My Story … #BossBabe Love Month Series
Yes, I’m back — yet again — to share with you another entrepreneurial story from yet another amazing #BossBabe … ME! This is the last story of this series but don’t worry, I will make sure to keep paying it forward with another success story series in the near future.
Just to re-cap – one last time — why I’m doing this (in case this is the first story of this series that’s you’re reading) …
During my entrepreneurial adventures, I have been connecting with empowering women from all over the world and one day realized there was a need for more storytelling. Stories just like theirs needed to be spread socially through my blog for many reasons … First, to show support to all the hardworking women hustling out there to building their dream empires! I wanted to connect with these women to have them dig deep … tell the raw truth behind how they built their empires, their personal successes, their struggles and how they got to where they are today. And secondly, I am hoping that these #BossBabe stories will empower and inspire other women to follow their passion and make their dreams a reality by kicking discrimination to the curb.
Now, here today, I’m over the moon excited to share the last story of this #BossBabe series adventure.
Here is my personal #BossBabe story …
Truthfully, my path on this entrepreneurial adventure started about 9 years ago when I was working full-time as a Graphic “Technician” (aka. Designer – long story on the improper job title) at a local school division here in Winnipeg, MB., Canada. I was miserable and sick all the time. And by sick, I don’t mean I caught a lot of colds … I mean sick to my stomach every single day to the point where I would have to pull over in my car a couple blocks before the office just to get some fresh air because I was gagging and thought I was going to be sick. And oh, those dreaded Sundays! Being ill and depressed all damn day knowing I had to go back to that hell hole for another week.
It wasn’t your usual “office crap” that made me feel this way. It was the catty women in the building who always made you feel less of yourself and watched your every move. You couldn’t even eat a sandwich at lunch time without being gawked at because it had carbs and apparently that’s a no-no. It was the way everyone was fake … fake with hellos, fake with friendships … literally fake about everything. Not everyone … But most people in that building. It was the way I was treated when it came to the work I did there as a designer. When someone needed something, they were your best friend but when it came to voicing ideas, marketing plans, logo designs, event plans and oh so much more … Nobody wanted to ever hear what I had to say. I was just a number to them … an employee who should be seen but not heard. It was the endless conversations with the “higher ups” about having some opportunities to move up with my position, take on more responsibility, be brought in on meetings that involved work I would be doing (or could do but wasn’t “allowed”), to be labelled as the proper title and also to be paid what the job was worth (just so you know I made less than the janitors and have oodles of years of schooling behind me).
I struggled through that chaos for just shy of 10 years before I crashed … And I mean crashed!
My soul was awakened telling me I was destined for something else … something greater. This couldn’t be what I worked so hard for all these years, could it? This is supposed to be my dream career. This isn’t all that’s out there for me, is it? So, I decided to be adventurous and start a freelance design company (back in 2011-ish) which at the time was named “MyDesignSmash” (horrible name — horrible design – but live n’ learn).
I was already having people approach me on a weekly basis asking me to do small design projects for them so why not make a business out of it. This way I could finally follow my passion and pray it turns into something better than the dead-end 9-5 I was working at. The only thing I did not realize at the time was I was suddenly everyone’s “best friend” again. Meaning they all wanted their projects done for pennies, for free or for trade. This was not at all what I thought owning a design business would be like. But being the trooper that I am, I kept on creating these magnificent projects for the people who “needed” me (some of who were even at the time, my friends) because it was the designing and creativity that I enjoyed. Although I was feeling overwhelmed and stressed by letting people take advantage of me, I was too scared to show my true worth financially and take a stand for myself.
I felt like I was gaining some traction in the land of design as a freelancer but not on any sort of path I truly wanted to be on. I was feeling stuck, worthless and wanting to quit. Just throw all those years of schooling out the window and go work at Starbucks!
Remember your value! And don’t settle for less. You worked all your damn life for this level of greatness, so take it, appreciate it and accept it! Knowing my own value and self-worth was something that took me years to embrace. But after many inner struggles, I now know this! ~ Crystal Kordalchuk, CEO of Virtually Untangled
Fast-forwarding to the present … 9 years later …
I was going through a lot. And not just your everyday struggles. I felt like one giant hot mess! I ended up becoming quite ill (due to the agony and stress I was dealing with at my 9-5) and took some time off work. Yes, good ‘ol stress leave. I was terrified at even the thought of doing so … What would people think? Would the office gossip about me? Would I lose my job? How would it be to go back there after some time off?
But a few of my loved ones made me realized I NEEDED THIS, or I was going to end up in the hospital. I was not myself anymore and others were noticing. I couldn’t keep things under wraps anymore. I myself was being fake …
During this time of healing, I started to let myself relax and reflect on my work, my education, where I was and where I wanted to be and felt a “thud”. I hit a wall and felt myself rise out of the deep, dark black-hole I was living in. A huge wave of ideas started rushing through me. I realized that I was not doing what I wanted with my life. I was not accomplishing any of my goals and just letting the 9-5 take over me … my soul especially. Yes, I was doing graphic design for a job which has always been a true dream of mine, but it felt numbing and I will clarify this by using my famous phrase of a “rinse n’ repeat” day-to-day life. To me, this was not what happiness should be. Just baring the minimum to make a living. To survive.
Why was I allowing myself to feel this way and for so long …?
Yes, I was gaining experience, learning more design tricks as I moved along and making people happy by designing what they needed but was I making myself happy? No, I most certainly was not.
My life felt chaotic, stressful and unpleasing. I was depressed. Down in the dumps. In a place I feared I could never get out of. My creativity level was draining, and I felt as though I did not want to pursue my passion of design/art/creative writing any longer. I was so filled with hurt, resentment and feeling lost. I kept telling myself that at my age, I should be doing more and on a path that I enjoyed waking up to. But the truth was, that was no longer the REAL ME anymore!
So, this is what happened next?
I sat down with my trusty notebook, my favourite pack of coloured gel pens, started writing and doing a butt-load of research on how to work from home. Hit another wall.
I needed to re-group so I had a conversation with my career/life coach, April and told her about how I was feeling. We talked about the dread, you know that rock in the pit of your stomach feeling, on Sunday nights about having to return to that dead-end 9-5. We talked about me not knowing where I wanted to go next. And we also talked about different skills that I had that I didn’t realize I wasn’t using to my fullest potential. April told me she thought I would make a great virtual assistant. I looked at her puzzled. WTF is a virtual assistant? She then explained and raved about my organizational skills, my creativity and my passion/drive to accomplish everything in the world in just one day. She knew I wanted to make a difference and that I felt I wasn’t doing that. By the end of our session that day I was literally glowing! And, I thought to myself … was being a virtual assistant a real thing? I surely never heard of anything of it, but it was worth looking into. April was obviously seeing something I was not …!
So, after that wonderful mind-blowing coaching session, I raced home to do some research.
After days of reading, signing up for what felt like thousands of sites to “become a virtual assistant”, I realized I was going about things all wrong. Why work for a company half way across the world as a virtual assistant for a few bucks a task (literally 5 bucks a task) when I already have the knowledge and freelance experience to go about it on my own. Realistically, I’ve been working as a part-time entrepreneur with my freelance design business for 7 years now so how could doing something like this be any different?
And once again, with my trusty notebook and favourite pack of gel pens (I am literally addicted to gel pens, LOL!), I started considering all the possible options of quitting that dreaded 9-5, closing my freelance business down and what it would take to move forward as a virtual business. But not just any virtual business … I wanted to take virtual assistance to an entirely new level (maybe even the next level) by combining my hard-earned years of design and web experience into the mix.
And that’s how Virtually Untangled was born!
After making many hard, life-altering decisions and exhausting my brain for hours … no, for weeks … I came up with a plan and two full notebooks of research — filled with ideas for new colour themes, design, creative writing ideas for my re-brand launch, idea boards, etc. — and started on my new path!
Was I scared of failing and having to go back to my dead-end 9-5 job? Yes, of course I was. I was scared to death about my leap of faith (Am I going to make it? How am I going to pay the bills? Am I smart enough? Good enough? Courageous enough? Organize enough?), resigning from my 9-5 and taking my business full-time. But I knew in my gut that this was my true passion in life. Not only the part of becoming my own #BossBabe, setting my own hours and working with respectable clients (yes, some days even in my pyjamas), but for the simple fact that I was FINALLY getting to do what I wanted for a living with no strings attached from other human beings. You know … the ones who control the money and are filled with “power”. Was I afraid I was going to break the bank and end up in a horrible financial situation? Yes, who wouldn’t think that way at first.
But then …
Two months later, I created a fully functional WordPress website to coincide with my new brand and all the other marketing goodies that come along with owning a business. Virtually Untangled had gone live and I was so excited to find out what path my virtual business was going to take me on.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, Virtually Untangled was built on the idea of helping anyone, anywhere in the world through virtual creative and organizational services. I help other entrepreneurs organize, build and manage their business goals with ease. I help them finally clear up their ever-growing to do lists and help them make their “big picture” a reality (just like I did with my own) by finding work/life balance. I specialize in helping busy entrepreneurs, just like yourself, organize and maintain their brand through services such as graphic and web design, social media, copywriting, ghost writing, illustration, logo design, project management and virtual assistant (VA) services. In short, I help other business owners who are struggling to find enough time to focus on their true passion by taking care of the projects/tasks they just don’t have time for.
Back to the foundation of my story …
I finally feel like ME again. I’m happy, my anxiety is gone, I’m sleeping normal hours again and just plain ‘ol enjoying life. I also no longer have the pit of dread in my stomach on Sunday nights knowing I must go to a place of work in which I hate. I feel very grateful as have had (and still do) the opportunity to connect with many great VA/entrepreneur’s through online social media platforms (such as LinkedIn and Facebook groups). The members on these platforms graciously helped me along the way by answering any business questions I had and helped me “learn the ropes” since I expanded my services beyond just graphic and website design. Not only did I learn a lot about becoming an entrepreneur, but I learned a lot about myself as a creative individual and the strength, and willingness I had been hiding from myself for all these years.
Don’t get me wrong … I’m not saying it was “easy” (it’s still not some days) getting Virtually Untangled up and running. But, trust me, I drove everyone in my life nuts pretty much every waking hour of every single day, but on the other hand they have all been very supportive of my choices and helped ease the stress of my perfectionism when it came to build my empire.
Off topic … I always joke that as a designer, it is way easier to design for someone else than it is yourself. I’m sure majority of designers also feel this way. As human beings, we are always harder and more critical of ourselves than we are of others.
So, you’re probably now wondering where things are at today … Almost 2 years after launching my re-branded business.
Well, for starters, my client list is grand and filled with individuals who actually respect what I do and let my creative juices flow. They trust my expertise, which is something that never happened at my 9-5 (they were all about “the power”). I finally truly LOVE what I do for a living. My “job” no longer feels like work and I know I am making a difference in the lives of others through the services I offer. I am making people happy and stress-free because I can help them achieve their goals all the while achieving my own. I also feel very lucky to not have to work full day hours if I choose. I, just like my clients, now have work/life balance. And to top it off, I have almost tripled my 9-5 income and it’s only been my first year as a full-timer.
I feel very lucky and grateful that I am able to pursue my passion as a creative individual. Not everyone can say that. Being an entrepreneur keeps me flexing my brain muscles every day. I even think I create in my sleep. LoL! Plus, every single day is different than the next and I’m always learning. Professional development is a huge thing with me. I don’t think I’ll ever stop.
All in all, I get to live a life filled wall-to-wall with creativity (virtual walls that is, LOL!), help colourful human beings who need me, and FINALLY get to make a difference in the world (including my own) by solving people’s business problems which is incredibly rewarding. I wouldn’t go back and change a single thing. Well, except for the fact I wish I would have bet on myself sooner and begun Virtually Untangled many years ago.
A word of advice to all you entrepreneurs out there …
Never give up! Even when you feel you just can’t go any longer. It is worth it and there are people/groups out there who are more than willing to help. Also, don’t try to do all the design work, marketing and social media alone. Ask for help to relieve some of your stress by hiring someone or at least bounce those genius ideas off some creative individuals. Follow your passion and create you BIG PICTURE! You are worth it, and the world needs whatever it is you have to offer.
Well, that’s the foundation of my story. I just want to end with something truly special to me.
A quote from a book that inspired and resonated with me so much, it’s part of the main reason I started building my empire …
To keep up with my #BossBabe adventure, through the eyes of Virtually Untangled, here are my online handles …
This concludes February’s #BossBabe Love Month series. If any of the stories shared resonated with you … empowered you … and you found it to be exactly the inspiration were looking for then my job here is done! We would all be very grateful if you would help them spread by sharing it on social media or emailing it to a friend. You never know whose life a passionate story, just like this one might change.
Would you like to world to hear your story? Want to shout it from the rooftop? Do you want to inspire other women to follow their passion and make their dreams a reality?
Feel free to drop me a line, connect with me on LinkedIn or post your comments on Virtually Untangled’s Facebook page so we can make it happen. Together, let’s share the raw truth behind how you built your empire …!
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