Since starting my entrepreneurial adventure in 2012, I’ve been obsessed with learning all there is to know about business (and myself!), so I can create and grow a sustainable business I love.
Plus I’m so passionate about continually expanding my own skills and knowledge so I can be the best version of myself (insert nerd alert here!).
So why have I crafted this rather enormous post?
I want to show you:
- What qualifications, courses programs and coaching series I’ve completed, my big takeaways and how they’ve benefited me as well as my business + clients.
- Everyone undertakes a unique learning and business journey and nothing you learn (as random as you may think it is), is a waste. Everything you experience and discover can be woven through your business and life for the better. It’s all valuable!
- That you need to continually invest in learning and development to stay-up-to-date and grow your business.
A few things to note:
- This post is EPIC (close to 5,000 words)! But it’s worth reading. Trust me.
- I have spent well over $20,000 AUD on my business education (this doesn’t include my Bachelor of Psychology (Hons) or my Master of Marketing degree. I also haven’t listed down any of the workshops I’ve attended in Hong Kong + Australia or short online workshops/courses). I’m sharing the most significant experiences that have had the most impact,
- This isn’t a sneaky affiliate link post! The only program below that I’m a proud affiliate of is the Beautiful You Coaching Academy. I genuinely want to share with you my own learning journey as a guide for you to up-level in your own business.
- I can’t claim this is an exhaustive list. I’ve probably forgotten a few courses along the way!
2012 – The Start of My Entrepreneurial Adventure + Investing in Up-skilling
I signed up for B-School when my sister and I were in the very early idea phase of our product based business (designer leather accessories label).
Although I’d recently completed my Master of Marketing and was working in a marketing and business development role at the time, this program was invaluable.
It really opened my eyes to the online space and how marketing in the digital world was being done at the time (which benefited my corporate role too!). A significant amount of capital was invested in the R&D and manufacturing sides of our business which meant we had to be super savvy with our marketing activities.
B-School really helped me to leverage our online assets such as our website, blog, newsletter and social media and sell our products at a minimal ‘cost per customer.’
B-school also kick-started my entrepreneurial network, both on and offline, which is still an extremely valuable aspect of my business today.
This program just keeps getting better and better and I often dip back in to see what great updates Marie has shared.
++ The Freedom Project – Claire Obeid
I LOVED this online course and it was a complete game changer for me as it was the catalyst for my spiritual journey and unlocking the transformational power of meditation, intention setting and uncovering the light and dark within myself.
The reason why I loved this content so much was because it gave me a different (and more personal) perspective on Freud’s ego theory, which I had learned as a part of my psychology degree.
I’ve included this program in this post because I still use so much of what Claire taught me, plus I share my learnings with my own clients. Unfortunately this program is no longer running but I do encourage you to look at Claire’s new work, because she truly is brilliant.
I also had a number of coaching sessions with Claire where we particularly focused on the overwhelm I was feeling due to working full time and running our product business as a side hustle (which was pretty much full time too).
Claire helped me to understand that structure really does equal freedom, how to tap into my intuition when making business decisions and the need for clear communication within my personal relationships.
I still regularly listen to Claire’s meditations (as does my husband) and I’m also loving her new podcast!
You can download Claire’s beautiful ‘Clarity + Connection’ meditation, which accompanies my FREE DIY Coaching Guide: Mind Wide Open
2013 – The Year of One BIG Investment + Major Growth
This program was a significant financial investment ($10k AUD) and also a big time + energy investment (1 year), but looking back it was definitely worth it.
There were times when it felt a bit like a cult (my husband and brother in-law referred to it as The Cult) but it was the most in-depth business and entrepreneurial training I could’ve hoped for at the time.
I learned so many practical business building skills from planning + forecasting, scaling your business, finance, strategic partnerships, hiring and onboarding, creating systems, public relations, the latest online marketing trends, sales training + a heap more.
At the time, I was still working on my product-based business and the program was geared more towards service-based businesses. But everything I learned I’ve applied to Starting With A and passed on to my own clients.
We also had access to some of Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs (their insight + advice = incredible) and I made some amazing likeminded friends from different industries. It really helped me to think differently and to think BIG! (Plus we went skydiving, which was pretty incredible too!).
2014 – The Year of Un-ravelling & Re-building
++ 1:1 Business Coach
Ok, so this is where things aren’t so rosy and positive.
I’ve never shared this publically and I feel a bit ill in doing so. My sister and I wanted to work with someone who had experience and expertise in manufacturing and fashion sales. We did our research and found a specific coach/consultant who we thought would be great and promised us the world (first mistake).
We paid $2000 AUD a month to work with her (which to be honest, our company really didn’t have that $ to spend!)…..remember, we were a self-funded start up.
Anyway, to cut a long story short it was a horrible and very costly experience (both financially and emotionally). Looking back, she obviously wasn’t the right person to help us and we realised much later on that we should’ve listened to our own intuition on many levels.
I recently shared more about this experience on a Facebook LIVE in our Business With Heart Facebook Group. You can watch the reply here.
Blogging was actually a significant part of the content plan for my product business thanks to Rachel McDonald’s BEBH program. The content was a great extension of B-School and I loved learning Rach’s personal approach to writing (because she really is an EPIC writer).
I took all that I learned in BEBH into the initial stages of ‘Starting With A’ (which was purely a blog) before I moved into coaching and consulting.
This program really helped me own my unique writing voice and connect online + in person with other bloggers and women in business within the vibrant community.
Again, looking back from a strategic perspective, investing in writing a book for a product-based business probably was not the best way to spend our time or funds, BUT I don’t regret it at all.
My sister and I actually wrote our book with the guidance of Pam and Steve Brossman (who I love) but the previously mentioned business coach squashed that idea and it’s never seen the light of day.
Although we didn’t publish our book I still took so much away from working with both Pam and Steve, (how to leverage your knowledge, skills and expertise and the planning and strategy involved…which can be applied to all launches, not just launching your book).
I guess publishing the book just wasn’t meant to be but I know that I WILL write a book someday and this program will be instrumental in the outcome.
So this was a really ‘woo-woo’ course for me, especially back then, but I was in a ‘WTF’ stage in my life and I needed to try something different!
(Bit of background…we’d just moved into our new place in Sydney, which we’d spent over 6 months looking for and literally just discovered that we were relocating to Hong Kong and that we were probably going to close our company).
Anyway, The School of the Modern Mystic was incredibly empowering because I learned in-depth about chakras, how to change your energy, create abundance and go on an even deeper self-discovery journey.
After I completed the course I felt it was a bit random. But as time passed I realised that I was lucky enough to go really deep and fast. Now I look back and know that I was building the foundations of my spiritual self.
I personally use all the tools I learned as a part of the Modern Mystic program and share my learnings with my clients (because so much of it relates to how we show up in business).
After I left my job to move to Hong Kong and my sister and I had decided we wouldn’t continue with our product business, I needed something to keep me occupied….so I signed up for a travel writing course!
Although you may think this is a little left of centre, it’s really helped to shape my writing and the strategies I share with my clients.
This course was actually quite intense in terms of the writing and research involved. Plus there’s nothing like having direct feedback (scathing + positive) of your work from journalists in the industry.
But as a result of this course I learned the art of successfully pitching, developing the perfect story angle, crafting clear writing structures, how to interview people for my blog + research tips and tricks that save me time! And it was FUN because I was travelling all the time!
2015 – The Year of Creativity and Coaching
This is where my love for writing, especially online, really took off.
I LOVED the in-depth material, strategies and psychological triggers that Derek shared as a part of his content. (This really lit up my nerdy human behaviour background and helped to develop my copywriting muscles!).
What I learned as a part of this course + Rach’s BEBH course, has been woven into my own experience and writing techniques and I continue to share these strategies with my clients.
I felt a real pull to this course, which I knew would benefit both my business and myself.
At the time I was working my way through adrenal fatigue, (so common for business owners!), and I loved the idea of fusing self-care with creative expression.
I had never classed myself as creative but this course opened my eyes to my own creativity (I AM CREATIVE LOL). Plus it helped me to re-define what ‘creativity’ actually means and the different forms it can take.
I really enjoyed the live aspect of this course and Claire now offers a self-paced program. The practicality of the content coupled with Claire’s personal insights really makes this course.
++ Claire Baker – 1:1 Coaching Session
I also had a one off strategy session with Claire, which was incredibly insightful and of course helpful from a business and personal perspective.
Yes, I took away a number of great business + blogging tips but our time together really reinforced the power of acknowledging your clients’ progress. I remember Claire being extremely complimentary of how much I’d achieved in a short period of time plus how admirably I’d dealt with a number of different transitions (leaving Australia, my job, family, and wrapping up a business and starting over).
As a client, it’s just so nice to be acknowledged. (I stored this away for my own clients and I always make genuine praise and acknowledgment a key aspect of our work together).
I’m a thinker and I’m a planner.
But when I decided I wanted to pursue coaching the only qualification I looked at was Beautiful You (even though the name at the time made me feel weird). This qualification was a fantastic starting point for my coaching journey as it brilliantly fused coaching and business foundations, which is exactly what you need when you start out in this profession. I use the BYCA model as the basis for my own coaching business and I know that it’s helped to grow my business and facilitated some amazing results for my clients.
The most beneficial module for me was Coaching Communication, which included active and curious listening skills, speaking with intent and encouragement, learning how to ask powerful questions that help to achieve results.
These highly practical yet transformational skills have been priceless in my business to date and coupled with my psychology and marketing degrees helps to deliver outcomes for my clients.
Plus, as a result of the BYCA program, I’m lucky enough to be a part of an incredible community of inspiring women from all around the world…it’s nothing short of remarkable!
2016 – The Year of Implementing + Giving Birth
I signed up to complete my Beautiful You training through Naomi, which meant I completed a part of my coaching certification through her.
This was a really rewarding coaching series where Naomi helped me to navigate the start-up phase of my business all while getting my head around the fact that I was pregnant! (It was a surprise).
Naomi was a gun at keeping me accountable when it came to self-care and setting boundaries, as I really just wanted to pump out the work ASAP before Xanthe arrived.
Although I managed to launch my services and work with new clients, grow my email list, run a sold-out workshop, launch an online course, re-brand and launch a new website all before the baby was born, what Naomi really gifted me was the importance of self-care and giving yourself space. Forever grateful!
After discovering I was pregnant with Xanthe, I knew I needed some kind of support, but I wasn’t clear on the type of support.
I was feeling a whole host of emotions such as guilt, uncertainty, fear and sadness and I couldn’t let any positive emotions bubble up to the surface.
I had met Corinne a few months earlier and although I didn’t know exactly what she did as a part of Raw and Rich, I knew she was the person to help me.
Corinne quickly pointed out that I was moving into a significant transition within my life, from a maiden to a mother and she helped me gain a better understanding of what this meant. As a result, she helped me to build trust around becoming a mother, which was a turning point in the early days of my pregnancy.
Corinne’s tools helped me to drop deeper into my mind and body so I could access my own wisdom and truth and tap into my own womanhood and the different aspects of the divine feminine (which I had been completely shut off from).
This one session with Corinne helped transform my perception of motherhood and who I was as a woman. It was from working with Corinne that I really understood that softening is a sign of strength and in order to love my life, embrace pregnancy, motherhood and beyond, this is the softer and more compassionate path I needed to walk down.
Since working 1:1 with Corinne I’ve also attended her menstruation workshop and Women’s Temple – both were extremely liberating and transformative.
What I’ve taken from working with Corinne is now such a significant part of who I am, what I believe and how I approach my business, and I love sharing this with my own clients.
2017 – The Year of Navigating Business + Baby
I went into 2017 as a new mum, itching to get back into work and I had a whole lot of ridiculous expectations around what I should be able to do and achieve in all areas of my life.
I wasn’t going to let a 4 month old baby hold me back!
Although I loved being a mum and looking after Xanthe, I failed (big time) to look after myself and uncover my own needs in this new chapter of my life. As a result of continually pushing and being the ‘pre-baby Ainslie’ version of myself I burned out physically, emotionally and spiritually (a story for another time). (insert link)
I knew I needed some sort of holistic help and that’s when Amy’s Reconnect program popped up on my radar (thank god!).
Over the 40 days I gained a number of different insights, practical tools and strategies from Amy, ‘Motherhood Mindfulness’ experts and the other mothers in the program that literally changed my life (big call, I know).
I am really proud of myself that I took action early in my motherhood journey, acknowledged that things weren’t working for me and I sought out guidance. If you’re a mum, with kids of any age, I can highly recommend this program.
After I got myself together I wanted to get back into my business and I decided 1:1 coaching with Amy Mackenzie was what I needed.
Amy is known for being a life coach for entrepreneurs…because she is the Boss of mastering your mindset and gently digging deep to pin point exactly what’s holding you back. BUT in addition to helping me push past my limiting beliefs (which were all around feeling like I was back at square one) Amy gifted me a host of new and innovative business ideas.
Amy really helped to shape my ‘Write On!’ Copywriting Coaching program and kept me accountable when it came to launching it. This was at a time when I was looking after Xanthe 24/7 and trying to run a business at the same time.
In addition to the brilliant business advice and assistance, Amy highlighted something that literally changed my worldview. She lovingly pointed out that if I was working for someone I wouldn’t even contemplate taking Xanthe into the office and expect that I would get all my work done and do a stellar job.
So why did I think I could look after Xanthe 24/7, run the house AND dedicate the amount of time required to growing my business? GAME-CHANGING! I had never thought of my situation like this, and she was spot on.
Based on her wisdom, I gradually took on professional help, which resulted in Xanthe being cared for while I had time to solely focus on my clients and my business. Best decision ever!
I share this story all the time. Why?
Because it was a pivotal moment in my life and it came from someone who is younger than me and who isn’t a mother herself. The amount of wisdom, insight, understanding and brilliant ideas within Amy Mackenzie is EPIC.
I wasn’t that keen on ‘doing another online course’ but I love everything Kate of Betty Means Business creates. Plus, everything that this offer included I wanted to learn + master!
Kate is the boss of breaking down different aspects of your business into easy to understand systems and step-by-step processes, specifically aimed at coaches and creatives who want to work 1:1 with clients.
As a result of this program I learned how I could re-shape my offers to best serve my clients (and myself!), accurately price my packages, understand what ‘booked out’ meant to me, integrate ‘success habits’ on a daily, weekly and monthly basis so I’m a productivity ninja + a whole heap more.
I found that this training really helped me to think differently about how I offer my coaching and consulting and how I can position myself as a multi-passionate specialist (if that makes sense? Ha!).
I’m also a stickler for structure; although since having Xanthe I know that a rigid master schedule for my business isn’t feasible. So I love the fact that from this course, I’ve been able to adapt Kate’s Master Schedule with my own learnings around feminine energy and the many cycles in my life.
This has enabled me to create a fluid structure that supports where I’m at in a mind, body, spiritual and business sense every week + helps me stay on track to achieve my goals (my clients also love this!).
But the biggest impact that the Booked Out Formula has had relates to how I help my clients.
I now have my own unique system and structure to help clients position, package and clearly communicate how their multiple passions and uniqueness provides immense value to their clients and as a result, they can grow their beautiful businesses. You can learn more here.
My guiding word for 2017 was ‘Shakti’ and as a result, many of the courses, workshops and programs I was drawn to had an element of this within them.
This was the case for the She-Quest program, which took me on my own Heroine’s journey.
At the time I was still trying to get my head around the transition from maiden to mother and what this meant for me? All those big questions continued to pop up such as “who am I?”, “what’s my greater purpose?”, and I was searching for more joy and meaning in my life.
What I loved about this program was its hands-on, interactive and creative nature.
Katie skilfully crafted this program so you could access and process your own unique journey in a playful yet meaningful way. We drew, used paints, journalled, cut out and assessed different physical landscapes in relation to our journey, made clay models, learned about goddesses and danced with the lights off.
The creative depth play exercises that Katie shared allowed me to explore my unconscious and lean into my intuition as I had to interpret the messages my work was trying to communicate to me. So interesting! It really showed me that there is so much value in the creative process in addition to the end result.
I now have a clear understanding of the different stages of the Heroine’s Journey and Katie helped show me that we’ll go on many mini-journeys, following the same pattern, throughout our lifetime. This is invaluable when I work with my own clients as I can pin-point where they are at in their own journey and help them understand the meaning and importance.
I’ve always felt confident with social media, as I’ve been using it in business since 2012.
But I know it’s important to keep learning + stay up to date so I wanted some speciality consulting on my own social media accounts.
Sophie really helped me to get extremely clear on the purpose of my accounts, the content I was sharing, how I was serving my audience and how I wanted to show up and feel on social media (the best!).
Since working with Sophie I now have a clearer vision for my social content and how it integrates with my overall communication plan and editorial calendar.
I connected with the lovely Sophie through the Solopreneur Society – see below.
2017 was the year of me seeking out specialist consultants/coaches and when I decided I needed help with PR and my overall comms strategy, Niki was top of mind.
Going into the session I really wasn’t convinced that my business or my body of work were PR worthy. But Niki quickly showed me this wasn’t the case. (Apparently this is a common assumption of Lady Bosses).
In just one session Niki helped to uncover my Area of Authority and create specific content categories that aligned with this.
She also helped identify different media targets, explain the different angles I could take when pitching as well as help to map out my editorial calendar.
In addition to learning all of the above, this experience reiterated the power and impact of working with someone who has a similar professional background to you.
Rather than discounting it and assuming that you may already know what they are going to share with you (which I didn’t, by the way!) hearing another professional’s perspective is incredibly enlightening, encouraging and impactful.
Game Changing Group Memberships
I’ve been a member of the Solopreneur Society since its inception (2016) and I know that this is a membership that I’ll continue to renew.
This membership is far more than just a community of like-minded, successful solopreneurs or a thriving Facebook group.
The number of valuable resources available as a part of this membership is pretty phenomenal. I personally get a lot out of the podcast interviews with specific business specialists. Many of the episodes are like master classes in themselves – so much value!
Plus Amy very generously hosts group coaching every month – these sessions always go off! Not only do I gain new insight from Amy on specific areas of my business I’ve found it helpful hearing the opinions and insights from the other ladies in the group.
But probably the most valuable aspect of this group is the community. It’s not one of those crowded, constantly selling and ‘look at me, look at me’ kind of groups. I’ve connected and worked with a number of amazing women from this group and it’s my first port of call when I need some guidance or support. (BTW, this is also where I met Niki Hennessy).
I came across Kate’s work at the perfect time. I’d read her Money Love book a few years ago but didn’t religiously follow her.
However, I’ll admit that I’m a total fan girl of her new focus – how to combine entrepreneurship and motherhood. Kate takes a no-bullshit approach and is completely transparent with where she’s at with her business and mothering journey.
She whole-heartedly believes that the secret to having more isn’t doing more, it’s doing less. Sounds amazing, right?
I especially love Kate’s personal insights and the way she views ‘cycle work.’ It’s from this membership site that I really got an in-depth understanding of how our lives are cyclic and how we can work with them, rather than against them, and as a result thrive.
Also, it’s just incredibly encouraging to hear personal stories from uber successful entrepreneurs (who just happen to be mothers too…..like Danielle La Porte) how they run their businesses and be a mum, day in day out. They don’t try and hide anything or pretend that they have it all together…which is very refreshing.
Kate and the interviewees share so much wisdom and practical tools that being a member of Origin is a joy.
Kate’s work has really helped to re-shape how I feel about being a mother and being an entrepreneur. I now see being a mum as a superpower rather than a hindrance when it comes to growing my business.
I hope you enjoyed this loooong list of business and personal development programs, courses and specialist coaches that have helped to shape and grow myself and my business.
I’m also hoping that I’ve inspired you to check them out and encouraged you to keep uplevelling, taking the leap and investing in expanding and deepening your knowledge and skills.
Let me know if you have any specific business or personal development courses, qualifications or coaches that you plan on investing in this year! I’d love to know!