This blog post is a part of The Live More, Work Less Blog Series where we're featuring real entrepreneurs at all stages of business that are actively pursuing the creation of a business that aligns with, and supports their ideal lifestyle, rather than working against it! REAL Entrepreneurs. REAL Stories. REAL Life.
Our hope is that this series inspires you, motivates you, and encourages you to re-examine your own definition of business + life success! You can explore the full index of featured entrepreneurs in this series HERE.
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1. WHO ARE YOU? TELL US A LITTLE MORE ABOUT YOURSELF ...
Marie: Hi, I'm Marie Parks, co-founder of North Star Messaging + Strategy. I live in Tijeras, NM with my husband, Josh, and two dogs.
Jessi: I'm Jessi Honard, and I'm a copywriter and messaging strategist. Currently, I live in Los Angeles with my girlfriend and two pups.
2. WHAT DO YOU DO? TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS.
Marie: My business partner, Jessi Honard, and I started our business in 2010 as a side hustle. In 2013, it became my full-time life, and Jessi joined me full-time in 2015. Not sure we could ever go back!
Jessi: I'm one half of North Star Messaging + Strategy, a copywriting and consulting firm that helps biz owners put their words to work. We're all about personality-driven copy -- from websites to email sequences -- that allows entrepreneurs to stay true to themselves while growing their business. It's been a wild, amazing, fulfilling ride, and we just celebrated our seventh anniversary this past July. I've been full-time with North Star since 2015.
3. A COUPLE QUICK QUESTIONS FOR FUN ...
+ Favorite morning drink? Marie: Diet Dr. Pepper. (Yep, I know it's embarrassing.); Jessi: coffee
+ Introvert or Extrovert? Marie: Introvert 100%; Jessi: Introvert!
+ Currently obsessed with ... Marie: Upping my money mindset game. I'm currently reading #allthethings; Jessi: Brandon Sanderson's fantasy novels
+ Word or theme of the year? Marie: Personally: Graceful Assertion. For the business, it has been Sustainable Growth; Jessi: Possibilities
+ Favorite indulgence? Marie: Mint chocolate chip ice cream, baby.; Jessi: chocolate (predictable, I know!)
4. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO CREATE A LIVE MORE, WORK LESS BUSINESS + LIFESTYLE?
Marie: It definitely means having control over my schedule and plans, but more than that, it's about having the freedom to be kind to myself. I can't tell you how often I forced myself to be productive during hours I felt "off" at my past desk jobs, just because I had to be there at that time of day. Hellooooo burnout. These days, I still set business hours to ensure I'm accountable to the work I need to get done, but if I'm feeling off, or if I need to take a personal day, or if I want to work while traveling... I can totally give myself space to work how and where I want -- and focus on self-care when it's needed. It's a great feeling.
Jessi: For me, it means creating the circumstances that allow you to live and work according to your lifestyle. Rather than fitting your life to your work, as so many do, it's about fitting your work to your life. I'm an avid traveler, and it's important that I can bring my work with me and that my schedule is flexible. Often I fit my work into nooks and crannies of time found on airplanes (I'm typing this from an airport lounge right now) and between road trips. Other times I dedicate long stretches of time to my work, and spend 10-12 hours a day immersed in a project that lights me up. It's having the option to do either that's important.
5. WHAT ARE SOME STEPS YOU'VE TAKEN IN YOUR BUSINESS TO INTENTIONALLY MAKE IT MORE ALIGNED WITH THE WAY YOU DESIRE TO LIVE YOUR LIFE?
Marie: I remember in the early days pulling together a quote was a multi-hour process, agonizing over every dollar and wringing our hands until we had a response. When we got clear on what we did and who we served, we were able to create packages for common services, and suddenly providing quotes was a breeze. Not to mention we ADORE our clients because we're working with the right people now. We've set up content production and client onboarding systems, and we have as much automation in place as possible. And we pretty much couldn't survive without our fabulous OBM, who runs our team.
Jessi: Hiring a team was a huge step towards aligning our business with our lifestyle. Having a business partner is amazing, but sometimes we would actually create MORE work for ourselves! Bringing on a team member who could streamline our processes, help us set reasonable boundaries, and remind us to celebrate has been huge.
6. WHAT'S YOUR "WHY" FOR PURSUING A LIVE MORE, WORK LESS BUSINESS?
Marie: My initial WHY was to build a business that would allow me to leave my 9-5. But I discovered that, once I'd achieved that, my WHY was pretty empty. These days, I'm motivated by the work I do (and love!) and the clients it helps. I'm motivated by upping my game, pushing my own limits, and growing like crazy. And I'm motivated by the ability to leverage my business to #ChangeTheStars and give back to causes I love.
Jessi: I'm a writer, through and through. It's always been a dream of mine to write full time, and while there are traditional jobs that allow this, I'm far more adept at being my own boss. I believe that the best writing comes from experiencing life, and life cannot be experienced from within a cubicle. I wanted the freedom to travel or sit still. To shift course when needed. To adjust my business as my life shifts and grows.
7. HOW DO YOU CURRENTLY STRUCTURE YOUR WORKDAY OR WEEK?
Marie: I'm at my computer by 9:00am each morning, dressed and showered. (I know, doesn't sound like much, but it makes a huge difference in my mindset!) We have a 30-minute standup meeting with our OBM on Mondays to get focused and kick off the week right, and that has helped us greatly cut down the amount of time we spend in meetings. From there, I'm focused on client work, supporting our mastermind members, making sales, improving passive income streams... you name it. Around 3:00 each day, I typically hit a slump, so I give myself permission to take a walk, read a book, or play with the dogs. Then I can focus on being productive until dinner time. After that (and during weekends), work is off-limits! I've found that time away from my desk gives me the energy I need to show up for my clients 100%.
Jessi: My schedule changes from day to day, but I do have one non-negotiable. Every single morning I spend 1-2 hours with myself before beginning work. This time is screen free and allows me to set myself up for the entire day. I journal, meditate, walk my dogs, and drink my coffee. Sometimes I work on a creative writing project that's unrelated to client work, like my novel.
8. WHAT TYPES OF HOBBIES, ACTIVITIES, AND OTHER FUN THINGS DO YOU INTENTIONALLY INCLUDE IN YOUR LIFE OUTSIDE OF YOUR BUSINESS?
Marie: Amazingly, Jessi and I don't get enough of writing for our jobs. We also collaboratively write fiction. My other great love is hiking, so I try to get out a few times a month and tackle a trail.
Jessi: Travel is a big one, but I also like to spend time closer to home. I love to be outside, and hiking is one of my all-time favorite ways to spend an afternoon. I'm also a rock climber, and you can often find me hitting up the local rock gym (no treadmills for me, thanks). When I'm not outside, I'm usually embracing my inner nerd and reading fantasy or science-fiction, or diving into Netflix.
9. WHAT DO YOU FIND AS THE BIGGEST STRUGGLE IN YOUR ONGOING QUEST TO BUILD A LIVE MORE, WORK LESS BUSINESS + LIFESTYLE?
Marie: I've found I can leverage my time and my money to create more life and less work. But when I leverage a bit too much of either, I start stressing. If I'm hiring people and pouring too much money into ads, lack of money becomes a stressor, whereas if I'm doing #allthethings myself because it's "free," I feel like I never do anything but work... and, yup, that's another stressor. Finding that balance has been a huge challenge, but I think we're getting the hang of it!
Jessi: Trust is huge. Sometimes cultivating trust in yourself can be hard, especially when you hit inevitable stumbling blocks.
Marie and Jessi have gone from overburdened copywriters to full-blown messaging strategists. They've completely transformed their business and made room for their nerdtastic personalities to shine. Plus, Marie and Jessi have made it a priority to give back, focusing on contributing a portion of every sale to promoting literacy around the world. They've honed in on their true purpose, and now they help other purpose-driven entrepreneurs do the same.
You can find Marie and Jessi online HERE: http://www.northstarmessaging.com
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