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How to Grow Your Audience with Integrity: Interview with Jennifer Lee

by Tara Gentile
money & life

ppp_jenniferlee

Today, I want to share with you a conversation I recently had on the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast.

Tara: Hey everyone, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit. I’m Tara Gentile, your host, and together with CreativeLive, we explore the unique strategies that creative entrepreneurs use to take control of their lives, profit from their passions, and pursue what’s truly important to them.

On today’s episode, I’ll talk to Jennifer Lee, author of The Right-Brain Business Plan and Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way. She helps creative people who cringe at the thought of writing a business plan find creative ways to turn their dreams into a moola-making enterprise. Before starting her own business, Jennifer was a consultant for Fortune 500 companies like GAP, Inc., Accenture, and HP. Jennifer and I talked about her current right-brain business plan, and how it’s helping her to evolve her business, why she decided to retire her successful Right-Brainers in Business video summit, and how she manages her time as a creative business owner.

Jennifer Lee, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit. Thank you so much for joining me.

Jennifer: Oh, I’m so excited to be here. Thanks for having me.

Tara: Absolutely. So the story of how you created The Right-Brain Business Plan is pretty well-documented at this point, so I’d love to start off by finding out what your right-brain business plan looks like right now.

Jennifer: Ooh, the latest one. Let me get it off my shelf. It’s right over here by the computer.

Tara: Okay, great.

Jennifer: This is, I think, my fourth one that I’ve done. No, wait, one, two, three, four, it’s the fifth one.

Tara: Whoa.

Jennifer: Since 2007, so this one I actually did in 2014, I believe. I think so. It’s changed in flavor, actually. The last one I did, no, that was in 2013. The last one I did was very much like big energy, getting myself out there in a big way. Had like microphone and the stage and all this kind of cool stuff, and since then, I’ve been looking at more sustainability and, you know, focusing on ease and having sustainable growth over time, so this new plan, this is actually from 2015, the first panel is reset your health, beginner’s mind, kick back and relax, resolve to make life easier, and it’s a woman who’s meditating. And then when I … the next set of panels is about I really was craving having like my own space to do creative work, because I had been so focused on really growing the business and kind of lost sight of my own creative process, so I had created this collage about wanting my own space, and within the next month, I got keys to a studio.

Tara: Wow.

Jennifer: So that was pretty amazing. And then the last few panels are about team and infrastructure and having things be more streamlined and easy. There’s a picture of this woman dancing with two dogs and there’s money everywhere, and it’s love running your business, so this idea of bringing fun back into the business and having things run smoothly operationally so that I can then focus more on, you know, doing the stuff that I really love, because when the business grows, as you know, Tara, it’s like then things get more complex, and there’s all sorts of other considerations to be thinking of, and so really getting a handle on that so I could focus back on my own creative process, and really serving people in the way that I love to serve, and there’s this other quote here that says, “Do small things with great love,” and that’s really helping me, you know, to be thinking about what is it that I’m offering and how can I do it with love.

Tara: I love that. Thank you for sharing that. Do you … do you redo your plan about every two years it sounds like?

Jennifer: Yeah, it actually, I don’t, like, have it on my calendar that okay, it’s, you know, the second year and I need to redo one, it just organically has been like that, so my first one was in 2007, and then it was 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, so I do them based on, like when I look at the plan, does it still feel like I’m working on it, or like if I look at it and go, yeah, I actually feel complete with that, or maybe some things have transformed into new desires or new visions, different than what I had initially planned, or sometimes those things have manifested in different ways, and like, oh, well, yeah, that counts, you know, and I can check that off. So it’s really paying attention to how do I feel when I look at it, and is it still ringing true, or you know, does it feel done, is there more? So yeah, for some reason, it happens about every two years where I feel complete and ready to move on.

Tara: Love it. And how … how close to completion on your current plan do you feel like you are? Are you still working on building it up or are you getting ready to kind of close … not close it down, but kind of wrap it up and move onto the next thing?

Jennifer: I am still working this baby.

Tara: Yeah?

Jennifer: Yeah. I think there’s, you know, still more to learn about bringing more ease into the work, and then, you know, the studio space last year was really about me having that time for myself, so I didn’t actually host anything there for that whole year. Didn’t geotag anything. You know, it was the place for me to go to really connect back with myself, and that was really important for me. So what’s on this plan right now, though, is stuff around, you know, connection, partners in craft, delightful, neighborhood, open studio, and there’s like a classroom. So there is a part of like bringing more people into this space, whether that be … I did a retreat with some of my mentorship folks in January, and that was really awesome, and that was kind of the way that I christened the space with actual people, you know, besides me, and I definitely want to see more of that this year, because that part of the plan has not really … that’s not brought to life in its fullest quite yet.

Tara: Awesome. So can you give us kind of a rundown of all the different ways that your business is currently generating revenue?

Jennifer: Sure. My different multiple moola making methods, as I like to say?

Tara: Yeah.

Jennifer: Because I like alliteration. Let’s see. There are different ecourses that I provide. There’s the Right-Brain Business Plan ecourse, which is kind of the initial offering of helping people work through their own right-brain business plan, and we offer that as a facilitated course which is eight weeks, or a home study if people want to take it and we’re not, you know, running it live. We also have a product development ecourse/home study, so that’s also offered once a year facilitated, or you know, any time via home study, and that’s a six-week program. We have our mentorship program, which is a ten-month intensive kind of group coaching program, and that has three different levels. So there’s the cohort circle level that has kind of the group coaching aspect. There’s coaching calls, teaching calls, online coaching through our private group, all that kind of good stuff. And then there’s other levels with getting coaching with me and with my associate coaches and masterminds and in-person stuff. So there’s, you know, the different ways to get support through the mentorship program.

I also have a licensing program for the Right-Brain Business Plan. So for folks who love teaching workshops, who are coaches, who like the Right-Brain Business Plan, they can become a licensed facilitator and lead in-person workshops in their area. So we have, I can’t remember the latest count, maybe about 40 or 50 facilitators worldwide who lead workshops using the Right-Brain Business Plan. And then I also have a licensing program from my products that are focused on life vision using kind of creative approaches. So that’s Unfolding Your Life Vision, and I also have a kit called the Dream Box Kit, and both of those kind of take you through a creative process of planning your vision for your life, your goals, looking at different aspects of what creates a fulfilling life, and so folks can become licensed facilitators for those programs and lead in-person workshops using that fun, visual technique for doing life visioning.

Tara: Love it. You were one of the first people that I saw that had a licensing model, and I was very inspired by that licensing model, so that is awesome. And did you mention your books?

Jennifer: So yes, I have two books. The Right-Brain Business Plan, which came out in 2011, and Building Your Business The Right-Brain Way, which came out in 2014, and the second book is a lot of what we cover in the mentorship program, so it’s like The Right-Brain Business Plan book, there’s The Right-Brain Business Plan course that kind of helps you dive into it more deeply and get actual support through it, and then Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way is this idea of, okay, now you know what your business is and you’re wanting to grow it, what are the other things that you need to do, to have in place, you know, how do you really package your offers, and you know, sell in a way that’s authentic and build your team and kind of all that stuff that helps you expand your enterprise.

Tara: Got you. So this is … this is really interesting to me, because I know I get a lot of questions from clients about the relationship between free work and paid work, or in this case, you know, a very low, low ticket offer, which is a book, versus a much higher ticket offer, which is a course or a program.

Jennifer: Right.

Tara: Can you talk about how you wrap your head around, you know, giving, technically, I guess, giving it away for free or for very little versus asking people to pay a whole lot more. How do you wrap your head around that? How do you approach that in terms of the content that you create and the experience that you’re creating?
Jennifer: Right. And I think it’s kind of funny how you had to remind my books, because your question was about the money making thing, so that’s probably why I didn’t include those. Just like you’re saying. So in terms of wrapping my head around it, yeah, I mean, certainly, a book that’s $20 is, you know, a lot more affordable than, you know, a $200 course or, you know, a program that somebody’s going to invest thousands of dollars in.

So for me, the way I look at it is the free part is really helping people to, you know, get information they need to just get started, get their feet wet, start to realize that, oh, you know, I can do this. Like I love hearing from people, you know, if they tag me on a picture on Instagram, like, “I’m working on my Right-Brain Business Plan,” like, “I didn’t realize this could be fun.” And just opening up that doorway to a whole new way of looking at work, and then, you know, some people, like I’ve heard from them via email that they’ve just read the book, and then they wrote a business plan and actually, you know, got funding for their non-profit, or you know, got grants, all that kind of stuff. So it’s like people can do it on their own, and that’s awesome. Like I love hearing that.

And then there’s some folks who just really want to have like the hand-holding or to be in community with other people so they don’t feel so isolated, and that way, they can move more quickly through their goals, or you know, get more progress, get feedback, and that’s where having the opportunities to invest more in yourself and in your business through these programs can really help accelerate your progress, and so I think it’s great for, you know, people who are wanting to build an audience to have ways to connect on a free level. I mean, one of the things that I didn’t mention in terms of money-making methods for myself was I, for five years, ran a video summit that was free for people watching live and to have replays and then I sold passes to it to get recordings, and even just doing the free parts, like I made so many connections that I have even to this day, you know, from five years ago of people who really were impacted by that experience and were so grateful to, you know, have it not have to pay for it, but still get tremendous value, and you know, they’re still really great fans of my work and have, you know, maybe went onto my books or be part of my courses, so it’s kind of that longer term view as well, in terms of building relationships and adding value.

Tara: Yeah, that’s a great point. And so it sounds like, you know, the core value proposition for these things, you know, the book versus the course might be exactly the same, but there’s additional value in the experience that you’ve created, and that opens you up to a different type of market as well. Do you find that more of your customers for your courses have purchased the book and are looking for more? Or do you find that more of them come to you kind of without that previous experience in your work?

Jennifer: It’s a mix of both.

Tara: Okay.

Jennifer: It really is. Yeah. Some people who, you know, have the book and just, you know, want to have a place to work on it with other people, and then some folks are like, you know, I just heard of this, and then they have … for the Right-Brain Business Plan course, they do need the book to go through it, so you know, they get the book through us or through Amazon. I think, you know, a lot of times, they’ll hear about it from a friend or something like that, and like oh, I think, you know, this is something you should try.

Listen to the full interview with Jennifer Lee on Profit Power Pursuit today.

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Tara Gentile

Tara Gentile is a creativeLIVE instructor, business strategist, and the creator of the Customer Perspective Process.