When I was about 15, there was one thing I knew for certain: I DID NOT want to become an entrepreneur. My mother was one, my brother was one, my uncle was one and I did not like the long hours they worked, the complete absorption in their business they had nor the complete lack of a work life balance.
What did I want to do instead? I had no idea.
Growing up in New York, the importance of having a career had been drilled into me from an early age. The culture I grew up in identified success as making lots of money by establishing a career. I had no idea what I wanted to do or what path to follow, but I was very good at numbers. In New York, that meant going into finance, which I did, but it was just a job that I didn’t particularly enjoy. Going there every day was a chore, but at least it was a start.
After 3 years I went on to study at Columbia Business School and received my MBA. That is where I discovered marketing which involved products, strategy and creativity so I switched careers and got excited that I had now found something to do that really lit me up. After business school, I moved to the UK and got a job with Sainsbury’s as a marketing manager. At first it was fun and I was progressing rapidly through the hierarchy and my new career was up and running. But after the birth of my first daughter, everything changed. When I went back to work, I found that I was firmly off the fast track even though I was still managing a team 4 days a week. Also, the reality of trying to balance being a mother and working for a corporate was much harder than I ever could have imagined. Being a perfectionist, I felt less than on all fronts as I wasn’t able to give 100% to my job or my child.
In order to move forward, I had to stop and really asses my priorities. I was lucky that I could afford to stop working and focus on my family, which is what I did. I went on to have a further three children and raising them all has been one of the greatest privileges of my life. But here’s the thing, I was raised to believe that having a career was how I should define myself. That was my measure of success, regardless of whether or not I was enjoying what I was doing and here I was with four kids, no career and no prospects of finding success in the future. I couldn’t help but feel like a failure even though raising my children was a joy and most definitely the best decision I ever made.
Fast forward 8 years to when my husband and I decided to take the kids and move to Australia for 2 years! Crazy right? At this point I was feeling very low and had really lost the sense of my own identity. I was a mother, a wife, a cook, a driver, a pa, but none of these things were me. The idea of a career and something that was my own seemed very far away and I was lost and unfocused, overweight and lacking in self esteem.
All this changed when we moved to Australia where I began a journey of transformation that changed my mind, body and spirit. At the end, not only was I slimmer and stronger, but I had more confidence and energy than I ever had before. Most importantly, I learned to be present in my own life and to really enjoy it! I also discovered that in addition to personal strength, this transformation also gave me the confidence and motivation to finally pursue my professional ambitions as well.
I started looking for what was next. This search was at the heart of the lack of focus I had been suffering from. I knew that the corporate work I had done before was no longer for me. Also, having undergone my wonderful transformation, I knew that I wanted to help others feel great and move forwards in their lives the way I had, but how?
With this mindset, I started noticing that everywhere I went I saw other women who were feeling the way I used to; busy, unhappy, not looking after themselves, exhausted and snappy. I remember thinking “I know how you feel” and found myself in so many conversations helping them to see that it didn’t have to be that way. Through these discussions and because it just felt so right helping others, I had an epiphany: I understood that I wanted to help other women who were struggling with similar issues to have the same results I was having.
Here was my missing piece. Here was my why. Here was the purpose that I had been looking for but couldn’t find until I first fixed myself and set the foundation for the POWER to move forward. But finding my why, while a huge relief, was only the beginning, not the end. I then had to understand what to do with it to make a life that was happy, satisfied and fulfilled.
Upon returning to the UK, I retrained at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where I qualified as a Health Coach. I then opened my practice and began working with women to make them feel good about themselves again. It was at this point that I finally started feeling fulfilled. I thought that this was all great and now the clients and success would just come rolling in, but that’s when the doubts started coming up. My friends didn’t really understand what I was doing and I had a hard time explaining it to them.
My husband thought it was all a hobby and not a business and it was difficult for me to justify any monetary investment I was making. I then made all the classic mistakes from chasing every new shiny object that promised success from email list growth and Facebook ads to Instagram stories and LinkedIn connections. I tried to put my finger in every pie without a clear set of goals, milestones or any direction at all. I didn’t even have any idea of what kind of numbers I was targeting!
Needless to say, my business didn’t grow. I felt depressed, dejected and full of self-limiting beliefs. But there was no way that I was going back to where I was before I went to Australia. Why? Because I had a drive, a mission that fuelled my motivation. To help other women find that transformation to live a satisfied and fulfilled life. Because I had a purpose, I knew I could do better. Besides, mistakes are part of the learning process. So what did I do? Honestly, I did the same thing you might, or anyone would.
I had to DIG DEEP, open myself to LEARNING and to seeking NEW MENTORS. Most of all, I had to see a different kind of future for myself and my family, and I had to get to work.
So I got a business coach, joined a mastermind group and started going to networking events. Piece by piece the puzzle came together. First, I rebranded and created a website that spoke with my voice. Then I started building my presence on social media, focusing on just Facebook and Instagram to start, and I started booking calls to find clients.
I opened my practice and began working with women to make them feel good about themselves again. After expanding to the online world, I then began attending networking events leading on to speaking opportunities. Boy do I love to speak to a roomful of interested and interesting women!
With these small wins, my business started to grow and now I get to help women all over the world create better ways of working that take them from feeling overwhelmed and frustrated to feeling that the right things get done in the time they have so they can focus on what they really want to achieve with more time, more energy and more direction.
My mission is to help these women balance a business and family so that they get the most out of their work hours and can enjoy all the parts of their lives without guilt and with true satisfaction, because as a mum of 4, I know what a struggle it can be to try to enjoy your life and not just endure it. I understand first-hand the pressures of the different roles required from women today who often wear ‘busy’ as a badge of honour – I know I did – even though they often feel overwhelmed and frustrated so much of the time by all the things. I learned that there is no reward for busyness, no gold star, no trophy – that it’s not about being busy, it’s about being productive, and that’s what I help other entrepreneurial women discover.
Have you figured out the secret sauce that makes work fun yet? That’s right, it’s discovering your why and bringing your passion, enthusiasm and excitement into your business.
If you’re ready to discover your why, then you can start by asking yourself these questions:
- What activities do you love to do?
- What activities do you wish you never had to do again?
- What comes most easily to you? (writing, presenting, cooking, performing, coding, teaching, interacting with people, creating on your computer…)
- Who are the people that inspire you and what aspects of their work could you do?
- Forgetting about how you can achieve it, what would be your dream situation in 5 years’ time? Where would you be? What would you be doing? Who would you be with?
- Are there any causes that you feel passionately about?
- Is there an area in your life where you struggled and then broke through to the other side? Is this something you could help other people achieve? Would you want to?
What would I say to my 15-year-old self who wanted nothing to do with entrepreneurs? Well, today I proudly am one and am passionate about helping other women succeed as entrepreneurs. I would tell her that I respect the pull of absorption that comes from building your own business but am conscious of making that work life balance a priority for myself and my clients.
Here is a truth I learned: By investing the time up front to discover what you are passionate about, you will give yourself the enthusiasm, drive and motivation to create a life that is happy, satisfied and fulfilled.
I am passionate about my work, but I am also passionate about my family and nurturing both these parts of myself is the secret sauce that makes my work fun. What about you?