Michelle Lewis is the founder of Visibility Vixen, a company that helps launching entrepreneurs skyrocket their business visibility and monetize their success. Lewis left behind a career in TV and film to follow a calling. “I really like helping people get their unique message into the online space,” she said. “I do that with courses and master classes, and through my podcast, Visibility Vixen.”
Why did you start your company?
It is such a crazy ride! I’m actually from film and television – born and raised. I worked in that industry for about 10 years. Even though I loved film sets, I was working between 12 to 15 hours a day on my feet, and it just got so exhausting. I felt like I wasn’t reaching anyone with what I was doing. I finished up a Disney show and I remember sitting on my couch and talking to my husband saying, “I want to reach people.” I decided I was not going back to television and started writing my own e-book, which led to an e-course, which led to me discovering this beautiful world of online entrepreneurship. That’s when I started realizing that I could help entrepreneurs who are feeling nervous and don’t know what to do on video and livestreaming because of my background in film and television.
Pro tip: Business credit cards can make sure you always have emergency cash on hand. Browse your top business credit card matches for free and apply in minutes!
How did you finance your company at the start?
I decided not to go for loans or credit cards because I didn’t have peace with that at the time. I built my business very sustainably. I figured things out like if I want to run my website, instead of having to do a hosting domain service through WordPress, instead I can run everything on Squarespace for $10 a month. As my income increased through the products I sold, my business expenses increased. I’ve been very blessed to do it in a way where I’ve never gone into debt and have been on the positive side of things in terms of income.
What’s the biggest mistake you made when starting out?
I think that the easiest mistakes to make are experimenting with every single system and software to try to figure out the one that’s going to work the best for your business and be the most affordable. I went back and forth so much, especially with where I was going to host my course.
The other thing is that you want to be successful fast, so you tend to stalk other entrepreneurs who you’ve been admiring to try to make your business just like theirs. I remember looking at all these incredible entrepreneurs like Adrienne Dorison and Nikki Elledge Brown and going like, “How are they writing their copy? What does their website look like?” It was a constant panic of comparison-itis. I was not seeing any growth in my business because it wasn’t authentic. So, when I finally went and focused on one sheet of paper where I wrote what I wanted my business to look like and what would make me happy, I completely changed my business plan and everything changed for me.
What’s the smartest thing you did when first starting out?
The smartest thing I did probably goes against conventional advice. A lot of people say, “If something doesn’t bring you joy or if you’re not talented at it, outsource it.” I didn’t have that opportunity because I was paying for everything myself. I really had to learn how to do every single thing in my business myself. As much as that is hard, I’m glad that I did that because now that I’m bringing on team members, I know exactly how it should be done. I’m not reliant on someone else doing something to make my business work.
Managing the Business
How do you manage business finances?
I use the online system Wave, which is kind of like QuickBooks. Every month, I print out my profit and loss statement to figure out how my income is going and how my expenses are going. I run it all out of one checking account. I’m very strict when it comes to my spending. As we all know, in the first five years of building a business, you’re not going to have a ton of extra money to play with. So, I make sure that if I do make a little more income that month, I’m reinvesting it in terms of online social media strategy or ads.
What’s the most challenging thing about running a business?
I think the most challenging thing is having to wear every single hat yourself, especially in the beginning. It’s not like you’re working for another company where you can just clock in and clock out. You’re a web designer, you’re a financial person, you’re a social media expert, you’re the personality that’s in front of everyone. It’s a lot to do. I think the hardest part is staying organized and heeding every aspect of your business that you really need in order to grow.
What’s the most rewarding thing about running a business?
The most rewarding thing is having that freedom. You get that sense of personal accomplishment whenever you hit a milestone and you know you’ve done it all yourself. Especially if you’ve built a business that’s in alignment with your big “why” of how you want to positively impact the planet. It’s great to be living your purpose and helping other people.
What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs?
Really feel into if this is what you want to do. It is a lot of work, but it’s so rewarding. Have an actionable plan. Stay organized. And absolutely build your business in a way that can support having daily little purchases and occasional bigger purchases so you can sustain it and stay afloat in the first one or two years.
What’s next for Visibility Vixen?
Visibility Vixen officially celebrated its one-year anniversary last week, which is so exciting. I am growing my business now to include running online summits every six months, so I have another one coming up in February. I am teaming up with press expert Kristin Marquet, and we are going to be putting together a master class so that people who really want to increase their online visibility will have a way to do that through publicity. I’m really excited – It’s going to be a great next quarter!
Nav offers an easy way to keep your whole credit life organized. View your personal and business credit together in one account. Sign up for free.