Alicia-joy Pierre. Florida
How were you earning a living before you made your career transition or started your business?
I was a nurse (admittedly, a disgruntled one)
What was it that helped you realize that it was time for a career change?
I don’t believe we are meant to live miserable lives. If you do not feel engaged & challenged at work (which I didn’t) you are doing a disservice to your workplace, your family, yourself. When you are disgruntled, you put out an energy which is very harmful emotionally and even physically. I began to realize this as I reflected more and more on myself, my virtues, what is most important to me, and my purpose in the world.
What also helped me was building my confidence. Without building your confidence you will be filled with self-doubt, questioning, over-analyzing and FEAR. I started adopting practices that boosted my self confidence. Things like eating well, moving my body, meditating, surrounding myself with positive energy as much as possible, setting goals and accomplishing them, results breed results, etc.
Tell us about your business and what inspired you to start it?
My current projects are mostly all related to the written word (total word nerd, here). I’m an author, ghostwriter, and editor (books, blogs, and legal transcripts). For me, it is super important that I have a wide variety of things to do that keeps me stimulated. I initially thought I wanted to only work online. But after doing that for a few years, I felt I was lacking personal interaction and movement, especially when living in different countries. The best way to really learn about a culture and build deep friendships is to get off of the computer and REALLY interact. Working with people of different cultures is also extremely insightful about the culture. Working offline also gets me up from sitting in front of a computer all day (which I don’t think is healthy).
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day? LOL There isn’t one. Because of my various projects, it changes daily. I keep a meticulous schedule every week and make changes as needed daily. I have to do this to maintain the different projects without driving myself crazy or missing client timelines. Sometimes life throws something at me and my whole schedule goes out the window. But outside of that, I try extremely hard to stick to my schedule or my bank account shows the lack of adherence to my planner.
Looking back through my planner, here’s an example:
7a-10a Morning ME time –yoga, meditation, quick exercise, water, reading, journaling, eat, shower)
10-1005 look over my schedule AGAIN and make any appropriate changes.
1005 client work (in this case, it was editing for a client)
1130 quick break. (I have learnt that the more breaks I take, actually, the better my work is. The irony.)
1145 Quick review and 2nd edit of previously written client articles and email them to client.
1210 Something quick and nutritious and light to eat. The less I eat, the clearer my head. Everyone is different. These are just things I learnt about myself over the years by really listening to my body and observing and tracking my work, thoughts, and emotions.
1230 Respond to emails, social media updates (quickly.Most of my social media I pre-schedule. I do that work in batches. Ex I will spend 3 hours scheduling for myself or clients all in one day)
1250 previously scheduled client call
1345 get ready to go out
1400 Go outside (I may run errands, or go and sit at the park, or go for a walk, but I have to get out into nature…even if it is winter. This is must)
1730-1900 Work on any open client projects.
1920-2000 prep food, eat, call fam/friends etc
2000-Review notes from client call earlier (and any thoughts now rolling around in my head post call) and schedule my tasks appropriately.
2015 Write outline and some content for my sales page for a product on one of my sites. Brainstorm page layout.
2100 social media review and quick updates
2125 Review/create my schedule for the next day (EXTREMELY IMPORTANT)
2130 Read (I read A LOT). No more work for the day. The rest of the day is meditation and things like phone calls/whats app/viber messages / prepping food for following day/ whatever’s needed/ or usually more reading.
What was the biggest challenge for you when you started this business?
Staying FOCUSED and avoiding bright-shiny-object-syndrome. There are 10,000 webinars with 10,000 gurus, selling 10,000 products (trust me, I’ve counted LOL). I used to get stuck on the ‘webinar wheel’, as I call it. It is a major time suck and confuses your mind even more. You need basic training on marketing your product, the rest will come as you continue to build and grow and learn. But do not allow it to get you stuck there in the learning only phase. You need to produce, not only consume in order to provide value for people (which they will then pay you money for). Find 1 or 2 experts who you want to follow or buy programs from or read their books/emails and stick with only those for now. Your focus is on getting results, not on learning new tricks and tactics.
What business related task/activity do you wish you would have focused on earlier?
Getting into the habit of writing (well) EVERY DAY. Whether that is blogs for my site, sales pages, articles for clients, guests posts, or MY OWN BOOKS! I have a few ebooks published (including one Amazon and one on one of my sites), but I really am behind where that is concerned and it can be a hard discipline to establish. To get there, you have to set strict routines for yourself so that the habit becomes natural and your writing improves. Writing is a KEY to business success (especially nowadays) with content marketing being KING. You have to produce that content. Even if you do mostly podcasts/videos, you will STILL need to write social media updates a lot to market that content and also you may decide to write books as part of your portfolio, and maybe guest posts. I can’t emphasize enough about building your writing skills. (Unless you have unlimited income and can pay for ghostwriting and social media etc).
When it came to getting your first few clients/customers, can you share what you think worked to help you land them?
Becoming vocal. Not being afraid to talk to people about what I do and how I can help. The more I talked to people (in the beginning I did it for free), the more I felt confident in myself as they were getting results, the more they spread the word, and also the more I learnt about what my market really wants and needs.
What advice do you have for people who are in the middle of/or are considering starting a career transition?
Try different ideas. If you have a job, start coming up with different ideas and exploring them while you still have some income coming in. If you have no income, you will become stressed and it will be very hard for you to be focused and creative. James Altucher is one of my heroes. He talks a lot about idea generation and entrepreneurship and living well etc. Definitely check him out. He is one of the few I now ‘follow’.
Did your family and friends support your decision to start your own business? If not, were you able to find/build a support system?
My mom in particular was very against it….AT FIRST. Once she saw my commitment and dedication (and of course results), she changed her mind. In the beginning it was tough not having support, but we have to realize that we are not here to live anybody else’s dreams/desires or to their standard. It is your life. Live it.
What sacrifices did you have to make (if any) to pursue your goals?
Tons. Especially financial. But I feel it was a grooming process for where I am today in life. I became more minimalistic. I rarely buy new things unless I really need them. It taught me about detaching from material items and expectations in life. This carried over into my nomadic life. I move around, living in different countries at a time. That lifestyle is next to impossible if you are amassing ‘things’ instead of experiences.
I also majorly sacrificed time doing things I used to do. I just didn’t have the time to be caught in distractions (Facebook/TV/gossiping/nonsense chit-chat/staying out too late which affects the next day etc). Sometimes it was hard to say no to friends, but I don’t foresee any other way (especially in the beginning when building something takes so much time and energy).
Now that you’re running your own business, have you been able to maintain a work/life balance?
Yes, I believe that I now have that. Part of the reason is that I love what I do so a lot of the time my work doesn’t feel like work. For example, a lot of the reading I currently do is research for my work. I am always learning more about healing/ancient wisdom / yoga etc. This supports me in my wellness coaching practice and also helps my yoga. I LOVE learning about it and enriching my life. This is NOT work for me. I think modern society has the concept of balance incorrect. I can’t go into it here, but balance is more on spirit-mind-body. Also, your environment (example getting back to nature DAILY for re-balancing, focusing on the life elements that give us energy-fire-water-air-earth). I will leave it there.
Outside of that, I limit the tasks (especially the computer tasks) that I do. If you notice from my schedule, I rarely spend more than 4 hours a day doing computer work. I just think more than that is detrimental to my well being and also the quality of work starts declining once you reach a certain point.
What do you like to do on your off time?
I love reading (LOL), yoga, meditating, skating, spending time in nature, with close friends/family, movies, dance, meeting new people, learning languages.
What have been the 3 greatest benefits/improvements to your life since you’ve made your career transition?
Time freedom. This is HUGE. Recently a family member had an accident and a major life change, if I WASN’T self-employed (and nomadic), I would not have been about to be there for him. I have even relocated to be closer. This would’ve been very hard if employed. Also, I dropped everything and immediately went to help when it happened. He lives in a different country. If I was working, I would’ve had to ‘ask for permission’ and the amount of time granted would probably have been limited, etc.
Location freedom (see above)
Mental freedom- I am free to create to my heart’s desire. There are no limits on what I want to explore. I am not following somebody else’s dreams and goals, I am building my own dream and life as I go. This feels very FREE to me.
Thanks for taking the time to share your story Alicia!!! You’ve shared a ton of incredible pointers for and I know this interview will inspire many people:)