27-year-old quit her six-figure job to become a TikTok star – her business brought in $1 million last year

Hannah Williams reached a number of milestones in 2023 — the 27-year-old former data analyst married her husband and business partner James Daniels; landed on the Forbes 30 under 30 list; and in its first full year of business, Salary Transparent Street brought in just over $1 million in revenue.

Williams knew she had a hit on her hands when TikTok videos started going viral in early 2022 asking strangers how much money they make. She realized she could monetize the idea through a brand partnership, and within months, Williams and Daniels quit. their six-figure 9-to-5 to dive into their own business full-time.

“Part of me is still a little shocked at how big that number is,” Williams says of crossing the $1 million mark. “But at the same time, I think that it was much easier than I thought at the beginning of the year,” she adds. He wants to make $2 million in 2024.

The majority, 97%, of that revenue came from partnerships with big-name brands like Indeed, Capital One and The Knot, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It, while about $30,000 came from funding for creators through YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Facebook.

A $75,000 salary cut to grow to $1 million

Despite this success, Williams is quick to note that running a $1 million business doesn’t mean she’s flying high herself—she earns slightly more than she ever did working for a full-time employer, and her household earnings have taken over. on dept.

As a founder, there have been times when I’ve had to take less to make sure my business can last for the long term.

Hannah Williams

Co-Founder, Transparent Street Salary

Williams was making $115,000 as a senior data analyst before leaving her job in 2022 to run Salary Transparent Street full-time. She paid herself roughly $150,000 that year. By early 2023, Williams says she’s bumped her salary up to $200,000. But midway through the year, her accounting team suggested she would take the reigns if she wanted to expand her team to grow the business.

“As a founder, there have been times when I’ve had to take less to make sure my business can sustain itself for the long term,” says Williams. “And the only reason it worked for me is because I set a really successful budget for myself and my family. I don’t live beyond my means. Even though I technically have a million-dollar business, I don’t.” I haven’t changed my lifestyle in any way.”

Williams has since reduced her salary to $125,000 a year. Daniels takes a $65,000 salary to work part-time as a cameraman.

Daniels’ salary was also deliberate, Williams says. As much as she’d like to pay her co-founder his previous salary of $112,000, “I want to be careful not to pay people more because they’re family versus what their market rate is,” she explains.

“If for whatever reason James wants to go do something else, it’s going to be bizarre if we now say, ‘Oh, we have to hire a new cameraman for 20 hours a month for $112,000.’

Today, the couple earns about $37,000 less than they did two years ago. It’s “hard on the budget,” Williams says, “but I think we’re very comfortable.”

He adds that Williams receives disability payments from the military, “which helps keep us alive,” but “anyway, we’re still making just under $200,000 as a household. I’d like more, but I can’t complain about anything.” I have I live a good life.”

The hard lessons of being a boss

Since starting the business, Williams has hired a team of part-time workers and contractors, including an accountant, lawyer, social media manager, website development team, newsletter writers and blog writers.

Becoming a boss had its problems. Williams says the biggest lesson she learned was to hire slow and hire fast.

“It’s definitely something I’ve learned the hard way: Sometimes people make really great friends, but they don’t make great employees,” she says.

Now Williams assesses the value of a candidate’s skills and what they bring to the team.

She recognizes that it’s an “anomaly” that she and her husband work so well together as co-founders. It boils down to consistent communication, transparency and mutual respect for each other’s roles: “I don’t step into his lane and he doesn’t step into mine.”

Next year, Williams hopes to create Salary Transparent Street, a platform that will generally discuss financial transparency and how people spend their money on housing, insurance and other everyday expenses.

He’s also thinking about how to ensure that discussions about transparency and fairness move beyond social media and into the real world. Williams previously demonstrated in front of the D.C. Council in support of her Pay Range Act to require employers to list pay ranges on job titles.

She hopes to share what she’s heard from ordinary people with lawmakers to make sure “the information we collect doesn’t go anywhere,” she says. “How can Salary Transparent Street take our conversations one step further and create protections and policies for workers in the workplace?”

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