84: What It Takes To Scale Your Business with Ashlyn Carter

84 header
84: What It Takes To Scale Your Business with Ashlyn Carter 3

What does it take to scale your business? In today’s episode, I’m chatting with copywriter Ashlyn Carter about her journey through entrepreneurship and successfully scaling her business. We’re diving into where to start when hiring help, managing overwhelm, and which financial decisions are worth the investment. 

The Shoot It Straight Podcast is brought to you by Sabrina Gebhardt, photographer and educator. Join us each week as we discuss what it’s like to be a female creative entrepreneur while balancing entrepreneurship and motherhood. If you’re trying to find balance in this exciting place you’re in, yet willing to talk about the hard stuff too, Shoot It Straight Podcast is here to share practical and tangible takeaways to help you shoot it straight.

Make sure you’ve hit that follow or subscribe button on your favorite podcast player to get notified each week as we air new episodes!

Subscribe on Your Favorite Podcast Player

Apple Podcast App | Spotify | Amazon | Google Podcast

Connect with Sabrina

Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest

This episode is brought to you by Root to Rise, a mastermind and retreat for female photographers where personal development meets business growth. During the four-month experience, students have weekly calls focused on goals, boundaries, money, and marketing.  The program also includes incredible guest teachers, a private Facebook community, and weekly Voxer hours with individualized guidance and mentorship. Sign up today to join the waitlist. 

Review the Show Notes:

Get to know Ashlyn (2:52)

Ashlyn’s journey as an entrepreneur (5:07)

Growing your business and hiring help (9:09)

What stops female entrepreneurs from hiring help (15:18)

What does it take to scale? (25:02)

The first step to scaling (29:00)

Managing seasons of overwhelm (33:29)

The timeline of scaling (36:46)

Financial investments to scale your business (39:36)

One practical step from Ashlyn (43:11)

Rapid-fire questions (44:15)

Connect with Ashlyn

Website

Facebook 

Instagram

Youtube

Pinterest

Episode Links:

How To Calculate Your Hourly Rate

Root To Rise Mastermind

84 pin
84: What It Takes To Scale Your Business with Ashlyn Carter 4

Review the Transcript:

Sabrina Gebhardt
On today’s episode of the shoot straight podcast, I have my friend Ashlyn Carter, you guys need to just buckle up because this conversation today is so honest and so real, and I literally cannot wait for you to hear it. If you don’t know, Ashlynn is a big name copywriter. She has written websites for some pretty huge household names. But she has also scaled her business to a place where she has a membership and a template shop and coaching programs. And she does all of these things, in addition to she has an absolutely incredible YouTube channel. She speaks at conferences and summits, she’s got a lot going on her business is pretty incredible. And she dropped some really real numbers in this episode. But what we’re talking about today is navigating this myth of quote unquote, doing it all, and what it really looks like to scale your business. So if you have ever thought, Man, I’d love to be one of those business owners that has products or a shop or starts speaking or starts doing education, or has associate photographers under me or anything, where you are scaling and you are doing less of the work and you’re having a team and you’re hitting these incredible numbers. This episode is for you because Ashlynn and I get really real. So let’s dive in. Welcome to the shoot it straight podcast. I’m your host, Sabrina Gephardt here I will share an honest take on what it’s like to be a female creative entrepreneur. while balancing business motherhood and life. myself along with my guests will get vulnerable through honest conversations and relatable stories because we’re willing to go there. If you’re trying to find balance in this exciting place you’re in yet willing to talk about the hard stuff to to shoot it straight podcast is here to share practical and tangible takeaways to help you shoot it straight. Welcome back to the shooter stripe podcast my friends today I’m so excited because I’m chatting with my friend Ashlyn Carter. I followed Ashlyn online for a long time, like many people on the internet do. And then I was lucky enough to get to actually meet her in person, spend time with her in person hug her sit next to her we hung out last year at the Elevate Summit. And now we’re friends. And you know, I’m just so lucky. So here she is. See

Ashlyn Carter
buddies, we forgot we sat next to each other.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, we did. And that’s you know what, when your seat buddies with somebody at a conference or a summit, you make new friends. So let this be a little plug to go to those things if you never have, because it’s important to meet people. So we have an incredible chat today. But before we dive in, in case you’ve been under a rock and you don’t know who Ashlynn is, please introduce yourself to the audience.

Ashlyn Carter
Man. I’m so excited to be here. Thank you for having me on. I love what I do. I feel like I’m in my maybe this is how far am I am 35 this past quarter life. I feel like I’ve been through so many changes, but I do know. I want to keep being a copywriter. That’s the nature of my business. I’m a conversion copywriter. I believe that not knowing what to say shouldn’t be so hard to figure out for people that love pretty stuff, aesthetically driven people we work with a lot of creative women and entrepreneurs. I have a side of my business it’s a boutique agency we take on one on one clients we’ve sold 1.2 6 million and copywriting services and then I like I said I want to teach people it’s you can absolutely be your own best copywriter and your own best messenger so we have a template shopping courses and we just want to equip women figure out how to steward their story and their sales. It’s okay to make money I know you agree with that listen to your stuff. And that’s that’s part of part of it. So that’s what we do over here and I’m based in Alabama now and have three kids and a husband and two dogs. Yeah,

Sabrina Gebhardt
you are a busy busy and she also obviously if we’ve met at a summit she speaks on stages and she is so darling she’s as darling in person as she is online. So if you do not already follow her, please do. Everything she teaches is absolute magic and gold. She gives so much content away and so many like lightbulb moments you have Ashlyn is just a great gem. So, okay, I’m gonna stop bragging on you. And we’re gonna get into today’s chat. We are talking about the myth of quote, unquote, doing it all and the truth behind what it takes to scale your business. And I’m so pumped. I’m pumped personally, to have this chat. I can’t wait to pick your brain. Well,

Ashlyn Carter
you sit over such great prep work and I thought like this is the kind of stuff that people talk about on YouTube all the time. It’ll talk about on stage because we get asked to talk about copywriting but this is stuff that is between your ears and you’re completely in your head about it has the appeal Ready to either rocket you into the next level or hold you back completely. So I’m really excited that we’re going to talk about some of this stuff. Yeah.

Sabrina Gebhardt
So before we dive too far into the conversation, we know because of your introduction, we know where you are now and what you’re doing. But give me a little bit of a background in your career like how did you end up being an entrepreneur? Okay,

Ashlyn Carter
corporate girlie through through I left corporate life. I think now, since we’ve had the pandemic pulled a lot of women, I think, out of corporate, so I don’t know, I just feel like there’s a lot more of us who is like their second career, and we’re trying to figure out that like, what is a digital slant on maybe the skills that we studied in college are practiced in a different environment. That’s me. So I worked in public relations in Atlanta, loved it corporate marketing, I feel like my dream was to like click down the hall and a pencil skirt in stilettos and I got to do that. And I loved it. I thought my job was really glamorous. Jury’s out on if it was, but during all that I would go home at night, and khaligraph wedding invitations. I had weird handwriting. And so I took calligraphy classes, and it was this great outlet. And it offered me a peek into the creative economy. And I would go to meetups and listen to like photographers sell their services. And it just all of a sudden, a light bulb went off. Like, I’m sorry, what are these people like cover their lifestyle? They make money doing what they love, like, that is wild to be. And so it seeded this little idea. Oh, long story super short in a nutshell. My husband proposed and I developed an eating disorder because I was trying to control everything I didn’t mean to but I did. And so I ended up right after we got married, I had to go into partial hospitalization. I was 27 years old thought stuff like that doesn’t have to girls like me. Fun fact, mental health does not discriminate. And so I was during that time that I thought, okay, I get one life, I got to do something that’s healthy for me. What do I want to do? And so we talked and I started my business. And I left I put in my two weeks notice left, I knew I could do calligraphy in New Yorker, right? I didn’t really know much beyond that about how I was going to monetize things. But like I said, I go to those meetups. And I hear people talk about photographers, for example, I want to charge $10,000 on this package, people are gonna be afraid of the price point. They’ve emailed me, I have no idea how to email them back when they say I’m too expensive. And I was like, what, let me add it. That sounds like a fun puzzle. That’s my jam. And so I realized there was they needed copywriting expertise and help. And that was one thing I loved. I could speak their language. And so that’s really where it started. That was 2016. And obviously, things have grown so much and changed since then. But that’s where it all began. Yeah.

Sabrina Gebhardt
I love that story. And I love that I don’t I don’t love the hospitalization part, right. But that is how God used your story to bring you to where you are, right? Everybody has some sort of pivotal moment like that, whether or not they want to share about it, whether it’s as heavy as yours is, but there’s Everybody’s got something and that brought you to where you are, which is beautiful, because you are helping. Yes, you are helping 1000s of people and just it’s incredible to watch and going from this corporate America and then leaving and saying, I don’t know what I’m going to do. But I’m going to start my own business to where you are now and the level that your business’s like you said you did 1.2 6 million. Like, it’s incredible to see where you are now. It’s just been it’s an I haven’t even followed you like from the beginning, just in the past few years that I followed you just seeing things grow and morphing. And just in the past year, you went through huge life changes, having another baby moving to a new state, and seeing how you were okay with like putting your business down for a hot minute and then picking it back up. It’s just, it’s really inspirational to see where things have come. So today, the meat of this conversation when we look at your business now where it sits today, again, you’ve just really achieved some incredible things and you work with some incredible people. But I’m sure that your business didn’t look like that when you first started right when you first started, I’m sure you’re probably like what are we doing guys? It’s me, myself and I and so when you were first starting out, how quickly did it take you to bring somebody on to work with you for support and kind of like share that journey?

Ashlyn Carter
Okay, I love it. Also be under no illusion. I still fall on my face all the time. I’ve told coaches recently I feel like I used to get like practice free throw shots in the gym and no one would see me from the in like a business analogy since and now like well, people are watching so it becomes um, I don’t know I want to share the messy parts too and then we’ll get into that but yes, I vividly remember my first day I was sitting in my office it was like a Monday I had quit my job sitting in the office and I was like so here we are day one. I guess I tried to get a client um, I remember that first day I like broke down my I didn’t really even know How often I wrote down like vision and mission and all that kind of stuff. So I first started getting help. I was, like I said, I would go to meetups and I guess prospect that is didn’t use that term for it at these meetups, very, very grassroots. I love how you alluded earlier, like go to the conference, in person events, is how I built my business. That is how I got my first big ticket name client, like household name client went to an event she was speaking, we settled up to the bar, drink margaritas, and we’re chit chatting. Next thing is she hired me like that. There’s such magic that happens in person events. So I did I could sell. So I very quickly accrued client work, knowing what to do with the money on the backside and a whole nother story. I had no idea what to do there. But I didn’t know how to sell and get clients. And so I, I executed all those projects on my own. And then that’s I built my first course, because copy is expensive. How can I serve people that couldn’t afford that. So digital courses were a thing and that’s 2016. So I built a course, after those two things. So executing client work, getting the course out, boom, that’s where I first hit my play. So I cannot do this all on my own. My first hire, if you will, was I know still doing calligraphy. By the way. I hired my mom’s to spot edit and hack all calligraphy envelopes. So she did that, which was really helpful. And I paid a girl to make me a PDF that I could use for freebies, like the design. So did those two things. But then my real first hire I feel like was in March. So it was the 13 months after I left my job. somebody to help me with client work. She was not client facing but I hired my first associate copywriter. She’s our head of agency now she’s immensely I mean, she’s, she’s a workspace for sure, in my business, but that was my first I feel like real real big girl higher where I thought, okay, nationals like this somebody’s coming livelihood. This isn’t a fun little side gig like this is this is it. And that was absolutely terrifying.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, yeah. Did you hire anybody in between there like any kind of VA or assistant or was it literally just your mom? And then you went straight to

Ashlyn Carter
her mom straight to her? No, VA? Yeah, the VA puzzle, I had a really difficult time figuring out honestly, I probably had. Now I have an executive assistant. That was a big investment. Last year. First time, I’ve hired an EA, I tried VA integrator, combo project manager, I tried to fit that kind of right hand girl a lot of different ways. I don’t think there’s one right way, I think you just have to figure out what works for you and your business and your personality. But that’s one thing when I was kind of making notes about what I wanted to talk about today, you’re gonna mess up hiring, just swallow that pill, you’re freaking gonna mess it up. And he just said, it’s going to be embarrassing, it’s going to be sad, you’re going to have to let somebody go, you’re going to sob while you do it. It’s awful. It sucks. You are a business owner, you’re going to have to like like, if you want your business to be around 510 years, you’re probably going to go through that process at least once. So if you once you realize like, and I do believe in the adage, hire slow fire fast. There is you when you realize you need help. You need to get it. And then when you realize somebody’s not a fit and your trust your gut, trust your gut. It’s good for you. And it serves them too. Yeah.

Sabrina Gebhardt
And this is a side note, but the firing thing, it is always so hard because I’m sure you’re the same way. Like I like everyone. And you know, it takes a lot for somebody to for me to not jive with them at all. Excuse me. And so like, part of me is like but I like her. Gosh, yes. And that holds you that forever. Yes. Because you’re not you’re not paying her to be your friend. You are paying somebody to do a job. Love

Ashlyn Carter
that. Yeah, yeah. I um, I’ll shout them out on here. Paradigm HR, have you heard of them Kara is a fantastic resource for entrepreneurs and creatives, looking to outsource and hire. Because I didn’t learn until last year 2023 We kicked off the year working with them building an employee handbook, but that more specifically than that, getting really specific and good. What is it called job descriptions, job descriptions and KPIs. When you have that, then you can uphold the person to a standard and so that made the I guess the firing I hate that word even the letting go process but I did have to do that last year easier because it’s black and white. It’s not facts, not feelings. It’s did you do these things? Yes or no? And honestly, if you can get to a point where that person looks at it, and they’re like, nope, let you down. I’m sorry. Like that. If you can make the letting go process any easier that does kind of make it easier and so I would highly recommend and all outsourcing and hiring stuff out on a screen. Have you ever felt like this? To me? It was like, that’s what the big girls do like the big kids do. Me. And so even job descriptions and stuff. And I was like, well, we’re not that kind of business that you are. And yes, very helpful to use those as tools. Yeah,

Sabrina Gebhardt
yeah. So you know that on this podcast, I love to talk about the why we’ve already talked about some pretty good wise. But when I think about female creatives wanting to ready, they’re ready to hire, they’re ready to grow their business. They can’t do it alone. Like you said, they still have that fear, right? Of like, oh my gosh, logistics or finances? Or how am I going to figure this out? Where do I find this person? What do you think is holding these women back? What do you think it is? Really, that’s that’s keeping them stuck from making like pulling the trigger? And making that first hire?

Ashlyn Carter
I get this question was a zinger. Because I made myself think about it before we hopped on. And I boiled it down to I think there’s three reasons that I see with our, our students, our members, our clients, and myself, the first one, you’ve been burned, and you have trust issues that this? Yes, there’s mindset stuff involved. As far as like, you don’t want to let things go. Yeah, yeah. It sucks when you’ve trusted somebody to do something, and they didn’t do it. And that will hold you back. That will make you hold on, I can just do it, I can just do it. That’ll that’s a big time holder bet. So I think just recognizing that like, it’s okay, if you’ve been burned before, or if you have trusted like you’re, there’s ways to get over that. But that can be a valid reason. Another one, you think you can do it faster. And you’re probably right, you can probably do a lot of things faster. I like to know enough to be dangerous about anything a handoff. So even if it is outside Facebook as No, I cannot do that faster. I just cannot keep up with the algorithm and everything like that. But I do try to know enough to be dangerous about it. So I can talk intellectually with our ads team. But they’re from a lot of tasks that you do just need to get off your plate, you’re gonna think you’re faster and you are one tool I found really helpful, you can probably Google and find it. Michael hiatt’s. What does he call it a vision caster document I’ve talked about on YouTube and shared screenshots of ours, getting really good at communicating when you delegate, and you hand something off being very clear about this is exactly what I expect. This is the why not just training them and letting them see it, but helping them understand in your head. Where does this fit in for you. That was, that’s great. I’ve, every time I hand off something, even to our employees, I fill out one of those pieces of paper, it takes like 30 minutes, it really challenges you to get on paper, all the tools that will help them be successful in that task. So that’s reason number two, you think you can do it faster, and you’re probably right. So you have to work with that. And then number three, you don’t know your hourly rate, you don’t know your costs and the business as the CEO. You guys knew this, you pay yourself basically to be the crafts person, and you’re paying yourself to be the owner, your hourly rate is more expensive than anybody else’s on the team because of that. So if you can understand, and it’s been helpful for me over the years, put it on a sticky note, put it on my computer, every hour, I am at my desk, this is what it cost this business. So if I spend that hour doing something else wasn’t worth it, it just makes you kind of look at it in black and white. And then you can better figure out the ROI of hiring somebody else to do it.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah. I love that. I’m so going back to the the burned and the trust issues. I love when you said that, because it’s true. And I don’t think I don’t want the audience to hear this and think, Well, I’ve never hired anybody. So how’s that possible? No, no. It’s just like any mindset issues we have. It could be back from like, the third grade when you had a partner that screwed up a project. And you got Yes, I mean, it could be anything, anything. And that’s how mindset stuff works. Like you could have been burned at any point. And then all of a sudden you made a decision and your little child brain that you’re like I do things all on my own now. Yes,

Ashlyn Carter
yeah, he brought out group projects, which were probably I would feel like everybody listening to this, like 90% of us or the people that were like a hate group projects because I want to do it all my way. And I’m going to do it right and turn it on time and like I don’t want to trust these jokers. And so then you throw us into businesses and you can’t you can’t grow. There was a quote one time I wish I could remember where it’s from, but it’s she said at some point. You This is like a tick tock. She you said at some point you look up and instead of being the entrepreneur building the thing you are building the people who build the thing. And I was like that is so true. You do get to a point where you’re you are casting the vision for a team even if you want to scale and stay small and have a very small team like you’re still having to communicate your vision That’s difficult skill.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, yeah. And then when you said that you think you’re faster, and you probably are, I love this. The other part about that is like you think you can do it better? Again, probably you can for some of these things. But what’s the role? It’s like, if you can, if somebody can do it 85% as well as you, it’s worth passing off.

Ashlyn Carter
You have to let go. Yes. And I

Sabrina Gebhardt
will say, I don’t know about you. But for me, I held on so tight to everything. And the very first person I brought in back before I was coaching, and it was just a photographer, I just, I brought in an assistant to help with the admin stuff, the contracts, the emails, the invoicing, and all that. And it was such a control issue to release and to let somebody see parts of my business and come in and communicate with people. And will they communicate, okay, and all of that it was such a trust issue, and I waited for so long. But the second I raised my hand and said, I’m ready to hire somebody. And I pulled the trigger. It was like, immense relief. Immediately, I was like, we’re just gonna figure this out, it’s not going to be as she’s not going to do it right all the time. It’s not, it’s going to be 85%. We’re going to make mistakes, we’re going to fumble through things. But by golly, I have support. And I don’t have to do all this by myself anymore. Love it.

Ashlyn Carter
Yep. If you’re still in your inbox listening to this, you gotta get out your inbox, you need to get to a place where you’re not a number one person in your inbox. And that’s, that is really hard to hear some for some of you that that’s what probably held me back on the VA thing. So long I was it was 2018. January of like, second, I was at my first mastermind I’ve been I’d invested in, I bought I paid for time with the coach in years before this, my first mastermind, this is a big, big expenses geocachers. And she’s a client, so but she knew me. Well. She was like Ashlynn, you got to remember is like on that day was my VA first day in the inbox. And she said that she’s gonna get it wrong, but at least she’s answering them. Like, at least they’re getting answered, otherwise, these customers aren’t even getting served. I was like, that’s true. I just have to let go. And I’ll say this to the like, six months of kind of getting your sea legs with somebody responding, it goes past it, they’ll let them mess up. That’s how they learn. It’s not the end of the world. You’re not probably most people are not like curing cancer, where it’s okay if they, they fumble a little bit. But you have to let them and I do think you look up and all of a sudden you’re like dang a year past I have in my inbox in a year. And they’re killing it like that. Like you said, best feeling.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah. Yeah, I love what you said about we’re not curing cancer. So my old business coach used to say that we’re not in the business of creating air or creating oxygen. Same thing, same thing, like we hold our businesses so close, because they’re our baby, we burst it and we care about, you know, public opinion and what our clients think and are we selling enough blah, blah, blah. But at the end of the day, loosen up with this is not a life or death situation, you know? Yeah. And so I’ve been really working on that in a lot of ways in my business in the last couple of years of just like, Okay, take it take a chill pill Sabrina, how can we make this easier? Just, you know, don’t freak out about stuff. It’s we’re not, we’re not creating oxygen. So I love I love that she said that. Today’s episode is brought to you by route to rise, a four month mastermind and retreat for female photographers. That is where personal development meets business growth. During the four month experience, students have weekly calls focusing on a variety of topics that both better their lives and their businesses. Think topics like goals, boundaries, money and marketing and many many others. The program also includes incredible guest teachers, a private Facebook community and weekly Voxer hours, where you get individualized guidance and mentoring from me on topics that matter to you and your business. One of the best parts of the experience is definitely the three day in person retreat. Consider this the most fun girls weekend ever. We eat well do yoga, photograph three sessions, work through portfolio reviews, take headshots and build deep friendships. I can tell you that the women who have gone through this program have had some absolutely incredible transformations reached massive goals and changed the trajectory of their businesses. If you want to get on the waitlist to be notified when enrollment opens again soon, you can head over to the link in the show notes and get on that list. And now back to the episode

Sabrina Gebhardt
so we know that your business today looks very very different than it did when you started and you slowly grown your team and brought in more people and added on more projects and arms of your business. You’ve majorly scaled Get your offerings and your business over the years. So a lot of creatives love the idea of scaling. They’re like, yes, raise raise my hand. I want that too. But they don’t think it’s possible for them. They think that’s for Ashlynn. That’s not for me. That’s for Jenna Kutcher. That’s not for me. Right? So I would love for you to kind of uncover a little bit of a truth here. What does it take to scale? And like, how do you start? Like, when did you decide you wanted to scale, when you were just offering the one on one services,

Ashlyn Carter
okay, you have to realize that you cannot deify your process, or else you’re dead on arrival, the minute you think that you’re the only person that does something, the very the way you do it. Somebody else probably can do it the same, they your method is copyable, they will copy it, your branding is copyable, they will copy it, there’s like all these things, you just have to swallow those pills. And once you can realize you are the X Factor. And when you get in front of people in with your unique you’re like between your ears and coming out of your mouth, like your slant on things that people buy from people. And when you you cannot scale. You can show people how to do like, that’s it. So I was at a conference in Dallas and a fairly well known entrepreneur came up and she was like, What is your cost? She said, I want you to write all my stuff. And I was like, I appreciate that. But why why do you not trust my people, you realize they write my stuff, they edit my stuff, they tear my stuff to pieces, every email that goes out I send to them, it’s bleeding by the stripping red ink because they they formulate my stuff. I taught them how to think like me, and then they took their Jackknife skills that I don’t have. And layered on top of that, like we always say their copywriting, it’s like a three prong approach. We’ve got three kind of different mindsets that aim on every client project. So if you can start to realize that people are going to be able to bring something to the table that you don’t have, that’s intensely helpful, you’ve got your X Factor, you can get out there with that. But that’s not your X Factor is not really scalable, that gets like you, you you’re probably the best content creator, you’re probably the best salesperson because you have that, that energy surrounding you and give that I don’t know better word than X Factor. And so that that’s what’s been helpful for me with your client process, realizing they can do it too. They can they can take the thick, you can teach them how to take the picture, make the edits, you know, you can teach them that stuff. And then you got to get out there, though, if you’re not out there. And but that’s been a big learning for me over the years if I don’t get out there. We don’t. We don’t hit what we hit. If I’m not out there. And I have to let go some things to do that. Yeah.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Have you found that? You spend a lot of your time like marketing, like now you’re like you are the face and everybody does everything else, but you’re the one that has to show up to go live to be at the conference to be on YouTube and all that. Yeah,

Ashlyn Carter
yes. I kind of joked with my team, I’m like, when I get out there and shake hands, we make money. And it had, gosh, I know this is probably true for a lot of people, I would so much rather just sit in my little coffee cave and read books and write and build cool stuff. And that is part of it. But yeah, like when I yeah, what you just said

Sabrina Gebhardt
is true. Yeah, I feel and I feel like to have a business that scales. It’s like you said you can hire all the people to support you to do all the things you can teach everybody to do every single process. But you the face the brand, the human connection, you have to show up and connect with people because people want to work with Ashlyn they want to buy from Ashlynn because she’s Ashkelon, right? And even if that means somebody else created the template that you’re selling, or somebody else wrote the thing that you’re you know, they’re buying because they have connected with a you, the person whether they met you online or it’s something so you decided that you were ready to scale and like what was your first step? Like, did you hire a coach? Did you do the vision casting, or were you just like, I’ve got enough knowledge from corporate America. I know I know how I’m gonna dive into this.

Ashlyn Carter
I actually now that you say that I hired my first coach before I brought on Sarah and I brought on Sarah with it I brought on to associate copywriters at the same time. So that was like may note, sorry, that was March 2017. Rewind to November 2016. That was the point I hit. I just did my first course launch. I was serving clients. That’s when I was like, hmm, this could maybe go somewhere. I’m making sales. I don’t know what to do next. I have no idea what my blind spots are. That’s when I I had reached out to you and we were at a conference together. Heather Crabtree. She was my first business coach and I paid $6,000 for a six month coaching program. There was other women in it like we’re in PA adds huge expense, I was terrified out of my mind. Never spend that kind of money in my lifetime. But I also knew that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And I wasn’t gonna figure it out any other way. There’s not enough courses, there’s not enough books I could read. And trust me, I read all the books like there was nothing that was going to be able to say, like, look at my business and say you’re missing x, y, and z, you need to do those are your bottleneck, Alex or Mozi talks about the law of constraints that something will grow up to its bottleneck constraint. And until that bottleneck is released, it’s going to be clocked. And he said he’s even seen entrepreneurs, they’ll start one business don’t want to start another and he’s like, if you’re, you know, a million dollar a year business, guess what your next business is going to be a million dollar a year business, you’ll never push past that to 3 million or whatever. Because you’re that’s you that’s what you hit. And until you this web, such believer in coaching until you can get to somebody, and they can help you figure it out. Whether it’s mindset, whether it’s them just seeing avenues that you’ve not explored yet. Have you thought about licensing? Have you thought about a certification and we thought about these, you know, completely auxilary ideas that are maybe adjacent to what you do, but you’ve never thought about before you never apply that to your business. That is immensely helpful. So, Heather, I worked with her and I remember she, I guess I can say her name. She’s out of business now, but Hilary Rushford had somehow approached me for client work. She was doing her B School affiliate sale with Marie Forleo. So I get an email in my inbox. I just started working with Heather, I get an email in my inbox. They’re interested in working with me, they wanted to like me pitch them get on the call, tell them what I do. I immediately how would you how would we miss message them? Then I can’t believe remember, but I messaged her, and I was like, I need help. I need this job. I have no idea how to respond to this. She says okay, here’s what we’re gonna do. And she helped me through the whole process. Guess what, when the business made my investment back in coaching, like within the first two weeks of hire new coach, that’s the power of a good coach. Yeah,

Sabrina Gebhardt
I love that you say that’s the first thing because I’m such a believer in that. And it is a really tough pill to swallow. Because good coaches, especially coaches that will help you scale and step into the next level of your business are freaking expensive. And it is absolutely terrifying. Terrifying. That’s the easy button. Yeah, that’s the easy button. That’s where you can like you said, you can ask the questions, you have the support, they they are willing to get their hands dirty in your business and your situation and guide it with their own experience. And so I love that you did that first and then I’m sure I’m assuming you just followed her lead. And what she said you did? You did, right. Yeah.

Ashlyn Carter
And that’s I mean that being to investing in like there were other women in that group. And I’ve always, except my first year with a kid, I didn’t invest in a coach or a mastermind or anything, because I was like, Can I even have a business and a kid. But that was the only year I’ve taken off. Since I’ve always I was like, pay to be the dumb person in the room. Totally figure out how to be the small fish in a big pond. Don’t be the big fish in the big in the small pond like that.

Sabrina Gebhardt
You don’t it doesn’t do anything. Yeah. Yeah. I love that. So when you have grown your business, just as an entrepreneur and a mom is hard enough, that is a hard that is a hard season that we’re in, right? But then scaling your business, right? You’re investing in coaching, but you’re also doing the things to grow. I’m sure that you’ve gone through many seasons of overwhelm. And I love to talk about overwhelm, because I feel like it is not talked about enough. So I’m curious. When you’ve gone through these seasons of scaling and managing motherhood and your business. How do you walk through the process of overwhelming like, how do you get yourself out of it?

Ashlyn Carter
I’m proud I mean, take Frank, I’m in one now it’s like I I go back and we had three kids, which I think that third kid wouldn’t have been such a curveball. It’s a three news states at the same time. My husband has a job where he’s gone five days back seven days. So I basically am single parenting three kids and managing a business most days and then also as recording this my mom’s having some health issues. So I’m learning like, how to cash we have some some members inside our membership who are full time caretakers and I remember in the past, they’re like, how do you how do I do this and what you’re telling me to do and copywriting for creatives. And I’d be like, you know, I just wanna like Pat’s on head, sweet summer child, Ashlyn like I did not know what that was like until now. How do I get through it? I talk to coaches. I do a lot of mindset stuff. Because I will. If I get swirled enough around in my head, I won’t show up. splain is that I just don’t show up. Um, so I think that’s one thing that gets me out of it a lot. Um, Falling in love. This is weird to say but falling in love with my brand. Again, I think realizing that your brand, if you’re if you’re getting overwhelmed, how can you fall back in love with what you do? I realized I don’t like our branding anymore. The last time I did it all was 2021. I’m more I’ve changed, my opinions have gotten even stronger. I’ve gotten more confident about what I do. And I feel like my, my digital footprint doesn’t reflect that. And so like taking some time to assess, I’ve just been doing this like the past two days and thinking, Okay, what I’m in I had a coach tell me, I said, I’m afraid after I have my third kid, I’m not going to be able to get my mojo back. She said Ashlyn. What if it’s not about getting your mojo back? What if it’s a completely new phase you’re moving into, and what never thought about it that way. Um, and so I think that’s another way that I am kind of getting through the overwhelm is realizing like, yeah, I want to love this again. And I can, I can take steps to do that I can say I love the craft of what we do. But I want to be proud of what I put out there again. And so those have been two helpful things for me to do.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah. And what you just spoke on, you know, falling back in love with your brand again, and being willing to make pivots and changes. Part of that goes back to the whole, just not taking things too seriously. Like, it’s okay to change direction, or to pivot or whatever it needs to be. Because you have to love what you do. You have to love what you do what you stand for, and it’s not going to ever be the same, it’s not going to ever be the same over the span of you know, if you want to be in business, 30 years, it’s not going to be the same, right? Because our desires change, our season of life changes the world changes. And so that’s really, really important to be willing to just hold things loosely. And when it’s time to make a change, make a change, you know, I would love to kind of pull back the curtain on some real numbers related to scaling, if that’s okay, so, specifically, how long do you think I would love to know, a timeline here? You know, we’re creatives, we have probably 5 million ideas. You know, and probably too many ideas, more ideas, and we know what to do with. So when you have this idea of like, here’s my little baby business, and here’s where I want it to go. When you have an idea, and then you eventually turn it into like successfully selling something like I don’t know, like, how long is this taking? Are you seeing things come to fruition really quickly? Or are you seeing some things take a year to really like get going I guess is the first question I have is

Ashlyn Carter
this so good. And this is where I I would be sitting there nursing my baby after like round three but this happened on the other two to scrolling through guess what we call x now and these you know, I follow lots of business guys and they’re I do this and that the other and I remember one night I was like well I’m sure you can chat because like you don’t have your like you’re not doing what I’m doing I’m birthing humans I’m growing them in my body I’m like I’m pregnancy knocks me on my butt. It like I am down for the energy rises and falls I think is a woman are hard to navigate in their own right? And then you know, you add, what are we going through. So I think realizing that it’s okay during the season like or there’s there’s seasons, you may I want to have a bias towards action, I want to be the kind of entrepreneur that trust me, I can get stuck in the planning documents in a spreadsheet eating and the like dry erase, I can get stuck in that. Because that indecision feels safe to me. And I think there are studies that show indecision feels for your brain safe and your brain wants to protect itself. So like, that’s why it feels really good to sit there and Plan and Plan and Plan and Plan and Plan and Plan and Plan and not do the thing that’s terrifying to do. And so I know that about myself, but I also know, I can’t run it through our bread pace at certain times, in my business lifetime. It’s almost eight years old. Now. There’s times when I can take an idea and go from idea to fruition and a quarter there’s times when it’s gonna take, I wanted to launch a membership in 2020. Coach told me to do that. It took until last year, three years. So it just depends, I think on the face of life that you’re in and what else you have going on. But I do think trying to have a bias towards action and recognizing and yourself when you’re spending a little too much time planning those are helpful. Those are helpful skills to

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, I love that. And then I would also love to know like, there are definitely some financial investments that are necessary to scale your business. Like there are things that are programs that are people that are things that you have to pay for to double down on in order to grow. It’s just part of the process. And I know that’s really scary for a lot of people. So would you be willing to share a little bit about some of the big investments you’ve needed to make in order to scale and then I’m curious, did you make them as as things were rolling, or did you have to, like, put all this money up front, before trusting that it was going to work, you know, I’d love to know that. Okay,

Ashlyn Carter
I love it. I am like a reformed numbers girl, I love numbers now. And I used to I, people have heard me talk about I used to hate it, I try. So I’m going to talk about profit margin, I try to stay at 40 to 50% profit margin on digital business, not brick and mortar can usually do that to some success point 30 to 5050. On a good year, I want to stay in that vein, last year, we had an 11% profit margin because I took the majority of the year off, we did one launch, I made a I hired an 860 $5,000 ea, like I was spinning like crazy and not bringing you them. Um, but that. So now that you know the range I like to stay in, I can make projections and like try to figure out what my investments are going to be because I know where I want to stay and what I need to stay at to cover our expenses. And I know how to keep the lights on. I think one thing to realize that I had to Swallow this pill as I grew is that people are going to be the most expensive investment in your business. Your human beings are going to be more expensive, outsourcing hiring employees, that is going to take up the lion’s share of your expenses, it’s not going to be software, it’s not going to be travel. So just like realizing that is helpful. Because within that would be salaries and coaching and programs, group coaching programs mastermind, there’s masterminds, you can I’m in a mixer mind, that’s not even, there’s not even really like a leader like just pay. It’s I felt like, you know, there’s the stereotype of guys on the golf course shaking hands and getting to know each other making business deals like our version of that I feel like in creative world is done conferences that are beautiful, and that you got to pay your club membership, like you got to, and that’s part of the expenses. So that’s a little snapshot, I do always, I call it make it back math, if I’m going to invest in something, I’ve figured out how much I need to sell and what I need to sell to make it back. And I make sure that’s either put into my blueprint, or I have a plan of when I’m going to do that. So I need to see a black and white helmet to make it bad. Yeah.

Sabrina Gebhardt
So it sounds like you are investing in things before you’re seeing the sales. But you’ve done the due diligence of figuring out the financials that you will make it back and this will work and it is a smart investment. You’re not just throwing your money around, but you are pulling the trigger on an investment before you actually see the growth from it. Correct. Yeah,

Ashlyn Carter
I mean, my husband has started more and more to take like a kind of like a CFO on call role in the business and oh my gosh, hate like, I cannot spend anything before he’s like even like wanting to bring a designer on for this new new brand. You don’t want to develop this product. Now we’re gonna need a new look and new style. And he’s always like, alright, well, what’s the plan to make? Like, I had got to see it on paper? Like, when’s that gonna? What launches Do you have between now and then that are gonna cover it, you know, gosh, he pulls my feet to the fire. So

Sabrina Gebhardt
I love that. So I knew this was gonna be a fun and valuable chat. And I’m sure that you’ve really inspired some listeners to just go for it. I would love to wrap up with one practical step. If there’s a woman out there that’s listening, and she’s like, Okay, ladies, that’s it. I’m going for it. I’m totally on fire. I want to scale my business, but she’s still a little bit scared. What piece of advice are you gonna give her figure out

Ashlyn Carter
your hourly rate, I have a YouTube, you could probably Google my name and figure that out. But I mean, even just as crude as taking your overall revenue in the course of the year figuring out how many hours you want to work a year and just doing some quick division that haven’t knowing that number that you cost the business like you’re not playing cupcakes, you’re trying to make money. And so if you can figure it out, now how to gamify it and make that bad in different things you invest in whatever they may be, is so helpful. So find find that number tracker if you can, if that’s too big of a step tracker time. Tracker time.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, I love that. I love that. I just want to end with some fun questions so people can get to know you a little bit better before we go. Okay, Ashlyn. What is your favorite current coffee shop order? Gosh,

Ashlyn Carter
I drink way too. I mean, classic drink way too much. I always I get like black coffee and then I say another shot of espresso. But then I dial it up with like, a half an inch to an inch of steamed milk. And depending on I can’t do too much sugar early in the morning, but later in the day, hit me up with all the syrups Yeah, I

Sabrina Gebhardt
love it. Okay, what about a dream vacation? You and your hubby are going somewhere or girlfriends? No kids, there’s no kids. Where are you going? Ideally

Ashlyn Carter
Europe, France, but we’re some awesome estate in the UK but we my husband isn’t Massive golfer he is so good about every year knocking off one force on his bucket list and love and I get to go with him. And it’s a pretty one. So yeah, wait, like we did Pebble Beach last year. Oh, it was amazing. And I don’t play golf. I just sit in the room, which the spot was so fun. Yeah. Oh,

Sabrina Gebhardt
I love that. I love that. Okay, thinking back over the course of your business, what was the biggest decision or investment you made? That was a game changer.

Ashlyn Carter
And EA was finally figuring out that piece of the puzzle. And realizing like, where that went it and now I would say masterminds being paying to be the dumb person in the room. They’ve looked different over the years they’ve all ever needed everyone at every point in my business so it’s not like there was one that I would recommend overall, it’s just I stair stepped them up but paying to be paying to be filled on is great. As recommend

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, yeah. Okay, I love that last question. If you were not in the copywriting space, what do you think you’d be doing

Ashlyn Carter
like good went put my journalism degree to use? I was like obsessed with Devil Wears product in high school. I love journalism still, or I would say doing like public relations for a ballet company somewhere. Oh, I

Sabrina Gebhardt
can totally see that. I can totally see you doing that. So. Okay, my friend. This is such a great chat. Thank you for your time. I can’t wait to hear whatever he has to say about this episode when it airs. And this will not be the last time you’re on the podcast. I’m just gonna put that into the universe. So

Ashlyn Carter
thanks for having me on. This was blast. Thanks.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Thanks so much for listening to the shoot it straight podcast. You can find all the full show notes and details from today’s episode at Sabrina gebhardt.com backslash podcast. Come find me and connect over on the gram at Sabrina Gebhart photography. If you’re loving the podcast, I’d be honored if you hit that subscribe button and leave me a review. Until next time, my friends shoot it straight.

SHARE THIS POst

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Blog

Do you want to get more clients into your inbox while spending less time on social media? In today’s episode, I’m diving deep into a discussion on AI and ManyChat alongside Dayna Schaaf. Dayna offers an incredible training for photographers wanting to use Manychat to streamline their business.  The Shoot It Straight Podcast is brought […]

86 cover

What is the one thing that your business can’t grow without? In today’s episode, I’m sharing my guiding principle that informs how I coach and how I work on my own business. I’m discussing why this one thing cannot be ignored without sacrificing your business development.  The Shoot It Straight Podcast is brought to you […]

85 cover

What does it take to scale your business? In today’s episode, I’m chatting with copywriter Ashlyn Carter about her journey through entrepreneurship and successfully scaling her business. We’re diving into where to start when hiring help, managing overwhelm, and which financial decisions are worth the investment.  The Shoot It Straight Podcast is brought to you […]

84 cover

What’s holding you back from going after want you want? Could it be fear? In most cases, fear is the root of all problems when it comes to dreaming big, showing up, and moving forward as an entrepreneur! In today’s episode, I’m highlighting the importance of mindset and how you can overcome fear by facing […]

83 cover

As an entrepreneur, a good business foundation is everything. Join the list of photographers I've supported, and learn how to make YOUR business successful and sustainable. I can't wait to cheer you on!

You Deserve a Successful and Sustainable Photography Business