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Move the Needle

A Discussion with Entrepreneur, Coach, and Mama Tu-Hien Le

Hey goal achievers, Kristin here. Recently, I had the pleasure of chatting with the founder and CEO of BeauGen. Tu-Hien Le launched her business from her dining room and has grown it into a seven-figure e-commerce business in only five short years. She is also busy being a mama to her six-year-old daughter and on a mission to share her business knowledge with future entrepreneurs. She is passionate about helping entrepreneurs build a company and lead in their chosen industries. 

I was excited to chat with her and had so many questions about how she grew her business. I start by asking her to talk more about BeauGen and what inspired her to launch the company. 

“All-In”: The Story Behind Le’s Business BeauGen

“I kind of fell into entrepreneurship,” Le begins. “I’m not an entrepreneur by training. I actually have a finance background. When I had my daughter in 2014, I had a lot of trouble breastfeeding. I went to Facebook groups to talk to moms and the moms I knew, and we were all asking if it was supposed to be like this. There was a lot of support, but not really a direct solution. My husband was with me, and he saw the pain and struggle I went through. He really wanted to support me. And then I was telling him, ‘There’s a lot of women that have this problem. I’m not the only one’ and he’s like, ‘Well, maybe we can solve it.’ So, at the time, we were living in New York City in a 500 square foot studio with a baby, and we decided, let’s go all in and do this. So, he quit his job, neither of us were working, and we went all-in with a newborn baby and moved to Florida, which is where we’re originally from. We decided to go on this entrepreneurship journey to solve this specific problem for breastfeeding women. My husband helped me develop the actual solution while I was talking to the mothers and really understanding what their issue was. That was the start of our journey to building our flagship product, the BeauGen breast pump cushions.”

I find Le’s explanation incredible and ask how she knew they were meant to go all-in with this product and this idea.

“That’s such a good question,” Le says. “We didn’t! I think it was just a little bit of faith, knowing that there was a problem that could and needed to be solved, and really just trusting that we would be able to find the solution eventually. We had to invent a solution. Nothing existed in the world like it. So, it was a lot of trial and error. We ended up creating over 40 prototypes, testing different shapes and materials. We asked questions like ‘What a breast pump cushion is like?’ and ‘What is a breast pump cushion?’ We had to experiment with that. The next challenge we had was finding the money, the capital to build out a solution. We actually ran a Kickstarter campaign and for people who don’t know what Kickstarter is, it’s a crowdfunding campaign. So, you put your solution out there and tell the world. Our goal was $20,000. We said, ‘Okay if we can raise $20,000, that means there are enough moms and enough women who need this problem solved. Then we will solve it. But if we don’t raise $20,000, then not enough people care about it, and we won’t do it.’ We ended up raising close to $25,000. And we’re like, ‘Okay, there’s a demand for this. We’re going to go and build the manufacturing line and launch it into the market.’ I believe in 2016 we launched, and we’ve been in the market ever since.”

I think it’s incredible. When Scarlett was born, she was born with a condition called duodenal atresia. So, her abdomen and bowel never fused together during pregnancy. And we found this out very, very late in the pregnancy, around week 33. When she was born, I wasn’t able to nurse, and she couldn’t eat. She went into the NICU and had corrective surgery after she was born. It was a couple of weeks later before she was actually able to eat. In the meantime, I had to pump. I guess I didn’t have to pump, but I made a choice to try pumping. And it was absolutely excruciating. When you have a NICU baby, you are literally pumping every couple of hours because you’re trying to build up the supply. 

“I know and the interesting thing was,” says Le, “we didn’t actually come up with a solution with the breast pump cushion until I was close to the end of my breast pumping journey. It was just so painful, and I wanted to quit every single day. Eventually, we came up with the solution but by that time, I had already started to wean and finish my pumping journey. But I was really passionate about helping women because I knew that we had a solution that could not only help women, but also it would have a positive impact on their families and their babies.”

As Le talked about her own journey with pumping and the tears and wanting to give up multiple times, I’m curious if she ever felt that way as she was launching her business and building 40 prototypes. I ask how she stayed committed. 

Staying Committed is About Staying Consistent

“That’s a good question,” Le says. “You know, I think we were just determined to just find the solution. But even when we were in the market, it took about three years to gain market traction. We had minimal visibility, some interest, but nothing really huge, right? In three years, you think like ‘I’m creating all this content. I’m putting stuff out there. I don’t really know if people care. I don’t know if people are listening’ for three years. And really, I tell people that the only reason why I’ve found a little bit of success is I didn’t quit it. That’s it. I just didn’t quit after three years. Then towards the end of the third year, I started seeing an uptick in sales. And I’m like, ‘Oh, this is interesting!’ Three years of being consistent, writing those emails and showing up, showing up, showing up. You build this momentum, and it’s like a flywheel effect. You’re like, ‘Okay, I’m building momentum,’ and then all of a sudden it starts to keep going, and then traction is happening, and people are seeing you. Sales are increasing. You’re like, ‘Okay, this, there’s something to this.” That’s when I started to build out a team to support the demand that was coming in.”

I repeat what Le has said, three years staying committed and consistent. 

“Yeah,” she says, “We’re talking about three years of not taking any income. I just had this feeling that this is what I was supposed to be doing. There were times where I wondered if I should just close the business down. But I had this gut feeling. I knew I was supposed to be doing this.”

I talk to a lot of my clients about the power of consistency, and I believe it’s one of the characteristics of goal achievers. They’re consistent. They overcome adversity, they have that mindset to keep moving forward and they focus on progress, not perfection. I ask Le to share some of the things she does to keep her mindset so strong, to stay consistent and keep growing. 

“I focus on progress because perfection is the killer of progress,” starts Le. “I do a lot of mindset work, and I surround myself with a lot of people who are similar in thinking. I’ve joined masterminds, I take courses and meet people that are on the same vibration and ambition as me and understand like, you know, that’s it’s going to hit the fan. Things don’t always work out. That’s okay. It’s okay to fail. You learn from it. You get stronger, you get up, and then you do it again, but better. And that’s part of the journey.”

Le mentioned that she surrounds herself with people who think similarly, and I believe we are really the sum of the books we read, the podcasts we listen to, and the people we surround ourselves with. So, I ask Le, if there’s anyone curious how to be in front of big thinkers, where they go to start finding people that help get them to that next level.

Success Does Not Outpace Personal Development

“Yeah, I’m seeking out mentors,” Le says. “I mean, you can find great people on Instagram, different very, very motivational coaches on Instagram. And a lot of them have their own masterminds. Masterminds are groups of other entrepreneurs and big thinkers that want to get together and bounce ideas off of one another, so I enjoy those programs. I listened to a lot of podcasts, read a lot of books. I read all those top 10 recommended books for entrepreneurs, like Think and Grow Rich. That’s a huge one, right? And l learn all the golden nuggets that they’re saying. Like your personal development usually has to start because your success does not outpace your personal development. You have to really look inside yourself and determine what you need to improve. Is it your mindset? Is it your limiting beliefs? And then surround yourself with people who are maybe more knowledgeable, and that can help you discover that.”

I love that Le brought up that success does not outpace your personal development. Totally huge. I know as women who own businesses, as mamas, it can be really hard to prioritize personal growth and development. I know I’ve hired a coach to help me grow. I also joined an entrepreneur’s organization this year to help me grow personally and professionally. I ask Le how she finds the time to prioritize her own growth and development.

“I cut out stuff that doesn’t move the needle,” Le says confidently. “I’m pretty goal-oriented. So, I know what I want to do. I want to move the needle in my business, and I want to be present with my family. I want to make sure I live a healthy life. So, if things don’t really fall in those buckets, I just don’t do them. Like, in my 20s I used to love hanging out at the bars with my friends and going out, which is cool. But it’s just not a thing that I even really care to do anymore. Not to mention I have a daughter, so, it’s hard to do that. But even if I had time, I don’t know if I’d really want to because I genuinely love learning. I love reading and figuring out how I can do better because there’s always something that I can improve in, whether it’s speaking and communicating or something specifically in business. I always want to figure out a way to get better so I can bring it into my family life, or in my health, or in my business. It’s just about prioritizing, like getting rid of the crap that doesn’t really matter.”

Absolutely, I agree. It’s becoming very intentional. Like, you want to build the business you want to build. Then you look at all the ways you spend your time – because time is our greatest commodity. And we have to look at those places that can waste our time or people that can drain our energy and shift our focus away from what’s important. This is a powerful reminder to everyone that we can be intentional, yes. We have the ability to choose the goals that we want to go after. Then we get to make a choice on how we’re going to use our time to either propel us towards those goals or push us further away.

“Totally,” Le agrees. “Something I also wanted to add is something that happened to me very recently, maybe in the last year or so. And that is really asking the question – do I care what people think and people’s opinions of me? And let me tell you the power of not giving an F about people’s opinions. It’s so amazing. All of a sudden, I don’t really care what these peripheral people think about what I’m doing or what they think of my business. It doesn’t matter. I’m not serving them. I’m serving my clients and my customers. I’m trying to add value to them. So, whatever these other people are thinking, it’s like, well, their opinions. That’s not on me; that’s their opinion. They’re allowed to have their opinions, but I’m not going to concern myself. I don’t need to put any time into that. You realize how much time you waste being concerned about what other people think. Once you realize that it really doesn’t matter, you’re free. You’re empowered. Like, now I can show up on social media however I want. I can talk about what I want. If you don’t want to follow me, that’s totally fine. That’s up to you. So, I encourage people to really, really think about why they care what people think. Because you’re holding yourself back from your greatness.”

I am so thrilled Le took us there because I struggle with comparison. I do have thoughts in my mind – I wonder what this person will think, or that person will think. So, I ask Le to share the secret on how to let that go.

Letting Go of Comparison

“I think it’s normal,” she says as we talk about comparison. “It really is normal. I must admit, I’m not perfect. Sometimes I’m like, ‘Oh, I wish I could be more whatever.’ But in those times, I think about why I’m doing what I’m doing. Like, what’s my purpose? My purpose is to serve these women through their breastfeeding journey to make an impact in their lives. I’m also a business coach, so my purpose is to help guide these other entrepreneurs going through the same thing that I went through, and I can help them accelerate in their business much faster. My focus is on the value that I can add to my clients and my customers. And in that case, it doesn’t really matter. It’s not about me. It’s about the value I can add. When you put that in perspective, people’s opinions really don’t matter. It’s like nothing in comparison to the value you can add to people’s lives.”

This is a constant theme I hear from Le as we talk about what kept her motivated and inspired when launching her business. It was why she and her husband decided to go all in, and how she’s evolved away from caring about what other people think. It goes back to understanding her purpose. She is also deeply, deeply connected to her why.

“Yes, yes,” Le confirms. “It wasn’t something that I knew from the beginning, either. It was definitely a journey in figuring that out. I would say in the first three years of launching BeauGen, when I really didn’t have that market traction yet, I wasn’t very clear on that. I think that’s probably why BeauGen didn’t have that market traction because I myself, as the company leader, didn’t have that clarity. But once I started to develop it, interestingly enough, the company started to really take off. This is why I really believe that your success does not outpace your personal development.”

Le often talks about four pillars of success: foundation, customers, sales, and scale. I ask her to share how she created them. 

Le’s Four Pillars of Success and the Power of Asking Why ( & Why & Why)

Le explains how it was a five-year journey of building BeauGen to boil down what moved the needle for the company. “So, the foundation is understanding your customers and why,” she says. “What’s your purpose? What’s your goal? You have to really understand that. If you don’t have the clarity on who your customers are or why you’re doing what you’re doing, then the marketing and sales scaling doesn’t matter. It boils down again, back to the core of your purpose and your why”.

I also believe in the power of clarity. It’s one of the characteristics of goal achievers. I ask Le to share how she believes a business owner can start to define his or her ideal client or customer.  

“You can start just by asking questions,” Le begins. “I’m generally a curious person. So, I’ll talk to anybody. I talked to every woman, every mom and just really tried to understand them because there’s always what they say, and then what they really mean underneath it. So, you have to kind of read both. Surveys are a great way to dig in, but having real, live conversations and understanding a lot – like the background of why they’re saying what they’re saying – is so important. Then really dig in one layer or two layers underneath that, and like, all this is the real why of how they feel the way they feel. When you can talk to that feeling under the feeling, that’s when your customers are like, ‘Oh, this company gets me. They understand it’s not just about the pain of pumping. It’s about being seen and being appreciated as a mom.’ You know, talk about those feelings and those pain points. Then you can really resonate with your customers.”

Getting to that deeper meaning behind the meaning is critical. That is one of my favorite things to do with my clients. Because I have to make sure we’re solving the right problem. 

Le agrees, “It’s the same thing when you’re talking to your clients, one on one, or entrepreneurs. They say what their problem is, but like, what’s the real problem? It’s usually not what they say. It’s usually a layer or two underneath, and as a leader, as a sales and communication person, you need to understand how to peel that back. So, then they can connect to you like, ‘Oh, okay, you understand what I’m trying to do.’”

For anyone who wants to understand how to do this better, it can be very simple. It starts with a good, solid relationship and then asking ‘Why?’, or saying, ‘Tell me more.’ ‘What does that mean?’ Ask why, why why, and all of a sudden, you get the real answer. There’s usually emotion, commitment, inspiration and all this good stuff that comes out of sitting with someone and going through those layers. It’s really powerful.

“Yes, it is!” Le agrees.

It’s my favorite when I have a client, I ask a question, and they give me that surface level answer. Then, without even prompting, they go, ‘Ah, let me just tell you what’s really going on. Here’s the truth.’ And it’s usually fear, mindset, a limiting belief, or story that they’re telling themselves. This leads me to ask Le if she ever encounters fear, either fear of failure or success. She responds affirmatively, so I ask her how she gets through it. 

“Last year,” she begins, “I joined a mastermind, and I was speaking to the coaches about how a lot of people have a fear of failure. I was like, I can handle failure, but I didn’t know what to do with success. I was thinking, ‘What if I am too good, if I’m too successful? What if? What are people going to say? What if I don’t have any friends anymore? What if nobody can relate to me?’ And the coach highlighted to me that it was my ego trying to keep me in my comfort zone. Not too high or not too low. Like me wanting to stay in this mental comfort zone. I didn’t realize that, but I had to do the work. I had to do the inner work. Why? Why am I scared of success? Who am I? Who do I care about that’s going to judge me and not like me if I become successful? So that’s when that whole thing came up about not really caring what people think—and knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing and your purpose and focus on that. I have to become the person I’m going to become in order to bring this value. So that means I have to break this – this barrier, the ceiling – and I’m going to do it. Ever since then, I just didn’t look back. Now, I don’t even know who that person was that was scared of that. I just keep going. Keep moving.”

Keep moving forward. Isn’t that incredible? How quickly you can grow and evolve if you’re committed to personal growth and development!

“Surrounding myself with the right people is also another thing,” says Le, “because there are times I have self-doubt. You have your mentors, your friends who can tell you like, ‘No, you’re here because you earned it. You deserve it.’ It keeps you on the right track.”

I move into a new topic for Le and ask how someone should start to scale their business. 

Scaling Your Business: It’s All About Leveraging

“I encourage people and business owners, especially if you’re a solo entrepreneur, to really look at all the tasks that you’re doing,” begins Le. “And think about which tasks are the needle moving ones: which one is going to grow your business, which one’s going to have a direct impact to your sales and your revenue. You, as a leader, should be focusing there. Maybe that’s showing up on a podcast and going live and, you know, showing up on Instagram, whereas things like writing emails or bookkeeping could be outsourced, right? So, to scale, you have to understand leverage. That’s leveraging automation and systems and other people’s time. And by other people’s time, I mean outsourcing, right? You can easily hire an assistant VA, or somebody like a copywriter to help you write emails, or even a social media manager to post for you. You need to be super impactful with your time. Especially as a mom, you have even more limited time. You need to leverage, leverage other people and systems.”

I think that is incredibly insightful, and I’m actually going through this right now. I, fortunately, grew really fast. I love the work that I do when I’m working with clients, or leading a workshop, or hosting a podcast. And I’m starting to look at all the other tasks that need to be done to grow my business. So, I am uber fortunate that I work with a podcast producer, a copywriter, and a social media manager. I was given some incredible guidance on how to figure out what tasks to delegate and where I am most impactful. It really comes down to tracking your tasks over a week or two and putting them into these quadrants. 

“My favorite thing is eliminating tasks,” says Le, “because then you’ll find that you do things that don’t move the needle, they’re not important. So why are you doing it? Then sometimes you’re so used to doing these things, and you realize, ‘Oh, this actually doesn’t do anything.’ So, you eliminate tasks but add leverage. Leveraging people and systems are the two best ways to start to scale. A lot of entrepreneurs think that you know, maybe you have to wait for a certain revenue or certain growth before you hire somebody. But actually, you need to hire and outsource to scale. You need to open up your brain space and bandwidth to think so you can work on the business and not always in the business. So, I’m a big proponent for systems automation and eliminating and outsourcing.”

Focusing on the most critical tasks that will get you to your business goals is a skill set that we’re all continuing to refine. I ask Le to share what she enjoys most about being her own boss.

“What do I enjoy most?” she repeats. “Well, it is a lot of pressure and responsibility. I enjoy leading and guiding my team because I can help my team grow at work and in their personal development. It’s not so much about being my own boss. It goes back to my purpose. I can dictate the impact that I choose to provide. I want to help my customer, so I’m going to do it. It’s not dictated by like if I’m working for a big corporate company, and I’m doing something that I don’t even know what it rolls into. I actually can see my impact and what I do, so I really enjoy that.”

I think that is why a lot of us love the work that we do. We’re on the front lines of making that impact. I know that I agree with Le wholeheartedly. It’s like every year, we get to set our goals and think about the impact we can make, how many people we want to serve, and what new projects we want to take on. It’s a wild responsibility.

Speaking of responsibility, I ask Le to talk more about how she juggles running a seven-figure e-commerce business, coaching, and motherhood. 

Doing It All: As a Mom and a Business Owner

“That’s a good question,” Le says. “In my business ventures, I usually don’t start something unless I have a strong partner, strong team, because I know how much work it takes to create momentum and get something off the ground. So, for BeauGen, I have a team of 12 people. They’re like a well-oiled machine. Now that they know what to do, they just need my guidance. I don’t need to be as involved in all the tasks. So now I’m building something new called the Mom Boss Method, where we work with other moms and mom entrepreneurs trying to find that balance. So, it’s just about being organized, intentional. If something doesn’t add value or move the needle in what I’m trying to accomplish, I’m just not going to do it. Then, at the same time as a mom, you have to give yourself grace, too. Sometimes you don’t finish all the tasks on your task list, and that’s okay. You do your best, and you have to give yourself grace for that.”

I agree with Le. It is so easy to beat myself up. I’m not a good mom. I’m not a good wife. I didn’t move the needle on my business. And I really have to pause and check myself. That’s why every week, I do the Friday ritual where I list out my weekly wins. What did I learn? What are the priorities for next week? I have to really remind myself of where I am doing a good job or where I am excelling. It has been critical in my own growth and development as a business owner.

“Yeah, I like that,” says Le. “That’s a good idea – weekly tracking your wins. Because it’s easy to be like, ‘Okay, these are all the things I still have to do.’ But you didn’t take any time to reflect on what you did accomplish.”

I learned this a couple of years ago when I was working with a woman who is a financial advisor who came in for coaching. This was when I was coaching at a corporate level. She would always talk about what was not working in her business, what wasn’t going well, where she was falling behind. One day, it dawned on me, and I thought we never, ever recognize what’s going well – it can’t all be bad. So, I’ve started to pull that into my coaching conversations and ask my clients ‘How did you win over the last week?’ But then, too, as I was growing my own business, I literally write down in my journal my weekly wins. It’s incredible to go back and see that track record yourself. I am getting closer – I am moving the needle – I am making progress. For me, it has really helped silence that negative voice in my mind that says I’m not doing enough or I’m not where I need to be.

“I also do daily journaling,” says Le. “But I always look for like, ‘Oh, these are the things I still need to do.’ I feel like the list always grows. But I’m going to add that to my ritual now. So, reflect back, and list wins for the week. I like that. Thank you!”

I ask Le to follow up and let me know how it goes. But for now, I’m curious to learn more about the Mom Boss Method. 

On Being a Mom and the “Mom Boss Method”

“I’m partnering with a transformational business coach,” starts Le. “Her name is Justine, and we are joining forces to help moms. Ambitious moms who love their business, love their family and may be struggling with how to be present; how to be a wonderful mom and grow a business. So, a lot of it is about finding space in your time and finding that balance, and then being able to take this system to not only apply it in your family life, but also in your business.”

I love it and ask Le for any advice for us mamas on how we can be more present.

“It’s about quality versus quantity,” says Le. ” I struggle with this a little bit too. I feel like I always have to be with my daughter. But I don’t. I just need really solid quality time, maybe 15 minutes to fill her cup and be really present, love her, hug her, tell her that she’s wonderful. And then she’s fine. Then she can give me the hour and a half I need to go to a meeting or record a podcast and not be so hard on myself. I don’t need to be next to her the entire day. Because she doesn’t need me. She needs to be independent and be able to do her thing too. I think we moms often beat ourselves up like, ‘Oh, we need to be around all the time.’ But you know, there are times when you give these moments, like quality moments, really kids are awesome like that. That’s what they need and then they’ll be fine playing!”

Absolutely. I think one of the things that helped me was when I stopped thinking in terms of days, and I started thinking more in terms of hours – we have 168 hours in a week. So yes, I might not always give Scarlett the most quality time during the business week when I’m working, and she’s focused on school. But on the weekend, I give her a couple of really good hours, and at night, I give her some really great snuggles on the couch. I think that has helped me minimize some of that mom shame and mom guilt. 

As we wrap up, I ask Le to share where people can learn more about her and the amazing things she’s doing. She suggests Instagram, where she loves to connect. She is also launching a four-week boot camp for mompreneurs to help find balance between business and life, and will be sharing more on that soon. 

With that goal achievers, keep focusing on your wins, learning from your lessons, and identifying those key priorities so you can consistently progress in the direction of your goals.