26-year-old entrepreneur Marianne Lehikoinen is redefining the face of entrepreneurship with her authentic approach and remarkable success.
As the founder of Smart Mentoring, a consulting business, Lehikoinen has generated more than $1 million in revenue in three years by helping more than 200 Finnish creatives generate at least $10,000 in revenue per month. Now her business is going global.
Marianne’s approach to business really changed when she became a mother at the age of 24. A shift towards setting boundaries and prioritising her time effectively has led to a more successful and fulfilling experience as an entrepreneur.
Where did the idea for Smart Mentoring come from?
I started my business, Smart Mentoring, to create a community of ambitious women and help them find fulfillment in their careers, leading to a desire to help entrepreneurs and businesses create wealth through entrepreneurship. This was inspired by my early ventures in entrepreneurship providing social media management services. Then my first job position in HR out of university did not provide the meaning I was seeking. This is when I decided to go all in with the next business I’m building, which is Smart Mentoring.
Thanks to the support of our community, Smart Mentoring has become a massive success, fulfilling my initial wish to see more women become wealthy and thriving in their careers. We continue to grow and evolve, providing top-notch resources and mentorship to entrepreneurs and businesses to help them reach their full potential.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day starts with a 90-120 minute morning ritual that involves meditation, mindset exercises, and a workout. This routine helps me to center myself and spark creativity. Then it is all about execution mode. I grind for 6 hours, fully focused, and highly productive.
At the end of the six-hour workday, I have a ritual that I cherish – I pick up my daughter with my husband from kindergarten. This daily routine reminds me of the importance of family and helps me to disconnect from work.
To make sure I’m in control, I schedule everything in advance, and if it’s not in the calendar, it doesn’t exist. I try to avoid working evenings because I trust my team, who handles the day-to-day tasks. My focus is on content creation for social media, a weekly long-form video, and a live call. Mondays are for clients, Fridays are for our operations manager and business coach, and Wednesdays are for the sales team.
As a CEO, I know the value of delegating tasks. I have a skilled operations manager and other managers who manage the coaches. They take care of the nitty-gritty while I focus on the big picture. I’m no longer a control freak, and I’m amazed to see the company growing even when I’m not present.
Overall, I prioritize myself and family time while trusting my team to handle the day-to-day tasks. By maintaining a structured morning routine and delegating tasks, I stay productive and efficient throughout the day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I believe in taking that first step. Often, the biggest hurdle to bringing an idea to life is simply getting started. I like to challenge myself to take action, even if it’s just a small step, towards the goal. This momentum creates a positive feedback loop that keeps me motivated and makes it easier to continue taking action.
Collaboration is also a key part of my approach to bringing ideas to life. I believe in the power of the right team and the right mentor to provide guidance and support. Bringing in people with the necessary skills and expertise is essential to executing the idea successfully.
By putting in the work and collaborating with others, I believe any idea can be transformed into a reality.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The trend that excites me and most people in business the most right now is the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI). It’s already benefiting many of the entrepreneurs we work with by making tasks that were once difficult and time-consuming much easier and more streamlined. AI gives us the opportunity to focus on higher-level tasks that require critical thinking, collaboration and innovation.
One of the most exciting aspects of AI is the idea that we may not have to work as hard as we used to. With automation tools, we can work smarter, not harder. This could be a significant shift that empowers entrepreneurship and, overall, allows us to focus on the most important tasks and create more time for personal and professional development.
However, there are potential risks associated with AI, such as corporations asking employees to take on more responsibilities instead of freeing up resources. It’s important to be aware of these risks and find ways to use AI in a way that benefits us all and allows us to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Overall, I believe that AI represents a tremendous opportunity for us to transform the way we work and create a more sustainable, efficient, and fulfilling work environment.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My single-tasking habit is a superpower for laser-focused productivity.
In a world that glorifies multitasking, I’ve adopted the habit of single-tasking. It may sound like a counterintuitive approach, but by tackling one task at a time, I’m able to avoid feeling overwhelmed and minimize the risk of errors that come with juggling multiple responsibilities simultaneously.
Fully immersing myself in each task is key to producing top-notch work efficiently. To avoid distractions, I’ve mastered the art of muting my phone and other notifications to keep my focus laser-sharp and workflow uninterrupted.
What advice would you give your younger self?
If I could give advice to my younger self, I would encourage myself to focus on learning the skills of pricing and understanding the value that clients look for when they purchase premium services. I would advise myself to be bold enough to narrow down my niche and only work with a few clients to avoid burnout and ensure sustainability.
In my experience, creating premium offers that provide more value than the cost has been key to building a successful business. By offering value that exceeds expectations, I have been able to grow my business to a seven-figure level. So, my advice to my younger self would be to focus on quality over quantity and always strive to provide value that exceeds expectations.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
At our coaching firm, we empower entrepreneurs in knowledge-based industries to understand a truth that’s often overlooked: the price of a service isn’t the key to making sales.
It’s possible to successfully sell premium services by effectively communicating their value to the right audience. As long as you’re confident and clear about the transformation you offer, the price becomes a non-issue. In fact, we strongly believe that if you have the confidence and can effectively convey the value of your product or service, you can even sell something that costs $1 million to the right buyer.
However, we often see entrepreneurs overthinking small price increases and getting stuck in the pricing game. The truth is, it’s not about the price, but rather how you present yourself and your offer to potential clients. As long as you are confident and effective in your sales activities, the right clients will be willing to pay for the value you provide.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Consistent sales activity is the one thing I do as an entrepreneur and teach our entrepreneur clients. This includes creating social media content with clear call-to-actions and making sure my team is making sales calls to prospects every week. It’s simple but critical: the more you give, the more you get. Selling is and always will be a fundamental aspect of entrepreneurship. Without sales, there are no new customers and, ultimately, no business.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One strategy that has helped me grow my business is shifting to a premium service offering. Profitability in knowledge-based industries such as mentoring, coaching, and course creation comes from creating premium service offerings. When I made the decision to focus on premium services, I was able to quickly scale my business to seven figures.
To make this shift, it was important to first undergo a mindset shift where I began valuing myself and my offering enough to charge for premium services. This can be a difficult step for many entrepreneurs who may undervalue their skills and expertise. However, recognizing the value of what you offer is critical to success in a premium market.
The second step in implementing a premium strategy was to start hiring employees. This allowed me to delegate tasks and focus on the parts of the business where I excel. By making the business work for me, I was able to grow the business faster and more efficiently.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One failure I experienced as an entrepreneur was when my business was at a loss in its early stages. At that time, I was working full time in the business while my husband was taking care of our baby. We had to sell our car and put our mortgage on hold because we didn’t have the necessary funds. During this period, I also faced judgmental comments from some acquaintances, which added to the stress of the situation.
To overcome this setback, I knew that I needed to be resilient and trust my instincts. Despite the difficult circumstances, I continued to post on social media, maintaining an authentic presence. I realized that being true to myself and my vision was more important than trying to please others or pretending to be something I wasn’t. I also made a conscious effort to surround myself with like-minded individuals who were also pursuing their passions.
Although it was a tough time, I learned a lot from this experience. It taught me the importance of persistence and resilience, and that being true to yourself and your values is crucial in the face of challenges. Ultimately, this perceived failure helped me to turn my business around and allowed me to move forward with a renewed sense of purpose and determination.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
One business idea that I am willing to give away to your readers is a social media management service that is data-driven. There is a growing need for social media managers who can analyze and interpret data to make informed decisions about social media strategies. This involves following actual data trends rather than just relying on instincts and personal feelings.
The service could involve providing businesses with social media managers who are trained in data analysis and can provide insights and recommendations based on the data. This could include tracking metrics such as engagement rates, click-through rates, and follower growth to develop social media strategies that are tailored to the needs of each business.
To start this business, one could learn the necessary skills for social media management by taking online courses, watching tutorials on platforms like YouTube, or even completing certifications in social media management. With the growing demand for data-driven social media managers, this could be a valuable and potentially lucrative business idea for someone who is interested in social media and has a passion for data analysis.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 that I recently spent was on a subscription to Jasper AI. This tool allows me to quickly and easily generate high-quality articles and email campaigns that are indistinguishable from content written by a human.
Not only has this saved me a significant amount of time, but it has also helped me to produce more consistent and engaging content for my audience. As a professional, this has been incredibly valuable for my business as it has allowed me to focus on other areas of my work while still maintaining a strong content strategy.
In addition, I have found that using Jasper AI has helped me to improve my writing skills by exposing me to new vocabulary and phrasing options that I may not have otherwise considered. Overall, I believe that investing in this tool has been a smart decision and has helped me to improve the quality and efficiency of my work.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Again, I would like to praise and recommend Jasper AI and especially their templates, which I make work hard for me. These templates are a game-changer when it comes to creating effective YouTube headlines, YouTube descriptions, Facebook ads or outreach emails and so on.
Jasper AI’s templates use smart questioning to guide you through the content creation process, saving you time and ensuring that your messaging hits the mark. With these templates, my team and I can streamline our marketing efforts and produce high-quality materials that resonate with our audience.
What I love about Jasper AI’s templates is that they are completely customizable, allowing us to tailor our content to our specific needs and target audience. Using this tool has helped me to increase my productivity and create more impactful marketing materials.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“100M Offers: How to Make Offers So Good People Feel Stupid Saying No” by Alex Hormozi is the ultimate sales masterclass for those who want to take their business to the next level. Packed with invaluable insights and practical tips, this short yet powerful book is a game-changer for anyone who wants to create irresistible offers that people simply can’t refuse. Drawing on his experience in the fitness industry, where he generated over $100 million in sales in just a few years, Hormozi shares his secrets on how to identify your customers’ pain points and create offers that solve their problems.
At Smart Mentoring, we believe that this book perfectly complements our approach. Our expert coaches teach founders how to be bold and understand their true value, how to carve out a niche and focus on acquiring a smaller number of clients who are willing to pay what they are worth. This sustainable approach helps our clients avoid burnout, a common pitfall for those who take on too many clients due to underpricing. For these reasons, I highly recommend “100M Offers” to our community as a must-read for any entrepreneur looking to supercharge their sales skills and drive their business forward.
What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote comes from Brené Brown, an American professor, who said: “If you are not in the arena getting your ass kicked on occasion, I am not interested in or open to your feedback.”
This quote resonates with me on a personal and professional level because I believe that true growth and learning only occur when we take risks and put ourselves out there. It’s easy for people to sit on the sidelines and criticize or offer advice, but they often lack the courage to take action themselves.
In my experience, the most valuable feedback comes from those who have been in the arena and have the scars to prove it. People who are willing to take risks and make mistakes are the ones who truly understand what it takes to succeed. They can offer constructive feedback that is based on real experience and can help others grow and improve.
Overall, this quote reminds me to stay true to myself and to surround myself with people who are willing to take risks and support me in my own endeavors. It’s a powerful reminder to never shy away from a challenge and to always strive for greatness, even if it means getting your ass kicked on occasion.
- Begin your day with a morning ritual that is centered around nourishing yourself
- Adopt the habit of single-tasking. Fully immersing yourself in each task is key to producing top-notch work efficiently.
- Shift to a premium service offering and hire employees to make the business work for you
- Surround yourself with people who are willing to take risks and support you in your endeavors
- Be bold. Have a clear understanding of your true value and confidently set the price that reflects it.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.