Each month we bring you a new story from our #WomenWhoHave feature that shines the spotlight on one of our amazing Tribe members here at Girl Tribe Gang. If you are thinking of taking the leap then these women are the ones who can tell you what it’s really like.
In the #WomenWhoHave feature, a Girl Tribe Gang member will share her story of how she quit the 9 -5 and her hints and tips for building an incredible business.
Women who have quit the 9 – 5: Megan’s story
In today’s interview, we’re talking to Ilkley Tribe member, Megan Davies, founder of Smash Your To Do List about her experience of quitting the 9 – 5.
Tell us a bit about your business?
I help busy business owners take control of their to-do list one tick at a time by offering behind the scenes support and creative content writing.
As an ex-personal assistant with a degree in creative writing, I’ve blended my love for words with my inner geek who relishes tackling a hefty to-do list to ensure that my clients have more time to do the things that are important to them.
Smash Your to Do List is the safe pair of hands you can rely on. I like to think of myself as an enabler: I create space for other people to grow their business by taking away all the things they don’t have time to do.
What did you do before you worked for yourself?
After graduation I worked as a personal assistant to the CEO and Leader of the Council in local government for several years. After the recession hit and redundancies were being made in my team, I decided to quit my job and go travelling by myself.
At the age of 26 I turned my life completely upside down by leaving my job, ending a four year relationship and flying to Bangkok with nothing but a backpack. For the next five years I travelled around Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam and Borneo.
Travel reignited my joy for writing and during this time I started my personal blog, Meander With Meg. I poured my heart and soul into it for years to describe my adventures and share my experiences as a solo female traveller. Blogging became a huge part of my life and I adored reconnecting with my creative side that had lain dormant since my creative writing degree.
What or who inspired you to make that leap of faith and quit the 9-5?
Starting a business turned out to be a ‘now or never’ experience, which, like a lot of my decisions in life, was spurred on by a mixture of gut instinct and a lot of heart. It was a case of choosing to work to feather someone else’s nest or to try and build my own.
Travel had well and truly opened my eyes to an alternative way of life. Leaving a regular nine to five behind, I realised that life and business continued outside the confines of a brick and mortar office. I’ve taken jobs vacuuming conference centres in the middle of the night, pulling pints in remote Australian bars and guiding ski tours in New Zealand.
If I’m also completely honest, a little part of me was also scared about reentering the nine to five world after so long out of it. I worried my CV would be laughed at by recruiters. After all, who would want to hire someone whose last job was in a remote bar in Western Australia? If life experience was what they were after (and a lot of good stories!) I would be well in there, but I feared my time away from an office would go against me in job applications.
I vowed that instead of going through the soul-destroying job hunt I would continue to follow my own path through life. After living so independently, becoming my own boss seemed like the logical thing to do so that I could stay in the driving seat of my life. So, Smash Your To Do List was born!
What’s been your proudest moment so far?
Getting wonderful feedback from clients!
I have a hard time recognising my own successes so hearing that I am helping to make their lives easier makes all my hard work worth it.
I’ve recently celebrated my first year business birthday and I am incredibly proud of myself for digging my heels in and persevering when it all felt a little bit too hard and scary!
What advice would you give to other women who want to take the leap and work for themselves?
My advice to someone wanting to quit their 9 -5 would be the same as to someone who is thinking about travelling by themselves. I used to be told on a regular basis how brave I was for travelling by myself; how this person looking at me with wide eyes “always wanted to travel but couldn’t possibly go alone”.
My answer to them was that I didn’t consider myself to be particularly brave. But it was my dream to travel and I wasn’t going to wait around until I cajoled someone else into coming with me.
If you want something badly enough, you will find a way to make it happen. Whether that’s watching the sunrise over Uluru in Australia, catching a glimpse of a wild orangutan in Borneo or starting your own business.
If it’s what you want to do then you can absolutely do it.
Name the one resource (a book, podcast, website, tool etc.) that you cannot live without in business and why?
It sounds simple but I love keeping a super organised calendar. It satisfies me deeply to end a week by planning out the next. I block out time allocated to each of my clients so I know exactly what I’m up against for the upcoming week. Then I can see at a glance where any gaps are to do my own business admin or pop in a meeting. My calendar is nothing fancy, just Outlook, but using that combined with my to-do lists (of course!) keeps me on track.
When I get out for a walk I enjoy listening to Amy Porterfield’s podcast ‘Online Marketing Made Easy’. She’s always covering topics that are really pertinent to the kinds of things I want to achieve with my business. It’s a dream of mine to be a featured business on a podcast like hers one day.
What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned (in life or business) since working for yourself?
That you cannot do it alone. Even if you technically work for yourself like I do, you quickly realise how lonely that can be.
I am originally from Reading, Berkshire, but am now based in West Yorkshire. When I started my business I had few friends locally and zero business network. As my work is carried out virtually, I initially thought this wouldn’t be an issue; that I would find my clients online and could work remotely.
Busying yourself with client work is all well and good, but when you haven’t spoken to anyone for days or even left the house, it begins to take its toll. I also realised that when you’re competing against the whole world on the Internet for clients, it’s very hard to stand out.
Make sure you get out and about – go to networking events or reach out to someone you’ve admired in business for a while and ask if they’d spare an hour of their time. Each new connection may open a door for you further down the line. Cultivating positive relationships is vital to the success of your business.
Where do you see yourself this time next year? Paint that picture for us.
I’ve just celebrated my one year anniversary of working for myself. Admittedly, the first year of business has been a period of trial and error as I found my feet and built my confidence. The next 12 months is all about focusing and scaling. I want Smash Your To Do List to be able to help more busy business owners free up their time so I am in the process of taking on a team of freelancers to enable me to increase my capacity.
Personally, I’d love to take a little more time off next year to go on holiday. I’ve managed a week without the laptop in the past year, so in year two I want to be able to go away for a proper holiday knowing that my business won’t sink in my absence. I need a virtual assistant to support my virtual assistant business!
How has being a member of Girl Tribe Gang helped you?
Joining Girl Tribe Gang has been nothing short of game changing.
I didn’t realise how difficult it was going to be to create opportunities from scratch with no business network around me. I also discovered that working from home was making me feel incredibly isolated. These two elements combined to make my first few months in business a pretty rough time.
I spotted a post about GTG on Instagram one afternoon and knew it was exactly what I was looking for to get me out of the house and boost my spirits. As soon as I left my first meetup in Leeds I joined up. I knew I had found a community of women who were just like me. They were were interesting, passionate, struggling and celebrating together in a relaxed atmosphere. No pitching, no referrals, no pressure.
Now I’ve got a group of women who I can turn to for advice and share my wins. I’ve met fantastic people both virtually and in real life who have helped Smash Your To Do List get to where it is today.
Where is the best place to find out more about you?
Visit Smash Your To Do List to take a look at the kinds of things my business can help you with and check out the blog.