how she did it

Case Studies // “As much as I loved my j...

“As much as I loved my job, I felt there was something else I should be doing”

This story is about…

Female Entrepreneur: Teresa Mitrovic

Location: UK

Company: Redefining Life

Industry: Coaching

She started her business because: she felt like there was something else she should be doing.

What motivated you to start your business?

I’d had a fantastic (incredibly fun and financially rewarding) career as a marketer working with Hasbro, The Walt Disney Company and Universal Pictures, travelling the world and doing the kind of work my friends were chewing their right arm off for. Even so, a training event I’d completed earlier in my career had planted a thought I just couldn’t shake – as much as I loved my job, I felt there was something else I should be doing.

In that sense, I was lucky. I realised early on that I wanted to retrain as a coach and work with women who were experiencing the same roller coaster ride I was. Figuring out how to keep a career on track while raising a child and having some semblance of a social life. Even so, I convinced myself that changing career to follow a dream was a luxury and other ‘necessities’ needed to come first. Not surprisingly, my son grew up, moved out and I’d relocated from Auckland, New Zealand to London with my husband before it was back on my the radar. I’d given myself a loose deadline – by age 40 I would be in my own business, content and successful. When I set the deadline over 10 years ago 40 seemed a long way away!

The first buds of change started when I arrived in London; I was creeping towards 38 and to be honest – I was starting to panic! I was starting to realise it was now or never. So, I secured contracts rather than permanent work – knowing I’d be seduced into my comfort zone by a ‘safe’ wage. I found a training provider, saved the money I needed to fund the retraining and then exited the corporate world and with my 40th birthday 6 months away, completed two diplomas and began trading. It’s been a great move financially, but the real success has come from living my dream and doing work I love with people I enjoy.

Tell us about your business…

I set up my business – Redefining Life – to coach and mentor women who want to combine a successful career with an equally successful personal life. It’s about finishing your work day feeling satisfied and inspired, returning to a private life that offers fulfillment and balance and developing the inner confidence that makes it feel natural.

What is a day in the life of you like?

The great thing about my work is that there is no standard day. I can be in front of a workshop in a clients office, giving a talk to a women’s network onsite, coaching one to one or writing content for my programmes and articles.

There are a few daily routines I do try to stick to though to make sure I stay on top of things. Marketing (networking, client contact and social media marketing), reading (to stay current and research topics) and exercising (great for clearing my head). I also practice what I preach, so I write in a gratitude journal daily too!

What have been your biggest challenges so far with running your business?

The biggest challenge I’ve faced has been overwhelm. Setting up, there are so many things to do and they all feel urgent, so getting a system in place to manage that was key. Working on your own can be a mixed blessing though too as you have to manage yourself closely to make sure you stay focused and avoid the negative mind chatter. The other big challenge was finding suppliers I could trust and outsourcing what I needed to get done but was really nervous about paying for. My budgets were nothing like the budgets I used to work with!

How did you overcome these challenges?

I managed the overwhelm in two ways – by changing my mindset & by creating a system that captured the big picture but made it manageable.

The mindset piece is about understanding that change takes on a different speed when you’re doing the majority of the work yourself and that start ups need time to build critical mass. Being patient, trusting you’re heading in the right direction, listening to your instincts instead of the inner critic and getting feedback from trusted colleagues all supported that.

The systems side meant finding an effective way of working that didn’t feel ‘worky’. For me that meant hand writing things. As odd as it sounds, it helped me to break out of that corporate head space. I started with a vision for my business, then broke it down into big chunky goals. I focused on 3 goals at a time – the ones that were most pertinent to getting what needed to be done first, done first! I flow charted them (free hand) one per A4 page and stuck them in front of where I was working (visual reinforcement is remarkably powerful as a focusing tool!). Then I’d start each week with 6 pieces of paper – one for each day of the week and one for ‘longer term tasks’. I fed tasks that supported my flow-charted goals into my week before each week started. Every time I felt my motivation waning I stopped and thought about why each of those goals were so important – what it would mean to me to achieve them. As soon as I completed one goal, I’d celebrate – then add another to keep the balls rolling.

To offset working on my own, I joined a few networks of like minded women who could provide advice, support and insights. I also stayed in touch with friends I’d trained with so we could compare notes – and frustrations! – without laying it on our partners. One of the best ways I’ve found to stay on top of my workload though and to keep it moving forward at a pace that feels challenging is to work with another coach. We have weekly calls that keep me accountable and firing on all cylinders!

What have you found to be the most effective way to get new clients?

In my industry people need to feel a connection to you, or to have experienced your work before they’re comfortable enough to invest in working with you. I’ve found the most effective way for me to attract clients is through referral (from existing clients) or as a result of speaking events, so I focus my client attraction around strategies that allow people to get a sense of who I am and how I operate.

What advice would you give to other business owners?

My advice to anyone setting up in business is to:

Create a support network of people you respect and trust, who will share their knowledge with you and allow you to share your successes and wobbles with them (that may mean different groups). It helps to know you can find the support you need without relying on your friends and family.

Find systems that work for you so you can stay on top of what’s important and keep the momentum going. It can be all too easy to lose time when you’re working on your own or in your own business!

Arrange regular accountability sessions with someone (a coach, a mentor or a friend) who will challenge you to achieve what you’ve set out to do and hold you accountable for doing those things you’ve committed to.

How do you keep motivated through difficult times?

I stay motivated by:

  • Remembering the reason why I got into coaching to start with and tapping into my vision for my business
  • Reviewing my ‘big 3’ goals daily (hard not to when they’re on the wall in front of me!)
  • Doing one bold thing every day that supports one of my ‘big 3’ goals
  • Being accountable weekly to someone else (if you find the right person this is hugely motivating!)

What’s your favourite quote?

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you have imagined.

{Henry David Thoreau}

Who inspires you?

The vision I hold for my business, the support of my husband, the success stories of my clients, the belief of my son and sunshine!

Do you have a business philosophy?

That we are each capable (and deserving!) of living a life that feels successful, richly rewarding and balanced. The biggest challenge is in knowing what that life looks like so we can define the steps we need to take to make it a reality.

Get in touch…



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