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Ellyse Colson of Sustainable Business Collective

About the episode

In this episode of the Mom Owned and Operated podcast, Rita Suzanne talks to Ellyse Colson about building a sustainable business while raising a family and remembering herself.

Ellyse coaches freelancers who are on the verge of burnout and want to hone in on their skills so they can work smarter not harder. Her mission is to help women create a sustainable business that will allow them to grow and scale in whatever way feels best to them. She lives in Denver, CO with her husband and three children. When she’s not serving amazing women, she loves exploring the beautiful outdoors.

You can find Ellyse in her Facebook group – facebook.com/groups/sustainableva

And on Instagram – instagram.com/ellyse_colson_

Listen to more interviews by visiting momownedandoperated.com and apply to work with Rita at ritasuzanne.com/apply/

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Show Notes

SUMMARY KEYWORDS
business, sustainable business, day, mom, clients, kids, blue spruce, piece, talking, home, rita, started, teacher, wanted, elise, stay, dedicate, feel, daycare, transition
SPEAKERS
Rita Suzanne, Ellyse Colson

Rita Suzanne
Welcome to the mom owned and operated podcast, the podcast about moms and for moms, where we have candid conversations about running a business, raising a family, and remembering ourselves. I’m your host, Rita Suzanne, a single mom of four, digital strategist and provider of no nonsense business strategies and tactics. Hi everybody, this is Rita Suzanne. And thank you for joining us on mom owned and operated. Today I am talking to Elise Colson. And I’m so excited to learn about her and her business and how she’s doing all of the things. Thank you, Elise, for joining us.

Ellyse Colson
Thank you for having me. Rita. I’m so excited to be here and talking with your audience. I mean, when, when we talk about talking to moms, like all of us moms are like, yeah, let’s have a conversation because we all just, it’s a collective group of knowing. Right? Um, so yeah, my name is Ellyse Colson, and I am the owner of blue spruce and virtual administrative solutions. And currently in the process of bringing, establishing a DBA for the Sustainable Business collective as my business like grows and changes. I am a mom of three kiddos, my oldest is for and then I have a two year old and a two month old baby. And so that has been quite the journey. Um, I started my business two and a half years ago. So when my middle daughter, it was just born. That’s what I started. And so now with a newborn, it’s been a very interesting transition, for sure. And we live in Denver, Colorado, and I was born and raised here and absolutely love it and love doing all of the outside things. Because Denver, if you didn’t know has 300 days of sunshine. So here, we are all about the outside business, and it’s actually fairly warm all year long. Maybe I should do some trivia here. There you go. There you go. Um, yeah, so we just we live here I work with in my business full time, from home. And so that has been a very interesting journey that I’m excited to talk with Rita about and share with all of you.

Rita Suzanne
So what made you decide to decide to start your business was it because we started having kids or

Ellyse Colson
so before I was a work from home mom, I was in education. So I started as a teacher, and had wanted to be a teacher since I was seven years old. Like that was the thing that I was going to be from elementary school on and being the kind of person that I am, I was very, like, focused and like doing that, like, nobody could tell me otherwise, I was going to be a teacher, I was going to be a teacher for the rest of my life. That’s what I was going to do. Um, and six years into it, I decided that I wanted a little bit more leadership and I wanted to make more money. Because honestly, as a teacher, you just don’t make very much money. And my husband is also a teacher. And so we needed to start building up some additional income if we were going to have kids and eventually buy a bigger house and do all the things. So I went into school administration. And at the same time also had my first kiddo and it wasn’t terrible. When having when you only have one kid. It’s a little bit easier to manage not necessarily being home all the time. But with my daughter, when I was pregnant with her at 29 weeks, I actually ended up having a bleeding episode, and ended up in the hospital. And at that point, everything just kind of changed. I realized that I didn’t want to keep pushing through everything. I ended up having to like take a couple of days off of work just to figure out what was going on. And that whole process in itself was exhausting. And then I was going to have to worry about taking maternity leave on top of that. And it was just, it was a lot. And I realized that I wanted to find something some way that I could work from home and stumbled upon a webinar by a woman named Lauren golden and she is amazing and wonderful and and did her webinar and her course that she offers is all about starting your freelancing business. And so I decided to hop into that and start doing that while I was on maternity leave and started my business, officially in May of 2018. And for those of you who are like starting your business, and still working your nine to five, I feel you, I did it for two years, because I did not actually have the ability to physically quit my nine to five, until this last May, in May of 2020. Because we were so dependent upon my income, I mean, it’s not like, like, I just had the ability to say, you know what, I’ll figure it out as I go, No, I needed this to work, I needed this business to be legit, before I could fully jump in with both feet. So

Rita Suzanne
well. And I think that that’s a smart way to do it. I, I had only probably worked with maybe two clients before I took this giant leap. Like I was just, I just knew, I just knew, I’m like, Oh, this is gonna be amazing. It’s gonna be like, people are gonna be 1000s of dollars, you know, I and that’s what I believe to like I because I’m seeing, like we were talking about I’m seeing these other moms like portray themselves or other women, like, Oh, this is so great. It’s so wonderful. And little did I know how challenging it really was. And you know, I took it a step further. And not only did I quit, I moved across the country in order to start a business, because I was living in California, and it’s way more expensive out there. So I had to come back to Ohio. So I completely get where you’re what you’re saying I think that first, like you probably should, as well stay at your job as long as you can, just for that security. Because when your business is so young, you use you evolve, and you change and things change for you. Like, would you agree with that? Yeah,

Ellyse Colson
wholeheartedly. I mean, that’s one of the biggest things that I’ve learned in the last two and a half years is that the online space, and entrepreneurial space moves so quickly, like the number of businesses not even so much that like start in aren’t successful that I haven’t seen a ton of that, I see a lot of people start and maybe not necessarily fully jump into it. But I have seen so many people start their business and realize that they need to make a shift or change. And so then they pivot, and then that doesn’t feel quite right. So they shift and change again. And like you and I were talking about before we we started recording. This is such a personal development journey as well, when you start your business, and so because of that your business changes a lot because you are changing. And, and so I started my business as a virtual assistant, knowing full well that like that was probably not the place that I was going to stay. I wasn’t totally sure, like it was more about a means to an end, I wanted to be able to stay home with my kids, I wanted to have more time freedom to stay home with them. And so I did that. But I wasn’t fully invested in being a virtual assistant. Like I knew that wasn’t going to be the thing. And so then I shifted even more and pivoted a little bit more, because one of the first things that you learn when you hop into this online space is that like, you need to figure out who you’re talking to, and what you’re doing for them. And just saying that, like I’ll help anyone do anything is not going to land new clients, I don’t care who you are or what you do, like, it is not going to land new clients, and it’s not going to be consistent, and you’re not going to make a whole lot of money. Um,

Rita Suzanne
yeah, because you don’t really know like, like you said, who you’re talking to, you don’t even really know what to say, because you don’t know who you’re talking to. So you may be saying something that’s just hitting the mark. I mean, it’s missing the mark with everybody completely.

Ellyse Colson
Absolutely. Absolutely. And nobody can picture themselves working with you. Like if you can’t, if you can’t identify their problem for them, then they’re not going to say oh my goodness, this is the person that’s going to solve my problem. Um, and so so I was able to figure out that I wanted to do more like social media management and really the big thing that I that I did for my clients was content repurposing, so that they could reach their audience on multiple platforms. And then this past summer, I was talking with one of my coaches This is the reason why like hiring a coach is so stinking important for your business is she was like, at least you understand like you want to make a course. But But what if you actually helped women after they’ve already started their business? Like, there’s a whole bunch of people who will help you start your VA business? And then there’s a whole bunch of people who will help you scale your business. But what about that in between space? I was like, Oh, yeah, you’re right. Like, that’s the thing that has totally changed my life over the last, you know, year now. And, and so it was that change into like, coaching that now I feel so much more aligned with that. But I never would have gotten there, if I hadn’t, like started from the beginning. And it’s totally different from where I started two and a half years ago. It’s crazy,

Rita Suzanne
right? But you, you are a teacher. So teaching someone else how to, you know, be successful is what you have wanted to do your whole life, which is very similar to me, I always wanted to be a teacher too, except now that I am teaching kids I don’t want to be I just want to teach adults. I don’t want to teach any of my kids anything like, you know. But I always wanted to be a teacher. And so what like you, when I started my business, I started doing design to prove to everybody like, Look, I can make money at this, I can do this, this is gonna be the thing. And then you know, as as it’s grown, like I’ve started like you wanting to get into education more than the actual doing. And so I can definitely see that then we talked about like picking a business name. And right now you’re blue spruce, but what are you transitioning to

Ellyse Colson
the the transition will be to the Sustainable Business collective, because that is like really my core mission. Like when I picked my my name, originally blue Spears, virtual administrative solutions. First of all, if you are naming your business, please make sure that you say it out loud. And like I can say it 10 times fast, because blue spurs virtual administrative solutions looks really nice on paper. But Holy cow, is that a mouthful? Like, oh, my goodness, um, but I also didn’t want my name to be part of it, for whatever reason. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. And honestly, if I were to go back, I probably would have done my name because it transitions really, really well. You don’t have to change the name of your business. Um, but with with blue spruce, I wanted a Colorado connection. And so blue spruce is actually the state tree of Colorado. I originally wanted to do Columbine, but Columbine has such a negative connotation, but it was, it was, you know, a short lived

Rita Suzanne
plus it, you know, that could be misspelled. So that’s another thing like thinking about how things you know, are spelled and making it easier for people to find you. You know, if they misspell then they’ll miss you all together.

Ellyse Colson
Yep. Yeah. So, so that would I mean, that is for sure. One of my just like, coined recommendations for any newbie that I’ve ever talking to is like, I don’t know what to name my business. Um, but yeah, and you want it to be you almost want it to be very searchable, like SEO compatible. And so for me, building a sustainable business is like the way that I’m able to stay home with my kids. If my business was not sustainable, I would not be able to actually stay home with them. Um, and in talking about like, wanting to do it all I actually my two older kids and the youngest one I’ll go once my oldest goes to kindergarten in the fall, but they go to daycare two days a week. Yeah. Which is the best thing that I ever did for my business. Like I would not be able to run a successful business if I didn’t have some time to myself, where my kids were not around and it actually makes me a much better mom. Because when they are here, I’m not trying to work the entire time mother around

Rita Suzanne
I completely agree. I mean, my kids don’t go to daycare but you know when they’re in regular school, that makes all the difference for me and and I can understand I can’t even imagine having you know, three kids and trying to do all of the things in it. Especially now you’re trying to build this new business and still serving your clients I’m sure that you already have. So because you have all of these things going on tell us like what does a typical day look like for you?

Ellyse Colson
So very interesting. So my days where my kids are not here are beautiful days like I Love those days, and, and anybody who will tell you that like, they feel mom guilt, I feel that, like, I get that there is so much mom guilt around the fact that like, I started this business so I could stay home with my kids and I’m sending my kids to daycare like, or I’m having somebody come and watch them at the house, why can’t I make it work together. And so my typical day when my kids are home is I spend the whole morning with them. And we play and we watch shows, and we breakfast together and it gives me the intentional time and space with them that they deserve. And then in the afternoon, when my daughter is taking a nap, then I’m able to get some more some other work done. And, and that’s, that’s really my saving grace, like, I really don’t plan a whole lot during the days that my kids are here on Mondays Thursdays and Fridays. Um, and so I only plan a couple of things in the afternoon, that I know, even if she doesn’t end up taking a nap, I could still, like get done if she’s watching a show or something like that. Um, and then on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, that’s usually when I schedule my calls with my my clients, so that I can give them my full attention. I don’t want them to feel like I don’t value the work that I do for them. And so having that intentional time that I can dedicate to my clients, and the like, front facing side of my business is so big.

Rita Suzanne
So that leads me to my next question, which it probably goes hand in hand with this, but how do you like, do your business and your mom stuff and balance everything with business, home family, but also self because self is so important. And sometimes, you know, as moms, we leave ourselves to be the last thing that we do.

Ellyse Colson
It’s so true. I am a huge proponent of self care. And I was before even just like this whole self care movement has started. Because it is so important. Like I have to I am fully bought into the idea that I have to take care of myself in order to take care of everybody else really well. And and so before I was able to quit my nine to five job, I actually had my day split up, I have three hours everyday that I worked on my business, I had an hour first thing in the morning, an hour at lunch, and then an hour in the evening, while the kids were like getting ready for bed. And that’s still allowed because the other piece that we tend to forget is our spouses, right. And so my, my husband looked at me at one point, and he was like, You can’t just do all of your work at night, because I feel like I’m not spending any time with you. So I am I’m very much keyed into being as productive as I possibly can during the times of work that I’ve scheduled out for myself. And if the if something happens then with my kids, then I am willing to set my work to the side and find that backup time later to come back and do the work

Rita Suzanne
was the benefit because I mean that’s the freedom that we like wanted when we started our business right is like to be able to handle these emergencies and not feel guilty or like feel obligated, oh no, I can’t help you. You know, because I gotta I gotta work you know?

Ellyse Colson
Yeah, totally. And and if need be like, if your kid is sick, I instead of working down in my office, I can sit and work up on the couch while my daughter lays down and does whatever or, you know, I’m very tuned in and getting much better at tuning myself in on a more regular basis of like asking myself how I’m feeling because I don’t want to just be pushing through the work aspect it it makes us so that the work that I turn out is not my best work. And I want to so I you have to listen to your body and your mind and really be tuned into where you are. And self care is not a thing that you just do every once in a while self care is the thing you do every single day. So making sure that you’re drinking enough water and making sure you’re getting enough sleep are two of the best ways that you can take care of yourself. Um, and and definitely something that I am on board with. It is like the things that sit at the forefront of my mind. I need to make sure I go to bed on time so that I can like do well the next day.

Rita Suzanne
Well, I think too when you have young kids It is like young kids like yours like it’s easy. To put yourself to the side because your kids are so they need so much from you. And so even just doing like you said, getting the appropriate amount of rest, I mean, I’m sure you’re up and stuff with the baby at night. And so going to bed on time is going to be super important for you. And then you know, drinking water is always with my kids always joke with me that I tell them drinking water, they think that that’s secure for everything. So they’ll tell me that it kind of right here. You’re right. You’re still hungry, drink some water. And let’s see how you feel in a half hour.

Ellyse Colson
Exactly. You don’t need more snacks, go drink some water. Yeah, totally, totally. The other like, super key piece that that so many of us moms don’t want to do because we feel like it’s a reflection and that we can’t do it is relying on your spouse or your significant other. And if you are a single mom, more power to you. Women are rock stars, I do not know how you do it. Because the only way that I am able to do the things that I do is is that my husband does so many things within our family, he puts the two older kids to bed, he makes dinner every night, he cleans up dinner every night, he cleans the house like they’re I do not do it. All right, and I can’t do it all I would I would completely burn out if I did,

Rita Suzanne
right. And so this is that’s one problem that I’ve had in the past is I would work Work, work, work, work, do all the house stuff where you know, and then instead of like taking off on the weekend, I would use the weekend to catch up on all of the things. But then on Tuesday, at four o’clock in the afternoon, I am crashing and I’m not doing anything else. Not even on Wednesday, I’m not doing it. So that just really is not healthy. Because you know, it would happen so regularly that I’m just like, I cannot function like this, this is not good. You know, but sure it finding that balance. And one thing that I’ve done is I’ll take different days and dedicate different things to them. So Monday is my marketing day, Tuesdays clients and etc. That way I can just focus in on these things that I have to do versus like trying to do all of the things, especially work related at one time, you know, and I think that that’s important too, is to really figure out because I know that I will create a schedule. And unless somebody else is on the other end of that schedule relying on me, I will just ignore the whole thing. Because I have so many things, so many interruptions. So many needs so many, you know requirements that I’m sure like yours is probably even worse than that.

Ellyse Colson
I mean, my my greatest tool, my greatest asset is time blocking, like, I have to be able to tell myself what things I’m going to work on each day. And I do it at the beginning of the week. So I don’t have to like sit every single day and spend time during those, those really precious moments that I have to work on my business figuring out what what the heck I’m doing. And, and I know that for so many moms, especially when you have little ones that there’s a lot of pushback, like I can’t stick to my time blocking, it doesn’t work, whatever. I give myself a lot of grace. For sure I’ve ever I mean, there’s no way that I’d be able to keep going if I didn’t give myself grace. Um, and it’s more about making sure that I get the tasks for the day accomplish, not necessarily the times that I’ve dedicated to get those tasks accomplished. So

Rita Suzanne
yeah, I mean, yourself too many tasks in one day, right? Because, right, like, you know, we will list out a million things that we have to do. And then if we only finish one where like I didn’t do enough today, but maybe that one thing was so integral to everything, you know, but we don’t give ourselves credit, because we’re just like, it’s not enough I have to keep doing.

Ellyse Colson
And that’s the problem with running around in circles, like trying to do all of the things right. Right. Right. Right. Instead of being we’re always doing and we don’t give ourselves the space to just be and and I mean, I didn’t start a business from home so that I could ignore my children all day long and work on my business. I love my business like I would not I realize now that I would not be able to just be a stay at home mom. Because I feel like I would lose myself. Right.

Rita Suzanne
And I never wanted to be a stay at home mom and is probably for that reason. Like I was like I cannot envision myself doing that.

Ellyse Colson
Yeah, yeah. So I was like I’m not like a no yeah It is so hard, like the stay at home mom piece is the hardest piece because it is so much dedicated to other people. And so if you are a stay at home, Mom, please make sure you’re taking care of yourself. And, and my business is like the piece that I do for me. It’s the piece that one allows me to stay home like it’s contributed essentially. But

Rita Suzanne
also Yeah, challenge you.

Ellyse Colson
Correct. It’s the piece that allows me to continue to grow as a person. So

Rita Suzanne
it’s so what would you say then is has been like the biggest challenge that you’ve had in your business?

Ellyse Colson
Oh, that is a great question. Um, I think it’s the ongoing nature of Not, not necessarily a being the one that’s fully in charge of who is directing the ship, like, right? I am, I am driving this ship. And some days, I don’t know what direction I’m facing or where I want to go.

Rita Suzanne
I don’t want to jump off board, but sometimes

Ellyse Colson
somebody else take the wheel, I’m done. I need to just sit back and take him for a minute. Um, so I think that’s been the hardest piece is you get to a point where if you are not the one internally motivating yourself? How the heck are you going to keep going? Right, right.

Rita Suzanne
Okay, so let me ask you a question. So sustainable business, tell me Okay, what are their like specific aspects of it that make it sustainable? Like, explain that

Ellyse Colson
to me a little bit? That is a really great question. So my whole thing is that when you start your business, and I specifically direct my sort of self towards service providers, and like online service providers who are doing done for you services for other other businesses, when you start off your business, you are starting off more like a freelancer, you are just trying to land as many jobs as you can to make money. But once you get to a point where you’ve proven to yourself that you have clients, you do need to make sure that you’ve niched down, you do want to make sure that you are much more intentional about the types of clients that you’re bringing on. And so the sustainability piece comes into the types of clients you’re bringing on, you need to make sure that your boundaries are really clear. And you need to have a really solid foundation, that’s the biggest piece. I just finished the beta round of my courses, stainers Sustainable Business Academy. And, and the foundations is what we start with. And it’s the piece that that like you keep coming back to you have to have a really solid foundation for your business, and know how it functions so that you can grow and scale the way that you want to. Yeah, I

Rita Suzanne
think it’s for the growth of your business, right. Like you said, it’s the step between the starting and the growing. So yeah, that so since a little one is getting fuzzy, so I want to say if someone wants to find you online, where’s the best place to find you, since you’re transitioning,

Ellyse Colson
I have a Facebook group that I would love for you all to come and join it is called the Sustainable Business collective for service providers. Um, and then over on Instagram, Elise, E, LL, y, s, ee, underscore Colson, co l, s, o, n, underscore, those are the two best places to find me. And we talk all about what it takes to create a sustainable business and the different things that you you may be missing

Rita Suzanne
tools and and research. Correct.

Ellyse Colson
Correct. Like I have training on like how to manage multiple clients together and making sure that you’re not just out networking and marketing yourself, but you’re also tracking your leads. And that’s the the intentionality piece is really key when you’re creating a sustainable business.

Rita Suzanne
Okay, so I will link everything in here. And oh, my goodness, thank you so much for for jumping on here and, and telling us all about your business, Alisa. It’s been such a pleasure.

Ellyse Colson
Well, Rita, thank you so much for having me. I feel very honored to get to talk to you and your entire audience. Yay. Thank

Rita Suzanne
you so much. And there you have it. I want to encourage you to remember that being a mom who runs her own business is not easy. we all struggle, but just keep moving forward. And don’t forget to make time for yourself. As moms we are usually the first thing to go to the bottom of the list. If your business is overwhelming you and you need real solutions, not just some sugar coated Questions apply to work with me at Rita Suzanne comm slash apply

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