How Jenna Kutcher Built a 7-Figure Online Business
The local influencer (of "The Goal Digger" podcast) developed eight revenue streams—mostly while wearing yoga pants
Photo Courtesy of Jenna Kutcher
At age 23, I took a leap from my corporate, windowless office with nothing more than a $300 Craigslist camera and a dream of something more. Over the last seven years, I've built a seven-figure business that started with wedding photography and pivoted into a multi-faceted brand. I run a Forbes top-rated business podcast, The Goal Digger Podcast, I teach online courses to thousands of students, and I work as an Instagram influencer partnering with brands to create content and inspire my audience of more than 670,000 followers.
My background: I grew up in Esko, Minnesota, just outside Duluth. My husband and I lived in Wisconsin since 2006 but recently moved back to the northland last April. We own two condos in Hawaii on the island of Maui and spend part of the year there. (As this issue went to press, we were expecting our first baby—after two miscarriages.)
How I divide my time and resources
I often get asked, "How do you balance it all?" I always laugh, because I think balance is a unicorn.
Over the last three years, I've built a small but mighty team of five women (and a handful of contractors) who support and help me run my business. The majority of my work right now is being the visionary of the brand, so overseeing my team and dreaming up what's next, what our goals are, and how we will achieve them. The way I approach every project is relatively the same: creating systems, getting tasks off of my plate that someone else can help me execute, and then creating content that supports that facet of my business.
When I lay out my schedule, I do my best to only work with one team member at a given time and focus all of my energy on one project, instead of feeling pulled in a million directions. I am a huge believer in "batch-working," which means hyper-focused work—like recording 15 podcast episodes over three days—where that is my only focus. (For reference: We have recorded four months in advance for the podcast so that I can take an actual maternity leave, so I've been working like crazy so I can rest like crazy.)
I've also set some pretty strict boundaries on email and social media, so I am in control of what I consume and how I prioritize my days around what I need to get done and not what others are needing from me. I've learned to keep my head down, to stay in my own lane, to pursue my biggest dreams and not what society is telling me I need to do. I gave up "busy" being a badge of honor and instead have focused on pursuing rest and balance as best as I can.
How and where I work
I run a really lean operation (mostly in yoga pants). Before you envision me being like the Wizard of Oz behind a big, impressive screen, I usually only need my laptop to get my work done. I wish I could tell you that I wear a business suit and have a cute little office where I sit at a shiny, clean desk every day, but the truth is, I do the majority of my work from my couch with two little dogs snuggled up next to me. I take middle-of-the-day walks, don't wear makeup on a daily basis, and love being at home. We have a few little office spaces in our home, but most of the time I keep things cozy.
My team communicates via Slack, which is a great way to message one another. I've instilled a pretty strong culture of disconnecting from work, so we keep phone use to a minimum to encourage work-life balance. Slack is great because we can send messages to each other, chat in real time, and share documents and company-wide communications without adding to our inbox overwhelm—and without needing our phones at all times.
I've had a lot of “pinch-me” moments, from being featured in Forbes to having our story go viral and show up in places like People Magazine, Good Morning America, and The Today Show. I don't think I ever thought a girl from a town of 5,000 people could experience things like this. I've built this entire business while living in towns of less than 10,000 people.
I want to show women that where you live doesn't limit what's possible for you. As a 30-year-old who feels "boring," it's crazy that I've been able to build what I've built, inspiring thousands of humans every single day and showing people that in a world that is all highlight reels, I want to keep it real. I don't shy away from the hard stuff. I share it because impact is greater income in my book.
We’re entering a new season as parents, so I've actually blocked off all of 2019 to just be home and to really feel free to navigate motherhood. I didn't want to rope myself into a bunch of commitments and obligations but to give myself time to transition and rest.
I'm so excited to grow our podcast and teach my courses, and I can't wait to see what comes when I have some time to really ask myself, "What do you want to do next?" I think, as entrepreneurs, we often overcommit to others and undercommit to ourselves, and I want to give myself space to dream again and see what's next not just for me but for my family.
Jenna’s 8 Revenue Streams
I remember reading once that the average millionaire has seven revenue streams. So, on my vision board a few years back, I wrote that down as a goal. A year ago, I hit that goal.
My eight (because I'm an overachiever) streams are: online courses, podcast sponsors, social media influencer contracts, an online shop, public speaking, renting out our condos, leading a business mastermind program, and affiliate sales.
We did over $3 million in sales with my online courses in 2018, so that yields the biggest return. I have four online courses that teach my marketing strategies and I focus on one course per quarter—so that includes updating the content, reworking the launch, etc.—and then they go into automation and continue to sell.