After the Great Tohoku Earthquake hit in Japan, Jo Ebisujima decided to build a location independent business. So she created “My Organized Chaos” – a website helping busy moms get organized and have more fun with their kids. Read how she did it below…
Jo Ebisujima // Japan // My Organized Chaos // Education & Coaching // 40s
WHAT MOTIVATED & INSPIRED YOU TO START YOUR BUSINESS?
It sort of happened by accident! I have been blogging for a year about Montessori and raising a bilingual child in Japan – just everyday things that I was sharing with friends and family back home (the UK), but the blog took off and, before I knew it, I had quite a following from all over the world.
When the Great Tohoku Earthquake hit in 2011, I decided that I needed to set up a location independent business, just in case we’d have to move and we didn’t have my husband’s income to support us. March 11th was the scariest day of my life. We didn’t sustain any actual damage, but we were (still are) affected by the radiation from Fukushima.
Since 2007, I had been running a little Etsy shop, but after crunching the numbers, I knew I needed something more substantial.
From the blog, I was constantly getting asked questions on how to set up the home and how to do Montessori style activities at home, so My Organized Chaos was born from that. It was something that could be location independent, I could do it in English, and it was something I enjoyed helping people with.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS…
In a nutshell, I help busy mamas get organized at home, with their kids and in their mind so that they have time for the fun stuff. My main online course is My Organized Chaos where we work through the areas of the home and set them up with the children in mind, we work on how to make the home work more efficiently and how to get mom herself organized so there is less stress and more fun. I use a lot of the Montessori principles in my work and the focus is helping the child to help themselves. Tied in with the course is my bestselling book, Montessori Inspired Activities For Pre-Schoolers, which has 50+ activities that anyone can set up at home, without any special equipment or training. A second volume of the book will be out soon.
I also have the Clear The Clutter course, which is a program to help people de-clutter their homes and take back control. I found that so many of my readers were struggling with just trying to keep the house running and they had no motivation to declutter or deep clean so their homes were slipping deeper and deeper into the pits. I had been in exactly the same place after the earthquake and figured a way out and that is what we do in the course. Break it into baby-steps and do it with a community of cheerleaders, I never thought cleaning could be so much fun!
Then finally, I also do a limited amount of Rock Star Mom 1:1 mentoring, helping women set their goals, creating a play sheet that will work for them and getting them going again, getting them out of the rut and back on the road to fabulous.
WHAT WERE THE FIRST FEW STEPS YOU TOOK TO GET YOUR BUSINESS UP AND RUNNING?
I already had a good following but I didn’t know how to utilize it, so I took Marie Forleo’s B-school course, built the website and threw myself into putting the course together. I studied Electronic Imaging at university so I was able to sit down and do all the tech & graphics stuff myself. In true entrepreneur style, I launched the course before I had finished writing it and, surprisingly, I didn’t run into any major problems.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY OF RAISING AWARENESS OF YOUR BUSINESS AND GETTING NEW CUSTOMERS?
Writing the book Montessori Inspired Activities For Pre-Schoolers and getting it out not only on Kindle but in paperback made a huge difference. People perceive you differently when you have your name on the front of a book. Not only has it put me in front of new people but it also helped with opportunities for guest posting or being interviewed. Although I didn’t write the book to make money, I wrote it as a way to expand my reach, it does bring in a nice chunk of money each month too – added bonus.
WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES SO FAR WITH RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS?
One would be trying to figure out who exactly my ideal customers are for each product. It took me a while to figure that one out. It is obviously important that you are targeting the right people. The other is to do with living in Japan, filing taxes in a language I’m not proficient in and also working in multiple currencies gives me such a headache. I would say it is the one area that I am still not happy with 100% as the system I am using is not perfect.
Setting up systems to make the running of the company easier is very important to me so it frustrates me to no end when I don’t have a system that is fully functional. I am sure it will all work out eventually; patience isn’t one of my strong points.
HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THESE CHALLENGES?
For my ideal customer, getting to know my current clients really well helped. Studying them and understanding them helped define who my ideal clients are for each product.
For the financial side – it is a work in progress. Putting on my big girl pants and actually going to the tax office, asking a million questions and facing the answers meant I could at least set up some kind of system, even if it’s not perfect.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
The freedom: I set my own schedule. I don’t have to answer to anyone but myself. I never liked working for ‘The Man’ and being a working mom in a company in Japan is extremely difficult. By working for myself, I can spend good chunks of quality time with my son; I can work around him being sick or the school holidays, and I get to do what I love every day.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER ENTREPRENEURS?
Stop trying to do it all by yourself. I know when you start off, money might be tight, but investing in the right help can be an enormous benefit and reduce your stress by the truck load. Get yourself an accountability partner or small mastermind group to help each other along. I wouldn’t have gotten this far without mine.
HOW DO YOU KEEP MOTIVATED THROUGH DIFFICULT TIMES?
My mastermind group is great at picking you up when you are having a tough day. I am a pretty positive person, so I tend to bounce back quite quickly. If something is going completely wrong, walking away and taking a break for a day helps me keep everything in perspective.
DO YOU HAVE A BUSINESS PHILOSOPHY?
Anything is possible if you break the task into baby steps.
When I face a big challenge I…
take a deep breath and jump right in.
My greatest fear is…
getting in trouble with the Japanese government for screwing up my taxes or something.
The most courageous thing I’ve ever done is…
before I went to university, I packed a bag and moved to Italy on my own. This was 20+ years ago and the world was a much bigger place back then. It was one of the best things I ever did.
If I could go back in time to when I was 20 I would tell myself…
tequila – it isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be!
anything is possible with determination and a sprinkling of good luck.
The biggest lesson I have ever learned is…
that I can learn everything I need to know to run a business, but sometimes it is easier and quicker to pay someone else to do a job for you.
My favourite business tool or resource is…
I LOVE Pinterest and Springpad, I use both, all the time.
My favourite quote is…
A translation from a Japanese saying: “Get knocked down seven times, get up eight.”