Going From Corporate Misfit To Successful Business Owner With Twanna Toliver

Jennifer and Twanna discuss the New C-Suite Framework and the path for passionate creatives to exit corporate through a fulfilling side hustle.

Seeking Satisfaction 005 With Twanna Toliver
Seeking Satisfaction
Going From Corporate Misfit To Successful Business Owner With Twanna Toliver

Show Notes

I love people who are all-in and unapologetic, and that’s Twanna Toliver. This fiery, creative business coach came to Content Camp and participated in every session, and as I got to know her and learned about her background and coaching business, I knew she was someone I had to keep in touch with.

Twanna’s journey from corporate misfit to corporate refugee is inspiring.

While working a corporate job, she successfully created and launched an indie beauty brand and product company, before social media even existed. Later, she left the corporate world altogether to pursue entrepreneurship in the digital landscape of content and social media.

Her story illustrates the powerful dynamics at play for those considering the leap from the safety and security of a job to the freedom and flexibility of entrepreneurship and freelancing — and we get into it all in this episode.

Twanna writing in a notebook in a colorful store
After building two successful businesses, Twanna Toliver now helps women leave corporate jobs to create their own economy.

Twanna and I talk about:

  • Her guerilla, feet on the ground experience pounding the pavement and starting an indie beauty brand from scratch as a side hustle, and what caused her to shut it down and go back to her corporate job.
  • The tough lessons learned along her journey, her entrepreneurship reentry, and how she discovered her passion for coaching creative women who want to do their own thing.
  • Why it’s imperative that you understand your money, get the help you need, and find your own working groove and flow.
  • The dangers of comparing yourself to others and her simple trick to get out of that comparison funk.

We also touch on her New C-Suite Framework — a set of principles to help you go from a corporate job to creative entrepreneurship — and how she’s structured a new VIP Day offer that helps women establish a step-by-step plan to start a side hustle and create a path from employment to entrepreneurship with integrity.

I can’t wait for you to listen!

Mentioned Sites, Resources, And Tools:

Get To Know Twanna Toliver

Twanna Toliver, business coach for corporate misfits turned corporate refugees.

Twanna Toliver is a Creative Business Coach and Founder of She Creates Collective a coaching collective dedicated to providing ambitious women currently in accidental corporate careers with practical strategies so they can turn their creativity into profitable businesses.

As the host of the popular podcast, Higher Than This, Twanna, is known for her straight-up, no-fluff style, that pushes women to breakthrough their self-limiting beliefs and shows them how to step into their seemingly impossible dreams. Aspiring entrepreneurs turn to her for advice on how to claim their piece of the American dream turning creative ingenuity into cash.

She leverages her 10 years of business and creative experience in the beauty and corporate sector to ensure her clients achieve the results they want… even if she has to drag them kicking and screaming into the best version of themselves. Her background as an Aveda-trained licensed esthetician and the hard-won wisdom obtained from running her own beauty brand enabled her to design, $0 to Indie Beauty Brand a signature coaching program specifically for emerging beauty entrepreneurs.

Twanna proudly stands as the quintessential accountability partner for high-achieving women ready to ditch unfulfilling careers, dive into entrepreneurism and monetize their creativity.

You can learn more about coaching with Twanna at Twannatoliver.com. While you’re there, check out her VIP Days — perfect for developing a corporate exit strategy that will help you navigate the critical first year of working for yourself.

You can also connect with Twanna on social media at:

Extra Minutes Training With Twanna

To hear more from Twanna and learn the principles of The New C-Suite Framework and how you can ditch the employee mindset and either leave corporate and follow your passion or lead your own entrepreneurial business, check out the Seeking Satisfaction Extra Minutes Membership.

Seeking Satisfaction Extra Minutes with Twanna Toliver

Members receive Extra Minutes bonus training from Jennifer and podcast guests like Twanna that provide valuable insights and lessons to help you build a better business for only $15/month.

Twanna’s Extra Minutes bonus training continues the conversation from the podcast with a few of the tough lessons Twanna learned from starting a product business before social media existed and a coaching business in today’s competitive business climate.

We also expand on each of the five Ps in her New C-Suite Framework, covering how to own your position in the market, how to educate people about the problem you solve, and how to claim your power, as well as the dangerous myths about creating in secret and being “self-made.”

Learn More

Conversation Transcript

Twanna Toliver:

I’m all for being scrappy and I’m all for bootstrapping, but there’s going to come a time when you’re going to need to make your first hire because you cannot do it all. You will burn out quickly like I did, and then you will make the decision, “Well, maybe I should have just stayed in corporate.”

And that’s because in corporate, you have coworkers, you have a manager. Everybody has a piece of the puzzle that they’re working on. You have to hire the players to do the different pieces of the puzzle of your business. You can’t afford not to.

Jennifer Bourn:

Welcome to Seeking Satisfaction, a podcast that encourages you to live inspired, embrace imperfection, and seek satisfaction. I’m your host, Jennifer Bourn, freelance business mentor, course creator, and agency owner.

Today, I work with clients I love, do fulfilling work, and have the freedom to live the life of my choosing. But things weren’t always sunshine and roses, which is why this podcast looks at the systems that power successful businesses and fulfilled lives, going behind the scenes with entrepreneurs, freelancers, and professionals, to discover how they juggle work and life, manage clients and kids, handle stress, and tackle unexpected challenges.

If you are seeking greater satisfaction in your work and your life, you are in the right place.

Today I am here with Twanna Toliver, creative business coach and founder of She Creates Collective, a coaching collective dedicated to providing ambitious women currently in accidental corporate careers with practical strategies so they can turn their creativity into profitable businesses.

Thank you so much for joining me Twanna.

Twanna Toliver:

Hi, thank you so much for having me, Jennifer. I’m so excited to be here.

Jennifer Bourn:

Now, I want some background details. You got started as an Aveda-trained aesthetician. You founded your own beauty brand, created a signature coaching program, and you’ve got a podcast, but you didn’t start all of these things at one time. What did your journey look like?

Twanna Toliver:

It’s so funny that you say, “Oh, you started as an Aveda-trained aesthetician,” I actually didn’t. I started in corporate. I was what I like to call a corporate misfit.

I’ve been a creative since the day I came out of the womb, I was the kid that anytime you said, “Hey, what do you want to be when you grow up?” I was like, “Oh, I’m going to perform.” I was going to dance, one day I was going to sing, one day I was going to be an actress. Oh, I’ll be a fashion designer.

I never said, doctor. I never said lawyer. I never said corporate. But I ended up in corporate. I went to art school and realized I couldn’t draw.

Jennifer Bourn:

Oh, my gosh, I went to design school and also realized I can’t draw.

Twanna Toliver:

It was actually a really prestigious art and design school in New York. And I loved it and it was like a program that they had just started for underserved, underprivileged young folks and I got into the program. It was hard for me to stick it out because I just couldn’t draw. I was like, no maybe this is not for me. Maybe this creative stuff is not for me — and I don’t want to be a starving artist.

Jennifer Bourn:

There are so many people that perpetuate that notion of starving artists — that if you’re creative and you’re going to go into something creative that you’re going to be poor. So not true. It doesn’t have to be at least.

Twanna Toliver:

It doesn’t have to be at all — and I didn’t know that back then. This was 20 years ago and I’m a Generation X and I was told, you know, no you get your good job. You get your good job girl, your good job. So, I left the art and design school and went to a senior community college that was well-known for business. I was like, “Okay, I’m going to do this business thing.”

And my college happened to be next to this huge office building that was gorgeous in New York city. It was known for its gold dome and I would walk by it every day. And I remember I was seeing women that looked like me in suits and they looked like they had this commanding presence. And I was like, “Okay, I can do this. Oh, she looked like she making money. She ain’t starving. She’s doing good,” and I ended up working in that company.

They sold insurance. It was a big-time insurance company. They’ve been around a hundred plus years, and I was a corporate misfit from the day that I walked into the building.

Jennifer Bourn:

Isn’t it funny how we see this idea of success? We see people and we think I want that, but not necessarily how we’re going to get there. I had a really similar experience in college. They’d bring in these marketing and advertising firms, and I would see these women in their power suits, and they’re so successful. I thought, someday, that’s going to be me.

And I went through college thinking my goal was going to be climbing the agency ladder in the advertising world and eventually be an account exec or a creative director — like something in that world — until I interviewed with an ad agency…

It was one I wanted to be a part of so bad. Then the man that was interviewing me said, you are too confident and assertive and aggressive as a female to be successful here.

Twanna Toliver:


Jennifer Bourn:

That crushed me and that was it. I was done. But it’s funny. We see these pictures of what success looks like and we kind of get that burned in our brain a little bit.

Twanna Toliver:

Oh, it’s burned…

Jennifer Bourn:

I was so crushed but now I look back and I’m thinking, thank goodness you were such a jerk because it really pushed me into the direction that I went in today.

So, you say you are a corporate misfit. I think this is super relatable for so many people that end up in careers for all different reasons. You start making good money, and then you’ve got bills to pay, and you almost feel stuck a little bit and making that transition out can be super tough.

How did you navigate that?

Twanna Toliver:

My solution was always to just leave that company and go to another one. And every time I started a new job, I was like, this one is going to be different. This one is going to be better — and it may have been a little better, but I was still a corporate misfit. I was still the one who broke all of the rules, like a pro. I was the one that was in all the meetings with all the ideas.

I was like, oh no, we should be doing this. I was the creative. Like if there was a party that needs to be planned or something, I was like, I’ll do it because I knew that they could give me the Amex card and I could just like… oh, this is going to be gorgeous. I was that one. And I was in insurance and finance and there was nothing creative about those industries unless you’re stealing money.

I needed to unleash the creativity in me so bad.

So, I’ll never forget, it was like 2003, and I picked up this book called How To Make Your Own Cosmetics. Thought I was reading it just for myself to make stuff for myself because I realized it was a hole in the market, but I didn’t think about filling it, I just wanted to make stuff for myself.

I felt like body care was an afterthought and there was nothing on the market that didn’t smell like apples and grapes or whatever — nothing pure and everything made me sneeze. Like, my friends would tease me, “Where’s your lotion? Why are your hands always not moisturized?” I was like, “Because I can’t find anything that I really like.”

So, I got this book and I loved it. I read it in a day and I’m just ordering stuff. I had to order Shea Butter from like Africa and it came in this like huge pale and I had to pick customs. I remember being in my kitchen like the doctor that created Frankenstein because I was like, oh my God! When I made up a lotion and I was like, oh, look at this and I was just giving it to people.

Twanna selling her beauty products
Twanna Toliver isn’t afraid of hard work. She pounded the pavement and hustled at tradeshows to get her beauty brand off the ground.

This is what I teach in my Zero To Indie Beauty Brand, which is the signature coaching program that I have because there was no social media. I literally woke up one day and I told my husband, I’m really going to start this beauty brand. And he was like, oh, I thought you were making it for yourself. I was like, oh no, this is going to be big. I’m selling this stuff.

So, I would make certain things and then would just give them to anybody — not just friends and family, even people on the street. I was just like, try this and let me know if you like it, email me. And finally, there was something happening — it was this huge shopping event. They would have vendors and you could rent tables and it was supposed to be elite like you had to have like your business three to five years, and I was like, “Oh, I’m getting in there.”

I filled out the application and I got in, paid the fee — I recruited every friend that I could think of. I made shirts. This is going to be like my business has been around for three to five years. I had these beautiful clipboards that I gave to all of my friends.

They were like, “Oh, I thought you just wanted us at the table?” I was like, “No, I need y’all to go around and get people’s email addresses and give them the samples.”

I was making this stuff myself, so it wasn’t pretty. But I used it as a sales tactic, I was like this is fresh. That’s why it looks like this.

Jennifer Bourn:

You were pounding the pavement old-school style.

Twanna Toliver:

I pounded the pavement in person. I pre-sold my stuff before I hired any kind of cosmetic chemist or manufacturer. I pounded that pavement. I went to all the events and when I started to really love what I was doing, I ended up emailing the woman who wrote the book, and she became my mentor and she introduced me to aromatherapy.

Everything just happened so fast. And then I was like, I want to even have more credibility in this industry. I want to be a licensed aesthetician and I need to go to the most prestigious schools. I was like, oh, Aveda! I’m going to Aveda. And I went there, but I still had my corporate job.

And I was making money in my business, and that Tory Burch Foundation had just started, and she would have all of these events and workshops and different, mentoring sessions, and she even had a connection with Axiom and I got a loan from them.

I was just doing so well. I was getting all this mentorship and my business was doing well. And I still had the mindset that my corporate job was the secure thing and this was still a side thing — and It didn’t matter how well I was doing when I was doing well.

And so, when I got burned out, I was just like, oh, I have to make a choice — and I chose my corporate job and I shut off my business.

Product photo of Body Blessings lotions and soaps
Twanna Toliver founded the beauty brand Body Blessings.

Jennifer Bourn:

Oh my gosh.

Twanna Toliver:

I dissolved that business and just was like, I’m just not going to think about it. And it wasn’t until years later when I finally left corporate and went to nonprofit, I was like, okay, I’m still miserable.

Jennifer Bourn:

Oh yeah.

Twanna Toliver:

And I was like, oh my goodness, I can’t do this anymore. I had to mourn the loss of my business. I never mourned it. And that’s when I said, okay, I need to make sure that women like me — that really want to do something outside the confines of a corporate office. Like they really, they have to unleash this creativity — can leave and they can do their own thing.

It’s hard. When I did Body Blesses Jess, it was growing. And people are like, “I want my business to scale.” You always see it on Instagram, but there is a certain kind of person you have to become when your business scales.

Jennifer Bourn:

Oh, I love the fact that you just said that.

Twanna Toliver:

Yeah. And people are like, “Oh my business is doing six figures, seven figures, and all that.” You have to become a certain person. Your mindset has to be different.

I’ve heard Oprah say before, “I always knew how to handle my paycheck when I was making like $38,000 a year but nobody told me how to manage a billion dollars.” Right. There’s a difference. That’s why a lot of people that hit the lotto lose their money in a couple of years. You have to learn how to manage not only money, your time.

When I really decided to leave and started to do my own thing, I realized that I needed structure, but I was like, no, you fought against the structure, no structure.

Jennifer Bourn:

I think that’s a super misnomer of people — where you dream of starting your own thing and leaving the job that is weighing you down and you think, the freedom, I’ll be able to sleep in and do whatever I want and work on my own time schedule. And it’s not until you get into it that you realize, oh, there’s a schedule for a reason.

Twanna Toliver:

Oh, yes. There’s a schedule. I need structure. So, I’m like, okay, I’m going to coach. I want to teach women how to start their own businesses, and I was just like, wait, I have to still manage myself. I have to manage my time. I have to manage my relationships. My daughters were grown, and I was so excited. For folks that are empty nesters, there’s another level to being a parent to adult children.

Jennifer Bourn:

Well, that’s one of the things I wanted to ask you about. Because you just moved too. Moving is one of the most stressful things that I think anybody can do and then you had this transition to having adult kids — and it’s very different being a parent of adult kids versus young kids.

And I’m in this weird transition. My son is a sophomore in high school. My daughter’s in college. We’re navigating this slow burn and I see it coming. And that phase of life is so interesting because one, you have to change the way you’re parenting, but two, you also, all of a sudden have all this time that you dedicated to your kids.

How has that transition been for you?

Twanna Toliver:

It was interesting, it was different, and it was the time that I realized that I really needed some kind of structure in place because I tried everything. I tried working in front of the TV. Then I tried the nine to five because I’m the boss. So, I’m going to do nine to five. That did not work at all.

And that was like, well, maybe I’m a night owl. So, I tried that, especially when I first started podcasting, you can listen to some of my really early episodes and be like, why does it sound like she’s slurring her words? I was like because I was tired. It was like three o’clock in the morning.

Jennifer Bourn:

Oh, my gosh.

Twanna Toliver:

So, I’ve tried everything, and it wasn’t until I finally had a coach that said, you know what Twanna, you really need to stop looking at what other people are doing and just find out what works for you and how you prefer to work.

I actually am a morning person. But I’m not a morning person where I get up and I go straight to work. So, there are things that I have to do first to get into the flow of work. And that is movement — whether it’s taking a walk, going to the gym — um, prayer and meditation. I have to do that. I like to read first. And I like to clear just put on aromatherapies. I listen to music. So, I have to get into a flow. And that’s something that I couldn’t do when I was working in corporate. It was just like fast mornings.

Jennifer Bourn:

One thing that has been consistent across almost every conversation that I’ve had for this podcast has been how important morning routines and morning rituals and that experience is in setting intentions of showing up as your best self every day.

But you said something I want to go back to. You mentioned that your coach said you’ve got to stop comparing yourself to other people and find what works best for you. There are a lot of gurus out there who have a lot of different ways that they feel you should be doing things and if you do it just like them, magically, you can have all the success that they’ve had. But not everything that works for them is going to work for you.

What advice do you have for people who are in that stage of watching all the gurus and trying to figure out their groove?

Twanna Toliver:

Yes! I’m so glad you brought that up because you will drive yourself crazy trying to do what everyone is doing — even your coach. What I tell my clients is that you want to be completely at ease at what you’re doing.

And what I mean by that is yes, entrepreneurship is hard. It’s a journey of self-reflection. You have to really sit down and admit to yourself what it is that you love and what it is that you don’t love, especially if you’re coming from corporate or academics or some really highly structured organization. I don’t care if you write it down and just scratch it out.

I have a friend who was smarter than me because she had one corporate job and was like, this is not for me. The reason why she said that is because she suffered from anxiety in the morning, and she was always late. Some people take folks being late as they’re lazy or they’re not good with time management. But there are some people, for whatever reason, have to have a morning routine because it works for them mentally and emotionally.

Jennifer Bourn:

Oh, I feel this in my core.

That was me for several years when I didn’t realize I had a dairy allergy. It was causing all kinds of havoc and having to leave the house amidst all that havoc was creating so much anxiety — if I had to leave the house before 10:00 AM, I would break out in sweats and start to panic. I didn’t know if I could do it. I stopped booking any flights in the morning.

Twanna Toliver:

It’s very real and nobody thinks about that. So, when I talk to my clients, I was like, I want you to work the way you’re going to be at most ease.

You set the boundaries for your business. You set the hours. Even with your clients — I have clients that I coach, I have a 12-week coaching program and now I have VIP days. I set my VIP days and if you want to work with me, I tell you the days that I’m available.

If you say, “Can we have a VIP day at six o’clock in the evening?” I’m not going to be good to you and I’m not going to take your money because I know where I’m at my best and it’s usually early in the morning.

So, I know what works for me and I tell my clients the same thing. I know, especially in the beginning, when I started my online business, we had the, I don’t want to say their names, but you know who they are — the gurus — you know, the hustle hard and you working on Saturdays. You should be working on Sunday.

Jennifer Bourn:

It’s that message of hustle while everybody else is sleeping. And I’m like, no, sleep!

Twanna Toliver:

No, I’m sleeping.

Jennifer Bourn:

I did that for years and it was horrible.

Twanna Toliver:

Yes, I know it doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t work for my body. I need sleep. I like sleep. And I’m a creative and when I’m tired and I’m not well rested, I can’t create. I’ve heard the silliest things like, “There’s no time for showers.” I get most of my ideas from the shower. I got an idea literally this morning out of the shower.

Jennifer Bourn:

I think there’s this notion that people that say they’re creative must be creative all the time and that is not true at all. And it’s in those moments of rest where you take a break and you do other things and you let your mind wander — which is why we get those great ideas in the shower or driving, or while you’re coloring or building Legos or cooking or doing other things — because your brain has a chance to make all those connections and do all the things it has to do.

Now, I know you have the principles of the new C-suite that you use in your coaching, that you use in your VIP days. Tell us a little bit about what that means. What is the new C-suite?

Twanna Toliver:

I came up with the new C-suite because again, I came from corporate — 15 years in corporate. A lot of my clients come from corporate. They go from corporate misfits to corporate refugees.

And I came up with this, a set of principles to help you go from corporate to creative entrepreneurship.

And the first principle is power because when you get hired somewhere, you get indoctrinated into their mantra, their values, their belief systems — even if it’s not your own.

And when you leave, it is so hard for you to even realize what your values and your belief systems are, especially if it’s completely opposite of where you were working. Like I have friends that have been at an organization for 20 years, and they literally just speak just like that.

So, it’s the P — what is your position? What are your values? What are your beliefs? And stand in that power. It’s so hard for people to do that, not only coming from corporate but because of social media. There’s so much noise and so many messages — some messages are great, and some are not.

Jennifer Bourn:

I love that you brought up social media too. We were joking a little bit before we started this conversation about how often what we see on social isn’t necessarily reality. It’s a perceived reality. It’s a very crafted reality. It’s easy when you’re starting your business to get caught up in that comparison — watching what other people are doing and feeling like if I’m not at that level yet, if my business isn’t all the way there yet if I am not working at a certain level or my brand doesn’t look a certain way. I’ve got to wait.

What do you say for people who are struggling to find their own voice, their own power, to figure out their position in the market — they’re watching other people and they’re really struggling to figure out: who am I as a business owner or as a creative?

Twanna Toliver:

That’s a good question. And that’s why out of the five Ps, prepare is not one of them.

What I suggest is that, and I suggest this to clients, and I did the same exercise — a lot of the people that you follow or that you admire, I want you to go back on their social media and I mean, all the way back from the beginning before they found their voice.

Jennifer Bourn:

Oh, my gosh, that’s such a great piece of advice.

Twanna Toliver:

That’s why I don’t archive anything. I’ve seen that suggestion like, oh, once you really start getting known and you start getting followers archive or delete stuff. And I don’t. I don’t delete anything. I don’t archive anything. And even do it for yourself, as you start to really make headway in your business, you start speaking, go back and look.

When I first decided to really leave, I didn’t immediately go into coaching. I wanted to do social media management. I wanted to work with influencers. I worked with an influencer for like five years. So, you’ll go back and see how I evolved. How my message evolved and how my business evolved. However, you will see the core message from the beginning, you can definitely do things outside of your work.

Even if I would say side hustle, I still had this core message that I really want you to be able to define a life outside of your job, even if I didn’t know how to articulate it at the time, I knew what was in my heart and that’s okay. And that’s actually what you should do.

Jennifer Bourn:

I’ve done that before, where I found somebody that I’m like, “Wow they’ve really got it together.” But you scroll and you’re checking out their feed and then you get to this point where all of a sudden, things look a little different and you’re like, ” Oh, this was your before. They were just like me. I can do this.

And I love that you don’t delete your old stuff.

I thought about doing that. The first videos I ever shot for my business were so awful. The lighting is bad. The background is bad. My delivery is bad. The sound is bad. And when I got everything dialed in and I’m like, “Okay, this feels a lot better, I should go back and delete those.” And I didn’t.

I left them because it has been so powerful to sit with my clients in programs that I run — Content Creators Club and Profitable Project Plan — and when people are saying, I can’t put it out there yet, it’s not right, it’s not perfect. I’m like go to this URL look at this terrible video that is still on my website. There’s always going to be the first step and the first step is never going to be the best.

Twanna Toliver:

It’s never, I don’t even care if you hire a professional. And that’s another suggestion: try not to hire too many professionals in the beginning because you may not even know what you want to say. I had a client, and it was like:

  • They said, “I hired a really great designer for my website.”
  • I said, “Oh, great. Is it done?”
  • They said, “No, she’s been working on it for a while. She’s waiting for stuff from me.”
  • I’m like, “What is she waiting for?”
  • She said pictures. She was like, “Oh, I’m getting my photoshoot.”
  • I was like, “Oh, okay, what about your copy?”
  • She said, “What’s that?”
  • I was like, “Can you go to this website? What do you see?”
  • She said, “Pictures.
  • I asked, “What else do you see?”
  • She said “Words?”
  • I was like, “Oh! MmmHmm.”

Jennifer Bourn:

The bane of every web designer’s existence is the copy. I have had that conversation with people so many times who reached out about working with me to build their websites. I could take your money, but really, you’re too early.

There is something to be said for being scrappy at the beginning and just getting out there and sharing your message and gathering feedback, because so much clarity comes from taking action and testing the waters and seeing what sticks and what doesn’t and what resonates and what doesn’t — and you need some of that clarity before you’re going to spend all the money on the pros.

Twanna Toliver:

That’s why one of the Ps of the New C-suite is pre-sell — and I mean pre-sell everything.

Jennifer Bourn:

I love it.

Twanna Toliver:

Whatever it is that you feel you want to do, pre-sell. My very first episode of the podcast was called Memes And Things. Initially, I just wanted to challenge all of the stories we tell ourselves, stories we’ve heard, narratives and even stuff that we see on social media. And there was this particular meme that was going around that drove me crazy.

When you work, work quietly behind the scenes.

I was just like, how is that possible? When I started Body Blessings, I told everybody about Body but I had nothing — I had no labels. You know how many folks that I’ve spoken to that want to start a beauty brand and they thought of a name and then they hire someone to do labels, which is one of the most expensive parts of starting a beauty brand, and then realize that it needs to be changed? And there’s nothing that you can do but start all over again.

So I had none of that. I had no labels. I got some little jars from the craft store and the samples and was giving it out to people. And I just knew what my message was: this is something that does not smell like everything else that’s on the market it’s pure essential oils.

And it comes to the next P, which is problem.

You know what? Everyone says you have to solve a problem. Yes, you do have to solve a problem but sometimes you have to let people know there is a problem. You have to educate. A lot of times, people don’t know there’s a problem.

Everybody was like, oh, I’m using the — I don’t want to say the brands, but they were poppin’ brands at the time, and they were just like, “Oh my Lord.”

You sit on the train, and you’d be like, “What is that smell girl?” no one knew really what aromatherapy was. Nobody knew that there was a difference between fragrance oils and essential oils, at least not in my age range at the time. And I had to educate folks and I had to tell them it was a difference.

You know, at the time, there was, there was no term — clean beauty was not a term. So people would slap natural on the jar with fragrance oils. And people would just be sneezing, itching, and breaking out, and still slathering it on.

It was similar to secondhand smoke. Like, I wouldn’t wear it, but I was sitting next to a girl slathering and on, and I start sneezing. So, I had to educate folks. And so sometimes you want to solve a problem in the marketplace, but you have to educate folks that there is a problem. That is part of the New C-suite as well.

And then the last piece — the piece that’s really important, which is why dissolved my business, is because I did not ask for help besides the initial time when I had that first community event, and I gathered all my girlfriends.

But there comes a time in your business where you need the last P — players — you need help.

I get that, you know, I’m all for being scrappy and I’m all for bootstrapping, but there’s going to come a time when you’re going to need to make your first hire. You need to hire someone because you cannot do it all. You will burn out quickly like I did, and then you will make the decision. “Well, maybe I should have just stayed in corporate.” And that’s because in corporate, you have coworkers, you have a manager. Everybody has a piece of the puzzle that they’re working on. You have to hire the players to do the different pieces of the puzzle of your business. You can’t afford not to.

Jennifer Bourn:

One of the things that really makes you unique is that you did the whole build a business, create a product, pound the pavement, get out there, get partnerships, get mentors, before social media was a thing. And then decided later in your career to exit corporate and then do it with being able to leverage social and to do all of those things.

You entered a business in two very completely different environments and worlds of connectivity and reach, which I think makes your perspective on business really unique and interesting.

And that’s one of the things that you bring to your work with clients who want to leave corporate and transition to creative entrepreneurship, right? You created your own signature coaching program that you walk people through to build a beauty brand and now you’re working with women in VIP Days.

Tell me about that change over to your VIP Days.

Twanna Toliver:

Yeah. So, this is a new offering I decided to do because I had a beauty brand, so that’s my expertise. However, I do get a lot of women who don’t particularly want to start a beauty brand, but they do have a desire to leave corporate. They just don’t know the first step. They don’t know what to do. And a lot of times they do have an idea for some kind of creative endeavor.

Sometimes you don’t necessarily need 12 weeks of coaching right away. And so, what do you need? You need a strategy. And so, I turned The New C-suite into a strategy because a lot of times I get these women and they may have several ideas and they have to get them out of their head and figure out which one will be profitable, which one makes sense for them, how they can do this.

And when we work together for six hours, and I give them a living document — that strategy — one of the questions that I ask in the VIP day is “What’s your date? When do you want to leave?” I don’t leave that VIP day without asking them. “I need a date. Now, let’s pull out the calendar. When do you want to leave?” Then we reverse engineer that.

Jennifer Bourn:

That is so powerful — that intention — because we can always say, someday it’d be nice. That allows us to procrastinate and put things off and not do it. I love the fact that you’ve set that intention right there and say open up the calendar, pick a date, and then reverse engineer their plan to take action. That is game-changing because it also is extra accountability in there too.

Twanna Toliver:

Oh yes. And That’s the thing. So, the VIP Day is the first step. And then when I give them the living document that we reverse engineered with the plan and the strategy, we set in 30 days, where I come back, and I check in on them — because I say these are the things that you can do now while you’re still working.

So, your corporate job, or wherever you currently working, is your investor at this point. And I check back in 30 days. We have a follow-up call in 30 days, and usually, we can move into coaching after that.

But at that time, it’s like, what have you done? Are you committed to leaving? And I know there’s a lot on the internet — you know, quit your job — and I’m not necessarily promoting folks to quit their jobs because sometimes have to stay there because again, your job is your funder.

Jennifer Bourn:

Well, and it may be your benefits, it may be your retirement…

Twanna Toliver:

There’s a lot that goes into it, but there is no better time for anyone to start a business on the side. It was way harder when I was doin’ it. It is not that hard now, actually, you don’t even have to hide it. Back then, we had to hide it. Now, I think at this point, corporations just encourage it. Like it’s like, whatever’s going to make y’all happy do your thing. Right? I that’s how I feel. That’s what I see on LinkedIn. I don’t see a lot of folks really hiding that they are trying to develop a personal brand outside of their corporate job.

It’s so much easier now than ever to really do something on the side, especially now that a lot of organizations are being flexible with time. And I’m not suggesting that you need to work on your business while you’re supposed to be at work. We work in integrity. But if you can cut out a two-hour commute, that two hours that you were using commuting now you can use to work on your business before you start working.

Jennifer Bourn:

That’s such a great way to look at it — really honoring the fact that your job is supporting you and not buying into that notion of jump and knit the parachute on the way down. I hate that advice because that is so scary! It is setting you up for potential failure, anxiety, and everything else.

So, I really love the fact that you’re looking at: how can we bring your dream, your passion, something you want to do, your creative ambition, to life without abandoning the thing that is paying your bills, or providing your benefits, or supporting your family. How can we do both, and ease into this business, and make that transition more realistic and less stressful?

And I really love that you focus on supporting your clients through that year by setting that plan — that strategy with that VIP Day, following up with them at that 30-day mark, and then saying, Hey, if you want coaching to help continue to do this, right, then stepping in… there are so many times we just need somebody to give us the direction and tell us what to do. And then we can do it and start building momentum. And then we need the coaching, the help, the support, once we’re building momentum.

Twanna Toliver:

Exactly. You can build momentum in your business faster. At the end of the day, a lot of coaches coach because they have an experience, and they want to make sure their clients don’t repeat a lot of things that they did.

Even for me, like I tell my clients I was one of those people that was like, Okay. I want my website. And luckily my friend was a web designer, so I didn’t have to invest a lot of money. But I literally have a totally different website than I had when I first started.

I was doing social media when I first started. So, just imagine if I would have just paid someone thousands of dollars. There were a lot of things that I did that I tell my clients that they don’t have to do, especially when it comes to the money that they spend on their business.

There are a lot of shiny objects. Should I get this program? And that program? You don’t need that program. If you have a service-based business and you’re trying to get clients, you need something to schedule clients. That’s all you need. You don’t need a lot of these programs that are so robust and so hard to learn, not to mention expensive. Yes. They come in handy eventually, but they are expensive in the beginning, and you may not have the book of business to really get the most out of having those programs.

Jennifer Bourn:

And you’re like, your business is not at a point where you’re actually going to get a good ROI on this. It feels good because it makes us feel like we’re successful and we need this software. It takes a lot to say, ” I don’t need that yet. I’m not quite there yet. I don’t need that complexity yet. I’m okay starting with a simple solution. I’m okay with starting with a smaller solution and working my way up.”

And speaking of those things, I have a couple of questions to ask. What other tool, trick, or whatever do you wish you discovered earlier?

Twanna Toliver:

I love Asana. I can get everything out of my head on Asana and I have a VA and if it’s something that I want her to do, I can just assign and put her name on it, and she goes in and she knows what to do. Like, I just… I love it. Folks have tried to get me to do other things and sometimes I would try and I was like, no Asana is simple, it’s easy — and it’s the free version. One day I may need the paid version, but right now the free version works for me.

Another tool, and it took me a long time to use this just because my brain can remember — I’m like, “I can do it” — is LastPass.

Jennifer Bourn:

Oh, you and me, both.

Twanna Toliver:

But finally, one day I locked myself out of some program and I was like, okay, let me look into this LastPass thing. And it was a lifesaver. It saves so much time and so much effort.

I also like Notion for my content marketing. I actually purchased a template from a branding expert, so I didn’t have to design it. She has a little video to show you how to use it. It’s like five minutes long. And she had me content brain dump because that’s my issue — I’d try different other programs and it didn’t allow me to brain dump and I need to brain dump first.

Jennifer Bourn:

I love that. So let me ask you this: when things go, not according to plan, when the day goes off the rails, what do you do to stay in a positive headspace?

Twanna Toliver:

Every day, at the end of the day, I have — as much as I really fought against structure, I actually schedule everything, and I mean everything — a part of my schedule, Monday through Friday, it says, End Of The Day Shut Down. It is a bunch of bullets of things that I have to check email, something that I need to close, and notes. And then it ends like, did you get through your calendar? Did you get through everything that you wanted to get through? If you didn’t, bring it to the next day Twanna, tomorrow is another day

Jennifer Bourn:

I do something similar. I have a daily wrap-up. That’s the last chunk of my day. It’s where I close out all the things from today and I set up what I’m going to do the next day. And it has changed so much about how I enter my family time and the evening and the weekends, and it’s just really been game-changing.

I love, love, love that you do that too. And one thing I think I really appreciate is that you really walk your talk. Everything that you talk about with your clients, you’re coming from a place of I’ve been there, I’ve done this, I’ve tried this. Here’s what worked. Here’s what didn’t. And this is what I have experienced. Let’s help you do better — avoid those same trial by fire experiences, Let’s make sure that you get to where you want to go with as much ease as possible.

So, if people want to learn more about this and they want to connect with you, they want to check out your podcast, your VIP days… Tell us where people can find you.

Twanna Toliver:

Sure. Absolutely. So, my website is TwannaToliver.com or you can put in She Creates Collective. I am on social media. I’m on LinkedIn at Twanna Toliver, on Instagram, as well as LinkedIn. I’m actually on Pinterest too. I repurpose a lot of my podcasts and a lot of my content on Pinterest. And my VIP days are the offerings are up and running — I’ll be talking about them on LinkedIn and Instagram. So please, slide in my DMs as they say, if you want to learn more about my VIP days.

And oh, my podcast is called Higher Than This and it is on all the places that you get your podcast fix. And if you go to my website, you can actually listen to the trailer as well as all of the episodes. It’s a seasonal podcast. So, we’re off-season now…

Jennifer Bourn:

Oh, a good time to catch up on past episodes!

Twanna Toliver:

It’s a great time to catch up. And I’m actually going to put together some podcast episodes that go hand in hand and just say listen again, or catch up. That’s something I tell my clients all the time, especially if you’re a content creator and you love to create content, when you have a lot of stuff that you’ve already created, get it out there again. We assume that everybody has heard it and they have not. They have not.

So just keep, keep pushing it out. Keep pushing your story, your message, and your content, and share it again. The folks that are with you from the beginning — they won’t get tired of you. They’ll just like, oh yeah, I remember that episode.

Jennifer Bourn:

I think that is a fantastic way to close things out with such a great reminder to continue to get your message out there and remind people what you have to offer. Thank you so much for joining me and sharing your journey of seeking satisfaction.

Twanna Toliver:

Oh, I’m so glad to be on the program. This is amazing. I love talking about this. I talk about it all day.

Jennifer Bourn:

If you enjoyed this episode of Seeking Satisfaction, subscribe for new show updates at Jenniferbourn.com/seeking-satisfaction/ and please leave a review on your favorite podcasting platform.

If you would like to hear more from Twanna and learn the principles of The New C-Suite Framework and how you can ditch the employee mindset and step up as the leader of your business, check out the Seeking Satisfaction Extra Minutes Membership.

Members receive extra minutes from podcast guests like Twanna that provide valuable training to help you do better business. You can find details about the Extra Minutes Membership and Twanna’s bonus training in the show notes.

Until next time, may you live inspired, embrace imperfection, seek satisfaction, and have a fabulous day.