SHEcorporated One Step Empire

Break through to your next level of success! The keys to levelling up.

November 23, 2022 Kristy Carruthers Season 3 Episode 26
SHEcorporated One Step Empire
Break through to your next level of success! The keys to levelling up.
Show Notes Transcript

What’s the difference between being stuck at barely making it and skyrocketing your sales?

Why do some women stay stuck at the same level for months or years and others break free of those plateaus and find incredible success?

Leslie Kuster is with us today - author of 7 keys to 7 figures for women entrepreneurs and a multiple seven figure e-commerce brand owner  and entrepreneur of over 30 years who found the secret to breaking out of her consistent 5 figure business to reach multiple millions.

Leslie is going to share three of her keys from the book with us today as well as talking about our money stories and why women often get stuck in the “Princess Tower”

Leslie also has a free e book for us called -7 sabotaging mistakes most women make. Which is an amazing resource and we get it for free over on her site – we’ve got the link in the show notes.

Whether you are just get started and still designing your business or you are a few years in and can’t seem to grow to your goals – this is where we help you get unstuck


Free eBook 7 Mistakes Most Women Entrepreneurs make and what to do instead!


www.lesliekuster.com/7mistakes



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Kristy: Hi, Leslie. Thanks 

Leslie: for being here. Christy. Thank you for having me. I'm so excited to speak 

Kristy: with you. It's so great to see you. So before we get into the really actionable information on growing our businesses, can you give us a bit more on your story and how you got to this place where you help out other women entrepreneurs build their wealth and their freedom.

Leslie: Yeah, absolutely. So I have been an entrepreneur for a really long time, like you mentioned, 30 years. and the reason why I became an entrepreneur is I simply did not want to get another job. So that was really my motivation. I had, actually traveled in Indonesia and when I returned, I needed to, do something and get a job again.

Just nothing really was attractive to me. And I made the decision then and there that I was not gonna get a job and I was going to do something [00:02:00] different. And I actually launched my business because of the travels that I had just done. And even though, while I was traveling, I never thought, oh my God, this is gonna be my business now, 30 years later, literally.

But when I returned and. Was faced with the idea of getting a job. Again, I just had this idea and I started to think, I wonder if I went back to Indonesia, I went back to Bali and brought clothing back with me. I wonder if I can sell it. And that's what I did. And that is how I launched my business. And I will tell you when I did it at those early stages, I did street fairs and markets and Christmas markets.

And. Working in New York city in the freezing cold , during, you know, Christmas time, schlepping boxes and heavy things all the time. So there was nothing very glamorous about being an entrepreneur at the beginning, but that is how it started. [00:03:00] 

Kristy: Well, then that's what I think you have to do all the things to figure out which of the things work when you're starting.

Leslie: Right. I think we all have to. Yeah, absolutely. And truthfully it was either that in my mind or get a job for somebody else. And my passion was so strong that I just. Did this. And then one thing led to another. And so I continued the business and the business went from, street fairs and markets and all of that into wholesaling then into online sales, because this is now like the nineties and the internet was starting.

And I had did all of this, but even though I had a business and even though. It was my full time job. I wasn't that successful in my business. It was sort of good enough. And I have had a husband and I just didn't have the, I didn't have a fire up my bum to really have to make money. And so I kind of [00:04:00] glide it along for a really long time kind of making.

That would sort of help out some great vacations and buy clothing and other things, but not really a business that actually made a lot of money. I was more in a hobby business, even though I was working almost full time on it. And. That was a time for me that after a few years of living in this way, that I started to feel very, very disappointed in myself.

And that is really the best thing to say. I, I really started to feel like a failure because I knew deep inside of me. I could be doing better than I had been doing. I could be more successful. I could be learning new things. I could be pushing myself. I could be. I mean, I was just living too easy basically.

And I kept going in that way from what I now realize was a lot of mindset traps that would say [00:05:00] things to me like, you know, well, if you're gonna really be successful and, and work really hard, you won't have any time to do the things you wanna do any longer. I'm a spiritual person and money's not that important to me.

And there were a lot of thoughts that went on in my head like that. However, this feeling kept growing inside of me, of feeling kind of bad about myself. And there was really literally a moment where I was sitting in our apartment that we used to live in and in our, my little office there. And I just.

Felt like. There's just no way I am waking up on my next birthday. Not doing more money than I was doing. There was no way that this was continuing. And I actually had a number in my head and I said, I'm gonna be doing a hundred thousand dollars. By my next birthday and that's in sales. And I had been doing by that time, maybe around [00:06:00] 50,000 a year or 65, something like that for my business.

And I made that decision. I was passionate about it and I was, there was just no way I was gonna live with myself anymore. It was the feeling was like a burning desire and. Is what happened. And that was the start of me going on this real entrepreneurial journey of becoming the CEO of my business of really taking control over the finances of realizing that I actually had a, a clothing brand.

And it wasn't just some little thing and really starting to. See my own value as a, as a person and also the value of the clothing that I was actually bringing in. And that was how. My next stage of my life got launched and the sales just went up and up and up from that point on. And, and 

Kristy: that's interesting, cuz so often it's an, it's an [00:07:00] external shift that causes us to, change gears or step back and, and really start pushing.

Right. If we've been coasting along, but for you, it was an, it was an internal shift. You were just like, this is, this is enough. 

Leslie: yeah, that's right. I said, this is enough because it was really uncomfortable. It just felt yucky after a while. Mm-hmm and , I said that's absolutely enough. And you know, what, what, what it took actually is that I had two businesses at the time.

So it wasn't that I was really a lazy person doing nothing. I was doing things. And I had, as I mentioned two businesses, but what I realized in that moment that if I wanna be successful, if I wanna build something. I need to focus and having two businesses at the same time does not allow you to focus.

And this is a mistake that a lot of women entrepreneurs make is this idea that they can multitask. And the truth is we really actually can't the human brain. Cannot do two things at [00:08:00] the same time, even though we think we can. So I gave up one of the businesses. I made that decision then, and just put all of my focus into my clothing grand back from Bali and.

Blew it up basically from a lot of focus and attention and many other keys. So what happened was a few years ago, I started to think how in the world did I build this business? I mean, I have no business background. I sell and manufacture clothing. I don't even know how to sew. Don't know how to make a pattern.

So how in the world did I do it? Which was why I decided to write the book seven keys to seven figures because they, it really outlines. The major steps that women entrepreneurs need to do in order to really build something that really works 

Kristy: well. Let's talk about that too, because I think, you know, we've got a lot of newer women entrepreneurs that listen to the podcast and whether they're just, you know, planning out their business and, and getting started, or if they've been in business for a [00:09:00] few years and they're kind of stuck and they're not getting where they wanna be.

I think these are all, these are all useful, , bits of information for them. So can you kind of high level for us what some of those, 

Leslie: those steps. Yeah, well, the first one for sure is wanting it. Like if you don't really want it just don't waste your time. And I think this is really something that's really important.

There's, there's definitely easier ways to make money than being an entrepreneur, even though it might not be as fun or interesting, or it might not be something you wanna tell people when you go to a party that that's what you do, but there's definitely easier ways to make money Right. So if you don't want it, like if you don't have a burning desire to be an entrepreneur, to do it to, I don't know, like bring a product that into the world that you want to, or you're trying to solve a problem for a group of people. Like, for example, I'm in this program and one of the entrepreneurs in it create a.

It's products for people who suffer from dry eyes and he's [00:10:00] created this amazingly big business out of that. So he felt this strong desire to help people with dry eyes, cuz he did too. You need to have this burning desire. In my case, it was that I didn't wanna get a job and I wanted. Proof to myself, I could do better than I was doing, and I wanted to make more money.

So that was my real burning desire. That is absolutely key. Number one is you have to really want it. And even though you might have a new business or even you're still maybe working in another company still, and you're starting a side business, or maybe, it's it's is you're in a situation where you really can't focus.

Only on that business. What's important is that you want it because that will keep. Giving you the, energy and everything to keep going forward. So I can't stress that enough. 

Kristy: Yeah. And it is [00:11:00] gonna get hard. It doesn't matter how good you are at what you do or what you do. It's going to get hard at some point.

 What's number two. What's the next explanation? Well, 

Leslie: number two is focus, which is what I mentioned already. And this is, you have to put your energy on what it is that you want to happen.

And, , again, if you are still working at a company and you're starting a side hustle, or, you still have to do other things or other work well that's okay. , but make sure you give yourself really focused time to focus in on your business and what you need to be doing, because whatever you focus on expands and what you don't focus on doesn't and the trouble is when you're first starting.

is that there's so many things to do at the beginning or, or actually at all stage at the beginning, the middle and who knows how long it lasts that for someone who's new at being an entrepreneur and directing their own life and their own, you know what they're doing each day, doesn't have a [00:12:00] boss any longer knowing what to do next is really, , something that's so incredibly important.

So, what I recommend, and this has to do with taking action is you really want to make intentions. And what I like to call action steps. So intentions are really another way of saying goals. I just like the word intentions. It sounds a little more feminine to me and I. to use that word intentions are the things that you would like to happen.

And you want to again, make a structure of how much time you're talking about. So for example, your quarterly goal. So your Q1 goal, your Q2 goal, your Q3 goal, your Q4 goal, and you really literally take out a piece of paper. I literally mean a paper and pen and not your computer, cuz I really do believe in physically writing these things down.

And [00:13:00] write down what those intentions are for that quarter. Even no matter. What or how difficult or easy those things are. And maybe you wanna write down for example, four or five, and then from those you wanna start making what I like to call action steps. So. For example. I mean, in my case, I was doing clothing, and I was doing importing clothing and I wanted to get set up on Amazon.

So for me it meant, applying to Amazon getting on Amazon, that would be like an actions. Step, it would mean creating the listing on Amazon. So I had to write the title and I had to write the bullets that those are action steps. So you want to really get everything down on, on paper. And so you have a plan and you can see what it is that you need to be doing.

And then another tip that I have is, is when you're looking at your intentions and your [00:14:00] action steps to circle the ones. That are going to make you money and do those first. So when you're ever wondering, should I do this? Should I do this? Should I start a website? Should I, what, what should I do first?

What is the thing that is going to make you money and do that? It's 

Kristy: such a challenge. I mean, it's a challenge for anybody to keep focus, but I think if you are, if you are of an entrepreneurial spirit, It's even more difficult. That's one of the things that makes you an entrepreneur is that you've got all these ideas that you wanna, you wanna dive into and you're you you're right.

You have to focus on the key, especially if you've got a side hustle, you've got a family you've got a day job, whatever it happens. To be, you need to really, really get clear on the things that are important right now. Not all the things I'm so guilty of that I have a million things that I wanna do at all times.

and you don't get anywhere unless you 

Leslie: focus. Yeah, exactly. And, and some people are visual people sometimes like people like to write and you could also do like a whiteboard, have a. Baker [00:15:00] whiteboard. I had that in my, my office when I had an office. I'm a nomad right now. so I don't have a whiteboard, but I had a big one and I really, I wrote down my quarterly goals and my quarterly intentions there.

So like every time I walked into my room in my office, in my room, in my apartment, I can see them. So whatever you need to do to. Put those action steps in front of you, those intentions in front of you. So you see them all the time, because what that does is it actually brainwashes you to do those things and you start to realize you actually have a plan.

There's something you can follow. If you don't do that, if you don't write it down, put it on a whiteboard, then your mind is just gonna be overwhelmed. And it's just gonna run through all the things you need to be doing. And probably the number one sabotage to success is that is not doing anything because you feel so [00:16:00] overwhelmed.

So if you can keep doing little baby steps every day, baby, baby, baby steps each day and do something and to keep you going in that direction, it just grows and grows and grows and grows. 

Kristy: Now, I know you believe in order to be successful in business, that there's times when you need to stop doing business.

Now I agree a hundred percent on a small scale in taking a block of time, which is just, we're talking about here, taking that kind of step back from being in the business, to looking at the business and looking at the plan and working on the business. But you're talking about a bigger break than that.

Is that 

Leslie: correct? Yeah, cuz that's what I did. So tell us, you know, I think that if anything, the last few years has shown us, is that like, we don't have to do things the way we thought we had to do things. Children don't have to go to school the way we thought children have to go to school. I mean, whether you like that or not, the fact is it.

It somewhat worked. You know, people don't have to go to offices the way they thought they had to go to [00:17:00] offices. I mean, my husband was an example. He said, there's no way I could work from home. This was years ago, him telling me, well, guess what he worked from home and it was fine. So if there's anything we've learned, it's that things don't have to be the way we think they have to be.

And that, in my opinion includes how much you work. So I'm a really big believer that when you take time off of working and you give yourself the space to be, and to enjoy yourself, then. Something happens inside of you that enables you to get even more clear with your wanting and what it is you want to be doing when you start going back to what you're doing, but unless you give yourself those breaks, then you can't really hear inside yourself what it is you want and where you wanna be going.

So the reason why I know this works is because I've been doing it for, for 30 years , for 30 [00:18:00] years. I have been going to the woods of New Mexico during the summer for any time between three to six weeks, sometimes years ago, even longer and really working from there, but very limited, I would say maybe five hours a week.

Okay. Wow. And yeah. And during these years, There was no, it never hindered. My business is what I'm trying to say ever. And in fact, the years where the business went from the 50 to the hundred, to the 400, to the seven figures and beyond the multiple seven figures, I continued to do this. Now I had to make changes in my business.

I needed to. Do team that, that word that we we're all getting familiar with, there were things I needed to change to do in order for me to be able to do these things and continue to do these things. But [00:19:00] the idea that I couldn't, and the fact that I had a multiple seven figure business to me, Did not mean that meant I have to be working even more and harder and longer.

So I chose not to believe that that was what I needed to do. I really believe there's different ways to make things work. I truly, truly do. And if you really believe that and you really believe you can build. A great living and a great business on 10 hours a week of working 10 hours a week or 20 or five or 30.

And if you wanna believe it's gonna take you 70, whatever you believe is correct. Whether you think you're you're right or wrong either way. You're right, right. Henry Ford is who said it. 

And I believe that too. So whether you think it's gonna take you 10 hours to do something or a hundred hours either way. You're right. So why not be right about how you want to build your business? [00:20:00] Why not? Like, does it. Does it help you to go? No, no, no. I have to work all the time. Like why not have a different way of thinking?

Because believe me, it can happen. And we 

Kristy: so often we just default, right? We Monday to Friday nine to five is business hours. And if you're an entrepreneur, you're probably working some evenings and weekends and. That's how it goes and that's what we expect. And so that's how we schedule our week and that, you know, and then we're gonna need to be in the office or we're gonna need, or we need to have an office or whatever it happens to be.

And you're right, especially at the beginning, this is you. You're building your company, you get to design it however you want. It's your company. So build it the way you want it to be. Don't build it to be working 80 hours a week. 

Leslie: Exactly. And, and that ties into the idea of, of one's own personal values and really what does success mean to you?

I mean, we want a, a life of balance. We want relationships and friendships and we want [00:21:00] fun and enjoy our lives. That's what really we want. We wanna learn. We wanna grow. We wanna connect with our spirits. You know, these are the things that feed us. We wanna go for walks.

And so it's really important to, to allow yourself and give yourself the permission to say what you want and to set your life up in that. 

Kristy: So let's talk, give us one more key from your seven keys before we wrap up, I would love to have one more that you think is gonna be a, big helper to, to people just getting started.

Leslie: Perseverance. 

Kristy: Oh, yes. 

Leslie: yes. Right? Yep. Perseverance. I mean, just get used to setback, setbacks and failures, because that's what you're going to have. I mean, if I can tell you all the problems that I've had in my business, and all my reasons for giving up my business, you know, from. Cargo company agents were, you [00:22:00] know, stole all my clothing to Amazon's, uh, bot, going through, you know, it's like a little computer nasty little computer thing that for some reason, didn't like the word Bali in my listings and just started shutting everything down.

So you. You know, Nothing could be sold. If I can, if I can just give you the lists and lists and lists of problems that I faced in my business, you wouldn't believe it. And so this is business, it takes perseverance and just going and all the great people who have made. Great businesses like, like Sarah Blakely, for example, spanks.

I mean, she loves telling that story of how many nos she was given to her idea of spanks. And now, I mean, her, her company is worth billions, not millions, billions. So it really is about perseverance and just sort of staying in the game. And sometimes I think that is one of my reasons to, for success, which is [00:23:00] why it is.

My key is that's key numbers. Number six is perseverance because just staying in the game and when difficult things happen, just getting through those difficult things. , I think COVID was a great example of a difficult time for. Many of us. And even though I had an online business, which did better than most people's, if they didn't have an online business, I still was severely affected in, in sales where it just, , plummeted, so all of a sudden I went from having, , multiple million dollar business to sales that were nothing like that.

So. What do you do? How do you feel about yourself? And it was a really big lesson for me, cuz I, I felt like, okay, I'm no longer a multiple seven figure brand owner. So who am I? And I realize I am somebody with intelligence and creativity and I will come out of the ashes of [00:24:00] whatever is thrown to me and I will grow.

And that's who I am because I'm. Anything other than that, and sure enough, and like for many of us, our businesses recovered and my certainly did and is doing much better now than 2020. So it just is an incredibly important part is that you just persevere and keep going. And if you do do that, and if you do have a good product or you do have a good service, you will succeed.

Kristy: Those are great words of wisdom. and I think it's important to note that there will always be challenges. It doesn't matter what stage you get to in your business, starting out. It's maybe a different set of challenges, but it, they never stop. As long as you're in business, it's gonna continue to throw challenges that you, that you, you don't expect and you need to be flexible and you need to just keep going, keep moving forward.

Leslie: Yeah. And you're not alone. Every, every business owner is going through something, you know, something that's difficult, every business owner, which is actually also why it's really important to [00:25:00] connect with other women entrepreneurs to through, group coaching or masterminds or, joining a membership or something like that.

So you can like talk to other women. Yeah. Business owners too. 

Kristy: Community's so important. And I just wanna touch on this. This is not something we've really talked about, but I know it's, it's something that that's important to you and we've, we've talked about it a little bit on the podcast, but I think it, it bears, , more conversation is, is our money stories and.

And how, how we think about money and how we feel about money. And you say that women should unapologetically claim their love for money. Can you tell us what that means to you? 

Leslie: Yeah, a absolutely. So that was, that was my turning point. I was the person, as I said before, you know, I didn't wanna work that hard because I wanted to do this.

I didn't want, I was spiritual. So therefore I wasn't into money. So I had all kinds of ideas of what money was gonna bring into my [00:26:00] life and that I wasn't that type of person mm-hmm . And when I made. Decision to make money, build a business and do all that. I realized how trapped I was in my own money story.

And my money story was basically that a, the value of a man is to make money and the value of a, a woman or a wife or whatever is to be is, is not to make the. That that's the family that I came from mm-hmm and, even now, like my brothers are all very successful and all the wives and everybody else are not.

So I kind of was the one who changed and I changed, because I realized I had been lying to myself that I. Didn't want the money and the truth was I did. And once I started to be like really honest, that that is something that I really wanted. I started to realize that the it's it, money is not good and it's not bad.

It's it's, [00:27:00] it's just what we bring to it. That makes it. Good or most likely makes it bad. It's just basically energy. And with that kind of energy, you can do so much more and you can have such an amazing life. And I think women, are ashamed, Ashamed and shamed when they are told, that they're too into money or they shouldn't speak about money because it's not feminine.

It is not considered a feminine value to want money. Talk about money, talk about how much you make, how much you wanna make. , it's, that's considered something that Amanda does and woman doesn. and you would hear too often women talk about their businesses and say things like, oh, I would do this. Even if I made no money.

Well, why would you even say that? Why would you even bring that thought form? And is that really true? Like be honest, is that really true? It isn't. [00:28:00] So I think we have to understand. Something really fundamental. And that is money gives you power and money gives you choices and money gives women independence.

And without the money, your own money that you make yourself. And it are not given it by anybody else without having that yourself, you're not truly independent and you're not truly standing on your own feet and you are. Rather in what I call the princess tower, which is where I was. And I think we need to say we love money because this is what's going to free us from the, the money stories and the negative money stories that so many of us carry.

Kristy: It's a cornerstone of, why I created she coopered is, is helping women get independence and freedom through success and entrepreneurship. It's part of our mission statement and. Your abso [00:29:00] whatever freedom means, and that freedom might be something very dramatic, like getting out of a bad situation or, being able to support themselves, or it might just mean being able to design their life, whatever it is, the money is just a tool.

The money is, is that, that freedom, that independence and what you do with it is entirely up to you. So I think it's so important that we really sit down and analyze and, and every one of us has a money story. They're, they're all different depending on how we were raised or, or what we're surrounded by, but we all have a money story.

We need to sit back. And some of us, if we're hitting this point, like Leslie was at, in our business here where it's. 20 years in, or, or two years in, and you feel like you're kind of stuck and you keep hitting the reset button and you don't get above, you know, maybe you've got that upper limit problem where your money story is that you can't go above a certain level that you're only meant to be at a certain place.

So it's really important that we all sit down and, and identify what that is for sure. 

Leslie: It's so important because the other fears that a lot of women have is [00:30:00] like, what happens when you make more money than your husband? Ooh, you know, what happens when your girlfriends see you become really successful and you're not just meeting at yoga class and that's what you do every day.

What happens when your parents, you know, when you do so much better than your parents or whatever, we have identities, and we've all grown up with identities that we're comfortable in, even though they may be, you know, keeping us small. They, we all have them. And so what happens when you break out of that identity and becoming successful, making money, standing on your own feet, being independent woman financially is a change in identity.

If you have not done that before, and that's something else to swallow. And, I think that's another reason some women don't wanna go there because it also entails how other people will then perceive them and see. This could 

be 

Kristy: a whole nother three hour podcast. 

Leslie: so much, [00:31:00] I love talking about this topic.

It's, it's, it's so important for women that we, we speak about this and we begin to get really honest with our money stories , and really, and what they are because however much money you are making right now, whether you are making a lot of money or you're making a little money, it is because of your money story.

Period there. That is the only reason you are 100% responsible for what you're doing right now. I'll just add one little tip. I love money mantras and money. Mantras are just sayings that you can say to yourself all the time. And my money mantra is a lot of money comes easily and frequently.

So I recommend. You can borrow mine if you like to, or create your own money mantra and just say it to yourself many times a day. 

Kristy: Rewire that little voice in your head. That's right. So before we sign off, Leslie, what is your best piece of [00:32:00] advice for newer women, founders, maybe something somebody told you something you've learned along the way.

What would you share with 

Leslie: us? You know, for. Many years I was, as I said, not successful. Okay. And we're talking quite a lot of years. I mean, maybe we're talking about like maybe 20 years where I was, doing under six figures. And what changed for me was getting. A consultant or a coach that is what changed everything.

So I would say that that is the number one thing that, a new woman, woman entrepreneur should do. Now. I know that means investing in one and when you're not making money in your business yet, , that could be really scary, but it truly is. The best and fastest way for a, a new business owner to really get on their feet and start to have a successful business.

So getting a coach, getting a consultant, getting a mentor, that's what I would do. And once I did that, that's when everything [00:33:00] changed. Yeah. 

Kristy: If you absolutely can't afford to get a coach, get a mentor, find a mentor.

And we actually have a podcast coming up, , about. Finding a mentor, how to find a mentor. So that's oh, I love that. Yeah. That's a good one to tune into as well. So we are gonna post a link so that you can connect with, Leslie on our website. It's Leslie kuster.com. And we're gonna put that on in the show notes.

If you're on a platform where you can't see the show notes, which I know some of them, you can't just pop over to one step empire.com, just like the name of the podcast. One step empire.com, all the notes, all the shows, all the. All of those good things are there for you. And I just wanted to say thank you, Leslie.

Thanks so much for being here with us today. It was really a pleasure. 

Leslie: Oh, thank you so much for the opportunity and much success to all your listeners. Thank you.