Joy Schoffler knows how to bootstrap a company to swift profitability on operational revenue alone. That’s how she built financial technology PR agency Leverage PR, before selling it to step into the investment world where she now encourages women to invest in other women entrepreneurs. Co-founder and Chief Strategic Officer of Upside Avenue and Casoro Capital, Joy shares her insights on how to manage money as an entrepreneur, where to invest it and why you have to pay yourself as your grow your business.
Melinda Wittstock: Joy, welcome to Wings.
Joy Schoffler: Thank you so much. It’s so great to be here.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, I’m excited to have you, too. I always like to start the minisode with what’s inspiring you right now?
Joy Schoffler: Gosh, what’s inspiring me right now is this group of phenomenal ladies that I’ve joined in this basically motivational Facebook group. Not only is it for working out and good habits, but this month is the financial freedom month for our Facebook challenge group. What’s really inspiring me is just these ladies’ desire to get their financial house in order ahead of the new year, and make changes that can impact the lives of themselves, their children, they’re parents. I think generation X, we are in the middle with the baby boomers and kids, so we have a lot on our backs a lot of time. It’s exciting to be able to help other women to empower themselves to take care of their families.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh my goodness, this is so true that so many women often put themselves last in this situation whether as tech founders going without paying ourselves, or underpricing ourselves, or not taking enough money out of our businesses to support investing in our future. There’s a lot of entrepreneurial poverty around. That’s awesome that you’re focused on that.
Joy Schoffler: Absolutely. It’s so important it affects everything from your health to your freedom to how people treat you to the choices you can make to literally everything. There’s nothing more important than financial freedom. It’s health, it’s your life, it’s everything. I’m just so passionate about it.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, that’s wonderful. We all have challenges, though, in our businesses and along the way as entrepreneurs and business owners. What are some of yours right now?
Joy Schoffler: I, actually, recently sold my company. It will be two years to the day, and I went back to work.
Melinda Wittstock: Congratulations. Well, wait a minute I just want to say congratulations. It feels like a long time ago, two years ago. It’s always wonderful to have an exit that’s great, so yay. Yes, having congratulated you, now back to the challenge that you have right now.
Joy Schoffler: The challenge. I rejoined, actually, the company I was with from 2007 to 2009, and I’ve been an investor with the entire time that invests in multifamily real estate. I helped them before they were only open to investors who had over a million dollars to invest. You had to be accredited. Typically, you had to have a high level of liquidity like the family offices who have hundreds of millions in assets and typically write million dollar checks. I actually talked them into launching a REIT that co-invests alongside of them that is open to all investors throughout the globe that we just launched. My challenge is just to share what we’re doing in the multifamily space and building a team and being able to go out there and share our vision. It’s really exciting. It’s fun to be back in the investment space.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s wonderful, especially at a time when women still struggle to get access to capital, and that’s a challenge that so many have. Just really briefly, what’s your perspective on that?
Joy Schoffler: From an access to capital standpoint the way that I personally did it was I grew my business out of operational revenue. We were a very fast growing company. We actually ranked number two in the country from a percentage of growth standpoint. When you’re starting out very small and you go up to a bigger small number it’s not hard to have a high percentage to put that in reference. We definitely had a lot of growth. I had a financial services focused, and financial technology focused PR firm that got acquired by a New York based one. I took that approach to grow from revenue and didn’t take the capital raising standpoint, but I did have a lot of clients who were in that bucket. I think a big part of it is the men that I worked with they just went for it. Even if they weren’t necessarily in a position where they should get capital, they were completely comfortable going out and asking everybody and their mother for capital.
The women entrepreneurs who I worked with, they would be 10 times further along from the men, and still wouldn’t want to go out and ask for the capital. I think as a woman it’s just getting comfortable with the fact that not just looking at all the risks and all the way that potentially the investors could lose money, but actually going out and sharing your story and your vision because I think as women we want to be so conservative to the point where we’re not actually allowing other people to be part of our businesses like they otherwise would if we did share it. Getting out of our own way, sometimes, is really important.
Melinda Wittstock: Gosh, that’s so true. Not all businesses can grow on revenue. Oh, God, blessed are the ones that can go that way, but for the ones that really do need capital to get going, particularly with game-changing technology it’s so important that women do get access to money and really get that financial education that know their numbers. Moreover, what I am really eager to see happen is women invest in other women. I want to pivot the conversation a little bit to your go-to pieces of advice for women in business. Perhaps things that you learned along the way and you now know these are the top three things that you have to do if you’re going to succeed.
Joy Schoffler: Yeah, absolutely. I think number one is when times are good set some money aside. It doesn’t matter how much even if it’s just a matter of… The way that I look at it is buckets. Whenever I have more money than our standard coming in whether that’s a long-term salary increase, or that I paid myself, or a really good money with my business, what I did was I took one-third into short-term savings, one-third into long-term investing for a bigger house or some sort of bigger goal, and then on- third into long-term investing. I would, therefore, build. I would spend a little bit, but I would start and save some, but I would then save for longer term goals and consumptions instead of just saying, oh, I’ve got a little bit more over the last couple of quarters let me go buy a bigger house, or let me go buy a bigger car I would save for longer for those bigger ticket purchases and not have my lifestyle get in the way.
That did a lot of different great things for me. One, it allowed me to be able to have savings built up for the lean months, so I wouldn’t have to make long-term decisions in a short-term crunch where I’d have to let somebody good go, or cause problems with my business. I was able to have a little bit of lifeblood to where maybe I didn’t have to make those tough decisions or make short-term business decisions that had very negative long-term effects like taking on the wrong client, or just making choices that weren’t the best. Having a short-term savings bucket when times are good is one thing. Saving for the long-term purchases instead of just if you have a little spike in your spouse’s income, or your income and over, and I say little spike meaning it’s a consistent three to four quarter consistent spike I would wait. I would hold off the gratification for at least a year, if not more, and really build up that savings to make sure that my business truly could support that increase in lifestyle.
Then my last bucket of long-term investments, I only invested in cash flowing assets that could produce that extra income. That supplemental income came in real handy because it allowed me to meet some of my other bigger life goals of spending at least a month out of every year traveling around the world with my kids and not working at all. Really setting yourself up with buckets for the long-term and delaying some of that gratification. I did that instead of paying debt. I’d even have some credit card debt. I would look at it and I would say, okay, let me do this savings first and then continue to pay my debt, the little bit of debt that I carried down out of operating instead of just going and paying off all the debt because there’s always going to be more debt because you’re just going to spend more freely, but even having a little bit of debt over my head made me keep my belt tightened, that was what I did.
Melinda Wittstock: Gosh, that is so important. It’s a number of things. Really knowing your numbers, really figuring out purposefully how you’re going to build your business, how you’re going to be able to weather those ups and downs. This is such priceless advice for all women in business, so thank you so much. Joy, how can people find you and work with you?
Joy Schoffler: I am now at Upside Avenue. We are a public non-traded multifamily senior living and student housing focused real estate investment trust that allows anybody throughout the world to invest for as little as $2,000. That’s at upsideavenue.com.
Melinda Wittstock: Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us today.
Joy Schoffler: Thank you for having me.