One of my favourite parts about running a business is meeting like-minded business owners. I bumped into Brook in a business Facebook group and loved the fact that she has built a business that shows creative businesses with heart that they can – and should – be profitable with a little hustle…
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Brook McCarthy. I’m a digital marketing trainer and business coach who specialises in the health and creative sectors. Through Hustle & Heart, I work closely with sole traders and small business owners to help them to define their difference and grow their professional reputation, in order to attract (far) more ideal clients.
What does that actually mean for business owners?
Less work and more fun.
A lot of business owners work very long hours for very little money, under huge amounts of stress and uncertainty. Despite the prevalent propaganda, self-employment is not easy and most people are on a steep learning curve figuring out marketing, sales, customer service and the thousand other things that we do every day.
Most people don’t have a background in small business management or marketing. Most of us didn’t really plan to even have our own business but fall into it because we love what we do and often have struggled to find jobs with flexibility in our particular field. Typically, through my training and coaching, my clients tend to get better organised with a routine marketing plan, get better at having difficult conversations with clients, get bolder at reinstating their boundaries and tightening their terms and conditions, raise their prices and make more money, while working less hours and having more fun in the process!
“Most of us didn’t really plan to even have our own business but fall into it because we love what we do and often have struggled to find jobs with flexibility in our particular field.”
That’s exactly how I fell into competitions! How did you get into business coaching?
I don’t have a background in marketing or business. My major at university was religious studies as I was – and still am – fascinated by human psychology, persuasion, charisma and influence. I did a lot of travelling in my 20s and worked in South-East Asia as a tour leader. It was while working in Vietnam that I first became interested in business and started to understand how influential commerce is – before that, I was a middle class vague idealist! The Vietnamese are naturally entrepreneurial and have no weird sales or money shame that a lot of us seem to carry. There’s no safety net there. You either earn money through your own entrepreneurial intelligence and hard work, or you don’t eat.
I returned to Sydney after travelling and worked in the PR industry, where I looked after a big multinational whitegoods company’s website. This was my first taste of online communications and I was hooked! But I knew far too much about whitegoods than is cool to admit, so I pivoted.
In early 2008, I brought together my love and experience in yoga teaching and alternative health with digital marketing and communications, and started Hustle & Heart. A few years later, I began running courses around Australia for business owners to learn digital marketing and content marketing. This was right when Facebook was about to explode, so my timing was excellent, but mostly I did it to run away from my two young babies. My partner and I are both self-employed, both working from home, and had two young babies at the time, so it was 24/7 chaos! People used to say that we were living the dream, but I desperately needed a break.
At one of my courses, a participant asked if I did business coaching. That was the beginning. That was about seven years ago now, and I still see that client from time to time, at a course, in my online program, and for one-to-one coaching!
How important is it to make sure our businesses have both Hustle and Heart?
The premise of business is simple: solve a problem for people willing to pay for it; leverage your time and investment to make a profit. So many people feel terribly inhibited by being in business, and particularly with marketing themselves. It can feel incredibly vulnerable being visible online. So what tends to happen is that people plod along, but derive less enjoyment over time from their business and are constantly living with low-lying stress and anxiety. Because they’re not being proactive and because they’re allowing life to beat them down, their self-esteem tends to suffer as a result. This breaks my heart!
By combining the grit, communication and strength of hustle with the personal values, integrity, self-care and joy of heart, we’re able to thrive in business for many years to come. Hustle and heart is about working for the love and the money, and trying to heal that old dichotomy of greed and money on one side and values and integrity on the other. That’s an old myth. It’s time to throw out that perspective and reinvent the way we approach business.
I absolutely love your approach to business. Do you have any pointers for marketing a competition with value and integrity?
- Make sure it’s relevant to what the business does! I’ve entered competitions to win an all-expenses-paid holiday in the Caribbean being run by an olive oil spread company, and then all of a sudden you’re receiving marketing emails for olive oil spread. Huh?!?
- If you want smart, discerning clients, assume this in your marketing. There’s so much patronising, insensitive marketing that appeals to the lowest-common denominator. That might be fine for Coca-Cola, but not for my clients and I.
- Ideally, your competition attracts your ideal clients, so whatever values or quirks you embody, make these apparent in your competition. Partner with other companies who share the same values you do, and don’t be afraid to have a smaller reach to attract those perfect-fit people.
What’s the biggest problem you help business owners overcome?
Ten years ago, I would have said that I help idealistic people become more practically-minded with marketing tools and techniques. I was really proud of the fact that I didn’t offer ‘fluff’ and soft skills, and instead focused on using and teaching technology and making marketing accessible to non-marketers.
Now I think my attitude was naïve! Because you can have all the skills and abilities in the world, but if you’re too self-conscious to put yourself out there, if you allow self-doubt to stop you doing what you really want to do in business, if you isolate yourself and deny yourself time off and time to reflect on your progress, then there’s no point. I know so many people with oodles of talent and experience who aren’t making much money and aren’t enjoying the process of business because their attitude, perspective and beliefs are unhelpful. So now I’d say that the biggest problem I help business owners to overcome is to take control of their business direction, to overhaul their perspective and attitude, and to enjoy the process of marketing and business far more, while earning much better money.
“…if you allow self-doubt to stop you doing what you really want to do in business, if you isolate yourself and deny yourself time off and time to reflect on your progress, then there’s no point.”
Do you have any examples of businesses that have achieved a healthy balance between hustle and heart?
There’s a big myth that the hours you put into your business will equate to the money you pull out. I’ve seen over and over again how that’s simply not true. One client owns and runs a busy physiotherapy clinic in Melbourne and worked weekends, evenings, holidays, you name it. After four months of business coaching with me, we reformed her business so that she delegated far more effectively, reduced her hours, increased her prices, reorganised her team and introduced a new, premium-priced offering that her best clients had been asking for. She now earns 20% more while working 20% less. She’s had her first overseas holiday since opening her business seven years ago, and left her laptop at home.
Another client is the General Manager of a not-for-profit, which ran a few fundraising events every year. Funding was also tenuous and insecure, she was managing a threadbare team, and working far too many hours. We worked together to redefine the organisation’s vision and mission and restructure the organisation into a social enterprise. We relaunched the organisation to attract a new group of volunteers, launched a new, for-profit training program, and also rebranded their most successful fundraising event while delegating more of the smaller events to the new group of volunteers. They’ve increased their revenue by 10% this year, attracted more secure funding for the next few years ahead, and are funnelling some of their profits from the training program into marketing to continue to shore up their supporters and make their future funding more secure. But the best part? The General Manager feels far more supported, with the necessary resources and teams around her to ensure she’s no longer working weekends or losing sleep worrying about work.
What’s your marketing super power?
I’m a unique blend of right brain and left brain thinking. I can be highly creative, especially when put on the spot to come up with content ideas by course attendees, all from different businesses and industries, with different goals. And then I can back it up with the necessary practicalities and skills to make it a reality. I’ve been told I have a special skill for making technology accessible for people.
What would be your one big tip for those needing a little more heart in their marketing?
Empathy is one sorely necessary skill for effective marketing. Empathy is closely linked with creativity and imagination. When you can tap into your empathy, your marketing becomes far more powerful and far easier because you’re no longer worrying about yourself as you’re in the heads of your ideal clients.
Finally, how can people get in touch with you if they want to know more or work with you?
You can check out my writings at https://hustleandheart.com.au/blog as well as https://brookmccarthy.com.au/blog
I love Instagram – you can find me at https://instagram.com/brookmccarthy or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brook McCarthy is a digital marketing trainer and business coach who specialises in the health and creative sectors. With 15 years’ experience in digital communications and a background in Public Relations, Brook helps businesses to make boldness their business strategy, better define their difference and grow their professional reputation.
Find out more about her flagship program Hustle & Heart here.