Tanya McDowall is an Elite+ Mompreneur member based out of Surrey, BC. She is the Co-Founder of Reflections Life Strategies Group, where she develops workshops and seminars that enable clients to work effectively with others to exceed their expectations. We’re excited to share Tanya’s Success Story!
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
There has been no shortage of lessons in my life, but the one that changed everything for me was when my Mom lost her battle with cancer two weeks after her 50th birthday. She was an extraordinary mother and as her child, I couldn’t have felt more loved. But as her own woman, she lived life with reservations that often held her back from pursuing opportunities and adventure. When she took her last breath, I know she wished she had done more. It was devastating to lose her and no matter how much I cried, wished, hoped or dreamed, I couldn’t bring her back. What I could do was honour her memory by living my life to the fullest through the lessons she taught me; how to prioritize what meant most to me and how important it is to make the most out of the time we have. I owe her for the fulfillment I now experience in my life, because she gave me the perspective needed to pursue what means most to me through entrepreneurship.
What’s the best part about owning your own business?
Like all entrepreneurs, I think that flexibility, control, and ownership of the decisions that impact our lives are why we all choose to own our own business. But for me, the best part is the diversity in day-to-day challenges, as well as the overall impact they make. No two days are alike, and being able to creatively problem solve to overcome whatever is standing in the way is what gives me the greatest satisfaction.
Can you describe a typical day?
Typical? My days are a constant juggling act – which is GOOD because it reminds me of why I have chosen the path of being an entrepreneur; aren’t we supposed to have more ‘flexibility’? I’m a Wife, a Mother of two very active boys, owner of multiple businesses, and I’m MY OWN PERSON, which means having ‘Me Time’ to recharge is critical to staying balanced. Can I fit all of this in every day? Nope , not a chance. But I’ve learned to prioritize and use scheduling to my advantage so that each area gets attention. It requires a little planning, sacrifice and definitely flexibility, but it ensures that I maintain balance in my life which is essential for my energy level and my headspace.
What I’ve also recognized is that having a rigid schedule has never worked for me, but committing to 8 hours a day (or whatever my business needs at that time) and allowing myself ‘time slots’ for when I know certain activities need to be done is paramount! For example, I know that while my boys are at school, this is ‘Income Producing Time’ and the only things that are scheduled during these slots are things that help move my business forward, but can only be done in a quieter atmosphere (i.e. recordings, client calls, consultations, workshops, etc.). If it’s not income producing, and it’s not something that needs to be done in a quieter atmosphere, it gets scheduled into a different time slot. The key is that everything (that has been established as a priority) gets put in my calendar, so the thinking is over and all I have to do is follow the plan.
Who do you count on for help? Do you have a network of family that answer the call?
I see myself as a strong, independent and capable woman – asking for help has traditionally been very difficult for me. However, building a business around a family amongst the stresses in today’s world while having this ideal of being the ‘Perfect Trifecta’ mom, wife and entrepreneur is beyond unrealistic! It has been a humbling journey to learn how to ask for help, but once I did, it allowed me to regain balance and strength, and build stronger relationships in every area of my life. My ‘network’ is extensive and whether it is mentors, colleagues, friends or family, I am beyond thankful for the support they have given through their advice or time. I am particularly lucky to live close to family so our kids have great relationships with their grandparents on both sides – they love spending time together, which gives my husband and I time to spend on our relationship.
My Dad has especially been an unwavering source of support through the years – no matter what, he’s believed in me, even when I was having trouble believing in myself. Whether it’s to babble at him with a new idea, or to ask for advice when I seem the most lost, he always has the right ‘life lesson’ at just the right time (whether I’ve realized it was needed or not). Most of all, my #1 is my husband. Whether it’s helping to clean the kitchen or to wipe a tear away and remind me it’s all worth it, I wouldn’t be here without him. I truly believe if everyone had a husband as accepting and unconditionally supportive as mine, there would be a lot more successful ‘Mompreneurs’ who were fulfilled and balanced.
Have you ever had to sacrifice something at home for work? Or vice versa?
Daily! This is what achieving balance is all about – it always requires give and take, and it is something you must accept if you’re going to be an entrepreneur. That said, what I’ve learned is that sacrificing doesn’t always mean you have to give up something. Most of the time it just means that ‘something’ needs to be postponed. The trick is knowing what means the most to you which allows you to prioritize your ‘to-do’ list and then scheduling each item in to your calendar so it has a definite date.
What do you do on a day off? Do you even know what a day off is?
Absolutely I know what a day off is! I love all sorts of activities – anything from yoga to baking to hiking – but mostly my time away from business is spent just enjoying all the chaos of my family. I learned the hard way that without taking time to recharge your batteries, you’re bound to hit rock bottom. I will never forget achieving the pinnacle of my business, but being so exhausted that I cried every day because I had disconnected with the things that meant the most to me and I had neglected relationships, especially with myself. Nothing was worth that, and it was not what I considered ‘living life’. Since then, the word ‘balance’ is the core of what I strive to achieve every day by setting healthy boundaries between work and personal life.
Are you active in your community? What does supporting local mean to you?
While growing up, I had the benefit of playing competitive sport at the national level. Coaches, mentors, family and friends poured a countless number of selfless hours towards my development, and it’s with their support that I was able to have such an incredible experience. These opportunities shaped my values and helped teach me the importance of integrity, work ethic, and perseverance. It’s something I’ll always remember and is why giving back is so important to me. I’ve learned to invest my efforts into organizations whose values align with mine, and where I’m able to make the most impact. For example, I love to help people, so I volunteer my time and expertise as a mentor for an organization that empowers women entrepreneurs to overcome the barriers and challenges that are faced in today’s economy. I also volunteer with both of my boys sports organizations for multiple reasons; it gives me unique quality time with my family, it allows me to give back as thanks for all that I received growing up, I’m able to build stronger relationships with those around me and I’m helping young athletes to have a positive experience like I did.
Being involved, especially in our own communities, is the backbone to what builds a more solid and stable foundation for the future of our families. When you can couple that with organizations whose goals you’re passionate about, it is something that will always have positive results all-around.
Name another entrepreneur who inspires you.
Every entrepreneur inspires me! It takes guts to step into the unknown and follow your passion. That said, the ones that have been most impactful to my journey are the ones that remain authentic to themselves and their passion, while they overcome the obstacles of entrepreneurship. The person that embodies this for me is fellow Mompreneur member Robbin McManne. Over the last several years, I have seen Robbin transform her life. She is no longer the depressed, anxious, at-the-end-of-her-rope Mom and Career Woman because she made the decision to build a business around an area of her life that made a significant impact on her. She stood up to the nay-sayers, practices what she preaches, and approaches the challenges in her business with integrity and authenticity. I’ve watched her overcome obstacle after obstacle while staying true to her values and what means the most to her, even when there could have been easier options or a million reasons to quit. I know that her business is in an extreme growth phase, but what is exciting to see is that as an entrepreneur, she is facing whatever is ahead while experiencing more balance, congruency and fulfillment in her life.
What does the future look like for you and your business?
In one word? EXCITING! Through my own life’s ups and downs, I’ve learned how incredible important it is to do something that is fulfilling and congruent with your values. Being able to use my experience to help others gain this clarity and achieve their goals while maintaining balance in their lives is truly a privilege.
Any tips for moms thinking of starting a business?
One of the most pivotal moments in my business was when I was asked the question, ‘If you had invested a million dollars to get your business started, what would you do differently?’ That single question changed my mindset from, ‘Well, I guess I could always go back to a job and maybe this isn’t meant to be’ to ‘My only option is to make this work.’
That doesn’t mean that you spend every waking hour on your business at the cost of ignoring other commitments or giving up time for yourself. What it means is that your mindset and your commitment need to be steadfast; no room for quitting — no retreat. In my experience, if you just ‘try’ your business, you’re going to get ‘I tried’ results. So be ‘ALL IN’ from the start of your business so you get ‘ALL IN’ results!