Tess Wicks is a Wealth and Mindset Coach and founder of Wander Wealthy, an educational platform for online coaches and service-based entrepreneurs. Her mission is to bring financial literacy to the self-employed, to help them use practical financial systems and the magic of mindset work to transform their money stories and experience ease around making and managing their money.
Tell us about your career path leading up to starting your own business.
Despite coming from an entrepreneurial family, I never thought that I'd be an entrepreneur. I went to college, majored in actuarial science and finance, and I knew that I'd get a well-paying job with lots of career advancement opportunities. Right out of college, I went into consulting and worked the standard 60-80 hour weeks. I was frustrated with the construct of the corporate world, but very doubtful of my skills and abilities to do anything outside of my "educational training" in the world of actuarial science.
What made you want to start your own business?
I wish I could say the drive to do the work I am doing today pulled me away from my corporate job, but if we're being real, I had NO IDEA what I really wanted to do if I were to work for myself. But I deeply yearned for the entrepreneurial lifestyle of financial, time, and location freedom enough to take the leap. I was fortunate to be surrounded by peers and mentors who could help me through the transition and see that there was more to my future than crunching numbers and playing by the rules. I had signed up for an expensive business course (which I never ended up putting into use) but it was the investment I needed to make in myself that helped me take the leap. I had never quit a job before, and I was really scared, I cried... a lot.
I entered a discovery period before starting the business I run today. As a money coach and ex-actuary (who tend to be extremely risk-averse), I must mention that I did all this very strategically, with a solid emergency fund and hacking my living situation so I basically lived for free during this "discovery period".
How did you go from idea to execution?
My discovery period consisted of working on a podcast I had started with a couple of friends before I left my job (I was purely behind the scenes) and writing blog posts and social media for a content marketing agency. I did a couple other odd jobs too. This was exactly what I needed to prove to myself that I could do something other than be an actuary, and it basically helped me discover that I could write and I enjoyed creating content.
I started thinking about how I could build out my personal brand and make an impact in a big way. I thought about my own journey around personal finances - something I could grasp and learn about pretty easily because of my background, but I knew I still had my own questions, despite my education, and I'd seen several of my girlfriends really struggle with grasping personal financial matters.
Loving the podcasting world, but not loving being only behind the scenes, I made a graceful exit from the podcast I had started with my friends and began a new one, this time as the host. I talked about personal finance for millennial women and interviewed other financial experts. I didn't have a monetization strategy, I just kept working on various contracts, writing content for the marketing agency and eventually various financial platforms.
I wish I could say, "and all of a sudden, I was fully booked out with clients" but it took time. One client and then two clients rolled in. They had listened to my podcast and were interested in working with me on their personal finances. Then when they were done, I'd get another two. Eventually, after a couple of years, I had a fully booked out roster of private money coaching clients. Throughout this process, I created online courses and group workshops, but private coaching is still where I can really make the biggest impact and truly see those results.
After a few years working with traditionally employed women, I made a big pivot in my business to support my fellow online entrepreneurs. We often have similar personal financial struggles as traditionally employed women, but then a whole bunch more in the form of our businesses. I help my clients calculate purpose-driven revenue goals, price their products, manage their cash flow, AND take care of their personal finances. On top of that, we go deep with money mindset, it's really the foundational element to being successful, financially.
What were some unexpected hurdles you faced when starting your business?
Identifying worthwhile investments can be very tricky. I know I could have grown much faster had I made more investments in my business, specifically in hiring help and working with a coach. I've struggled with mismanaging my own expectations - thinking I'd grow so much faster, but not being willing to be seen or having enough confidence in my pricing. Falling into the comparison trap is real too. A lot of these hurdles have to do with mindset, and it can be super powerful when you learn how to draw awareness to your limiting thoughts and reframe them to your benefit. The second you're willing to be seen, have confidence in your pricing and services, and see your competition as an asset, that's when things will turn around for you.
Best advice you’ve received?
"Feel the fear, but do it anyway" it's a quote I first heard in high school diving (I was not good). And I've sort of lived by it ever since. I traveled to New Zealand 100% solo at the age of 22, I bought a house/rental property at 23, I quit my job at 24, I joined a comedy troupe at 25, I up and moved to Italy at 27, and every single one of these things I was terrified to do, but I did them anyway, and I've never regretted any of them.
What does Support Your Local Girl Gang mean to you?
I'm somewhat of a digital nomad, I split time between Milan, Italy and Chicago, but it's beautiful what the internet can do... it gives "local" a whole new meaning. Support Your Local Girl Gang to me means to make friends in this industry of "online business", it can be isolating to build your own business, so even friendship and understanding of what your local girls are going through can be enough. But go above and beyond and buy their products and services, recommend them to your audience, like their photos, leave a comment, create a real connection.
- Profit First - Mike Michalowicz
- Tapping Into Wealth - Margaret Lynch
- Essentialism - Greg McKeown
- Mine! :) The Wander Wealthy Podcast
- I don't listen to many podcasts since I started my own... weird, I know. But I do love: Bachelor Party Podcast, Tea Time, and Jam Session all from The Ringer Podcast Network - They are a nice escape from the work grind.
- Asana (for client and project management)
- Google Drive (for document sharing between clients and my team)
- Calendly (for booking podcast interviews, coffee chats, and client calls)
- Loom (for super simple screen recording and sharing)
- Zoom (for client calls)
- Betterment & M1 Finance (for investing and putting my money to work for me!)
- Honestly, I love my personal and business bank accounts and my financial dashboard that I created for myself and my clients to manage business finances.