Being an entrepreneur is the hardest thing in Krystal Covington’s life. Krystal had been working in the corporate world as a business marketing consultant for over ten years before switching to public relations, until she eventually decided to focus full time on the women's organization, she’s been running on the side. In 2014, she launched Women of Denver, a social enterprise women's organization that has grown from just five women at her first event to over 1,000 members today. She shares that whether you’ve got a big crowd at your events or just a handful of people, the show must go on. You have to show up and give it your best. The people who are there came for the value you are providing and want to be there. Treating them like they’re the best human being in the world is the reason people start to care and begin to come more.
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Krystal Covington on the Women of Denver and the Power of Connection
Thanks for having me. I'm so excited.
I have to give a big shout out to you for your kind feature in one of your articles. You featured me about podcast guesting and I appreciate that so much. Also, what I love in your bio is how you connect with people in such a short little way but powerful way. In 2014, you launched Women of Denver and just five women were in your first event. You kept at it and in less than four years, you're over 1,000 members. This is something that is a big challenge for people with entrepreneurial vision and dreams because they put all this love into what they're doing and so many times people go, “I only got five people at my event or I only sold two or I only this or only that.” I'd love to start out talking with you about number one, how did it feel when you created this thing out of your idea and you “only” had five? How did you keep sticking with it over the years to build it to what it is today, which is amazing?
It strikes me that you even brought that out, which means that it shows what you value and that you pay a lot of attention to what entrepreneurs are thinking. No one's ever asked me about that. It is one of my values to appreciate the people who are there. I've had events where only one person showed up, so that's less than the first event. Literally, I treated them like I was grateful for them being there. The show still goes on. I will never cancel an event and say, “There's only one person here.” No, there's one person here that I need to take care of. This person came for the value we were providing at this event and they want to be here. I need to treat them like they're the best human being in the world. They get the best events of me when I've had those one. I feel like that value, and the fact that I've been able to have the perspective that every single person that's involved is important, is why people started to care and begin to come more. I wanted to quit a lot of times. The reason why people want to quit is because you see these other people, whether it's events or whether it's whatever else it is that you're selling, you see others and it looks like they're doing so much better than you. You say, “If I'm not doing even half as good as they are, then it means nothing.”
[Tweet “A lot of people prefer and feel like there's more benefit for their money when there's a good online platform. @KrystalGoLead @NiczTheName”]
There's an exponential piece to all of this. Those five people might tell five people and then you have ten people. Those ten people tell ten more people and then you have 30 people. It grows over time and that trust grows over time. It's important to not have that assumption that you should be over the moon in the very beginning and give yourself permission to be grateful for what has happened versus be disappointed for what didn't happen. I have to deal with it continually because I still have those challenges inside myself where I want to say, “It didn't work the way I hoped it did. I didn't get 50 people to sign up for this event that I put on or I didn't get ten people to sign up for this launch that I did.” I have to keep reminding myself, “But two people did.”
Those are two people who see the value and see your brilliance and you over deliver. I had a situation after the last summit where I had the idea to do a group program. I thought it was going to be bigger than it was. What happened was there were fifteen people enrolled. That's not even a small number. It's not the number I wanted or I was expecting, but there were fifteen. I decided I'm delivering it anyway and it was yearlong. I was like, “I'm doing it anyway and these people will get more of me than they would have and that's a win for them.” I committed to it. I'm doing it and I'm going to do it in the fashion that feels good.
What I did was pivoted from what I offered and created more value for them by letting them know, “Here is where I'm at. I'm not going to create all this pre-recorded content and worksheets and stuff. I'm going to show up and be with you. Instead of doing an hour training and then 30 minutes Q&A, we're going to have an hour and a half for me to be with you wherever you're at and you get one-on-one attention.” If you don't already know everyone, you will find out. This is something people get frustrated about is when you have a group or a program, not everybody shows up all the time. I imagine if you had that one person and you had a bigger group at that time, maybe you went through this as well, Krystal, that it's like, “What am I doing? Why aren't they coming? I'm here to serve.” It's been amazing. It's been an amazing growth for me and it's been amazing for the four or five people who consistently show up. It's like they have me as their one-on-one coach and they're not paying for it.
It demonstrates your values and then those people become raving fans. It's part of the lesson and the process of being an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. I've done a lot of things. It is very different and very much more challenging than working in the corporate environment.
Take us back to pre-entrepreneurship. What were you doing when you decided to make the shift and the transition? What was that motivation for you to leave what you were doing and that stability and move towards something that was an absolute rollercoaster ride every day?
I had been working in corporate for a long time. I've been very successful in my career. I've been in marketing. I had transitioned into public relations as a PR director for a national grocery chain. I had been running my women's organization for years on the side and called it a side gig. Eventually, I realized, “This isn't a side gig money that's happening here. I need to respect it.” I had been debating with my husband, who's my business partner. A lot of times, people are married but they don't necessarily talk about that stuff. We’re into it, co-founders, and talk about all the strategic work with it and we were debating. I had been interviewing for somebody to do the work full-time and the question kept coming up, “Is that person going to be as good as you are?” It's not as much about skills. It's about, “Are they going to be willing to do all the stuff it takes to make this succeed?” People take a job and you listen to them talk and they're like, “I've been this and I've done that,” and that's great. They have a passion for doing one thing and they want a job in that one thing.
When you're running a business, you got to do the grunt work. You're taking out the trash every day and somebody might not want to do that for you. They might say, “You hired me just to take out trash.” I'm like, “No, but that's something you have to do three times a day when you're running this business.” Can you take out the trash and can you do it with gusto like you mean it, like taking out the trash is the most important thing in your life?
Finding someone like that, that's going to have the passion that I have, is hard. It was more worthwhile for me to quit my six-figure job and reinvent that money again than for us to pay someone $30,000 to $40,000 to not give it as much. In the business, we might just break even. It's not going to be as successful because that person's going to do $30,000, $40,000 work when we need six-figure work for six-figure profits. That was the biggest thing and then the fact that jobs do not like you to be sharing your time. Even if you're there 50 hours a week and you're on a time clock, which I was, I was taken into the office and told that I had an attendance problem because I went to my event once a month. You're not supposed to leave during the day. You should be there from 9 to 5. There were a lot of weird rules. That doesn't work for me in general, especially when I have a business that I want to be there to cultivate. I had to make a choice. It was a very hard choice. I know there are a lot of people out there trying to make that choice for themselves. I talked to a lot of people that struggle when they make that choice, but what helped me is that I already had a revenue-generating business.
Also, I imagine having that super strong support from your husband and that partnership probably had a lot to do with it as well.
It helps to have a partnership. It is a lot of pressure though because my husband is not the type that says, “Honey, it's okay if you don't make any money.” He's like, “You need to make money immediately. What are you doing right now to replicate that income because that was a lot of money?” That's in my head all the time. We don't have that forgiving relationship in terms of that. It's like if I'm not making money, I need to get back to the office.
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Wherever we get the support and oftentimes having the “It's okay” support isn't the support we need. I've had clients in the past that they didn't understand me. I had foster kids like this too. They would come to me thinking I was cool. I am cool, but there are rules and there are things and expectations that have to happen. My clients that love me very much know I am a no-nonsense, “No, we're going to get this done.” I'm not holding your hand and saying, “Whatever you want.” It's like, “There's something to be done and if you're hiring me, we're going to do it.” That's awesome that your husband is so supportive and also that kick in the pants to say like, “Don't think it's easy.”
I love Daymond John because I used to love the concept of FUBU and how he took that and got celebrities wearing his clothes and everything back before influencer marketing was a thing. His book, The Power of Broke talks about that. A lot of times these people get funding and they get these opportunities where they can cast exactly the symbol you made. They can cast on the money that they were given. Being in that position of having to grind for it and not have the financial forgiveness to say, “You got some money stacked away. It's fine. You don't have to worry about it,” you have to do it. You have to be sustainably succinct with your business acumen. You need to do your thing or you fail, it makes you more successful.
When did you leave that position? It sounds like it was not so long ago.
It wasn't long ago. It was last summer. I've been grinding at this. The biggest challenge in the beginning was mental and saying, “What am I now? Am I unemployed?” and having to recreate that income pretty quickly. It was the third month and I did more than my corporate job. It doesn't always work that way because there's a little bit of ebb and flow to it, but it's been pretty good since leaving. I'm glad that I waited until my business was at a good place before doing that.
What did you do then? Once you quit and you went all-in, you were then able to devote full-time, everything to the business, whereas previously you were doing it on the side. What changed to that point? What did you go deep on and invest in terms of finances or personal time or whatever the focus? What did you dig deep on first to get further growth?
I spent money on Facebook Ads and those Facebook Lead Ads helped me. I realized the money is generated from the people on the list who are members. Those Facebook Lead Ads helped me to generate new members who are paying to come to events or paying for an annual membership. I also hosted more events, which gets more people paying to come to things. I was able to generate more revenue that way. I launched a new product, a magazine, which is full of incredible content and gave me the chance to get sponsorships. I was able to generate for the second magazine a lot of sponsorship money. That helped to sustain the business too, creating new products.
Now, I had time to do that because I was sustaining the business. I felt like I was half-assing. I only had the hours after my job. I was dedicated to my work. I did a great job at my corporate job and then the weekends and then I had a little bit of volunteer help. I was not putting a lot of time in. When I had the time to fully do all of this, I was able to create new events, which is a product, a work on the online platform, which a lot of people prefer and feel like there's more benefit for their money when there's a good online platform. I started cultivating that as well. Now, I'm starting to realize the online platform is one of the most essential pieces. They want to be in-person and that part is why they joined, but the online platform helps them to feel like they have something going on all the time and that they're paying for access.
A lot of times when I have folks on the show and they have membership communities, it's online first. Even for me, I've built up my business online and now I'm moving into the offline space and hosted a couple of small events. I had a dinner and lunch, and now, in over a month, I'm having my first retreat in Niagara. A lot of people in the online space or even those who are using technology these days crave that human in-person interaction. I love that you started with the in-person human interaction and are also bringing more value, so that those people who already are connected can continue connecting, continue getting value around the clock through the online space.
[Tweet “Connection is the most important thing that we can do. @KrystalGoLead @NiczTheName”]
I honestly feel most connected to in-person. I feel like the biggest value to the people that are part of it is the in-person. I now do the online community aspect. We now do online events where we have a certain number of people and you can see each other. We have facilitated questions, so people still feel like they get the chance to network and they can wave at each other and have offline conversations. We try to create that as much as possible with the online because it's different than just typing back and forth with people.
Do you let guests come to your events? Do you have a guest ticket versus a member ticket or how does that work?
We do have a guest ticket, but usually, guests end up becoming members and coming on a regular basis. The tools that we use, you can see how people transition, how much people get involved. It's interesting to see the number of people who've been through our group. It'll tell you how many people have ever come to your events, how many people come to one or two events, but most people end up becoming members and coming on a regular basis.
If I ever have anything to go to Colorado for, I'll make sure that it’s planned around the Women of Denver event. They look so fun. I'm not jealous, but ever since we first connected, we connected on Twitter. I don't know if you remember how or why we connected.
I think I liked your purple hair.
You made an impression on me fast too and I started following you. I was like, “It looks like so much fun and good energy.” I've always thought, “I want to go to one of those. I wish I was closer.”
We've had members from other states. They'll come and visit and they'll buy a membership. Maybe, if they have family here, when they come visit the family, they'll come or I've had people that will fly out. Just a handful of people, but the first time it happened, I was like, “You live in Illinois. Why are you doing this?”
In some ways, I don't think it's different than a mastermind or some other event you're committed to. Todd Herman is doing his 90 Day Year. I have not been a part of that, but I know so many people who are in there are so devout that they will fly in from anywhere for that event. You have more frequent events but I get it. In my first retreat, there's only one person coming from Ontario. Otherwise, I have somebody coming from Connecticut, from California, from Pennsylvania. People will travel when they find good value. That's so awesome and such a testament to what you've put together. I want to make sure that my people know how they can connect with you to continue the conversation, whether that be to come to an event or whether to connect for some other reason and because you're amazing. Any final words of wisdom that you'd like to share?
The biggest thing that I want to share is that connection is the most important thing that we can do. Connection is what we're here for on this Earth. If you can help people connect, through whatever it is that you're doing, you're doing the best work. You're making a real impact and that's how we all find our passions and live well. It's beautiful. I'd love to connect. If you want to email me, I know a lot of people will email me and say, “I heard you on the show. I would love to learn more and connect.” You can reach me at Connect@KrystalCovington.com. My website is KrystalCovington.com. I set up an email chain at BBR.KrystalCovington.com where you can join the emails and I'll start sharing through those emails how I built my community in the steps that I took.
I had a lot of mentors that helped me to figure out how to create a structure to it. There's a lot of ways that people connect. People can go to a coffee shop and they can meet people. You can go to a bar and you can meet people. What is it that you're providing when you do these memberships that make it of value? Those are the types of tips that I'll share is how you can create value for people through these membership programs and creating connection and impact with others.
I looked at the page and I was like, “I want to get this done, so I can sign up to be on that list because it looks such great stuff you're sharing.” Krystal, thank you so very much. It was an absolute pleasure to have you and I look forward to connecting further.
Thanks so much. Have a great day.
- Krystal Covington
- Nicole’s podcast guesting with Krystal Covington
- Women of Denver
- The Power of Broke
- 90 Day Year
- @KrystalGoLead – Twitter
- @KrystalGoLead – Instagram
- Krystal’s LinkedIn
- Krystal’s Facebook
About Krystal Covington
Krystal is a business marketing consultant with over 10 years of experience in the field of communications. In 2014, she launched Women of Denver, a social enterprise women's organization that has grown from just 5 women at her first event to over 1,000 members today. She's also a TEDx presenter and a Forbes contributor.
Thanks again to Chris Badgett for supporting the Business Building Rockstars Show.