Earn Entrepreneurship

HerMoney Podcast Episode 290: Building Your Business During Tough Times

Kathryn Tuggle  |  October 27, 2021

How to find growth and success as an entrepreneur, and what it really takes to build a business no matter what the economy is doing. 


Over the last few months, we’ve reported on some pretty disheartening stats about women and the broader economy — during the pandemic, women globally lost more than 64 million jobs, or around $800 billion in earnings, according to an analysis from Oxfam International. And while those numbers are shocking, they also don’t reflect the mental load women took on, trying to juggle childcare, work, running a household amidst the chaos, and so much more. We know all of this, because we lived all this. Which is why today, we are going to share some uplifting news. 

Women have been fighting back against lost jobs by creating our own. Women were more than twice as likely to start a business during COVID than men, according to a new study from NEXT Insurance, and more than 4.4 million new businesses were created in the U.S. during 2020 alone, according to the US Census Bureau — the highest total ever on record. We don’t have numbers for 2021 yet, but we suspect they may even rival 2020’s — anecdotally, we’ve heard from several women’s entrepreneurship groups that they have grown tenfold over the last few months, with thousands of women looking to learn from and support one another. 

This week, we’re diving into all of this with one of the most insightful, most talented entrepreneurs that HerMoney is fortunate enough to know —  Amy Errett, founder of haircare company Madison Reed

Amy is a four-time entrepreneur and venture capitalist who led her team through 130% growth and a 12 times increase in customer demand during the pandemic, without one single layoff — and this week she tells us how her company was able to pivot. She’s also a Venture Partner at True Ventures, focusing on investments in consumer and e-commerce startups. Last year, Amy was featured on Fast Company’s first ever Queer 50 list of LGBTQ women and non-binary innovators in business. 

Listen in as Amy shares how Madison Reed doubled its retail footprint in the midst of COVID, and how she views the future of the hair color industry in a post-COVID world. We also dive into what it was about the pandemic — apart from the obvious job losses — that inspired so many women to do our own thing. Because it’s not like we suddenly had a bunch of time on our hands — we were all busier than ever. But so many women prioritized their entrepreneurial vision during this time. Amy and Jean discuss why, and where we’re headed. 

“The one switch that a great entrepreneur needs to have is resilience,” Amy tells us. “It’s actually not flexibility, it’s this notion of no matter what happens, I’m gonna take the data, I’m gonna be a realist, I’m gonna be an optimist, and I am going to learn from those mistakes, and I am going to keep on going in a smarter way, with a broader viewpoint of: What is success, really?” 

The pair also get real about what sustainable growth really looks like, because the truth is, when we’re building our business, not every single year can be a “record breaking year,” so what is it that can help keep us keep climbing that ladder, rung by rung? 

Amy also dishes on her greater philosophies around leadership, and what it means to “lead with empathy.” (She hosts Friday coffee chats, enjoys weekly lunches with employees, she has an open-door policy, and is involved with every hire, no matter their level or role). Lastly, she offers her best advice for fellow entrepreneurs who may be looking to follow in her footsteps. (And aren’t we all?! We <3 Amy!) 

In Mailbag, we tackle a question from a listener who is debating asking her parents for money, and we hear from a woman who is curious if she’s on track for her bigger life goals, including a baby + funding retirement. In Thrive, how to lower your stress level as we head into 2022. 

Learn more about Madison Reed’s namesake hair color, the Radiant Hair Color Kit, which has 24,000+ five-star Ulta reviews and sells every 12 seconds. (It just won an Allure Best of Beauty award!)  Also, during the pandemic, the brand launched a hair mask that sold out in 48 hours, and entered an entirely new category with a men’s line.

This podcast is proudly supported by Edelman Financial Engines. Let our modern wealth management advice raise your financial potential. Get the full story at EdelmanFinancialEngines.com. Sponsored by Edelman Financial Engines – Modern wealth planning. All advisory services offered through Financial Engines Advisors L.L.C. (FEA), a federally registered investment advisor. Results are not guaranteed. AM1969416

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The HerMoney podcast is supported by      Edelman
All advisory services offered through Financial Engines Advisors L.L.C. (FEA), a federally registered investment advisor. Results are not guaranteed. AM1969416


Amy Errett: (00:02)
The one switch that a great entrepreneur needs to have is resilience. It’s actually not flexibility. It’s this notion of no matter what happens, I’m going to take the data. I’m going to be a realist. I’m going to be an optimist. And I am going to learn from those mistakes. And I am going to keep on going in a smarter way with a broader viewpoint of what is success – really?

Jean Chatzky: (00:30)
HerMoney is supported by Fidelity Investments. Whether you’re celebrating a milestone or adjusting to the unexpected Fidelity is there to help you navigate life’s important moments with confidence. Visit Fidelity.com/hermoney to learn more. Hey everyone, I’m Jean Chatzky. Thank you so much for joining us today on HerMoney. Over the past few months, we have reported on some pretty disheartening stats about women and the broader economy, including the fact that during the pandemic women globally lost more than 64 million jobs around 800 billion in earnings. That’s according to Oxfam International. And while those numbers are shocking in and of themselves, they also don’t reflect the mental load women took on trying to juggle childcare, work, running a household, amidst all of the chaos. And we know this because, hey, we lived this, which is why today we are going to share some uplifting news. Women have been fighting back against lost jobs by creating our own.


Jean Chatzky: (01:43)
We were more than twice as likely to start a business during COVID as men, according to a new study from next insurance, and more than 4.4 million new businesses were created in the U S during 2020 alone. That is the highest total ever on record. That’s from the census bureau. We don’t have numbers for 20, 21 yet, but I suspect they may even rival last years. Anecdotally, we have heard from several women’s groups that we are in touch with specifically focused on entrepreneurship, that they have grown 10 fold over the last few months with thousands of women looking to learn from and support one another. And today we are going to dive into all of this with one of the most insightful, one of the most talented entrepreneurs I’ve ever had. The pleasure of knowing you all know her too, because she’s been with us here before Amy aerate, the founder of Madison Reed, Amy is a four time entrepreneur and venture capitalist. She led her team through 130% growth and a 12 times increase in customer demand during the pandemic, without a single layoff. She’s a venture partner at true ventures, which focuses on investments in consumer and e-commerce startups. And last year she was featured on fast company’s first ever 50 list of LBGTQ women and non-binary innovators in business today. Amy is joining us from San Francisco, the home that she shares with her wife, Claire and their daughter, whose name is of course, Madison Reed, Amy. Welcome.

Amy Errett: (03:30)
Thank you so much, Jean, for having me. I’m excited to be

Jean Chatzky: (03:33)
Here again. I’m excited to have you, so how are you almost two years into the pandemic?

Amy Errett: (03:42)
I’m good. I always think through answering that question, just because so much of all of our lives have changed dramatically. And so I’m doing well, although not absolved from all of the normal anxieties and stressors that each of us have been through as our lives have been changed. And I think in some ways changed forever.

Jean Chatzky: (04:03)
Yeah. I agree with you. And I was looking at a study about stress, particularly financial stress, but also mental stress just wellbeing in general and was reminded that stress has been going up year after year after year, before the pandemic, right? We were layering things onto our plates before this even happened. And I think it’s important not to lose perspective of that. I know that the last couple of years have represented a huge amount of growth for your company. We had you on the show last in 2019, Madison Reed doubled its retail footprint in the middle of COVID. Can you tell us what’s been going on at the company?

Amy Errett: (04:47)
Sure. Actually more than doubled its retail footprint. When we closed four, obviously stores need to close in March of 2020. We had 12 today. We have 51. So we’ve had major growth. You know, I’d say that there’s in general though, if there is any silver lining, it’s a little bit around the fact that COVID proved to everyone, that every woman in the world was going to care about a handful of things. And one of them was their hair. And I think we’ve both in our direct business, which is the business where you’re ordering boxes of color to be delivered to you. You know, that business surged because women were no longer going to salons our business at Alta, which is a major partner of us. Big box retailer also grew dramatically. Even those stores were closed. And then our retail footprint, where we actually applied the same hair color to you grew dramatically.

Amy Errett: (05:50)
And that business is doing very well because when women decided to get out of their houses again, coloring their hair became a high priority. And I really want to focus on this, not because it’s hair color, but because it’s confidence. And because I believe this correlation with the anxiety that you talked about is also correlated to the fact that all of us are thinking about ways that we can feel better in a world that feels like in many ways, the ground for which we stand on has been rocked. Right? Yeah. So we take a lot of pride in the fact that we’ve helped women in this small way even feel better, right? Like, you know, it may seem like it’s trivial, but you’re on zoom all day. You’re looking at yourself, you’re your roots. You’re thinking, how do I look? I feel anxious. I’m not getting sleep. My world has been turned upside down. So if you know, our mantra has always been confident as the new beautiful. And so we have tried to sprinkle that sort of happiness factor on top of what we do. We’ve gotten obviously the benefit of that, but hopefully what we’ve given back is the benefit of this thing that feels like it’s not directly correlated to self-confidence, but it is emotional.

Jean Chatzky: (07:12)
I was going to bring zoom up before you did, because I can tell you because I just ran the numbers on what Madison Reed did for me during the pandemic. So I typically would spend $150 coloring my hair every time, every time I do it, get a single process. I gave up the highlights a long time ago, after a producer, looked at me and said, please don’t ever do that to your hair again. And I have gray along the part. I have gray at my temples. I got to color my hair. And what Madison Reed did for me was basically teach me. I could do it myself, right? I mean, I wasn’t going to a salon like so many other people and you saved me. I added it up. So I would spend $150 every six weeks getting a single process. I started doing it myself. I got a subscription for $22.

Jean Chatzky: (08:11)
I spent over the course of the pandemic, roughly $300 on hair dye compared with the roughly 2000 that I would have spent. So you saved me $1,700. Now I did take about 500 of that and I bought a Dyson gray air wrap. One of those amazing, one of those amazing tools that makes me feel like I can actually blow out my own hair, which I’ve gotten pretty good at doing, but I needed this. I was looking at myself on zoom all day long. And by the way, I continued to put on makeup because I, I do this for me as much as I do it for anybody else. In fact, I do it for me a lot more than I do it for anybody else, but it made me feel better. You had to pivot though, I know you had to pivot and a lot of entrepreneurs, a lot of businesses have found, not only did they have to pivot, but now as we’re venturing out of our homes, again, we’re having to pivot again. Can you talk about some of the changes and challenges that you faced and how you think other entrepreneurs can think about operating in an unfamiliar environment?

Amy Errett: (09:25)
Yes, it’s a great question. So I think that there are big categorical sea changes that I’m seeing one, what does an office mean for people anymore? And I think this notion of working from home has now gone on long enough that it’s no longer just both a novelty, nor is it an exception. And what I mean by that is that I believe that it has changed behavior. So for instance, we have 50 plus stores. That’s obviously something that our team members go to to do work, but we have 200 people in the headquarters and we haven’t reopened that yet. You know, there were stop, start, stop, start, stop start. And the Delta variant didn’t do many of us any favors in continuity of planning. And so we’ve just never reopened the office again. And now we’re faced with, what does that mean? Well, we’ve gone back and surveyed our HQ team members three times now.

Amy Errett: (10:27)
And one of the three times told us that 70% of our team members say they don’t want to be in the office more than two days a week. Wow. And I was just talking to a bunch of entrepreneurs and those numbers are not unique to Madison Reed. And so on one hand, you have people who are fatigued about being home. But on the other hand that has opened people’s eyes up to, I don’t have to in the bay area, I’m not getting on Bart for an hour. I’m not, you know, looking for a parking space. I’m not thinking about that hour on each side of the equation that I used to spend, versus I can spend that time, do a workout, do my hair, jump in the shower, get in front of the zoom screen. Oh. But on the other hand, I miss human beings, right? So this is a very funny place that we’re in causing us to reconfigure our entire workspace.

Jean Chatzky: (11:19)
Yeah. And I say, wow, but I’m realizing that maybe that’s a little disingenuous since my children were born, I have worked from home. So for the last 20 years, I’ve gone into the office, but really only two or three days a week. And so I’ve had the luxury of having this sort of a work-life balance forever. And now essentially what your statistics are saying is that the rest of the world is able to catch up, which is a great

Amy Errett: (11:51)
Thing. Yes. So there’s a silver lining in that for some people’s lives, including mine. Like I was somebody who got into the office early left late, you know, that was how I was trained as an ex investment banker, especially a woman. You work harder than everybody else. You show up more, you put in more hours to earn that competency factor as I call it. But you know, there was always an equation. Well, you know, we had a home in Sonoma and a home in San Francisco. I would never be working at a Sonoma on a Tuesday that just wasn’t ever going to happen. Well, my life will forever be changed about how I will spend my own time. I will be in the office every week, but it’ll probably be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. And my life will change differently. We sold the family home and bought a condo.

Amy Errett: (12:38)
Like all of these systemic changes are happening, not just for the Eric Albany’s household, but for everyone. Right. That’s sort of one thing. And what will the office mean? Well, let me go. One step further. Our office will be reconfigured to have communal space, lots of conference rooms and desperate hoteling. That’s a radical shift. And I don’t think we’re the only one. So that’s one thing to, what does this mean in terms of people’s relationship between their home and what they do externally? We saw this absolute flight for people to get offline because they were so tired of being online that actually store and retail sales are surprisingly high. And so even in the midst of COVID still hanging around and in the midst, if you look at where we are in lifestyle centers, the traffic is back up to where it was pre COVID.

Amy Errett: (13:32)
And I think that’s been an interesting return to some behaviors that a lot of people didn’t expect to happen as quickly. You know, I’d say the third thing, that’s been a massive change. We’ve always had it in our culture, but I would say this, I think companies that aren’t getting that creating safety and security for their team members in ways that were not always things we thought about. For instance, we had always given people very good health benefits, great check. But what do health benefits really mean to a person now? Well, I have to tell you if they don’t include mental health support, that is a mistake that you’re making during COVID. We learned two things, right? The number of younger team members we had that never had a doctor like these are astounding things that we don’t think about at my age group, which like, of course you have a doctor, well, not everybody has a doctor and you’re sitting in COVID where health risks are abundant.

Amy Errett: (14:32)
And you’re hearing from your team members while I’m not sure if I’m sick or not, but I can’t get a test back for 10 days. And you’re like, well, that’s not right. So we gave everybody one medical, we went one step further than just health benefits. We’re like, no, no, you all get comped to one medical benefit. And one medical, for those of you that don’t is a concierge doc at scale that has retail stores. You can text your doctors on and so forth. Number two, we gave everybody mental health support online free mental health support. It’s anonymous, meaning we don’t know who uses it or not at the apex gene over 66% of our team members were using it six. Oh. So if you don’t think that this has created triggers in people’s safety and security, it’s not just job security. It’s that you’re investing in people as human beings to understand what we have all gone through at the height of what was happening here.

Amy Errett: (15:33)
We had to get hair color out of Italy in the hardest hit region. Next to Wu Han. I had team members myself, including working seven days a week from four o’clock in the morning, till 11 o’clock at night to keep the trains running. There is PTSD that is coming out of this world event, where everything we have known all of a sudden it was like, you know, being a germaphobe, wasn’t something that was reserved for a handful of us. We all moved into this other place. And I think the outcome of this is actually going to be earth shattering, not just in terms of the number of women that have left the workforce, but the post pandemic, mental health anxiety issues, or what people want in their life has, I think completely changed.

Jean Chatzky: (16:25)
I couldn’t agree with you more. And I was just before we got on this podcast, working on some remarks for a speech that I actually need to give tomorrow. So I’m a little behind the curve, but I dug into this report on, uh, wellbeing that MetLife actually just published and they found 72% of people now say that the safety and protection of themselves and their families is more important than it’s ever been before. And when we look at the dimensions of wellness and there are four social, physical, mental, and financial financial wellness is at the top for every age group and across genders and across ethnicities with the exception of those young people that you’re talking about. And there it’s mental health and it’s above and beyond everything else, the numbers are incredibly clear. So thank you for saying that. So articulately, when we look at the number of women who have started businesses during the pandemic, w w what do you think was behind that? I mean, so many of the women who took a step out of the workforce or lost a job, had to deal simultaneously with all of these additional caregiving responsibilities, or other tasks that we had to take on at home. In other words, we were busier than ever, but so many women prioritize their entrepreneurial dreams during this time. What do you think that’s all about?

Amy Errett: (18:00)
I think it’s a combination of exactly what you said first. I think the traditional job market, once women stepped out because of this world’s event, based on having to take care of kids or just, you know, their own mental health issues or anxiety stepping back in the same way was something that I believe that most, I can’t speak to gender. I don’t have statistics. So I’m just going to riff on what I think. Right. And what I riff on, what I think is most of us have been through some version of how we all defined a spiritual awakening. Right? And whether you call it spiritual awakening, whether you call it increasing in meditation, whether you’re calling it, you know, a mental health, wellness, I think each of us, I mean, wow, like if this wasn’t a moment for all of us to figure out, like, what is most important to me, right?

Amy Errett: (18:57)
Like this is a moment to stop the trains. The trains actually got stopped for us. And so in those moments, like I always think about life is silver linings. Like, you know, I say this all the time, maybe it’s a genetic thing, but I believe deeply that one can choose happiness. And I believe deeply that the future belongs to optimist. I believe it, in my soul, the future belongs to optimists. So if you’re somebody who looks at this in life and says, this was the most horrific thing, terrible, terrible, terrible. Well, we don’t have a lot of places to go with that. Right. Where we have someplace to go is like, what happened to you? What was the core? Where did you go? And what was most important to you? So I think to go, the next step is what happened is these women decided, like I’m not going back to do those things that I thought I had to do. Let me pursue my dreams because maybe life isn’t as programmatic as I’ve made it. Maybe I deserve to have happiness. Maybe I deserve to take this chance. Right. And I think that’s what’s happened is many people have been like, I not going to just go back the way it was, because I might never stop the trains myself, but they were stopped for me. And the way to think this through is what I really hope is that every person got in touch with what’s the priority for you. You deserve to have choices in your life.

Jean Chatzky: (20:24)
My favorite thing about optimism, and it’s also true of resilience. And, and, um, and I am like, you, I’m an optimist. I am an optimistic person. I believe people will get better. I believe life will get better. But my favorite thing about optimism and resilience is that you can learn it, that we are all born with a amount. And I’ve looked into this. The research shows that we’re all born with about 50% of the optimism and the resilience that we’re ever going to get, but the other 50% is on you. And you can learn it if you want to learn it. And the way you learn it is by doing exactly what you just put your finger on that these women did. They became the ball rolling down the hill and maybe they had to switch it up. Right? Your first business idea is maybe not your best business idea. It’s maybe not the business idea. That’s actually going to get you there. But once you start, you can change it up. Once you start, you are in motion and it’s easier to just switch it up from there. And that’s how we get through years like this. And that’s how we get through life with a smile on our faces. I think,

Amy Errett: (21:39)
Well, I couldn’t agree more every challenge that this is just my own mantra. Like every challenge I’ve seen in life has an outcome, right? It has an in what is our task is the pattern recognition of seeing these challenges over and over again. And knowing that we have the resilience to get through them. And more than that flourish out of them, right? Like I contend all the time that as human beings, when joy, joy, joy, joy is the only thing we experience. We’re not so good when it doesn’t go our way, but when things don’t go our way, boy, joy feels a lot bigger and better, right? Because you come out realizing, oh, all the things that I really needed were right in front of me, right? Like as human beings, we are wired to, you know, the ego is a very fascinating thing. If you spend time, it can be your best friend for resilience and it can be your imposter.

Amy Errett: (22:36)
If you choose to not be in the reality of what is real, you know, and I don’t want to profess in any way that even in the midst of our business, surging, there have been traumas. There have been things that didn’t go a hundred percent the way we wanted them. There have been people that just got burned out. There have been consequences that are real. And so then the question becomes, how do we have the fortitude and the resilience to keep following our dreams in the midst of things that are challenging. And I think you hit on the word. That is the word that I always describe. The one switch that a great entrepreneur needs to have is resilience. It’s actually not flexibility that suggests that you’ll just go with the wind, right? It’s this notion of no matter what happens, I’m going to take the data. I’m going to be a realist. I’m going to be an optimist. And I am going to learn from those mistakes. And I am going to put the pattern recognition together to keep on going in a smarter way, with a viewpoint of what is success really, right? That’s an essential questions like when is enough ever enough, right?

Jean Chatzky: (23:53)
And it feels like everything that you just said, when you can recognize the patterns, you become more intuitive, you become better at seeing what is coming your way and just adapting to the changing environment and making the decisions that you need to make to move forward. I’m going to take a breath in the middle of this amazing dialogue to just remind everybody that her money is proudly sponsored by Fidelity Investments. Some of life’s important moments are planned for way in advance. We hope that they are, but as Amy and I have just been saying others, we just don’t see them coming. And as always, Fidelity is here to help you navigate the joyous and the unexpected with confidence, their resources, their guides, their tools. They can help you through important financial decisions when you need it. Most visit Fidelity.com/her money to learn more. I am talking with Amy Erick, founder of Madison Reed, four time entrepreneur, every entrepreneur, Amy, who is listening to the show right now wants to see growth at the level that you’ve been seeing it. But I gotta ask when you have a year or two of massive growth, how do you keep up with that? How do you settle in after record-breaking growth and find the new normal?

Amy Errett: (25:15)
It’s a great question. I often talk about this, that we went to bed on March 12th, 2020 being, you know, a seven year old. And we woke up somewhere in October of 2020 expected to be 13, but we never experienced the six years of normal maturation. And so how do we deal with that? Well, you know, we have patients sequenced, we’ve spent 20, 21 with a lot of infrastructure building that we’d never had before. We’ve actually tempered our own expectations of growth. And, you know, for many companies that went through the surge that we went through, they’ve gone backwards in 2021 because you can’t replicate world events that you weren’t like. I’d love to say that I was responsible for this, but I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t, because I’m also humbled. And I want to say this, that we were on the side of good fortune. There was a lot of people that were on the side of not so good fortune.

Amy Errett: (26:15)
And so where we are today is the company is growing again in 2021, not to the same extent, but we’ve held onto a major bulk of customers like you, Jean, who might otherwise not have come to seek us out and then realize like, oh, I could do it myself. My hair looks great. I’m saving a lot of money. I feel confident on Tuesday night when I put the glass of wine in at 10 o’clock and everybody’s in bed and I do my hair and it looks great Wednesday, I didn’t have to leave my house and spend three hours and 150 bucks. So, you know, we’re growing, obviously the store growth has been tremendous. The growth in partnerships has been tremendous, but I think the bigger issue really is like, what does this all mean for the trajectory of the company and how do we pay since sequence ourselves?

Amy Errett: (27:04)
Because in essence, we had six years of one reality, which was a fast growing company doing great. We had 15 months of another reality was like out of body experience. And now we move into the next horizon of who the company is and who the company is as a much bigger company with a big omni-channel strategy. That’s navigating a lot of different challenges that are different. Like we have eight fold number of people and they have different motivations. And the kind of community and culture we’ve built is very challenging on a basis that is remote. We’ve built ourselves around a community where people came in every day and we operated a certain way. And now we’ve hired tons of people from all over the country. Not all of them in stores, but in actually what we’d call HQ. And we could either look at this and be completely daunted by the challenges and say, wow, this is horrible.

Amy Errett: (28:01)
This is hard. Or we could lean into one thing that I think is the key to why I’m an optimist and a key to why I think you can choose to be happy. And it’s called gratitude. And every day I look at my life and working class kid who there wasn’t a predictable path here of where I’ve become an every day. I say to myself, geez, I am grateful for every single moment I have. And I think when you lean into that, you start realizing that this is all, I don’t mean this in a bad way, like anywhere that you are in your life, if you could be grateful for where you are, then all of the things that don’t go so well, don’t seem as daunting because the ground that you stand on is one that is very solid from a foundation of sitting here running Madison Reed.

Amy Errett: (28:54)
I do not have real problems, right? Real problems are lots of other people in lots of other places in the world. And lots of people that experience things that are far beyond any problem that I could ever imagine today. So my job is to give back, my job is to teach others this gratitude at scale. My job is to focus on the energy of the people that work for us. Primarily mostly women, you know, BiPAP, you know, over 55% of our community are people of color who are hourly waged women that, you know, how are 20 plus thousand dollars in debt from cosmetology school. And on average have made $16 an hour. They’re making 40 plus dollars an hour at Madison Reed. And my job is to lean into the purpose and to be grateful and realize that if our eyes on that prize on the prize of creating the best place for them to work, then the rest will take care of itself. And there’s lots of other things around the edges every day that I deal with, but I am enormously grateful and feel like that spirituality that I have inside of myself in that gratitude, it helps me get up everyday and be resilient with all things that are problems, but they’re not problems that are relative in life. Two things that I should be freaking out about.

Jean Chatzky: (30:19)
No, I hear you for our listeners out there who are just getting started, who are feeling like they have miles and years to go before they get where they want to be. What’s your best advice? Did you ever feel like that on your journey?

Amy Errett: (30:37)
I still feel like that. I mean, first of all, I think the first thing for people starting on the journey is I always start people at the beginning, which is doing a real gut check of where your joy is. And what I mean by that is we’ve also seen a resurgence of people becoming entrepreneurs that once they get into it, they’re like, oh, this isn’t what I thought it was. Right. So I think the first place to start, and I’m not trying to be a naysayer in this, I’m trying to, trying to be a realist is like knowing the full scope of what this really means, the risks, the lack of certainty and the upswing of what that means when it works or just the creativity that goes into creating one of these things. I always tell people, just check in with yourself about where your genius lies as I call it.

Amy Errett: (31:30)
What are the things that flow through you effortlessly? You know, Jean you’ve obviously found them in your life, feel like your calling, right? And when you can find that, whether it’s being an entrepreneur or not being an entrepreneur life gets a lot happier because you’re not spending every day fighting against something that isn’t inside of you. So the first place I tell people all the time is try this on, make sure it’s what you want. And if it’s what you want, then you do the next step, which is you figure out the stuff you’re really good at. And then you give up on this notion that you’re supposed to be great at everything because the entrepreneurial journey is one of, if you do not surround yourself with people that are better than you in so many of the things that you will not succeed, this is not a single person sport.

Amy Errett: (32:20)
This is a team effort. And so find your tribe, find your cultural values, find your tribe, find your people that you feel your own safety and security with that gets you, that you get and unleash their power and get your ego the heck out of the way. Because most founders that can’t get out of the way will eventually not have success because the reality check is it takes a village in life. It takes a village. By the way, raising a kid takes a village. It’s not a two person, four person, eight person sport. It’s a sport of children being raised by, in my opinion, a extended community and companies and entrepreneurs get raised by an extended community. And so can you find that tribe around you? I think then from there you start understanding what’s reality about funding. What’s reality about scale what’s reality about the difference in your business model. And I try to tell people that there’s three things that go into a successful endeavor at early stage. One is the size of the market, substantial enough that your business can scale at a place where the investment that gets put in, give some return. And what that means, in my opinion is that 95, 90 8% of every company in the U S should never be venture backed. Right?

Jean Chatzky: (33:46)
It doesn’t mean it can’t be your living. It just means you have to come to terms with what it means that this is going to support you. And how much are you putting into it and how much are you taking home?

Amy Errett: (33:58)
Exactly. So the first place you started is like, we’re not talking that everyone’s got to raise a gazillion dollars and run a $50 million business. We’re talking about like, oh, can I do something? And can I be on my own or supported by a handful of people because support can come in. Administratively support can come in finance. You can come from a lot of different places. And then I think coming to that reality check of what your joy zone is, what you’re great at, who can you put around you to help you? What’s the size of the prize? What is your differentiation? That’s the second thing. What makes what you’re doing in your secret sauce, different than everybody else that’s ever done it. Right? And that’s the piece that I think sometimes it’s harder for people to get to whether that’s some technological advancement, whether that’s service, whether that’s product differentiation, whether that is just what I would consider it to be a service business that does it better than other people do it.

Amy Errett: (34:56)
And so I think that’s an important factor. And then the last but not least, we talked about this. It’s always going to come down to people. It always does. No matter you could have the biggest size on that prize, you could have the best idea and I’ve seen it all fall apart because it really wasn’t about creating the culture. Number one, you know, when Madison Reed was first formed, we had no tube of color zero, but what we had was our cultural values. So, you know, it took us a year to get the tubes to color. But what we knew was what is it that we were going to do that hired against the screen of at the end of the day, like we all have a personality and a soul. We all have a sense of morals and values. We had to define that so that we understood could we build our tribe where we bringing people into the tribe that believed the same things we did and operated from the same sort of thesis in life about getting up every morning. And that often is a mistake that people make. I’ll tell you the truth. When people ask me like two years into a business, like I think I’m going to start working on culture and my eyes get really big. And I’m like, oh yeah, because culture, isn’t a strategy. Culture

Jean Chatzky: (36:10)
Is now culture is who you are.

Amy Errett: (36:13)
Exactly. And most people don’t get it that a company has that, not just a human being and a founder or initial founders in a company set that tone. It is set in motion every day with how you behave, even if you never put the words to it. And so making that explicit for people, people ask me all the time, like, are you nuts? I still meet every HQ person before we make the final offer. And I still meet every management, a person that would run a store or a district manager in a region in our hair color births. Before we make the final offer. I’ve had people come into the company, tell me you’re nuts. You can’t scale that. And in my responses, watch me. And here’s the reason why I’m not vetting for whether or not they’re a great accountant or I’m not vetting for content skills.

Amy Errett: (37:05)
I trust my people. They wouldn’t get there at that place. Here’s what I’m vetting for. It’s not even just do you work for us? Guess what I’m vetting for? Do we work for them? Because working somewhere is a partnership and I want to make sure that you’re not signing up for something that’s wasting your time because your time, you know, sometimes it takes us to be a more mature CEO gene. That means people think I’m old. That’s what they call me more mature. What you start to realize is this is like, all we got is time. And so I want people to come here to feel like this was a gift. And they use that time. Well,

Jean Chatzky: (37:41)
Yeah. And I think for everybody, I mean, we know 40% of people are telling us right now, they are looking for a new job. These are words to live by, right? This is your time. It is your most limited resource. It’s the only, truly limited resource that you have.

Amy Errett: (37:57)
Exactly. You do not own necessarily the path about how long that could be.

Jean Chatzky: (38:03)
Amy. I could listen to you all day long. I so appreciate you being here and sharing all of your wisdom. We will absolutely have you back again. Thank you so much.

Amy Errett: (38:15)
Feeling is absolutely mutual. You are special. The show that you put on for women in particular is special, and I am honored about our friendship and I mean that from my most sincere place. So thank you for having me again.

Jean Chatzky: (38:32)
Thank you so much. And we’ll be right back with Kathryn and your mailbag And HerMoney’s. Kathryn Tuggle joins me now. Hey Kathryn.

Kathryn Tuggle: (38:48)
Hey Jean. I loved having Amy back with us again today.

Jean Chatzky: (38:52)
I really did too. You know, when we do these shows, often we get to meet colleagues of the people who are the guests on the show. And Amy’s got a new person in PR working with her at Madison Reed, who, before we started taping, she said, I love just going to meetings and listening to Amy. I feel like I’m going to church as a person who, you know, as Amy and I both said, like, we’re not churchgoers, but I kind of get it. Like, she’s very inspirational. I found myself thinking, when is this going to be in a book form so I can have it on my shelf to reach for it when I need it.

Kathryn Tuggle: (39:39)
I had the exact same thought. She has so much great insight and such an incredible career. And I also just love when entrepreneurs never set out to become entrepreneurs. I love when your path finds you and you realize what you wanted to do was there all along, but maybe not necessarily something that you set out to do.

Jean Chatzky: (40:01)
And I think it takes a certain amount of bravery to go for that, right? It takes a lot of bravery to deviate from the course that you set for yourself in your head and say, I’m going this way. I’m going to explore this. I’m going to see where it takes me. I’m going to be open to the possibilities. Not everybody can do that.

Kathryn Tuggle: (40:29)
True. Being open to the possibilities. That’s the key, not being afraid to follow that arrow when you see it, wherever it leads you.

Jean Chatzky: (40:38)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. She’s a favorite with me. I think that’s very, very clear. So that was a fun conversation. And I know we’ve got letters too, so let’s make sure we get to them.

Kathryn Tuggle: (40:47)
Yeah. Well, first we have a letter with some good news from one of our listeners named Sandra. She says, I’m sending a huge, thank you for all of your amazing information and your emails and your podcast. I love that you don’t talk down to women and you explain things so very well. Your podcast is the only one I can listen to about money because you explained it so well. And don’t make us feel like we don’t know what we’re doing. I also share your emails with my son so he can start learning to, I had emailed you last year about whether or not I should increase my 401k contributions or increase my IRA, ended up leaving everything. It was due to COVID and thanks to the market doing well, my IRA, more than doubled thanks to the Fidelity growth fund. I just wanted to say, thanks all that you do to help all of us women.

Jean Chatzky: (41:36)
Oh, well, I love that. Thank you so much for sharing Sandra. That’s great. It makes me really happy when after we answer a question, we get to learn what happened is I love when we get to hear the end of the story, you know, sometimes when you answer questions, like we answer questions, it feels like you’re on chapter eight of a 12 chapter book and we never quite get to the end, but thank you, Sandra, for sharing with us.

Kathryn Tuggle: (42:01)
Yeah. Thank you. And to all of our listeners, who’ve written to us. If you have an update, we love to hear them. All right. Our first question comes to us today from single lady. She writes hygiene and team. Thank you for being my weekly money. Motivation. I’m one of four children and my other siblings are all married with children and I’m single. My divorced parents. Each contributed money toward all of my siblings. Weddings as my 40th birthday is around the corner. I’m wondering if it’s appropriate to ask my parents for a financial gift in lieu of a wedding. I’m not opposed to getting married, but to be honest, I prefer to elope rather than having an extravagant wedding. Should I find a special someone in future? I’m wondering what your thoughts are on this situation. Is it a reasonable request? How would I even start the discussion with them to advocate for myself without coming off as selfish, your input would be greatly appreciated.

Kathryn Tuggle: (42:54)
So I wrote to her to ask for more clarity specifically with regard to her parents’ personalities, because I feel like their personalities and their financial situation would be really important to know here. And she wrote, my parents are both remarried, retired, and financially comfortable. They’ve been generous over the years, paying for undergraduate school and some family vacations. I’ve been pretty financially responsible as well. I bought a condo in my late twenties and I’ve had many side hustles. In addition to my full-time job at a nonprofit to bolster my income. At one point I had three side hustles. I’ve never asked for money from my parents, which is one reason. This makes me uneasy. I’ve always been a good student, a hard worker, dedicated to family and independent. I don’t actually need the money, but it would make my life a little more comfortable. As I earn a somewhat modest salary working for a nonprofit, I would probably use the money to buy a new car. Since mine is 14 years old, I don’t want to be selfish, but I do want to be treated equally. I also don’t want to taint my relationship with my parents, which is obviously much more important than money. Any guidance is appreciated.

Jean Chatzky: (44:02)
So first of all, Kathryn, I’m so glad that you wrote to get extra detail. I mean, sometimes we try to read between the lines and I think we’re often successful, but I would have been scratching my head and now I’m scratching my head, but just a little bit less. I, oh man, this is a hard one. I think most of the time when you’ve got a big birthday coming, you will be asked, what do you want for your birthday? I would not try to draw parody with my siblings here. I wouldn’t necessarily say, well, you paid for this one’s wedding and you paid for this one’s wedding and you paid for this one’s wedding. I would probably just try nicely to plant the idea of some help with a car. I think wanting some help with a car, especially if you’re driving a 14 year old car that is on its last legs or getting close to being on its last legs is a very, very reasonable request.

Jean Chatzky: (45:17)
And it’s kind of like asking for cash for your birthday instead of a sweater or a piece of jewelry or whatever else. I would plant this seed with all my siblings. And I would ask for my closest siblings help in planting it with my parents. But I would also mention it to my parents. If they say, what do you want for your birthday? Right. If you tell everybody, you know, I know it’s a biggie and I know I am not putting any financial parameters on this ask at all, but boy, oh boy, I am at the point in my life where I have to get a new car and I could just use some help with that and put it out there to everybody and see what happens. And maybe you’ll get a down payment and maybe you’ll get more than a down payment and maybe you’ll get a little less than a down payment.

Jean Chatzky: (46:11)
And at that point you kind of know where everybody stands, but I wouldn’t put it out there. Hey, you paid for Suzie’s wedding and Jill’s wedding and Gwendolyn’s wedding. I think that’s a little bit much. And I think that especially people of our parents’ generations, they put paying for a wedding into a category. That’s kind of lines up with paying for college. It feels a little bit like, yes, it’s something that you want to do, but it’s also something that your whole life, you know, that you are going to do. In many cases, it feels a little off to me to say, you’re not paying for my wedding. So could you pay for this? But I may be wrong. I could be a hundred percent wrong on this one. And I would love our listeners to let us know what they think about that. Because I, I don’t know. I’m trying to think if my child, 10 years from now did decided they weren’t going to get married and wanted money for a car instead and said, I’m not getting married. Would you give me some money? Because I need a new car. How would I feel about that? I might feel fine. I might feel fine, but I’m not your parent. So I don’t know. Yeah,

Kathryn Tuggle: (47:36)
For me, I feel like this answer hinges on how equitable the parents have wanted everything else to be. I have a friend whose parents, when her older brother got married, her parents put money into a savings account for her and said, this is the exact amount to the penny that we spent on your brother’s rehearsal dinner. It’s now in an account for you. So if your parents have always felt like everything should be equal, that they don’t want to play favorites, then I feel like it might be fair to bring up and say, you know what? You, you spent this amount on my siblings and I want everything to be equitable. As I know you do. You know, I think it really depends on their personality and what they have said in the past that would lead you to believe that they feel very strongly about keeping everything on an even keel.

Jean Chatzky: (48:30)
I have friends like that as well, who put money away for their kids for the future, right? They’ve got three kids and an equal amount was put away for each kid. One. Now two of those children have used some of that money for a wedding. A couple have used it for graduate school, and one has spent nothing at all and it’s just been invested. And now she has so much more than the other kids because that money was invested and got the benefit of the market. And so what started out as equitable is now equitable, but not even. And I think we could spend a whole podcast exploring the difference between equitable and

Kathryn Tuggle: (49:12)
That is such a good point. And every family has done something differently. So, you know, let us know, let us know how it goes. If you have the conversation. Our next question is from an anonymous listener, she writes hygiene. Thank you so very much for the amazing podcast. I learned literally everything I know about investing and money from you. And I’m so grateful for all that you taught me. I’ve listened to every episode you are incredible and so inspiring. I know I need to read your books next. Here’s my question. I’m 35 and recently started a new job that came along with a significant raise. I’m now earning $225,000. I live with my partner and we share in household expenses, but otherwise keep separate accounts. I know that the amount I have below for retirement is underwhelming compared to my salary, but I did not earn this higher amount until quite recently.

Kathryn Tuggle: (50:01)
So I have some catching up to do. I’m looking for some advice on what to do with my extra income. I live frequently and have been able to save and invest about 50% of my take-home pay sometimes more every month. I think I need to build up my emergency fund more though. I’ve just been investing more and more and not wanting it to go into my cash account where it earns such paltry interest. Some of my short-term goals include buying a car and the next year or two, and hopefully getting pregnant and having a baby in the near future. But other than those two, I anticipate having extra income and I want to know the wisest way to invest so that my money grows long-term way in the future. I dream of owning a second vacation home. Here’s what I’ve saved and invested. I have $121,000 saved for retirement and I max out my individual contribution.

Kathryn Tuggle: (50:50)
I have 4,000 saved in a robo account for short-term savings. I have a hundred, 5,000 investment portfolio that a financial manager oversees and 9,900 in a Roth IRA. I also have the following loans, 1,100 remaining on my student loans. I have paid off over 60,000 over the past several years. Amazing. I also have 300, 5,000 remaining on my mortgage, which I share with my partner. We have a small loan for home improvements at $8,000. Also shared with my partner that we’re paying off now. Thank you so much for any advice you have. I so appreciate you.

Jean Chatzky: (51:31)
Well, thank you so much for listening. Thank you for all of the nice words. You’re just killing it. You’re doing so incredibly well. And so I don’t want you to be at all worried about the fact that you feel like you’re playing catch up on retirement, compared with your salary. You will get there. You will get there. And you’re going to get there very, very quickly because your savings rate is so incredibly high. I think you’re right. I think you do need more in cash. Most of your money, the lion’s share of your money is in your investment account. And when we look at these short-term goals, the new car, although I got to say a hundred thousand miles is not what it used to be. And if you feel like you can drive yours for another 20, 30,000 miles, get another year or two out of it, I am all for that.

Jean Chatzky: (52:29)
I just had the 75,000 mile checkup on my car and it is going strong and we’re just going to drive that thing into the ground. But anyway, that is a short-term goal. Getting pregnant, having some cash put away for that in case you want to take some time off work, that is a short term goal, and you need cash for those things. That money should not be in the markets. It can be in a bank, it can be in cash account at your brokerage firm, which is where I think it is now, but it does need to be in safety. And it shouldn’t be illiquid in that you put it into a retirement account where you can’t get access to it easily without taxes and penalties. So I would split up the amount of money that you’re saving. I would set a goal for those shorter term expenses.

Jean Chatzky: (53:21)
I’d first of all, fully fund a six month emergency cushion, figure out how much it costs you to live. What are your fixed expenses? Make sure you’ve got at least six months in cash parked in safety. And then look at the costs of those other goals. If you were to buy a car, would you want to take a loan for that car? Would you want to buy it with cash? How much is that likely to cost? You put a number on it. If you were to have a baby, what kind of leave would you want to take? Add those months worth of living expenses to your emergency cushion, and then just split up your savings so that you’re putting some of that free money into retirement. You definitely want to make sure you’re still capturing all the matching dollars. You’re probably still going to want to max that out, but then once you have all of those fully funded, short term expenses, if there’s an overage in terms of how much more you can save, you can just invest that in a discretionary account, you can put it into a brokerage account.

Jean Chatzky: (54:29)
You can tell yourself that it is for long-term goals. Even that second retirement home may be longer term in that it’s five or more years away from now. And you just keep going. I think you are doing incredibly well. And in terms of your debts, since you laid them out for us, yes. Just get rid of that student loan, probably get rid of that home improvement loan, just to wipe it out since it’s such a small number, but I would look at paying off the mortgage probably on the schedule that you’ve been given, because I have no doubt based on all of the other information here, that it’s a very low interest rate loan. And so taking advantage of the low interest rate and being able to put your money to other uses that are priorities for you is a fine thing to do. Thanks so much for writing.

Jean Chatzky: (55:20)
Thanks for sharing with us and lots of luck with all of that. Thank you so much for the great advice team. Thanks, Kathryn. And in today’s thrive. Nope. 2021 has not lowered our stress levels, but we can get to a better place. and@hermoney.com this week, we break down how, although this year is so much better than 2020 in so many ways we’ve got vaccinations, we’ve got more clarity. We’ve got in some cases, better schedules figured out. Some of us are still struggling. Some students are still in school while others are not. Some parents are back at work, others aren’t. And when a child gets a close contact warning at school, they may have to be pulled out for weeks, but this year can be different. It can get better. And as we head into 2022, these are important creative strategies to have on our plate.

Jean Chatzky: (56:17)
First of all, before you do anything else, let’s celebrate a little bit. As we move into 2022, it’s important to take a look back and celebrate what we’ve accomplished in the last year, because we did have to scramble and it was chaotic, but eventually we figured it out. We managed our jobs and our kids and improved our time management. We are more resilient and it’s important that we congratulate ourselves next, try writing everything down and thinking about what you can outsource. Once you’ve got everything down in front of you, you can figure out what is stressing you out the most and figure out where you can get some help. For example, maybe you know that ordering groceries for deliveries or asking your partner to take over a particular task will make an enormous difference in your quality of everyday life. Simply knowing that there is always milk in the fridge may be your missing piece.

Jean Chatzky: (57:14)
Everybody’s different, or maybe you don’t mind shopping or cooking, but it’s time to ask your partner to help with the laundry. The goal is to get rid of some of those tasks that take up space in your brain, but aren’t particularly edifying. Lastly, make connection a priority. Many working moms have realized that the key to making it through this madness is connecting with other working moms who are the colleagues that recharge you, what friends do you need or want to make time for? Again, even if it’s just a simple call or text, don’t be shy about reaching out and trying to nurture those all important connections, wherever you can. Thank you so much for joining me today on her money. Thanks so much to Amy Errett for all of her insight into building and growing a company. Even during tough times, we were so thankful that she was able to join us again, to share her wisdom and encouragement.

Jean Chatzky: (58:12)
If you’re an entrepreneur, we want you to know that her money is here for you. And if there’s a show you’d like us to do, or a question that you have for me, or I could even impose on Amy, we would love to hear from you. If you like, what you hear. I hope that you’ll subscribe to our show at apple podcasts, leave us a review because we love hearing what you think we’d like to thank our sponsor Fidelity. We produced this show out of CDM sound studios. Our music is provided by video helper and our show comes to you through megaphone. Thanks so much for joining us and we’ll talk soon.

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