Reward yourself — Because you ride the waves of the highs and lows, it’s important to reward yourself when you accomplish something you’ve worked hard on. The rewards don’t have to be huge. It could be as small as taking off early one day. Or maybe selling your first product means going out to dinner. We must acknowledge our achievements.
Being a founder, entrepreneur, or business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Heather Ritchie.
Heather Ritchie is a Certified Content Marketing Strategist, freelance writer, and the blogger behind Writer’s Life for You and Blogger’s Life for You. She’s written two eBooks and created a course to help other writers and bloggers ditch their 9–5s to become freelance writers. Heather also writes articles for businesses in the security industry.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
After being a police officer for years, I became diagnosed with chronic illnesses and had to go out on disability. While waiting for disability, I lost my house and was essentially homeless when my boyfriend of six years broke up with me. So, I had to start over from scratch.
I began working as an administrative assistant at a police department to supplement my income, but it wasn’t for me, and I couldn’t imagine doing it for the rest of my life. Plus, a work-from-home job was better for my health, and after research, I decided I wanted to be a freelance writer, and things kind of snowballed from there to the successful businesses I run now.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
I love being a freelance writer, and I realized how overwhelmed I was with all the information online and the things I needed to learn to run a freelance business. I didn’t even realize when I started writing for clients that I had started a freelance writing business and needed to treat it like one.
While going through this process, I realized that I wanted to help other women find the freedom I found working from home as freelance writers. Except I wanted to make it much easier than it was for me, so that’s when I started my passion business and blog, Writer’s Life for You.
In your opinion, were you a natural-born entrepreneur, or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
I was a natural-born leader but definitely not a natural-born entrepreneur. I learned how to be an entrepreneur over time, and it started with figuring out how to run a business, and then it blossomed into the person I am today. I certainly have much more to learn, but I’ve learned what I need to do to be a successful entrepreneur and grow and scale my business.
The most important thing I would tell new people starting a home-based business is that they should take classes on the things they don’t know. That’s the quickest way to learn the essential elements of running a business.
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
My mother, I’m very blessed to have her, and she was my number one supporter. We’re both very cautious people, and it was nice to have another person I could bounce ideas off. She also helped me figure things out, which was very helpful, especially since she had an Etsy store and had her own experience running a small business.
It took me a year to choose my actual writing niche, and that’s when I started my first two separate websites and businesses, and she was there the whole way and now even works as my editor.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
My passion for being a writer and helping other women leave their traditional jobs behind so they can spend more time with family and friends. The fact that I’ve been in their shoes also helps me stand out and my no BS approach to giving advice and guidance. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time as I want them to start making money as soon as they can.
My desire to help people has pleasantly surprised some of my email subscribers because I take the time to actually answer the questions they ask me. Most people know bloggers are busy and don’t always personally answer their emails. One woman was struggling with everything you need to know to start a blog, and I was able to give her clarity through an exchange of emails, so she finally was able to gain traction instead of spinning her wheels. One woman sends me her creative writing stories to read over, and I love them! This is the best part of helping people grow as writers and business owners.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Self-motivation — Working from home isn’t for everyone because you need to be able to motivate yourself to get work done. If the only way you meet deadlines is through an external source of motivation, meeting client needs without someone continually reminding you will be difficult. I’m laser-focused and very-aware of ALL deadlines.
Goal-oriented — You also need to be goal-oriented to set ambitious goals and define the steps you need to take to meet them. For instance, if your goal for the first quarter of 2021 was SEO (search engine optimization) so that Google actually ranks your blog posts higher than page 17, there are several tasks you need to work on.
You could create a plan that includes optimizing one old blog post each week to have a better chance of ranking on page one. Another task could be looking for guest post opportunities, and you may also want to do keyword research to find easier keywords to rank for.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
I’ve been fortunate not to receive bad advice. But I have friends who bought a blogging course for beginners from a couple of popular entrepreneurs that told them starting a broad lifestyle blog was okay. They also only promoted affiliated products that paid them well even if the services or products weren’t the best. For anyone starting a blog, you need to choose a profitable niche. This tip is so important that I created a course on it. You must niche down to establish yourself as an expert in your industry so you can command higher rates. Lifestyle blogs aren’t bad; they just need to concentrate on two or three topics for Google to understand what they are about and rank their posts and pages.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
I would tell my colleagues to create flexible schedules that allow for a better work/life balance. That’s why I’m a strong advocate of working from home. I’m a night owl and always have been, and I worked straight night shift for a considerable amount of my career.
When I had to flip-flop back and forth between daylight and night shifts every two weeks, I struggled with the two weeks of daylight. Now I can go to sleep and get up on a natural schedule for my body, and it makes a world of difference. Allowing people to work at their most productive times also ensures they get more work done.
During the height of COVID-19, some businesses tried to adjust attendance policies to allow for more flexibility so people could take off to care for ill family members without feeling they would get punished by their employer.
Also, having employees work in their zone of genius reduces stress. Forcing people to work on tasks they aren’t good at makes life more stressful. Everyone has things they can and love doing and things they aren’t so good at. It’s like forcing a round peg in a square hole, asking someone to take on more work that they don’t do well. So, take the time to get to know your employees’ strengths and weaknesses and assign job duties accordingly.
What would you advise other business leaders to do to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
Start a blog and focus on creating great content that solves problems for your ideal avatar. Seriously, if you’re not using some type of content marketing yet, you’re missing out on leads and sales. Starting a blog allows you to showcase your knowledge and establish yourself as an authority and expert in your niche. Creating content like white papers and case studies also helps you become an authority in your industry.
Most businesses have an email list of customers and potential customers, this is the perfect time to nurture them with helpful content and resources, so they get to know, like, and trust you. Content marketing is magical and serves so many purposes. It helps you attract the right people who are more likely to buy.
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
Content is the driving force behind the marketing and nurturing, whether it’s email copy, blog posts, or YouTube videos. That’s why freelance writing is in demand because all businesses need content of some kind. With the right content, you can get more of the right type of traffic to your business — people that are ready to buy your solution to their problems.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Since I started as a solopreneur and most writers do, the most common mistake I see is people not treating their business like a business. It’s easy to get into the lull of watching television and relaxing when you should be working at home because no boss is breathing down your neck. But creating a business plan and establishing your business as an LLC or something similar helps with the mindset shift from being an employee or part-time writer to a business owner. A business plan covers many key parts such as setting goals, identifying competitors, tracking your finances, and, more importantly, things you need to focus on to succeed.
Okay, fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights; let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills, and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?
As a business grows, successful entrepreneurs take more steps out of their comfort zone to find better opportunities.
At any time, a significant setback can cost a lot of time, and time is money. Or you could lose clients or your primary source of passive income. So when you fail, the lows are crushing, but when you succeed, the highs are amazing. Every time you succeed, it helps you take one more step ahead. So, I believe the stakes are much higher when you’re a business owner.
The biggest difference between a regular job and running your own business is that the highs and lows are more intense because your business’s success or failure lies solely in your hands. When an employee receives a raise, it’s great, but when you land a high-paying client in your freelance business, it’s euphoric!
But the lows are really low. For instance, if you lose your top-paying writing client, it’s much more stressful than the employee who doesn’t get a raise because there is much more riding on the solopreneurs actions.
And by the way, there is no such thing as failure as long as you learn from it. One of my favorite quotes is by Thomas Edison — “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
When I started my business, I made the mistake many new freelance writers make, putting all your eggs in one basket. I had one client that paid the majority of my bills, and when I lost them, I was scrambling trying to find more clients when I should have been doing that consistently. Needless to say, I learned that lesson the hard way!
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Like I mentioned above, I lost one of my first clients that paid most of my bills. I felt like I did something wrong like I was a failure (this was before I found good ol’ Tom’s quote). I had just started my business (even though I didn’t know it yet), but luckily I had backup clients, which actually ended up being a good thing.
Based on your experience, can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
When something like that happens, my first reaction is to get upset, but then I come back more determined than before. I worked with the other backup clients I had while looking for better clients! Now I’ve learned to have diverse income streams.
Okay super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Know you’re why. — Times will get rough so focusing on why you started your business in the first place helps you through those challenging periods. When my latest article doesn’t rank high on Google, I just come back more determined to do what it takes to get found on Google.
- Learn the things you don’t know. — There are so many things that you need to know to run a successful business. You’ll find plenty of free information out there, but if you want a shortcut to get up to speed quickly, take a course. I’ve taken online classes on many aspects of blogging, and they put me much further ahead faster. Courses are the fast-track option.
- Reward yourself — Because you ride the waves of the highs and lows, it’s important to reward yourself when you accomplish something you’ve worked hard on. The rewards don’t have to be huge. It could be as small as taking off early one day. Or maybe selling your first product means going out to dinner. We must acknowledge our achievements.
- Keep a virtual folder of love notes from clients, customers, and anyone else who says nice things about you. — You’ll deal with low reviews and internet trolls who want to rain on your parade. You may tell yourself that you should ignore them, but one negative comment obliterates 100 good ones. So, I like to keep a file with every nice thing people have said about me. It may be a customer review, a nice blog comment, or anything that makes me feel better. Then the next time some person goes out of their way to send you a rude email response to your email newsletter, just go to that folder and look at the nice things other people say.
- Take vacations and breaks from work. — When you freelance from home, your work is always there. It’s vital to step away from work and even take vacations. It may be tempting to open your laptop and answer just one more email or finish that article for your client. But that’s the fast way to burnout. So go on vacation. Take frequent breaks, so you’re always fresh when you come back to your work.
We are living during challenging times, and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
For me, resilience is the ability to bounce back from a challenge or difficulty that you’ve faced. Truly resilient people are eternal optimists as they always see the best in things. They are also expert problem solvers, consider themselves survivors at all costs, and aren’t afraid to ask for help when they need it.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
I have always been resilient but losing my house, career, boyfriend, and health helped me build my resiliency because I didn’t quit. I also think because my dad was in the Navy and we moved a lot, going to four different middle schools in three years helped me bounce back quickly when it came to making friends all over again.
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
I once had a fellow officer look at me one day and say, “I don’t trust happy people.” Of course, this only made me smile bigger! There are very few things that get me down. We can always learn lessons when things go wrong and use my determination to succeed as it helps me remain positive. Reframing things is another tip for staying positive. Instead of saying I can’t do it, say I can’t do it now, but I’m learning how to.
Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.
If a leader has a negative attitude, it brings the whole team down, especially since they are supposed to be your motivators. As a police lieutenant, I supervised officers under me and had people tell me that I inspired them to be better because I never asked them to do something that I wouldn’t do. I also always complimented them when they did well. Even with evaluations, I tried to find positive things they did well and counseled them in the areas they needed improvement in. If you only focus on what people do wrong, they feel like they can’t do anything right, which lowers morale.
My clients like working with me because I’m always cheery and find ways to make people smile. It’s one of my life’s purposes to spread love and cheer everywhere I go.
Okay. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
Oh, the quote I listed earlier! Thomas Edison — “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” I’m very hard on myself when something goes wrong. But I’m trying to teach myself that there is something to learn from every” failure.” Turning these incidents into learning experiences is definitely easier on the ego too. But the key is to get back up when you fall and try again.
How can our readers further follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!