The Hero Challenge 003 – Ashley Cheeks
Welcome to another episode of The HERO Show. I am your host Richard Matthews, (@AKATheAlchemist) and you are listening to a special episode, Hero Challenge #03 with Ashley Cheeks – Creating a Business Plan That Will Walk You to Success.
Ashley Cheeks, MBA is the founder of Written Success. With over 300 business plans written to date, she specializes in helping high-potential entrepreneurs create their “Million Dollar Business Plan” with strategies that reduce startup failure and lead to investor and lender funding (the largest deal raising over $550MM for a startup venture).
Recognized by the Forbes Business Development Council, she specializes in innovative and disruptive businesses, servicing high-profile startups, internationally recognized health and wellness experts, music label professionals, and celebrity entrepreneurs. Her clients have worked with her to pitch impressively to Shark Tank, Dragon’s Den, PITCH Investors Live, and other platforms.
Here’s just a taste of what we talked about today:
- Discovering the passion to bring a business idea on paper
- Helping entrepreneurs sell their ideas to investors and bankers
- “The Blue Ocean Strategy”
- Recognizing great ideas and help make them work
- All business plans are built from a clear idea
- Having the right listener as you express your idea makes all the difference
- Identifying valuable ideas
- Invest on your idea and validate it; act on it
- Just because we can, doesn’t mean that we should
- Put your priorities in the right place & the money will follow
- Giving yourself permission to play
- Eliminating the “can’t” in your head
- Limits will block your destination
- Fighting for more access
- The entrepreneurial community is small
- Automation is key
- Doing the work is the only way to be ready
The HERO Challenge
Today on the show, Ashley Cheeks challenged Denzel to be a guest on The HERO Show. Ashley thinks that Denzel is a fantastic interview because he is a young entrepreneur who is crushing it. He helps entrepreneurs change their financial picture.
How To Stay Connected With Ashley Cheeks
Want to stay connected with Ashley? Please check out her social profiles below.
- Website: WrittenSuccess.co
- Facebook: @WrittenSuccessPage
- Twitter: @AWrittenSuccess
- LinkedIn: Written Success
Call To Adventure
Don’t forget you can stay connected to me and the show by subscribing now. Just text ALCHEMY to 444999. Or you put your email address in the box at the bottom of this page. You’ll get all sorts of cool gifts, be updated about our contests and polls, and get notified when we publish new episodes. With that… let’s get to listen to the episode…
The Webinar Alchemy Workshop: https://richardmatthews.me/fs/waw-slf/
Hello, and welcome back to the show. My name is Richard Matthews.
Of course, and I’m on the line with Ashley cheeks. Ashley, are you there?
Hi, Richard. I’m here.
Awesome. So glad to have you here. You are one of our
Hero Challenge guests, Ravi Toor asked you to come on the show.
So glad to have you here. Let me do a brief introduction
So people know who you are. And then we’ll jump right into it.
So you are the founder of A Written Success, which you had
Over 300 business plans written to date. You specialize in helping
High-potential entrepreneurs create their million dollar business plan,
With strategies that help reduce startup failure and lead to investor
And lender funding, the largest deal in rasing you’ve done so far
Is $550 million dollars for a startup venture, which sounds really amazing.
So first question, what is it that you’re known for now?
Why do people reach out to you? Why do they come to you?
What is the thing that you offer the market?
Sure. So I am, in the simplest terms, a business plan consultant.
So what I do is help people create business plans that
Somebody would pay a million dollars to get their hands on.
So a business plan that walks to success.
And that actually, is a roadmap you can follow to create
A really high power business for yourself. And sometimes
That’s an invention related business or product or service, whatever it is,
That business plan is your vehicle to making it a reality.
Awesome. So my next question then, is about your origin story.
Every hero has one. How they got started? Where they came from?
Where you sort of started to realize that you got really help people with this.
How did you get into this business? What sort of drove you from-
Start getting into this whole entrepreneur journey and then eventually,
Into helping people write business plans.
It was definitely a little bit of an accident,
I wanted to be a writer, first and foremost. And when I first got started,
I was reaching out to different freelancing agencies to see if I could work.
And long story short, I ended up working with
A really amazing business plan firm. And on the side,
While doing that, I was also still working nine to five in corporate
And raising two young kids and juggling it all. But right around there,
I started realizing that business proposals and writing business plans
Was really interesting. And even though it was not writing
A romance novel or anything, it was something that I was loving,
And I loved the research. And I loved the mystery.
And bringing the business idea to reality on paper.
And it really became something that evolved from
That side work in the beginning.
So it started as like wanting to be an author, and then you just got into it
And realized that like writing for real stuff was more exciting.
Yes, and no. So the the actual pivot point, so I was freelancing
For the sake of secondary income. There was a moment where
I had been going through my career in corporate,
And my last employer was General Electric. And so I worked for GE,
As a business proposal writer, so I was actually doing
What I love to do nine to five, finally, in addition to freelancing.
And I was really good at it. And I had done this for several companies,
And I had gotten progressively better at it. However, personally,
My life was taking a bit of a turn. So we, my husband and I,
Were told that our nine-month old son had a permanent brain disorder.
And it put us in a position where we needed to figure out
Solutions for therapy and child care, and just all the things
That come with having a special needs child.
And so the moment where one day I went and into my managers office,
And they said, “Hey, you can’t keep leaving on your lunch break
To take your son to therapy.” That was kind of the moment where I said,
“Well, you just made this a really easy decision for me.”
And so I went and I created my own business plan to leave
And to start Written Success in a way that would sustain me financially.
Because I was the breadwinner. And at that time, I wasn’t sure
If I could make my own business work. And it was only through
Creating my own business plan, that I felt confident enough
To actually take that leap. And I did, and I ended up quitting that job.
And working full time with Written Success. But it wasn’t necessarily
That I wanted to be a writer, and then I decided that
Business plans was more sensible. It was definitely
A rock bottom moment emotionally on what’s more important.
Is it going to be stability of a paycheck? Or is it going to be time
And flexibility to support my kids and my son,
And it ended up working out very well, in the end, thankfully,
But that was kind of the path that it took.
It’s a rough decision to have to have to make. And it’s interesting
How often you have to make those kind of decisions.
When you’re choosing to stay at a job or starting off career or journey.
And, it doesn’t always work out as well.
But it sounds to me you have a good product to bring to market
That it turned out really well for you. Especially, if you mentioned,
You had a one of your clients. You’ve raised $550 million dollars
For their business plan.
The fundraising side of what I do, I’m not a broker.
So I don’t actually connect entrepreneurs with investors
And promise funding, but I do connect them with avenues
To access investors. So there’s a whole legal reason
When entrepreneurs hire me to support writing their business plan,
Why I can’t call myself a broker. But basically,
They’re almost always looking for funding.
And sometimes that’s with the bank and sometimes with an investor.
But in the end, their goal is fundraising.
And so a lot of what I’ve started dabbling into
Is pulling that corporate experience in training sales teams
On how to close deals and how to take a proposal and
Pitch it in a way that sells. I’m translating that
Into helping entrepreneurs sell their ideas to investors into bankers.
And it’s led to my opportunity to actually be
A pitch consultant for several investor networks.
When Kevin Harrington takes entrepreneur pitches on Pitch Investors Live,
And it’s been an amazing experience.
I’m the one that coaches those entrepreneurs before they go on the show.
So anyway, those deals sometimes translate into
Really, really big financing opportunities.
And a lot of my clients end up securing some pretty big amounts of money.
And most of my clients have really innovative ideas.
So part of the reason the amounts are so big are because
They have these game-changing, market-creating inventions,
Concepts, apps, and just these things that are going to revolutionize
The space and be a disrupter. And those kinds of-
Those businesses always are big money businesses.
So I’m not sure if I’m allowed to ask this or not.
But if I can’t just let me know, how do you get compensated
For that kind of consulting work? Do you end up with like percentages?
Or do you have like flat fees? How does that work?
I love that you asked that question.
So I can’t take a percentage of a closed deal without being a broker.
So that’s part of why I’m very careful to announce
That I’m not a I’m not a business broker. Because the SEC
Will fine me for misrepresentation. I do not take equity
In my clients businesses at this time, that is not something
That I feel ethically aligned todo. Part of my value
Is when I do your business plan, I’m unbiased,
I have no personal stake in it. And I’m just here to get your idea
As clearly and successfully on paper as possible.
The minute that I become a business partner to you,
I now have a personal stake in this and my perspective changes.
And my husband has multiple businesses and as his business partner,
I feel the difference with his business plans
When I work on them versus a client. So it’s something
Very important that I stay unbiased and dismissed from
The business itself when I work with clients.
And I get reimbursed on the business plan. On building your business plan
I give you advice, I connect you with money wherever I possibly can.
But I don’t take a piece of your company and I don’t take a percentage
Of the money that you get from your investor.
Awesome. So it’s just a flat fee type of thing that happens ahead of time
Before they go and pitch.
All they’re paying for is the business plan.
If they get something amazing as a result of my connection,
That emotional feeling of “I connected them with a good deal.”
That’s all I take. I don’t take any funding.
I don’t play games with that stuff.
So when someone hires you, they’re hiring you
For the actual like piece of paper at the end, as well as,
The actual coaching that you’re going to do
For presenting that plan to someone else.
You got it.
So I’ll sometimes that does include actually rehearsing the pitch,
Verbally and in person and actually dry running it.
Sometimes that even includes me being in the investor meeting
With them as a support person, and helping them pitch
This business plan to the investor. But it’s all about that document,
The business plan is the deliverable.
And everything else around it is ancillary.
And it’s not something that I’m not charging for
As a percentage of anything. It’s just, it’s extra.
Okay, so this is a little bit of a change of direction,
But it’s something I’m interested in since you do this all the time.
One of the things I’ve always think about when I help
And work with clients on their products that they’re bringing to market,
Because like one of the things I do is I help experts build educational courses,
And then bring those to market. So it’s generally, it’s small, very niche stuff.
It’s not disruptor kind of things. But it’s generally six, seven figure,
Small businesses run by a one or two people,
That we help bring educational courses to the market.
And I always tell my clients that if you want to have
A successful educational product, you have to find a market
Who has money and then solve a problem for them in an elegant way.
So essentially, the pieces are you have a market
Who has the income and have a problem that they want to get solved.
And you have an elegant solution for them? How accurate is that
For when you’re getting into big disruptive markets that they have to
The same kind of things, they have to have a market that they’re looking for.
They have to product with an elegant solution.
Like, is that same kind of thing when you’re talking about big markets?
It’s the red ocean concept. Have you heard of blue ocean strategy?
Okay, it’s that so it no matter what it is that you’re trying to sell.
There’s usually a unique way to meet a market demand
That’s currently untapped. And I love the way you phrase that
An elegant solution, delivering it in a way that’s so attractive,
And that is so perfectly meeting the need,
You really need to find that no matter how big or small your solution is,
And not everybody’s trying to launch the next multimillion dollar business,
They just want something that’s successful that meets a specific niche.
And that’s usually the best type of business because
That’s where you’re going to find the lowest amount of competition,
That’s we’re going to really find dedicated customers that sing your praises,
Because you’re really the only one offering something to the caliber
And quality that you are, and making sure that
Your message is not only pure, but is so unique that
Nobody could replicate it if they wanted to.
That’s a very, very powerful thing to have in your business.
And to have that before anything else if you want to be successful.
Interesting. So do you represent a lot of service type businesses?
Are they like physical products? What do you tend to end up with?
It’s been a really diverse mix. So in the very beginning,
I thought maybe I’ll only support restaurant startups or
Maybe I’ll only support mobile app development. But over time,
I get people, I haven’t done the same business plan twice.
And everything is custom to the business idea
Because the business ideas are all so unique.
So I have everything from –
I have a client that’s currently launching an indoor Rain Forest Preserve,
It’s an Amazon Rainforest replica. And it’s like a
Theme park educational center. It’s crazy. I mean, just massive 40 stories think.
Okay. And then there’s clients that are doing things like,
Health and wellness apps. And there’s other clients
That are trying to create safer driving schools for kids
That are learning to drive, and people and then
There’s people trying to open up food trucks, literally food trucks,
And so I definitely help people from all walks of life.
Lots of different stuff.
Lots and lots of different …
And it always amazed me, when you look at the breath of entrepreneurship,
Like what it covers. And you realize that there’s
Pretty much everything you see and interact with on a daily basis,
No matter what it is, there’s an entrepreneur behind it somewhere
Who made it happen. And it’s really fascinating
To talk to someone like you who gets to see all those happen.
It’s funny, I’m not a very creative person, meaning I’m not inventive.
I would have never invented the remote control.
That’s not my gift. But I do have a gift for recognizing great ideas.
And so when people come to me, one of the first thing they say,
“Is this a good idea?” and it’s in –
There’s always a way to make something work.
So I feel very fortunate that I can work with so many brilliant people
Because I could never come up with those ideas.
But I sure as heck can help you figure out
How to get it to market in a successful way because
This is too good for you not to be successful with it.
Let’s figure this thing out.
Let’s get this to market and get this in people’s hands.
So it’s really a fun business to be in. It’s crazy mind blowing
Most days the stuff people come up with.
So that’s a really good transition to my next question,
Which is your superpower. It’s what you do, or build or offer
That really helps solve problems for people, whatever you use
To slay your clients, villains, so to speak, if you could narrow down
What would you say your superpower is,
When you’re helping clients build these plans.
I definitely have a superpower in my listening skill set.
When people come to me with their ideas,
They usually have ideas that are really disjointed,
And that are a bit all over the place.
Or maybe it’s clear up hear until they say it out loud
And then then it’s like,
That sounded better in my head. But now that I’m saying out loud,
That’s not that doesn’t sound like a good idea.
However, I can hear the idea, I can hear the intent behind it.
And I can hear what you didn’t say
But what you definitely feel and how you say it.
And we can work together on that vision.
And we work it out and get it refined, and get it tuned in a way
That is destined to be clear on paper.
So most of the problem with a business is that
They don’t have a clear plan or a clear description of the business itself.
And so getting all that on paper, refining it out,
Working on the research, working on the financial projections
And getting them all the extra steps that come after that idea formulation.
That’s what I help with. But you can’t build a business plan
If you don’t know what your idea is clearly concisely.
So I definitely help with getting that piece out.
And it’s something that I’ve found is somewhat of a unique skill set.
Reminds me of something that I have happened regularly.
You ever like, wake up in the morning, and you had a really great dream.
You’re like, “Oh, that would be like a great story or a movie
Or a business plan or whatever.”
And then when you finally actually completely awake
And you remember it, “Wow, that was really not a great idea.”
It could be if you refined it and made it good. But I feel like
That’s what you do. Like people are; “I have this really great idea.
And it feels good in my head.”
Yes. And then it comes out and you’re like,
“Oh, maybe it’s not. But it could be right.”
It’s the potential. It’s the seed. It’s the diamond before it’s been,
Been, what do you call that when they compress it
And turn the coal into a diamond?
Yes, with the pressure. It’s funny because a lot of people
Will take that idea in it’s unrefined form, and they’ll start
Telling their friends or their family about it.
And then it gets shot down immediately.
And their friends or family like, “That’s a crappy idea. It’s horrible.”
And then the entrepreneur believes that feedback and they go,
“Oh, I guess it’s a bad idea.” And in reality, it’s not a bad idea.
We need to refine it, you just need to tease it out a little bit differently,
And with a different approach
And it’s probably an amazing multimillion dollar idea.
But if you’re explaining it to the wrong person,
It can destroy all semblance of it.
Just like when you tell that dream to somebody out loud,
when you say it to them, they can’t grasp the beauty of it
Because they weren’t in it.
And they didn’t feel what you felt when you experienced it.
And you can’t articulate it clearly enough for them to get it.
So it doesn’t make it –
It’s all like feelings and impressions in your head. And you describe it
And it’s not, You can’t do it justice.
There’s no way. So you’ve got to have the right listener to hear it
And feel what it is that you felt. And that makes all the difference.
So how much effort do you have to put into helping entrepreneurs?
Understand the difference between an idea
And how an idea is not valuable until action has been taken in
Like an actual business has been built in a product
Has been brought to market? Where the the idea is required
But it’s not valuable until you’ve done something with it?
How much do you have to do coaching on that kind of stuff?
A ton. I mean, that’s the coaching aspect of what I do
Is probably 50% of the work. Because a lot of it is around mindset
And just kind of helping them deconstruct their limits.
So for instance, they’ll say, “I think I only need 100,000 to launch this.”
And I’ll talk to them more. And I’m thinking
You need like a million to launch this properly.
But I don’t want to assume, let’s talk through why you think it’s 100.
And then you find out, they think it’s 100,000 because that’s all they feel
They could raise that has nothing to do with what they need to raise.
And a lot of what we talked about working together is really
What is the best path forward to getting to that goal.
And understanding where you can go to get what you need,
And how you can take the next path forward.
Because half of what a business plan is meant to do
Is become your feasibility study and confirmation of proof of concept.
And so when you follow it, you’ve already determined this is a great idea.
It’s feasible, there’s a market for it, there’s profit to be had.
And then here’s your operation section. Here’s how
You’re going to execute this based on all the research you’ve done
And buying out the market space you’re targeting.
But there’s you have to prove feasibility.
And then you have to actually invest into your idea,
And start taking baby steps towards making it more
Than just an idea and making it an actual tried concept
That you’ve proven and validated. So it’s a huge piece of the process.
Actually, an idea without that step right,
The part where you’re actually taking action and doing something
And bringing something to market or as one of those names
Have gotten yet to ship. Right. If you don’t ship you just have an idea.
Nobody pays for ideas.
And sometimes it’s as simple as even little things like
Sending out a survey, Google surveys is free to a point.
And just getting customer feedback, or getting feedback
From the masses on what they would like in this kind of a product
And using that as guidance. Doing a pop-up and selling things
For just a few days to see what people say about it.
The little stuff, that’s not a huge investment.
And if they like it, if it needs to be tweaked.
It goes a long way in taking that next step towards launching,
But you have to act you have to do something
if you want this to become a reality.
So I want to switch and talk about the other side of your superpowers,
Which is the fatal flaw, right? Superman has his kryptonite.
Batman’s not actually a superhero? Or doesn’t have superpowers anyways,
If you had to think through something that has either
Held you back or you’ve struggled with in building your business
And getting to the point we’re at now, what would you say it is?
And more importantly, what have you done to sort of help fix that or
Rectify it so that it doesn’t hold your business back?
I don’t think I’ve ever told anybody this.
But it’s really the idea that just because I can do something
Doesn’t mean that I should. I have a really bad problem of
Over delivering, and I’m sure that stems
From something psychological with having to prove myself
As a child or something. But it’s really hard for me,
If I see something that I can do,
It’s hard for me to just decide not to do it. For instance,
If I see, if I create a video and I say,
“Okay, now I’m going to go edit it.”
I don’t have to do that I can, I can do production,
I don’t have to though, there’s no reason
Why I need to spend my time on that even though I can.
Or when I’m doing a business plan,
If a client is interested in taking a pivot into
A slightly different industry, instead of saying,
“Hey, you know what, that’s kind of a different business plan.
And I can’t create a second one for free.”
What I’m learning to do is say, “Hey, you know what
If we want to start a second project, we can,
But I’m not going to go down that path.
And create a second version of this for you without
Compensation or deciding this is what we want to do.”
So having those boundaries is everything.
Because that way, I’m spending time on what matters, what’s important.
And finding that work life balance with it, my kids are a priority,
My husband, and my marriage is thriving, and I’m not dying,
And all of the work that I’m taking on, because I can,
I tend to do that I’m not a workaholic. But I’m passionate about my work.
And so it’s hard for me to not do what I love,
Especially when it comes to helping people and reach their goal.
I always have to kind of pull back a little bit and not overdo
What it is I’m contributing beyond what is reasonable to contribute.
And I’ve actually- I’ve talked to a couple of entrepreneurs,
Myself included, that have that similar problem.
Where it’s- if I could narrow down, I would say
It’s a lack of respect for ourselves. Where we will set out
Our initial scope, and then allow I call it scope creep,
Because that comes from developing software.
You have – just feature creep, we’re just adding more things to it.
And we allow that to happen to ourselves.
Because we can help them because we enjoy it.
We do because we love what we do.
And if you really respected yourself and your time and your value,
You wouldn’t do it. And the same thing like for myself,
And I know I have that same problem where I’ll be like,
I’ll help them with this thing.
And then the other thing, and then the other thing,
Ten ways down the road. And the way that I’ve dealt with it is
I always tell people ahead of time, they’ll do this with them.
What’s going to end up happening is I’ll end up helping them
With a bajillion different things. So I set up retainer relationships.
And I was like, if you want to be on a retainer relationship,
I don’t have a problem giving you my hours to do those.
I just sort of set up my payment, so that it was okay
For me to do that with clients.
And that can be a hard pivot to make as an entrepreneur,
Especially if you’re service based,
And you’re used to project based work.
SSo that’s a really amazing turn that you took going
Into a retainer based relationship with their clients.
It’s pretty awesome.
So I’ve only done that with a few clients, but it’s like the ones that –
I really love what they’re doing. And they’re those
Kind of people like you mentioned, that are
Constantly coming with ideas and doing cool things.
And I’m not that person. I’m not the idea person.
I mean, I can take your idea help you implement person.
Because I can in all those areas, I will.
And I was like I’m gonna –
We did the payment-based thing at the front.
And I’m like, I would run out of steam because I can’t continue
To help you with these things and not get paid,
Because then I can’t feed my family and hang out with my kids
And that kind of stuff. So when I can I try and make the transition
Into a retainer based relationships, so I can allow myself to do that
While still respecting my time and that kind of stuff.
So anyways, I’ve been there.
It’s a hard place to be in. But it sounds like
You found the right balance, I’m still working on my balance.
But it’s definitely a good problem to have.
I’m grateful that that’s the issue that I’m struggling with.
It’s not a problem that’s going to kill your business.
I mean, you could let it kill your business,
If you got to a point where you were like,
You took on so much business you couldn’t deliver.
Which is always a constant battle to is,
Thankfully, I’ve adopted pretty early on a slot system.
So I only take, I have slots, and if my slots are filled, they’re filled.
And I always have a waiting list because of that.
However, I’m, “Oh, I learned to be okay with –
If they have to wait, it’s okay.
I can only do so much. I can only do so many hours.
So many business plans. It’s just is what it is.
So there was a time where I would take on way more than I should have.
And I’ve learned the hard way. I have to honor my time,
Like you said and respect what I can and can’t do
In 20 hours a week, or 40 hours a week or 60-80-90 120 hours a week.
So I gotta sleep somewhere.
I had the same kind of thing where I set up slots.
And before, I was like, I have four slots. And it was it.
I’ve only got four slots, I can’t help you.
And so I had a waiting list of people and one of my mentors was like
He did a – as taking sessions with I call it he was like,
You need to hire some people and build some processes.
So you can open up more slots and help more people.
So that’s one of the one of the things I’ve been working on this year.
And I’ve got it up to I think eight slots.
I think I’ve only got six of them filled. But either way,
I hired a couple of employees, and I was able to move some stuff out.
But it’s like, if you want to increase the number of slots,
You realize that you can’t continue to put 120 hours a week
Into something and still live your life.
So you have to look at other ways to scale.
If you want to scale. You don’t have to.
It’s one of those. I’ve got my business whenever I want.
But if you want to scale this stuff you have to do.
And that’s a good point. Because a lot of people, they are so ambitious.
And they they forget to pause and say, “I’ve reached my goal.
Let me sit in this for a minute and then decide if I want to keep going.”
I know I hit that. And I was like,
Well, I don’t necessarily want employees, I think that part of the flexibility.
And what I do is not having a team to report to and I’m happy with –
I reached the goals that I set for myself. And now I need to just enjoy that
And be happy with what I did until the next goal comes up.
And then I’ll chase that before right now.
It’s learning to just enjoy what I built and enjoy
What I’ve set up for my family.
That’s an interesting place to be. I remember a few years ago,
I had set my business up and I was looking at a financial goal.
I wanted to hit that goal. And I hit a goal before that.
And I realized I didn’t need any more money than that.
I was like, I wouldn’t know how to spend it if I had more.
So then I realized it wasn’t about the income that I was trying to get.
It was sort of like a meaningless goal.
And so I started instead focusing on like the types of people
I wanted to work with and the type of output I wanted to have.
And what’s interesting is after doing that, making that transition
From focusing on the monetary, gold, focusing on that.
The quality of output and that kind of stuff, I hit that other goal accidentally.
The money tends to follow. As long as your priorities are in the right place.
It definitely is everything. And I know for me, it’s a time thing,
Time and flexibility to do if I need to, at noon, go on a bike ride,
Instead of being at a meeting and nine times out of ten
I’m at my desk at noon. But point is
I could if I wanted to go take that bike ride,
And I have on occasion just to flex my executive powers.
But it’s important to know your perspective.
After this podcast, I’m taking my kids to the zoo here
In the town we’re in, to your point of flexibility.
We travel full time. So we’re, we’re in an RV,
And we travel around the country, Fresno California right now.
And I generally will work in the morning
And we take the afternoon off to explore.
I love it.
Flexibility is the most important part of my business.
Yes. And the fact that you’re taking advantage of it is everything.
Because a lot of entrepreneurs will fill all of their free time with work.
Because we’re passionate people, but you have to create
That life balance that you wanted for yourself
In the very beginning and keep it in perspective. That’s awesome.
I call it permission to play. You have to give yourself permission to play.
And realized I talked to a couple of people on this podcast
That are like neuro scientists, and much smarter than I am.
And like how important play and recreation
Is to your ability to be creative and to deliver well.
And how much we, as entrepreneurs, tend to ignore
That need we have, to play and to recreate to recharge,
So that you can come back and be creative.
And one of the things that I’ve realized over the past couple of years
Since I sort of made that change is like three years ago,
I was putting in 18 hours a day. And putting out half the output
I’m doing now at poor quality. And now in 20 hours a week,
I can put out three times as much stuff with my clients
At higher quality and better speeds, and gets better results for them.
And I can play, which is win-win all the way around?
There was a moment where I thought, well,
I can either go and take a class on public speaking
And do a Toastmasters type of a thing.
And really develop that skill when I was trying to begin speaking
In my speaking career. And I thought, or I can go and
Do improv comedy classes.
That would be so much more fun, wasn’t it,
And that would be so creative. And so I took that path as –
Okay, now I’m not a funny person.
So don’t let me be misrepresented there.
But it was a way to incorporate, let me just go have
A really good time and just be funny and silly and,
Relax a bit and still learn to create that stage presence.
But if you don’t work those things in, you can drive yourself crazy
With the work and you got to make sure that
You’re building the fun in there. I love that playtime concept.
So, my next question for you is about your common enemy.
Common enemy, I want to think about like this,
When a client hires you, and you start working with them.
If you had a magic wand that you could just sort of erase something
That they’re struggling with the you see regularly with your clients,
What would that be? What you think holds
Your clients back most often that if you could just get rid of it,
You can immediately get them better, faster, more impressive results.
Without fail, every single one of my clients that
Is willing to confide in me when we talk.
And they have somebody in their life in their past,
Maybe just a voice in their head that says they can’t do it.
And it’s definitely a mix of fear and doubt, and lack of self-belief
In their own potential. And I know that sounds fluffy.
But when you’re building a business,
And when you’re launching this entrepreneur lifestyle,
You have to believe you can freakin’ do this.
That no matter what comes at you, no matter what
Presents itself as problem, you will be able to conquer it
If you just stay diligent and stay positive and stay focused.
There are no limits. Most people like I mentioned before
Have limiting beliefs on; I can only make so much money
Or raise so much money or do so much or grow so much.
And they constrict themselves and their potential with those beliefs.
So if I could just get rid of that every single one
Of my entrepreneurs would be a glowing success.
So and most of them are a success story,
I don’t want to be incorrect in stating that.
But all of them, without a doubt be a success story.
If they just had that unwavering sense of “Yeah, I can do this.”
“Yeah, there’s no ceiling, there’s no limit. Anything is possible.”
“No amount of money scares me. No competition out there intimidates me.”
“I can do it. If I decide I’m ready to do it.”
That’s such an important thought process too.
And I know, I lucked out, I grew up with a dad who basically,
Every day my life told me anything I put my mind to I could do.
And so I don’t have like the emotional baggage of thinking
That I can’t do it. But I have the imaginative, limited limitation
Where I can’t imagine making more than, 150K a year
Or 280K a year or $100,000 a month or whatever it is
Where it’s like, I think some of that is just like, I know other people do it,
But I can’t see it in my own life. So it’s, it’s hard to imagine it.
It’s really hard to visualize something that you have no concept of.
So like, that’s where I see that struggle in my life,
Where it’s, okay, I could do that. I believe it here.
I could do that here. But how do you get that down here?
How do you get into your heart where you’re like,
I actually can take action on something and move forward that way
And in my case, just eliminated imagination.
Because you have have limiting beliefs.
Well, and a lot of people they don’t know what they want.
So for some people, it’s not a money thing.
And they don’t, I mean, a million dollars a year
Doesn’t really bring that much value, ’cause I can’t imagine
What they would do with it. However, if you said,
Hey, you could have a life where you could never worry about money,
Whatever that amount is. And you only work five hours a week.
For some people, that is a dream. They would love that.
But they can’t imagine. They can’t imagine what that
Would even look like but they would,
They would definitely maximize every minute.
They salivate on the idea of having ownership of their time like that.
And as long as that statement doesn’t end in,
“But I can’t, or I could never.”
As long as they don’t have those limits,
They could figure out a way to get to that destination, definitely.
And that’s one of the things that like I realized in my life is that
The money wasn’t that exciting, but the time freedom
And the location freedom were and was able to make that happen.
So it’s like what you put your mind to, you get?
So do you do any law of attraction type of following
Or do you have a belief system that you leverage?
I have not followed the law of attraction stuff.
I don’t do like the meditation and the visualization stuff,
I probably should. But it’s more like, I figure that if I want it,
And I am willing to fight for it, I can have whatever I want.
And I’ve gotten really good at in my own life deciding
What’s worth fighting for.
What’s worth putting my time and effort into.
And at this point in my life, most of my effort
Goes towards my wife, my kids.
So in my business, most of my effort in my business
Is going towards process documentation,
Systems building and being able to –
How do I create the same and or more revenue
Unrestricted from my time. So that’s where a lot of
My work is going into right now. And I imagine that could at some point,
Make the business explode, like growth wise. not there yet.
But anyways, that’s sort of where, how I’m thinking through that stuff, now.
It’s a very freeing mindset for you to be in
Because most people take a lifetime to get there.
And it sounds like you found it at exactly the right time.
So congratulations on that.
Well, thank you. Sounds like you’re doing something very similar.
So I want to talk a little bit about the opposite side
Of your common enemy is your driving force.
Spider Man fights to save New York. Batman fights to save Gotham
Or Google fights to categorize all the world’s information.
What is it that you fight for in your business?
In my business, or in life? My business?
How about both? Start with your business and then your life.
In my business, I fight for access, I have a dream
Of creating a small world for every entrepreneur that I work with,
Meaning I want them to feel like there are no boundaries,
And that whatever they need resource wise, money wise, people wise,
It’s within arm’s reach, the six degrees of separation thing.
It’s very real. I mean, we are all very interconnected.
And usually, people are one or two contacts away
From having the support that they need to take their business
To the next level, again, financially resource, what have you.
So my driving force is to create that awareness for people.
For every entrepreneur that I support that you can get this
You’re closer than you think you are.
Let me see what bridges I can create for you
Or how I can broaden your perspective,
So you can see them for yourself, and then move forward
And create this empire that you have in your head and help you execute it.
That’s really awesome. Because the access thing
Is something that I’ve noticed over the years, like I remember,
I got started in my business career like 10-11 years ago.
And thinking that you’re alone in there. It’s just you
Against the world kind of thing. And 10-11 years into it
You realize that, the entrepreneur community is small,
And loves to help each other.
And all you have to do is ask and you realize
That you’re connected all sorts of things, like I remember
I had a client asked me once, they’re like, We buy horses overseas.
And we bring them over here. And we generally see
A 200% to 500% return after training them and
Moving them out into the marketplace.
These horses as an investment vehicle. And she was like,
But I have no idea how to grow that. And I was like,
Well, I’ve got some contacts in the real estate space
That know how to do equity partnerships,
And actually build investment portfolios.
They usually use real estate is the asset class,
But I don’t see why you couldn’t use horses as the asset class
And do the same kind of thing, and put a pool of investors together.
And so I made a few phone calls and connected them,
They’re going to find hundred thousand dollar investor pool, investing in horses.
So before the phone call, they’re like, that’s not a possibility.
It’s not a thing. But you can make a few connections. And it happens.
Yes, it changes everything. And like you said, it’s one phone call away.
It’s one connection that can change everything.
And that’s a cool story. That’s really, really awesome
To think of using horses as an investment vehicle. It’s pretty awesome.
Especially, if you get a chance to look into it.
It’s a huge business, but not a lot of people approach it like real estate.
So just bringing a little bit of outside perspective and approaching it
Like a real estate transaction, and like a real estate investing pool.
It was really cool. And they have a really good return
On their investment that they make with the horses.
And then they have to your point, you guys, you tell stories,
Business stories. And I was like, when you’re looking to attract investors,
Everyone at the investor table is sitting there telling about
Their investment pool, their they have their apartment complex,
Or their building or whatever, how many people around
The investor table are talking about the horses that they’re investing in
And that are bringing back a 200%-300% return?
It’s a great story. So it’s a cool, it’s a good pitch to actually
Bring investors in and tell the story. So anyways, it was very cool.
Definitely captivating, definitely.
So I was excited that you said you want to talk about your
Driving force in your life.
The other driving force is just as anybody would expect
My family, my kids, my husband. I grew up in a house
Where I was alone a lot. My – people had to work and
People didn’t have time to be with me as a child.
So I want my kids to always see and feel that
There’s people that love them that are there
That spend time with them, that prioritize them.
And that there’s always a way to create solutions
When it comes to work and money and sky’s the limit.
So those are my driving factors.
I have two.
How old are they?
Eight and ten, right now.
Well, I have four.
I have a nine-year old boy, five-year old girl, a two-year old girl
And a newborn girl.
Holy cow. Congratulations. And you’re all in the RV.
We are. And we got a 40-foot RV. We’re actually running RV now.
And so this is actually a fake background
That’s hanging up behind me here in the in the little back bedroom.
And my kids have bunk beds up front. And we travel there.
We’re up here with grandparents place, right now.
I’m going to … go to the zoo afterwards. But it’s a blast.
I mean, I love my dad growing up in my family.
We had a good time, we went stuff all the time.
But it was predictable. We went places when holidays happened or
On the weekends and stuff. And it always bothered me
That I would get home from school. And I would be alone
For a few hours because I’d wait for my dad to get home
From work and my mom to get home from work.
And I didn’t want that for my kids. Not like it was a big deal.
I mean, I had a great life. But like it just bothered me.
And I was like I want to be there. I want to be there.
If my kid has an early day from school,
I want to be able to come home. And I remember when I –
My wife and I decided to have kids, I want –
I’ve basically one thing that I want to do
Is I want to have lunch with my kids every day.
Or at least be able to, because most parents don’t get to do that.
They might have breakfast or dinner, but lunch was like-
Everyone’s working or at school.
And in the last 10 years since having my son.
I think the number of lunches I’ve missed,
You can count on a couple hands. Mostly for business events and stuff.
So it’s definitely, we share that. And things that we’re fighting for.
So you definitely met your goal. My folks just bought a 38-foot RV
That I had the joy of driving. So I know that is a very special lifestyle
That it’s not for everybody. But if it’s for you,
It is the most freeing, magical experience you can possibly have.
So I love that you’re able to to with your family,
And that they’re in that with you because it is a phenomenal experience.
It’s super fun. I tell it I tell people all the time. They’re like,
“Oh, I wish I could do that.” I was like, “Probably not.”
You probably don’t wish you could do it
If you actually saw the reality of it. But if it’s for you, it’s super fun.
And I was like, what the reality is, it’s the thing that you like
About what I’m doing is the location freedom I have.
And you can work on having that type of location freedom
Without having to force yourself to live in a tiny house
And have an RV. So, how do we work your business
In a way that gives you that time and location freedom.
So anyways, that’s a lot of fun. So, next thing we’ll talk about
A little more practical. Is your heroes tool belt.
Thor has this big magical hammer. Our police officers
Have their bulletproof vests. What are some of the things
That you use on a regular basis to actually deliver what you’re doing?
Like practical tools you use maybe if it’s, I don’t know,
Some of the like the mental exercises you go through or
Software you use or actual tools you use to deliver your …
I don’t like being cliche, but there’s two.
So because I am a bit adverse to hiring and expanding
So that my cost structure stays as slim as possible.
The number one tools that I use that make my entire business possible.
Their Infusionsoft and Calendly.
So my scheduling tool, and then my emailer.
And those allow me to service every single person,
Whether they’re a client, or they’re a inquiry or their a prior client,
I can set meetings with them, I can email them,
I can automate things and create reputations of myself
Without hiring a VA or hiring another team of people
To manage all that. And it changed my entire business.
And it allowed me to focus on business plans,
Instead of focusing on admin work of emailing and payments,
And just everything. I automated everything.
I think I automated more with Infusionsoft than you’re supposed to.
But it’s changed my life, definitely.
Awesome. So I totally feel you on that. I actually, I got to the point recently,
Where I was like if it can be automated, I automated it.
Like to the point where I have a VA who’s working on
Process documents for me. I’ll record something like
Here’s how we do a thing. And I knew that if I had to
Upload that video, and I had to assign it to my VA
And I had to put links to it into a Trello card or something like that
And get it all signed out, it would never get done. Because that’s just not me.
So I set it all up and build all sorts of automation.
So when I record something when I hit the record button,
It automatically uploads, the folder is automatically being watched.
And when it sees the new thing, get dropped in it, it pulls it out,
And it automatically creates the assignments
And puts all the things on them.
And automates all the way through.
And the card has systems on it, where it, they go through the stuff.
And at the end, they finish that checklist.
And the last part is like add the next checklist of the thing
Aand move it over to the next place.
So I have an entire system from beginning to end.
I take one action, which is the thing that I only I can do.
So it’s like how do I focus my business on doing the things
That only I can do? And then build a process or robot that
Does everything else even if there’s humans involved.
So like, automation is my hero. I love automation.
Yes, oh my god and it and it’s so freeing, when it’s your priority,
Especially when you can create your workflows that are
You trigger it and the rest of it just happens.
That’s like I said, that’s what changed my life.
So you totally get it. You totally 1,000% get it.
Automation is everything.
I am a huge, huge fan of automation.
And I think my biggest breakthrough is figuring out
How to include other human beings and automation
So that they can take actions and make decisions
And move things forward. And it just happens without my involvement,
Which is brilliant. But I want to make one other point
For regular listeners of this show. You said something else
That I think is, it’s very telling. And you’ve mentioned Calendly.
I think we’re on episode like 30 or 35 or something here.
And just off the top of your head, what would you say
The number of people who I’ve had on the show who say
Their calendar is one of the most important things that they use.
I’m sure everybody. If you’re an entrepreneur,
You’re schedule is everything.
It is the most consistent thing that pops up when I asked that question,
Is there calendaring software? Over and over and over again,
It’s either their paper calendar, their calendaring software or
Something to do with their calendar.
It appears to me that entrepreneurs live and die by their calendar.
Yes, it’s everything if you don’t have clear calendar,
Practices and regimens and understand when things are happening.
And then you can’t survive if you have meetings.
Now, some people, they don’t have a ton of meetings,
Or they don’t have too many deadlines then fine.
But I live and die by deadlines. Everything that I have has a deadline.
I have meetings all day, every day.
And if I don’t have a calendar app
That helps scheduling for me automatically,
So I don’t have to keep juggling.
When are you free? I don’t know? When are you free? Then, I’m dead.
I can’t do that 10 times a day, every single day. It’s it’s killer. Totally killer.
And I’ve had to train some of my clients are like,
“Hey, can you get on the phone this afternoon?”
I’m like, maybe, maybe not. My calendar’s here.
Yeah. And that’s hard for people that don’t live in that I’ve seen
Discussion with my clients when they don’t live
With that schedule restraint. No, you can’t just call me
I’m on another call with somebody else
That scheduled this three weeks ago.
I need to focus on this person, right now.
We can’t just get on the phone together ad hoc.
So it’s a learning process for some folks. But that way,
You have time for everybody and everybody gets a slot.
And that’s your opportunity.
And get your work done. Allows you to focus better,
That actually get your work done. When you’re talking to them.
So calendars are it. I feel like I’m gonna have to take
A slice out of every episode and put together
Like a compilation of entrepreneurs talking about their calendars
At some point, and be like, so if you’re looking to become an entrepreneur,
Would be just a montage of calendar apps
Montage of people talking about their calendars
And how important they are. So I’m curious if that’s a modern thing
As well, because if you remember, what is it Napoleon Hill,
Think and Grow Rich? Talk to a bunch of successful business owners
Calendars is not part of their discussion.
One of the things he talks about in there.
And I’m curious if that’s just a like a sign of our times
And the technology and how quickly we move,
How important calendars are to entrepreneurs today.
It might be just time
Music is by purple planet music visit https://purpleplanet.com/
What I’m talking about next is some of your own personal heroes.
So Frodo had Gandalf. Luke had Obi Wan.
Robert Kiyosaki his Rich Dad. Who were some of your heroes?
Were they real life mentors? Were they speakers or authors?
Peers that were just a few years ahead of you,
And how important were they to what you’ve accomplished in your business.
I definitely had some really specific clients
That I supported early on that ended up becoming powerful.
However, the very, very first one that really is the gateway
To all of this is a guy named Jimmy Lewin.
And he’s an everyday person. But he was the one
That actually took a chance on me when I first started off,
And he let me take on a business plan assignment
That I had no business taking on. It was like, they discovered
The world’s largest underground salt dome,
And they needed to figure out how to sell all the salt.
I had no idea what I was doing. But I dove into it.
And I ended up finding buyers for it
Had Jimmy not taking time to just trust me and work with me,
He’d never met me before. I would have never been
Able to do what I do today. And his belief in me
And willingness to just kind of go,
“Hey, Ashley, if you think you can do it, I’ll let you do it.”
And I was like, “Yeah, I can do it.”
And you know, thank God, it all worked out.
But I always believe that believing in someone
Is the most powerful thing that you can do for them.
And he believed in me, and he’s definitely that hero in my life.
That’s really awesome. One of the things that –
It reminds me of something my dad said to me,
I remember the context of it was asking my dad
About getting married. I was like 19 at the time,
And I wanted to get married to this girl
Who I didn’t end up getting married to.
ButI thought I wanted to marry her. And I was like, I don’t know if I’m ready.
And his response to me was that if you wait
Until you’re ready for anything, you’ll never do anything.
Sometimes you just have to jump in
Because part of the process of becoming ready,
Is taking the actions is actually doing the things like doing the work.
And that one piece of advice is sort of permeated through my whole life
Where I regularly will get into things, realizing that part of the process
Of being ready for something is doing that thing,
The experience of doing the thing. And in your case,
You’re talking about, he gave you that opportunity
To make yourself ready, when at the beginning you weren’t.
And I think entrepreneurs recognize that. We recognize that
Part of the process of becoming ready is doing the work.
And it’s so powerful, and it’s irreplaceable.
It’s not trainable, or teachable, you can’t go to school
And become ready. You’ve got to do the work.
That’s the only way they can be ready for it.
You got to actually do it. You can’t wait for the stars to align.
I mean, doesn’t matter how aligned they are.
You have to actually go through and do the thing.
And it helps you be ready. And it pops up all the time
When people ask ’cause I’ve got four kids,
People ask me about parenting all the time.
I don’t think I’m ready for having kids. I’m like, there’s no such thing.
You will not be ready after you have them either.
I’m still not ready to do it. I tell people,
My children are my social experiments that I’m sending off in the the world.
Every birthday I say, “Hey, I succeeded another year. You’re still here.
I’m so glad to have you. I’m doing great.”
Do you still like me? I haven’t really asked it up yet.
We’ll still need some time though so –
It is. So let’s bring it home for our listeners a little bit and
Talk about last thing here your guiding principles,
What are the top one or two principles or maybe actions
You use on a regular basis every day, that really contribute
To the success and influence you enjoy your business,
Maybe something you wish you’d known when you first started out?
Might be corny, but that I’m human
Is something that I’m, in the last year. So kind of, it’s my mantra.
And that comes to, that’s everything from I can learn anything.
And I believe that I can learn anything if I decide to learn it.
And it also means that I am only able to do so much.
And I’m going to screw up and it’s okay.
I tend to doubt myself and my abilities once in a while,
As a human being. And I just remind myself,
Hey, you can learn it, you can learn anything if you decide to learn.
So don’t let fear be a reason not to do something.
And then at the same time, just because you can do it
Doesn’t mean you should do it.
And just because you failed at this doesn’t make you a failure,
Just because you should look into something
Doesn’t mean you should execute it, you have to look into it.
So it has been an I always started businesses and
We’ll go through a feasibility study will go should we launch this?
No, probably not. We know how to
That doesn’t mean we should do it.
Maybe looking into what you decide not to.
And anyway, so just, I’m human, there’s mistakes,
There’s endless possibilities. And just keep that
In perspective is kind of my note to self every day.
I like the way you put that to where “I’m human”
Where it has both of because most people say I’m human,
And they think just to the negative part of the human condition.
Where we have failed and we fall and we have problems,
But there’s also the other side of that, where there’s so much possibility.
I mean we’re talking about the same group of people that decided
We want to be on the moon and 40 years later, we’re on the moon.
That’s the type of people we are. And we built everything
You see here on the planet, like all the all the cool stuff that we do
And get to do is so there’s endless possibilities.
So anyways, I like that juxtaposition, that and how review and captures that.
All the good and all the bad.
All the good and not bad. It’s all there.
Last thing I do on the show, I do this with all of my clients
My guests, clients are the people I have in my business,
In all my guests on the show. And you are a result of this HERO Challenge.
Your challenge is pretty simple. And it’s-
Do you have one person in your network that you know,
Who you think has a really cool entrepreneurial journey
That they should come on and share? Who are they?
First names are fine. We can connect with details later.
And why do you think they should come share their story on the show?
There’s a lot of amazing people that I work with, first of all,
And support and network with.
But I would say one of the most inspirational gentlemen
That I’ve supported. His name is Denzel.
He’s a young entrepreneur who is crushing it.
And I can tell you, he’s going to be one of those people
That has a story where if you knew him before this moment in time,
You’re very, very fortunate because he is going to explode.
He helps people change their financial picture, get out of debt,
Find successful, you know, financial health.
And he’s definitely a hero that you want to connect with
Because he is an amazing entrepreneur with a really great story.
Awesome, so I’ll I’ll have my my team reached out to him.
We’ll get details for him later.
And we make this little challenge video that we send out.
So the last thing basically is thank you so much for coming on the show.
Really appreciate having you here. Where can people find you?
If they are looking to reach out to you.
They want to get help with their business plans and more importantly,
Who are the type of people that should reach out?
The type of people they should reach out
And see if you can help with their business plans?
So you can find me at https://writtensuccess.co/
I will be glad to talk with anybody that has an interest
In exploring their vision, launching a business or looking for funding
For a new business idea or for an existing business that’s growing.
Definitely contact me. You can find me on Facebook,
And I am on Instagram and LinkedIn, as well.
All of it is Written Success.
And definitely contact me if you have questions
Because I’d love to help and support
If not helped you with your business plan entirely.
Awesome. Wonderful. So it’s https://writtensuccess.co/
Dot C-O. We’ll make sure we get that in the show notes for people.
If you are looking to get your business plan written or
Get an idea off the ground. Reach out to Ashley.
Obviously she knows what he’s talking about here.
It’s been really fun chatting with you, Ashley.
Really good to have you on the show.
Is there any final parting thoughts you have for our audience?
Just keep on moving forward, people. Don’t ever stop
If you have an idea or a dream or a thought or a goal.
Chase the heck out of it until you get to it.
Awesome. Thank you so much for coming on the show Ashley.
Thank you, Richard. Take care.
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How To Build Incredibly Persuasive Webinars To Sell Your Online Courses or Coaching
Pick your copy of my new masterclass today and learn the EXACT strategies that I personally use to build sales webinars that have sold more than $786,976 worth of online courses and coaching just in the last year.
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