Never stop learning. Most of what I learned that’s helped me run my businesses has been from books I’ve read; not from formal education. Pick up a book, read an article, or listen to a podcast. That way you’ll continue to grow your skills and pick up new knowledge.
At age 27, Rachel Richards is already retired and living off a five-figure monthly passive income stream. She’s what some would call a serial entrepreneur, having founded three successful businesses. A real estate investor, best-selling author, professional speaker, former financial advisor, and business owner, Richards has made a name for herself in the personal finance realm.
Richards began investing in real estate in 2017 and currently owns 35 rental units. She has two full-time employees that work as property managers so that she can be as hands off as possible.
Also in 2017 Richards and her husband started a Print-On-Demand design business. With minimal effort, they collect monthly royalties off any designs that sell and with no need to carry an inventory.
Richards published her first book, “Money Honey: A Simple 7-Step Guide for Getting Your Financial $hit Together,” in 2017. It has been sold / downloaded over 10,000 times and has over 400 five-star reviews on Amazon. Money Honey is a sassy, humorous take on personal finance that has resonated with female millennials.
Where did the idea for your book come from?
The idea for my book “Money Honey” was inspired by another book called “Skinny Bitch.” I loved the sarcastic and hilarious take on clean eating; it was such an entertaining read. I constantly had family and friends come to me for financial advice. All the other books, blogs, and websites out there were complex, boring, and intimidating. So I thought to myself, “How can I make personal finance more accessible to a young female, and more importantly, FUN?” That’s when I started writing and everything fell into place.
In terms of my other two businesses, real estate investing was something I always wanted to do from a young age when I learned about how amazing rental properties are for building long-term wealth (I was an avid reader in middle and high school.) A friend had opened our eyes up to the beauty of Print-On-Demand (POD) and we ran with it.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day starts by working on my laptop in bed; there’s nothing better than working in PJs. I have several different projects related to Money Honey: I’m working on a keynote speech that I will be delivering to a college later this year; I’m writing my second book about passive income; and I’m bouncing around the idea of creating an online real estate investing course. So the first couple hours of my day are spent on one of those projects.
Then I normally wander downstairs to take a break with my husband and dog. We may go to the gym together or make a healthy breakfast. We might catch up on our real estate business; lately he’s been handling more of that so I can write my book. We keep everything organized with our property managers on Trello so we’ll catch up on what needs to be done.
We don’t spend time on our POD business currently, but in the future we hope to grow that income stream more.
In the afternoon I’ll continue to work on anything related to Money Honey and my next book; I’ll create and schedule social media posts, follow up on any research about passive income, and work on my book launch plan.
I don’t hold myself to a rigorous, structured schedule. I have always been a productive person because I’m extremely driven to continue growing my income streams. I’m also super passionate about personal finance and passive income, so I don’t have to *make* myself work on that; it’s fun for me!
How do you bring ideas to life?
Research, research, research. I can’t tell you how many times my husband and I are sitting in a new restaurant or observing a nearby business and we start thinking out loud about the logistics of the business. We are both so entrepreneurial-minded, sometimes we can’t help ourselves. We think of ideas and possibilities all the time; often we’re just messing around but every now and then we’ll stumble onto something worth looking into.
For example, when my husband’s friend told us about POD, we were instantly excited. It sounded too good to be true. We decided to get online and find out for ourselves. We research all the pros and cons; our goal is to find out why we SHOULDN’T pursue this business. If nothing comes up that negatively dissuades us, we’ll begin thinking about next steps and putting an action plan together.
Writing “Money Honey” had bounced around in my mind for awhile. It wasn’t until I read the book “Published” by Chandler Bolt that I put pen to paper. I hadn’t taken action before because I didn’t know where to begin, but Bolt’s book was a super thorough guide on writing and self-publishing and I finally understood what to do. Having a game plan makes it easier to get started.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The trend towards self-publishing is exciting. I didn’t realize how many people prefer to self-publish in this day and age. It’s awesome because it’s super easy and anyone can do it! I considered traditional publishing for my next book, but not only have I not gotten any bites, I realized that the royalty I would receive would only be about 10%, which is an enormous turnoff. I can earn anywhere from 35%-70% on Amazon’s self-publishing platform called KDP. More and more people are starting to realize this, and I think the traditional publishing industry is going to have to make some serious changes if they are going to stay competitive.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Doing the hardest thing first forces my productivity. It’s easy to procrastinate and I often get caught in that trap. Normally there’s at least one thing I keep putting off or dread doing. Once I realize that, I tell myself that it’s better just to get it over with. I’ll schedule time on my calendar to complete that task and commit to doing it no matter what.
In general, I try to work on my big projects or dreaded tasks first thing in the morning. That way if I want to enjoy free time in the afternoon or evening I already know I’ve had a productive day.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I’m 27 and I have sacrificed a lot to get to where I am right now. 2018 was an extremely challenging year for me emotionally and mentally. I didn’t realize it at the time, but in retrospect it’s obvious that I was trying to do too much and it negatively impacted my mental health. I’m a go-getter and I’m one of the most ambitious and hard-working people I know… often that means that I work too much. It’s okay to slow down and enjoy life too. I would tell my younger self that the world isn’t going to end if I end up achieving my goals a few months later than planned. Balance is important and you shouldn’t spend some of the most freeing and fun years of your life working all the time.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I can’t tell you how many of my family and friends have fallen in the trap of being afraid to follow up with potential jobs and employers. I’ve coached so many people on applying for a role and reaching out to an interviewer, and so few follow my advice.
I didn’t get a SINGLE job by submitting online applications. You can submit online applications all day long; tell me how that works out for you. In my experience, it’s taken a lot more than that. I got one job by finding a mutual contact that could introduce me to the manager. I got another job since I knew the contact from high school and got in his face about hiring me. I got another job by asking for an introduction from someone who worked at the company; then I emailed and called both that contact and an HR person every week for 3 months. My persistence is what scored me that job.
If you REALLY want something, you have to go after it. Don’t sit around and wait for a call back. You have to be proactive and Make. It. Happen.
For some reason, I think maybe people DO agree, but in reality they don’t actually do this.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Read a lot of books. I sometimes feel like I know more than most people know; that’s only because I read a ton. I taught myself how to invest in the stock market and in real estate when I was in college. I learned about the power of compounding interest in middle school. I learned about being a good manager, sales, and marketing in high school. I’ve learned more practical stuff in books than I’ve learned in school. It is the ONE thing that has really set me apart from my peers. Currently on my nightstand: “Eat, Pray, Love” (one of my favorites – don’t limit yourself to nonfiction!), “How to Win Friends and Influence People” (this is my 3rd time re-reading because the advice is so timeless), and “The Alchemist” (reading with my husband.)
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
With my next book about passive income, I somehow stumbled upon the brilliant idea of collaborating with other people. For example, I’m going to do case studies throughout the book where I interview real people who have built passive income streams and do a little write-up on them. Hello? This is brilliant. I have an affiliate marketer, a real estate investor, an online course creator, and a vending machine business owner that I’ve interviewed and that will be featured in my book. This means that not only will I market the book to my audience, but they will promote it to their audiences too, because how cool is it to be featured in a book by a best-selling author? The more collaboration and cross-promotion I can do, the more I can get my content in front of new audiences and attract more followers.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I sometimes assume other people know or understand as much as I do. It’s a mistake I have made with family, friends, my husband, and my employees. Something that may seem obvious to me might not be something they’ve ever thought about; and that’s not their fault! They don’t have the experience and reading background I have. How could I expect them to possibly know as much? Making these types of assumptions has gotten me in trouble before, because I expect things will be done a certain way and they aren’t. I’ve had to remind myself that constant training and reviewing, especially with our employees, is an absolute must. And patience on my part doesn’t hurt either.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Something my husband and I have bounced around for awhile but don’t have time to look into is an app where other young, retired people can meet each other. Or even just financially independent entrepreneurs. We’ve sometimes felt disconnected and lonely here in Louisville, KY because we don’t know anyone that’s trying to achieve the same things we are, or that’s on track to retire early. It would be so fun to know other people who can work on their own time and aren’t tied down. After all, it would be great to have a travel buddy. We’ve talked about making an app, mostly for our own sake, so that we can finally find our tribe. As far as I know this does not yet exist; if you decide to create this please let me know!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The worst $3,800 I just had to spend was on our dog who got really sick and had to be hospitalized for three nights. I’ll do anything to save my fur baby! It was only frustrating because we could have completely avoided this if we had pet insurance. I’m a finance-minded person but admittedly, I didn’t think this one through enough. I figured since she’s young and healthy, there was no need yet; we could purchase pet insurance later. But healthy dogs can get infections and get really sick too, and insurance doesn’t cover preexisting conditions. After this bout we signed up for pet insurance where we pay about $100 every other month. I’m grateful we had the $3,800 set aside and available, but hopefully we can avoid that going forward.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Trello is one of my favorite services. We use it to keep our personal lives organized and we have one for our real estate business where our employees have access too. We organize everything by property, by owner, and by priority by assigning different labels and colors. We add due dates and can comment on and tag each other in everything. It’s been an organizational life saver!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Besides “Money Honey,” of course, I’d recommend “The Millionaire Fastlane,” by MJ DeMarco. It’s an EXCELLENT book for entrepreneurs. It debunks the traditional means to retirement (saving 15%, investing in mutual funds) and shows you how thinking like a producer instead of a consumer can lead you to early retirement. It’s one of the most eye-opening, actionable books I’ve ever read.
What is your favorite quote?
It’s something along the lines of: “Just quit your job and do it is stupid and privileged advice.” Alisha Ramos, the founder of Girls Night In (GNI), said this, and I totally agree. I don’t think anyone should ever just quit their full-time job and income source to pursue a passion or business idea. I started my 3 businesses in 2017, more than replaced my full-time income in 2018, and STILL didn’t quit until 2019. Only quit when you have replaced your income with your side business. There are more than enough hours in the evening and weekends to pursue your business idea, trust me. You’ll be glad you stuck around at your full-time job and waited until you were really ready to quit.
- Not every business idea is viable. It takes a lot of market research to determine whether to pursue your idea or not. More importantly, ask yourself: “What am I bringing to the market that doesn’t exist already? What market need am I filling?” With my book Money Honey, I was finally making personal finance accessible by making it easy, fun, and entertaining to read about. That’s how it stands out from the thousands of other books and resources about money management.
- Most people don’t have the problem of working TOO hard, but some entrepreneurs do. Yes, you can sacrifice now and work your butt off so you can hit your goals and make a lot of money and retire early. But at what cost? Are you giving up valuable family time, time with your significant other, or even your mental health? Find the right balance and take care of yourself first and foremost. Health and family are more important than your business.
- Never stop learning. Most of what I learned that’s helped me run my businesses has been from books I’ve read; not from formal education. Pick up a book, read an article, or listen to a podcast. That way you’ll continue to grow your skills and pick up new knowledge.