Collaborating to create remarkable customer experiences with Andrea Owen on Profit. Power. Pursuit. with Tara Gentile

I think just really what it comes down to is just being really honest, even when it’s hard, and there’s always a way to bring things up from a place of kindness instead of blaming, or you know, massive insecurity, or anything like that. 

— Andrea Owen

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Tara:  Welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit.  I’m your host, Tara Gentile, and together with my friends at CreativeLive, we talk to powerhouse small business owners about the nitty gritty details of running their businesses, making money, and pursuing what’s most important to them.  Each week, I deep dive with a thriving entrepreneur on topics like time management, team building, marketing, business models, and mindset.  Our goal each week is to expose you to something new that you can immediately apply to growing your own business.

This week, my guest is Andrea Owen, an author, mentor, and certified life coach who helps women get what they want by letting go of perfectionism, control, and isolation, and choosing to practice courage instead.  She’s the author of 52 Ways to Live a Kickass Life: BS Free Wisdom to Ignite Your Inner Badass and Live the Life You Deserve.  She’s also co-founder of The Self Love Revolution.  Andrea and I talk about the very first thing she did to get clients as a coach in training, how she changed the money story that was holding her business back, and how she collaborates with others to create amazing experiences for clients.

Andrea Owen, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit.  Thank you so much for joining me.

Andrea:  Thank you for having me.  This sounds so official, Tara.

Tara:  We try.

Andrea:  So profresh.

Tara:  We try.  Yeah.  All right.  So you are the author of 52 Ways to Live a Kickass Life, and the founder of, so before we get into your business and how you have, you know, built a life coaching practice and how you’ve built an audience and programs and collaborated with people and all of that, I would just really love to find out what a kickass life really means to you.

Andrea:  Oh, my gosh.  Ask me on any given day, and that answer might change, but really, what it has evolved to is really getting to work on your shit.  Can I say that on your podcast?

Tara:  Absolutely.

Andrea:  It’s really working on your stuff.  Like really kind of getting past the behaviors like perfectionism and people pleasing and numbing out or hiding out, and control is a big issue for the people that come to me for help, so it’s really about honing in on those behaviors and finding better behaviors that work for you, like self-compassion and finding someone you can share your story with, and that’s really sort of the foundation of what I teach people through my podcast and blog and classes, etc.

Tara:  Nice.  And you mentioned, you know, helping people work through their shit.  What kind of shit did you have to work through to get to where you are right now?

Andrea:  Oh, the list is so long.  In a nutshell, it was fear.  It was fear of the unknown, and I mean, you want to work on that, start your own business.

Tara:  Yeah.

Andrea:  And you’re in it.  It’s fear of the unknown, fear of what people are going to think, fear of failure, fear of success.  I was afraid of both, so yeah.  The strategy part was really easy in comparison to actually working through the fear.

Tara:  Nice.  So what … was there a particular moment or a particular situation that really kind of led you to pursuing helping women live a kickass life?

Andrea:  Yes.  So it’s sort of funny, but not funny.  It wasn’t funny at the time, when it happened, but looking back, it was sort of serendipitous.  In 2003 is when I found out what life coaching was, and I remember sitting at the computer with my now ex-husband and telling him, like, this is so awesome that people, like, you can get paid to help people live their dreams and have these amazing lives and I really want to do this.  And I said to him, “But I think that probably what would make you a better life coach is if you had a lot of life experience.”  Like if you’d like been through adversity, and I don’t have a lot of that, so I don’t know.  And then two years later, my husband and I, my husband at the time and I were planning on conceiving our first child together.  We’d been together for many years, 13 years, and he had an affair with our neighbor and got her pregnant, and divorced me.

Tara:  Oh my God.

Andrea:  So … and it wasn’t like a, “Sorry, Andrea, please forgive me, let’s work this out.”  It was, “I’m in love with this other woman, can you go away.”  And it was horrible.  It was a very dramatic and traumatic divorce.  I spent a year, I describe it as I walked around like I was in a coma, and had another really bad relationship after that, and I found myself … I had like the laying on the bathroom floor in the fetal position moment where I just looked in the mirror and said I can’t do this anymore.  Like I know I’m destined for greatness, I just need to take responsibility.  I had to essentially take responsibility for the decisions that I had made, the relationships I had tolerated, the men I had attracted and continued to be in relationships with, which I knew were not good for me, and really work on codependence and issues like that, and little did I know that signing up for life coach training was going to sort of force me into looking at all of those things.  I had … I was in therapy and stuff like that, but I thought, well, I’ll sign up for life coach training, because I was sort of desperate, and little did I know, like, all of it kind of mixed in and really led me to be where I am now.  So I think that that experience has helped me a lot.  Just kind of, for lack of a better term, forced me to look at everything and like just shine the light on what was going on, and really, again, like what I had to take responsibility for, because I had spent a long time blaming everybody else for where I was in my life, and I had to stop doing that.

Tara:  I imagine that kind of introspection and being willing to, you know, look into all the deep, dark recesses of your own life and your own psyche has served you well in terms of being able to look at your business and all the deep, dark recesses of your business as well.  Would you say that’s true?

Andrea:  1000%, yeah.   I mean, I just … I’ve always been the type of person that didn’t like to be told what to do.  I know that probably a lot of people that you interview and that you work with have always had that entrepreneurial spirit.  I was not one of those kids.  Like, I did not have the lemonade stand, I did not sell blow pops for 50 cents.  Those were other kids.  Like, I knew them, but it wasn’t me, but I definitely have been one of those people that didn’t like to be told what to do, and so when I did start the business, it was for sure, like, this is mine, and I … I am completely and solely responsible for this.  Which is both exciting and scary at the same exact time.

Tara:  Yeah.  For sure.  So you know, most of the time, I’m talking to people about where they are in their business right now, and I think this is a great opportunity to actually kind of rewind the clock a little bit, and I’d love to know what, you know, what were some of the very first steps you took to get those first clients or to put that first website up or you know, whatever that … that beginning stage of your business looked like?

Andrea:  Well, it was back in 2010, which as we all know, in the online business world, that was like dog years.

Tara:  Totally.

Andrea:  Like 100 years ago.  It was in 2010, and I was going through certification for life coaching, and part of our requirement was to have a certain amount of clients, and so I was sort of forced to actually tell people what I was doing and put myself out there, and that’s exactly what I did.  So I did the, you know, tried and true friends and family email, where I basically told everybody what I was doing and I kind of did it by accident, but I know that it’s a smart marketing move, just to have a call-to-action, like make it really easy for people to book that phone call with me, and that’s what I did.  I told them exactly who I helped.  I told them exactly what I was doing, what I was offering, and how they could take advantage of that, and I got 11 clients, and it was a lot, and I was also charging next to nothing for it.  I think that was part of the reason that I did that. 

And at that time, I was not even, yet.  I was, wait for it, I was LiveYourIdealLife, tada, which is very … which is very life coachy and sweet and cute, but I was also blogging at the time just about anything and everything, because I didn’t have a formal niche, yet, and so yeah, it was about putting myself out there, and then from there, I learned a lot of lessons from those 11 clients, and from there, later on, YourKickassLife was born, and the first website was … I think I paid like $600 for it, and it was just a WordPress theme, and I mean, I just wanted to throw something up to get it out there.  That’s something I’ve kind of never been afraid of, I think because there was a little bit of ignorance there.  I think that I made up that the internet was a lot smaller than it was.  I was always surprised to see analytics.  I was like, “Really?  People are reading it?”  I just felt very safe, and you know, my … it was my bedroom office back then, but things have changed in analytics and it’s very scary, but back then, it was sort of … I sort of miss that time of ignorance and just, you know, I was just excited.  I’m like let’s make a website, and I think it’s very different now than it was then.

Tara:  Oh, yeah.  Yeah.  I want to kind of reiterate what you said that first step was, which was just sending an email out to your friends and family saying exactly who you were looking for, what you wanted to do for them, and that strong call-to-action.  You know, you didn’t start building a list, you didn’t, you know, have a website button where people could click to schedule with you.  Like, it was just a simple email, and that’s so key.

Andrea:  Yeah, and it basically was “reply to this email if you want to schedule something.”  So we played old-fashioned email tennis scheduling, and yeah, and it was just … I don’t … I honestly, Tara, I can’t tell you yes or no if I would have done it if I didn’t … if it wasn’t a requirement.  I probably would have done it if I had a coach or anything, but on my own, I may have kind of, like, well, I don’t know, it’s kind of scary, but yeah, it worked.

Tara:  Awesome.  Awesome.  So what misconceptions did you have when you started your business?

Andrea:  Oh my gosh, this could be an hour long conversation on its own.  The first one that comes to mind is that it would be really easy to get clients at a higher rate.  So this goes back to when I was sitting in my coach training program, and I got out a calculator, and I was like if I charge $150 an hour and I have this many clients, I’m going to make, you know, that’s a lot of money.  I think that I thought it was going to be, that they were just going to come to me.  That, you know, it was like hanging a shingle out and it was just going to be easy.  I didn’t think that … I didn’t realize how much work it was going to be.  I also had no experience with marketing.  That’s not my background at all, and I didn’t know how … I didn’t know how to market.  I mean, plain and simple, I didn’t know how to market.  I also didn’t know how scary it was going to be to be my own brand.  I think that I didn’t understand that part at all.  Because again, like online businesses were still fairly new and like, when I went to coaching school in 2007, and I think that it’s one thing if you have a donut shop and people don’t like your donuts, because they don’t like, I mean, it is your art, but still, I feel like it’s a little bit different when, like, what I do, what other coaches do, we’re marketing ourselves, so I think that, like that whole piece, I did not realize it was going to take so much personal work on just taking care of myself and my feelings and all of that stuff, and let me try to … I mean, just that in and of itself.  What is that, like three misconceptions I had?

Tara:  No, that’s great.  I love that you mentioned that about the personal brand, too, because yeah, I mean, putting yourself out there, being seen, but also receiving the criticism and seeing people not do the work and not get the results, and like, taking that personally.  That is a huge piece of what people, like you and I, have to deal with on a daily basis.

Andrea:  Yeah.  Before this iteration of my career, I was … my background and what I went to college for was exercise physiology and I was also a personal trainer for awhile, and there was, I had a mentor, and he told me you can’t ever want it more than your clients.

Tara:  Yup.

Andrea:  It doesn’t work.  And I … I have taken that advice with me, and here, too, it’s the same, because we make it about us, and it’s really not.

Tara:  Yeah.  Exactly.  Exactly.  All right, so let’s fast forward to the present day.  How is your business currently generating revenue?  What are all the different ways you’re bringing in money?

Andrea:  I have three main ways.  I do still take one-on-one clients, although very few, and I’m hoping to get to a place, probably by 2017, where I no longer take one-on-ones and also group programs, and I actually make money as an author.  It’s kind of rad.

Tara:  Yeah, I love that.  Do you do some speaking, too?

Andrea:  I don’t do much.  I have, and I don’t do much.  I have two small children, and my son is eight and he has some special needs, and it’s really hard for him when I travel.  I had a really hard time with that for awhile, so I’ve just surrendered to it, and if one falls into my lap, I will generally take it depending on the circumstances, but generally, no, it’s just been something that I’m going to put off until my kids are older.

Tara:  Nice.  So how has kind of publishing that book affected the way you kind of structure your business, the way people see your business?

Andrea:  It’s interesting.  That’s an interesting question, because for, on one hand, the book, and for those people that don’t know, I went the traditional publishing route, which people told me I was crazy to not self-publish, and I listened to my gut and I went traditional publishing.  I got a book deal, and it sort of catapulted me into a bigger platform.  My platform was decent to begin with, but it really pushed me out there, and it’s, as far as how it structured my business, what’s tricky with my book is that I think it’s really smart when coaches or consultants, they write a book, and then they can easily create programs around their book.  For me, the book is 52 ways, so it’s tricky, because there are 52 chapters on 52 different topics, and there is some overlap, but what I found, what I found really challenge is because of the way I structured it and I didn’t think this through in the beginning, was that when I have group programs, I can refer to my book, and say, like, I go into more detail in this chapter and that chapter, but for the most part, yeah, it’s sort of just like a supplemental kind of guide book in my programs, and you know, of course I send it as gifts for my one-on-one clients, and it’s helped in that realm, and of course, there’s people that have found me in a Barnes and Noble and started listening to my podcast or hired me for one-on-one coaching.  That’s helped a lot.  But as far as like matching the book up for programs, it’s been tricky.

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Tara:  What role does money play in the way you plan for your business?

Andrea:  Well, it … how should I answer this?  I think how I want … I want to answer it in two ways.

Tara:  Sure.

Andrea:  Logistically and, you know, practically and more of the woowoo.  I think something that has really helped me was to look at my relationship with money, because I think for me, you know, I had some of my colleagues, I’m in a mastermind, and they started reading books, there’s several out there, about, you know, healing your relationship with money, and they had all these stories, you know, like what’s your money story?  Like, oh, my parents, you know, talked really badly about rich people, or my parents always told me that there was never enough money and that we couldn’t afford it, and so they had these kind of like weird feelings around money, and they grow up and live in a place of scarcity around money, and I didn’t have that.  Like my parents never … money was just like never brought up.  We always just had it, so I just was like I don’t know, but I had a really interesting kind of revelation about it.  Do you want me to share the story?

Tara:  Yeah, please.

Andrea:  It’s interesting.  Okay, so I was working with this woman who does … she does family constellation therapy.  It’s very … it’s even woowoo for me.  I’m like what?  But she has us like move around the room and someone, you know, represents money, and they have to come and stand near us, and then we position that person, and so the person walked up to me who represented money and I was representing myself, and I … I told this person to stop about two arms lengths away from me, and at my peripheral.  I didn’t want her in front of me, and I’m like that’s really strange that this is how, where I want money to be.  Like I want you to be there, but I don’t actually want to look at you like in the eye.  So I had this kind of breakthrough and breakdown.  I was crying.  What I realized was that, so in my personal life, when I was growing up, my parents, you know, I had … to be perfectly honest, I had like a really charmed childhood.  I have half siblings, but they were much older and out of the house by the time I was born, and I grew up, I had a really great childhood, and then when I graduated from high school, my parents got divorced, and I had kind of like no warning, and so that was kind of traumatic, but even before that, my freshman year of high school, we moved to a new neighborhood. 

So we moved out of the house that I had grown up in, and as soon as we moved, it was a lot fancier, it was in a gated community, my dad bought a Mercedes, he had … he became a real estate broker, real estate agent, and was making a lot more money, and that, looking back, like after my parents got divorced, I started to notice, like, oh, that’s when their marriage actually started to fall apart.  So unknowingly, I had made up in my mind that wealth meant that your family’s going to fall apart.  So that was really powerful for me to kind of come to that conclusion and what my own money story was, and once I could kind of dismantle that, and just really start to know that I was … it sounds very counterintuitive.  So subconsciously, I was feeling unsafe making a lot of money, because what happens, this is interesting, Tara, I noticed that three years in a row, I made the same amount of money in my business, and my platform had quadrupled.  So it didn’t make any sense.  And even my online business manager is like, “That doesn’t make any sense, Andrea.”  You know, something’s going on.  You’re working the same amount.  So that’s what I equated it to, is I was sort of like unknowingly preventing money from coming in, and I’ve seen a significant change in my income once I dismantled that story and started to just kind of change the story in my mind and know that everything will be okay if I make a lot more money.

Tara:  Wow.  That’s a great story.  Thank you so much for sharing that with us.  So what does that kind of realization then look like when you sit down to plan for your business?  You know, do you look at your P&L more often?  Do you look at your bank statements more often?  You know, what does that look like?

Andrea:  Yeah.  I definitely, like my husband and I are in the process of I think we have about a year left and we will have paid off $60,000 in debt.

Tara:  Wow.

Andrea:  And so that’s going to be gone, and it’s really like little things.  Like, I was always afraid of doing … of having affiliates, and so I was like nope, not going to be afraid anymore.  Because I was always like oh, it’s so much maintenance, and you know, oh, I had all these excuses, so I stopped that, the excuses, and I did … I’m doing affiliates now, which is … brings in more money, and I also signed a contract for my second book, and I held my ground with how much money I wanted for an advance.  We got an offer from one publisher.  It was actually the same publisher that published my first book, and it was definitely not enough, and there was a part of me that was like, “You’re going to turn this down?  You’re going to turn down a publishing offer?  Are you crazy?  Just take the money.  Just take whatever you can get.”  And I was like nope, don’t want it, and then we got another offer, and it still wasn’t good enough, and then … then I was really scared.  Then I was really second-guessing myself, and then we got a third offer from Seal Press and it was about five times the amount of my first book advance.

Tara:  Damn.

Andrea:  I know.  And I was like … he told me what they had offered, and I said yes, and then he came back the next day and he’s like, “I got you a little bit more.”  And he said it like so nonchalantly, and I was like wait a minute, wait a minute.  I just had to repeat the number back to him.  So yeah, it was … I kind of walked around in a daze for a few days.  Like, I cannot believe someone is paying me that much money to write a book, and I attribute it … I attribute it to two things.  I mean, me changing my money story, and just the trajectory of my business as well.

Tara:  Yeah.  Wow.  So aside, folks, this is why you get an agent …

Andrea:  Yes.

Tara:  For your traditionally published book.  Please don’t do it by yourself.

Andrea:  No.

Tara:  But also, you mentioned, like, you know, you stood your ground for what was going to be good enough, in terms of money, and that made me wonder, like, how do you, Andrea Owen, decide what is good enough, whether it’s money or whether it’s, you know, the amount of free time in your schedule?  Do you have a process do you use to determine what that threshold is going to be?

Andrea:  Hmm.  I really just do a good old-fashioned gut check.

Tara:  Okay.

Andrea:  And I, I know, I wish I had like a formula, but I don’t.  I’m a life coach, come one, what do you expect?  But I … I just really … and I’ve thought … so this summer, I decided, like for every single summer that has gone by, I’ve told myself, like, I really want to take the summer off.  You know, I have two kids, I want to just go to the pool and eat popsicles, and I can’t stand not working at all, so I want to do minimal work, but I don’t.  Every summer, I tell myself, gosh, it would great to not have any … I don’t have to get on the phone with anybody.  I don’t want to have clients, I don’t want to … I just don’t.  And every year, I’ve said that, and every year I have had clients and, you know, not done it.  And so what I have done now is I ask myself, you know, if I get somebody that emails me that wants a consultation, I sit down and think about it.  Like, will I get on the phone with this person every week and feel good about what I am actually making hourly?  Like, basically, is it going to be worth it for me?  Or would it feel better if I waited until the fall when my kids are in school full-time, and so that’s really my answer. 

And I have really had to work through those feelings of scarcity.  Of oh my God, what if the money dries up?  What if something happens to one of our cars and we’re going to need all this extra money?  And truth be told, in the five and a half years I have been doing this, I have never been in that position.  I have never, thankfully, been in a position where we have been destitute.  I’ve been very blessed, and I attribute it and I thank my money, and this is, again, goes back to that relationship with money of thank you for taking care of me, money, you’ve been there for me.  Because if money were a person, I would never say, you know, like you’re not enough.  I really need you to, you know, and be like more, more, more, more, more, please.  They would leave.

Tara:  Yeah.

Andrea:  So, I mean, even my husband lost his job when we first moved to North Carolina.  It was bad.  It was bad news bears.  We moved out here for a job for him, and it ended up totally exploding, and we were fine.  We were fine because of my income, and it’s just situations like that which make me really thankful, and that’s just evidence that it’s working and it’s going to be okay.

Tara:  I love that, and I love, you know, how specific that question was, too, just you know, in your example of working over the summer.  So that’s great, thank you.

Andrea:  Well, and that’s not to say …  I want to just add really quick if I can.

Tara:  Yeah.

Andrea:  That it’s not to say that there’s not, like I’m also very, very practical.  I, you know, I look way ahead, and say like okay, if I take this amount of time off … so in September, I’m going to need X amount of clients or I’m going to have to teach a class and make X amount of money, so I think in that way, it’s just basic math for me, and my online business manager has this fancy spreadsheet, you know, where she, oh God, there’s all these formulas, and that makes my head want to explode.  I think that I’ve been doing this long enough now, I think that this just takes time and experience in your business, where you know, and spreadsheets help, you know, what’s coming in and what’s coming out.  You know how much you’re going to need to generate every month, or have saved up if you’re going to take some time off.

Tara:  Yeah.  I … so I totally agree that you do get to that point where you do know that, and I want to make sure that everyone listening to this is, you know, actually looking at those numbers, because I think so few people actually do, and then they wonder why, at the end of every month, they feel like there’s not enough left over, or they don’t know where they are.  So guys, do the math.  Listen to Andrea.

Andrea:  I just, like, that when I do consult, I do a little bit of consulting with coaches, like sometimes, that’s the very first exercise I have them do.  It’s like, do you know, numbers wise, and yeah, Excel spreadsheet, what’s coming in and what’s going out, because a lot of times, people are shocked.  Especially people like myself that have kids that have to delegate a lot, they don’t have unlimited hours during the week to do everything themselves and you know, do … be a DIYer.  So that was shocking for me.  My first year of doing this, I broke even.  I broke completely even.  I was devastated.  I was like this isn’t worth it.  But it’s kind of normal.

Tara:  Yeah.

Andrea:  It’s a lot of startup costs.

Tara:  Yeah, absolutely.  All right, let’s shift gears a little bit.  You co-create and collaborate with your friend, Amy Smith, quite often.  How has collaboration impacted your business?

Andrea:  I love collaboration, because I love working with other people.  Like, I, and I have the greatest best friend ever, so it helps that she’s awesome, but I’ve always … it’s interesting.  Like, I always wanted to run retreats and do live events, but I never wanted to do it on my own, so I really had to dig deep and find out, like, is this because I’m afraid, and it’s really not.  It’s because I love co-teaching, and we do it so well together that it works, and also, it’s really nice to share the responsibility of work with somebody, the sweat equity, and it’s also great, too, in the line of work that I do, because sometimes, we can go really deep with people, and it’s nice to have, like, if somebody kind of, for lack of a better term, falls apart, you have someone else there.  So that, it’s just really worked for me, and it allows us to help each other in terms of audience.

Tara:  Yeah, absolutely.  So I know that something that people often wonder about when they see that type of collaboration is, you know, how do you avoid the competition piece?  You know, you and Amy are both coaches.  Have you ever been concerned that you were kind of like making nice with the competition, or have you ever been concerned you were losing out on business potentially?

Andrea:  Yes and no.  So I think that that came up for, you know, and I can’t speak for her, I can only speak for myself, but it definitely has come up for me a couple of times, and luckily, it sort of, you know, a career hazard that since this is what we do for a living, you know, we teach people how to communicate.  You know, she’s the queen of communication.  We sort of have to walk our talk.  So anytime it does come up, like I’ll give you an example.  It came up a few months ago.  We had someone, a student who was in our group class together, and she PMed both of us on Facebook, like in a group message, and said, which I think was a little bit inappropriate, she said, “I’d really love to work with one of you one-on-one, I just don’t know which one.”  And I was like okay.  I really wish you would have just gone to our respective websites and then she or I wouldn’t have known, but she ended … I don’t even remember what ended up happening, but I told Amy, and I’m like, “I’m going to feel like crap if she picks me, and I’m going to feel like crap if she picks you.”

Tara:  Yeah.

Andrea:  So I … it’s just a matter of transparency and she was upset with me one time because I wanted to throw a speaker page up because, just for the sole, just for having one, because my book was coming out and she had a really amazing one, and I told my web designer, “Can you just follow the template on this one?” and I didn’t even realize she made it look exactly the same, and then Amy saw it, and she was upset with me and she was like crying.  She was like, “It shouldn’t be a big deal, but it was kind of a big deal,” and I’m like it’s a big deal if you’re that upset, so … but we have such a great, strong friendship that we can talk about that kind of stuff.  Is it easy to talk about?  No.  And we’ve had uncomfortable conversations about workload, and but it’s really, again, just us walking our talk, and then we have great examples to give in our group program together when we’re teaching students.  But it just, for me, it’s I think just really what it comes down to is just being really honest, even when it’s hard, and there’s always a way to bring things up from a place of kindness instead of blaming, or you know, massive insecurity or anything like that.  So it’s been tricky, but it’s worked.

Tara:  Brilliant.  That is such a great example and such a great kind of case study for people in terms of collaboration.  Thank you for sharing that.

Andrea:  Mmhmm.

Tara:  So you’ve mentioned you have an online business manager.  Can you tell us a little bit about the people on your team?

Andrea:  Emily Kristofferson is my online business manager, and no you cannot have her, anyone listening.  She started out as my VA.  I think we’ve been together for about three years, and she was about my fourth VA.  I had some that didn’t work out, and as it happens a lot in this world, and she was just really great, and then she sort of moved into more of an online business manager for a role.  She still, for a long time, did a lot of VA tasks, and then recently, within the last six months or so, we’ve brought on an additional VA who is starting to take on more and more of the admin tasks like my scheduling and things like that, and you know, campaigns and mailing stuff like that.  And then I also have a podcast, so I have a producer who I send the audios over and he does all of that editing and putting it into the back end of all of the places that I don’t even know exist, and then I also have … I have someone that does my show notes, because that was something I started doing myself and I wanted to gouge my eyes out.

Tara:  Mmhmm.

Andrea:  So it was definitely worth it for me to pay someone to do them.  And then of course I have a web designer and a developer.

Tara:  Brilliant.  Can you tell us a little bit more about what your online business manager actually does for you?

Andrea:  Every time someone asks me this question, I’m like, so many things.  So she does, like, I’ll just start naming things.  You know, she completely takes care of my schedule.  So if I also have a new client, she also does, like, any email that comes through my site, they go to her.  Anyone who’s interested in being a one-on-one client, she deals with them first, sends them a questionnaire, they fill it out, she sets up the scheduling.  If they come on as a client, she does the paperwork, the contract, sets up the payments, and that’s more of like VA stuff, but as far as, like, online business manager, so if I’m going to promote a class, so I run something called the 7-Day Courage Challenge.  I run it a couple times a year, and it’s kind of a big deal.  Like we do a contest and there’s a giveaway and we do Facebook ads.  She does all of that.  She sets all of it up.  She also sets up, I just have a Google Doc where I put all of my promo email campaigns with the date and a subject line, and she puts them all in for me.  Because, I mean, that’s kind of one of those things where I’ve had some of my colleagues go, “I cannot believe you pay someone that much money to copy and paste.”  And I’m like to me, like it sounds ridiculous, but it’s so much easier for me to go into one Google Doc that’s 14 pages long and just do all of my campaigns, because sometimes MailChimp or Aweber or whomever you use, sometimes they can get glitchy, and sometimes stuff happens, and you’re like two hours in, like, and I’m like, “Nope.  Nope.”

Tara:  Yup.

Andrea:  I’m not going to risk it.  It’s not worth it.  She does all of that, and then any, like, tweaks to sales pages.  You know, we have to make like a different sale.  I’m giving you like the nitty gritty because there’s just so many things.  Like a duplicate sales page because there’s, you know, a certain group of people that are segmented that get special bonuses.  She does all of that.  God, what else does she do?  I just, I feel like there’s so many things that I’m forgetting.

Tara:  Does she help you with planning?

Andrea:  Yes.  So we meet on the phone, and so she always knows what’s coming up for me, and she also knows, she actually also lights a fire under me, too.  So if I’m, I mean, there are times where I’m just like, “Oh, I don’t want to do this.”  You know?  And she’s like, well, she has such a sweet voice, “Well, you know, you don’t, you know, so and so is ending a one-on-one client, so you can mention it on your podcast that you’re going to have an opening for a one-on-one client,” and I’m like that’s really smart.  You know?  Like just things that I know but I don’t do, she reminds me of that.  She keeps me on my toes a lot, and that’s what I wanted.  So that’s, to me, what the difference between an online business manager and a VA does.  So yeah, she helps with all of the planning and I should have been more prepared for this question.

Tara:  No, I think that’s really, what you’ve shared is really helpful.  I just, I think it’s so important to actually talk about what these people do that work with us, because it seems like such a sort of in-the-closet thing.  Like yeah, we’ve got a VA or yeah, we’ve got an online business manager, but nobody knows what that means, so when they …

Andrea:  They actually do.

Tara:  Yeah, and when they think about actually hiring, they’re completely unprepared.  So that’s one of our missions here. 

Andrea:  Yeah, she also, one of the other things that she does is anytime, well, like I’m using affiliates now, and so she manages all those people, because that was really overwhelming for me.  And so she said, “All you need is get copy for them to use and maybe some Facebook posts and tweets and I will send them the images, I will answer any questions they have,” so she does all of that.

Tara:  Nice.

Andrea:  She also has helped with SEO, making sure that we have all that down, and she also tracks my analytics, because that makes me crazy.  I don’t … I don’t like it, and so she just kind of gives me an update, and then she’s also tracked SEO for me, and also what she’s done is she’s pulled all of my most popular posts, like what people are Googling that they land on, and we’ve done content upgrades in those posts to help build my list.  So she has helped me with a lot of list-building stuff as well.

Tara:  Nice.  So lots of business development stuff then, that’s great.

Andrea:  Lots of business dev, yes.

Tara:  Cool.  So you mentioned that you’re a mom, and that means that you do not have unlimited time to work on your business.

Andrea:  I do not.

Tara:  So can you tell us kind of how you go about managing your time, how you make sure everything gets done?

Andrea:  I’m a slave to my Google calendar, and I have … I have everything color-coded, so I know like what’s personal stuff, what’s business stuff, and I also use Google tasks, so it’s an app on my phone and on my calendar, and I just … I have to … I’m a really, really good planner.  I have to be careful, because sometimes I can use it like as a numbing mechanism, because I don’t drink anymore, I don’t, you know, I don’t do bad love anymore, so like my … my thing can be busy and planning, but I love it.  I love planning, I love making to do lists, and it’s really … I’ve become masterful at it, so I’m pretty good at knowing how long something is going to take me, and I mean, I have to do lists planned out for the next several weeks, and that allows me to, you know, take my kids to swimming lessons in the afternoons and you know, Girl Scouts, and you know, take days off.  Like it’s the end of the year now, and we’re doing all these like end of year parties and field trips.  I can go on field trips, and because I know ahead of time of what I need to get done, and I have to have a system, and Google Calendar works for me really well.  Sometimes, I get thrown curveballs, but for the most part, it’s a lot of planning.

Tara:  Awesome.  It sounds like that takes a lot of weight off your mind, too.

Andrea:  It does.  And I think it’s something else that’s really helped is that the point that I am in now in my business, thankfully, I’ve been waiting for this for, you know, five years, is that I’m now at the point where I have signature programs that I repeat.  So all of that is done.  Like the campaigns are done for the most part.  I adjust them here and there, but all the branding is done for the classes, the content is done for the classes, and again, I tweak that and make it better, but that has been extremely helpful, and actually, one thing that I wish that I would have started earlier in the business.

Tara:  Yeah, yeah.  Awesome.  All right.  So as we start to wrap up here, one of the questions that I often ask our guests is how do you balance the roles of creative and executive?  And I think even in a business like yours, which may not fall into the traditional creative field, there’s still, there’s a lot of creative effort that goes into it.

Andrea:  Mmhmm.

Tara:  And you have to be able to feed that part of yourself, and then you also have this executive side.  You have to be running the business as well.  So how do you balance those two roles?

Andrea:  I think it’s been, I won’t lie, it’s been tricky, because there’s been times where I … anytime I feel overwhelmed, I get kind of like mad at the executive part, and I’m like I don’t want to do any of this anymore, and I just, you know, when, you know, I have a lot of friends that are life coaches, and they’re always asked the question like what could you do if you … like, what would you want to get paid for and that’s all you could do?  And for me, it’s write.  Like, all I want to do is write, and sometimes, I get a little bit, you know, entitled, and I’m like, meh, that’s what I should only be doing.  I don’t want to have to do all this other stuff, which is dumb and selfish and it’s just not really how it works.  So I get over that pretty quickly.  I think that how I’ve managed is … it’s tricky, because I will block out hours of time in my day.  So for instance, I’m writing my second book, so I’ll have these chunks of time, like on Thursday and Friday, where I can write, and there are some days I sit down to write and I got nothing.   And then there … I typically get really motivated and inspired when it’s about 30 minutes before I have to go get my kids, and I heard this is common, so frustrating.  So when that happens, I just give myself permission to put off whatever task or to do list I have, as long as it’s not a fire that needs to be put on, which rarely it is, to sit down and write.  Even if it’s, this is the tricky part, even if it’s doing something creative that isn’t in service of my business, because at the end of the day, it still will be, and that was something I had to learn.  I have a friend who’s a screenwriter, and we were talking about self-care for creatives, and she said, she asked me, “When was the last time you wrote just for you?”  I was like, “You mean like and not put it on my blog?”  And not put it as a witty Facebook status update?  Like never, and so that was my assignment from her is that, she’s like, that is self-care for writers, and I mean, for any creative person, is you know, I know you work with a lot of designers, like when was the last time you designed something that you weren’t going to sell?

Tara:  Wow.

Andrea:  That’s was either just for you or for no one. Just create for just the sake of creating.  I think that has been huge for me, and healing, too, in a lot of areas of my life that I didn’t even know needed healing.  So whenever the mood strikes me, I do the best I can to drop everything and honor it.  Doesn’t always work out, but a lot of times it does.

Tara:  I love that.  We always get such different answers for that question.

Andrea:  I bet.

Tara:  I love your perspective.  So what’s next for you business-wise?

Andrea:  This book.  I think, I asked my friend after I wrote my first book, you know, I was … writing the book was easy.  Book promotion damn near killed me.

Tara:  Yeah.

Andrea:  And I asked my friend, Debbie Rieber, who’s been published like 7 times, and I said, “Is writing a book and publishing it like having a baby?  Like you forget how much it hurt and how hard it was in the newborn phase and then you go and have another one?”  She’s like, “It’s exactly the same thing.”  So luckily, I know ahead of time how much work it is, and so I am scheduling out plenty of time.  I didn’t do that the first time, and I was sort of like the creative martyr who was like, “Oh my God, I’m dying writing this book, and I want everyone to know how hard it is for me.”  I don’t want to do that this time.  Not to say I’m not going to complain publicly about it, but I’m very dramatic that way, but I’m going to set myself up for success, and that means carving out a lot of time.  So that … that’s going to mean working, going to Starbucks some evenings after my husband comes home, and you know, working some early Saturday mornings for a few hours, and yeah, that’s it.

Tara:  Love it.  Love it, love it.  Andrea Owen, thank you so much for joining me.

Andrea:  Thank you for having me, Tara.  This has been such a great convo.

Tara:  Find out more about Andrea at

Next week, I welcome back friend-of-the-show, Vanessa Van Edwards, to talk about happiness.  We’ll discuss company culture, difficult conversations, and her personal pursuit of happiness.

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