To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re thrilled to share stories of three inspiring female entrepreneurs in the Keap community. They are:
CJ Smith, owner of Revenue Boss (formerly We Scale), a revenue operations agency that equips solopreneurs and small businesses with the strategy and tools to break the six figure ceiling.
Jillian Kendrick, owner of Informed Marketing Solutions. She started her business 13 years ago as a virtual assistant and grew it into a multiple-six-figure marketing agency.
Lindsey Ardmore, a Keap Certified Partner, business strategist, and owner of Star Tower Systems, a boutique agency that helps entrepreneurs grow their small businesses through automation.
We asked them to share what inspired them to grow their businesses, and what advice they have for others who want to follow in their footsteps.
Q: What motivated you to start your small business?
For CJ, the entrepreneurial fire was sparked in childhood as she watched her father, Rodney Smith, grow his own successful small business for over 25 years, Riley Landscaping in San Diego, CA.
“Watching him in the early stages of building his business, the freedom he was able to create, the flexibility he had, and most importantly, the impact he had — especially in terms of job creation — really helped light that fire and it just continued to grow over the years,” said CJ.
For Jillian, the inspiration came from wanting more control over her work and what she could achieve. “I was working as a virtual assistant for a number of years, and every time I would give feedback that I thought was the right thing, sometimes it would be received and other times it wasn't,” said Jillian. “I wanted to do things the way that I saw as the best practices and the most efficient way to do things. Like a lot of entrepreneurs, I set out to make my mark on the world and to use my voice for the things that were important to me.”
Lindsey’s motivation came when her first baby was born. “I couldn't imagine going back to work after having her, so I decided to start a business,” recalls Lindsey. “I remember thinking, ‘I only have to make $500, then I can make sure that we're not kicked out of our home and we’ll have what we need.’ Well, within that first eight months of business I made $200,000.”
Q: What motivates you to keep going in your business?
“Obviously, money!” Jillian said. “We all like money hopefully. But there’s so much freedom in owning your own business when you get to a certain level. Like right now, I run a multiple six-figure marketing agency, and our nanny was sick this week, and it was no big deal for me to take the entire week off to be with our son. That is just incredible, that is worth so much more than just money. It’s the freedom to do what I need to do and support my family as well as my business and the contractors who work for us. … Money is pretty nice though. Just sayin.”
Q: What’s the most powerful lesson you’ve learned as a small business entrepreneur?
For Jillian, the most powerful lesson she’s learned as an entrepreneur is ‘This too shall pass.’
“You think you're down at the dumps, you think you've ruined everything? This too shall pass. You think, ‘Oh, this is never going to work.’ ‘Oh, I have nothing to say.’ ‘I don't know what I'm doing.’ This too shall pass. Think everything is amazing? Think you're on top of the world and that you know everything? This too shall pass.”
“It really comes down to what Keap stands for,” Jillian continues, “which is grit and tenacity. When you're going through something tough, just keep going. When you're going through great times, keep learning, keep growing. That has been the absolute greatest lesson that I've learned as an entrepreneur.”
Lindsey echoed this sentiment. “The biggest lesson I learned is about resilience. Resilience is the act of coming back. So when you are down or you're struggling or whatever, as an entrepreneur, I have learned to really grow my resilience and my comeback. Every single time I feel like I'm down and out, I am not. It feels great to just wake up and start again every single day. And that's not a normal human trait. It's like something that you have to cultivate. And for me, it has been so, so, so huge in my journey, especially over the past seven years of growing a seven-figure business.”
CJ’s greatest lesson is around knowing what to focus on, when. “There is always something to do. But it is not about just doing things, it’s about doing the right things for the stage and season of business you’re in right now. And what’s right for you may be different than what’s right for someone else, so it’s important to make sure that you are creating strategies and plans that align with the stage and season of business you are in and where you're trying to go. When you make the shift, when you get very intentional, very hyper focused, you will see growth.”
Q: What advice would you share with other women who are interested in starting their own small businesses?
For Jillian, the first step begins before you even formulate your small business plan. “Before you start your business, write down: What are your non-negotiables? Because your business should — maybe not right away, but at some point — it should serve your lifestyle. It should serve who you want to be. It should serve who you want to become. It should serve your family. It should serve you, whether it's time, money, freedom, whatever that looks like for you. Write down your non-negotiables now, because if you don't, I promise you somebody else, (a client, wink wink,) will come along and tell you what your non-negotiables are going to be — or what they believe your non-negotiables should be.
“So take a few minutes and sit down. Do you want to take off Fridays? Do you only want to work a couple of days a week? Whatever that lifestyle looks like to you and however your business can serve your future in your family, write those things down and work towards them every single day, every month, every quarter,” Jillian explains. “It's a lot easier to say no when you know what your boundaries are ahead of time. Stick to them so that you can have a business that serves your lifestyle and your family and your future.”
Lindsey encourages women to just get started. ”Just do it! Just go for it! Time's a-wasting, let's get moving. You deserve more, you deserve better. You deserve to have the lifestyle that you want. And honestly, working behind a desk for somebody else is not gonna achieve that for you. Just start going, because if you don't, you're gonna overthink it and perfectionism is gonna come in.”
CJ also encourages women to listen to that inner voice and get started. “If you have that fire, you know that deep desire to do something really big, to make a lot of noise while you're here, to have a huge impact — you know that entrepreneurial fire — then my advice to you would be to lean in. Here's one thing I know about us women: We are resourceful. There is nothing that we cannot do. When we put our mind to it, there is no stopping us. So if you have that fire, if you've been sitting on it — you know, the fire that gets you up early and keeps you up late — I want you to lean into it and trust that you will figure it out along the way.”
Keep going, keep serving, keep growing
Small business entrepreneurship is just one of the many ways women have made great contributions to our communities. We hope CJ, Jillian, and Lindsey’s stories have inspired you to keep going, keep serving and keep growing — in your small business or wherever you feel called to make an impact.
Want to hear more advice? Check out our recent posts featuring CJ, Jillian and Lindsey on Keap’s Instagram, and follow for more small business inspiration.
Learn more about how Keap supports entrepreneurs of all genders and backgrounds in growing their businesses. Keap provides small business CRM and marketing automation software for entrepreneurs ready to grow their small businesses beyond the startup phase and into the freedom stage.