Are you a member of our Facebook Community? It’s at stefgasscommunity.com and I’d love to invite you over.
I have a super special guest for you. I met the most incredible, beautiful Ruth Soukup at a retreat and she is absolutely brilliant when it comes to business strategy. She has created multiple 6 & 7-figure businesses, is an amazing CEO, and is a New York Times Best-Selling author. She’s a mama of teen girls, the host of the Do It Scared podcast, and the creator of Living Well, Spending Less; Elite Blog Academy; and Thinlicious. She’s been featured on Good Morning America, The Today Show, and Entrepreneur Time. Ruth is the real deal!
I brought her on because I want to learn from people who are in a position where I want to grow. Like you, right? You guys follow me because I’m in a position of what you want to create through podcasting: creating passive revenue and making money from home without being a slave to social. You want to create more presence with your actual family and make money; doing it all with God at the center. That’s why I follow people I can look up to who help me continue to grow so you can walk alongside me on my growth journey. Ruth is one of those people.
In our conversation, she shares her story and her business strategy. I ask her to share lessons she learned along the way because with more success comes more problems. Ruth and I are here to share the things we’ve learned, the pitfalls we’ve fallen into, and the traps and trials we’ve overcome. Hopefully, you can avoid them and have a quicker journey to success, creating a profitable business from your calling and the things God’s created you to do.
New York Times Best-Selling Author & CEO Ruth Soukup Shares Her Business Strategy & Top Lessons
We are accepting applications for our next round of Podcast to Profit, my mastermind which is now six months! It’s refreshed. Revitalized. Reworked. I want to run alongside you for six months of growing a super-successful business and see you all the way through the refining process: your financials, course or coaching offer, website, selling, live-launching, podcast-pitching, and everything in between. I pray with you weekly. It’s so fire! Register and get your application in if it’s something that’s on your heart at podcasttoprofitmastermind.com.
Hello, Beautiful Ruth. Welcome to the podcast.
Ruth is brilliant! I love business strategy and I think strategy brains attract each other. As I chatted with Ruth, I realized she got me! She was someone I could look up to. So I wanted Ruth to come and paint some vision about what’s possible and what it has taken her to get where she is.
Who is Ruth Soukup? Tell us About Your Businesses.
Ruth: I have multiple brands and am a serial entrepreneur. The company is Ruth Soukup Omnimedia, but under that, we have Living Well, Spending Less (original brand), Elite Blog Academy (we teach people to build successful online businesses through content marketing), and Thinlicious (newest brand about healthy weight loss for women over 40).
Stef: Did you always know you were going to be an entrepreneur? What did your evolution into becoming an entrepreneur look like?
Ruth: I never pictured myself becoming an entrepreneur, but I grew up in an entrepreneurial family. It was just part of life. That is until I became an entrepreneur and realized how much my father modeled for me: being able to take risks, how long it takes, and how hard and stressful it is.
When I started my first blog,Living Well, Spending Less, in 2010, I wasn’t setting out to start a business. I was a stay-at-home mom of a one-year-old and a three-year-old and I need something to do that wasn’t going to Target all the time. I was at home all the time with two kids and was going stir-crazy. We had just moved so I didn’t have a good support system. It was hot so the only place I could take the kids was Target. My husband hated his job and saw every dollar I spent as another minute he had to work. It became a real source of tension.
Blogs were popular and a friend sent me a link to one. It looked like fun and I thought maybe I should start a blog. As soon as I was online, a whole world I never knew existed opened up. I discovered online businesses and people making money at this. I told my husband I was going to make money by blogging. He responded that it was dumb. His eternal penance is he’s had to listen to me tell that story many times over the last few years.
It took me about three years to figure it out. Now there are courses you can take, but there weren’t any back in 2010. After those three years, my husband retired and became a stay-at-home dad in 2013. I’ve been going gang-busters ever since!
Stef: I’ve been a full-time entrepreneur for 11 and a half years. There have been years that were really great, but in that first half, it wasn’t God’s way so it didn’t stand the test of time. This latter four-year period, doing it God’s way, has been different. I have this journal called the Five-Year Journal. In 2019, I wrote, “It’s over. Jenna Kutcher just came out with a podcast course. Everything’s over for me!” I wish I would have known that in 2021 my podcast course would be making multi-six figures. My mindset was telling me it wouldn’t work because I was in that middle trench.
Ruth: Yes, you have to ask yourself, “Am I willing to do this no matter what it takes for however long it takes to be successful?” It’s hard when you are in it to have the persistence and the grit to keep going when it feels hard, when people don’t get it, and when you don’t know how long it’s going to take.
I tell my students, “Your problems don’t get smaller when you start making more money. Your problems get bigger, more complex, scarier, and harder.” I face things today in my business that I could have never even dreamed of facing in the beginning. God’s timing is always perfect. If you trust that His timing is perfect, also trust that the lessons He’s equipping you with are the things that will come back to help and serve you along the way.
Ruth Soukup Pivoted Away From Her First Brand. Tell Us How You Knew It Was the Right Time. Or Did You?
Ruth: I stumbled into Elite Blog Academy. After my husband quit his job, I had a lot of people ask me how I did it, how I made money, and how my husband was able to quit his job. So I wrote a book, How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul. It was self-published and intended to be something I could give my friends when they asked. Instead, it became an instant best-seller, went to #2 on Amazon, and opened up a whole flood of questions; the same questions over and over. They wanted a step-by-step on what to do. That’s how Elite Blog Academy was born. Then I was stuck holding two brands.
That became a huge source of conflict and tension. Looking back, I lost so much along the way because I constantly had to divide my attention. My journey has evolved and I’m grateful for every lesson learned. But don’t divide your focus. It’s shooting yourself in the foot. If you can go all in on one thing, one topic, and one audience, that is much more powerful than trying to do multiple things.
Stef: I’m with you. Especially when you’re newer and you don’t have a team to help you.
At this point, how did Elite Blog Academy grow and what were the roadblocks?
Ruth: I launched EBA in 2014 and in 2015 things really took off. We launched a planner in the LWSL brand called the Living Well planner. That was doing really well and so was EBA. It was a crazy time trying to manage it all and I was exhausted. That went on for a few years to the point where it was difficult to sustain. There was always this tension. I felt like I was constantly forced to choose between two kids and didn’t know which one to focus on.
My solution was the worst possible solution you could ever imagine: starting a third brand I thought would connect the two together. In my mind, it made perfect sense because Do It Scared was a theme that came up a lot for both audiences. I started the Do It Scared podcast and wrote my Do It Scared book. It just became another distraction.
It became so big and unmanageable, getting to the point of near-implosion. Right after my book came out in 2019, I was at the end of my rope. Traveling all the time, trying to be the networker and the face of all these businesses, and creating all the content, I couldn’t physically or mentally do it anymore. I was working 80-90 hours a week, never seeing my family. My marriage was suffering. My faith was suffering. Everything was suffering.
I was working harder and harder to pay all these people who weren’t actually working all that hard. I didn’t even know what some of these people were doing. My number two at the time asked if we should give everyone the month of July off because everyone seemed so stressed out! I was the one who needed the month of July off. No one else was doing anything!
I had a come to Jesus moment in the summer of 2019. My husband calls it the ‘Summer of Rage’ – so much anger was pouring out of me. I was angry at everybody, but mostly at myself for letting all of that happen. Finally, while I was coaching a high-level mastermind, I went to our quarterly meeting. They always joked that they were going to put me on the hot seat. And that was the day they did. It all just came pouring out.
As I was telling my students what a mess my life and business were, I realized I had no business coaching anyone if I was not willing to make the hard decisions. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what I needed to do. It was that it was hard and painful.
I came back, fired half my team, and completely revamped my company. We changed our core values and the way we did everything. It was hard and painful, but the best thing we ever did. That was the moment my company transformed and became incredibly profitable. We became very strategic in everything we did.
Stef: I remember another conversation we had where we were discussing that various levels of success will have different roadblocks. At first, you just want to make some money. Then you want to find a team that sticks. Then you have a team, but you don’t have any systems so everything’s falling apart. There are levels and levels of growth that will never go away, so get used to the growing pains.
Looking Back, How Does Ruth Soukup Define Success?
Ruth: Back when I was going through the Summer of Rage, that was the question my husband kept asking me. He said, “You’re striving for something, but you don’t even know what it is that you want.” My husband’s spiritual gift is discernment.
I knew I wanted to win, but I hadn’t defined what it meant to win. When I finally defined that for myself, that’s when everything changed. From a financial perspective, winning for me is having a financially profitable business – we shoot for a 40% profit margin. We also have a number goal, but instead of having top-line revenue, we set a profit goal.
Success in life for me is enjoying my friends and my family – having meaningful relationships with them; having a strong spiritual life, being generous, enjoying my time, and when I’m not working, not feeling like I’m not striving enough.
The pandemic happened about six months after my internal implosion. It forced me to slow down. I had gotten my business strategy back on track, but I hadn’t fully accepted what it meant to slow down and just be with friends & family. It forced me to slow down and I can’t go back now. It was sitting with my whole family and the dog binge-watching shows that I realized this was what winning is. For me, it was such a precious time with family.
Stef: That’s just the way God is. He says, “Let me show you how I can take this thing that is so hard and make it beautiful.” He’s so good!
What Would Today’s Ruth Say to Ruth Soukup Ten Years Ago About What to Focus on in Her Business Strategy?
Ruth: Get very clear on who you want to serve. Think about who, not what. This is something a lot of people have a hard time wrapping their heads around. You have to know who your person is and what their problem is before you can think about anything else. Sometimes people want to build a business around something they’re passionate or curious about, but it doesn’t always translate to a solid business strategy. If you have that person, the problem you solve, and a product, everything will fall into place. If you don’t have that, everything will be a struggle.
Stef: Tactically, if someone knows who their person is, they know the problem, I believe that next, you have to pick a type of long-form content. Period. I teach podcasting. Ruth teaches blogging. Because of all the noise on social media, you cannot build – in my opinion – a profitable online business without a lot of money for ads that you really don’t have when you’re starting. So my next step is to begin pouring into long-form. What do you think, Ruth?
Ruth: Yes, that is the next big step. One step we say to put in between is to pick your logo and basic brand stuff, but don’t overthink it. Get your theme, logo, and your home base website set up because you need that starting point.
But then, creating content – blogging, podcasting – content marketing is all of those things. We recommend answering the biggest questions that beginners in your audience always have. You have to think about attraction; how are you going to attract them to you? Content marketing is a big part of this business strategy.
There are two ways you can attract people to you. You can use organic traffic strategies: podcasting, blogging, and social media. Or, you can use paid advertising to send people to your opt-in or products. The upside of long-form content as a business strategy is that it’s free and gives you a lot of longevity.
Stef: I’m with you, but I don’t say it as elegantly as you do. I tell people to think of me like a third grader and come at me from a position of expertise. You may think you’re not an expert, but you are an expert to someone who is ten steps behind you.
Ruth: Once you know your person, your avatar – I always find it helpful to think of them as an actual person – it’s easier to connect with them. The more you can do that, the more you can get inside their head and determine what your messaging is going to be. When you think about that person, think about what they are typing into Google. What are they typing in during those moments of frustration? What are the answers they are looking for? That’s the content you need to be creating. If you’re doing podcasting, you should probably be turning it into a blog post.
That’s really all there is to it. But I do tell people if they want a faster business strategy of growth, they should do paid advertising. If you’re okay with moving a little slower, content is going to be your best bet. The people that come to you for content will be warmed up and you’ll be able to establish yourself as the expert.
Wrapping Up: Business Strategy & Lessons Learned with Ruth Soukup
Stef: Ruth, There’s so much value in here! From the lessons you shared and the tactical how-tos to get started with your business strategy. I hope you go back and gather all the gems Ruth shared with us.
Ruth, I look up to you so much and I learn every time we have a conversation. Your time is so valued by me. Thank you for being a blessing to my girls as well. Tell us how everyone can connect with you and learn about everything you’ve got going on.
Ruth: For content marketing, Elite Blog Academy is a great place to find me and learn about the Customer Superhero Path. If you’re a podcast listener, I’ve very excited to announce that I’m redoing my Do It Scared podcast – revamping it, but it will be on the same feed.