From Post Pandemic Burnout to Thriving with a Business That 10 x'd in Less Than 60 days with Sarah Bronstein

From Post Pandemic Burnout to Thriving with a Business That 10x’d in Less Than 60 days with Sarah Bronstein

We are doing a special series, a case study series on the women who are in The Bold Profit Academy and we are doing this to bring you the real tangible, not fluffed over, not glitzed and glamored results that real experts like you who are listening or watching this now are really interested in getting.

Some of these results are going to be really amazing big results and some of them might seem a little smaller but they are all valuable and important on your journey as a small business owner. I’m excited to have with me today Sarah Bronstein. Sarah, welcome. Thank you for coming on.

Sarah Bronstein: Thank you so much for having me.

Tara Newman: Sarah, tell everybody what you do.

Sarah Bronstein: I own an interior design business called Sukkha Interior Design. I focus on small spaces, tiny houses, and intentional living.

Tara Newman: I love it. You know how excited I am about this. Sarah gets all my small space enthusiasm for her business. I’m just curious because I’m really fascinated for women to understand why they wanted to start a business because I think in the online space, we see a lot of “be a seven-figure business owner”, “be an eight-figure business owner” and when I actually speak to real women, it’s not that that’s what they wanted, it’s something different. What was your inspiration? What aspirations do you have? Why did you want to be self-employed?

Sarah Bronstein: I think originally, it was something that I was good at and enjoyed doing. But in hindsight, I think there were underlying things as I grew up a little bit and paid more attention. I’m very fascinated with the impact our environment has on us and what an insane difference that makes on your ability to really do anything. But my focus is really just the day-to-day living working, how much better it can be, and seeing that transformation with people, that fulfillment and being able to share that with others and bring that to them is what drives me.

Tara Newman: Yeah, making a contribution. I hear a lot from women making a contribution, doing their most important work, doing work that they feel proud of, and doing it on their own terms.

Sarah Bronstein: Exactly, yeah. I’ve worked for a few big companies and the reality is in most jobs, I guess not all companies but from my experience, you’re more or less disposable despite what they want to say. I think my parents were all like, “Oh, no, that’s the safe secure job is to work for someone else and have these things,” but I think that that’s changed in my generation especially and continues to where I think it’s flipped.

They can pull the rug out at any time. Whereas when you work for yourself, you get to decide when things slow down, when to pick things up, how to handle life, pandemics, or whatever, however you want to show up. I think I also just really wanted to have that voice and that control of how my company that I work for shows up in the world, which I didn’t have working for bigger companies.

Tara Newman: Yeah. I can really identify with that. I don’t think it was ever a secure and safe situation to necessarily put all your eggs working for somebody else where you didn’t have any line of sight on the actual financials and what was happening in the company. I’m a former HR person so I can speak to that from the other side of the table. What’s interesting is what I’m hearing you say is for better or for worse, I’m in charge.

Sarah Bronstein: Exactly.

Tara Newman: Yeah, I like that. I feel the same way. When we first started talking, which was actually very recently, you are one of our newer joiners, which is actually cool to have you sharing your perspective which is very early on in the program. I’m excited to have that perspective here. When you were first thinking about joining, what was happening for you where you were like, “I think I need support or I think I want support”?

Sarah Bronstein: Yeah. I would say I’ve in the last year done a lot of therapeutic work. It’s been a pretty transformative year in that way for me already. I think because of that, I was reaching a point, I’ve had been working for a company like having a nine to five and have been laid off during the pandemic and had started my business and then been juggling a few projects here and there when I went back to work for them, I was feeling just in the last few months very much like, “I need to get out of here.”

I would say when I went back to work for them, it’s not like I was like, “This is the forever company.” I already knew what they were capable of and was like, “Whatever.” I was renovating my tiny house at the time and was just like, “You know what, I’ll take the steady income and the health insurance.” But it was feeling lately more and more just like, “I can’t do this anymore.”

Tara Newman: It’s time.

Sarah Bronstein: It’s time, yeah.

Tara Newman: I think a lot of women can really relate to that feeling right now. There’s like this low-grade pressure in our bodies even that is saying, “Hey, this is our time. It’s our time now.”

Sarah Bronstein: Yeah, exactly. I think the last year and moving into the tiny house finally and actually doing it, I think the things that weren’t aligned in my life started feeling a lot more challenging than they had before when I was a mess. I think it just wore me down day to day. I was like, “I’m ready to take action.”

I had invested in a business coach before once when I first started my business and a lot of that was just to like decide if I’m an LLC. I did her like starting thing and it was specific to interior designers but I have realized since then, which was two years ago or almost three years ago, that the traditional interior design business model isn’t what I want.

I’ve never considered myself to be strong in finance or anything like that, I’m pretty bad at math, and just started really connecting to a couple of podcasts, yours was one of them, and I don’t know what it was but just decided like, “You know what, fuck it, let’s do this,” and signed up.

Tara Newman: Yeah, I was going to ask you, what was it? Because obviously, the internet’s a noisy space and there are lots of different programs out there, was there something that particularly drew you to this program to get on a call with me? Because we did have a call.

Sarah Bronstein: We did, yeah. We did a little DMing. I should say I was already bought into Profit First, and that might be how I originally found you so you had that going. I don’t know for me, it felt like I identified that part of my issue was even if I was super successful, I wouldn’t know how to do it, not like you do super well and then you’re like, “Oh, shit, I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Tara Newman: Yeah. You would have some beginning success and then not be really sure what to do with the money that you received and how to advance that down the line.

Sarah Bronstein: Yeah, although I think I also wouldn’t really let myself think about success necessarily. That’s been a whole other thing. Even if I got myself past there, I think subconsciously it was like, “You wouldn’t know what to do anyway so shut it down.”

Tara Newman: Yeah. So we had a call, we did the Revenue Goal Calculator assessment call, and you actually had a takeaway on that call. What was your big takeaway on that call?

Sarah Bronstein: You suggested a significant boost in the system, I had already the business model which I do a paid consultation to get the project basics out there, which is what I would do in any project anyway, so I separated that off and you were like, “That’s great but you need to significantly boost that.”

I really appreciated and noted that you immediately asked, “How does that make you feel? How do you feel about that?” Because I don’t know, that’s not something that I’ve really been asked before. I was like, “I think I feel good? Yeah, I feel good I think.”

Tara Newman: Yeah. On that call, we talked about the difference between pricing things hourly and really helping you see the value in what you’re doing. Correct me if I’m wrong but you raised that price to almost 10%.

Sarah Bronstein: More than that.

Tara Newman: More than that. Oh yeah, more than that.

Sarah Bronstein: It was significant.

Tara Newman: You 10xed that.

Sarah Bronstein: Yeah, we added a digit.

Tara Newman: Yes, okay. And you sold it at that price.

Sarah Bronstein: Yep. I remember you saying it’s just as easy to sell it at this as it is for that. Another thing that I remember noting this when I first started my business but that somehow along the way I lost it but you brought it back is that you were like, “You’re not changing industries. If you’re a new business, that’s one thing but you’re not a new interior designer. You have all this experience.” I was like, “Yeah, I do.”

Tara Newman: Yes, please. We do this. This is such a thing where people start their businesses and then they come online and I don’t know what happens. They’re experts but then they think they’re new and it gets all short-circuited in their head.

Great, so right off the bat on that short call, you increased your price point, we chatted a little bit more in DMS, and then you joined us. Did you have any concerns before joining us? I think people get really stuck in inertia and they can hesitate. Did you have any of those hesitations?

Sarah Bronstein: If the expression is like boiling the water when someone’s ready to buy, I was pretty boiled at that point so I think I was like pretty ready. I had a few questions just about pricing and you actually gave me a few options. I really connected, noted, and appreciated how not pushy it was at all. It was like, “I respect wherever you’re at. Here are different ways I can help you at whatever point you’re at.”

I actually went with the group one anyway even though there were some piecemeal or a la carte ways to do it for less because I just felt like if it fails, I want to know that I did everything. I was 100% in. I was like, “Nope, if I’m doing it at all, I’m doing all of it,” so I went all in.

Tara Newman: Yeah, actually I want to just touch on that for a second because we do have people who go through the program, they come back to me, and they say, “Thank you. I’m not going to be going forward with having a business.” The price of the program to identify that to me is worth it. Instead of continuing to go and trying to piecemeal things together and wasting all this time, energy, and money, I’ll be very bold and say if you can’t find success in our program, okay fine, maybe it’s not the right personality fit but it’s all the things that you actually need to do to make money. We don’t do any fluff. We don’t do the bullshit. We’re like, “Do this.”

Sarah Bronstein: Yeah. I think you have to be ready for it to work. I would say that. No one’s doing the work for you but that’s true in anything, whether they’re transparent about it or not.

Tara Newman: Right. You come into the program and how long have you been in there? I don’t think you’ve been in there in more than 60 days.

Sarah Bronstein: No, I think maybe like six weeks already.

Tara Newman: Okay, cool. Perfect. I do want to say the one thing that really stood out for me about you when we initially spoke was you were really looking for consistency. You knew that if you had consistent steps to take and you had a structure, that was just something that really came very profoundly for you that you would be successful. Consistency, accountability, with structure and with that consistency, you were going to succeed.

I really appreciate that about you because it’s unique. I’m not sure how many people have that level of awareness or are willing to invest for that reason. I think it’s really paid off already.

Sarah Bronstein: I would say yeah. How things shake out, it’s been pretty amazing. I’m like, “Wow, the timing of everything feels so aligned.” That’s what I think made me pull the trigger was like everything just felt aligned. I didn’t feel pressured. It just felt right.

In therapy and just in life decisions, I’ve been trying to act from a place of like I’m a projector in human design so I’m picking up everyone else’s opinions, especially my parents or people that are big in my life, and just trying to shut that out, only ask for advice if I really, really need it or from people that aren’t going to have that power to change mind and just really like feel into my gut and like “Does this feel aligned for me and where I want to go?” and act from that place.

When I even signed with you, it was like not from a place of, “Yeah, I can afford this, no problem,” so I was like, “Nope, can’t really, but I will if I become successful and I’m ready to take that jump.” Having the space to be able to be like, “Yeah, this feels aligned for me and it’s not coming from anywhere else.”

Tara Newman: That’s a huge hesitation for people that I hear often around “I don’t have the money to invest in this but I know I need you to help me get the money to invest in this” and I’m like, “That is like the Chinese finger thing from the carnival when we were kids.” How do you do that? That doesn’t work.

What was a big breakthrough for you in the last 60 days aside from that pricing conversation that we had that wasn’t even a part of the program?

Sarah Bronstein: Well, I would say I could feel just the confidence in “This is going to work out building, that I can do this.” I can be very, I think it’s like a designer thing, but very perfectionist and I know that has slowed me down and is slowing me down like trying to nitpick content and just forever and never, it’s like, “Okay, you haven’t posted on Instagram for two months because you’ve been working on this one post that no one’s really going to–” Just like making myself get on stories and just I think having the community and seeing how you guys show up on stories and it doesn’t have to be a big thing, I saw that.

But I would say in the last week, there have been tremendous life changes. I was unexpectedly let go from the nine to five. Even though I was actively trying to leave was still game-planning that income for the next little while and that happened literally hours after I sold my first consultation at our very increased price.

It wasn’t that necessarily, it was more the timing, the reaction to that news, historically I would have panicked and probably been on LinkedIn immediately looking for a new gig and just feeling really down on myself internalizing even though it was five percent of the company, it wasn’t just me. Still, somehow that would be like I did something.

But instead of all that, it was like, “Huh, thank God I got this. Thank God I did what I did when I did because I’m at least here.” I put some boundaries down like with my family like, “Straight up I’m not looking for a job, I do not want you to suggest anything because I’m not looking.” I took it as a point of the universe being like, “It is time for you to give it your all. This is for you to go all in on your business.”

Even when I started it and it was my full-time thing for most of the pandemic, even then it was like I have little streaks but I don’t know that I felt like I took it, it still felt like it’s going to be until I get something else and then it will be a nice side hustle. Whereas now it’s like, “No, I’m never working for someone else again.” That’s the reality.

Tara Newman: You said there’s a confidence here now. I know that some of that is absolutely the work that you’ve been doing on your own but where do you think that confidence is coming and how has The Bold Profit Academy played into that at all, if at all?

Sarah Bronstein: I think it’s been coming, I journal every day, I’ve put some things in place in the last six months that I do every day that I think has paid off that I know in The Bold Profit Academy, journaling and affirmations, that’s worked really well for me. I’m also like, “Affirmations can be woo-woo,” but I think finding the ones that you’re like, “Yeah, I am that,” or whatever it might connect, I think it’s different for each of us, but writing those every day for now probably like the last six months, it’s true, you’ll start believing it eventually.

I would say the community, I’ve tried to come in and just put myself out there and not be scared because I’m like, “I want my money’s worth. I want to do all the right things,” and I know that getting feedback from peers isn’t always the easiest and so I’ve just tried to jump into that.

I think that’s actually been a confidence builder because I think things are at a lower point or need more work than a lot of other people do and the response is good. I think just seeing that you’re not alone in things that even people who are further along than you think you are, it’s all just the same struggles at different points.

Tara Newman: I do want to be clear, these are not women who will blow it up your ass though. They will tell you.

Sarah Bronstein: Oh, no. That’s the thing, I’m in a couple designer Facebook groups and it’s not like getting likes, hearts, or whatever, it’s like real feedback why they like it. No one’s just like, “Oh, it’s great.” They’re like, “I like this because this is so helpful to me,” or whatever.

Tara Newman: Yeah. They’re really invested in supporting each other and we’re really invested in supporting all of you. I think that you came in and you’ve been coming to almost all the calls I think I’ve seen you on. You absolutely have been open, asking for feedback, and not letting yourself get stuck. I think that is so important because that happens to all of us. I don’t think it’s a designer thing that you’re perfection-y.

We care about our work and we want to make sure that we’re putting our best foot forward and there’s fear involved and it’s raw and vulnerable. I think that that’s how we self-protect like what’s not ready yet.

But one of the calls that I loved having with you was on the new member orientation call. Your projector, I totally understand that. But so many women get stuck in “I don’t want to be like them. I don’t want to market or sell like them.” I think on that new member orientation call, correct me if I’m wrong, where you were brainstorming with Jo and I, there was a shift for you in seeing how you could create an opt-in, how you could create content in a way that worked for you and felt aligned for your values.

Sarah Bronstein: Yeah. I think we’ve talked a lot, I know this has been a struggle but niching had really thrown me like, “But if I’m only talking to these people, I just don’t want to exclude anyone.” I want to help everyone with their space, especially at least through this offer that your groups help me create that I think is so valuable, yeah, it was really helpful.

I think you said something along the lines of “I market to women but if a man wants to work with me, I’ll work with him,” and I think it just clicked like, “Oh, yeah okay.” Also, that I don’t have to be so, maybe I speak more generally in some of the messaging, and in some of it, it’s more specific like it doesn’t have to be such as, “Ah, am I doing it right?”

Tara Newman: Yeah. There’s freedom here and room that when you understand what we’re trying to do, we put the framework around it that we’re trying to find people who are underserved, who have an unmet need, and we also extrapolated it out to say, “Okay, well, what’s the common theme? What’s the common emotion? What’s the common desire that they’re looking for?”

So you can speak to maybe a broader audience but you’re really speaking specifically to a core desire that they have for their space or a specific outcome that they’re looking for and that you’re not feeling like you’re so boxed in. Then you went and created this opt-in and you’ve got this program, this service now, you’re creating proposals.

What tangible outcomes, because we’ve had a number of perspective shifts and that’s the big goal going through the first 90 days of the program, we have that getting started, we have those money magic lessons, we’re really hoping that you are well on your way to earning back the investment within those first 30, 60, 90 days.

Sarah Bronstein: I did, yeah.

Tara Newman: You did.

Sarah Bronstein: Yeah.

Tara Newman: Hello. Earned back the investment. Now everything on top of that.

Sarah Bronstein: Well, at least for the first three months, yeah, I earned that back already.

Tara Newman: Okay, awesome. When you come in and you do that, how do you feel when you start seeing the revenue coming in almost immediately?

Sarah Bronstein: Good for me, why did I not think I could do this before? Why didn’t I do this sooner?

Tara Newman: Yeah, that is the goal is that we want every woman within the first 30 days to go, “I can do this.”

Sarah Bronstein: Yeah. I think the tangible thing for me definitely within the first 30 days was I could at the moment be like, “Oh, I’m acknowledging the opportunity or the blessing here.” We’re so wired to just find that evidence that we suck or that you can’t do it.

Tara Newman: We don’t really let that happen. We celebrate every week. People are getting a result and an outcome. We’re sharing it and we’re talking about it.

Sarah Bronstein: Yeah. I think seeing that and being like, “Okay, no matter how crappy your week, everyone’s had a win of some sort even if it’s just getting through that week.” Usually, you don’t slow down or have that conversation to even think about that on a weekly basis so I think you talk about a lot that it’s like building those habits, doing things monthly, weekly, whatever it is but yeah, the wins are super inspiring.

Tara Newman: They inspire me.

Sarah Bronstein: Yeah, it’s great.

Tara Newman: They inspire me and we really try in one highlight what good looks like because listen, sometimes it is a slog like you’re in the weeds and you can’t always like lift yourself up and say, “Oh, that’s what a win looks like,” or “Oh, I can see how that’s going to pay off later down the line. I just need to keep going. I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other.”

We try and really highlight what good looks like, how that leads to larger success down the line, what are those leading indicators of success because revenue and things like that are lagging indicators of success. Now what other tangible outcomes or support have you had in the last 60 days that has really been beneficial to you?

Sarah Bronstein: The opt-in, I’ve had a mailing list for two or three years now that I’ve literally never sent an email through.

Tara Newman: Right, you sent your first direct sales email.

Sarah Bronstein: Probably spooked a lot of people. “I’m here. Remember me?”

Tara Newman: You were so supported in sending that email.

Sarah Bronstein: Yeah, what I appreciate for good feedback or bad feedback that I think is lacking in other settings like social media groups or whatever is the reason, because that’s how it’s real so it’s like someone slapping a heart on your whatever, it only means so much but hearing, “I really connected to this,” it’s like, “Now I know exactly what people like.” I’ve had really helpful feedback the other way too, like, “This feels clunky to me. Can the text be broken up?” Like, “Yeah.”

Tara Newman: Yeah. You have been doing such a great job at allowing for people to support you and for getting that support right now in the group. You and I are working through a proposal that you have coming up. We’re working through some big numbers.

Sarah Bronstein: Yeah. I’m a little bit aware of like, “Okay, this is the old protection like no, no, no, you can’t do that,” I can see some of it’s fear-based but I’m grateful and lucky, and again, the timing’s just so perfect to have support where I can go somewhere and hear from other people or you like am I approaching this right. Because it’s harder to price things without just doing what everyone else is doing that you think you should be at and these metrics that don’t credit your experience and expertise.

I’m just grateful to have someone to walk me through, especially I’m sure as I start thinking more this way, it will be easier and easier to price things out more quickly than the process I was using before. But I’m so happy to have support on this one to really make sure I’m doing what’s right. I don’t want to go oversell things, that’s not the point but I also want to make sure I’m not limiting myself.

Tara Newman: Undervaluing yourself and undervaluing the result that you help people achieve.

Sarah Bronstein: Yeah, because of fear of, “Oh, I know they can’t afford it,” and it’s like, “That’s true, so why are you trying to protect yourself?”

Tara Newman: 100%, yeah. What is your favorite part of the program?

Sarah Bronstein: Ooh, I would say either the group chat thing or I like the calls a lot too and now I won’t have to hop off because I have other meetings for another job.

Tara Newman: Oh, that’s awesome. Yeah, so the community is hopping, it’s a good community of people.

Sarah Bronstein: Good community, yeah, because it’s really, or for me anyway and I think for a lot of people that work from home, it’s just hard to create that for yourself sometimes and I connected with somebody, and had a little coffee chat on Zoom.

Tara Newman: They’re literally the best women.

Sarah Bronstein: They’re so supportive and interesting. Oh, I was going to say the first time I hired a business coach, I hired someone specific to interior design, and this time, I connected more to this program because I don’t run my business like a traditional interior design model with markups and that kind of stuff. But when I joined you’re like, “You’re the only interior designer,” and I was like, “Oh, God.”

Tara Newman: I’m like, “You’re going to be famous.”

Sarah Bronstein: I was like, “Is that going to be helpful to have the other designer’s perspectives?” But I’m still in that coach’s Facebook group which is super helpful to hear other designers and stuff like that because again, my business model is just so different, it’s been really nice and really nice to get the perspective of someone who isn’t a designer.

Tara Newman: I was going to say who’s your actual audience, not a designer.

Sarah Bronstein: Yes, the feedbacks, and it’s such different feedback. I’m so much more useful in a lot of ways so yeah, that turned out to be a nice twist because I was a little bit at first like, “Okay, I’m the only one.”

Tara Newman: Who do you think would be a good fit for the program? I tell people all the time, and I think I’m very transparent and very honest about what it takes to be successful in a program or who you need to be to be successful in a program or have it work for you but I would just love to hear from you because first of all, you’re just in the program, you’re not me, how do people know they’ll be successful in this program?

Sarah Bronstein: I would say we all come from different trauma and we’re all at different places with ourselves. I know for me, I don’t think I would have been ready to even make the investment in myself, which was the first step, without working through some stuff in therapy with self-worth because that is a lot of what was holding me back in the end and still is, still work in progress here.

But I think having worked through at least a little bit of that or at least being aware of it in yourself, I just become aware of how much of the money stuff was from my parents and stuff I wasn’t even aware that I never actually made the decision that I agree with, it’s just like, “That is true,” and it’s like, “Wait, no, it’s not actually. That’s their experience.”

I think having that awareness I would think is important as a baseline. Because in this program, you get out of it what you put in. I think that’s probably true of most and so if you haven’t done the emotional, mental work, or whatever it’s called to be able to put yourself out there and make that investment in yourself, which is in itself a thing, it took me a long time, I think you might not see results because you’re not actually putting in that much.

Tara Newman: Yeah. I think what you’re saying is you got to the point where you actually saw yourself as worthy of investing in.

Sarah Bronstein: Yeah. I think the only justification I can really say of why I hadn’t made a big investment in myself before even though I started my business years ago was because I didn’t believe it would pay off, like why else wouldn’t you do that, like it was too big a risk. All of a sudden, I was like, “Wait, if I wouldn’t believe in me and invest in me, why would anyone else really?

Tara Newman: Yeah. It is an implementation container so you’re right, you do have to show up and take action. We show up, my team and I show up in a way that we’re leading and modeling what it looks like to show up in your business. Sometimes people do struggle just with that so that’s a fair point.

If there’s somebody who is on the fence, maybe they’re in that like we were talking about, that Chinese finger trap or whatever it’s called where it’s like, “I need to make the money but she can help me make the money,” what would you say to them?

Sarah Bronstein: Yeah, I think you said it once while I was maybe talking to you before I signed on where you said, “Totally get it,” and being in that place where it’s like you can’t afford to do it but you can’t afford not to. That struck me, it was like, “Yeah, that’s exactly how I feel.”

But I think I would tell someone to think of, again this comes down to being able to see your value and make an investment in it but I would think about like school and how much money, insane amounts of money, sure for whatever reason it was worth all of that, which jury’s out if I actually needed to do that, but yeah, okay, if you’re willing to invest that much for someone to say that it’s going to benefit you career-wise versus someone you actually, I just got instinctual like, “Yeah, this is what I need,” I’ll tell someone to DM you on Instagram or continue to check out the podcast. I listened to a lot of them before, I hit that point whether it was whatever reason it was that day or not, I would just say to reach out, talk to you.

Tara Newman: I’m not scary, I don’t bite.

Sarah Bronstein: No, you’re so helpful. You literally on our free call gave me super impactful business advice that I could have implemented without moving forward. It was a very impactful call. Like I mentioned earlier, you gave me some options for where I was at. I would just say reach out because there’s probably something in some capacity, even if it’s not the full-on right away, where someone can get started.

Tara Newman: Just get started.

Sarah Bronstein: Just get started, seriously, just do it.

Tara Newman: Thank you, Sarah, for coming on and having this conversation and being honest and transparent. If you are somebody who is into small spaces, tiny homes, where can they find you?

Sarah Bronstein: and I’m also on Instagram @sukkhainteriordesign.

Tara Newman: Thank you so much.

Sarah Bronstein: Thank you, Tara.