We’ve been fortunate to speak to Caroline Elisabeth, a Business Coach and Marketing Consultant specifically focused on women entrepreneurs. Keep on reading….!
I am a business coach and marketing consultant for women entrepreneurs. My clients typically have online businesses which are coming to a standstill in terms of the flow of business, their creativity, and confidence. My job is to assist them getting clarity of their big goals, to be an accountability partner, and guide them to make important decisions in relation to marketing, sales, hiring, and overall direction.
I’ve been in my current role for about three years now. Before then, I grew a content marketing business called Flourish Marketing. For over six years I worked with both small businesses and large companies to manage their social media. I created content for websites, wrote articles and blog posts, and planned marketing strategies. I was very hands on, although I also used contractors to spread some of the load. I personally came to a standstill as a business owner. It was at this point I hired a coach to help me achieve my goals. This is how I got to where I am today.
Before I started my own content marketing business, I was a freelance writer for various online resources. I wrote a lot for parenting magazines after I became a first-time mum 10 years ago! Before freelancing, I worked in communications and PR full-time. I did a post grad qualification in this but very quickly realized the cubicle jungle wasn’t for me!
I list specific and achievable things
My Typical Day…..
I get up and take my two boys to school then go home and work out. I think self-care is really important. After exercise and a shower I sit down at my desk and write out exactly what I need to achieve that day. I only list things that will bring my business forward. Never generic things such as “social media networking”. I list specific and achievable things like “follow up with a new contact or potential client”, “reach out to five people who may be interested in my offer”, “pitch a story to a new blog” & “client call”.
Then I get started with the list. I have to work around school hours and so I work solidly between 10am and 3:30pm. It has been a real struggle, making sure I utilise the hours efficiently. 9-5 never worked for me and I find having this smaller time slot allows me to work hard and really focus. Personally it is important I keep evenings for my family despite me actually finding this a productive time. I have had to be strict with time management to get things done. Allocating time for work, family and for just me and my husband are all important. I know this is the only way my business will succeed and it works for me.
I write another list at the end of each day. Things that I haven’t yet completed and the reasons why I think I haven’t achieved them yet. I love to journal because it keeps me focused and gives me the ability to see more clearly, where I need to go. Not just the next day but the day after that and further into the future.
I learned through personal experience that there are a lot of entrepreneurs struggling to achieve and in need of support. I went through many ups and downs, and then realized that things could have been much easier if I had hired support a lot sooner.
I was drawn to coaching for a couple of reasons. A previous client I had worked with had a life coach. I was his writer and marketer but he told me I would make an excellent coach. I wasn’t sure what that meant at the time but, after doing some research, I felt really excited about the possibility!
Another event that drew me to coaching was meeting a new neighbour. She’s an executive coach and shared a lot of knowledge about both her and her business with me. I was intrigued by what she did and knew I could do something similar for small businesses. I have a real passion for helping people who work alone; to succeed. It feels so natural for me to be a support system for anyone thinking about starting a business or experiencing challenges while they grow their business.
What challenges did you face on your journey?
Personal understanding really helped me get to this point. I really experiencing the highs and lows of working for yourself. There’s a lot of motivation, inspiration and education available but that doesn’t stop you feeling alone. It can be hard to not only find but to be willing to call in the right support.
I know my personal experience is of huge value to other women who are in the same place I was. Including some of my challenges as a freelance writer and content marketing entrepreneur.
It took me time to learn that not all clients were right for me. I didn’t have the confidence to say no and I thought “money is money”. It put me in a negative space personally and professionally. I had clients who negotiated my rates or who had personalities that didn’t click with mine. It took me a while to realise I should stand my ground and say no to clients that I knew wouldn’t be a good fit. I now use my marketing to attract and find opportunities that work for both of us.
Learning through experience I realised I wasn’t marketing my value effectively. It’s interesting because I’ve always had a knack for helping others uncover their value. When it came to my own, though, I took quite a while to see it. And then even longer to share it! Slowly and one step out of my comfort zone at a time, I got there. A big learning experience was leading a large networking group in Toronto. It was completely out of my comfort zone but it helped me become comfortable in sharing who I am and what I do; with people I don’t yet know.
There are no such thing as rules when it comes to your business and your life.
What are you passionate about?
Helping people realise nothing is ever set in stone. There’s no such thing as an “ideal”. And
You are the only one who gets to decide how to lead and live your life! I think society likes to make us believe that there are rules we need to follow in order to succeed. Many of us believe that leaders can only be a certain personality. Or career paths should only be followed in a certain direction. There are no such thing as rules when it comes to your business and your life.
Do what works best for YOU.
What gave you the drive and determination to succeed?
Early on in my life, I was thrown a curve ball into my “ideal life” when I was diagnosed with
Scoliosis (in my case this was a bad curvature of the spine). I was forced to either wear a brace or have surgery. I chose the brace. I was in grade 8 and this experience interestingly helped me realise that decisions like that play a crucial role in how you view and live life! I chose to not let my curved spine get the better of me as a teenager. When I faced new challenges; doing a 180 in my education from social worker to PR and communications, leaving an abusive relationship, and mailing in my office keys at my full-time job to work for myself, I knew everything would be OK!
The ideals I thought were a part of a good life were obviously not a part of my good life. I am happy that I learned that later on. Now I teach that to my clients and audiences.
What’s great about being a female in your role?
I think females have a natural maternal instinct that can be translated in such a positive way to businesses. We have an ability to form connections and use our intuition to guide us in the best direction. I feel it has really helped me in my role.
What is your biggest achievement in life?
Realising I can make my own decisions. Not getting caught up in the “should have” and “what ifs” that well-meaning friends or family have shared. Doing what feels right for me. It’s so freeing to do what’s best for you without the worry of what others think and I hope I’m teaching this to my two young sons who are 9 and 5 years old.
Nothing is ever set in stone….. Don’t ever let anyone else tell you otherwise.
What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learnt along the way?
That nothing is ever set in stone. You decide when to move and where. Don’t ever let anyone else tell you otherwise.
Have you ever felt that your gender has brought unnecessary challenges to your career?
I don’t think so. I think women grow up learning to be polite, to follow a safe path, and not be too outspoken. I believe this hurts us in many ways. Having these underlying beliefs certainly hindered me from forming the best relationships or taking the best career path for me. However I think these challenges helped me grow and allowed me to form supportive relationships developed my inner strength. So although we have values placed on us, it’s up to us to believe in them or have the guts to become our own person.
Tell us about your hobbies away from work?
I love reading, watching reality TV, having coffee with friends, going for walks, and bike rides when the weather is nice!
Things might have to feel worse before they get better.
Do you have a mantra you live your life by?
Things might have to feel worse before they get better. This has helped me through many events in my life for as long as I can remember. I actually thought I should stop using that mantra a couple of years ago because I thought, at the time, that it was actually negative. But I’ve taken it back. I don’t believe it’s negative. I think it’s REAL.
Things might feel worse at the beginning as you take the strides to make things better, but when you get there you’ll be proud of the journey you took.
3 tips for young females starting their careers:
- Listen to what YOU want to do for a career. Not what anyone else thinks you should do.
- If you’re starting your career, ask ALL of the questions! Don’t be afraid to seek out information, always. Never think your voice doesn’t matter!
- Find mentors! Invite people out for coffee and learn about their lives. Don’t be afraid to connect and learn. People want to help other people.
What is the best bit of advice that you have ever been given?
To introduce myself to the very people who scare me. I have been intimidated by people I thought were many levels above me in every way only to learn that they’re completely down to earth and willing to help. I had to set aside my own fears to approach them but I’m so happy I did. Doing this led me to a variety of volunteer opportunities, advice, and connections that I never would have had if I hadn’t just said “hello, my name is…”
Tell us about one woman who has impacted your life?
I can’t because I have several. I have friends I’ve made as a mum, who have taught me how to be a better mum. I have clients who inspire me through the visions they have for their lives and how they are going for it. I have family members who have overcome cancer, other health challenges, or mental health and are standing stronger than ever. I’ve been blessed to meet a variety of women throughout my life, but mostly in the last 15 years, who inspire me to be a better person. For all of them, I am truly grateful. I didn’t grow up with sisters so to have made strong connections with strong women now is honestly the best gift I could have asked for.
What are your key motivators?
My children. I have two sons and I want them to know what a strong woman looks like.
Do you think enough is being done by businesses to address gender imbalance?
I know in Canada and North America there is a gender imbalance when it comes to salary. I know women aren’t getting paid as much as their male co-workers. It is ludicrous but I’m happy it’s being addressed thanks to social media. We live in an age of open information which has been an important tool for women. I do think there is still an imbalance in small business.
When I first started working for myself I jumped on the “mompreneur” train until I really thought about it...my husband wouldn’t call himself a “dadpreneur” he would just say he owns a business. I also see a lot of women refer to themselves as “boss chick” and “girl boss” etc. I might use these in my hashtags but I also think its ok to just call ourselves “boss”.
That being said, as a mum and as a woman, I do feel the imbalance of having my desire to grow a business while holding down the house and parenting. I’m married to a very amazing man with the same views as me but I think gender roles are so ingrained in society that so many of the responsibilities naturally fall on me while also expecting me to bring in an income. While I want to bring in my own income, I don’t always want to have the responsibilities to be on me. Even having to find help would be just another thing to add to the list. So Yes, there is a lot to work on.
What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?
Be more vocal when you have a question, ask it. Always educate yourself. Finishing school doesn’t mean finishing with education. Always read about your industry, learn from mentors, dig deeper than the surface of what your role entails and bring your knowledge to the table, always.
What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions?
Don’t ever believe that you can’t be a leader. The best leaders are ones who listen and who connect. Society, I think, puts a lot of emphasis on the “louder” or more “extrovert” leaders when introverts can be incredible leaders. I’m an introvert so I know!
What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way?
Ask questions of your team/clients/audience that help change perspectives and inspire change.
What would you say to your 16-year-old self?
Stop worrying about what everyone else is thinking of you. They’re all worrying about what everyone else is thinking about them so chances are they’re not putting their energy into you.