Episode 133: Show Notes
Today on the podcast we have Kris Wittenberg of Be Good to People. We fell in love with her brand and the impact it was making on people around the world. The idea for Be Good to People was inspired by a rude experience that Wittenberg had back in the spring of 2008 while running errands at lunch. Kris has long forgotten the exact bad experience but the idea that people need to be better to one another has stuck with her ever since. We have loved hearing her message and getting to the root of how she got started.
Inside this episode, you are going to hear a pretty crazy story all about how a failed business helped Kris follow her passions and her dreams and then how she landed in front of Oprah and Gayle. Like actually hugging and seeing Gayle in-person. That exposure had huge impacts on her business, her confidence and everything Be Good to People stood for. There are a lot of lessons learned here from an entrepreneur who has been in business for a while, so we hope you take away some good nuggets today!
Following Your Dreams to Start a Company
One day when Kris left the office and was out running errands, a woman did something rude to her. Although Kris can’t remember anymore exactly what that woman did, the thought that people should be good to one another became a lasting memory in Kris’ mind. The question “Why can’t people just be good to people? How hard is that?” became the driving force behind Kris’ idea to start a new company centered around reminding others to be good to each other. She dove into the entrepreneurial journey, putting “Be Good to People” on t-shirts. However, not long after the idea took off, she realized there was absolutely no way that she could start a second company and have two babies so Kris shelved the idea and took a step back.
Execution and Implementation; Taking Your Ideas Off the Shelf
In 2009, Kris lost huge parts of her client base for her company, SayNoMore! Promotions. The company works with all kinds of corporate clients, mid-sized and small business around the country but 70% of their business was in the pharmaceutical industry. The industry-regulating committee passed a law that you could no longer put logos on promotional products in doctor’s office and boom! 70% of their business revenue was gone. Just like that. From there, Kris and the team really had to dig in. She didn’t pay herself to two years and did everything to keep the whole team intact. So many lessons were learned around that process but at that time, Kris decided it was time to take the idea of Be Good to People off the shelf and put it into action.
From Farmers Markets to Oprah
For the first two years of the company starting, Kris sold her products at a local farmer’s market. It was so successful. They worked all summer long and, she rebuilt her other company, SayNoMore! Promotions during the winters. They sold the Be Good to People products at the farmers markets for four years. They worked full-time during the week, all day Saturday and all day Sunday, while still raising two kids. They were completely exhausted and decided to no longer do farmer’s markets. They put Be Good to People on hold once more and put their focus back on SayNoMore! Promotions for a couple of years. After losing another big business deal, Kris knew enough was enough and she absolutely had to follow her dream! At the same time, she happened to have booked the last VIP ticket remaining in Oprah’s Life You Want Tour the following weekend. Kris always wears her Be Good to People shirt when she travels and it just so happens that within the first two days of the tour she ended up meeting Gayle King. What?! She flipped out over the shirt, which she ended up wearing it to the event the next day for the entire day!
The Oprah Effect; Getting Ready to Launch
A few months after meeting Gayle and having her wear the Be Good to People shirt at the event, Kris found out they were going to be featured in the magazine. She was absolutely floored because she had to learn how to build a company completely from scratch. She didn’t know anything about building a website or doing this all on her own. All she knew was that she had to be ready with enough product to fulfill customer orders and not be put out of business like so many other companies who have been on Oprah. In a very short time period, Kris had to make the decision to change her website platform, taking product photos, writing product descriptions, ordering product and finding a fulfillment center! Kris became so overwhelmed and was simply a one-woman show. She did no blogging around the event, no social media and absolutely zero marketing. Looking back now she says it was such a lost opportunity and there are so many lessons that she learned from it.
Strategically Expanding Your Business
At this point in time, Kris is working towards managing both her life and company the best way she can. She is currently expanding the team and looking for a business partner because she realized she is ready to NOT work as rigorously as she has. Her vision for the company is so big and the opportunities are plentiful, but she just cannot follow up on all of them on her own. Sometimes you need to delegate the work, find someone who is good at your weaknesses and can be a complementary counterpart to the growth of your business. The bottom line is: you have to find what is most effective for you and your business in order for it to grow, reach the goals and make the impact you dreamed of.
Major Lessons Learned As a Long-Time Entrepreneur
One of the biggest things Kris learned in the many years of being an entrepreneur is the importance of getting to know yourself. For Kris, she knows she is good at telling people what to do, but not at doing things herself. If this is you, delegation is key! Often times the entrepreneurial life is glamorized. People think you can make your own hours and make tons of money, but more times than not, a lot of people are more successful working for someone else. If you’re not passionate and you don’t absolutely love your business inside and out, it is going to be tough. You have to be able to rely on that passion when things get tough! There is so much emphasis on the hustle and pushing social media, however, it’s simply not all about the social media numbers. If your followers are not engaged in your mission then it is not relevant to your cause. As you become a more experienced entrepreneur, you really learn to value what matters over the dollar.
- Hear Kris’ story of how the idea for Be Good to People started and went from a dream to a reality. [0:03:34.1]
- The turning point that boosted Kris into finally starting Be Good to People and taking the idea off the shelf. [0:05:50.1]
- Find out how Kris went from selling her products at a farmer’s market to catching Oprah’s eye. [0:09:21.1]
- How Kris was hit with the “Oprah effect” and learning to start a company from scratch. [0:17:13.1]
- Understanding how to strategically balance and expand your company in a way that works best for you. [0:28:17.1]
- Top lessons Kris learned in her years as an entrepreneur and building a business. [0:30:03.1]
Stay in your day job as long as you can.
Know your numbers before going full-time with your side hustle.
Live with integrity and fulfill your responsibilities.