To kick off the very first episode of the podcast, I thought it would be polite of me to introduce myself and share my business journey thus far. So my name is Donna Hann and I've been inspired by business and business owners from a really young age. I watched my parents move countries and build a business from the ground up with no family support, and next to no capital or cash flow in those early days. And sadly, I also watched it all fall apart when the business went bankrupt following my parents divorce. I'm a Mum of two boys aged five and eight and I'm married to a typical Aussie bloke who is a shift worker. He loves to tinker fixing stuff around our property. He enjoys a beer and he loves riding dirt bikes and sometimes I think you might actually love his dirt bike more than me!
My youngest son is also obsessed with riding motorbikes. And my oldest is really soft hearted nature lover with a lot of energy. We live in a little seaside town in regional Queensland, but we're not originally from here. So I was born in the UK and I moved to Perth, who at the age of about six. My husband is a true blue Aussie dinky-di guy and he grew up on a dairy farm in Southwest Victoria and we actually met in outback Australia, we were both working on a construction job and decided that Queensland might be a great place to go and try out for a few years and 10 years later, we're still here. We don't have a lot of family around. So our friends have really become our chosen family and oh my goodness, I treasure my friends. So so much.
My business journey officially started at the age of 19. So I started a children's party entertainment business and very quickly, I became booked out every weekend, and I was so grateful for that because it paid my way through university. I actually studied Performing Arts at university and I loved having my own business, I was absolutely hooked to get paid $100 an hour at that time and entertain kids as their favourite character as a performing arts student. It was so much fun. I had the dream job. And that business wrapped up when I decided to travel the world and I returned to Australia after travelling the world and I tested my hand in fly in fly out construction work, which is where I met my husband. So with the hard hats and steel capped boots, (you know, I totally changed things up from where I was in being a performing art student) And after a couple of years of doing that we moved to Queensland and as I said, we started a family.
And at that time when starting a family I found myself really itching to get back into business and I experimented with a few different things, including multi level marketing businesses, which turned out to be not my thing. But as a family, we loved to go camping a lot, and we still do. And back then, as a new Mum, I found a children's product which I absolutely loved. And I saw a great potential in a business for it within my local area. So I called the company I became a wholesaler and I shaped a whole new business providing products which met the needs of travelling families, and it was called Tiny Travellers. Later on, I sold that business, and I settled in to welcome the arrival of my second baby, who is my dirtbike fanatic.
And here I was thinking that I would be entirely satisfied with being a stay at home Mum with a new baby and a three year old. But again, when my second baby was six months old, that itch came back with a vengeance. And I found myself looking to create another new business. So this time, I went back to my roots of being a performer and I opened a dance studio in partnership with a friend. Within three months, we had 100 students, and we opened a second location, which was a lot for a small regional seaside town, right! And quickly, we doubled our student numbers, we began to employ a team of teachers. And in 2017, I bought out my business partner, and within 12 months of that the team grew to 10 members, and our student numbers hit 300, which was, you know, bigger than some local primary schools in the area, it was pretty crazy! But it did feel also pretty amazing to have such rapid growth. But because of that rapid growth, I had no time to put systems in place. And every process was pretty much ad hoc. And it was pretty stressful. And it became quite overwhelming. And my days were spent, they were just spent working while the kids slept, or, you know, I packed them in front of the TV to get through all the admin work that I had to do. And then I'd hand them to the babysitter who would care for the kids while I went to the dance studio until my husband got home from his job. And once I got home from my job at the studio, I'd have a shower, and then I'd be back behind the computer. And often, you know, I'd be behind the computer till the early hours of the morning. And I was absolutely beyond tired, I was exhausted.
And I'm sure that many of us have experienced this, Mum guilt would you know, pretty well wake me up during the night and it would interrupt the little sleep that I actually got. And my relationship with my husband was (to put it lightly) it was in tatters. And so I kept telling myself that it would get better that it would get easier. But as the business continued to grow, so too did the anxiety and the worry, and I don't know if you've ever experienced this too, but from talking to lots of women in business, it's not uncommon. And I distinctly remember, one night lying in bed, it was about 2am, I was wide awake, I was swallowed up in the overwhelming to do list that I had. And I was wallowing in that disappointment of how again, another full day was spent at my desk and in the studio instead of being present with my kids.
I realised that I could continue on that path, the path of being overwhelmed and completely exhausted and squeezing as much as I possibly could into 24 hours and still feeling like I wasn't really showing up in all the areas of my life, you know, being a present Mum and a wife. And you know, that area was really lacking. And it didn't sit well with me.
At that time, at 2am/1am in the morning, whatever time it was, (it was really early in the morning!) I decided that I needed to do things differently. I could either close the business, or I could seek out ways to change the way that I did business. And the first option; closing the business was not really something that I wanted to pursue. I knew I wanted to have a business and it was a successful business. So I didn't want to let that go. But the last option of keeping the business and changing the way I did it changing the way I ran thing was much more appealing. So I decided I needed to figure out how to do things differently.
So on that night, I got up out of bed, I sat at my well worn desk chair and I started to brain dump all the reasons why I decided to start the business in the first place and I dug into my core purpose. I identified areas and tasks within the business that were really dragging me down and I listed down all the things I could automate, delegate or delete. Over the next few months, I created procedures and I asked my team members, my key team members to do the same and we introduced new systems. We also introduced some automations. And I began to really plan out my time and plan business goals and review my progress on a regular basis and also started to say no to things that do didn't serve those goals or those needs of the business. And then over the next 12 months, I got to know my numbers. And this was really game changing, because I began to tweak my expenses and adjust my pricing. And I watched my profit rise to six figures, which was just incredible. And the stress and the overwhelm began to dissipate. I worked less, I trained myself to switch off from it, and to be present with my family.
I scheduled days off to rest and recharge, and reflect on how I was feeling, and really listen to my own needs, not just everybody else's needs. I actually made time for me and it changed my whole outlook.
But you know, part of my podcast, is that I really want to be raw and real here and tell you that, although I was seeing an amazing difference in my business and the way that it ran, and my relationship with my husband, at that point had, over the years become really frayed, and we'd become quite distant from each other. And that was a result of years of not really being present for each other. And it wasn't solely due to the pressure that the business had put on my time and energy. There are other contributing factors too, of course, you know, he has a managerial position, and he works really long hours on a rotating and day night shift. But more than our work demands, and more than raising two boisterous boys on the opposite side of the country, to our family, you know, we'd lost our connection. And we'd lost who we were as a couple. And it was a really hard decision. But we decided to (at that point) have a trial separation, and that lasted for five months. And and it was heartbreaking. The ironic thing that was, you know, it was so ironic that my business had become so much easier to manage, because of all the changes that I put in place. But for too many years, we'd failed to nurture our relationship. And it was just, it was devastating. So devastating. And but the good news is that we did work really hard over that five month period, and we recovered from it. And now we are stronger and more in love than ever, thank goodness! And like everything, it's not without work, you know, we continue to work hard every day on our relationship,
That experience really taught me and it taught him so much. And on a few different levels. It also made me really passionate about helping other women in business, transform the way that their business runs. Because we need to show up for the people who mean the most to us, we need to be present and have the time to work on ourselves and on our relationship, because let me tell you.. when it falls apart, man, it hurts, you know, the whole family hurts! And the other reason why it's so important for me to tell this story and help other women in this way is because we also need to show up and be present for ourselves.
We need to have the time to stop to pause and really listen to our heart and dedicate ourselves to reflect and rest and recharge. You know, through that experience of separating from my husband and the experience of reshaping my business, I had to reconnect with myself, I had no choice! I had to honour me, my wants, my needs, and I had to empower myself to express them and take action on them. Because when you show up for yourself, and you show up as your best self, then you can be everything that you need to be for your family, for your business. And that's really, really important.
And the other reason is, in those five months, you're always really faced with the idea of being a single Mum and I lived that life as a single Mum for five months. And it was really polarising. I fully realised that having my own business was so important for my financial independence, for that flexibility of working my own hours around the needs of the kids. So if you're a single mom, I feel you and you know, I want to help you to grow your business to be profitable to allow you the freedom to work the hours that you want to work or need to work, so that you can then be there for your kids because they need you to be there so much as a single Mum. You've got to be there so much, you need to be there for them during that time. And they need a Mum with resilience and with energy to handle all those emotions and to give all the love that you can. You know, it's one of the hardest experiences that I've ever been through in my life. So, if you're living that right now, I take my hat off to you. I really, really do!
Nowadays, our little family spends lots of time together and my bricks and mortar business, (the dance school) now runs 90% of the time with my team teaching the dance classes and I have fabulous studio coordinator. So I'm very grateful to them, because not only does it mean I can be more present with my family now, but I was also able to start a new venture. Which is a business called she's in business, which we recently celebrated its first birthday.
So if you listen to the preview episode, episode zero, you'll know that I'm on a mission to share my knowledge and my experience with women who are ready to rise to the next level. And I do that through my online programme called Ready to Rise and with private coaching, and also with this podcast. So I'm building an online community, a space where women can share and bounce ideas and be raw and really real, without the fear of being judged and to share their wins and the things that maybe didn't go so well. And also to get guidance from me because I know firsthand how lonely it can be in business. And I don't want you to feel that you need to feel that you're not alone. There are other women out there just like you feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, but knowing that they were made for more. So if you want to join a community of like minded women, you have my personal invite to join our Facebook group. And you can find the link in the show notes or in my Instagram bio to join the free Facebook group and become an important member of our community of emerging business savvy and heart centred women. So you know, we've all got a story. We're all partway through a journey that is filled with highs and lows and everything in between and we only get one life and we are all worthy of living the life the way that we want to. So thanks for taking the time to listen to my story today. And I really look forward to sharing more with you in the coming episodes. So have a fabulous day and shine like the universe is yours!