241 Michele Williams: Profit First

Michele Williams is a certified “Profit First” professional who helps creative business owners and entrepreneurs focus on the financial health and profitability of their companies. Through her consulting agency, Scarlet Thread Consulting, she helps entrepreneurs assure profitability from the beginning. She shares her advice and entrepreneurial journey

Melinda Wittstock:         Michele, welcome to Wings.

Michele Williams:           Hi Melinda. Thanks for having me.

Melinda Wittstock:         It’s great to have you on. I’m so intrigued by the concept of ownership. Now as business owners, that’s kind of a no-brainer, right?

Michele Williams:           Right.

Melinda Wittstock:         And yet all so often, we don’t necessarily stand up and take ownership of everything in our businesses. How does that manifest for you? What you see with the clients that you work with, as you’re helping them to really succeed as entrepreneurs?

Michele Williams:           Great question. I will tell you that the clients that I work with primarily are very creative in nature. They are designers, interior designers, fabric designers, all types of design, so very, very right brain creative. I say that because I think what causes the difficulty in the area that I serve primarily, is that many of them would call themselves an accidental business. So they kind of accidentally fall into business because they’ve done something, other people have commented on it and said, oh will you become a business and I’ll pay you and now they do it full time. Not to say they weren’t educated in it, many of them certainly were, but they’re doing a business out of a passion.

So what happens is, yes they own the business as far as setting up corporation papers and all of that which you mentioned, just like they own it, but they don’t understand all, maybe the different aspects of the business. Especially if they are a micro-business, right? So they’re wearing multiple hats and they try to own pieces of it, but they never really own the whole thing ’cause they don’t know it all and they can’t understand it all. They are so caught up, if you think about [inaudible 00:11:55], they’re so caught up in the doing that they can’t think bigger picture. Then when their business grows and scales and they hand it off, quite often they think they’re handing off all of it, instead of retaining kind of the oversight of the company, or the ability to look into it.

Then I see some that think that there’s a certain area of the company that maybe they don’t have expertise and they don’t really want to own it. Because if they own it, it means they kind of roll up their sleeves and dig in and do work that maybe they just don’t want to do.

Melinda Wittstock:         It’s interesting because there are a lot of business doers out there as opposed to business owners and I joke on this podcast all the time that all too often women confuse having it all with doing it all.

Michele Williams:           Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         And ownership isn’t necessarily in the doing, it’s in the taking of responsibility.

Michele Williams:           Exactly. It’s being able to say at the end of the day, I own the outcome, I own the decisions, even if I wasn’t the one who made them, right? It really comes with either being the one who does the work, or employing, hiring, subcontracting out, to others … the doers, as you said, and then supporting them in the decision making that they make. Having input, but then sometimes it requires us to step back, and that’s a hard thing.

Melinda Wittstock:         It is. I think it’s an interesting one when you’re building a team. I’ve seen so often entrepreneurs say things like, “Oh God my team member screwed up,” or whatever. You know, people do make mistakes, but ultimately it’s the responsibility of the founding team, of the CEO, of that kind of management or leadership team to first of all, make sure that team members are in the right seats. You don’t have a fish trying to climb a tree-

Michele Williams:           Right.

Melinda Wittstock:         And it’s a success, right? But also enabling those team members to succeed. So I always think if a team member of mine isn’t succeeding, I have to look within myself. What am I doing? Because I feel responsible in that sense.

Michele Williams:           I agree with you and I really believe in top down leadership, right? Bottom up as well, but top down, meaning if we’re going to run away from really owning it and going back and looking at that team member as the owner of the company and going, how can that either support the management, how can I support the person, or maybe it’s just the culture of the team, but knowing that I have a responsibility as the CEO, the owner of that company, of my own company, to step in and to offer a hand as appropriate. Sometimes it also means that we do have to let ’em stumble and figure some things out. It’s knowing when to step in and when not to.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh God, that’s the art of business really. I think right there because so many women never make it to a million dollars or more in revenue and really in business terms a million dollars is kind of like the starting gate, like you have a real business at a million dollars in revenue, right? But everyone remains stuck in these five and six figures for the most part. In fact, only three percent of female business owners get to a million dollars or more. I’m fascinated by what it is that holds so many women back. Is it just that we’re not thinking big enough, or is it that we’re trying to do everything ourselves, we’re not hiring fast enough, or all of the above?

Michele Williams:           Well, I think that also varies depending on industry. I think there are some smaller industries, some that I serve in interior design or some of the more creative industries that are very dependent in some ways on the ideas and the handwork of the owners. Those are much more difficult to scale then business … not saying they can’t, they’re just more difficult to scale, then businesses that are maybe not as tied to a particular talent of the owner, right?

Melinda Wittstock:         Right. Well its kind of like, is there a process or is there a system, or is there something within-

Michele Williams:           Correct.

Melinda Wittstock:         That can be replicated.

Michele Williams:           Exactly. And if there can, then I would say for those businesses a lot of times what I have encountered is that the scaling has to do with … one of the things you said, they either felt like they need to do it all, or at least in my side of the coaching and the business that I’ve been supporting, many of them don’t have backgrounds in business. I’m not talking a business degree necessarily, but enough of a background in business to really have a plan. So they didn’t sometimes come in with this scaling plan and it feels overwhelming to them, and to your point, then the outcome of that is they do it all, maybe they don’t hire quickly enough or what I think would even be sadder than all that, is they don’t even see the possibility of what it could be. Because I think if really saw the possibility of what our business can be and we could really buy into that, and then the value of what we have, and then as you mentioned Peter, a process or a system so that we could scale it, then it’s just about putting the right people in the right seats. I wonder if we haven’t limited our dreams, and that’s what’s causing us to stop this whole thing and not where we should.

Melinda Wittstock:         You know what? I tend to think that’s true. I have a coaching client myself who I was stunned to learn that. She really had never thought and had the capability to create recurring revenue streams, and hadn’t even thought that through about how to do that. At the very least, how to set up, even if you don’t have a replicable system or it’s you or whatever, at least have a business model that allows you repeating, recurring revenue, right?

Michele Williams:           Absolutely.

Melinda Wittstock:         At least that. Oh my goodness, and so some of this is just education, but I think the toughest thing is the unknown unknowns, where you don’t know that you’re limiting your horizons, just ’cause you don’t know any better, or you’re maybe not surrounded by people that are going to help you play bigger. So many women I know struggle with this. It’s just this kind of fear. There’s a fear of failure but I think more than that, it’s a fear of success.

Michele Williams:           Yes, and you know what I see with that Melinda, is where I see the fear of success play out, especially … and you know what? I had this fear of success. I did it. It was at a time when my children were younger and I was in a heavy parenting time, and all I could think of was, “If my business were to take off the way that I know that it could,” so it wasn’t that I didn’t have the dream, right? All I could think of is how much would it require me to give up of my family, and I wasn’t willing to give up what I thought I needed to give up at that time to have the other piece of the business where I could envision it going. I don’t think I’m alone in that, and I think there are other women out there, especially those that have the smaller business, not the multimillion dollars, but so they’re building to that first million.

There’s sometimes there’s a trade off. I do not believe we can have it all at the same time. I think that is unfair. We would never tell a guy, “Well you can go have it all at one time.” We would say, “You can have it all, but you’re going to need to plan it out maybe and schedule it a little bit,” and we have to do the same thing.”

Melinda Wittstock:         Well you can’t do it all. I mean having it all possible, if you have a business model and you think from the outset of who, and how is this going to work, so you have that help you need, because if you do try and do everything, obviously …

Michele Williams:           Right. I think we can ultimately get to it, but the getting there is tough.

Melinda Wittstock:         Well at that early stage, what I call the start up sticky floor where everything is new and you are. You don’t have any money, so obviously you’re doing everything yourself, testing hypothesis, trying to figure out what works what doesn’t, what’s your price point, who’s your ideal client, what’s your product market fit. All these things. How are you going to get the word out? You end up doing more and more of these things. I think the mistake that a lot of women make though is running faster, and faster, and faster in place doing more and more, and more. It is any wonder that women in their forties and fifties who’ve been in business for a while have hormonal issues, adrenal fatigue, all these sorts of things. We burn out when we’re doing that. I think to be more mindful of the outset when were creating businesses about how we’re going to scale, even if it’s not like a tech scalable company, but there’s a plan for who you’re going to hire, what are the different tasks that you’re going to start to figure out a system for.

“Here’s how I did this. Okay, so video myself doing this process and now I’m going to hand that off to a VA, who can do that. You can take that busy work off me at least.”

Michele Williams:           Absolutely. I would just say to that point, taking the busy work off of us at home too.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yes.

Michele Williams:           It allows us to do the more in depth work at the office, even if the office three steps away from the kitchen, simply because when I gave up the fact that I am not cleaning my house, I’m not going to be the one that’s going out to buy groceries. I’m going to hire somebody to do those things so that I can focus over here. I just want to say that because I think sometimes we forget that we can take those very elementary tasks off our home list, the same way we can take them off our home list.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, amen sister. No, I really, really believe that to be true. One of my mentors one said to me, not that long ago, “Think about the value of an hour of your time.” Often, I see a lot of entrepreneurs do this, men and women who think, “Oh well.” They don’t even put their time into the equation, because they think they’re free. They’re not free. They’re the most valuable of everybody in the business. Without them there is no business. My mentor said to me, “Think about an hour of your time spent if you were to advance a new technology or create a new IP, or do a strategic partnership that’s worth a quarter of a million dollars to the business, or whatever it is, some really high leverage activity in that hour.”

What is the value of your time? Should your hourly rate be $100? Should it be $500? Should it $1000? Should it be $25,000? What’s the multiple in value in creation you’re going to get out of that hour of your time. You do that calculation and you think totally different after that, right, because after that you’re going to be, “Wait a minute. I am stealing from my company if I go do the laundry right now.”

Michele Williams:           Absolutely, yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         I’m a thief from my own company, right?

Michele Williams:           You’re right. That is so very true, and I think that especially when we’re in that start up mode and just getting going, we don’t even understand what that value is, but when we’re a more mature business, we should have an idea of what are the task or the deals, or the conversations that we are the only ones who can be involved in and have. We have to protect our time to do that, because those are not the areas that we can hand off to anybody else. Everything else should be looked at as, who can I hand that off to? Who can do that, and chances are, there are many people that we can hire that would do it better than us for much less than what we would have to pay ourselves if we really were doing it. We could go do something else, or heck, go to the spa.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh man, I have my best ideas in the spa or walking my golden retriever, or whenever I’m not working in my business, doing the busy work or doing something, all my inspirations tend to come to me when I’m work, or else I’m on vacation. I don’t know, whatever, but really I’ve learned over the years. Have four businesses now, so I’m on my fifth. I’ve learned over the years that I do better when I get out of my own way.

Michele Williams:           Yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         It’s interesting that it’s taken me time to figure that out. Get out of the control freak, but be in responsibility. Be fully aware of what’s going on, what’s happening, where are the problems, where are the blocks? Creating systems so that people can communicate and be heard and empowering other people, that kind of thing. It’s probably the best use of my time.

Michele Williams:           Exactly. I’m a fan of [inaudible 00:25:27] and when you really think about the concept in that about you start as the technician potentially. Then there’s the manager and the entrepreneur. I do think that if we were looking at everything in its clearest form, it makes perfect sense. “Oh yeah, if I start a company, I’m going to need to move up to entrepreneur.” The problem is we aren’t able yet to back fill that technician spot, so I think what happens is we get in business and it gets muddy, which is what you’re describing. This muddiness of I need to delegate, but I need to do it, but I don’t have the money, but do I have the money? What am I worth and what are they worth, and oh my goodness.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yes, the chicken and the egg.

Michele Williams:           Yes. Yes. When we can really sit back and analyze what is the ‘secret sauce’ that maybe I bring to the company that I am the only one who can do? We preserve that at all cost. Really understand it and preserve it, and then we start to feel like we can actually hand off the reigns. Let go of some of the control for the other things that we don’t have to be the only ones who can do it.

Melinda Wittstock:         Michele, you do a whole exercise around planning for profit that we can be quite mindful about this. The choices that we make, even unknowingly, could really impact our profitability to a pretty big degree. Give us an example and walk through some of the choices that you see a lot of your clients making or just people that you’ve observed or perhaps yourself that spell the difference between a nice growing month on month profitability, good looking kind of [inaudible 00:27:18] earning statement or not?

Michele Williams:           Sure. Let me preface this by saying a couple of things. I’m a profit first, certified professional. I use the profit first cash methodology in my own business and with my clients. For anybody who’s not familiar with that methodology, it is the idea that if we take our profit first, then we save it. We earmark it as profit. Then what it does is it forces the company to live financially on what’s left. It’s almost like the Dave Ramsey financial piece for companies.

Melinda Wittstock:         I see what you’re saying. You actually draw a line in the sand and say, “Okay, we’re going to be 30% profitable. We’re going to have 30% margins this year.”

Michele Williams:           Yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         Okay. So we’re going to live on this 70%?

Michele Williams:           Correct. What we do is we go in, and of course every business is different. Each industry is different, but we go in individually with my clients and I’ll sit down. We look at all of their income statements, their balance sheet, and their bank statements. We look at everything. We look at all of their percentages.  Then we make a plan for profitability. We say for example, your company needs 25% net profits after everything’s been paid including the owner or 5% or 10%, whatever, wherever they are. Then what we do is we break that down and every two weeks, or twice a month we usually to teach it like on the 10th and 25th, which allows you to have all your payments into everybody by the 15th and the 30th. We literally moved that percentage of profit into a profit account, and then we say, now let the business live on what you say you wanted it to live on.

What that does, is it forces us to think about everything we’re doing. If we choose to adjust it, we do a quarterly adjustment. We can go up or down, based on what we need to do. But the goal here is, if we let profit be what’s left over, then we sometimes make decisions as if we have more money than we really have.

What I’ve seen in my practice is a lot of let’s say, and some of the smaller businesses, maybe they’ll buy things they don’t need, or some new technology comes out and they pay to be the early adopter, and then two months later it’s trashed. They’re just making decisions because they look at the accounts, they look at the profit loss, they look at the bank, “Oh we have money.” They don’t think about that money maybe has been allocated for four or five other things. We’re just not thinking that everything we do leads to profit or away from it.

Another example: food. Neils and Entertainment used to be huge places where people would spend. Everything was a business meeting. What they realize at the end, if they’re really sitting down and doing the work, “Okay, I didn’t bring home an extra paycheck. That extra paycheck is probably what went into all mills and entertainment that I can’t even write all of it off anyway.” It’s just not being conscious, or they hire too early, or they hire too late. All of those have impacts on our bottom line.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right. This is so, so important. When you’re working with business owners and entrepreneurs, especially first time folks, how do you set that profit target? Is it related to the business and life that person wants to lead? What kind of money they need to take out of the business say for their retirement or their kid’s education, or that kind of thing, or the lifestyle they want? How do you set that profit margin?

Michele Williams:           Yeah, we actually look a lot of those things. One of the first things I’m going to do, especially if, let’s say if the business is five years in, okay? It’s still relatively new. I’m going to go back, probably the last two years and take a look at their statements and start to see how much profit they have, just organically been doing without maybe the [inaudible 00:31:30]. What’s been showing up? For some companies, not even kidding Melinda, there’s no profit. It’s one of those things where either the owner is taking out everything as a draw or as their salary and there’s no profit left in the company. I’ve seen quite a few where there’s money left in the company but the owner didn’t get paid. That’s not really the profit we’re talking about here. We’re talking about trying to create a profit separate from owner’s pay, because the last thing we want to do is be working 60, 80 hours a week, and then entrepreneurial poverty.

Now we understand the first couple of years there’s some startup and maybe our salaries aren’t where we want them. But what we’re trying to do is build a plan for what they want, so we’re going to take into account all those things that you said. How much do we want that you’re going to bring home a salary? How much are we going to cover in taxes? How much are we going to have for profit? The profit, the way that we handle that in profit first, is every quarter, we do a quarterly distribution. Half of whatever is in that profit account goes to the owner. The other half stays in the company and builds. Then you may choose to leave it in the company to build up or to do something with, but the goal is to have it be that added extra distribution on top of salary. It is a balancing act for each person. We also have some guidelines in profit first that we use just to get started.

Let’s say that they had a gross profit, which we could call a real revenue of let’s say a million dollars. Their earnings were higher but their gross profit was a million dollars, we would have their profit at around 10%, after everything else had been paid. But we would also make sure that we were covering all the owner’s taxes, personal revenue taxes. It’s just really creating a plan to have the business that you want, and at the end of the day not go, “How am I going to pay taxes, especially for the smaller companies.” When I say smaller, of course I’m talking what four, five million and under. “How do I cover all the taxes? How do I make sure that I’m getting a salary, as the owner of the company,” because usually the owners are paying everybody in the company and they get paid less. Then, “How do I keep money in here so that it can scale and so that I don’t run into a cash flow problem.”

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh gosh, yes, because cash flow is the number one killer. Number one rule of business, do not run out of cash.

Michele Williams:           Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right? And so you have to be so mindful about this. It’s interesting, my background in the tech industry, for instance, where there’s so much focus on raising Venture Capital or raising Angel Money and all this sort of stuff, and building this product and all this kind of stuff, but very little attention paid to this.

Michele Williams:           Oh yeah. We see this all over. I’ve worked with companies, four of five million dollars, that were losing hundreds of thousands a year, and you’re just like, “Oh my goodness, what?” Mike Michalovicz, who is the author of Profit First, he and I were talking and he made the comment on my podcast, Profit Is A Choice, he said, “I would rather be a $300,000 total-income company and bring home $150,000 than to be a company that makes four and five million that’s losing $150,000 every year, all day long.

And so, scalability to me, with success is about more than just being a bigger, bigger, bigger company. It’s a bigger company that is still profitable and paying everybody fairly, and that’s where you talk about the tension of business.

Melinda Wittstock:         Well it’s so interesting because so much, there’s so much … I’m just going to pick up there.

There’s so much focus though, isn’t there, on top-line revenue as opposed to profitability or earnings?  I would see that all over, just even entrepreneurs posting on Facebook about they hit their revenue, and it’s like, “Well yeah, Okay. And?”

Michele Williams:           Well absolutely. I see it too and I usually, when they’ll say, “My profit was this …” and I always want to go, “Which profit are you talking about? Let’s be specific. Because I can do profit-before-profit, after-profit here. What are you really talking about?” And the truth of the matter, Melinda, is that the value of our business is really gross-profit. It’s not total sales. Total sales says you’re a great salesperson. Gross profit says, “What do I have to run the company on?”

And so we’re not discounting having excellent sales, but if our cost of goods eats up the majority of that and we have nothing left to run the company on, and nothing left at the end of the day, there are still a lot of tweaks that maybe we need to think about.

Melinda Wittstock:         So Michele, how did you get into all of this, planning for profit and coaching entrepreneurs on their numbers and on their ownership and all this good stuff?

Michele Williams:           My first job out of college was with Dun & Bradstreet Software and I built financial accounting software, and so we built accounts payable, accounts receivable, general ledger and I was the Development Manager that build the project accounting system. And so of course, I understood the way it all worked because I’d been the Business Analyst and the Development Manager, Onshore/Offshore Resources. It was like QuickBooks on steroids. It was back in the day when we were still IBM mainframes.

And so I did that for 10 years and then I came home to raise my family, and I was home with a small child that was three and then another one that was one. And started sewing and making window treatments, and doing interior design and I had been taking some classes while I was still working corporate with family, and people came and asked me if I would do it for them. And so I was one of those accidental businesses because I was just looking for something to be passionate about and to do on the side. I didn’t really want to go into software consulting and so that’s what I did.

And then I realized I didn’t make any money at it. At the end of the day, I was like, “I am the poster child for ‘I worked and took time away from my family and made no money.’ What’s up with that?” And so I really sat back and realized that it was rampant in the creative industries. I wasn’t a one-off. And so I sat back and thought, “Okay, goodness. I run multi-million dollar companies, surely I can run my own smaller company out of my home?” And so I did. I started changing everything. I went back to all of my business lessons from school, from college and went back to everything that I did at Dun & Bradstreet, and just started creating a whole new business plan to no longer be accidentally in business.

And then when I did that, it turned everything around and fast-forward, I worked in that industry, bought and sold a school, developed a magazine and put it out, did all kinds of things like that for years, and then I had a health crisis. Remember when you talked about working all those hours and being in your 40s and 50s?

Melinda Wittstock:         Mm-hmm (affirmative) Oh yeah.

Michele Williams:           Well, yeah. So I had a health crisis and ended up developing, believe it or not, Type 1 Autoimmune Diabetes.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, my goodness.

Michele Williams:           At age 44. And I had no family history. I was extremely tiny, and it was autoimmune, so they believe that stress and something shut down my autoimmune system. And so that forced me … I actually sold one company, closed a company and started a coaching practice, where I could help people not do all the things that I did. Right?

Melinda Wittstock:         Right.

Michele Williams:           I had built a course back in 2009 on how to price work in the creative industries. How to really look at our value, which is not what we were used to doing in that particular industry, and then how to monetize that and it just became a natural output of everything else. It was like the culmination of everything that I had done in almost 30 years of business. And I love it. So now what I do is step in and go right into the financials.

It’s funny, Melinda, people will come to me and immediately go, “I don’t understand my financials,” or “I’m in a financial mess,” or “I had debt,” or, “I’m not being paid,” you know, just the litany of money stresses, and they’re usually shocked when I go all the way back to, “Who are you? What is your “Why?” What is your vision? What is your mission? What does your heart say? Who’s your ideal client?” And they’re, “Right, but I’m here to talk about my finances.” I’m like, “I get it, but your finances are just a result of every choice you’ve made, so let’s go back to the beginning and see if those are really the choices you wanna make. Because that’s what we have to change to get the number to be different.”

Melinda Wittstock:         Mm-hmm (affirmative). Oh gosh. This is-

Michele Williams:           It’s not a math problem. This is not a math problem.

Melinda Wittstock:         No. I find the longer I’ve been in business, the more I realize it’s really like a “head” problem. Like it’s-

Michele Williams:           Oh it is. It’s 100%-

Melinda Wittstock:         … all a mindset. It’s all about that. And people will say, “Oh God, I need help with my funnel,” or “I need help with my this,” or “I need help with my that.” And yeah, “Okay, sure,” you know? “Actually …”

Michele Williams:           That’s right. We have to go two, three steps back to even get to that. You know what I mean? It’s down-wind, it’s down the pipeline from what we really need to work on. And so I think that’s very shocking to most people. And that’s why I really push the idea that profit is a choice, that we have to consciously be choosing how to spend our money and how to spend our time. I believe those are our top two currencies. We’ve got others, but our time is spent on the calendar and our money is spent out of the bank account, and when we spend them, we don’t necessarily get them back. Certainly not the same way we put them out into the world.

Melinda Wittstock:         I’ve arrived at this conclusion though, that money actually is not so much a thing, but a tool. It’s almost like an energy in its abundance, with the right mindset around it. Whereas time, on the other hand, time is scarce, I mean it’s gone. Although, I dunno: It’s interesting with time because sometimes it appears to disappear really quickly and other times it seems endless, so, yeah. I dunno. We’re getting kind of metaphysical here, but …

Michele Williams:           Well exactly. I think it’s true for both of them. I think there is certainly a way to spend both of them and not have it come back to us. Right? I think we can be wasteful with both, but I also think that there are things that … I look at things like time as some of it is investments. That I may not get that exact moment back, just like when I spend a dollar. I might not get that exact dollar back in change-

Melinda Wittstock:         Ah. I see what you’re saying.

Michele Williams:           … but I’m going to get something else back. For example-

Melinda Wittstock:         So you can leverage time. I mean, that’s kind of interesting, because if I spend the hour doing this, I’m going to have as a result, a whole bunch of free time to go sit on the beach and have my [inaudible 00:43:00]. Right?

Michele Williams:           Right. So let me give you just a really small example. When we’re raising children, I could either brush my child’s teeth for him and think to myself, “I can do it faster than he can do it, and so I’m going to do it.” And then what happens is I’m going off in college with my kid brushing his teeth. Right? But if I take the time to invest in him, and I take the time to teach him, it actually multiplied my time because now I don’t have to do it any more and he knows how to do it.

Melinda Wittstock:         Mm-hmm (affirmative). Exactly right. That’s wonderful. I love this. This is really about leverage and something that every business owner needs to understand. How to leverage both time and money. How beautiful. This is wonderful talking with you.

Michele Williams:           Thank you. I think the same. Well to me it’s a fun conversation because it’s always a balancing act, you know? And I don’t even know that balance … by that I don’t necessarily mean same on the left and same on the right … maybe it’s more of a Synod conversation. What’s right for this time and right for that time. So I enjoy thinking about those things. Sometimes it’s more worth or time, sometimes it’s more worth our money.

Melinda Wittstock:         Exactly. I mean it’s really about what you want at the end of the day. And what makes you happy and choosing, like living intentionally, I think, rather than just waiting for things to happen to you. I think a lot of people live very reactive lives. I think a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners can run around just putting out fires rather than really, “What do I want? What do I want from my day? How do I want to feel? What do I want?”

Michele Williams:           That is the hardest question. I will ask people what they want and they cannot tell me. But I think that’s what ties in to where we started our conversation, Melinda, back to ownership.

Melinda Wittstock:         Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. If you don’t know what you want, you’ll get something but it won’t be what you want. The critical thing is really getting to this. “What’s your true passion, your true purpose? What do you love to do, who do you love to do it with?” And a lot of people go into business not really thinking about these things. But, you know what? If you want therapy, become an entrepreneur. It’s the best training for personal growth.

Michele Williams:           You know, one thing I want to say about that, is you’re right. We may not always go into it thinking about that, and I know I didn’t with my first company, but there’s not a bad time to stop and re-evaluate and go, “I may not have started that way, but I can certainly continue on from here that way.” And so I want to encourage anybody listening that maybe started accidentally like I did on the first business, to stop where they are and go, “But I don’t have to keep doing that. And I can take ownership of who I am, what I want, what my vision is.” All the things, Melinda that you encourage us to do on your podcast. We can stop today and do that, and make tomorrow different.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh gosh, absolutely. I think we get attached to things, and I know I’ve been guilty of this in the past. I had one company that I was absolutely convinced that I had to build and sell before I could do this other thing that I really wanted to do. And I said, “Wait a minute. What’s wrong with that? There’s no buddy, there’s no …” Sorry, I’m going to pick up there.

“There’s no rule or law or being in the universe telling me what order I have to do these things. “We just get kind of attached to something and carry on, often, in a way that’s not beneficial. So being willing to actually pivot, or let go, without any blame, without any shame, is also a really big part of this process as well.

And so yeah, for people listening who are, say, in a business, they’ve gone down a path and it’s maybe not making them happy, there’s another way to do it. Or maybe there’s a whole other different business or whatever, but being open to that is a good thing as well.

Michele Williams:           I always ask myself, “What are the constraints that I believe are holding me back, and are they really?” Like sometimes we think we’re restrained when we’re not. Kinda like what you were saying with selling the business, building it, selling it, it really wasn’t a constraint. It was one you self-imposed and did it really need to be there? That to me has been the beauty of my 40s and 50s. I’m like, “Who made that rule and why do I have to follow it?”

Melinda Wittstock:         Exactly. See, I think this is why women are coming into their power in their 40s and 50s. Just learning to really trust their intuition, just being themselves, getting out of that fear, not really worried about fear of success anymore. Just shining our light, right? It’s a really, really interesting time and it’d be nice to see younger women get there, but I just think right now, there’s this really wonderful blooming going on around women in their 40s and 50s in particular, that’s so exciting.

Michele Williams:           It is fun to watch. It’s fun to be part of it too.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh gosh, yeah. I know. I’m right there with you. So Michele, this is an amazing conversation. I could talk for hours. Sadly the time-constraint of a podcast gets in the way, but you’ll have to come back on again. In the meantime though, how can people find you and work with you?

Michele Williams:           Melinda, they can find me on ScarletThreadConsulting.com/wings. W-I-N-G-S, just for your podcast listeners.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh thank you, that is so generous and I just wanna thank you for taking the time to put on your wings and soar high with us today. Thank you.

Michele Williams:           It was my pleasure and I’m just excited to be able to have a conversation with you, where we can encourage women to be who they were created to be. So, it was fun. Thank you.


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