We’re remembering what’s most important. It’s so easy for us to get caught up in petty squabbles and first world problems when we’re busy. When things like this pandemic happen, we’re forced to remember what truly matters: time with the people we love most. If we can all be sure to prioritize that, I think we’ll come out of the other side of this stronger than ever.
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 Breanna Gunn, an online business strategist that helps overworked and overwhelmed solopreneurs scale without stress. Through her unique blend of market consulting and copywriting, she gives her clients the tools to rock sales calls and master their market research.
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?
Of course! I built my business from the ground up, and like many entrepreneurs, I come from humble sales beginnings.
I started off selling cell phones and eventually made the jump to selling used cars. I made 30,000 dollars in two months, and then I quit. Selling was starting to feel sleazy, and I wanted to do something I was proud of. So I started working at a divorce law firm while I studied pre-law.
It was there that I discovered how much I loved making people feel valued and heard. Which as you can imagine, was something they were not used to getting at that time in their lives. Fast forward to having my son, and I knew I needed to find a career that gave me the satisfaction of making a difference but didn’t leave me emotionally exhausted at the end of the day.
So, I started an online business. One built with boundaries, office hours and making a difference in my clients’ lives. I’ve been going strong for 10 years now, and I couldn’t be happier with my choice to become an entrepreneur.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
I have to pick just one? I think that the most interesting thing to happen to me since I started my company was probably having to shut it all down when my son became gravely ill — I realized quickly that I could not fly solo anymore, but I didn’t have any supports in place in case something like this happened.
So, I did the only thing I could do — I shut it all down, handed off clients, and closed shop. Once he was in remission, I revived my business, found stellar contractors to support me that are able to fill in key components of my business which not only allows me more time freedom, but has been a true gift as we figure out this next phase — I know things are getting done well before deadlines, and am able to continue to be a mom AND run my business.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes! I’m putting the final touches on a new mini-course that will reveal the exact steps I took to generate over 80K dollars in revenue and clients in just six months on LinkedIn. It’s such an underrated platform that I know more entrepreneurs could be taking advantage of.
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?
In the beginning of building my business, I was hustling around the clock. I had just had my son and was still working a full-time job on top of saying yes to every potential for work as a entrepreneur. I was so busy I couldn’t even take time out of my day to go see a movie with my husband.
I’m so grateful for his patience and support during that time. Because I had him to lean on, I was able to grow my business to the place it is now.
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?
Like most working parents, the biggest challenge for me is that my kid is home all day, every day along with my partner. So there have been a lot of struggles to coordinate things conference calls, lunches, homeschooling — and getting our work done.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Adjusting to a new normal for us has looked like a lot of shifting in the day to day. Time blocking and merging tasks has been helpful, but I think having grace and allowing space for the chaos that will occur when everyone is at home is essential.
Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
As a woman who’s used to hustling, working hard and doing it all (something I’m sure many female business owners can relate to), the biggest challenge I’ve had is having down time. Working from home can make it so we always feel on call. Like we need to have our cellphones glued our hands and laptops open at all times. But when you live like that for too long, you burn out. Work gets sloppy, tensions rise and life becomes more overwhelming than it should be.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I set myself very strict office hours. I post them in my email signature, I make my team and family aware of them, and I am adamant about stopping work when it’s time to stop work. While there was a little bit of guilt that came up when I first started doing this, I’ve realized how much better my business runs when I’m taken care of.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
Time blocking and setting a schedule will be your very best friends. Things get messy when you don’t have a system in place, so take the time to set up a specific plan for all that needs to be done so there’s no second guessing.
But also, make sure it’s a realistic plan. Too many of us try to be superheroes when it’s just not necessary. Start with getting the bare minimum done, see how long that takes, and then grow it from there.
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?
Outside of making sure I get at least some small form of me time each day, the one shift that’s really helped is letting go of the need of perfection. Sometimes my son bursts into my office to say hi while I’m on a Zoom call. Sometimes I start work a little late because I needed to sleep an extra half hour. Sometimes things get crazy and tasks need to be pushed until next week. I stay sane by not beating myself up when life happens because it happens to all of us.
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.
1. Remote work will become more normalized. While I’ve been working from home for the past 10 years, not everyone has. But working parents will soon realize how much the flexibility of remote work can make their lives easier and better. You can plan your work around pickups, playtime and naps. It’s the middle ground of having a career and staying at home — you get to do both!
2. As will flexible schedules and nontraditional work hours. We’re learning more and more about how a traditional 9–5 schedule doesn’t work for everyone. Many companies who are switching to remote work for the first time will see that their employees can A) still be trusted to do their jobs and B) do their jobs more effectively when they’re given the freedom to control their schedule.
3. Working with the kids in the background is no longer weird. I’ve been the business owner who lets clients know that I have kids — and then the kids come introduce themselves. I always felt self conscious about this — but not anymore! With so many people working from home (and starting their own businesses) having your kids in the office or at the table with you is the “normal” thing.
4. True work/life balance. When you rarely leave the house, your days start to run together, and it’s easy to burn out, which has prompted me go back and review my working hours, limit my call availability and allow myself to actually shut things down and take evenings and weekends to hang with my family. Prior to this, I would leave my office door open and it was so tempting to do a little more work — now I literally shut the computer down, close the door and clock out. I don’t think I’ll be going back to working around the clock anytime soon.
5. We’re remembering what’s most important. It’s so easy for us to get caught up in petty squabbles and first world problems when we’re busy. When things like this pandemic happen, we’re forced to remember what truly matters: time with the people we love most. If we can all be sure to prioritize that, I think we’ll come out of the other side of this stronger than ever.
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?
Time. The most precious thing you can give to someone you love is your time. Whether you offer a weekly phone call where they can vent about all their fears or you come up with a way to distract them from their anxiety for a bit, spending time is the ultimate form of support.
And if all else fails, send them a pizza.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“The most dangerous phrase in the English language is, ‘we’ve always done it this way.’” — Grace Hopper
I feel that this quote encapsulates this year, and my career — assuming that doing something the same forever ends up leaving you behind — it’s important to try new things (like live video!) and take risks — otherwise you’ll always wonder what could have happened.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!