We have better technology that we ever have. In that past we have overcome other pandemics, without the tools we have today. If we harness what we have with the great scientific minds we have, we will get out of this faster than ever before.
This virus is controllable. Many countries have shown it can be contained, and managed.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.
As a part of our series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrea Travillian.
Andrea Travillian is the founder of Aspirify, Inc — a small business education company. She specializes in helping small businesses maximize profits without working crazy hours. Andrea has her BBA in finance from the University of Iowa, her MBA from Creighton University and has been a small business owner for 18 years.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Back in 2002, I started my first business — an event planning company. Over the years I have owned various businesses. But the one thing that I found to be consistent in all them, was that when I needed to get help or education. I struggled to find what was right for me. So, after many years of investing in bad classes and consultants, I dug in to figure out why this was a problem. After realizing that it was because I never fully understood what my business needed. I began creating a foundation for how to understand it better. That information became my current business. Where we focus on getting the business owner exactly what they need in the moment. Quick, easy, and actionable advice.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
The most interesting thing has actually been a series of things. That would be understanding the best way to deliver what I was trying to do. At first it was coaching and consulting. But then Covid made me stop and reassess. This allowed me to look at the business in ways I did not before. This lead me to turning it into the DIY education pieces that it is today.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Right now I am currently working on a DIY strategic planning workbook for small businesses. It will be a big help to small business owners because strategic planning is critical for business. But it should not be done the same way a major corporation does it. I have created tools to help the small business owner write one that is helpful to them. Not a time and resource drain.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I have had many mentors along the way. After 18 years in business there are many that help me with different aspects. Especially considering all the changes over the past 18 years in technology alone! But the best teachers have been the ones that show by example what not to do in business! I had a very bad experience with a consultant, that lead to this business. That company made about every bad move you could make. It has guided me in how I create each product and service I offer.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?
For me the hardest part has been keeping my mind sharp. As a single mom I find that my ability to think clearly is the first thing that starts to slip. Balancing creating for my business, helping my son with his high school work plus regular life requirements has created a situation where my mind just stops! Mom brain at its finest.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I have three things that help me, and I would not be able to function without them. First, meditation. It allows my mind to release and renew. Second, working out. I put on something that does not need much thought and challenge myself physically. It takes my mind off things. Third, a full night’s sleep. I make sure I get at least 7 hours. This forces me to prioritize what I do during the day and accept that I might not finish everything. But I do this because sleep is critical to how our minds and bodies function.
Can you share the biggest work-related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
The biggest work-related challenge is finding time. Now that my son, does not physically leave every day, it is really hard to get the dedicated time I once had. Since I am in the start-up stages I don’t have a large team assisting me. So, finding that time to work on the business is the biggest challenge.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Since I cannot create more time, I focus on being as efficient and as structured as possible. I have taken extra time to ensure my processes are streamlined and up to date. This allows me to quickly work on what I need without wasting time wondering what is next.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
I have worked from home for many years. Ranging from when my son was a baby to today. The biggest piece of advice I have is to stay flexible. Kids need different things at different ages. The way I worked when my son was five is very different than today when he is fifteen. But here are some of my best tips:
- Get up earlier or stay up later to work. Babies don’t always allow this to happen, but every 15 minutes of work time will help. Even today with having a high schooler I get up early to get some of my work done. Because he does still interrupt!
- Explain to them that you have to work and that you need their help. Make them part of the family contribution of helping you.
- Set up their “work” desk by yours. Give them art supplies or even educational workbooks. This worked great for me in the elementary years.
- Set up a signal system if you have to take important calls. Once my son was old enough to watch himself, we implemented a sign program that if my door was shut and it had a quiet sign on it, that he should not disturb.
- If your kids are old enough use noise canceling headphones to block out the noise. Or regular headphones while using an app like coffitivity. This has saved me numerous times, as my desk at my current apartment is in the living room.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?
I ensure that each of us has our own space, that we can retreat to. This way we can each have downtime. We also balance between quality family interaction, and individual time. This has created balance that helps us not be arguing and getting on each other’s nerves.
The key piece for me though is self-care. If I make sure I am doing my own self-care, then it is easier to stay sane and serene.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
It is hard to manage the unknown fears that come up. But I am hopeful that we will come out of this stronger than ever. Here is why:
- It is forcing us to take a look at ourselves and how we function on a day to day basis. Most of us were too busy before to take anytime to evaluate and adjust our lives. This is helping us see how we can have a better life.
- It is forcing us to see where our society needs improvement. It is hard to see the bad during good times. But during hard times, we see what is not working. Now we have the opportunity to improve it.
- We have better technology that we ever have. In that past we have overcome other pandemics, without the tools we have today. If we harness what we have with the great scientific minds we have, we will get out of this faster than ever before.
- Forces us to think outside of the box. Because of the restriction on being in crowded spaces and needing to adapt. We are forced to come up with different ways of doing things. My business would not have its current structure if I had been able to keep working onsite with clients.
- This virus is controllable. Many countries have shown it can be contained, and managed.
From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
The best thing we can do for others is to listen without validating, judging, or trying to fix things. People just need to feel heard and not be told they are overreacting, or they have it all wrong. When someone is stressed and anxious, they need to know it is okay to feel this way. And know you are there to support them.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
This quote is from the book: The Four Agreements.
“You are what you believe you are.”
Our beliefs really do dictate our life. I have learned through my own personal growth that when I pay attention to what I am thinking about myself, and then ask why I think that. I will find a belief that is impacting me. Then I can work to change it. This has allowed me to grow in countless areas of life, and bring me more joy than just about anything else!
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!