Donna: My guest on the She's in Business podcast today is Marguerite Howlett, a Kiwi who I've known for around five years now. She's a mum of two and she's been in business for 17 years. Marguerite's entrepreneurial spirit really started to shine from the age of just 11. She was helping her Mum out at work and in a team she sold makeup and beauty products door to door. So it was no surprise that at the right age of 18, she started her own dance studio, the Renaissance School of Dance in New Zealand, bringing her love of dance and being a role model together with her business.
In this episode, we chat about Marguerite's business journey, how it started and how it's evolved to what it is today. We talk about the importance of aligning your business with core values, which you've listened to any of my other podcasts before, you know, that I love making sure that you align your business to core values and also consistency as a business owner and managing that inner critic.
Marguerite has won a few different business awards; The Young Business Person of the year and finalist in the Excellence in Emerging Business category in 2008, and she was only 22 at the time.
She's a pretty high flyer business woman, if you ask me, and since then, she has grown her studio from 20 students to 450 students at her dance studio. And also she has taken her dance knowledge and her expertise into thousands of more children within the local school system.
So, what you'll discover, I think as you listened to the podcast, is that Marguerite has an amazing work ethic and she has so much passion. She is passionate about finding solutions on the options that are available to her working often within a limited budget. She's also the queen of consistency and steady effort over time.
So when we dive into the chat, we do talk about the importance of investing in your professional development. And if you've been thinking of investing in yourself either to start your own business or to grow the one that you have. At the moment, I have a private coaching package that is available to podcast listeners.
So one-on-one, I'll help you to accelerate your business journey, align your business to your heart centered values and get a beautiful work-life blend so that you can really spend more time with the people that you love and also take self care time for you as well. So if that's of interest, to you can check it out on my website; donnahann.com/coaching.
So let's get on with the podcast with the lovely Marguerite Howlett.
So welcome to the podcast Marguerite is lovely to have you!
Marguerite: Thanks for having me.
Donna: So Marguerite tell us a little bit about you. You're currently in lockdown, which I know. So tell me a little bit about you, your business journey, like where it started and what you do.
Marguerite: Where it started. I think I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit. At intermediate school, I was labeled the most likely to become prime minister!
I don't know why, because I'm not really big on politics and opinions. And, but I think that was probably more the leadership aspect and having a vision. So I had a few businesses, like little side hustles when I was 11, 14, throughout being a teenager. And then when I was 18, I was given the opportunity to start my own dance studio. And I jumped at it because I told my mom when I was five, that I was going to be just like my Dad's teacher yeah, right. When I was 18, I turned around and I said, see, I told you, yeah.
And so that was 17 years ago. And I look back now, I'm like, how, how am I still in business? I mean, I guess looking back on it, like I'm still full of passion, real passionate about consistency and just putting the work in. In the last five years, since I've had kids, it's kind of flipped, whereas I it's consistent, but it's not so much about putting the work in. It's putting in less work, but efficiently.
Donna: Yeah. And that's part of the thing I want to talk about as we get further into the podcast, because when we have been doing things a certain way, and then you throw kids into the mix, it really changes the dynamic. And I think it changes your mindset and everything that you do.
But we've known each other now for about four or five years, I think pretty sure is about five years. Yeah. Yeah. And we met through a dance studio owners mastermind group. And when I first met you, I remember seeing you at the Melbourne conference that we went to five years ago and you had so much energy and enthusiasm for everything and you were totally, you're totally magnetizing and friendly. And so giving them your knowledge and you also had a newborn baby with you, like a tiny, he was so fresh. Like he was sleeping 24 hours a day. He was teeny tiny. And so, you know, at that time, I don't know if you remember but going back five years ago, I was literally struggling to keep my eyes open during that conference. I was so depleted and exhausted, and I think my kids at the time were like 18 months and four years old. And I was totally burning the candle at both ends. And I know a lot of women experience this, and especially when you throw kids into the mix, it's kind of like sometimes you're just on survival mode and the choice to not burn the candle at both ends, just isn't an option to you. You've just got to keep going. And so the other thing that had kind of happened at that stage was I had like the day that the conference started was the day that my business was solely mine because I'd purchased, like I bought my business partner out of the business. And so like, stress levels were huge, and I look, oh my God, I look back on photos of that conference, and literally my eyes are tiny because I'm so exhausted and I can't keep them open.
Marguerite: You could probably see it, but other people probably didn’t.
Donna: But now
Marguerite: I remember having a conversation with you about that, and you were looking at me and go, oh my gosh, what are you doing? I look back on it now I'm like, oh my gosh! At the time. I was probably faking it till I make it and was making out to you, like I had it all under control.
Donna: Yeah. And I think that the reason that I bring this up is because we both have totally, I think reshaped our work life blend that we probably were living back then.
Marguerite: And now look at you, you're training other people on how to do it.
Donna: Yeah. And I'm loving it. Like it's amazing. And I love sharing what I do and how I do it with other women because you know, and that's part of being, bringing this podcast to life is because I want to show other women, other mums in business that it is possible. And the journey, like it, isn't always like click your fingers and it's amazing, like, there is a journey that we all go through, right?
So, yeah. And I remember looking at you and you looked like you had an all together, you had this newborn baby and your partner was there with you at the conference and you were totally invested in what you're doing. I'm like, what kind of sorcery is this? How is she making this happen?
Marguerite: I think that was still the honeymoon period.
Because I remember the next conference we were at where the baby didn't come with me. He was a bit older, then. I was still breastfeeding though. So every break we had, I would run up to the hotel room. It squeezed it out. That conference was hard being away and in a completely different country, the three days.
Donna: Amazing, amazing. So for the benefit of everyone listening, like let's talk about, like, I feel like one of the most important things when you're growing a business is not only surrounding yourself with other amazing women who get what you're doing, like other entrepreneurial women, so important. But also I'd love to talk about your thoughts on investing in your own professional development. Given that that's how we met and that's how our worlds came to orbit together. So what are your thoughts around investing in professional development?
Marguerite: Oh, I'm a junkie! I would watch videos, read books and listen to podcasts all day, but I like my word for this, it was action. Stop learning and go and do it. Yeah. And I think in the past, cause that's probably about where it started to really sink in for me that I've got a legit business and I can make it work. We have to make it work because now I got kids, I go out and if I want to learn something, I'll, I'll learn it. I'll find out where to learn it from, if it's going to take money, then do your research about what, what program you're investing in it. Is that what you're really going to, are you actually going to do the work? Because like I said, it, it would be good knowing stuff, but you got to take the action.
Donna: Yeah. Completely agree. Yeah. And like something that I have always done. I think even when I worked for other people, I would always be searching for ways to learn.
Like you, I think that I’m the life long learner. I like, I love learning, right. And so, but when it becomes your own business and you can't just like, say to your employer, Hey, I want to do this course, can you pay for me? It's a little bit different.
Marguerite: Well, I still have people to bounce it off. I'm like, I want to do this course.
It's going to cost $10,000. What do you think? Like, especially when it's that much money, you kind of do need a backup. So you think this is right investment?
Donna: Yeah. And that's the thing, like I think I, since about 2017, 2018, on average, I've spent at least fifteen thousand a year on professional development, because the return on that investment, I feel like you just can't put a value on that.
Like, and 15 grand is a lot, like, and not everyone has that kind of cashflow in their business to be able to afford to do that. And I totally understand that. But what you can do when you invest in that kind of professional development. And it might not be like 15 grand, it could be like $500 or it could be a book that costs you $30, whatever it is.
Marguerite: I was just going to say, free go to your local library. Yeah.
Donna: So whatever it is, like investing in your own professional development as a business owner, I think is absolutely so important because you need to keep growing and you need to keep reshaping what you're doing and learning from others. And, you know, you don't want to be going stale and the best way to keep your business fresh and to also stay motivated as well as a business owner
Marguerite: Specially during lockdown.
Talking about like conferences and stuff, cause I know you totally gobble that up, like I do. And you know, if you're registering to online webinars and you're doing all that kind of online learning, especially now that we've gone through this amazing shift that a lot of stuff is online because of COVID like, it's really pushed us into like looking at things differently.
Do you? And because you're such a great learner, like I love the way that you learn and implement. So I'm interested to know here's my question, because I'm getting a bit long-winded here. Here's my question. I'm interested to know what do you during and after attending a business event or a conference or online, whatever to get the most from it. Do you have like a bit of a system? Or a...
Marguerite: I have well there's notes during the conference itself and I've always, I've always liked journaled and notebooks since for as long as I can remember, even as a kid, I was always making scrapbooks and I, I guess just going back and reading it and prioritizing what is the number one thing that I can. I actually do that at the end of each day of the conference. What is the number one thing I could do tonight? What's one tiny thing. Who can I message? What website can I look up? We'll sign up for to move that needle one step further. And then I was block out two, three days after the conference as well to go back through the notes as well and prioritize it again.
Do this, do this, do this...
Donna: I do similar. Yeah. I always, my notepad is always messy and pages and pages and pages when I go to conferences and then I usually at the end of each day, go with a highlighter and I highlight all the things that really stand out. And then at the end of the conference, I'll block out a whole day and I'll rewrite my notes. Which is a little bit, a little bit like
Marguerite: What that solidifies it in your brain.
Donna: Yeah. It takes time though. Like it's a full day where I'd go. If I could say it's a three-day conference, I will book four days in the hotel. And then I usually find myself a cute little cafe or somewhere that feels good.
Marguerite: I think we've done that together before as well.
Donna: I think we did, as I think that was in Sydney. When we went to the Sydney conference, we did that together and I feel like that's the most effective way that we've made that with that investment that I've made to attend that conference. That extra day is really where I get the most out of the conference. Because like you said, it's that, do you know that Ebbinghaus forgetting curve?
Have you ever heard of that? So the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve is this theory that describes the decrease in our ability or our brains ability to retain memory over time.
Marguerite: Uh, this is why we tell our dance students practice tonight and tomorrow, and you'll remember it next week.
Donna: Exactly. Exactly. So we lose 50 to 80% within 24 hours of learning it.
Marguerite: Having that sleep. Yeah.
Donna: And so one of the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve is that you spend 10 minutes to review whatever you've learnt within 24 hours of learning it. And that will like boost your retention really, really high. And then seven days later you spend five minutes just reactivating what you've learned. And then on day 30 you spend one or two, to review that, and what it does is it actually boosts that retention of that information back up to that 75, 80% compared to like losing all of that. So like, yeah, for me, when I go to a conference that day of extra, where I can just really sit down and like you said, like pull your notes together and what is my action steps? What else do I need to make sure I can get that action happening? What does that look like for the next 90 days? Just makes such a big difference.
Marguerite: I still actually have my notebooks as well, and I go back and read them. Yes, that's right. I was going to do that.
Donna: Yeah. Yeah, exactly, exactly. And now I know you mentioned before books, you love books.
Marguerite: I have a problem.
Donna: So are you reading any really great books at the moment?
Marguerite: Let me just look at my shelf. At the moment, nothing's jumps out to me at the moment, but I can tell you about some I read in the last few months.
Donna: Yeah. Do, because lockdown is great for that, right?
Marguerite: Yes. That's why so many on the go at the moment. In terms of like practical habit stacking, Atomic Habits by James clear. I mean, it's not, it's not rocket science, but just the way he writes it out makes sense. And it's not like you've got to do these habits for 21 days and go big or go home. It's just do a little thing. Like you've probably heard of it before, put your gym shoes next to your bed. So when you wake up in the morning, you put them on or wear your gym, clothes to bed. I didn't go that hardcore. Relating habits to each other. So I think my mum probably taught me this when I was a kid. Like when you get up to make your breakfast, you put your vitamins next to your cereal so that you remember to take your vitamins. So you connect your habits together. And since reading that book, I've gotten into the habit of waking up really early. Which I seem to find myself waking up earlier and earlier I wake up at four o'clock this morning so I could watch to watch a webinar. Yeah. So that's, so that's Atomic Habits by James clear.
I think I've enjoyed reading Oprah Winfrey books in the last few months. I'm not normally a woo woo kind of person, but they've written really nice. The pictures are a beautiful, but it says kind of got quotes from all her interviews that are presented over the years.. Wow. Yeah. And it's a good kind of reflection book, reflecting on your life, reflecting on your goals and where you're going and yeah.
Donna: Cool. What's that one called?
Marguerite: Um, she's done a few of them. One of them is the Path Made Clear.
Donna: Okay. Yeah. I can put the links in the show notes to anyone who's interested in having a look at those. So one of the things that I know you really pride yourself on, and I've seen it through your business, so you should absolutely pride yourself on it is consistency and growth, like consistent growth.
And I know that we have spikes in our businesses where we have like this huge growth period, and then things quieten down again, and we have that like sprint and then rest, but you are a queen of that consistent growth over time. So I'd love for you to tell us, like, tell us about your, I guess your philosophy or your strategies behind that so that other people can learn from.
Marguerite: Yeah. So the growth is actually one of our business values and it plays into their always learning aspect and reading and consuming knowledge. And I think it's also being. Comes out of the idea of taking your own path and not comparing your path to somebody else's.
That's been a huge philosophy in my life because I was never the best dancer in my class. I was the tallest. So I was always at the back. I was never the best, the best, always the short ones that got to go on the front line. And that's something that I bring into my business as well, running dance classes is that it's not about being the best. It's about enjoying it for the fact of just enjoying it. Don't compare what you can do as what somebody else can do, because you can do things that they can't and they can do things that you can't. I think, yeah, that's kind of, what I'm thinking back to when I first started in business, you know, I was 18 and I had jumped into the deep end. I looking back now, I had no idea what I was doing. I was just like, I want to teach dance to the kids. How hard could it be if. I just learn from your mistakes along the way,
Donna: You know what I think that is so true for so many business owners, particularly if what you're going into has always been like your hobby and something that has just been, um, you know, the purpose of it is for pleasure, right.
For enjoyment or whatever, right. And so when you go, yeah, I can totally do this. This is going to be so easy and fun, and this is my dream job. And then all of the administration starts kicking in and, you know, running a business, there's this administration for the particular type of business that you have, and then there's administration just for having a business, like your books and all of that kind of stuff, and learning that is a steep learning curve, like, whoa. And you don't realize until you're in the thick of it, that you've got all this other stuff that has to go along with the hobby, like what is this!!
Marguerite: To go from being the technician to the business owner, to the CEO?
Donna: Yeah, absolutely. So how did you navigate your way through.
Marguerite: Well joining that mastermind group was definitely a big learning curve. Yes. I think I fell in love with it. Like I love that the CEO stuff now I don't do the day-to-day stuff anymore, which is actually great in terms of flexibility and freedom because I get to choose when and where I work and the business continues to run a great team. I've got great staff. That was probably one of my first learning curves actually is staff. Yeah. Not assuming that they know what I'm talking about or what I want them to do, communicating the vision of the business to start with the values. This is how things work around here. And this is what I expect of you that I remember that was one of the hardest things to start learning.
So I was reading a lot of books about people management and leadership.
Donna: I talk a lot about this in the ready to rise program, we actually go through, one of the modules is all about, setting your values and, you know, making sure your values are aligned to your vision and then your mission and everything like into loops together, right.
Then just giving that to your staff and saying, here's our values. And they look at those and we all have different conditioning for different upbringings. You think a particular word means or a particular sentence means may not necessarily be how it translates to them. And so that's where I feel like when you have your behaviors that underpin those values or like how, okay, so here's our values.
How do we demonstrate them through our behaviors? What does that actually look like? What do I expect of you when you're showing up as the face of the business, I expect you to be in your uniform and all of those kinds of things. I found that was really key with staff as well, because, you think, oh, well, I was brought up and raised to be that when you go to work, you present yourself really well because you're present, you're representing a company.
But that's not always natural for other people. So having those really clear things, and that's just one example right. Of a very basic behavior, but that has a massive impact on the business itself. There's so much more that happens underlying that with customer service and you know, so much.
Marguerite: Yeah. It wasn't, I was always thinking again, I'm not the woo woo kind of person. So when I was like, oh right, your mission and values. Lovey-dovey and you know, the fire and dancing around it. But when I actually started doing it and sharing it with my team, there was some team members who were like, this is crap.
After a while I realized you can't be around here. Yeah. You don't fit here. This is why we don't get along. This is why we're always having troubles is because we don't align in our values. You don't believe what I believe. So it made it much easier to get rid of that person. Yeah, absolutely because they didn't miss it.
This is actually goes to customers as well. I've had situations where, you know, they're getting angry, angry about something and I'll just kind of sit back. And I was like, I don't think we're right for you anymore. If that's what you're looking for, you need to go find it somewhere else because we don't offer that here.
Donna: Yeah. And I think it's really tricky because you don't, you know, you're a nice person. I'm a nice person. You don't go out into the world to make somebody else's day crappy. If that customer or that staff member, or actually anyone in your life, you know, you've got friends and family members as well, that don't align to your values.
Not that that if you don't go onto my values, then you're out. So like, obviously there has to be, differences in people, you know, like, but what I'm talking about here is your core values. Like if someone is around you in your life in general, and when they are around you, you have this sort of visceral reaction in your body and you feel icky and it's just always uncomfortable and it never feels good if
Marguerite: Something's not right.
Donna: Yeah. That's when you need to go, okay, what's going on here? And, and it's okay to, you know, not have that person in your life anymore. Like, it's, it's hard, it's freeing, but it is free, but it's done. Yeah, absolutely.
Marguerite: That's a life lesson really is that everyone's different, but that's okay.
Yeah. That's what you believe. That's what I believe. Let's agree to disagree and move on. And both of us will be much happier in our lives.
Donna: That's right. It, yeah. I love, I love that. And so tell me then, okay, so you've been through the journey of starting your business as an 18 year old and massive learning curves.
And you know, we've talked about a few of those things. What then was different when you introduce children into the mix?
Marguerite: I think initially it was my naivety. Like staff or customers were asking, oh, and how long are you going to take off for maternity leave? I was like, what are you talking about? I'm not taking any time off. You can't, you have a baby. You've got no idea what it's like. And I said, well, that baby will come to work with me. Like how hard could it be. With the first one that was fine. And I mean, that's what I talked through with newborn babies. I'm like newborn babies are easy. Like there's nothing compared to the bigger the kids. The bigger the kids, the bigger the problems. Take your baby to work late forever. You know, I think it was just easy. I had a really easy baby.
It wasn't until he was running around and becoming more annoying and wanting attention all the time. That's where I started to shift. I was like, this is not going to work. I need to have focused children time and focused mommy work time. I got myself, a standing desk so that he could play in the round under my feet. And I could still work. Also prioritizing what I was delegating to other people like what can I do while I'm still looking after a toddler and what needs real focus time that perhaps someone else can do, or I will have to do when he's at grandma's.
Yeah, just a real reflection on how am I going to make this work? How can I make my life easier? Given the current situation that we're in.
Donna: Yeah. Cause it is a season of life. Isn't it? Like your newborn is a season. The toddler is a season and our businesses have seasons too, that interloop through that. And it's sometimes tricky to get that dynamic, you know, manageable
Marguerite: Now I've got, now I've got two of them. I've got a four year old and a one-year-old, but both me and my partner were like, if we could just get one of them to be looked after, by someone at it's so much easier to look after one child than two, depending on what jobs we have on at the time, depends on which child gets shifted off to grandparents because the four year old were happily spend an hour watching YouTube. Where's the one-year-old won't. But we can get heaps of work done while she's having her lunchtime nap, but we still have to entertain the four year old. So it's all a big game and puzzle, but I mean, we work it out and like I say, I like to get up early, whereas my partner likes to stay up late. So that kind of works out.
Donna: When it came to knowing that you had to start delegating more, now, I know you that you were delegating before you had children as well, but for a lot of Mums in business in particularly, you know, when you're first starting a business and you don't have a massive amount of cashflow and you're trying to do everything as most economically as possible.
And that usually means you do all the work and you don't pay somebody else to do it. Every business owner does, right. So when you were like, no, I'm ready to now start delegating to staff. What were your steps that you started to do to make that possible? And also like, as part of that journey and part of that learning and delegating, what did you discover that was most effective when you came to delegating?
Marguerite: So. I think the first thing I remember, the first thing I got rid of was handwriting birthday cards. I'd say to the kids at the studio because I hated that job.
So it's like, ah, some other person can do this. Surely it's not hard. So I wrote out instructions, but I mean, that's basic enough and that's basically how I've done all the delegating from now on to add into that mix is figuring out people's area of genius. I hated doing it, but my office girl, she's like, ah, that would be amazing. I love scrapbooking. I'd have to put stickers all over it. And I was like, oh, thank God. You can do that. Yeah. So I figuring out your area of genius. What do you love doing? What do you hate doing? Actually, no, I lied. The first thing that I delegated was bookkeeping. My Mum's an accountant, but being an entrepreneur when I started my business, I said, no, no, no, I'll, I'll do it, but you teach me what to do and I'll do it. I want to take ownership. And I remember being at 10 o'clock at night, trying to count as cash because back in those days we used cash cash. I would be in tears because I don't know where that $20 has gone and somebody gave me money. And I can't remember who gave it to me. And I just, and then it just, and my Mum was like, well, I'll do it for you.
And it just broke my heart that I wasn't able to take ownership of that. But after a while I realized actually it's a weight off my shoulders, and now I can do things that like, And it’s probably more efficient if somebody else can do that better than I can, great. And I've just grown on that over the years.
And, but even things now that I do love to do, if it's something that I have to do repetitively, then I give it to somebody else to do. So, any task that I'm doing, I always think to myself, does this need to be done again? If so, I pass it to someone else. I'm even at the stage now where if it has to be, on a yearly basis or once a year I'm giving it to somebody else.
Yeah. Perfect. My thing is a one-off pretty much one-off stuff, which unfortunately means during COVID in the last couple of years, I have done a lot of work.
Donna: Yeah. But that's the role of the CEO is all of the business owner is...
Marguerite: I had a baby in there too! So I still haven’t had maternity leave!
Donna: Well you’re going to have to have a third baby, so you can experience maternity leave!
Marguerite: I might make another business, that can be my third baby
Donna: When it comes to delegating. I think a really important thing to always remember is that you need to give people direction and I've fallen on my face before and gone, well, this is pretty easy. Like how hard can it be? You know, you just give them some verbal instructions, do this, this, this, and this, and...
Marguerite: That's the assumption again, you've been brought up one way that somebody else has been brought up a different way.
Donna: Yeah. Yeah. I, one of the examples, which is funny, cause you mentioned birthday cards
Marguerite: I'm always going to say, I remember having this conversation.
Donna: Yeah. It's just a generational thing, right?
So I asked one of my beautiful staff members, if she would mind helping me out writing postcards for Christmas, it's part of our, when a student enrolls for the next year, we write them a postcard and put the class that they've enrolled in, and then it goes on the fridge. So that's helpful for the parents to know what they actually signed their kids up to when they look at it again two months later.
Yeah. And so we made the postcards and we put them in an envelope and I just said, can you, here's all the addresses that are printed from our database, can you just address the envelopes for me? That would be a great time saver.
Marguerite: Now one would assume the address goes in the middle, right?
Donna: So I didn't realize because like who sends snail mail anymore? Like, it really isn't much of a thing, right. Bless her, like she's gorgeous and beautiful, but she put the address in the top corner where the stamps supposed to go, you know? And then it was like, oh, okay, well, we didn't get to that part because we rewrite the envelopes. But you know, it was just, it was a learning curve for me as a leader to go. Okay. I can't presume that everybody knows how to do things. You know, and that's one example that is, is I guess, something that most people would presume that you would know, but then you put a business system into that, which you've created that doesn't have a long history of the way things are being done.
It's a new thing or whatever. You’ve really got to spell it out. One, like I did a cert four course years ago. And it was about funnily enough, creating systems, you know, and it was like, you need to write your systems for a 12 year old to understand, and that's not to be patronizing to anybody else, but it's like, then you know it gets done.
And at the end of every system, there's also a checklist. So they have to check themselves at off that, they've done everything on the steps, you know, the step-by-step process, and then you can be confident.
Marguerite: I've got a funny system story talking about the checklist.
Donna: Tell us your system story
Marguerite: So we have a system for opening and locking the dance studio.
Everybody follows. We have one key. It goes in the lock box, except for me. I'm the boss. I have my own set of keys. So, but I'm not necessarily always there to open and lock. So this one particular day, I think I was, I was in charge of locking up. So I'm like, yeah, sweet. I'll lock up. So I locked the studio, I went home.
The next morning, somebody goes, there's no key in the box. How do I open the studio? The keys gone missing? Like, what are you talking about? And I realized I did not follow the system. The key was locked inside the studio because I'd use my own key to lock the studio, leaving the studio key inside. Yes. So my whole staff, they were all laughing at me that I'm always the one going on about system systems, follow the instructions and I mess it up.
So I don't even have my own studio keys anymore.
That's a life hack. Get digital locks. I swear by them. You don't even have to carry keys around with you anymore. You just type the number in, and every person can have a different number so that you can record who's been in at what time and whatever, even with my car. You don't need the key to get into the car. As long as your car is, your key is somewhere on your person. You just press the button to get into the car. So good. Especially you carrying a top screaming toddler and a bag of groceries.
Donna: Yes. Tell me about your boundaries. Tell me about how you say no and how you lower your standards without losing the customer service, because this is something that you, like, lowering standards is not a bad thing. And then I'm like, but hold on. Because standards are really important. So tell me about that. Cause like, I was like, what I read your notes. I was like, mm, I don't know.
Marguerite: No, I think it was more lowering my personal standards for my life. Like current situation at the moment is very locked down. So that means that my kid gets to have more screen time than normal. He gets, for some reason we're having pudding or dessert every night, but that doesn't happen normally, you know, there's toys all over the floor and they can be over the floor all day. Like that's fine. Whereas normally that wouldn't happen. So I guess just developing those kinds of, and it comes actually it comes back to the personal value.
Wait, what was the original question?
Donna: So about that lowering your standards, or maybe lowering your expectations of
yourself, is that what we're really talking about here?
Marguerite: Yeah, but what was the bit before that?
Donna: oh! About boundaries and saying no
Marguerite: Boundaries. That's right. So what I found that I was doing a lot of the day-to-day stuff. I had the studio phone. I was answering the day-to-day emails and I was just getting really annoyed that I was answering the same questions over and over again. So I gave the phone to somebody else. I trained them and how to use it, how to answer the questions that were being asked. I got myself a new mobile phone and nobody is allowed the number.
You know, my Mum and my partner. I told my staff, this is sacred to me. You're not to give out my number. If a customer wants to contact me, they contact me through the business contact details. I did the same thing for emails as well. So now I don't deal with the day-to-day emails. And I think that was very freeing for me and gave me some boundaries.
I told my staff, you are allowed my email, but don't give it to customers. If they've got a question to ask, they can ask through you or through the studio email. You try not start first. If it's tricky sticky situation, then I can answer it. But I will answer it via that email. Like, yeah,
Donna: I agree. I remember getting so many personal messages through like Facebook and stuff like that from.
Marguerite: I just ignore those.
Donna: Yeah. But initially when I used to get those all the time, I felt like. Like a really rude person, if I didn't reply to them, you know, and you're trying to keep them happy and all of that kind of stuff. So I do reply to them, but I always say at like at the end of the message for the most effective means of getting an answer in the quickest amount of time, your best option is to go through the email or message our business page.
Marguerite: Even if you're a one man band, that's still a good idea. Yeah. I have a business email and a personal email. Yeah.
Donna: Yes. I completely agree. And I also had to set boundaries around the time of the day that I'd get in there and answer people and even that's, you know, managing my, my emails and my personal messages and all of that. I actually set a couple of times of the day where I go in and I check out what's in the inbox and I reply to messages and then I don't go back in there until the end of the day and I do it again. And then on weekends, I don't go in there at all. And that can be a really tough thing to set up, if you are a people pleaser and part of your values is awesome customer service. And you want to like excel at that, that which we have, like, we've won lots and lots of business awards.
Marguerite: But this is where to change. The mindset is awesome. Customer service doesn't mean that you answer within one minute or it doesn't mean that you answer an email that's been sent at 11 PM on a Sunday night.
Yes. And surely, I don't know. I've never been a people pleaser. I've always been a me pleaser to an extent that people can expect to send an email at 10 o'clock on a Friday night. Minimum, they should expect an answer by Monday evening. I don't know that that's just me.
Donna: I think it's about building the expectations within your customers too. Like we have an automated response that says we will get back to you within 48 hours. Or if it's during school holidays currently we're spending some much needed time with our families and we're checking emails intimately, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can. So they're still getting an immediate response.
Yes. It might not be the answer to the question that they've asked or whatever, but they're getting that immediate response, which is maintaining that relationship that you have in a friendly way, but it also means that it's not impacting on your time that you have with the most precious people in your world, which are your family.
Marguerite: Exactly. Yeah, actually I did make a quite a large business decision. I closed down one department of my business last year and I kept putting it off. I kept putting it off telling the customers and I was nine months pregnant, 8.9 months pregnant. I, sorry, I have to do it. I don't know who knows what's happening in the next few weeks?
Yeah, so I, um, I wrote the email. I did a video, sent it out to the customers. That was on the Monday, I was in labor by Wednesday! But it was a great excuse. Because my staff were answering emails to get them, but there were a few people, a bit angry about the situation, but my staff, they were like, oh, we want to talk to Marguerite. We want to talk to Marguerite. And they're like, sorry, she's having a baby at the moment. Oh, oh, so sorry. We didn't realize it's fine. Don't worry about it.
And after about three, four months, my staff I'm like, so when can we stop using that excuse because it's great to blow customers off because it actually turned out the customer was fine. It wasn't a problem after. I think it was just in the heat of the moment.
Donna: Yeah. That being reactive rather than responsive and some, and that's another thing actually go. Oh my goodness this podcast is going to go on forever, but this is great, we're talking about great stuff like hopefully is golden nuggets, yeah. Yeah. In that, giving yourself the time when you get a email or a message or, oh, it doesn't even need to be that it can just be something has happened in the business or at home or whatever. And you've really feeling triggered by it to actually give it some space and time before you respond.
Because when we go in there and we address whatever it is without giving ourselves that space, we're actually reacting opposed to when there's space there, we can respond. And that's really big, like massive difference. And I learned that as a business owner, the hard way, quite a few times where you'd be like, oh, I've got to answer this.
I've got to get onto this. But then really a bit of space and time
Sleep on it. Yeah, absolutely. Yep. Yep. For sure. Yeah.
So last of all, I really want, I've been enjoying this chat with you so much. Let's finish this podcast. I want to ask you about how you motivate yourself to achieve your dreams and your aspirations, because like so many of our listeners, I know you have big goals and be that business goals or lifestyle goals.
How do you, what are your tips that you have for managing your inner self critic? And that doubt that comes up for so many of us and how do you keep yourself motivated to keep going after those big goals and dreams?
Marguerite: Wow. That's a big question!
It's a small part of it. Like I said before, focusing on your own path. And not comparing yourself to other people. You don't know what's going on in their life or what part of their journey they're on. And I think. Talking to that in a critic, like saying, I think I just often find myself talking back to that inner critic.
So, you know, all the motivational quotes
Donna: Yeah. You do. You have to kind of sometimes give them a bit of a, that inner critic can be really mean. And it's like, oh my goodness. Is there any truth in that? Like, is there any truth if I break this down, this mean girl voice in my head, that's beating me down right now. What truth is really in that?!
And yeah, and sometimes you just, you know, you have to push back against it and tell them to shut up.
Marguerite: Just reminding yourself, like. That kind of like, like you said, at the beginning of our chat, it was that confidence. I've always had an out exterior confidence about me and I think it's that whole fake it till you make it.
But, you know, I guess, and that all came from dance class. Like I said, I was never the best dancer in my class. I never got top marks, but I knew deep inside me that I had a passion for dancing and nobody was gonna stop me from it . If I wanted to dance and I would dance just because it made me happy. So I think that's kind of just carried me throughout my business journey so far.
Donna: Yeah. Cool. And when you, like, as a business owner being motivated, like someone said to me the other day, oh, I couldn't be a business owner because, you know, I just wouldn't feel like going to work that day and I just wouldn't go.
Marguerite: Or then they're in the wrong business.
Donna: Well, they actually, they don't run a business. They don't run a business at all. That was their thing. It's like, I don't know how you do it. It wouldn't be me.
Marguerite: That's passion. Yeah. I got up at four o'clock this morning, because I wanted to learn something from somebody in America. You know, if I didn't want to learn it, I wouldn't get up that early.
Donna: Yeah. I find it really hard to explain actually, when people say, how do you do it? How do you just keep yourself motivated all the time? I don't know. It's just this inner drive.
Marguerite: It's not necessarily that you're motivated all the time. It's just that you're motivated at the right time. Does that make sense?
Donna: So, out of lockdown, like where, like what's the next one? It doesn't even have to be out of lockdown, like who knows when that'll be, but..
Donna: What's the next thing for Margs? Like what's in the cards for you, do you think?
Marguerite: Wow. I'm inspired by Donna and I want to create an online business. So our vision for our family is that we're going to travel the world, take our kids with us, show them the world, show them how amazing it is. The things you can learn. All the different people. Sights and smells and food. So yeah, both of me and my partner trying to grow our businesses and I'm want to start another one because it's fun
I don't know what I would do if I had to work for somebody else. What do you mean? I can't take a day off because I'm sick. I'm sick. I can't work.
Donna: What do you mean? I can't go for a coffee with my friend in the middle of the day.
Well, as always, pleasure talking with you, you're so generous with your knowledge and so down to earth. And I love that you can share your story with the other women who tune into the podcast to let everybody know that like, being in business as beautiful and as fun as it is, like it doesn't happen overnight and there's a journey that happens behind it.
So thank you for sharing that with us today and being able to
Marguerite: You're welcome. I hope I've inspired someone to be like, yes, I can do it.
Donna: I'm sure you have. Yeah. Awesome. Thanks Mags.