Small Business Mentor & Personal Coach
Tell us a bit about the business that you are creating?
I actually do 2 things. Firstly, I am a small business mentor. I am passionate about helping startups get off the ground. There are so many women with amazing ideas, however, may be lacking skills and experience in some areas eg. marketing, branding, financials and just general motivation etc. That’s where I come in.
Secondly, I am a personal coach. I should say life coach, however, I have a real aversion to calling myself this. I don’t know why. I just do and I shouldn’t! Life coaching is an unregulated industry in Australia so there are so many hacks out there that give the industry a bad name. Regardless of title, in a nutshell, I am passionate about helping women to create positive change in their lives. Coaching is a powerful process, as long as you are truly ready for a change.
What are your three core values in your working life right now?
Balance, Integrity, Perseverance.
What’s the hardest part of running a business from home?
Distraction: I would love to just close my door, switch off my phone and devote 2 or 3-hour blocks to just working solidly. It’s great in theory but another load of washing calls, the temptation to do other work ie. pay bills, admin…basically dull household duties that need to be done.
Isolation: When I’m not working with a client, I sometimes miss working with other people ie. colleagues in the office, to bounce other ideas off and discuss things. I don’t feel this very often, however, sometimes it’s nice just to be able to have a coffee and a social chat with someone you work with.
What’s the most rewarding part of running a business from home?
Flexibility: I set my own workload and timetable. I have 3 kids, all in primary school, so it’s great to be able to drop them off and pick them up from school every day. Oh, and then be the taxi driver to all of their after school activities.
What fears did you have about starting your business?
Lots of fear, however, I take great inspiration from the quote “Feel the fear, do it anyway”. I had this quote on my pinboard for months when I was in start-up mode and it’s what drove me to push through the self doubt and launch my business.
My list of fears included: Can I do this? Is all the hard work going to pay off? What if I don’t get many clients? Will I enjoy doing this? Will people not take me seriously because I was out of the market for 6 years raising my kids? Have I lost my skills?
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running your home based business?
I can’t think of any lesson in “past tense”. The thing I am still trying to improve on each day is to find my “rhythm”. By that I mean, being more effective with my time management by blocking out chunks of time to work, study and research, marketing, household duties and admin…instead of sometimes doing things in a haphazard manner. I’m much better than I was 18 months ago trying to do all of the above but there is always room for improvement.
How do you find the right balance between being a partner, wife or mother and running your business?
As per the question above, I’m still trying to improve each day on managing the every day “juggle”. The most important thing for me is that my family comes first. Whilst they know that I go through times of being very busy and “mum needs to shut the door and not be disturbed for a while”, I always make sure that I have quality time with my family.
I am lucky that working from home means that I can take my kids to every thing they need to go to after school ie. sports training, play dates with friends and sport on the weekends, and I am there with them every night. We are big on “weekend = family time” so I am hoping that my kids will look back and be aware that mum had her own business, however, she was there for me 100% of the time.
On a scale of 1-10 how much does your business light you up?
At the moment, 7 out of 10.
What do you wish you had in your business that you are still seeking?
Collaboration. I would love to work with a network of likeminded women. I am big on the concept that women in business need to help each other, for more reasons other than just for the lead generation or the prospect of new business. Globally, women make up only 18% of new business start-ups. In Australia though, we are taking the lead and women comprise the majority of small business start ups. We should be helping and empowering each other and not work in isolation.
In moments of doubt, how do you overcome it and lift yourself back up?
Again, “Feel the fear and do it anyway”. I take comfort in knowing that if all else failed, at least I had a go and I would be proud of myself for doing that.
Who is your support crew if you have one?
My husband. He’s not big on talking about touchy-feely stuff in general but when it comes to me discussing my business, if I ever have any self doubt or issues, or discussing my wins, he is my biggest fan.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?
“Marketing yourself as opposed to a product is a slow burn. Don’t give up and know that the clients who love you, will result in referrals and future business. Believe in yourself and don’t ever underestimate your skills and your experience”.
What’s a brief summary of the pathway it took to get to where you are now?
I worked for all the big advertising agencies in my 20’s and 30’s in business management roles. After having 3 kids at lightning speed and then feeling brain dead after they all dropped off to start school, I had my own breakthrough when I saw a personal coach which led me to study personal (life!!) coaching as a career. However the coaching process also reignited my love of all things business and marketing related, so I came full circle on my career and ended up back to marketing, branding etc. but in a mentoring capacity.
How important is grit, determination and persistence to you in growing your business?
It’s everything. I can’t think of anyone who has started their own business without some blood, sweat and tears involved.
Which of your personal traits are you most proud of?
Curiosity - I always have a need to “know more” and I think this is what serves me well in my business. I am genuinely interested in people’s “story”.
Integrity - I will always stay true to my values. I am not prepared to be someone who I am not, in my personal life and business.
What’s the hardest thing about being your own boss?
Again, sometimes the social interaction that you lack when you want to bounce ideas off someone else, in your working environment…because you are working by yourself!
What sacrifices have you made starting a business?
The year that I studied and set up my business, “me time” was put on the back burner. I missed a lot of my beloved pilates classes and being involved in my kid’s schools, in favour of studying, researching and doing all the things you need to do to set up your business. Short term pain though for long term gain.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Seeing the changes that my clients make in both their personally and in their businesses. In fact, just all women in general. I think we underestimate what we can achieve when we put our mind to it. A hard thing to do when we wear many hats.
Who’s a woman you deeply admire?
Michelle Obama. An intelligent, warm, passionate and engaging woman and mother who has paved the way for many black American women, all women in general. I hate to weigh in on politics, particularly US politics at the moment (eeek!…that’s another story) but I truly hope that her legacy as the first black American first lady lives on and continues to be a source of inspiration.
What do you still want to achieve on a personal level?
Balance. Again, how to manage the juggle. I am getting there…slowly…but I will get there!
Name one thing you can’t live without each day.
I can’t name one. I have four….my kids Macy, Jake and Hugo and my husband Nick.
Find out more about Melisse at www.thechangestudio.com.au