Recently I was highlighted on a good friend and past coach – Alex Baisley’s newsletter. I spoke about how important the value of building my business from lifestyle up has been for me. And how my lifestyle – for myself and my son – has been the compass all along the way on my path in entrepreneurship. And that it can take a few iterations to create it.
As Alex says “We don’t have to change our lives and work 100%. Every 10% improvement on lifestyle with each new move you make matters. A lot. It mattered HUGELY to Lisa. To her son. To her clients.” I’m hoping that maybe this highlight/post I wrote for Alex can be an inspiration to you, dear reader.
“Hi I’m Lisa Kelly of Admin Guru. I love tech tools. And I’m a confirmed personal development junkie. My zone of excellence is figuring sh*t out and getting things done in the world of online business for coaches/thought leaders, intuitives, speakers and authors…
I wanted to share a little about my non-linear path to getting where I know I’m now supposed to be: my happy place as an OBM (Online Business Manager – also referred to as a virtual COO or virtual business manager)! – in case something in my path could be helpful for where you’re at.
It was late 2008 and after having read so many blogs by stay-at home-moms and ‘mompreneurs’, the urge to get out of the confines of my job was so strong that I asked to be laid off in early 2009.
I still didn’t know what kind of a business I should open, but I read lots of books and blogs on finding your passion and turning it into something sustainable (check out Pamela Slim’s ‘Escape From Cubicle Nation’ and Martha Beck’s ‘Finding Your Own North Star’). Before I left my job I’d come to the conclusion that I was meant to open a centre where I would offer yoga, art, and performance classes to children. I was ecstatic that I’d be seeing so much more of my then 5 yr old. So I wrote a little proposal, applied to the Ontario Self Employment Benefit program, got accepted to their 10 week business planning course, and by the fall of ’09 I launched ‘The Centre for Art & Soul’.
I became certified to teach kids yoga and began creating art lesson plans from scratch. My total funds to launch the business was 7k, and after renting a space and covering all the other overhead, I was very broke by 2010. I was of the mindset ‘If you build it, they will come’. There was nothing in my hood like what I was offering – I’d done my market research and was convinced it would be a huge success. Eventually people started to learn of my humble business and send their kids to my classes and we became well known in my neighbourhood!
However, after 5 years of struggling, I closed the Centre for Art & Soul in the winter of 2014/2015.
During those 5 years I read more business books, took more courses, did a 10 week class on meditation for anxiety (couldn’t sleep at night due to $$ worries), yet all the time my body seemed to be trying to tell me it was the wrong business for me. For instance…
My gut told me to question why I was reading ‘The 4-hour Work Week’ By Tim Ferris at the exact same time I was reading ‘Book Yourself Solid’ by Michael Port.
I couldn’t help but notice that every time I pulled my cart of yoga mats to the subway to go and teach at a daycare, I wanted to push the entire cart down the stairs and bolt the other way. My gut also told me to question why I was was listening to podcasts by ‘The Suitcase Entrepreneur’ instead of teaching more classes. I wasn’t loving my business and so, much of the time instead of promoting or doing sales (and generating income!!!), I’d hide away in front of my computer creating newsletters, doing my bookkeeping and admin, fiddling with my website, posting on social media, and… well… making pretty postcards.
It was around that time that I went to a talk put on by Alex Baisley. I’d heard about him via Tad Hargrave and Carrie Klassen. I went to his ‘Life Design Adventure’ workshop on the ‘5 J.R.’s’ and tried so hard to figure out how I could apply it in my own life. I was excited at the idea of change and LOVED all that Alex was saying, but ‘how could I?’, I thought. What would I do? I brainstormed lots to no avail, so I booked some time with Alex one-on-one. It was then that he helped me devise a way to travel AND do art classes. After Alex’s guidance…
I was able to fundraise $$ so that my son and I could go to an orphanage in Haiti and offer art workshops to 100 children!
This was my dream come true. Alas, it was a big undertaking – a huge amount of work and it was sort of a once in a lifetime deal. Plus it really wasn’t something I wanted to do repeatedly, or felt I could do as a business.
Around that same time, I saw a job posting for a Virtual Assistant to a yoga teacher. Maybe it could supplement my income? I needed to make more $, but I knew for sure there was no way I’d ever go back to the 9 to 5 rat race… I loved being an entrepreneur! I reached out to her, told her about all of my talents for running my own business and got the gig for 5 hours a week. After working with her for a while, I started offering my admin and digital skills to other creative and socially-conscious business owners in my hood. Before I knew it, I had a good sized client base and was basically running two very small businesses. I was making a living finally!
Additionally during that year I continued following Alex. I joined many of his groups: The Life Design Adventure Café, the 30 Day Inner Adventure, The Thing Part One and Two, and The Buck Starts Here.
Every time we did meditations and guided visualizations, I’d always see myself in some foreign place: Paris, London, NYC, the jungle, the beach, a retreat somewhere in the mountains… And I’d always see myself working from one of those places.
It was then that I started to see where I needed to go in business: I saw that if I continued in the V.A. realm, I could travel and work from anywhere! This feeling made my heart happy. So this then became my new goal.
I decided to stop investing in the Centre for Art & Soul, find more V.A. clients and see what happened. Money was still ‘okay’, but by the end of 2012 I became VERY burnt out.
Something also that I started to learn was that a lot of the people who needed my admin help were startups and had hardly any budget. I wanted to help creative and conscious entrepreneurs, but…
they couldn’t pay me what I needed to make.
I was (and still am) a single mom, and had to take care of my health and my son. So in 2013 I phased out a few of the bricks and mortar clients but was broke again.
I was realizing fast that in order to take care of me and my kid I needed part-time hours for full time money – or so it seemed. So THAT became my M.O.
I took more courses and leveled up a bit. Instead of calling myself a V.A. I became an ‘Administrative Consultant’. I became more selective with my clients. Yet, I still struggled financially. I’d meet with tons of prospects and write up awesome strategies and proposals, but at the end of the day – they couldn’t afford my rates. It was becoming more and more clear that I was targeting the wrong market.
Thankfully in the fall of 2014 I somehow came across the book ‘Becoming an Online Business Manager: Playing a Bigger Game with your Clients and Yourself’ by Tina Forsyth. I devoured it within a day.
My eyes were opened!
I’d never even heard of an Online Business Manager, but after reading it, I knew I wanted to be one – and was practically already one for some clients (all except the ‘online business’ part). That was the part that clinched it for me. I was learning and teaching a bunch of great online tools, but most of the people I worked with had no time for it.
They were all way too busy manning their brick and mortar shops to occupy themselves with online systems and tools. By reading the book I found out that coaches were the people who needed the kind of help I was trying to offer. And what an amazing feeling to learn that I could do what I love with COACHES. After doing so much personal development already, I realized that I was a bit of a transformational leader groupie! I knew of so many coaches already – becoming an OBM to one or two felt like such a natural fit. I loved the world of healing and growth!
So I invested in a very in-depth, content rich course, took the week-long intensive exam, and about a year ago I became certified! After this long, indirect journey with it’s trials and tribulations, I’ve finally discovered that I’m gifted when it comes to problem solving and ‘getting things done’ – especially when it comes to the online world.
The moral of my story I feel is to never give up, listen to your gut, follow what feels good and gives you energy and…
of special note (most important when taking a non-linear career path):
One must have faith it’ll all work out.
It’s taken a long time, but I feel so fortunate to finally be living that famous quote ‘Find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life’.
I hope that this might have given somebody who feels stuck a bit of hope. My best advice is to talk to Alex about it just like I did!
Thank you Alex for all of your help, much more than you probably realized!
To your flow, and your big projects 🙂
As for me now: Something I’ve added to my bucket list is to create a hardcover book of all of the amazing art and classes we held at the Centre for Art & Soul. I think it would make a lovely book to pass down to my son.
Also, I’ve just completed a course on Launch Managment and I currently have an opening for one new retained client. I always have openings for project-based, short-term tech implementation as well. My work may be relevant to you if:
1. You’re a transformational leader (life coach, heart centred business coach, health coach) with tons of ideas for new projects – ie: writing a new book (or two!), hosting a virtual summit or a VIP day, creating new courses, offering a retreat etc. etc. but too darn busy to take the time to develop them.
2. You’re a coach in growth stage – sick and tired of managing the business’ back-end (team, operations, projects and also want a better handle on the finances) and are ready to pass the torch to somebody who loves working behind the scenes for you.
Please take a look at my packages to see if there is something of interest for you – am happy to chat!