The unstoppable Ali Brown is set to leave an indelible mark in the minds of women across America and around the world, as she expands her empire.
Back in 1998 Ali quit her job to start her own business. During that first year she struggled to find clients and at one point had just $18.56 in her bank account.
Fast forward to today and Ali International LLC is a rapidly expanding business empire that includes the Ali Magazine, Ali Boutique, The Millionaire Protégé Club®, and SHINE, her annual conference for women.
Her company placed on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies in 2009 and you have to be impressed that she’s created a dynamic multimillion-dollar enterprise that is devoted to empowering women around the world.
She’s the perfect example of a woman who is a mega success through belief in her own skills and determination to experience the freedom of choice.
I’m honoured to have been able to interview Ali here on Womanzworld and can’t wait to meet her at Shine next week.
Ali’s answers to my questions are charged with so much energy, wisdom and inspiration that they will light up your Monday and make you reach for the stars. Enjoy!
As a hugely successful entrepreneur, what are you most passionate about?
In the beginning, after I started my business in 1999 I’d say through the first several years, it was about creating the life I wanted – the freedom, the fun, the lifestyle. I loved all the creature comforts I could enjoy! Then I found once I gave myself what I needed and craved, my focus and passion turned to helping others.
As I began to experience success, I learned that many women wanted the exact same things that I did – freedom, flexibility, and creativity in their work. They wanted successful businesses of their own!
I realized that I what I enjoyed most was sharing my knowledge and helping other women also achieve their highest potential and best quality of life through being entrepreneurs. So that’s when I started targeting my efforts to creating programs to help women thrive.
Nothing makes me more proud or excited, often to the point of tears, like when I see my clients and members have a big breakthrough, share a success story that changed their lives, or multiply their income in ways they could have only imagined.
When did you discover your real philosophy was teaching women that you can design your business to create an extraordinary life?
I realized after I had been teaching my Online Success Blueprint® for a few years that women were not only using my system to increase their incomes but to truly create the lives they’d always wanted.
That’s when the light bulb went on for me and I realized I was here to lead the way in much more than marketing. I became more interested in women and business and then the global impact that women are now making on not only economies of nations but toward world peace.
There is a HUGE shift happening now where women are truly stepping into our power. It’s been simmering to the surface for a while and now it’s clearly visible.
With over half the American workforce now women, and over 40% of business owners being women, we are now in a power position to use for positive change.
Sadly though, we hold less than 1% of all the wealth in the world. I want to change that, especially in emerging markets and developing countries.
Helping more women make more money gives them more power, and that power will change the world for the better.
Your company has a number of revenue streams, can you explain them to us and how you went about developing those?
Originally ten years ago, my only income stream was writing for clients. My little biz was basically my doing freelance writing projects for companies and small businesses.
I published an email newsletter (or “ezine”) to help market my services – starting with a list of just 10 people, including my parents, and my cat!
From there the list started to grow and people were subscribing to my marketing writing tips. Then I started getting clients from it.
Then others asked me how they could start an email newsletter too, so I wrote an ebook called Boost Business With Your Own Ezine, and I sold it online for $27.
I was thrilled to make an extra $500 a month or so from that little venture. I became very interested in online marketing and information marketing, and began buying everything I could get my hands on that would teach me how to do it better and make even more money.
I began offering courses and teleclasses on topics I was qualified to teach – basically things that I had done myself, such as selling ebooks online. I blasted off my income into the multiple six figures, and then when I added live events and coaching, my income rose into the seven figures.
Today Ali International is a multimillion-dollar business ranked in the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies in the nation. The largest part of my business is my coaching division, the Millionaire Protégé Club, in which hundreds of women are members of.
I also hold major events several times a year, the largest and most exciting being SHINE, a three-day fall conference for entrepreneur women who want to learn strategies for growing their business and enjoy networking bar none
Note from Natalie: This is where I’ll be next week! http://www.shineevent.com
You’ve built an empire. How have you managed to continually deliver new products and programs without losing focus or passion for what you do?
Growing a business is a careful balance between looking far forward and holding your grand vision while at the same time keeping your feet on the ground and watching your current numbers and what your current market wants.
I just read a brilliant interview with music mogul Jay-Z, and he was talking about how as an artist you have to be continually reinventing what you offer.
However he said it’s not changing who you are. It’s changing how you offer it.
It’s the same with being an entrepreneur and running a business. You have to stay true to YOU while staying in tune with what your market wants.
What did it take in the beginning to really grow your business
More than I thought I was made of.
In terms of building an online business, what are the top 3 trends you think will have the most impact in the next 5 years that we need to consider?
Social media – originally we all thought it was a fad and a bit of fun. Now for many companies and my own business, it’s a huge force to be reckoned with.
New women who are my ideal clients and customers are finding my sites every day on Facebook and Twitter. If you haven’t figured out how to use it yet – strategically – for your business, it’s time.
Video – even if you don’t want to be in front of a camera, you can’t ignore the trend that the #1 online activity now is watching video. So if you aren’t using it for your business, you’re losing business.
Consider ways to market with video now. And if you’re not comfortable being the star, you can use it for presentations, slideshows, etc.
Mobile marketing – With as much travel as I do, I am on my iPhone more than my regular computer. This is the case for a growing population.
Make sure your website and offerings are easily accessible in mobile formats and look for ways to use apps and text messaging to reach both current clients and customers and prospects.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received and from who?
When I first started working with my most recent mentor Anne McKevitt, she basically said “You have two choices. You can stay here and compete with everyone else, or you shoot straight for the top, where there’s less competition.” I chose the latter. It’s true – there’s much more room to breathe up here!
How do you manage your busy schedule and what steps do you take to relax and recharge?
I’m disciplined with my health and workout almost every day. I’m lucky to have a house at the beach so often it involves running barefoot in the sand, which to me feels like play!
On weeknights I’m in bed by 9pm. I know that sounds like I’m an old lady, but sleep is a huge factor in how I feel and perform each day.
I also take a catnap after lunch if my schedule permits! I get weekly in-home massages, and visit spas when traveling. (I think if everyone in the world got a massage every week there would be world peace – seriously. Try it.)
I used to take several vacations a year, but right now I am on full throttle with a few things so I’m not able to take off to the Caribbean for weeks at a time as I did a few years ago.
But for example this year I am doing a week in Hawaii and a week at my mom’s in Palm Desert and a few other trips that are at least long weekends and non-work related.
Here’s what you need to remember: you’ll often get your BEST ideas when you are not at your desk. So take those walks on the beach, visit inspiring locations, and treat yourself well and often.
What are some of the top books you’ve read that have made a personal difference to you and influenced you and why?
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill – an old book written by a dead man… for men, but even for women it’s still one of the most profound guides to what it takes to be wildly successful
Losing My Virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way by Richard Branson – his courage is astounding, and he links all his business to making change in the world in some way
Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life) by Cathie Black – this gave me the perspective of what it’s like to be CEO of a big company, as Cathie ran USA Today for many years.
In your opinion what would you like to see women doing more of?
Ladies, it’s time to step up. Less than 3% of all women owned businesses in the country are making more than $1 million a year. Stop playing small. Get comfortable with being “uncomfortable”, think big, take risks, and have fun.
What’s next for Ali Brown – the brand?
Major media will be skyrocketing my platform and message. You’re going to see me in TV in a big way.
My major debut is happening spring 2011 on ABC prime time – stay tuned! My vision is to use this prominence to further the mission of helping more women around the world start and grow businesses to create a huge global shift.
What is your key piece of advice to any female considering becoming an entrepreneur?
Trust your intuition. This is the best gift women have, but we have been trained throughout our lives to not honor it.
When I look back at mistakes made – working with certain clients, hiring a person who was the wrong fit for the job, even accepting a marriage proposal – I always had a certain feeling about it that I ignored.
Today, I work mostly by intuition. Once I mastered this, my company started doubling every year. Once you become aware of this skill and harness it, you’ll move forward faster than you imagined.