LIFE GOALS: Learning to plan my business to fit around my mental health

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Recently I had that “Eureka” moment, well an epiphany (breakthrough) whilst sat in a bar with some fellow women in business.

It was when my “why” my “buzz” and my “passions” all seemed to suddenly appear in front of me (I was only drinking a lime and soda so I promise it wasn’t the booze talking).

But it was that sense of purpose that moment of madness when everything clicked.

As you know me I tend to enjoy sitting nibbling and working/hot-desking (or bellydancing crazily and drinking). But this was an actual “work thing” even though it was cool and chilled and in a bar!

I had been invited to attend Girl Tribe Gang business collective at Qubana in Wakefield. The all-female club is for women in business that want something sexier than your normal networking events.

It was there I met Sarah from The Brave Girls Business Club. Sarah coaches women like me to succeed in their business and life goals. The key for me is the holistic approach to business and life planning, as most of us who start a business do it for a better life but quickly business can take over your life and you loose your passion. And for me, as I have mental health problems, it’s really important to incorporate my health needs into my business model and plan so that I can manage both as well as being the main carer for my kids.

As someone who is more comfortable online than with actual human beings in reality (I talk more when I get nervous and come out with lots of random rabble), I tried to just stay quiet while Sarah led the workshop on branding, ideal target audience and dream customers.

But during a discussion when Sarah asked how I would describe myself I blurted out “confident but fragile.” I don’t know where it came from but that is me. I can be very confident but I am also very fragile and empathetic. So if someone is nasty, it literally breaks me into pieces for a while.

Confident but Fragile

We then looked at our ideal customer. Now I have done a lot of this as I started in business aged 18 and am now 31, we did it at various media organisations but never have I drilled down to my own values and what I need people who are my ideal customers to be like too.

My little YouTube family

So for me the perfect fit for Mama Mei (as an example) is fellow people who have mental health problems but are ambitious to thrive despite their health issues and utilise what can be seen as a “weakness” to their advantage. So for me it is helping other people to feel they are on this journey with me too (as you know if you read my blogs and watch my vlogs, sometimes I’m flying on the outside and breaking on the inside, so I am getting that balance).

“You need to get the fabulous foundations in your cake first then add your snazzy decorations”

I loved this analogy from Sarah about cakes because I think that is what I am looking for at the moment. I have all the snazzy stuff but I have stopped pushing stuff because I know I need to get my foundations in place first. I need to drill down and understand my “why,” before I can fly again (and hopefully this time have one less plane crashes, I am being realistic as I know I have still got crashes to come).

For me it is easy thinking of great creative ideas for stories, blogs, videos and vlogs but until I have got my fundamentals in place e.g. someday helping me with processes and systems, it will be hard to really take off or fly any higher and reach even more people and most of all I want to have the biggest and best impact on somebody’s life.

If I can help someone to know that it is OK to have huge dreams, that it is OK to come from a traumatic past and want a different future, that it is OK to still be you and that it is possible to be successful whilst having mental health problems. Then (phew), I will feel worthwhile.

I could say that my purpose is so my children can look up to me and whilst that would be great, I don’t want anyone to look up to me (I don’t like hierarchies), I just want people to know they too can flourish like I do (albeit with bouts of illness / low self-esteem or whatever barriers you may face).

Finding my raison d’etre (said in a Yorkshire accent)

That was when I had my epiphany. I have several brands and businesses but they are all value driven over profit. Obviously I need to earn money off some of them but nothing works well for me if my values aren’t in the right order.

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And then I realised, who I’m speaking to (you, hopefully) are people like me. People where I was 18 months or so ago. I am far from a finished project, and never will be. But I want to help show others that we can do this. We can navigate this world despite our pasts and our voices need to be heard.

So even when it comes to my work as a journalist, I strive to give a voice to the voiceless (i.e. seldom heard people, who do have a voice it’s often not listened to by the powers that be). This then makes me want to work in communities to help people in those communities to share their stories in the most powerful way through digital technology.

Then with my Yorkshire Families site in which I blog and vlog about where to go in Yorkshire with the family – I realise that I now want this to help families like I’m from that are wanting to go and try places but don’t always have the budget or transport. So I am going to try and focus on how to do nice days out as cheaply as possible and how to access places without a car.

Also, I run Evoke Media Group with Daria my best friend (a video production and influencer marketing company) and I want this to be a social business or social enterprise because we’re all about creating and distributing powerful content that evokes the emotions and again, we want to create change in communities and in the wider world.

So what foundations do we need to get in place to do all this jazz?

“You need a USP.

“You need a marketing strategy that helps build your brand and a robust understanding of your business,” explained Sarah.

It is really important to have your operations in place.

So to set your “fab foundations,” Sarah suggests that you have the following:

– A business plan

– A business model

– 90 day planning

And ask yourself:

Do you know your ideal client?

Do you know who wants to buy from you?

For me it is all about serving people as well as helping myself navigate this rocky road of mental illness and career goals. So to do that I need to know my brand personality (i.e. for all my Mama Mei stuff and vlog it is just me and my personal diaries) and a target audience.

Creating a business strategy, doesn’t have to be a turn off

I for one as a creative, as a writer, a film-maker and an expressive person, dread the thought of strategy and planning. But actually as Sarah described it, it is knowing your big goal and working back from that even if it is just in 90 day segments. That seemed a lot more tangible than my dreaded thought of excel spreadsheets.

“At the moment a lot of us are doing spaghetti style marketing, where you’re throwing everything against the wall.

“When you understand who your business / brand is as a person, you start to understand them which helps your marketing, said Sarah.”

“I’d advise you to know who you are first.

“If you’re trying to sell to everyone, you sell to no-one.”

Girl Tribe Gang in Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Photo by Campbell’s Photography

I know this is true for me, as I have to be mindful with my mama mei site and vlog who I work with because I talk a lot about eating disorders for an example, so for me it wouldn’t fit working with “slimming pills” for an example.

So whether you need to sort out your life and / or business goals, I definitely recommend taking time out to reflect and plan, so that you too can find your ‘why.’

I had a follow-Up meeting with Sarah this week which was fabulous and she simply asked me to ask myself: “What do I want to be known for?”

As a journalist, I like to think of it as what do I want the headlines of my life to be?

It’s a tough question to ask yourself and I am still searching for the exact answer but it does help you to align your voice and values.

For me, I think it is being known for someone who helps give people a voice on a huge scale who wouldn’t normally be heard. But I do need to make money because I only have a finite number of hours in a week and I want to have quality time to be my children’s main carer.

For me it’s also creating platforms and communities for people to thrive despite disabilities and actually utilising people’s backgrounds to help theirs and others futures.

So as I say, I am still honing mine! I’m not asking for much… but so what I have always wanted to do big things and bring great change for those who wouldn’t normally get a chance.

So what do you want to be known for?

** A Huge thank you to Corinna Nicol at Girl Tribe Gang for inviting me along to try it out. And to Sarah from The Brave Girl’s Business Club for leading the session.**

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