REDUX: BRITTNEY CASTRO
Has your business model changed since we first spoke with you? Have you added any additional streams of revenue? My business model has grown since the last time we spoke. We have three main business pillars at Financially Wise Women which include our individual financial planning services, 6-week online Money Class, and speaking services (conferences and workshops). I have also been hired by other firms to do marketing and business development consulting which is another stream of revenue but one I don’t really advsertise or market since it is very case by case depending on the company/firm that wants to hire me.
What has shifted for you and your business as you have evolved from being in a start-up and growth mode to running a mature business? Next month marks our 3-year anniversary so we have definitely been excited to see our foundation now built and divided into our three main business pillars. This year the FWW team has grown to three employees and we have focused on refining our systems, processes and service models within each pillar to help us grow into a mature business. It is very exciting to be here now and look into the next three years of business evolution where we anticapate a lot of business growth within each pillar of FWW.
Has your team grown? If so, tell us what that looked like. At what stage did you know you needed more people and for what roles? Where do you find the best candidates and what are the interview questions that best help you determine the right fit? Yes, I have two full-time employees (including me), one part-time, and two consultants I work with. I always know I need more help when I am completely booked in my own calendar and doing things in the business I know I can delegate out to someone who can do it better than me. My business finances play a huge part in making decisions to hire more people as I wait until the money is consistent enough in my business cash flow to support another hire. It always feels like a leap but I have never regretted any of my hires as I feel having the best team is the only way a business can effectively grow over time. I have found all my candidates through referrals. I create an ideal avatar of what I am looking for and then write it all out including personality traits, skills, etc., and then I start asking around. Usually the universe sends me the right person before I even have to start asking. I believe when you are clear on what you need and want, it makes it easier for the universe to support you.
How has your social media strategy evolved? Have you moved away from certain platforms and toward others? What are you focusing on now that you weren’t focusing on six months ago? Yes, we are way more focused on our YouTube channel, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. We did try Pinterest last year and still have a profile up, but no longer post there as we didn’t see any traction for our business. I have learned that Youtube, Facebook and Instagram serve us best since our ideal clients (professional and entrepreneurial women between 25-45) are on those platforms a lot.
How has the competitive landscape of your product or industry changed since you first started your business? Yes, there are more fee-only young financial planners with their own registered investment advisory firms like me now, about 100-200 nationwide, which is way more than almost three years ago when I first launched my company. It is exciting to know there are others like me now and I recently joined a network of these individuals. We get to share best business tips with one another and talk shop. I feel like I am no longer on my lonely island anymore.
What does your schedule look like? Tell us about a day in your life. Are there any organizational tools that you can’t live without? Any productivity tips to share? My days are very scheduled out as I am a big believer in the calendar system. If it’s in my calendar, it gets done. I wake up, meditate first thing, journal, walk my dog, usually head to yoga or the gym, come home and start my work day. Our business hours are 10-6 and my days are jam-packed with client meetings, calls, marketing meetings, casework, interviews, and more, but I do a really good job of closing up shop by 6 p.m. From there I usually head to a dance class, social event, or dinner with friends, and come home to meditate before bed. I rarely have a night off and don’t have TV but this works for me as I love living a full life and find so much happiness in connecting with others.
The road to success is paved with obstacles. What are the biggest that you have overcome? What risks have you taken that didn’t pan out? Some big obstacles I have overcome would be around business finances. Figuring out ways to make my business cash flow more consistent has been one of my goals from day one. It is not easy but it’s gotten better and more consistent due to my focus, hard work, and perseverance. There have been many marketing risks I have taken that didn’t pan out. One in particular was for a reality TV show where they wanted to bring me on as the financial planning expert to help do “financial makeovers” for the guests on the show. After months of talks and negotiation with the production company, and thousands of dollars in attorney fees I spent to review all the contracts, the deal didn’t pan out as it wasn’t a right fit for me and my long-term business vision. Overall, it was a great learning experience and I always think the obstacles and risks I go through in my business journey all teach me valuable lessons which shape me as a leader and business CEO.
What has been the true personal cost to you of doing business – beyond sleep and a steady paycheck, what have you had to give up? Well, to be fair, I have never had a normal corporate job. When I first started at Ameriprise Financial after college I was working on draw plus commissions. So I have always been in charge of my own income and schedule in that way. After launching my own firm almost three years ago, I did have to give up saving for my own personal goals for the first two years, which was extremely hard for me. After all I am a financial planner and love being able to save for my goals just like I advise my clients to do, but for the first two years I had to put all extra money into the business and barely took an income for those years. It wasn’t easy for me by any means, but now that my business is profitable and I can pay myself a more healthy income, I am able to save again which feels great.