Welcome to the Conscious Business Builders Podcast. The place to BE if you want to grow your conscious business so you can make a Bigger Impact in our world.

In this episode I share my business story to date so you can learn a little about me.

To work with me and apply for Conscious Business Builders go to http://consciousbusinessbuilders.com/

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So I’m going to be honest with you. It’s actually taken me more than two years to launch this podcast. I had it all drafted and fleshed out on my first hundred or so episodes. Brainstormed more than two years ago and I was all ready to go. And then something stopped me and I’m not exactly sure. Well, it stopped me. Life kind of got a lot busier at the time. I still had a pre-schooler, we were still living in a remote town in outback South Australia, we were building a house in Adelaide. I’d just been selected as one of 80 leading female scientists worldwide to travel to Antarctica so there was a lot of things going on and I made the decision at the time to  “I’m just going to park this podcast. I’m not ready to have a huge influx of coaching clients.” But I think there was something else at play for me at the time and it was kind of like –  no, never mind that I’d already been coaching business clients for a few years but there was a part of me that’s like “I’m not a marketing expert. Who am I to launch a business podcast? Who’s gonna take me seriously?”

“I’m an engineer, not a marketer.”

Everything that I’ve learnt in business is really to being on the job like through my own experiences, trial and error, thinking three strategies and launching what felt right to me or what I’d been advised to at the time. I wasn’t a marketing expert in my mind. So how could I launch a marketing or business podcast? And so I did park for a couple of years.

I still coached clients during those two years, I was still working on my business in those two years. There was a lot going on in my family during those two years. We moved from a tiny town in outback South Australia to Adelaide. I went on that amazing expedition to Antarctica with 80 other female scientists from around the world. And during those three weeks on the ship I did a lot of development, a lot of leadership development, a lot of thinking where I wanted to go to in my life and who I wanted to help, what impact I wanted to make, and coaching and business coaching but primarily helping conscious businesses grow kept coming up time and time again and everything that I was doing on that ship with all that support around me and, so I came back thinking  “Yep! I still want to do this!” I just need to create some space in my life for this to happen.

Now that didn’t happen initially and I’m still working on creating that space but for now it finally feels to me like the right time to launch this podcast into the world. And I’ve grappled with my mindset around being that marketing expert. And I can look at myself and say “Hey! How many more runs on the board do you need to actually put your hand on your heart and say ‘Yes! I am an expert in business particularly online business and particularly conscious businesses’”. I’ve created, grown, sold conscious businesses. I’ve helped countless business owners grow and scale their businesses primarily in the online space. I feel confident in my abilities and I don’t need to go to university into an MBA to show that. I’ve got an MSC, I’ve got a Bachelor of Engineering. And you know what? The more and more I think about it I think engineers are professional problem solvers.

 

It’s actually been my background in engineering that has enabled me to be even better in business. I’ve got that creative mind to constantly come up with new ideas but I’ve got that engineering mind where I’m very comfortable in the left brain side of things as well that helps me map out the strategies and the plan to get where I want to go. And the brain space to deal with the tech of it as well. So I think my background in engineering has helped me more than I’d ever imagined in this business world. So that’s why I’m finally launching this podcast and I can’t tell you how relieved I am to help you build a conscious business that seriously helps you to make a bigger impact in the world.

How did I get here?

Ten years ago I was working as an environmental engineer in the minerals industry. I’d been working as an environmental engineer for about eleven years by then and I’d reached quite a senior position in one of the biggest companies in the world. I was working at the largest industrial site in Australia. I’d actually recently stepped out of the environment team and for a two year period I was working in the business improvement team. So I was undergoing an intensive training program in Lean Six Sigma methodologies –  that’s all about driving efficiencies and improvements in businesses. So I was working within this site in that capacity running multi-million dollar projects leading big complex teams to improve the performance of an area of the site. It was thrilling work. It was challenging work and I did enjoy that work. But I was enjoying the work because I wanted to use what I was learning to move back into the sustainability space. I thought I’d do my two years and then I was promised a manager position at the end of it, and I was hoping to move back into the environment team. Well, in the last few months in that role I became pregnant. My husband and I were expecting our first child and we were beyond thrilled with this. But this was 10 years ago. In a very masculine industry, and despite all the negotiations I was doing at the time to chat about – “Okay what can a job look like for me when I come back from maternity leave?” It all just fell on deaf ears. There were no mothers above me in the org structure of the site. I was the second-highest female on site of about 3000 workers. There was one female higher than me and she wasn’t a mother. Here I was saying I’m happy to be this role model and step into management and be a mother and show other women on site how you can balance a family and a challenging career. However, I just wasn’t really given that opportunity I was told multiple multiple times – “You can only be an engineer if you work full time.”

 

So I suggested that maybe I could do a project role part-time until such time when I was able to take on more hours.

And again it was, “No you can’t even be an engineer if you’re not going to be full time.”.

So I was like “OK.”.

What could I do on-site?

And they said “So actually Laura we have got a contract administrative role coming up. You could apply for that. It’s a full-time position but with your intelligence and organizational skills,  you’ll be able to do it in two days a week. And that’s kind of what you’re after at the moment.”

That was the day I put in my resignation. I thought I worked my ass off for eleven years in some of the most remote locations all around Australia clocking up 14 days straight of 12-hour shifts. I’d completed my Master’s of Science degree while I was working full time as well. And just to be told that while you’re pregnant now you’re going to be leaving the company and to also be removed from leadership training courses. I was told by managers or people above me  – “You’re going to have a child now. You should be staying home with a child don’t even think about work.” Basically, you get the drift. The door was getting closed because I was pregnant and this wasn’t an uncommon occurrence in the industry at the time. Many of my female engineer friends – mining engineers, chemical engineers, even other environmental engineers, we’re all receiving the same message from their workplace.

So I went on maternity leave kind of angry, but I also went on maternity leave with an idea that I wanted to start a business. And during my pregnancy, I  mentioned that I lived in this tiny town in the middle of Australia. I was an environmental engineer at heart wanting to buy sustainable baby products for my newborn baby! A nice good quality cloth nappies, organic cotton clothing, some wooden toys, natural organic baby shampoos, and things like that. But they were really really hard to source.

 

Again this was 2009 when I was looking for these products and some of them existed, but they certainly didn’t exist in the one place or the one marketplace. I had the idea when I was 28 weeks pregnant to build this resource. I came up with the name Sustainababy, and pretty much I set about to create an online eco parenting resource.

By the time my final day at work before maternity leave started I’d created my business plan for Sustainababy. By the time I was in the hospital giving birth to my baby, my website was already branded and was in the process of getting built. By the time Matthew, my first child was six months, my website was ready to launch.

I remember the launch day really really clearly. It was just one morning that wasn’t supposed to be the launch day. I was just walking into town to meet with a few of my mum friends. I went down there to the cafe and I was there for about an hour, The message came through on my mobile phone and this wasn’t a smartphone by then, just an old mobile phone, and the message was from my web developer and it just simply said “Just pushed your website live. Good luck!” or something to that degree. I thought there was no need to rush home. I didn’t tell anyone. I certainly didn’t tell my mum friends at that cafe. They probably would’ve thought I was mad.

But by the time I got home, Matthew had fallen asleep in the pram. I just tucked him in the corner, just logged in to see if there are orders in the website. And there were 11 orders sitting there to be packed up. And I thought, “oh my gosh this is real!”. This was before I had put it on any social media channel. I hadn’t emailed anyone. Hadn’t even told anyone that my business was launching. All I had received was a message from my web developer. And sure enough, it was already trending in Google. People were searching for these products. So basically I was pretty happy that Matthew was asleep in the pram. I set about packing up these orders as fast as I could to have them ready in time for the courier cut off that day.

Now I’d already set up all my shipping processes. I was a mum at home with a baby so orders were going to be dispatched by a courier. They would come to the house every day to pick up the orders and ship them all around Australia and the world or wherever they needed to go. So I packaged them up and about an hour later the courier came to collect them all. And by that time Matthew had woken up and I was back into mum mode. But that pretty much set the scene for the business for the next few years.

The business grew very very quickly. Those eleven orders will turn into thirty orders a day, hundreds of orders a month. So much so that by the time the business was 12, 15, or however many months old, I can’t really remember. it was just into the second year that we were clocking over a hundred thousand dollars in revenue. All from my home in this little tiny town in outback South Australia. Our garage had turned into a warehouse. The car was out in the driveway, and that was pretty much life. So when my baby slept, I would work. I’d work during his naps in the day. Not that he slept long, maybe a couple of naps of 45 minutes duration. And I’d work from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM every night. It was a hard slog but I loved growing it.

Sustainababy was pretty much the business where I really cut my teeth in online marketing. I was learning a lot about content marketing. I was learning a lot about SEO. I was learning a lot about social media. This was in the days when Facebook was still pretty new. There were definitely no Facebook ads when I launched Sustainababy. Although when they were rolled out, I learnt how to do Facebook ads and use that to grow the business as well. And it was also before Instagram and Pinterest and Snapchat and everything else. But as new tools came into the online space, I learnt about them though – do I use them in the business,  or do I not. And some of them were a distraction, others were very useful in growing the brand. I grew Sustainababy so much so that a couple of years later when my second son Christopher was born, I had a team member who would come to the house a couple of days a week to package up all the orders and ship them off. And that really came about because we lived in such a small town to actually give birth to Christopher. I had to get out of town for six weeks. There were no birthing facilities there so I came down to Adelaide. You had to get out about 36 weeks gestation, so I had everything in the business written as procedures. So Stacy, my assistant at the time could just go to my house and run the day to day side of things. I was still in Adelaide writing blogs, and sending the newsletters, and doing some marketing activities. I had the business that I had that freedom that I could step away from it and have someone else packaging up the orders. I was pretty organised when Christopher was born. I had maybe three months of blog posts and newsletters already written but not ready to go. I was feeling pretty proud of myself. I thought this will be easy, I can still run the business around two kids. But little did I know that Christopher. my second child was going to have some different ideas about that.

He came along and thought sleep was optional. So Stacy would come to the house to pack up the orders and I would pretty much be in the end room for two hours or so trying to settle my baby to go to sleep. It was exhausting. I had three months of content done in advance and by the time it was four months after Christopher was born, I barely had the energy to open the door and say “Hi Stacy!”. Then actually sit down and write her a decent blog post or a newsletter.

So that was my first lesson in patience. At the time I adopted the mindset “Let’s just keep the wheels on the business”. And that was what I did really for a period of 18 months, just doing the bare minimum in the business to keep it going. And it was still growing at the time I think Christopher was six months old and it was a record month in sales. It was just hard enough to keep on top of reordering stock and shipping the orders out. But we did keep on top of it. About a year after Christopher was born, he started to be a little bit more settled. He’d had a few months of ear infection. And things died down for a little bit. And of course, I had a little bit of space and some energy to think more and implement some changes in the business.

Now at the time, I’d completed an online course to lose some other weight that I’d put on during my second pregnancy. While I was doing that online course I thought “gee this is really really cool!”. Michelle Bridges who created the course that I was doing was able to help people all over Australia to improve their health and get their fitness back. So I thought wow I’ve had it if I did online courses for sustainable living things. That would be pretty cool.  It was in late 2013 when I started drafting up ideas to do some sustainable living courses. I could have gone back into my products based business and continue to grow that but at the time I was really keen for a change. I had been in that baby nature for about four years then. But with my background in environmental engineering and a real passion for sustainable living, on the whole, I wanted to do a couple of different things and talk to people about other aspects of sustainable living. Not just sustainable parenting. I surveyed my tribe at the time and put a few different topics in front of them and different course ideas and chemical-free living came out on top.

So in early 2014, that’s what I did. I created a course in chemical free-living, and that was called Home Detox Boot Camp. I still run that course to the day. It has hundreds of people go through it. It’s been very very successful for me. But back in mid-2014 when I did launch it just to my Sustainababy email list for my first launch, Six people signed up.

I thought “OK this is cool. Nice slow start, doesn’t have to bolt out of the gates like Sustainababy. I can work with six people.” I took the six clients through that first eight weeks of the course, and then I turned around and launched it again about three months later, and around about 26 people bought it.  At about $297 a course. We’re looking around about seven thousand dollars in revenue and I thought, this is great. Everyone that was going through the course was really really happy with it and I felt really good delivering it. I invested in a membership site for it to get built. And on that third launch, 54 people bought it so it was a good 20 thousand dollar launch and I thought “Now you’re talking!. This has really got legs.”

I had a brain full of other ideas of course. So rather than re-launch Home Detox again, I ran off and created another course and that was my Greenhouse Home Energy Blitz – a step by step guide how to make your home more energy-efficient. And this was another topic I was really passionate about as the years earlier I’d worked as a home sustainability auditor in my local community. Basically helping households reduce their energy and water consumption. I wanted to snap that up into an online course as well. I did launch that again. I think the 10 people joined it the first time. So it wasn’t as big a success as Home Detox Boot Camp, especially as I priced it as a lower priced course. And I learned a lot about pricing when I launched that course. I thought let’s just do a $97 course everyone’s going to go crazy for it because it’s so cheap. But it never works like that. People question buying something whether it’s $97  or $997. The product has to solve a problem and it really has to help the customer. So people really need to want it. And what I was finding that my audience wasn’t really ready to learn about how to make their homes really energy efficient at that time. They really were more interested in chemical-free living and onwards after that zero waste living in plastic-free living and things like that. But what we learn as we go.

But what was happening at this time is that my courses were growing and my passion and interest in running these courses were growing. But I also realized that I was struggling to run the products business sustain a baby and these programs at the same time. And I was also really aware that my Sustainababy tribe weren’t really ready to grapple with all these sustainable living stuff because they were still trying to get their kids to sleep at night. They were learning about nappies, and breastfeeding, and transitioning to solids, and all these baby stuff. I really wanted to pull that out of Sustain A Baby and put it under another brand.

When I launched LauraTrotta.com in 2015, I moved my E-courses to LauraTrotta.com and I launched my first podcast which was called Eco Chat. And that went really well. It went straight up into the number one spot in new and noteworthy in its iTunes category. And I found that I just really really loved podcasting. So throughout this period again I mentioned that I was just finding it a bit too much to juggle everything. Stacey, my assistant, had left town. I found it really really hard to find a replacement for her. I still had a head full of ideas but I was really keen to simplify my life a little bit so I could focus on these courses. I made the really tough decision to sell Sustainababy. It was a really hard decision because not only had I created it from scratch, but it had won the local, regional, state,` national awards. And was a real leader in its space.

 

But I was ready for new things and I was tired. My kids were still pre-school aged. The years of little sleep had taken its toll on me and I just really needed to simplify, and I wanted to work in that education space. I’ve been picked up by ABC Radio as a sustainable living expert. I was running a weekly show on ABC Radio throughout in northwest of South Australia, but also getting picked up by ABC Melbourne and Gold Coast and 3AW in Melbourne, and talking lifestyle in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth. I was doing quite a lot of radio shows as well and I just wanted to create that space to just focus on the education products. And along the way, I was approached by quite a lot of people to coach them in online business as well. They were typically people that were following me in the sustainable living space and loving what I was doing. And I was saying, Oh I’m doing this work in this area could you help me? I see that you’re running a podcast. I’d like to launch a podcast or I’d like to launch some online programs. I see you’ve got self-sufficiency in the suburbs membership. How does a membership work to a course? Can you help me do that?

 

So that was when I launched conscious coaching back in 2016 and very quickly booked out with coaching clients. Initially in a one on one capacity, but I went on to run a mastermind in 2017. And I also ran quite a lot of live events particularly in Melbourne and in Roxby Downs where I was living at the time as well. I was finding that I was again really enjoying coaching conscious businesses and really loved helping other people grow their businesses so they could make a bigger impact in the world. And that was about the time when I had the idea for this podcast. But it was also around the time when I was then chosen as one of 80 female scientists worldwide to travel to Antarctica. We were also building a house in Adelaide. We had a big family move on the horizon. So I did park a few things. I had to instead focus on raising the funds to go to Antarctica. And I did a very big and successful crowdfunding campaign to get that over the line. It was the second crowdfunding campaign I’d done. I’d previously crowdfunded about sixteen thousand dollars to build my self-sufficiency in the suburbs membership. But this Antarctica crowdfunding campaign was about twenty-two thousand dollars.

There wasn’t heaps of time to really grow my coaching at that time. So very much like a few years earlier after Christopher was born I said I’m just going to keep the wheels on Sustainababy. This time around I thought I’m actually just going to park coaching. I’m not going to grow it at this stage. I’m not going to market it or advertise it. If the right client just approaches me, I’ll take them one on one during this period. But that’s fine. I’m not going to grow it at the moment. I don’t want to blow it up and blow my family up in the process because I’d had a track record of doing that. So really the last year and a half or so, we focused on moving my family from Roxby Downs to Adelaide, gone to Antarctica – it really was the best experience of my life, we’ve been settling into Adelaide, and still supporting my young boys through that change. Now one of my young boys has a disability as well. He’s got some special needs, so he still very much needs me. I just needed to be mindful of not over-committing too much in everything in my business. But as you may know, after I sold Sustainababy back in 2015, I was missing the products side of the business as well. I had all my e-courses and membership, so three of them running by then, and really enjoying them. But I did miss the tangible nature of having an e-commerce store. So about 18 months ago when I had decided to park coaching I thought this is when I really just want to build Sustainahome and the e-commerce business, and have that talking back to my eco-living programs. So if I have a crystal ball and look backwards, you are going to say I wish I’d done this. I probably would have said I kind of wish I had built Sustainahome originally and then my courses rather than build the eco baby business and then tact the e-courses onto that, and then pull them apart, and then run with just the e-courses and then bring e-commerce back in.

 

But you know hindsight doesn’t really serve anyone. And the fact that I’d created, built, grown and sold Sustainababy was such a fantastic experience and learning opportunity for me. And everything that I learnt in running Sustainababy, I’ve put into building Sustainahome and again, into my coaching clients businesses as well. That experience is very much to help make me a better coach and a better business owner myself.

 

So where am I right now?

As obviously I have finally launched the Conscious Business Builders podcasts. I’ve also launched a high-performance coaching offer where you can work directly with me and you can go to consciousbusinessbuilders.com to apply. At the time of recording this podcast, that’s the only way that you can work with me. It’s got one on one coaching, it’s got a little bit of group coaching as well. But I’m really just wanting to work with people who are really ready to grow their businesses. So this offering is for people with existing businesses who are ready to take it to the next level. I won’t say that I won’t offer more products down the track but this is just the offering that feels the best for me right now. It’s where I can make the biggest impact to help existing businesses to really double, triple, quadruple grow their following, their revenue, their profit, and their impact exponentially. So if that’s something that you’re after, I encourage you to really apply for that and you can book to have a chat and a time with me. You can work with me for just one month. You can work with me in an ongoing capacity. I don’t hold you to commit to any fixed period of time, as long as the coaching is working and you’re feeling supported and you’re getting the results. You can just apply at consciousbusinessbuilders.com.

Because of my education products and my physical products experience, I do work with businesses in both spaces so you don’t just have to be service-based or products based. You can be business to consumer. You can be business to business. So if you’re wanting to create your own coaching offerings, or your own masterminds, or your own online programs for other businesses, I’m happy to work with you as well. There’s room for us all. And because I’ve built all my business up over the last 10 years, and my businesses fitted around multiple pregnancies, it’s fitted around birthing my babies, it’s fitted around me moving in different areas around Australia. If you’re okay to build that conscious business that fits around your lifestyle, as opposed to having your lifestyle fit around your business, I’ve got plenty of tips and tricks to help you there. So many of which I’ll be sharing on this podcast in the weeks and months and hopefully years to come. But of course, if you do want that intense help and having my brains on your business the best way to get that is to apply a Conscious Business Builders to work with me directly.

So that’s pretty much it for me today. Just wanted to give you a real snapshot of where I’m at. I am really happy to have finally launched this podcast and get it out there. I do believe I’ve got a wealth of experience and knowledge, and of course, that hardwired problem solving creative engineering brain that can just pull apart any problem and look at it practically that I have found to be my biggest asset in business so far. So I really hope you enjoy Conscious Business Builders podcasts going forward and you get a lot of tips and strategies to help you grow your conscious business and make a bigger impact in the world.

 Final Thoughts 

To work with me and apply for Conscious Business Builders go to http://consciousbusinessbuilders.com/ 

Laura

Laura Trotta is one of Australia’s leading home sustainability experts. Fusing her professional expertise as an environmental engineer with the down-to-earth pragmatism that comes from being a busy mum, Laura is an eco thought leader who’s not afraid to challenge the status quo.
Laura