EP10 – Why having a massive following is not always lucrative and transitioning from career to entrepreneur as a mom with guest Debbie Lee

Hello and welcome to self startups. So today I’m going to be talking about why a massive following is not always as lucrative as you would like it to be. And a bit later I’ll be talking to Debbie Lee about transitioning from career to entrepreneurship after maternity leave.

But first why having a massive following is not always lucrative.

I was talking to a group of ladies yesterday, about ways to grow their social media accounts. Video, of course plays a big part nowadays social is meant to be social and that’s another bringing value and quality content is a third. Advertising, of. But here’s the thing, a huge following of people who are irrelevant is going to do your business more harm than good.

Numbers are not the only factor. You can build a mighty big following and not make any sales. It may be that they hang around you because they’re there for the entertainment value they like to watch you. Or maybe you give them everything they need for free, and there’s no need to take the next step.

There’s more to being successful online than rapidly growing a social media following. It helps to have a plan .Content [00:02:00] planning with intent. Engagement with intent and knowing where social fits into your customer journey. Know exactly who you help and what you help them with, knowing exactly who you’re talking to and what motivates them.

This will help you focus your content and videos on the value of your work and the benefits to your customer. My 12 week program covers all of this and more. So join the next cohort.

Next I’m going to be talking to Debbie Lee. Debbie is a start-up business coach and balance coach who’s based in Scotland and helps women make the transition from career to business, just like I do. Listen in if you are a mum, who’s unsure you want to go back to the corporate world after having your children.

Annette Clubley: Hello. So today I’m going to be talking to Debbie Lee. And [00:03:00] she is a startup business coach or a balance coach. And she runs a Facebook group called the balancing act for working moms. We’re going to be talking about transitioning from a corporate career into working for yourself. And I’ve just been saying that I think lots of people are in that position. Hi Debbie.

Debbie Lee: HI! It’s so lovely to be here. Thank you so much for having me.

Annette Clubley: No problem at all. Thank you very much for agreeing to come onto the call. So tell me a little bit about yourself. How did you get to be where you are now?

Debbie Lee: I, well, I guess I could, I could tell you the once upon a time version of my story .I’ll try to keep it as brief as possible while also getting in all the relevant points. I think that when I talk about my story, I think a quote that often springs to mind is one by Steve Jobs about, I’m terrible at remembering the exact words of it, but he talks about how you can [00:04:00] never connect all the dots looking forward you can only ever connect the dots in hindsight. I love it.

So he he’s, I guess the, the message that he encourages from that is to always follow like your interests and your curiosities, even if at the time you don’t quite understand why or. Specifically where they’re taking you. I’m sure it’s something that you could you see very much in your, your own work?

Annette Clubley: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. Definitely. I love that quote. I must go and look it up because I’ve never heard it before, I don’t think.

Debbie Lee: Yeah, it’s awesome. I loved it. I loved some of these quotes. But yeah, that one feels particularly relevant to me. So, I have always like right from, I was a little girl I’ve always been I’ve always had a real love of learning.

I was a very conscientious student at school. You know, an A grade was never good enough. I always needed an A star. And on top of that, I’ve always, I was [00:05:00] always drawn to the sciences. So. maths and physics were my favorite topics at school, and I carried those through into university. So I, I took a degree in earth sciences at Oxford, which was an amazing experience.

And when I applied for that degree, I didn’t know specifically what I wanted to do, but I knew that I wanted to, like make a really big difference in the world. Like I had ideas about going to like solve water problems in developing countries, things like that. Really grand scale. And then when it came to the end of my degree, like the reality just felt so different. And I opted for a job in the corporate energy industry.

Annette Clubley: Okay.

Debbie Lee: And it. [00:06:00] It didn’t quite feel like a conscious choice. It was more like the opportunity was there. It seemed to I guess, adhere to all the like unconscious ideas that I’d developed about what a successful job looks like. And although I still had those like that desire to make a big difference and a big impact and really help people in their day-to-day life, like I just couldn’t, there wasn’t a readily available option there to make that happen. So I went into the corporate world. Like I thrived in there for, for a while. Like I loved the people I worked with were amazing. Like it was a really new place. You know, whole new environment to work in the work was really interesting and very relevant to what was then my speciality in geophysics.

But the year after I started that job this little niggle started to rear its head.


I bought the Sunday Times [00:07:00] small business startup guide. And it’s still sitting there on my shelf, it is 2008. (laughter)

Having the desire to start your own business

I would dip in and out of this. And I started to like, on the side of my full time job, I started to dabble in different really like side hustles, stroke, hobby businesses. So I started a blog. I taught myself like HTML programming to build websites. I started a pack lunch, like an app for packed lunches, all sorts of like weird and wonderful and seemingly unrelated things.

And so all of this time, I had this desire to start my own business, but I could just never find the thing that would stick. Like nothing really seemed to work. And also my husband and I were really into mountaineering and rock climbing. And that took up a lot of our time at the weekend. And that really like fulfilled this, you know, this like gap, [00:08:00] it fulfilled a lot of the missing piece.

Let’s say getting out in nature and having like real adventures here in Scotland. And then I had my kids…

Annette Clubley: Yes, And it all changed!

Debbie Lee: Yes. Like, really, like a massively life changing experience coming along.

Juggling motherhood and a corporate career

And so my I’ve got two boys and I, my elder son he’s nearly, he’ll be five in a few weeks time. And when I had him I took a year’s maternity leave and went back to my job. Part-time whereas previously I’d been fill the time and I had, like I had on paper, I had all the support that anyone would ever wish for.

Like going back. I had a really supportive understanding boss. Like my husband and I. Well, you know, we were juggling [00:09:00] things between us. I didn’t have family nearby, but like they were all really supportive. And yet the whole experience felt totally overwhelming. I, I felt like in work, I, because. I really struggled with part-time hours and didn’t feel like I was succeeding in work.

And I guess underneath it, I’m not sure that I even really wanted to, but still I had that like in built ambition and desire. And I’d also like chosen to give up a lot of my, my mountaineering because it wasn’t compatible with how I wanted to parent at the time. And then all of that, you know, on top of like life as a new mom on the emotional roller coaster, that is, I feel not well enough publicized.

What is business coaching?

So I turned to Google, as you do. And I happened to come across a coach and at that point I didn’t even know what, you know, I’d heard about coaching in American movies, but I didn’t really know what a coach was.

Annette Clubley: Yeah.

Debbie Lee: I started working with my own coach. It was like completely revelationary. And [00:10:00] then I, I was just, it really it set me on this like journey of self exploration and I decided then to qualify as a coach myself again, with no real intent of turning it into a business at that point.

But then when my second son was born, I had the opportunity to take redundancy, which like, I just felt like absolute divine, perfect timing for me. And so that was just, that was a year ago, now, I took redundancy and jumped into starting my own business as a coach. And I. I initially started supporting mums with the juggle of everything you, working in a professional career finding a family life that feels like it’s based on fun rather than the overwhelm, and then finding the space for personal wellbeing as well.

Looking for more meaningful work & impact

And what I find [00:11:00] was that for, nearly all of the clients that I worked with, like just like myself, it was this really longing for, for more meaning and more impact in their career that was really driving the, that was the driving source of feeling out of balance. And so I’ve now expanded into startup business coaching and I coach around like building business from the inside out, because I actually think it’s like, it’s so much about the internal blockers and I think that until those things are in place, then it’s hard to. Implement effective business strategy on top of that. So yeah, that was a rather long-winded approach. That’s the context.

Annette Clubley: That’s fine. That makes total sense to me. So, do you think that people are looking for more impact in what they’re doing or do you think that when they become parents, they’re looking for a better balance? [00:12:00] What do you think the driving force is for people to make that move?

Debbie Lee: I think it’s, I think it’s both. So I think that from, from my own experience and what I, what I see as well in working with my clients is that I like after I had my kids, I knew.

Yeah. I knew that I want to, like, motherhood was such an important, like the most important thing in my life. Like I cared for my, you know, I care for my kids beyond anything. And also I knew that in order for me to be the mom I wanted to be like career had to be a part of the picture for me. Like I feel, you know, I’ve always felt ambitious.

I get, I guess, a lot out of my work. And. So when I went back to my corporate job, I found, I, I just felt like if I was having this time away from my kids, like I wanted it to be for that reason that the work was like filling me up inside and like [00:13:00] meeting one of my needs.

Annette Clubley: Yes, And it’s actually worth the sacrifice.

Debbie Lee: Yes, exactly. And. And it just didn’t like, totally feel like I didn’t buy I by no means hated my job. Like especially the people I worked with were amazing. But it just didn’t light me up inside the way I always anticipated my career would. So I guess I just got to the point where I like just wasn’t willing to tolerate that anymore.

Finding the balance between work and home life

And so for me, that was, I think that was what, you know, rather than the, like, I think so often when we think about balance, we think of it in a very practical, external, you know, how many hours are we spending at work versus how many hours are we spending at home? Whereas for me, it was sort of the level, like beyond that, where it was like finding this internal balance where I actually felt fulfilled. Unable to then come home from a day at work and be present with [00:14:00] my kids and not be like grumpy and frustrated and irritable because I’ve had a stressful day in the office.

Annette Clubley: That’s really interesting because there is that when you say, you know, when you find what you are meant to do you sometimes feel like it’s not work, you know?

Debbie Lee: Yes!

It’s totally true. Like I feel, you know, I think the most shocking thing for me is that I actually feel energized after a day, like it is like that turnaround. I have been surprised at how almost like how extreme that turnaround is.

Annette Clubley: Yes. Yes. Do you think that partially comes from the fact that you almost fell into the work that you were doing in the first place, you know, it kind of just happened along rather than what’s something you consciously sought out.

Debbie Lee: Yes. So I think, [00:15:00] I think it’s such an interesting question and I really, really struggled for such a long time, because. I like, I felt like I should enjoy the job a lot more than I did. Like it had everything that I’d ever been taught that success..

Annette Clubley: On paper.

Debbie Lee: Yes. Yes. And so maybe it’s a bit unfair of me to say that I fell into it. Like I, you know, I obviously I took proactive steps to like apply for the job, for example But it’s now in hindsight, I realized, how, like, how, at odds, I was inside.

Like I had this real desire to, as I said to, you know, to make real, tangible impact on people’s day-to-day lives. But I just really had no idea as to like how to make that happen because I’d never seen anybody else, like around me or close to me that whereas [00:16:00] you know, this, this path into the corporate world, like was almost paved or in front of me. And it was all lined up and ready to go. And so I went, I went with that because I almost felt like. It didn’t really have, like, there wasn’t really another tangible option there.

Annette Clubley: Yes. Yes. That makes total sense to me. And do you think that’s changed? Do you think that now the people who leave university now, they, I feel like there’s a much more entrepreneurial spirit in the people who leave university now. They are, they are given the options of, do you want to work for yourself or do you want to go into a corporate stream? Whereas when I graduated, that was not an option, really? It wasn’t, it wasn’t, you know what I mean? It wasn’t something that was visible for me to choose.

Is entrepreneurism a second best choice?

Debbie Lee: Mm, yes. Yes. I think I could really relate to that because it almost felt like like entrepreneurial-ism was the second choice [00:17:00] option. It was like if you applied for the jobs. It almost like part of me, I remember the time like part of me was like, okay, I’ll apply. And if I’m not successful, then I’ll go and do this other thing. And there was a part of me that like hoped I wasn’t. (laughter).

But it was like that. It was like, it was, certainly, in my mind it was seen as like the second choice. Like if, if, if I’ve tried this and it hasn’t, if I tried like the corporate rift and I was unsuccessful, then that sort of gives me the permission to go and try something entrepreneurial. Whereas yes.

As you say, now, I think that, like even down to the very simple fact of like having more role models around who are, you know, successful entrepreneurs and making it work and doing that, you know? Cause you see, you see all the research about how like for kids today, for example what like 70% or some crazy number of the jobs that they [00:18:00] will do, the job title doesn’t even exist.

I think it’s almost inevitable, but more and more people will become, like, we’ll have to embrace that the entrepreneurial spirit and…

Annette Clubley: Especially because the way that we’re working is changing as well.

Debbie Lee: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think I’ve recently come across the term of intrepreneur where, you know, you’re you have the entrepreneurial spirit, but working within an organization.

So I imagine even things like that will become more common.

Annette Clubley: Yeah. Yes, yes, yes. That makes total sense to me. So what’s the, what’s your favorite thing about what you do now?

Debbie Lee: Oh, everything.

Annette Clubley: Everything. Brilliant. That means you are in the right place.

Mindset & business startups

Debbie Lee: I just love it, I love, I love, I love the business startup. I think that the, I would say that the one thing that I, I find is like passing along [00:19:00] that like light bulb to other mums, like. The, I think that as moms, you know, it’s not just in business, but in so many different aspects of life, we have all these pre-programmed stories that have been that, you know, they’ve been there for really good reasons through, through our upbringing or education about all the things that we should do and the things that we should get enjoyment from and how we should spend our time and like helping other people to realize actually that there is an alternative and that we have the ability to change that. Like, that the empowerment that comes from that is really like extraordinary. And I love it.

Annette Clubley: Yes. Yes. It’s always good to see that light bulb moment. Isn’t it?

Debbie Lee: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Annette Clubley: Yeah. And collecting the dots, looking backwards, you can see that you’ve always been of this frame of mind, always kind of been working [00:20:00] towards this..

Debbie Lee: Yes,

Annette Clubley: With your side projects and so on. Okay.

Debbie Lee: Yes, exactly. Like it’s so it’s, so I think like in an instant things can become so, so clear, I think like for myself, for example, I remember, and when I was four or five years old, I used to at the weekends, I used to do a ballet show for my parents, and in the interval, I set up a tuck shop where I took the food from the kitchen and sold, like I sold their own things back to them. It was like the start of my entrepreneurial journey.

Annette Clubley: Even back then, back then.

And everybody has these, to me. It’s I think when you, you know, when you look back, I’m curious if you’ve got any that spring to mind, but I think we all have them when we look back with a different, a different perspective.

Yes, yes, yes. Absolutely. One of my favorite questions is, you know, what did you want to be at seven or eight kind of thing? [00:21:00] Cause quite often then, thats, well not always, but sometimes that’s before all of these should haves, has been built on top of you.

Debbie Lee: Absolutely.

Annette Clubley: And what you wanted to be then is actually where you are at the core. So again, yeah, yeah. Love that. So how do you work with people? Do you tend to work with people one-to-one or do you do group coaching or how does it work?

Debbie Lee: So up until now, I have been mainly focusing on one-to-one coaching, which I’ve really enjoyed. And I have actually just launched a new group program and it starts in March and it’s it’s called oh Odyssey. And it’s to help people like journey to the heart of their business. I’m very much focused on starting up a business based on this insight, logic, where we work and, you know, as much on the mindset. And overcoming some of those obstacles as much as we do on the practicalities [00:22:00] of setting up.

Annette Clubley: Yes. Yes. Because, well, in my mind, the mindset is almost more important than the practical .

Debbie Lee: Mhmm.

Annette Clubley: Yeah. Yeah. And if you haven’t worked out what it is you actually want to do, and you’ve just started along a path of what you think you should have to do, then you come unstuck.

Debbie Lee: Absolutely.

Annette Clubley: Yeah. Yeah. It’s not easy starting a business.

Debbie Lee: It’s not it’s. I think it’s like, it’s, it’s a lot of hard work and it takes a lot of time and those are the things that we don’t always see behind the scenes. And so I think that like starting up, it’s so easy to like compare yourself to someone who’s like more established and, you know, Especially, especially like when you have those perfectionist tendencies or whatever you want to, you immediately want to be like, you want to be the polished version of yourself.

Annette Clubley: Mhmm. [00:23:00] Yes. Not that we have perfectionist tendencies.

Debbie Lee: And I think just like our body is. Like it’s so clever at trying to like protect us and keep us safe. And it’s all there with good intent, but it’s not so helpful. So I find like, one thing I see coming up a lot with, with mums is that we like, you know, there’s always 1,000,001 things to do. So it’s really, really easy to keep ourselves busy, both in work life and home life. And so how that then translates to running a business is like keeping really doing a lot of the busy work behind the scenes. But I guess the real clincher with that is it’s actually, it keeps us, it stops us from being visible because then we don’t have, so maybe underneath it, we’re actually really scared of putting ourselves out there.

And so [00:24:00] what our body’s trying to do then is protect us from having to put ourselves like there, because then we think, oh, well, I don’t have time. I don’t have time to do a live video on Instagram, or I don’t have time to go and like, speak to someone and ask if they would like to buy this thing from me or whatever, it’s like the busy-ness almost becomes like a protective mechanism to, to like, for you to shield us from that fear of visibility, for example.

Annette Clubley: Yes, yes. Brilliant example. Yes, exactly. Exactly. I see it all the time. Yes, absolutely. So when does Odysssey start?

Debbie Lee: It starts in the second. I can’t remember the exact, the second week in March, this, it’s the 14th, 14th of March.

Annette Clubley: Okay, and how do I find more information about that?

Debbie Lee: If you head over to my website, it’s debbielee.co.uk/odyssey. You can [00:25:00] always drop me a message as well on Instagram @debbieleeco.

And yeah, I always, I’d always love chatting more about it.

Annette Clubley: Okay, perfect. Perfect. That’s really easy. I’ll drop some links into the, into the post so that people can just click through to that. Okay. And so., how, yeah, how long is that? How, how what’s, what sort of time commitment does that program and it’s it’s group, it’s going to be a small group?

Debbie Lee: Yes, it’s a group. So it’s group access. It’s a 90 day experience. So it’s 12 weeks worth of modules with a different teaching module every week. Weekly group calls an online community and there’s some supportive like bonus material to go along with it. There’s a meditation library.

There is a, a series of journal prompts to help you work through. And there’s also some discount off one-to-one coaching as well as a, as a [00:26:00] compliment to that. And we’re gonna re. It’s built around like six different pillars. The first of which is getting clarity, like getting clarity on what it is that you want, not just from the business, but how that business supports like your, your bigger lifestyle.

And, and it’s, it’s aimed moms who’ve just started in business or, or moms, who are still in the position that I was, where they they’re in a corporate job or a professional employment and starting a business on the sidelines too. There’s a lot of specifics on, on how to manage that and really make the most of, you know, the short windows of time that you do have.

Annette Clubley: Yes. Yes. Because it’s that balance when you’re still in a full-time job and trying to find the time and the energy to

Debbie Lee: Absolutely.

Annette Clubley: Do what you need to do to get something off the ground. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Debbie Lee: Yeah. I love that you mentioned the under threes, because I think that can be the, especially when there’s like young kids, I think, as well.

Annette Clubley: Yes. [00:27:00] Yes. Mummy, mummy!

Debbie Lee: That sounds familiar.

Annette Clubley: I’m not surprised. Okay. So the answer then the discounts off one to one coaching, so you will continue with the one-to-one coaching alongside that with different clients that you’ve got as well.

Debbie Lee: Yes.

Annette Clubley: Okay. Yes. Okay. And you’ve got the Facebook.

Debbie Lee: Yes. So the, yeah, the Facebook group is it’s open at the minute. It’s in a time of transition.

Annette Clubley: Okay.

Debbie Lee: So, but yes, it’s still, it’s still there and available for now. So at the minute, Instagram is the best place to get in touch. @debbieleeco and there’s, there’s links to all, all the different resources I offer on there.

Annette Clubley: Fair enough. Okay. Super. Well, thank you very, very much for taking the time to talk to me. It’s been lovely to meet you.

Debbie Lee: Yeah, you too. The time is absolutely flown and it’s the, I really, really enjoy, enjoy chatting.

Annette Clubley: It does. It’s amazing.

Debbie Lee: I [00:28:00] know. Yes.. Thank you so much again for having me. It’s been really, really enjoyable.

Annette Clubley: No problem at all. Thank you.

Debbie Lee: Thanks, Annette, bye.

Find Debbie on instagram at https://www.instagram.com/debbieleeco/ and her website www.debbielee.co.uk