‘Imagine More:’ From Couponing to Faithful Entrepreneurship – Stephanie Nelson’s Journey of Faith, Rejection, and ‘Coupon Mom’ Success
With thirty-five dollars to her name and a lot of faith, Stephanie Nelson founded a company that would not only gross millions of dollars but also introduce the country to a new way of collecting coupons. Nelson’s company, Coupon Mom, has been recognized on Good Morning America, Fox News, Oprah Winfrey, and numerous other shows. However, for Nelson, it’s her faith and relationship with God that she wants to be known. In her new book, Imagine More, Nelson wants to help her audience understand God has a deep desire for his children to stretch their faith and trust Him. Nelson believes God wants His children to follow Him in pursuing their next steps, and they might be surprised by what happens.
Stephanie: Well, that is a good question. Two years ago, I was asked to speak at a local business meeting. I set my iPhone at 20 minutes and told the same story I’ve always told. I came home from that meeting fired up, thinking I hadn’t told that story for a while. I love that story, but I’m the only one telling it. That same day, I got an email newsletter from Bob Goff’s organization announcing he was doing a workshop for writers. I love to write, and I love Bob Goff. Plus, I just wanted to meet Bob Goff! When I told my husband about the workshop, he immediately said I should go. Spending time with Bob Goff confirmed it was time to write the book.
Now, I tell people they should write their story, whether it becomes a book or not.
CH: Throughout the book, you mention being rejected several times in starting Coupon Mom. How did you handle rejection?
Stephanie: When rejection was so enormous, all I could do was completely surrender to God. That’s the only way I can describe it. It was this feeling of being at the end of myself …a dead end. I said, ‘Okay, God, you must not want me to do this. I will dial it back, but I need you to help me dial it back.’ I stopped pushing my own agenda and trusted Him. Throughout the book, I talk about how God helped me overcome rejection by the IRS when it came to getting Coupon Mom off the ground.
CH: How did Coupon Mom get started?
Stephanie: It’s a God story. Here’s how I define a God story. If I’m telling my own story, you’re going to hear it, and you might be inspired or impressed. When telling the story from the point of view of God stepping in hugely and unmistakably, his movement becomes evident over coincidence. If I’m telling a God story, it’s more relatable, as you can see yourself in the story. I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, and I knew if we were going to be living on one salary, I would need to collect and use coupons. It took several years to get the word out that other moms could do the same thing. I discovered grocery coupons were one of the best ways to save a lot of money every single week if you were smart and strategic about it. It took several years, but as soon as I got the attention of local and national media, it took off. The AJC did a cover story in the Sunday paper about it. That was my first big media exposure.
CH: So, what is the strategy of couponing well?
Stephanie: You figure out when an item is at its lowest price and use a coupon. There’s kind of a science to it. It’s extremely tedious, so I created Coupon Mom for people. I figured out the grocery deals and put them on the website, and all people would have to do is follow the process.
CH: Once it started to take off, what did you notice?
Stephanie: I spend a lot of time on my computer managing the website, and I didn’t see what was happening in people’s lives on the other side. Some people sent emails I memorized and saved. Emails from people saying it helped their family – it would make you cry. Some people said it changed their lives, and that energized me, knowing I was doing the right thing by writing this story and starting Coupon Mom.
CH: You mention in the book that there were some pivotal people in your life that God placed in helping you get started. What advice would you give others in finding their pivotal people?
Stephanie: So many times, we meet people and politely exchange names, maybe where you’re from; it might last 30 seconds. I say, give it 10 minutes. This is what Bob Groff does. Ask another question, an interesting question. Try to get to a deeper layer of this person. It won’t be long before you find an intersection, and one or two things will happen. They’ll either not want to talk to you, which becomes evident pretty quickly. Or, they’ll start opening up, and you’ll start discovering a connection. That’s how God introduced pivotal people that would help me get started.
CH: What advice would you give someone who wants to start their own company?
Stephanie: I wrote the book partly to help people find their vision, figure out their superpower, and find their big idea. So much of it is just being self-aware of what you really enjoy doing. Let’s face it: if you pick something you don’t enjoy doing, it won’t last. So, pick what you enjoy doing. The reason it’s important to find what you love to do is because it helps other people, and that’s how you get your energy. When you get any kind of positive affirmation that you’re making a difference in someone’s life, it creates the satisfaction of doing something someone else benefits from. But when many people benefit from it, you feel like you are living out God’s purpose for you.
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