Dr. Minette Riordan is an award-winning author and coach who is passionate about helping women entrepreneurs get unstuck in their businesses and actually create a plan to make a business that works. In the interview we talked to Minette about her transition, too, because she started one business and kind of got to the point where it outgrew her in a way or it became a bigger business than she wanted to manage. So then she started another that was more in line with her passions of the moment. But it was very clear through the interview that she wouldn’t have been able to do the second business without the experience of doing the first. Also, she gives some amazing hints and tips about how to bring your passion that’s just kind of out there down into something concrete and how to give it form so that you can create something that will work for you.
Jasper: Absolutely. I think just listening to her story will really give people a lot of insight into how they should approach being in business for themselves. It’s a great interview.
Meredith: Minette, you are known for helping people create a vision for their passion – a plan – and you go into both business and lifestyle. This is sort of a new business for you. Tell me how you got to where you are now.
Dr. Riordan: It’s funny, because I know so many of us have stories of being serial entrepreneurs. And to just give a little bit of the background, I have a doctorate from Stanford University in 19th and 20th century Latin American poetry.
Meredith: My Bachelor’s is in French literature, so I totally understand.
Dr. Riordan: That’s so funny! I totally relate. I thought I was going to be a college professor and follow that route, but life always takes you on unexpected journeys and through unexpected diversions. I ended up teaching at a private high school right out of grad school, and I loved that population. It was a private high school for troubled teens. I really grew up a lot, and then my husband and I decided we were ready to have kiddos. I thought, “Okay, this is great. He’s making lots of money. I’ll be able to stay home for a while.” And by the time my kids got to be three and one I was so done staying home. I love my children. They are the source of all of my joy. And my husband, as well. You can’t exclude him from the picture.
But I was bored to tears, Meredith. I was not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom.
I had no experience as a business owner at all. I was just gutsy and started looking around. And I found that a friend of mine in Boulder, Colorado, had a publication called “Boulder County Kids”. And I thought, “Oh, that’s perfect. I love writing. I love everything to do with a magazine. It can’t be that hard to do.” As luck would have it, she gifted me the concept. I tried to purchase a license or a franchise and she was, like, “Oh, I’ll just give it to you.” And I’m, like, “Okay, that’s got to be a great sign.”
So I dove right into starting “Collin County Kids”, as it was called at the time. And I followed her model as a quarterly publication. It was really great when my kids were little. I’d work really hard for about a month, then not so hard for a couple of months. And I’d have time in between to take the kids to visit grandparents or do other kinds of fun things.
Then the business started to really take on a life of its own. It started to grow pretty quickly. It grew from this small, quarterly newspaper to a monthly magazine with a circulation of 50,000 copies all over the metroplex. It became “North Texas Kids” and went far beyond the county – and far beyond the vision of what I had planned. My biggest challenge was that I didn’t really know where it was going. I didn’t sit down at the very beginning and say, “Hey, I’m going to build this magazine because I want to create this legacy and I want to do this for the rest of my life.” I just thought, “Oh, this will be cool and this will be fun.” It did well, and it brought me incredible success and so many opportunities.
One of the most fun parts of being in the magazine industry if you have children is you get lots of free tickets to stuff. So we went to the circus every year and my kids got to see all kinds of concerts. We had front row seats at a Cirque du Soleil program. So there were a lot of added benefits. But it was also very, very intense. It took a lot of hours, a lot of time. Very deadline-driven.
But after eight years of being in print we had the global financial crisis. About 30% percent of my clients went out of business and were just gone. These were just small businesses, little family-owned businesses that had been open for years and years, some of them. Some of them were new and just couldn’t weather the challenge. And some of them got really fearful about spending any money. So I had to change my business model. I converted the magazine from print to basically a website in online magazine format.
Through all of that changing and growing, it sort of coincided with my kids getting older. My husband and I, having been married 10/15 years, started really looking at our life and our lifestyle in Plano, Texas, where we had been living, and saying, “You know what? None of this is working. We’re really complacent. We’re not really creating the lifestyle we want.” We wanted to be outside way more than we had the opportunity.
So I ended up selling the website to a woman who was working with me at the time. It’s been two and a half years now. She’s still running it and it’s going strong, so I did end up creating that legacy without really a lot of intention or focus or planning. But what I managed to learn from all of that was what my strengths and talents were, what my weaknesses were, and what I really wanted to do with my life. And I’d been doing it for free, Meredith, as so many of us do, for a decade.
Dr. Riordan: What I really wanted to do was help small business owners understand how to build and make money from their businesses through effective marketing, and coaching women to create their dreams and really build these lifestyle businesses that support all of who they are. And so I moved to Santa Barbara, California, which I swear is paradise. I am so absolutely delighted every single day to be here. I took a lovely beach walk a couple of mornings ago and had a super fun encounter with dolphins leaping and playing in the water right off the beach in front of me.
It’s a long, arduous journey getting here… and it’s been worth every step along the way.
Meredith: Right, because you couldn’t be doing what you’re doing now without having the experiences that you had, because you really need to get to know all of those small business owners to be able to teach them anything.
Dr. Riordan: Yes. I had to learn marketing myself from the inside-out. I had to do it for myself, you know? The piece of the business that I was most successful at was building an audience. Getting it in front of people. Connecting with people through networking and speaking – you know, so many of the great strategies that we all employ to grow our businesses and the one-on-one conversations with people. I had to learn all of that first before I could turn around and say, “Hey, look, I know this works if you’re willing to give it a try.”
Meredith: Especially with the kind of publication you had, right? So many of those businesses aren’t just your standard cut-and-dry “Oh, I want to be a life-coach” kind of businesses. They’re all different. I mean, people have all sorts of passions and things that they’re interested in, and a lot of that you see in kids-type magazines.
Dr. Riordan: Actually, most of them were… I would say 90% of them were brick-and-mortar retail businesses, like dance schools and gymnastics programs, who were really struggling to understand how to get to parents and get kids in their programs. So, yes, I learned a lot about the family market.
Meredith: And there’s more to it than just being really good at what you do: “Oh, I’ve been a ballerina since I was three. I’m going open a dance studio!”
Dr. Riordan: Yes, it’s the classic Michael Gerber e-myth, you know? That people are technicians in their business; they’re not really working on their business. And it’s understanding what we’re really good at and then also understanding where we need help and being willing to invest in creating a perfect team. Like you and Jasper have done so well in order to make sure that you’re getting the support you need, because you can’t do it all. You can’t do it all. Just because you’re a great ballerina doesn’t also make you a great teacher.
The digital edition of my Minette’s new book “The Artful Marketer: A Fundamental Business Guide for Creative Entrepreneurs” has just launched on Kindle. She would love for you to download the book today, it’s free! At the back of the eBook, Amazon provides a link for you to rate the book and provide a review.
Here is the link to download your free copy: http://bit.ly/artful-marketer
Favorite Book: The Big Leap by Gary Hendricks; The Right Brain Business Plan by Jennifer Lee
Want to get a free audiobook version of the book recommended by this week’s guest? Click here to download it.
Guest: Minette Riordan, Ph.D. – www.minetteriordan.com
Dr. Minette Riordan is an award-winning entrepreneur, author and coach who is passionate about helping women entrepreneurs create freedom, flexibility and financial independence. Minette built a successful 6-figure multi-media publishing company in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, growing a small quarterly newspaper to a monthly magazine that distributed 50,000 copies per month. After 12 years, she sold that business and relocated to Santa Barbara, California with her husband and two teens. Minette is co-author of the book From Fizzle to Sizzle: 4 Crucial Tools for Relationship Repair. She is an expert in branding and marketing strategy and a popular public speaker. When she isn’t working, she loves to make art, cook, and take long walks on the beach.
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