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Summary: Unfiltered: Proven Strategies to Start and Grow Your Business by Not Following the Rules by Rachel Pedersen

Unfiltered (2022) blends a practical business handbook with Rachel Pedersen’s inspirational journey from a single-mom on welfare to the CEO of two multi-million dollar companies. Using the challenges she’s faced and the lessons she’s learned along the way, Pedersen gives aspiring entrepreneurs the tools to start and grow their dream business on their own terms.

Introduction: A guide to building a successful business while staying true to yourself.

In 2016, aspiring business owner Rachel Pedersen came up with the clever idea to crowdfund the money she needed to open a franchise of a popular restaurant. She worked day and night – handing out flyers, posting on social media, and spreading the news all over town.

The day her campaign launched, she sat down at her computer and excitedly checked the balance – zero dollars. That couldn’t be right. After all, she’d put in the work and the idea was solid. She refreshed the page – zero dollars.

Rachel was humiliated and felt that she had let everyone down. This would be the point where a lot of people might have given up, but Rachel refused to let this setback stop her from achieving her dreams.

After learning from her mistakes and putting in the hard work, Rachel went on to become the founder and CEO of two multi-million dollar companies, win multiple marketing awards, and be labeled as the “Queen of Social Media.”

In this summary of Unfiltered, we’ll take a look at some of the most important lessons and strategies that Rachel Pedersen has learned throughout her business journey. We’ll begin by discussing the initial aspects of starting a business and how to get into the mindset of the business owner you want to be.

We’ll also learn some helpful tips for creating a solid business foundation and connecting with your dream audience by being your most authentic self. Finally, we’ll discuss how to overcome obstacles and create more positive thought patterns when the road to success gets bumpy.

Book Summary: Unfiltered - Proven Strategies to Start and Grow Your Business by Not Following the Rules

Reasons for starting a business are different for everyone – and they change with us as we grow.

One of the most important first steps to starting your business journey is to discover your “why.” Why do you want to start a business?

This may seem like a pretty simple question, but finding the answer is often easier said than done. This is also complicated by the fact that people change. As we grow into different seasons of our lives, our dreams and goals grow with us.

You could ask a thousand business owners how their journey started and get a different answer every time. The desire to start a business can be purely financial, which is perfectly fine. However, it can also be deeply personal and require a lot of soul-searching.

A clever way to frame this idea in your mind is to separate your reasons into three categories of “fire starters” – kindling, sticks, and logs.

Kindling is important for getting a fire started, but it tends to burn out pretty quickly. Reasons that fall into this category may be short-sighted ideas like “I really need money right now” or “I hate my 9 to 5 and want to quit.”

Sticks represent reasons that are a bit more solid – think “I want to have more flexibility at work” or “I want my family to have a better life.” Sticks are easy to find and keep the fire burning longer, but still won’t last as their own structure.

Finally, there are logs. Although they take longer to really get going, logs provide a solid base for your fire and will burn for a long time. Logs represent reasons that feed a bigger purpose in both your business and personal life, like wanting to create change in your industry, community, or even the world.

Pinpointing the exact reason you want to start can sometimes be difficult, but it’s a crucial element of building your business on your own terms. When the journey gets rough, it’s important to be able to remember why you started in the first place.

Before you start a business, you need to get into the mindset of the business owner you want to be.

Once you’ve identified your own personal reasons for starting a business, the next step is to get into the mindset of the business owner you want to become. This includes deciding which type of business makes the most sense for you and your lifestyle.

Rachel likes to refer to this step of the process as finding your “Square One.”

The best place to start is with your passions. Think about the things you enjoy most. Are you interested in travel? Do you find fulfillment in education and learning new things? Do you like meeting new people and engaging with a community? The more passionate you are about the kind of business you choose, the more work you’ll be willing to put in to help it succeed.

Next, you’ll need to channel your inner superhero and discover the powers hidden behind your perceived “weaknesses.” Sometimes what we consider our worst flaws turn out to be our greatest strengths.

For example, Rachel’s teachers constantly remarked that she was too social in class. While this was seen as a negative on her school report cards, she later used this talent to become an incredibly successful social media manager.

Another helpful piece of advice is to follow the old adage “You’ll never know until you try.” Some businesses can be deceiving on the outside and what seems exciting to you in the beginning might end up being far less glamorous in reality. Give yourself time to try new things and see what sticks.

Another great way to get into the mindset of a business owner is to look for a mentor. The key is to find someone who has achieved goals similar to yours and who shares the same morals and values. The opportunity to learn from someone with real business experience can be an invaluable resource, especially when you’re first starting out.

Most conventional business advice will tell you to “hustle” or look for a quick fix.

Throughout your business journey, you’ll be subject to a lot of welcome – and unwelcome – business advice. This can be overwhelming, especially because our society is partial to the idea that you can only reach success if you hustle hard or find a quick fix to all your problems.

Often used interchangeably, hard work and hustle are not the same thing. Hard work involves taking actionable steps toward achieving a specific goal. Hustle is more of an unfocused state of constant movement.

“Hustle culture” thrives on fear and the belief that everything you’ve accomplished so far could vanish in an instant if you stop moving. This idea creates harmful mental roadblocks for potential business owners, and is one of the reasons why so many businesses fail in their first few years.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some predatory “business gurus” will be eager to sell you a magic button to help you become a success overnight. The only problem is that this doesn’t exist. If it did, someone would have found it already!

The ultimate irony is that the entrepreneurs who spend their time actually putting in the work will reach their goals much faster than people who waste their time looking for an easy way out. It may seem too on the nose, but the old saying still rings true – slow and steady wins the race.

The key here is to put in the hard work, build a solid foundation and not skip the basics. Before you begin, go over the most basic aspects of your potential business. What are the startup costs? Are there any barriers to entry? Will there be an easy way to pivot if it doesn’t work out? Study the foundation and decide whether or not your idea is strong enough to stand on its own.

Staying true to yourself on social media will help you connect with your dream audience.

There’s no doubt that social media is a crucial part of getting your business seen – especially in the early days. That being said, the only predictable thing about social media is that it’s…unpredictable. Platforms come and go, audience appetites change, and algorithms seem to evolve overnight.

So how exactly do we craft a killer online profile in a space that’s constantly changing? First, let’s start with the basics. While Rachel has a lot of valuable advice for growing on social media, she swears by two golden rules.

The first is to pick platforms that you love. Since there are so many to choose from – with new ones popping up everyday – a good rule of thumb is to choose between one and three platforms that you actually enjoy using. It’s also a good idea to pick platforms that show signs of longevity. There’s no point in crafting a perfect profile if the platform itself isn’t built to last.

The second rule is to always be your authentic self on social media. This is where creating valuable content comes into play. Think of content like a teaser trailer for your business. Outside of traditional advertising, this is going to be the best place to show people what you’re all about.

There are many different types of content you can produce, all with their pros and cons. Text content is the fastest to get done, but it can feel a bit impersonal at times. Photos add a bit more personality, but still fail to fully connect. Video content takes the longest to create, but it offers the best opportunity to show your audience your most authentic self.

Regardless of what kind of content you choose to focus on, the key is to be consistent and create with your audience in mind. Most marketers fall into the trap of centering their efforts around the brand and not the consumer. When you create content that puts your customers first, your relationship with them will be much stronger.

Work/life balance requires healthy boundaries and careful planning.

Picture yourself shoveling your driveway during a heavy snowstorm. No matter how much snow you manage to get rid of, it will just keep piling up until it becomes too much to manage. This is what it’s like to run a business without a solid plan.

In the first few years after starting her business, Rachel said yes to everything and took on far more than she could manage. This meant that she barely had time to eat, let alone sleep. Realizing that things needed to change, she created a solution that she calls “Business-By-Design.”

The “Business-By-Design” plan is centered around creating healthy boundaries for your business and clients, as well as preparing for unexpected bumps in the road.

A great place to start is by focusing on your budget. Financially, the sooner you implement a clear budget, the better. While it may feel tedious at times, paying close attention to where your money is going is the best way to decide how to spend it wisely.

Another part of your business that needs careful budgeting is your time. The basic day-to-day aspects of running a business require a lot more time and attention than most people realize – so learning to manage your schedule is crucial.

When your to-do list gets out of control, it’s helpful to break tasks down into smaller parts that are more manageable. One of Rachel’s favorite ways to approach this is by creating her “Power 10.” In other words, when you feel like you have a million things to get done, pick the ten most important to focus on for the day.

In order to maintain work/life balance, it’s also necessary to create boundaries to help keep things in check. Unfortunately, some clients will feel entitled to 24/7 access and constant communication – neither of which are healthy or sustainable.

As a solution to this problem, Rachel creates “How-We-Work” documents for her business, which she sends out to every client as part of the onboarding process. These documents set the ground rules and aim to answer any questions the client might have about communication.

For example, it covers issues like working hours, holidays, and what actually constitutes an emergency situation. This helps to give both parties peace of mind and create a mutually-beneficial working relationship.

You can create your own unique boundaries that suit both your business and personal life, but what’s most important is how you enforce them. All parties involved need to be aware that these are instructions, not suggestions.

The journey doesn’t end when you reach “success.”

A lot of prospective business owners see “success” as the light at the end of the tunnel. If they could only just reach it, everything would be better. This is a nice idea in theory, but it doesn’t make sense for a few reasons.

First, everyone’s idea of success is different. What you consider “making it” could be someone else’s step one. For example, your goal might simply be to help your family live more comfortably, while someone else might not feel that their journey is complete until they reach one million dollars in sales.

Second, things don’t necessarily get easier once a business is considered successful. In fact, more money and growth usually invites more opportunities for failures and missteps. Ask any business owner and they will tell you that things will absolutely go wrong at some point. It’s inevitable.

What matters is how you react to these challenges. Being proactive and having preventative measures in place is helpful, but you can’t always be prepared for everything. When things do go wrong and you feel like giving up, revamping the way you think about the situation works wonders.

As human beings, we’re wired to fall back on old habits, even if they’re harmful. A great place to start overcoming new obstacles is to let go of thought patterns that might be holding you back. If doubting yourself hasn’t worked in the past, why not try believing in yourself?

Perception also plays a very powerful role in what becomes our reality. While on the inside you may be feeling insecure, try acting as a confident person would on the outside. Simply walking and talking with confidence can bring you opportunities you might never have imagined.

The last and arguably most important thing to remember is that you are allowed to not be okay. If you find yourself burnt-out, anxious, or depressed about your business, just know that these feelings are all valid. Give yourself some time to work through them and then do whatever you can to stand up and get back in the ring.


The decision to start a business is not one that you’ll make only once – you will have to continuously choose it, each and every day. There will be failures and times where you will want to give up, but how you react to these challenges is what really matters. In times of trouble, we find out what we’re truly made of.

Success looks different for everyone and changes as we grow. As long as you put in the work and stay true to who you are, you’ll be able to build the life you want and the business of your dreams. Even when you’ve achieved your goals, there’s always room to make new and even bigger ones.

Remember, success is not the end of your journey – it’s only the beginning.


“Unfiltered: Proven Strategies to Start and Grow Your Business by Not Following the Rules” by Rachel Pedersen is a refreshing and empowering guide for aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners who are looking to break free from traditional norms and pave their own path to success. In this book, Pedersen challenges conventional business advice and offers a wealth of practical insights, personal anecdotes, and actionable strategies to help readers build and expand their businesses on their own terms.

The core theme of “Unfiltered” centers around embracing authenticity and disregarding the rigid rules that often dictate how businesses should be run. Pedersen, a successful entrepreneur and social media strategist, shares her journey from struggling single mother to thriving businesswoman. Through her experiences, she emphasizes the importance of staying true to one’s passions, values, and unique strengths, even when it goes against the grain.

The book is divided into sections that address various aspects of entrepreneurship, from identifying your purpose and building a personal brand to leveraging social media and scaling your business. Pedersen’s writing style is conversational and relatable, making the content accessible to both seasoned entrepreneurs and those just starting out. She uses anecdotes from her own life and career to illustrate key points, which adds a personal touch and enhances the book’s authenticity.

One of the standout features of “Unfiltered” is the actionable advice it provides. Pedersen doesn’t just offer vague concepts; she provides step-by-step strategies and practical tips that readers can implement immediately. Whether it’s creating engaging content, nurturing client relationships, or managing time effectively, the book is filled with actionable insights that can lead to tangible results.

Pedersen also delves into the power of social media and online presence. She emphasizes the importance of building an authentic personal brand that resonates with your target audience. Her advice on leveraging platforms like Instagram and Facebook to connect with customers, create a community, and drive business growth is particularly valuable in today’s digital age.

In my review, “Unfiltered” offers a breath of fresh air in the world of business literature. Rachel Pedersen’s candid and unapologetic approach challenges readers to question the status quo, embrace their unique qualities, and build businesses that reflect their true selves. The book empowers entrepreneurs to shed the fear of failure and rejection and instead focus on building meaningful connections and delivering value.

Throughout the book, Pedersen’s relatability shines through. She openly shares her struggles, setbacks, and triumphs, creating a sense of camaraderie with readers. This transparency adds authenticity to her advice, making it easier for readers to connect with her message and apply it to their own journeys.

“Unfiltered” is a valuable resource for individuals who are tired of conforming to traditional business norms and are ready to carve their own path. Pedersen’s combination of motivational insights, practical strategies, and personal anecdotes creates a well-rounded guide that inspires readers to take bold actions and create businesses that are a true reflection of their passions and values.

In conclusion, “Unfiltered: Proven Strategies to Start and Grow Your Business by Not Following the Rules” is a powerful and motivating book that encourages readers to embrace their authenticity, challenge conventional wisdom, and build businesses that align with their personal values. Rachel Pedersen’s relatable storytelling and actionable advice make this book a must-read for entrepreneurs seeking to break free from the norms and create meaningful success on their own terms.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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