It’s my third business birthday! And boy oh boy has this year been TOUGH!
So buckle yourself in for a rollercoaster of a ride called LIFE.
If I go back to Summer 2018, the number of hours I was working didn’t quite correlate with my bank balance. Having cool clients in different time zones meant I was regularly getting up at 5am to crack on before the family woke up. None of this good stuff could be delegated – it all needed my brainpower.
I hated to admit it, but I was growing increasingly tired and didn’t know how I was going to sustain the service levels without burning out.
I couldn’t see how it was ever going to get any better, so I had to force myself to think back: Why did I start this business in the first place?
And I did so because I wanted to be exceptional – in my career AND when being a mummy/partner and wearing all the other personal hats.
I stumbled across a book called The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E Gerber which taught me about creating scalability within a business and opened my mind to creating something that could run without the business owner.
Oh my. Talk about my kinda business nirvana.
So although I’ve successfully expanded my business by aligning myself with other service providers and project managing all that creative stuff, I started thinking more deeply about my zone of genius.
At that point I simply considered myself to be a kick-ass Virtual Assistant who offered wing-woman support to clients. I truly thrived when given the opportunity to plug into a client’s big-picture vision and map out the action steps to help them achieve their goals. I saw the value in getting the right people doing the right things at the right time. Overall, I loved implementing systems and processes to add efficiencies. And I knew all of this added huge value to my fabulous clients.
A friend said that it sounded like I was more of an Online Business Manager.
I was like, “never heard of one. What is it?”.
“A virtually based support professional who manages online-based businesses, including the day-to-day management of projects, operations, team members, and metrics.”Tina Forsyth, the author of Becoming an Online Business Manager
And just like that, my entire career path was rewritten.
I came to realise that my service offering was closer to that of an OBM and yet I was charging VA rates. No wonder my income didn’t seem to match the energy expended into each day.
In my experience, it often pays to learn from someone else’s tried and tested methodology rather than trying to figure sh!t out on your own. So I enrolled in an Online Business Manager certification course and started thinking about my big-picture vision.
To help with this process, I rejoined Carrie Green’s Members’ Club and immediately got drawn into Lead Your Business Like a CEO. This enabled me to break down quarterly goals into weekly action steps. My first goal for the quarter were to start the scaling process by creating systems and processes. The second goal was to find an office space that was away from my home but no more than two miles away – I was in desperate need for some work/home balance. And the third was to hire my first employee. By breaking it down into those manageable chunks each weeks, it all felt doable. Achievable. Realistic.
I gained SO much satisfaction from ticking each goal off my list every time it was completed. And okay, not everything was completed in the week that it was assigned (you know, life gets in the way, and life is messy), but I was still over the moon to achieve all of my Q1 business goals by the end of March.
Be, then do, then have…
I’m a big fan of the law of attraction AND the law of action, so I took the time to write down a hundred things I wanted to achieve (be, do and have) in my lifetime. Things like have my own car, decorate the living room. All the way through to giving money to charity and launching a training course.
The thing I wanted to HAVE more than anything else on that list was my own car. I wanted to BE the owner of a car. I craved the freedom that comes from having a vehicle. I passed my driving test when I was 17, and I’ve been driving for a long time, but because I’d been working from home for so long (nearly six years), we couldn’t justify being a two-car family. To own a car felt like pure freedom to me. Freedom of choice. I could still walk if I wanted to, but the decision to drive wasn’t taken away from me. I could choose.
In April, my new car was parked on my drive and I was handed the keys. And yes, I did have a little cry because it just meant that much to me. I kept on coming back to that freedom of choice, not having to rely on somebody else, not having to ask somebody else to use the car. What that car represented was a huge deal for me.
Shaking things up
As I moved away from being a Virtual Assistant, I realised that my branding needed a refresh. I worked with the fantastic Dan Simpkin on a re-brand, and we came up with a My “fill in the blanks” Rocks. My “wing-woman” Rocks. My “OBM” Rocks. It felt tip-top terrific to have a brand that was more aligned with how the service offering had evolved.
To complement this, I realised that my existing selfie probably wasn’t cutting it when it came to professionalism, so I had a photoshoot with the superb Sam Appa, all of which I’m using on my website and social media. I’m all sorts of awkward in front of the camera, so I’m delighted with the magic Sam worked that day.
To strengthen the process behind project managing a team of employees and other professionals, I invested in upgrading our project management system. I’d been using Todoist for years and it worked perfectly well when it was just for my own reference. But it just wasn’t quite hitting the spot now the team had expanded and we needed extra functionality. In April, we started the transition from Todoist to Teamwork PM. Oh my – dreamy! Assigning tasks, progress updates, tracking time, sharing files and using a tonne of other hot functionality all in the same system is all sorts of awesome.
To top off the first half of 2019, Joanne Munro from The VA Handbook asked me to launch a course for VAs so that others could learn from my business model of working with associates. I then went on to write a guide on how VAs can find associate work. This was a dream come true for me as I knew I had so much to give to others in terms of knowledge and advice, but I couldn’t work out how I could ever do that with my existing client base and role.
I was high on life and coasting….But the only way to coast is downhill.
The struggles have been real
There feels like there’s a helluva lot of delayed gratification going on. I’m investing time and money into making this business a success, but my own monthly salary is yet to reflect that. Thankfully, I have spent money on coaching on money mindset to help with all of that good stuff and keep me focused.
I’ve dreamed about producing my own podcast series for two years now, and I was ready to make that a reality while I was riding the crest of a wave earlier this year…. But work and life and all the other responsibilities of adulting keep getting in the way. Or maybe it’s plain fear of not being able to do it well. Either way, I’m procrastinating over that one and if there’s that great saying that goes:
If it’s not a HELL YEAH, then it’s a no.
So that pet project continues to be set on the back-burner… at least for now.
The whole hiring process, performance management and leadership responsibilities that come from being a “boss” have been far more complex than I had anticipated. I’ve onboarded, onboarded again and also offboarded. Yet, I seem to have learned many useful things at the same time so that’s been all sorts of interesting.
On a personal level, I struggled with comparisonitis in the latter part of last year. I felt like I was never doing enough. Never enough no matter how hard I tried. Because of these low feelings, I came off Facebook and Instagram for a while, and I did the absolute bare minimum on LinkedIn and Twitter. I needed to create some distance from the noise of it all.
One of the books that helped me through this was Girl, Stop Apologising by Rachel Hollis. I revisited Buddhism For Busy People by David Michie and Rising Strong by Brené Brown. As you can tell, I’m a big reading fan, and all of this content combined helped me discover a new level of self-awareness. I no longer feel that comparisonitis, but maybe it’s because I’m not looking for comparison now.
The last 12 months have been the most challenging both personally and in the business, but if there’s one thing I’ve gained this year, it’s a greater feeling of inner peace. My clarity of mind is better than ever, and I now realise I’m spending far less time overthinking. This means I’m putting myself under less pressure and leads me to be a better business owner, partner and mother.
I could never have achieved another year in business without your support, likes, shares, comments, conversations, messages and your kindness. So a heartfelt thank you for joining me on this journey called life, and here’s to the next 12 months.