Today on The Empowered CEO Show, I am speaking with the absolutely gorgeous Jess Williamson. Jess is an award winning mindset and business coach and a serial entrepreneur, having run 4 businesses in the last 5-6 years. In the last 2 years she has found her true passion in her work as a business coach.
Jess started her first business, a global swimwear brand, at the age of 22. She had her first 6-figure year and since then has gone on to achieve so many incredible things in all of her businesses. Nowadays, Jess is primarily working with female entrepreneurs to unleash their potential and believe that anything is truly possible.
In this episode, Jess shares her insights behind growing all of her businesses and how she got to where she is today, as well as sharing a lot about mindset, which we both love!
Stick around to listen to all her juicy tips and valuable advice, but the best thing is that you don’t just get this episode with Jess and I – Jess has also recorded an episode with me on her podcast as well that you can check out at the link below!
In this episode, we talk about:
- Jess’ mind blowing success in business
- What it means to move fast
- Finding power and resilience in deciding your next step
- How your mindset can either hold you back or help you go global
Tune in to the episode here:
🎙 Listen on iTunes – elleymae.com/itunes
🎙 Listen on Spotify – elleymae.com/spotify
🎙 Listen on iHeartRadio – elleymae.com/iheartradio
The Episode Breakdown:
Elley: Today, I have the beautiful Jess Williamson with me. Jess, welcome to the podcast. For those ladies listening that don’t know you yet, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you currently do in business?
Jess: I always try to keep this as short as possible because I think the last 5 years of being my own boss has been like the normal person’s 20 years.
I go at things very, very fast. My first business Ete Swimwear has grown to the point where we’ve got warehouses in the US and customers in over 46 countries. That business almost runs itself now because I’ve grown it super quickly, scaled it up and then automated, systemised or outsourced certain elements so that I can just oversee it, which is pretty cool.
Since then, I’ve started 4 other different kinds of business and either sold or exited them. One was an influencer travel agency where I got to travel to cool destinations and promote brands with influencers. Another was an event space business here in Perth. I’ve had basically every business model that you can have, built and scaled them, and then either sold, exited or closed them.
That’s brought me to where I am now. In the past 2 years, I’ve really been focusing on my coaching and sharing my knowledge throughout my journey. There’s been a lot of trial and error, failures and things like that that I can now share with people through my podcast Couch Chats, my Instagram, my membership and my one-on-one coaching. Sharing my experiences with other people is really where my passion lies, because I’ve had so much experience in different kinds of businesses. I know we’re going to chat about mindset, but that really lights me up as well. It’s the power of the mind and just getting out of your own way.
Elley: It’s really cool that when you look back at your journey, everything has led you to where you are now. It’s all so beautifully intertwined.
So you launched your first business at 22 and you’re now 28. You’ve had that many businesses and that much success in the last 6 years – that is incredible.
Jess: When I was younger, the number one thing I would hear from my parents was, “Jess, slow down!” That’s because I would run everywhere in the house, try to cut corners and bounce off the walls. It’s safe to say that I’m pretty impatient. I like to do things fast, but it means that I also fail fast, pick myself back up and keep going.
It’s pretty helpful because it means that I can figure out what I really want and where I really want to be. I feel like for the first time ever, I just have so much gratitude around having a really strong sense of self and knowing who I am, what my strengths are and what really lights me up. I feel like I’m exactly where I need to be and I’m pretty damn grateful that I’ve found it so early so I can live this out for as long as it lights me up.
Elley: That’s so inspirational to hear. I love that you’ve had such incredible success at such a young age and so quickly. Congratulations, that’s an epic achievement.
You mentioned that you would go fast so you would fail fast, but that you would also get back up fast. I just think that’s so key as an entrepreneur – the resilience to deal with all the crap that comes along the way, but to get back up and learn the lessons. Were there any key moments during your journey from 22 to 28, where you are now, that have been pivotal moments for you? Were there any big struggles that seemed really hard at the time but you learned lessons and became even more empowered, resilient or confident because of them?
Jess: I think every day something’s thrown at you that builds your confidence a little bit more each time. There’s no way that 4-5 years ago I would have been here on this podcast because I would have just freaked out, but I’ve built that confidence over time. I think the more that you can put yourself out there and get a bunch of “no”s, the closer you are to “yes”.
The biggest challenges for me were in the first year of running my swimwear business because I was working full-time as well. I ended up with adrenal fatigue. I burnt myself out and my mental health was not great because I was going to a job that I didn’t love, there was 2 hours of commuting every day and my business was growing globally. Shit was hitting the fan and I was the only one who could do it, so that was a massive challenge.
I remember one day very clearly. I got to my job and had to pay $12 for parking before I even started the job that I really wasn’t loving. When I went to pay, my card declined. I logged into my online banking and it said $0. I just thought, “Holy heck, how did this happen?” I hadn’t kept an eye on it. I was a sole trader at the time so all my money was the business’ money. I dream big so I’d said yes to all of these amazing opportunities, like going to New York Fashion Week in my first 6 months.
Saying yes to these things got me there, but that moment hit rock bottom for me. I’ve always had savings sitting there as a safety net, so piling on top of mental fatigue, adrenal fatigue and all of these things, the fact that I didn’t know I had no money left to even pay for parking just made me feel like I hit rock bottom.
I actually had to go into the office and lie that the parking app wasn’t working so I could borrow a couple of dollars to pay for it. I was so ashamed and it was just the last straw for me. I didn’t even take any lunch to work because I’d been so busy that morning packing orders to take to the post at lunchtime. I had planned on buying lunch, but how was I going to buy lunch with $0? I called my mum and she and my dad drove an hour one way just to bring me lunch and coins to pay back my friend, and I just broke down when I saw them.
That was a massive breaking point for me, because it was a lot, but the strange thing is – the thought never crossed my mind that I was going to give up. Instead I thought, “Well this is a challenge right now. I’ve got $0, what am I going to do about it? Here’s how I’m going to move forward.”
That in itself is a failure but a lesson, and other people would take that as a major failure and give up on their business. Maybe that’s even what they brand themselves as – I’m a failure, I tried a business and lost all my life savings, I gave up on my dream.
So many clients that I work with give up from way less. That’s something that I work with them on – their mindset. Because not one of these thoughts ever crossed my mind. It was just – this is where I’m at now and here’s where I want to be, so what’s the next step? But so many people don’t even know where they want to be, so how are you going to take a step if you don’t know which direction to step in?
For me, I knew I didn’t want to work. I wanted to create a global swimwear brand. The thought didn’t even cross my mind to make a small brand, test it out and see where it went. I just decided that I was going global and magically, I was invited to New York Fashion Week after one week of launching, which is just mind blowing in itself.
But guess why? Because I *decided* that I was going to be global. If I decided that I was going to tinker with it and practice in the Perth market, I would have never been invited because my photoshoot wouldn’t have portrayed a brand that could go to New York Fashion Week and I wouldn’t have marketed in a way to be seen by the scouts.
All these things add up and I don’t think people realise that it’s about deciding what you want. I don’t want to hear the word ‘realistic’ – “Jess, dreaming big is great, but I want to be realistic”. When you think that, you decide it’s not possible for you.
Elley: That story really paints a picture of what it was actually like for you that day. I think we’ve all been through one of those moments where we felt like we couldn’t go on anymore. You’re right, it’s one of those moments where people will either give up or decide how they’re going to change this. I think it’s key that you just focused on your one next step.
From that point where you made that decision to build this global swimwear brand, what were those next few steps for you in terms of your mindset and getting yourself to a point where you felt really empowered and confident? You were coming from a place where you felt ashamed and embarrassed, so how did you shift out of that?
Jess: I know that some people like to procrastinate when shit’s hitting the fan, but for me, that causes me more stress. My brain works in a way that I don’t sit still. If I sit still, there’s something going wrong. That was probably the main reason why going to this day job caused me so much stress, because I couldn’t action the things I knew I needed to action.
From an energy standpoint, if things are going wrong then I can’t do nothing. I have to keep moving. I’m lucky that I have this mindset, so that in that moment I felt embarrassed but thought, “Okay, I can’t pay for my parking, I can’t get a fine, so how am I going to overcome that challenge? Well, the next step is that I have to borrow some coins”.
For me, at every stage it’s just like – here’s the problem, what’s the solution? I don’t have a process that I use, it’s just how my brain works, but that’s what I love helping my clients with. They’ll come to me and say that no one wants to buy their stuff or no one’s replying to them. When I ask them how many people they’ve emailed or contacted, the answer’s always something like two. The way my brain works, I see it is that these two people don’t want to buy it or aren’t going to reply, so I’ll email them a few more times but I’ll also email thousands of people and see who answers.
Elley: It’s forward thinking. Although you’re not consciously thinking, “What’s the problem? What’s the solution?”, it’s a part of who you are. The amazing thing about mindset work is that anyone can adapt that as a part of who they are – we can integrate those new beliefs and habits and we can become someone who actually has that way of thinking.
In your opinion, why do you think that mindset plays such a huge role in our businesses? Strategy is strategy, why do you think mindset is such a big part of it?
Jess: Where do I begin? If I didn’t have that growth mindset, I would have given up and I would still be at that job right now, so just the power of the mindset that I was going to be global had massive, massive impact.
I hear the word ‘practice’ all the time. What are you practicing for? It’s life, we’re not practicing. People ask me, “How about I just practice in my local town, see if people like it and then I’ll expand”. Guess what – that’s a limiting belief, a fear of judgment or mindset. The only thing stopping them from going global from day one, like I did, is mindset. There’s absolutely no reason you need to practice.
We live in a world now where things are so much more accessible. Whatever you dream of and whatever you think is too big of a dream – someone’s out there doing it right now. You might think you’re the first person, but you’re not because the world is so big and diverse. If you look hard enough, there are probably a bunch of people doing what you want to do, so that proves it’s possible.
I remember doing a free live video once on Facebook and I said, “Dream big, decide your goal.” Someone said to me, “I don’t know what my goals are because I don’t know what’s achievable for me.” When I heard that question, that just opened my mind, because this is the challenge – I don’t know what other people are thinking. That’s why I love the coaching space because I get to deep-dive in there and help them rewire that.
My response to her was – that’s your problem right there because until you decide, you’re just going to be working and hoping. What are you hoping for? You don’t even know. What if you’re working in the wrong direction? What if your idea of success is more free time with your kids and not really earning any more, but you’re just doing this because you feel like you need to and you’re working towards your goals – but you don’t even know what they are.
The key is deciding what that is for you right now. For me at the time, success was to go big with a global swimwear brand. Now, I want more time for health, relaxation, de-stressing and just chilling out.
Dream big and make it your reality. It’s literally all you have to do, but it’s so hard for people because of the mindset. You can be whatever you want, but people don’t believe that they can and therefore their actions create that reality.
Elley: Absolutely, because we act from our beliefs. It’s as simple as that, there’s no complex strategy behind it. Get yourself on board first and then you attract that back to you.
Jess: The challenge is that most people don’t realise they’re doing it. This is why having coaches who tackle mindset as well as strategies is key. I could give my clients the strategies I’ve built and they could come back and say they didn’t do it, or we can dive deeper and figure out why.
There’s no such thing as self-sabotage – it’s your mind trying to protect you. If you decide that there’s risk involved or that you can’t do it, then your behaviour is going to protect you from that. You’ve trained your brain that it’s a risk and therefore you say no, and it’s self-sabotaging where you want to be. I don’t think you can get anywhere without the mindset.
Mindset is 100%. I’ve had people say to me, “I don’t want the fluffy mindset, I just want the strategies.”. Well sorry, I can’t help. I’m not going to work with clients like that because they’re not ready to grow. They think they know everything about mindset, so if they’re not willing to learn then I’m not going to be teaching them.
Elley: Strategy is strategy. We can experiment with strategies, we can play with strategies, we can learn new strategies and when we find a strategy we love that works, we just repeat it and tweak it. But mindset always comes up along the way. Hearing you speak about how far you’ve come and how much you’ve trained yourself to have that forward thinking mindset shows that it’s just so important.
Do you have any mindset rituals or routines that you just love to do?
Jess: It’s a work in progress because for the longest time, when I was working full-time, it was just work and business. There was no break, so my autopilot is work and goals. That’s how I get so much done in a little time, but my problem is my health. My stress levels are always high. I feel like that’s my normal state, but it’s not normal, so I’ve had to implement a lot more rituals and things.
I now map it out in my week. I’m trying to do more Pilates and yin yoga, so I do that as a real recharge. In the past, that would have given me anxiety, because I would have been laying there thinking, “Why am I laying here when I’ve got so much shit to do?” Whereas now, I’ve gotten to a calm place and it really helps.
Again, it’s training yourself to get better at that, and to stop piling myself so full of things that it causes me anxiety or feeling that I need to be actioning things all the time. So for me, it’s about implementing more space in the weeks.
Elley: I love two things that you said – that you carve out space in your week for that, because that is just key, and secondly that you said it’s a work in progress. I think we as human beings are always a work in progress. We never have the perfect mindset routine, they can change over time.
Jess: For me, sleep has always been number one. Secondly, I have been putting on a 15 minute meditation before bed, because that’s when our minds are going the craziest. I fall asleep to a meditation so that in the night I’m not dreaming about all the things I need to do, which then gives me a restful sleep, so that was really key for me.
I also plan out my weeks so that every Friday is blocked out, so if I feel like it, I can have lunch with a friend, chill out for the whole day, or do some courses or self-development – we never make time for that but it’s something we need to factor in. If I’ve had a really crazy week and I know that it will make me have a better weekend, then I’ll catch up on work.
I’ve also been trying to structure it a bit around my cycles. Sometimes it doesn’t happen at the right time, but I try and plan it so that I can really optimise my energy levels and make sure that I prioritise eating and looking after myself. For me it’s more about routine rather than rituals.
Elley: Like you said, it’s a work in progress and it’s something that we’re continuously working on. You’re prioritising it and you’re deciding that you’re someone who prioritises it, so everything we’ve talked about is so intertwined in all of this.
In your opinion, your personal experience and your 6 years of business with all your successes, what do you believe are 1-2 characteristics or habits of an empowered CEO?
Jess: Perseverance. I think so many people lack it lately and they’re looking for quick hacks for success – it’s called perseverance. People don’t want to hear that, so that’s why they continually look for the next hack. Stop looking for hacks and start persevering instead, because shit’s going to get tough. I emailed 5,000 individual emails over a year to get my first wholesale deal with only two replies. I just kept going because I knew that eventually it was going to pay off.
It’s something that I’m so passionate about – people need to realise that there is no overnight success, there is no hack. People use these things as clickbait.
I had Samantha Wills on my podcast recently and she said that people ask her all the time how it feels to be an overnight success. She said, “Well, it’s been a 12 year overnight success.” I love how she put that because people just see when you hit the big time – they don’t see all the other things.
You really do have to persevere, because if you’re going to give up when the tiniest thing hits the fan, then maybe getting a job is for you. Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. You have to train yourself to persevere – even when no one’s listening, when no one’s liking your post, or when no one’s replying to the 5,000 emails that I sent. Keep going.
Elley: When I think of you, I think of resilience, and I think perseverance is so perfect to go hand-in-hand with that. I think anyone who’s an entrepreneur needs to be resilient and they need to have perseverance.
Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I’ve absolutely loved it and I’m so excited for everyone to come connect with you!
You can follow Jess here:
WEBSITE – https://jessicawilliamson.com.au
INSTAGRAM – https://instagram.com/jess.williamson8
- FREEBIE – https://jessicawilliamson.com.au/limiting-beliefs-signup
- PODCAST – https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/couch-chats-with-jess
Listen to my interview on Jess’ podcast at: https://podcasts.
Hope you loved the episode and reach out to me on IG if you want to chat about the episode.
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