Why "making it up as you go" doesn’t work

Kajabi Hero and serial entrepreneur, Brittany Darrington, shares her business battle scars and hard-fought lessons.

After founding four businesses over the last 12 years, Brittany Darrington has had her share of failures. 

Her first business, a sorority clothing line, struggled for five months without a single sale (which she jokingly refers to as her “red beans and rice diet” phase). But after going back to the drawing board and developing an influencer-based marketing plan, her next business had an explosive start. Oil Digger Tees, a fashion line with a southern sense of humor, generated $25,000 the first week she launched. 

Now Brittany is a business and marketing strategist helping women build hyper profitable, automated businesses online using Kajabi. Her entrepreneurial community, the Corporate Misfit Club, has guided over 3,000 women through building an online business. 

An expert panelist at our upcoming event, Self-Made (Kajabi’s first-ever virtual summit), on June 16, 2020, Brittany shares how she got started and her biggest lessons in entrepreneurship.

You’ve described yourself as a “corporate misfit” who escaped the 9-5 at a Fortune 500. What did you do in that position?

I was a marketing director at an energy company, coming up with marketing strategies for our campaigns and our products. In my corporate world, they used to call me “The Governor” because out of 1,000-plus employees, I knew everyone's name in all the different departments. I told myself, “If I want to succeed in what I'm doing, I have to get insights, so that the strategy can work from start to finish.”

What made you want to escape your corporate job?

Though the people were fun, I felt like I was doing the same thing, day in and day out. I started to feel as if my life was predictable. I knew exactly what I was going to do every single day.

It was pretty boring, I mean very corporate. I felt like I could only expand and grow in this one particular role.

Ultimately, I started to realize I was a misfit in the corporate world. I knew that I was trying to fit myself into a box that I was never meant to be boxed in. I'm grateful I had the corporate world experience, but I knew that I had so much more to offer the world.

You’ve had a couple of different businesses before you became a business and marketing strategist. Could you tell me about your first business and the biggest mistake you made there?

My first business was an e-commerce business, an online boutique selling women’s clothing. When I started, I went and bought all this inventory. I spent a ton of money on website designers and graphic designers. I found myself trying to make it look like a million-dollar business at zero dollars.

I did not make a strategy for myself: Who's coming? Where are my leads hanging out? How am I going to turn someone from just a viewer to actually buying from me?

I thought I knew everything about business and marketing. And that's when I realized I didn't. I was like, “I need to go back to the drawing board. I need to go back and start over.”

You often tell entrepreneurs, “You don't have to make it up as you go.” I think a lot of entrepreneurs feel like that’s exactly what they’re doing. When did you realize that planning was critical to succeeding in business?  

My next business, an e-commerce company called Oil Digger Tees, started off as our own print shop with our own designers. We had always carried inventory for just the right amount.

We had a shirt that said “Brunettes Come to Slay,” and another one that said, “Blondes Come to Slay.” We found that a lot of people who were blonde or brunette would wear these shirts and post them online.

One day, all of a sudden, this lady goes on TV wearing one of our shirts. It was on the Bravo TV show “Vanderpump Rules.” We had no idea at the time. In one night, we got about 1,500 orders for one shirt. And I was like, “Oh my gosh, what is going on? What just happened?”

.                                                              Photo credit: Oil Digger Tees Facebook page

We didn't have inventory for it, and we were freaking out. We were in production mode for days. Well, shortly after, the show re-aired, and it kept re-airing.

And it didn't stop there. We just started seeing more people like Ben Haggard wear our shirt that said, “Haggard Swagger.” We were like, “Oh no, this is happening.”

How did you solve that problem of unexpectedly high volume presales? 

We started finding and outsourcing designers, and we also started outsourcing new production companies. We realized we outgrew what we were doing and had to take that to another level.

Now I've taken what I've learned in e-commerce into the e-learning side. I have clients who do coaching and consulting, and they have a cap at how many people can buy. It’s important to have a waitlist and plan on what's next if you were to sell out of spots.

Your second e-commerce and wholesale business was doing well, selling in 700+ stores around the world. Why did you sell that business three years after starting it? 

I became a prisoner in my business. I shed so many ugly tears in that business as well. There were a lot of great times, but at the end of the day, I didn't go into business to be stressed out, to feel overwhelmed every single day.

I was working nights, weekends, pretty much every day. I had to cancel vacations with my family because we had so many orders to get out. I was like, “I can't go. Sorry. Love you.” And that's why I preach so heavily to people to build a life of freedom.

Any new discoveries you’ve made in your coaching business?

No matter what you do, we can turn it into a legitimate business online. I have a client who teaches about dog walking. I have a client who teaches how to get recruited playing softball. I have another client who teaches how to eat sugar-free.

It’s amazing because even though they’re coming from different industries, the process doesn't change. It just means we might have to take a different approach on some of the ways we go about approaching the client.

Have a question for Brittany about business or marketing strategy? Ask her yourself.

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