Reflections on my first two years in business

Reflections on my first two years in business

How following my heart led to the business of my dreams

Your Business Wife copywriting Melbourne

It feels strange to say, but it’s been two years since that fateful day when I took the leap and decided to start my own business.

It came at a time when I was vulnerable.  Very vulnerable.  My son had just turned one, I had gone back to work recently so we could buy a house.  I had three kids in childcare (I can’t even bear to think how much money THAT cost me!).  And we’d moved house, giving me a 2-hour commute every morning.  Even though I was only working part-time, it was a huge drain mentally.  All our money had been poured into the house deposit and our new (huge) mortgage.  It was a pretty dumb time to make changes to my work.

But, being a typical headstrong Aries, I don’t let little things like money and practicalities stand in my way.  So, I made the leap.  A very costly leap to start my own business.  That’s a story for another day, but let’s just say I got burned badly.

The first year as a business owner

So, my first year was a mixture of work, appointments, juggling three kids, husband and household, while doing bits of business stuff at night and whenever I could.  The first year was really a steep learning curve, trying to work out what I needed to know, what I needed to master and what on earth I was supposed to be doing.  One thing I wasn’t doing was making money.  In fact, by the time I paid for endless courses, coaching, even psychic advice, I had burnt through a lot of our savings and had nothing to show for it.

The website was good once I fixed it up.  The idea was potentially great (helping mums make a career change after having kids? Yes please!).  I had loads of content and ideas, my audience was growing.  But no money.  Because what I didn’t really comprehend at the start was just how long it would take to build up the business to a point where people would invest in advertising on my site.

And I was beginning to see that the business model I was looking at required:

  1. A huge following on social media – which meant time, effort and advertising
  2. Something to actually sell – Not only did I need to sell something that my advertisers weren’t selling, but I also didn’t want to write resumes or LinkedIn profiles, and job applications.
  3. Businesses needed to sign up to the directory and pay for it. The biggest issue here was that I was looking to other startups and small businesses to advertise with me, and their budgets were as limited as mine.
  4. Someone who was passionate, informed and ready to grow it into the business it deserved.

After a while, I began to see that I’d been charging head-on down the road, blindly forging ahead with all the passion and zeal of a first timer.  It was only when I stopped to take a breath, I realised that this wasn’t what I wanted.  And it certainly wasn’t sustainable to keep throwing money at it when it wasn’t making any.  And poof, like that, my passion was drained.

It all changed when I took a step back to assess where I was going

Throughout my first year, I met loads of beautiful people in business.  As we connected and shared, I began helping them with their businesses, planning their content and helping them grow their audiences.  That was the fun bit of the first year.

The six months or so that followed were nothing more than deep soul searching, heart seeking times, looking for my passion and drive.

And I found it, finally.  For most of those six months, I felt like I was wandering through the desert, with the answers always just over the next mountain, I could feel them, but they were just out of reach.  Who was I? what did my business do? What can I offer of value to people?

Just take a bite of the elephant

Finally, enough people told me that the only way I would know the answers was to just start.  Literally, do something, and then another little something and another, until the ball starts rolling and you’ll end up at the new place.  It was like I wanted to know what it would be like when I was on holiday in a new place I’d never been to.  I wanted to be there, I wanted to start planning my days and adventures and know who I would meet and where I’d be, but I wasn’t even packing my bags yet.

And then we get to the last six months.  After I took action, everything did indeed start to snowball from there.  I took a huge leap first of all, and put out an offer.  I priced myself cheaply, over-delivered and gave people amazing value.  And many of those initial clients keep coming back for more every time I put something up.  I made sure I got feedback from my clients and used that to make improvements along the way.

And now, it feels so surreal to say I’m sitting here planning for my third year in business.  And hoping that this will be the year that it all falls into place.  Like a kid, I’ve spent the first year just getting my head around this whole new world of business, and online media.  The second year, I’ve found my feet and I’m starting to explore.  The third year will be the one where I find my voice, and my place and stand up to be counted.  This year will be the one that really kicks off the future for Your Business Wife.  I don’t know where it will lead me, but I’m excited about the journey.  Like any two year old, I’m still having some tantrums and working it out as I grow and change into who I want to be.  But that’s all part of the fun.

And one day, when I’m running a proper, grown-up business, I know I’ll look back on these days and wish again for the simplicity of my home office, with my trusty laptop, messy desk and chaos all around.  And I’ll be glad that the journey I took was the path less travelled.

 

Tanya Abdul Jalil is the brains behind Your Business Wife. After starting her career as a teacher, she moved into the world of Skilled Migration. Although not a field that is usually associated with excitement, Tanya gets her thrills through getting things sorted and systematised so people could actually find what they need and use it. After starting a Career Change website for mums, Tanya realised there were also mums wanting to make a change into small business, that needed her support and so started Your Business Wife. Your Business Wife lets her combine her skills in helping other people, being creative and supporting new ideas and putting things together in logical ways that work. Tanya combines her passion for creative ideas with simple and practical solutions for small businesses. Specialising in content planning, copywriting and getting started, Tanya provides a range of support options from one off sessions, training and full content management services.

 

 

 

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99 Days of Content Planning Made Simple

99 Days of Content Planning Made Simple

Content Planning to end blank pages and get your audience engaged.

Content Planning session with Tanya at Your Business Wife

It seems like we’re always on the countdown – almost Christmas, starting school, Easter, tax time…  And while that’s great, because we can measure our successes, and drive our goals forwards, it is also a challenge, because it passes all too soon when you count it.

So, people keep telling me how fast this year has gone – and here we are with almost 99 days till 2019.

So, in celebration, and to get my act together on content planning, I’m working towards planning 99 days of content.  I’m actually going to plan a bit more than that because I really want to do minimal thinking about day to day content stuff over January.

You’re probably sitting there wondering how on earth you can even plan one or two days ahead right now, let alone 3 months’ worth.

That’s where I step in and hold your hand.

Step 1 – Think of a theme for each of the next three months.

Just a rough theme – it might be something like

  • October – Springtime/new season/
  • November – Pre-Christmas sales push
  • December – Summer/January/School Holidays

 

For me, I’m working on my customer journey and upgrading my content, so I’m going with

  • October – Content Planning
  • November – Pinterest
  • December – Planning and tools/2019 planning
  • January – tools and tips

Step 2 – Think of four topics you could write about for each of those content areas:

So for me:

Content Planning

  • Who/what/why – picking your audience
  • When to plan and what to plan
  • Making it easy – repurposing/scheduling/work with your strengths
  • My tips and calendar I use

Pinterest

  • Pins and and how to create engaging pins
  • Why you need a business account
  • Basic Pinterest setup
  • How to drive more website traffic using Pinterest (specific examples for different types of shops/services
  • Using SEO to increase traffic with Pinterest

2019 Planning

  • My Planner and how I use it
  • Using Intuitive Planning
  • How to plan when you don’t even know where you’re going
  • Paper tools – pros and cons and how I use it vs. tech tools and how I use them
  • Setting intuitive goals, not smart goals

January

  • Three levels of audience and how to write for each
  • What your audience wants to know about you
  • How to share more of yourself when you’re scared to be visable
  • Get your year on track (if the wheels have already fallen off
  • Back to school – back to work – motivator.

 

Each of those topics in step 2 might become a blog piece, a video, a short picture/text movie, a slideshow, a webinar, a podcast, a Facebook post, a LinkedIn post, or just a series of weekly tips.

It doesn’t need to be a 1000 word essay each week with beautiful stock photos, H1 headers, and beginning, middle, conclusion.  If trying to work to that method is keeping you stuck each week – CHANGE IT!  You never know which method you’ll fall in love with, so try them all.  Mix it up and see what your audience loves.

 

Step 3 – For each of the subtopics brainstormed in Step 2

  • Think of two hints/tips/hacks you can share
  • Think of a teaching/quote you would tell someone if they asked you about that topic
  • Find one article online relevant to the topic
  • Write one snippet/except of how you use that thing in your life
  • Once you’ve got your content piece – that becomes one post to promote it, plus take out some quotes and snippets to share as well
  • Create a throwback schedule to promote older pieces of content too, especially if they link to the current piece.

When you’ve got all those together, it’s time to start batching!

I love to use Canva, but there are heaps of programs out there.  Put aside some time each day for a week or so, and create all your tips at once, then all your quotes etc.

 

Once you’ve got all your content bits, you can start putting it all together.  I like to use formulas like

  • Monday – Motivation/inspiration/behind the scenes
  • Tuesday – Tips
  • Wednesday – share from other people
  • Thursday – From the blog  – new or re-hashed content
  • Friday – Funny/light stuff
  • Sat/Sunday – longer/consumable content

 

Think about your audience and when they’re online the most – what type of things they like to do/read and when and then create a schedule for them.

 

If you’re not sure what content areas might be relevant for your business, or you’d like to spend some time brainstorming your content plan  – why not book in a Content Planning Session?

We’ll go through what you sell, who to and how to best get your message out to the world.  Best of all, you’ll create a 3-month content plan that means you’ll always have ideas for content and can get creating.

 

 

 

 

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10 questions that you should ask yourself before buying a dog washing business.

10 questions that you should ask yourself before buying a dog washing business.

I’m setting myself a challenge to come up with 10 ideas per day.

So, for this first post, I’m brainstorming 10 questions that you should ask yourself before buying a dog washing business.

A lovely friend of mine recently told me she’d seen a fantastic idea for a dog washing business franchise that’s for sale. It was a very convincing sales prospect, and they made the offer sound fantastic. They were opening up a new region for this franchise and it’s going to be awesome and they would make all this lovely money just washing dogs.

So I started thinking about is what makes someone good at dog washing? And what would make someone successful in purchasing a dog washing business?

10 things to consider before buying (or starting up) a dog washing business
1. EXPERIENCE
What experience have you had with dogs? have you ever washed a dog before and what sort of dogs have you washed? If you’ve only ever washed your family pet, who knows you, I imagine it’s very different washing big dogs and small dogs in a cramped and unfamiliar environment. And the experience would be very different to washing your family’s small terrier out in the backyard, hosing them down with a bucket and some shampoo. Then there’s how much experience you’ve had with doggy skin conditions, clippering a dog, or nail and ear care that would go along with the job.

2. TIME
How much time do you have, and how much flexibility do you have for appointments? Depending on the clientele, they may prefer late nights, weekends or middle of the day. There would be a period of time when you would probably not be able to take extended holidays without getting staff in, so you don’t lose regular clients.

3. RESEARCH THE MARKET
Your local council should be able to provide some information on pet ownership in the area – or the ABS. Or look up your local dog parks and pay them a visit on the weekends – take note of the types of dogs, are they big/small, are they generally well groomed?
Consider the socio-economics and culture of the area you’ll be working in – are there lots of apartments (meaning smaller dogs and maybe less room for washing) or bigger backyards (bigger dogs and families who will do the washing themselves).

4. COMPETITION
How many dog washing companies are already in your area? How established are they? What sort of marketing are they using? What prices are they charging? How would your business be different to what dog owners are currently using?
Give some of them a call and check out their availability – are they free any day, or can’t squeeze you in for a month? If you call three places and they all have lots of available spots, then maybe there isn’t enough work for everyone.

5. MONEY
Don’t get caught up in the magic turnover figures presented. Consider the expenses of the business, how much you personally need to make to survive and how much time you have free.
If you know you can only work x hours per week, then you can work out how much you need to be charging per dog to make your desired income.
Consider all the possible expenses – insurance, advertising, council registrations, business registrations, consumables (shampoos), tools, water, electricity, signage, uniforms, promotional materials, freebies and promotions. If it’s a franchise, you’ll have additional costs from the franchiser too. Once you have added all these up, divide that by 52. That will give you an idea of how much you need to make per week to cover your costs. Divide that figure by how many possible dog washing hours you can do.
For example – $1000 per week expenses/40 hours dog washing @ 1 hour per dog = each dog costs you $25 to wash. If you only get to wash 20 dogs, then each dog is going to cost you $50.

Once you’ve worked out your costs, then consider how long it will take you to make a return on your investment, so to have paid off the business start up costs. If you’ve paid $50,000 for the business, you would need to be making at least $1,000 additional to your costs per week to get to a point where you’ve paid off the costs and are making a profit.

6. MONEY 2 – Costs and clients
Consider what your ideal client looks like – wealthy, time poor, pampered pets. Does that describe the majority of pet owners in your area?

Building on from how much the service cost you to run, you then need to start thinking about how much is the market willing to pay. This is also part of your competitor research – what are other companies charging? How often do these clients return? How many regular clients would I reasonably get.

7. PRICING
What pricing structures are other services using? Do they account for the size of dogs? Extras like clippering? How could you structure a package to maximise your value to customers, while making a profit?
When you consider how much people are charging – consider how often they getting their customers back, so for someone just getting their dog washed – how often would they get their dog washed? is it a weekly thing? Or a monthly thing? Or a seasonal clippering? Or more often during winter if the dogs like to go and play in the mud, or less in summer if they go swimming a lot.

8. When buying a franchise in particular – Look at the statistics and case studies provided – Consider
What area were they working in? Is this area similar to the one you’ll be setting up in?
What’s the culture of that area like – a lot of older people who might have money and less physically able to wash their dogs? Or a lot of young families who may be willing to wash the dog themselves?

9. QUESTIONS
You can’t ask too many questions – Go to the council and ask what their regulations are – can you put the water in the storm water drain? Can you park on the kerb? Can you use certain types of shampoos? Can you run your generator any time of day? What insurances and licences do you need?
Go to the state government and find out their regulations and registering a business. Find out about advertising in the local area – what are the best ways, what are the costs?

10. YOU
One of the most important things before all of this is to consider why you want to start a dog washing business.
What is it about you about the washing that lights you up that excites you that motivates you?
Is it that you’ve seen a gap in the market and you seen that you can do this dog washing business better than anyone else that is out there?
What will make people come and use your services is you and your point of difference and your passion for the industry.
I imagine someone starting a dog washing business would be the person who has a beautiful dog for themselves, no matter what size, but that they love to groom that dog. They love to put ribbons in her hair and putting little jackets on it and clipping her toenails and tying bows in it.

You would be doing all the dog grooming activities that you’ll be doing in your everyday work and you love doing that so much that you offer to do that for your friends and it excites you. You make time out of your busy day to groom your dog and to wash your dog, and take care of your dog. You do all this because you love it and you can see the benefits of doing that for your dog.
Having that natural passion, skill and interest is what would make you a successful dog washer.
If you’ve never held a dog in your life, if you’ve rarely touched dogs, and don’t pat every dog you see on the street, if you’ve never held a pair of clippers, and rarely even do your children’s hair, or offer to walk the family dog, then I would suggest you reconsider 100 million times before going out and purchasing a dog washing business.

Stay tuned for 10 ideas of different businesses that dog lovers can start that aren’t dog washing.

What is the 10 Ideas Project?  Inspired by a TEDx talk given by James Altucher, I am on a mission to make myself an ideas machine.  Every day, I will write down 10 ideas for different things.  These might be business tips, inspiration, content ideas, strategy ideas, things I love, things I hate, and all the millions of ways that I can think of to inspire, motivate and encourage mothers who want to change their lives, by either getting a new job, a new career, start a business, or grow their existing business.   They’re quick, flow of thought pieces that map out the 10 first things that come to my mind on a particular topic.  Some days, I’ll expand on them.  Other days, I’ll keep them short.  Some days they’ll be great and some days not so much.  Other days, I’ll make them pretty and use lots of pictures and headings and lovely things.  But I’m making it my mission to keep writing and keep on getting better at them.

If you’ve got a topic or idea you’d like me to brainstorm ideas on, please let me know.  I’m always on the hunt for new inspiration.  I’ll be posting them here, and on my other site, Employment Avenues. If you love my ideas, please tell me (and the whole world), I love to hear what you have to say.  If you think my ideas are terrible, please tell me that too, and I’ll keep trying to get better.

 

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