Have you ever just done something because it makes sense for you, even if everyone around you thinks you’re a little bit mad, only to look back and realise how much sense it really did make? This has been my career and entrepreneurial journey to date. Inspired by shiny things that seem exciting and motivated by productivity, quality work and of course flexibility, I have build a portfolio, or ecosystem of wondrous and exciting businesses and projects that all fuel and inspire each other.
What do shoes, events and consulting have to do with each other? Well me, but more than that, they are part of my wonder ecosystem.
Years ago, I became a design thinking coach. I had recently studied Neuro Linguistic Programming and Hypnotherapy and the three things together gave me a firm footing in empathy and understanding human centred design. I happened to be pregnant at the time, which gave me a whole new sense of wonder. This layer cake of learning and goodness inspired me to think very differently about myself, my career, the world in general.
In 2013 when Sienna was born, I took a part time role as MD for www.dunstanbaby.com and a technology advisory role for The Copywright agency. Having a few interesting things to do between feeds kept my brain stimulated and my heart happy. This introduction into the entrepreneurial world inspired me to go on and launch www.siennababy.com.au and www.wiredforwonder.com as CommBank’s first Intrapreneur and of course all the other things since.
The thing about start ups is that you learn so much, so fast. Marketing, building brands, websites, technology, funding, media and PR just to name a few. Whether you’re building technology road maps or strategic marketing plans for an app like Dunstan Baby, selling baby shoes or tickets to an innovation event, you pretty quickly learn a lot of new skills and start to build this tool kit that can be leveraged across all kinds of businesses.
I returned from maternity leave to run Wired for Wonder at CommBank but soon realised that the skills I had picked up with Dunstan Baby, Sienna Baby, The Copywright agency were all relevant for developing and marketing Wired for Wonder. In fact, the more side hustle I had on the go, the more leverage, efficiency and productivity I was able to create in Wired for Wonder.
In 2017, I went from intrapreneur to entrepreneur full time and launched www.thewondertribe.co, a creative consultancy to open minds, build tribes, connect people, reimagine work and open minds for transformational change. Launching this was surprisingly easy, by this stage I knew how to build a website, a brand, the infrastructure of the business. Within days I had my first client signed up and was ready to go.
The biggest challenge in new business is knowing when to resource. What support do you need and when? It is easy to suddenly find yourself madly juggling hundreds of balls and oh the emails!
Years ago, I was trained in process mapping and engineering with Six Sigma and Lean principles. One of the key items I found in any business was time wasted waiting. I can’t stand waste. So I started to think about processes in my own business and created a sequencing program so that while I was waiting on one thing, I would start another. This is not multitasking, it is multi-sequencing and thanks to several years in Resource and Portfolio Management, I got the multi-sequencing skills. I remember sequencing large programs of work and tapping into all kids of resource discretionary effort by getting people to work on side projects that fuelled their soul while they were ‘waiting’ on other processes or information. Even the most process driven humans who seem stuck in their ways are capable of magnificent sequencing if you can set their soul on fire. I call this the desert stomach of productivity. You know, when you have no room left for dinner, but someone offers you desert and suddenly you find capacity? Yeah, humans are like this with work too.
So I designed an ecosystem of businesses that are ALL like delicious deserts for me. You know how people say “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” – yeah, that. I created that in my world.
Some of my businesses make me more money than others. Sienna Baby isn’t overly time consuming, but we have reinvested every $ we have made to continue to expand the range and build the business. It has opened doors and conversations and experiences to me that I never would have had if I didn’t own a product business. I think about this business in a different way and this builds my brain and enables me to connect dots in different ways. I also have a very different type of customer for this business than my other businesses. The others are largely servicing Blue Chip clients and Entrepreneurs, the customers I meet through Sienna Baby are amazing every day Mummas and Aunts and Grandparents from around the Globe.
The biggest problem for me has always been and is still emails. Having 5 businesses on the go means there are thousands of emails each week to get through, this doesn’t include phone calls, skype calls, zoom conference calls, slack messages, asana project tasks, big cartel orders – ping, ping, ping – this is one of the reasons my phone is always on silent. I take productivity seriously so this means minimising interruptions when I need to smash out big deliverables and be present with clients. This sometimes means my turnaround times are not instant. This is SUPER hard as a mumpreneur, let alone a prolific juggler with all the things on the go. I still remember writing letters to my pen pal in the USA and waiting 4 weeks for a response, so I am kind to myself if it takes a few days to respond and in turn I don’t sweat if people take a few days to get back to me. I think this sort of communication adjustment is key in this hyperconnected always on culture we live in. I prioritise my energy to make sure when I am with you, I’m all there. I have just hired my first virtual assistant to help with this – so excited.
So, now I’m running www.thewondertribe.co, www.siennababy.com.au (and about to hire someone!), www.nurtureher.com with my incredible co-founder Libby Babet, Island in a Box (website under construction) with my awesome co-founder Steve Pirie and www.wiredforwonder.com for CommBank and I’m really excited about the launch of Kitty early next year. Despite all of this madness, I am still striving to be a very hands on Mumma. I still pick my kids up at 4pm most days and make sure that we have lots of 1:1 time together each week. I get stressed every day (like everyone else) but thanks to Kelly McGonigal – I’ve made stress my friend (watch that talk and find out how you can too).
This isn’t for everyone, but for me, having an entrepreneurial ecosystem means I can have days where I am designing workshops; learning new skills, focus on curating speakers across multiple events, designing shoes or web pages or pretty marketing materials on days when I’m feeling creative and selling all the things when I meet the right people who have an unmet need (Shoes or Inspirational Events or Consulting anyone?).
If you’re worried about not having time to start a side hustle, maybe it is time to think again? Maybe the side hustle will inspire you to unlock more productivity, more inspiration? More efficiency in your life? Maybe it will make your life flow more? Maybe it is an important part of your ecosystem? I certainly never thought I would be able to find time to do all the things I now do, but somewhere in experimenting and giving it a go, I have found a truly wondrous ecosystem that drives me!