Self-Starter Stories: From corporate communications, to becoming an applied positive psychology coach
This week's #selfstarterstory features Susanna Halonen, Founder of The Happyologist®.
'Much like a personal trainer helps their clients to create stronger and fitter bodies so they can reach their health goals, I help my clients to create happier, more productive and more creative minds so they can reach their life and career goals.'
#PickYourselfUK caught up with Susanna to hear more about her entrepreneurial journey.
Looking back, what lead you to be where you are today?: Believing in my mission to make the world a happier place.
What was the most challenging part of starting a business?: Having the guts to do it and all the unknowns that came with being an entrepreneur! I took lots of baby steps before making the big leap and with each step I felt more confident in making the next one. Even today I have days I have scared of taking the next step but I do believe that in order to progress and grow it's good to be a little afraid. It shows you are challenging yourself!
What did you want to be when you were a child?: Something different every day ;)
What was your last job?: Before I became the Happyologist®, I was in corporate communications. I left because I wanted to do something more meaningful and create some kind of positive change in the world. I also felt the corporate environment wasn't right for me. There were too many rules, not much room for thinking creatively, and there was a big values mismatch. I craved the freedom and independence to do what felt right for me.
When did you choose to PICK YOURSELF instead of waiting to be chosen by someone else?: Because as an entrepreneur you go after what you want. You don't wait for things to come to you, you make them happen.
What did you learn from your worst boss?: To communicate effectively, to never assume anything, and to always be kind. Compassion goes a long way in anything you do.
What is your favourite business book and why?: The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor because it's this book that taught me it's happiness that fuels success and not the other way around. This book is also what introduced me to the world of positive psychology and inspired me to get into it. He writes well, he shares his detailed research findings openly, and he always tells you how to put things into practice. He is one of my heroes.
Do you do everything yourself? What do you outsource?: I do most things myself because I am a bit of a perfectionist control freak! However I do outsource some design work, web development, and admin tasks. I also have a lot of automated systems to minimise the admin, such as letting people purchase and book coaching sessions straight into my calendar through my website. I also have a speaking agent who manages all my talk bookings for me.
What is your productivity secret?: Start the day with a morning ritual that energises you. For me that includes morning journaling, setting the priorities, exercising, a hot shower, and a good breakfast with a cup of coffee.
What is your favourite app?: Whatsapp - It helps me to stay connected to family close and far. I also chat to my friends there daily. Together we celebrate each others' successes, help each other up from setbacks, and brainstorm all kinds of ideas - both with work and life.
How do you market your business?: These days my clients come in through five different avenues: word of mouth; they've been to one my talks or workshops and then want to develop further through one-to-one coaching; they find me online as I have quite good SEO; they're one of my followers through my email newsletter list or social media; or they come through my speaking agent. On the rare occasion they might find me through online marketing like Facebook/Instagram ads or Google ad words if I'm running a special campaign through those.
When you first launched, how did you get your first paying customers?: The first year, when I had done my coaching accreditation but was still doing my Masters of Science in Applied Positive Psychology, I took on some free coaching clients, did some free workshops, and delivered some unpaid talks to get the word-of-mouth going. It worked as by the time I had finished my Masters I could go into my business full-time. I also blogged weekly and sent tips to a newsletter list I had started growing already the year before when my blog was just a blog but not yet a business.
How did you get your first traffic to your website?: I did a lot of guest blogging at the start to grow my reach and I have also always done SEO. A lot of my clients still come through finding me online and also through word of mouth. I also have always done workshops and talks at conferences and for clients which has also driven a lot of traffic onto my site.
What would you say to someone who is toying with the idea to start a business but haven't yet?: Just go for it. There is no better time than now, and better today than tomorrow. The more you put it off, the more afraid you get and the less likely you are to start it. No point waiting. Just make a plan, take the leap, and get cracking! And most importantly, always remember why you're doing what you're doing. It's the why that drives not only your happiness and fulfilment but also your success.
If you could have dinner with one entrepreneur, who would it be and why?: Legendary online life and business coach Marie Forleo. I've followed her Marie TV for years and her comprehensive B-School (business school) helped me set up my business and take it to where it is today. She is such a huge source of inspiration, not only for her business insight but also her love for fun and her passion for contributing to the world.
To keep up to date with Susanna's journey, connect with her via her social media channels below:
Susanna Halonen has qualified for the #PickYourselfUK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year award 2017. If you'd like to enter yourself or nominate a small business entrepreneur for this award, please submit your story below.