'I Made Myself A Millionaire By Helping Other Women Get Rich—And Never Doing Laundry'

Rachel Rodgers, as told to Alexis Jones
Photo credit: Courtesy of Rachel Rodgers
Photo credit: Courtesy of Rachel Rodgers

From Women's Health

I'm Rachel Rodgers, 38, the founder of Hello Seven, and I'm a millionaire. But it wasn't an easy road to get here. I grew up in Queens, New York, and my family struggled a lot. I was the kid at the grocery store with food stamps, trying to make sure I didn't run into my friends. I'm sure everyone knew, but in my 10-year-old mind, I was hiding it well. When I turned 12, my father passed away, and my mother found it harder to make ends meet. The thing is, she was already running our household when my father was alive, but she just believed that she couldn't do it without him.

At a young age, I decided that I wouldn't struggle like my parents when I grew up. Luckily, I already had a few good examples I could model my life after. My aunt on my dad's side was always doing well financially. Was she a millionaire? No, but she clearly had way more money than us. She owned her own house; she drove a Jaguar. She just seemed like an empowered, badass woman.

I also babysat a little girl when I was 14 years old. She lived in a nicer neighborhood in a big, beautiful house. I remember going to the pantry one day to get her a snack, and I saw all the things my mother would never let us buy—Trix cereal, Bugles, and Cheetos. And I noticed she always had Klondike bars and pizza bagels in the freezer. I remember thinking: "What do I need to do to live like this? What do her parents do for a living?"

Being able to touch wealth—not necessarily experience it for myself, but just see it and know that it was possible—was enough to put me on a path. By the time I turned 10 years old, I knew that I wanted to be successful, financially capable, and a lawyer.

By the time I turned 36, I was not only all three of those things, but also a millionaire.

My initial goals were simple: go to law school, buy my mom a car, and take care of my family.

After graduating from Cardozo Law School, I took a clerkship working for the state of New Jersey, making $41,000 a year. The salary was decent and I enjoyed my work, but by the time my clerkship was over, I knew I wanted more.

I'd been offered a few opportunities, but none of them sounded amazing. I remembered reading The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss my last year of law school, and it stuck with me. I still have the book on my shelf today. It was one of the first that I'd read that presented an alternative career to the average 9 to 5.

The book advises you to take stock of your skills, so when I thought about mine, it was simple: I was licensed to practice law, and the idea of being an entrepreneur also fascinated me. I figured I'd combine the two.

In doing my research, I read another book by Jay G. Foonberg called How To Start And Build A Law Practice, which broke down step-by-step what I needed to do. In one of the first few chapters Foonberg says something like, "You're not experienced, but you're qualified." And I held onto that. I knew I was young and hadn't been working in law a long time—but I knew I had the right skills.

On September 1, 2010, at age 28, I took a leap of faith and opened my own law practice.

I worked mainly with women entrepreneurs, helping them capitalize on their intellectual property. I did this for seven years, and by year seven, I had three attorneys, an operations manager, an administrative assistant, and a series of contractors for design and marketing working under me. The practice had also managed to make around $700,000 in annual revenue by then.

But while I was getting paid for legal advice—doing licensing deals, contracts, and registering trademarks—I was also giving lots of business advice for free because I wanted to help these other awesome women. I quickly realized that I enjoyed being a business advisor more than a legal one. So, in October 2017, I started Hello Seven, my business coaching and membership business.

My company hit seven figures within the first year of business.

And the earnings have only grown from there. We hit a million in revenue again in 2018. Then in 2019, we doubled that to $2 million annual revenue. And in 2020, believe it or not (I can barely believe it), we've already surpassed $2 million in revenue for the year—and it's only July. We'll probably be at $5 million by the end of this year. My advice for other women looking to hit a million?

  1. Write down your first memories of money: Think about the story you've been telling yourself since childhood. I remember my mom always swooping in as a hero at the last minute and making ends meet. So, I made it a habit to always take myself to the edge with finances. I could never just let money sit in my savings account. I had the story in my head that I had to stretch my money—make a dollar out of fifteen cents, as they say. But that's just not the case. Figure out what money misconceptions you've embraced, so that you can figure out how you might be holding yourself back—and stop it.

  2. Stop doing laundry: Seriously, I want every woman to never touch laundry again. Send it out instead. Just think about it: putting it in, sorting, folding—a whole weekend can go to laundry. Many of my clients argue with me that they actually love laundry or it's too expensive to send it out. My response? I want you to love yourself more than that. Don't spend your whole weekend doing household work—it's exhausting. I don't want my clients to end up too tired to fight for it. Because we often do have to fight for equal compensation at the workplace or a seat at the table. One of your most valuable assets to creating wealth is your time. Invest some time back into yourself. Use those extra hours not spent folding your kid's T-shirts relaxing so that on Monday you're ready to negotiate for that raise or ask for a new job title.

  3. Build a squad: And by this I mean a community of other badass women who are building wealth. I think people underestimate this way too much. But whether or not you reach your goals can be strongly dependent on who you spend time with. If you're not sure where to find them, search Facebook and Instagram for support groups. And follow female and POC entrepreneurs that inspire you. My favorites include: Bozoma Saint John, Luvvie Ajayi Jones, and Robert Hartwell.

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When it comes to building wealth and becoming a millionaire…⁣ ⁣ What’s true? And what’s false?⁣ ⁣ Let’s bust some million dollar myths.⁣ ⁣ “If you want to run a company that generates 7- or 8-figures per year, sure, it’s possible. But it takes a really long time to get there. Like 10 years, at least.”⁣ ⁣ False.⁣ ⁣ My company, Hello Seven, specializes in helping you scale your income to $1 million. ⁣ ⁣ For the majority of our clients, it does not take 10 years to accomplish this. With the right strategy, systems, community, and mindset, a realistic timeline is closer to 3 years. ⁣ ⁣ Sometimes more. Sometimes less. But 3 years is doable for most.⁣ ⁣ “If you want to run a successful business, it’s important to go to graduate school and get a business degree like an MBA.”⁣ ⁣ False.⁣ ⁣ I’m making a mental list right now…of the top 10 most successful people I know. All of them are entrepreneurs. All of them are millionaires, or getting close. None of them went to a traditional collegiate business school. ⁣ ⁣ Higher education can be a great move. My law degree gave me a professional edge, in many regards. It also put me $250K in student loan debt. One could argue that it helped…and it hurt. ⁣ ⁣ If you want to earn a degree, go for it. Get that diploma-paper. But it’s not a prerequisite for success.⁣ ⁣ “If you want to launch a business and earn your first $100K, you need a beautiful website, professionally designed logo, branded marketing materials, a mailing list, social media ads, landing pages, webinars, email funnels, and…”⁣ ⁣ False. ⁣ ⁣ You don’t need all the bells and whistles when you’re just starting out.⁣ ⁣ All you need is *something to sell* (this could be a service, program, course, etc.) and *some way to take payments* (PayPal works just fine!). And then you need to reach out to people (friends, family, colleagues, etc.) and invite them to hire you. ⁣ ⁣ That’s it. Start there. Keep it simple. Get that first paying client in the door. Make that first chunk of cash. You can hire someone to build that gorgeous website with all the trimmings…later.⁣ ⁣ Check out the other Million Dollar Myths I’m busting in the full article on my blog ... (link in my bio)

A post shared by Rachel Rodgers (@rachrodgersesq) on Jul 25, 2020 at 8:47pm PDT

Now, I'm motivated more than ever to continue growing my wealth.

When it comes to millionaire representation in society, on television, or in business books, there's always either a token person of color or there's the token woman, but we're definitely not the standard. Some of us—women, and more specifically Black women—don't even know that we can dream that big. It's important for Black women and women of color especially to see examples of people who look like them making it and doing it in a way that doesn't require them to become a different person. In building my wealth and business, I refused to pretend that I wasn't Black—not in the way I did my hair, how I talked, or the causes I publicly stood up for, like Black Lives Matter. We all need to see images of women being their authentic selves and recognize that it doesn't stop them from having success, but actually contributes to it.

Someone once asked me, "At what point will it be enough?" My answer: "I'm Black. So, there will never be enough." Black women reportedly make up the fastest growing segment of new entrepreneurs, yet many will never reach seven figures because of both systemic racism and patriarchal barriers at play. One of the stats that's stuck in my head and hasn't budged in years is that less than 2 percent of women entrepreneurs made more than a million dollars in business revenue in 2018, per Forbes. That's just not okay with me.

So I will always keep fighting as long as my people are struggling. I will always continue to make more money because once my family's taken care of, I get to take care of my greater community, which is what I've already started to do by creating things like the Anti-Racist Small Business Pledge, an example of how to create a business that is both very equitable and profitable. The pledge is a commitment small-business owners can make to promote racial equity in five actionable steps, which includes investing a portion of monthly budgets to the Black community and naming and discussing white supremacy in the workplace, among other things. We've already had 2,500 businesses sign up.

At my own company, I'm taking my commitment to equity a step further. It would feel very incongruous for me to be building wealth, teaching clients how to build wealth, and then not helping my employees build wealth themselves. That just doesn't make any sense. So, this month I extended profit sharing to my team of majority women, many of whom are Black.

This means a certain percentage of profits is paid out to employees every month based on how long they've been at the company. Unlike salaries, which are based on experience level, profit sharing is based on longevity. This way, an assistant can get the same share of the profits as someone who is more senior than them if they've been at the company just as long. Many of my employees have never received several thousand dollars in a single check at once. This is money they can use to pay off debt, or put toward a down payment on a home and build wealth. It brings me such joy to be able to do that for others—my family included.

Most of my life, I'd never had disposable income. Then, last summer, I was able to rent a beautiful house in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, for my entire immediate family, which has always been a goal of mine. Fourteen of us came together and spent two weeks kayaking, sightseeing, spending time in nature and seeing wildlife—just having experiences I wouldn't have ever dreamed of as a kid.

The number one thing that motivates me to keep growing my wealth is legacy. I want my children to start their adult lives with a massive head start the way many white kids do. Wealth is not created by just one generation—it's passed down so that the future generations always have something to build upon. My kids won't be starting a zero, and neither should yours.

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