This story is about…
Female Entrepreneur: Lea Woodward
Company: Inspiring Ventures
What she does: empowers people
Why she started: After her mum died she took a sabbatical and then on her return quit her job and started her own business.
Age range: 30s
What motivated you to start your business?
I held my Mum’s hand as she died from a cancer-related complication. How can you just go back to “normal” life after something like that? So I didn’t. I took a 6 month sabbatical from my management consulting job and travelled around Australia and NZ for 3 months with my boyfriend-turned-husband (we got married on the trip).
Upon my return, I quit on the first day back in the office (still a record, I believe!) – and decided to start my own business. Not having quite decided what I wanted to do, I decided to re-train as a personal trainer and holistic health coach. Since then, my business has been through numerous incarnations – which I’m sure is a familiar story for many women!
Tell us about your business…
I currently run a portfolio of businesses – all online and all with one common theme: To empower people to take control of their own lives and find the freedom they want.
My current portfolio includes:
A range of consulting and business advisory services from my own site.
A range of eGuides from community-based websites, Location Independent (to help people live and work from anywhere) and zero2illo (to help professional illustrators power up their businesses).
An online school teaching small business owners and entrepreneurs the DIY technical skills they need to get their business online at Startup Training School.
What is a day in the life of you like?
It depends what day :) I have a young daughter so my husband – with whom I run the business – share childcare duties and alternate work days with toddler days.
We usually spend around 3-4 hours of focused work each day – which usually consists of shooting videos (for our video posts and technical tutorials), drafting blog posts, providing advice and support in our online Help Desks and connecting with friends on social media (under the guise of marketing ;).
What have been your biggest challenges so far with running your business?
Just over a year after starting my first business, my husband was made redundant and we decided to got it alone and set up in business together. We were faced with a fledgling business, a nice but expensive lifestyle and the prospect of budgeting and cutting down on luxuries.
After a few weeks of cutting down, we’d had enough. And then I came up with the idea of moving to a lower cost country to maintain the same lifestyle but for far less…and 6 months later we took off to Panama. We kept moving from there and that saw the birth of the Location Independent website and movement.
The second biggest challenge – which I’m sure is a familiar one to many – is combining running a business with being a parent. It’s an ongoing struggle to find a schedule which works for us all – and leaves us feeling we’ve had enough time to do everything well.
How did you overcome these challenges?
We constantly experiment with working schedules to see how we can get all the things done we both want to work on – my husband’s an illustrator so he also has professional dreams and goals, outside of the business we jointly run.
The key for us has been flexibility but focus so we know exactly what we’re trying to achieve when we do get the time to work.
What have you found to be the most effective way to get new clients?
Before we became a 100% online business, I did a lot of very specific networking within a very specific niche/subset of an industry. This was a hugely effective way to build a name for myself and generate ongoing referrals – it’s basically niche marketing, offline.
Online, social media and building communities around common causes has been the most effective strategy to build the brand and become the “go to” resource for a specific community. This is also essentially niche marketing.
What advice would you give to other business owners?
Experiment, experiment, experiment – and then do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
We have a clear mission and goal for all of the ventures we run so it’s easy to keep focused and motivated when focusing on this. Also, taking a complete break really helps too. It’s so easy to get sucked into being online all day, every day but taking a complete break means I come back fully refreshed and raring to go.
What’s your favourite quote?
“Whether you think you can or you can’t, either way you are right”
Who inspires you?
My daughter. I learn so many lessons from watching her:
How she accepts people for who and how they are.
How she keeps trying to learn new things – and doesn’t let little setbacks stop her.
A child’s ability to play and do things just for fun – when I ask her what she wants to do each day and she says “Play”, that has been a big inspiration for building our businesses the way we’ve built them to enable us to play each day too.
Do you have a business philosophy?
Have fun, make a difference and find the path that works for you and your business.
Get in touch…
Twitter Name: @leawoodward
Facebook Fanpage: http://facebook.com/LeaOnline