17 May Meet The Entrepreneur: Monica Woodhams, Branding & Lifestyle Coach
With a background in the fashion industry and blogging, Monica Woodhams saw an opportunity to help others while doing what she was passionate about when she decided to become a branding coach. Years later she’s teaching others how to brand their businesses, run their social media and make their voices heard. Building her business while managing her following on Instagram, Monica spends her time strategizing with her clients while taking the occasional trip to another city or to a new restaurant for brunch.
1. Tell us a little bit about how your business got started?
In school, I studied public relations for my undergrad, and I always gravitated towards the branding and social media world but didn’t really know where I wanted to be within that. I actually ended up working in the fashion world, as a buyer, because fashion was always something that was really important to me. But then I realized I needed the creativity that was missing from that. I needed a way to bring back creativity while still having the strategic side that I enjoyed from my corporate work.
So I left my job and started working at a startup, which gave me the opportunity to explore what I could do on my own. And then last summer, I joined a group coaching program. When I was working with a coach one-on-one, I told her that I wanted to help other bloggers (I had been running a lifestyle blog for the past eight years). I knew I wanted to help bloggers and business owners really be visible and be able to get their message out in front of the right people.
I realized that one of the things people were always asking me about were the pictures on my Instagram account. So, last fall, I started doing one-on-one Instagram sessions where I started to help bloggers really get visibility on Instagram and use that as another vehicle for their visibility. And then that turned into an Instagram course, and that turned into my 90-day program, where I work with business owners and bloggers who are just starting out and we create a plan over 90 days and we really nail down what their brand is, what their brand messaging is, and from there take that into a social media and visibility strategy.
2. Could you explain a little bit more about the coaching course you mentioned signing up for?
I was not exposed to coaching at all until last year, and I just happened to see a Facebook ad for this group program, and I really had no idea what to expect. It was basically a group program to help get clarity on how to make your business actually happen. There was a topic every week and then there would be a group call, and then there would be homework.
There were about 60 of us, and it was so cool because there was everything from personal stylists, to food bloggers, to life coaches and money mindset coaches. So that really opened my eyes and opened my mind to the entire community of the coaching world. It’s been so much fun to meet my peers that way and to really build my network and friendships from all over the world.
3. What does a normal workday look like for you?
On average, I wake up and I’ll either go work out or I will go ahead and do my mindset work for the morning. That’s usually a 17-20 minute meditation and then I’ll read a chapter out of a book I’m reading. Things like that, that get me excited about my day. And then I always make my own breakfast and make some coffee and then do emails. I always make time for lunch, also. And since I work from home, I try to go out for a walk and I try to get out of the house. I try to have coffee dates with other people 1-2 times per week, and then I’ll usually work again until 6 or 6:30PM then have dinner. I might do a couple more hours of work after that, but then I shutdown the computer.
I have rules and boundaries. I don’t bring my computer into my bedroom, just so I don’t get tempted, because I don’t want to burn myself out. And I don’t want to get into the habit of working from bed. I like structure, so even though I do work from home, I do like to keep normal work hours.
4. Can you explain more about the ‘Mindset Work’ you mentioned?
I just really take the time to focus. I do meditation, and I also do tapping EFT—things like that just to really get focused and energized for the day. It’s especially important when I’m not working around a lot of people. My two friends, who are also entrepreneurs, also help with this. For this week, we’ve all agreed to dance to one song every morning just to get our spirits up and have fun.
5. What are some tools that help you run your business every day?
One of my big things is Asana. That’s where I keep track of my clients and see where I’m at with them week-by-week. I also use that to communicate projects to my VA (Virtual Assistant), and I love it because I can upload all of the documents there and the notes, and she can comment back. It’s much more streamlined than trying to do that over email. Asana is something I’ve been using for years, and I swear by it.
Recently I’ve also been using Instant TeleSeminar to work with my clients, so they always have the same number to call into, and there’s a recording that they automatically get. I also swear by the notes app on my phone— I probably check it 20 times a day. And, of course, Instagram is the biggest focus that I’m on right now, in regards to social media platforms.
6. How did you find your first customers?
I started joining Facebook group (I Heart My Lifers, The Spiritual Bad Ass Boss Lady, Adventurous Women Entrepreneurs, and Lady Boss Lounge) communities with like-minded entrepreneurs and that was a mix of those who were just starting out and those who were very experienced. I just started to network with these people, and then also through my Instagram—people would direct message me. And honestly, that’s still a huge part of how I still find my clients.
7. What would you suggest for others starting businesses like yours, as far as getting the word out there?
I think that if there’s even a part of you that feels like becoming a coach is the right fit, I think you owe it to yourself to just go for it. Even if you have a full-time job, you can still find the hours in the day to do something that you’re super passionate about. Just do it. There’s a reason you have that desire, and I really think you just have to go for it and see and explore.
And honestly, when you take the step to explore something new, that might not even be the thing that’s for you, but that step is what’s going to take you to what you’re meant to do. There’s no bad that can come out of it; if anything, you just grow.
8. What are some things that have worked for you and what haven’t?
Again, one of the things that really works is building relationships and getting to know what people actually need help with, instead of just telling them what they need help with. That’s worked really well. One thing I’ve learned is how important it is for you to have confidence. Even if you’re writing an email, any lack of confidence or uncertainty shows through your writing. When I was first starting out I was trying to be so general in my messaging because I wanted to include everyone, but what that ended up doing was muddling my message so that it didn’t speak to anyone at all. When I got really specific and knew exactly who I was talking to, that was when people really understood my purpose and how I could help them.
When I was first starting out I was trying to be so general in my messaging because I wanted to include everyone, but what that ended up doing was muddling my message so that it didn’t speak to anyone at all. When I got really specific and knew exactly who I was talking to, that was when people really understood my purpose and how I could help them.
9. What is the biggest pain of running a small business? What’s the easiest?
The easiest is working with my clients and talking to them about branding, and talking to them about their strategy and their plans and their goals and making sure they happen. That is just so much fun for me. The hardest thing is the business stuff and the things that you don’t think about, like taxes. Those aren’t daily things, but when they do happen… at first I really thought, “I studied business in school, I manage my money well, I can handle my accounting.” But then I realized that it’s stressful and I’m not an expert at it—so, why am I doing it? It’s things like that which make you realize that there’s no reason to force yourself to become an expert in every area of being an entrepreneur, and it’s important to accept that and be able to hand it over to someone else.
10. Tell us about your team! Who do you work alongside and how do you manage that side of your business?
I have a VA who I work with every week and she helps me out with the technical things and the design aspects. If I need a presentation, she helps me with that. And then I’ll have a CPA who will check each quarter for my quarterly taxes so I have everything lined up.
And then, it’s not part of my team, per say, but it is part of my day-to-day support system: I have two good friends who are also entrepreneurs and we check in with each other every day. We have weekly calls where we update each other, ask for advice and that’s honestly the biggest support system I have on a day-to-day basis.
11. Is this your first shot at entrepreneurialism? To what do you attribute your success?
Yeah, it was my first time. One of the things that’s made me successful, I would say, is that I’ve made it a non-negotiable for myself. That outlook comes a lot from my blogging background. Blogging is one of those things where people think it’s easier than it is. The average blogger lasts about 3 months and then drops off, and I think starting your own business is probably pretty similar. Especially because, at the beginning, it seems like there are more negatives than positives.
So, I think it has been my mindset work and keeping myself around people who really believe in me, instead of people who aren’t sure or create doubt. I’ve been really lucky that even within my friends and family [circle] they’ve all been 100% supportive because I know that for a lot of people that’s not the case. And it’s hard when you can’t even talk about it with your friends and family because they’re going to be negative. So finding people who support you allows you to keep your spirits high throughout all the crazy ups and downs.
12. What are some of the greatest things that have come about, since you decided to venture out on your own?
The greatest thing I’ve gained is freedom. Freedom to be creative, freedom to create my own day, and live my life to the fullest in my 20’s. Traveling is super important to me, so knowing that I don’t have to save up all of these hours, just to go on a 3-day weekend, that’s huge. Just being able to have ownership over my day and what I’m doing.
13. So, what do you like to do when you’re not working?
I love going out to dinner, trying new restaurants, brunch. Again, traveling. My perfect day is a weekend when I just get to wake up, go to brunch with my boyfriend, sit outside for forever and just hang out with friends.
14. What is one thing you wish you had known 1 year ago?
I wish I knew how important the mindset work was. When I first started, I heard people talking about it and how it was really important for them to get in the mindset for both business and even having a money mindset. Really, having this mindset for every area of your life. But I wasn’t totally sold on it, and it took me a while to realize how much of an impact that makes. So I wish I had started that sooner.
15. Are you involved in any communities or groups specific to your business?
One of the first groups I joined is also an in-person meetup group also has chapters all over the country, and they’re called Creative Chics. Their meetings are always limited to 10-12 people, which is great because everyone gets an opportunity to talk. It’s a combination of full-time entrepreneurs and those who are just getting started and still have their full-time jobs. It’s really cool to see everyone bounce ideas off of each other. It’s definitely my favorite community because it has both the online and offline experience.