Self-Start Mums showcases mothers who have created their own self-employed business. I’m very happy to share my interview with Speaker, Consultant and Director of The Thrifty Issue, Kylie Travers!
My Interview with Kylie: Speaker, Consultant and Director of The Thrifty Issue
1. Tell me about yourself?
I’m a 32 year old single mother who has gone from being homeless because of domestic violence to multiple international award winning CEO, speaker, author and consultant living in the heart of Melbourne.
My daughters are 9 and 10 years old, both with special needs. They live with me full time and have no contact with their father.
My eldest is on the autism spectrum (high functioning and high IQ like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, but it presents differently in girls) so I juggle work between their school, therapies to help with ASD and other things.
We love to travel, dance and experience new things. Our favourite night of the week is Friday Family Fun Night where we spend time together doing something fun as a family.
2. Tell us about your self-employed business?
I have two businesses at the moment, but have had more and will likely be launching another company later this year.
As Kylie Travers, I do public speaking, marketing/business and finance consultations, business development and content creation. I started back in 2009 when I set a goal to be a millionaire by 30 and set up a blog. Within a year I had a publishing contract, speaking, freelance writing and more. This has changed over time, as I previously went under a different name but I have been doing speaking, writing and marketing for nearly 9 years now.
My other business is The Thrifty Issue, a blog sharing ways to make and save money which I make a full time income from too. I purchased it in 2014, made back the purchase price within a month and overhauled it completely. I purchased a few blogs at the time, the others I sold but this one I kept.
Having multiple streams of income which are interlinked was always something I wanted to do. I didn’t expect blogging to be the launch pad for everything I do now.
3. How did you transition to working for yourself?
I have almost always worked for myself. Once I finished my hairdressing apprenticeship at 20, I started my own hair and beauty business. After kids, I didn’t want to do that anymore and moved interstate. Once I set my millionaire goal and started blogging I had planned to do make money through property, however life had different plans.
Much of what I have done has been a combination of filling a need in the market and doing it in a relatable way. This resulted in multiple opportunities I could choose from and the flexibility with my family and self employment. Working with clients is similar to working for people or being employed because you still have to adhere to what is required, work to deadlines and you can’t just blow off work whenever you want.
4. What was your previous career?
I’ve had a few! At 16 I dropped out of high school and worked in data entry for the Department of Veteran Affairs, I’ve worked in retail, did a hairdressing apprenticeship and worked in that for years. Once I started blogging, that is when I had a big career shift and moved to speaking, writing and blogging more. I have also founded and sold a marketing company in the middle of all of this.
5. Describe a typical day in your working life?
It’s all over the place and varies a lot depending on if I am meeting with clients, speaking at events or simply working from home. Events can see me on the go from 6am until 11pm, whereas days I work from home, it is within school hours.
I aim to work around my kids so when they are home from school we hang out and it is quality time instead of me trying to juggle it all.
Most days include writing, social media, doing interviews or media work, sessions with clients and delegating.
6. How many hours do you work per week on your business?
Most weeks it is 10 to 20 hours a week. When I have big projects on this can get pushed out but since I try to work only school hours, it’s not that much work. I have it set up so much of what I do is passive income instead of me needing to do stuff and the stuff I do is all things I like.
When I started I was only working 1 to 2 hours a day as I had two young kids and it felt impossible to do much more.
7. Do you supplement your income in any other ways?
My income from my business is above average for working Australians, so I don’t need to supplement it. That said, I do test ways to make money on the side so I can write about them. I have done some random things! Anything I write about needs to be tested by myself or someone I know so I feel comfortable recommending it as a way to make or save money to my readers.
For example, I wrote this list on ways to make money and have things such as Airbnb, medical testing, your own business, share economy gigs like Airtasker, renting out your car etc.
That said, I have thought about changing careers again lately.
8. How do you manage your family and working for yourself?
I am a single mother, but haven’t always been. When I was married my ex was not overly supportive and thought I wouldn’t be successful with it so it was a juggle.
My siblings and parents have helped with childcare and my siblings have done different types of work for me at times on my sites, social media, assistance work etc. They’ve been really supportive, which is something I miss now I live in Melbourne and they’re in Canberra.
As for how I make it work, I rarely watch TV, so save a lot of time there. I have a classic wardrobe with key pieces I love and always know what I am wearing. Things like this help remove the amount of decisions you need to make.
Each night I write down the most important tasks for the next day and I tackle them first. Having a plan and knowing what I need to do helps a lot, however, I am also flexible because days do not always go as planned. My kids might need me more, they could be sick, I might be or clients have issues. Being able to roll with whatever happens is a big part of it.
Lastly, making time for myself. I say no to things I don’t want to do. Each morning I do yoga and some cardio, we walk everywhere (I sold my car!) and each week I do facials etc. If I am not taking care of myself and my health, everything else suffers, especially my business. I have a post here about my time management with tips for busy mums.
9. What challenges did you face in setting up your business?
Setting up was easy, my challenges came later. Domestic violence, being robbed of everything including my underwear, homelessness and carrying on my business as if nothing is wrong. Then, once I was back on my feet I had paralysis issues for 7 months in 2015 and another 6 weeks mid 2017, with level 10 pain (childbirth is a level 8, at level 10 you black out), plus a cancer scare in the middle of all of that which I have annual surgery for to remove polyps now.
Add in my daughters special needs requiring extensive speech therapy, psychology and a lot of work at home, I’d say time and health were my biggest challenges.
Life is more in order now, though my daughters still require extra assistance (mainly with social skills and understanding not all rules are definite. My eldest is basically Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, highly functioning, high IQ, but needs assistance with some things.)
As for what I would have done differently – outsourced more and sooner. I tried to do everything myself for too long and when I got sick it caused a lot of issues. You need an exit strategy and to be able to step away and let your team handle the business if needed. Otherwise, it is a job not a business.
10. What’s the best thing about working for yourself?
The flexibility and travel, we love to travel and my business means I get paid to. My kids have needed me more than most regular jobs would have allowed, we were able to move when needed, I could leave my abusive relationship and it was all ok. Plus I can increase or decrease my workload and income as desired.
11. What’s your best advice to another mum who is considering setting up her own business?
Have a plan, be clear on what you want and go easy on yourself. It’s hard learning to juggle it all and you need to make sure you do it one step at a time. Celebrate the small wins, no matter how small they might seem. We don’t celebrate enough in life!
Also, track your expenses properly, get a good accountant, have clear goals and objectives for your business then market it well. For anything you don’t know, you can outsource it to someone who does. Focus on your strengths, get to know enough about anything you want to outsource which is a weakness (or something you don’t want to do), then offload it. There is no point spending 5 hours on something you aren’t good at when you can outsource it for less and spend that 5 hours on things you are good at which bring in income.
12. What’s next for you and your business?
I am in a transition phase. I put my site out there for sale recently, the valuation and interest were both higher than I expected so I have decided to hold onto it for a little longer but outsource more of it.
I’m looking at being able to do more charity work, travel more and change careers. Ideally, I want to found and grow a few more companies, invest more in business and use my skills that way.
You can visit Kylie Travers website here and The Thrifty Issue here and follow on Kylie Traver’s Facebook, The Thrifty Issue Facebook, Twitter and Kylie Travers Instagram, The Thrifty Issue Instagram and connect with Kylie on LinkedIn.
Are you a self-starter mum? Read more interviews with self-employed mums here.
To chat about taking part in this series and sharing your story, contact Mim here
I hope you enjoyed my interview with Kylie Travers!