What It's About
A finance guru helps millennials strike a balance between avocado toast and 401k retirement plans with her own brand of "money therapy."
Words of Wisdom
As we’ve talked about elsewhere, if you’re qualified to help people with personal finance issues, something like this can definitely be a rewarding endeavor. The key is to specialize and be clear on your messaging. That’s why Ellie’s research—rather than starting with a website, logo, etc.—was so important.
Finance isn’t exactly the type of topic that causes belly laughs around the dinner table. It isn’t fun or funny! Most of the people Ellie deals with are up to their eyeballs in debt with no easy way out. That being said, she finds fun in the simple aspects of the business. To date—through Money Therapy—Ellie has helped her clients pay off over $100,00 in debt. That’s a lot of kale smoothies!
Notes from Chris
Ellie Thompson had what many would consider a dream job. As an advisor at JP Morgan, you’d be forgiven for thinking she was on top of the world. But the world of American Psycho style suits and business cards doesn’t work for everyone. Like many of those working as a single cog in a large corporate machine, it just wasn’t right for her. She needed a change of pace. That’s when she joined Hello Wallet, a financial startup with a bold mission: to help people make better financial decisions using software. The entrepreneurial bug struck a short time later, as it does to many in the startup world. Ellie decided to take a punt and go all in on her own startup called Venyou. Venyou is a website that helps match people with great spaces for weddings and functions. It’s was a big idea and a lofty goal that would have taken a lot of money to get off the ground. Money that Ellie simply didn’t have. It’s here that her story gets more interesting… Ellie decided to start a side project to help fund Venyou. She entered a market she knew well and that played to her strengths. What is that project? Well, naturally, it's a financial advisory service for millennials. Specifically, she began consulting on how to get out of debt, increase income, and plan for retirement. And the name of this burgeoning side hustle? Money Therapy! Because, of course, we all need someone to talk to every now and then, even about our finances. The next part of her story will resonate with a lot of our listeners who’ve followed their own path. You see, Ellie didn’t spend time building a website, printing business cards or having a logo designed. She’s way too smart for that! Instead, she spent time talking to customers that fit her demographic. Millennials with decent jobs and a stable income. Specifically, she talked to millennials working at Fortune 500 companies. That investment—to use some finance jargon—paid real dividends. Those initial interviews gave Ellie the insight into the pain points and frustrations of her target market. It didn’t take long to realize that it doesn’t matter how rich you are or how much money you make. If you don’t have the right education and financial tools, you’ll overstretch and get yourself into debt. A consulting service providing information and help around how to avoid this trap was the perfect product. You’ll notice I haven’t once mentioned startup costs in this story. There’s a good reason for that and it’s not what you might think. The reality is that, in Ellie’s case, there was literally no startup cost! So far it’s a $0 startup! She didn’t even have a website in the beginning and only decided to treat herself to one after she signed up some customers. There’s a really great lesson here. Many people starting out get bogged down on the smaller details and forget that a real business is built by finding customers. The rest is all window dressing. The icing on the cake? She had the website built for only $100! A measly $100. Probably less than a hipster millennial spends on avocado toast and artisanal microbrews in a month! How much has this $100 investment returned so far? Money Therapy—a little side project conceived to help fund another project—is now generating $2,000 per month via around 8 clients per month. Even though I didn’t finish high school, I’m pretty sure that’s $250 per client. Needless to say, it sounds like Ellie won't need any money therapy for herself...
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Money Therapy: If your finances have got you feelin' blue, there's so much that you can do—learn more on Ellie's website!
- Hello Wallet & Venyou: The startups that Ellie worked on in addition to her side hustle
- EXTENDED CUT #7: Pricing Your Product or Service: When you’re starting a new product or service, how do you know what to price it at? Good news: there’s a simple method you can use that will take you less than 10 minutes to apply
- Zoom: The video communication platform that Ellie used to consult her clients
- Indian Personal Finance Blogger Rings Up $4,000/Month: Writing about money-saving hacks and passive income for readers in India yields big money for a software company employee
- Accountant Starts Net-Zero Personal Finance Hustle: An accountant finds a way to bridge the gap between financial advisers and tax professionals by transferring some of the skills from his day job to his own self-employed income
- Queer Punk Artist Starts Personal Finance Workshop: A manager for a non-profit organization who describes herself as a queer punk artist creates a series of personal finance classes
Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work! Yours in the revolution,
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