By the time Kamala Chambers was 18, she had hitch-hiked across three provinces, 12 countries, and 20 states. Travel formed her insatiable drive for freedom, and so she started her first business at 19. For over 10 years, she has mentored entrepreneurs and businesses all over the world; specialising in product launches, creating passive income, and podcast production. Her online business success allows her the freedom to travel the world and vacation at her self-built eco-home on the beautiful San Juan Islands.
Kamala is known as a speaker, best-selling author, launch strategist, passive income consultant, podcast host, and the CEO of Thriving Launch. Learn more and stay in the know at https://www.thrivinglaunch.com
In my podcast with Kamala she talks about some great stuff including being a master at cutting expenses, looking at the bottom line, and pricing. Some real gems here so listen in, or read the transcript below.
To listen to the full interview on iTunes click here.
You can listen to the full interview on Stitcher click here.
To listen right here on my website click here.
My guess is that you are here because you are curious about what it might be like to start your own business?
Perhaps you’ve been wondering if you have what it takes? If your idea will work or even how much it actually costs to build a successful business?
I’ve written a book that can answer pretty much all your questions “So You Want to Start a Business” and you can download the first 20 pages at www.thestartupsteps.com
15 years of experience working with start up businesses are condensed into the 7 steps in this book.
It’s your step by step guide to launch your business smarter and faster and I’m so excited to be sharing it with you and can’t wait to hear about your progress.
Now here is the transcript of the podcast with Kamala:
Ingrid: Good morning, and here we are today with Kamala Chambers. Good morning, Kamala. How are you?
Kamala: I am doing so good. I’m so happy to be here with you.
Ingrid: Thank you so much, and it’s afternoon with you because you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, and I’m here in Sydney, and I have to say, it’s a stunning day today. We have had four days of the most torrential rain, and the sun has come out and the sky is clear and the birds are going crazy. So, what’s your part of the world looking like today?
Kamala: It is so, so beautiful. It’s perfect weather, and I live on a little island off the pacific northwest coast of Washington State, really close to Canada, and the Spring has just been incredible. There’s just been baby foxes, and deer and eagles and whales coming by, it’s just, it’s amazing.
Ingrid: That’s so lovely. What a lovely place to work and live. That sounds ideal. Okay, tell us about your business. What is your business? What business are you in?
Kamala: I run a company called Thriving Launch, and it is a company where we support people who have a mission – often times, really heart-centred entrepreneurs, or companies that have a mission that we want to get behind that we help them get their message out there in a bigger way in the online environment.
Ingrid: It’s tricky, isn’t it? How do we get our message out? When did you start that business? This business?
Kamala: It has morphed over so many years. I think I started this kind of form of it in 2010, and I had the company by myself for many years, and then about four years ago, I teamed up with my soon to be husband, Luis Congdon.
Kamala: Thank you. We combined our forces and changed the name of the company, and it is what it is today from that combination of our skills.
Ingrid: And that’s the thing that happens with businesses. It sort of morphs and changes, doesn’t it? And as the world changes, and what the world needs.
Kamala: Exactly, and depending on how your passions shift, too, and who your clients are. It’s wild to see how things change with that.
Ingrid: It sure is. So going back to the early stages. Why did you start your own business? What was the impetus for that?
Kamala: I started my own business when I was 19. That was before 2010…..long before it. I started it because I was travelling the world as a teenager, hitchhiking across three continents as a teenager, and I found that I really loved freedom. It was so important to me, and I wanted to be able to work for myself and make my own hours, so I started my first business at 19. And for me, it’s been a mission of how can I help, how can I serve, and how can I make a bigger impact? That’s really been the motive for me, continuing to grow and morph multiple businesses over the years.
Ingrid: That’s such a lovely mission and set of values there that just underpins everything, so it doesn’t matter what business you’re doing, it’s that which underpins it, isn’t it?
Kamala: Yeah, I can’t say at 19, starting a Jill-of-all-trades business, it was more about freedom, and then going into the health field, then it got more into the mission-based toward other people.
Ingrid: Well, and that’s understandable. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs at age 19, it’s about survival, isn’t it?
Kamala: It really was.
Ingrid: So, it sounds like, from day one, you wanted that freedom, you wanted the ability to earn some money for yourself on your own terms.
Kamala: Yes, yeah, that’s what’s so important to me as a person. What I love helping our clients do is, how can you live your life the way you want to live it every single day, and not the way that someone else is telling you to live it, or the way you think you should live it.
Ingrid: Indeed. So, because your business has morphed, and I’m not sure how you’re going to respond to this question. It’s actually one of my favourite questions, because I like to understand when someone realised they actually were in business. When the business became real. When it felt like a business. So was there a point anywhere in your journey where you’ve really felt, wow, this is a business?
Kamala: You know, I keep having that discovery, again and again.
Ingrid: Oh, lovely.
Kamala: Because I keep reaching new levels of success and I think we all do that in business. We reach these new pinnacles and otherwise we crash out and we burn. And so for me, I find that I keep finding this is my business. You know, wow, I can turn this into a business. For my first two years of working online, I worked endlessly. I worked so many hours, and I really didn’t make any money. And when I started bringing money in, it should have felt like a business, but it really didn’t, because it didn’t meet my expectations. And I always found that my expectations can be bigger than what I’m actually creating. And so, my expectations just keep expanding and I have to reach out to meet those.
Ingrid: So that in itself is part of the recognition of being in business, is to be able to set that goal, and reach it, and set another goal. That sounds like that’s what gives you the sense of being in business.
Ingrid: So choose a business, and it doesn’t matter which one you choose in the morphing, and maybe we’ll work on the one that – we’ll talk about the one that you’re most working with now. How do you know that customers wanted what your business is offering? So, what you currently offer to your clients, how did you know that somebody wanted that?
Kamala: For one thing, and I want to kind of use this as a teaching moment that maybe your audience already knows about. We asked people what they wanted. I feel this is something a lot of people miss out on, asking an audience what they want before you even put it out there. That’s a really big thing. Before we created what we currently offer, we made sure the market wanted it.
The second thing is that people buy, that’s how I know people want it, is if they actually take action and purchase.
Ingrid: That’s a pretty big indicator isn’t it.
Kamala: It really is.
Ingrid: It’s so funny isn’t it.
How did you fund your business in the early days? In terms of, how did the money come to actually start a business yourself?
Kamala: I worked a lot, even though I was working for myself, I had clients that I was doing medical treatments for in-home care, and I was doing caregiving and event planning, and doing all of these side hustle businesses that kind of on their own they were side hustles, but they added up to a way to bring in money.
I just kept building off of that, and I got a series of certifications in energy medicine and in nutrition. All of those brought in income. So I find that that’s a really important piece. I didn’t put all of my eggs into one basket from the very start. I had multiple streams of income all along, and that helped to fund those years that I was starting up my online business and wasn’t making money from it.
Ingrid: It’s so important to have money coming in, and to know what the costings are, to understand your finances so that you can have enough money.
Ingrid: Now when you’re expanding and trialling new products and growing the business that you currently have, how do you fund that? Where does that money come from?
Kamala: We really, I feel like, I’m gonna really brag for a second. I feel like I’m a –
Ingrid: Please do!
Kamala: I feel like I’m a master at cutting expenses, and really streamlining expenses to what we actually need. I know that there’s so many things that we can hang onto, these flashy new, whether it’s “Oh, I need a fancy car so people see me as successful,” or “I need the latest software that’s coming out so,” you know, you think that if you have the latest $3000/month software you’re gonna get clients. Well that’s not really always the case.
Every step of the way, I’m looking at what is the bottom line, what do we absolutely need, what are the essentials, and only when we have our essentials taken care of and we have more than enough to cover that, then we can add these extra expenses.
Ingrid: That’s so wise, honestly Kamala. I just love when you said that about the flashy car, I heard, and I believe this to be true, that there actually is someone who has a very flashy car but he never takes it out of his car port or out of his garage, because he doesn’t –
Kamala: I think there’s a lot of people like that.
Ingrid: He occasionally drives around at night, because he actually doesn’t want anyone to see how much money he’s making. So it’s sort of the reverse, I mean Australia’s a bit weird like that. People like flashy, but for some people it just doesn’t work very well, and if they’re charging this much money, people think: “Why are you charging me this much if you’re driving around that car, you could have a lesser car and charge me less.”
So there’s this funny kind of thing that goes on, but there’s this guy, and I know who it is, and apparently he’s got this gorgeous car and he never takes it out. What’s the point of that?
Kamala: Yeah, I would say I’m more on the functional, minimalist, utilitarian standpoint in the way I dress, the way I live, the way that I run my business, and I feel like without the excess emotional or mental or physical baggage and clutter, I have what I really want, which is the freedom.
Ingrid: Honestly there is such a movement towards that here in Australia, and you can see and feel it in the social media that this minimalist, “we don’t need all these trappings, we don’t need to consume so much because it doesn’t really mean anything to so many people.” So nice, very nice.
Ingrid: So the funding part is very much taken care of, that sounds fantastic. So let’s look at new customers, because one of the things that people when they get started in a business, and our audience is either newly starting up or thinking about getting started. Sometimes they don’t think a lot about where the customers are going to come from because they’re just going to, I don’t know, walk through the door or join up. So, how do you find new customers? And how do you know where they are?
Kamala: Well, I cheat. I cheat because I partnered with someone who is incredible at networking, at creating relationships with people. I’m not good at that, it’s not my strong point. I am good at streamlining systems, at managing a company, managing a team, making sure that things are happening as efficiently as possible. If you’re like me where you maybe don’t have that natural inclination, I would recommend partnering with someone who does.
What Luis does, and he is out there all day every day, creating connections, reaching out to people, and networking. That’s really where our clients come from, is through relationships that Luis develops. Then I take those relationships and I nurture them deeper, and I keep them happy.
Ingrid: What a fabulous combination.
Kamala: Yeah, so I can’t talk for Luis about what his superpowers are, but for me not having that superpower, I’ve found that I just need to partner with someone who does.
Ingrid: So people who can’t, how do they get the skill to do that? They can put themselves in a position, I remember meeting two young fellows who were starting an online business selling food. Both of them went to work with two of the big supermarket chains here in their online delivery services so they could find out how it worked. They didn’t know anything about it so they went and learned. So if somebody’s not comfortable with selling, or not comfortable with networking, think about how you can put yourself in a position where you can learn some of those skills if partnering up with someone isn’t an option. Sounds like you found just the right partner.
Kamala: Yeah, and I don’t mean you have to find your husband.
Ingrid: No, no no no.
Kamala: Here’s the thing that I find. I made this mistake, and this is why I didn’t make any money for the first two years online. This is the mistake most people make. They think they can do everything all on their own. Especially these superwomen that are out there. And I know that everyone listening is incredibly skilled, but we just can’t do everything.
My skill set was finding the right people that I could be the complete package, and I just encourage everyone, maybe you’ll never be amazing at networking. Maybe that’s just not your skill set, but if you can be amazing at finding the person that is, that will get you a lot further.
Ingrid: And have the right person working in your business or with your business to help grow and do the things. And the same happens with bookkeeping. Why would you do your bookkeeping if you’re not good at that?
Kamala: Yes. Anything in your business. If you’re not good at it you shouldn’t be doing it, you’re hurting your business. And I know that maybe we think we don’t have the money to put out, but that actually, as someone who wants to cut costs in as many places as possible, it is actually an essential necessity for us to have the right people on our team that can do the things that we’re not actually good at, or that we don’t like doing.
Ingrid: Totally, I couldn’t agree more. If anyone hasn’t been paying attention, just rewind that last 20 seconds and have another listen.
Ingrid: Let’s talk about money, cause that’s a good thing to talk about. Pricing. You don’t need to be specific about your pricing, but I’m more curious about what process do you use to decide a pricing strategy? Cause people often say to me, “well how much do we charge? How do we know how much to charge?”
Kamala: That’s a great question. There’s a few different ways to look at pricing. You want to look at what your experience is, and also look at what’s the market doing? What are other people in your market charging. And if you’re starting off, and you don’t have that much experience, I would say go on the low end of what the market’s doing and as you gain experience you can charge more and more.
Ingrid: What happens if people feel like that’s too much to ask? Cause one of the things that I hear people say is “Oh, my clients might not pay that much.” What do you say to people when they say that?
Kamala: Well, your clients might pay that much though.
Ingrid: They might.
Kamala: That’s something you might have to work with and test out. I encourage everybody to take risks, see how much you could possibly, what is the comfort level that you can push for how much you can charge within reason. I know that you go to these networking events, and someone’s like “How much is the most amount you would charge?” And you scream “$10,000!” And they say “Double it!” And I’m not saying that, I’m just saying find that edge that if you could go to that is reasonable within what other people are charging.
Ingrid: Very nice, thank you.
Ingrid: So, because your business has morphed and it’s changed, and it sounds like it’s giving you the ideal mixture at the moment, have you thought about an exit strategy at all? You don’t have to tell us what it is, but is that something you’ve considered for the future or not?
Kamala: Yeah, I definitely have that on the radar. Honestly, I’m not creating an exit strategy at this point, but it is something that I think about for the company. How can we have Thriving Launch grow and be profitable on its own without us, and honestly I’m always trying to work myself out of a job by bringing in the right team members and creating the right automations so the company isn’t reliant on me, and the company isn’t me, and the company isn’t Luis, but the company is self-sustainable without us so we can have an exit strategy.
Ingrid: And that also allows you to take time off, it allows all kinds, I mean exit can be any kind of thing in that sense can’t it – if the business is self-sustaining.
Kamala: Yeah, and you know sometimes when we’re not in a launch phase we really just work four hours a week. Our work level is very minimal. And then we’ll ramp up and we’ll go to a new level where we’re working with a new client and we’re in a launch phase, and we’ll work more but we get to choose when we want to do that.
Ingrid: Very nice. That’s the point, as you said at the beginning, the reason for having a business.
Kamala: Yeah, absolutely.
Ingrid: So let’s have some reflection. Going back, I don’t know how far you want to go back, but is there something you really wish you’d done differently at the beginning or somewhere along the line. Is there something you think “well, if I’d done that differently…”
Kamala: You know, I want to just give my past-self a hug. I want to say “I’m so sorry I did that to you.” And one of the things I’ve already mentioned is just I tried to do everything. I wanted to learn every detail of how to run a business online, and every single software I could think of to learn to the nth degree, and all of the funnel building, and all the emails to marketing. I wanted to be able to do it all. And I’m so grateful that I spent that time and the energy invested in that, because I know I am where I am today because of it, and what I wish I would’ve done is I wish I would’ve gotten help sooner. I would’ve been a lot further a lot quicker if I would’ve actually had help.
Ingrid: It’s so wise isn’t it. Honestly I think Kamala, that a lot of people if I think of all the interviews I’ve done, many people say that, that they just, were trying to do it all. And there’s this tension isn’t there as you said earlier about paying somebody to do something and not having the money or not thinking you have the resources to do that, but it just holds us back doesn’t it?
Kamala: And it took me a while to find the right people too. Even recently we’ve invested a lot of energy into working with someone because they said “I’ll work for free, because I really believe in you guys” and that was a waste of two months really, because we wanted to give him a shot and he said he’d work for free, like that sounds amazing, but it was a waste of time. So it’s also finding the right people to invest your time, energy, and money into.
Ingrid: And that comes back to that idea that so many of us have of “Well, if I do it myself, it’ll be done properly. So if I can’t find someone who’ll do it as well as I will…” and that’s that tension isn’t it, is finding the right person and they will do it the way that it has to be done.
Kamala: I think the key there that I’ve discovered in managing a team and finally offloading, I found that when I started hiring people, I had to keep hiring more and more people to take over what I was doing, and I got to five employees just to take over doing what I was doing. What I found through that process that it took for me to get that out of me and to someone else was that I didn’t try to hire one person to do everything. I took each of the skills that I needed, that I knew this person specialises in video editing and if I could communicate what I wanted clearly enough that person could be more of a master at the videos I needed editing than I could ever be on my own. And it was like that for every aspect of the business.
Ingrid: That’s very wise. An all rounder. Cause we tend to think we’ll replace ourselves, and as you say it takes each of those different things. That’s very, very intuitive. Very wise.
Ingrid: What do you wish you’d known from the start? And that’s a little bit of the same sort of question, and maybe it is the same answer for you. But for some people that’s a different thing. When you were very first starting out, or somewhere along the line as you morphed, is there anything else that you wish you’d known?
Kamala: Oh yeah, so much. One of the big ones is don’t follow the hype. If someone is making big promises and huge claims and it just sounds too good to be true, well it probably is. Be incredibly careful about who you choose to follow, who you choose to invest your money into, because there’s so much hype out there. There’s so many big promises, and it’s easy to get wrapped up in that. “Yeah, oh of course I wanna make that extra $10,000/month. This person is saying I can do it in five days, of course I want that!” And I would just say you really have to practise such strong discernment and make sure that you’re not following things that sound too good to be true.
Ingrid: Yeah, and you know, caught up with that what you were just saying there about hiring people to do things for you, the money that is spent on following the people who are perhaps not going to add as much value could easily be spent on investing on someone who actually is going to do some of the things for you. If you’ve got limited resources where is it going. Following the hype may not be the best investment.
Kamala: You couldn’t be more right! You’re spending wisely, instead of “Oh, well if I pay this guru $10,000 I’ll have the skills to do it.” Well you could disperse that $10,000 to five outsourced employees and –
Ingrid: And have it done for you.
Ingrid: Yeah, that’s such a great example.
So we know that Luis is a great assistance to you and the business and is part of the business. Are there other people along the way that have been, and you can either name names or just the role they’ve played, who else has been of great assistance to you along the way?
Kamala: There’s so many different forms of support that come throughout our journey. Sometimes that support will come in an hour, and sometimes it’ll last for a few years. I know that my success is not a solo journey. For me, right now I feel the most grateful for my team and the people that I put my energy into, and they put their energy into the company. I just feel like we can’t do it without our team. Our team is the one that keeps us sane, it keeps the engine moving forward, and I feel the most gratitude for them.
Ingrid: Thank you for that. Just out of interest, are they with you? Or are they virtually around the world?
Kamala: They’re virtually around the world.
Ingrid: Isn’t it amazing how we can set our businesses up these days with people that we may never actually meet, but they’re as close to us as they could possibly be because they work with us on a daily basis or weekly basis. It’s quite phenomenal really, isn’t it?
Kamala: It is, and it’s so amazing to be able to give people the opportunity to live a life like I want to live. I want to work online so I have that freedom, and we have our employees, other than one, they’re all females and some are mothers and they get to stay at home with their kids and I love that.
Ingrid: That’s wonderful, isn’t it.
Ingrid: Who gives you good feedback? Where do you get feedback from?
Kamala: I think our feedback really comes from the people that we work with. That’s the feedback that matters the most. If our clients are happy and the clients are seeing the results that they want to see, and they’re getting what they want out of the working relationship, that is the most important thing to listen to.
Ingrid: Couldn’t agree more. That’s such a great, and so nicely put thank you.
Ingrid: Just a couple of questions as we come to a close here. If someone comes to you and says “I’m thinking about starting my own business.” What do you say to them?
Kamala: I don’t know if I should say my first thought “Don’t do it!” Sorry, that’s not funny.
Ingrid: Oh, yes it is. That’s so true!
Kamala: I would say, you really have to know first before you start anything, is it something that people, what is your business about? Does it solve a problem that you know people have and they’re willing to pay for? Is there a market for it? Is there a unique angle that your business has that no one else is taking? And all of those things, making sure that it’s unique, making sure that there’s an audience that’s hungry for it, making sure that you’re solving a problem that people have and they know they will pay money to solve, those are all really important things.
Ingrid: Absolutely. Thank you, well said.
Back to you. What are your three key characteristics that you think you have? I know the audience listening are probably already figuring a little bit of that out for themselves, but what do you think are the characteristics that are essential that have made you successful in business?
Kamala: I think the ability to see the big picture and all the steps that take you towards the end goal. For me, I’m a finisher. I like to look at not only where are go going, but what are the steps to get there. So that’s one.
Another one is being able to clearly communicate your needs and desires. That to me makes it so I’m able to offload the work of myself and my clients. That communication skill is really important.
And then I would say another one is being efficient and making sure that you’re working smart. For me one of my biggest aversions in life is waste. If you’re wasting money, you’re wasting time, you’re wasting resources of any form I feel for me I just try to avoid that at all costs. How can we be the most efficient and minimise waste. That even goes towards our environment too.
Ingrid: Very nice. More and more, and particularly if you live in an environment like you live, physical waste is very obvious in such a beautiful environment.
Kamala: Oh yeah, it really is.
Ingrid: Thank you so much for that.
Ingrid: Is there anything else that I haven’t covered that you think an audience who are thinking about getting started, or maybe started in a side hustle, is there anything else you’d like to add before we finish up?
Kamala: I just feel so happy for you and so proud that you’re doing this. It’s so courageous to step outside of what is the norm, and it’s so courageous to be able to lean into something because you have a vision. I just want to say that we all struggle. Sometimes I just lose faith, “Am I really doing the right thing, am I going in the right direction, am I ever going be where I want to be?” And I just want to encourage you to keep going, and keep leaning into what your big mission is, what your passion and what your desire is, and that’ll be the wind beneath your wings.
Ingrid: Thank you so much. That is such a lovely way to finish.
Ingrid: Kamala thank you so much for your time today and your wisdom. How can people get in contact with you if they like the sound of what you’re doing and they feel like there’s something you might be able to do to help them, what’s the best way for someone to contact you?
Kamala: Our website Thrivinglaunch.com we have a lot of free resources, we have a podcast as well where we really try to support people in their business. So Thrivinglaunch.com is a good place, or on social media as well.
Ingrid: We’ll put all those links in the show notes and on the website, and the full transcript is always on our website as well.
Thank you so much for your time today. You go and enjoy your evening, and our listeners will get on with whatever they’re doing next. Thanks
Kamala: Ingrid, thank you so much.