The Foundation of a Story … My Story. Building My Empire … Virtually Untangled.
Today I’m lucky enough, thanks to the individuals running the #empoweringwomenwithkiss movement, to be able to share my entrepreneurial story with you and a bit about what motivates the world of creativity within me.
Truthfully, my path on this entrepreneurial adventure started about 8 and a half years ago when I was working full-time as a Graphic “Technician” (aka. Designer – long story on the improper job title) at a local school division here in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. One day something awakened my soul telling me I was destined for something else … something greater. So, I decided to be adventurous and start a freelance company which at the time was called “MyDesignSmash”. I was already having people approach me on a weekly basis asking me to do small design projects for them so why not make a business out of it. Follow my passion and pray it turns into something better than the dead-end 9-5 I was working at. The only thing I did not realize at the time was I was suddenly everyone’s “best friend”. Meaning they all wanted their projects done for pennies, for free or for trade. This was not at all what I thought owning a design business would be like. But being the trooper that I am, I kept on creating these magnificent projects for the people who “needed” me because it was the designing and creativity that I enjoyed. Although I was feeling overwhelmed and stressed by letting people take advantage of me, I was too scared to show my true worth financially and take a stand for myself. I felt like I was gaining some traction in the land of design as a freelancer but not on any sort of path I truly wanted to be on.
Remember your value ladies! And don’t settle for less. You worked all your lives for this level of greatness, so accept it!
Knowing my own value and self-worth was something that took me years to embrace. But after many inner struggles, I now know this! Fast-forwarding to the present … 9 years later …
I was going through a lot. And not just your every day struggles. I felt like one giant hot mess! I ended up becoming quite ill (due to the agony and stress I was dealing with at my 9-5) and took some time off work. During this time of healing, I started to let myself relax and reflect on my work, my education, where I was and where I wanted to be and felt a “thud”. I hit a wall and felt myself rise out of the deep, dark blackhole I was living in. A huge wave of ideas started rushing through me. I realized that I was not doing what I wanted with my life. I was not accomplishing any of my goals and just letting the 9-5 take over me … my soul especially. Yes, I was doing graphic design for a job which has always been a true dream of mine, but it felt numbing and I will clarify this by using my famous phrase of a “rinse n’ repeat” day-to-day life. To me, this was not what happiness should be. Just baring the minimum to make a living. To survive. Why was I allowing myself to feel this way and for so long! Yes, I was gaining experience, learning more design tricks as I moved along and making people happy by designing what they needed but was I making myself happy? No, I most certainly was not. My life felt chaotic, stressful and unpleasing. My creativity level was draining, and I felt as though I did not want to pursue my passion of design/art/creative writing any longer. I was so filled with hurt, resentment and feeling lost. I kept telling myself that at my age, I should be doing more and on a path that I enjoyed waking up to. But the truth was, that was no longer the REAL ME anymore!
So, this is what happened next? I sat down with my trusty notebook, my favourite pack of coloured gel pens, started writing and doing a butt-load of research on how to work from home. Hit another wall.
So, I regrouped and had a conversation with my career/life coach, April. I told her about how I was feeling. We talked about the dread, you know that rock in the pit of your stomach feeling, on Sunday nights about having to return to that dead-end 9-5. We talked about me not knowing where I wanted to go next. And we also talked about different skills that I had that I didn’t realize I wasn’t using to my fullest potential. April told me she thought I would make a great virtual assistant. I looked at her puzzled. WTF is a virtual assistant? She then explained and raved about my organizational skills, my creativity and my passion/drive to accomplish everything in the world in just one day. She knew I wanted to make a difference and that I felt I wasn’t doing that. I was literally glowing! Then I thought to myself … was being a virtual assistant a real thing? I surely never heard of anything of it, but it was worth looking into. April was obviously seeing something I was not …!
So, after my wonderful coaching session, I raced home to do some research. After days of reading, signing up for what felt like hundreds of sites to “become a virtual assistant”, I realized I was going about things all wrong. Why work for a company half way across the world as a virtual assistant for a few bucks a task when I already have the knowledge and freelance experience to go about it on my own. Realistically, I’ve been working as a part-time entrepreneur with my freelance design business so how could doing this be any different?
So, once again, with my trusty notebook and favourite pack of gel pens, I started considering all the possible options of closing my freelance business down and what it would take to move forward as a virtual business. I wanted to take virtual assistance to the next level by combining my hard-earned years of design experience into the mix.
And that’s how Virtually Untangled was born.
After making many hard, life-altering decisions and exhausting my brain for hours … no, for weeks … I came up with a plan and two full notebooks of research – filled with ideas for new colour themes, design, creative writing ideas for my re-brand launch, idea boards, etc. – and started on my new path. Was I scared of failing and having to go back to my dead-end 9-5 job? Yes, of course I was. I was scared to death about my leap of faith (Am I going to make it? How am I going to pay the bills? Am I smart enough? Good enough?), resigning from my 9-5 and taking my business full-time. But I knew in my gut that this was my true passion in life. Not only the part of becoming my own boss, setting my own hours and working with respectable clients, but for the simple fact that I was getting to do what I wanted for a living with no strings attached from other human beings. You know … the ones who control the money and are filled with “power”. Was I afraid I was going to break the bank and end up in a horrible financial situation. Yes, who wouldn’t think that way at first.
But then …
Two months later, I created a fully functional WordPress website to coincide with my new brand and all the other marketing goodies that come along with owning a business. Virtually Untangled had gone live and I was so excited to find out what path my virtual business was going to take me on.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, Virtually Untangled was built on the idea of helping anyone, anywhere in the world through virtual creative and organizational services. I help other entrepreneurs organize, build and manage their business goals with ease. I help them finally clear up their ever-growing to do lists and help them make their “big picture” a reality by finding work/life balance. I specialize in helping busy entrepreneurs (just like yourself) organize and maintain their brand through services such as graphic and web design, social media, copywriting, ghost writing, illustration, logo design, project management and virtual assistant (VA) services. In short, I help other business owners who are struggling to find enough time to focus on their true passion by taking care of the projects/tasks they just don’t have time for.
Back to the foundation of my story …
I finally feel like ME again. I’m happy, my anxiety is gone, I’m sleeping normal hours again and just plain ‘ol enjoying life. I also no longer have the pit of dread in my stomach on Sunday nights knowing I must go to a place of work in which I hate. I also feel very grateful as have had (and still do) the opportunity to connect with many great VA/entrepreneur’s through Facebook groups. The members in these groups graciously helped me along the way by answering any business questions I had and helped me “learn the ropes” since I expanded my services beyond just graphic and website design. Not only did I learn a lot about becoming an entrepreneur, but I learned a lot about myself as a creative individual and the strength, and willingness I had been hiding from myself for all these years. Now, don’t get me wrong … I’m not saying it was “easy” getting Virtually Untangled up and running. Trust me, I drove my other half nuts pretty much every waking hour of every single day, but on the other hand he has been very supportive of my choices and helped ease the stress of my perfectionism when it came to build my empire.
Off topic … I always joke that as a designer, it is way easier to design for someone else than it is yourself. I’m sure majority of designers also feel this way. As human beings, we are always harder and more critical of ourselves than we are of others. #TheStruggleIsReal
So, you’re probably now wondering where things are at today … a full year after launching my re-branded business.
Well, for starters, my client list is grand and filled with individuals who actually respect what I do and let my creative juices flow. They trust my expertise, which is something that never happened at my 9-5 (they were all about “the power”). I finally truly LOVE what I do for a living. My “job” no longer feels like work and I know I am making a difference in the lives of others through the services I offer. I am making people happy and stress-free because I can help them achieve their goals all the while achieving my own. I also feel very lucky to not have to work full day hours if I choose. I, just like my clients, now have work/life balance. And to top it off, I have almost tripled my 9-5 income and it’s only been my first year as a full-timer.
I feel very lucky and grateful that I am able to pursue my passion as a creative individual. Not everyone can say that. Being an entrepreneur keeps me flexing my brain muscles every day. I even think I create in my sleep. LoL! Plus, every single day is different than the next and I’m always learning. Professional development is a huge thing with me. I don’t think I’ll ever stop.
All in all, I get to live a life filled wall-to-wall with creativity (virtual walls that is), help colourful human beings who need me, and FINALLY get to make a difference in the world (including my own) by solving people’s business problems which is incredibly rewarding. I wouldn’t go back and change a single thing. Well, except for the fact I wish I would have bet on myself sooner and begun Virtually Untangled many years ago.
A word of advice to all you #BossBabes out there …
Never give up! Even when you feel you just can’t go any longer. It is worth it and there are people/groups out there who are more than willing to help. Also, don’t try to do all the design work, marketing and social media alone. Ask for help to relieve some of your stress by hiring someone or at least bounce those genius ideas off some creative individuals. Follow your passion and create you BIG PICTURE! You are worth it, and the world needs whatever it is you have to offer.
Well, that’s the foundation of my story. I just want to end with something truly special to me. A quote from a book that inspired and resonated with me so much, it’s part of the main reason I started building my empire …
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
– Brene Brown, Author of The Gift of Imperfections
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