One of the greatest joys of doing what I do is getting to meet amazing women all over the world. Women who dedicate their time and energy to help other women believe in themselves and become bigger and stronger. As someone who felt misunderstood for most of her life, her desire to help others is rooted in the understanding that you are your own individual and only you can free yourself from the restraints of what is traditionally accepted to be “normal”.

She uplifts other women and helps them find the strength to be unburdened psychologically, mentally, and financially.

What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

I’ve always been really rebellious. I remember my mom telling me not to do certain things and I always just went against what was standard and typical.

I was also diagnosed with anxiety and depression at a very young age, so I always felt very different going into middle school and high school. I didn’t like the same things that other kids liked and wasn’t interested in pop culture. But then I started to figure out a little bit more about who I was and where I belonged.

Later in my life, I came to find out that I actually have the ability to open up a lot of spiritual gifts. And in that process I really knew that I wasn’t typical, and I wasn’t here to do what was “expected”.

So, I got my degree in Clinical Psychology to understand myself and others better. I really loved being able to support others as a licensed professional counselor. But there was a limit to the number of people that I could see, and in effect, a cap on my income as well. And I just couldn’t accept that—I didn’t want to be limited when it comes to helping others.

There were a couple of other things too. I wanted to be able to help people in a setting that is conducive to my mental health and my well being. I want to be able to enjoy life to the fullest. It was all these that helped me realize I needed to build Design Your Freedom Inc. It’s a brand that’s founded on the idea of helping female entrepreneurs build impactful and financially-freeing businesses without sacrificing their mental health.

How are you making a positive difference in the world?

I’ve always had a desire to help people and thankfully there are many ways to do that. I wanted to help women who may be struggling with mental illness or financial hardships. I help entrepreneurs work on their mindset and their energy so that they can be mentally and emotionally well so they can create financial freedom for themselves in the process as a by-product of the meaningful work they do.

In addition, my heart has been very much pulled towards helping human trafficking and sex slavery victims. It’s important to support people outside of your entrepreneurship journey, and I’m taking on new endeavors to help support these victims as well as create resources and bring awareness to the subject. Eventually, I am trying to build out my business so I can offer scholarships and aid to those victims that are most in need of help and support, but are often shunned by our society. I’d like to help them be financially literate as well as create a support system and community that will bring people together for a much larger purpose.

I recently became one of the board of directors of The Hands Off Foundation. It’s a non-profit that is focused on helping women and children who are impacted by sexual assault to get back on their feet. We provide them with resources like access to therapeutic rejuvenation services and community as well as housing. In addition, we work hard to raise awareness about the issue on a national scale. Our goal is to eradicate sexual violence against women and children and to help victims find confidence by educating them and helping them become financially stable.

What has been the greatest positive impact you have seen your clients or customers face from working directly with you?

For example, a former client, who was also working as a therapist, really enjoyed working with people, but felt very limited by the things she could do in her practice. When you’re in the counseling and therapy field, you find that people are very diagnostic. Often used labels and some centers, don’t care as much about the treatment outcomes as I personally believe would be helpful. You need to follow certain protocols and guidelines. It can feel very limiting when you’re trying to help people in ways outside of the “norm”.

At the time, this client of mine was going through a divorce, trying to get her business off the ground, and was trying to take care of two children on her own. We worked together to help her sell out her private services and to get her to work on her business full-time while managing the stress and trauma that came from leaving a partner she had been with for many years. Being able to support herself and her children was the most important part for her to navigate, and today her business is strong and thriving.

Another client that I worked with was in a similar situation. She wanted to start her own business but she was a busy nurse and didn’t believe in herself. Her family members weren’t very supportive about her business, so she turned to me. Within just a few months of working together, she was able to leave her job and work on her business full-time. She was able to quickly replace her previous income. Ultimately, the income is a beautiful part of the entrepreneurship journey, but it’s about being able to enjoy life in the process.

What does being a purpose driven business mean to you?

Being an entrepreneur is an appealing journey because you have the ability to impact so many people and simultaneously, you also have the ability to create a lot of income and resources for yourself.

I love  helping people create impact driven businesses because sometimes the money is not necessarily what gets most of us out of bed. It’s about what we believe we can do with that money and how that act will make us feel. Creating a purpose driven business means that you have a purpose behind what you do that’s deeper than money.

How did you pivot your business during the pandemic? 

Because I have a degree in psychology, I really understand human behavior, personality types, and how it is to show compassion to others. During the pandemic I felt like in order to show up as a powerful leader, I had to double-down and take that much better care of myself.

It’s like the old saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” I really wanted to make sure that I was taking care of myself so that I could show up that much more powerfully for others. We are truly doing a disservice to ourselves and to others if we show up when we haven’t taken care of ourselves or when we haven’t nourished our soul.

I was also still marketing my business because it is my livelihood, but I was being more thoughtful with the language I use. I was paying more attention to price points and what my clients really needed from me. 

What are your top 5 tips to scale a business or use social media to attract new clients?

  1. First and foremost, hire somebody who’s already been there. Success does leave clues. If you can hire somebody who has the life, the business, the level of success that you desire, ultimately they’re going to be able to help you expedite your process of becoming successful and scaling your business. Simply put, mentorship would be number one.
  2. Find your community. It’s really difficult to scale a business and to feel connected to the world around you when you’re trying to do it alone. Entrepreneurship and solopreneurship can be challenging because you don’t have co-workers or that immediate feedback or direct validation from a boss. Making sure that you’re surrounded by people who are like-minded and share your values and vision can encourage you.
  3. Continue to invest in yourself. You are your best investment! If you invest in yourself, you’re able to be creative and get resourceful because you can think outside of the box. 
  4. Take risks, be bold, and be courageous. If everyone is moving towards the same direction, you need to ask yourself, “How can I be different? How can I stand out?”
  5. Understand that you’re not going to be understood. Most people in the world are not entrepreneurs so they are not going to fully understand you or your career, and that’s okay.
  6. Think about how you can build relationships with people regardless of what type of business that you’re in. You’re in the relationship business, especially if you’re a service-based entrepreneur. Using a social media strategy to get more followers is not necessarily going to be beneficial in itself. You need to have raving fans—people who believe in you. I always tell my clients to go deeper as opposed to going wider. It’s more beneficial to have 1,000 raving fans than it is to have 7,000 people who don’t know anything about you.
  7. In terms of scaling a business, make sure that you’re not comparing your business to that of others. I think that comparison is the enemy of happiness and of joy. If you get discouraged by what other people are doing, it robs you of your own creativity, ideas, and intuition.

Where can people learn more?

I love hanging out on Instagram @CarissaJohnsen.

I also have a Better Coach Boot Camp where I teach entrepreneurs and people who are in the coaching, consulting and energy healing space how they can really connect to their audience deeper; how they can use their coaching skills and use transformational techniques to go deeper with their audiences so that they can make the money they deserve and create a greater impact in the world.