Denaye Austad


” In my opinion the hardest stuff can lead to the best rewards. So if you want to run a business, if you’re chasing some sort of goal or dream, get ready to put in some time and energy and some blood, sweat and tears. “



Denaye and I are close. It isn’t by accident. She is exactly the type of human I want in my circle. Check out her answer to “What is your secret to success?”  The success she creates for herself is honestly earned thought incredibly hard work, significant grit, and a level of insight I don’t find in many people. This woman’s generosity is one of her greatest strengths and her ability to find solutions is inspiring. I love her. You will too. 



What is your entrepreneur story? I don’t think I figured it out until I was already an entrepreneur. I was homeschooled growing up so I had a lot of freedom over when I got my work done and what I did with the rest of my time. I learned to get things done more efficiently so I could spend time reading or playing outside or developing my hobbies. I kind of assumed that life as an adult would look something like that too.

Once I got to the world of corporate America, it was a rude awakening when I found that I couldn’t spend my time the way I wanted, and even if I finished my work early, I couldn’t go home and I certainly wasn’t going to get paid more for being more efficient. So I kind of fell into entrepreneurship by starting in real estate but it still wasn’t a label I really identified with.

It wasn’t until I got into finance that I really started to know what that meant and really embraced the culture. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else. I run a financial services practice focused on helping entrepreneurial women and small business owners learn more about their money. I help people create a retirement plan that fits the bigger vision of what they want for their life which includes helping them hit their goals and dreams along the way!

What was your ambition when you started? When I got into finance, I really just wanted to get out of the service industry and work in a position where I could start doing something that I felt was worthwhile. I wanted a fancy loft downtown and a brand new car and a wardrobe that said I was somebody important. My motivation at first was very self-focused because I wanted so badly to just be someone.

How has it changed, and what is your ambition today? After working in this industry for a while, I really feel like I’ve become a product of my environment. My company has an aggressively positive office culture, and even though we run our own practices I’ve received an incredible amount of leadership development and mentorship from people who I wouldn’t otherwise have access to. The industry hasn’t always been a friendly place for women in finance, and I’ve made a commitment to helping make a change by finding, retaining, and building some incredible women who care about changing their lives and helping other people do the same. I’ll still get my loft and my fancy car eventually, but my focus has shifted outwards to building a community around myself and helping them reach their goals as well. I love presenting and training on a larger scale and I’m always trying to build a platform for myself and others who have a message worth sharing.

What is the best advice you ever got about running a business? One of my favorite quotes is from Thomas Edison, and it says that, “Opportunity is missed by most because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.” I’m a firm believer that you only deserve what you’re willing to work for. I feel like so many people give up on their dreams because it gets hard. In my opinion the hardest stuff can lead to the best rewards. So if you want to run a business, if you’re chasing some sort of goal or dream, get ready to put in some time and energy and some blood, sweat and tears. I don’t think anyone running a successful business would tell you that it was easy. The flip side of that though is that you can’t make yourself miserable. Work hard and take care of yourself and the rest will come when it’s supposed to.

What are some of the biggest challenges you faces as a business owner so far, and how did you overcome them? Most of my biggest challenges have stemmed from my own self-doubt and sometimes even struggles with mental illness. When I’m confident in what I’m doing and who I am, nothing can phase me. That wasn’t the case when I started. I didn’t think I was smart enough or that anyone would do business with me or that I was a leader worth following. I had to spend a lot of time building up my self talk to a place where I believe that I can do everything that I want. Also, mental health is way more important than anyone wants to acknowledge, and I still really struggle with down cycles of depression and anxiety that in the past could derail me for months. I really had to focus on the discipline of taking care of myself and building a support circle of people around myself so that when I start to go downhill I have people and systems that can bring me back. I had to get very vulnerable and accept that I need help every once in a while but that doesn’t take away from all the positive and amazing things about me. I honestly think that it’s helped me be more empathetic to my clients and partners as well.

How do you define”success” for you? Success for me is not having to answer to anyone else when it comes to my time and my money. I love nice things and an incredible lifestyle, but I also want to give without question when someone in my life needs my resources. I want to spend time with my amazing partner, Cameron, and the rest of my family, and I want to help make their lives incredible. I’d love to have a business that I could pass down to my nieces and nephews or even my own children someday.

What is your secret to success? There’s no secret. You just work hard, do the right thing, surround yourself with the right people, get over yourself, and don’t quit. I think that’s pretty much it.

Now, tell us a fun “secret” I’m like really good at jump-rope and hula hooping. Those are the skills that I developed while I was homeschooled. I also know how to make balloon animals but I don’t advertise that.

What great advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs? Surround yourself with people to grow with. If I was going to attribute my progress to one thing it would be finding people that I could follow and people that I could run with. I have an amazing clan of entrepreneurial women that have absolutely changed my life and gotten me through some really hard stuff. Don’t wait for the exact right time. You’re never going to be less busy, life isn’t going to stop throwing challenges your way. If you want to start something, just do it and watch your life change. It’s not always going to be easy or fulfilling but it will change you for the better.

What business or self-development books do you recommend? I love Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, Atomic Habits by James Clear, and See You at The Top by Zig Ziglar.

What would you choose as your walk-out song (that is, if you don’t already have one)?

Love reading about inspiring women? Check out our past Success Stories!



Success Story – Natalie Levy

Natalie is the type of woman that does more than want the best for others, she actively works to help them push forward. Her energy and excitement for life and humans are, in my opinion, a major reason she has found her successes. More, she is so open and ready to learn, experience, try, and give. I love what she is doing. 

read more