We are back with Louise Stephens – creator of Live What You Love Business Coaching is both marketing, business strategy & retention expert helping women to turn their idea into their own business by empowering them to become the courageous and confident leaders they truly are!
For just shy of 9 years Louise worked for Australia’s Largest Travel Retailer. Progressing from front end retail, into leadership positions & then finally finding her passion as a career coach. After analysing an already successful business model, she identified, implemented and drove key business strategies to improve employee retention, overall sales performance and general health and well-being among the employees she coached nationally.
As a result, in 2015, Louise led her team to not only being recognised but winning a National AHRI Award for Talent Management. After investing in a start-up business & struggling to maintain her high expectations in both, in late 2016 Louise left her corporate career behind to embark on a new adventure.
Within 24 hours of celebrating her farewell, Louise came to see that life wasn’t all that she believed it to be. Immediately recognising that she was in an abusive relationship with her business mentor now business partner, she found the courage to walk away & start anew.
Medically unfit to work, suffering severe anxiety, depression, paranoia & social withdrawal, Louise lay on the floor of her apartment vowing to do whatever it took to heal herself & turn her passion for business coaching into her own business.
Spending most of 2017 homeless, couch surfing between family & friends in both Australia & New Zealand Louise was determined not to give up! & developed her coaching toolkit with formal education, investment in a business mentor & commitment to continuous personal growth. In November 2017 Louise returned to Melbourne, where her business continued to go from strength to strength as well as focus on what is important to her; family & friends.
Recognising there was one thing missing, her parents & extended family in New Zealand. In March 2019 she relocated to Waihi, a place she now calls home. Passionate about business & helping women succeed, she now offers both service & e-commerce startups from all over the globe assistance with channelling their passion, growing their businesses & creating lives they truly deserve.
Welcome back Louise! Can you talk us through the last 6 months of progression since we last spoke?
Thanks so much for having me back! Well, the last time we connected I had just relocated back to New Zealand from Melbourne. The first few months after my move was heavily focused on settling in whilst also ensuring I was maintaining my business whilst continuing to serve my clients as if nothing had changed.
Having successfully done that, my energy & focused returned to business where I was busy not only working with existing & new clients but also completing version 3 (& final version) of the Kick Start Your Start Up Program.
In early October the Kick Start Your Start Up Program was launched as a self-guided edition, group discovery edition & startup accelerator edition for those who require additional support, coaching & accountability. (Prior to this the only option we had was the group discovery edition).
Having had a successful launch we are now working with a range of clients across both Australia & New Zealand! Because there’s never a dull moment in business; On the side of growing Live What You Love Business Coaching, my high school bestie & I decided to align our passion for inspiring global change & launched a sustainable product business together called 2 Creative Girls.
The mission of 2 Creative Girls is to encourage kindness, positivity & inclusivity through inspirational, ethically sourced & sustainable products.
In early November we officially launched our first line of 100% organic cotton t-shirts that showcase a number of our own designs supporting female empower, positivity & reducing the stigma around mental health challenges such as depression & anxiety.
Has your typical day changed at all?
No, not really. One of my strengths in business & life is structure & planning. Although my days have more on my ‘to do’ list, I remain focused on what’s a priority, getting it done as well as ensuring I have created the space to focus on my health whilst still being able to spend time with my friends & family.
At the end of the day, I started working for myself to have a more healthy, balanced & flexible lifestyle & although sometimes it can be a challenge, it’s why I do what I do & also what drives my business. It’s also why many of my clients work with me, so it’s important I stay true to myself & the vision of my business.
Have you since expanded or reached any new milestones that you set out to achieve?
There have been many exciting celebrations in the world of Live What You Love Business Coaching! As I mentioned earlier, the services we now offer at Live What You Love Business Coaching have grown from 1 to 3. The main reason for this was to be able to meet our clients where they were at whilst still being able to deliver a world-class program & service. Not everyone is looking for a high-end program filled with 1:1 coaching & accountability.
Nor do they always have the finances to be able to invest in one, so it was important to me that we could meet our client’s financial & lifestyle needs as opposed to them always meeting mine!
In doing so we have attracted & are working with a range of clients in both our self-guided & group discovery program across both Australia & New Zealand with the intention to broaden our horizons in 2020. Along with this, we turned three! As well as celebrating our birthday we also celebrated a really successful FY18/19. Not only have our first fully profitable year but also hitting 5 figures!
What is your current business philosophy?
Just say yes! The rest you will work out along the way. As I mentioned the last time we connected, after leaving my corporate career behind I found myself involved in some pretty toxic working & personal relationships. This was pretty overwhelming for me. One day I’m excited to be chasing my dreams, the next I’ve fallen flat on my face & in the middle of what I call an identity crisis.
Although I’ve worked through a lot of that stuff, it has taken me quite a while to just say yes & wholeheartedly back myself & the choices I’m making (minus the hours of analysing, writing of pros & cons and asking everyone I know for their advice!).
Sometimes life happens & we get hurt. But if we hold onto the fear of making the same mistake twice or the fear of “what if we fail?” we’re only holding ourselves back from what we want in life. So, it’s a very big focus of mine in my business & life to just keep saying yes! As a result, I not only become a more courageous human, but I am encouraging friends/family & clients to do the same.
Is your business plan still reflective of your business today or has it altered as you have grown?
This is such an interesting question! Along my business journey, I kind of believe I’ve done things a little backwards. The first coach I invested in taught me a lot about how to grow my business to 7 figures. Upon reflection, I probably should have invested in someone to teach me how to attract one paying client opposed to worrying about attracting many through utilising tools such as sales funnels, paid advertising etc.
But we all start somewhere & recognising this I took a bit of a step back & decided to try the fail, learn, succeed method instead. As a result of this, the next year or so in business was a lot more go with the flow compared to creating long term goals & business plans that I knew were completely unachievable. However, in more recent times I have returned back to my long term goal setting & business planning ways.
I have a 12-month financial goal in place & break that down into quarterly action plans.
I find this method a lot less overwhelming, easy to implement & can control achieving my targets much easier. Having a ‘business road map’ (business plan) is very much where I feel more at home. Running your own business has enough uncertainty involved so I like to create my own through goal setting, taking action & then reflecting on what worked & what didn’t.
Have you encountered any challenges or faces any business building carries since we last spoke?
The biggest challenge I have faced over the past 6 months has been how to help more people without burning myself out & not financially rewarding myself. Pricing in a service-based business can be super challenging & it’s one that I feel like I’ve faced since the start of my business.
Although everyone was telling me to raise my prices (including my clients!), I got really confused why & how to. Plus, I didn’t want to price myself out of the market & not be able to work with stay at home mums, women that work part-time or others that didn’t always have two incomes coming into their household.
It was because of both of these challenges the three versions of the Kick Start Your Start Up Program were created. This way I had a range of options that varied in accountability, support & investment.
To overcome my pricing challenges, I worked with an amazing pricing coach who helped me see how much value my clients were receiving as well as how to re-balance my time, energy & pricing across my range of services.
One key piece of advice for starting a business in today’s world?
Everything takes longer than you expect but if you stay true to your vision & focus on setting realistic, achievable goals then you will, in fact, create the business you dream to have. The lifestyle you dream of living & the income you deserve & aligns with your goals.
I have worked with many clients who think that launching a business & posting about it on social every day will get them out of their part or full-time jobs immediately. If it were that easy, everyone would be doing it! But if believe in why you’re starting your business & believe in yourself even when all seems lost, then let go out the heavy pressure you put on yourself to become an overnight success & take one day at a time.
As I often say, 100% of people who give up fail. So, stay focused on what you want to achieve, take one step at a time & you can & will make it!
How are you continuing to redefine success?
Success comes in many shapes, sizes & each person has their belief on what ‘success’ looks like to them. It is my belief that many believe the more money someone has, the more successful they are in life. The way I continue to redefine this is by focusing on what success means to me & sharing that with those in my personal & professional network.
For me, success is getting up every day to work in a business I’ve created & that I love. Working with clients who I align with, who match my values & share in a similar journey in business & life. Spending time surrounded by my family & friends who love me for who I am, not who I think I need to be in order to fit in.
At the end of the day, all I am in control of is who I choose to be & what I choose to do in life that makes me happy. As a result, focusing on my own happiness attracts an income & lifestyle to match. This to me is a true success.
I do this through sharing my version of success, which is focusing on doing the things in life that bring us inner joy & happiness opposed to outer, materialistic & monetary accomplishments.
Are you seeking any new professional mentorship or guidance for 2020?
Yes! I have recently become a mentor with Business Mentoring in New Zealand. As part of mentoring others, I too have access to my own mentor so I’m looking forward to learning & growing from them.
As I’ve only just joined their program I’m not too sure what I’m wanting to learn from him but I am sure over the next few months that will become clearer & I will be able to put some framework around that. Aside from that, we shall see what other challenges pop up along the way.
I’ve recently finished up working with an amazing pricing coach & together we have set some pretty big goals for the next 12 months. For right now I am focusing on following the ‘business road map’ I’ve created to hit my goals & depending on what roadblocks or challenges that pop up along the way, will depend on who I look to for coaching.
I believe that investing in yourself & working with a coach/mentor is invaluable & helps you achieve your goals in a shorter time frame. Simply because you don’t have to go through all the failures yourself, you can learn from someone’s failures instead!
I also don’t believe we need to go through this journey (or life) by ourselves. Whilst we may be able to work out all the answers ourselves, there’s a lot to be gained through investing in a coach/mentor. Not only for your own development but also giving that person to learn, grow & become a better version of themselves also.
Finally, what can we expect from in the lead up to 2020 and what is your main focus?
Right now, it’s full steam ahead in filling the final twelve places of 2019 in our Kick Start Your Start Up Group Discovery Program.
Once this is done, I’ll be starting to focus on filling the first intake for 2020 (again twelve places) as well as launching the Kick Start Your Start Up Accelerator Program where I only work with 2 clients at a time.
Mixed in with all of this, my friend/business partner will be designing our next range of t-shirts & no doubt starting to think about what the next 6-12 months look like for the growth of 2 Creative Girls.
Image taken by Chloe Smith Photography
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