In this episode of #FearlessFounders, we’re featuring Laurie Davis, who is the founder of eFlirt Expert which is an online dating consultancy that helps thousands of men and women all over the world navigate the intersection of dating and technology. She’s a world-renowned expert, had so many media appearances, has a best-selling book, and the interview really shares how she got started. She actually lost her job several years ago and needed to figure out a way to make money. She realized that this passion in helping her friends navigate the online dating world could be turn it into a business. She was way ahead of the curve.
This girl is pure hustle. In this interview, you’ll learn:
- How she used guerrilla marketing campaigns to get her first customers.
- How she learned everything that she needed to know to become a business owner by herself, including early testing strategies on how to price her services and stand by what she charged.
- How she learned a hard lesson in failing in order to land on what she’s truly loves doing.
Check out this interview to see how this girl built a thriving business without sacrificing her personal life. In fact, she met a guy via Twitter two weeks into starting her new business, and now they’re happily married.
Connect With Laurie
An expert in cyber courtship, Laurie Davis is as passionate about technology as she is relationships. She is the founder of eFlirt Expert, an online dating consultancy that has helped thousands of singles navigate the intersection of dating and technology. She’s also the author of the best-selling book, Love @ First Click: The Ultimate Guide to Online Dating. Her advice has been featured in 500+ international media outlets including The New York Times, Good Morning America, Forbes and Elle. She’s married to her tweetheart who she met on Twitter.
Interview Transcript Laurie Davis
[0:00:00] Sara: Hi, Laurie! I’m so glad you’re here. Guys, this is Laurie Davis and when we were putting together our list of Fearless Founders she was one of the first people that came to mind for a number of different reasons, and I’m so excited to have you!
[0:00:17] Laurie: Same here!
[0:00:18] Sara: I’d love to have you share with our viewers a little bit about yourself, what the name of your company is and what you do, and then we’ll kind of dive into your background.
[0:00:28] Laurie: Sure! My name is Laurie Davis and my company is eFlirt Expert. Basically we’re an online dating consultancy, so we help online daters who are struggling or who are frustrated or maybe who are scared to do it in the first place. We help them navigate online dating by writing their profiles for them, decoding their dates text messages.
[0:00:56] Sara: Very cool! So how did you get started in that? Tell me the whole background.
[0:01:05] Laurie: I used to work in marketing. I started eFlirt Expert about five years ago. I used to work in marketing primarily for Fortune 500s, but I was a consultant. And then I worked on large scale events. I made this niche for myself doing these big events. Like, five thousand and ten deed corporate user conferences and sales meetings. Things like that. Which, basically, what I was doing was taking the messaging that marketing wanted to get across to the audience, helping them define what that is, and then get that message across in a very creative, entertaining way that really speaks to whoever was in the audience. I would work with the production company – kind of liaison between the marketing team, the CEO, and the production company – everyone, to create these really engaging contents for these conferences. And conferences, by the way, is just not a business that is sustainable at all in the recession. All these conferences, we were just completely… they stopped having them entirely. All my contacts dried up and I was just in “oh shit” mode, like, what am I going to do to pay my rent?
I started thinking about how I could use my marketing skills differently and I was brainstorming and I was coming up with nothing until one of my friends called and he told me that he was moving in with his girlfriend. I just thought, oh my god, I helped you meet her on Match.com, and I helped that girl meet her boyfriend on eHarmony, and I helped that guy get laid a lot on Plenty Of Fish. This is something that I actually-
[0:02:59] Sara: I love that you just basically categorized every single site. What would you say about Tinder right now?
[0:03:08] Laurie: Tinder wasn’t around then. But I literally had been helping people do this for years. I was an early adopter to online dating myself, so that’s why. I was the first person who people knew were doing it, and sometimes I was the one to convince them to do it, even.
[0:03:27] Sara: Were you living in New York at the time?
[0:03:30] Laurie: I was living in New York. Yeah.
[0:03:32] Sara: Is that were you’re from?
[0:03:34] Laurie: No, I’m from Boston.
[0:03:35] Sara: OK. Got it.
[0:03:37] Laurie: I had just gotten this new studio apartment which I was so proud of, on my own, and now how am I gonna pay my rent here? I realized, what I actually helped these people do was market themselves online on a dating site. I literally thought about who they were and who they were looking to try to meet, who’s that audience out there in the virtual world, and help them project the right message that’s authentic, still, and meet that way. I had given them all this advice on what they do on their dates offline, too. I started my company really with this idea that I could help people find love but really do it by leveraging everything that I had done previously in my profession.
[0:04:28] Sara: What’s so interesting about that – because what we do at Hello Fearless is what I believe to be so true about creating a successful business is knowing what you’re really good at, what you’re not good at, and what you love doing and what you don’t love doing, what the world needs and what they’ll pay you for. You’re great at marketing. Do you have passion to help people find love? Is that just something you’re really passionate about?
[0:04:53] Laurie: Yeah. It’s like my biggest passion. It’s something I never really thought of; it’s something that I always just did. Then once I thought about it I was like, oh my god, this is what I’m made to do in life. This is what I love doing. I could use what I’ve done professionally to do this and it’s something that I really believe people need because five years ago was right when online dating started to become really mainstream. It was a time when it was becoming very increasingly important for you to stand out. I literally just started brainstorming right there in my pajamas, didn’t sleep for two days, and then brainstormed the name of the company, the services, wrote the copy, bought a Go Daddy template website builder and with fifty dollars and a Twitter account made the site live. That was it.
[0:05:51] Sara: You started a business with fifty dollars and a Twitter account?
[0:05:54] Laurie: Yeah.
[0:05:54] Sara: That’s amazing. This is like five years ago… Were people kind of hesitant about online dating at the time? What was going on in the space?
[0:06:09] Laurie: I think that it was just becoming mainstream for you to date online so the stigma was definitely being released at the time but the idea of you hiring someone to help you do it is like another thing to overcome. Now you’re over the stigma of online dating but now you have to go ahead and hire someone? Definitely, I think the biggest part of being a first mover in my business was the education to the consumer that this even existed, one, and two, why they absolutely totally needed this and what I could do to really change things for them. That was definitely a huge hurdle to overcome.
[0:06:54] Sara: Then did you start blogging? Or, how did you actually start? It’s interesting. I’ve worked in a lot of those industries where it’s like you’re kind of ahead of the curve so you actually have to educate people on the need and why that’s important whereas now people are like, “Yeah, I need some help with my profile. I suck at promoting myself.” How did you do that?
[0:07:18] Laurie: I did a lot of guerrilla marketing. Previously in the past I was an Avon lady. You do a lot of guerrilla marketing as an Avon lady. Going out and randomly hanging catalogs on people’s door knobs and things like that. So, I basically took a lot of those tactics and I made up flyers, I got interns to run around New York City and like flyers in coffee shops and printed out postcards that they put on the subway, and posted craigslist ads like “Online dating guru- we’ll write your profile for you!” Then, of course, I knew that social media could be helpful so I started Facebook and really, Twitter. Twitter, overall, has been the biggest driver for business for us. Really, it started kind of in a creepy way by me just jumping in on people’s conversations. I just searched, like, “OK Cupid” and I would see all these people talking about how they hated OK Cupid and it was the worst thing ever and I would jump in on their conversation and say, like, “Oh, but have you thought about it this way?” and they’d be like, “A, who are you? But B, that’s awesome advice. Follow.”
[0:08:31] Sara: I love the hustle! I love the hustle! I’m a marketing person so that’s so amazing. How did the guerrilla marketing tactics work? For women who are just starting in business or trying to grow a business when you’re kind of like, OK, I want to through a bunch of stuff up against the wall and see what works. How effective were some of those tactics for you?
[0:08:58] Laurie: The guerrilla marketing worked really well. It really did. I think, like you were saying, you don’t know what’s going to work and what’s not going to work and the great thing about guerrilla marketing is that it’s cheap. You spent maybe twenty dollars printing out a bunch of flyers and if you don’t get any calls back from it like, oh well, you’re life goes on. You know? You’re on to the next thing and you can try something new. I think that having trying so many types of things that were in the similar vein, all guerrilla marketing but some on craigslist, some in flyers, I also learned what worked best.
One thing we did is we actually did a comment campaign, I would call it. We would go to a bunch of dating blogs and we would comment on the posts and really give advice in that comment. But that got us our first couple of users by just commenting on other people’s blogs. Of course, then we’d blog ourselves. We were giving a lot of advice – or, I. It wasn’t “we”, then, it was me. I was giving a lot of advice on Twitter and those things really picked up, too. What I realized and the thing that Twitter did really well for us is that for a coach in particular you want to develop a relationship. Twitter really allowed me in one hundred and forty characters to give bite sized pieces of advice that then people would start asking questions. And then the relationship developed to the point where they would DM me and be like, “Alright, I think I need your help. What do I do?”
[0:10:34] Sara: That is freaking brilliant. That is so smart. On your craigslist ads or even the guerrilla marketing that you were doing were you really aware of what their paying point was? For those women that are not marketers or copywriters, how did you know even what message to say or how to compel them to talk to you or to reach out?
[0:11:02] Laurie: I guess it was a little easier for me in that I had helped some friends before.
[0:11:07] Sara: You had some customers.
[0:11:09] Laurie: Yeah, and I had some testimonials. But more-so I thought about what were their paying points? And that helped me figure out what my customer’s paying points might be. Funny enough, though, my first couple customers were nothing like my friends and that was a little jarring to me. Like, I had been helping young twenty-somethings, some teens, nineteen year olds, twenty year olds to twenty seven year olds maybe at the time. My first client was in his forties and divorced and sleeping with married women. It was like, oh my god.
[0:11:57] Sara: You’re specifically trying to attract these different types of people but you’re just flyering all of New York so who knows who’s going to pick up the flyer and come to you.
[0:12:07] Laurie: Exactly! I think that was the coolest part of it, though. I thought it would be one thing and it wasn’t but then I was able to adjust according to the trends that I continued to see. I started thinking it would be one thing and I think that that’s really common for other founders that I talked to is that when that happens you freak out a little bit, maybe you think that you did something wrong but you did something right. Because I can always get those twenty-somethings. I don’t know how to get that middle aged guy who lives in Texas and who is divorced and I got him! How cool is that? So what did I do to get him and how can I get more of him.
[0:12:52] Sara: Who’s your favorite client? OK, I won’t make you say that. How did you figure out your pricing model right off the bat? It’s not like you Google a blueprint of how to create an online dating service or what you are trying to offer and ‘here’s how I price this; here’s what I do’ right? How did you figure that out?
[0:13:20] Laurie: Pricing is really, really hard. It’s something we continue to struggle with, just to be really honest. I think that when I first started the only comparable thing to us was, like, Match.com had a profile writing service. I looked at what their service was and I tried to be competitive towards it but realizing that their service is different than ours, too. They didn’t meet with you and we meet with you. There’s this level of personal connection that we have that’s deeper than theirs so I charged ten dollars more than them. Because I just didn’t know. I didn’t know how to price anything. I was writing profiles back then for fifty nine dollars. Now it’s a hundred and ninety seven – just to give you a little comparative. But I do think that knowing your value as an entrepreneur and knowing the value of your service is a really hard thing and I actually, like I said, it’s something we continue to struggle with.
This year we went through a big, huge transition because basically we started at fifty nine dollars and I just kept inching it up and seeing how much more people would pay. Because I can always bring it back down, right? I mean, who’s watching every day on my website saying, “It’s ten dollars more!” Especially when we hit certain milestones like when my book came out, right before it came out, we jumped up fifteen more dollars just to see what would happen and as long as people continued to buy it, it was fine. But then we hit this point this year – it was actually right over the holiday season. We have two different types of services. One is like the everyday, average online dater like we’ll write your profile. And then this other service that we’ve been honing, really, is our biggest revenue generator is when we manage your entire online dating life. Not even just your online dating life, it’s your love life. We’re helping you with you emotions and like, everything. With that service, like I said, it’s our highest revenue generator, and we hit max capacity at the end of last year. I was like, “Oh my god, really cool. We’ve never done this. So, I guess we’ll just wait. There are a couple of people who’s contracts are expiring and if they don’t continue…” But then we just kept getting more and more and more and more inquiries. And then suddenly we were at a twenty five person wait list. I think by the time I figured out the problem, like how to fix the problem, we were at a thirty five person wait list. And we can only take fifteen at a time. That’s like a lot. We don’t really like to take fifteen at a time. Some of these contracts are six months long. Some of these people are literally gonna be waiting over a year and they’re not going to care about us by then. We’re going to lose the sale and we’re not going to be able to help them – which is like, kind of sad to me.
I started talking to a bunch of other entrepreneurs and saying, “How have you scaled? ‘Cause I think I need to scale faster than I’m doing. Everything has been on scale so far except now all of a sudden we need to jump and I don’t know how to do it in a way that’s going to be sustainable and not go too big too fast.” I started talking to other entrepreneurs and I also talked to a couple of business coaches and one of the business coaches said to me, “You’re not charging enough.” And I was like, “What do you mean?”
[0:17:02] Sara: It’s always that small little thing, right? Where you’re like, “OK, I’m trying to scale,” which for the listeners might be a little bit down the road but, seriously, I’ve had so many friends and they’re like, “OK, raise your prices.”
[0:17:16] Laurie: Right. So I’m like, “OK…” and then I actually ran the numbers and I was like, “Oh my gosh. On some of these people we’re not making money.” It’s so time intensive for us to do this.
[0:17:30] Sara: Seriously?
[0:17:33] Laurie: I was like, Alright. She’s right. So I started working with her and we repriced everything – including the other profile writing services.
[0:17:44] Sara: Up until this point had you ever worked with…. I’m interested to know… With our business it’s the same. I had never done financial modeling, really assessing what your pricing model is and all of that. Had you worked with a business coach; had you done that all on your own? All of your operational costs, overhead, everything like that?
[0:18:07] Laurie: I mean, until this year I had really done everything myself. I have a staff. I think I took during my first year of business I took my first full time employee, towards the end of the year. But they were always helping my with client stuff; administrative stuff. Not necessarily anything operational, or it was more like billing versus accounting, if that makes sense.
[0:18:36] Sara: Yep.
[0:18:37] Laurie: Basically, we are growing past my capacity here. Which is kind of a scary thing, but at the same time I learned that= I invested in this business coach and it was a really scary investment for me to make. And we’ve earned back five times my investment in her.
[0:19:00] Sara: Why did you decide to scale a business beyond yourself? You know, you probably could’ve had a decently profitable business just doing it the way you were with an assistant… Why did you decide to do that?
[0:19:17] Laurie: My vision for this company was always to help people find love. That’s ultimately what the core of everything is. And when you’re just one person, there’s only so much you can do. There are other things that I’ve done to try to help more people. Like, I’ve written a book which you can buy at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, anything, so there are people I’m helping that way. Right? But I just knew that there needed to be more of me in order to do this. And I have a big vision for where I want this business to go and I can’t get there on my own. It’s really important for me. And also to keep up with the demand, frankly. There was a lot of demand. In order to keep up with that demand I needed to keep hiring staff. I’ve done it in a pretty scalable way so far. But yeah, I think it was important to go beyond me. And to be honest, I think this business has always pushed me forward. I don’t have a bachelor’s. I don’t even have a bachelor’s.
[0:20:18] Sara: Woah. Little twister. Let’s start right there. You’re an entrepreneur and you don’t even have a bachelor’s degree?
[0:20:28] Laurie: You know, a lot of people are like, “Oh, I must have an MBA in order to start a business.” I’m like, I don’t even have a bachelor’s, guys! I think that, that’s really scary. Honestly, it’s scary to me sometimes and it was very scary at the time to start this business, like, “Oh, this is going to be fun!” and then all of a sudden it’s more than you can handle. But you learn how to shift with it and you grow a community of people, other entrepreneurs that help each other out. And you can always go take classes on certain things. Like I will take classes on business law, for example, when I started feeling like I just needed to know more about contracts and things like that. I educate myself as I need to and the business is always the thing that pushes me forward. That’s a nice kind of personal thing for me, too, because I’m not in some job where I feel like my skill set is stagnant.
[0:21:30] Sara: You have touched on so many amazing points. First and foremost, I love that you talked about how your vision that you have for what you want the impact you want to create in the world is bigger than yourself. And I really believe – and there’s a lot of stats and research that show this – that seventy five percent of all woman business owners make less than fifty thousand a year and the majority of them never scale a business beyond themselves because, what I believe is that they feel like they’re going to limit their amount of freedom or they’re gonna sacrifice all these different things and I think what you’re showing is like if you’re really driven to make this happen you’re going to hire other people. And have you found that by hiring other people that it actually provides you to more freedom or you’re more in your zone of genius a little bit?
[0:22:28] Laurie: Right now, for example, I’m really getting into writing and I’m really trying to write differently and be in a more creative space in order to do that so I will take a whole day where I don’t have any meetings and I will literally take my laptop to the beach, right on the beach, and I’ll check in with my staff at the end of the day and say, “Hey, how’d things go? Anything I need to know about?” It allows me kind of a creative space. I’m also working on more business development now. Like, where are we going? We’re about to roll out a pilot of our first group coaching program which is something we’ve never done before. And having my staff help with the day-to-day of the business really allows me the space and flexibility to dream this and do it. Also, of course, I can travel and I just got married and-
[0:23:24] Sara: Woo-wee!
[0:23:26] Laurie: Thanks! I took two weeks off for our honeymoon and then the two weeks before the wedding I wasn’t really super plugged in either because I was enjoying every moment of the last minute planning. You know, having staff really allowed me the ability to do that.
[0:23:48] Sara: That is so cute and that is the mentality that we want women to think about: that scalability. It doesn’t always mean hiring people but it does mean that you perhaps can make more money, more freedom and have more flexibility in what you’re doing and more impact. I think you’re a true testament to that. That’s amazing. You also talked about how as an entrepreneur you just kind of learn what you need to learn when you need to learn it. You didn’t get an MBA – by the way you’re not gonna learn what you need to at-
[0:24:23] Laurie: Right!
[0:24:25] Sara: How do you know when to take initiative to learn more about internet marketing or business law or, you know, running a business. How did you learn how to run a business, really?
[0:24:40] Laurie: I like to say that I have a life MBA.
[0:24:44] Sara: Right! I love that.
[0:24:46] Laurie: I feel like I have learned it all through experience. Sometimes that’s how you know when it’s time to take the next step and learn something. When you can’t figure it out and you need to figure it out, you’re going to. You’ll figure out how to figure it out, too. Is it to take a class? Is it to talk to an entrepreneur in a community that you’re involved in? Like, what is it? ‘Cause I think every circumstance is a different solution, too. I mean, I guess in some ways that does mean that things don’t always move lightning fast. But businesses don’t have to and I think that that’s something that people expect. People expect that they’re gonna launch and a year later they’re going to be making six figures themselves and they’re going to have this huge staff and they’re going to know everything. As an entrepreneur you’re never going to everything. You’re just not. You’re always going to be learning and that’s part of what’s so fun about it.
[0:25:47] Sara: What has kept you going? First off, has it all been easy? Has everything happened the way you wanted it to happen? What keeps you going or persevering or taking that next leap of faith whether that’s hiring someone or launching your new program?
[0:26:09] Laurie: You’re always going to fail. I think that it’s really important. I had a really big fail in that… it’s funny because eFlirt Expert, to a lot of people, is a big success because it’s this idea that I took that was nothing that I’ve created a space for, right? And there are a lot of duplicates our there now and I think that that is the highest form of flattery and I appreciate that. But I also had this other project that I was working on called eFlirt Engine which was going to be like… I was building an algorithm with a tech co-founder to basically match singles to dating sites and it was a huge, huge fail because for me I learned that it was just spreading myself way too thin. eFlirt Expert was the thing that was thriving and I was trying to create this new thing and I just couldn’t create this new thing and keep this growing. I had to let this go and I had to let this fail and that was really hard for me. It probably took me a year of slowly letting go. It was like the breakup that never really broke up. Like we were off and on, we were off and on, we were off and on, until finally I had to actually close it off. I had to shut the door and wave goodbye.
I think that those moments are actually really important because you learn so much from failing. I think something I don’t do as good of a job at and I think this is probably a lot of entrepreneurs feel the same way, is that you really need to celebrate the successes. Even the little moments. I did a really good job of this in the beginning. It was like, “Oh my god! My first client! Oh my god! My first price hit! Oh my god!” You know? I am not as awesome at reminding myself that those little wins are actually huge wins.
[0:28:13] Sara: I love that. I’m going through it myself, personally. I’m like, “Oh right, I accomplished all of these things that are ridiculous that I never thought I would and we’re here.” But you forget because you’re constantly pounding the pavement and moving forward. I think that’s so important. What’s going on with the business right now?
[0:28:34] Laurie: The business right now, like I said, this year we changed all our pricing, we’ve gone through quite a transition and it’s really exciting to see because it’s something that I wasn’t sure I could do. I didn’t know this was even broken until we fixed it. It’s been very exciting for me.
[0:28:58] Sara: I was going to say, that was where you noticed that you were actually losing money on some of the clients.
[0:29:05] Laurie: Losing money. We also realized we could just be charging more. We five x’d our prices for our concierge service – which is crazy – and we created a new service that didn’t even exist three months ago and we’ve already earned twenty five thousand dollars in revenue off of that one service that we created. Insane things have happened in this business in the last six months, seven months. That’s really exciting. There’s just still a lot changing because this year it’s a transition year. Before we used to be attracted two different demo’s but more based on average online dater and people who want us to do it for them but now even those demographics are being much more specifically defined because of these price points and because we know we’re great at helping, also. There’s a lot that still needs to change even though there’s a lot that’s already changed. Like, we need to change the copy on the website in order to better attract that demographic. It’s like you’re constantly, like we talked about before, how do you know how to speak to that audience, you’re constantly figuring it out and it’s constantly changing. It’s just interesting because the online dating industry has changed so much since I’ve been in it and I think that’s also, other than the pricing, that’s also a reason why we’re attracting this different demographic now. It’s because the landscape of the industry we’re in is changing.
There’s a lot of moving parts. But the big thing I’m super excited about other than where we’ve been with all the pricing and the packaging and everything and figuring all that out this year is we’re going to be piloting our first group coaching program. And that’s so exciting to me because it’s something I have wanted to do. I’ve had this idea for a year. I started working on it last summer and then I got really scared. I got busy and then I kind of let fear take over.
[0:31:20] Sara: What were you scared of?
[0:31:21] Laurie: I have only given help one-on-one. You and me and that’s it and I know how to get you results when it’s you and me. Doing something in a group… Even though I give talks all the time it’s just different. It’s scary to me. Like, will I still be able to get you those results? I have a very specific idea of what this group coaching program should be and will people recognize that this is a problem they’re having? ‘Cause it is more emotionally driven than some of the other stuff we’ve done.
Everything else we’ve done has been very tactical. It’s like, “We’re going to write it for you.” And this is like, “You’re not picking the right people but it’s coming from a place of the past. It’s not the site’s problem. It’s a problem that is happening in your heart.” It’s just a totally different thing and I’m really, really excited that I’m finally pushing through all the fear once I recognized it and my team has been supporting me so much in building it. So we’re going to pilot that starting in the fall and then we’re going to launch it for real in January.
[0:32:32] Sara: Yay! How do you push past your fear?
[0:32:38] Laurie: First you have to recognize that it exists, which is really hard. At least for me. That’s how I felt.
[0:32:46] Sara: Absolutely. “Is this reality? Is this the universe talking to me? Or is it inside my own mind and I’m making it up?”
[0:32:55] Laurie: Yeah, because you make a lot of excuses. At least this is what I do. I make a lot of excuses and I’m like, “Oh, I’m busy. I’m busy. I don’t have time. I really need to set aside a whole day to work on this.” I put all these excuses in my way and when you remove all the excuses, then you realize, like, maybe there’s actually something more going on here. Once I removed all those blockades I saw this massive fear in my mind but I also didn’t know how to work around it. I actually did this program with my business coach, which is a free resource she offers every once in a while, and it was like twenty one days to push past your fears. It was all these little micro-movements every single day. It was like, “make a list of the really high level things you need to do like, you need to set a date, you need to fill the class.” Like these very big things where before, the place I was left at was “I have fifty five tasks!” I had tasked out the entire program and then it looked really overwhelming. But I don’t need to do fifty five things. I mean, “fill the class” had like twenty tasks but really one or two of those might fill the class. So I didn’t necessarily need to do all of it. They’re just all ideas. So when I was able to break it down and really think about it high level and do all these little micro-movements really pushed me past that and now we’re steam rolling.
Fear is something I’ve given a lot of thought to, lately. I do think that it holds me back a lot more than I realize. Basically, I have this new way to hold myself accountable. If there is a task on my list that takes me more than three weeks to do, if three weeks later I’m still looking at it going, “I’m not going to do that,” then I step back and say, “Why don’t I want to do that? Is it that I don’t like doing that and I’m procrastinating because I don’t like doing it? Or am I afraid of that?”
[0:35:07] Sara: That is good stuff, sister. It’s a work in progress, I’m sure.
[0:35:13] Laurie: I mean, every business is a work in progress. It really is.
[0:35:19] Sara: Absolutely. What does it feel like to start working with these new customers that you hadn’t anticipated working with that are a little bit out of your comfort zone?
[0:35:29] Laurie: In the beginning, you mean?
[0:35:30] Sara: Yeah. Do you work with everyone, now?
[0:35:34] Laurie: I work with everyone.
[0:35:35] Sara: That’s so interesting because, I mean, I guess if you had a cupcake shop you could essentially sell cupcakes to everyone, but… How do you find all of these customers? What is your strategy to actually attract and find this wide diversity of people and their needs?
[0:35:55] Laurie: Let me rephrase. We will help anyone a-la-carte with our profile writing services or a little here and there. We will not work with everyone on our concierge services because it is so intensive and it needs to be a good marriage of you and us in order to make it work. In the beginning I made the mistake of just allowing us to work with anybody because, it’s like-
[0:36:27] Sara: Trying to make some money?
[0:36:28] Laurie: Well, it’s a lot of revenue so how can I turn this person away? It ended up not being a good situation for either the client or us. It ended up causing my staff and myself tons of anxiety because we knew we couldn’t do a good job for them or if they were really looking for something that we didn’t believe we could provide or we didn’t believe was right for them, too. That’s something recently that we’ve really changed. We will work with anyone with the regular services. That is hard, too, because there’s so many different personalities. I mean, literally, we are working with, like, I have worked with a C-level executive who lives in New York City to someone who is in the military and still stationed abroad but getting ready to station back to Kansas or wherever they lived before, to working with someone who is physically disabled, to working with someone who is divorced, to working with someone who is widowed – which by the way, those things are different. Working all age ranges from nineteen to seventy. The needs of a nineteen year old are different than the needs of a seventy year old and the challenges that they have are different. There’s so many intricacies to it. In the beginning it was very hard to kind of navigate all of that but then you learn. You learn what those different demographics need and want and what their challenges are and the throughput of it all is the same. It’s the specific situations that are different.
[0:38:27] Sara: I love that you are turning down clients.
[0:38:30] Laurie: That honestly has been I think the most empowering thing that I have done in a while. It’s saying “no”. I’ve actually started practicing saying no because I think it’s-
[0:38:43] Sara: Me too!
[0:38:44] Laurie: Right! I think it’s really hard to say no to things. Even meeting with another entrepreneur who you know isn’t going to serve you and it isn’t going to serve them. It’s still really hard to say, like, “No, I’m not going to meet with you.” Because I think as an entrepreneur you want to create an environment where we’re all helping each other but sometimes you just know it’s not the right fit. I’ve starting saying “no” more to opportunities like that so that when I have to say “no” to clients it hurts a lot less.
Now I preface every call with a potential concierge client by saying that exact thing. That this needs to be a good match for both of us and we are a boutique service and our capacity, you know, it’s small. And we wanna really know that we can help you and by the end of the call we’ll figure that out but that’s really what this call is for. It’s kind of like dating each other to make sure that we’re a good match.
[0:39:43] Sara: Absolutely. I used to do that when I was doing consulting and especially if you have a higher price point product or service that takes your bandwidth you need to be very particular of who you’re working with. They’d be like, “Why should I work with you?” And I’d be like, “Why should I work with you?” Right? It has to be a match-match. I love that.
OK, we have a couple of more minutes left and for all of our women that are starting a business or that are running a business, and since you are the dating expert I’d love for you to touch on any advice that you have in overcoming your fears of potentially, “Can I have it all? Can I actually find someone while running a business?” or “How do I find someone while running a business?” or “How do I manage a relationship while starting a business?” or any of those things that you deal with since I know that you particularly work with pretty powerful women.
[0:40:36] Laurie: So many of my clients are female entrepreneurs or other powerful, successful women in business. They all, at some point in their careers, have felt like, “My career needs to take a front seat and therefore my love life needs to take the back seat.” And that’s not the case. One can totally ride shotgun and I think that first you need to believe that. And secondly, you need to just think about, I think scheduling in particular is the hardest part of it. You need to realize that you don’t need to go on a dating site and spend like twenty five hours looking through profiles. You don’t need to spend huge chunks of time in order to move forward. Sometimes moving forward is baby steps in your business, right? Sometimes moving forward in your love life is the same. Same exact thing that applies. You can run your love life like you run your business but it’s coming from your heart instead of your head. That’s the big difference.
For example, one of the things that I suggest to all of those women is to set twenty minutes aside a day to deal with your dating site. Just twenty minutes. All you have to do is look through your inbox, respond to whoever is in there, do a search, maybe find one or two new guys to message, and that’s it. Then you’re done and you’re on to the next thing. It’s just a really manageable type of time for you to take that will help you move things forward. And just make sure, I think it’s also common when you meet someone, to feel like they’re taking time away from your business.
[0:42:27] Sara: Are you speaking directly to me?
[0:42:29] Laurie: Maybe! But the reason that you built this business, that you are building this business, is probably so that you have an amazing life. Right? And part of having an amazing life is having someone to share it with. If you focused on getting here and then you try to find someone it’s going to be more of a struggle because meeting someone takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t just snap your fingers, you know? If you meet someone along the way, that’s OK. Then they’re part of your journey and you’re living it before you even get to that milestone. I mean, our businesses have a zillion milestones. There is no “there”, there is no “it”. It’s always up, up, up, up in the best of scenarios. You really need to think about finding love to help you accompany it through the whole journey.
I think me and my husband are a really great example of how you can meet someone and still build your business because we met each other when we were just a few months in to our businesses and that was something that really helped propel both of us is that we were there for each other and when we had a tough day and I needed to cry it out because I didn’t know where to go from here, he was there to support me. Having that someone to come home to while you’re building your business, it’s not going to hinder you at all. If anything, it’s just going to support you more. As long as you find someone who is supportive to your business.
[0:44:07] Sara: I love that. Oh my gosh! I just loved this interview. You’re so amazing and I think such an inspiration to so many women not only in the life that you’ve created for yourself but as a business owner and a woman. Where can women find more about you and about your business?
[0:44:27] Laurie: You can find more about both of us at eFlirtExpert.com. I’m also on Twitter @eFlirtExpert and you can check out my book, too, if you wanna dabble in a little advice at “Love at First Click: The Ultimate Guide to Online Dating” and it’s anywhere books are sold, basically.
[0:44:47] Sara: Love it. Thanks so much for coming on, Laurie! I just adore you!
[0:44:51] Laurie: Thank you!