I’m happy to introduce the latest lady boss to be featured in a Hustle Profile – Stephanie Brusseau! Stephanie is a wife and mother to two adorable twins. She juggles working part time as a physical therapist, adjunct professor, and now, a Usborne Book seller! Stephanie started her side hustle in order to pay for Christmas gifts and has since grown her business to pay for bills, vacations, and much more. I wanted to feature Stephanie because while she is completely dedicated to growing and succeeding in her business, she plans for it to stay a side hustle, rather than turn to her full-time work. She’s a great example of how starting a business and working a side hustle can help you create the life you want.
Tell me about yourself.
I’m a 30 something year old twin mom, physical therapist, adjunct professor, has-been runner/triathlete, and now a book lady! I work part-time out of the house doing home care and teaching the future generation of physical therapists, and spend the rest of my hours working from home, selling the most amazing children’s books there are around!
How did you get started with your business?
Christmas 2016 was coming, and I was looking for ways to cut costs. I decided to host an Usborne Books & More Facebook party to earn some free books for my kids, who had fallen in love with the touchy, feely books at our local library. During my first Usborne Facebook party, I thought “hmmmm this doesn’t seem too hard, and I want ALL the books!” I ended up joining that night. I jumped in head first & haven’t looked back.
Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur?
I think of an entrepreneur as a trailblazer. Someone who has to start from scratch, overcome obstacles, and put everything they have on the line for their business. As an independent consultant, I have the power to run my business on my terms in some aspects, but I am part of a larger corporation. I am so thankful not to be totally on my own. They take care of the red tape, the nitty gritty, and I can focus on sharing these amazing books with the world.
When did you say ok, I can call myself a business owner now? What happened for you to give yourself that recognition?
I don’t think I really started to take things seriously until I was consistently hitting sales of $1,000 to $2,000 a month, and was working towards earning myself a promotion. Once I started to recognize the growth opportunity that was available from getting creative and putting in the work, I really started to go for it!
How do you balance your growing business with your job and your family?
Balancing life with twins and anything else is difficult, constant chaos is usually how I describe things! Especially when I add in the 6 or 7 other jobs that I have, even though they are all small, it means my mind is always jumping in 100 different directions! It can be really hard to focus on one task at a time, so that’s something I’m working on. My goal is to develop a better schedule so I have set “working hours,” and have time blocked off where I just spend time with my family and ignore my phone and computer. I LOVE being home with my kids during the day, but I find that I’m often checking emails or facebook, and I want to work on being 100% present with them during chunks of the day.
What do you find most difficult about balancing your business and everything else?
The most difficult balancing act is keeping everything organized. If I had a better system in place for scheduling and organizing things, I’m 99.9% sure it would make my working time more productive and efficient!
How can you tell when you’re stretching yourself too thin and you need to pull back to take a break? What do you do when you’re feeling that way?
There were a few weeks when I was working to promote with Usborne Books & More that I would stay up until midnight. While I was planning, working, & staying up too late, I felt completely exhausted. I put off exercising, making time for my hubby, and felt my temper snapping at my kids. I started making a hard cut off time for bed, and making more chunks of time where I relax with no kids, no work (helllooo summer in my pool during afternoon nap time!). Getting a baby sitter and having a night out with my hubby doesn’t hurt either!
How do you interact with other entrepreneurs and support other hustlers?
My team has an amazing support system! I love doing video chats for training and support. We have an awesome Facebook group for challenges, activities, ideas, and support. Constant messages and calls just to chat or explore ideas for the business are really helpful as well. The most amazing part was going to our National Convention where I got to meet my team in person, network, learn and brainstorm together.
How many hours do you typically spend on your business in any given week?
An average week I aim to keep between 10-15 hours dedicated to my Usborne Books & More business. Sometimes it is hard for me to see how much time I spend because I haven’t done enough with setting a work schedule. I answer a lot of messages, and do bits and pieces of work whenever I have a chance.
Right now you’re growing this business and working part time, and teaching too! What’s next?
I love that all my working adventures are flexible! It really helps with cutting down on the cost of daycare to only work my “out of the house” jobs 2 ½ days a week, and to work my Usborne Books & More business during nap times and when the kids are asleep. My goal in the next year is to grow my Usborne team to 200, promote to executive leadership, and to make enough money to completely pay off our debt and ramp up our savings plan BIG time! I plan on becoming an educational consultant to work with schools and libraries, so I think the growth potential there is HUGE! In 5 years, I would love to be comfortably working my part time jobs as much or little as I want while the kids are in school, and letting my Usborne business grow to the point of being a major source of income to pay bills, pay for vacations, fun activities, and more!
Is there any advice you would give someone who is looking to start their own business?
I think so many people wait for the right moment to jump in. There will always be things that keep you from focusing 100% on it, that is life!! If you want to take control of your life to make a change by working for yourself, go for it! It is amazing to see how your income can grow, as you put in more effort and work. It is completely possible!
What do you wish you had known before you started?
I wish I had a little more experience in things like marketing, graphics, videos, and things to promote my business! It is tough (but not impossible) to set aside time to learn while I also run parties and book fairs but it’s that much more work to make my business successful.
Where can people reach you if they have questions or would like to buy your product?
Anything else you would like to add?
Reading is the best gift we can give to our children! Having 500 or more books in your home is a stronger predictor of a child’s future education level, than their parent’s income OR education. I am excited to be a part of making that happen for other families! There are so many ways to promote the business with parties, online sales, book fairs, and fundraising that it really can fit anyone’s lifestyle. I am always looking for motivated, passionate people to join my team and spread the joy of reading with others across the US!
Check out past Hustle Profiles.