“I thought this will be easy. Of course, it’s not that easy in real life.”
Five years ago qualified Chartered Accountant Stacey Price started her own business Healthy Business Finances, a financial coaching consultancy based in Melbourne.
But last year, she sat down at her computer to write her usual “corporate speak” blog, and this is what she found herself typing:
“I hate my business and I want out.”
Instead of deleting the title, Stacey turned the blog into an open letter to her business. A short excerpt is below:
“….some days hate being in charge, hate being the one responsible for everything, hate being the one everyone relies on….I never set out to run my own business. Never. The thought never crossed my mind.”
Stacey told me what she was thinking as she wrote those words.
“I thought, 'I don’t love it’. There’s a saying ‘If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life’. That’s not true. I love what I do, I just didn’t love what I was doing.”
This year, the CEO of Healthy Business Partners made some changes. She thinks the catalyst was reading Simon Sinek’s bestsellers Leaders Eat Last and Start with Why.
“We realised that as a family unit we were putting everyone else first. This was not what we thought our life would look like,” she recalls.
In a moment, we’ll learn what life looks for this CEO now.
But first, let’s hear how this self-confessed workaholic in the financial services industry became an accidental entrepreneur in the first place.
“I’d been made redundant a second time (in 2013). Everyone seemed to be starting a business, so I thought ‘Yes, that’s what I’ll do, I’ll give it a crack’,” Stacey told me.
According to an article in Smart Company, facing redundancy is one of the most stressful professional experiences of any career, due, in part to uncertainty, and the feeling you’re walking around with a big “R” on your forehead.
“The first time I was made redundant while on maternity leave with my first baby. I was thinking ‘Oh, what have I done? Is it me?’ The second time, I thought ‘Oh well, that’s that’,” says Stacey.
“I thought ‘I’ll do bookkeeping. I’ll work online’. That was the extent of my business plan.”
Stacey admits she thought the work would just come to her.
“This will be easy (I thought), but of course, it’s not that easy in real life,” she muses.
Growing the business required Stacey to work seven days a week.
“Weekends, after hours. I was working 10 a.m. to 6 or 7 p.m. and hubby was picking up after school. If I was earning a million dollars, it might have been different. But I wasn’t seeing hubby, wasn’t seeing kids, and I certainly wasn’t seeing a million dollars in the bank account,” she remembers.
Stacey’s clients turn to her for advice on ATO obligations, hiring, and GST. Most of them have tight budgets, many are in their first 6-12 months of business, and a few are from the Not For Profit (NFP) sector.
Healthy Business Finances clients are sourced 50% from referrals and 50% from social media (Facebook and Instagram).
“I generally work with a lot of women, probably because women are the ones who ask for help. Men don’t ask for help, or they don’t think a woman can help them. Having said that, many of my clients from referrals are men,” she says.
The part of the work that Stacey loves most is the one on one.
“ 'I want it explained to me’- that’s what I love,” she says.
Then a crack appeared.
Stacey told me what happened when she sat down to write her blog in a corporate way as usual.
“I struggled to think in another person’s mindset. Then I was having a sh**ty day and I just thought I’ve got to get this out and onto paper.
I thought I can keep things the same, hate it every couple of months, and not change anything. We were paying a huge mortgage to live in a 70s house badly in need of renovation in Keilor Park in the North West suburbs of Melbourne. It was a nice house but a renovator's delight, and we weren’t saving enough to renovate.”
So they sold up.
Stacey says, “We realised the easiest thing was to change where we live. We need to think about what the future looks like. We sold the house and got out the Melways and looked for a regional city that was around 1.5 hours from the city with good public transport (hubby works in the city two days a week, and I have clients in Melbourne I see once a quarter). It had to have a business community, shops, restaurants and playgrounds, good schools and good amenities, and inexpensive housing.
We moved to Ballarat and halved the mortgage. We thought if we hate it we can always move, but 12 months has gone past already so fast, we haven’t given it a thought.”
What life looks like now
All of Stacey’s team works remotely. And, she’s got her life back.
“I read ALL the time, try to read every night and am trying to read a chapter in the mornings.
I’m currently reading Miracle Mornings, but I still hate mornings. Miracle Mornings suggests you spend 10 minutes reading instead of launching straight into making school lunches or other chores.
I’ve also got on the bedside table: Winging It by Emma Isaacs; The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** by Mark Mansen, Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown, and Get Remarkably Organised by Lorraine Murphy. I’m very good at organising my clients, but not very good at organising myself.”
The myth of FOMO
Stacey says she and her husband discussed the fear of missing out. She says her dad warned them “If you do this, you will never be able to live in Melbourne again” but she responded, “What’s wrong with that?’
She says she was getting advice from everyone, and when they’d say “What have you done?” a wave of nausea would wash over her.
But more often than not, she says they say:
“I wish I could have done what you’ve done.”
If you are not currently a member of The Growth Faculty and would like to access fast moving ideas from an ever growing library of exclusive interviews and book summaries featuring best-selling authors and thinkers, anywhere, anytime, become a member of our On Demand platform. This also gives you discounts on LIVE events.
Christine Kininmonth is a journalist and former panellist on ABC TV’s The New Inventors. An avid reader, Christine believes reading is essential to business success. She presents The Growth Faculty’s Business Book Club each week.