Jess Spencer of Adored Illustrations shares how following her passion and going all in enabled her to leave the corporate world behind her once and for all.
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Anna Jonak: [00:00:44] Welcome to Episode 35 of the Brave Business Podcast. Today, you've got Anna at the helm and I have the pleasure of chatting to one of our Beyond Brave Masterminders Jess Spencer. Now, Jess is the author and publisher and founder of Adored Illustrations. And since 2016, she's been working with some amazing artists to create a series of magical ABC styled books which have been delighting parents and children everywhere. So magical in fact, she sold upwards of three thousand copies in just a few short years. Now, Jess and I were chatting not long ago actually at our mastermind strategy day, weren't we? [Jess agrees] And you were telling me how you loved our podcast and what you specifically liked personally was hearing other people's success stories and that you found them really motivating and inspiring. I know there's a couple that you've listened to a few times now and it was just a no brainer off that conversation as Flori and I were talking about who else could chat to from, who else we found inspirational and motivating than yourself, because we've been working very closely with you over the last two months and have seen such incredible results and that has come from you being so driven and passionate and focused on what you're working towards. And I genuinely believe that by chatting to you today, that you're going to inspire lots of people on their own journey. You're going to deliver lots of insights, ups and downs, lessons learned, you name it. And the biggest, I guess, hero hooray moment that we want to celebrate with you right now is that since two years ago from starting a business you actually left your corporate role which you'd been in some form or another for many years now to go full time in your business so that you can be there for your babies on your terms and that you can do something that you're passionate, inspired about. You can continue to write and be creative and be in your business. How exciting.
Jess Spencer: [00:02:33] Oh so exciting. Thank you very much for having me on the podcast today, Anna. And yes, I'm very very excited.
Anna Jonak: [00:02:39] Oh my God. Well, we have all been having celebratory moments with you in our Beyond Brave Facebook community where you're like "That's it. I've done it. I've left." [Jess laughs] I mean it’s a big moment. Exactly. How many women though and we've just discussed this, how many people out there have had to go back to corporate just because you know, to make ends meet. They need to be contributing and they don't have the luxury of being able to stay at home and kind of work on their business. In your case, you've obviously done both but... And that's what... I mean I'm really keen to learn more about and share more about because you have done both. You straddled both worlds. You've kind of been in a corporate role which has been quite heavy lifting and alongside creating a business and in two years have been able to step out of it which is literally no mean feat. So...
Jess Spencer: [00:03:24] Yeah. Absolutely and I'm sure that there are many, many people out there listening that are in the same position and it hasn't been easy but now that I've left and I've finished up at my corporate job, it's absolutely been worth it.
Anna Jonak: [00:03:38] Oh totally. Well you've had a vision and a mission, and I'd love to talk more about that. And I guess let's start by really sharing with everyone why you got started doing what you do, like how the first series of books came to be and yeah let's go from there.
Jess Spencer: [00:03:53] Yeah sure. Well I started the Enchanting ABC. That all began when I was looking for beautiful books for my daughter who was three at the time. She loved witches and she still does loves things all that magical and beautiful, butterflies, fairies, mermaids, all that sort of stuff. And I was looking for books and I couldn't really find anything that I guess was affordable and had all of those elements. And I was as big on Instagram. I was looking at all different accounts for artworks, my kids' rooms and for toys and things like that and I came across numerous artist accounts and I thought I wonder if any of them would be interested in actually putting some of their artwork into a book. I had also sort of quite recently... So when I did this in 2016, lost an Uncle and my Nana very suddenly and they were writing and they were actually writing a book at the time when they passed away and I remember my mum talking about how disappointed they were that they had never been able to get published and sort of gone anywhere I suppose with their work. And I sort of thought well I wonder if there are other people out there that feel the same way so I contacted a few artists and I mean it must have been a funny message to get like "do you want to illustrate a book with me?" I was a total random to these beautiful ladies, but they all came back and said "yeah that sounds like a great idea. Let me know what you're thinking." And it just snowballed from there really.
Anna Jonak: [00:05:32] How exciting. I mean how exciting for the artist to be approached. I mean obviously for you to be admiring their work and kind of seeing how it can fit in with the vision of what you want to create and then as the artist to be recognised in that way would be really special so I'm sure that as much as you are random, they’re like Yes! And obviously now that you've produced X number of books and kind of got them out there, that's so many people that get to see their beautiful visuals.
Jess Spencer: [00:05:56] Yeah. Well I mean I hope that I've given obviously something back to them and that they've got something out of the experience. They've been absolutely incredible to work with. So I'm very lucky I think, to have stumbled across them, because that's basically how everyone knows how Instagram works. Just flip from one page to the other. Just find yourself in random places like I did. I stumbled upon them, but they've been brilliant to work with so but yeah that...
Anna Jonak: [00:06:20] Well and certainly, I was going to say you've got some other products in development with them now as well. So it's a much bigger play now and spreading this beautiful artwork far and wide across different platforms or different products which is pretty awesome. [Jess agrees] So tell me then, obviously that was your motivation behind going for it and then from there, how did you, I mean how did you even go about like knowing how to get a book published I've got to say because I know there's a few people in our community that been like what do I do. I mean how did you figure that all out? Because...
Jess Spencer: [00:06:54] It's massively daunting to actually sit there and Google how to write or how to publish a book. I mean I've obviously always been very interested in writing. I've always loved writing and I've actually got a couple of novels that I've been writing and I've often thought about how do you actually get published. And in general, to get published by a big publishing house is very hard and difficult. So I sort of knew that if I was going to do it, I had to I guess, make it myself. So I just researched. I mean in the end that's the key to mine. I didn't ask anybody as such. I researched a whole heap of different self-publishers. I did a lot of research and like book self-publishing communities and Facebook groups. I went to bookstores and I looked at the backs of books and looked up publishing companies you know. I spent months researching how to publish a book. And I came across the publishers that I use who are Captain Honey. They are just amazing. But I mean to use them I pay for their services. So it's still not somebody paying me. That's not how self-publishing works. But I'm so happy with who I've worked with and how it will happen. But in the end it was research.
Anna Jonak: [00:08:15] I mean we're big advocates of research and I think that if you do your due diligence you're going to find the answers eventually and little things from Google, to going to visiting shops, to looking on the back of books, I love them. Where else can I find it? In Facebook communities like Facebook is like its own mini Google I swear I when you go into certain communities and can ask questions and things like that. And also you talk about self-publishing but I think and I might be wrong here but for the most part from my kind of I guess outside experience looking in is that it's more lucrative when you self-publish than when you are going to a publisher for the most part anyway.
Jess Spencer: [00:08:51] Yeah I was approached by a publisher to take over the enchanting ABC quite early on and I declined because the money that you make from them is not what you can make self-publishing. I do think that you have to know your market. And again research and make sure what you're doing to self-publish because you can lose a lot of money doing it as well if you don't do it right. But I think if you research and what you're doing, what your market is, who you're selling to, who wants your books then it can be the better way to do it.
Anna Jonak: [00:09:26] So how many, when you went for your first run of books like how many did you go for? Were you like I'm just going to do thousand or I'm going to do a hundred and see what I sell?
Jess Spencer: [00:09:34] Well that's the thing. Obviously, the more that you print, the cheaper it is. But that's also a massive amount of books to try and get rid of when you have no idea if anybody even wants to buy one book. I counted in my head how many of my friends and family... [laughing] What are the odds to get rid of the books to? And then from that you just hoping that people love what you're creating as much as what you do. So the first print run was a thousand copies and it's massive. [Anna says "that's still pretty big though. Hats off to you."] It was massive. The outlay for all of this was well into the five figures. It was not, it's not cheap. It wasn't cheap to start with and it hasn't been cheap since. But I wanted to create a product that could be held on to for a long time and was a bit special and wasn't just something that you can find in any old shop like Kmart or Big W. I wanted it to be special. So I paid extra to have all those things. I paid extra for hardcover and matte cover and gold foil and all the things that you say that people love. It was all part of I guess my vision of how I wanted the book to look. And since then I've reprinted that book another two times and the copies, the sets have just kept getting bigger. So which is obviously what you want.
Anna Jonak: [00:10:55] Absolutely. And I think you talk about an outlaying but in most businesses, you have to invest. So whether you're investing in the products that you're creating and you obviously have a vision for what they look like or you're investing in products to resell whatever it is, or your education. The fact of the matter is when you kind of go all into it, you can't really go in and do it half-arsed. You can't really go in it like well I'll get the lowest grade book in like five books. You're not putting your best foot forward are you?
Jess Spencer: [00:11:21] Exactly. Oh you can but you can't expect to reap the rewards if you do things half-arsed. You're not going to come out the other side of it with an amazing product that people are going to want to buy.
Anna Jonak: [00:11:33] So you got your thousand copies and you probably gulped a little bit when you spent the money [laughing] and then arrived at your house.
Jess Spencer: [00:11:42] Oh my God. [laughing] I think my husband did more gulping for both of us for an hour. I remember the first shipment turned up actually whilst I was at work because that's where I was majority of the time and my dad was home with my son at the time and he's like all these books have just turned up at your doorstep. And I remember he took pictures of them for me and sent them through his mail. Oh my gosh. I really hope that I can sell those books because I don't know where I'm going to store them if I can't.
Anna Jonak: [00:12:10] Oh love it. I love that kind of like oh my god self-doubt. But the determination to get them done anyway so this is kind of like the mixture of excitement and fear all at once hitting you. [Jess agrees] So a thousand books arrived at your door. What happened next?
Jess Spencer: [00:12:25] Well we had done a preorder sale a couple of weeks before that I think and so I had 50 books that I'd sold.
Anna Jonak: [00:12:33] Nice. You're off to a good start. Come on.
Jess Spencer: [00:12:36] Yeah No. And it was, the 50 books sold out within three hours. So my preorders went just crazy. And then when the books came, we packed up all of the preorders and sent them out straight away. And then our launch date was the following Thursday so we just basically wrapped, so when the books go out they're wrapped in like a nice tissue paper and ribbon. And so we just sat there and wrapped the whole heap of books so that we were I guess prepared for when we did launch and had things just ready to go.
Anna Jonak: [00:13:05] So did you get a pretty good uptake straight away? Like how did you, I mean from obviously initial pre-launch and you got some good orders out the door. [Jess agrees] I'm keen to know I like your view on like what, did you feel like it was a success straight up? Or you're like, right, I'm on something.
Jess Spencer: [00:13:21] Yeah. So when the preorders did so well I thought okay well that's as you say is a good start. And then when I opened them up for orders, anyone with the Shopify app and things like that on their phone will know the noise that it makes as soon as you get a sale and my phone literally sat there and just went ding ding ding ding ding like for hours. And I had to close down my website the next day because it was just chaotic. We got so many orders that we just could not physically fulfil them. And I had to go back to work on the Monday. This was a Friday night and I had to get back to work on Monday. So we had to close down the website so that we could fulfil the orders that we can. And then we opened up I think on a Monday or Tuesday after I'd gotten most of the orders out. And yeah so it did, it just continued. It didn't obviously continue to the same extent that the launch did but it continued. The book continued to sell well.
Anna Jonak: [00:14:17] So you knew when you got ding ding ding ding you knew. You were like Oh my God this could be something.
Jess Spencer: [00:14:22] Well what the first thing I thought, I said to Jarrod that night, my husband, I said at least I didn't waste all our money. [both laughing] I thought well at least it hasn't, it might not be super profitable. That wasn't really the aim when I started it, it was never to make, this was never to make money when I started it. But I just don't want to lose money either. I just sort of thought if I can just make my money back and have a little side project, that's really all I was after. So yeah to have it go so well it was definitely like phew [exhales].
Anna Jonak: [00:14:58] Well yeah. And I mean out of interest, how was your hubby the whole way through? Like has he always been like yeah mate I got your back.
Jess Spencer: [00:15:04] He's always been supportive. He did. When he found out how much money I'd spent all up, because like all good wives, [both laughing] I kept some things on the down low just because I didn't expect things to be as expensive as they were. And I didn't want to freak him out either because there's the huge amount of savings that I bought into this. And so I just kept a few things on the down low. And yeah when I sort of told him after you know, I was the one keeping track of what I was spending in our money so it wasn't until a little bit later that I actually sort of told him how much money it would cost. He was like oh my gosh. But obviously it turned out okay in the end. But I think that's just a what... Sometimes what you have to do is take a risk on what you actually like what you believe in. And I just, I had this just a little gut feeling that I can honestly say that's the only way I can describe it that this was just going to be something.
Anna Jonak: [00:15:59] Well gut, but also I think and I am a massive believer in gut because I do think that deep down, you know. But I also think there's an element of you did so much. You did your diligence, did your research. You got to know the audience and so you weren't walking in something completely blind. And I think unfortunately, that's what a lot of people do. They go out there without that insight or foresight and then they kind of wonder why things aren't tracking the way they want to. [Jess agrees] And being in a financial background you know, you have to also be on top of those numbers.
Jess Spencer: [00:16:30] Yeah. I think that definitely was a huge help. I knew my break-even point straight away. I had my spreadsheets. All of my friends and family will pay me out. But that's me you know. Like I don't do things unless I'm reasonably sure that it's not a silly move financially. So as much as this cost us money. I just I felt like it was probably going to be a safe bet. But I was definitely all over the numbers.
Anna Jonak: [00:17:01] Well yeah. And again everybody needs to be over the numbers. It's a huge thing. I was actually talking to someone in a call early morning and that's the first thing I said to her really. I was like you need to crunch your numbers because you need to test your business' viability and you don't know that yet. From what you're telling me you don't know that yet. So I think that you've done some of the crucial foundations to ensuring that you are setting yourself up for the best foot forward. And love that husband was supportive although slightly blind [Jess laughs] and I have to say totally done that myself like I did all of that numbers and there's definitely things I just have not told my husband about like because he didn't need to know. Same thing, it was like backing ourselves, knew it was going to come back and pay off. I found that my partner is quite risk averse so if I had to run things by him, he'd have freak out and then I'd have to like try and negotiate as opposed to he doesn't need to know that. Anyway so high fives in that. Jarrod, good work. Let's just say that. You just keep letting your wife do her thing. It's obviously working. OK. So how the hell did you go from as you said you were doing your corporate role. Remind me how many days you were doing.
Jess Spencer: [00:18:06] When I started this, I was doing three days a week. [Anna says "and you went up to four is that right?"] No I dropped. I was at three days a week when I first started all of this. About a year into it, at the end of last year, I dropped a day a fortnight because I just wasn't coping basically. I just was trying to run this business. I was trying to manage two children, one who just was the worst sleeper that you could imagine. And yeah work a reasonably stressful job. My job wasn't go there, just do something meaningless, not meaningless but easy and come home. That wasn't my job. So it was quite stressful. And to try and juggle everything just got really out of hand. So I dropped a day at fortnight which did help in the beginning but yeah obviously ended up not being quite enough.
Anna Jonak: [00:18:59] Not when you obviously not when things took off to another level. And so you've obviously got to a point when it looked exciting. And so what was your, I guess what was your headspace at when it was like, because obviously at this stage as you said your motivation wasn't really necessary to make money. It wasn't really going out there going right ‘I'm going to leave my job over this’ although that's where you’ve obviously got to now. So how did you get to that transition from being in a place where it was like a hobby or a side project or a passion project to going well hang on a second, this could be something a little bit bigger?
Jess Spencer: [00:19:32] Like there's probably a couple of points that made me think this could be something. Obviously, The Enchanting went quite well when we launched it and all of the money, I sort of broke-even quite early on. And so all of that money I reinvested back into The Incredible because I always felt I wanted to do a book, a boy's book, because I didn’t want Will to feel, my son, to feel like I'd done something for my daughter because obviously The Enchanting was for Ayla. I didn't want him to grow up to be like oh mum only made one book and it was only for Ayla. So yeah I better do one for Will. So I did The Incredible and obviously while we were working on The Incredible, The Enchanting was still selling well. And I had quite a few wholesalers. And then once we launched The Incredible, I started getting, I had that whole another market of I guess boys mums that really loved the books as well. And whilst that was sort of launching, I just said to the others do you want to do another one? Like might as well go again while we're on a roll and they all agreed. So we did, yeah, the last one, The Amazing ABC which we just launched in October. And so while I guess everything was happening there was a point I'd sent the books to quite a big influencer on Instagram and she posted just in her stories, and so the stories only last 48 hours, and I think I made something ridiculous like my salary I earned in a day basically. And I was just like oh my goodness. So that was sort of the moment where I went this is big. This could be bigger than the little nest I'm just keeping it in my Instagram followers. So around July or June I think that happened. And then there came a moment actually in August. So the night before my birthday, I was sitting there packing orders, I'd just done a massive sale that had gone quite well as well. And I'm sitting there packing orders. I'd been working the two days before that and I came home, did the rush around with the kids at night. My husband had to go out. So I sat there by myself packing orders until midnight the day of my birthday. I just thought this isn't what, this is not what I want for my life. I don't want to be at a job that is stressing me out, that I'm not even necessarily enjoying as much as I used to and then come home and not really spend quality time with my kids and then sit here and pack for five hours. It's just not what I want for my life so something had to give and I sort of been mentioning this to my husband for a little while. I just can't keep doing everything. I could have just kept the books probably at a hobby level. Just sold one or two a day and just left it like. But you know I'm creative and I want to write and I have all of these ideas and I just thought I don't know that leaving it as a hobby is going to be enough for me. So I actually googled business coaches and had a look. I'd been I think signed up to you guys for a little while. I was getting your e-mails and I'd found another Adelaide based business coach and I got in contact with her but she was just really social media related. I thought I need something more like I need something bigger than just social media. So I was just after my birthday I think that I contacted you guys because I was like I just I cannot keep doing what I'm doing so I either invest into the business or I'll let it go. And I just reordered The Enchanting again. Another huge amount of stock and I thought well I can't just let it be now. I've got to do this. So I said to my husband, I just sign up for a little while, see how it goes see if we can make something more out of this. And yes signed up to you guys and I mean that was quite literally the turning point was you and Flori to sort of just show me that there's so much more potential than just the little Instagram bubble that I'd been living in because that was all I'd been doing. So yeah.
Anna Jonak: [00:23:43] Can I just say that for the record it was amazing, the volume that you were doing when you were doing it that way. We were like oh my God this woman has got this amazing product and she's not doing any marketing and she's already like flying books off the shelf. Imagine if we set up her sales funnel we go, advertising, we optimise her website and we did this and this and I have to say Wow you took to it like a duck to water though given that you were doing what you're doing and did and it was not exactly the easiest time. It was full on at work. [Jess agrees] And you made this commitment to the business and went all in and we don't move slow on Beyond Brave. We certainly are like let's do this if we're going to go, let's go. And you did an extraordinary amount of stuff in a few short months but holy moly. I mean what happened when you did.
Jess Spencer: [00:24:33] Yeah. Well that's exactly right. You guys sort of were like right, you need to be doing this and you need to be doing this, you need to be doing this. I was like oh my goodness that's heaps. [both laughing] I don't know where and I said to you I just said I don't know where... I don't know how to fit this time in. I don't know where to make extra time on top of packing books and working and actually trying to be home with my kids. I don't know where to find that time and I can't remember if it was you or Flori probably combination when you said we all have the same amount of hours in a day like all of us, every single person. And if other people can do it, then you can do it. So I was like OK all right then let me try and work out where the hours are free in my day that I can actually sit there and focus. And it turned out to be 5am.
Anna Jonak: [00:25:15] I'm with the 5am club. High five. I'm a 5am-er. I love it.
Jess Spencer: [00:25:21] That turned out to be the time when I would get, I got up at 5am. pretty much every day. So I'd work for a couple of hours and then go to work for how many hours I was there and then get home and deal with the kids and then that's when I pack and do orders at night. So that was really how I lived pretty much since signing up to you guys in August. That's what I've done.
Anna Jonak: [00:25:47] And well it paid off. I was going to say paid off in spades in terms of all the systems and processes that now you've gotten set up and also the results you're getting. I mean even your ads. I mean talk to me about the ads.
Jess Spencer: [00:25:57] Well I we haven't even really... I don't think we haven't done everything we can do. There's so much to focus on but the main thing that I started with was email marketing which majority of businesses just have or just have to have at the beginning. I just did not even have time to learn how to use the most basic email program and I didn't have time to find somebody to help me how to use it or set up some of those automated like automated e-mails that people get. And then Facebook ads. I didn't have time to try and work out how on earth to create a Facebook ad. So thank you Flori for helping me with that because yeah the Facebook ads have just been incredible for me like for my business, personally and have definitely contributed to the growth in revenue that I've had over the last couple of months.
Anna Jonak: [00:26:58] I love that you've had like you're like "my ad's not even working. It's still driving sales, how does that even work?"
Jess Spencer: [00:27:04] I don't even. Yeah I have ads that were turned off. So I think I had, I was running them for about three weeks and then I was still getting purchases from those ads weeks later.
Anna Jonak: [00:27:17] Did you turn them off because you got too much again? I think it was one of those when you turned off and you needed to turn off.
Jess Spencer: [00:27:20] Yeah I can't remember why I turned it off. I turned one off by mistake. I didn't know what I was doing but they just yeah purchases kept coming through from turned off ads I'm like OK I'll take this.
Anna Jonak: [00:27:30] We've got another one of our Beyond Bravers and she's like I'm really worried about when I turn my Facebook ads on. I'm like you can turn them off like as in if you get the results that we expect and then the work load is too much then you turn them off. You do get to drip feed things on and off and it's all testing. Well I think that personally I'm so pumped that obviously you decided to join us and that we were able to join some of the dots and as you said we've only really scratched the surface. We've got some systems and processes in place and we've got you trying some things. But the beauty of when we first chatted was that you wanted to leave your job. That was it. You were going to leave your job and that was one of the big things we talked about.
Jess Spencer: [00:28:07] That's one of the goals. When I signed up with you guys, it was like what do you want? What's your goal? Where do you want to be? And I was like I don't want to be doing my corporate job anymore.
Anna Jonak: [00:28:16] Do you think how, I mean did you think it was gonna happen so fast? I think it happened faster than we expected.
Jess Spencer: [00:28:23] No way. I think I was just so desperate to not keep living the stressful life that I was living. I think any of my friends and family and certainly my husband will attest to that. I have lived a highly functioning but stressful life for the last couple of years. To have got to the point of leaving my job... It has not been easy. And it's been late nights and early mornings and not seeing my kids you know. I decided to work part time so that I could be at home more with Ayla and Will and it turned out to be the opposite. I had Will in you know, I was working my corporate job and then I had him in pre-school on the days I was home so that I could work on the books and I thought I see him one day a week like this is not what I imagined. This is not what I want. So I think I was just so desperate to change things. And I think probably a lot of people when they get desperation stage, just do it. You just find an energy that you didn't know you had and just power.
Anna Jonak: [00:29:29] I think that it's when you kind of it's when you decide that there's no other alternative. I think it comes down to making that commitment that this is it. And I can certainly relate to that with my husband. My big goal was to see my husband back from FIFO. And so for about 2 1/2 years from setting that goal to happening with juggling the kids and everything else but it was just like a tunnel vision of this is where I was going and you pull the hours in and you do your dues. You just get on with it. [Jess agrees] Because that like there is no other alternative at that point and this is what you're working towards. And when you realise that I mean you're only a few days and I actually would love to check in with you in a few weeks. I mean how do you feel like I mean it must be, how was your last day? Come on give me some. Give me some.
Jess Spencer: [00:30:16] It was crazy. My last day was lovely at work you know. They gave me a farewell and thanked me for my contribution, but I think everybody there as well understood that they might like my reasons for leaving and that I had found something that I loved and that kept me at home. And Jarrod and I, we moved house earlier this year to further away basically from work and from most of our family, but my sister in law and brother in law near us. But we are now further away from everybody and so the commute was longer just everything was longer and harder and so I think everybody at work understood why I was leaving and they were happy for me. [Anna says I bet some were a bit jealous as well] Yeah think it's one of those things. I think anybody, whenever you hear of somebody doing what they actually want to do. And I had that I had friends that were doing what they obviously loved doing. I thought why like why can't I have that? Why? Like why not me? And I think that that's part of all of this is why can other people be happy and why do I have to be the one who's not happy in my job?
Anna Jonak: [00:31:27] You just got to change that why not me to why not me [sound of excitement]. As in of course, of course, I can have this.
Jess Spencer: [00:31:32] Exactly. Like why can I not have all of this that everybody else has? Why can I not be successful at something that I love? Why do I have to feel like it? That can't be the way that it is, that I have to do something that I don't enjoy.
Anna Jonak: [00:31:45] It's a mindset shift. And it's so important. And again I've had so many calls today Jess you wouldn't believe. But the woman I spoke to this morning, she was the same. She was talking about her future and everything else and what was the best this and best that. And I said what do you want? What do you want? Focus on what you want and make it happen. Because that's where the magic is. It's in kind of just saying yes to yourself, giving yourself permission and giving yourself direction, setting that intention and then that's when you focus in and you make stuff happen as opposed to kind of like trying to make it work. You just got to start with that kind of drive and intention. And you've certainly thrown everything in as a result which has been amazing. So I'd love to know some, I guess some lessons learned from your whole experience in the last couple of years. What have you learned on the business front, in the mindset front, anything that you think would be useful for people I guess to consider where they're on their journey?
Jess Spencer: [00:32:34] Yeah. I think probably the number one thing I learnt or have seen is that nobody but you is actually going to make your dreams come true. There's nobody else out there that knows what you want, that has your mindset, that has your dreams and your passions and so if there's something that you want, only you are literally the only person standing in your own way. As I said when I started these books, it was just because I wanted something for Ayla. I loved writing and I liked the idea of publishing a book. It wasn't the drive, wasn't always there for money. It was just that I wanted to do something that I loved and to have grown it to the point that I can leave my job is just amazing and I feel very very lucky, but it hasn't been without so much hard work. And I think it's great to have dreams and it's great to have goals and all of that. But if you want to actually have those goals and dreams realised, you have to just be prepared to give everything to it. As I said having been away from my three-year-old four days a week is not what I wanted but I did it for the last probably six months so that hopefully I would not have to do it again. Now I can be home with them every day. Amazing! [Anna says it's a stepping stone. It's a stepping stone.] Yeah. I think to get for the greater reward, you have to give some things up and whether that might be time with your family or it might be money or whatever it is for you to get the ultimate goal you probably will need to give things up and I think it's unrealistic to go in thinking that it's going to be easy or that anybody who has gotten to this stage has had it easy because it's just it's not.
Anna Jonak: [00:34:21] Good. I'm glad you said that because I've said this a few times on podcasts where I'm like I think it's important that people understand that it does take hard work. It takes time. You're not going to launch business in a year, everything's going to be smooth flying and it does take sacrifices. How many of us have had to sacrifice sleep, hours with kids, with family, money, decisions, Christmas holidays, whatever it is. And I didn't even see my husband this time last year in view of getting the business where it is, in fast forward a year and there's been so much change and it is the best decision ever like for our future. So it's kind of definitely keeping that longer-term vision in mind. But I mean we've just run Success Live our two-day event and I did some stuff on mindset and I was talking about the entrepreneurial journey and just that, it sucks sometimes. It's freaking hard. And I think that the more that we can kind of accept that and kind of like just keep charging on with the bigger picture in mind, it's knowing and accepting that and being willing to do whatever and being committed and that's what's gonna get you the results.
Jess Spencer: [00:35:25] And I think having as much as you can a good support system around you, because certainly my husband was supportive and he knew that when I was having my moments and I was having my meltdowns and he understood because he knew how stressed I was because I was working to get us to where I needed us to be and my parents as well and friends and family. If I wasn't always happy or whatever they knew why. And I think it's important to be honest and make sure that the people around know what you're doing and are happy to support you because you don't want to do on your own. Nobody can do any of this on their own. So if you can, have some supportive family and friends and partners then.
Anna Jonak: [00:36:10] Well I also think that their support of you comes from what you put out. [Jess agrees] if you're confident and your why is very clear originally. It was something that was really passionate and really it meant a lot to you, then I think people can appreciate that. And then with time, people can actually see the results that you're getting. And as you said, you're doing the number crunching. You're doing your due diligence. it's very hard to question that and not back someone who's like quite sure of what they're doing.
Jess Spencer: [00:36:35] Yeah. And I mean yeah that's another point. Make sure you do all those things. Don't start and hope for the best because it's just... [Anna says no hoping. There's no hoping and wishing.] No not at all.
Anna Jonak: [00:36:53] Direction and doing I like it. So one thing I would actually, one little interesting thing I'd like to know is how did you keep your mindset in check when it came to, because obviously as you said it's quite stressful with all the things you were doing. Did you have any tips or techniques whether it was a 5am start or going for a walk or unplugging. What did you do I guess to kind of enable you to keep on keepin on because obviously we are doing a lot, it is tiring but you need to be able to kind of keep that energy up for a period of time to kind of get through that break through.
Jess Spencer: [00:37:22] Yeah. For me, running is actually my stress reliever. There is a period of time about this time last year when I had probably reached my maximum stress that I think I've been at any point apart from the middle of this year. And I was running every single day. Every single morning, I got up and ran at like six o'clock and just de-stressed as much as I could. I find I can just clarify things in my head better when I run. And now I'm still running, not as often because it's a lot colder in the Adelaide Hills to run in the morning. But yeah I think for me, running is a huge thing. Sometimes my husband will get home at night, I'm like I just need to go for a run. He just knows if I say I need to go for a run, he knows to let me go because it means that I need to sort of get out of my head. And the other thing, podcasts actually. I love listening to podcasts. I love listening to as you said before other motivating people, people who have worked hard to get to where they're at, who are successful, who might have some tips or tricks that I haven't thought of or inspirational words that might help me on what I'm doing or where I'm going. Yeah probably those two things that are my things. It's running and podcasts. I've only gotten into podcasts probably a little bit before you guys but around about the same time as I joined Beyond Brave and I just love them.
Anna Jonak: [00:38:45] Yeah podcasts. I'm down with the podcast. I'm also an audible fan I've got to say. And would you wanna listen to a motivational book or empowering something or other? I love listening to audible and I definitely find that when I can if I can get ready early and go for a run or a walk and listen to something like that, you just start the day with like the best energy to go like kick some goals and things like that.
Jess Spencer: [00:39:07] I actually feel really motivated now to get up tomorrow and go for a run. [laughing] I haven't run in like a week and a half and I think part of it is because I'm finally at that point where I'm not so stressed that I feel like I'm gonna be at my breaking point constantly. So I don't feel like I need to run every day but I do enjoy it. And it's certainly what helped me in some of my more stressful periods of time.
Anna Jonak: [00:39:30] Well on that note, so what's next? So first of all what's next on the business front and how are you going to enjoy all the time that you now have where you're not in an office?
Jess Spencer: [00:39:37] I had quite a few people in my farewell card wished me a happy retirement. [both laughing] OK. That's not what's happening.
Anna Jonak: [00:39:43] It's not like I'm just going to sit there and do nothing. Thanks guys.
Jess Spencer: [00:39:48] So with the business, we have as I think we mentioned before there are some new products coming out next year. Hopefully there will be one in February and then hopefully a couple more during the year of our current books into different products. And there is one new book on the way for the middle of next year, hopefully two. Just got to obviously start the process of writing those books and then illustrator agreements and all the rest and creating them and all the rest that goes with book production. So that's the aim for next year a couple of new books and some new products. And in terms of all my free time, I've finished up work at an odd time because it's Christmas and kids just started school holidays so I don't think I'll really get into the swing of things until... [Anna says having extra me time is just going to be parenting] No, not at the moment. I've got Will in preschool and Ayla is at my sister in law today, but this is about the extent of my free time for this week but next year I have Will in preschool two days and then I have him the rest of the time. Ayla's in school. So that's fine. And the two days that Will's in pre-school will be totally focused on the book stuff on creating all different... There's just so many things that I want to do and there's so many different things you can do with writing. I love the kids books but I do also have some more adults sort of stuff that I want to write about and mum stuff and do a bit more creative things for myself. So I'll work on all of that next year and just continue with the books that I have and hopefully find new markets, new people to love the existing books as well [Anna says "don't hope, don't hope, that's not going to happen. You will. That's right."] I will. I will find new market and new people to love the books. As well, I have lots and lots of return existing customers who buy them for presents or things like that now. So it is really lovely to have so many people support and love the books.
Anna Jonak: [00:41:47] Totally. Well I'm looking forward to, I know that you're looking like you said some stuff for mums. I know from the discussions we've had. I'm lucky enough to have a sneak peek into it more than everybody else. So I'm very much looking forward to seeing what comes out on that front and the space that you're moving to coincide with what you're already doing. And very excited to see I guess as we implement more. I mean two three months in we've been doing some smashing work and cannot wait to see what we can do come the new year. And where to from here for you and maybe we'll have an update at the end of next year and you'll be like woah!.
Jess Spencer: [00:42:20] Maybe. Yeah. Hopefully, not hoping. Everything will have gotten much more crazy and yeah we have some new products and new books and all of that sort of stuff out by then. But yeah my aim for I think the next year is just to have more balance because that's one thing that I've had nothing, none of, the last few years is balance. And just seeing my kids a little bit more will be nice.
Anna Jonak: [00:42:42] Well you're reclaiming, I guess you're creating now, you have the opportunity now to create the days and the life that you want on your terms because you are in a position when you're at the helm and you get to decide what that looks like and I would say that I think that's everybody's dream. We're certainly at a point now when we're still on a bit of a juggernaut. Our growth has been so quick and so fast where we're like ‘get the staff in’. But I think that we're probably at the end of this year we'll be in a similar position when it's going to be more of a being able to embrace that balance. But as you said when you're kind of going through big growth, there is going to be periods when that balance ceases to exist. But I am very jealous of where you're at right now and I really want you to embrace it and enjoy the time with your kids and give yourself some serious high fives for all that you've done, for taking the lead, for being committed and for knowing that you could have a different life and I trust that just sharing some of your journey today will inspire others to kind of keep on keeping on, to make that commitment, to take that risk, to trust in what their passion is and know that they can get that result. And anyone looking for support that hopefully we've got tons of products and information that will help you on your journey to kind of help take their steps alongside these podcasts which will help you give some insights and inspiration. Where can people go and find out more about you and your awesome products should they want to go and sneak themselves a copy of The Amazing ABC?
Jess Spencer: [00:44:13] So I'm just at Adored Illustrations on Facebook and Instagram and my website is www.adoredillustrations.com.au. So yeah. [Anna says come and stalk her.] Love some new customers. If you don't know me. Yeah. Please come over.
Anna Jonak: [00:44:29] Come and stalk me or buy something from me. We'll put up those links in our show notes which people will be able find on www.businessschoolformums.com/podcast. And I've got a bit of a parting thought for today which I thought would be a pretty apt based on the conversation I thought we'd have. And so as you wrap things up this is the parting thought. Let me know what you think. "Be willing to go all out in pursuit of your dream. Ultimately, it will pay off. You are more powerful than you think you are."
Jess Spencer: [00:44:56] I love that. Yeah perfect and it is so true. In the end we are the ones, if anybody is going to stand in our way of our dreams it will be us.
Anna Jonak: [00:45:05] So there you go. You are your results people. Go do it. And we'll wrap it up by saying, and remember of course, be brave in your business.
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