Meet my #clientcrush Christine!
Christine Winebrenner Irick reached out to me last September 2018 in search of a business coach that would help her get her new business off the ground.
She had an idea and a pretty good sense of what her business would do and who it would serve. What she needed were the action steps to propel her business forward and the accountability to maintain focus.
After 8 months of working together, I couldn’t be more proud of the business Christine has built and I’m excited to share our recent Impact Interview with you. You may find nuggets of inspiration or answers to challenges you’ve been facing in your own business or how she’s navigated her new role as a mompreneur while juggling family. Whatever you gather, I hope you enjoy learning more about Christine, Lotus Sojourns, and her long-awaited launch journey.
Welcome Christine! Tell us about Lotus Sojourns.
Lotus Sojourns is a company that gives adventurous, mindful women the opportunity to join our global community connected by aligned values and transformational experiences. It was born out of a desire to be connected to self, other cultures and a community of like-minded women scattered around the world. We may live in various places with varied experiences, but we are all just human beings, we are simply humans…being.
You have such a powerful foundation and WHY for your business. Practically speaking, what does Lotus Sojourns do?
Lotus Sojourns offers international travel for women who are looking for something geared specifically towards women. Our itineraries combine adventure travel, service, spirituality, personal growth and cultural connections. I also offer workshops on environmentally friendly and ethically made travel apparel and gear, and a very powerful workshop called a StorySharing Circle where women have the opportunity for deeper connection through storytelling. I also love to speak about responsible tourism, tourism as a tool for transformation, being a conscious global citizen, and lastly, about community and belonging in our culture today.
Why did you want to start your own business? What were your goals?
I have worked in the tourism industry with a focus on educational and responsible tourism for over 10 years, and after taking time off to be with my three young daughters, I decided it was time to return to the industry I love. I have wanted to start my own tour company for a very long time and knew this was how I would begin working again; I wanted the flexibility of working for myself and also knew this would give me the ability to create my dream program.
Sounds like a good deal, capturing your dream travel in your own business! Tell us more about why this was so important to you.
I am passionate about creating communities of women and supporting the personal growth of women by helping them to connect to their story and feel confident sharing their journey. I also believe strongly in the power of travel to transform individuals as travelers, and communities as destinations, by incorporating personal intention and responsible tourism practices.
Okay, so you had your business idea and what happened next?
I had started the process of bringing Lotus Sojourns to life many times with different versions of this dream and never fully dived in. There always seemed to be something stopping me. I was overwhelmed by finding my starting point, and perfection paralysis kept me from achieving my dream.
Perfection Paralysis. Such a great term! Tell me more about your experience with it.
I kept envisioning the biggest end-game version of what I wanted to create and kept telling myself I wasn’t ready to be there and didn’t know how to get there. I tried reading books and drafting business plans and taking baby steps, but I didn’t have the guidance or accountability I needed to help me move past it.
How did you move past it? What made you think I could coach you through it?
We met at your Sheer Impact Conference, and as soon as I heard you speak in the opening address, I knew that we should become aligned in some way. At the time, I wasn’t really thinking of you as a business coach – just a soul sister who is passionate about supporting communities of women and helping them to collaborate and achieve success. I was drawn to your passion, vision, and professionalism as well as your authenticity, which made you very relatable.
As we continued to cross paths, it became clear to me that I needed to work with you as my business coach. I knew our shared values would guide us to create what I envisioned for a travel community, and that your professional expertise would help me to finally move forward in achieving this goal.
Soul sisters for sure. The friendship we’ve developed has been such a gift to me as well. As for the process. What worked for you?
I love how you provide a clear map of your overall process and then take each section and break it down into achievable steps!
You helped me to realize the only way I would get to the end is to start at the beginning, and you bolstered my confidence to jump in. It seems so simple, but when you are so overwhelmed by the hundreds of details between A and Z it feels like an incredible breakthrough. After working together to clearly define the vision and mission for my company, we began to slowly and precisely go through the process of defining what my specific steps would be to move forward.
Were there parts of the launch process that were especially hard for you or that pushed you outside of your comfort zone?
This entire journey was hard and pushed me outside of my comfort zone! But in the best ways possible. I had a strong background in the tourism industry and vision and passion, but the aspects of creating a business and actually getting it off the ground was all new territory for me. I loved being pushed to learn more and am grateful for how much I have grown. I would have to say that the process of creating website content and social media content may have been the most difficult for me because, again, it seemed so vast and endless, but breaking it down into smaller steps and creating a map for my long-term plan really helped me to overcome that overwhelm.
“There always seemed to be something stopping me. I was overwhelmed by finding my starting point, and perfection paralysis kept me from achieving my dream. I kept envisioning the biggest end-game version of what I wanted to create and kept telling myself I wasn’t ready to be there and didn’t know how to get there.”
Thinking back to our first phone call… Do you remember what I promised you?
Yes! You promised to take me from my idea to launch, and you delivered on it 110%.
From our first call to determine if we were a good fit for working together, you were clear in explaining what you offer and how we would achieve that together. Your process was easy to follow and constantly had me taking steps that propelled me forward.
What are some of the other benefits of working with a business coach that you didn’t expect?
Beyond providing a clear and concise program for creating a business plan and action steps to launch and grow my business, you were a champion for my success and helped me to grow personally. You were always professional but brought so much of yourself into the process, I felt I was in a very safe space to dig into some of the more vulnerable places I needed to go to get to the next level.
You were so invested in my journey and never led me to feel like I was just a client or my business was just another business. You were always positive, enthusiastic and engaged, and your professionalism offered exactly what I needed to get out of my entrepreneurial slump.
You fully believed in me and my vision and have been my champion; I couldn’t have foreseen that we’d develop what I hope will be a lifelong friendship.
There are a lot of business coaches out there. What would you tell someone who’s seeking the perfect business coach?
Finding a business coach is a very personal decision. Not every coach will be right for every person. I think it is very important to vet the person you work with, read testimonials, follow them on social media, attend any other events or educational session they may offer and make sure you are working with the person who is really right for you. I had hired another business coach prior to hiring you and we had gotten off to a great start, but as I began to doubt or lose focus, she fell off the map…she wasn’t able to give me what I needed.
Starting or growing a business is much more of a personal growth process then I had imagined, and you really need to work with someone who understands your personal and professional values.
Are there other launch process tips you want to share to help minimize the overwhelm and learning curve for my readers?
I think it really comes down to keeping it simple. There is always going to be a bigger version and more to do, but being clear on where you are going and then creating small steps to get there and actions to achieve each step helps to keep you moving forward without being overwhelmed. I think the most important thing to know is that
“…you’ll never get there if you don’t take the first step and that is the hardest, but most rewarding one to take!”
“I am so grateful for my time working with Rachel. Her professional background and her personal passion offered the direction and support I needed to achieve my dream of launching a women’s travel company. From our first meeting to our last, she was fully invested in my vision. Her program is clear, concise and easy to follow; it takes an overwhelming process and breaks it down into manageable tasks that continue to move you forward throughout the process… before you know it, you are at the end!
ON BEING A MOMPRENEUR
I want to shift gears and ask you about your experience as a mompreneur?
What do you love about being a mom and an entrepreneur?
Since having my daughters, I was a stay-at-home mom until I started working in my own direct sales business with Threads Worldwide selling fair trade jewelry three years ago. This job offered me the ability to include them in so many parts of the business, organizing jewelry, setting up for parties and events, and sharing with them in learning about how the organization is helping others. I loved the conversation and value it added to our relationship. Prior to that I had worried about all of the things going back to work would take away from them and how it would change my role as a mother, but that experience showed me what a benefit it could be as well. This gave me the strength to move forward with pursuing my dream of launching my own travel program.
What do you hope your kids will learn from you or see you doing?
I hope they will see it is possible to achieve their dreams. I am happy to be setting an example for them to choose a career from the heart and not just work for the sake of working and earning an income. It is also very important for me to let them know they can choose social impact work or work that makes them feel good. I know they already see the importance of working to ensure that people are seen and heard around the world and they know they can have an impact with their actions as well. Most importantly I want them to realize that nothing is holding them back; they can dream it, and be it!
What is the biggest struggle you face as a mompreneur?
The biggest struggle for me, as it is for most working mothers, is finding enough time in the day, and enough energy and focus for all of the areas of my life. I never want my work to be more important than my girls, but I also want them to see when I choose to work my choice still brings something back to them. I am so lucky to be working from home, except when I get to travel, and I can really bring them into the process so they understand what I am working towards and really support me.
When you have to prioritize either work or family for a specific event, how do you choose?
I have been able to work my schedule so that I haven’t had too many conflicts. However, I did have to miss my oldest daughter’s 9th birthday for a recent trip and that was very hard. We talked about it and what we could do to make up for me not being here on the actual day and she was very accepting; I am sure I was much harder on myself. As their school schedules fill, and I start to see field trips and parent nights that are conflicting, I think it will be important to make sure that my husband or myself is available and if I can move a work obligation, I always will.
What’s the most effective way you’ve found to deal with guilt when it comes up?
Wow, that question implies that I somehow have solved this mom-guilt issue…that would be great! I think that one of the most powerful ways to deal with guilt is looking closely at it to determine if I really feel guilt, or think I should be feeling guilt. There is a lot of pressure for mothers to be everything to everyone at all times, and obviously that just isn’t possible. When I really look closely, most of the time I feel guilty because I am thinking, “what would so-and-so think if they knew I didn’t do/make/attend this and chose work instead?”. If I am ok with it and my kids’ needs are being met, and they are ok with it, then it is a lot easier to let that guilt go. It is terrible to be doing something you chose to do because it will advance your professional skills or provide you personal fulfillment and then be drowning in guilt and not enjoying it the entire time; you have to find a way to let it go and be where you chose to be or do what you determined was the most important at that time.
What is one thing that would make it easier to be a mompreneur?
Nannies, is that one thing? Really, the most important thing that makes it easier is community. Having a strong community of other mompreneurs to call upon for advice, support or even commiseration helps you to know you are not alone on this journey and makes it possible to keep moving forward.
What is your number one self-care tip for other mompreneurs?
I am so bad at this! But my number one tip is to do something!!! Set aside time every day for something for yourself, something as simple as 5 minutes to do something that feels really good. I worked with a coach who had me write down a giant list of things that make me happy and feel replenished and just schedule one a week; this list was so helpful because I would be so overwhelmed and forget what even makes me happy. I’ll also add, when you are doing it, don’t feel guilty about it!!!
Thanks to Christine for taking part in our Impact Interview Series! To learn more about her company, Lotus Sojourns, and explore traveling the world with her, click here.
“If you are really serious about creating your own business or moving your current business to the next level, I highly recommend working with Rachel. This is a large commitment and requires a lot of time, energy and heart, but if you are ready to move forward then I couldn’t recommend her more highly.”
Hi, I'm Rachel!
I’ll help you create a life you love living by giving you all the tools, resources and support you need to launch and run your own business.