Ep 14

From Corporate Career To Business With Impact with Vanessa Armstrong

Vanessa Armstrong

Show notes

Katerina: Hi Vanessa. Great to see you and have you on the show.

Vanessa: Thank you for having me. It’s a great pleasure.

Katerina: I guess the first question I want to ask is what made you decide to leave your corporate career?

Vanessa: Well yes that’s big.

Katerina: Yeah, you’ve had a very successful career for 16 years.

Vanessa: Yes. So I worked in a large global company for 16 years and worked my way up and I ran a team, very successful team on their stage, one of the best in the world. And I guess a few things happen. So, who you work with kind of changes over time the company that it was 16 years before isn’t the same. You know, it starts to be very monetized. And, you know, I was very good at what I did, but I got paid very well for it on performance, and I no longer kind of fit their pay scale and grade. They wanted people who didn’t have as much experience and they wouldn’t have to pay as much. So I started a journey of thinking, what we needed to do what my next step was because it wasn’t sitting, kind of well in my heart.

And I was looking for a change and I originally with my husband we thought we would get out of the city and, you know, have a little bit of a different life with our daughter, and we stayed in the city we do the same thing, you know, leaving for work at 6.30 in the morning and coming home at seven and just on this cycle, you know. So we decided to impromptu buy land down the beach out of the city and build a house and we went through that process and then we moved but I was still commuting so commuting an hour and 20 minutes each day in both directions.

Katerina: This is what I do now. It’s tough.

Vanessa: It’s tough. You know, while we were looking for an opportunity out here in our community we wanted to be part of a community, and, you know, we’re looking at different businesses and what that would look like and things. And then we finally settled on one and it was a franchise and we thought it was, you know, we wanted to be part of a solution in a community and stuff, not just another cafe so it was the first … school franchise. And, and we were super excited about it.

But it turns out, the man ran away with a lot of people’s money. So, then we ended up… yeah, I quit my job in preparation to run our own business and that didn’t happen so I had to pivot again and think, Okay, well what I’ve been liking in my life and doing in my life and so I went back to school to study to be a health coach and help other women in regards to managing their health and their weight. So, that’s kind of like, what’s happened and why I ended up leaving my job was I was looking for something different, right to have more control and to do something for ourselves. But yeah, I guess there always comes a time, if you’re ready to come look at it.

Katerina: Yeah, because your mom was also not very well and you started making some healthy meals for her.

Vanessa: My mom was very unwell. During this kind of process and transition journey. And I live in Australia, and my mom lives in Canada and I was called to go home, basically. She was on oxygen and in a wheelchair and Type 2 diabetic and was in the hospital and was not well and packed away her clothes because she thought she’d be dead by spring. So I went home with advice of family members and was trying to find help for her. And basically, you know, cleaned out her pantry and cooked for her, I was there a month and I restocked for her she had about another three months worth of food in the freezer. And we were eliminating sugar and carbohydrates and putting her on a ketogenic diet basically following the advice of Dr. Jason Fung, who’s a nephrologist who works with Type 2 diabetics. And yeah so that’s how it came about, that’s how my interest came about. I was obese as well.

So I thought, well, I can’t be. I can’t tell someone to do this and not do it myself. So I went along, as support for her and then I was still in my corporate job at the time and people were noticing and then people asked me to coach them so the seed was planted in regards to… I was having success within a month and a half of me leaving my mom was out of her wheelchair offer oxygen, no longer on insulin injections, losing weight dramatically. Her doctors were astounded, like, yeah, it’s been a complete life changer for her, life-saving for her. So, then other people asked me to start helping them so that’s kind of how that came about.

Katerina: Yeah. So, this is how Keto Buddies were right as a business.

Vanessa: Yeah, yeah.

Katerina: So, how did you find the transition from the corporate world into starting your own business?

Vanessa: Yeah, it’s um it’s….

Katerina: Yeah cos you were successful… and you said you didn’t have any stress, because, actually it’s just made you more successful in your corporate career.

Vanessa: Yes.

Katerina: And then you started running your own business and it was somewhat different.

Vanessa: So, I think in the corporate job you’re responsible for lots of people. And I was responsible for .. because it was a retainer plus commission-driven business, you know when you take on… for me… I took on a lot of responsibilities because they had mortgages and families, you know, so you feel for them to make sure the business is successful and everyone can provide and then… you also used to be able to delegate to other people, right? Like in a team you have meetings and then you ask people to do things and then follow up etc. etc.

When you go on your own, it’s you, I only have myself to delegate to really and that’s a big change because you can kind of go from being a specialist to being a generalist. So you have to have your hands in so many pies and try to figure out social media which never been a part of my life, you know but… In this day and age, it’s how we get a profile, and how we get clients, you know and we have to put up with something uncomfortable. I found it uncomfortable to put my self out there, especially when you come from being overweight… and I was quite happy to stay out of the limelight so now you have to be your brand, be your business and be visible, so that’s definitely one of my biggest challenges to getting over that. And, you know, that’s a thing and then also like just staying motivated in the day. You know when you’re first starting out, there’s a lot of work to be done before there’s a reward to be seen.

And, and that that’s a whole different way of working than from a corporate job normally right? Like in a corporate place there are people to talk to you to bounce ideas off and when you’re on your own — you’re on your own. Like, you have to come up with different ways to achieve a similar you know, motivation, I guess. Yeah.

Katerina: Yeah. And you also mentioned that… Actually, no one mentioned on this show… on this program… the imposter syndrome. Could you just elaborate on this?

Vanessa: Yeah, I think that… you know… I am a health coach but I’m not an Instagram size like, you know. I’ve come through my own journey.

Katerina: Do you have to be?

Vanessa: Well no, actually, you don’t have to me but I think we… often, I’m getting better at it as well like I’m getting better at not thinking I’m an imposter because I now I have, like so many women that are succeeding like it’s incredible right. But you feel that when you put yourself out there on social media, you know you feel like someone’s looking at you and going “ Well, why do you have the right to tell me how to lose weight, you’re not… you’re not skinny like you don’t look like a model… you don’t look like a personal trainer”.

But I look like a normal person now, you know, like some people would say that I’m still overweight, but I’m certainly nowhere I’m not obese any more… I’m not in that category like, you know, I wear… I can go into any store and buy my clothes or that wasn’t an opportunity for me before you know. I’m healthy I can keep up with my daughter, like… It’s a whole new world, right? Like it takes time to get over the imposter syndrome and I think when you move from any kind of job onto your own as an entrepreneur, there’s probably a lot of people that feel that way because you may be… you may be taking all these skills you have from what you’ve done before, but now you’re putting yourself out there as the expert right? Like… so, getting over your…I call it that I have to have to get over my ego.

And it’s not the egotistical type discussion of the ego but it’s putting distance between what I think I need to be, and what I’m actually delivering right like and you know someone once told me that I, you just need to be 10 steps ahead of your clients… like to help people we need to be ahead of them. But, you know, most of them really respect that I’m… I’m me and I’ve gone through what I’ve gone through basically. So I’m more probably relatable than some skinny personal trainer who’s never been overweight, who doesn’t believe that you’ve eaten their meal plan and still haven’t lost weight. So, you know, this… is definitely a real thing that imposter syndrome. I think there’s probably a lot of people who go through it.

Katerina: Yeah, I would agree with you. And sometimes you just don’t know how much you know and some people say “Oh my gosh you’ve got so much experience” and you have a personal story to relate to… and that’s motivational in its own right.

Vanessa: It takes time for an entrepreneur to learn how to tell your story, I mean I’m still learning, you know, it takes time… if somebody asks you what you do… and you only have 30 seconds or one minute to tell them versus you have 20 minutes to tell them like this is all a new art right like. In a corporate world, you can hand someone your business card and tell them what your title is. Do you know what I mean? Like when, when you’re a whole business — it’s different. It’s another set of skills to learn.

Katerina: Yeah, because you you’re very very brave, because weight losses is a multi-billion dollar industry, and it’s so so competitive. How do you stand out? But you have carved your own sort of niche, right, you’re providing health benefits to women who … they won’t be able to relate to someone who has got six packs I mean, I’ve been exercising all my life on and off, on and off. And I lost weight through the process and then I gained, and then I lost weight and then I gained weight but I can never relate to girls who have six pounds because I’ve never had six-packs.

Vanessa: I’ve never had a six-pack. I think my business is the same as for any other woman entrepreneur in that you know you need to find out what your point of difference is, and for me, I really stand behind that it’s time to lose weight differently. So if you’ve tried everything and you’ve followed that diet industry advice, which is obviously, like you said, it’s a billion-dollar industry… it’s a repeat industry. So in my opinion and I was on that roller coaster and I would spend my money on it, but they’re actually not solving the problem so I really tried to separate myself to say, I don’t want to be part of the problem I want to be part of the solution. And that’s where coaching comes in right like.

So, I believe, food is 20%. And then what goes on up here and what’s gone on in our hearts, and we all have something that’s probably some triggers us and things like that, so that’s where the coaching comes in, I don’t, I don’t want to sell anyone a diet… you can actually go, I mean everybody knows how to diet, right? Like, we can all find it out, that’s, that’s not what I’m selling… like I’m, I am here to serve the person that needs a full solution and full support and full accountability and the same way as any other entrepreneur, I think that if you can get away from selling yourself on a price tag right you’re actually selling on what you’re solving the problem you’re solving. Then, then you’re probably going to find your niche easier than your competition perhaps yeah that’s what I found.

Katerina: Yeah. What challenges do you have right now in your business?

Vanessa: What, with isolation?

Katerina: No, just challenges.

Vanessa: Yeah. Um, yeah it’s definitely I think you have like highs and lows, as an entrepreneur and then also depending on what cycle you are in your business if you are new and I would consider myself, still fairly new. You know, the challenges are, you have, like, Great weeks, right where you’re winning clients and then you’re onboarding clients, and then your continues trying to learn new schools, whether that’s Facebook advertising and then it’s not working and then you place local community ads and then they’re not working and then you start doubting what you’re doing. And you’re banging your head against the wall. So then you probably take your foot off the gas a little right and you’re not being as motivated in your day and working on the business as you should be. So sometimes in a corporate job, there are other people who help keep you motivated and accountable, but when it’s just you there’s not really that inside accountability. So it’s hard when things slow down or aren’t going well to keep yourself accountable for coming up with solutions, or strategies to keep me accountable by times when times do slow down, because if, if for getting wins, then it’s easier, right? Like, you’re motivated. Yeah, I’m going to get up to this morning and I’m going to do it and I’m going to serve these clients and I’m going to answer these, you know, advertisements, etc. And you’re on a high one high leads to another normally, but when, I mean with anything, the lows come, and you have to keep doing the work and believing in what you were doing. And keep doing it and keep showing up. So I think that’s one of the challenges definitely is you got to keep showing up and learning to pivot like keep. I do think you have to keep trying things and not walk away from some strategies too quickly. That’s one thing that I think comes up. If you walk away too quickly. You don’t actually know if it worked. So that’s something to keep in mind.

And also, like, in a corporate job, you’re kind of not spending other people… you’re spending other people’s money, where here you’re spending your own money. And that’s, you know, that’s harder to go “Oh, do I want to place that ad and if it’s not working, don’t keep ad?”… like, you know, so trying to come up with strategies around knowing about money. And I think for women, that’s an interesting one as well, because in general, I mean, I have a Bachelor of Commerce as I do know about money, I worked with money and run spreadsheets and you know, run events for people — multi-million dollar campaigns and things but I think we’re more cautious probably with our money than a man sometimes is in their business. And because they’re, they’re used to risking more on the money side, sometimes with higher risk comes higher reward. So, as a female to get our mind around that, that it’s okay. It’s okay to risk, its okay to not win to learn from it, because each time we fail, well, that’s really not nice till we learn from it. So, you know, going through the learning process.

Katerina: Yeah, do you have a mentor or some kind of a support network?

Vanessa: Yes. Oh, absolutely. I’m… initially when I started I had very, very good business coach, very strong, very expensive business coach. And she was worth the money a hundred per cent. And then I thought I came away from 12 weeks of working with her, and I still had a lot of work to do on the work that we covered. So I didn’t maintain that relationship and membership. And because I needed to keep working and learning on my own and take away from it. And that wasn’t the wrong decision. But I probably lost some momentum doing it that way. But I have just recently hired a local coach, that lady was international and much like a pretty big name. You know, I’ve hired someone locally now as well to hold me accountable.

So I do believe, you know, like, obviously, I’m a health coach and I believe in coaching as I believe in having mentorships and even in business, we take courses we are always upscaling ourselves, you know, we we have mentors and the same should be as entrepreneurs you know. Like I belong to a local business networking women’s group now as well. And the BNI, which is an international, all around the world, business networking, which is basically regional and they take on, you pay a membership and you represent your type of business in either community. So I think those are really good opportunities for entrepreneurs to have a connection, a community connection to show up like at the same time every week to have conversations with people to figure out what is working for them and have a discussion about what could work for you and what are your challenges are and share.

I think we have to go a little bit outside the box of how we get our own business network and support community but it will it pays off I think, and it’s worth the investment if even if it costs you I do believe that it’s worth the investment. Yeah.

Katerina: Yeah. What are some of the mistakes maybe you could have avoided when you started Keto Buddies.

Vanessa: I think in thinking that you have to be perfect. So you know, I also I mean, I went with a website, I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on a website. But I thought I needed a website. I would suggest, I don’t need a website. I ran mostly from a Facebook business page, Instagram and my other Facebook community. And yeah, I’ve actually removed from my business cards and my advertising my website because it’s not, doesn’t represent me at the moment. So I think thinking that you have to have it all and that you have to put all the money, like into a website or have that perfect, I don’t think you need it.

Because I think that you can, you can start you can get out there and then probably go back to it. You know, when you are making more money, then make the website as you wish instead of investing all this money initially. So definitely, that’s a mistake that I made. I think that in hindsight, I would have kept my coach you know, longer. I think that would have helped. And I think we also tell ourselves some stories along the way, like, you know, we, we get, we just take, we take something and we tell ourselves a story of why something’s not working or, you know, and we don’t have someone really to pull us upon it. So, you know, trying to get out of your own headspace is something I think is a good skill to start to have when you work by yourself.

Katerina: Yeah. Are you a happy person?

Vanessa: Yeah, I think I’m not super bubbly or I’m not a peacock in regards to personality types or anything. I like to do my work and I’m pretty even tempering like.

Katerina: What would you change in your life right now? If anything?

Vanessa: No, I’m pretty happy. Actually. Yeah, yeah, I’m definitely doing what I meant to be doing. And what I like things to be faster and more successful — sure, but it’s probably happening… happens at the speed it’s happening for the reasons. So I’m learning a lot. So I think it’s okay.

Katerina: Yeah, no, that’s fascinating. I think it’s a great story, especially, you know, in the current climate, I see a lot of potential for companies like Keto Buddies. How do you see the future for Keto Buddies? How you plan on growing the company if that’s your goal?

Vanessa: Yeah, definitely. I think that I think ultimately I will take on some other coaches. So because I really like and enjoy the hands-on — coaching part. So, one on one via video, we do most of our coaching by video weekly, with women and then I do a group session once a week as well that they get. So I mean, there’s only so many hours in the week for one person to deliver that. So I think ultimately I would take on one or two other coaches hopefully to facilitate that. And then we will introduce… I have a couple of programmes at the moment and I… and they focus on women.

In time, perhaps if one of those coaches I bring on is a man and he has a journey and a story… I would like to see something that we design for men that you know, I do think how a man loses his weight versus a woman is very different. So that’s why I’ve done what I’ve done initially. You know, so yeah, the difference in products difference in, in taking on some stuff and upscaling. But I still… I mean, I’ve started to have a purpose to be able to have more time with my family, I was always travelling before I would miss my daughter’s birthdays repeatedly, you know, because of work commitments.

So I will now always have a focus on my own health as well as having time to go and do the things that I never had time to do. So I like to go and have tennis lessons and golf lessons, you know, build that into my week and still put myself because I think you’re a happier person and you show up better for other people when you’re looking after yourself.

Katerina: Yeah. And you also mentioned that to run Keto Buddies and suggest other healthy options for people in terms of nutrition and food you also kind of have to know how to put together recipes and this is something you’re you’re struggling to do because you’re not a very good baker.

Vanessa: I don’t like to bake but I like to cook. But I cook. I’m, I’m a very good cook, but I don’t like to follow recipes like if somebody…

Katerina: Yeah. How do you do that?

Vanessa: In my programmes, most of my recipes are done… I have a dietician that I work with and we are all balanced that way. And then I share the recipes that work for me like that are my go toes in my family. I’m very big on batch cooking and not being in the kitchen every night, every week, every night of the week. And so I share those practical tips and things like that. But yeah, I like… I’m not a baker because Baker is very precise, right? Like you have to do everything a recipe says I just like to cook… But it could still be done. You can, you can know, I teach how to build a plate that is a healthy plate so people don’t have to count calories, they don’t have to use an app. And we become intuitive we get back to knowing when we’re hungry and knowing when we’re full, which is something that a lot of women don’t experience any more.

Once your hormones become out of balance, you know, some people can always be hungry, you know, or some people actually are never hungry because they always eat by the clock. So you have two different groups there to work with. So, and then you have women who eat very well and then you know, perimenopause, comes on in their body starts changing, but they’re not doing anything different. So it’s important to be able to learn how to do things differently at different times in your life.

Katerina: Yeah. I guess another question I want to ask is today, given the COVID-19 situation and a lot of people are losing their jobs and considering becoming entrepreneurs. Is today a good time to start a new venture, a new business?

Vanessa: Absolutely. So I always say 85% of the women that I’m currently coaching have been stood down in their job, okay, in the last three weeks. Now, some of them are waiting for government money to come into play. And that will go see whether or not their jobs take them back in September or November, December, whatever that looks like. But we went through, you know, this crash of emotion and mourning period, basically, because you, you know, most people, maybe they’ve never been fired or made redundant — and that’s a big hit to the ego.

So we’ve gone through this whole process in our coaching of what’s in our control and what’s not in our control, and we’ve coached through this, and we’ve coached to try and find the opportunity, because this is one of the only opportunities in our life that we have to slow down, like, most people’s jobs are slowing down, not everybody’s. But if you are in that position, and you have to slow down, then it gives you time to think. And I think out of this, there are all of the ladies that I’m coaching so many of them had, you know, something in the back of their mind. They’ve all been working. So I work with most of my women who are 40 plus 50, you know, approaching 50 and I do have a client that 70. You know, though, you they’ve been working doing what they’ve been doing for a fair amount of time, and they always probably had a little bit of another dream. And so now they’re taking the time to say well if I’m stuck at home, and I have lost control of so many things in my life, what can I control?

So one of the things they control is their eating and still being successful in isolation. And the other thing is learning what might be around the corner for them. What’s another opportunity, whether that’s a side gig that they start and build it up as they go return to work and when returning to work might look part-time for a lot of people, unless they’re, we’re bringing them back so they can find a balance and get new skills and lots of the universities are offering, you know, free courses and… It’s a great time to put your fingers in some pots and see what you might like. And yeah, we’ve been going through some exercises about if you could have anything and failure, you know, didn’t matter and money didn’t matter.

What would your ideal job? What do you want to look like? What do you want to be feeling like? What do you want to be doing? What are all the traits associated with it and but don’t put a title on it, and don’t put like, oh, I want to do this and then look at it all in one circle, okay, like this kind of job, when I get all achieve all these things that I’m looking for, and this one would achieve all of that, and then maybe go and discover it? So I think it’s a great time. If you’re open to open your mind that this is an opportunity, and not the worst thing like is a horrible, horrible thing that’s happening. But if we can try and get something good from it, that I think is, is a little bit of hope in now.

Katerina: Yeah. So and what could you advise to entertain entrepreneurs who are going through the Deep at the moment and their strategies they’ve been implementing so far, is no longer working? What can you tell them and what advice would you give them?

Vanessa: So I think that if you already have an established business, and then things aren’t working, look at what isn’t working and the why right? Is it because you were a business that saw people, and now they can’t come to see you. So most services can pivot a little bit in regards to that like using zoom, you know, still having consultations with people that way. You know, if you can’t, for some reason, do that, then have still kept in contact with your clients.

So making sure you’re still going to have the relationships when things go back to normal, still putting value back to your clients, even if you can’t put a monetary amount on it and sell them something. Like they’re going through something that is something that you can deliver that value add to them during this time, so you’re still top of mind when they are ready and back up, that they’re going to remember that you offer them a service, you know, that was supportive in some way during this. I think you know, giving value and service during this time is important. And looking at your marketing… often when we busy we don’t have time to do marketing and the website or social media so maybe you take that opportunity now, spend your time working on your business that way instead of directly with clients. Look where you can save on your expenses if you were outsourcing before and lots of people do — they outsource their social media or they outsource, you know, all different aspects of their business?

Well, you probably cut it back in right like rein things back in that way. If you had a rental space, can you give it up and transfer to home and get the relief that way so the more you can cut back on your expenses, the less pressure you have on yourself as well during this time so you can have an opportunity to come back out of it. Not as financially restricted.

Katerina: Yeah, no that’s good advice from you. And the last word for… especially for female entrepreneurs because this is our audience. Anything you can tell to female entrepreneurs specifically? Well, I think to believe in yourself, the world, the world needs more female entrepreneurs, I firmly believe the world needs more female entrepreneurs, and support other people, other female entrepreneurs. So I think that’s really important as well because if we all, you know, support each other, bought from each other, congratulating each other and raised each other up. I mean, what a powerful place that would be for everybody operating but also a powerful marketplace. So I think that it’s important to continue to pay it forward. If someone’s helped you pay it forward. If you have a skill, pay it forward, you know, like cos it’ll come back to you.

Katerina: Yeah. Now, thank you so much Vanessa for being on the show and sharing your advice and telling your story to everyone. Okay, thank you very much. Good luck with Keto Buddies. The world needs you.

Vanessa: Thank you appreciate it.

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