As my success grows, I actually find it easier to focus on other areas of my life. While some consider success as ‘more money’, I consider success as ‘time-freedom’. As my business grows, I continue to grow my team and outsource tasks that aren’t essential for me to do. This way of thinking allows me to have more of a life and enjoy more of the things I actually enjoy doing.
As a part of my series asking extremely busy and successful leaders to share the strategies they use to juggle, balance and integrate their personal lives and business lives, I had the pleasure to interview Brittany Hardy. Brittany is the Owner at Empty Desk Solutions, a boutique social media marketing agency in Port Moody BC Canada. Brittany is passionate about helping small businesses achieve their growth goals with marketing solutions that are both effective and affordable. After many years of working in retail management and then as the Marketing Manager for Canada’s largest mortgage company, Brittany decided it was time to pursue a life-long goal of creating her own business. Naturally she likes to help others and decided there was no better way to do this than to use her creative talent to help OTHERS who want to do the same thing. With three young children, Brittany believes in balancing work and home life and continues to find new ways to support and employ other mothers who want to start their own businesses or stay at home with their children.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Back in 2014, I was working at Dominion Lending Centres (Canada’s Largest Mortgage Company) as a marketing manager and I was feeling overwhelmed, and quite frankly… exhausted! I loved who I worked with, and the job that I did, and even all the small little things I was responsible for, but something was missing. I no longer felt like I was contributing to something bigger, and I was longing to be with my family more. I had (then) 2 young children (now 3) and the daycare cost alone for being able to work was eating up OVER HALF of my salary. I started to think… ‘How else could I make income and not suffer the loss of not being with my children so much?’. Then my husband decide to make a career change — drat, another curve ball! Not only was I trying to figure out a way to spend time with the family more, but now I had to also figure out how to make up a large portion of income that he was going to lose (initially) as part of his career switch. Eek! I decided to start my company as a ‘side-hustle’ (truth be told, I HATE the word hustle… I believe more ‘side-business’… the word hustle just screams burnout to me). Empty Desk Solutions was thought up in a weekend! The first idea was to create a virtual assistant network specializing in marketing tasks since I knew what small businesses were looking for in terms of marketing help. It didn’t take long for the idea to shift. As people began to talk about what I was doing, I uncovered a huge need for social media marketing specifically servicing the small business owners local to me. I was being asked over and over again if I could help out with social media, so I switched gears! Now in year 5 of the business, we have over 150 clients across North America, and the best part… I’m spending that time with my family that I was craving all along!
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
The most interesting thing that has happened to me since I began leading my company would have to be still the sheer misunderstanding about what social media marketing really is. It’s a massive umbrella, and every single day I see still misleading information about social media marketing being the answer to all of a small businesses’ marketing woes. It’s still touted as a giant sales opportunity, and people are really missing the boat. It’s SOCIAL media, and it should be just that… SOCIAL! Build a network and profile, position yourself as an expert, and continue to connect with people by being real. It’s not a giant sales platform.
What was your biggest challenge to date either personally or professionally and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge to date technically falls under both the personal and professional categories. My biggest struggle is a combination of focus and balance. I can either be laser focused to the point where I work until I almost can’t even keep my eyes open anymore, or I lack focus so much so that I get absolutely nothing done. The battle to stay on track and self-motivate is something that I think all small business owners struggle with, but it seems to be compounded for me by the guilt of wanting more time with my children. I have more time now than I ever had with my children, so it seems a bit odd that the feelings of guilt come up — this is why I have taken on a completely new look at everything in my business to allow me to re-align with my personal and family goals. I have managed to overcome this struggle by educating myself on the importance of systems in my business. I took a year long program called ‘Business School for Busy Entrepreneurs’ and I am now getting my life back once again! I hope that anyone reading this can be inspired to take action on systemizing their business to free them from creating another ‘job’ for themselves.
What does leadership mean to you and how do you best inspire others to lead?
I used to have a funny interpretation of leadership that was based on my first few ‘real jobs’. I used to think that leaders were more ‘dictators’ than anything and that a good leader was someone who could get people to do what they say as a result of an aggressive style of communication and management. It wasn’t until I started my own business that I really started to appreciate exceptional leadership. I looked at other teams that were happy and successful and realized that (to me anyways) a good leader was someone that could inspire people to do good things by motivating them. A GREAT leader on the other hand was so much more. To me, a great leader is someone that not only inspires people to do good things in life and in business, but also cares deeply about the personal well-being of those in their circle. A great leader takes action to inspire even when it doesn’t serve them personally. A great leader doesn’t need fanfare or recognition… they just need to continue to make a positive impact in the life of others.