One Smart Cookie’s Guide To Making More Dough

Posted on / by Natalie Sisson / in Business Resources, Interviews / 2 comments
Andrea Baxter
Andrea Baxter

A talented, driven yet humble entrepreneur, Andrea Baxter is living proof of what can be accomplished both personally and financially in just two years.

Along with her fellow Smart Cookies founders Angela Self, Katie Dunsworth, Robyn Gunn and Sandra Hanna they have written two books, appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and are the hosts of their own TV show on the W Network.

Just to add to her demanding and hectic schedule, Andrea recently started her own boutique marketing firm, Bratface Marketing, and below she shares her insights on some of her best money sources and finding your financial balance without sacrificing your lifestyle!

WomanzWorld: Tell me about the inspiration behind Smart Cookies?

Andrea Baxter: Oprah’s Debt Diet initially inspired the Smart Cookies. I had seen an episode of Oprah’s Debt Diet and I just started using the tools they provided and I realized that I was spending uncontrollably and needed to take charge of my finances. I then called a few girlfriends, and asked if they would be interested in getting together and chatting about it and the Smart Cookies were born. There was just a real genuine interest in living the lives we truly wanted and when we looked at how we were spending our money, it wasn’t aligned with our goals.

Can you give a brief overview of your first book and your next one due out very soon?

The first book was released back in Sept 08 and it is called The Smart Cookies Guide to Making More Dough (the paperback just came out this past August). It really tells the story behind our financial failures, our history with money and our success, how we turned our financial lives around without depriving our social lives. It also highlights all of the tools we created that helped us become financially savvy (perfect day, rather factor, spending plan, money group, etc.). The second book will be released in Jan-Feb 2010 and it will be called the Smart Cookies Guide to Couples and Money. You can get more information at smartcookies.com.

How many people have joined the Smart Cookies site since it went live in January 2008?

The tasty Smart Cookies
The tasty SmartCookies

We have over 15,000 subscribers to smartcookies.com who get our daily bite-sized emails, access to our tools, calculators, articles and more. Users can also buy a paid subscription for $5/month or $50/year where they get full access to the entire site, they can build their own profile, start or join a money group in their area and much more.

Can you give me an example of someone you have helped personally to have financial success?

There are so many stories especially from our Season 1 show on the W Network. One that stands out in particular was a single mother with a little girl whose father wasn’t supportive or really in the picture full time. She had dreams to get out of debt, have a house for her and her daughter and be able to travel home to the UK to see family regularly. Basically she had a vision for creating a better life for the two of them.

She was a freelance writer living in a housing co-op in Vancouver and struggling to make ends meet. We sat down with her and figured out where she spent her money. She loved throwing game parties and spent a lot of money on that and like most of us, she was spending double what she thought she was spending. So we gave her a plan and a system to make her more diligent, to make sure her clients paid her on time. We got her to do a vision board too.

Around seven months later she emailed to say that she’d got funding, had moved to Halifax and bought a house! She had accomplished her dreams and had heartfelt thanks for the Smart Cookies for inspiring her, getting her finances on track and living the life she really wanted for both her and her daughter. She still updates her vision board with new dreams she has for the both of them. It’s just inspiring to hear these success stories and see the actual change that the Smart Cookies have helped them make in their lives, without depriving them of their lifestyle.

You’ve recently started your own marketing consulting business, Bratface Marketing, how did that come about?

Essentially it was inspired by being a part of Smart Cookies. We always knew we had to find alternative ways to make money as we preached that as part of our success strategies. I had started to miss working in marketing and at the same time had a few ex-employers wanting me to work on some projects for them. I figured out a name for the business (Bratface is a nickname my Dad gave me. I was originally going to change it but everyone else seemed to like it, so I kept it).

I wanted to make the business look bigger than it was so ensure I had formalised the branding and had my bio in place, portfolio and key documents that I could send out to potential clients who were interested in hiring my services. After being intimately involved in growing the Smart Cookies, I knew that I could take what I had learned as an entrepreneur and build another successful business.

I decided to put very little money into the business ($1000), built the brand, and started up a WordPress website. I spent the entire summer networking and marketing my business and aiming to get referrals. Initially, I thought I would get work right away, but quickly realized that it was going to take a bit more time to build clientele. I kept networking and as the Fall started to approach, the phone started ringing, emails started coming in and now I am figuring out the best way delegate it all as a one-woman show!

What do you do to take time out for you?

Well I now work part-time on Smart Cookies and part-time on Bratface Marketing which actually means full time particularly as I’m putting together a 2010 marketing plan for the Smart Cookies! So if I could get weekly massages that would be wonderful, but my spending plan doesn’t allow me to. Instead I make sure I get out once a day—to exercise or socialize.

Something that will 100% take me away from the business and make sure I’m getting time to myself. It keeps me sane, either a run in the evening or a walk with friends. I’m finding the discipline to work hard and play hard. Especially since I work from home—you can find yourself at 5pm still in your sweat pants and not having washed your face yet! But I figure it’s a small price to pay until things get more organized.

The flipside about working for yourself is being able to set your own schedule and having full control of it. I’m still trying to get better at delegating my own time and something I am always trying to improve on.

What are your top 3 tips for female entrepreneurs with regards to making money?

  1. You don’t have to spend a lot to get started. You can really keep your overhead fairly low if you are smart about it.
  2. Use your resources and the people around you. Don’t feel ashamed to ask for help. One thing you will learn is that more people are happy to help entrepreneurs out because they find joy in it. That has been my experience so far.
  3. Mentors! You can never have enough mentors, but you also want to be smart about the help you need and making sure you have people in specific areas that are aligned to your business. Use their time wisely and always be prepared with questions so you aren’t wasting their time.

What are the top resources you use for keeping updated about money trends and financial tips?

Andrea tells us her top tips in this short video below, the first one for WomanzWorld’s.

How important are financial mentors to you and what’s your advice to our readers?

We advocate financial mentors because we market ourselves as not being financial experts (we are not licensed) so it’s important for us to be on top of news regarding finances etc. We read a lot (blogs, magazines, papers. etc.) and we also learn a lot from others. A lot of the stuff we talk about is stuff that we would want to know and things we would do. It has to be relevant to our primary audience, so we make sure it’s still in alignment with the Smart Cookies’ message.

WomanzWorld wants to thank Andrea for being the inspirational financially savvy entrepreneur she is and taking the time to pass on her wisdom.

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