Episode 160: The year that nearly killed my business and sent me back to a job – with Trudy Rankin of Online Business Lift-Off

Imagine spending a year working on the most important project of your life only to find out the project isn’t going ahead and you’re not getting paid for the work you’ve done.

It sounds brutal but that’s exactly what happened to Trudy Rankin, founder of Online Business Lift-Off.

Trudy explains the lessons she learned from almost losing her business, how she stayed motivated during financial struggles and the value of speaking to family when things get tough.

She also talks about why business owners might move away from a 1-to-1 service model, the adjustments you need to make when you become a business owner and the differences between having a job and running a business.

Today’s guest

Trudy Rankin of Online Business Lift-Off

Website: Online Business Lift-Off

LinkedIn: Trudy Rankin

Trudy Rankin is a digital strategist, online business coach and consultant who helps experts grow their businesses beyond the 1-to-1 service model.  With her unique approach that blends quizzes, courses and community, Trudy has successfully helped many entrepreneurs achieve their goals.

But Trudy’s work doesn’t stop there.  She and her team also work with carers/care-givers, helping them to start online businesses that fit around the unique demands they face.  With Trudy’s guidance, these care-givers can turn their passions into profitable ventures, giving them the freedom and flexibility they need to care for their loved ones.

Trudy’s journey to becoming a small business owner wasn’t easy.  After years of working in corporate, she took a big leap and transitioned to entrepreneurship.  But through hard work, dedication, and her extensive knowledge of digital strategy, she has been delighted to see the successes her clients are achieving.

What you’ll learn in this episode

  • [2:02] The downsides of a one-to-one business model.
  • [3:11] The type of businesses that can benefit from improving their online presence.
  • [5:47] What sparked Trudy’s interest in starting her own business.
  • [9:28] What a Chief Information Officer does.
  • [12:47] Becoming a project manager by accident.
  • [16:05] How to know it’s time to shift from a career to starting your own business.
  • [18:25] Why start a business instead of getting a new job.
  • [20:16] What life is like when you first start a business.
  • [23:08] How long it takes to feel comfortable in your new business.
  • [24:55] The danger of being too reliant on one client.
  • [30:07] The benefits of coworking spaces for networking.
  • [31:28] How to stay motivated during business downturns.
  • [34:08] How to build your marketing and sales skills.
  • [35:32] Talking to your partner about your small business.
  • [39:33] Helping more people start and grow online businesses.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a small commission in the event that you make a purchase.  This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.

Episode 160: The year that nearly killed my business and sent me back to a job - with Trudy Rankin of Online Business Lift-Off

Jeremy Cline 0:00
You think it's the biggest project of your life. You work really hard on this. In fact, you spend a year working on this particular project. And then after that year, you're told, 'Oh, actually, we're not going ahead. Thank you. Bye-bye. Oh, and by the way, we're not paying you for that work you've just done.' Sounds pretty brutal. That's what happened to my guest in this week's episode. I'm Jeremy Cline, and this is Change Work Life.

Jeremy Cline 0:42
Hello, and welcome to Change Work Life, the show where we're all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. If you want to know how you can enjoy a more satisfying and fulfilling working life, you're in the right place. You've probably experienced that particularly crushing feeling when you've spent hours working on a document and then your computer crashes. And guess what? You hadn't saved your work, and you have to start again. Now, imagine that, instead of hours of work, it's a year of work. It's a year you've spent working on something which then looks like time wasted, and you have to start all over again. How do you recover from something like that? How do you move on? How do you not make it feel like a message that the universe is telling you now is the time to quit and go do something different. That's what we're going to find out from my guest this week. Trudy Rankin spent years in corporate roles before starting her own business. Through Online Business Lift-Off, she helps experts grow their business beyond a one-to-one service model. And Trudy also helps carers and caregivers start online businesses that fit around the unique demands they face. Trudy, welcome to the podcast.

Trudy Rankin 1:56
Thank you so much for having me, Jeremy.

Jeremy Cline 1:57
Trudy, lots of businesses are based around a one-to-one service model. So, what's wrong with it?

Trudy Rankin 2:04
There's absolutely nothing wrong with a one-to-one service model, the only catch is that, if you get to the place where you're wanting to grow your business, you're going to hit a ceiling at some stage, and it's going to be a ceiling where you are maxed out on how many physical hours you have available to help your customers, your clients, and you're not going to be able to add any more clients, because you don't have any more time physically. And so, you basically need to come up with a different way of still continuing to serve your clients, but do it in a way that's going to allow you to reach more people, work with more people at the same time. So, yeah, it's a time cap, and it's a revenue cap, by definition.

Jeremy Cline 2:55
And so, this service which you provide, what particular sorts of business is that suitable for? I mean, I'm guessing that, possibly, physical presence, things like, I don't know, gardeners or plumbers, that might not be your typical client, but I'll let you answer that.

Trudy Rankin 3:11
Well, actually, interestingly enough, I've worked with all kinds of different people who have started all kinds of different businesses. And it depends a little bit on what people's personalities are, what their preferences are, what their strengths are, what their life experience has been, what kind of business they choose to create. But I don't know of any business these days that doesn't require an online presence to it, whether you have a website, or whether you're using social media to let people know that you exist, whether you're just simply using Google business profile, just to let people know, if you're just a local business, you'd be using some of those tools to help people find you and basically access your services. So, you can use the tools that are there to help with just about any kind of business. The kinds of businesses that I tend to work with a lot are people who are experts in what they do, or they are professionals, and they're wanting to take that expertise and use the online business side of things to help them reach more people basically. I mean, I can give you examples, you know, basically working with somebody who helps people write books, produce business books, or people who are artists, people who are photographers, people who are in the health professional space, health professionals, I've worked with digital marketers, I've worked with all different kinds of people, writers. And once again, it just comes down to some basic fundamentals that you need to have in place in order to be able to have the online part of your business working for you effectively, and once you have those in place, then you can use a few other tools, like quizzes and decision trees and things like that, to help you really hone in on who your ideal customers are. So, I basically focused in on that, making sure you've got the fundamentals in place, and then making sure you've got really effective tools, like quizzes, to be able to help you grow your business to the place or the point that you want it to grow. Some people don't want to go beyond the solopreneur size, some people really, really want to grow a really big business, and they'll eventually get a team in place, and then they go from there. But just basically helping them through those different layers of growth and achieving those in a way that fits with them and how they look at the world.

Jeremy Cline 5:34
When did you first start thinking about having your own business? I mean, even not necessarily this business, but when did the idea first pop into your head, maybe I could have my own business?

Trudy Rankin 5:48
It was back when I was a young child, really. In terms of putting a timeframe on it, it was probably when I was around nine years old that I suddenly realised that I really, really enjoyed this whole thing about doing things that make you money and not just sort of mowing the lawns and getting paid for what you've done in terms of the physical side of things. I enjoy doing that too, I used to do that when I was a little bit older than that. I think I've told the story before in many places, but we used to live at the top of the hill, and in summer, it got really hot where we lived, and there was a public swimming pool at the bottom of the hill, and we would wander down as a family group, I have a bunch of siblings, and we would all go swimming together, and we would then all go home together, that was part of the rules, we could go places, but we had to do it together as a family. And on the way back home, there's this little tiny corner dairy, with lots of lollies in the counters, and we would go in there, we would spend our pennies on basically buying these lollies, these sweets, and then on the way up, everybody else in the family would eat theirs, and I would eat half of mine, save the rest until we got to the top of the hill and then ask my siblings if they wanted to buy the rest from me. And I discovered that I quite enjoyed that as a process and as a way of having extra spending money next time we went to the shop, so that I could buy more. I quite like sweets. So, it was a fun exercise for me. But I carried that sense of enjoying that process of being able to help other people fulfil something, a desire that they had, and then being able to help them with that. But I didn't actually do anything with that for years and years and years and years and years. But that's kind of how I got started, with that kind of dream of wanting to have my own business at some stage.

Jeremy Cline 7:38
I do know that there are people who go straight from whatever level of education they get to, to starting their own business. Was that something that you ever considered, or was going down the job corporate route always likely to be the way you went?

Trudy Rankin 7:55
Actually, it's slightly even different to that. No, I never expected to go down or straight into business. These days, I wish I had done a degree in business. I ended up doing a degree in both history and chemistry, and eventually went on to do other degrees in business later on, many, many years later. But I did the, hey, let's get married and have kids route first. So, I finished my university degree, and then I married my husband who's a Kiwi, we moved to New Zealand, we had kids, and I chose, deliberately chose, and I wanted to do this very much, to stay with my children when they were small, and I was fortunate enough to be able to do that, stay at home with my kids until they were in school. And it wasn't until they were much older, they would have been in primary school, before I actually started looking around and going, well, could I do something besides stay at home, I'm so bored. And then, I actually did another degree because the first degree that I got wasn't that helpful, history and chemistry wasn't that helpful for the available jobs. And so, I did another degree in commerce. And then, from there, I moved into a corporate role part time, fell into project management by accident, as you do, and then moved from project management into management, and then into like Chief Information Officer type roles. Which I really enjoyed, I quite enjoyed working in the corporate world, but I always had a little bit of an entrepreneurial spirit that I brought to it, which sometimes made life interesting for my bosses.

Jeremy Cline 9:26
Just what does a Chief Information Officer do?

Trudy Rankin 9:29
So, basically, they're responsible for making sure that the information, and often the technology as well, sometimes the Chief Technology Officer and a Chief Information Officer's roles are blended, but not always, making sure that the organisation had access to the information they needed to work with their clients, to do their jobs, so that it's managed and governed well, and it can be accessed from when it's needed. And this was kind of at a time when the internet was relatively new, and there was a lot of new technology coming into place that would make it possible to save a lot of time and just make the organisation more productive, more effective, and try new things. So, I don't know if that answers your question, but it really is about, because information is kind of like the grease that makes an organisation work properly, and people need access to that. So, information management, knowledge management, the technology bits, the databases, where it's all stored, the websites, all those sorts of things, that was my responsibility. So, managing big budgets, big teams, and just making sure that the rest of the organisation could do their jobs, because we were making sure that they had all the information that they needed.

Jeremy Cline 10:42
So, is this information about the business, so management information that the people in charge need in order to make decisions about head counts and budgets and marketing and all that kind of thing? Or is it information, which I suppose depends on the business, which businesses need, tools, so I'm thinking in particular my own job as a lawyer, we have resources, online access to laws and cases and journals, and all that sort of stuff, so is it either of those categories, both those categories, a mixture of the two, and then some?

Trudy Rankin 11:22
Yeah, it's a mixture of the two and then some, because it's about having access to your email systems, to the databases, the legislature, the legislation that sort of governs the organisation, that rules that organisation, your procedures, libraries, online libraries, or even physical libraries. And one of the organisations that I worked with was basically Department of Conservation in New Zealand, and they have responsibility for a huge amount of the land space in New Zealand, and it's about the geospatial information about the land, where it is, what's on it, who has access, what's allowed to be done on it, all those sorts of things, and pest management, and all just really, really interesting things that you might not even think about when you think about the role that a government organisation might have within a country.

Jeremy Cline 12:21
I've had one guests describe having had less of a career than a careen, and where he bounced around, and suddenly, he found himself doing what he's doing now, and that continues to evolve. Whilst there's other people who have quite a fixed plan. I get the impression that becoming a Chief Information Officer wasn't sort of the end goal, and you had a fixed plan to do that. Is that right?

Trudy Rankin 12:48
That's exactly right. Because as I said, I fell into project management by accident, because I was helping to put in place, at the very embryonic level, one of the first all of government websites in New Zealand, and the person who was supposedly managing that project got upset. I had been there for like two days or something, something really short, and he came out of his office screaming at me, because something had happened and the budget for this project had gone over the limits. And I'm going, 'What are you talking about!? What project are you talking about!?' And it was the first time I had realised, first time I knew about the project, and I basically got handed it, and told to just bring it back on track and make it work. And it's just like, 'Oh, my, that's kind of interesting.' So, project management became my thing. And I didn't even know that such a thing as project management existed. And I didn't even know that such a thing as a Chief Information Officer type role existed until much further on. But I was really fortunate because I went from that project management surprise into working with an organisation that was responsible for implementing all of government type technology across all of the government in New Zealand. And if you know anything about working with government, you know how they're all, almost everywhere in every country, they are standalone silos that tend not to talk to each other. So, my job was to get them all talking to each other, set standards and basically make things work. And I was really fortunate in that I had a manager who recognised that I was getting to the point where I kind of learned everything I needed to learn to do that job, and I think I did a pretty good job, and they told me I did a pretty good job, and that, for me personally, it was time to take the next step up and take on more responsibility. And they didn't have the responsibility to give me in that organisation, but he was on the hiring panel for this role for Department of Conservation, Chief Information Officer role, and they hadn't been able to get any successful candidates, nobody had applied that suited the role, whereas he thought that I could suit the role, and he was willing to support me, give me coaching and help me find the confidence I think is the right way of saying it to apply for the role and then eventually be successful at getting it. So, that mentoring role, he could have chosen to see me as somebody who was a nuisance, but instead, he recognised the potential, said, 'Hey, you've done a great job here, I think you could do an even better job over here', and helped me move into that role.

Jeremy Cline 15:29
I think we could all do with a boss like that. I think they're quite rare.

Trudy Rankin 15:33
Well, I think you're right, because he's probably the best example of that. I've had a couple that were really good like that, but I've also had some that created pretty toxic workspaces to be in, and they're not pleasant.

Jeremy Cline 15:48
So, you're working now as a Chief Information Officer, it's quite a senior role, it's a point of the evolution of your career, what's starting to make you think that you might want to realise that childhood dream of going off on your own and starting your own thing?

Trudy Rankin 16:06
Well, the careening sort of part of the career kicks in again, because my husband ended up getting a job in Australia, and so my work in New Zealand finished, I moved to Australia with him. Obviously, we're still together, I quite like him. And basically, I had to completely re-establish myself in a new country with no networks and start afresh. And I ended up getting an equivalent type of a CIO role, it's not the same title, but it's the same exact sort of tasks and responsibilities, but working in local government. And things went really well for quite a long time. And then, the boss changed. And the boss that was there loved my work, thought I was doing great, the boss who came in, just to keep a long story short, I guess, needed to make their mark, and they did create quite a toxic workspace that made me go, 'Hmm, do I really want to do this for the rest of my working career? This is not fun anymore, I don't enjoy it.' I don't enjoy taking business proposals in and getting them back covered in red ink, because he didn't like having the comma in the wrong place, as opposed to asking sensible questions about the actual financials for the business case, which I would have expected to get. And so, I basically had to make a decision. Do I want to keep doing this? Do I want to do it here? Do I want to do it for another organisation? Or do I want to do something I've always, always, always wanted to do, which was to start my own business? And by that stage, I knew a lot about digital technology, had always worked to bring in digital technology where it made sense, where it would make the organisation more productive, make people's lives easier, and I just thought to myself, you know, I think it's time, time to make that leap, and I will be a lot happier if I am my own boss, and I have the ability to make my own decisions, and decide what I want to do and who I want to work with, and I don't have to be answerable to somebody who doesn't really understand what they're doing, or what it means to be a really great boss. So, having had some great bosses, they were probably up against the wall, probably not in a fair comparison, but I had to make that decision. And at the end of the day, I finally did make that decision. And in 2015, I stepped out of the organisation, and I started my own business.

Jeremy Cline 18:23
Talk a little bit more about the decision, because you've been fortunate enough to experience some pretty good bosses, so why not think, 'Okay, it's just this person, but I know there's good people out there, I am confident that I can find another organisation where I have a boss that I can work with, who appreciates me, that I work on well with', why not do that, rather than go off by yourself?

Trudy Rankin 18:24
That was something that I really thought quite seriously about. And at the end of the day, I chose not to apply for any other roles anywhere else. I chose to completely focus on making the leap to setting up my own business. And that was the really hard deciding point, because yes, I still had some years left in my career, yes, I was getting to the point where I was slightly older than some of the younger people that were in the CIO roles, and ageism is alive and well, I can tell you that, in Australia. However, I could have gotten another role, because I have a lot of experience in some things that most of your normal candidates wouldn't have, but I chose not to do that because I knew in my gut that, if I chose to work for another organisation, I would never start my own business. I would finish out my career working as a CIO in CIO roles, and I would always regret not making that leap and trying something that I had always wanted to do. So, that's a decision that I made, and I had to think about it for a very long time before I made it.

Jeremy Cline 19:25
What sort of preparatory work did you do whilst you were still in the job, and what did the transition look like? Was it stopping at five o'clock on a Friday and then starting a new business at nine o'clock on a Monday, or was there more of a phased approach than that?

Trudy Rankin 20:16
It was a little bit of a mix. Because I spent time thinking about it and talking it through with my husband and going, 'Hey, this means I'm not going to have very much money coming in for a long time, are we going to be okay financially?', those sorts of things, what would I do instead. And basically, I decided I would start with consultancy work and let things figure themselves out as I went. And I left with a bit of a cash pay-out, that's the right word, I guess, I had a little bit of cash from leaving the position that I was in. And then, that first day, and it kind of was like Friday to Monday, because on the Monday, it was a beautiful sunny day, and I jumped on my bike, because I used to ride my bike to work, because I just enjoy it, it's a really great way of getting rid of stress when you're coming and going, but I jumped on my bike and rode into the city to a shared workspace office, and just that feeling of freedom was just amazing. Amazing. I'll never forget that feeling of going, 'I am free, this feels like freedom.' Now, of course, the reality was that it takes longer to set up a business than you think. And if you don't know exactly what you're doing, because I thought I could make the jump from corporate digital technology into digital technology for small businesses, and I could consult and work with them, it turns out, there's completely different types of technology, it's just a completely different world. A lot of the stuffs the same, as in the principles are the same, but they're executed completely differently in a corporation than they are in a solopreneur or a small team. And it's just like, whoa, it took me a while to go, 'Oops, hang on, I have got to learn a lot of new skills here.' And I had to buckle down, learn those new skills, pick up work where I could, I did consultancy work, I would work with a few organisations who needed help, I'd come in to do audits of projects that were on and things like that. But it wasn't a learning experience. And it was a bit of a wakeup call. If I was going to do it again, I'd probably do the same thing again. Because when I'm working for somebody, I'm 100% working for those people. I'm there to do what they want done in order for them to succeed. So, in order for me to succeed, I really needed to stop and just focus on my business, even if it meant having very little income for the first little while and really scrambling to figure out what in the world I was doing.

Jeremy Cline 22:52
How long did it take for that feeling, if it ever went away, to go away, that 'what am I doing' to 'okay, no, this is me, this is what I do, I know what I'm doing, and this is now my business, and it is creating income for me'?

Trudy Rankin 23:06
It took me about two to two and a half years before I started feeling I know enough, that I am absolutely confident that I can actually help other people do the same thing that I've done, which is make the leap from corporate and start up a business where the focus is on the online side of things. And the reality was is that, yeah, I knew a lot then, but I still was making the transition from corporate to small business owner. And it's a journey, I don't know, I feel quite comfortable in the corporate world still, but now I really deeply, deeply understand in a way that I never did before what it's like to be a small business owner, to be a solopreneur, to be somebody with a small team who's trying to maximise revenue with wearing lots of hats, and basically doing lots and lots of tasks, and having to prioritise very, very intently, with intense purpose, in order to be able to be as effective as possible. It's an interesting, interesting, I guess, world, because you leave, especially with the role that I was in, I had like a PA, I had somebody who helped manage my diary, I had budgets, I had so many things that I probably took for granted, I didn't take the people themselves for granted, but I took the support for granted, and when you jump into a business where you're the one person just running it, you have to do everything, and it just took a while to make that adjustment.

Jeremy Cline 24:42
You said this up at the beginning, and I know you've talked on other podcasts about a situation where the wheels nearly came off. I'd love for you to tell that story.

Trudy Rankin 24:55
Oh, yeah, that was one of the biggest learning points of my whole small business owner career, my entrepreneurial career. I had done some consulting work with a crowd called Vision Australia here, who work with people who are blind and visually impaired. And I loved the work that I did with them. First off, I started by just looking at some projects that they were running and just giving them some advice. But then, I ended up getting an intern, they have this programme where they try to help people who are blind or partially sighted get work, so they have an internship thing, and I said, 'Well, I've always had interns, and I really enjoy that process of mentoring people, let's see if I can have an intern for my business.' And so I did. I got somebody, quickly discovered that they had some capabilities that they didn't realise could be monetised. And when I finished working with them, and helped them monetise the work that they were doing, I took that idea, and I went back to the CEO of Vision Australia, and I said, 'Hey, let's try running a pilot programme, where we get people who are blind or partially sighted and teach them how to set up an online business, the online part of their business.' And he said, 'Whoa, yes, let's do that.' There was no hesitation. He just said, 'Yes, let's do that.' I love it when people make decisions like that. And basically, we did, we ran that programme, it was very successful. And I then basically was able to start having conversations with a same sort of an organisation, but in another country. And we worked, talked back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, the CEO was gung-ho, they were really keen, they wanted me to run the same sort of programme, it would have been a year-long programme, or six months at a minimum, but it was expected to last longer than that over a year. And so, I made the biggest mistake of my life, which was to stop looking for other work. And I put all my eggs in the basket, that one client, because of what they said, I trusted them, I believed them when they said, 'Yes, we're going to work together, we're going to work together, we're going to work together.' And we got up to a certain point until I'd sent them the contract, and I kept waiting for them to send it back signed. And they kept saying, 'Yeah, yeah, we're going to work together.' And then just before Christmas, I got this really curt, short note that says, 'We decided to do it ourselves. Thank you for your help.' It was literally almost that short. And they took all of my ideas, I had shared a lot of my IP, took all my ideas, and they used it to get somebody else to come in and work for them, and they did it themselves. And I was left high and dry with no clients for the year, no money coming in, no pipeline, and I had to figure out what to do. And I was, I guess, I tend not to sort of be a very expressive person, or I don't blow up, I don't get cross, I don't get angry that often, I was upset, I think is the right way of saying it, I was really disappointed, but I had to sit back, and I had to say, 'Well, hang on, wait a minute, this situation had two parties to it, them and me. What did I do that contributed to this outcome? I don't like this outcome. It's not good for me, it's not good for my business.' And so, I had to sit down and figure out what I could have done differently, how I could have handled it differently, and I could have, I could have handled it differently, and then I had to sit down and figure out, well, what am I going to do to recover so that my business doesn't die, and that I can still keep on helping people. So, it was a year of scrambling, really hustling, trying to find work wherever I could pick it up, doing whatever I could do, for whomever, whether it was 60 dollars here, 100 dollars there, 1,000 dollars here, it was scrappy work. But I did it. And I learned a lot during that year about what solopreneurs and small businesses really need, where the gaps are for them, and what it is they need. And so, one of the really exciting things about that particular hard year, even though it was hard, was that I ended up applying for a grant, which was an extension of the pilot that I did for Vision Australia, but for the Australian federal government, so that I could work with carers, and help them start online businesses, so that they could have something to do for themselves, that would eventually help them just be a little bit more free from the benefit system that they have here. I put in the application, I had somebody helping me with it, I had another person helping me with it, and we put it in, didn't hear anything, didn't hear anything, didn't hear anything, and the week before Christmas, we got a letter saying 'You've been successful.' And from then on, it's been basically, let's just go, go, go, go, go, and it's just been a really, really interesting journey. But that year was one of the hardest years I've ever had. It nearly killed my business, but it didn't, and it's possible to recover from something like that if you really, really put your mind to it. And even if you have to go back and get a part-time job, or if you have to go back and maybe contract for a while, but you do that knowing that you're coming back to your business idea.

Jeremy Cline 30:03
And you talked about these scrappy pieces of work, where were they coming from?

Trudy Rankin 30:08
Well, it's interesting, because at least three times a week, I would go into the city and either work at a shared workspace, or I'd go sit in the, we have a really beautiful state library, where you can just go and work, and for a couple days a week, I'd go to the shared workspace, and there's other people there at the same time who were trying to get their businesses started. And we would talk, and they would hit these barriers where they go, 'I can't figure out the technology, I just can't get it.' I'm going, 'Really!? That's easy for me. Sure, I can help you with that.' And so, I would just say, 'Hey, do you want me to help you?' And I would just let them set the price. I know you're not supposed to do that, but I just said, 'Hey, how much can you afford? Yep, sure, I'll do it for that.' And just did it to be able to learn what did they need, how much would it bring in, was it scalable, and if it wasn't scalable, that's okay, you still help people when you can help people, and then eventually turn it into something that's actually really, really valuable and useful for people, and also helps you build your business.

Jeremy Cline 31:12
Were there points during that year where you thought, 'Okay, Trudy, well done, you've had to go at the business thing, but it's not going to work, let's go back to what you know and were successful at before'?

Trudy Rankin 31:27
Yeah, you do have these quiet conversations in your head and also with your spouse. And it's just like, well, I've got a choice, once again, it comes down to choice, how do I want to spend my time. Do I want to spend my time looking for work, work as an employee, go job hunting? Or do I want to spend the same amount of time looking for customers and trying to figure out what they need? And the employee work, looking for a job-job, takes just as much effort and just as much energy and can be very demotivating, as it does to go and look for customers and trying to figure out how to serve them in a way that fills a need that they really, really have. And so, yeah, there was a few times where I actually went to the effort of updating my resume and going through the process of going applying for something, but I always applied as a contractor. And at the end of the day, I was not successful in any of those, and I was so grateful that I wasn't, because that wasn't what I wanted to do, that wasn't where I wanted to spend my time. But I don't know, it's just one of those, I don't know what you call it, side-track things, sort of a divergent way of doing it, you do it for a little while, and you think, 'Hang on, wait, that was a waste of time. I'm going to keep on working on my business.' But for a lot of people who are trying to build a business, you do have to give yourself the grace of doing that, even if it's going, like I said, for part-time jobs or contracting jobs, but with the express purpose of doing jobs that are in the area that you're trying to build your business in, so that you're building skills, and knowing that you're going to come back to your own business as soon as you absolutely possibly, possibly can.

Jeremy Cline 33:18
Yeah, there's a couple of really interesting points, though. And one is this idea that it takes as long to look for a job as it takes to look for customers, which I think is quite an interesting way of looking at it. And the other interesting point is this idea of specifically going for jobs which are going to teach you skills for a purpose in the future, which I know is something that Robert Kiyosaki talks about in Rich Dad, Poor Dad. He talks about having got this succession of jobs for the purpose of learning the skills, which, again, that's something which I think most people probably don't think about, they don't think about what skill can I learn in this job which is going to help me either in a subsequent job or in a future career?

Trudy Rankin 34:03
Yes, I mean, for me, one of the harder skills that I've had to learn is marketing and sales, because it's not a natural thing for me. And I actually seriously considered just going for a job where I got a base salary and went on commission, just because it would force me to learn those skills. And I ended up not doing that, but I did actually go for a couple of marketing jobs and was able to realise that, hang on, I still got a couple of gaps. And I went and did a course that allowed me to pick up some skills in that space. I did a lot of reading and a lot of listening to podcasts. And eventually, you get to the place where you do have enough skills where you can at least make sales.

Jeremy Cline 34:53
Can you just talk a bit about these conversations that you were having with your husband when the wheels were coming off in this difficult year, this Christmas to Christmas period, and to the extent that you're comfortable talking about these conversations, but where was he in this, in going, 'Trudy, yes, you can do it, it's only a setback', versus 'Trudy, you've had a lovely time, but come on, let's get real and do the job thing'? I mean, where did those conversations go, and now how did you together figure out your way forward?

Trudy Rankin 35:31
I have to say that, for him, it was very much a journey, because he's from corporate world as well, he's a very intelligent person who's got a lot of experience in the corporate world, at a very expert, senior level. And so, he understood the CIO roles, he understood my world when I was in corporate CIO roles. When I stepped out of the corporate world and into the world of a small business, he didn't understand the pressures, and he didn't understand what I was trying to do. Because I had a very clear goal in my head, I wanted to be able to work in the online space, into the funnel building, making sure that people have got a great idea, they have all the bits and pieces they need to have to be able to have a website and make sure that they can build their business using the online side of things. And he didn't really understand that at first. He was supportive, from the point of view that he recognised that this was a dream that I wanted to pursue, he was happy for me to pursue the dream, it meant we did take a big hit in terms of family budget sort of things. So, we did have to make adjustments around that. However, the longer it dragged on, and especially that year where there was just very little money coming in, that was really hard for him, it was really hard for me, because he would essentially kind of go, 'Look, why don't you just go get a job?' And those would be the times when I would half-heartedly go and look to see what was on the job market and kind of go, 'That's not what I want to do.' So, I would keep trying to help him understand, help explain what it was I was trying to do and why I wanted to do that. And of course, it all paid off when I got that grant from the Australian federal government, because that was a significant amount of money, I was able to, I didn't replace my salary completely, because I chose not to spend the money on me, I chose to spend the money on basically the things that I needed to deliver the programme really, really, really well to the people that I was working with, I have a really strong passion for helping carers make a difference to their lives, because we have a grandchild who has special needs, and I've seen what it's like to be a parent of a child who has special needs, and it's, my goodness, my goodness, it's a different world. And so, I wanted the money to go towards that. And so, I chose to deliberately take a tiny salary basically. But it proved my point that there was money to be made here in this world. And over time, as I was able to talk him through what I was doing, show it to him, explain it to him, and the clincher was when he suddenly realised that you can make money from YouTube videos, because he we both enjoy watching videos about people renovating chateaus and things like that, renovating buildings, and when I explained to him how people made money from those particular types of videos and things like that, the penny dropped, the lights went on, and he got it. And ever since that point, he's been very supportive. It doesn't make him necessarily very happy during the time when the money wasn't coming in as quickly as we would have liked, but he gets it now. And he's very, very, very supportive, which is lovely. So, just, I guess, to summarise, it's a journey, you're a small business owner that's trying to take a partner along the journey with you, if they don't get it, it's actually your job to help them understand it. It's not their job to support you. You have to help them understand it.

Jeremy Cline 39:25
And what does the future look like for both you and your business? What's your five-year vision, 10-year vision, if you have one?

Trudy Rankin 39:33
Well, I do actually, I have a really strong vision for actually helping more people start and grow businesses online, digital assets that are things that are going to make them get the success that they want. And so, my husband kind of groans whenever I say this, but I can still see myself in 10 years' time 20 years' time, still working on this business, still growing it, still helping people, and just making a difference for the people, especially for people who, because of their circumstances in life, don't have a lot of choice in what they do for work, so carers, caregivers, stay-at-home parents, people with disabilities, or people who are over a certain age who are finding that they're faced with difficulties getting work because of how old they are, and it's just that I really enjoy helping people find an idea, start their business, and then grow it beyond the beginner stage, get them to the stage where they have the skills they need, to then start to use tools like quizzes and things like that, to really just rocket boost their businesses and grow it, and start to make a difference. Because if I can help this many people, and they help this many people, it's an exponential growth thing for the number of people that can have a slightly better life because of the work that's been done.

Jeremy Cline 41:01
This ripple effect, you help someone and then they help someone, and it just gradually ripples out into this virtuous circle, he says, mixing his metaphors entirely. But yeah, you get what I mean. That sounds fantastic. You mentioned briefly how you did a lot of learning podcasts, that sort of thing, particularly on the marketing side. What books, podcasts, tools, resources, have you found just really helped you with your journey that you'd like to recommend to people?

Trudy Rankin 41:34
There's so many, so very many people who, I've either listened to the podcasts, basically Smart Passive Income podcast with Pat Flynn, there's the James Schramko's podcast, I'm just trying to think, Amy Porterfield, Nikki Roush, there's so many who have helped me with specific types of things. There's another one that's called Flipped Lifestyle. And basically, some of them you listen to because they bring you hope, some of them you listen to because they give you tips on how to do things better. But I also did a lot of reading, and mostly books. And if it's okay, I'll list the four that have made the biggest difference for me, just at different stages in my entrepreneurial journey. And the very first one is a book called Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. I don't know if you've heard of it, but Profit First is a framework for managing your money as a business. And it genuinely has saved my hide, it was one of the key reasons why I was able to survive financially during that terrible year, because you make sure that you divvy up your money on a regular basis, and you always set aside the profit for yourself first. It's a framework, it's just really, really good, and like I said, it saved my bank, and it's one of the reasons my business is still around. And then, as the business grew, there's another book called Traction by Gino Wickman, which is for businesses who have gotten to the stage where you have a team, and you need some tools to be able to manage that team. Now, I had lots of tools at my disposal, because I have been a CIO with big teams before, but it's completely different when you're working with little teams of entrepreneurial minded people who are helping you do something big. And so, basically, the tools that are there with Traction, that this guy, Gino Wickman, provides, they're really, really, really helpful. And I still use those tools now. Atomic Habits by James Clear, just as a way of helping me start to build into my weekly routine, my weekly working routine, the things that I need to do on a regular basis, that are the core foundational parts of my business, like my podcast, creating content, working with the people in my community, having that has been really useful. And then, there's another one called Work Less, Make More by James Schramko. And he's got a few concepts in his book that I went, 'Oh, dear, I have not been implementing those. I need those.' And so basically, putting those in place has helped me take a slightly different look at the financial side of my business, if that makes sense.

Jeremy Cline 44:21
Fantastic. Well, plenty of material there for people to get their teeth into. Trudy, if people want to find you and get in touch with you, where would you like them to go?

Trudy Rankin 44:30
If people want to connect with me, they can go to LinkedIn and just reach out and say, 'Hey, I heard you on Jeremy's podcast, I'd love to connect.' That's if you want to come and connect with me personally. If you're more interested in what I do, onlinebusinessliftoff.com, that's all one word, onlinebusinessliftoff.com, and there you can see everything that I've got there in terms of my programmes and the resources that are there that people can then use to just either get started on a business or work their way through a business that they already have.

Jeremy Cline 45:03
Brilliant. As always, links to those will be in the show notes. Trudy, thank you so much for coming on and telling your story.

Trudy Rankin 45:09
Oh, thanks for having me, Jeremy. I really appreciate it.

Jeremy Cline 45:12
Okay, hope you enjoyed that interview with Trudy Rankin of Online Business Lift-Off. First of all, I can't really imagine how hard it must have been for Trudy when she'd spent all that time, all her effort, all her energy, working on that project, only to be told that it wasn't going ahead. And also, when she's put in a lot of her own intellectual property, which they had basically taken and used for themselves. It'd be enough to make anyone furious, angry, upset, and I'm sure that Trudy was all of those things. But one of the things that she did was recognise that this was, to an extent, on her, because she hadn't got a formal contract in place. And secondly, she thought about how she could recover from it. She described that year's recovery as one of the hardest years she had ever had. But I thought what was really interesting was that, whenever she thought about, okay, maybe it's time just to go back to the job, let's just dust off the CV, she'd started applying for jobs, and there was this inner voice screaming at her, 'No! You just don't really want to do this!' And it can be quite useful to sort of test yourself in this way. Consider a possible path and then look inside and see how it feels to you, see what your internal reaction is to it. There's a lot to be said for gut feeling. Someone told me that gut feeling is really your subconscious having processed all the information, and you're unaware of it, but then it's telling you what the result is of all that internal subconscious processing. So, when you hear this internal voice going, 'No, you really don't want to do that', it might be worth listening to it. There's links to the resources that Trudy mentioned, a summary of the interview and a full transcript on the show notes page for this episode, which you will find at changeworklife.com/160, that's changeworklife.com/160, for episode 160. Now, it's all very well when your internal senses are screaming to you not to do something or that you don't want to do something. But how do you figure out what you would like to do? Well, I've got a couple of exercises on my website which might help you to start to figure that out. There's one exercise which encourages you to go and look back at your work history to see what sort of things you did enjoy, what you didn't enjoy, what were your favourite memories. And there's another exercise where you project forward and have a look at what you'd really like your perfect life to look like. You'll find those exercises at changeworklife.com/happy, that's changworklife.com/happy, or if you go onto the website changeworklife.com, eventually you'll see a little pop up on the side where you can send your email, and I will send the exercises. The link again is changeworklife.com/happy. There's more to come in two weeks' time, so make sure you have subscribed to the show, if you haven't already, and I can't wait to see you in the next episode. Cheers. Bye.

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