She Owns It Success Stories
Every month we interview an amazing lady in our community, and this month I want you to meet the amazing Debbie Mills Robertson from Task Diva.
Debbie is a virtual assistant that puts life into all the creative tasks you want in your business, but don't have time to do yourself!
For her, this was the logical biz model- previously she owned 2 other businesses, so she's had 11 years to learn exactly what busy women need.
She lives in Christchurch with her daughter, silver-fox husband, cat and dog, and I am SO excited for you to hear her story!
Firstly, we want to know who YOU are! Tell us three things everyone needs to know about you
1) Getting out in nature is one of my favourite things and summer is my favourite season – only a couple of months away now!
I enjoy long walks up in the Port Hills, leisurely cycling with my family, and paddle-boarding during the summer months. I keep fit by going to the gym, hula hooping, and a bit of Zumba too.
But I also just love to chill out, usually cosied up on my window seat with a good book and a nice cuppa.
2) I am a hobby beekeeper – I love my wee beebies!
Hubby and I look after a couple of hives on our property and have just got permission to put some more on red-zoned land.
We collect the honey and give it away to family and friends. We are about to rear some queens, which will be a new venture for us! There is so much in life that you can learn from bees; their wee lives are so fascinating.
3) I’m excited to be involved with Craft Without Borders.
I used to be a volunteer tutor for English Language Partners – an organisation that gives free English lessons to former refugees and migrants.
I love learning about people from different cultures and their experiences living in NZ, and this is especially important since the March 15th terrorist attack.
This new crafting group brings these new kiwis together in a place that shares their culture, celebrates diversity, and we all get to make new friends while learning new skills and creating together.
So tell us a bit about your business! What’s your elevator pitch?
I love to help solopreneurs and small business owners gain more time and save their sanity in the process.
I support them by partnering up to help with those creative tasks they don’t want to do, are not skilled at, or simply just don’t have time for.
As a creative online business support partner, I help plan, create and implement ideas for my clients. I work with them to support and nurture their business and to help it to grow.
My clients are usually in a space where I was a couple of years ago, with overwhelm and worry about all those things that they "don’t know that they don’t know"!
They’re often chasing the next bright shiny object and have a graveyard folder of freebie downloads they’ll never read….and yes, I do this too!
The three core areas I support my clients with is Email Newsletters, Social Media and Website Management.
I also love to help with obtaining testimonials, Facebook recommendations and Google reviews. This is often something that you feel awkward asking, so it’s great to have a 3rd party to do this for you.
I work with many of my clients on a regular basis; it’s assuring to them that they have a business support partner that’s like a team member to keep them in check, they can bounce ideas off. Just someone to there to steer them along in the right direction.
I don’t outsource any work, so my clients can be sure that they’ll only have one person to work with. And I’m always happy to refer them to someone else that can help them with the things I am unable to do.
You’ve been running Task Diva for just over a year now. How did you get into it originally?
Originally, I worked in business banking for 12 years before leaving to have my daughter.
I couldn’t bear to return to the corporate world and the thought of going back to a tiny cubicle in a large open plan office was just too soul destroying!
So, hubby and I started up a small and successful construction company which we had for three years before the Canterbury earthquakes struck.
Unfortunately, all our contracts were cancelled after the quakes, and we couldn’t afford to keep our staff waiting around until the rebuild kicked in, so we made the heart-breaking decision to close that business.
I then started my own business as an interior designer; this was something I had wanted to do for ages.
I worked very long hours doing my passion, but after a few years, I eventually suffered exhaustion and burnout.
I should’ve sought help in my business but instead, I just kept going. I wanted to be able to do it all because it was MY business and no one understands it like I do, right?
The hard decision was made to wind up that business after eight years.
I had a couple of months to rest, recover and contemplate what I would do next. I started looking for employment, but my heart wasn’t really in it, and I really didn’t want to work for someone else.
I enjoy working for myself, that satisfaction of creating something of my own, doing the hours I want and being able to work around my daughter’s school hours and after school activities.
I know that you do work longer hours in your own business than you’ll ever do as an employee. Of course, it can be challenging, but the rewards are tenfold; it’s yours and something you created.
So, I pondered on what I was going to do next. Then it just came to me!
Since I have walked in my prospective client’s shoes, I decided to use my business and creative skills to help other small business owners avoid that dreaded burnout.
Task Diva was created in June 2018, and I absolutely love every moment of it 😊
Who do you serve? What gets you out of bed in the morning?
My clients are mostly female solopreneurs in the 40+ age group. I have roughly 50% local and 50% remote clients who require support.
They just want to get on with doing what they do best and have someone else do all that other creative stuff that they don’t have time or the inclination to learn.
I have a real passion for business and thoroughly enjoy getting to know my clients and learning about their businesses.
I love hearing their stories on why they started their businesses and what makes them get out of bed!
I love working from home and I find I am quite disciplined.
I do have a daytime work policy when working on client’s tasks, then when my daughter is home from school, it’s all about her and ferrying her around to various activities.
Yes, I do work some evenings, but this is usually on my own business tasks and I make sure I don’t work late as I head off to bed around 9:30 and, as a morning person, I’m usually up at 6:00am.
What has been the most challenging part about running Task Diva so far? How did you feel when you first started out?
I was really excited to start this, my 3rd business.
As usual, the most challenging for me has been ‘getting myself out there’ both with face-to-face networking and actually showing up in my business. Scary stuff for this introvert!
Because my friends and family don’t have businesses, it’s really difficult to have conversations about what I do – they really don’t understand and are probably not really that interested.
Getting myself along to local networking groups (including our local She Owns It group) has been one of the best things for my business.
The hardest part for me was getting out the door; once I’m there, I tend to relax and enjoy it. Being able to connect with other business people and to chat about all things business is invaluable.
I do have the struggle with wanting to keep my personal life private but be open with my business. This means that I do have to step out from behind the shadows and let my audience have snippets of my life, and that includes doing this interview 😊
The most engaging of my Facebook posts are the ones I post photos of me or bits of my life.
As people buy from people, they need to see a face to the name as that’s who you want to connect with, so I suppose it does make sense, scary as it is!
I’m pretty good now with having my face out there, but I still haven’t embraced video yet! I did once say that I would never do video. But I have also learnt to never say never! So, who knows, you might find me chatting away on a Facebook live one day!
You’ve been a part of the She Owns It Members’ club for about 9 months now- what’s your favourite part of being a member?
I absolutely love the online interaction with all the other fantastic She Owns It women.
The support is excellent and so many of the members are happy to give out free advice. No matter where you are in your business, you can always learn something new.
When you’re stuck on something or need a pep talk, these lovely ladies are there to support you and will always have your back.
You also don’t have to be afraid to ask a question; no one is going to shoot you down. And it’s lovely to not have the cattiness of some other female groups that I have joined and then promptly left!
What originally made you decide to become a member? What’s your vision for Task Diva?
I invested in She Owns It membership because when you work on your own and from home, it’s great to know you have an awesome team of knowledgeable and caring women that you can call on to get you through and help to solve any issues you may have.
My vision for Task Diva is to continue to build my business slowly.
As I need to work part time for now, I’m not currently chasing those six figures! While it would be nice, I know the time and dedication that it would need to earn the big bucks would take me away from my precious family time.
So, I’m happy to build on what I have already and see where it takes me in the future.
What is the biggest accomplishment you’ve had in your business since becoming a She Owns It member? What results have you achieved that you are super proud of?
Being a She Owns It Member has given me access to a greater group of women that I wouldn’t previously been able to reach.
The support and encouragement of these women is remarkable, and this group is just so supportive and inclusive. In the paid group especially, there is so much juicy goodness shared, and everyone is so darn friendly.
The masterclasses give so much valuable information and are worth every bit of your time.
These have helped enormously with my own personal development, growth and mindset.
I love hearing about all the businesses the She Own’s It members have, and reading their stories has inspired me and given me the confidence to apply for two partnership programs. I’m now a Mailchimp Partner and I’m also a design partner with Rocketspark websites.
I love to upskill and have done a few programs and challenges that other members have offered. I’m thinking about getting a business coach soon and have been stalking a couple of the She Owns It Members 😊
Lastly, what advice do you have for women who are just starting out in business? What advice would you give to your past self?
When I first started in business, I was told: “remember, you are a businesswoman first”.
So, your passion is important, but you also need to know at least the very basics of running a business too.
You need to surround yourself with people who are there to help you along the way- you can’t do it all.
Invest in yourself and get an accountant first and foremost. A business mentor or coach is often a ‘nice to have’ but I do think it is something you need to invest in to get the most out of you and your business.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
You started your business because it was your passion and something you really wanted to do. Don’t let that passion die.
Outsourcing the yucky stuff is the key to keeping it all going. It doesn’t necessarily have to be business tasks that you outsource; sometimes you just need someone else to do the housework so your brain can concentrate on your work and not feel guilty about the toilet that needs cleaning!
Networking in person is another thing that I recommend; there’s nothing like getting face to face with other business owners. They get to know you on a more personal level, become your advocates and are willing to refer you when they can.
Advice for my past self: back yourself and don’t be so worried about getting yourself out there; you are unique, you won’t appeal to everyone, and that is absolutely okay.
Where you can find Debbie Online: