This 40-year-old started a part-time job while living on welfare – now she makes $1 million a year

In 2007, I was a 25-year-old single mom working a $12-an-hour dead-end job with an insurance company in Dallas.

I lived below the poverty line and was eligible for government assistance, including Section 8, which helps low- to middle-income families with affordable housing. All of my income went into rent, gas, day care and unfortunately payday loans to survive until my next paycheck.

One day I was offered a $60,000 a year job that could change my life, but was turned down because I had a low credit score of 303.

This wake up call prompted me to study and start the credit system AMB Credit Advisor, a side business that later became a financial education company. Last year it grossed $1.4 million.

How I was motivated to start my part-time job

When I graduated high school, I had a credit score of 700 because my mom added me to her credit cards as an authorized user. But my credit profile crumbled as I got older. I didn’t understand the credit system or how to manage my finances. At one point I had maxed out 25 credit cards.

After being denied this job, I was determined to improve my credit score. I spent hours in the local library reading about consumer credit laws and credit formation. I found inaccuracies on my credit report and had the credit bureaus correct them.

Combined with the budgeting strategies I learned, this has helped me increase my credit score by over 100 points in six months. I saw the real change that good credit made in my life; I was able to buy a more reliable car and rent an apartment in a nicer area with great schools.

I also started helping my family and friends build their credit. A friend, grateful for my help, suggested charging for my services and started referring clients to me.

I realized this could be a great side hustle. So in late 2007 I spent $500 on a website domain and business supplies. That’s how AMB Credit Consultants was born—named after my daughter, Ariyah Marie Bodley—and I began advising clients after work and on weekends.

I always thought I had to work for someone else to be financially stable. But being fired from my insurance job gave me the boost I needed to work full-time at my side job.

My journey to $1 million in sales

Based on what my competitors were charging and what my target audience could afford, I priced my first product, which offered a free consultation and six-month credit training and correction program, at $149.

Business was initially sluggish. I made less than $12,000 a year for the first five years. I didn’t do a good job promoting AMB and charged too little for the work I put in.

To add credibility to AMB, I have promoted my certifications as a Board Certified Credit Consultant and FICO Professionals. I’ve also posted customer testimonials about ours social media accounts and website.

Arnita Johnson-Hall, poses with two of her certifications

Photo: Marrica Evans Calahan

Influencer partnerships also helped increase testimonials. I offered my services to social media influencers for free and asked them to endorse my business if they were happy with the results.

And in 2014, I changed the structure of my program to better reflect the work I was putting in. I charged $149 for six months of service, then another $99 per month to remain enrolled.

To further increase sales, I created campaigns that reduced signup for new customers from $149 to $47. This increased the urgency for new customers to sign up when a promotion was running.

In 2016, AMB had gross sales of $1.1 million.

How I built a business

AMB now has 10 employees and served 672 customers in 2021. The success of the company and the change I was making in people’s lives inspired me to start a company with financial education brands.

I started posting in 2013 Luxurious credit, a blog that provides readers with free credit information and sells books on finance and entrepreneurship. Then I started Luxurious lifestyle plannera line of journals that includes helpful tools like monthly budgeting sheets and credit score trackers.

And in 2018 I started doing it Reach with the Arnita Academya coaching service for aspiring credit advisors.

My best advice for starting a business

It’s been a long journey to get where I am today, but I’m glad I never gave up.

I am now happily married with five children and in the process of buying land to build our forever dream home and my business is doing better than ever.

Here’s my top advice for aspiring entrepreneurs:

1. Make your story part of your brand.

An important part of my AMB brand story is my triumph over my poor credit rating and financial instability.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I took on more than $80,000 in credit card debt to pay for holistic treatment. But by 2021, I had paid off over $60,000 of that debt, as well as loans on my family’s two cars.

I used this story to show my clients that even under the most stressful of circumstances, I understood how to navigate financial planning and the credit system.

2. Be specific about who you can help.

In the beginning, my mission was to help everyone. Then I realized that I knew what it was like to be a young black single mother on government assistance, so I had a unique ability to help these women.

To market my business in a way that resonated with them, I created a collage of images of women in my demographic and described their characteristics – such as: B. what problems they had and what goals they had.

This has helped me build a very specific customer profile and strengthened my marketing and product development efforts.

3. Focus on the community.

Having a large following on social media is not enough. You need to build a supportive community by connecting with your followers, addressing their needs, and asking for feedback.

I love offering my followers and newsletter subscribers free digital downloads of budgeting worksheets and educational workshops. I host those too Luxurious credit companya Facebook group that allows people to ask questions about their credit situation and get advice from me or another AMB representative.

This encourages customers to stay and invite others to join. It also helps us measure the effectiveness of our Services and develop new ones.

Arnita Johnson Hall is a credit educator and personal brand strategist whose mission is to help individuals take responsibility for their financial status. She is a holistic cancer survivor, wife and mother of five. Keep following Arnita Instagram and Twitter.

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