From homeless to self-employed. Listen to TerryLynn share how she turned her life around and is now a very successful businesswoman.

Homeless to Self-Employed: An Interview with Terrylynn PhillipsWelcome everyone to Hello Hump Day.  I hope that this Wednesday finds you halfway to your goals for this week.

Today we are interviewing the fabulous Terri Lynn Phillips. For those of you who don’t know her, I will go ahead and read her bio.

Terri Lynn Phillips, the Chief Fortitude Officer of SWF fortitude and podcast host. She provides business consulting, bookkeeping, and sales and marketing automation. SWF stands for Success With Fortitude. Why did I name my business that you ask? Fortitude means conquering chaos. Throughout my life, I’ve had to conquer adversities that I have tried to make or that have tried to make me jump off a short pier. First, there was hunger and homelessness as a single mother. Then there was losing my breadwinner suddenly and again, I had to provide for my children. And this time, I had to figure out how to go from being a housewife to a household immediately left with no financial resources. I pulled up my bootstraps and started a 24 seven business in 1986, called Sunshine Secretarial Services. I sold that business and I rebranded and grew a different firm, which is where I am now. I tell you this to encourage you to stifle chaos with fortitude.

TerryLynn: Thank you so much, Dotty. So honored to be here.

Dotty: It sounds like you have had quite the journey.

TerryLynn: I have. It’s been a blessed journey. And if no one knew what chaos and fortitude were last year certainly taught us all.

Dotty: Yes, it did. There is a lot of both of those going on right now.

TerryLynn: Yeah, we’re talking about taking off mask and vaccinations and traveling abroad. And through every decision, whether you’re putting on the mask, taking off the mask, taking the vaccine, deciding not to take the vaccine, or just being tested. We’re using fortitude because of the chaoticness of…Is that a word? “Chaoticness.” I think I just made up a word.

Dotty: I think you made it up.

TerryLynn: Just the decision-making in all of that has certainly strengthened our success level in everyday life. And so I am blessed to have been a part of so many business owners over the last four decades, and seeing how that has transcended into their everyday life.

What was your decision or your impetus to become self-employed in the very beginning?

What was that push that made you say, “I’m gonna do this on my own.”

You will not believe as a busy housewife raising children and they started to go off to school and my time got empty. I became an Amway distributor and started helping other people do what they saw I was doing. I would go to the meetings and I would socialize. “Where’s your paperwork?” “Oh, that stuff is done. I’m done with that.”  “How did you get it done?” I am using the whole meeting to get it done.

So everything was organized and I have a natural attack for organization, streamlining things and making things a lot easier. So at that time, I started becoming requested for my organizational services. Then, my mom, her motto was “Ask my daughter, she can do anything.”

Dotty: She was your best advocate.

And still is, I’m telling you. I am so proud of her. It’s been six years or so ago, where she actually was ready to start the business that she dreamed up all of my life, gardening. I rode to Florida – she was trying to work for Home Depot and another nurse. I said, “Mom, you could do this on your own.” We spent a long weekend by the time I left, she had six clients in less than four days.

Dotty: Yay for her.

TerryLynn: Now she serves over 70 clients. Yeah, at the age of 81. She weeds for a living, she comes to your house, comes to your yard, and pulls up the weeds. So I say it’s never too late. And I believe that dreams can come true.

What was your journey from homeless to self-employed?

Dotty: Yes. Can you expand a little bit on your bio, you were talking about the fact that you were homeless and single and kind of stuck. What was your journey from homeless to self-employed?

TerryLynn: Well, I got in it by having a child at 18 and not having the support or the guidance I needed. I actually lived in my Volkswagen for two weeks. It did save us from the winter snow in March for two weeks. My son was the reason why I was successful in coming out of that. I was cold. I had 50 cents. I had to decide whether to heat the car up or to feed myself. As a new mother, of course, I will heat the car up. And I looked down at my son and said we’re not doing this anymore. We’re just not doing this anymore. And I have been hustling for 40 years. Yeah, so that’s how we came out of it. I just took on one task after another.

When I lost my husband, people are asking me to do tasks part-time. I just let everybody know I was going full-time. I actually- and this is during the middle of the night, like two or three o’clock in the morning – somebody called me said, “I need a PowerPoint presentation in the morning. Can you do it?” And that was before the Internet.

Dotty: Wow. I don’t know that I would have answered the phone.

TerryLynn: I had put out the shingle. Yeah, my mother had told everyone about the business. She introduced me to networking. So people knew I was around, and I had a desktop on wheels that I could scoot over to the bed and put my headphones on and answer the phone in the middle of the night. I had a business 24 hours, seven days a week. It was it was challenging. It left time for me to support my children when they were not in school and put food on the table.

Dotty: So it gave you the freedom of choice when you wanted to work.

TerryLynn: Well, it gave me the ability to still be a mother. I had to work tirelessly because I didn’t know what else to do. I really didn’t. I had no idea. Some of our best ideas come out of being desperate. There are always provisions out there. I believe in God. I don’t know what other people believe in, but I can’t imagine that I’m doing this alone. I can’t believe that I actually raised three teenagers by myself. No way.

Dotty: And they’ve all turned out to be fabulous people, have they not?

TerryLynn: Believe it or not. They’re all still alive. I didn’t kill any of them.

Dotty: That’s always a good thing.

TerryLynn: They’re wonderful, wonderful human beings. They really are.

What does life look like now that you are more experienced?

Dotty: So you’ve gone through life, it sounds like teaching yourself. And it sounds like you had some natural skills around the organization and streamlining, which I will tell you is a God-given gift because a lot of us just don’t have it. So now what is it? What does life look like for you now?

TerryLynn: I am in love now. I am in love with automation. I had my first master class last Tuesday and found out that other people are in love with automation. And my niche is making it easy. I did not find it difficult, I did not find it mind-boggling. Only to find out that as a Keap Certified Partner, I am in a new era of Keap which used to be Infusionsoft. And they have rebranded it and made it user-friendly for us – the small business owner. And so I teach what I have fallen in love with, which is easy automation.

What is business automation?

Dotty: So for the people out here listening, who don’t necessarily know what automation means. When I first heard the word automation, my mind went to a factory and automating, you know, whatever it is that they’re creating. I know that’s not what it is, but that’s where my mind initially went with that word. And so can you tell people, what sorts of things in their businesses could be enhanced by using automation? And, how does that even work?

TerryLynn: Okay, let’s give a small step-by-step. Give you a little taste?

Okay, Keap has a mobile app, where you can scan a business card, or enter the information. Once it is set up properly, which is easy too, it will follow up with the individual on its own. All you have to do is put the information in.

Dotty: Oh, I haven’t even tried that mobile app.

TerryLynn: We need to hook up. So I can teach you how to use it in an easy way. Content that you have that you want to really tell people about, the newsletters, the blogs, the nurturing of relationships, all come inside of automation. You can put all of your favorite juicy content, all of your gifts, your lead generations, people know about landing pages and sales pages, they’re all done within Keap Broadcast.

I got some juicy content, I have to tell you about it. I’ll stick it into the broadcast. And I click a little button that says send it to these people.

Dotty: And you don’t have to worry about it anymore.

TerryLynn: You don’t have to worry about it anymore. And once it’s set up, then the next juicy content goes out to them. But it’s lead generation so that you can serve more clients with less stress and less effort. Thereby increasing your revenue. I teach how to do it easily.

Dotty: Automation really equates to efficiencies.

TerryLynn: Oh, definitely. Everything I do equates to making more money in less time with less stress.

“Making more money in less time with less stress”

Dotty: That sounds like a great tagline.

TerryLynn: I don’t know how to do it any other way. I tell you I have worked for Corporate America, streamlining their systems, so that they can get more done in less time. When I say corporations, I’m talking about Hewlett Packard, Bell South, Kimberly Clark. I’m talking about Greenville Health Systems.

I have worked with huge corporations as well as small businesses. Actually, my first organizing integrating job was for Washington, DC Government, where I actually turned their manual system into an electronic system so that people could use their credit cards to buy office supplies. That has followed me throughout life to Keap, where I actually teach you how to use automation.

Quick, fast, easy. I mean, how hard is it to take a picture? You take a picture and be done? Yeah, so I love it. And so I’m in love with automation. I’m always looking for something wonderful for my clients to be able to enjoy their life. Put the joy back in your business, because God knows there are enough things to take it out.

When I got introduced to Keap last year, and now I’m not talking about Infusionsoft because I was introduced to Infusionsoft a decade or so ago.

Dotty: It was really hard (Infusionsoft)

TerryLynn: Yeah, it was too much. You get in business to do what you love not to do all the administrative things. And that’s why being a virtual assistant for so many years was so successful, because I love doing the grunt work, and they could do what they enjoy.

So here we are, retired from being a virtual assistant to being full-time sales and marketing automation, as well as integrating QuickBooks because I’m a QuickBooks Pro advisor.

Dotty: You do a lot.

TerryLynn: Of course I do. Don’t we all?

What are some of your business tips?

Dotty: We do. So tell us some of your business advice that you have come across over the years. Things that have really, really helped you move forward? What what are some of those tips?

TerryLynn: The biggest tip that I always talk about – we hear it over and over again. It’s the mindset. You have to control how you think. If you think it’s hard. It’s terrible. But if you think it’s easy, and know that there is a learning curve, get you some support. Ask around. Somebody knows how to do exactly what you’re trying to do. Make it easy on yourself. It’s a mindset of never never never quit. Never give up your dream. Right on the edge of you saying, “I can’t do that no more” is your success.

Dotty: I’ve seen so many people talk themselves out of something that they need in their business

TerryLynn: Yeah because you do fabulous websites as your reputation precedes you.

Dotty: Thank you. I literally have seen people talk themselves out of doing a website because of their thinking it’s too hard. It’s a mindset, and if they switch how they think about that, then all of a sudden it’s not as hard as they’re making it out to be.

TerryLynn: It’s just called Dotty. It’s called AskDotty.

Dotty: Only for websites though. Automation. Don’t call me because I call other people

TerryLynn: Yeah, call me for automation. Call me. Right now I have a great promo going on. Go to

We like easy because we like more money with less stress. We get into business because we love the business. But we also get into business to make money.

Dotty: And I’m sure over the years, you’ve had many, many challenges.

TerryLynn: Let’s see something really juicy. So many things are running through my head…I remember when I sold my business, I remember when I just could not do it anymore. I was like, I’m over this, I’m burnt out. I cannot do this anymore. And someone was tapping at my door saying sell to me, sell it to me. Okay, I’m gonna sell it to you. And night after night, I went to bed. I would dream about my business.

Dotty: So were you regretting selling it?

TerryLynn: Well, I had the business for a decade. I was used to the business, but I could not figure out why I was so burnt out. So I decided to do what I’ve always taught my clients to do. What’s your Why? What part of it do you really enjoy. And at that point, I figured it out.

I did not like keeping time, it was really simple. I could have kept my business. But I did not like keeping time. I like to start working and to keep working. Okay, I am a one at a time kind of girl. So I want to do one thing at a time. And I want to begin and I want to finish. I’m a finisher. Keeping time, making sure that I’m within the amount of time that I have promised the client for a certain price. It was painstaking. I hated it. I just wanted to give them value.

So I started SWF Automation. I mean, it’s SWF Consulting, Inc., and I did a once-a-month price for unlimited services. People are like, “How could you do that? Well, what did you work over?” I did not care. I was happy. And my client was happy, and the joy was back in both of our businesses.

So I’ve restarted the business. So you can restart the business. If you want to. You can rebrand, you can start two or three businesses at the same time. But understand why you’re doing the business and how to continuously make it better for yourself. I literally was haunted for almost a year. Wow. Wow, over and over again. You loved it. You loved your clients. Why did you give that up? The money was good.

Dotty: I’m curious about the different price structure. If I heard you, right, everybody paid X amount of dollars per month, and you did whatever they needed. So did you have clients that over abused and did the ones that underused, even that out?

TerryLynn: What I did was requested that you do a three-month contract. Clients did not really know how to use a virtual assistant.

At three o’clock in the morning, when you think of that thing you need to have done, email me, text me, leave me a voicemail. Because my phones gonna be off. I will get it done. If I have any questions, I will let you know, and just know that it’s getting done. And after three months, we would evaluate whether we needed to raise the price or drop the price. Most of the time, the price didn’t change.

I really, as long as I enjoy what I was doing. I was paying my bills, and I had money to vacation and the kids were taken care of. So that’s what was important to me.

Dotty: You feel that pricing structure was equally or more successful than whatever you were doing before?

TerryLynn: Oh, definitely. “Okay, you’ve been a client for two years, can you give me a raise?” And they were like, “Well, how much do you want?” I was like, “You decide.” And most of the time, they would give me a raise higher than I would have asked for.

Dotty: Because they loved the service that you were providing.

TerryLynn: You feel very appreciated. Yeah. That is something that will last throughout your business forever, being appreciated.

Dotty: Yes. You know, that’s a really different way to look at pricing. I commend you for that. And for recognizing what it was that you didn’t like. I created packages because I too, don’t like to track how much time I spend on any certain project.  It makes everybody happy.

TerryLynn: Everybody wins. Isn’t that great?

People ask me all the time, how much do you charge?  “What do you want to be done? I’ll send you a quote, and then we can talk.

Dotty: Well, we got just a few minutes left. Is there anything that you want to leave our audience with any thoughts of encouragement at all?

TerryLynn: I do. I would like for the audience to keep dreaming. Keep striving. Use success in your thought pattern.  And yes, you’re going to have to conquer chaos with the fortitude to have success.

Dotty: So true. Thank you TerriLynn, for sharing your words of wisdom with us today.

AskDotty Podcast

Dotty loves learning from other successful business owners. She freely shares her experiences in business and she interviews other business owners who also share their wisdom.

If you are considering becoming self-employed, then this series is a must-listen for you. You will gain insights as to what worked for others, and what did not. Take what others have done and apply it to your thought process.

Step into your own glory and start your own business. There are many people out there rooting for you! There are also many people out there willing to mentor you to success.