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How Busy Leaders Juggle Their Personal & Business Lives: While some consider success as ‘more money’, I consider success as ‘time-freedom’

With Brittany Hardy of Empty Desk Solutions



As my success grows, I actually find it easier to focus on other areas of my life. While some consider success as ‘more money’, I consider success as ‘time-freedom’. As my business grows, I continue to grow my team and outsource tasks that aren’t essential for me to do. This way of thinking allows me to have more of a life and enjoy more of the things I actually enjoy doing.


As a part of my series asking extremely busy and successful leaders to share the strategies they use to juggle, balance and integrate their personal lives and business lives, I had the pleasure to interview Brittany Hardy. Brittany is the Owner at Empty Desk Solutions, a boutique social media marketing agency in Port Moody BC Canada. Brittany is passionate about helping small businesses achieve their growth goals with marketing solutions that are both effective and affordable. After many years of working in retail management and then as the Marketing Manager for Canada’s largest mortgage company, Brittany decided it was time to pursue a life-long goal of creating her own business. Naturally she likes to help others and decided there was no better way to do this than to use her creative talent to help OTHERS who want to do the same thing. With three young children, Brittany believes in balancing work and home life and continues to find new ways to support and employ other mothers who want to start their own businesses or stay at home with their children.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

Back in 2014, I was working at Dominion Lending Centres (Canada’s Largest Mortgage Company) as a marketing manager and I was feeling overwhelmed, and quite frankly… exhausted! I loved who I worked with, and the job that I did, and even all the small little things I was responsible for, but something was missing. I no longer felt like I was contributing to something bigger, and I was longing to be with my family more. I had (then) 2 young children (now 3) and the daycare cost alone for being able to work was eating up OVER HALF of my salary. I started to think… ‘How else could I make income and not suffer the loss of not being with my children so much?’. Then my husband decide to make a career change — drat, another curve ball! Not only was I trying to figure out a way to spend time with the family more, but now I had to also figure out how to make up a large portion of income that he was going to lose (initially) as part of his career switch. Eek! I decided to start my company as a ‘side-hustle’ (truth be told, I HATE the word hustle… I believe more ‘side-business’… the word hustle just screams burnout to me). Empty Desk Solutions was thought up in a weekend! The first idea was to create a virtual assistant network specializing in marketing tasks since I knew what small businesses were looking for in terms of marketing help. It didn’t take long for the idea to shift. As people began to talk about what I was doing, I uncovered a huge need for social media marketing specifically servicing the small business owners local to me. I was being asked over and over again if I could help out with social media, so I switched gears! Now in year 5 of the business, we have over 150 clients across North America, and the best part… I’m spending that time with my family that I was craving all along!

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

The most interesting thing that has happened to me since I began leading my company would have to be still the sheer misunderstanding about what social media marketing really is. It’s a massive umbrella, and every single day I see still misleading information about social media marketing being the answer to all of a small businesses’ marketing woes. It’s still touted as a giant sales opportunity, and people are really missing the boat. It’s SOCIAL media, and it should be just that… SOCIAL! Build a network and profile, position yourself as an expert, and continue to connect with people by being real. It’s not a giant sales platform.

What was your biggest challenge to date either personally or professionally and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge to date technically falls under both the personal and professional categories. My biggest struggle is a combination of focus and balance. I can either be laser focused to the point where I work until I almost can’t even keep my eyes open anymore, or I lack focus so much so that I get absolutely nothing done. The battle to stay on track and self-motivate is something that I think all small business owners struggle with, but it seems to be compounded for me by the guilt of wanting more time with my children. I have more time now than I ever had with my children, so it seems a bit odd that the feelings of guilt come up — this is why I have taken on a completely new look at everything in my business to allow me to re-align with my personal and family goals. I have managed to overcome this struggle by educating myself on the importance of systems in my business. I took a year long program called ‘Business School for Busy Entrepreneurs’ and I am now getting my life back once again! I hope that anyone reading this can be inspired to take action on systemizing their business to free them from creating another ‘job’ for themselves.

What does leadership mean to you and how do you best inspire others to lead?

I used to have a funny interpretation of leadership that was based on my first few ‘real jobs’. I used to think that leaders were more ‘dictators’ than anything and that a good leader was someone who could get people to do what they say as a result of an aggressive style of communication and management. It wasn’t until I started my own business that I really started to appreciate exceptional leadership. I looked at other teams that were happy and successful and realized that (to me anyways) a good leader was someone that could inspire people to do good things by motivating them. A GREAT leader on the other hand was so much more. To me, a great leader is someone that not only inspires people to do good things in life and in business, but also cares deeply about the personal well-being of those in their circle. A great leader takes action to inspire even when it doesn’t serve them personally. A great leader doesn’t need fanfare or recognition… they just need to continue to make a positive impact in the life of others.

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?

There are SO MANY people that have helped me along the way, but I want to thank one person in particular. I feel like I should be making comments about my friends and family, but that goes without saying so I’ll tell you instead a story about a former boss. This person (I won’t say their name because I want to protect their privacy) took a chance on me. He said it was because I was ‘resourceful’ and kind, yet to this day I have no idea what it was that he saw in me that made him give me the opportunity that he did. I was fortunate enough to shadow him in his position for the better part of three years and he inspired me to further my knowledge of marketing and take on bigger and bigger projects. He was a true leader! He made everyone on his team feel special and valued. I take his style of leadership now to my team and it guides almost every decision I make in business. You know who you are ;) Thank you!

Was it difficult to fit your life into your business/career and how did you do that?

When I was employed full-time previously to starting my own business, it was VERY difficult to fit anything that even remotely resembled a life in to anything. Taking a step back to appreciate the wonderful things around me continues to be a work in progress when I feel the weight of the tasks piling up in my business, but the lifestyle that the business has afforded me I simply wouldn’t trade for the world. Every day it becomes less difficult to ‘have a life’ while being self-employed because I have committed to analyzing which tasks or ‘to-dos’ are essential vs. non-essential.

Did you find that as your success grew it became more difficult to focus on the other areas of your life?

As my success grows, I actually find it easier to focus on other areas of my life. While some consider success as ‘more money’, I consider success as ‘time-freedom’. As my business grows, I continue to grow my team and outsource tasks that aren’t essential for me to do. This way of thinking allows me to have more of a life and enjoy more of the things I actually enjoy doing.

Can you share five pieces of advice to other leaders about how to achieve the best balance between work and personal life?

1 — If you haven’t read the book ‘Essentialism’, read it! This book was recommended to me by a friend and client, and it changed the way I look at everything! It broke the cycle of overwhelm.

2 — Keep a gratitude journal. Another client gave me the piece of advice to keep a journal and write in it daily. You only need to write 3 lines or bullet points each day — 3 things that you are grateful for that day. It adds up and makes you appreciate the little things even more.

3 — Stay active. Choose an activity that keeps you active and stick to it. Mine is hot yoga and it makes me feel invigorated. If you aren’t healthy yourself, then you can’t truly be an effective leader.

4 — Never stop researching. Of course all leaders will say ‘never stop learning’ or ‘never stop reading’, but I like to say ‘never stop researching’. I say this because even if you are an expert in your field or industry, there is ALWAYS someone that knows more, or just knows something different. Researching can give you a different perspective on an issue that you might have thought you understood already 100%.

5 — Success is different for everyone. Why is it that success is always associated with fancy homes, cars, or beautiful people? Maybe it’s our crazy social media world we live in, but it’s time to realize that success is different for everyone, and the definition of success can change as you grow as a person! There was a time where I recall saying to a former boss that success to me was ‘just being able to have enough money to feed my kids and pay my rent’. Today I would tell you something completely different!

What gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment and pride.

When I feel that I have made an impact in the lives of other business owners (specifically moms in business), I feel a great sense of accomplishment. When I started my own business, I wanted to hire other moms to give them the opportunity to work at home and take care of their children. It wasn’t long before I realized that I could do a lot more! I realized that I could cater our services to other moms so that I could give them back time in their businesses and allow them to be with their own families more. This is the ultimate sense of accomplishment for me.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I wish to inspire other moms, even those without prior business experience, to get out there, and put their best face forward in business! I believe wholeheartedly that you do not need a fancy education or resume full of credentials to create a wildly successful company. If I could inspire even one other mom who is struggling to make ends meet to start and follow through with creating a business that sustains their family, I would be elated.

What is the best way for people to connect with you on social media?

The best way for people to connect with me on social media is through my personal Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Brittanyhardy1985 or my Facebook Business Page: https://www.facebook.com/emptydesksolutions/

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