Brett Welcome, Jenny Whittle, to The Retiring Entrepreneur Podcast. Thank you for being here today.
Jenny Thank you for inviting me.
Brett Well, I was excited to invite you because I was first and foremost a client of yours and had a wonderful experience, so that always rings true to me. But I loved your entrepreneurial spirit. I think you’ve really tapped into a unique market. A target market, if you will, that has plenty of growth opportunity, which I believe you are experiencing and that is educational consulting, And I think it’s really unique, and I’d love to hear and share your journey through that world that is now College Planners of South Carolina.
Jenny Thank you. Yes, it is such an exciting time in our world. So initially, I was the director of guidance at Triton Academy private school for kids with learning differences. And in 2005, 21 families hired me to leave the school just to focus on their children.
Jenny In fact, prior to that, one of the students, the valedictorian’s mom just kind of had a nervous breakdown. And so she couldn’t take her to look into colleges. So I took her around looking at various schools. And other parents said, “we’ll pay you to take our kids.” So I grabbed the art teacher, who was a friend of mine, and we took a bunch of kids around looking at colleges.
Jenny And then 21 families hired me to just focus on their children. So that was in 2005. And I thought I invented this, and at the time, there were about 600 of us around the United States. Now there’s about 6,000. But over time, it’s grown, it’s evolved. College applications and dynamics have changed just as they have from when I was in high school.
Jenny When I was in high school, you took the SAT or ACT, and you went to school. It’s a whole different world anymore. And so, we just help students and families find a good fit K through 12, public, private, college, whatever it is their educational needs are. And so, I have a team of experts that I’m surrounded by, and we just continue to flourish helping families meet their needs.
Brett Yeah. And so that was 2005, did you say, when you started it?
[06:34] The opportunity that catapulted Jenny Whittle financially and made her think more strategically about her time and money.
Brett Tell me what that transition was like. Was that scary to go out on your own?
Jenny It was so scary. And you know, it’s funny. My dad is an entrepreneur, my grandfather is an entrepreneur, my brother. So I come, I hail from a whole family of entrepreneurs. But being a mother, that was a different take for me just because soccer practices and managing time and money.
Jenny But it also was a coup. Because as a mom and a soccer mom, I found that the extra money paid off for soccer lessons, and I was buying cleats and band equipment and tubas. And so it worked out actually in my favor. But initially, it was very, very scary and daunting to take on. Stepping out on my own away from a corporate structured, guaranteed paycheck.
Brett Sure, I bet. And how were those first few years? Were they lean? Or did you have those clients who said they would pay you to do it, did that continue?
Jenny Actually, that was the best blessing because I had 21 already. That automatically put me in a higher pay bracket than where I was. And so that catapulted me financially. But it also taught me how to think more like an entrepreneur. So I was more careful with my spending and my budgeting, because I didn’t know when that next check was coming.
Jenny And so I became more aware of the value of my time. That hour that I’ve worked and how much it cost me, or how much I earned. So I was much, I became less frivolous with my money, and much more adept at budgeting and managing my finances than I was prior.
Jenny But I actually made more money. It just continued to grow each year. And then I would get the kids, a few kids on the soccer team. And then I would have the whole soccer team, and I would get the radiologist at a local hospital. Then I would get all the radiologists at that hospital and then the other hospitals in the area. And so it just continued to grow exponentially every single year.
Jenny And we hit 2008 where the economy just kind of tanked. But kids were still going to college. Families still wanted the best financial, social, academic situation for their kids. So we just continued to flourish and grow each year.
Brett That’s great. And when you, I know you have a physical office space now. When you started, was it at the libraries? Did you have an office? Were you going to people’s homes?
Jenny Yes, I started out with people’s homes. I would schlep my computer and go to their house for their first meeting. And then I would meet the students in their house after school. And then Starbucks, thank goodness for Starbucks. Began to grow, there’s a little coffee shop around the corner. I would go in there, and then they would turn the music up louder and louder as time went on, and more people started using Starbucks and the coffee shops. And so I eventually got an office, but it took me a while to brave adding in the rent, the cost.
Brett Yes, that’s a whole other thing.
Jenny Yeah, the fixed costs, right.
[09:50] How Jenny’s business has evolved to lengthen the consultant-client relationship and allow for repeat business.
Brett And the typical engagement for you I guess now. So is it specifically college planning? Is it from soup to nuts, how do we take ACTs, fill out the applications? What schools to apply to? Tell me what’s a typical, I guess, engagement. I know your website, which we’ll post to the notes, has a lot of different services. But your average engagement, I guess for the listener.
Jenny Yes, yes. Typically, the bulk of our business is college planning. We pick up, we have been picking up students, junior year, sophomore, junior year and senior year and walking them through the process. But as the dynamics have changed, we’re seeing a shift again. And so we’re getting them ninth grade and 10th grade, because we can’t undo classes they didn’t take. Or you know, undo schedules.
Jenny We can help them pick schedules strategically based on their interest, based on their passion, based on their skill set, and/or the opportunity to explore. So typically, yes, we pick them up in high school, and all the way through fall of freshman year of college. But the reality is, Brett, they really never leave us. I have a student, he’s a junior at Georgia Tech, just emailed me the other day and asked for his resume.
Jenny And so we just keep them everything, whatever it takes. And it’s just nights, weekends, helping them through the whole process and everything.
Brett Yeah. And as it stands today, so some 17 odd years later, how many students do you have? Or clients, I would say. You mentioned a team now, so it’s not just you handling all this. What does the practice look like today in terms of number of clients? And how many do you handle versus the rest of the team, etc.?
Jenny Great. So very first year, I started out and I had 21 families, and so that was 21 kids. And pretty much they were at the end of their junior year getting ready to start high school seniors. And then as the years have evolved, I have seniors, juniors, sophomores, freshmen, their older brothers who decided to not go to college.
Jenny And so as it evolved, now, I have three other people that work with me full-time, one on a part-time basis. We’re getting ready to bring in another one this fall because we continue to grow. We work as a team, we collaborate together. And so we tag team a lot of the students and families just because of the students’ time constraints around football practice or band practice.
Jenny And so we all see a lot of the kids, we share the students, and we all approach the way we manage our students from a different angle. So it’s an asset for the parents. They get four of us for the price of one. And then, but my colleagues also have their own clients as well. So they’re both building the names for themselves and establishing themselves as independent educational consultants, as well, in the community and beyond.
Brett Okay, and so it’s more like a true ensemble. So we could be working with you. But we also could be working one of one of your team members. It’s not like a silo where each, you each have your own clients.
Jenny Correct, except sometimes the students prefer the same one every time and that consistency. Or the parents do. And then others like the variation. And we’re letting the students and the parents kind of opt in a direction that if they prefer to just stay with the same person, they can. But if they also would like to enjoy the variation, that’s okay, too. And so we’re letting them decide.
[13:31] The reason Jenny Whittle focuses on attitude, not skillset, when hiring new consultants to join her team.
Brett Gotcha. And when you look for team members, and you’re thinking maybe even another, especially with our world that simply gets more and more complex. Do you look for ones that have more experience or special unique ability in a certain area? Like somebody might be very good with application process or helping writing or getting loans? Or do we cover all of those areas with just one person?
Jenny Well, we all cover all those areas. However, the first is passion, a passion, a heart of a teacher and a passion for helping students and families. People that are chasing dollars, that’s not us. That’s not what we’re interested in. And so we have a heart for families and kids. So all of us are either guidance counselors or have backgrounds in human resources. And so that’s the first skill set that’s required.
Jenny The business side will come. We can train somebody to do the rest. But it’s really having that innate passion and drive to help that is at the forefront.
Brett Right. And what’s your typical day like? So, are these meetings at night if the kids are in school? Are you having to work late at night still, how does that work?
Jenny Yeah, thanks for asking. I work all the time, 24/7. Some of the area schools have late ins, so the kids don’t go in until noon, or they go in at 10 in the morning. So often I see students early in the morning before school. Some before school, seven, 7:30 in the morning. Some at nine. And then some have practice, football practice or lacrosse practice to eight at night. So it’s 8:30, nine o’clock at night.
Jenny And so with my other colleagues, often one of us will pick up the morning crew, and somebody else will pick up the night crew. But because I work with high school students, they text me at 1am on Friday night and ask me about their ACT scores or a test or something.
Jenny So I tried to set some limits on my phone, to try to reduce the messages. But at the same time, it’s really 24/7. And part of that is that’s what makes us unique. That is our competitive advantage. We are available to the kids to answer the questions. They don’t have to wait for their school guidance counselor or teacher to answer a week later, a day later. We answer them usually within a few minutes or a few hours.
[16:10] Why Jenny says Covid was a blessing and a curse for her business.
Brett And do you have some sort of software or technology that leverages, I guess on the backstage, your time, to time-block and know what to work on? Or if I needed to see somebody else’s notes on what you talked about last time? And then also, I know that you leverage technology on the front end, where the kids have their own portal and they could see and upload documents. Is that all one technology?
Jenny It is. And we are growing, so we are looking at modifying it and tweaking it a little bit further to just streamline the operations. COVID was a blessing and a curse. You know, before we would bring students in and see five or six in an hour. But there were two or three of us here working with them individually or in a group. The students could go in a private boardroom with one of us and work individually in a quiet setting.
Jenny And then with COVID, that turned everything upside down. So we started working remotely, one on one via Zoom. But our software program is set up that they can log in, and we can log in, in real time. And that tracks our time, tracks their calendars, everything. So it’s a one stop shop for all of everything, all of our needs.
Brett Yeah. That’s great. That’s neat. And you mentioned COVID. And, of course, how that affected all of us, you said blessing and a curse? So did it create more work for you or less work for you, would you say, overall?
Jenny Yes, you know, with the economy and people just being frozen financially a little bit, parents became more afraid, and students more afraid, of what the future was going to hold with colleges. With college applications. And we didn’t know any more than they did, quite honestly. I mean, we had, you know, we were attending meetings and participating with, collaborating with the colleges to understand what their processes were.
Jenny But it was a fluid year. Nobody knew what to expect or what it was going to look like until it evolved, and as it evolved. And so we had a huge increase in numbers last year, and it was due to that fear. Just not knowing what to expect or what the dynamics were going to look like.
[18:30] What Jenny sees the future of higher education looking like, and why she believes the current system needs to change.
Brett Sure, I bet. I’m fascinated by the topic, and you’re closest to it. So, I need to ask you, like, what do you, if it’s 10 years from now, what do you see the college system look like? I mean, if anything, it felt like 2020 and COVID commoditized it, and you can’t charge $70,000 a year for a kid who’s going to be working out of their bedroom at home. Will that bring prices down? Will colleges close down, do you think? Just curious to see what your answer to that question would be.
Jenny Thank you very much for asking that. I don’t want to get into the politics. But however, you know, Ohio State’s President said their goal is to get it to where the students can attend and not have debt. And so I think if we can stop the student loan debt, I think that needs to happen. I don’t agree with forgiveness necessarily. But I do think that stopping the loans is imperative for the economy to move forward later on. I do think we have to change the system.
Jenny I helped a 75-year-old gentleman this last year. He decided he wanted to go back to school. So I helped him through the process. He has two doctorate degrees, but he wanted one now. And so we walked through the process this last year together. And there were a lot of classes that absolutely we both agreed were a waste of time, financially, timewise, and not in any way beneficial to his multimillion-dollar business.
Jenny So, I think it has got to change. We need more of a system that’s more time-friendly, more cost-effective, and that’s more applicable. You know, just because you have this degree doesn’t prepare you in any way for life. If people can’t stand you, and you have a top SAT or ACT, are you any better prepared for life? No. And so I do think we all, it needs to be changed, and the whole system needs to be changed.
Jenny I don’t know that four years, I don’t know that it should take four years. I’m not sure that that should be an automatic, across the board, blanket statement. I think that the whole system needs to be revamped.
Brett Yeah. That’s neat. Thank you for sharing that. That’s neat. You mentioned the word afraid. I mean, such a big word, especially in the service industry. What’s the biggest pain point people come to you with? Is there a common theme? Is it just getting into college? Paying for college? Or all of the above?
Jenny Mostly, it’s the dynamics of their student, their children. You know, A, either they butt heads with their daughter. Whether, you know, the parents say it’s black, the child says it’s white. Or the reverse, they don’t want to interfere, and they want their son or daughter to own the process. And so it’s usually one of those two situations.
Jenny Or they just don’t know. We have a lot of entrepreneurs in the area that didn’t go to college, that don’t have four-year degrees. And it’s very humbling to have to say, I don’t know how to do any of this. I don’t know anything about any of this. But my daughter wants to go to college, and we need help with this. So they have the financial resources, but they just don’t know how to do it.
Jenny And between you and I and everybody listening, physicians that went to school and know how to navigate everything. It’s changed. They don’t know any more than that guy who didn’t go, just because the dynamics have changed so much over the years.
Brett Yeah, absolutely. That’s neat. And how much of your time now can, have you found, that you can work on your business itself versus in the business?
Jenny Great question. It has grown so much. I have had to work in the business until COVID. You know, COVID, just kind of set changed everything for all of us, getting to do all work online. We were already poised. We had kids in Australia, kids in Alabama, kids in London that we had worked with. So that was just an easy transition for us.
Jenny However, what I found, I had more free time. You know, I worked closely with the students, but then they didn’t need me hovering over them necessarily for an hour. They had free time too. So they were happy to work on their own. And then we were, so I saw them more frequently. But it was less demanding of my time, this last year, which freed up a significant part of my time to really work on my business.
Jenny So that’s what I’ve done this last year, as we all probably have. Just evaluate what’s important. My family, balancing that work, life, family. It was nice eating dinner during the daylight last year, which, since 2005, I have not been able to do during the school year at all. And so, and to be able to start dinner from home, which was also another nice thing.
[23:36] Why Jenny Whittle says becoming an entrepreneur was the best thing that ever happened to her, and her mission to empower other women to become more independent.
Brett Yeah, absolutely. So if it was 10 years from today, and we were talking, we were looking back at the last 10 years, what has to have happened for you to feel happy with College Planners of South Carolina’s progress? So, in some of that planning that you were thinking about?
Jenny Great question. I’m a female entrepreneur, and I have two children of my own. My brother passed away, so I raised his three, so I’ve raised five. So as a single mom, it was a game changer to become self-employed. Financially, socially, across the board. It was the best thing that ever happened to me, although it was scary.
Jenny So my goal is to empower other women to do what I do, to be a mentor to them. But for my business, I would love to see women, guidance counselors and teachers, former guidance counselors, former teachers, just moms interested in doing what we do across this nation and helping them break out of that corporate world that they feel so trapped in, and that they are trapped in, and realize a whole different life.
Jenny And it is amazing the difference. The freedom, the financial freedom, but the mental freedom is remarkable. So that. To empower more women, to train more. I’d love to see this across the United States. Not for financial purposes, but to empower other women. For them to be independent.
Brett Right. And is that, you mentioned there’s 6,000, perhaps, educational consultants, I’ll just use that terminology. Is that a loose community? Is there organization to that community? So, if you chose, you could make a greater impact to women in this field?
Jenny Yes. There are several national organizations that people belong to, and they’re more resources and support level. The people that do it, you make friends as you go and tour programs, and so, made friends along the way the last few years. But there’s a little bit of territorial-ness to some of them, and I respect that as well.
Jenny But there’s such a need, you know, for example, our biggest high school in the state, Wando High School, and there are 990 students in the senior class. Maybe a little more. And, you know, there’s such a need, and those guidance counselors are wonderful, but they just cannot humanly take all those kids. I think the ratio was like 400 students per one guidance counselor. And it’s just, I’d just love to see that change, that dynamic change.
Brett Yep, definitely the law of abundance, I think, rings true for any profession. Mine, specifically, is extremely territorial. I’m not going to tell you my clients or what we do. But I can tell you that the most impactful thing in the last 25 years is a group that I joined just two years ago. It’s called the Advisor Growth Community, where there’s 150 advisors throughout the country.
Brett And we have speakers come, and we get to know each other. We have micro groups, book clubs, for different areas of your business. And just that law of abundance, sharing stuff, sharing behind the scenes stuff, this is how we do it, this is what we show the client, has been the best thing for my practice that I’ve ever been a part of. So I hope that, you know, if it gives you any food for thought. But it definitely is the best way. It’s crazy how they’re territorial or private or geographic. It doesn’t, there’s so many students that need help.
Jenny Yes, there are. And I just went to Lake Ozark to tour a program. and I met, I don’t know, 20 other people that just, it was just great getting to do that same thing. Share our stories and our experiences and connect and network. And so, when we all hang on to each other, when we do that, usually people don’t like so much when it’s in the back door, the backyard, but otherwise, people in St. Louis, New York, they love it. We all get along.
[27:57] Jenny’s advice for anyone starting their own business today.
Brett Yeah. As you look back over these last 15 to 20 years, what’s one thing you wish you’d known, that you know today, when you started your business?
Jenny You can’t serve two masters. And I know that’s a religious scripture. However, I was schlepping my computer to Starbucks, and to families’ houses. And then just out of fear I sought and got a part-time job. So, I was trying to do both. And as soon as I gave up the notion of trying to work a part-time job and just focused all my energy and time on my business, my business just took off.
Jenny So I was keeping it stuck by, because I didn’t have the time, by not working it. And as soon as I just gave myself permission to figure it out. In fact, I sat down with my parents, and they said, they promised they wouldn’t let me lose my house. And so, I wasn’t ever near there, but it was just in the back of my mind. You know, I’m a mom, I have these kids. And so when I gave up the part-time job, and I probably should have done it five years sooner.
Brett Yeah. What have been some good resources for you as a business owner to make those decisions? Was that your dad? Because you’ve seen some of the things that he had done as an entrepreneur? Or books or perhaps people?
Jenny People. People, people, people. Entrepreneurs. So I joined a Christian Business Leaders Group, which was all entrepreneurs. And so, we would meet and talk about our gripes, our blessings or problems. And we would help each other, and you know, you can’t discuss your business with your staff. You can’t discuss your business with, other people just don’t get it necessarily.
Jenny So it’s been entrepreneurs across the board. Older people, younger people, all ages. Just other entrepreneurs. We think differently, as you know. We just absolutely approach problems differently. But it can be lonely, so it’s nice to have that network. So I have about five really good mentors that I do frequently meet, call on discuss my business strategies, changes, problems, and they coach me. And they do the same with me as well.
[30:20] How Jenny Whittle envisions her exit strategy and the future of College Planners of South Carolina.
Brett Very cool. That’s great. And as a business owner, and not many of us think about this, but leaving our business is inevitable at some point in time. So how do you envision that part of your life?
Jenny I’m so glad you asked. Because I’ve, COVID really kind of brought that home for me. I’m getting older, you know, and do I want to grow? And it’s funny, one of my son’s best friends told me about five years ago, Jenny, when you’re ready to start making a million a day, just let me know. Because I’ll get a roomful of people in India, and we’ll get this going.
Jenny And I’m like, no, I like what I’m doing. So my initial thought was that maybe my son and his wife. I have two sons. One of them, they and their spouse would maybe want to take it over. And they’ve been very clear, they’re absolutely not interested in pursuing this. And, you know, I respect their passion. So my goal, and I’m still teasing that out, but I would love to see other women doing what I do. I would.
Jenny I brought in a lady last year who’s fantastic. And she’s probably about 10 years younger than me. And then I’ve got another one that’s about 20 years younger than me. So, and with the goal of that it would continue on, and me kind of slowly bow out and let them kind of take over. Not exactly sure. I’m still, I need to schedule an appointment with you after this session to really tease the rest of that out. But that’s, I envision it going on and growing into, morphing into across the United States.
Brett Yeah. Do you think it’s something that might be worth a value? Like you could almost literally sell it?
Jenny Absolutely. Yeah. For sure. Yes. And I continue to grow. So I’m bringing in a financial operations officer, who actually is coming in, flying in next Monday for the week to look at my numbers. And you know, we’re more of an individual, one-on-one, highly individualized business model. But there’s a whole group of people out there that cannot afford what we do.
Jenny And that, and I like the relationship. I’m all about getting to know Johnny, Johnny’s parents, and really nurturing Johnny through the years. Where I’m not so focused on that business side from the standpoint of just churning numbers and bringing in revenue. She is going to bring that to fruition, so it will be something less personalized, but still kind of covering the bases through the application process. And so that’s what we’re looking at.
Brett And are there entities, like larger type of consulting or educational-based entities, that actually look geographically? I know we’ve got some clients who are speech pathologists or even in the dental industry, just as a bigger point. You know, they’re getting gobbled up by some of these larger practices, and to uniform and almost to make it look like McDonald’s, that they can have it uniform all the way across. Is there the same type of thing, do you see that in your industry? Where there’s people that are attempting?
Jenny Nobody has pulled it off quite yet. I don’t think anybody has. We are kind of headed in that direction. Not to be a McDonald’s, but just to have more of a login situation. Make it affordable for those who can’t, rather than trying to become McDonald’s. So, but I don’t know. It could be that it would, that we have College Planners USA with the thought that we could franchise or just continue to grow across the United States. There’s such a need and yeah, we’re meeting a need, and there’s just such a need.
Brett And does tutoring run parallel with what you do? Or I mean, do people get confused thinking that you might be a tutor?
Jenny Often that happens. Thank you for asking that. Often that happens. And we do not do SAT or ACT tutoring. And you know, when I very first started, I thought about it. I’ve taught Algebra. I could do it. However, you know, when parents pay you, they expect results. And I couldn’t guarantee that the student ever would go up on SAT or ACT.
Jenny I can’t guarantee I can get them in any college or guarantee that I can get any money. But I can typically make that, help them through that process. But that SAT, ACT. I’ve just seen too many parents over the years pay lots of money, and their score, the students’ scores not budge. And so we have a lot of tutors in the area. And that is a resource that we help connect parents and area tutors. But we don’t do that at all.
[35:25] The two biggest hurdles Jenny says she has had to overcome as a business owner.
Brett Okay, good. Good to know. And as a business owner, Jenny, what has been the biggest hurdle professionally you’ve had to overcome?
Jenny You know, there’s a lot of naysayers out there. It was really just moving away from the corporate mindset of people and getting, surrounding myself with entrepreneurs that understood, you know, the dynamics of the way we work. The way we think. And just people, you can’t do that. Why would anybody pay you to help their kid go to college? Help them with application when they can go to their high school and get it free?
Jenny And the reality is that isn’t how it works at all. And so that was the biggest hurdle, and then recognizing my value and my time. You know, just how do you put a dollar amount on that, you know? And I have such a helping heart. I do a lot of work free. You know, this financial operations officer that’s coming in, she’s probably really going to get on me. Because I probably could, not probably, I know I could be better at the business part of it and marking and documenting my time. But my heart is, it just pulls at my heartstrings to help a family. So I have a lot of families I see for free or that I continue to nurture that relationship, and I don’t invoice them.
Brett Do you do all the reconciliation for the revenue? Do you pay attention to all that? Or do you delegate that out?
Jenny I do. It’s so funny. I started out, I did it. And then I switched and hired somebody. I bought QuickBooks and hired somebody, and I was paying them an hourly rate to tell them what everything meant. And I was like, well, I can type. So I let her go and brought somebody else in. And then my accountant was like, you need to know every part of your business, you know, need to know the ins and outs.
Jenny And so I taught myself. I bought QuickBooks for Dummies. I watched YouTube videos during the summer when I have my downtime in July. And I taught myself QuickBooks. And so I’ve been doing QuickBooks for years, but it has become too much of a time vacuum on my part. So I have just outsource that.
Jenny And my payroll, I do ADP. But my QuickBooks I’ve just outsourced because of the time, but I understand it. And if that person would disappear, God forbid, I could pick it up and do any part of it. I’m glad my accountant encouraged me to understand it, for the little bit I do.
Brett Good for you. And how about the way people pay you? Has that, it obviously probably started with check, and then eventually you had to adapt to credit card. And now, are we at Venmo?
Jenny Yes, we are. We are. Venmo, Zelle, PayPal, Pop Money. And it’s so funny. I started out check. And then people asked for credit card. And I was like no. So I started with Square, but the fees are just kind of exorbitant. And so parents love Venmo. So Venmo is the go-to. I would say 75% of my families pay via Venmo now. Some do automatic checks, where it’s drafted out of their account. And they do like a pay-per-month kind of deal. But most of them are Venmo.
Brett Yeah, I bet that technology made it easier for you.
Jenny Yes, I love it. Just because it’s instant, you know. Rather than waiting for an invoice to arrive and waiting for a check to come back through the mail, Venmo just happens. And so I’ve changed the way I do things. I invoice electronically. And so I usually get it same week paid.
Brett And how do people find you? Are you 100% referral? I mean, do you do any marketing at all?
Jenny I pay somebody to do search engine optimization on my website. And so I do a little bit of that, but we are 100% referral. And you know, there’s a whole great big world out there. I should do more marketing, but we’re just so busy. But that’s where that financial officer’s coming in. And these other new employees, the one we brought last year, they’re coming in.
Jenny Because quite frankly, I was in a situation, I couldn’t handle many more calls. And so I’m in a beautiful spot in that, you know, I’ve got growing pains. I’m growing, and I need more help, and I need to train more because we’re booming. And I’m not ever going to be in a position that I have to turn somebody down because we don’t have enough support.
Brett And when you mentioned that those kids were in different states or different parts of even the world. Were they just happen to be traveling that way, or do you actually see kids, although it says College Planners of South Carolina, do you have clients not from South Carolina?
Jenny Oh, a lot of my clients are not from South Carolina. Yes. And so we have kids in Alabama. That was a lady who went to college with a friend of hers that lives in the Charleston area. I have a family in Atlanta. I had all three of their kids. And just so yeah, we have Alabama, Washington State, Australia. That was a student, we had his older brother. They lived here, they moved away. And so when they moved to Australia, I had him. London. Found us online, a lot of them online, as well.
Brett That must be fun for your schedule.
Jenny It is fun.
[40:53] The tipping point that prompted Jenny Whittle to hire a financial consultant to help her take her business to the next level.
Brett And what sort of pain, you mentioned, what prompted you to ask or hire that financial coach, consultant to come see you? Is it the rapid amount of growth?
Jenny Yes, yes.
Brett Have you ever done this type of thing before?
Jenny No, and so I’m excited. And she’s going to come in and look at my numbers and just make suggestions and see how we might grow. And she owns her own business, and they, you know, a lot of entrepreneurs become really successful, and then they fail because they don’t pivot. You know, they reach a point. And they need to continue growing, or they need to do something different. They can’t keep doing what they were doing.
Jenny And I’m confident that I’m there. And so she’s going to come in, and I don’t necessarily want to drive the bus into an international or national market, but I am willing to let her do that as an offshoot of what we’re doing.
Brett And have you been able to use your business as a vehicle to save for retirement? Are you able to do that at the same time?
Jenny Absolutely. You know, it’s ironic, you know. I talked about, a little while ago, about student loans. And, you know, I put myself through school. I had student loan debt when I actually started my business. And so it took me, so I graduated in ‘98. I went to school, back to school later, and in 2005, I still had student loan debt. Although I taught, I had, you know, just bills to pay. And so I was able to knock out my student loan debt pretty quickly. Couple years later, it was gone.
Jenny My son, my youngest son, when he went to college, we did a little bit just because we weren’t sure of what the economy was going to do. And I was self-employed and didn’t know when that next paycheck was coming. And so, and we paid his off before he finished school. So then it was retirement.
Jenny And he has been instrumental. He went to the University of South Carolina and majored in economics and finance. So he’s since graduated. And I would say, he was going on a trip, and I said, you need money? And he said, no, you need to put your money in your retirement. So he has been huge in coaching me since then.
Jenny He every month will tell me how much to put in. And he prods me about, it’s so funny. He’s taught me so much. And so yes, I have. And prior to that, I didn’t have much. You know that schoolteachers are notorious for having a nice little chunk saved from their retirement accounts. And we had some, but it stayed the same all the years. And it was because nobody was watching it. Nobody was minding what I had put into my retirement account until I got free. And then once I started, then I have people watching it.
Brett Yeah. And for the business itself. I mean, even if you got the cash flow, you had to maintain the cash flow to stay afloat and get new people. So, it’s hard to manage cash flow as a business owner.
Jenny Yes, it is. It is. Yep.
Brett Well, I appreciate your time, Jenny. Two last questions, I promise. First, where can listeners connect with you online?
Brett Cool. And we’ll be sure to have those in the show notes below. Last question. So we found this podcast is about entrepreneurs who eventually transition into retirement. But that means that they were successful, and if they were able to do it, especially if they can do it on their own timeline with the money they need. And what I found over the years, though, is that the definition of success means different things to different people. So, I’m curious, what would be your definition of success, Jenny?
Jenny I would like to be free. I have two sons, and my oldest one has two children. And so I want to be able to keep the kids. Not be their daycare provider, but I would like to be able to see them once a week. Manage my business, have that continue to grow, bring in other women and men to grow our business, but also to start maybe assuming more of a leadership role in our community to really help advocate.
Jenny This year taught me a lot, working with that gentleman on getting his bachelor’s degree, about the pitfalls, the problems with education. And, you know, I’m a certified guidance counselor and a certified teacher and a businesswoman entrepreneur. I’m also a certified entrepreneur teacher instructor. And so I think I am uniquely qualified to help, that business, education, kind of merge together to figure out what works, what doesn’t. What value for somebody going forward.
Jenny I’m very practical and pragmatic, and there’s a lot of things wrong in academia. And they, the professors, and often the people that make those decisions have never signed the front of a paycheck. And so I would like to somehow merge my skill set with the powers that be that are the decision makers to help them make those leaps. There needs to be massive changes in the system.
Brett That’s really great. Thank you for sharing. That’s a great answer. I’d be really excited to watch that progress. And so I definitely think you could do it and make a huge impact if you could do it, so I’d be fascinated to follow that. Well, thank you, Jenny Whittle, for spending time today on The Retiring Entrepreneur Podcast.
Jenny Alright, thank you. Thanks for inviting me.
Brett Have a great day.
Jenny Thanks, you, too.
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