Nicole Ashby is an award winning Entrepreneur and owner of High-Profit Media, a small but powerful, heart centred business. Like most small business owners Nicole was the same in sharing all the common challenges a business faces with her first venture: FIFO Families … which later went on to become a globally recognised and trusted brand.
Built from the ground up on a shoestring budget Nicole Ashby learned by intelligently marketing her business to media companies in print, radio and television, she could have her message and strong value proposition marketed out for her – for free by them … through large, targeted networks or people perfectly aligned to her business who would in turn become customers and create a platform for FIFO Families to grow upon.
Nicci is the mother of 3 children.
What did you want to be when you left school? Did you study?
I have always had an inclining for teaching and helping people. I always wanted to be a teacher. I went to school in Victoria and we had a huge educational overhaul in 1990/91 and 92. As a result my year were the first to complete the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE). It meant teachers changing positions and teaching subjects they had never taught before and it was really quite crazy and disruptive and we, as students, were the guinea pigs!
A great example of this was a metal work teacher, who had always been a metal work teacher. When I was in year 11 he was suddenly given role as careers educator. I remember so clearly, one day we were in the school library and he said to me, “What do you want to do with your future Nicole?”
I responded with, “I want to teach Aboriginal children in remote communities”.
My teacher laughed at me and said, “If you want to work with Aboriginal’s then you need to work in welfare, not teaching!”
Yes the comment was down right racist. Did I dispute him? No. I was a “good girl” at school and went along with what he said and ended up doing a Bachelor of Arts in Rural Social Welfare and then I moved to WA when I finished my degree.
I did eventually go on to complete my Graduate Diploma in Teaching in 2005, which was something that I had always wanted to do.
Was there a significant turning point when you decided to become an entrepreneur?
Yes there was a significant turning point for sure. It was in March 2009. I was sitting in Kailis café with my mentor, Paul Counsel talking about wanting to be the driver of my own freedom journey; to work the hours and I wanted to be there for my 3 kids. I knew I could never achieve this working as a teacher. It’s also when I had the realization that I had a cracking business idea that had real potential, FIFO Families.
Initially, what difficulties did you face?
I had never run a business before, it was all unchartered territory for me and none of my friends were running their own business either. So yes, there was lots and lots of learning. In fact my learning “curve” was vertical! It went straight up. I had to source everything on my own and really had no idea if I was being effective in my decisions or not, but I had the passion and drive to make it work no matter what. I also knew that my business would help thousands of families across the country and possibly the world, so there was no way I was going to give up.
Who or what was integral to you overcoming these hurdles?
Without a doubt my mentor was my greatest asset in my business success. I’ve actually had a few different business coaches and whilst they have bought different aspects to my business, I have always returned to my mentor. Why? Because he has walked the path that I am walking and he has already achieved the success that I am working towards. He is a self made multi millionaire and lives a life driven by freedom and wonderful choices. He has also done all of the necessary work on himself, which is needed and I to, have been doing the same. You need to seek support to help overcome your own internal blockages and barriers, otherwise you keep bumping up against the same things. Jen Froome, who is a transformational expert, is a leader in this space and truly phenomenal.
What do you think was the biggest mistake you made in business?
I don’t see things as “mistakes” or “failures” but always as learning experiences. I always learn the hard way, as it’s the most effective way for me to learn! I have had some big learning around so much of my prior business and it’s great to be able to now have the know how for my second business. I also believe that everything happens for a reason, even as unpleasant as it can be at times, but it helps me navigate the challenging territories.
What do you believe was the best decision you made in business?
Hands down it was employing an Executive Assistant (EA). Steph was my EA and she was with my up until I sold the business in 2015. I was so hesitant about getting an EA but I so desperately needed the help as the business was growing and I had a three young kids and my husband worked away for a month at a time. One of my business coaches, whom I was working with at the time, said to me, “Hire an EA for just 3 months and see what difference it makes to your business” as money was tight. As it turned out it was the best business decision I made as I could delegate so much to Steph and business started to boom even more.
That alone is such a challenge for business owners, managing the growth of business and scaling it. Fear grips us as we take that step into the unknown, but it’s down right tough to do this on our own and I encourage you to seek help and support where you can and where it is possible. At the moment I have a VA helping me out who is highly skilled and based in the Philippines.
Looking back is there a piece of advice you wish to pass onto someone starting out their entrepreneurial journey?
This is not necessarily a quick path to the money. You will have to work hard, push yourself, get out of your comfort zone each and every day. Know that it will happen and hang in there and wait for it! Be consistent and persistent and take action.
Be clear of your intention and pay ATTENTION to your intention, keep focused on the intention and keep the forward momentum moving.
What was the best advice that you have been given?
“At the speed of grace”…at least this is what is resonating most with me now.
We are conditioned to have and want everything now, for that instant gratification, but being an entrepreneur is most often than not, not like that. It’s a path that is challenging, super rewarding, tough and sometimes brutal but it’s worth it. With three kids and my husband working away and no extended family support, I sometimes have to be a little gentle with myself and say “it’s ok, do what you can, hold the vision and the rest will come” and I know it will.
How have you personally measured your success?
What a brilliant question! For me there are several ways; personal satisfaction, knowing that what I am doing is making a difference. Feedback and success stories from those I have worked with is a big one for me and knowing that what I have taught and shared is empowering fellow business owners to grow their business. Nothing gives me greater joy than seeing my clients, students and mentee’s empower themselves and achieve success.
Do you have any tips for those struggling to gain a successful work life balance?
I don’t think the two exist separately, for me they exist together and are inter twined. Running my own business gives me the freedom to spend time with my family when I chose. As I write this it’s school holidays and I am sitting in the car whilst my kids are riding their scooters at the skate park. For me, it’s about prioritizing what is important and what needs to be done for both my family and my business. I do have to say no to certain things and very aware of my time and putting clear boundaries up so I don’t burn out, as I’ve done that before and it’s no fun for anyone.
I do advocate on taking time out for myself, that is super important. When I was running FIFO Families and it was at its peak, I would get a facial once a month. Just recently I have started getting a massage every 3- 4 weeks. It’s something I can look forward to it and I know that NO ONE can contact me in that time; it’s simply time to bliss out on my own. That old saying of “you have to look after yourself before you can look after anyone else” is important. When I’m tired, I sleep and I try to eat pretty well too. I have to be in peak optimal health for my family and my business.