Entrepreneurial advice from a mom who built a million dollar business

Julie Berninger, 33, has attempted numerous scams. She maintains a blog that brings in thousands of dollars a year. She had a podcast which, although never a source of income, allowed her to meet hundreds of financial experts and parallel hustle. And her Etsy store, where she sells items like bachelorette party activity lists, brings in $1,000 a month in passive income.

After years of dabbling, it occurred to Berninger that she could teach some of the side concert lessons she learned. In 2019, she teamed up with fellow hustler Cody Berman, and the two founded Gold City Venturesan online course business focused specifically on creating additional revenue streams.

The two started with freelance courses, blogging, and opening an Etsy store for printables like Berninger’s. The latter was by far their most popular course, and in 2021, Gold City Ventures brought in $1 million in revenue.

Berninger, who lives with her husband and daughter in Massachusetts, quit her job in July 2021 to focus on the business full-time. Here are his career tips for other entrepreneurs.

Work in an American company

Berninger spent years working at companies like Amazon and MetLife. She recommends any entrepreneur spends time working in an American company before taking the plunge. “You’ll learn so many skills that will really carry over to your own business,” she says.

Berninger served as a project manager in some of his day jobs, for example. “You learn to work backwards from an end result,” she says. “You learn to create a schedule and you also learn to manage resources.” The latter has really helped to develop his businesses. Whenever she had a budget, she used it to hire freelancers to take on some of the workload.

“Whatever career field someone is in, you get something out of being at your day job,” she says. Think about what those skills might be and always consider what else you can learn there that might apply.

Benefit from training and education

Some companies also provide their employees with various in-house training and education allowances outside of work. Enjoy it, Berninger says.

His companies sometimes brought guest speakers, for example. “I always went to each one,” she says. “Particularly in the end, when I was working at the tech companies, they brought in the founder of Reddit. They had people writing books about entrepreneurship.”

All of these opportunities offered learning to become a better entrepreneur herself. “It’s just about getting inspired and getting outside ideas and learning as many skills as possible,” she says.

“Build those breaks along the way”

“It’s something I’m still working on,” Berninger says of his final tip. “But build those breaks along the way.”

Even if you’re chasing your entrepreneurial dreams while working full time and only have small windows to do what you need to do, giving yourself momentary breaks will help you focus. A 2011 study from the University of Illinois found that among diverse groups of people who performed a 50-minute task, those who took two brief breaks remained focused throughout the experiment. Performance declined for those who did not take breaks.

And if you can spend those minutes doing something that brings you joy, that’s an added bonus. Ashley Whillan, an assistant professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and author of “Time Smart,” recommends doing things like messaging someone important to you or checking your vacation balance. Both have been proven to improve mood.

“You can get really carried away and there’s always another ladder or another level to climb and there’s always something more you could do,” Berninger says. “But learning to enjoy the journey along the way” could help you get the most out of it.


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