The fact is, Carol Wain hated her job. It’s not an uncommon predicament to find oneself in, but unlike most, Carol decided to do something about it. Being happy – and controlling her own destiny – was too important to let the fear of change stand in her way. With the support of her family, Carol launched her own business and has continued to grow it – on her terms.
We interviewed The Queen of Reinvention and founder of World Incentive Network – an umbrella company with units offering consulting, training, coaching and speaking on performance improvement, marketing and events – on life as the boss of a company and the mother of two young women.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
My parents were small business owners and I grew up with the entrepreneurial “bug”. My first “client” was when I was 13 — I sold newspaper subscriptions for the local paper. I also sold my notes to my French teacher and I made macramé plant hangings, which I attempted to get carried in the local flower shop – all while still in Junior High! Later, as a single Mom, I sold designer clothing at home parties and then – when the time was right and with the support of my husband, I started my business while on maternity leave with our daughter.
I grew my business on my terms – not too big that I couldn’t be home for dinner or be with the girls when they needed me, yet big enough that we could enjoy the finer things in life.
What’s the best part about owning your own business?
Freedom. Yes there are risks and there are challenges and some days I wondered what I’d done. However, I control my future. I juggle my schedule to fit my lifestyle. When my kids were young, I could go on field trips and pop over to the school to watch their plays and concerts.
Describe a typical day:
Describe a typical day:
When the business was in Start-up – I’d get my eldest daughter off to school, get my youngest daughter fed/dressed and spend my day alternating between working on my business and taking care of her (she was such an easy baby/child that I got quite a bit done during the day) In the evening, after both girls were in bed, I’d get most of my work done – research, building the website, creating the business plan and marketing.
When the business was established, with employees – I’d go to the gym, get the kids off to school, go to the office and work with my staff to grow the business. We’d be working on sales, marketing, various projects and supporting our clients. I would be home about 4pm to get dinner ready and have family time. I’d work in the evening, although not as much as when I was in start-up mode.
Now – Every day is different, depending on the day as my husband and I are transitioning into our dream to have a location-independent lifestyle business. I have a web-show which I host on Mondays , I’m writing two books and I’m also building my speaking career. Today, I responded / wrote emails and posted on social media; went skiing for 4 hours with my husband; spoke to a vendor on the phone while on the chair lift; came home to follow-up on a lead and check in with my team and I’m just about to go on a call for a media interview at 6pm. Tonight I will do research for a new project and tomorrow I will be working with clients.
Who do you count on for help? Do you have a network of family that answer the call?
When I was in start-up mode, I needed to do everything business related by myself, although my husband has always been there to help with the housework and the girls. As soon as I was able to hire people I did. My first hire was a bookkeeper as I hate bookkeeping. Then I brought in a program manager so that I could do what I do best while she took care of the customers. I couldn’t do what I do if I didn’t have the support of my husband. He looked after the girls when I travelled.
Have you ever had to sacrifice something at work to make the family work?
Back when I started my business, my husband was in the military so I knew I needed a portable, flexible business and that’s what I built. Could I have built a bigger business? Absolutely! Did I want to? No, we liked that – when I wasn’t travelling – I was home for dinner every night and that I was able to attend the “special events” at school, which were usually during the work day. We liked that I made enough so that we had 4 family vacations a year to get caught up. So, I didn’t look at “what could have been” and I didn’t feel like I sacrificed anything because what I’d created was exactly what worked for our family.
What do you do on a day off? Do you even know what a day off is?
I work every day – even on vacation – however, on those days it’s a quick check-in with my team and a response to certain emails. I don’t mind working 7 days a week because I always have one or two trips on my calendar. I also have the flexibility to work around fun activities like skiing because I work from home. I love to travel – I live to travel – and I love new experiences, so after the morning check-in, I play hard on vacation and it works just fine for me.
What does the future look like?
Our goal, now that our youngest is in university, is to travel the world to enjoy our lives while I spread my message of reinvention and transformation globally. As long as I have a great internet connection, reliable electricity and easy access to an airport I can work anywhere. I intend to launch my online training program F.O.R.C.E. Formula for Business Transformation and F.O.R.C.E. Formula for Personal Reinvention within a couple of months. I intend to spread my message through more books, keynote speaking, workshops and on TV and radio. I also intend to continue living my life – truly living it, which is a balance of work and play.
Are you active in your local MOMpreneur community?
No. However, I am active in E-Women’s Network.
Name another MOMpreneur who inspires you:
There are many – however, the person who sticks out in my mind right now is Michelle Holmes. Michelle moved her family to Thailand to “World School” her kids and have the kind of lifestyle she couldn’t have while living in the UK. Michelle teaches people how to find their authentic voice in business.
Any tips for moms thinking of starting a business?
First-up – realize that you cannot micro-manage your kids and have them in a gazillion lessons. Let the kids be kids – with free time to play and be creative with friends. Not only will this free you up to do the things you need to do but it’s also better for the kids.
I can only say this now that I’ve received feedback from my youngest daughter who didn’t think I’d achieved the “perfect work-life balance” – turn it off when you are with the children. The “it” is your blinders-on focus for your business. It’s incredibly difficult to do – however the window of opportunity to experience life with your children is incredibly small. Be disciplined enough to focus on work at work and to focus on family during family time.
From a business perspective I’ll share some insight from the F.O.R.C.E. Formula
Know yourself –
- What do you want from your life? Document it in such detail that you can share what you are feeling, doing, seeing, tasting, touching, hearing, smelling. What does your ideal day look like? What does your ideal lifestyle look like? I did this exercise as I was reinventing my business and I realized I was creating something that didn’t match this vision.
- Know your core values – and create a business that is in alignment with them
Do your market research –
- What problem are you solving? For who? How?
- Now check that there is an actual demand for it – people actively looking for exactly what you offer and the existing vendors are missing “something” in how they respond to this need.
Know your customer –
- Get very clear on who you will be selling your solution to. Too many new business owners think that the “world” is their market or at the very least that “everyone in their community” is a potential client. Resist that urge and pick someone who is your “ideal client / customer”. Is this person male or female? What age range? Married or single? Kids or no kids? What neighbourhoods do they live in? What kind of car do they drive? What is their biggest fear? What secrets are they keeping (meaning what are they showing the world compared to what they are really like)? With such clarity you then start to craft your message to that particular person. Don’t feel like you are limiting your options – in reality, if you’ve done your market research, you’ll know that the market is big enough to segment and “niche down”. I’ve done that will all my divisions – there is specific client I have in mind for each. My events division only creates small group events intended to “wow” customers, employees and partners. My incentive division only helps business leaders who recognize that People Power Profit and who want to look at unique ways to increase their profit by tapping into the potential of the people who can make or break their business.
- Be prepared to segment your customers into A, B and F lists – your A list is your best customer – easiest to work with and profitable. Your B list has the potential to be an “A” – you just have to get to know them better and build trust so they will buy more from you. Your F list is a drain on you and your resources. They need to be fired to make room for more “A” list customers.
Take Time For You
- Put on your own mask before helping others – it’s what the flight attendants say before each flight and it’s true. You cannot be the best Mom or MOMpreneur when you aren’t taking care of yourself. What do YOU need right now? Are you eating well? Are you exercising? Are you taking time to be with friends? Are you taking time to be with your partner?
Realize It’s a Journey
- You are doing new things each day – some will work, others won’t. It’s all part of the journey and everything is in perfection. Some of your most painful failures will ultimately be your biggest lessons and the best ways to relate to your customers.
- That said – don’t hold on to a failure any longer than you have to – I nearly lost our home because I was too stubborn to give up on my software dream – which would make me millions and allow me to retire at 45. Reality checks are a must.
- Enjoy the ride!