how to Start a business with god at the helm with kristen Walker Smith
The Goodness Squad Podcast Episode #44
You feel inspired or called to start a business. But, you’re not really sure how or where to start. This interview with Kristen Walker Smith will inspire you and encourage you to keep moving forward.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Misty: This is season #2 of The Goodness Squad podcast. During this season, we are focusing on how to monetize your content marketing business. In other words, we’re talking about how to earn money from your blog, podcast, YouTube channel, or Instagram feed.
Get to know Kristen Walker Smith
Today I have one of my favorite people with me. Her name is Kristen. She makes me laugh every single time I interact with her. She is so genuine and authentic. Her love for the youth of the church is palpable, I could almost feel it even through the screen. She is so real.
The website that she is running right now is called KristenWalkerSmith.com. Kristin, welcome. I am so glad you are here with me today.
Kristen: I’m so excited to be here. Thank you.
Misty: All right. So we were just briefly talking before we got on here that neither one of us can actually remember exactly how we met, which is kind of funny.
Kristen: I think we should make up a story. Like we met in a bar
Misty: We should, we should totally do that.
Kristen: No, I’m pretty sure it was online somewhere. And someone mentioned that you do tech stuff. Yeah.
Misty: I can’t even remember if I met you before you signed up for my Ask Me Anything group or if that was where I very first met you, but regardless I have loved every interaction I have had with you. You motivate me to be a more authentic and more happy person, honestly. You’re so awesome.
Kristen: Well, yeah, the love is mutual, just so everyone knows. My husband is a little bit jealous of my love for Misty. I was talking about her so nicely the other night, he was like, “Why don’t want you marry her?” And I texted Misty and told her, and she’s like, “why don’t you?”
The start of RubyGirl.org
Misty: All right. So let’s jump in. If you’ve been listening to the podcast, this is the second of three women that I’m interviewing, because I want you to know that you can do this. I get that you might look at me and say, “yeah, Misty is starting from scratch, but she knows what she’s doing.” I want you to know that even if you feel like you don’t think that you can do this, you can move forward. So Kristen, tell us a little bit about what you do and why you do it.
Kristen: I’m the director of Ruby Girl, which is a nonprofit that was started in 2016 and Elaine Dalton helped to get it started. My friend, who was overseeing the whole thing, ended up having some health issues and multiple kids getting married and it just kind of fell by the wayside. So she and I met and she discovered how much I love teenagers. And she was like, “I think this could be really great for you.”
Just before General Conference, she had offered it to me. I thought, “okay, I’ll take this to the Lord.” And during Conference, I got my answer. So as of April, I took over and have been fumbling my way through it ever since. Ruby Girl is there to help girls unplug from Satan’s lies and plug into a happy and truth-filled life.
Misty: I love that phrase “unplug from Satan’s lies.” It says so much in those very few words. It gives the impression that we need to be more present and that Satan’s the one that’s teaching us that we should stop.
So tell us a little bit beyond Ruby Girl. You have a podcast. So tell us about that and what your goals are there.
The start of One Minute Scripture Study
Kristen: Yeah, the podcast is One Minute Scripture Study. That was just an awesome idea that came to my mind in the drive to pick up my kids one day. When I get awesome ideas, I know they’re not mine, because I’m not that smart. So I was like, “Oh, this is Heavenly Father talk to me.”
I just got the impression that some of the other podcasts that are out there are so powerful and teaching the scriptures. But as I was listening to one of them, I got the impression that this concept would be so helpful for teenagers. But very few of them are going to make the time (or have the time) to listen to a 30 or 40-minute podcast. And then the thought just came to my mind ‘what if they listened for one minute?’
So every Monday through Friday, I do one to two-minute devotionals where we dive in deep to the scriptures, find personal application, and then at the end there’s a takeaway for the day in five words or less. So it’s hopefully something you can remember and then go out and live it.
The whole goal with that is to make it possible for really busy moms, really busy teenagers, to be able to have quality scripture study in a short amount of time, and then come closer to Christ because of it.
Misty: I love that. My kids say all the time in scripture study, “I don’t understand it” and that solves all of those problems. It’s really accessible for these teens. I remember falling in love with the scriptures as a teenager as I studied something with my dad and he helped me kind of dive in deep. Once I had that tiny taste of what it feels like to really dig in, learn something new that applies to your life, I became hungry for it. I think that your podcast can do that for these kids.
Kristen: That would be my goal. Thanks.
How business goals can change as you grow
Misty: So tell me a little bit about what your goals were for Ruby Girl when you took that over in April and why have you or haven’t you accomplished them? What have you changed? How has that vision changed in the last six months?
Kristen: The major goal with Ruby Girl has always been to make it financially stable enough simply that it takes care of itself, that the bills are taken care of by Ruby Girl and not by the bank account of Smith. That’s been my ultimate goal is just to get it to be financially stable.
I have to be honest, when I started with Ruby Girl, I had no idea where I wanted it to go or what our mission really was. I knew what had been done in the past, but I felt like there might be a different direction. So I was not paying attention to what I should have been paying attention to.
I did not pay attention to the numbers. I didn’t track what people were doing when they got to my website. I didn’t track what people were doing on my social media and what really resonated with people and what didn’t. It hasn’t been until the last month that I have paid attention to all of the analytics – on Pinterest on Instagram, on my email list, on the website, on my podcast.
As of a month ago, I have set real goals for this. I want this many people on my email list by the end of the month, or I want this many followers on Instagram, and I want this many people to click on my profile every time I post. I am not the best example of having set and met specific goals because I’ve just started doing it. I’m seeing such a difference in how I’m approaching things, because there’s a specific in mind instead of just let everyone know about Ruby Girl.
Misty: Yay. Awesome. I love that. I can hear some of my listener’s objections and their thoughts, but it’s not all about the numbers, right? I remember as a missionary, when we thought “we have to report our numbers” and I’m like, “but it’s about the people.” How do you take those two ideas and let them work together?
How can it be about the numbers and also be about the people?
Kristen: I honestly don’t care if I ever make lots of money. That’s not my goal. My goal, like I said, is to have it take care of itself. Having a little extra would be nice. So it’s not about the financial numbers for me, it is about reaching people to be able to help them.
I don’t want an email list packed with thousands and thousands of people who don’t care what I’m doing. I want an email list packed with people who need what I have to offer. That is what I’m tracking and asking “is what I’m doing helpful to the people who need my help?”
So with the analytics, on Instagram, I use very specific hashtags because I know people I want to help don’t know about me yet. I’m not putting hashtags that I just know are popular and then people will see me and hopefully start following me. I actually just removed someone yesterday that started following me because I’m like, “you don’t actually want to follow me.”
The way that I’m okay with tracking numbers by simply making sure I get to the people who need me with the very limited amount of time I have.
Misty: Fantastic. I absolutely love the idea that it really isn’t about the numbers. It’s about reaching people effectively and what you added there at the end, in your limited time. I also like the idea that as we do that both are going to increase, our influence and our income will increase. Whether or not that’s your goal, that is going to happen and you will then have money that you can use to influence the world in other ways.
So yes, tracking your numbers can absolutely help you earn more money, but it’s not what we should focus on because the reason why it can help you earn more money is that it’s helping you find the people who actually need you. You specifically know where to go.
Okay. So tell me, what are your goals for Ruby Girl now? What would you like to see happen in the next 6 to 12 months with Ruby Girl?
Kristen: Well, obviously, I would love it to just blow up and be trending everywhere and every girl that needs it finds it. As you mentioned, I’ve gone through this metamorphosis of what our purpose is. I’ve said it in so many different ways, but we’re finally focused in on that unplugging from Satan’s lies and plugging into a happy truth-filled life.
Finding Your Right Target Audience
My major goal is to create a community of girls who are behind that movement and who are actively working towards it. And one of the ways we’re doing that is we’ve got an online course that people can take on their own.
I’m doing a scripture study group for teenage girls that I’m starting. The goal is to get the message to the girls, because right now, who I’m reaching are the mothers. And mothers are powerful and they’re good, but I need to make sure it is getting to the girls themselves. It doesn’t do much good if they don’t know. So I guess with that, I’m tracking numbers of how many girls are getting our courses and how many girls are joined in the membership to make sure that we’re actually getting the messages to them.
Misty: That’s fantastic. So when you talk about getting it to the right people, you’re not just talking about the moms. You are very specific about wanting to get to these actual young women. So what has been your biggest hurdle or hang up in the last five months as you’ve tried to get Ruby Girl off the ground?
The biggest hurdle to start a business
Kristen: Everything technology. When you and I started this, my audio wasn’t working, this technology hates me. I experience a stupor of thought when it comes to technology. Just setting up a website and getting it to look the way I want it to look has stopped me from doing stuff in the past.
That was one of the blessings of meeting you was that I have someone to ask very specific questions to. That was a major hurdle, but it’s also been awesome because I even went over to my cousin’s house the other day and was helping her with her website. I was in the backend of it on Elementor Pro and she’s like, “how do you know how to do this?” And I’m like, “Oh, you know, it’s what I do.”
It’s been a blessing. This hurdle actually forced me to learn a lot of the backend stuff instead of pay someone else to do it for me. But whenever there was an error or something popped up I couldn’t take care of myself then I could just go to you. Should I start singing a love song right now? Is that appropriate?
Misty: I love it. I can play it back to myself over and over again. I’m really glad that you have overcome this hurdle. And this is a hurdle that I see in so many women and I feel called to help with it. And I’m so grateful to know that it has been helpful to other people because I have been where you are.
I’ve been where you are. I have pushed through the yuck and the unfun parts of running a business online, and was able to learn how to do the vast majority of it.
It is so fulfilling to be able to take that skill, that is hard-earned, and turn around and help other women who have an incredible message to get out to the world.
Kristen: I was just getting a new plugin set up and was using your tutorial for it. And there’s API keys there, Stripe and there’s PayPal. It blessed me so much because I could have spent my entire day and still not have completed what I wanted to, but I was watching step by step by step exactly what I had to do. And it saved me so much time. I could spend my time doing what I’m good at, like getting out and making videos, making podcasts, instead of crying into my computer for an entire day because I can’t figure this thing out.
Misty: Good. I’m really, really glad. That is my goal: For women to be able to do what they’re good at, for me to help them get the tech out of the way without it costing them tens of thousands of dollars, but they’re still able to move forward.
Okay. Tell me, what are you most proud of having accomplished in the last five months with Ruby Girl or with your podcast?
Take note of your accomplishments
Kristen: You know what, that’s actually interesting. As I mentioned before, this podcast, the idea for it came straight from God. It is not my podcast, it’s His. I have just been amazed at the number of people that needed this podcast. I’m approaching the six-month mark and it’s at 40,000 downloads and it has five stars on a couple of podcast apps and people are just grateful for it.
What makes me proud about that? I don’t know if it’s a pride thing, but recognition of God’s hand in all things. I had a friend ask me, “how do you come up with this stuff for this podcast?” because every week I have to find some way to dive into five different scriptures and there are quotes that go with them and the stories that go with them.
The thing is, those are already in my scriptures because I had a seven-year period with a mental illness where I didn’t have any friends or hobbies. I read my scriptures and that time in my life, that was so lonely and so awful, the scriptures were the only thing I had that made me happy.
I studied them for one to two hours a day. I wrote copious notes in all of the margins and I’m able to see God’s hand in that. Making it so now, when I’m better, I can share everything He taught me during that super dark time, and it’s not taking me hours a day. I’m able to just open the scriptures and go, “Oh yeah, someone needs to hear that.”
It’s so awesome to be an instrument in God’s hands and to see him working in your life.
Misty: Oh, my goodness, Kristen, pride is a tough word in our culture. I get what you mean that it’s pride, but not pride. That is exactly what I believe God does for each and every one of us, he takes us through hard things and we learn very unique things that we are then able to turn around and give to others.
Yours was the scriptures. Mine was tech. He is tutoring us for something to come. I know that every woman has learned something that they can share if they choose to. And if they choose to see it that way, to recognize this gift that they’ve been given.
You’re proud of it because it took effort from you too. And I think you have a right to be proud of it, not prideful, but proud of what you went through and overcame in those seven years of struggle. I just think that’s a great story. Fantastic story.
This is your superpower
If you’re reading this, hopefully the spirit can talk to you and tell you what that thing is for you. That is Kristen’s superpower. She has learned how to study the scriptures and she’s able to teach it in a very quick and simple way. That is a superpower that not everyone has.
Not only does she love the scriptures, but the way she can teach them. God has something like that for you to do and I want you to ask him, I really want you to ask him, what your thing is. You have to know in order to be able to move forward with confidence.
Well, Kristen, I really am grateful for you being here today. I think you are a fantastic example to young women and to Latter-day Saint mompreneurs. Is there anything that you would like to say, here at the end, to somebody who is you five months ago, just starting a business, just getting their feet off the ground? What do you want them to know?
Things you should know when you start a business
Kristen: Well, three things.
1 – Sign up for whatever Misty offers ever. That’s number one.
2 – Track your numbers, just so you can make sure your impact is as big as it can be for the people who need you in the short amount of time you have.
3 – There’s power in taking yourself out of the equation and saying, “okay, if I wasn’t the face of this, what would I need? What would I want this business to accomplish if I didn’t care what people thought about me, or if I didn’t care how I look to other people? What do I think that God wants next for this?”
I’ve taken myself out of the equation and focused less on me and more on what God’s children need. That has made a huge difference, so it’s less what I want and more of just being an instrument in his hands.
Misty: Awesome. I could not have said that any better than Kristen did. So we are going to sign off here. But before we do, Kristen, can you tell us where people can find your goodness?
Kristen: Awesome. Yes. They can find me on Instagram @kristenwalkersmith. They can find me and my courses on RubyGirl.org and the specific course that I’m doing for girls who want to study the scriptures with me and learn some teen prep skills is RubyGirl.org/oneminutescripturestudyforgirls. And then also the podcast, One Minute Scripture Study, you can find it wherever podcasts are offered.
Misty: All right, fantastic. We will have all those links in the show notes so that you can soak up all the goodness that Kristen puts out. And I will see all of you in the next podcast episode. We’ll be talking with Michelle from Waiting Warriors. I can’t wait.
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