Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal and business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mich (Michelle) Bondesio, Founder of Growth Sessions, located in Manchester, North West England, UK.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a coach, writer, podcaster, and consultant who helps people working in creative and digital fields stuck on the treadmill of hustle culture to activate more potential in themselves and their businesses and create more cadence in their days. Growth Sessions is my coaching platform, and Creating Cadence is my accompanying podcast.
Tell us about yourself
I have a 20-year background in communications and project management, working across creative industries. An epic case of burnout several years ago prevented me from working for more than a year. After my recovery, and based on what I'd learned, I transitioned into my work to start helping other people get better at dealing with burnout and managing stress.
My talks, workshops, self-paced courses, newsletter, and podcasts now help people to develop more mindful approaches to work, which support their well-being, creativity, and productivity better.
Traditional ways of working are broken, and there is a better way for us all to work. My aim is to help people find the way that suits them best, and I want them to be able to interact with my content in a way that works for them. In that vein, I'm about to publish a book on Intentional Productivity, which will be available in a variety of formats.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Starting a solopreneur business from scratch four years ago, in a sector I knew nothing about when I first started, doing business in a way I had never done before, with no virtual network as I had recently moved to a new area.
I had no idea what this was going to be; I just knew that I needed to do this work - that it was important. So I dived in with curiosity and a learning mindset, and things have evolved from there. I'm proud of the business skills I've honed along the way and how I've managed to further develop my creative skills doing work that I love. I've been writing the Cadence newsletter for three years and podcasting as the host of Creating Cadence for two. And as mentioned, my first business book about Intentional Productivity is due out in late 2022.
I'm working in a way that supports my well-being and creativity as the keystone of my business. And I get to design how most of my days go. That was what I set out to achieve when I first started Growth Sessions. And it's amazing how friction-free and rewarding your work feels when it aligns with your values more fully.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The first challenge I experienced was creating trust when nobody knows who you are (yet). I had to do a lot of educational outreach, offering lots of free talks and workshops to raise awareness of these challenges, before I could start 'selling' training and coaching to organizations and individuals. But in doing so, I honed my knowledge and skill set and set the stage for more aware fans, clients, and buyers.
The second is managing your cash flow as an independent business owner. Some of the work I do doesn't generate income immediately, and some of my clients have particular payment cycles which can involve a bit of a wait. It was a big learning curve in the beginning, ensuring that I could pay my bills.
The third challenge is uncertainty. Entrepreneurship can be really hard, and there are lots of things that can keep you up at night. Learning how to manage that uncertainty, keep going consistently, and move ahead despite not fully knowing the outcome takes courage and resilience. It is something you have to work on daily, which is why supporting your well-being is essential.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Find out what types of business support are available to you via your local networks, council, government, etc. In my area, I was fortunate to be able to attend several free business education courses when I was first starting out that helped me become a more astute entrepreneur, develop my business plan, figure out my marketing, etc.
- Second, understand what you are hoping to achieve by starting the business. What is the deep reason motivating you to take on the challenge of being an entrepreneur? The work needs to tie in with your values and the deeper meaning you are hoping to gain from your life and work. It has to have a bigger purpose than just making money, to tide you over in the difficult phases where the money aspect might not be happening quite as you imagined.
- Find your "work friends," a network of peers who relate to what you do, can commiserate with what you're going through, and be there to offer help, support, and advice (and vice versa). That might be an online community of solopreneurs like Subkit or elsewhere. Or a physical meetup once a month. Or work friendships you cultivate via your local coworking space. This can be a lonely road, and to maintain your health and well-being over the long haul, it's important to have people you can talk to and a community you can connect with.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Burnout is a common occurrence for entrepreneurs because people assume they have to get the business up and running at all costs as part of the typical hustle culture mindset. We need to change this mindset because it's unhealthy and detrimental!
Our productivity and the quality of our outputs both take a massive dive after 30-40 hours of work per week. And it's unsustainable trying to work long hours every week; at some point, something breaks, and it's usually us.
We're able to produce more consistently over time and maintain our resilience during times of uncertainty if we learn to pace ourselves, and intersperse our work with activities that enable us to rest and recharge, manage our stress and have a life outside of our work.
If you want to make it as an entrepreneur over the long haul, consider how you can put well-being at the center of how you work and design your days with more cadence. Your future self will thank you. :)
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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