By the age of 8, Alicia Forest launched her first business. She fell in love with singing and performing, but the people in her life pushed her toward a legal career. She took a variety of jobs after she graduated college, but nothing felt right.
Now, at Lively Biz Business Club, she helps people get inspired, get educated, and launch online businesses of their own.
Today, Alicia joins the podcast to share how she transformed her life, the magic of entrepreneurship, and what becomes possible for the entrepreneurs she leads, empowers, inspires, and emboldens.
- The breakdown that changed everything for Alicia – and how she made drastic changes to her life to start living on her own terms.
- How lifestyle audio plays a critical role in Alicia’s membership site.
- What happens when you face – and conquer – your fears.
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- “Your business should fund your life and what matters to you most.” – Alicia Forest
- “If you want what you want, then you have to do it.” – Alicia Forest
TranscriptRead The Transcript
Shelli Varela: Alicia Forest, welcome to the It’s a TRIBE Thing podcast. Buddy, how are you doing?
Alicia Forest: I’m fantastic. Thank you so much for having me. This is so exciting for me to be part of this.
Shelli Varela: Well, super exciting for me because in the pre-chat, I was just saying, you’re one of the TRIBEr OG’s, and one of the things I remember about you, even back in the day 2016, is you putting together like a master list and helping the rest of us along. So, it’s no surprise that you’re crushing it at what you’re doing, but without further ado, would you mind sharing with everybody who you are, what you do, who you serve, and where did the root of that story come from?
Alicia Forest: Yeah, I’d love to. So, I’m Alicia Forest. I am the founder of the Lively Biz Business Club. And in the club, I help people to get inspired and really educate them when they’re just starting out, when they’re eager and they’re emerging entrepreneurs, and maybe they’re bringing their offline business online or they’re ready to start their online business, but that’s only been the last few years.
So, I was saying to Shelli in the pre-chat that I actually really started out as an entrepreneur when I was a little kid, I was eight years old. I was running penny carnivals in my front yard. And then, when I was 12 years old, I was making ribbon barrettes that we used to wear in our hair in the 80s and selling those to the other sixth grade girls in my class. And then, just as I grew up over the years, I always had something going on where I was figuring out how I could support myself in that way, make money for myself in that way. And of course, it was mostly just fun when I was a kid and a teenager and all that, but as time went on, I went to college. I did the things that we’re all supposed to do was go to college, get a degree, and focus on something that’s going to make you money. Of course, none of the stuff that you’re supposed to do, but none of the things that I really enjoy doing, which was singing and performing and that kind of stuff, was really in line where some of the people in my life saw me going. They saw me going to law school.
And I figured out at one point after I graduated from college that I did not want to go to law school at all. It was not my dream, but I became a paralegal instead. So I kinda sorta did what someone else wanted me to do just to figure out, is this my path or not my path, that I was still doing something on the side, always doing something on the side. And then, as time went on, and I worked for a bunch of different firms doing a bunch of different things, I just got more and more miserable. And even when I was in my very last job where I thought, this is it, I’ll be happy here. I was a marketing director for my alumni for my college that I went to.
And there was just one point where everything just came to a head, and my marriage was falling apart, my father had been diagnosed with cancer, the job I was working out was 80 hours a week, and I was miserable. My brother was getting married to a woman I had never met in Finland. And it really was that trip to Finland for the wedding, I had a total breakdown, and I just lost it on the street corner in Helsinki. And I’m standing there with my dad, and I’m crying and just overwhelmed and miserable. I have no idea what to do next. I just knew I was broken, and I didn’t know how to fix it. And I asked for his help. This man I knew didn’t know how to help me. So, that was the point where the pain made me realize how responsible I was for my own life and how I really needed to take control of that.
So, it was after that trip, which was such a defining moment in my life, but such an awful experience to go through, but it changed everything. I came home, I got divorced, I worked out an exit strategy with my job. I was able to be there for my dad for the last few days of his life, really because of what I’ve built today. You know, but it was all of those moments, the time that builds and builds and builds where I’m just happy doing what I was doing for somebody else. And so, I knew that I needed to figure out a way to make something else work that I really enjoyed and that it was super enthusiastic about over and over every day. And that became my only business, which I started 20 years ago last January.
Shelli Varela: So much to dive into here. I love how you start the story with, I’ve been an entrepreneur from the time I was a little girl, I was doing penny carnivals in the front yard. And then, I was a 12-year-old, and it’s like, hang on a second, hang on a cotton-picking minute here. So, you were an eight-year-old girl who, like, I want to show where sometimes doubt can come from and how when you follow what feels good to you, we sometimes circumvent the fear that that ends up accumulating later for you. You’re an eight-year-old girl, and you have this idea that felt good, that felt exciting. And in that moment, you didn’t know how you were going to pull it off, you didn’t have all of the pieces put together, and you built something out of nothing. And it is not at all lost on me that in the doing of that, in the safety of doing that and having a positive outcome allowed you to continue doing that, and potentially built something in you that was reinforced.
And so, for many people, the idea of, now as adults, doing something similar to what you did when you were eight, or their version thereof, it’s like, wow, I have this idea. I want to put this out into the world. I want to leave a legacy, have a business, share my knowledge or whatever that looks like, but that sinking feeling that we all get because of those thousand grains of sand of what we should do, we shouldn’t do, and all of the things, you had the freedom from doing this just so innately at a young age that that didn’t apply to you in many ways. And so, while you did journey through life, and you did, again, do what you should do, it’s such a great lesson that you tuned back into your knowing and said, “Okay, how do I make this right?”
So, with what you are doing now, we’re going to talk a little bit about your membership site, but those lessons and the reason I sort of parts that out and segued is inside your membership site, it sounds to me like there are practical tactical strategies and tips and tools and tech and training and all of that kind of stuff, but it also sounds like you deal with a human being that has to do the things. And you talked about the lifestyle audio, you call it in your membership site. Can you talk about how that plays a part in a person’s ultimate success with your membership site, which is again called Lively Biz Business Club?
Alicia Forest: Yeah. So, thanks for pointing that out, Shelli, because I think it took time and a lot of reflection and a journey and even some therapy thrown in there to really get back to that person, to that eight-year-old, and really honor that. It’s so much easier for other people to see in you, what you don’t see in yourself often. In the membership, I think, there are all these times when we’re building our businesses, and being an entrepreneur is not the easiest thing to do. So, having mentors and community and peers to really help pull you forward on those really hard days, that’s a part of what I know is really important to have as a part of my membership, because we have these moments where totally, I’m a teacher. I actually was a teacher for a few years. I’ve done a lot of things.
And I’m a how-to, I love worksheets and workbooks, and let me give you step by step by step, let’s get you from A to Z, but there are just so many times when we know what to do and we don’t do it anyway, and then we have to figure out or at least acknowledge, even if we don’t figure it out, at least acknowledge something standing in our way. What’s this thing that’s standing in our way? So, in the lifestyle audios, I kind of call them that because it’s like I can give you all the business strategies and I do, but it’s really about your life.
I call it the Lively Biz Business Club because my belief is your business should fund your life and what matters to you most. So, what gives your life, life, right? If your business can fund that, whatever that means for you, then that’s great. And so, to me, it’s really about that, like what is so important to you that you have put in this time and effort and energy to create a business as an entrepreneur, knowing it’s not the easiest thing to do? The easy thing to do is to get a paycheck, I mean, not always, but it’s a lot easier sometimes to collect a paycheck than it is to work for ourselves. So, it’s important to have those conversations come up and really address them and walk through them. And we all deal with things differently. We all have different solutions. Like that’s one of the things I love about being in this world, is that everybody has something to contribute, and everybody has experiences that can help move people forward.
So, that’s part of what I think is really magical about this journey of being in entrepreneurship, is that we bring all of it to it. It’s not just about the business tactics, it’s about our whole lives. And there’s so much there that we can use to help each other move forward and make progress.
Shelli Varela: I so love that. And again, just want to echo, it’s not just about the training and the tools and the tech, it is oftentimes around the truth and transformation. And sometimes, that’s a little bit gritty and ugly having to look at the things that you don’t want to look at because oftentimes, people are not afraid of what they think they’re afraid of, they’re afraid of what fear is asking them to look at that they don’t want to see. And so, it’s true, though, right?
Alicia Forest: You just gave me chills on that one.
Shelli Varela: And so, I love that. And I love, though, that you are somebody who has walked this path. So, not only do you have the business prowess, but you also have the humanity to know what it looks like as an eight-year-old who gripped it and ripped it and just did it, and it was successful. And you followed your bliss and it worked, juxtaposed that with doing what you “should” and how that felt. For the people who are sitting on the precipice of potentially wanting to make their idea, their dream, their interest, a thing, a business, something, what would you– because I’m always interested in people’s motivation, I’m fascinated by people and possibility, and I also know that there’s this balance between a dream pulling you and fear pushing you. So, for those people who are sitting right on the edge of that, what do you think the cost of not following your dreams is, having been on both sides of the fence?
Alicia Forest: Yeah, so that’s a really good question because there was a really critical point where I really had to make this work so that I could stand on my own two feet. I didn’t have anyone else supporting me, I didn’t have income coming from anything else. Like, I really had to figure it out, but once I got it going, there was the next point– I talk about is the big money why, what’s your emotionally-driven motivator that pulls you forward?
And so, for me, the next thing was I met my now husband, and I wanted to be home to raise any future children that we may have together. And if I wanted that to happen, then no matter how scared I was to go all in on this, I had to do it, I had to figure out how that was going to happen. And even the very first time, the first day I stepped onto my own full time, and not full time because I work part time, but as just a business owner on my own, I was terrified, I was absolutely terrified, but I had a lot of faith, and I think probably from historical faith that I could figure it out and I could make it work. And I think there have been, and I talk about this all the time very openly, there have been two times in the last 20 years of me being in this business that I’ve wanted to throw in the towel, like I’ve just had enough, I’m done, I want to move, I want to do something else, whatever, but there’s something else would be getting a job which is never going to happen.
But both times that happened, my own coach told me, two different coaches told me the same thing in different ways, but the same idea was you have to feel to be here and do it anyway. If this is what you want, if this is that important to you, if this is your big why, then you’ve just gotta keep putting one foot in front of the other. And I think that’s a big thing, is like I was scared, and I’m still scared. There’s lots of things that happen that still scare me, and then it’s like, well, if you want what you want, then you have to do it. You have to do it. And it’s just feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
Shelli Varela: I’m a strong believer that courage is just fear in motion. Would you be willing to share one of those times and what that looked like for you at the time you were doubtful, and then what you did to flip it?
Alicia Forest: Yeah, probably the first one that popped into my head was when I did have those children, and every parent who is being pulled between their career, their work, whether they work for themselves or someone else, and their small children knows this feeling, right? This like I’m not doing enough here, I’m not doing enough here. I’m not doing enough with my family. I’m not doing enough for my work or my business. And there was a time when my kids are really, really small where it was just this constant feeling, like I was failing. I was failing with my business because it wasn’t growing fast enough and I wasn’t doing enough and I wasn’t blah, blah, blah, fill in the blank. And I was failing with my family because I wasn’t 100% present with them all the time, blah, blah, blah.
So, it’s just this constant feeling of failure, and that’s an awful place to live for day after day after day after day. And of course, I was the hardest on myself. Neither of those things are really actually happening, but it was an awful feeling. I just felt like I wasn’t doing good enough in either case. And it was all within me, nobody was telling me that. And then, it got to the point where I thought, I can’t do this. I can either be a mom to tiny people, or I can run my business, I can’t do both these things because I just hate the way I feel all the time.
And then, I had to literally take a break, like go away for a couple of days, have some conversations with my girlfriends, with my mom, with my husband, and just kind of regroup and just acknowledge that this was just a period of time in my life, and it was just going to be that way. They are now 13 and 16, and under strict orders, to be very quiet right now while we’re talking. And they’re doing also, but really, honestly, it was really, really hard for me at that point. Like I really just said, I want to be done with that, I’ll figure out something else to do that will bring in money, and then I’ll be fine, but it was just really, it was honoring the fact that I was feeling that way, and the way that I was feeling was really legitimate, and having conversations with people who understood that and were supportive, including business conversations with my own coach at the time, and then trusting myself that this was just a period of time and that I was doing a good job on both sides of the spectrum. And if I really want what I wanted, which was the freedom, the flexibility, and the financial peace of mind to be home to raise those two beings, then I was just going to keep figuring it out.
Shelli Varela: Such beautiful advice. It’s funny when you trace the route all the way back, if you had not managed your fear or not acknowledged it so that you could sit in it, feel it, process it, whatever you needed to do, where you went to the future might have looked different. And when you think of the people that you’re helping and affecting, and then the ripple effect of what they’re going out and doing the world, it really is quite striking when you trace it back to that moment. And we all have those moments.
Last question, if you were to picture the greatest vision for your business and what becomes possible for the people that you’re leading and empowering and inspiring and emboldening, what does that look like for yourself and the Lively Biz Business Club?
Alicia Forest: Oh, that’s an easy question to answer. Thank you for that. You know, for me, it’s always been about what matters most, right? It’s never been about the millions, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s never been about the money piece of it, but it’s always been about having a business that funds your life and really allows you to enjoy the things that are most important to you, whether that’s your family or hobby, another career, maybe your business is supporting your other career.
So, even though I’ve worked the gamut from just starting out, I just want to make a thousand dollars, a five-hundred-dollars-a-month business owner to six- and seven-figure business owners, like it doesn’t matter as long as your business is able to support the things that really allow you to live the life that you want to live. And for me, it’s family first, it’s summers off. I take the summers off, I don’t believe in hustles, we love to travel, like there’s so many different things that the whole reason that I have this is so that I can live the life that I want to live, which to me, my version of that is probably very small compared to other people’s versions, but it’s just what matters to you.
And so, I have so many clients, and this is what I love about it. I have so many people who have been with me since my very first membership, which was in 2006, that they’re in the current membership that I have now. And I can think of individual people who are doing things in their lives because of the work that we’ve done together that have nothing to do with business. It’s just all about the other things that matter to them, including clients. You’re like, I just want to work with you because I want to know how to take the summer off. It’s like a really big thing. And I have clients who take the summer off now, and they still bring in money. So, it’s those stories, that’s the thing that just jazzes me up. I love, love, love, love that about the work that I do.
Shelli Varela: Well, I just want to tie this back and hold up a mirror for how brilliant you are because A, you’ve been doing this since you were eight years old, and we talked to her mirror about making something out of nothing, and really what I’m hearing from you is you help your people identify what is your something and help them make something out of nothing.
Alicia Forest: Yeah, thanks.
Shelli Varela: If people are looking for you online, where is the best place they can find and connect with you?
Shelli Varela: Okay, and Alicia is spelled how, because there’s a couple of ways?
Alicia Forest: Yeah. Thank you. A-L-I-C-I-A, Forest is F-O-R-E-S-T, just one R.
Shelli Varela: Awesome. Thank you so much for stopping by, and thank you for sharing your heart.
Alicia Forest: Thank you.
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