The 5 Pillars of Profit: How to Grow Your Small Business on Your Terms

The 5 Pillars of Profit Grow Your Small Business on Your Terms with Emily Kim on the Marketing Strategy Academy podcast with Jen Vazquez

The 5 Pillars of Profit: How to Grow Your Small Business on Your Terms with Emily Kim

Feeling the endless grind with your small business? Wishing there was a strategy to build a truly fulfilling venture? Emily Kim, former software engineer turned creative business strategist, has the answer. Her five pillars of profit will transform your small business, giving you the growth and alignment you crave.

Key Highlights



Jen: Welcome Emily! Tell us about your windy road from corporate tech to photography studio owner.

Emily: I left my job at Apple in 2021, way ahead of schedule. Initially, I planned to keep my full-time job while building my studio on the side. But when I saw that perfect space, I went for it. That’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

Jen: You talk about the five pillars of profit. What are they?


  1. Craft: Your skill set (photography, design, etc.)
  2. Offer: How you package your craft into something sellable.
  3. Message: How you communicate your offer in a way that’s clear and compelling, making clients understand why they need your services.
  4. Community: Your audience. Remember, conversation is better than broadcasting.
  5. Systems: Your way of working. This includes technology but also things like workflows and time management.

Jen: Which pillar is most overlooked or misunderstood by small business owners?

Emily: Systems. Creatives often feel like systems will hold them back, but the truth is they’ll set you free. When you have good systems, you have way more brainpower to spend on the fun stuff.

Jen: Can you describe a business that was struggling, what pillar helped them shift, and the results they experienced?

Emily: One person I worked with really leaned into building her community through in-person networking events. It perfectly matched her personality. She now has clients, collaborators, and even hosts events thanks to her consistent networking.

Jen: How can business owners move from surviving to thriving, aligning their business with their values and time constraints?

Emily: The magic of the five pillars framework is you don’t have to implement everything all at once. Focus on building one pillar at a time, and choose strategies within each pillar that work for you and suit your strengths.

Jen: What’s a big packaging misconception?

Emily: That you always need something new and flashy. Keep it consistent and simple at first. Sell the same thing over and over, making tweaks based on client feedback. Consistency is key until you gather enough data to make informed changes.

Jen: How can business owners really lock in on their ideal clients and the services they actually need?

Emily: Do your research! Interview past or ideal clients. Ask open-ended questions like, “How would you describe what I do?” and “Why did you choose my services?” Their words are your best copywriting tool.

Jen: Can you move a business forward the fastest?

Emily: That depends! Rank your confidence in each pillar from 1 to 5. The area where you feel least confident is likely what’s holding you back and will give you the biggest leap forward once improved.

Jen: What are three things that helped you grow your business?


  • Nervous System Regulation: Staying calm when things get tough.The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron helped me immensely (especially Morning Pages!).
  • Profit First: This book by Mike Michalowicz changed how I manage my finances and made taking my business full-time possible.
  • Market Research: Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller. Help with your market research.

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Here is more information that may be helpful!

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