Jenn Kennedy on Entrepreneurship, Re-defining Success, and Building Your Dream Life

Author

Jenn Kennedy is the founder and CEO of Impact to Income Academy, where she mentors entrepreneurs looking to build and scale their businesses. With a teaching plan and attitude focused on building work around your life and doing what brings you joy, Jenn is in high demand after only a year. She is also the host and creator of the podcast The Jenn Kennedy Show, where she speaks on every aspect of entrepreneurial life. Jenn spoke to The Power Thread about her journey to discovering her perfect career, the empowering connection between helping others and building an income, and the importance of finding happiness in your work.

Where are you from? Where do you live now?

Born and raised in Michigan. Currently still here, but my husband and I are planning to move elsewhere – not sure where yet!

Can you tell me about your previous work in nutrition? What made you decide to leave and switch to business coaching? 

So before nutrition, I was actually an elementary school teacher for eight years. I loved every second of it. My plan in life was to become a principal and so I went back to school to get my master’s degree and education specialist degree in Educational Leadership and Administration. From there, I stumbled into the world of entrepreneurship. I literally did not know entrepreneurship existed. I just started helping people. I know how to teach, and I know how to help people. Those are my gifts. I had gone through a lot of issues with weight loss, and my body image, and confidence, and overcame all of them, but I didn’t realize so many women still struggled with it. So women just started asking me for help, and I started helping them. I became a nutrition coach. I had my nutrition coaching business for a year and a half and loved every single second of it. But I really started seeing a huge need with business. A lot of people were getting into business but didn’t quite know how to scale them. One thing entrepreneurship brought to me (through nutrition coaching) was complete financial freedom and complete living in my personal and financial power. I became obsessed with helping people make more impact and make more money. This is exactly what we, as entrepreneurs, are all here to do. So I left the nutrition world behind because I realized I loved helping people grow their impact and scale their income as a result. Now I realize the ripple effect of impact is huge. Like if I can help 20 people build their businesses, how many more people am I actually able to help in this world? It’s incredible. So I kind of took the principal model into business!

When did you feel confident enough to leave your ‘stable’ job and fully commit to your new career? 

When I started the 2018 – 2019 school year, I said ‘I have until June 2019 to go.’  I’m all about ‘taking the leap and it’ll happen,’ but I’m also about the strategy and not being an idiot about it. I worked really, really hard. I had this financial number in my head I wanted to be bringing in each month until I left my job. I looked at it strategically, like, what am I bringing in, paycheck-to-paycheck, and counting for the fact that I was paying for insurance and money out to retirement, and that was my safe amount. Then I had an oh-my-gosh-wouldn’t-this-be-so-cool amount and that was my goal.

I’m super grateful that my husband is supportive; we’re a team in everything we do, so there were seasons my husband had to take on the cooking and cleaning, while I worked the 9-to-5 and then hustled the 5-to-9. I actually could’ve left five months earlier, but I was  loyal to my school, loved my principal, and loved my kids so I stuck it out. In June, it was a super easy leap because I was confident. I know how to help people, and I know how to make people money. I’m really glad I did it that way because I wasn’t giving myself an ultimatum, like ‘now you have to make money,’ because when we get to that point, when you operate out of scarcity and are desperate for sales, people feel that. I was operating from a place of abundance and excitement, and I think that’s why Impact to Income scaled so quickly. I had nothing to lose and that allowed me to authentically connect and sell from a place of impact and love.

What are the ways that people can work with you?

I have three ways in which people work with me. One is the Academy, which is for men and women who have a business already, and they’re looking to scale it. The way that you build a business is not the way that you scale it. You actually have to become a CEO once you have a business and want to grow it. A lot of that is mindset, but it’s mostly  strategy and intuition – looking inward and saying, what are my strengths and what are my gifts and how do I bring those into the world and into my business.

Another way is the Accelerator, which is for people who are brand new and are like I want to start a business and don’t know where to start.

The last way is one-on-one. I only work with four people one-on-one because, energetically, that’s all I can truly give 110 percent to. A lot of people are like ‘it’s a great source of money,’ but I’m like no, it’s energy. A lot of what I teach is not only trading time for money, which is what one-on-one coaching is, because you’ll burn out. That can’t be your only revenue source. To have a sustainable, scalable business, you need multiple revenue streams.

I do both the Academy and the Accelerator three to four times a year. The Academy launches again in October, and the Accelerator will be open again in January.

Can you give an example of what you teach your students? What do you focus on? 

I always have people set their life goals first. What do you want your life to look like? Then we set your impact goal: what is the impact you want to make on this planet? And then we set the income goal. All of that drives your revenue goal. So it’s not starting with ‘oh I have to start with six figures within a month or a year and I’ll hustle and then I’ll relax.’ We don’t do it that way. Why have a business if you hate what you do?

Empowerment in general is huge. So often, entrepreneurs are afraid to talk about their finances and don’t know how to own their worth and earning potential. So I ask, why is money this thing no one talks about? Why can’t anyone unapologetically own this concept of earning, and making wealth, and changing the generational futures of our family when it comes to making money? My business is Impact to Income because I really believe the more impact we make, the more income we make as well.

You always hear about ‘the grind’ or ‘the hustle,’ which makes it seem like to be an entrepreneur you have to be nonstop working all the time. Many people I know (myself included), find this exhausting, but it’s like we don’t have a choice: if we don’t ‘hustle,’ we’re not working hard enough. What are your personal thoughts about this? 

I’m actually shifting into talking about this more. I’ll tell you – I built my nutrition business based on hustle and grind, and about a year ago, I hit a wall. The wall was that I was in California on a beautiful rooftop overlooking West Hollywood, and I had constant anxiety. I’m not an anxious person – I’m very go with the flow – so I stopped and was like ‘what is wrong with me?’ And it was because I had built my business solely based on the hustle. Because one of my first mentors said the hustle, the grind, is the way we build businesses. But, I met a friend and he was like “oh no no no, Jenn, you’re doing it wrong.” He said you build your life and then you build your business. So in that moment, I knew I had to make a change.  At that point in time, I asked myself, what are my values? My values are happiness, freedom, fun, and power. So, I shifted my entire business and now a huge aspect of Impact to Income is that fun and play are number one. If you are not fulfilled and happy in your life, not in your business, then what are you doing? Because for so many entrepreneurs, their lives and business are intertwined: they wake up and the first thing on their mind is work, and when  they go to bed they can’t shut it off because of work.  What is a half a million dollar business if you’re working nonstop. If you’re impacting people but are miserable yourself. You don’t have to burn out: you can have success and live your most authentic fun true life. People do it.

You have such a positive energy and mindset! How do you maintain your mental wellness? 

I don’t mess around with working too much. I have hard boundaries with work and with staffing. When I leave my office, my work is done. I sleep 8-9 hours plus every night. Sleep is so important – it’s everything. My energy is my superpower – it’s my everything. I foster, I cultivate, I protect my energy like nothing on this planet. I treat my energy like it’s a million dollars in my hands. I couldn’t show up for this or my clients if I didn’t have my energy. It’s sleeping. It’s boundaries. If something doesn’t light me up, it’s a hell no. If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell no. I also walk my dog three times a day. The old me was like, I don’t have time for walks, and now I’m like, no, walks connect me with nature and allow me to move. When my body moves, my mind works the best. I call these my non-negotiable standards. Not my to-do’s, my standards. My energy takes precedence over anything I do. I wouldn’t have the business I have without it.

Do you have any advice for finding a mentor?

Get one. Always have one. A lot of people have a therapist or a coach – it’s the same exact thing. You don’t know how to get there on your own. You would probably figure it out; however, it would take five times as long as it needs to.

So when you’re looking for one ask yourself, what do I need right now? What are my goals? Be really clear about it. Like, “I need someone who can help me start a business.” If I don’t know anyone, I ask friends if they know someone, and I reach out to my network. When I get in contact with that person, I stalk them like a psychopath because you need to know: do they have what I need? Would I trade places with them? Do I actually like them as a human? There’s a lot of people I’ve looked at throughout the years as mentors, and it’s like, their team is falling apart or they don’t donate to charities, which is a huge aspect of what I do, so it just wouldn’t work. The first thing always has to be, do I look up to them as a human being first? If the answer’s yes, then it’s like, okay, I could actually work with you.

The last aspect is always financial because it’s an investment, which is really hard, especially when you’re younger. It’s this concept of always investing in yourself first and then spending after. I treat my money like I treat my energy. If somebody gave me money, it’s because they trust me to change their life. That’s incredible –  I respect the heck out of that money. So when I look to spend or invest money, I ask, does this add to my future self? Does this help me to get to where I want to go? If the answer is a maybe, that’s a hell no. There are times it’s scary: the first time I invested in a mentor, I didn’t have the money and put it on a credit card. But thank goodness I did that because I made the money back in three months, and then he helped me, literally, get my business started. If I didn’t have him, I wouldn’t be here right now. Invest in where you’re going, not where you are now, and you’ll be so, so glad you did.

Tell me about your podcast, The Jenn Kennedy Show! 

I started my podcast in December 2018 because the best way that I teach is through speaking. My true zone of genius is teaching and speaking. At first the podcast focused on nutritional subjects such as: empowerment, wellness, weight loss, mindset. I’ve now rebranded and redesigned it to be based on Impact to Income, growing and scaling your business, and also your life. You are everything – you are your business, you are the face of it – and so your self-care, your mindset, and your empowerment has to be at the foundation. So the podcast is all things growing and scaling an online business as well as everything that comes with that. Guests, who are all building businesses from impact, come on every other week, and my husband comes on every other month or so because a huge problem entrepreneurs have is their spouses not being on board with what they’re doing. So, we help support couples in that way. The podcast is like my baby. I love it so much. We have two episodes that come out a week, one on Monday and one on Friday.

What does being powerful mean to you? 

Being powerful means  you’re living in your authentic truth. I strongly believe that being powerful means you’re happy. You’re elated, you’re on cloud-nine. True internal confidence in knowing that whatever it is that you seek out to achieve is what you’re going to do. Real power is being like,” I’m going to do that one day,” and just being sure that it’s going to happen.

What’s something that brings you power when you need it? 

I have two things. Number one: I have a power stance. Every human needs a power stance. I use it every single time before I speak on stages. You always get nervous. What’s the stance that makes you feel most powerful? We all have it, whether it’s arms up, arms out, etc. I usually have a crystal in my hand. Another thing that I do day-to-day is go outside. We have a park across the street from our house, so just being out in nature allows me to connect inward to my power.

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