In this episode I talk about… 

    • When my life fell apart
    • How I chose to succeed despite the heartache
    • What I hope for other women
    • The 5 ways I worked smart in my design biz
    • Femme power & deciding not fail
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All the love,
Anna xo

ps. If you would rather read the transcript, here it is:
Today I’m going to be talking to you about how I actually got on the journey to become a mentor for female graphic designers. Last week I actually went along to a coffee meetup with a bunch of designer boss ladies from my Facebook group. This is the second time we’ve done a coffee meetup, and it was awesome. I love meeting all my design designer boss ladies that I chat to online. It’s awesome.

And, as usual, I was making my way around the table, introducing myself, chatting to people, and there were a few ladies that were actually pretty new to the group. And I think it’s so cool that they had only been in the Designer Boss Ladies group for a couple of weeks but decided to come along to the coffee meetup.

So I was talking to one of these newbies, and she asked me what I do, which is kind of ironic because she was there to meet me, and I would assume she would have looked at my website beforehand, but it’s all good. And I was kind of put on the spot, you know, just like if you go to a family function and you see that weird uncle that you haven’t seen for a few years and he asks you what you’re doing in your career, and you’re kind of like, “Well …” and it’s really hard to put the words together. That’s how I felt.

But I managed to put some words together and I said to her, “Well, I have an e-course, my e-course is called Design Biz Bootcamp, and I’m all about helping women work smarter and not harder in their design businesses.” And yeah, she was happy with that answer. And then she kind of just went, “Oh yeah, cool,” and then starting talking to the next person, which is fine, but it’s got me thinking.

Since she asked me that question, I’ve been thinking about the journey I took, and where it started, and how I actually ended up here. I know, pretty deep shit considering it was just a bit of small talk at a coffee catch-up. And I really got to thinking about why I really do what I do, and what it is I want women to achieve in their businesses. And, sure, it is about liking smarter, but it’s so much more than that.

Another thing that came up at this coffee catch-up was the ladies were talking about my e-course, and a couple of them were discussing their resistance to signing up. And I get it. Some people are e-course junkies, sign up, and never complete it. I get it. And one of them was actually talking about the resistance she felt was she didn’t want to spend the money and then fail. And this got me to thinking as well. Firstly, the first thing I thought of was investing in yourself is always a good idea. Investing in learning is always a good idea. And failure is not real, because if you choose to never give up, you will never fail.

So this coffee catch-up kind of left me thinking about so much stuff. And I wanted to create a podcast to talk about it, because, like I said, my driving force is far bigger than just teaching you a bunch of stuff in an e-course, if that makes sense. Well, I hope it will make sense, because I’m gonna tell you a bit of a story, a story about when I decided I was never going to quit, a story about how and when I chose to succeed. And it’s not an easy story to tell. And I really find it hard to know how to start to tell it. But I’m going to do my best. And I hope, by me telling you my story, it will empower you to choose success as well, and to choose you.

So seven years ago, I was married. I had a three-year-old daughter, and I was pregnant with my second daughter. Life was pretty good. I had been running my design business online for two years. It was going pretty well. It was pretty successful. But I was probably playing small, you know? And part of it was because my husband at the time was not an overly supportive partner. I mean, he knew I worked hard and I was good at what I did, but he was never super encouraging or pushing me to take risks. And I can see that now, now that I’m in a completely different relationship. But yeah, I was plodding along nicely. I was not the bread winner in the situation and, yeah, the power was not in my favour.

So there we were living our little life. We’d been married for seven years. We had actually just undergone fertility treatment to become pregnant with our second child, and it worked. I was five months pregnant at the time. And at the time, I felt like there was a lot of emotions. And my husband would say to me, “Oh, it’s just pregnancy hormones. Relax, there’s nothing happening.”

Anyway, one morning, I just had that gut feeling, an intuition, and I checked his phone, and it was full of messages, the kind of messages you don’t want to see when you’re married to someone. And then I looked at the computer, at his Facebook, and it was full of photos and more messages. And, as you can imagine, my world was pretty much destroyed that morning. I confronted him. He told me that he loved her even though it was like a two-week relationship at that point. Yeah, and he left. And that was that.

At that moment, I felt like all the power, all the control I had in my life was gone. It was taken by someone. I was left alone as a single mother to a toddler, I was five months pregnant with a baby that we both wanted, and left with my business. I had no money. At this stage, he wasn’t paying me anything. He would not even talk to me. We had been married for seven years, but the man would not tell me anything that was going on. He would not talk to me about our relationship, about our children, about our unborn baby. He would not communicate with me.

And it was hard. It was so hard. I have never cried so much in my life. I’ve never had so much achingly painful sadness inside of me. When I think about it now, it just reminds me of how bad it fricking ached. My future was totally unknown. Like I said, I had no money. I went to Centrelink, which is like welfare, if you’re not Australian, to see if they could help me. And because I owned my business, my income would vary weekly, which meant they wanted me to report to them weekly. And, to be honest, what they were offering me was nothing. So I had no assistance from the government.

And I was just kind of left with two choices. And my choices were, give up my business and go get a job to make money for my family, or make my business thrive and be in control of my family and look after them that way. And, surprisingly, I chose to succeed. I chose to keep going. I chose not to quit, even though at that point I was so broken. I was going to therapy every week. I was reading all the self help books. I was spending days just crying. I was just barely hanging on.

But I craved something for me, I craved to have power and control again of my own life. And I freaking wanted to be independent. I never wanted to be in the position where someone else could take it away from me again, if that makes sense. So even in my severe depression, I chose to keep going.

And, to be honest, my work became my lifeline. It became my sanity. It’s what kept me going. If I didn’t have that, I would’ve been in the loony bin, or worse. And it was hard. It was really, really hard. I didn’t know how to think like a business woman anymore. I’m so lucky I had my beautiful family and my mom, who would actually sit with me in the morning in front of my computer and she would say, “Okay, let’s make your to-do list for the day,” and we would do that. And then I would just do the work that I needed to do. And I just kept doing that until I could actually be a functioning person again.

I ended up having my baby alone, which was really, really hard, but I did it. And after that, I feel like my business thrived because my mindset changed. Like I said, I decided that I was going to create my own future. I was going to create my own legacy. And I was going to create my own success.

So when that woman at the coffee catch-up asked me why I do what I do, the real answer is I want to create that for other women. I want you to choose you, and I want you to choose your own success. I know as women we are always doing things for other people. We often do not prioritise ourselves at all. But your business is an opportunity for you to be great, and for you to create something, create your own independence. It’s something for you to be 100% the boss of.

So just like Beyonce, I made lemonade out of my situation, and my business thrived. And I went back into my business with the attitude of “I’m in control of this. I’m the boss of this.” And when I did that, I came up with the top five tactics, rules, whatever you want to call it, to working smarter and not harder in my business, because I was at a point where I was not going to take any shit. And I wanted my business to flourish and to be something I loved because it was my lifeline for so long.

So that’s when I chose to get on this path. And I’m going to share with you the five ways I’ve figured out how to work smarter and not harder in my design business. And I learnt these points along the way, over many years, over 10 years actually. And I don’t want it to take 10 years for you.

And I want you to know that you’re not going to fail, firstly because if you work with me, I don’t let anyone fail. It is not in my vocabulary. And I often tell my mentor and bootcamp students, “If you ever feel like giving up, email me and I will give you a bitch slap, a loving bitch slap that pushes you in the right direction,” because your business is your opportunity to be independent and to create something for yourself, and to help other people while you do it.

So let’s talk about the top five ways that I learnt to work smarter. The first one was I stopped chasing clients. Instead, I made them come to me. And the way I did that was by having a niché. I became a specialist in my field. I made it really clear who my ideal client was, and I spoke specifically to them. I also spent a lot of time working on sales funnels, which are an essential part to any business.

Next up, I worked with less clients but charged more money. Now, after I had my baby, my second baby, I actually hired a designer to work with me full time. And that was scary as all heck, but by doing that, we got to work with less clients but charge more money. So instead of working with 100 clients a month who paid me 100 bucks, I ended up working with three clients who each paid me $5,000. And I did that by creating monthly packages and charging my value, not hourly.

The third thing I did to work smarter, because, after all, I was a single mother of two, was create systems and processes. I stopped quoting on jobs individually, I automated stuff, and I communicated my process. 

And the next thing I did was make sure I had really strong boundaries in place. Now that my life had changed and I was now in charge, I decided I didn’t want to reply to clients on the weekend. I didn’t want to reply after hours. I only wanted to work the hours I wanted to work. I needed to have that flexibility and control in my life for my girls. So, I created boundaries.

Now, the final thing I did was I reached out to people. I had a community of cheerleaders behind me, I didn’t do all of this alone. And as Solo Entrepreneurs, we can often feel rather lonely and feel like we’re doing this whole thing on our own, but we’re not. That’s why I created the Facebook group Designer Boss-Ladies, so we can support each other and help each other. And, that is a huge part of my e-course Design Biz Bootcamp. You do not have to do the work on your own. You don’t need to figure all this stuff out on your own. We can do it together.

Some good stuff came out of a really shitty situation, and I learned a lot of life lessons, I learnt a lot of business lessons and now I share all of that with other women in business. And, it’s not all about making money for me, I am definitely one of those people who would still be doing this if I was a billionaire. It’s about choosing you. I want you to choose you despite the fear, despite what your husband or partner says, just choose you. Choose you, choose your success.

Honestly, you 100% have the power. And, all those things I learned along the way to work smarter, that’s what Design Biz Bootcamp is. It is all those things. I was at the point in my design business where I was working 15 hours a week making $20,000 a month, had a full-time designer working with me, and it was all me. That makes me so proud to say that. It was 100% me. I did it. And, I want you to do it, for you.

So, if you want to learn all the things from me, I’m ready. I hope you’re ready too. Jump on the wait list 
for Design Biz Bootcamp, it’s opening up for enrolments in a couple of weeks, and I promise, you will not fail.