how she did it

Case Studies // I don’t believe that your ci...

I don’t believe that your circumstances dictate the outcome, but your choices do.

This story is about…

Female entrepreneur: Charmaine Mill

Location: South Africa

Company: Inspired Experiences

Industry: Inspirational/Motivational Speaker

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business…

I am 40 years old and a single mom to Tamsyn aged 19 and Alana aged 13. I have always been the type of person who wants to help others. I am driven and ambitious but I am also a believer that God has a purpose for all of us. I have spent most of my life knowing that I have a purpose, but not actually knowing what that was. For someone who is organized and likes to plan and is OCD like me this is most frustrating. I am a very practical person and have always believed that people and situations come into our lives for a reason, we eventually figure out what that is. I believe that in talking to others about my experiences and my emotional turmoil will in some way help them to overcome strife in their lives and push them towards growing themselves and making a better life for themselves and the people who depend on them. I don’t believe that your circumstances dictate the outcome, but your choices do.

What was your main motivation behind starting your business?

I have many reasons for starting this business. I think my main drive is that I want to prevent other people from having to experience the pain that I did. I want them to learn from my mistakes and experience and possibly get onto a better path without the pain or with less pain. I also wanted to do something where I felt I could make a difference in the world. I do believe that 1 person can make a difference, just look at Nelson Mandela and what he achieved. If I can make a difference in just 1 persons life then I am happy that I have achieved something useful with my life.

What’s a day in the life of you like?

Every day is a new one with adventures and challenges. My first task every morning is to thank God that I have seen this day and asking Him to guide me through the day. I take my youngest daughter to school, then head for my favourite coffee shop for a healthy organic breakfast (it’s the best way to start the day – but I am not a health nut). This is my planning day, catching up on emails, writing a bit for my book which I plan to publish, setting appointments and working on my social media. I am very much in the early phases of my business still so lots of groundwork still to be done. I will then have the odd appointment with possibly sponsors and with a few people that I coach privately and then I fetch my youngest from school at 3 or 4 and that’s my work day. I was told to reduce my stress levels and so I have learnt to do this, not easy for someone who is very corporate driven and likes to do a months work in 2 days if possible.

What challenges have you faced?

Wow, hold onto your hat, this is a long list. In the last 6 years alone I have faced 2 divorces, starting a business, closing a business, being unemployed for the first time in my life, incurring debt of about R300 000, getting judgments against my name (never had any bad credit before), starting working and had to build my self esteem, just started getting on the right track and was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, got “retrenched”, got married, bought a house, got divorced, lost my house, contemplated suicide twice and then had to start to figure out what to do with my life on my own again.

How have you overcome the challenges?

I am very practical when it comes to challenges. I believe that you deal with them and then you move forward. I know that sometimes it is just too much and seems totally overwhelming, I have been there and back, but I was told by my very wise cousin, that when a day at a time seems too much then you break it all into sizes you can deal with, even if it’s only 10 minute segments. Plan to the next thing you need to do. Fetch my daughter from school, make dinner, etc. It’s one foot in front of the other until you can start getting both feet anchored again. What I also tend to do is get organized, I am a great organizer. Naturally I am a solution seeker so I look for a way out. I make a list of all the issues I had to deal with and then try and reduce that list by a third by removing all the silly things that I can solve in 30 minutes or less. This makes you feel that you have achieved something and also reduces the list. I love lists!!!!

What is your biggest achievement so far?

I think I have a couple of big achievements. The first is that I have survived the trauma and challenges of the last 6 years. I have become a stronger, better person as a result. Next, I believe that I am doing the right thing by taking what some people perceive as a negative (my leukemia) and using it for something positive. I also believe that I have achieved a life of peace within myself and for me this is a huge achievement. I lived in anger and under huge stress for so long that my poor body is actually suffering withdrawal symptoms from the lack of stress!!!!

How have you raised the awareness of your business?

Well, this is a challenge for me, as I am not very technically skilled when it comes to internet, etc. but I am learning to manage my social media, website, twitter, blog and linked in. I actually enjoy reading tweets from all over the world and seeing peoples’ comments. I talk to people about what I want to achieve and I network and offer my services free of charge where I can.

How do you keep motivated through difficult times?

When things get tough I take some time to be thoughtful. I ask God for guidance as to why this avenue didn’t work or what I should do next. I have had to learn to listen and this isn’t always easy for us. I then remind myself that this is the path that has been shown to me and so I cannot give up, I have to keep on keeping on. I have to find another route and just have faith that there are people out there that obviously need to hear my story and so I continue forward.

Who inspires you?

Wow, tough question. There are many things that inspire me. I am inspired by God and nature and people who make a difference against all odds. I am inspired by people like Nelson Mandela who see the sense in negative circumstances and who live their dreams. I am inspired by people who refuse to be beaten and who fight back. I am inspired by people who want to do good on this planet and just want us all to get along. I am inspired by love, hope and courage.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

You have to have a plan. When setting goals you have to write the story of the outcome of what you want to achieve and then create the action plan from that. This constantly needs updating as it is a living and breathing document. When things get tough, remind yourself why you are doing this, you have to know what the purpose is or it won’t make any sense. Network with others in order to get support not to look for business leads. Many of the people who support me have nothing to do with my industry but they understand me as a person and they are my moral support and kick butt when its needed to.

What’s your favourite quote?

I have a couple that I adore:

“It’s not what happens to you but how you react to it that matters”


“Our attitude towards life determines life’s attitude towards us”

{Earl Nightingale}

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself”

{George Bernard Shaw}

“The cave you most fear to enter contains the greatest treasure”

{Joseph Campbell}

Do you have a business philosophy?

My business philosophy is to do everything with honesty and with love. I was told once that if you cannot give freely with love then you shouldn’t give at all. I believe that our responsibility as entrepreneurs is to show the youth how business should be managed. Integrity and giving instead of always taking.

What’s your goal for the next year?

My biggest goal for this year is to learn to be present in everything I do. I tend to try to do so much that my brain is already thinking of the next item on my list instead of just taking time to be in that moment. So my personal goal for this year is to learn to be present in everything.


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