Ever wondered what it takes to ditch the cubicle and become a full-time girl boss? Our Student Spotlight Series interviews our students who have made the transition from 9-5 to remote CEOs!
From what inspired them to start their own business, their favorite podcasts, go-to morning routine, advice to aspiring girl bosses, and so much more!
Today, we’re sitting down with our student Steff Ho, Founder of Tea Break Digital! Originally from Melbourne, VIC, Australia, Steff gives us a glimpse into her girl boss journey…
Q: What type of online business do you own and what services do you offer?
I’m the Founder of Tea Break Digital, a virtual business support company for female business owners. I help business owners manage their online communications, marketing, and tech platforms.
I officially launched Tea Break Digital as a side hustle in August of 2018 and took it full time in August of 2019.
Q: How did you discover the Bucketlist Bombshells?
Back in 2016 or 2017, I saw a Facebook ad of Cassie and Shay beside a pool in Bali talking about how to work online and travel the world. Instantly, I was hooked and super curious. I then spent the next six months pouring over all of their content on the Bucketlist Bombshells blog, as well as their Instagram and free Facebook group to learn more about how they were living out my dream life.
Q: What inspired you to enroll in the Bucketlist Bombshells courses?
After a few solo backpacking trips around Europe and Asia, all I wanted was to travel without limitations and not have to go back to a soul-draining 9-5.
I spent hours googling “how to become a digital nomad” and “how to make money online.” This of course turned up heaps of results and all kinds of advice!
Not able to decide what path I wanted to take, I spent so long in analysis paralysis. I deliberated being a blogger, an Instagram influencer, a social media manager, a share trader, joining Multilevel Marketing.
“I considered every avenue that would allow me to make money online.”
Eventually, I realised I needed to just take the first step. Even if I didn’t know exactly where I was going, I would be closer to getting there than I was at that moment. So, I decided to enroll in the Tech Skills Course. I figured no matter what kind of online business I was going to run, these skills would be valuable to learn.
After I finished the Tech Skills Course, I was so involved and inspired by the Bucketlist Bombshells community that I decided to enroll in the Work Online and Travel the World Course and follow in the footsteps of the students before me, to learn how to set up and start my own business.
Q: How have the courses helped you to become an online business owner?
When diving into the online space, you don’t know what you don’t know! The Bucketlist Bombshells courses helped me lay the foundation and understand all of the different aspects that go into setting up and running an online business. They helped me develop my own internal business processes as well as determine what online services to offer clients.
Q: What type of job were you working in prior to running your own online business?
Prior to running Tea Break Digital, I worked in several different jobs. While studying in Melbourne, I worked in university administration and customer service for about eight years. When I moved to New Zealand, I temped as a personal assistant and a receptionist. Before running my online business full-time, the last job I worked was as a Conservation Technician at a leading museum in New Zealand.
Q: How long did it take you to ditch your 9-5, and how much time did you dedicate in order to make it happen?
Honestly, it was a long haul for me. I worked through the Bucketlist Bombshells courses at the start of 2018 and launched Tea Break Digital as a side hustle in August of 2018. Before I went full-time with my business in August of 2019, I worked on building my business after work, during my lunch breaks, and on weekends.
“All of my spare time was devoted to building my business!”
Q: What was the final push in your story to get you to ditch that 9-5 job?
Whilst I was working in administration and temping, I knew that it was something that I didn’t want to do forever. My job at the museum is what made me realise I was so ready to step out on my own. I studied science at university and I thought my dream job was working at a museum. However, it wasn’t what I expected.
I started with so much enthusiasm and excitement, but the museum had recently undergone a staff restructure and all of my co-workers seemed to be miserable. Because of the restructure, people who’d been working there for 40 years were let go and everyone who managed to keep their jobs didn’t seem to even want them anymore. It was quite a depressing place to work and made me realise that job security isn’t always as secure as you might think. I thought, “If this is meant to be what my dream job looks like, I need to get out of here.”
“Once my contract ended, I decided to leave the museum and pursue my business full time!”
Q: How long was it until you landed your first client online?
When I first launched Tea Break Digital in 2018, I posted on my personal Facebook page letting my friends know that I was starting up this venture. I had a friend comment and say she was looking for services like mine. Within a couple of weeks, she became my first client!
Q: What is your process for finding and landing clients online?
When I was first starting out, I spent a lot of time scouring for job opportunities in Virtual Assistant Facebook groups, like the Virtual Assistant Tribe Job Board. When applying for positions, I made sure that each application I submitted was personalised and specifically addressed what the client was looking for.
“Now that I’m more established, most of my clients are working with me long term and any new inquiries are through referrals and word of mouth!”
Q: What has been your biggest setback, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest setback was how long it took me to take my business from side hustle to full time.
In 2018 while still working a day job, I was sending out so many emails looking for new clients but wasn’t gaining any traction. I felt so frustrated because I wanted to leave my job… but how could I do that without more clients?
When I finally left my job to work on my business full time, I had a huge energetic shift and was able to pick up new clients. In just a few months, I had a full client roster!
I think what made the difference was my mindset shift. I went from thinking, “I’m just trying to make this side hustle work” to “My full-time job is to make my business successful.” All of my actions were then a reflection of that mindset.
Q: What’s the most challenging part about running your online business?
I find it very challenging to switch off from my business. Even when I log off for the day or the weekend, I always have my business and my clients in the back of my mind. If there are tasks or things that I don’t want to forget to do, I jot them down and then leave them until I’m back at my desk again. As a business owner, you never quite truly “finish work” for the day.
Q: Looking back on your online business journey, what is something that you’re most proud of?
I’m most proud of my persistence to keep going… even when I wanted to give up or thought I had failed. In the end, persistence is what has paid off.
Persistence is what led me to a full client roster. Persistence is what eventually opened up the opportunity to work with my ultimate dream client – the Bucketlist Bombshells themselves!
“Two years ago, I never would have even allowed myself to fathom it was possible. But here I am, working as the Tech VA for the Bucketlist Bombshells Team!”
Q: If you could speak to your past self, what piece of advice would you give her?
Just. Do. It.
I’m the kind of person who likes to have everything mapped out and know all of my options. When starting a business, there is so much that’s unknown that you can’t wait to start until everything is perfect. So, just get started and work things out along the way!
“Taking imperfect action is better than taking no action at all. As Marie Forleo says, everything is figureoutable!”
Q: How do you stay inspired and motivated to run your online business?
There are definitely some tough times when building and running an online business! What constantly keeps me going is remembering my Why.
Why am I doing this? Why do I want this? What does my dream life look like?
Sometimes I journal this out or I just close my eyes and visualise what it looks like. Pairing this with getting up and moving away from my desk always motivates and inspires me to keep pushing forward, no matter how hard it gets.
Q: Tell us what a “day in the life” looks like for you now that you’re running your own online business!
My daily routine is always changing and shifting, depending on what feels good at the time. That’s the beauty of being your own boss!
I have a pretty solid morning routine that I stick to, regardless of what the rest of my day looks like. Now that it’s winter in New Zealand and we don’t have much sunlight, I like to get out and exercise in the morning to make the most of the daylight.
I’ll usually start working at around 10 am. Then, I’ll have lunch and take an afternoon walk before getting back to work until about 6 pm. I like to take some time to make something delicious for dinner. Sometimes I’ll continue working after dinner depending on how much client work I have.
“I prefer working at night. So, if I’ve taken a bit of a lazier day, I’ll use my evening to catch up!”
Q: What’s the best part about being your own boss?
I love being able to decide my own schedule and choose when and where I work. I’ve always struggled with early mornings and am much more of a night owl. So, I love that I no longer have to drag myself out of bed. I also love being able to change up my workplace day-to-day. Sometimes, I work from my home office, other days my co-working space or a cute cafe!
“I love that I have the freedom to work when I feel the most creative and inspired!”
Q: What do you love most about the work you do and the clients you work with?
I honestly love all of my clients! They all feel like people I could easily be friends with outside of work. I’m just as passionate about their business success and growth as I am about my own. Whether it’s giving them back more time to focus on their own clients or creating mental space so they can look at the big-picture goals of their business, I love seeing that transformation!
“I love seeing that the work I do with my clients makes a real difference and helps move the needle in their business.”
Q: What is your favorite destination to work remotely from?
I have big work and travel dreams (hello Bali!), which have unfortunately been put on hold due to the pandemic. However, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel around little ole New Zealand and take my work with me. I’ve really enjoyed working from Taupo and Rotorua. I also love working from my coworking space, Launch Coworking, the smallest coworking space in New Zealand!
Q: What’s your favorite business tool that you’d recommend to other girl bosses? Why do you love it?
Ever since discovering Slack, I’ve become obsessed with it. It has absolutely revolutionised my client communication! Gone are the piles of emails that go unread or tasks that get lost in countless email threads.
Slack has allowed me to streamline my communication and also makes it so much easier for my clients. A lot of them are already overwhelmed by their inboxes and they don’t need me to add to the noise!
Q: What is one of your favorite business books that you would recommend to another girl boss and why do you love it?
I LOVE Grit by Angela Duckworth. She goes into detail about the power of persistence and passion, and how having those two things and being “gritty” is what makes successful people successful, rather than being about someone’s natural talents alone.
It helped me realise the impact and importance of being persistent in something you’re passionate about. Whilst I was “naturally gifted” at some things growing up, I was never super persistent or consistent with one hobby or interest. Angela talks about how you can increase your “grit factor” and become more persistent so that you can be successful. She also includes case studies and statistics, which the scientific side of me really enjoyed!
Q: What’s your go-to favorite podcast that you’d recommend to other girl bosses?
The How She Did That Podcast by Tasha Booth is an awesome resource for aspiring and established Virtual Assistants and Online Business Managers. Tasha shares heaps of practical, actionable tips for how to get more organised, use different platforms, and best serve your clients.
I also really enjoy The Ed Mylett Show for when I need a dose of inspiration. He interviews so many interesting and inspiring business owners, authors, speakers, and entrepreneurs. I love hearing their stories and advice!
Q: What is your number one piece of advice for aspiring Bucketlist Bombshells?
One thing that helped me overcome my fears and take the leap was honestly asking myself, “What is the worst that could happen if I try this?” I might have to move back home with my parents, get a regular job, and tell some people on Facebook that I tried to start a business and it didn’t work out… is that really that bad?
Then I asked myself, “Well, what is the BEST that could happen?” I could quit working in toxic office environments, help amazing clients make their dreams come true, and work with fun tech platforms all day whilst getting to choose my own schedule and potentially travel the world.
When I saw the facts in front of me, I realised that my fear of the unknown didn’t stand a chance when lined up next to the possibility of my dreams.