Is your business working for you?
Or are you getting bogged down with offerings you don’t really love, clients who are… less than ideal, and feeling like your business is taking over your life?
If you answered yes to any of that, you’re going to LOVE what Alisha Robertson has to say in this episode.
Alisha’s whole business (and what she helps others achieve) is based on living over existing, and this episode will help you take your first steps into creating or pivoting your business to support the life you desire.
Erin Flynn: Thanks so much for being here, Alisha. I’m so excited to dive in.
Alisha Robertson: Yeah, so thank you so much for having me. I’m excited.
Erin Flynn: All right, so this is super fun. We have been in the same circles for forever, but this is the first time we’re actually getting to connect, which is so weird because we have a very similar philosophy on fighting burnout and building businesses to enjoy lives as opposed to working constantly.
Alisha Robertson: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Erin Flynn: Now you have done this, you’ve built a business that supports your lifestyle, and I want to know, I certainly did not, I want if you did that from the beginning. Did you know that was your plan or was that a process to get to that point?
Alisha Robertson: Absolutely not. I did not start out this way. I think, honestly, because I had gone from working in jobs that I hated, not just because it was a job and I’m anti nine to five, I’m definitely not. I was in jobs that I hated that paid so poorly. That when I became an entrepreneur and I started doing something that I love, I realized that, “Oh, you really have to hustle and do work to make sure you’re getting paid.” There is no more getting a check every other Friday.
Alisha Robertson: For me, when I first dove into entrepreneurship and even up until about two years ago, honestly, I was just hustling, hustling, hustling to make the money, to continue to making ends meet because I was so afraid of going back to where I was. It didn’t even cross my mind to build a business that would allow me to live the life that I desired. I love being able to take off weekends and do absolutely nothing, and that wasn’t the business that I was building.
Alisha Robertson: The business that I was building required me to be present 24/7 and required me to always be putting myself out there, always be creating content because that’s what I thought was going to make me successful. And I also fell into the trap of trying all the marketing things, all the things that everyone was telling you you need it to do in order to be successful.
Alisha Robertson: I fell into doing all those things even if it really didn’t align with me or align with my personality. And needless to say, my body was like, “Girl, no, you can’t keep this up.” Burnout happened very quickly. But no, I did not start out with this whole idea of building a business around my life and not the other way around.
Erin Flynn: All right, so we’ve had very similar paths then because I totally made the wrong business when I first was starting too and had to totally pivot. It’s good to know that this is something that’s not just unique to me and probably some listeners who are like, “Why did I build this? Why did I not plan this?” We all kind of have to go through a process to realize that’s not what we want.
Alisha Robertson: Yeah, exactly. It takes burnout sometime to get you back to where you need to be.
Erin Flynn: Totally. Now that you’ve realized this, you’ve made some huge changes in your business, what does your life and business look like now?
Alisha Robertson: Yeah, so I shift from one-on-one to more of a membership model in my business and that allowed me… I feel like I got all of my time and life back, which I loved one-on-one coaching, but anyone who has worked with clients one-on-one on a consistent basis, it can really burn you out. And I had a baby last year and I knew that I needed to shift that business model in order for me to be present. I wanted to be with her, so now I have shifted business models, and the best thing I’ve probably could’ve ever done.
Alisha Robertson: And then I put boundaries around myself as well. I am someone who loves what they do. And as I’m pretty sure you know as well, Erin, that when you’re doing something you love, it’s kind of hard to cut yourself off sometimes. I’m like, all right, if I am working all day, then at five, six o’clock, I need to cut myself off and just read a book or spend time with my family or catch up on The Real Housewives. Whatever the case may be, I need to cut myself off.
Alisha Robertson: And then also not working on the weekends. I wanted to become an entrepreneur so that I could have that freedom to create my own schedule. And I found myself slipping back into my old habits of working throughout the weekend. Of course, it’s a little bit different now because all of our schedules are nonexistent. Some days, I have to use the time that I do have to get stuff done. But putting boundaries around myself and then just shifting business models, I just felt like I have so much more time to breathe.
Alisha Robertson: And I also have more time to focus on personal goals. Now I’m digging into learning more about personal finances and paying off debt and possibly purchasing another house in a couple years. Just being able to dig into all the things I wanted to do personally, I feel like I now have the freedom to do that.
Alisha Robertson: I would be so bummed out like at the end of the year, because I wouldn’t hit my reading goal. And now that I’ve just set those boundaries and kind of shifted how I was doing things, I’m knocking out books. I’m like, “I could’ve been doing this.”
Erin Flynn: Oh, I love that. Your whole brand is based around living over existing, can you tell us more about that?
Alisha Robertson: Yeah. Living Over Existing, I think, was something that I kind of planted the seed for years and years ago when I was making and selling jewelry. I made a T-shirt called Living Over Existing and had no clue that it would resurface again as an entire brand. But the whole basis around it is just having the guts and just having the will to go out and live the life that you desire. Having the will to say yes to those big dreams, to whatever you feel called to do to your big purpose, to your talents. And just being willing to show up in that instead of just existing where you are constantly being crippled by fear or constantly being crippled by “what if” or being held back. “Well, if this could happen… or what if this happened?” Really just being crippled by all of the fear that comes around wanting to do something bigger with your life.
Alisha Robertson: Living Over Existing is really about just saying yes, saying yes to the things that you desire, saying yes to the life and the business that you desire as well and just pushing past any of those mental barriers that you feel may be holding you back. It’s hard. A lot of times I tell people like it sounds fluffy, but you really have to dig deep into a lot of the mental pieces before you can even get to that point of saying yes. But that’s really the basis, just going after what you desire and just refusing to allow anything or anybody to hold you back.
Erin Flynn: That is so cool. Do you have any personal stories or maybe stories of some of your members?
Alisha Robertson: Yeah. Yeah. I know for myself, personally, I spent a lot of years when I first got the idea to dig into entrepreneurship of allowing other people to tell me to be realistic essentially, down to professors in college who were like, “Mm, you probably shouldn’t pursue that. You should probably go get a real job.” I was so crippled by caring so much about what other people had to say that I really had to just cut off a lot of people and cut out the noise in order to pursue some of the things that I just really felt passionate about.
Alisha Robertson: But I hear women say all the time in our community that, hearing your story or seeing how you have been able to move forward on your dreams, but I never pushed the fact that fear goes away because fear doesn’t go away. Just hearing a lot of women say, “Just seeing you being able to push past that fear, to push past anxiety. I struggled with anxiety as well, and still be able to do things that you want to do. That is inspiring.”
Alisha Robertson: And that’s how I feel like a lot of the women kind of connect with my story because I’m always… I’ll tell you, I wake up scared to death sometimes about taking certain leaps of faith in my business. And I do it anyway because I always feel like what is there for me to lose? I can either try this and I have a 50/50 chance of it working, or I can not try it and then spend the rest of my life wondering what would have happened.
Alisha Robertson: I hear a lot of women say that I just gave them just the courage to just start, start somewhere. Even if it’s something small, buying on that domain name, writing your about page, telling a friend what you aspire to do. I hear a lot of people say that the brand that I’ve created just pushes people to want to take that next step in their dreams.
Erin Flynn: That’s so refreshing. Because I think so often we’re just so terrified and we have like this little bubble, I guess, of comfort and that’s always nice to be in, but sometimes you do have to push outside of it. Sometimes you do have to try something new, and I love your approach to that where it’s like, basically you can stay where you are or you can give it a shot.
Alisha Robertson: Yeah. Yeah. And I always tell people too, would your 80-year-old self be happy with the life you have lived so far? I don’t want old me to be disappointed in what I could be. Eighty years old on my porch, in my rocking chair saying, “Girl, you had a great life. Even the hard times, you really went out and did everything that you said you wanted to do.” That’s where I want to be in my older age. I always just kind of reframe it like that. Are you going to disappoint your 80-year-old self? I wouldn’t want to do that, so you might as well just go for it.
Erin Flynn: That’s so, so good. Anybody listening, we’re encouraging you to take that baby step at least. Get something started because otherwise you’re never going to know. You’re never going to know what could have happened.
Alisha Robertson: Yeah. And I think too, a lot of people are afraid of what could be, the possibility of what could be. I’ve really been working on trying to reframe my mind to think what’s the best that could happen instead of what’s the worst that can happen. And again, as I said, I’ve struggled with anxiety. If you’ve ever experienced anxiety before, you know that that is hard. But just trying to reframe your mind of thinking, “Okay. Yes, this business could fail, but what if it actually is a really big success and it changes people’s lives?” I don’t want to miss out on that. Yeah, it’s a lot harder, I definitely understand that, but it’s possible.
Erin Flynn: I love that. And one of the things you touched on that I want to mentioned is I always go straight to is, what’s the worst-case scenario? What’s worst thing? This is going to fail and then all of these bad things are going to happen.
Erin Flynn: But for me, sometimes when I look at like, “Okay, what’s the worst-case scenario?” It’s actually not that bad. Even if it happens, you learn from it and you can make adjustments and move forward with the same idea or a slightly different idea because you’ve learned. Because you’ve taken that first step and you failed, you learned something that you can then implement to get you towards whatever it is you’re trying to do.
Alisha Robertson: Yeah, exactly. My very first business, the one that pushed me into full-time entrepreneurship, I was making and selling jewelry online and it failed miserably. But what I learned from those mistakes that I made is how I’ve gotten to where I am today. Had I not taken that little leap of faith out of fear of failing, I don’t know where I would be. I would probably still be at that old, miserable job that I could not stand. It’s worth it. And you can always pivot.
Erin Flynn: That’s the thing I think that so many people get hung up is that they think they have to have the perfect business plan, the perfect ideas straight from the beginning. And no one I know who has been in business for… If they’ve been in business for more than two years, they’ve probably had at least one major pivot in their business.
Erin Flynn: And you mentioned making jewelry. I used to do little drawings and stuff. Did I make money from that? Maybe a couple hundred dollars, nothing that I was ever going to make profitable ever in my life, right. But you know, we’ve all… That’s how I made my first business plan. That was kind of the beginning. I was in a terrible job. I learned how to put together a business plan and figure things out. It did not work at all, period.
Erin Flynn: But I learned so much from that, that I was then able to put into web design which became a successful business for me. It’s those little tiny steps, those failures that we learn from, we grow from, and then we’re able to actually turn into success later down the road if we’re willing to keep going.
Alisha Robertson: Yeah, yeah. I saw a post the other day that said, “You have to be willing to suck at first.” It was like, you have to be willing to be a beginner. I feel like so many people don’t want to be a beginner, but I’m like, that’s where you get the foundation. That’s where you really learn and get into entrepreneurship is the beginning state. Just like, all of this now isn’t that fun.
Erin Flynn: Oh, it’s so true. I think we see so many “overnight success stories”. But in reality, those people did something before. They did not start from square one and just magically have a six-figure business in their first week. That’s not how it works. That might be the first time you’ve heard of them.
Erin Flynn: You all probably don’t know about my art stuff that I put out on the internet, right, 10 years ago. You wouldn’t know me for that. And so I think people who see me now would have no idea what my beginnings were, all of the mistakes that I’ve made. And I think that was the same case with all of these overnight success stories. We just didn’t hear about them because of their failures in the past, but those failures are what gave them the foundation. And that’s why it’s so important to get started even if it’s scary.
Alisha Robertson: Yep, exactly. Exactly. You have to go through it. Everybody goes through it.
Erin Flynn: What kind of mistakes did you make in your business, if you’re willing to share, that pushed you back into that living to work mode? You’ve mentioned that sometimes you get caught up in things. Did you make any mistakes that like derailed you from building the business that you wanted even after you had recognized that it was an issue?
Alisha Robertson: Even after… There was a process between me realizing it was an issue before me actually doing something about it. I know for sure in that period of time, I was doing a lot of marketing type of techniques that made me feel kind of icky inside.
Alisha Robertson: I am not a super pushy type of sales person. I’m more of a storyteller. I’ll share with you my experience and I’ll share with you why what I have to offer will help you in your life. And I was following a lot of these webinars where it was like, you sell, sell, sell, sell, sell, sell during the entire time. And I just felt like a horrible person, but I did it because that’s what I was told would make me successful. And even though I knew that I was on the brink of burnout, that I was not building a business that I actually enjoyed running, I still kept doing it because I couldn’t see any other option at that time.
Alisha Robertson: I was also taking on clients that didn’t necessarily align with where I want it to go like with working with people, the type of clients I was working with. It really took me kind of finding that courage to start saying no, which felt really weird because who says no to money. Yeah, it was a lot of that just kind of going back and forth with myself. Yes, this doesn’t make me feel well, but it also makes me money, so how do I say no to that? How do I balance that? Or how do I shift between those two perspectives?
Alisha Robertson: I kept kind of going back and forth into that. One day I’d say no. And then the next day I’d be like, “You know what, I do have space to work with you.” Those was one of the mistakes that I can remember that I made. And I wish I would have just stood firm earlier in what I believed in, I probably would have gotten out of that a lot quicker than I did. But again, you learn from your mistakes.
Erin Flynn: Totally. I have had the exact same issue with the one-on-one clients and the shifting, and it’s just, it’s so hard to do.
Erin Flynn: That leads very well into the next question, which is probably, this is one of the mistakes since we’ve both done it. But what other mistakes do people make when they’re creating their businesses or trying to recreate their businesses, they ended up getting them tied to doing that work nonstop and how can they fix these kinds of mistakes?
Alisha Robertson: I definitely think you should start out, and even if you’re like revamping or rebranding, start out with getting really, really clear on your why. And not just because I want to make money or because I want to be Instagram popular, dig deeper than that. Why are you doing the thing that you do? Do you want to, I don’t know, make enough money so that you can send your kids to college without them having to worry about loans? Or are you wanting to build this business because you are really passionate about helping the youth or helping the homeless?
Alisha Robertson: Whatever your why is, really digging into that. I highly suggest just sitting down and thinking about that first, and then also thinking about the life that you want to live. If spending a good chunk of your time with your family is very, very important to you, then you should be building a business that will still allow you to have that time with them. If you know that traveling is very important to you and you want to be gone for half the year, then you need to be building a business that will fit that type of lifestyle.
Alisha Robertson: I think a lot of people come up with the business idea and the business structure and how they want to monetize, and then they try to fit that around all of a sudden, I want to do these things in my personal life, and it doesn’t start that way. You have to start with what you want, your why, why you’re doing this, and then also thinking about the life that you want to live.
Alisha Robertson: And of course, things change. When I first started my business, I had no clue when I would have a kid. Of course, I had to pivot. But you should definitely be starting out with just a pretty good idea of where you at least want to be within the next year for how you want your life to look within the next year and start building your business around that.
Alisha Robertson: Had I had known that I would be just burnt out with working one-on-one clients, I would have started a membership community a long time ago. But I really wasn’t thinking at the time that I would enjoy having weekends off, and I enjoy being able to just sit on the couch and do nothing some days. Not saying that every day is like that, but I wish I would have thought about the life that I wanted to live prior to building the brand. And I think that’s the mistake that a lot of people make is that they try to fit this big business that they’ve built, and now they’re trying to fit that into their life. And your life will always take a back seat if you start that way.
Erin Flynn: Oh, that is so true. I am with you 100%. I’ve had the same exact issues where I’ve done the one-on-one work. I’ve built the same kind of structure in my business. Then gone, “Wait a second. I thought I was building a business for freedom and I am actually more tied to my work than I have ever been in my life, even working for other people.” And I had to completely scrap everything and kind of start the structure over based on what I wanted instead of just the business model. And so, important, so important.
Alisha Robertson: Yeah. And it’s not to say that one-on-one work is bad if it fits your lifestyle, if you really thrive… At one point, I really thrived off of working one-on-one with clients. But as I “grew up”, it didn’t fit the life that I wanted to live. But if that works for you, if that’s how you get your energy, if that’s how you feel you can best serve your clients and live your life that you want, then go for it. It just so happens that I had to make a shift.
Erin Flynn: Exactly. I’m the same way. And yeah, there was a time where I loved it, where I’d see an email from a client on a Saturday morning and I’d be excited. And I just am not at that point in my life anymore. I’m about to have a kid. I’m like, I can’t do that, right? I have to have some free time for family things. My focus is shifted, and I think that’s totally fine to have your business shift. Like we’ve talked about, we’ve both pivoted multiple times.
Erin Flynn: But yeah, again, if you love the one-on-one stuff, go for it 100%. if you are realizing that’s not working for you right now, it is okay to start making steps and finding what does work for you. In any case, no matter where you are in your business, I think sitting down and reviewing what you want, your why and the kind of lifestyle that you want at least once a year, totally a great way to make sure that you’re still on track and that you’re not going to get burned out by your business no matter what the business model is.
Alisha Robertson: Exactly. Exactly. Yep.
Erin Flynn: Awesome. We are coming up on time, but where can we find and follow you online?
Alisha Robertson: Yeah, so you can follow Living Over Existing, it’s at livingoverexisting on Instagram. You can also check out livingoverexisting.com. And if you want to hang out with me personally, I’m THEalishanicole on both Instagram and Twitter. I try to leave the businessy stuff for the Living Over Existing accounts. But if you want to see a cute kid in my day-to-day life, which is not that fun, but you can find me definitely like on Instagram at THEalishanicole.
Erin Flynn: Awesome. I’ll make sure all of those links are in the show notes. Thank you so much for joining us, Alisha.
Alisha Robertson: Thank you so much for having me.
Erin Flynn: All right. Everyone, I will see you in the next episode.