I've been where you are
Just a few years ago I was exhausted and depressed because my business was not going as well as I wanted it to. It didn't seem to matter what I tried, I was always getting the same results. Things that had worked before were not working as well anymore. I was frustrated because I couldn't seem to find the answers to the questions I had.
When a friend told me about a new online course to try I decided to take the leap and sign up. It was a massive financial commitment and I was terrified. The monthly installments were about ten times what I was making in my hobby-business at the time. I was going to have to dip into our housekeeping money and I knew that my husband would not be impressed (truth be told, he still doesn't know about that).
With giddy excitement and nerves I dived into the pre-training material and was struck by a thunderbolt - the reason why my business results were lacklustre was because I had outgrown the business. It wasn't lighting me up in the same way anymore.
Many of you are long-time fans of Mee a Bee, my first successful business. I know you love that business and I do too. I adore Japanese fabric. I love the bags for children. Sewing is my happy relaxation time. The emails and photos from my loyal customers warm my heart. I have met so many incredible and inspiring people through that business.
BUT what you see is never the full picture. I had fallen out of love with taking and editing millions of photos, constantly uploading and updating product descriptions, packaging up orders and trudging to the post office. I was months behind on updating the 'books' and had no idea if the company was making money. It was truly a shambles and an embarrassment. I had lost my way in it. Combine that with the fact that my kids had outgrown the product, I was finding it hard to remain connected to the toddler years.
That thunderbolt? It hit me. I was ready for more. To make more of an impact. To leave a bigger mark on the world. To help more people. My business Mee a Bee had helped me to remember what I love about marketing and business development - it's people. It's not sitting behind a computer as a faceless store.
A profitable business for a stay-at-home mum
Even though I eventually expanded my horizons to consulting, Mee a Bee is a hugely successful business in its own right, created from nothing, built around a young family.
Here are some of the key points to note:
- An established and recognizable brand name
- Popular for its strong philosophy that encompasses three ideals:
handmade in Japan, natural materials all sourced in Japan, imagination-inspiring, non-commercial character designs
- Thousands of sales on Etsy, the website, to wholesale customers
- A large fanbase of loyal customers who return to buy for their younger children
- Profitable from year two, even with expenses of buying sewing machines, website development, logo development and professional photography
- Featured on many top children's blogs
- Run by one busy mum with two kids, while living in a foreign country, away from family, where I didn't speak the language ... you get the idea!
Bloom Where You are Planted
Here is the very first post I wrote on my mum-blog back in May 2007.
Mee a Bee came along in October of the same year. I quickly accomplished these goals.
As a wife and mother I spend a lot of time thinking. I recently received a letter from my alumni extolling its recent successes - this got me thinking, actually lamenting, my lack of success professionally since I graduated almost fifteen years ago. So how can I undertake to bloom where I am planted? here in 日本?
This where I am at today: A Curriculum Vitae of sorts
35 years old, married with two children
Own car and licenced driver
Semi-permanent resident of Japan
Fluent in English and near illiterate in Japanese, some French
Bachelor of Management Studies (BMS) with honours - major Marketing
Surfing the Internet
Organising and decorating
Crafting and creating things (sewing, knitting)
Baking and decorating
Letter writing and corresponding
Child raising, parenting, pregnancy
So looking at this what can I do?
I need a business that I can run from home at any hour of the day or night. Remember I have two young children. I’d like to steer clear of the usual teaching English although I do have a couple of people who I “teach” on a regular basis. I am not interested in running my own school. Translating is out since I cannot speak the language. Even though my husband would love to help me with a business venture he simply doesn’t have time so I cannot rely on his expertise or assistance. It has to be something I can do on my own. It doesn’t have to be something really profitable even but it will need to be satisfying and fulfilling.
Any thoughts or suggestions?
A final note.
This is a personal journey but at the same time I feel there are many women in a similar predicament. Can we help each other? Have I learned anything along the way that I can pass on? You may have read my other successful (no longer operating) blog, Osaka Mothers.com. I was able to touch many people through this website and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now that I am an old hand at parenting (laughing) I’m ready to develop in a different way. Join me!
Have you ever felt like you've outgrown something? It's just not doing it for anymore? How do you know when it's time to move on? How do you know when you are ready for more?
When I made the bold decision to start helping other women with their businesses, it was all that I had never dared to dream of. It was not without a lot of trepidation that I quietly told people about my new plan to help others in business. Nobody was more shocked than I was when two people registered for my first mentoring program immediately.
My first client was jewellery maker, etsy seller, now international artist Claire Ishino. Claire was at a crossroads. She was enrolled at university to complete her teaching certificate. She was preparing to shelve her dreams of making it as an artist. Bills were mounting up. Stress levels were high in the Ishino household. Thankfully a few important people in Claire's life encouraged her to reconsider, to go for it with her art. She was so close to giving up. I am so glad she did not.
One of a Kind League
I too have been at these crossroads and have felt like giving up. Entrepreneurial life is hard. The work itself is easy when you're born to do it. What's hard is the mental game - staying focused on the goal, picking yourself up and dusting yourself off when things go wrong, having blind faith that the tactics you're using will work. In the One of a Kind League I lead by example. I am right there with you building my business, trying new things, sharing what I have learned.
The League is my inner circle where you gain full access to everything I do, know and understand.
We talk. We meet. We laugh. We cry. I am there with you every step of the way. You need this kind of support and council if you're going to make it.
Let's Talk About You
You're decisive, supremely-organised and focused when it comes to your work but it's highly probable that you've been trying to build your business by working harder. Your business has grown in fits and spurts through sheer grit, luck or the support of friends and family. Nothing seems predictable.
You provide amazing results for your clients and customers, dotting every i and crossing every t. Each and every project is completed on time and exceeds expectations. Your customers love your products. People rave about what you do and yet ...
Perhaps you feel like you're just pretending to be in business, that it's not quite real. Maybe you also have another job, your business is just your part-time gig. You might not be making enough money. It might be a huge source of stress in your marriage. You might feel like you're always flying by the seat of your pants, always playing catch up.
The ugly truth is that it is hard work and you're confused. You want your work to be fulfilling, meaningful and easy. Let me tell you how it could be.
How can I help you?
One of a Kind League is like nothing you've experienced before. We start with an in-depth chat together, over skype, to see where you are at and where you want to be. Then we decide on the most important areas to work on, in order of priority.
Together we map out a blueprint for the upcoming year. Having a bird's eye view of your business direction helps you stress less about the day to day. It prepares you for obstacles that will crop up.
It's so very important to set the right goals for you and your business. What kind of business are you trying to build? Is it always going to be just you? Will you add team members? Will you always work from home? Will you rent an office or build a factory? Who will take care of your kids when you are working?
What kind of customers will you work with? Why will they care about what you are doing? How can you reach them and talk to them effectively?
This is a customer-centric marketing approach to building a business. It's the way of the future.
Meet some of the Leaguers
“I love working with Jacqui. Nothing is too difficult or impossible. She has a knack for finding solutions to problems I sometimes don’t even realise are damaging my business. She is also able to shine a light on paths that I haven’t considered taking. Her own knowledge of running a business as an expat is invaluable as is her gentle and calming attitude to guiding her clients through new stages in their business. She is a doer. She motivates me. She keeps me on my best path. I chose to work with Jacqui because although ‘I’ know what we do at Jima Design is great, the world doesn’t - yet. Jacqui has the experience, the knowledge, the finesse and even the intuition to sense the strategies that are right for her clients.”
— AMANDA O'BRIEN, JIMA DESIGN, ARCHITECT IN OSAKA
"My hands were already so full! I do not mean that working with Jacqui is effortless. No! She makes you work! But because she has been in my shoes, she knew how to make the work all within the reach of my life’s framework. That is something I feel so grateful about! This way, week after week, I could keep up with the pace of the program and never felt that I wanted out because it was too much. On the contrary, she so nicely and smoothly opened my eyes onto a whole new world that I now have a better grasp of and that is a fundamental part of what it is to have a business. And to top it all, her very endearing personality made it even a bigger pleasure to work with her! I hope that, with the years, I will go far with my online shop and Jacqui is my person to go to in this journey! I am very much looking forward to the next opportunity to work with her! Thank you, Jacqui! It’s been a blast!"
— PATRICIA NOEL NAKAO, TABITABIYA TOKYO
Here's how it works
*monthly check-in via phone (online)
*weekly check-in via email, chat, messenger
*SOS calls and private VIP email-access
Please note, we do not have any sessions in August and we take time off in December / January. It's all part of the plan, we are women, we need balance.
The business plan, the marketing plan is CREATED for you. Everything is customised and personalised for you.
Why is the League for you?
I know I've probably hit a nerve when I say that you're confused and overwhelmed. I know this to be true because I am yet to meet a woman who doesn't feel like this. You're not alone. We all feel like we are in over our heads sometimes.
The difference between a person who overcomes that feeling and someone who doesn't, is recognising when you need help.
- If you are not sure how to promote your business could it be because you are not sure who your 'ideal' customer is?
- Do you have a hard time talking about what you do? Perhaps you need help identifying the value that you provide?
- Are you spending a lot of time on social media but it seems to have zero impact? I might know why.
Here's another revelation about me. I have a degree in business management and yet I still struggled to run my own business. Why is that? It was so embarrassing that I didn't even want to admit it. Now I know that business school prepared me for something completely different. I was groomed to work in a corporate situation, for a multi-billion dollar, multinational business, with a dedicated marketing department: a cog in the wheel of a well-oiled machine.
Running a small business is a completely different kettle of fish.
One of a Kind League is the place to go to ask questions, get expert advice, learn the shortcuts, reduce the burden of making important decisions on your own. You didn't learn this kind of stuff at school and even if you did things change at a rapid pace.
It's so essential to have a trusted member on your team.
Who is Jacqui Miyabayashi?
I am a business coach and marketing strategist located in Osaka, Japan.
Women come to me overwhelmed and frustrated by all they have to do to build up a successful business. I'll help you find your focus and work only in your zone of genius.
You may know me from Mee a Bee. I'm a ten-year veteran in the online business world.
I hold an honours degree from the University of Waikato (Bachelor of Management Studies).
Graduate of Marie Forleo's B School.
I'm a long-term resident of Japan, mum of two, originally from New Zealand.