When Jessica Thiefels looks back on past jobs, she understands how each one led her to her current role. Though she initially started her company as a side gig, a year and a half ago she was able to step into her role as CEO full-time. Today Theifels provides organic content marketing consulting, including writing, management and strategy to mid-market B2B businesses, as well as social media and marketing coaching to entrepreneurs and small business owners. The San Diego, California-based entrepreneur relishes her ability to determine her own schedule, to balance work and travel and create the life she wants to live.
Thiefels’ story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
Before starting my business, I had 5 jobs in 5 years, each new job an intentional step toward a better position. Thanks to the many roles I had over those five-six years, I was able to start my business—which was actually a “side gig” for the first 2.5 years, while I worked as a contract employee and took new clients on the side. I hadn’t initially intended to start a business, but I was slowly expanding my offerings as requests came in and building a loyal client base as I went. In June of 2018, when a toxic job ended, I was able to step into my business full-time and it’s been unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before in my life.
Success for me is making the money I want to make without working a 40-hour work week. I currently work about 20-25 hours on an average week while still growing my business, which feels really great. I am continually asking myself, “If I died tomorrow, would I be happy with how I spent that last 6 months?” If I am successful, the answer to that question is always YES because on my deathbed, I know I won’t be saying, “I wish I worked more!” As an entrepreneur, this is a regular struggle because it’s so easy to work long hours—there’s always something to do when you’re your own boss—but a recent 8-month trip around the world taught me that I can live my life and run a thriving business, without sitting down for 8 or 10 hours a day—because I did it, while traveling the world no less.
I recently lost nearly half my revenue (read my LinkedIn post here) as a few major clients pulled back to focus on other areas of their marketing. While this could have been a stressful time, driving me to work long hours and scramble to make it up, I chose to see it as a learning experience and a chance to reinvent my business, something I’ve been working toward anyway. Instead of running around, I did some intentional outreach to past clients and contacts and was able to bring on 5 new clients on in less than one month, which is a major success. While I’m still making up the revenue, I’ve been reminded that I have what it takes to run this business.
As is the case with most entrepreneurs I know, my top challenge is increasing pricing and bringing on clients that value my work. So many people want help with writing or marketing, but aren’t willing to pay what it costs for quality work. This is a challenge for me because my business is based on creating the highest-quality content, while also providing a wide range of expertise outside of simply writing content or managing social media, thanks to my extensive background in marketing. I’m addressing this, none the less, by simply increasing my pricing at regular intervals and focusing on a quality over quantity mindset. I’d rather have a few clients, paying a higher rate, so I can provide the best work—and I’m willing to do the work to attract those clients and turn down anyone who doesn’t fit that description. I have done extensive personal development in the last 1.5 years that has affected my business. Most importantly, I’ve learned to be more trusting of The Universe, knowing that what needs to happen, will and if I want something, The Universe will meet me at the point of action.
My role models have always been the women of World War II. I remember learning about them as a kid and being fascinated. That fascination turned into a desire to learn more, and so I minored in Women and Gender Studies in college. The women of World War II, the most famous being of course, Rosie the Riveter, were trailblazers. At a time when they were underestimated and undervalued, they stepped up and did what needed to be done—and did it well. I don’t like to do what everyone else is doing, much less what’s expected of me, and these women are an example of how that mindset can impact that world, something I also hope to do as I publish my first book and start bringing my experiences and lessons to more and more people.