“I used my incentive check to start a $ 3 million business”


Just before the COVID-19 pandemic, I was fired from my role as sales manager for a start-up insurance company. I worked there for about 3.5 years and it was a really good job. Then I gave birth to my twins and got divorced. It all happened over a six month period, so it was a lot.

My four kids and I then moved into my mom’s house in LA. I was going to be 28 and really had to start from scratch. I applied for more than 50 positions and although for 75% of them I had at least a first interview, nothing helped. So I took a step back and realized that maybe I needed to put my skills to use and consult for other people. I was confident in my business, financial and business skills. I decided that I had to put my skills on the market rather than wait for a job to hire me.

I didn’t want to be in a position where I continued to receive unemployment or public assistance and didn’t have a lot of extra funds, so when the first stimulus check of $ 1,200 arrived in April 2020, I took it as a sign that it was “now or never”. I wanted to use the money from the stimulus check to invest in what I needed for my business, so some of the purchases I made included spending $ 145 to design my website and paying for hosting the website. I also bought a few more domain names online, several ring lights for $ 170, and paid the required taxes to upgrade my phone. I took steps that would allow me to create content online and start my business.

My initial approach was to advise and offer coaching calls to companies. I was marketing myself on LinkedIn as someone who could teach leadership and sales development to staff. I had led a team of around 70 salespeople in my previous role, and I knew he could add value.

But then I realized, while doing my research on social media, that a lot of small businesses and start-ups needed help figuring out how to build web traffic, trade credit, or even how to structure their business. business. During the pandemic, there were so many people facing job insecurity and eager to figure out how to start a business, get their first sale, or reach a place of constant income. So I decided to launch my consulting business on Instagram.

I started out by providing coaching calls to clients who found my Instagram page, and in my first two or three months, I really didn’t charge anything. I wanted to build trust, authenticity and gain testimonials. I created three to five pieces of content to share on social media each day and let people know that if they needed help, they could book a consultation with me. I would give them my tools and strategies to build their small business and in return I would ask them for a review. When I saw that the tools I provided were working, I started creating online courses that people could purchase. I had recognized that the time spent making one-on-one calls was going to limit my ability to scale my business. There is very little time in a day to answer coaching calls! And I recognized that people needed more information on business start-up strategy.

My first class was around $ 20. I only had about 3,000 subscribers online, but I made $ 2,000 with this course. The next course I created was to teach people how to structure their business and how to start building their business credit. I took this course out in late October 2020 for $ 15, and because it sold so well, I created a secondary version in December, for $ 75.

But to grow my business, I had to sell myself more. I didn’t run any ads directly on Instagram, but paid for a very small number of sponsored posts on other people’s pages in order to reach the right audience. I also started live streaming on Instagram once or twice a day to connect with people. I went almost entirely organically from 300 followers to over 100,000 in about 6 months, now I have over 260,000 followers on Instagram.

By the end of 2020, I had crossed $ 100,000 in total sales. January was the first month I made $ 100,000 in one month. I cried. It’s one of those times when you feel like all the pain was worth it. I had only been divorced for 11 months as it was finalized in February 2020. It showed me that I was always going to be able to provide for my children. It was a bright light at the end of this dark tunnel. I felt that I had found my “thing”. I was never going to stop.

The income I am generating now is not from one course, but from multiple courses. One product teaches people how to market their business organically on Instagram and another helps people apply for small business grants. As of May 2021, I had about seven courses available, and I currently have two sets of courses and a masterclass, and I’m still doing consulting work as well.

Entrepreneur Ellie Diop used the money from her 2020 $ 1,200 stimulus check to start her business. Since then it has grown to generate $ 2 million in revenue.
Ellie Diop

I had $ 1 million in revenue at the end of April 2021 and then towards the end of June 2021 I hit $ 2 million and have since hit $ 3 million. I feel fortunate that I was able to hire some help to continue growing my business.

My audience is about 75% women, 25% men and 39% of them are between 25 and 34 years old. So I work with a lot of millennials. I am a champion of women and mothers because I am a mom and I want to help other moms like me to create a legacy for their children. My audience is also over 80% Black, which is why I am passionate about providing business and financial knowledge and access to entrepreneurship to black women and blacks in general.

If you are not from a family or a money and business situation, you can go through your life not knowing that you can have your own business. I see this as being able to create access to business ownership and help my community build something to pass on.

Despite my gains, I am very cautious about lifestyle inflation. I left my mom’s house in May 2021 and I really feel grateful and can sleep more easily at night. But I don’t feel less motivated to succeed. I always want to have more impact.

When I started I was a new single mom with four children, working while breastfeeding and cooking dinner. I say this not to brag, but to show that if I can do it, others can too. I’m not a unicorn, I just took a situation that I wanted to change, and decided to get up everyday and work to make it happen.

Ellie Diop is the founder of Ellie Talks Money, she lives in LA You can read more at ellietalksmoney.com or follow her on Instagram @ellietalksmoney.

All opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

As said to Jenny Haward.

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