Lisa Johnson, owner of Lisa Johnson Coaching, describes herself as a global passive income specialist and launch strategist. As an entrepreneur, she offers professional business coaching services as well as wedding planning.
Before coaching, Lisa Johnson had to overcome several struggles. She “wanted to be more, experience more,” and “earn more,” but there were hardly any opportunities for her to do so “on the estate where I grew up.” At school, she also suffered from long-term and severe bullying. She also faced trouble at work; her “first job had knocked my confidence.”
The push to coaching was when Lisa Johnson knew that there had to be more to life. She finished her law degree and worked a bunch of corporate jobs, sometimes clocking in 80 hours a week. Many people considered her a successful person, but she didn’t feel the same way. In 2011, she had twin boys, so she had to work to support them.
At the time, she felt stuck, “unfulfilled,” and she “just didn’t get enough time to see my kids.” So, Lisa Johnson Coaching was born.
She realized that Lisa Johnson Coaching was “the only way to have the life I really wanted.” She had to start her own business while she worked. After starting her own wedding planning business, she hired a business coach, and figured out that she could give it a go herself.
I decided from that moment that I was never trading time for money again and would find a different way. Lisa Johnson, Lisa Johnson Coaching
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Lisa Johnson: My whole childhood was difficult because I was bullied for living in poverty. At the age of 16 after a particularly bad incident of bullying, I ended up quitting education altogether and trying, instead, to get a job. I started in office junior jobs and worked my way up. I eventually decided to get a law degree remotely whilst working full time and spent 4 years studying every evening after work. It was worth it — I got my degree and found my self-worth after years of not feeling like I could do anything worthwhile (and being told I couldn’t!).
I then worked my way up the corporate ladder and eventually became an analyst in an investment bank in London. Things were going ok until I found myself pregnant with twins. I went back to work when they were 5 months old but I was going through a divorce too and it just wasn’t working. I decided to quit the job I’d worked so hard for in order to be able to bring up my children. I went back to being an assistant in an office at a 5th of the salary so I could be near the twins. In that first year I was so bored at work I decided to start a business on the side despite knowing nothing about business. I started a wedding planning business, made every mistake in the book, and at the end of the first year I was $30k in debt. I knew I could do it better so I went on a mission to learn everything about business. Six months later I had turned the business around and it became known as the biggest urban wedding planning company in the UK. People started asking me for help with their businesses and so 4 years ago I started my consulting business. This time I knew about business from all the mistakes I’d made and it was successful. After the first year I had made over $250k, but I was burned out. That’s when I learned all about semi passive income and it changed everything. A year later I was working a third of the hours and was well over $1m in revenue.
Jerome Knyszewski: What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Lisa Johnson: I forgot to pick my twins up from school. I received a phone call one day to say I was 15 minutes late. I had been so busy with 1–1 clients that I had simply forgot. That was a real wake up call for me. I decided from that moment that I was never trading time for money again and would find a different way. Once I realized I could sell my knowledge through courses and memberships, I knew that was the way for me. I started to teach others about audience building online, launching and everything that comes with it and I soon became known as the go-to person for all things passive income.
Resilience is so needed when you’re in business.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Lisa Johnson: There were so many times I nearly gave up! I talk about integrity a lot in the online industry because there are so many parts of the online world that are unethical and out of integrity. Because I’m vocal about it, I get a lot of harassment online from others who don’t like me calling it out. In my second year in business it got so bad that I wanted to stop and never go online again. It reminded me too much of when I was bulled as a child. However, someone told me once — if you don’t like how something is being done, you have to be the change. So it was too important to me not to continue and show that you can have integrity AND make money. In October I did a $2M launch whilst telling people not to book onto it if it meant getting into debt or if they weren’t ready yet. If I can show this, it will have a ripple effect and that’s how changes are made!
Jerome Knyszewski: So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Lisa Johnson: Resilience is so needed when you’re in business. Every time I wanted to stop, I’d remember people telling me I would amount to nothing. Every time I was scared, I’d want to do it anyway to prove a point! I used my adversity to scale my success and that’s the title of my Tedx talk I’m giving in March.
Now my business brings in over $3m of sales a year, I’ve taken on a tiny team including my sister and husband, and we’re having fun!
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Lisa Johnson: In my first year I was invited to do a presentation in front of 100 women at a conference for entrepreneurs. I had done a few of these presentations before, as I was quickly learning that I was being invited to speak based on my focused approaches to business, and some of the characteristics I had that made me different from other speakers. I liked to start out my presentations with poking a bit of fun at different types of approaches and business models, which had always gone down well, even with those who in fact led their business with those approaches. But this time, nobody laughed at my jokes! I got glared at. I found out afterwards that even though the event was promoted as a very strategic business conference for women, what they hadn’t told me is that it was only for people who taught the very topic I had chosen to poke fun at. From then on I did better due diligence on events, who I was speaking to, and how my jokes would go over with that specific audience!
…not everyone has to like you. Lisa Johnson
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- That you can choose your business model. There is more than one way to make money and I spent so much time growing a business I didn’t really like because I thought it had to be done that way. Work out the life you want for yourself first and choose a business model that works for that life. I like to travel a lot and have freedom so a 1–1 business model simply doesn’t work for me like courses and memberships do.
- That being yourself will actually bring you a better, more successful business. When I started, everyone seemed to look the same online, eating quinoa salad while doing yoga on the beach. I thought that I wouldn’t succeed if I wasn’t like them, but actually people will resonate with you that are a bit like you! So be more you in everything you do online and off — don’t become a second rate version of someone else.
- That not everyone has to like you. This is one of the hardest lessons to learn because we all want everyone to like us and so we feel we should please all potential clients, but actually it’s more beneficial to repel those that you won’t enjoy working with anyway. I am really real on my Instagram stories and show everything. Last month I got a bit tipsy while on holiday on Instagram stories. Within a 5-minute period the next day one person called me unprofessional and another signed up to work with me because she felt at least she’d found someone she can relate to!
- That actually what’s in your head can actually stop you from making money. I am a complete skeptic of anything too mindset-focused, but when it comes to how you have thought about money in the past, there’s no doubt that this can have an effect. Because I grew up in poverty, I definitely had an issue around believing that people where I come from made money and it stopped me from taking action. I was the same when it came to how I thought about wealthy people. Where I grew up, if a nice car came past, the people in my world would make fun of the ‘show off’ in the car. I ultimately believed rich people to be bad people and it stopped me from becoming rich for a long time. I had to work hard on my mindset to get to where I am.
- To enjoy the journey rather than the target. I used to be all about ‘when I hit 6 figures’, ‘when I’m published in Forbes’, ‘when I get a Tedx’. What I realize looking back over the last few years is there will always be something else you want, so don’t let that be the only thing. The bits I remember that were amazing were on the way to those things, not when I got there! If you don’t really like the day-to-day journey of getting to those goals, you’ll give up too quick.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Lisa Johnson: Follow me and Lisa Johnson Coaching on my website and social media:
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!