Welcome to the Real Women, Real Business series!
This is the second series that I have done. The first one was very popular so I decided to do another one!
Before I left my corporate job, I was so in awe (and still am) of women who had taken the leap and set up their own business. I wanted to know how they came up with their idea and what gave them the courage to finally go for it.
When I set up IWMLBproject I decided to interview women who had launched their own successful businesses. It is so interesting to read about the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ from real-life down-to-earth women just like you and me.
Here are the other interviews if you want to have a read!
- Interview 1: Ellie Frost, Brand Strategist, and Business Coach
- Interview 2: Rachel Creeger. A comedian, writer, and director
- Interview 3: Laura Peli. Executive Career Coach
- Interview 4: Monika Wawrzyczek. Mystique Lash Salon, and Academy
- Interview 5: Louise Winter: A Modern Funeral Director
- Interview 6: Georgia Gallone. Digital Marketing Consultant and App Founder
- Interview 7: Ekua Kant Afterwork Drinks Service Founder
This week’s interview is with the founder of a Tax Consultancy Business for Medical Professionals.
An interview with Hannah Xu, Tax Consultancy Founder!
What is your business?
I run a tax consultancy business for medical professionals. I help clients discover wealth through tax.
What was your previous job?
I was working as the senior accountant in an accounting practice serving SMEs, micro businesses.
What made you decide you wanted to leave your corporate job?
I’ve always had the idea of running my own business and being my own boss. I value freedom.
I complete my contract with my previous firm. Whilst deciding another permanent contract or start out on my own, I have chosen the latter.
I had a business mentor whilst I was in my previous job just to seek for some ideas. But at that time when making that decision, I decided I wanted to put the whole heart into the business.
How did you decide what business to set up?
I’ve been working for a few accounting firms before.
Whilst we were trained amazing technical skills of adding up numbers and calculating taxes correctly, being caring about client’s needs and making good relationship with them was never been taught. I believe today’s business is a relationship business.
Also, new technology has been replacing a lot of number crunching work, which allows us to focus on building something that is unique and adding massive value to clients.
So I have decided to build a firm in a way that is caring, building a good relationship and embracing technology.
What was the first step you took once you decided to start the business?
I hired a business mentor who helped me to develop the business idea, brand and what I need to do in order to set up my business.
Also, I started going to different networking events to build connections. I joined BNI at the time that allowed me to build my network quickly and learn to pitch my business.
Was everyone supportive of your idea?
People around me are supportive. However, my parents found it hard to accept my choice.
Being born in an Asian family, they believed that a good daughter should always listen to the parents, get a stable job and get married.
But over the years, they’ve seen my growth and success, they’ve now accepted and very supportive of my choice.
Did you have an ‘emergency fund’ to tide you over while you set up your business or did you start it on the side while still at work?
I had savings, also was doing a part-time contracting work whilst I was setting up my business.
However, in 6 months I have left the part-time contracting job and focused on my business full time.
Did you have to get any outside investment to get going?
Yes, some loans/help from friends and family.
Did you take any courses or qualifications?
I have taken courses that helped me learn the business skills necessary for my business.
I invested a sales training/sales consultant at the beginning who helped me to develop a sales strategy and sale system.
He also held me accountable in terms of booking enough phone calls/prospect meetings, in order to grow my business. I’ve got my first 20 clients within the first 6 months.
I’ve lately also invested in public speaking training. It helped me to communicate my value and my message in an authentic way.
I’ve learned how to present my business stories from the heart, in a way that is true to myself, so that I can connect with my audience so gain trust with them. It also helped me to dissolve the fear of asking for money.
Did you have any particular fears about starting a business and if so how did you get over them?
Yes, the fear of asking for money and charging the price that my services worth. I always had the negative self-belief that ‘I was not good enough’.
I have tried several ways, but attending public speaking training made me realise that my authentic voice out there is not just enough, but will add a lot of value to people.
I no longer fear of asking for money, and through discovering my unique message and my business stories, I realised my business is unique and it is valuable.
P.S If you haven’t come up with your business idea yet, I have made a free ‘Business Idea Worksheet’ for you to use.
You can go through the sheet to brainstorm your business ideas and select one to get started with. Click on the link below to get your worksheet.
What was the hardest thing about setting up the business?
Shifting the mindset from being a ‘worker bee’ to being an entrepreneur. We’ve been conditioned to be the hardworking student in school or employees in the organisation, especially women.
But being an entrepreneur requires us to speak up for ourselves, take risks and dare to face failure. It was difficult because we’ve never been taught this way.
But being surrounded by other like-minded business owners, and listening to successful entrepreneurs have been really helpful to shift the mindset.
Did you make any mistakes when you were setting up?
Yes, a lot. The biggest one is in hiring people.
I once took things for granted and not doing the reference check for a new hire.
He had an amazing CV but turned out he had the wrong attitude at the workplace. I eventually had to let him go as it costs resources for the business when the wrong people are on board.
How long did it take before you made enough for a full-time income?
In terms of making an equivalent full-time income, it took me around 10-12 months to make it be able to fully support myself independently.
How do you manage your time? Do you take certain days off?
I plan my week and days beforehand. And during the workdays, I plan my day the night before, and have a set of priorities. I make sure I have my priorities taken care of.
I also do make sure I have my workout scheduled, either attending a bootcamp session at lunch time or have my taekwondo training in the evenings. I do usually take weekends off and have time for myself.
Do you ever procrastinate and how do you deal with it?
Yes, I have, a lot of times.
The ways I deal with it:
1. Do the work in a co-working space (even part time use)/or a private membership club, where you have the vibration that everyone is concentrating and working. And those are usually inexpensive.
2. Accountability, I am part of a group mentoring programme called business reboot, where I get mentored together with other business owners on the same journey.
We came together to hold each other accountable for our KPI weekly/monthly. We organise accountability work day once a month to get things done and help each other out.
How do you market your business?
I do get clients through word of mouth referrals and networking, when I just started.
Lately, I’ve written an e-book where I started hiring a PA to send out messages to my ideal clients via Linkedin to offer them a free e-book. I did get a lot of my ideal clients from there.
I also do regular Facebook live and public speaking that helped me raise my profile.
I’ve recently published a book on Amazon called ‘Discover Wealth Through Tax’.
What is your favourite thing about having your own business?
I love the fact that I can be the leader of my tribe, the heroine of my story, and the celebrity of my community.
What book, podcast or anything else would you recommend to women who want to start their own business?
Think and Grow Rich (by Napoleon Hill)
Money: A Love Story (by Kate Northrup)
Playing Big (by Tara Mohr)
Oversubscribed (by Daniel Prestley)
Key Person of Influence (by Daniel Prestley)
Profit First (by Mike Michalowicz)
Which female entrepreneur most inspires you?
Marie Forleo, Kate Northrup, D.r Christaine Northrup
And finally, what is the one piece of advice you would give to women who want to start a business?
Follow your heart!
Thank you, Hannah!
If you want to find out more about Hannah and her business or book, you can check out the links below.
You can buy her book here ‘Discover Wealth Through Tax‘
Hannah also contributed to a Forbes article which you can read here.
Or if you want to be social, connect with Hannah below!