Cheryl Mauldin is a business success coach who helps women over 40 leave their burned out 9-to-5 and create a brilliant business & life they love. An entrepreneur for over thirty years, Cheryl has taken her entrepreneurial journey full of ups and downs, and packaged it as a premium coaching program. She started a consulting company at 49-years-old that quadrupled her salary in twelve months. She created Elite Women in Business to help you do the same, by saving you time, money and frustration as you create your dream.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I have been an entrepreneur since the age of 18 when I started a photography business. When I had my daughters, I opted for a safer more comfortable salary and put my camera down, but I always had this entrepreneurial spirit burning inside me. I always knew I should be running my own business, but I was willing to put that dream on hold to raise my daughters. When my daughters were older I started another photography studio on the side. That business, on paper, was very successful, but it was running me instead of the other way around.
Tell us about your business.
When I was 49 years old, I had been in my corporate career for fourteen years and with my employer for twenty-four years. My youngest daughter was graduating high school and I really began to think about what I wanted to do with my empty-nest years. Then the unthinkable happened, my company was sold and a re-organization took place on day one. I went from the C-Suite to buried three layers deep in middle management with a 40% pay cut literally within 24 hours. I knew I had a decision to make.
Because I had been working with a business coach, I knew I had other options rather than settling for the hand I had been dealt. I started a consulting company based off my 24 years of experience and have not looked back.
My consulting business has done very well. I quadrupled my corporate salary within the first twelve months in business. I became debt-free and began to really build a retirement fund. I knew there were other women facing exactly what happened to me. Children leaving the nest to build their own lives, and suddenly they wonder what if? What about that crazy business idea I have? What if I took my side-hustle full-time? Why can’t I be my own boss?
Giving back and service is very important to me. I feel very grateful for the success I have enjoyed. I think for me, Elite Women in Business, was born out of wanting to give back.
Elite Women in Business is for the woman who willingly sacrificed her own dreams to raise a family. But now that her children need her less, she is ready to take charge of her life and dreams by creating a brilliant business.
I offer education, resources, support, and inspiration through group and 1:1 coaching, online programs, and free accountability inside the Elite Women in Business Facebook page.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
I created a checklist to go from ‘business idea’ to ‘open for business’ when I was starting my consulting company. I am giving this checklist to women who are trapped in a 9-to-5 that no longer inspires them, and now they have an empty-nest and want to create a business & life they love. For a limited time, they can download the checklist. In addition, I am including a bonus – the Elite Start-UP Mini Course, valued at $97. You can download the checklist and get the free mini course at www.elitewomeninbusiness.com.
By far, my biggest accomplishment has been raising three beautiful, intelligent and independent daughters. Being a single parent is not easy, and being a parent is not easy. But knowing that each of my daughters are out in the world creating their own independent lives and futures makes me feel very good about every sacrifice I ever made to raise them.
I was very fortunate last year to attend Darren Hardy’s High Performance Forum, an elite group of entrepreneurs who spend three days in an intense coaching program with Darren. Darren is the former publisher of Success Magazine.
Following that, I served as an Advisory Board Member for Darren’s Insane Productivity 2.0 that he calls ‘Ludicrous Productivity’. Through that process, I learned so many valuable tips on being insanely productive.
In 2015, I was named Woman of the Year in my community for what my business had done for the community and my role in several local organizations. I was very honored and humbled to receive that award.
Where is your business based?
I live in Northeast Arkansas, but my clients live all over the world. I spend the majority of my time traveling.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I created a fabulous, comprehensive checklist of every step it would take to walk away from my 9-to-5 corporate career and get my business open for business.
The next step is so crucial, but I think a lot of women skip this step, was to create the design for my life. I have owned businesses that ran me instead of the other way around. This time I wanted to make sure I was designing a lifestyle I actually wanted to live. One that included financial and time freedom.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Building a community on Instagram and Facebook has been critical to building awareness. But, my business hub is the blog where I share my entrepreneurial journey with my community. My blog and Facebook are very integrated and my community knows to always return to the blog to stay connected to content designed to educate and inspire them.
I also network with other entrepreneurs who support female entrepreneurs in particular. I want to stay connected to the community that supports women in business, and be able to point my Elite Women in Business to other experts in business that can help them continually level-up and grow.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
The initial challenge, for me, was making the decision to leave my comfortable corporate career and 6-figure salary. Even though I was burned out and 49 years old at the time, it had become familiar and comfortable. But, even though the salary was comfortable, I was still in debt to the tune of almost $300,000.
Even when my company was sold and I was demoted, it was tempting to stay, figure out how to live on less salary, and stick it out. It was tempting because starting a full-time business was scary at 49 years old. It took all the courage I had to make the leap and leave that 9-to-5 job.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I worked closely with a business coach and mentor during my business idea and launch stage. I made sure I was surrounding myself with the kind of support, education and inspiration it was going to take to make the business a success. I continually invested in my business education and coaching from someone who was where I wanted to be.
I built a solid business foundation, first and foremost. Starting with a clear vision for my business and my life was the key to my success.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I surround myself with successful driven people. I also invest in my success through coaching and mentoring. Having this network of other successful entrepreneurs has been the key to staying motivated when the business world gets tough. The entrepreneurial journey is like riding a roller coaster. Having a network of continual inspiration and support helps me get through the twists and turns.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I deliver actionable content always. I want to deliver value in exchange for my community’s time and attention. So many of my competitors are just more of the digital noise. I believe in delivery value more than asking for the sale.
When I started my coaching business I knew the world did not need anymore ‘me too’s.’ I wanted to stand out from the crowd. I studied industry leaders and became determined to be authentically different. I do that by sharing my unique skills, experiences and passions. There are not many coaches specifically serving the women over 40 crowd, and I know these women have so much to share with the world. That is my passion, helping them break-out and make a difference – and that is my distinguishing factor.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Build relationships first. Joe Pulizzi, from Content Marketing Institute and best-selling author of Content, Inc., gave me the advice to base my business on creating long-term relationships, not quick sales. Find out your customer’s problem and genuinely want to help them solve that problem. No matter if you have a product or service-based business, the foundation of that business is built upon the relationships you have with your community. I loved that advice and make sure my goal is always to deliver value and build relationships first.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
At our core, entrepreneurs are problem solvers. Take the time to really get to know your ideal customer. Take the time to ask them what they need help with. Take the time to truly figure out what they struggle with. If you can solve their problem effectively, and you connect with your customers as one person to another person, you can have a customer for life. But in this process of research, develop a real relationship, be authentic & human, and always deliver real value. And don’t forget to secure the proper funding for your business my friend told me that she got the leg up she needed through Merchant Money to start her e-commerce business so get funding for your e-commerce business too!
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
My go-to tool is by far G-Suite. I live and die by my calendar for not just scheduling appointments, but also scheduling my high value top priority work time and the steps to achieve my goals. My calendar is the life-blood of my productivity as a business owner.
But the platform also houses Google drive for archiving and sharing documents, Google sheets and docs, and connects to my YouTube channel. There are so many tools inside the suite of products, and it is incredibly affordable.
It is the tool I use every single day.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
My favorite business book of all time is “The One Thing” by Jay Papasan. I re-read this book at least one time per year. I am a productivity and efficiency expert. This book took my productivity to a new level and helped me develop focus and discipline to accomplish by big goals. I recommend it to everyone!
I am currently reading “Profit First” by Mike Michalowicz. I highly recommend it to every entrepreneur. It will change how you view your business finances.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I am a life-long learner, and invest at least 10% of my business revenue in personal development every year. I am currently studying branding and storytelling.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
I will be launching the full Elite Business Start-up Course early this summer. Like every goal I tackle, I reverse engineered my goal. Start with the end in mind, and then back that plan up 12 weeks. It helps me to develop a weekly action plan leading to the 12-week goal.
I have also joined a Mastermind group, led by a business coach, to help me continue to learn, have access to industry experts and hedge my bets of being successful.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.