What is the most efficient way to build and scale a business without sacrificing your freedom in the process?
It’s a question all entrepreneurs have asked at some point. After all, almost all entrepreneurs get burned out from the constant grind, or worse, fail. In fact, according to The Hustle’s survey of more than 300 entrepreneurs, 63% of business owners have or are trying to deal with burnout.
In order to live on your terms, you must escape the daily grind. For your business to thrive even when you’re away, you must put systems in place.
And this is exactly why I was so ecstatic to speak with Amber Vilhauer, a close friend of mine, back in March 2022.
In addition to helping entrepreneurs with high-performance book launches, web design, marketing, and scaling their businesses, Amber’s company, NGNG Enterprises, has become the go-to option for entrepreneurs and influencers.
Over 1,000 websites have been built by her team, and hundreds of books have been published by her clients — including yours truly.
Besides building an extremely successful business, Amber leads a lifestyle she enjoys. Therefore, I wanted to learn how she did it and what she could teach others. As an example, she describes how she built a powerhouse team with a shared vision and overcame the idea of managing everything on her own. In addition, we discussed the importance of creating clear boundaries and developing an abundance mindset to protect your time.
Accidentally becoming an entrepreneur.
It is possible for some people to become successful entrepreneurs by birth. Because of mentorship and business knowledge, they succeed. Despite this, most successful entrepreneurs aren’t born. Instead, the formula is good ideas, hard work, investment, and a little bit of luck.
And that’s exactly what happened with Amber.
She didn’t grow up hoping to run her own business. However, after finding success at Cutco, Amber did event planning for a couple in Denver. They taught entrepreneurs how to get capital for their businesses and how to market online. “I had no idea what a blog was or what any of this world was, but I knew I wouldn’t get bored in this industry; I knew I would always be challenged,” she says. “So, I taught myself to code, taught myself search engine optimization, persuasive copywriting, webinars, conversion funnels, you name it.”
“But then something crazy happened,” she adds. “This woman reached out to me from Canada, and she said, I love your blog, and I love your website. Could you manage our website? We’re starting a guest blogging platform called Conscious Divas.”
Although Amber admitted that she had no clue what she was doing, she jumped at the chance. After a few months, she filed for an LLC. She named her business after a phrase her mom used to tell her, “No guts, no glory.”
“And that’s how NGNG was born,” Amber explains. “That’s when I realized that I am a die-hard entrepreneur and didn’t even know it. And the company has grown ever since — very successfully. I’m deeply fulfilled by it.”
Are you the owner of your business, or is it the owner of you?
Here’s one of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs. It’s difficult to handle everything on your own. There’s no office to help, no safety net to protect you as you would in other places. It’s a whole other level when it’s all yours, and you have to do everything. In addition, a sole proprietor is much different from a business owner with teams, departments, and divisions.
As a result, the only way to scale a business effectively is by creating a protocol or system; it can be achieved through coding.
A company eventually becomes profitable and reinvests back into the company. You watch new people come in and take ownership of the vision and make it their own in an environment where they can grow and thrive, says Amber. “And meanwhile, as the CEO, you just sort of keep learning how to detach a little bit more each time.”
Once the business grows, you can “go into the next evolution and watch the business take the next course it’s going to take.”
Setting clear boundaries with clients is the best way to protect your time.
Having rules in her calendar was something Amber decided early on. It was common for people to ask, “Oh, can I call you at 7 p.m. tonight?” I’d say, “Oh gosh, I’m so sorry, I don’t work in the evenings or on weekends.”
For a young entrepreneur, that may seem crazy. “You could have lost a customer over that, or this could have happened, or that could have happened,” she says. “But at the end of the day, like, this is my life, and if I let somebody cross into that boundary, then I let everybody cross into that boundary, then I have no boundaries, then I have no self-care, and then I can’t be the high performer that I want to be so I can help the world.”
The truth is we all want boundaries, but we’re afraid to ask for them. We think we have to serve or do this or that. “It’s all just our own belief systems from culture and what we’ve seen in our past or wherever it came from, but you actually do have a say,” Amber clarified. “So, in those evenings, instead of having those calls, I would go out on my back balcony, and I would enjoy a sunset or I would watch TV or read a book, whatever I wanted to do, but that self-care time was really important.”
“Now, fast forward — life is very different. I have a five-year-old, I have a thriving business, and I have a lot of people wanting to get into my calendar all the time,” Amber says. “And so, those boundaries are only more important.
At the same time, to successfully set boundaries and still help others, you need to be strategic.
Self-care is the key to taking care of others.
“Once you value yourself more, other people value you more innately,” Amber says. Unfortunately, most of us have a hard time learning this lesson. To believe in yourself and to value yourself, as well as to speak and use your voice, might take you years.
However, it doesn’t matter how fast you learn it, just be aware that it is like getting to the gym – you just have to practice it, one decision at a time. Your life suddenly feels different, and you’re happier, more present, and there’s less conflict and stress. In return, the world responds well when you take good care of yourself.
Understanding what you want from life and creating it.
“I just think that the more you get clear on what it is that you ultimately want and the values that you have, the values you want for your family, I think naturally, you’re going to start living in a different way,” states Amber. However, people often react to life without planning, on autopilot, or without any plan at all.
The key is to take the time to figure out exactly what you want for yourself, your family, your children, your spouse, or whoever it may be. “And you can move in that direction; you’re going to make different decisions,” she adds. Every decision you make about yourself, your business, your time, and your availability will differ. “And I just think it’s so important to get clear on what it is that you ultimately really want.”
Being in control of your business and never losing sight of what is most important.
“I’ve certainly watched a lot of people that have some measure of success in their business, and they lose sight of what was important to them in the beginning,” Amber says. “And they grow a little bit of an ego, and then they want more. And it’s this kind of a little bit of a monster that always wants more and more and more.” Amber suggests that when you become successful, you stay grounded and remember why you started. More specifically, not losing what matters most to you in life.
The importance of cultivating an abundance mindset and appreciating what you already have.
Despite success, we always want more. In many ways, we are built to have these desires. But we don’t have to indulge that desire. By learning how to be content and how to focus on what you do have rather than what you don’t have, you gain gratitude. With this mindset, you shift into a mindset of having abundance.
Ironically, that attracts more. “But what it does is it reduces that feeling of anxiety of like, oh my god, I got to hurry up and do all these other things,” continues Amber. “There’s no scarcity to it. It’s just appreciating what you have and letting it build in the way that it wants to be built.”
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jill Wellington; Pexels; Thank you!