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Dec 27, 2022

Entrepreneurship doesn’t always look like what we see in movies or on social media. You don’t need a big fancy office, expensive equipment, and a big team of people to be successful. You need the willingness to learn and change directions if needed. That might mean failing a few times and feeling like you have no idea what you are doing. Successful entrepreneurs know that finding success lies in figuring things out as you go, asking for help when needed, and knowing when it is time to pivot. Today’s guest is a former teacher who took $100 and turned it into a multi-million dollar company without any business experience, no business degree, and learned everything along the way. 

Lisa Collum is the founder of a curriculum company, Top Score Writing, Inc. While teaching at a Title I school, Lisa developed an innovative step-by-step program proven to dramatically increase writing scores on standardized assessments. The results of her curriculum attracted a lot of attention, and she was even investigated by the board of education twice because they didn't believe the results she got were possible. School officials were calling her wanting to know her secrets, and from there, her company was born and is now used nationwide. As a busy entrepreneur and mother of four, Lisa is also the owner of a nonprofit, Coastal Middle and High School, which is a part of her mission to help all children succeed.

Lisa’s message in this episode is to go for it without waiting to have the “perfect" plan otherwise, you'll never start. Figure it out as you go, fail a few times, and keep moving. If you can identify a problem that others don’t know they have, and be the person committed to finding the solution, you will be successful. So many people see an opportunity for success but talk themselves out of it thinking it will be too hard or that they don’t have the resources. The key is to know that you may not know all the answers now, but you can figure out where to find them. Another huge part of the equation is finding what you are passionate about, and committing to helping people in that area. If you are not in your business for the right reasons, you will burn out and be unfulfilled. Tune in to hear more of Lisa’s inspiring story of going from teacher to CEO. 

Key highlights:

  • Lisa’s story of growing up and knowing she wanted to be a teacher ever since she could remember 
  • How Lisa took her first class of students from a pass rate of 38% to 95% on the state writing test, and then to 100% in the years after 
  • Leaving her teaching job and being contacted by schools to sell her writing curriculum 
  • How one $75 binder sold turned into multiple binders and is now a nationwide company
  • Tony shares how he stumbled his way into entrepreneurship as well 
  • You don’t need to start with a big team - go slow and build as you grow
  • The struggle between humility and owning your success
  • Why we should stop the idea that we need to be discrete about money
  • Building a business sometimes means identifying a problem that people don't even know they have 
  • Lisa’s story of answering the phone pretending to be different people in the beginning stages of her company
  • Lisa’s advice to people just building a business 
  • The most successful people don't think about “How am I going to do that?” They ask, “Who do I know that can do this?” 
  • When is it time to hire help in your company and how do you let go of control?
  • The importance of having a passion for whatever you are doing in your business

For resources and links mentioned in this episode, visit: