103 episodes

Tired of hearing amazing stories that are inspirational but feel out of reach? Craving some real talk with people who are just like you? In Real People, Real Business, Business Strategist Stephanie Hayes interviews business owners that are building their businesses and making progress through grit, determination and action. They are working through the everyday challenges and celebrating incremental wins on their journey to their dream. Every one has a story, and each of these entrepreneurs are telling theirs in funny, vulnerable and heartwarming ways that will make you say "Yes! That's me!" and leave you with creative ideas for breaking through that next roadblock that might just have you stuck. Celebrating all businesses and all business owners, and creating a community of real people.

Real People, Real Business Stephanie Hayes

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 12 Ratings

Tired of hearing amazing stories that are inspirational but feel out of reach? Craving some real talk with people who are just like you? In Real People, Real Business, Business Strategist Stephanie Hayes interviews business owners that are building their businesses and making progress through grit, determination and action. They are working through the everyday challenges and celebrating incremental wins on their journey to their dream. Every one has a story, and each of these entrepreneurs are telling theirs in funny, vulnerable and heartwarming ways that will make you say "Yes! That's me!" and leave you with creative ideas for breaking through that next roadblock that might just have you stuck. Celebrating all businesses and all business owners, and creating a community of real people.

    Chris Troka - Elevating Business Through AI and Collaborative Innovation

    Chris Troka - Elevating Business Through AI and Collaborative Innovation

    Chris Troka is a serial entrepreneur and the founder of Focused-Biz, an innovative marketing company that leverages AI to help businesses create better customer experiences, increase conversion rates, and reduce time spent on administrative tasks using automation.
    In this episode, you’ll hear how Chris identified a gap between technology and marketing and developed an AI-based solution to fill it, the collaborative approach he uses to develop his business tool, and the opportunities and considerations for using AI in your business. 
    Chris tells us about the incredible success of his first business as a wedding DJ and falling in love with marketing, the drive behind launching a marketing agency, using AI and automation for business enhancement, and his quest to improve customer experience and administrative efficiency.
    Chris describes the gap he saw between marketing and technology, Focused-Biz’s Comprehensive 14-in-1 business tool, the collaborative approach he’s taken to developing and improving the tool, and how businesses can use the tool to enhance their processes. 
    Chris gets candid about the challenges of becoming a business owner, why he says you need to “choose your hard” as an entrepreneur, how the shift in work culture and worker motivation impacts business strategy and the two channels that have been most successful in generating leads. 
    Lastly, Chris shares why most businesses can benefit from using AI, the big opportunities he sees in AI, ethical considerations to be aware of in your marketing and communications, why he believes in collaboration over competition in business, and the work he’s doing to create industry-specific AI solutions.

    Skip to Topic:
    3:20 - Starting an AI-based marketing agency
    4:59 - Taking action and avoiding analysis paralysis
    6:01 - How Focused-Biz’s 14-in-one AI business tool works
    7:06 - Two ways businesses can leverage Focused-Biz’s AI tool
    8:40 - Using open-source development and improving upon what’s already out there
    10:58 - Creating a solution to fill the gap between technology and marketing
    13:08 - The challenges of becoming a business owner
    15:26 - Why you need to understand worker motivation as a business owner
    19:12 - Why most businesses can benefit from AI
    21:35 - The emergence of new skill sets and uses for AI technology
    23:49 - Ethical considerations in marketing and communication
    26:02 - Opportunities in AI and marketing to enhance your business
    28:55 - Two lead generation strategies that Focused-Biz uses to attract customers
    30:37 - Using a collaborative approach to development and business
    32:46 - The truth about competition in business
    34:50 - Creating industry-specific AI technology solutions
    37:11 - The value of niching by industry
    Find Chris at:
    Website: https://focused-biz.com
    Facebook: http://facebook.com/focusedbiz
    LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/focused-biz
    Visit Stephanie at: https://stephaniehayes.biz/
    Follow me on Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter


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    • 40 min
    Ali Nichols - Partnering to Expand Property Ownership

    Ali Nichols - Partnering to Expand Property Ownership

    Ali Nichols is the co-founder of Getaway, an innovative real estate financing platform that empowers real estate entrepreneurs with creative financing solutions to build portfolios without taking on restrictive capital. 
    In this episode, you’ll hear how Ali merged her passions into founding a business, the insights she gained along the way that led her to shift business models, why she prefers working with a business partner, and what her plans are for the future to scale Getaway.
    Ali tells us how she combined two of her passions into entrepreneurship, the inspiration she gained from working at Uber, and the early stages of launching her business and raising capital.
    Ali describes how she used research and testing to develop her value proposition, the importance of honing in on the core problem you solve, and how Getaway helps its customers build real estate portfolios. 
    Ali shares the two channels that have yielded the most growth, how Getaway uses customer research and feedback to improve its product, pivoting from offering fractional investments to assisting customers in outright property ownership, and how she realized Getaway needed to shift business models.
    Ali discusses the importance of building and nurturing partnerships for distribution, the difference between investment buyers and residential home buyers, and the challenges in the current real estate market.
    Finally, Ali talks about the symbiotic relationship she shares with her co-founder, the benefits of being in business with a partner, the importance of defining roles and responsibilities in a partnership, the unglamorous reality of entrepreneurship that isn’t talked about enough, and Getaway’s future plans for expansion.
    Don't miss Ali Nichols' reflections on her journey with Getaway and the hard-won wisdom she shares.
    Skip to Topic:
    3:31 - Going from business idea to startup
    4:41 - Validating your business idea through research and testing
    6:43 - Identifying the core problem you solve for customers
    9:01 - How Getaway helps customers build real estate portfolios
    10:37 - Shifting business models based on customer feedback
    12:04 - The two channels that have contributed to Getaway’s growth
    14:05 - Knowing when it’s time to shift your business model
    16:29 - Identifying your ideal customer
    17:16 - How to use partnerships to grow your business
    22:20 - Understanding the risks of real estate investing
    24:40 - Forging a successful co-founder working relationship
    28:21 - The unglamorous truth about being an entrepreneur
     31:58 - Scaling the business to include foreign investors
    Find Ali at:
    Website: https://www.getaway.co
    LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alicnichols/

    Visit Stephanie at: https://stephaniehayes.biz/
    Follow me on Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter


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    • 35 min
    Wil Reynolds - Playing to Win in Business

    Wil Reynolds - Playing to Win in Business

    Wil Reynolds is passionate about helping people and businesses grow. He’s the founder and CEO of Seer Interactive, one of the most reputable digital marketing agencies in the US, where he helps Fortune 500 companies develop SEO and digital marketing strategies.
    In this episode, you’ll hear how Wil launched his business after discovering his philanthropic side, how he’s grown Seer into a multimillion-dollar business, and the insights he has gained along the way.
    Wil discusses the client-centered approach that has helped him stand out and grow his business, why he looks at business like a sport, the point when he recognized he was becoming more of a liability than an asset as a CEO, and why he’s passionate about fostering growth and development for his team.
    Wil shares the important characteristics he looks for in clients, how he differentiates his company in the market, his approach to managing the financial uncertainty of being an entrepreneur, and why you should calculate the cost of business growth.
    Drawing from his own experiences, Wil offers his insights about growing at your own pace, comparing your journey to that of others, balancing your business and personal life, and making conscious decisions to prioritize your personal well-being.
    Skip to Topic:
    11:38 - Using a client-centered focus to grow your business (without relying on salespeople) 
    14:16 - Recognizing when you’re becoming a liability to your business & what to do about it
    16:43 - Creating a business that fosters growth and development for your team
    18:44 - Hiring talent that is strong in areas you are not
    21:55 - How to mitigate the uncertainty of entrepreneurship
    26:18 - Using a data-driven, honest approach to stand out in the market
    28:33 - Working with clients who are outcome and customer-focused
    31:09 - Finding your market fit to differentiate yourself
    33:26 - The fallacy of comparing your business to your competitors
    37:17 - Why you should calculate the cost of business growth
    Find Wil at:
    Website: https://www.seerinteractive.com/
    Wil’s Blog: https://wilreynolds.medium.com/
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/wilreynolds
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/seerinteractive/?hl=en
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SeerInteractive
    LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/wilreynolds/
    Visit Stephanie at: https://stephaniehayes.biz/
    Follow me on Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter


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    • 42 min
    Jame Healy - Thriving Together in Business Partnership

    Jame Healy - Thriving Together in Business Partnership

    It’s our 100th episode at the Real People, Real Business Show, and we’re celebrating this milestone with a very special guest. Join my conversation with my longtime business partner, colleague, and dear friend, Jame Healy. Jame is a leading economist and entrepreneur who has spent the last 28 years helping executive leaders from Fortune 1000 firms credibly articulate, align, assure, and accelerate the realization of value from modern capabilities and emerging technology such as cloud services, artificial intelligence, robotics process automation, quantum computing, and others.
    In this 100th episode, you will hear how Jame went from economics to entrepreneurship, his unconventional approach to running a consulting business, creating a value-centered culture in his businesses, and how prioritizing relationships has helped him grow his business…with a little bit of humor sprinkled in.
    Jame shares his transition into technology consulting doing integration work, his experience leading a company through the dot-com crash, and the work that brought us together and forged a lifelong business partnership and friendship.
    Jame describes launching his own consulting firm, breaking away from the traditional consulting model, the importance of optimizing net value for the customer, and why every team member represents value to the customer.
    Jame delves into cultivating a strong organizational culture, the crucial lesson he learned about the importance of cultural fit when integrating team members, his philosophy for attracting and retaining highly skilled talent, and the importance of generously acknowledging your team’s contributions.
    Jame talks about the critical role of partnerships for business growth, finding fulfillment without rapid scaling, building a business based on work that’s interesting and meaningful to you, how you can leverage your expertise as an alternative to traditional scaling, and expanding your reach by building relationships.
    Finally, Jame leaves us with his insight on what’s real in business, the illusion of quick fixes and solutions for business success, and why it’s key to build strong relationships and connections in business.
    Skip to Topic:
    4:25 - Living through the dot.com crash
    6:44 - Acquiring an eCommerce company
    11:09 - Partnering with Microsoft to become the world’s largest BizTalk practice
    15:24 - The importance of cultural fit in an acquisition
    25:43 - Launching a consulting business using a net value model
    29:56 - Using value contribution and acknowledgment to build an expert team
    33:21 - The hard lesson learned when you hire people not aligned with your culture
    39:17 - Focusing on net value to the customer
    44:13 - How to decide if you should scale your business
    49:32 - Why building personal connections and relationships are critical for business success
    Find Jame at:
    Website: https://www.alescent.com
    LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamehealy/
    Visit Stephanie at: https://stephaniehayes.biz/
    Follow me on Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter
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    • 55 min
    Cleoniki Kesidis - Forging Connection as a Creative

    Cleoniki Kesidis - Forging Connection as a Creative

    Cleoniki Kesidis is a copywriter and brand storyteller who uses her love of figuring things out and communicating them simply and clearly to help businesses connect with their audiences in a meaningful way.
    In this episode, you’ll hear how Cleoniki launched her copywriting business by combining her passions, how she uses relationships to grow her business, the importance of knowing your audience as a business owner…and much more.
    Cleoniki recounts her journey into her copywriting business by combining 2 of her passions, the key action she took to go full-time as a freelance writer, how she got her first clients, and how she builds relationships to grow a stronger business.
    Cleoniki shares her system for making connections, how she attracts clients she wants to work with, why she doesn’t have a specialized niche, preventing burnout as a creative and business owner, and avoiding the pitfalls of perfectionism as a writer.
    Cleoniki discusses the foundational elements you should have in place before working with a copywriter, the importance of knowing your audience as a business owner, how to develop your business brand voice, and why you shouldn’t be afraid to push away certain audiences.
    Cleoniki concludes our chat by explaining how to use your business brand voice vs. your personal voice, how she uses AI in her work, and why starting a business is possible for anyone.
    Skip to Topic:
    6:20 - Using a system to track your networking contacts
    14:53 - Avoiding burnout when you’re a creative running a business
    17:28 - How to combat perfectionism as a writer
    21:07 - Foundational elements a business needs before hiring a copywriter
    24:27 - Why it’s critical to know your audience as a business owner
    26:28 - Attracting clients you want to work with
    29:38 - Should your business brand voice be the same as your personal voice?
    32:29 - Using a strategic approach to develop your business voice
    35:02 - Using AI in copywriting
    40:03 - Why starting a business is possible for anyone
    Find Cleoniki  at:
    Website: https://cekcopywriting.com/
    LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cleonikikesidis/
    Visit Stephanie at: https://stephaniehayes.biz/
    Follow me on Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter


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    • 43 min
    Crystalynn Shelton - Finding Joy Beyond the Numbers

    Crystalynn Shelton - Finding Joy Beyond the Numbers

    After discovering her love of numbers in a high school bookkeeping course, licensed CPA and QuickBooks Top 100 ProAdvisor Crystalynn Shelton launched her corporate career in accounting. With years of experience under her belt, she left the corporate world to start her own consulting business, where she helps businesses large and small take control of their finances.
    In this episode, you’ll hear how Crystalynn discovered her unexpected affinity for accounting, how she transitioned from the corporate world into her own consulting business, and how she uncovered her true superpower that has helped her scale her business.
    Crytalynn describes her unexpected path into accounting, becoming a CPA leading the accounting departments for large corporations, and how becoming certified in Quickbooks opened her up to a newfound passion for teaching. 
    Crystalynn tells us how she leveraged her brand new Quickbooks certification to land a teaching job at UCLA, how she realized teaching is her superpower, and how her work with students helped her get her first business clients.
    Crystalynn details how she came to write an Amazon best-selling book, how she has diversified her services in order to help more people, how she uses speaking engagements to build visibility, and the hard lesson she learned from avoiding marketing her business.
    Finally, Crystalynn shares her advice for outsourcing the parts of your business you need help with, tips for setting your hires up for success, the value of growing your business according to what brings you joy, and the reality of work-life balance as a business owner.
    Skip to Topic:
    4:55 - Making the leap from a corporate job to business owner
    7:16 - Getting clients by partnering with organizations serving the same audience
    8:44 - Building business credibility through teaching
    9:54 - Writing an Amazon bestseller
    12:20 - Scaling by focusing on doing one thing
    16:22 - Why networking and marketing your business is critical
    18:17 - Outsourcing business tasks when you need help
    19:15 - Tips for hiring and working with virtual support
    23:00 - Finding and hiring people who are the right fit for your business
    27:52 - Determining whether an agency model is right for you
    32:32 - The truth about work-life balance as a business owner
    Find Crystalynn at:
    Website: https://www.crystalynnshelton.com
    IG: https://www.instagram.com/crystalynnshelton/
    FB: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100074172338160
    LI: https://www.linkedin.com/in/crystalynnshelton/
    Download the free gifts Crystalynn mentioned in this episode - Your First Seven Days in Quickbooks Checklist: https://www.crystalynnshelton.com/first-7-days-in-qbo-opt-in
     Visit Stephanie at: https://stephaniehayes.biz/
    Follow me on Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter


    Support the show

    • 38 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
12 Ratings

12 Ratings

Lindsay GM ,

Excellent show

I enjoyed being a guest on this show! Stephanie’s questions are thought-provoking and the content is relevant and engaging for listeners. I like the down-to-earth approach to business that Stephanie highlights. Definitely worth subscribing!

Walk 2 Wealth ,

Amazing show!

I am so glad I came across this show! I’ve taken so many actionable and practical nuggets of advice to implement. Love tuning in!

Jaime DA ,

Filling a gaping hole in the market

There’s so much out there for new & mid-level business owners and for those who are easily swayed by the next hottest trend. But what about the seasoned entrepreneurs?
Stephanie is creating a space for those of us who got our start before online business was even fathomable. There is so much to be shared & learned from the experience-rich conversations that Stephanie so eloquently leads. This has quickly become a staple in my listening library.

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