Jessica Zimmerman Business

How This Entrepreneur Bounced Back From Near Bankruptcy to Build a 7 Figure Business

By the end of 2014, I had two options: either declare bankruptcy or find someone crazy enough to approve a business loan to the tune of $100,000.

I’d spent my whole life hoping to own my own business. I wanted to be my own boss in order to have the freedom and autonomy to raise my children and be a present parent. But once I finally owned my own wedding business, nothing looked like I had imagined it would.

I worked 16-hour days, I was a stranger to my young daughter, and I was drowning in business debt. Somehow, though, I knew that if I could devote myself to education for a year, I would figure out how to run a profitable and sustainable business.

The loan that changed everything

I walked into a bank and convinced them to loan me $100,000, enough to keep my business afloat for a year while I sought the education I so desperately needed. As I spent the year learning from the best of the best in business, I started suspecting that I loved learning about business more than I loved working on weddings.

At the end of that 12 months, I planned a rebrand and relaunched my new and improved business. Not long after, I booked our first six-figure floral design client. My year of education paid off, and that one six-figure wedding was enough to sustain the business for another year.

Around this time, my husband became debilitatingly ill. I knew that even if he did recover, he’d never be able to return to his job that had sustained our family until this point. I was more thankful than ever that I could make my own schedule and that I, for the first time, could financially carry our family.

Sharing my story

In early 2016, my operations manager and right-hand woman, Kellie, and I brainstormed ways we could generate a little income in our off season. Knowing how significantly business education had changed my future, I said, “What if I shared my story?”

Kellie and I decided to turn my startup story into a course, The Business Behind the Blooms. We started with a goal: To release a wedding industry business course and worked backward to determine what we would need to do in order to make that happen.

At the start, we had no idea what we were doing. At this point, we had no newsletter subscribers, only about 300 followers on Instagram, and no idea how to create a course or launch a product. It would have been easy to lose motivation, but we were committed to sharing my startup journey and helping designers who might be feeling as stuck as I had just a few years prior. I sat down at my computer and wrote, every single day for a month. While I did that, Kellie taught herself Adobe InDesign so that she could create the graphics for the course.

I knew that we needed to generate some buzz, so I decided to do eight weeks of free floral design webinars leading up to the release date of the course. That way, we could find our target audience and build our email list. By the time the course launched, we had around 700 newsletter subscribers. And with our first launch, we did over $40,000 in sales. That’s when I realized the magic of sharing my story.

There were hundreds, if not thousands of wedding professionals who felt the same way I had. I thought launching The Business Behind the Blooms course would be a one-time thing, but every day we received unprompted emails from entrepreneurs who had bought the course and shared that it was changing their lives. I knew that I had to reach more people.

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Continually defining my niche

Every year since, we’ve released a new, updated version of my course. Every year, we ask our followers what they need, what they’re looking to learn, and how we can help them. This has led to us add a wedding planning section to the course, convert the course from a locked PDF to a web-based platform, and finally, we completely shifted our focus from weddings to education, so we can fully focus on industry professionals who need help.

Although it can feel scary to make such a huge pivot (in our case, from weddings to education), I’m convinced that this move allows me to hold nothing back and share my business model with those who buy my course. It allows me to be fully invested in my customer’s success.

Pivoting grew my business from being $100,000 in debt to bringing in seven figures in 2018. And most importantly, it’s fulfilling my dreams and goals: to be a present mom, and to help others as best as I can.

Feature image courtesy of Jason Masters

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