Soulpreneur Scaling Stories Podcast: 34. The Unconventional Journey From Coach to VA Agency Owner | Mel Maw

Join me in this episode as I chat with the one and only Mel Maw, VA Agency Owner and Podcast Host about her unique journey in the business world.

In this episode, Mel reveals the shocking truth about her scaling journey – it’s backwards! That’s right, she went from coaching to focusing solely on her agency she’s been running for five years.. Mel shares her recent decision to stop coaching after four years.

She discusses the signs that led to this pivot, and the mindset challenges she faced. Mel shares how trusting her intuition and doing what feels right has been a game-changer in her business.

As we explore her shift, Mel delves into the importance of alignment and intentionality in business, the evolution of her VA agency, the complexities of hiring and managing a team, and her key tips for scaling a business sustainably.

Mel also drops some serious knowledge bombs about hiring team members and the importance of resilience as an entrepreneur. 

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, this episode is packed with tips and insights that will have you taking notes.

Connect with Mel:
Website www.thelifestyleva.net/home
Instagram www.instagram.com/thelifestyleva_agency/
LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/melaniemaw/
Facebook www.facebook.com/melthelifestyleva/
Podcast: Confessions of a CEO https://www.thelifestyleva.net/podcast
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Transcript

[00:00:00] Andrea Elibero: Andrea here, your host and passionate business coach and scaling strategist for Soulful Service Providers and Coaches. Welcome to another episode of Solepreneur Scaling Stories. Have you ever wanted to look behind the curtain of your fellow entrepreneur’s business to see what actually went into scaling it?

[00:00:22] Well, you are in for a treat because that’s exactly what we are doing here. In each episode, we will be uncovering the truth behind The lessons and the stories behind what it truly takes for sole preneurs to scale their businesses intentionally. I’m hoping that their stories will help you to unlock the true potential of your business so you can create your own soulful, abundant, and aligned laptop lifestyle through intentional scaling.

[00:00:46] So whether you’re just starting out on your scaling journey or you’re a seasoned entrepreneur seeking inspiration, this episode has something incredible in store for you. Are you ready to rise, grow, and create? Create a business that fully supports your dream life. Well, let’s [00:01:00] dive in before we begin.

[00:01:02] Make sure to hit that subscribe buttons. You never miss an empowering episode filled with real stories and soulful insights.

[00:01:09] Hey, hello everybody. Welcome to another episode of Soulpreneur Scaling Stories. I am here today with my special guest, Mel Maugh, who is a VA agency owner and podcast host, and she has a very Interesting thing that we want to talk about today. So thank you Mel for being here today.

[00:01:28] Mel Maw: You’re so welcome. I’m really excited to dive in because yes, you’ve got some juicy questions for me. I can’t wait to share. 

[00:01:37] Andrea Elibero: Amazing. Okay. So let’s get into the thing that I am the most excited about, because I don’t want to keep the peoples waiting. So your Scaling business journey is backwards to what a lot of service providers do.

[00:01:50] So a lot of service providers will start off as a general VA, going to something else. And then oftentimes this leads into some sort of coaching, not everybody, obviously, but you know, this is kind of like a [00:02:00] typical journey. But yours was not yours was a little bit the other way around. So can you talk about that and share what you have been doing?

[00:02:08] Mel Maw: Yes. I recently made a decision only maybe about a month ago to actually stop coaching and I’ve been a coach for about four years. I’ve had my VA business for about five. So for almost all of the years I’ve been in business, I’ve been a coach, business coach, helping other service providers. And. As I said, it’s only been about a month and I haven’t really unpacked this sort of like publicly, not like I’m a public figure, but you know what I mean, to talk about the ins and the outs of it.

[00:02:34] So I think it’s a really interesting conversation to have about everything I do is intentional. Every single thing I do is intentional. So it’s a good one to unpack and unpack in terms of how you get to design a business around your life, making sure that it suits you. And that’s kind of a really big part of where the decision came from.

[00:02:51] It’s just something needed to change. 

[00:02:55] Andrea Elibero: So this is so interesting. Okay. So Can you first tell me [00:03:00] about what were some of the signs or like the first things that kind of were coming to you and you’re like, Oh, maybe this is not quite right. Maybe this is not quite for me. 

[00:03:10] Mel Maw: So many things. So I, I’m not sort of enormously knowledgeable about human design, but I’m a generator and one of the themes of, um, things aren’t going the right way is just a constant.

[00:03:22] Constant sense of frustration. And imagine living with that frustration for over a year, but not quite knowing where it’s coming from. And with having the two businesses, the VA agency and the coaching, they are two completely different businesses that I need to market with as much energy. So it’s almost like.

[00:03:41] Every multi passionate person will understand having and marketing more than one business isn’t the easiest. And especially if it’s like having two children, one’s going to vie for your attention a lot more one day than the other will do. And you’ve got this kind of ever shifting equilibrium. 

[00:03:56] Andrea Elibero: Yes. And I’m laughing because I literally have two businesses that [00:04:00] I do the same thing and, and it is, so it’s a choice that I made or that I’m making.

[00:04:04] And, and yeah, a hundred percent. It’s, it’s, uh, But I will say that I chose very different marketing strategies for each one because of this fact that I was like, I know I can’t show up, you know, full, full on, on social for two different businesses on different accounts. Like I know I’m, this is not me. So like I chose one to do that and the other one to have different marketing strategies, but you’re a hundred percent right.

[00:04:25] When you have two businesses, you’re divided. And, and that is one of the struggles with, with being multi passionate and with doing different things. 

[00:04:34] Mel Maw: Absolutely. And I think adding to that. You know, to give you a quick view of the business over the last five years, I started as a VA, I basically blew up my life on, I call it my midlife crisis was the best thing that ever happened to me.

[00:04:47] Cause I, I took a sabbatical for my corporate job and I think I was 37 and I was like, what am I doing? I had a massive sort of health event that led to me taking this, um, maternity cover PA job. And I’ve always floated in and out of PA, EA [00:05:00] work, like personal assistant work. Um, because cash is good and it’s so easy and I’m such a organizational nerd.

[00:05:05] Like that’s my way of looking after people, weirdly, it’s spreadsheets and organizing. Um, so that was always something I could fall back into. And after the health event, I thought, well, I’ll just take maternity cover. I’ll be here for a, you know, a year. I was there for five years. And I sort of thought, right, I’ve got more in my bones, but I need to take a break because the business that I was in was shrinking, putting more responsibility on us, classic burnout story.

[00:05:27] Um, I took sabbatical and started, and I didn’t even know the VA world existed underneath. My, you know, day job. So that’s how it started on sabbatical, quit the job and became a VA. And I, you know, I’ve started from like 15 pounds an hour, just going, I don’t know what I’m doing to a year later being like, I need people, I need team.

[00:05:45] And I’d started to outsource and that’s how the agency, I just didn’t want to leave cash on the table and I’ve always been very entrepreneurial. I’ve had, this is probably the second or third. business I’ve had over my lifetime. So I was like, I’m not leaving cash on the table. So the agency [00:06:00] naturally grew.

[00:06:00] And then within a year of this. So, 

[00:06:02] Andrea Elibero: so your motivation for the agency was like, I’m getting these clients, like I want to serve people and like, let’s do it this way. 

[00:06:09] Mel Maw: Absolutely. I was like, this has legs. And also I’d been quite. Burnt out. And I sort of, I got to the point where I thought I want to run things my way.

[00:06:17] And my bosses had shifted around as they do in corporate. And I never had a choice of who I served. And there was some really difficult people over the years. And I just thought, do you know what? I actually want to be able to have that choice of who I work with. And I also want to be able to. Look after my health.

[00:06:32] That was the primary motivator for the business was 

[00:06:35] Speaker 4: I’m 

[00:06:35] Mel Maw: having more doctor’s appointments. Cause basically I don’t have a spleen, so healthy otherwise, but my immune system’s a little compromised. So, you know, having to take care of myself meant more than the average person needs to do for themselves. So just being crunched in a corporate system wasn’t the way.

[00:06:51] And I wanted to have enough money to take care of myself. Well, do the things I enjoyed. work with lovely people. And so you kind of take all these building blocks of like, right, this is what I want [00:07:00] business to be. And then it grows. Then you go, Oh, this is great. I don’t leave cash on the table. And so suddenly I’m taking on people with no clue how to do that, figuring out flying the plane while I’m putting the wings on it.

[00:07:10] Um, and then very quickly, excuse me, people were asking, well, how did you do that? Can you teach me how to do it? And I was like, 

[00:07:16] Andrea Elibero: Sure. This is interesting. It’s interesting that people are coming to you without necessarily you doing anything, you know, like people can see like, Oh, like she’s successful, like she’s doing this, this agency thing.

[00:07:28] And like, what is she doing? It’s so interesting that that’s how the coaching came about. 

[00:07:32] Mel Maw: Yeah. And I think it was a slightly different market. You look back at 2018, 2019 online service provider market, anything pre pandemic, I think is so different to how it is now. I think 2020 flooded the market with people going, Oh, I want to work from home or I don’t want to, you know, all the things that happened as a, the pandemic, so this was pre pandemic.

[00:07:48] And I think it was kind of a novelty of, ah, she’s done it. I can do it. Tell me how. And so coaching at its best. It was very rudimentary teaching service providers how to do what I [00:08:00] did with a focus on VAs. Um, and I loved it cause that was a whole, I have had some great mentors in my very, very early business years who one of them said to me, what’s the point in climbing the ladder if you can’t hand it down to someone else?

[00:08:11] You’re not going to pull the ladder up just because you’ve got all the knowledge. Why don’t you pass it on? Um, and I thought that’s, that’s always been a part of my way and my values. So coaching was like, this is amazing. And then seeing that person go off and build their business or change their office or land clients was just, I didn’t know this could be so, yeah.

[00:08:31] I was like, Oh, you get hooked on that. And so you go, Oh, this is a business and it’s got better profit margins. Then an agency with a team. So I was like, this is win, win, win. Like, so I went into developing that and I was doing programs and eBooks and, you know, really making a decent living out of it. And then the agency.

[00:08:47] Did you have your agency 

[00:08:49] Andrea Elibero: at the same time? 

[00:08:50] Mel Maw: Just, they were just starting at the same time, the coaching and the agency. So it was all very much like. It’s fully booked out with really great clients. And then bit by bit, sort of, [00:09:00] it all just grew together. And so the two have been like these, these twins, you know, running side by side for best part of four or five years.

[00:09:07] And I think over the last 12 to 18 months, things have changed and This constant push and pull where it used to be so easy for me to get, you know, coaching clients on Instagram, that was my primary platform that has changed. And I, you know, hand on heart, you can say it’s not the algorithm, it’s your content or your messaging or whatever.

[00:09:28] And I think it’s a part of all of those things that led to me feeling like it was really hard to get clients and the agency. Is if we talk about like being confident and comfortable, like really in asking comfortable in a lane agency is it I’m a nerd. I love these clients. I know the model it’s repeatable.

[00:09:46] It’s scalable. I take pride in training my team. I take pride in the six and seven figure CEOs that we serve. But then fighting as things changed with the way I was marketing coaching, there was always this, who am I [00:10:00] serving? Are they newbies? Are they a little bit further along? Are they like VA’s turning into OBMs or turning into strategists?

[00:10:06] And there was a sort of a disconnect somewhere. And it felt like it just wasn’t as easy as it had been. And I didn’t know what that disconnect was. So for about the last, I’d say year, I felt a very frustrated sense with coaching. I was like, why is this so hard? And then the, is this what I want to do? But I always want to pass knowledge on.

[00:10:32] So about a month ago I was in, um, Taylor Slango runs like a, she ran a 30 day container, which is sort of, I think it’s called the, uh, wealthy woman or the nourish CEO. And it was 30 days of mindset and strategy prompts. And it was such an insightful container. And it was in that sort of space where actually she gave us a prompt and it was an exercise to sort of sit with yourself and your body and, you know, do almost like muscle testing.

[00:10:55] Like if you put one scenario, close your eyes, see how your body feels. And you put the other scenario to [00:11:00] your body. And the thing that came out was like, Keep coaching. And my body almost like hunched forward every muscle tense. And I was like, but it’s so much work just to get one client. Why are we doing this?

[00:11:09] Cause that energy could be spent on the agency. And the agency is in such a juicy, lovely place right now. And I’m really loving. that. And I sort of felt this like, but if I had more time, the agency would grow faster and I could spend more time doing more of what I love. And that realization was like a pit in my stomach as well.

[00:11:29] Like what happened? Why don’t I love coaching the way I used to? So all of the mindset stuff that comes up with letting go, like it’s almost like the death of a bit of your ego going, well, if I don’t do coaching, who am I? What am I? Was I ever good at it? You know, all these things. But in the end, the decision to put it on pause was quite a relief almost.

[00:11:50] Andrea Elibero: Ah, okay. So I want to go back to a couple of things here because it’s so interesting. So the part that you said, because this is the things that I do as well with my clients is the, you know, [00:12:00] feeling it in your body, like sitting with it and not just doing something because you have been doing it, right?

[00:12:05] And just like continuing on with it. And the fact that you did that and you had this physical response is so telling. And the fact that you trusted yourself to move forward with this decision of letting go, that’s hard. It’s really hard to make that decision and to actually say, okay, like I’m stopping doing this thing.

[00:12:26] And this is why. So, What was going on internally? What was like the mindset when you’re like, okay, I’m going to do this. Like when you made that decision, what kind of came up for you when you’re like, okay, I’m going to stop coaching? 

[00:12:39] Mel Maw: Well, it’s multifaceted because I was at the time running the first round of a mastermind with my partner and co coaching that Abby.

[00:12:49] And so it wasn’t just a, there was weight to the decision because I needed to speak to her because I was kind of letting go of something for my business, but also that would affect deeply someone else. And. Bless her. [00:13:00] She was so graceful about it. And she knows me inside and out. She was like, Oh, this is not a surprise.

[00:13:04] And I was like, Oh shit. So there was another one of my, You could feel your 

[00:13:09] Andrea Elibero: energy. Like, cause she feel it. You didn’t talk to her about it before. 

[00:13:16] Mel Maw: We’ve had, uh, she’s a coach as well. And we’ve been friends for a long time and over sort of You know, as you do when you’re really, she’s actually one of my closest friends as well.

[00:13:23] And when you’re that close to somebody, they’ve been through all of the mindset, what was around coaching around how I felt about it. Because in one hand, I am seeing people say, you’ve changed my life, you’ve changed my business. This is incredible. And, you know, I’ve watched them go off and, you know, have businesses that have tripled in size and stayed consistent, you know, and simple things have changed and had an impact on people.

[00:13:47] So I know that the coaching wasn’t. I wasn’t a shit coach is what I’m trying to say, but I promise 

[00:13:54] Andrea Elibero: I didn’t stop because I was terrible at it. Yeah. 

[00:13:56] Mel Maw: Yeah. But also that sort of feeling of friction with it is there was a resistance [00:14:00] to sitting down at my desk every day to, to market it. And all I wanted to do is do the, do the, um, the agency side of things.

[00:14:06] Oh, that’s so telling. Yeah. It’s so telling. Yeah. It was like, one of them felt like, Frustration. And one of them felt like play and, you know, fun and exploration. And that was the agency. And when I made the decision, I just felt like a year’s worth of weight on my shoulders had lifted. And I don’t think it was a huge shock to anybody, but then that comes back.

[00:14:26] What do I do now? How do I position this? How do I tell this? And this is kind of the first time I’m really unpacking it, because there are people in my universe and orbit and community that are there because I’m a coach. So what does that mean now? So there’s still a process of figuring out how to serve them.

[00:14:41] And I think one of the things that I will be doing is, you know, Packaging up all my products and resources and like free and paid offers that would just live in the digital library because they’re so helpful. I don’t want to just put them to bed. So when I have the space, I’ll be doing a little bit of that, but yeah, it feels like a good decision.

[00:14:57] It’s not the easiest one to make. [00:15:00] 

[00:15:01] Andrea Elibero: Yeah. And, and also very courageous. To do that, you know, like it takes bravery to because there’s all these lots that come up. Oh, am I letting people down? Am I, you know, am I going to be fulfilled just as an agency owner or things like this? 

[00:15:15] Speaker 4: So, 

[00:15:16] Andrea Elibero: so I think there is a lot to it, just as somebody who is deciding to go into coaching, you know, so it’s like anytime there’s a shift, there’s a lot that comes up that you know that has to be dealt with and moved through.

[00:15:28] Mel Maw: Yeah, and I think as you were saying, it’s, uh, you have to really decide what actually feels good for you. And that’s one of the biggest things that I was really proud to teach to everybody is, if you’ve been employed, if you’ve been in positions where you couldn’t use your voice, couldn’t, you know, use your own agency to decide things for yourself, that intuition gets so dulled that one of the biggest The proudest parts of my work was always allowing women to tap into what actually feels good for them.

[00:15:53] Cause you ask them the question and in the beginning you can see in coaching, they’re like shoulder shrug and they’re just looking at you blankly. Like, what did that mean? Does that feel good for me? I don’t know. [00:16:00] They literally go, I don’t know. And I’m like, well, and they go, what do you think? And I’m like, if you outsource your decisions to me, you’ll create codependency and you’ll never flex that muscle for yourself.

[00:16:07] So it’s, it’s. Practicing what I teach because also look, there’s a resilience, right? It’s being a business for five years. You know, you’re going to figure it out. You know, you can bounce back from whatever decision or thing that you’re, you’re choosing to do. So there’s also, I have the luxury of that. I’m like, I’m not a newbie.

[00:16:23] When I change something in my business, I know I’ll make it work and it’s going to be great versus what does this mean? So the insecurities and all that is years of mindset work to sort of be okay with making a decision that feels so big. It’s the constant. Yeah. Mindset work, the tools that I have to continue to do the mindset work to make moving through big decisions easier than they would be, you know, it’s all.

[00:16:44] Yeah. So this is 

[00:16:45] Andrea Elibero: such a good point. Yeah. It’s such a good point because it’s true. Cause I’ve been in business for about a similar amount of time and I’m like, no, I know, like, like I’ve done this, like, and it’s the same thing. Like, like we’re, I’m in love cause we’re the same and, you know, the same, [00:17:00] uh, principles and thoughts and all of that.

[00:17:02] And, you know, It is true that it’s so different making a decision now that you have learned to trust yourself. You’ve learned to tap, you have learned to tap into your intuition. You’ve learned what it feels like when it’s a full body. Yes. Versus when it’s a, you know, like, is it fear? Just fear? And, and, um, words, I don’t know words anymore today, fear and imposter syndrome type thoughts, or is it like, no, actually this is not right for me.

[00:17:27] And it’s going through and really. doing all of this mindset and self work and somatic work and all of this that’s really helped with that. So for people who are making these decisions for the first time, this is why it’s so important, I feel like, to be supported by somebody. And this is what I, so I support people in their pivots, you know, I support service providers who are pivoting and looking to do something new.

[00:17:48] And, um, Oftentimes there’s so much fear that comes up and there’s so much doubt and there’s so, you know, it’s like, no, I’m just going to stay doing this thing, even though it’s this other side, right? That’s like the thing that’s calling them and the thing that [00:18:00] they’re so much happier. And that’s the thing that’s going to be successful.

[00:18:02] So all of that to say is that it’s such a good point that the more you practice this and the more internal work you do, the easier it is. And it’s not that it’s easier. It’s like that you trust yourself more and that you know it’s going to be okay. You’re more confident in it. It’s still hard. It’s still difficult.

[00:18:17] Mel Maw: Yeah. I mean, I always say to my friends that being an entrepreneur is the biggest personal development journey you’ll ever go on because it just fast tracks it. Never do you have to be solely responsible for yourself. This is the self employed versus the employee. You’re so responsible for yourself that you’re the ultimate decision maker.

[00:18:37] And You have to get to a place where you learn to trust your decisions. Otherwise you’re living in this kind of push and pull and energy, you know, drain of not making decisions. And so, you know, I, I left it for a long time, but you know, I will see something through and I will, you know, if I’m doing something new, I’ll always test it for six months at least.

[00:18:57] Speaker 4: But 

[00:18:57] Mel Maw: when it comes to decisions, I’m thinking about all the [00:19:00] facets of it. And I think probably because of the mastermind, I didn’t make the decision for. a while longer because I really wanted to do a mastermind. I really wanted to do this group program. And it was one of the most beautiful things we have created.

[00:19:12] And I’m so proud of it. And I’m so proud of the women that came through it. Um, and I will always have that in my brain as that was the thing that I wanted to do, that we did really well. So I’m proud of that. But ultimately. Yeah. That was a sold out launch. And so, you know, people be like, why are you walking away from that?

[00:19:28] And it’s like, you can’t force that boulder up a hill. You continue to do it and you just, you burn out, you know, and it’s, it’s a nicer headspace that I’m living in now that I’ve made the decision. 

[00:19:40] Andrea Elibero: And I think it’s an important point as well to say that your coaching was successful. You know, you’re not walking away because it didn’t work.

[00:19:47] You’re walking away because in spite of it being successful, it just didn’t feel right to you. And that’s so important. 

[00:19:55] Mel Maw: Yeah, but that’s weird, right? Because that’s not an easy place to make a decision from. You’re like, you know, you’ve been in [00:20:00] something that hasn’t worked, but when it’s working, you’re like, no, I don’t think I’m going to do that anymore.

[00:20:05] It’s not normal. Right. True. It’s like the opposite of what happened 

[00:20:09] Andrea Elibero: in the go to world. Right. Yeah, exactly. And I think also. It’s funny because other people probably told you like, no, that’s crazy. Why would you do, you know, if you asked for advice from other people, they would tell you, they would never tell you to give it up.

[00:20:20] Speaker 4: But that was the 

[00:20:22] Andrea Elibero: right thing for you to do. And you had to trust yourself and listen to yourself to know that and have the confidence to do that. 

[00:20:29] Mel Maw: And it doesn’t mean I will never do coaching again. I think just for the rest of this year, at least my focus is on turning the agency into something that, um, It’s really beautiful.

[00:20:39] Build that reputation up and continue to grow that. Cause it’s, it’s at such a beautiful stage with the type of clients, the team, all the systems, all the onboarding, all the offload, everything just feels really good and I’m having fun tweaking and improving everything. Cause I have the headspace to do it, you know, and also there’s obviously.

[00:20:56] A podcast in my life. So, you know, you add VA agency owner, [00:21:00] marketing to businesses, being a coach, running a mastermind as well, doing a podcast, you know, something’s got to give. That was the biggest thing is you can be multi passionate, but there is also a season for everything. And I think this just isn’t my season for coaching and that’s, that’s just okay.

[00:21:15] You know, 

[00:21:16] Andrea Elibero: Yeah, totally. And like the thought of, it’s just not a season for it. And as opposed to, I’m never going to do this again and I am done completely is, is a really nicer mindset, you know, it’s a nice way to think about it because it doesn’t feel so final. It doesn’t feel like, Oh, I can never get back to that, you know, cause you know, you can, you know, you know what you’re doing, you know, that you can always return to something if you want to.

[00:21:37] Mel Maw: Yeah, and I won’t lie, looking at my calendar has been absolutely delightful since I made the decision because there is a lot of, well, also I think about it from this perspective, and this is just me being really honest, is I was walking beside Other people’s businesses so deeply in them, because I never took coaching lightly.

[00:21:53] If, if I was doing one to one coaching with somebody I’m in their business almost as much as I’m in mine. And I love that. And I love that relationship, [00:22:00] but there were definitely points where I was like, the agency needs me and it needs my head space. And there’s bits that, you know, certain things catch fire and certain things and do really well.

[00:22:08] And both of them need a lot of your energy. And when you’re walking. Yeah. Inside someone else’s business. You’ve got responsibilities in other places. And I’m thinking if I need that energy, who am I to coach as well? And that’s part of the imposter syndrome that I was coaching myself through is who am I to coach when my agency actually needs me to do more for it.

[00:22:26] Yeah. I’m walking beside someone else’s business. And so when the decision was made and the calendar cleared, I was like, Oh my God, I haven’t had this much white space on my in so long. And that is just, I’ve actually like. taken some time over the last few weeks to just revel in that and play with it. And my brain has been so creative as a result.

[00:22:45] So it’s just been, it’s been beautiful. 

[00:22:49] Andrea Elibero: So let’s shift over to the agency and talk about the evolution, that evolution. So you had mentioned when we first started chatting that when you had started, [00:23:00] it just kind of, you know, sort of, okay, like, I don’t want to leave money on the table. Let’s bring on some team and let’s get this thing.

[00:23:04] Like, let’s go. And I know that I’m very well aware of the fact that having a lot of moving parts, you need to have the systems you need to have there. You know, there’s a lot of things that have to be together in order for it to run well and not need you there. 20 horses have been on top of everything.

[00:23:21] So can you talk about that journey a bit in figuring out like, what do I need? What do I do? Like, how do I actually do this? What were the biggest mistake, the hurdles that you had learned from all of that? 

[00:23:32] Mel Maw: Well, I know you, you know this too well, because you did it and then reeled that back. Which I love, literally.

[00:23:39] So with the start of the agency, I think I was scrambling at the beginning to figure out everything was done on the fly. I, I didn’t have a mentor until about, Oh, I want to say like 18 months in. So I had started coaching and I got the agency and I started to get team on board. That’s when I hired my first mentor.

[00:23:56] And that made such a difference because it was like giving me [00:24:00] the structure. She was very strategy based, which I needed to sort of structure the business. And it was just picking up scrappy, learning, you know, what’s an onboarding process look like, how do I make that better? But if I’m bringing team into it and I’m struggling to delegate and let go, because I do things a certain way and I’m a very experienced like EA, so I’m, I’m having to figure out the best way to impart that wisdom onto people.

[00:24:25] And it very quickly became, it’s got to be SAPs. We’ve got to figure out how to stop people asking me a million questions on Slack every day, which was happening and which was exhausting. And I was like, Oh my gosh. So now there are. Amazing systems and SOPs in place that mean that the team have everything they need from the day they sign, they’re on boarded in this beautiful Dubsado workflow, lots of documents, and then they access my SOP folder.

[00:24:50] And I’m at the moment spending time actually turning the SOPs into videos because obviously people are different in terms of neurodiversity and ADHD and scale. So how they learn [00:25:00] will be different. Not everyone wants to read a Google doc. They might just want to 1. 5 me on a video and zoom through. Do you know what I mean?

[00:25:05] So yeah. There’s also that in the background, but it’s the process of having to take what was in my brain, how I do things, the standards, the way, the tone, but the values. So I, I think the first thing I did was write a manifesto. I share my values. Why do I have this business? Why is it important? Who are we serving?

[00:25:24] What difference are we making? And it was always to change that client assistant dynamic was the biggest driver. So that we’re choosing really lovely clients and everything is also ability, but personality fit at the same time with my team and the clients. And it just grew and it’s, you know, ebbs and flows as it does.

[00:25:42] Some clients will stay with you for a long time, sometimes a short time, but it’s got to a really good place of just, you know, Yeah, everything’s working now and it’s just, I’m tinkering in the background at the moment, like a little mad scientist, loving all the like, moving to Notion for this and moving away from Calendly and switching to this.

[00:25:59] [00:26:00] It’s just, to me, it’s weird fun. 

[00:26:03] Andrea Elibero: Don’t apologize for it. I’m there. I’m with you. I love doing these things as well. And you’re like, Oh, every time I do something new and I make a system for it, it makes my heart a little bit happier. And I’m like, yes, please. Like even this podcast, like the first thing I did for guest You know, all the things with the guests is that I made a system.

[00:26:20] Mel Maw: Her system is beautiful. Her onboarding and workflow for like reminding me that this podcast is coming up. I was like, she’s good. 

[00:26:30] Andrea Elibero: Thank you. Thank you. All my OBM nocious comes out of that. Except that I’m so grateful because I totally forgot that I had a, like a flow of, you know, it’s like, oh, they get added into flow.

[00:26:40] And then there’s like this email that goes, I didn’t remember that that existed back. Yeah. Like, so check your automations, people. I hadn’t made this, this, uh, this email back when I had originally done this as an IG live series. And then I was like, Oh, I’m going to repurpose it into a podcast. And so it [00:27:00] says IG live.

[00:27:00] And I was like. So you had, like, responded to 

[00:27:03] Speaker 3: that email, I was like, what is this? And I was like, Oh, how funny, brilliant. Yes. Folks, we can always go back and tinker. We can always make things better. 

[00:27:12] Andrea Elibero: It’s all good. Nobody has ever noticed, apparently, or not shown up on my podcast because I wasn’t quite, you know, quite up to date, but it was mostly up to date.

[00:27:19] It was fine. Um, with your agency, uh, are you, what are your, like, what are your services? What do you focus on serving your clients with? 

[00:27:28] Mel Maw: Yeah. So I would say I’ve got a slim but effective lane. So we offer business admin, so traditional EAPA services plus lifestyle support. The kind of area that we, we sit really nicely in is they are six and seven figure CEOs.

[00:27:45] They are either solo entrepreneurs. Global CEOs with teams, but they are all innovators, creators, industry disruptors from, you know, UN climate change experts to, uh, you know, [00:28:00] app startups. Um, but just people who are trying to make their industries better in some different way. And they’ve been so incredible in terms of.

[00:28:08] And we’ve sort of unlocked this golden circle of client referrals from the clients that we have. So they’re all also, they all tend to be either had investment money, hence the startups, or they are angel and seed investors into the kind of startups that change industries and make the world better.

[00:28:25] Don’t ask how, just so lucky that we’ve ended up in that network. So they’re really impressive, whether they’re as a, whether they’re solo entrepreneurs or, you know, multiple seven figure businesses, they are just incredible humans. And so we’ve really just gone, well, business admin is what they need. And then the lifestyle support.

[00:28:42] So some clients have a mix of, you know, maybe it’s like 80 percent business support, admin, all of those usual calendar, diary, scheduling, travel expenses to the lifestyle support. We’ve recently helped a client buy like a seven figure house. We’re helping them get the interior designers and all the utilities and like everything that you can [00:29:00] imagine someone of that level.

[00:29:01] Would need done with their life. We do from the luxury holiday. It’s almost like the concierge lifestyle services. So it really is those two specific things for that type of person. And I think come 2025, I may think about, you know, branching out into, you know, whether we serve coaches with tech VAs and support like that and creatives.

[00:29:22] But at the moment that lane has just been working so well for us. 

[00:29:26] Andrea Elibero: Is there something that you. sort of fell into? Was it your intention when you started? How did you develop that? Because it is something pretty unique because a lot of VA’s, a lot of service providers do work with coaches and people very specific to the online space.

[00:29:39] And this is a very different lane of people. So I’m curious how that came about and how you just realized like, Oh, I really love this. 

[00:29:47] Mel Maw: I think because it’s within my skillset originally at startups, because I was doing the work until I think it was about, did I stop doing that? So I stopped doing hands on video work about coming up maybe three years ago now.

[00:29:59] So the team [00:30:00] do everything and I just do the marketing, the business development, everything else. Um, I, I think. Without sort of saying my background is a bit bougie and ridiculous. I came from the music industry. So I spent 15 years, you know, my formative years from like 18 to 30 working behind the scenes in the music industry.

[00:30:18] So I was always surrounded by extraordinary people. On all levels, they were really fascinating. So I got to see what made people great from that level, whether they’d worked to get it or, you know, they are the kind of talent that’s world class or the executives that support them that are phenomenal and the way that they work.

[00:30:37] So I’ve done that and I’ve done it across the world. So I’ve worked in New York in an advertising agency and all sorts of things. So that caliber of people are kind of, I don’t want to sound like an idiot, but they’re, they’re, they’re normal to me and I’m fascinated by them because that’s the ultimate level of, of greatness and excellence and ability and experience.

[00:30:56] And so I find myself really at home with those [00:31:00] kinds of brains of those sort of six and seven figure experts. I love how their brains work. I’m fascinated by them and I’m quite happy in a room with them going toe to toe. So I think maybe it’s a natural, that’s my network. That’s And I’m not afraid of anybody, basically.

[00:31:19] And I think that’s just my comfort zone. So I’m happy speaking in a language that those type of clients will understand as well. Maybe it’s just the background, I guess. 

[00:31:29] Andrea Elibero: Yeah. I mean, it sounds like that definitely played into it and you were drawn to them. And so it sounds like it was sort of a natural progression and that’s where you’re happy.

[00:31:37] And it’s really cool that that’s how, you know, how it played out and you’re able to build your business around serving these people. Yeah. I think that’s really cool in terms of the hiring. So if people are listening to this and they’re like, Oh, I really want to have an agency or I want to hire team. I want to do something, um, and have somebody help me.

[00:31:56] What are your top tips when it comes to. Hiring team members. [00:32:00] 

[00:32:01] Mel Maw: I’d say be ready before you’re ready. As a true type A person, I always say. I am the kind of person that if I’m started to think, Oh, things are getting a little bit busy. And if you’re that business owner where you’re starting to feel like, Oh, there’s not enough hours in the day.

[00:32:15] Like if you’re really starting to sit there and you’re opening your laptop again, after dinner, you’re getting the idea that you’re going to need help at some point soon. And you’re starting to think about what that help looks like. Write an everything list, start writing down. All of the things that you would rather not do that you notice yourself doing, whether it’s the admin and the weeds to like researching your family holiday, like literally write an everything list.

[00:32:35] And if you’ve got the ability to also figure out how long each thing is taking you per day, per week, per month, you’ve then got a massive list. Which you can start to look at and to see what is the type of support that I need? Is that like an executive assistant? Is it someone who just does a bit of lifestyle?

[00:32:52] Do I need that? Am I a coach who needs a tech VA? Someone who can understand ThriveCart and Flowdesk and all these things? [00:33:00] Because that’s going to give you the best ability to get on a call with A virtual assistant or somebody and to be able to have this list. I love it when clients come with lists because they’re like, right, have a list.

[00:33:08] Do you do this? Do you do that? Can you help me with this? And we can go, yes, yes, yes, no, but I know someone who does. Yes. And it really helps your future VA actually hold boundaries around what she’s good at and what she’s not good at. So I think it’s starting to write your everything list. Already the moment you are getting full with work.

[00:33:27] Um, and then I think just have a budget in mind. And a lot of the questions that I get asked when clients are thinking of hiring a VA is, how do I get ROI on my va? How do I get that return on investment? And sometimes it just isn’t a cash return, but it’s like, what is your time worth? And if they’re sort of thinking, yes, yes.

[00:33:45] Oh, it’s crunchy, you know?

[00:33:50] So that in, in and of itself is a return on investment you’re getting 20, 40, 50 hours a month back, if that’s where you’re at, you know, 

[00:33:59] Andrea Elibero: Yeah, totally. [00:34:00] And I think too, for specifically service providers who want to bring other people onto their team, when you get to a certain point in your business, you’re naturally wanting to do these higher level things, or, you know, you’re not, you’re kind of like naturally gravitate towards certain things so that your clients still need other things.

[00:34:17] And so it really becomes a, what’s my capacity, how can I expand the capacity of what I’m offering? How do I get support? And, and it’s. And you are correct and

[00:34:53] Is really, really important. And in terms of, yeah. 

[00:34:57] Mel Maw: Oh, go ahead. I was going to say, because everyone can actually [00:35:00] do that now. And that’s the same if you’re a service provider. Like for me, what am I outsourcing as a business owner, as a service provider? And one of the biggest things I made investment in over the last two years is content repurposing.

[00:35:11] Because that’s, for me, One of the best things that in terms of, I’m great, I know my message, I know my brand, I know my values, I know my core content, I can write, like, till the cows come home. Love that, but do I have time to chop it up and put it everywhere? No, would rather not, would rather not. So having that person in the corner was probably one of the first investments I made for myself and I was like, this is game changing, it’s great.

[00:35:35] Andrea Elibero: Yeah. I love that. And you were investing in the marketing of your business, which is Absolutely. Which is amazing, right? To be able to get more clients. And the other thing, one other piece I wanted to add to this is I always tell people when you’re hiring to look for somebody who is proactive and passionate Oh yes.

[00:35:52] And that you want to have lunch with, ’cause there’s plenty of people that are good at what they do. But you want to hire somebody you actually like and [00:36:00] somebody who you don’t have to give, you know, specific list of like step by step by step or it doesn’t get done. So I’ve hired, I know you’ve hired a lot.

[00:36:09] I’ve hired a lot for on behalf of myself and other clients and never go wrong if you look for somebody who is proactive and passionate. 

[00:36:16] Mel Maw: Yeah, and I always think it’s like, what task could you give them to test like a paid task or something or a question, you know, I have, I won’t give it away, but I have a question that I ask every single associate that I’m interviewing just to see their level of problem solving, strategic brain, you know, it.

[00:36:33] Whether they’ll just panic and the answers that I get for the specific questions that I won’t give it away. Cause everyone will expect it and they’ll have an answer. Um, but it does give me this kind of massive rainbow of answers. And I always look to one side to be like, this is what I would do. And this is what we needed to do.

[00:36:48] Cause it’s a real question that happened with a client. And, and so I think if you can give them a task, task or an ask, you know, before you hire them as well, because as you say that proactiveness, you. There’s no money in the world you can give someone to [00:37:00] be proactive when they’re not. And you also probably want someone who’s just, I don’t know whether it’s experience or proactiveness, but they can crack on and just take the lead confidently.

[00:37:11] And that in itself is a It’s a rare skill. It’s what makes the service provider stand out and be really horrible is that I can just do that. I’m confident. I trust my own decisions. So I’m going to, I’m going to, my other thing is I always say to my team is ask for feedback, not permission. So make the call, do the thing to the best of your ability and then ask for the feedback, but don’t ask for permission.

[00:37:35] We, we move too quickly for you to be able to ask permission for everything. 

[00:37:39] Andrea Elibero: Hmm. Beautiful tips. Yeah. Especially even just service providers, just serving their clients, like amazing tips for, for themselves to get hired with their clients. Okay. So let’s dive into with all of your whole journey and the coaching and the agency and all of these ups and downs.

[00:37:55] What has been, if you were to say your biggest turtle in [00:38:00] this journey of growing your business? 

[00:38:02] Mel Maw: Oh, probably my mindset. I was like, what am I going to say? My brain was like, oh, is she going to give me a hard question? And I was like, oh, it’s mindset. Always mindset. Oh God. Yeah. That’s why the work is so important.

[00:38:14] That’s why, you know, being an entrepreneur, you got to get your demons out the way. You got to pull them out your head, look at them and figure them out and then put them to one side because dear God, it will test you. You know, the, the, when you get to earning the most money you have perhaps, or you’ve replaced your nine to five salary, if that was your goal.

[00:38:29] You Your brain is going to play games and be like, well, what if it doesn’t come in next month? What if you lose the client? What if, and you cannot just be in your joy. That’s one of the biggest things as well as to, of the mindset stuff is to like celebrate when you do well, celebrate all the tiny things, even if it’s like playing a song, having a dance around, but you just need to sink into those moments in your body as well, because otherwise you’re constantly churning for the next thing.

[00:38:50] Like we know when we have our own businesses, we’re just nonstop. We would never stop working. It lives in our brain in a way that it doesn’t in an employee’s brain. So. Give yourself [00:39:00] grace, give yourself time, but yeah, the mindset piece, you know, all the imposter syndrome through the years of like, am I doing the right thing?

[00:39:06] Is it going to work? Does someone hate me today? Is everybody all right? It’s that, I think. That’s 

[00:39:12] Andrea Elibero: funny. Has there been a, so like for me, um, the most, so I come from a background where I studied clinical psychology for like a thousand years. So like I’m good with like the, the mind piece, right? And so for me, the.

[00:39:28] I’m going to say my, my clients do too, but I don’t know, maybe I use my, my therapist skills, but for me, for my own personal journey, it was the more like somatic piece and the learning to feel these things in my body and like listening to my body and using that and like getting in touch with my intuition and trusting that.

[00:39:47] Along with the like, growing in confidence and all that stuff that has been the biggest game changer in terms of, of modality. And I’m curious to you, is there a specific modality that you personally love? [00:40:00] 

[00:40:01] Mel Maw: I think it’s such a good question. Because I think, you know, it is the body, it is the intuition, it is trusting yourself.

[00:40:09] But I think the, the thing that’s built up over the years that I perhaps didn’t have in the beginning was, I guess it’s earlier, the resilience, you know, because it’s, you’re going to fall on your face, you’re going to fail. And it’s about how you deal with it, because the next time you’re going to get up a little bit faster, you’re going to figure it out a little bit better and a little bit quicker.

[00:40:26] And that just gets faster. And then the. Quote unquote risks that you take or the decisions that you make they’re easier because you know, you’re like, well if it doesn’t work You know, I’ve I’ll figure it out. I always figure it out I always make it right because look at the evidence to say I’ve got this far So what’s the worst go for it get behind it and you may as well get behind it with your whole self So I think it’s that resilience piece to it as well.

[00:40:53] That’s a huge part of it because I wouldn’t still be here if I was like, well also I think in my brain there’s no plan B. I’m like, this is it. I love this. So why would I do [00:41:00] anything else? And I’m like, okay, we’ll just always figure it out. 

[00:41:04] Andrea Elibero: And that’s, yeah, the conviction, the resilience to like, because what is the alternative going back to a job?

[00:41:08] That’s no, that’s not right. Absolutely not.

[00:41:15] I love that beautiful tip. And the last question, um, probably related to the hurdle is your top scaling tip that you would want to share with our audience of service providers. 

[00:41:26] Mel Maw: Oh, top scaling tip. I think it will always come back to. I think this is a perfect loop as what we were talking about at the start of the episode is coming back to what feels good for you.

[00:41:37] And I know you’re probably thinking, what the hell’s that got to do with scaling? But scaling is also, we can’t get carried away. Like every business has the opportunity to scale. And some people have a lot of, I should be doing this. This is what everyone’s telling me to do. This is what I’m seeing in the industry.

[00:41:50] With all greatest of respect, F the industry and do what feels good for you. Because when you tune back into what you actually want, how you scale. And scaling sustainably has to [00:42:00] involve doing what feels good for you. And it has to be in alignment with yourself. So if you’re feeling any frustration, like I was, something is out of alignment.

[00:42:08] And the quicker that you make a decision, the more relief the headspace you free up. But it really is that you have to, if you’re going to scale, it has to be with something that you can get out of bed and do every single day. Not to say you can’t change things slightly or adapt your business or create new offers, but at the core of it has to feel good for you.

[00:42:26] And that’s, Probably the secret to scaling and doing that sustainably and not doing it too quickly. Nobody needs to get to, you know, 10k months or any of this stuff, like, what number feels good for you? Go for that. You know, do what feels good for you. A lot of that. 

[00:42:41] Andrea Elibero: Beautifully said, beautifully said. I will second this because a lot of people, uh, Will say, Oh, I’m going to grow this thing because this is the fastest path to cash or I’m already on this trajectory and I can just continue to do this because I can make more money and they don’t realize that, but then you have to do that day in and day [00:43:00] out.

[00:43:00] And you’re, you’re not going to be happy. You’re not going to wake up excited for your day. If you don’t actually love what you’re doing. This is the reason why the agency was not for me is because. As a general VA and then like, you know, getting some subcontractors doing more general VA work. That’s not where my heart was.

[00:43:17] I wasn’t excited by that work, but personally, so I wasn’t excited by the, this like agency model and just being in this, in that space. So could I have made lots of money? Sure. But it wasn’t, it wasn’t fulfilling for me. So I was like, no, I don’t want to do like the money is not the, the answer. The money is the tool to get you to the thing that you actually love doing and to give you that freedom and all of those things.

[00:43:40] So it’s so much better and exactly sustainable when you are doing things that you actually love. Doing and this is the key like 100 percent on that. 

[00:43:49] Speaker 4: So 

[00:43:51] Andrea Elibero: amazing. Thank you so much for sharing all of that. And if you don’t mind to let us know, how can we stay in touch with you? If you have anything, any gifts or anything else you’d like to share, please [00:44:00] go ahead and do that now.

[00:44:01] Mel Maw: Yes. You can come find me at my website, the lifestyle VA. net. Um, I will probably change my Instagram handles at some point, but it’s currently at Mel the biz coach. Um, and I will leave for you and your audience. I have a, uh, Queen of onboarding and everything. I have a lovely Canva welcome guide template.

[00:44:17] So when you’re bringing your clients on board, it basically pulls out all the key parts of your contract that they probably gloss over, you know, you turn around times and your hours and how to work with you best, so that’s always a nice PDF that’s pre designed and pre populated that you can adapt to be part of your onboarding process.

[00:44:33] It really like dazzles your clients and, you know, welcomes them in beautifully. So I’ll give you that as a freebie because that’s always good. 

[00:44:40] Andrea Elibero: Awesome. Thank you so much for sharing and sharing vulnerably. And sharing your gifts and all of that. So thank you so much for being here, Mel. Thank you for having me.

[00:44:49] It was a pleasure. 

[00:44:51] Thank you so much for joining us today. I really hope you [00:45:00] found inspiration and insights from today’s episode. You know, scaling your business intentionally and from the inside out is a transformational process, but I’m here to support you every step of the way. Head on over to dancingleafsolutions. com slash resources for free tools to help you do just that.

[00:45:17] And thank you again for being a part of the Soulpreneur Scaling Stories community, your presence and dedication to growth, inspiring me every day.