: A celebrity chef who has worked with celebrities. My current chefs, I’ve got Larry, my top two chefs are Larry Keck. Larry Keck is a premier chef actually nationally. He just won some award. The judges voted him the best chef in America. Then we also have John Chacon and John Chacon you can see him on the red carpet. He has his own restaurant in Fremont. Basically Larry Keck and John Chacon, they are world renowned chefs. They are pretty amazing.
JT: How do you get them? Do you just have to pay them more money? If they already have so many things going on, what made them say yes to you?
NW: My personality.
JT: They just love me.
NW: No, really. It really is a personality equation. They know that we are a startup so the finances are very tight. The budget is strict. I just exude so much passion and love for what I am doing and I guess they respect me, which feels a little weird. I respect them so much but I guess they respect me too. They are really good guys. They really will do a lot for me. I am really impressed with them.
JT: Really impressive. You post on Craigslist something like I am looking for celebrity chefs, we don’t have a lot of money and you got a ton of responses from that too.
JT: Really impressive. After your first month you grew to a million in a year. Take me through what happened in that growth.
NW: That’s a great question – 20-hour days. We went to 30 team members, creating operational manuals, just basically creating systems for every aspect of the company so it can be replicated very easily. It was really intense. It is a lot of work. My background is in startups and at the end of our first year, we were where most companies are at in year three and that basically happened just because I essentially didn’t sleep for a year. I just worked and worked and worked and worked.
JT: Tell me what didn’t go well. It’s funny. I am hearing you and you’re like oh the first company was easy, this company everybody just said yes and it was amazing and wonderful and I know that it all couldn’t have been amazing and wonderful, right. I’d love to hear from you specifically like what didn’t go well? What obstacles did you have to push through in order to get where you are today?
NW: That’s a great question. Food Body ME was extremely difficult. Working obsessively put a great strain on my health. We had a number of setbacks. The very first chef that I hired was a world renowned celebrity and I had met him at graduate school and he ended up being a con artist and he asked me to pay salary in advance and I was like we went to graduate school together, he is a therapist, I trust him and he ended up taking his check and then disappearing. I had to really scramble to find a new chef and the money that I had had, I had enough money to float the company for a year and all of a sudden we were in a huge deficit like right off the bat.
That was probably the biggest challenge. The other things is, I’m really interested in alternative diets and coming from Santa Cruz I had been a vegetarian and vegan and raw vegan was a huge movement in San Francisco and I became a raw vegan. Raw vegan is an extremely dangerous diet and I got extremely sick and I almost died. I had to go to a lot of specialists. I had to start eating meat and dairy again. When you’re coming from a vegan perspective it was a huge psychological switch for me. It took me two years to heal because the raw vegan had just devastated my body so much. I had less capacity for my startup because I was just dealing with some pretty severe health issues.
JT: That’s really interesting. I am assuming you don’t recommend, especially since you are dealing with health and everything, how long were you doing the raw vegan before?
NW: I did it for six months and I almost died within six months. It was very, very serious.
JT: That’s insane. Good that you can teach other people considering the type of company that you have. You can teach other people probably not to do it, if it didn’t work out so well for you. What did you do from there? You’re working 20 something hours a day; actually, let me ask you this. How productive were those 20 hours a day? We hear people working this much all the time. How productive were they?
NW: That’s a great question. One of the last companies I consulted for, Right Financial, was Joby Energy and Joby Energy is just an amazing idea. It was basically a technology startup which wanted to make green sustainable energy. They hired like literally the 50 smartest people in the world. It was extremely, like people that were NASA ranked. It was extremely intimidating working for them. It was just like was I good enough to even be there. John Green was one of the consultants and he talked about production. Essentially if you go from 8 to 12 hours then you actually increase productivity but from 12 to 16 the additional four hours nothing gets done.
Just like the brain shuts down. For me, I guess I just have a different style. If I feel like I need to take a break, I’ll take a break. But, for me, if I am not creating something efficiently, then I’ll stop working but sometimes there’s a lot of like neurolinguistic programming tricks and techniques. I would go into like a program in my brain and then I can work up to 20 hours and be extremely effective and efficient but if that efficiency drops at all then I’ll just take a break to reset. I think that that’s a rare talent. I think you have to read a lot of business books and do neurolinguistic programming to achieve that kind of state, but it’s definitely possible for sure.
JT: Wow, okay. Maybe everybody is going to be like maybe I should be paying attention to this. If I can make my actual hours be that productive, that’s a little insane. Every brain sort of gets, like you said, to a point where we can only do so much and it is not as productive as we were before. Give me some, because you worked with a lot of startups, like you said before, so give me, if you were to go into a new startup, because there is people that listen to this that either are just starting a business but isn’t necessarily quantified as a startup, they are not looking for funding or anything like that, but they really want to know what the best information is when they first start. What would you do with a client like step one, step two, step three to try and get their financials and get them on track to really win.
NW: That’s a great question. It starts with money for sure. There is a lot of people that believe that when you are a startup it’s okay to overspend. I am not a believer in overspending. I believe that you need to set a budget. You need to set a budget that is less than the cash you have and just stick with it. I am a huge believer that you need to make your money work for you, that you don’t spend money unless you have it. That’s the way that I treated all of my companies.
There is a philosophy that you can’t be profitable until you’re 5 or 6, but I was profitable my first year and it was because I spent less money than was in my budget. I think getting your numbers down is great. Preparing for taxes knowing what are tax write offs and what aren’t and spending your money in that way so you can have low tax liability is pretty crucial as well.
JT: Is there any examples or anything like that that you have, that you could share with us of what this company did and how it helped or how you saw them grow or anything like that based on the information?
NW: Let’s se. Planning is crucial. I have this amazing workbook. It’s about power play creating your year. This workbook is, the tools in it are what every successful company does but less than one percent of businesses actually apply this. It is really just startup business money, we’re all energy. We are all an exchange of energy, money and business is the exact same thing. So really clearly defining your goals and actually issue action outcome, taking steps to go ahead and achieve that and holding yourself accountable is really crucial and mapping it all out in explicit detail. Companies who map it out and who set goals that will achieve their end goal weekly and hold themselves accountable, like they are really, really set up to make it happen.
JT: Is that pretty much what you did when you would go and you would just help set goals monetarily and that sort of that, when you went to try and help someone out?
NW: Yes. I do. It’s so funny, I have a new client and I think in my early 20s my consulting was definitely more financed based and now in my 30s it’s more energetic based. I do a lot of psychology with companies. People have associations with money and most of the time they are not healthy and there’s a lot of fear stuff, a lot of programming from childhood and from families like thinking that you can’t have it and you really have to break that up. Money is kind of a dirty word. When I consult with clients, I do a lot of neurolinguistic programming to have them reframe it and we talk about money like it’s an energy, just like it’s an exercise or anything else.
How we usually talk about it is we find out what it means. The word money, psychologically what it means for me is freedom. When I do consulting for my clients, what does money mean to them? Does it mean vacation? Does it mean house? Does it mean luxury? We replace, we find out what that word is for them that’s motivating and then we don’t talk about money anymore. We talk about that word and that is a really easy transition for them to get on track and actually start following their goals that they have for themselves.
JT: Interesting. So you get more psychological even though it’s a startup because it’s still a person. I always say that. I think it’s funny because you’re coaching a person. For me, you’re coaching a person. Yes they have a business but it’s them and their blocks can really hold them back and that’s what it sounds like. What are sort of some of the most common blocks that you hear around money?
NW: You know, I think that it’s so subconscious that a lot of it is intuitive. I think a lot of people don’t even acknowledge it themselves and can’t even access that information because it is so deeply ingrained. It’s just more of just a general sense that money is dirty and that people that have money are bad. I mean you can reprogram the person with therapy or neurolinguistic programming, but most people don’t want to be reprogrammed. They want to believe that they are right so you have to find a substitution. You have to find out what money really means for a person.
JT: Really interesting, awesome. I know we have to get wrapping up in just a second. The last question that I always ask for everyone, everybody that is listening always hears this all the time; what’s one action that listeners can take this week to help move them forward towards their goal of a million?
NW: What I would love is I was mentioning the 2013 workbook. Any of your readers who email me or go to my website, I would like to provide it for free to them. They can go ahead and download that eBook and really create a financial plan for themselves and just go ahead and follow the exercises in that book so they can get set up for 2013.
JT: Awesome. That’s actually the next step was to sort of tell us like where we can find you online and that sort of thing. Can you give out your email address so that way everybody has it? I know this is both audio and video, they may not be at the site.
NW: Yes, for the workbook they should email [email protected] and then online through FoodBodyME.com. I’m Wrightfinancials.com and lifehypnotherapy.com and I’m wellness264.com. I additionally published a nutrition book this week. That’s a really fantastic way to be able to get healthy and jumpstart 2013. I’ve go two books out. I’ve got the financial work to get your finances on track and then the nutrition book to get your health on track.
JT: Everything. You encompass everything. Finances and health and everything, that’s awesome. Thank you so much for coming on the show today, Nicole. We’ll definitely link those up in the show notes so everyone can check that out. Have a great day.
NW: Great, thanks, Jaime.
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