We love to champion small business owners here on Desk Life Project, and every so often we find someone working in the online space that has not only started their own business, but is totally killing it in their field. This week we’re thrilled to be chatting to Digital Marketing Coach Renu Ravalia, who tells us all about starting her business, the importance of work life balance, and the advice she’d give to those looking to go out on their own.
Hi Renu, a little bird told us that you just left your job to focus on your business – congratulations! How has it been going so far?
Thank you so much. It’s been going really well, I can’t believe it has already been 2 1/2 months, time has literally flown by.
What job were you doing previously?
My most recent full time role was Digital Marketing Executive working with a small luxury mens grooming brand but my career has been built around working with a variety of large brands all based in London, the city I am from. I love variety so my roles have always been very varied; from blog writing to social media management, event organisation to website maintenance, all aimed at growing businesses online.
Although I have been in Digital Marketing for 9 years, I actually studied Psychology as a degree and the first few years of my work life involved working in a secondary school offering 1:1 and small group support to children with disabilities. A role I absolutely loved! I went on to support adults running a project that was funded to help integrate them into the community promoting independence and empowerment.
What made you decide to take the leap and start your own business?
Inspired by friends and family who own their own businesses, I knew this was something I wanted to do too, I just needed a good enough opportunity to make the move and relocating to Leicester was the perfect one. I actually arrived in 2016 with the intention of working for myself, I even came from London with a few clients I was working for but change can be overwhelming and I wasn’t 100% sure if what I was doing was right for me, so I decided to get a job.
I chose to work for a small company because I wanted to know if size would make a difference to the impact I could make. The job felt right at first but the urge to work for myself niggled at me again after a few months. I also realised I wasn’t getting the balance I desired, I wasn’t doing the things I loved and being the kind of person that needs to satisfy her soul, I decided the only option was to give working for myself a second chance but this time do it differently, and that’s how the coaching role evolved combining my current career with my past experience.
You’re a Marketing Coach, what exactly does this entail?
Great question! I help businesses market themselves online by offering advice and guidance, or as I like to put it, coaching. I consider myself more than just a consultant because not only is everything I do bespoke to the business but the sessions are really creative and my clients leave with a clear strategy and action plan of what they need to do to help their business move to the next level. My service is empowering and aimed at offering 100% value, I put everything into my content because I believe ‘Your success is my success’. I am extremely passionate about helping others and I believe this helps me offer a really good service.
What have you been up to in the 2 months since leaving your job? Tell us the steps you’ve taken and how you planned the move.
I think making a move and owning your own business involves a real shift of mindset because we are conditioned to believe a job needs to involve working 9-5, and you need to learn to let go of this strict routine, so I have read a lot of self help books to support my journey. Before I left work officially, I went down to 4 days a week so I could start getting things like my website/business cards, etc. ready in advance. I also did my first 1:1 with a children’s party planning business before I left work.
Since leaving and to demonstrate my expertise, I did my first public talks at a networking event giving tips on how to grow businesses, I hope to do more of these in the next few months. I have also spent a lot of time growing my client base, networking at events and really getting myself known. Lucky for me, I have been well received which I am really grateful for. I am in the process of doing my second Social Media workshop, another element of my business.
How do you organise your days now that you work for yourself?
If I am 100% honest, I am still working on the ‘organising’ part. When you work for yourself and work from home, it can be easy to work a lot more hours than you need to, so you have to be really disciplined, so that work doesn’t become the centre of your life. I generally try to start working around 9 but I am learning to become more flexible with this. Every Monday, I make a list of things I need to do on a weekly basis, so I ensure all these tasks are done by the end of the week, I try not to put too much pressure on myself. Somedays I have sessions or meetings in the day so I spend time preparing for these. On other days I spend time writing and scheduling posts, planning my social media, promoting my services in various groups. I also spend a lot of time following up potential clients and trying to find new ones. Around once a week, I try to go to a networking event.
How important is work life balance to you, and how do you maintain a healthy balance?
Very important, it’s one of the main reasons I left my full time job and chose to work for myself, so I could do more of the things I love, reminding myself of my ‘why’ acts as great motivation when I am having a challenging day. In order to maintain a healthy balance, I meditate daily, I find this is a good way to start and end my day, keeps me at peace and calm. Our mental health is so important, I think sometimes we take it for granted.
I also try to avoid my mobile phone first thing in the morning, I don’t switch it on until I am ready to be bombarded with it. I also joined the gym and try to go as often as possible, I prefer the classes to the actual gym. I make sure I schedule in regular meet ups with friends, sometimes in the day. Although I am still learning how to do it, I also intend to schedule in some ‘me’ time, doing things I love and being a little more creative, most recently it was pottery painting.
London will always be home and all my family and friends still live there so I include this in my schedule as often as possible (even in the week), again this is only possible because I work for myself. Finally because I am a wife, I also have to balance this role which involves a lot of time in the kitchen, strangely enough I used to find cooking a chore but now I find being in the kitchen quite therapeutic.
You offer 1:1 coaching and small workshops, what are the benefits of both and which do you prefer?
I believe in quality over quantity so everything I do is aimed at offering the best service. The workshops have a great energy, they are really interactive and I have even been able to bring people together for collaborations which is amazing. It’s great to see businesses offer each other encouragement and support, this makes me feel really proud of what I do.
The 1:1s are my time to be creative, I prepare content in advance but each individual is different and the direction of the session tends to change once we sit down and start discussing the business, I love leading these sessions because they give me the chance to build confidence and empower individuals and I am always excited to see how the businesses use what they learn.
What is your number one piece of advice for aspiring business owners like yourself?
Don’t forget why you are doing what you are doing, if you can always keep this at the front of your mind, it’ll make the job you are doing much easier.
How about for small brands who want to make a big splash? Any marketing tips?
Social media is your friend. Create a clear strategy and roll with it. It’s not about how often you post but make sure you are staying true to your brand and your message.
Do you have a favourite business book that’s inspired or motivated you?
What really motivated me was all the YouTube videos I used to listen to. I prepared my mind for the move before I took the leap, like I said, having the right mindset is essential when you want to run your own business! I recommend checking out the YouTube channel Impact Theory hosted by entrepreneur Tom Bilyeu. So many amazing videos on there!
What’s the next step for your business?
To ensure it keeps growing, I currently do 1:1s and workshops locally but I would love to expand my reach. I have a few ideas as to how I can make this happen. I also have some collaborations I want to do with other entrepreneurs, my mind is always ticking, so #watchthisspace.