Episode #77: Interview with Erika Biddix
"Owning a business that is based on my purpose allows me to be who I am, not what I do." Join me for this interview with Erika Biddix, Founder of Biddix Meetings and Events and Aught LLC, to hear the story of how she went from outsourcing her life so that she could do more work for her corporate boss to creating a thriving community for female entrepreneurs that also allows her to be present with her kids and family. We also chat about how self-care isn't the same for everyone, nor should it be. Instead, it should be an intentional response to the current needs and stressors in your life.
Booth: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Freedom from Empty podcast, building strong, effective resilient leaders, entrepreneurs, and humans. My name is Booth Andrews, and I am your host. Thank you so much for joining me for this episode.
If you want to be among the first to know when the free 30 day wellbeing challenge becomes available, go to boothandrews.com/wellbeingchallenge. Or you can click on the link in my bio @theboothandrews on Instagram to join the waitlist.
Today, I am thrilled to be interviewing, again, Erika Biddix. If you are an Instagram follower or a newsletter subscriber, you might remember a few months ago when I shared that, Erika and I were just about at the end of her first podcast [00:01:00] interview for this podcast when I realized that I had failed to hit record. After multiple reschedules for both of us.
Erika: So many
Booth: Here we are. We've made it back. Erika Biddix is an independent meeting planner and owner of Biddix Meetings and Events. She launched her entrepreneurship journey in 2016 with BME and has clients that frequently appear on the Fortune 500 List. She's provided planning services for trade shows, corporate meetings, seminars, private events and conferences.
Completed programs include an annual convention for 2,500 in the food and beverage industry, deployment of a 15,000 square foot trade show booth in the fashion apparel industry, and a global sales meeting for a technology company with attendees from 35 countries. In 2006, she earned her CMP and in 2013 obtained her CMM a designation earned by less than [00:02:00] 1400 meeting professionals worldwide.
Erika's passion is supporting other women in their entrepreneurship experiences. In 2019, she merged her experience and passion to create Girl Boss Offices, a coworking space, specifically for female entrepreneurs in Knoxville, Tennessee. In 2021, the company expanded their offerings and rebranded as Aught LLC.
They now offer two coworking spaces in Knoxville, have made franchise offices available throughout the US, and will be launching a retreat series as well as a podcast in early 2022. She is an active member of the Tennessee Chapter of Meeting Professionals International and Women in Entrepreneurship, Knoxville.
She lives in Knoxville with her husband and three young children. Erika welcome again to the
Erika: It's a pleasure to be here again.
Booth: I would love to start with [00:03:00] some of your story. Can you give our listeners a little insight into your journey?
Erika: I will. First of all, super fun to be here again, and I'm cracking up at us because what people should know is that we actually talk on the daily.
So having a conversation like this is really interesting to kind of delve a little bit more into some of the nitty gritty. So I am the oldest of four children and went through all of elementary, middle, high school, high achieving student council, editor of the paper, all the things. And, was just really of the mindset that I probably was going to do something great with my life, because that's what everybody expected of me and told me was going to happen.
Went to college, graduated college, worked for my sorority for a few years traveling the country, went into advertising, which is what my degree was in. And in all of those instances I was successful and I was doing well, but I still had that nagging feeling of what is the great thing that I think I'm supposed to be doing.
The first time I really remember being [00:04:00] cognizant of it. I saw the AIDS quilt on one of my travels for my sorority, and I was overwhelmed at what that project had accomplished from the idea of the person who had started it. I had read about it in books or seen it in afterschool specials, but then to see it in person was just very overwhelming.
And I thought to myself, somebody came up with this idea and now a piece of this giant thing is in this college auditorium. And that was really my first thought of I've always thought I was going to do something great, but like, this is a great thing. And how in the heck do you get from like you to that, right?
After I got my job, I got married. I had kids, I was working insane and my husband was doing the same finishing up his PhD and the more successful, the more successful he became, the more work he had.
Booth: We had a saying in my first career, competence will be severely punished.
Erika: Correct. Severely. We actually had the opportunity--my husband won a Fulbright award--to take a sabbatical semester with our three [00:05:00] young children to Canada. And we were so busy at the time that that occurred--we were also selling our house unknowingly--that those two things were overlapping. I had something like four weeks of PTO saved up and my mom came in town prescheduled um, just for a visit.
And then it happened to overlap with us having to pack up our house. I hadn't seen her in probably four or five months. I gave her a hug. I started crying. I stepped away, went back to my computer and didn't see her again for the next three days while she packed my house, because I couldn't take the time.
I was so busy at work. I couldn't take the time off. I had had promised to me. So that's where we were when we took the break to Canada, we were living to work, but we were working to live and living to work actually both ways. So when we went to Canada, everything was just, chill. I don't have a better way to explain it.
It's like they pump something in the air and every person there was so calm and I--that's a whole other podcast--but we came back from that experience having kind of detoxed a little bit from our corporate [00:06:00] work experience. I had taken that semester as a sabbatical myself and just realized we didn't want to come back to the same kind of lifestyle.
So couple, you know, starts and fits, but a couple of months after we returned is when I opened Biddix Meetings and opened my own company. And I started that company with the understanding that I was going to retrofit some of the bad habits I had gotten into. So I wasn't going to answer my client's emails at two o'clock in the morning when I got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
And I wasn't going to answer a phone call in the middle of work. And a strange thing happened, which was that my clients started respecting those, those boundaries. And they suddenly weren't expecting me to answer emails at two o'clock in the morning, or answer emails during the dinner hour. And I started to realize there was a different way to do things then had always been done in my estimation and also really how corporate America works.
Booth: Knowing what I know about your story and we'll get further into it, but I think it was kind of a first phase recalibration of just . . . [00:07:00] We want to live our lives a little bit differently. We want to be more present . . .
Booth: For our kids. What was that recalibration like?
Erika: That was when we were in Montreal, um, I was training for a marathon. I wasn't working, we could walk our kids to school, so it became very family centric.
Um, we went through a lot of treatment to have our children. It was not an easy process. It was something we had to work towards. And we had gotten to the point where we weren't spending any of the time with them, we had outsourced in an effort to spend more time with them. We had outsourced cleaning our house. We had outsourced doing our lawn. We had outsourced taking care of our kids because we had a nanny who picked them up from school. But sometimes you get in so deep, you just can't get out. We were those hamsters on the wheel and moving to Canada was a necessary stopping point.
So, we didn't have a choice. I mean, our choice was to move to Canada, which we did, but once you moved there, I mean, this was a while ago, so it was a hot minute before we could have cell phone service again. Or we drove into Canada, [00:08:00] FYI in Quebec, everything is in French, which we did not know until we drove over the line, and we got over the line and our cell phones suddenly didn't work.
And so we did not know which way to go on the highway because we didn't have GPS. Things you don't think about. When you change your life like that, it's a necessity to completely reassess everything. And it was just, it was lov . . .That was a glorious, lovely few months of just working our schedule around the kids and their schooling.
So that was calibration number one. Calibration number two was coming back to the United States and I quit the job I had been at for 12 years and took a new job here in Knoxville. And it took a couple days to realize that maybe being in an office and working for somebody else was not something that I needed to do any longer.
I had been working remotely for my previous company for several years, so I had the remote piece down. So going back into an office was a little bit of a shocker. And then also having stepped out of being responsible to [00:09:00] somebody else from a business perspective that few months off, that was a real rough ride to get back into.
And that was when we just kind of said, this is it, it's time. Everybody had really pushed me towards going out on my own. But again, how do you get out of the situation you're in? Right. But we had gotten out of it and I came home from work the day I quit and my husband handed me a bottle of wine with a straw in it and was like, get to work. And I hopped on the computer and registered my company and made a website that was terrible. And then, there we went.
Booth: So you walked into a Co.Starters class that I was teaching in the fall of '19 with an idea. And what was your idea?
Erika: I did. So had the desire to get out of my house. I had been working remotely at that point for seven years.
There's only so much, you can talk to your dogs. And I was tired of working at my kitchen table and I was tired of having to pack up everything every night because I used the kitchen table or [00:10:00] I was taking calls for companies that rhyme with Hamazon from a desk in my bedroom. And I thought, I really need some office space.
Couldn't find what I wanted. And there's a lot more to this story, but I had a moment of enlightenment where I realized that maybe, since it didn't exist, I could open what I wanted that was out there. And that came at the same time as the realization that maybe I wasn't specifically meant to do something great.
Maybe the thing I was meant to do was to help other people do their great thing. You want to talk a moment of clarity in your life? Like I can pinpoint four or five of them and that moment, not only did 17 elephants come off my shoulders that had been there all these years, trying to figure out what this great thing was I was going to do.
But the joy that came from suddenly in a split second understanding what my purpose in life was. So the idea I had was to open a co-working space for female entrepreneurs so that they had a professional workspace outside of their home for whatever business it was that they had [00:11:00] started.
Booth: So then the next phase of calibration, I think maybe twofold, but you can explain it, make sure I'm articulating it, so bringing that dream to life, recalibrating with your, passion. And then also going through the journey of losing your father. Tell me more just about that kind of next phase of your journey.
Erika: So I came into the Co.Starters program, which quick plug is something that Knoxville Entrepreneur Center and other locations around the United States run.
It's a nine week class where they basically take you soup to nuts, A to Z on starting your business. So you can come in, um, with a business that's already established and kind of retrofit your business. Or you can come in with just, you know, the germ of an idea and bring it to the point where you're ready to launch it.
I launched my business before I finished the the Co.Starters Class because I had hit a nerve. So Booth was our facilitator. She had told us we had to talk to people about this idea and the [00:12:00] more people I talked to about it, the more people who said, this is something that absolutely has to be done.
And I had not started Co.Starters with the intent of starting the business. I came into Co.Starters thinking I started BME with a bottle of wine and a straw, and probably there were some things I could have done better, so I will use this new business idea to get into the Co.Starters program. And then I'll use what I learn in Co.Starters To fix what I didn't do right with BME.
I don't know if Booth's ever heard that story. I don't think she, I can tell from her face, but as any good program does Co.Starters showed me how, what was then known as Girl Boss Offices could be a viable business idea. That was nifty to like this idea that suddenly was going to help people.
I love being a meeting planner. I'm really pretty darn good at it. But at the end of the day, we're accomplishing goals for corporations that may or may not align with my personal purpose and also likely are not going to impact anyone [00:13:00] outside really of who's attending those meetings. So I think it's an important job that we do, but it's not like global citizenry, right to do that.
So I think the initial calibration there was to not just be a meeting planner anymore. If I was introducing myself, I would tell people I was a meeting planner, I was a wife, and then, and then I'd say mom, which was not the way I wanted it to be identified. But being a meeting planner was just who I was. My family, if they go on vacation, like I'm the one that plans it. You know, if somebody in my extended family is looking for help with something, they call me because they know that I'm going to get it done. And it had just become who I was all the time, all day, every day. I, you know, I was my kid's admin assistant basically instead of, instead of being their mom.
So going through Co.Starters, opening the business, seeing the impact the business could make and suddenly seeing what it meant when you were driven by purpose was a huge recalibration for me.
You know, I've got a daughter who asked me a couple, like about a year ago at this point, what's my [00:14:00] purpose in life. And I was like, honey, I was 42 years old before I discovered mine.
And the process of opening this business validated that it helped uncover that purpose. And then it has validated that purpose and it has validated it every day since.
Booth: And then how did the journey, I know you spend a lot of time on the road going up to see your father, having all that time with yourself, inform how you now your work and your life and the world.
Erika: My father became ill probably about a year before everything for Girl Boss really started. And then they thought they had gotten him better. And then, uh, 72 hours after I signed the lease on the initial office, we found out that his cancer returned as well as some other family things that came down in that same 72 hours.
So in 72 hours, I had basically like mortgaged my family's financial stability. My father was sick again, but more sick this time. And then, you know, just some other family issues. And I was like, what in the heck have I. Done.
So the first [00:15:00] thing it taught me was that I could rely on other people. I'm a strong two, three, maybe a three, two, it depends on the day. So that's not really in my wheelhouse, but you know, when I had to be in Indiana and we had furniture being delivered that had to be built in 72 hours, I had to ask somebody else to do that. I had to rely on somebody else. So that was kind of lesson one, was the necessity to rely on other people.
Number two was how grateful I was that I was at a point in my life that I had made the decision to be an entrepreneur. And that, that experience as an entrepreneur allowed me the ability to drive back and forth to Indianapolis every two weeks, if not every week. It's not a short drive it's not a long drive, I mean, it took, it takes me like six hours, but I was able to drive there, be with him, for his treatments, be there with him, for his doctor's appointments and not have to worry about PTO or checking in with my bosses. My clients knew, and I would let them know kind of what my timeline was, et cetera.
But the freedom that comes with entrepreneurship to handle [00:16:00] that, I think we talk a lot about the freedom to go on vacation or we talk a lot about the freedom to not work eight to five, you can kind of adjust your hours, but when it comes to the bigger freedoms of being able to literally uproot yourself completely and go be with a parent or something else that may be going on. That's the real hero in the story, right?
Booth: Yeah. Tell me now. Cause another transition, at least one the transition from, or the recalibration from, you know, Girl Boss Offices, coworking space in West Knoxville to Aught.
Erika: Aught LLC, coming to take over the female entrepreneurship world. When we started, we opened our doors in December of 2019. So for anyone counting that was four months before the bottom fell out of everything.
Booth: Excellent timing.
Erika: Yeah it was terrible to have opened a space that relied on people to physically be in it to succeed when people were not allowed to physically be in. So we had already developed, you know, we had several leases signed and [00:17:00] women who really enjoying their experience there, but then we had to close our doors because of state and local regulations.
And during that time, my concern was to keep the community together that we had already formed. So that became things like, you know, zoom calls just for everybody to check in. Or we moved our lunch and learns virtual kind of before anybody was really doing that. And, you know, I had 210 rolls of toilet paper. So it was like, if anybody can't find toilet paper, come to the office and get toilet paper or hand sanitizer or paper towels.
So it was really a focus on keeping our community together. But at the same time we suddenly had this social media platform. It wasn't huge. I mean, we had a couple of hundred followers, but we were publishing on there regularly and what the heck was I going to publish? Cause I didn't have anything to sell and I didn't have enough toilet paper for everybody.
So we just found other female entrepreneurs who had adjusted their businesses in ways that others could still purchase from them. I always use Hard Knox Pizza as an example because Alexa was one of the first to start [00:18:00] the curbside pick up to continue her, her business. So we just started using that social media platform to really encourage folks, you know, to go and buy from these women who were still functioning with their businesses.
So in doing that, our community grew from outside of just those of us who are members to where we were supporting the larger Knoxville female entrepreneur community as a whole. And when we opened our doors back up, we suddenly found that even though we may not have been a physical home for a lot of the female entrepreneurs here in Knoxville, we had become a hub for that community.
There are a couple of those hubs here in Knoxville--KEC, Let Her Speak, Women in Entrepreneurship--those were the three places I was always sending female entrepreneurs, as they came to me and said, Hey, I want to start something. Where should I go? And after re-opened our doors, we found that Girl Boss Offices was becoming part of that conversation.
That was good. And then we got full and things were going swimmingly. And then my father reached the end of his illness. And [00:19:00] on the same day he passed, I got some legal notification that maybe I should not continue using the name Girl Boss Offices. That's a good legal way to put that right, Booth.
Booth: Oh, that was excellent.
Erika: Thank you. And while I probably had a really good case, we decided actually we didn't decide anything. I just threw my hands in the air, cried for two weeks and said, forget it. I'm just closing the whole shebang down while Booth waited for me to come to my senses. And two weeks later, I mean, I will just say, God spoke to me and said, you know, your choice here is you can keep the name that you want and keep small the way that you have it, um, which was a legal option, or you can lean in on what you have seen the possibility is with Girl Boss Offices, which is way more than 14 women in West Knoxville. And you can do the hard thing and you can rebrand it and then you can start kind of over.
Once that happened, honestly, I'm looking at Booth cause I feel like she knew the moment the switch flipped. It was kind of like, oh, I'm not closing it all down. I'm starting over now. Okay, good, great. Let's do, [00:20:00] let's do this thing, right? Because what we found was we had, when that choice came to us, the sudden clarity that we had just a ceiling on what Girl Boss Offices could accomplish.
Number one, by calling it Girl Boss Offices. And number two, by just saying we were a 14 person coworking space. When in reality, we were a community. We were a hub here in the city and we were a structure that others wanted to emulate if not actually bring to their own city. So that's how we went to the rebrand of Aught.
And at the same time, when we launched that rebrand, we said, Hey, we're here. We're big and we're just going to get bigger and not from a, not from a taking over things, but we're very mission over money, much to most of my professional advisors chagrin, but we always are mission focused. And then the money part of it comes secondarily.
And our mission is to change lives and local communities through female entrepreneurship. So when we allow ourselves to open a second office or have franchises elsewhere, or do retreats or start a [00:21:00] podcast, all we're doing is amplifying that mission and allowing it to grow.
Booth: So that's a perfect segue for what can you tell me about what's on the horizon for Aught?
Erika: Oh, gravy, all the things. Well, as we sit here, we are in our second office, which is a crazy, crazy, crazy idea. And even crazier that it's in downtown Knoxville, which I never in a million years thought would happen. It happened because of relationships with female entrepreneurs. It happened because another woman introduced me to a woman who introduced me to a woman who became a great partner and commercial real estate partner and found us this space that's kind of like a unicorn if I'm being honest.
So we, and we're still two weeks shy of celebrating our second birthday as a company, including a pandemic within there. So that's crazy to me. The members that we have, we have the success that they've seen. We have several members who have added employees who have books of business that are over [00:22:00] 50% related to their membership at Aught.
And it's just really cool to see. So what's on the horizon is, um, hopefully to finish filling these seats, we've got a couple desks open at both of our locations. Although that's a rolling basis, I actually signed a lease for one of the open seats at our west location today in April dates, TBD, and we're going to do our first set of retreats for female entrepreneurs.
And I'm very excited about that. And then our hope is to launch a podcast in Q1 next year. Not to just add another podcast to the space, but to give female entrepreneurs a chance in 15 minutes or less to give some really tangible pieces of advice to other female entrepreneurs, because I know nobody has time to listen to another podcast, but surely you can give us 15 minutes just to get a couple of really good nuggets from the women that are coming on.
Booth: Can you share more about the vision for the retreats because it is a little bit different than what you might think of when you hear the word retreat.
Erika: Yeah, absolutely. And maybe I should change the name. We'll talk about that. So I live with a [00:23:00] perpetual twelve page to do list. And as an entrepreneur, that to do list has very important things on it that just continue to get pushed down the list, because when you're talking about developing your brand colors, that seems less important than rewriting your legal agreements, right? But you still need brand colors. It still needs to happen. And so then that just sits on that list and that list just gets heavier and heavier and heavier with some of those things that are not difficult to do other than finding the space and time to do them.
Our goal is that you'll come into the first day of our retreat with a small group of women with a checklist/to do list. And we've got that list of things that we need to make sure you've done. Do you have your brand colors? Do you know their hex numbers, things other than brand colors, I'm just using that as an example, help you get through that list or make a plan to get through that list on the first day.
So that on the second day, your brain is a little bit clearer. Your to-do list is a lot shorter, and then you can start focusing on the big [00:24:00] ticket dreams, projects, et cetera, that you want to do. The other piece is, I don't know a lot, but I know a lot of people who know everything and I know who each of them are.
So I love the idea that we're going to have all these women in one space and they can say, I need this. I need this. I need this. Which is what happens every day in the hallways at Aught quite literally every day. And as a collective group, we can say, okay, here's three resources for this, etc. So that they can kind of knock that to do list of finding a resource for these five different areas off in one fell swoop.
And then we'll keep everyone kind of in a cohort type model quarterly with some check-ins to make sure that they're, you know, continuing to not only work on those items on their to-do lists, but that they're freeing up their time to do the bigger business owning dreaming.
Booth: Tell me what it's like to live into your purpose and your passion and how you use that as a tool really, that helps you make decisions about how you spend your time.
Erika: [00:25:00] It's great, but that's the general answer. I just spent so much time of my life being defined by what I did and owning a business that is based on my purpose allows me to be who I am, not what I do. And, I just wish that for everybody.
And that could be, you could do it as a meeting planner, like maybe being a meeting planner is your purpose. You can be a stay at home mom, and that is your purpose. You can be a teacher and that is your purpose. Your purpose is not the title though. Your purpose, there is not meeting planner or stay at home mom or teacher. Your purpose is the reason that you're doing that thing.
My purpose overall is to help women help others through what it is that they do. So I always talk about it as a ripple effect model. So by providing this co-working space, by providing the retreats or the programming that we offer to our members or the podcast, we are allowing the women who partake of those things to go [00:26:00] forth with their business, and live out their purpose. There's no greater thing than to be able to help others reach their purpose. And I think that's what mine is.
Booth: So then using that as a lens to decide what goes on your list, how does, how does that work?
Erika: I'm in an interesting time right now, because if you watch our social media account Aught in and of itself is a new business. As we tell the story of Aught, we're telling the story of entrepreneurship. So it's a little meta, if we're going to be, we're going to be honest about it. And Aught is growing much larger. I started it honestly as a side passion project. My husband will probably get me a bracelet for Christmas this year that says it will run itself because that's what I always said.
And obviously. Like, obviously I am now helming what could theoretically become a very large operation. At the same time? My meetings and events, business plummeted as did [00:27:00] everybody's, um, in our sector during the pandemic and now it's coming back full force. So while I had the time I needed to dedicate to Aught, over the last few months because of the general non-business of my meetings business that has now come back full force. So I am fi. . . I have now found myself suddenly running two large businesses at the same time, which is antithetical to everything I've just told you all on this podcast.
So I am doing a lot of work right now as far as structure is concerned. What does structure look like for me from a support standpoint? What am I not doing, I've never not planned a meeting, but in the last three months, I've brought on contractors who are now doing the planning and I'm doing the administrative piece of it. And that change in hours alone, I mean, is insanity.
And with Aught we're trying really hard as we plan anything to look ahead to, she could have 300 locations, she could have [00:28:00] a segment on The Today Show, she could have retreats monthly in various locations. Like those aren't necessarily goals, but we see that that is where she could be. So we're spending a lot of time trying to put process in place and structure in place that allows for that anticipated growth regardless of when it happens.
So I wouldn't say I'm have hit my targets right now because I'm several steps back over the last couple months, just with opening the second location and BME getting busier, et cetera. But I have such clarity about where I need to get to now that I don't question that that will happen sooner than later and with less tears than it has in the past.
Booth: So I wouldn't be me if I didn't ask how you take care of yourself in the middle of all of this?
Erika: The last 24 to 30 months of my personal life have been very difficult loss of my father, the travel to, and from [00:29:00] there, you know, having three kids in school during a pandemic, you know, I think we all been through the ringer a bit, right? Like everybody's got a different story to tell.
The outcome of all of that for me was that I have enough injuries you would think I was a professional athlete, but I'm not. But like my neck is completely messed up and my knees messed up and my backs, you know, and a lot of that came from the stress of those months.
So I have really been dedicated to working out with a trainer twice a week. It's the only time right now that I can exercise. I used to be able to do it five days a week, you know, and now I can't, but I, those two weeks or two hours a week are non-negotiable for me. I've got a great physical therapist. My appointments with her are non-negotiable and my appointments with my actual therapist are non-negotiable.
So my self care right now doesn't look like a spa day. I wish it did, but the fact that I'm making the space and making it a priority to work out with my trainer to go see my [00:30:00] PT and let her stick needles in my neck and talk to my therapist once a week is really good for me and I feel like that's a good space to be in.
Booth: Well, that's incredible.
Erika: Well, thank you.
Booth: And it's important to recognize that as we move through the seasons of our lives, what our self care needs to look like shifts and carving out room for and identifying what our non-negotiables are and then holding them as non-negotiables, it's a way of engaging in self care that is restorative in its own right, because the fact that we continue to listen to what we need and respond to what we need, even . . . It doesn't have to be a thousand things, it doesn't have to be a spa day, but it is: Okay, what do I need right now? What commitments am I going to make to myself? And how am I going to make sure I honor those commitments?
Erika: Well, and I think to tie it back to entrepreneurship a little bit, there's a lot of themes on the stuff that you see and a lot of it's competing. So there is a lot of [00:31:00] social media accounts you can follow the talk about the hustle. There's a lot of social media accounts that talk about how you shouldn't hustle as an entrepreneur.
Both of those are valid points of view, though. And depending on where you are in your entrepreneurship journey, It may be completely that you're in hustle mode and good for you. And that's what you need to be doing. That's what your business needs. You may be in a position where you need to not be hustling.
Um, you know, the last six months I was hustling getting this second place up and running, I ain't hustling for the next six months, you know, like, so that changes. And so from a self care perspective, I also have started to see that where you've got, you know, on again, on social media where I do think a lot of our day-to-day interaction happens in this current world.
You've got people who are saying, make sure you take self, make sure you do self care, make sure you're taking a bath with candles and make sure you're doing this and doing this. And then the other side is saying a shower isn't self-care a shower is a basic human, right. Well, again, that perspective depends on where you [00:32:00] are.
Right? So for some women, a shower actually, is self care and yes it, should they be taking a shower every day in their home likely, but there could definitely be an element of self care there. And if they like to bake and baking bread, like just making dinner for your family, but if that is their version of self care, I wish we all, this is a tangent, but I do wish everybody would just take a moment to think about the fact that they may not be able to see from the same perspective as somebody else.
Booth: And they're not coming from the same set of needs as someone else.
Erika: Exactly or history or circumstance or, yeah. So that's where, you know, if somebody tells me self care is taking a shower, I'm going to high five them. And if somebody tells me taking a shower is not self care, going to a spa day is, I'm going to high five em. Honestly, pretty much anything you tell me, I'm going to be like, you go girl. That's kind of my MO because yeah, I just think everybody should be out there doing what is best for them.
And to tie it back [00:33:00] to entrepreneurship qgain, I think that that opportunity, which has so often seemed unrealistic or too far, you know, of a bridge to drive down or whatever that saying is, I think it's one of the silver linings that's come out of the last two years for so many people is the understanding that it's an option and it being there as an option out of necessity as well.
Booth: So what advice would you give to someone who is thinking about, toying with, entrepreneurial curious, wants to imagine that they can take on their own thing. What might you say to them?
Erika: Two things. Um, first of all, I would say bet on yourself, because you're the best thing you've got. Right? You're the best thing. So if you've got an idea and you believe in it, like that's, what's most important is that you believe in that idea. And I will happily tell you the thousand reasons why you are fabulous and you should be doing it.
And the other thing is [00:34:00] to start small that, oh, goodness gracious, I don't know if Booth said start small or talk to people more in our Co.Starter's class, but there is nothing wrong with wanting to make muffins and not immediately getting a contract at a restaurant for your muffins. If you make some muffins and you put it on Instagram and you follow all local rules and regulations and you sell three dozen muffins, good on you. Maybe you sell three dozen muffins a week for four months, and then maybe you pay $25 to pop up somewhere. And you only bring six dozen muffins. You are an entrepreneur. You sold a dozen muffins, you don't have to suddenly be ready to go to the farmer's market with 47 dozen muffins.
Booth: I love that. Um, talk to me a little bit about the power of community in the entrepreneurship space.
Erika: Uh, how much time do I have? So I talk a lot about goosebump moments, which I did not have. This is not like a phrase I [00:35:00] used before Girl Boss Offices and Aught happened, but like, I swear to you, I will put my hand on something and raise it that I have a goosebump moment, related it to Aught every single day.
And it is standing at the coffee maker and hearing somebody else telling somebody a story about how their shoe blew out and then being like, oh, let me introduce you to so-and-so who can fix your shoe? I mean, it's the cra-, so that's like just on the daily, right? If you come in here with a problem, even if you don't verbalize it, somebody's going to have an answer for you.
Secondly, second example, I was here last week, which was the anniversary of my father's passing. I was not in a good place. I needed to be here. I had made some commitments and so I was ready. Didn't talk to anybody. I like came in the door, waved at everybody, sat at my desk and just kind of got to work. And about an hour later, four women opened the door, the walls are glass and they came in and I was like, oh, is it time for us to do our thing?
They all looked at me. They didn't even know what it was. Like, they didn't know what was wrong with me. And they were all like, we [00:36:00] just think maybe you should go home today. It's like, thank you. You don't get that at your house. Your dogs aren't like, you should just go to bed. But then it also comes outside of our women.
That's the power of this many women is the network that exists. Even if you've, you're only five women, you've got six degrees of separation with five women, and then you go from there and then you go outward from there, ripple effect, ripple effect, ripple effect. It's crazy town the way you make connections with everybody.
And the fact that we're able to serve as a platform for those connections is so important. So, so important. And we went to an event yesterday is not a group that I was aware of before I joined kind of our entrepreneurship community. Now they are a group that I, the business, both support.
So I was there thinking to myself, two years ago I didn't know this group existed two years ago. I probably wouldn't have thought to come to this event. And two years ago, I certainly wouldn't have [00:37:00] walked into the room and accidentally known almost everybody that was in there. And it just was such a special feeling.
And then we left there and went to a market that in normal years I'm in and out of in like 30 to 40 minutes, we were there for four hours because I knew all the makers and I got a chance to stand there and talk to them. And what was working for them at that market and what were they selling and how was this and how was this? And you know, one of the makers, I don't know, technically she's maker, but she sells plants. And she was asking me about the plant baby. I bought from her at another market three weeks ago. And that's a great example of the relationship that she builds with her customers and just to be there and see the support that those entrepreneurs are getting. I mean, it just had made me giddy.
Booth: So how can our listeners learn more about Aught, about franchising opportunities with Aught.
Erika: When I don't post on social media for a day, people reach out to see if I'm okay and that's not because I, I love social media it's because I want to [00:38:00] tell the story of what's happening here all the time. So you'll often find me talking from the parking lot in my car, on our social media, which is @aughtentrepreneurs, which is A-U-G-H-T that's the same on Instagram,, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Our website is aughtentrepreneurs.com and that has the application for registering an interest in franchising. If you're interested in membership at either of our two Knoxville locations, the application's on there for that as well. And then we also have an Insider Program for those women who may be can't commit to a lease either financially or from a time perspective, but still want to get a little bit more involved in our community and also could use some workspace. That's kind of a low cost, easy monthly option for them to join us before they're ready to commit to a full lease.
Booth: And then what's your vision for the role and the space that an Aught franchise can occupy in a local city.
Erika: I don't even know that this is a real word, but I keep, or phrase, I [00:39:00] keep saying we're hyper-focused geographically. So if you bring an Aught into your city, town, location, the idea is that you're going to service what your local community and your local female entrepreneurs need.
I know what Knoxville needs. I'm an entrepreneur in Knoxville. So we're able to provide that. I can't go into Houston or san Diego and provide that I could provide our framework, but I really wouldn't understand how to accomplish our mission there. So really what we're looking for are women who are likely already entrepreneurs who likely need office space for whom this would be kind of a side gig for them while also providing themselves office space, but it really needs to be somebody who is dedicated to that mission of assisting female entrepreneurship in their community, both to their direct members and then externally as well.
And I think I would say a good deal of female entrepreneurs fit that model. I don't think there's a special kind of person for that. I think anybody [00:40:00] who has a passion for helping those around them, who also has female entrepreneurship experience fits that fits that model.
Booth: So I think this is the last question. With the trajectory, both of Aught and Biddix meetings. How do you decide what to say no to.
Erika: I have got a list on my desk and it says, does it benefit my family, my businesses, or other female entrepreneurs. And a really great example of that is there's a local organization here who services young women in middle and high school? I think what they do is phenomenal. If I had a million hours in the day, I would support it by participating in their programs, but it doesn't fit those three things. So I have found ways to support them either through space or financial means through fundraising, but without having to actually put myself out there as a volunteer for them, because I know number one, I don't have the time and number two, it doesn't fit those three criteria. So I really just try to measure [00:41:00] my yeses against that list.
And I think I could say with pretty near certainty that right now I'm helping all three of those things with what I'm currently involved with. And I don't think there's anything that I'm ignoring that's available in Knoxville for me to say yes to. Does that make sense?
Booth: Absolutely. Is there anything I haven't asked you that you want to make sure you share with our listeners there's today?
Erika: Yes. Is there anything hard about entrepreneurship? Yes, there is.
I think sometimes when we listen to podcasts like this, or we read stories, et cetera, it all sounds so like awesome. And it is, it is awesome. My kids have learned things. I mean, I could honestly do 75 podcast on different topics about entrepreneurship, but I do think people should know that it takes effort and it takes time and dedication and it takes sacrifice and that it's all worth it in the end.
Those are the pieces you should be looking [00:42:00] for a mentor to help you through. It's really easy to find somebody to help you get through the red tape or get through the real estate piece, et cetera. But it's super important to find somebody who can help you get through the hard stuff without losing focus of your end goal and what your purpose is.
Booth: I think partly because I've been a close observer and participant in various aspects of, of your journey so far, I know that with almost, it almost seems like with every win with every like a piece of alignment of the universe, it's like, okay, this thing fell into place, like the downtown location, there has also been, almost seems like corresponding setback, correct? Whether that be personal, whether that be in the business, whether that be in the other business, how do you recalibrate when you run into the setback.
Erika: I feel like we're on a roller coaster most days. And I don't like roller [00:43:00] coasters. That's the irony in the situation. I also really don't like adrenaline, which is why I don't like roller coasters, but it does seem like for my husband and I, for every big win, there's also, you know, a phone call that comes that you're just like son of a, you know, and that's hard.
I think I've just gotten to a place where I run at such a much lower stress level than I used to have been at a 12 already. And then the good thing happened. So that pushes you to a 14, even though it's good. And then the bad thing happens and then you're at an 18. Right. And then your head explodes. Like I can physically feel like what that feels like for me. Cause it's my blood pressure. Rising and starting to see floaters everywhere.
Now that I run at a lower stress level, generally speaking, it's rare to get it pushed all the way to 10. And I know most people who know me would be like a lower stress level, but I really, I do feel like I am just a generally calmer person. I attribute a lot of that to medication. I attribute it to my therapy and my working out.
So it's not like I [00:44:00] suddenly just became a calmer person. Like I had to do things to make that happen, but it gives me the space for the ups and downs. To happen that I didn't use to have.
Booth: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. I've worked with some burnout and stress management clients about, you know, what is that stress baseline and how do we give you breathing room with, you know, going back to really customized, very specific self care practices based on where you are and what your capacity is and what season you're in, but how do we give you more space between the baseline and the max point so that you can absorb and respond instead of react and be more resilient in the face of and recover from the setbacks that inevitably occur, whether you are in any facet and every facet of life.
Erika: Yeah, absolutely. And I think too, if my dad knew I talked about him as much as I do now on like interviews and stuff, he'd be like, oh, goodness. I mean, I do think that that loss for me, he was very young. We were very close. I do think that that [00:45:00] has kind of tamped down what impacts me as much, you know, our first holiday season last year, I've always had a very regimented set of traditions and we accidentally skipped some of them, just brain fog, you know, whatever the end of the day, it just really wasn't that big of a deal.
And some of them, we may just be gone forever cause honestly they were just extra fluff in some of them we may choose to bring back this year, but it means that whereas things like my IKEA order for my downtown office, still not all having arrived yet five months after we've opened, that would have sent me over the edge a year ago.
And now I'm like, what evs, we got a couch. We'll be fine without a chair. I mean, does it stink? Yes. But is it the end of the world? It's just not.
Booth: So there's a little bit of a recalibration of the things that matter the most.
Erika: We needed desks and we needed chairs, and I would be lying if I said we did not bust our butts to make that happen. We drove to IKEAs in multiple cities. And like [00:46:00] we made that stuff happen because it had to, but the stuff that doesn't have to happen, instead of how I used to be like, it doesn't have to happen, but I still want it to now I'm able to just say it doesn't have to happen in the, world's not gonna end.
Booth: Yeah, well, that's a great place to stop.
Erika: Well, thanks Booth.
Booth: So if you want to find Erika, you can find her @aughtentrepreneurs on Facebook and Instagram, and that's A-U-G-H-T entrepreneurs also @biddixmeetings on Facebook and Instagram and at LinkedIn, actually, I'm just going to put that link in the bio, in the transcript. I'm not going to read the entire LinkedIn link.
I will also link the Co.Starters Program link in the transcript on my website. Thank you for listening today and don't forget to go to boothandrews.com/wellbeingchallenge to join the waitlist for the next free 30 day wellbeing challenge. When it launches along the lines of the conversation we've been having today, [00:47:00] that challenge is not about making a list of all the self-care things that you aren't doing, that you should be doing and overwhelming yourself then with that list.
The benefit of the challenge is really in, actually I talked to somebody about it and she said, you know, when I did the September challenge, I found that when I read the email, I was kinder to myself that day. And that is really my goal for you is that you have the resources and the information, and even the data about how different self-care practices can positively impact your well-being.
But then you get to pick which ones fit for you in whatever season of life that you're in. So if you're interested in that challenge, it will be coming up sometime in early 2022. And you can subscribe to be one of the first to find that when it launches, if you haven't already, please also hit subscribe and remember to rate this podcast, wherever you listen to podcasts, when you subscribe and rate, you make it [00:48:00] easier for other people to find this content.
I look forward to being back with you next time.
Website: Aught LLC
Website: Biddix Meetings + Events