Sarah has been through a lot over the last few years, but what hasn't changed is her vision and determination to work from home and raise her children. Even when her journey didn't follow the path she expected, Sarah has remained positive and made the most of the opportunities presented to her, which have made her the successful business owner she is today. This is her journey so far... 1. Tell us your story: I was working full time for an international relocations company. I loved my job – I met my husband, Jason, while working there, and was going to stay there forever! Our plan was to have a baby and I’d go back to work while Jason stayed at home and looked after the kids. He had it all worked out too – he’d get the kids ready in the morning, do the washing and the housework, and be on the golf course by mid-morning with his specially made golf buggy/stroller. A few months after getting married I got pregnant but unfortunately had a miscarriage. As devastating as that was, it didn’t change our plans; a couple of months after that my sister-in-law lost a 5-week old baby to SIDS. That turned my world upside down! 2. How did you identify the goal/s you wanted to achieve? I identified that I wanted to work full time, but I wanted to be at home with a baby too. The only way that I could see that I could have my cake and eat it too, was to be able to work from home. So I approached my boss and said that I planned to get pregnant again and have a baby, and I’d like to be able to work from home, so let’s put things in place now to make that happen. He said absolutely no way, that couldn’t possibly work. Still feeling the devastation from the loss of my baby niece, I was quite tunnel visioned in my quest. The next day, just short of long service leave, I handed in my resignation. My family and friends said that I was crazy and it would take at least three years for my business to take off. It was at this point that I began to get scared! So I got a part time job as a court reporter for three days a week, and the other two days in the week I spent working on my business. I had a very clear picture of me working from my home office with my bundle of joy sleeping soundly beside me – it was the in between that was a little fuzzy! 3. How did you work towards achieving your goal – did you have a plan and a deadline to achieve your goals? Fully expecting to be a court reporter for three years, I resigned from that job and went full time in my bookkeeping business after only eight months, when I had 50 clients. Within 12 months of that I hired my first full time bookkeeper, and in another 12 months there were more staff and we were working out of commercial premises. This was achieved through a lot of hard work – developing relationships with businesses and strategic alliances, creating systems so that I wasn’t reinventing the wheel each time and could handle the work flow.
Five years into my business, and after five years of fertility treatments, I was finally pregnant and carried a baby to term. My friends and family were again quick with the questions – how was I possibly going to run my business, manage my staff, have a baby, and not have a nervous breakdown in the process? Their concerns were understandable – I’d barely changed a nappy in my life and was a little concerned about my bundle of joy’s arrival. I jokingly insisted that it would be okay because I’d scheduled my due date in my diary, and the baby was going to fit nicely into my diary too. Funnily enough, baby Zac did arrive on his due date, and he just about did fit into my diary after that. 4. What was the biggest challenge you encountered along the way? During the time I was pregnant, my father had a terrible motorcycle accident in New Zealand. I travelled to be with him 6 times in the 6 months before he passed away. I had some business planning to do through my pregnancy too. My employee bookkeeper was also pregnant and she was leaving to be a stay at home mum. So how was I to run my business with my own baby? I restructured my business to work completely remotely rather than travel to clients premises, I put systems in place so I could access their information remotely and work from my home office around baby. This meant that I could work my own hours, and it opened up my business to clients who weren’t just within my driving circle. Then I started looking for contractors to help me – I wasn’t superwoman, after all! What I found was dismal! The bookkeepers I interviewed were sloppy, uneducated, and didn’t consider themselves in business at all – this was before the BAS Agent legislation came into being and a lot has changed in the industry since then. So it got me thinking – how can I help train bookkeepers so they can run a great systematised business like mine, how could I help other mums get started in their own business while working around their family commitments, and in the process, develop some great bookkeepers who could assist each other in times of need or when they wanted to take a break from their business. So I developed Miss Efficiency Franchising and within a few years had up to 14 franchisees across Australia. 2010 was a particularly challenging year – Jason broke his arm in January, a very bad break that left him not working, and consequently not earning an income; I had a (very difficult) baby in February, and Jason had a massive heart attack in April. This was an extremely difficult time emotionally, and even with these extreme events I still had a toddler to take care of, as well as a sick baby and husband, and a business and house to run. Were it not for the tremendous relationships I’d developed with my clients and accountants, and the excellent systems that had been developed, which included my franchisees, both my business and I would undoubtedly have collapsed in a heap.But we didn’t – it was just another obstacle to overcome, which we did. It turns out that franchising isn’t for me, but during the time it was running we had helped people develop their bookkeeping business to work around their own personal goals. The franchise business was closed down, and the franchisees were free to continue on their own. My passion is helping business owners with their business, through empowering them around their accounts. But what I’ve seen is many business owners have their own passion, and this can get lost when the reality of business hits, they get overwhelmed and burdened, and wonder why they bother. So I’ve written a book that tackles exactly that, called “Wow … I’m in Business!” The book is designed to help business owners re-engage with their business passion, get through the overwhelm, and put systems in place to move their business in the direction they want it to go. This has created opportunities for me to present my ideas to business owners, and the light bulb moments that I’m seeing are spectacular! My children are now in primary school. I work from a purpose built office at home (outside the house) and my routine is such that I can work in the early hours before they rise, then I revert to ‘mum mode’ before school, work during the day, and back to ‘mum mode’ after school. This enables me to get enough working hours into my day, be there for my children before and after school, and also have some time to myself and with hubby in the evening. We schedule a 3-day camping weekend once a month and take that time to reconnect as a family (let’s face it, things can be pretty hectic during the week just going through the motions), and get away from the business to recharge. The biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome in my business is learning that it doesn’t matter how good I am at bookkeeping, I have to be a great (or better) business person. It’s not good enough to just get on the tools, get the numbers crunched and the BAS lodged. I need to nurture my business, my clients, and myself, and everything else will follow.
5. What inspires you and keeps you going when you encounter obstacles? I’m inspired by people who are out there making their own dreams come true. When I see people start to get overwhelmed in their business, I love to be able to help them with strategies to get through it and keep their business moving. When I come up against my own obstacles, I just look at my children – they are my driving force. I want to instil in them that you can do anything you set out to achieve; that hard work and persistence pays off; that it’s possible to do something that you’re passionate about and love what you do! 6. What advice do you have for anyone wanting to achieve a goal? My advice to anybody who’s got a goal and isn’t quite sure how to reach it: -Write down your goal – this makes it tangible -Draw yourself a road map of how you’re going to get to your destination -It doesn’t matter if the path changes, as long as you’re continually moving forward -Believe you can do it – and you will! 7. What are the next goals you hope to achieve? My book was released this year and from that I’ve secured a few speaking engagements. This is a very different area to bookkeeping, and I’m loving it! I’m passionate about my subject (overcoming the overwhelm) and love helping others in their business. My goal this year is to reach more people with my message through presenting at business events. I’ll leave you with these final words – believe you can fail, and you will; believe you can succeed, and you will. Get your mindset right, and everything else will follow.
This is one of the most inspiring interview I've ever read. I hope you enjoy Sarah's words of wisdom as much as I did... 1. Tell us your story: My name is Sarah Lajeunesse and I'm a Lifestyle and Wellness Coach. Though I am based out of Canada, I work with clients online from all over the world that want more out of life and are ready to step out of their comfort zone to find the courage and confidence to achieve it. I grew up wanting to work in sports management which resulted in me landing various positions with professional football organizations across the country in events, marketing and corporate sponsorships. By 25, I was awarded "Top 5 Under 25 to Watch in the Sport Industry" across Canada and shortly after was a senior manager at a professional sport league head office. Though I had accomplished my goal of working in sports at an early age, I was constantly waiting for the "next big thing" to make me feel happy and fulfilled. Yet, with every acquirement of the "next big thing", I felt a quick burst of excitement, energy and temporary fulfillment, before quickly going back to the unhappy and unfulfilled state that I was in before. I considered my career to be the only indicator of true success and as a result, everything else took a back seat. I stopped making time for exercise, proper nutrition, relationships and most importantly, self-care. I considered this type of overworked and burnt-out lifestyle to be just a "means to an end” and that I was just "earning my stripes". I knew that if I continued to put everything into my career, then the promotions, money and exposed-brick apartment would give me all the happiness I needed. In a nutshell, I became so disconnected from myself that I forgot who I was, what truly made me happy and the lifestyle that I actually wanted to live. I new I had to make big and immediate changes in order to create the life I truly wanted and through the process, I realized I wanted to help other people do the same.
Image from Fi Mims Photography
2. How did you identify the goal/s you wanted to achieve? I suffered from a lot of stress and a string of anxiety attacks while I was working in the corporate world. I knew that if I wanted to be happy I had to make drastic changes to my entire life, not just my work/life balance. I needed to remove toxic relationships in my life and negative habits that squandered my productivity. I needed to consider the energy I was putting into my body, (television, social media, food, relationships) and remove what didn't serve or uplift me. I had to create time to discover what my passions actually were and the type of life I wanted to make, and I knew I had to make big sacrifices in order to achieve it. Once I discovered the world of life coaching and I realized I wanted to help others make lifestyle transformations like I was going through, I knew I had to make the decision from wanting to change my life to deciding to change my life, so I could walk my talk and lead by example to show others how to do the same. 3. How did you work towards achieving your goal – did you have a plan and a deadline to achieve your goals? I began making subtle changes at first by eliminating toxic habits, activities and relationships in my life that didn’t serve or uplift me. I tried meditation, journaling and immersed myself in personal development books. I hired a health and lifestyle coach who helped me to give myself the permission to put my own self-care and wellness at the forefront of every decision. She taught me how to maximize my time and feel more energized by fuelling my body with only food that nourished me. She gave me the courage and confidence to see that my crazy and large-scale ideas were a possibility and with her help, I was able to find more vibrancy, confidence and passion than I ever thought I had so I could make those goals come to life. It was about creating more balance and time for myself to get really clear on how I wanted to spend the rest of my life and to create small, actionable steps to get me closer each day. I found a coaching academy that aligned with my values and beliefs and within a year I had graduated as a life coach from the Beautiful You Coaching Academy which is based out of Australia, launched my website and quit my corporate job and haven't looked back. 4. What was the biggest challenge you encountered along the way? Fear of failure or judgment from others. I was worried people would think this was just a "made-up" career choice. That it was just a phase or that I was a less educated and less expensive counsellor. (I've heard all of that and much more) I have been laughed at and I have been asked if I was going through a quarter-life crisis. As long as I am passionate, authentic and certain of my vision, I'm able to tune out others that don't support me, quite easily. 5. What inspires you and keeps you going when you encounter obstacles? My clients. I work with some of the most amazing and inspiring women that continue to motivate me everyday. I have worked with women that have overcome trauma in their life, abuse, eating disorders, addictions, self-esteem issues, lack of confidence and self-worth and so many other circumstances that they didn't/don't deserve and certainly didn't ask for. What is so incredible is their resilience and commitment to not only overcoming the obstacles, challenges or trauma that they experienced in their lives, but having the faith that there is so much more to life and they are ready to get out of their own way in order to achieve it. People get to a point in their lives where the idea of staying in a lifestyle, job, relationships, city (whatever it might be) quite literally suffocates them and they are ready once and for all to do whatever it takes to change their lives. When I see a client's energy shift from lacking any belief or worth in themselves, to suddenly realizing that they are capable of achieving whatever their dream life looks like to them, it constantly reminds me that I am doing exactly what I was meant to do.
Image from Fi Mims Photography
6. What advice do you have for anyone wanting to achieve a goal? 1. The Most Successful People Never Stop Learning Find a coach or mentor that will help you with setting goals and working towards achieve them. Coaching/mentoring is all about discovering your vision and giving yourself the permission to start making it a reality. The most successful people realize that, regardless of the incredible heights that they've reached in their business or lives, by allowing themselves to be coachable they have an opportunity to bring their lives to the next level by learning from other's new ideas and methods to tap into the unused potential they have within themselves. Coachable people realize the impact that an outside source could make on their lives, they take what they've learned in the past yet remain open minded to learning new practices and principles. They take advice, suggestions and knowledge from others and utilize it to grow themselves, and their attitude towards bettering themselves is a "whatever it takes" type of mentality. Even if you don't have a coach or a mentor at the moment, you can listen to podcasts, read books and build relationships with and from the people you admire, and implement some of the strategies they share (if they are in alignment with your beliefs and values). 2. If You Want To Live a Full Life, Be Willing To Do Things That Make You Uncomfortable I have a fear of public speaking. That might come to a surprise to a lot of people that know me and know how much I like to talk. Everyday I do something that makes me feel uncomfortable and push my limits so I can connect with, serve and reach more people. Though it includes a list of activities that terrify me, I committed to doing them because without stepping outside of my comfort zone and putting myself in uncomfortable situations, I can't grow or live up to my fullest capability. 3. Don't Wait for Things to Be Perfect Before You Begin Whether it's launching a business, moving to a new city, writing a book or changing a career path, people wait until they are "ready" or for the perfect moment to allow themselves to begin. And guess what? There IS no perfect moment. You will NEVER feel ready for massive change. So people rarely make the leap. Within the three months since launching my business, I have already learned and applied so many new practices when working with my clients. And it will continue to evolve throughout the years over and over again, until I get it right. But the point? Just BEGIN and change things as you go. Your end goal will look very different in 5, 10 or 15 years than it does right now, but the sooner you start, the sooner you'll get there. 5. Do You Want to Be Great Now, Or 20 Years From Now? When we started talking about certain principles and tactics to apply to my business, I said to my mentor, "I think that's a great idea, that'll be great to implement when I have a bit more experience". (My limiting beliefs and fears were flaring up in this particular area of growth.) So he asked me, "Do you want to be great now? Or 20 years for now?" What a simple yet profound question to ask yourself. So, I challenge all of you amazing people reading this blog to ask yourself this simple question the next time you're invited to expand your horizon or implement new game-changing ideas in your life, career or business and you are tempted to wait until you have more experience and feel more ready to do so. Move forward every day with the idea that you ARE ready to be great right now and the only thing holding you back from doing so is yourself.
Image from Fi Mims Photography
7. What are the next goals you hope to achieve? I am working on an e-book and eventually a 30-day program for people that want immediate change in their lives. A three year plan is to host women's empowerment retreats that encompass personal/professional development with a ton of yoga/meditation and self-care thrown into the mix! Sarah Lajeunesse is a lifestyle and wellness coach committed to helping young, overwhelmed and overworked women exchange their "going through the motions" lifestyle for one with more vibrancy, power, passion and purpose. Her coaching programs are designed to empower women to overcome fears, judgements and lack of self-belief so they can begin living the extraordinary lives they were meant to live. Learn more about Sarah and her work at www.sarahlajeunesse.com