Hi, my name is Sue and I'm a serial entrepreneur...
Are you one of those people who just have that entrepreneurial spirit and its always been a part of you? For me, it started rearing its head for me when I was just 9 years old – a little side hustle that had me sewing up hundreds of strawberry shaped (and scented) Christmas decorations.
My family then sold them to their co-workers, taking orders from samples I made. I don’t remember quite how much I made from the venture, but I do remember hating the smell of strawberry scent for quite some time after that!
Since those strawberry making days, I’ve grown a number of other businesses from scratch:
- a retail store (a crystal shop - it was the 90's - don't judge)
- an aromatherapy business I started at the weekend markets in Sydney and later Brisbane. It grew to become an eCommerce and international distribution operation. This was way back in 1999-2001 when online sales were a brands new thing, so I was certainly an early eCommerce adopter!
- I also ran a successful remedial massage clinic in Sydney for around 12 months while studying Naturopathy
- In 2005, when my daughter was born, I started my biggest venture by far, literally from my dining room table. A cloth nappy business called itti bitti, that turned into a bit of an empire over the 9 years I ran it and was turning over $3M at its height.
We couldn't keep up with the demand...
For the first two years I ran itti bitti, every single time I restocked, everything would sell out in minutes, often crashing the website. It was crazy! Production eventually moved to China to keep up with demand, as I just couldn't get enough sewn locally,
As a perfectionist, I worked very closely with the factory in China, visiting often, to ensure my quality standards were being maintained, plus I really valued having a good relationship with my manufacturer. I learnt a LOT about manufacturing in China from my many trips over the years.
The business continued to grow at an exponential rate and after a couple of great trade shows in the UK and Europe, we weren’t just a top brand in Australia and NZ anymore, but a multinational success story with products being sold in over 30 countries.
I honestly lost count of the number of trips to trade shows and events I attended over the 9 years, it was a whirlwind of massive business growth. Then, the challenges of trying to match the production to the growth, get the right staff on board, keeping things running smoothly operationally, while running product launches and marketing campaigns. It’s no wonder 12 years later I have more than a few grey hairs ;)
NSW Small Business Exporter of the Year...
I’ve had some incredible successes in my business life, which I’ll forever be proud of. My nappy business grew from $100 turnover to $3,000,000 turnover at its peak. We won the NSW Small Business Exporter of the Year in 2011 - also making us a finalist for the Australian Small Business Exporter of the Year. And I even got my 15 seconds of fame in the Sydney Morning Herald from the win too - I'm still quite chuffed with that.
Hunter Valley Business Woman of the Year...
In 2011, I also won Hunter Valley Business Woman of the Year, Small Business of the Year and my company was honoured to pick up many other awards as well. I had an incredible team, that was like a family and we all worked hard to make everything happen. Getting those awards was brilliant - having the hard work and incredible successes recognised.
This too shall pass...
From the amazing highs however, I’ve also experienced some frightening lows, as things don’t always work out as you plan in business. I learned the hard way that the old nugget of Buddhist wisdom - “this too shall pass” - applies to everything in life, not just the tough stuff.
The good stuff can pass too.
My nappy business went into receivership at the end of 2014, mainly due to major changes in exchange rates which hurt our export market pretty badly and we didn’t have the cashflow to make it through.
In the very same week, I lost my Dad after a long battle with illness and the months that followed were absolutely the lowest time of my life.
The lows can be a blessing...
But, those lows, as tough as they were to get through at the time, have turned out to be a blessing.
That incredibly difficult situation didn’t just teach me how important resilience is and just how strong I actually am, it reminded me of one of my favourite and often used mantras and beliefs. That anything is possible. And it really is - that includes bouncing back from what seemed at the time, to be an insurmountable failure.
After a few very depressed months, feeling sorry for myself, I decided it was time to pick myself up and start taking steps to bounce back. I was inspired by listening to the Mark Bouris podcast - hearing him talk about recovering from a failure monumentally bigger than mine and hearing how well he is doing now, really lit my entrepreneurial fire again!
No way I could work for someone else...
I got myself off the dole and used my skills as a radio announcer and newsreader (which was my first career out of school) to start working as a freelance voiceover artist.
It was the perfect balance at the time, as I was a still a bit nervous about starting another business, but there was no way I would be able to work a 9-5 job for someone else – that would have driven me crazy! Not to mention my resume didn't really appeal to employers. So I ran a freelance business, I could work from home around my kids and I was the only employee - perfect!
I had found a new path and I loved it. I was able to work with a huge variety of businesses on thousands of projects, all the while gaining brilliant experience in running an online based service business. Plus I got to do something that I really enjoyed.
What I loved about voiceover, wasn't actually voiceover...
Funnily though, when a friend asked me last year, what was my favourite voiceover experience, my answer wasn’t actually technically voiceover.
My all time favourite VO experience was the time I worked on a project with one of my voiceover clients - Trisha Fulton from Host2Go. She was travelling to the US to pitch her amazing business idea to Airbnb at the huge annual event "Airbnb Open" in San Francisco. She asked me to do the voiceover for her pitch video.
However, what started as me giving her a few ideas on how to improve the script for the video, somehow turned into us strategising together on the whole pitch plan, then refining the pitch and working together on the follow up afterwards.
My lightbulb moment...
It probably sounds cheesy, but going through that process, was honestly a lightbulb moment. I loved it, I felt like I truly had my Suey mojo back for the first time in a long time.
Being involved in marketing strategy and brainstorming on that project, reminded me just how much I loved business and marketing and coming up with ideas. Working on that pitch with Trisha, was my favourite voiceover work experience - yet it wasn't technically that much about the voiceover in the end.
Even better, Trisha loved the work I did and asked me to keep coaching her after that and I’m still coaching her today.
Business Coaching side hustle...
Around the same time, I had another voiceover client as well as couple of friends also want me to coach them. I'd always been the go to person for business advice, but I had always just done it for free because I loved it. However I've been working on my money blocks (thanks Denise) so I started charging and business coaching became a nice little side hustle, while I worked full time doing voiceover. But it was also the thing I most looked forward to in my daily work.
I did wonder if coaching might be something I could pursue career wise, flipping things a little and working more as a business coach with voiceover as the side hustle, but quite honestly, I was so put off by the coaching industry when I looked into starting a coaching business.
Cheesy coaching hype wasn't for me...
Coaching seemed to be a kind of crazy, hyped up glamourous industry where to be a coach, you needed to be either a complete douche or a someone who went from rags to riches and now wants to share the secrets of their 6 or 7 figure business (which often, was their coaching business).
Business coaching seemed to be all about selling people into joining high priced group programs and masterminds or creating courses, rather than simply working with clients one on one.
I mean I can see why - courses and group programs let the coach scale up their business and create passive income, so they can work less and have more paying clients, making more money for themselves. It just wasn't really what I wanted to do.
There was also the bizarrely meta trend of coaches - making money coaching coaches - on how to make money coaching. Whaaaaaaat?
It just didn't gel with me...
A lot of what I saw felt almost icky, it was super cheesy and it just didn’t gel with me. I’m just not that kind of person and I thought perhaps I might not have the right style or image to present myself as a coach. I’m possibly just a bit too real and most definitely NOT living an aspirational Instagram lifestyle, funded by my 7 figure coaching business.
I’m much happier in jeans than a powersuit and I didn’t want to present a false persona of a glamourous life that I wasn't actually living - just to get clients, who were perhaps wowed by my "success".
I didn’t really want to create signature training programs to sell to thousands of people while I slept, as doing something like that, wouldn’t bring me joy or passion. So what could I do?
I decided to shelve the idea of coaching for a while and continued working as a coach in a more low key way, just being me, coaching clients I already had, as they loved what I had to offer and weren't interested in the hype anyway. They just enjoyed working with me - not just because they saw results in their business - they felt motivated and inspired.
I wanted to work in a way that inspired me as well as my clients...
I pondered this as I continued working with my existing clients who didn't care about the rah rah, they loved working with me because of exactly how I am - down to earth. Plus, I helped them make massive progress, which at the end of the day is the most important thing. And as a bonus, every timed I coached I felt awesome and inspired too.
Over time, it dawned on me that what I love most, what brings me passion and excites me and pumps me up, is coaching someone one on one. I wanted to work as a coach that not just inspired my clients, but gave me the opportunity to do work that inspired me as well.
So if I was going to work as a business coach, I wanted to find a way to make it financially viable AND enable me to do it in the way I loved.
Doing what I love most - working 1:1...
It kind of goes against the passive income model which has become ingrained in the world these days, but I didn't see the point of doing a passive income style of coaching - ie selling courses and group programs - as I wouldn't get to do what I love most, working 1:1.
So, I decided, I was going to coach my way, not follow everyone else. Going my own way has been a bit of a pattern in my life - I'm not one who likes being told what to do or going with the status quo.
I spent a few months developing 100 Days to a Better Business (link), my bespoke, totally personalised one on one coaching program, which is tailored uniquely to each individual client, around their needs, goals and challenges. After much trial & error and optimisation after feedback from beta testers, I was confident I had a program that was the perfect timeframe for intensive work that make a big difference - quickly!
I was pumped and ready to put myself into the world! Almost...
Feel the fear and do it anyway...
Sometimes working in business can be almost stop you in your tracks scary. I think the ability to feel the fear and do it anyway is what sets entrepreneurs apart from wantrepreneurs. Fear and anxiety even happens to those of us with years of business experience, so don't feel alone if you've struggled with this - it honestly happens to everyone (even if they don't tell you!)
In fact until recently I had a pretty big fear that was holding me back and almost kept me from putting myself out there as a coach.
I was worried that the failure of my nappy business in 2014, could be a hindrance in my coaching, that I might be negatively judged because of it. I spent far too many days and nights anxious about it - now I can see it was kinda crazy being so worried about something that hadn't even happened.
I always tell people that fear is a good thing, it often means you are going to do something that challenges and stretches you, so after (probably far too long) of worrying and choosing to keep things risk free and low key, I decided to live my mantra and feel the fear and do it anyway.
As it turns out, I was being my own worst critic (as it so often happens). It was a totally unfounded fear and surprisingly in some ways actually a bit of a blessing.
My business failure was actually one of my biggest strengths as a coach!
The feedback I’ve had from my coaching clients, was that my past failure was one of my biggest strengths.
My clients actually love that it gives me a special perspective as a coach. Not only do I have solid skills and experience in growing and scaling a business, I’ve also got first hand knowledge of what it’s like when things aren’t going great. Because of that, I tend to have unique insight into what might work and what won’t in a variety of situations and view things in a very holistic way.
So often as an entrepreneur (especially for female entrepreneur) there is a feeling like you have to be wonder woman and have everything under perfect control and going well - or at least make out like that. If things aren't perfect or going as well as you'd like, it can be terrifying to admit, which can keep you stuck and stop you making progress to fix it.
My experiences mean I am able to make a safe space for my clients to be really honest about where they are at - without fear of judgement - which is a powerful thing.
So as it turns out - my failure was actually a good thing in many ways – awesome!
Global client base, doing what I love...
I’m now working as a global business coach, with clients in my hometown Newcastle as well as in Sydney, London and Vancouver .
I’m also still working as a voiceover artist, as I really enjoy doing it - plus I like being a business coach who is actively working in a business, I walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
I’m blessed to be able to wake up every day and do what I love!
It possibly sounds cheesy - well OK, it totally sounds cheesy - but I can’t explain how truly fantastic it feels, to make a difference when I coach. To hear someone say they were really demotivated and almost considering giving up on their business. But then, after working with me they’ve got their mojo back and are passionate and charging ahead with renewed vigour - is pretty damn awesome.
Business and coaching is my thing...
Have you ever heard of the concept of finding your one thing. The thing that just drives you, that you love, that don't do for the money, but for the pure pleasure of doing it?
That thing might be what drove you to start your business, so you could do what you love, what you're passionate about?
For me, business and marketing and coaching is my passion, I freakin love it! Its what inspires me, gets me excited and makes me feel ALIVE.
It’s my thing.
So that is me in a (rather large) nutshell!
Just so you know...
Coaching is a big investment in both time and money, so to see a difference, you've got to commit to the process and be prepared to put in some hard work.
Not only that, I think it is vitally important you select the right coach for you, as that will have a huge impact on how much of a difference coaching can make for you.
Because I want to be sure I'm the right coach for you and you're making a sound investment in your business, I'll only work with you if:
- we're the right fit for each other - there is no point you working with a coach you don't really like - especially as 100 Days to a Better Business is a very intensive process and
- if I honestly think I can make a difference in your business
If you're serious about growing your business FAST get more information about my 100 Days to a Better Business program here.
Still not sure if your business is ready to scale or whether coaching will work for you? Schedule a FREE 15 minute strategy session now
I look forward to chatting with you soon!