Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hello! My name is Robin Finney. I am a writer, international model, nomad, and founder of Wandering Aunt. I design and create solo travel and photoshoot experiences, lead souls retreats for people who wish to travel solo yet aren’t ready to do so on their own, offer intuitive card readings, and lead online workshops to support people in bringing their vision to life.
I officially began my business in July 2019 and it started to gain traction in December 2019. I took some time to really discover what it is that I want to offer and build as part of my brand. I attract clients who are wishing to gain more confidence in their life and discover their own unique essence.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
In May 2018, I quit my corporate marketing job of 11 years to follow my dream of traveling the world. I let go of my apartment, sold my furniture and many of my belongings, and bought a one-way ticket to Australia. When I left my job, I had about one month’s pay and a little over $500 in savings. I traveled to Australia and Thailand for 7 weeks. During that time, I was clear that I was living my dream and wanted to continue to explore. I came back to the states and sold my car so that I could continue to fuel my travels. I traveled through the end of 2018. During my 7 months of travel, I visited 11 countries across 4 continents. When I returned to the states, I knew it was time to think about work again. I knew I wanted to continue this lifestyle; I just wasn’t clear on how to sustain it. I picked up a couple of freelance writing jobs to tide me over.
In January 2019, I enrolled in a 5-week book study to support people in building retreat based businesses. During the first call, I received a download to lead group experiences for people who want to travel solo and aren’t ready or wanting to do it on their own. I created a simple landing page with a waitlist. I had many people sign up for the waitlist. It’s been nearly a year since I created the waitlist, and I am just now launching my first retreat for May 2020 in Spain. Over the past year, it took me a while to step into the idea of being a business owner. It’s one of the most challenging things I’ve ever taken on. I had no idea how much inner work and healing would take place for me to feel confident and believe in myself enough to run a business.
I signed up for a year-long intensive coaching program to support my business and leading retreats. My coaching program has supported me in discovering my intuitive gifts. I’m a little more than 6 months into my program and have just started gaining traction in my business. I now feel that I am in a place to fully put myself and my services out there. Just in the past month, I have had 2 clients sign up to work with me and have brought in nearly $2,000.
So often we compare ourselves to others and tell ourselves we “should” be farther along. When in reality, what works for one person may not work for you. We are all wired differently and must find what works best for each of us.
Launching a business unveils a lot within your life and shines a light on areas that are in need of healing. While my business isn’t as far as I would’ve hoped at this point, I have no regrets. I know that I had to work through a lot to lead me to a place where I am fully available and ready to support and serve others.
I am grateful for having 11 years of Marketing experience and the talents and skills to write. I’ve been able to build my own website, content, and market my services because of my knowledge from my years working in corporate.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
My startup costs have been pretty minimal. I already had a website where I write my blog so I have used that to add my services. I have created a couple of online workshops and challenges around Empowerment and most recently in creating your Word for the Year. I am also launching a monthly 2020 Vision Group to support others in keeping their Word and Intentions for the year alive.
The Empowerment Challenge was a good intro to leading online workshops. I learned a lot about what to do and not do, and I gained confidence through the experience to go on to design other courses.
Describe the process of launching the business.
When I first launched my business, I focused on the Travel Design aspect. One of my services is designing trips to fit your Why. I called it Wandering Aunt Travels. As my name implies, I am an Aunt. As such, I thought it would be fun to include my 6-year-old niece in the announcement. We did a Facebook Live and announced the service. It was a fun way to grab attention and share my services.
I have been financing my business and coaching program through 0% interest credit cards. I am hoping to build enough capital soon to get a line of credit for my business so that I can invest more in advertising and growing my audience.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned with launching a business is to keep it simple. Launching a business does not have to be complicated. Pick one area to start and go from there. I have also learned to get people to buy into the idea of service before taking the time to build it. Once I know I have an interest, then I go about creating the sales page and marketing. This tactic has served me well.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
All of my marketing efforts have been through my email list and social media followers. I have also received a lot of word of mouth referrals. I think it is good to start with where you are and who you have in your audience before spending money on advertising. Ask your followers, friends, and family if they know of anyone who could benefit from your services. Having a strong online presence helps as well. Customers like to see the real you and what you’re up to in life. This helps to gain credibility and trust. I continue to live a nomadic life and travel to countries all over the world. I enjoy sharing this alongside my business so my followers can get a full glimpse of what makes me and my business, me.
I find that sending personalized messages to people is helpful too. People like to know that you are thinking of them especially when it is something that is of interest to them. Networking groups and being a guest on podcasts is also a great way to put yourself out there and gain exposure. Offering free workshops or courses is also a great way to gain new followers and clients.
Don’t be afraid to ask. The worst someone can tell you is No.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today I feel like I am running a real business. I am no longer stalling or treating it like a hobby. I believe in my services and the people who are meant to work with me. I have about 200 people on my email list and a couple of thousand social media followers. I am looking to grow my audience more so that I can inspire more people.
I am excited about the future and believe that I will come out much stronger in 2020. I plan to lead several retreats this year as well as build a couple of online courses.
I also believe that you don’t need to spend a lot of money on resources upfront. Start by getting a simple website up and use free tools like Mailchimp to grow your email list. Use trials of products you’re interested in prior to investing.
As I grow my business, I may look into advertising, however, for now, I would like to grow it organically.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I’ve learned many lessons throughout the process of starting a business. First and foremost, to start. I held myself back for a long time out of fear of not being ready or good enough. Even though I have more than a decade of experience, starting something on my own caused me to question my skills and strengths.
While it is a large investment, I am grateful for the support and resources I have through my coaching program. Having a container of support with guidance from someone who knows the ins and outs of running a business has made an enormous difference. I highly recommend investing in yourself and your business through a coach or coaching program.
I also recommend going at your pace and trust that you will get there. So often we try to rush the process and miss out on the journey. We compare ourselves to others and tell ourselves we “should” be farther along. When in reality, what works for one person may not work for you. We are all wired differently and must find what works best for each of us. Trust the process and believe that you will get there when it’s your time.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Books that have made a difference in building and running my business include:
- The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks
- Building a Storybrand, Donald Miller
- It’s Not Your Money, Tosha Silver
- Profit First, Mike Michalowicz
- Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert
- Dare to Lead, Brene Brown
- The Prosperous Coach, Steve Chandler/Rich Litvin
- Side Hustle School, Chris Guillebeau (great for hearing stories of others starting income-generating projects).
- The Collective Coaching Program for building Retreat-based businesses, Darla LeDoux
- Ignite Your Energy coaching program, Allison Field
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
I highly recommend investing in a coach or coaching program to support your business particularly one who has a more holistic approach. Often what holds us back in our endeavors is our mindset. We are our worst critics and will talk ourselves out of moving forward or launching. Having a support system in place helps to combat those barriers and move forward.
I also believe that you don’t need to spend a lot of money on resources upfront. Start by getting a simple website up and use free tools like Mailchimp to grow your email list. Use trials of products you’re interested in prior to investing. Get something up and you can tweak it and improve it once you start getting clients or selling products.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Wandering Aunt has provided an update on their business!
About 1 year ago, we followed up with Wandering Aunt to see how they've been doing since we published this article.
Want to start your own business?
Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
We interview successful business owners and share the stories behind their business. By sharing these stories, we want to help you get started.
Interested in starting your own business? Join Starter Story Premium to get the greatest companion to starting and growing your business:
- Connect + get advice from successful entrepreneurs
- Step by step guides on how to start and grow
- Exclusive and early access to the best case studies on the web
- And much more!
Did you know that brands using Klaviyo average a 95x ROI?
Email, SMS, and more — Klaviyo brings your marketing all together, fueling growth without burning through time and resources.
Deliver more relevant email and text messages — powered by your data. Klaviyo helps you turn one-time buyers into repeat customers with all the power of an enterprise solution and none of the complexity.