“Why should you have to do it on your own?”

Solo Episode

Show notes:

Another solo episode from me this week. Before I started a business, I had heard a lot about the loneliness of self employment, and having experienced a lot of career and social loneliness in my job and first pregnancy, when I set up my business it was a strong intention of mine NOT to feel lonely.

I was lucky – there were so many online networking and learning opportunities when I was building my business. Which was perfect for a pregnant lady! I joined so many online groups, approached people I admired on Instagram and it not only helped me find my community, but helped me find clients too.

Tell me – how did you find your community?

Bump to business owner links:

Website: www.bumptobusinessowner.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bumptobusinessowner/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carolinepooley/

Transcript:

Intro
Hello and welcome to Bump to Business Owner, thank you so much for tuning in today. This podcast is inspired by my mission to find out why more and more mums are leaving the employment world for the entrepreneur life. I’ll be talking to some of the people I believe to be the most inspiring women in business about their journey building their businesses alongside motherhood. I’ll be also sharing some of my own experiences of juggling my award winning virtual assistant agency Upsource, while raising my two young children. Right now they are two and four, and trust me, it can be chaos.

Caroline [00:00:05]:

Hello, my name is Caroline and welcome to Bump to Business Owner. Today’s episode I wanted to talk about the importance of community and my inspiration for this episode is because I’ve seen it quite a lot actually.

Caroline [00:01:00]:

People talking about how the freelancer world is so lonely, the self employed world is so lonely, it’s so lonely being a business owner. Just for the record, I’m completely not devaluing that. I just feel like it’s something I’ve never experienced. I think it’s because part of my journey when I set out with Upsource. I didn’t want to be lonely running my own business or feel like I was doing it alone. I think obviously that probably stems from other issues with my first child when I had so much loneliness both socially and at work. I think they really at the time for various reasons tried to isolate us a little bit from each other in my work job and just feeling like not on the same page when I was pregnant and none of my friends were.

Caroline [00:01:48]:

Me and my husband have friends together who run businesses but a lot of my personal friends don’t. And also my dad run his own business. So I think I’ve naturally, I’m quite fortunate, I’ve got people that I’ve known for years that I know socially, I could just WhatsApp them if there’s something. Which I do if there’s something I want to see if they’ve experienced something. But I think I could tell probably also the industry I’m in, I could just tell from online, the virtual assistant industry, there’s so much if you look for it connection and community and people learning from each other that if you go out and also join in, that you have that community and it really helps boost your business. And I can’t even lie, it’s also genuinely been good for my business. I’ve got clients because virtual assistants, personal assistants, people I’ve worked with have recommended me.

Caroline [00:02:42]:

So it’s actually just been great for my business but also good for me. I also started Upsource during lockdown and we were all lonely. I was actually less lonely because I’d already experienced that loneliness. We were all lonely, everyone, all relative. But I think it’s like well I don’t have any colleagues, I don’t have a work escapism place as I was at home being a mom. So I think, I thought, well, I’m going to find this online. I’m not going to do this on my own.

Caroline [00:03:16]:

Why do I have to do it on my own? I can get learnings from other people. There’s clearly a whole community out there and I’d always kind of been following a few people. One of whom will be a guest on this podcast, and I joined her community during lockdown. I think that was great during lockdown, launching an online business in some ways was that there were so many people out there, like trying to help, trying to start. There was so much learning you could do, couldn’t you? I remember going to loads until the pregnancy sickness got me and I went to nothing. But I went to try and just learn as much as I could. Even like Instagram courses, all of that and how to run a business.

Caroline [00:03:53]:

And that was really great at that time that there was such an online community. I can’t lie, like online networking now, I struggle with it. Not for me, I’d much rather do in person, but while I’m pregnant, that was great that the world was really focusing on online stuff and how to do it. And so that’s how I did it. When I first started Upsource, I started out on Facebook for the virtual assistant community and kind of getting involved with that. I just ended up on some Facebook forums and I ended up speaking to a coach who had her own community and she’s still a coach of mine and mentor of mine now. And so I ended up in that world.

Caroline [00:04:34]:

And then there was someone who I’d been following on Instagram for ages and stalking them and they had an online community. So I joined that. I joined a few and they could feel quite overwhelming at times, or some felt like not as good a fit as others. But like with any networking, you’ve got to find what works for you. And as I’ve gone on, now I’m at a stage where online doesn’t work for me. I’m not going to attend, if I’m in front of my computer, I’m working. Or maybe like networking, because my team is all virtual. I network with my team online. So therefore I think that takes up all my energy.

Caroline [00:05:13]:

I don’t want to be doing normal business networking online. I want to be doing that in person. That’s what drives me, that’s what I want to do. So yeah, I did it in the online world, basically. But also, and I’ve said this before when I’ve talked about social media, was like just messaging people, starting to comment to people. I’ve had it, people do it to me, I’m like, who are you? But we end up building a relationship because I’m like, oh, we’ve got a similar background, might probably have a similar network in common. That’s the beauty of online.

Caroline [00:05:47]:

And in person, you start to realise who you get in common, or it might be that they live near you. I live quite close to some really inspiring, amazing female founders who I managed to rope into being on this podcast as well. But not cold messaging, just like building relationships, being interested in what they’re doing day to day and like you would with someone in person. And so yeah, I’m not talking about cold messaging people, I’m just talking about starting to engage with people. That was how I did it. And I’m really interested to know if you’re pregnant now. Like, I think I would definitely struggle with the in person if I was pregnant, and that was quite hard. The physical world started coming back and I think last year I even still struggled until the end of last year while my kid was still one.

Caroline [00:06:40]:

And also learning how to rejuggle how that dynamic works for my husband coming home, me going out, and he’s great, he understands it and making time for networking and vice versa. We both are quite good with our social lives. It’s just always another thing to organise, isn’t it? I can’t just drop everything and just go to a networking. But having said that, they’re so valuable and I really enjoy them. And it’s interesting thinking about physical networking. Well, it’s kind of turned more into a networking chat than community was what I was going to talk about. But I went to a talk by another VA recently about networking and it’s so interesting because I feel like depending on where you live, networking is so different. Maybe it’s just where I live, but it seems to be rather social.

Caroline [00:07:30]:

There might be talks, panels, great, love that. Maybe dinner, drinks, love it. But there’s so many networking, I know people go to where they do like pitches, twelve second pitches and sell their service, show what they can do. I really hate that. I’m so not into that. I’m so glad I avoid that sort of networking. So I think that’s what trying to say as well, finding your community, because some people are great at that.

Caroline [00:07:57]:

And this woman, I was like, how often do you go networking? And she was like three times a week. I was like, wow, I definitely don’t go three times a week. I think because I’m not going there, I’m also very aware with a B2B service, a business that selling services, selling virtual assistant support. I think people look at me like she’s trying to sell me something. I’m not. Genuinely, I’m not. I’m fascinated with meeting people. I love hearing about other businesses, and I also believe in the long term game.

Caroline [00:08:25]:

So I don’t just stand there and sell what I’m doing. It’s not about that. I’m there to make connections and see who I’d like to get on with. I’m not about that. So I think that’s probably why I really don’t get on with let’s all sit around, have a coffee and pitch to each other. I think that’s probably why I don’t like some of the online networking, which just feels a little bit like that and you can’t just naturally talk. My mentor was saying it’s about when you go sit in a room with people about the side conversations you have and that’s so true. Someone I’m really close to in the VA world who happens to live down the road from me.

Caroline [00:09:04]:

We just happened to sit next to each other on one of our VA working get together days and we learned we liked hanging out because we sat next to each other and could talk and have that side conversation. Which you just can’t have online, even if you do the breakout rooms. I’ve yet to see it be done. If you can do it really well, please invite me and I’ll see if I like it. But I think, I personally think I’ve got through the past two and a half years as an agency owner, a business owner, just by talking to others who are like me and building relationships. And there’s people I love seeing just pop up in my messages and they live in France or just somewhere else, but we feel like we know each other and I might buy something from them and vice versa. I don’t like the pushy kind of sales thing, but I take my time and I like to buy things on my terms, or I think that, I’m sure there’s plenty of things I’ve not bought on my terms and got sucked into, but I like to think so. I just think really important to have that community. I think I’ve mentioned in another podcast about how I was worried about taking maternity leave from my business, but it felt such a safe space by being in the right community and talking about it.

Caroline [00:10:27]:

I’ve definitely got clients, I’ve got business from networking, I’ve got team members from networking, I’ve got new knowledge. The stuff I’ve learned, I’m really interested in learning about fundraising and especially angel investing, things like that. Because I think if I’m running a profitable business, maybe something like angel investing is something I’ll go into it. I like learning about that sort of thing. Especially living where I live because so much of the tech and investment in London, just learning new things about that and being totally open to it. But also support. I’ve got VAs I’ll WhatsApp when we’re having a bad day and vice versa. So really I think that support is, just to acknowledge it.

Caroline [00:11:10]:

I think sometimes people are like, oh, people don’t understand what it’s like running a business. I don’t feel like I’ve never needed. I feel like people do because actually a lot more people do it because the perks are great but everyone knows the risks. So that’s why not everyone’s doing it and the bad times can be really bad running a business or being self employed at dry times. So I think that support is fantastic. That openness, that camaraderie we get. And part of the reason I started this podcast, because it is really focused on a specific field of mums who run businesses and I am fascinated by it and love to learn from them and that is helping other people build their community to learn and hear from other mums. So that was my food for thought today on community.

Caroline [00:11:57]:

Do you have a community? Are you missing that? Tell me. Tell me what field you’re in. If you feel you’re missing your community, get in touch with me, and I’ll see if I know anyone and put you in touch with them. Because the best coffees I’ve had are people who just want to find out more about my industry and things like that. And I put them in touch with more people in the industry. You may not be in the VA world, but if you’re in a different world, let me know. Thank you for listening.


Outro:
You have been listening to Bump to Business Owner, the podcast for mums running businesses, aspiring to run businesses, or simply supporters of mums who go on this crazy business journey. I’m your host Caroline Marshall and I run a virtual assistant agency called Upsource. I started it in lockdown 2020, I’ve seen it through maternity leave and it is growing alongside my two growing boys. Thank you so much, please connect me at Bump to Business Owner, my name is Caroline Marshall.