If there’s one thing we know at Girl Tribe Gang it’s that running a business teaches us new things on a daily basis. In #TheLearningCurve series, we ask female founders to share their story of transitioning from the 9-5 to running their own business and what they’ve learned since working for themselves.
1. How did you get your idea or concept for your business?
After spending 13 years in a corporate leadership role, I was given the wonderful gift of redundancy. I viewed this an opportunity to do something more fulfilling – I wanted the feeling of loving Mondays rather than loathing them, and the freedom to make an immediate impact on the world without first having to submit endless proposals for Board approval.
Given that my academic background is in Psychology and that I had started out years ago working in the mental health field, I wanted to reconnect with the source of my passion. My own struggles with anxiety and depression began in my teenage years, so I’d always wanted to help others to overcome mental illness or other emotional difficulties they may be experiencing.
I already had an NLP Practitioner certification, so it made sense to gain my coaching accreditation alongside this. I studied intensively for over 500 hours and started coaching people voluntarily.
After launching my coaching business in 2017, I reflected on my own story of navigating grief and loss after losing both of my parents and having talked about this on social media, realised that this resonated with so many people.
I also recognised that with the ever increasing pressure on NHS and charity resources, not everybody is fortunate enough to have access to bereavement counselling. I also noted that there is a proportion of people who emerge from therapy having dealt with the initial trauma and grief, but still feel lost after such a significant life change – something which I can also relate to.
So here I am today, specialising in Grief and Loss Coaching. Many people ask me, “How do you cope with working in this area on a daily basis?” My answer is that I feel incredibly privileged and grateful that people trust me enough to share their journey with me, and there is nothing more rewarding than being a part of their healing.
2. How do you push through your worst times?
Self-care is high on my list of priorities. It’s important I nourish my mind, body and spirit in order to show up as my best self for my clients and community.
An important lesson I’ve learnt is that stepping away from the front of your business on a week day isn’t “skiving” and there is nothing to feel guilty about. We’ve just been conditioned to think it is because time off during our school years was frowned upon. I had both a mother (god bless her) and a couple of former bosses who would define resilience as dragging yourself into school / work – even when you feel ready to collapse.
After experiencing serious burnout and being all too aware of how finite life is, my choices are different now.
The discovery that has really made a difference to how I handle life in general, is mindfulness. Mindfulness is not a thing we do, it’s a way of being. There are so many different ways I could define mindfulness but I think that author and teacher, James Baraz, says it best; “mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different”.
Mindfulness enables me to become more aware of my thoughts as well as my physical and emotional responses to stress. I feel more in harmony with my body and so notice much sooner when things are taking a downward turn. It has also helped me to be more compassionate with myself. Unsurprisingly, it really helps my clients to cope with their grief too.
3. What are your success habits?
One of my biggest lessons so far is to stop trying so hard and to let go of perfection. For any fans of the popular 90’s show Friends, I’ve always been a Monica. The type of person who is highly organised, pays attention to detail and likes to have everything ‘just so’. As you can imagine, my desk is immaculate and I’m a big fan of Marie Kondo.
Organisation, operating systematically, and being consistent is actually one of my biggest strengths. But, I’ve come to realise that this can also get in the way of my creativity, ability to keep things exciting and manifesting like a boss.
I thought I loved routine, until I rebelled from the 9-5 and realised that despite my Monica-tendencies, I actually need every day to feel different.
So these days, I’m still neatly rolling my underwear and love business planning, but I also know when to loosen my grip and have fun in my business. I allow myself plenty of flexibility in my routine and I no longer need the perfect website or the perfect marketing plan before I launch something new.
Working with my energy (and not forcing it) is key. If I don’t feel like writing a blog on a Wednesday, then I write it on another day when I can find my flow. If I don’t feel like doing yoga, then I switch it up to Zumba – after all, it’s staying active that is the point rather than creating a rigid exercise routine.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s all about making it easy to work in my business and on my business in equal measures. I have goals, but I also lean into my intuition and let the universe guide me.
I also journal – a lot. This seems like the perfect excuse to also feed my stationery addiction. I have different journals (and apps) for different things. I’m not structured in my approach to journaling. Some days there is a need to do a brain dump and remover the fogginess from my head. Other days, I just want to reflect on what’s gone well and connect with my gratitude.
I believe it’s important we create space for removing the head clutter. It’s about knowing when to shift our focus to what the experience is teaching us and what we will do next to move forward.
4. What’s non-negotiable for you?
The fun factor. I don’t subscribe to the notion that working in grief and loss needs to look or feel sad. Part of my uniqueness is about moving away from traditional bereavement services and embracing death and loss for what it is – a part of life.
Scroll down my social media channels and you’ll find lots of colour, expressive images that reflect the coach you’ll be working with, and humour. In my Facebook group, Life Beyond Loss, we have plenty of giggles. Lightening the burden of grief and the emotions that can easily consume us is important and I want people to know that they don’t need to feel guilty about experiencing moments of joy just because they are in mourning.
The human body is designed to heal and we are way more resilient than we recognise. Fun is a part of the being human experience as much as loss is.
I think business as a whole needs to feel fun and exciting. I recognise that not every day is sparkle and unicorns (I do also share authentically some very raw and real stuff in my content), but I’ve learnt that when I’m enjoying my business I feel engaged and high vibe – this energy comes through my business in bucket loads.
5. Can you share a moment where you made a mistake and what you learned from it?
For the first 6 months of my business, I spent time (on a daily basis) watching what other coaches were doing. I became one of those Facebook stalkers – not the scary kind – and obsessing over how well they were doing (and I wasn’t). It became an unhealthy habit.
This was a one-way ticket to imposter syndrome and comparisonitus. Both are (un)officially recognised illnesses which result in the following side effects; lack of confidence, self-doubting one’s ability to ‘make it’, limiting beliefs and a dreadful rash.
What I learnt was that:
a) you don’t know the whole picture of how well somebody’s business is doing or not doing
b) it’s none of my business
c) it’s impossible to compare your business with anybody because in the words of Dr.Seuss, “there is no one youier than you”
d) there are plenty of clients to go around so it’s far better to operate your business from a place of abundance than lack.
Competitiveness, I’ve learnt, is is the ego’s game and I am not my ego.
6. What’s your biggest piece of advice for a woman who is thinking of quitting the 9-5 to start a business?
Do it. Period.
Whether you think you can do this, or think you can’t do this – you’re absolutely right. I often hear people talking about what they will “try” to do. What would happen if you stopped trying and just did it? I think Nike might be onto something…
Seriously, if your 9-5 isn’t lighting you up on the inside and you don’t love Mondays then what’s stopping you?
Yes, I know that’s a typical coaching question – I am a coach after all. But I’d love for you to honour your dreams and take a leap of faith. If a leap feels too big then start with one small step towards making it happen.
What’s one small thing you can do right now?
Connect with Louise
Louise works with people in life beyond loss. Loss shows up in many forms, it’s not always about losing a loved one. Whether you’ve lost a career/business, or it’s the end of a significant relationship or lost yourself, her coaching services will help you to navigate the grief and loss journey, reconnect with yourself and create your new normal.