- Name; Kate James
- Occupation/ business: Total Balance
- Position: Coach, meditation teacher and writer
- Country of Residence; Australia
- email/contact/ website
- Twitter handle/ Facebook/ Vimeo
- Give us your elevator pitch. What does your business do?
I work with people who want to live more creative, meaningful lives.
- Why did you start your business?
I started the business because (as clichéd as it sounds) I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. My own career had taken a back seat for 12 years while I was parenting our girls, but as they got older, I knew I was ready to work in an area that I was passionate about. I wanted to do something that would actually have some sort of impact on the world. I’d been working part-time with film-makers and architects so I set up my business initially to help creative people become more business minded. As time went on, I attracted more people from the corporate world who were disillusioned with their careers. Nearly everyone I worked with was experiencing some level of stress, so I suggested they learn to meditate (something I had been doing for over ten years) and eventually started teaching meditation myself. These days my business is a blend of coaching (for anyone going through transition), meditation workshops and retreats and some online programs so that people can access help in their own time.
- What’s your passion?
I’m passionate about mindfulness and creativity and thankfully, they work really well together. I love the idea of helping people to become more present, more mindful and more creative in their lives. These things help with everything. Your relationships improve, you feel more connected to the things that matter and you learn to worry less about the things that really don’t matter.
- What do you love most about running your business?
I love the freedom more than anything. This morning I started work at 7am and it’s a beautiful day so after I’ve finished this, I’ll take an hour off and walk along the beach. I completely love the people I work with too – I have built the most incredible relationships with my clients and I learn a lot from them.
- What are three difficulties you face in running your business?
- Cashflow is an ongoing challenge for most small business owners. I’ve learned to be less attached to money – it’s amazing how much less it matters when you love what you do. These days I just tighten my belt during the tough times and know that they will pass (and they always do!)
- Pushing myself outside my comfort zone. I’ve never been someone who was naturally good at selling myself so this, for me, has been a great challenge. As has public speaking. I’ve grown so much in the 11 years since I started the business. There are things that I’m doing these days that I would have never believed possible (like speaking to large groups of people). I have actually learned to love this even though it completely terrified me in the early days.
- I’m a bit of a perfectionist so I have a tendency to fret over small things. I can’t stand it when there’s an issue with the website for example! I’m trying to be more relaxed about these things these days. In the scheme of things, as long as they’re resolved in time, they’re not worth getting stressed about.
- What are three pieces of advice you would give to someone starting their own business?
- Do what you love (can I say that for all three?). Honestly though, there’s no point going into business if you don’t totally love what you’re doing because you’re going to have to work hard at it.
- Have realistic expectations. So many creative entrepreneurs think that if they are talented and do something well and hang out their shingle, the sales will just roll in. Occasionally that happens but for most of us, we need to put in the hard yards when it comes to marketing. It’s important to persist.
- Learn how to network authentically. Networking was a word that brought up negative connotations for me until I learned about how to go about it the right way. Great networking is just about building relationships and if you do that from a place of genuinely being interested in other people it ends up being great for everyone.
- Tell us, with an anecdote, why your business has changed your life?
I run retreats in Bali and Byron Bay each year. Last year in Byron, on the day that we spoke about bringing joy into your life, one of the women in the group broke down and started to cry. I could see that she was genuinely distressed and I really felt for her. Later, I took lunch up to her room. She said to me, ‘Kate, there is no joy in my life at all.’ Which was incredibly sad. She was wonderful though, she came back that evening and participated in every exercise over the next four days. On the final day, as we were about to leave she came into the hall and asked if I could spare a couple of minutes. ‘You’ve changed my life,’ she told me. ‘I’ve discovered that I do have joy within me. Thank you so much for what you have done.’ This time both of us had a few tears. I’m not sure I can really take the credit for the change she experienced (most of that was about her) but I feel incredibly blessed to be part of an experience like that. It was humbling and touching and it made me realise how lucky I am to be doing the work that I do. It was a moment I’ll never forget.
- How do you manage a work/life balance?
Like most people, I don’t have this worked out perfectly but I have a few ‘not negotiables’ that I stick to. I meditate every morning before doing anything else and I credit this as being the one thing that really keeps me focused (and sane). I try to exercise most days, even if it’s just a half hour walk along the beach. I make sure I catch up with a girlfriend at least once a week and I make Saturday nights and Sunday mornings time for just my husband and I. We spend plenty of time together during the week too but this is much more quality time. And I see our daughters at least a couple of times each week for a walk, coffee or dinner. I don’t get to everything but I feel as though I have the basics covered – and I should add, I reach out for help in the areas that are not my natural strengths. I have two part-time VA’s, a bookkeeper, an editor and these days I even have a cleaner once a fortnight which is a massive luxury!
- What movie most inspires you in running your business?
Moonrise Kingdom by Wes Anderson. Wes’ films are completely quirky, original and unique. You can tell that he’s someone who has a clear vision about what he’s trying to create and he’s obviously totally passionate about his work. Moonrise Kingdom is a gorgeous little story – it’s my favourite of his films.
- The best book to read before starting a business or when running a business?
I love Danielle LaPorte’s Fire Starter Sessions. Danielle is a role model and someone who believes (as I do) that you absolutely must follow your heart in life and in the work that you do.
- Your favourite inspiration/ motivation/ business quote?
The quote we have on the home page of our website by Mary Oliver – ‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’
- The 4 words that best describe your business
Creative, mindful, authentic, calm.