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Passive Income: From $40k in Debt to $15m in 6 Years

Passive Income: From $40k in Debt to $15m in 6 Years

The trajectory of my journey in business is one that could be described as “unconventional” and whilst I don’t know if there is a standard route to becoming a successful entrepreneur, I very much doubt it looks much like the one I took.

I grew up an unconfident, slightly awkward child. I was bullied relentlessly through my childhood, my teens, and as a young adult. After finishing school with a handful of mediocre GCSEs and leaving the Mormon religion I’d grown up in, I was married and living on a chicken farm at 18. 

My self-esteem had been shattered by this point and so I looked for the quickest route to love and normality that I could locate, and marriage to the first person that showed an interest was my choice. Divorce number one happened when I was 21.

For the next 15 years, I tried a whole raft of different jobs, some more successfully than others. I was a PA, did some acting and TV presenting, worked in sales, and got a law degree, but never really felt that I had found my vocation. 

Then in 2011, I found out I was (unexpectedly) pregnant. With twins. Which, with the benefit of hindsight, I can now look back on it as my Ground Zero moment. 

At this point, I had scrappily worked my way up to a career as a risk analyst in The City, working crazy hours. I went back to work when the twins were five months old, and it became clear that it just wasn’t going to work.

Wedding Side Hustle

After a brief period of maternity leave, I found a job close to my house working as a PA for a female CEO, which was fine but not exactly challenging. So, I made up my mind quite quickly to start a business as a side hustle. I liked parties and celebrations and nights out, so it seemed the obvious choice was to become a Wedding and Events Planner.

My wedding business snowballed and soon we were fully booked for the next year. 

This success did not go unnoticed and other small business owners started to come to me and ask how I had achieved all this so quickly.

I told them what I’d done and how I’d done it. I’d studied with a business coach, so I now understood ideal clients and branding and messaging. By this point, I was a business-learning junkie. I’d read all the books and gone to every free webinar, and I passed on everything I’d learned to my friends.

They too started to see increases in bookings. I made a bit of a name for myself as the ‘go-to’ business success story who explained things in an easy-to-understand way. 

Around this time, I had two lightbulb moments about Passive Income. 

  1. I started my wedding business to increase my income and to provide more freedom in my life whilst doing something I enjoyed. However, these weddings took place every weekend through the Summer, so it wasn’t a well-thought-out business model for me after all.
  2. I was providing strategic advice to my fellow business owners, which they were all using to improve their businesses. I was actually helping them to make more money. Surely if they used this advice to become more successful, then there would be others that would also benefit from my help and, well, maybe, pay me for it.

There had to be a way to utilise the skills I’d learnt and was now passing on to others and, at the same time, stop working every weekend and evening.

I launched my consulting business where I expanded the depth and detail of the advice and strategy that I was offering to fledgling online businesses and was successful straight away. 

I earned £220k in revenue in that first year because of all the business knowledge I’d learned. This success was exhilarating and financially rewarding, but hugely exhausting. 

Ultimately, I had left that 9-5 job for a 6-11 business!

Also, I could never earn any more money because I was fully booked every day with clients and was working to full capacity. This was not going to plan. I loved what I was doing, what I was teaching, seeing my clients learning, thriving, and making a success of their businesses. 

How then, could I increase my reach and supercharge my earnings while simultaneously decreasing my hours and having more of a social life?

One day I was listening to people involved in a heated debate on a podcast about something called ‘Passive Income’. I regarded it warily, but I kept investigating and discovered that within this, slightly misleading, heading of ‘Passive Income’ there was way more than that. Passive Income means different things to different people, and it is not a new method of running a business. 

Its common thread is simply to stop reaching a point where you can take on no more customers because you run out of hours in the day.

Passive Income: From $40k in Debt to $15m in 6 YearsIn 2018, I started introducing some passive income streams. By the end of year two, everything had changed. I had gone from working 80 hours a week to only 7.5 hours a week and was bringing in over £1m in revenue. 

I remembered a great quote I’d read somewhere, which was along the lines of “work smarter, not harder” and that became my ethos.  

Everyone has knowledge in their heads that is not common knowledge. Everyone can turn that knowledge into a sustainable and profitable business. 

I did, and believe me, I am nothing special! I just created, followed and now teach a sequence of simple steps that can be applied to any ‘one-to-many’ business model.

I’m now in year five of that business and so far, I have made over £13 million, and I still don’t work a full week. I travel for most of the year with my husband who works for me and my twins. I have grown my little business that started on my coffee table five years ago to a team of 10 lovely people. 

About the Author

Women Thrive Magazine Article Author - Lisa Johnson

Name: Lisa Johnson

Professional Title: Sunday Times Best Selling Author & CEO

Bio: Lisa Johnson is a multi seven-figure business strategist specialising in helping entrepreneurs scale their businesses using passive income from memberships and courses. After a tough childhood spent in social housing, Lisa’s background in overcoming obstacles has helped mould her into a bold, straight-talking leader, who is never afraid to be an authentic and outspoken truth-teller. She is a Sunday Times best-selling author and has been featured in national newspapers and magazines including Psychologies, The Guardian, and Forbes. Lisa lives in the UK with her husband and 11-year-old twin sons but consults around the globe.


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Media platform spotlighting and celebrating entrepreneurial women and their achievements. Creating a platform where every woman can be seen and heard. We are disrupting the media industry by democratising media channels for women. If you have a business or an idea and you would like to rise and thrive, you are in the right place.

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