Robin R Haynes is a full time financial strategist, and a business advisor who also owns and operates a business consulting firm, and writes the ‘monthly financial segment’ for Returning Citizens Magazine (RCM). Robin has over 20 years of experience in the financial industry as a coach, a speaker, and an author. Robin granted ShingleHanger an interview via a Zoom call on February 26.
DM: So, you own a business – Robin R. Haynes Consulting. What do you do? What’s your story?
RH: I’m a financial strategist and a business advisor. I’ll give you a little history…after having been in the financial business since 1999, over the years, I saw consumers practicing unhealthy behaviors. In 2012, I launched my own business [Understanding Finances] after getting my undergrad degree. I was an incompentent entrepreneur! I didn’t have a business plan. I didn’t know who my target market was. I kind of knew what I was offering, but I didn’t drill down what I was offering. I just wanted to help everybody with all of their finances. I was all over the place! I was a ‘hot mess.’ I remember someone from my publishing team asking, “Are you making any money.” Robin motions as if ‘clutching her pearls.’ That question was a coachable moment for me. I acknowledged that she was right — that I wasn’t making any money. So, as an incompetent entrepreneur, I figured I’ll continue using my IRA and just put the money back in two years. I was THAT incompetent. People think that success is overnight, but it is not. ‘Success is hard’!
So, I was coaching, speaking, and just grateful for gas money or an honorarium…or whatever they were willing to give me. My first project The Fundamentals of Financing Applied to Everyday Living came out in 2013. I thought, I’m going to be a bestselling author, and I will make a lot of money, and be great! That was my ‘plan.’ After the launch, sales dried-up AND, I was in the process of a [marital] separation. Life kicked me in the teeth! By 2014, I was broke! People then said, “Robin, you’ve been in the financial industry for so long…why are you facing financial difficulties.” They were right. Thank God that I had financial support from my parents. I was so blessed. Every month they helped me out.
DM: Wow! That is nice! Ok, so eventually you started to work?
RH: Yes! I did odd bookkeeping jobs, and worked part-time for a friend who owns a major construction company in Baltimore, but realized I had to go back to a 9–5. So, then it’s 2016 and I’ve landed job #1, so I had to put my business on ice. This job doesn’t take me out of the woods completely, so soon after, in 2017, I got job #2. With this second job, I went from public assistance and barely being able to afford toilet paper from the Dollar Store, to being able to pay my mortgage and my son’s college tuition by myself! On my first paycheck from job #2, I literally asked them if they made a mistake and paid me too much. In 2018, I found myself traveling ALONE for the first time, internationally! It was so liberating! This was the beginning of “The Evolution of Robin R Haynes”! In 2019, I started writing my second book This is Not the Final Chapter, and released it in May 2020. The book is about my transition from having nothing to getting to where I am now. I am so honored and blessed to be where I am. I learned that if you’re not walking in your purpose, and you’re just chasing money, you will get tired, quickly!
DM: Was your consulting business a side hustle before it became a business?
RH: It was never a side hustle to me because I was always consulting as a business. I guess my consulting business was a side hustle that transitioned into Understanding Finances, which I had to put on ice after starting at job #1. Understanding Finances later evolved into Robin R. Haynes Consulting. I label myself as a business strategist because I can facilitate small business entrepreneurship and credit money management.
DM: You mentioned that you didn’t have a business plan when you started out, and that you were “a hot mess” as a result. Business plans are complex! Can you tell our readers the gist of what an uncomplicated business plan entails? What can someone new to business ownership jot down to create a basic business plan?
RH: First of all, you need to know WHO you are, ie your business name. What product or services are you offering to your clients. You have to ask yourself who is your target market? And why? Does your product or service fit the needs, wants, and desires of your target market? EVERYBODY IS NOT YOUR TARGET! You need to know WHY you are in this business, or your purpose behind the business? How much is it going to cost to start, and then operate your business monthly? How much do you project to bring in (revenue) monthly?
Oftentimes, individuals who have a side hustle are in it to just make additional cash; however, if they’re transitioning their side hustle into a business, they HAVE to have a solidified purpose BESIDES money.
DM: What advice do you give to someone who wakes up tomorrow and decides they want to start a business?
RH: Make a business plan. And remember that everything cannot be a priority. One of the quickest ways to burn out is by trying to do everything at once. Most importantly, keep your eyes on the finances!
DM: If a person has found their purpose and wants to leave their full time job in order to fully pursue their side hustle as a business, what advice would you give them before they make that decision?
RH: You need to have about 12–18 months of income in the bank. Success is not overnight.
DM: What advice do you give to those who want to start a business, but who are afraid to take the leap, or are stuck at the mental hurdle of starting the business?
RH: This is called brain overload. You have to get this stuff out of your head! Set time lines and priority levels because you cannot do everything at once. You MUST focus on one thing at a time. Execute and complete deliverables, and check it off the list. Set a number of tasks daily. Give yourself maybe 2-3 action items to complete per day. Create a checklist. I know this from experience!
DM: When clients who already have a business come to you distressed because their business isn’t moving or progressing, what do you find is most often the problem?
RH: They don’t have a plan. People need to realize that there are so many moving parts in the small business ownership and entrepreneurial space. From marketing to product development to competition to industry saturation… You have to know this stuff. They have to do the homework and research in their industry. At least own a domain with your picture and company name. They have to check on what their branding looks like. What does their business email address look like?
DM: What’s the biggest mistake you made as a business owner?
RH: Not having a plan.
DM: What’s the best decision you made as a business owner?
RH: I followed directions. Having a plan in place and knowing what I wanted. I just stuck to my plan. It was hard! But it helped to not be bothered or get frustrated when things didn’t go my way.
DM: Well, what do you do when you get to the point of frustration or exhaustion? Wanting to give up? Immediate relief vs fixing the business problem?
RH: (Immediate relief): I grab a glass of chardonnay or Rosé with frozen pineapples and find a good series to binge watch on Netflix.
(Business fix): Sometimes you have to step back. You can’t operate at 20–30% capacity because then you’re doing yourself, your team, and your clients a disservice. You have to then ask yourself ‘why am I running this business’? Go back to the business plan. If you’re following the plan and it’s still not working out, maybe it’s not the right time for your business. You may need to go back to the 9–5 — and that’s ok! Just continue to work on your business venture after work and on weekends. You don’t want to have a business that’s not paying the bills.
DM: What is your next business venture?
RH: I’m working on my third book. I’m looking to go on tour — probably spring of 2022 when the third book is released — to talk about the second book (This is Not the Final Chapter) because people need to hear that story. This is a book and a journal. I find that people — especially women — harbor so much stuff. We’re the mom, the wife, the business person… we’re everything and taking care of everybody, but then who takes care of us? I found that writing really helped and helps me and I want to share my story.
Robin R. Haynes’ first two books (The Fundamentals of Finance Applied to Everyday Living, and This is Not the Final Chapter) can be purchased on her website www.robinrhaynes.com. The expected release date for her third book is Spring 2022. See Robin’s contact info at the top.