Natalie Talks To Leanne Hardcastle
Thinking about it, I can’t remember when or how I met Leanne but I know she has been part of my community and business life for a long time.
Even after knowing Leanne, I found her interview surprisingly refreshing.
In a day where we glorify money as a marker of success, I believe she has redefined it and created success on her own terms.
She also highlights the importance of seasons in both life and business. For her, right now “my measure of success at the moment is making a little bit of money while still being able to spend time with my family”.
This is just one of the juicy snips that Leanne shares. Read the rest of our interview below.
Here is my interview with Leanne Hardcastle
What is your age?
35 to 44
Hardcastle Social Media
Your Role within the business
Owner/Director/IT Support/Accountant/HR/Admin/Coffee girl/
Tell me about you and your family
Husband and two kids. I call them The Architect, Polynesian Princess & Little Warrior.
Tell me about your business
I provide social media support for those businesses who don’t have the time or knowledge to plan, manage and maintain their social platforms.
What does an average day look like?
An average day consists of me getting up at 5:30am to do about an hour’s work before the kids get up and the school prep starts. After I drop them to school, I hit the gym or do a yoga class and then back home to shower and start my second round of work! That either happens in my home study or at a local coffee shop. At about 2:30pm I pack up, get the kids’ afternoon tea ready, then go and pick them up. While they eat and do homework, I prep dinner & put in fridge. Then once they’ve done their homework & chores, they’re allowed on screen. This is when I do a final email check, write a to do list for the next day and then set the table. We all eat together when The Architect gets home. Then the kids go to bed and we sit and debrief on the couch whilst deciding which Netflix show to watch 😉 Our favourite show to watch together is Gruen, so am sad that’s finished for another season!
What is your current annual business revenue?
Are you happy with this revenue level?
Yes, absolutely. The thing I love about my business is the flexibility. I actually didn’t get into it to make a million dollars. I started this business because I wanted to be around for the kids and I hated when I was back in the corporate world, and riddled with guilt because I felt like I was either letting my kids down or my manager down. This way, I’m keeping my skills updated, I’m earning an income and most importantly, I am around for the kids. I can do drop-off, pick-up, I volunteer at the tuckshop, I can be the parent helper in the classroom, I can do swim spotting and I can help out on excursions. All of this sounded like a nightmare to me before kids, but different things become important at different times in our lives. At this point in time, Hardcastle Social Media is serving its purpose.
Has your revenue increased or decreased over the life of your business?
It has definitely decreased and while I *thought* that would bother me in the early days, in fact it didn’t. Since I started this business, over five years ago, I have always held the view that this service is not sustainable for my target market. My target market are small businesses and paying an external person to manage their social media indefinitely, is not a sustainable strategy for them. In the beginning, getting clients was easy because nobody felt comfortable on social media, nobody knew what to write or share etc. But as the years have rolled on, I’ve noticed a lot of clients finish up their contracts and take the role ‘in-house’. Which is fine. I started offering email marketing services and that supplemented some of the lost clients. Training and social media strategies are where my focus is lying at the moment.
When you hear that only 2% of businesses that are owned by women have revenue of over $1 million, how does that make you feel?
I just think that’s crazy. A million dollars these days isn’t that much and so why is it only 2%?! Am I an ‘average’ female owner in that I’m the primary caregiver and things change once you have kids? Are these businesses like mine, where the family doesn’t rely on my income? I don’t know – hearing that stat makes me feel a bit bemused actually. It just seems so low…
What are your goals for the future?
Hmmm… good question! My goal for the future don’t necessarily include financial goals. My business goal at the moment is to pay for a family holiday to Japan. In the past my goals used to be a dollar figure. But using the goal as a family holiday, that’s a better visualisation for me (and honestly, a better motivation because I’m not really driven by the dollar). But for my business, I would love to grow it to include events. I want to create a small business designed to help small businesses in my area with all things marketing, social media, admin, events. That’s the plan, anyway!
What assistance do you need to achieve your goals or what do you think is holding you back?
Fear. Fear is always the thing holding people back, isn’t it? That question “what would you do if you weren’t afraid?” – is pertinent in every way for me. I have a fairly low self esteem in many areas (people don’t believe me, but I don’t really care – I know what it’s like to be in this brain of mine) and while deep down I know that I can do a lot of great things, I hold myself back because I’m afraid. Afraid of being called a fraud, afraid of failing, afraid of anonymous online people saying horrible things and sending me on a downward spiral. NONE of these things will happen if I do nothing. But I am also afraid of getting old and having regrets. Which is another reason I started this business. I knew I could do it. So I had to get out of my own way, and get out of my head, totally ignore every instinct in my body and go ahead and start building Hardcastle Social Media.
Who inspires you?
God that’s a tough one. I just went blank. Nothing whatsoever to do with business: a friend of mine inspires me. She is married with three kids & her husband travels a lot. She introduced me to taking the kids camping on my own. She’s independent, capable, intelligent, and just gets things done. She inspires me because no matter what is thrown at her, she still manages to take care of the kids, put herself through studies (& finish), is extremely active and understands that time for yourself is important. That’s what I strive for. An equilibrium that ensures everyone in our family is taken care of, even me.
Why did you go into business for yourself? Would you do it again?
I have always wanted to have my own business. That was a driving factor in me starting this. The Mark Twain quote “20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do” sums it up perfectly. The other reason is family. My children are still young and being around for them is extremely important to me.
On days when you want to quit, what keeps you going?
Thinking about getting back in a suit and working back in the corporate world. Imagining that phone call to my manager “sorry, I can’t come in, Little Warrior is sick”. Remembering standing in front of a manager of mine & telling her my daughter’s daycare called and she had high temps & I had to pick her up and she rolled her eyes, groaned and said “So I guess I have to do that work now, do I?!”
I also remind myself that everyone has bad days and I can quit when I have absolutely no clients left, but not today. Today I still have clients to look after and I just take one hour at a time. Inevitably, whenever that happens, the phone rings or I get an email and it’s a new client enquiry. I believe in the laws of attraction so I usually try and quash those thoughts in my head and focus on the positive.
Any tips or advice for juggling life, family, friends, health and your business?
- Be organised: I plan the week on Sunday. I work out meals, chores etc.
- Get the kids involved: My kids cook dinner once a week each (they’re 7 & 10), they make their own school lunches everyday, they do a load of laundry every day and they help clean the house. This works in two ways – it alleviates a bit of the workload for the parents and it also helps the kids feel like they’re contributing (and they won’t be completely useless when they leave home).
- Make a to-do list at the end of the day for the following day.
- Make a time for you to be active and put it in the calendar: Mine is usually straight after drop-off.
- Be Kind To Yourself: sometimes you run the day & sometimes the day runs you. If the day gets away from you, don’t be hard on yourself. Be kind and know that you probably deserve a little reprieve. If you stuff something up at work – own it, but be kind to yourself. Keep that inner voice positive and tell the itty bitty shitty committee to sit down and shut up.
- Spend time with your other half: my husband is my rock and spending time with him and debriefing is so cathartic for me. I couldn’t have done any of this without him so it’s always important for me that we stay connected and spend quality time together.
- I’m sure there’s more but that’s all I can think of at the moment!
Is your partner supportive of your business and has that changed over time?
He is bloody fantastic. When I was anxious about starting this business, I had many nights curled up in a ball, crying on the bed. He wrote me a Note on my phone that was entitled “ten reasons why Leanne’s business will be successful” and sent it to me. He said “whenever you feel worried, I want you to read this list”, and I do. I still have it on my phone – 5.5 years later.
I’m also lucky in that he does more than his fair share around the house. He’s a cooker, a cleaner and when I’m stressed and under the pump for a deadline, he’ll just take the kids and get them fed and do whatever is necessary to keep the house running until I come back out from under the rock.
One of my favourite recent memories was of a Saturday where the logistics of where we all had to be was so damn confusing and busy that I just sat staring at the calendar for ages. I called out to him “honey, what are your plans for today!” and he said “I’ll do whatever we need to do, to get these kids wherever they need to be”. And I walked out of my study, went up to him, kissed him and said “and THAT’S why I love you”.
How have you invested in yourself or your business?
I probably haven’t, really. I almost feel like my business is bubbling along and waiting for me to invest some more time and money into it. When will that be? Probably once the kids hit high school. By my calculations I have five years until both kids are in high school and I can light the pilot light on my business and see where it goes.
If you’re making mistakes, it means you’re out there doing something.
Business books or blogs you would recommend
I don’t know if I could recommend any. Most of the blogs and books I read are about being THE BEST AT EVERYTHING and SLAYING LIKE A BITCH. Well, m’eh. Where are the books and blogs that are aimed at the people like me who are happy to bubble along? Everytime I read a blog/book or even in one of those social media groups – it’s always people (who I imagine, are waving pom poms around and jumping ecstatically like a chihuahua on crack) saying “be like me!”, “you can be a success too!” and honestly – it’s all so bloody tedious that I tend to shut off from it. I ‘dip in’ and ‘dip out’ of these groups as needed. Even Gary Vaynerchuk, who I really do like – because he knows his stuff, I can’t read or listen to too much of him at any given time. But, gun to my head? I’d probably say that Social Media Examiner is probs my go to for information, etc. I’m a member of the Social Media Marketing Society Group and that’s a great spot for information.
Anything else you would like to share?
Ummmmm … not that I can think of! I’m worried that I’ve been honest and shared with you and your followers that I just want to be Mediocre Mary with my business, but I’m tired of pretending and I’m a happier person when I tell the truth, even if it doesn’t make me look successful in other people’s eyes. Success looks different to everybody and my measure of success at the moment is making a little bit of money while still being able to spend time with my family.
How can people find and connect with you?