Being a founder, entrepreneur, or a business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur“ we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Julie Ciardi.
Julie Ciardi is a former Fortune 500 Marketing VP turned multi-passionate entrepreneur. She believes there has never been a better time for women to create an additional income stream that is aligned to their passions and purpose on this planet. She is dedicated to helping women create profitable businesses that give them joy, purpose, and profit with proven, timeless business strategies in today’s online world.
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?
Julie Ciardi: I had a 15+ year career as a Marketing VP at a Fortune 500 company working the daily 9 am-5 pm grind. About 4 years ago, I decided I wanted more and worked to build my first business, a brick-and-mortar boutique for women. I loved building my brand and launching my different businesses, and other women kept on asking me how I did it. I started to see other women who wanted help building the same thing for themselves. I leaned back into the gifts I developed in my corporate days — being a business leader and helping to lead people into building new businesses — and decided to help other women create bigger businesses.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Julie Ciardi: I had a nudge in my heart for so long that I wanted more for myself and for my family, but felt that the path society laid out was to keep the 9 am-5 pm life. You’re conditioned into believing that’s what you’re “supposed to do.” That ah-ha moment for me was seeing other women creating their own additional streams of income and businesses online, and I thought, “why not me?” When I started asking myself that question, that’s when everything changed.
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
Julie Ciardi: I was always creative, but I was not always a risk-taker. I had the creativity part down with new ideas always flowing through my mind. However, I was conditioned to not take risks, which is counter to entrepreneurship. As I got older, I got more comfortable with risk-taking and designing my life and businesses the way I wanted them to be.
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Julie Ciardi: Our niche and really wanting to help women whether they have just an idea or they’ve already started their own business, we help them ignite it and get it going. I’m a firm believer that it’s not just the “how” to start and manage a business, but also the internal mindset aspect of it as well. Being a certified life and business coach really sets me apart. I can teach strategy and the tactics of building a business, but I also know that real results come from the inside out, and I get to help with that as well. The two must come together.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Julie Ciardi: I would say the first would be persistency. You can’t ever give up. Building a business does not happen overnight, and you don’t always get it right on the first try, but you have to keep going. It was a series of taking action consistently over time, and not giving up, that got me to this point. There are times in my journey after leaving corporate that my husband would ask me when I was going to be making the same money I was in my corporate job, but I was persistent and knew I had to keep pushing forward. Another characteristic is compassion. I truly care about my clients and prospective clients. If you’re not caring about your clients and their results, you won’t be successful in entrepreneurship. I would also say a key characteristic of being a successful entrepreneur is confidence. For a lot of people, this is built over time by taking imperfect action over and over again.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
Julie Ciardi: When I was first starting my business, I got the advice to be everywhere! To be on all platforms. I was told to be on Instagram, have a podcast, write a book, make sure your Pinterest is appealing. That was just terrible advice because when you’re first starting, you really want to pick one thing and focus on it so that you can master it and get better at your marketing and your sales process, etc. so that you can be successful in achieving profit. Focusing on too many things is going to completely dilute your ability to get to success. It’s important to become a master of one thing before you move on to the next.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
Julie Ciardi: I think really understanding your employees’ personalities and desires is so important. This is so that you can help build them up, and you can communicate with them properly to help them achieve their goals. Effective communication and knowing what drives your employees is key.
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
Julie Ciardi: This is huge. The know, love, and trust factor is so key. I always deliberately say love instead of like because people buy from people and people work with people that they know, love and trust. In this very crowded online marketplace that we’re in, you have to stand out by being you and by really understanding your ideal client and who you’re helping. Not just the demographics and the psychographics of who you want to help, but really truly understand the problems they have whether they’re big or small, where they want to go or the goal they are trying to achieve, and what they want to be solved. Then you have to show up for them and show that you can be the one to solve their problems. People want problems solved, and they want solutions. But, you have to put yourself into it as well, and not just hide behind a brand. People identify with and connect with humans, so really developing your personal brand is the key to building trust, credibility, and authority.
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
Julie Ciardi: This is essential today because the online marketplace is so crowded. There are a lot of people selling the same things out there and in order to differentiate yourself, the unique factor is YOU in that mix. Really nailing down your story, who you are, your personal brand and making that very clear and repeating that in the marketplace is the unique differentiator. There are probably thousands of people selling the same thing you are, so in order to truly stand out, your personal brand and connection at the human-to-human level are critical.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Julie Ciardi: A big mistake I see is a lack of clarity. A lot of entrepreneurs try to take on too much, too fast without really doing something well. I teach to implement doing one thing really well instead of ten things halfway. Another mistake I see is that people are continuously looking for a faster solution as opposed to doing the work and implementing the same strategy over and over again to see results. Another common mistake I’ve noticed is not having a comprehensive marketing strategy.
Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?
Julie Ciardi: When you start a business, you have an initial goal you’re trying to achieve. You put all of your energy and focus into that goal until you reach it. But then what? You develop a new goal, a new dream. The reason why you’re ALWAYS having highs and lows is that you’re always onto the next goal. As your business evolves, you evolve and that will always push you towards the fear and anxiety, the excitement and joys. You’re never done, and because you always see possibility, you’re always expanding. When you’re in a traditional 9 am-5 pm environment, you’re always in your one job. Maybe you have a goal of getting a promotion or moving up the ladder, but your next steps are always clearly defined, and the risk is not the same. Even when you’re wildly successful, you always have a fear you’re going to wind up homeless. The stakes are so much higher when you’re an entrepreneur, but the lows are required for the breakthroughs.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Julie Ciardi: For me, signing my first client was huge. I remember I was sitting in my kitchen and I can still feel what I was feeling at that moment. I also had a high when I cracked the code on how to scale my business and had my first 6 figure launch. Each high is different because as an entrepreneur your goals continue to expand, but they all are equally thrilled at that moment.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Julie Ciardi: A lot of times when you’re creating a business, it can put a lot of stress on your family and home life. My husband was so supportive of me leaving a very high-paying career to pursue my own business, but it doesn’t happen overnight. By 18 months into my journey, it was starting to get really tough on my marriage. I wasn’t yet seeing the success that I had hoped and my husband questioned whether or not I should return to my corporate job. Entrepreneurship is no joke on marriages.
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
Julie Ciardi: I had to do two big things. I had to dig deeper internally and understand that he was only coming from a place of trying to protect us as a family, but I also had to dig deeper into who I was trying to be in my business. At the same time, I turned to fellow entrepreneurs in my mastermind community. You need to surround yourself with people who understand what you’re going through to help push you to that next level. You have to surround yourself with people who are going to support you.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.
Julie Ciardi: First, you need to be working on your inner personal growth as much as you’re working on your business. People are so quick to go to how to grow your business versus who do I need to be to have a business. I already mentioned the second one, which is having a mastermind community you can lean into for support. You cannot build a business alone. Your mastermind will most likely not be your friends and family as you want to surround yourself with other humans that are growing business. You absolutely have to have that support. The third is consistency. You must work the business consistently over time, or it’s not going to grow. Since I work with other entrepreneurs, I see the biggest mistake they make is starting and stopping and starting and stopping. In this thriving online market that we’re in, those that don’t stay consistent will lose. Patience is massive. The fourth thing someone needs is patience. Everyone thinks that things happen faster than they will. Growing a business looks like a hockey stick. Most of the time you’re putting in a lot of work, but your growth still looks like a flat line. When you put in the time and have patience, you can hit that curve in the stick and shoot up. People stop before they hit that breakthrough. Lastly, you have to have a burning desire. Too many people get into a business that they don’t really have passion around. You have to have a burning desire in your heart for what you’re trying to create. If you don’t you won’t be able to stay persistent, consistent and hold on to that patience.
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Julie Ciardi: Resilience is when you hit that low, you don’t stay there and wallow in it. There are always going to be highs and lows. Learning how to be resilient is the ability to bounce back after a low. You pick yourself back up, and you keep going. You can stop and take a breath, you can even cry if you want, but you make the decision to continue no matter what.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
Julie Ciardi: I was continuously told by my father that I always had a choice. To me, life presents different challenges always. Not even challenges, but just doing the same thing over and over again can cause you to get stuck and not allow for growth. Learning at a very early age that I have the power of choice has always stuck with me. I can choose how I look at a situation, I can choose how I handle it and I can choose to get out of it. That has been something that I have kept with me my whole life. I can still remember coming home at 24 years old from my 9 am-5 pm job after I graduated college, standing in the kitchen with my father and crossing my arms asking, “Is this it?” Meaning going to work every day, sitting in a cubicle for 8 hours, and then coming home. I just remember thinking that this does not seem like what we’re supposed to be doing. He turned to me and said, “Julie, you always have a choice,” which turned into a larger conversation about choices. That is something that has always been really important to me to remember, that I have a choice because I have used that at so many times in my life to be resilient and move to the next thing, and to pick myself back up, and decide that I have a choice in how I handle anything.
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
Julie Ciardi: Yes. I’m definitely more positive than anything. My focus on the outcome that I want is what keeps me positive. I’m not just in the moment, but I am focusing on what it is that I want. What the result is, what the outcome will be. That helps me keep on the right path and not dwell in the negative.
Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.
Julie Ciardi: Energy is huge. Energy is felt when people aren’t even saying anything, and you cannot fake energy. That’s why internal work is so important. Energy fuels action. Bad energy fuels bad actions, positive energy fuels positive actions, and the actions happen no matter what the energy is. What result do you want your team to create for you? You have to have positive energy so your team can create positive results. I always try to think about what people are saying about me when I leave the room. Are they excited about the next project, or are they dreading what they have on their to-do lists? People are going to talk no matter what. It’s your job as a leader to ensure the talk is positive and inspiring, and that your employees aren’t complaining or frustrated.
Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
Julie Ciardi: There are so many but the one that stands out is Teddy Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena. My dad had shared that quote with me when I was in high school, and it stuck with me forever. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, it’s what you think of yourself, it’s you living your life that matters. You are the man in the arena. I had the quote printed and I placed it on my frame to place in my cubicle at my very first job when I was 22.
How can our readers further follow you online?
Julie Ciardi: Readers can follow me on Instagram at @julieciardi, listen to my IGNITE Hustle Podcast wherever they stream podcasts or visit my website at to learn more about me and how to work with me.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with
this. We wish you continued success and good health!