After a successful career as a magazine editor and journalist, Georgia Rickard started a business teaching people how to get paid to travel. Then the pandemic hit.
Georgia would be forgiven for wanting to run and hide when sh*t hit the fan. But her resilience, entrepreneurial spirit, and unbreakable mindset helped her turn things around, and she hit a million dollars with what was originally her side hustle, The Travel Bootcamp, during a pandemic. Not bad when we literally weren’t allowed to travel.
After starting her career writing for one of the world's best-known magazines, Cosmopolitan, and becoming Australia’s youngest magazine editor at 23, she’s also written for a bunch of other well-known brands like Marie Claire, Tourism Australia, and Virgin Australia. Now, Georgia is heading up her latest successful business, PHHNIX.
Fun fact: I first met Georgia through my brother Matthew, who is a travel photographer and who was based in Sydney until recently.
Georgia joined me on the podcast to discuss the keys to running a successful business, no matter what’s going on in the world around us. We cover everything from regulating your emotions as a business owner and connecting your business to a higher purpose, to being aligned with your work and the importance of self-care.
Let's dive in.
Key #1: Learn how to regulate your emotions
Being book smart doesn’t always help you when you run a business – being street smart does. In some cases, being intelligent can even hold you back: when you’re able to see all the risks, it’s easy to hold yourself back and avoid taking action.
Georgia’s first key to success? Learn how to deal with your emotions.
“What I can say through my own anecdotal observation is that success in business ultimately is a game of emotional regulation”, she says. In business, you have to put yourself out there and be vulnerable despite the fear of failure – let’s face it, failure is a part of the process and we all face speed bumps along the way. “There's plenty of falling over”, Georgia adds. “But you have to work out how to pick yourself back up again and regulate your emotional state to stay calm enough, secure enough and reassured enough to continue on despite setbacks. If you don’t, basically you're fucked.”
This is a part of business that never really goes away. “Every time you level up and you expose yourself to a new degree of risk, it always feels extremely uncomfortable to begin with. Growth is painful and it’s supposed to make you feel uncomfortable – that's why they're called growing pains!”, says Georgia. “It's a little bit like when you first get dumped. It's always painful to begin with, and then with time you become okay with it. Business is a bit like that: when you're exposed to these amazing, exciting things or you level up, it's scary. You're like ‘Can I hold this pressure?', and then with time you're like ‘Oh yeah, of course I can'. And then it's no big deal anymore.”
That sounds simple, but it’s also one of the places where so many people get stuck. “When they grow and increase pressure on themselves, the voice in their head tells them they can’t do this”, Georgia explains. “They don't hold their nerve long enough. If only more people knew just what fruits awaited those of us who are willing to go out on a limb, sit with their discomfort, and wait until it subsides”. There you have it – emotional regulation is so important if you want to successfully grow your business.
Key #2: Commit to a higher purpose
As every small business owner knows, it’s a rollercoaster. It won’t always be easy. You’ll probably feel like quitting once in a while, and that’s okay. How can we get through those difficult moments? By believing in yourself. Cheesy, but true.
You have to believe in yourself and be brave to get through the tough times. It’s a mental game, and building resilience takes work.
“One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given is to get out of your own way,” says Georgia. “The way that we do that is by coming to grips with the fact that we’re social beings and that we’ll do a lot more for other people than we’ll do for ourselves. If you can tie your business purpose into a meaning that is greater than you, that higher purpose will give you an extra reserve of energy and strength”.
Your business needs to be more than a money-making vehicle. It needs a purpose.
“Whatever your business is, you’re ultimately in business to serve others in some way”, reminds Georgia. So when you lose belief in yourself, go back to the basics – reflect on your offer and how that’s going to change people’s lives.
It’s this exact piece of advice that has helped Georgia when times were tough over the last few years.
Just before the pandemic hit at the start of 2020, she sat down with her business partner Lauren Bath – Australia’s first professional Instagrammer – to discuss how they were going to get to a million dollars per year from their side hustle, The Travel Bootcamp. “If you think about it now, it’s crazy that we were talking about putting on live events that taught people how to get paid to travel the world and our flagship event was meant to take place in Melbourne, which had one of the worst lockdowns on the planet”, Georgia says. “Basically, our entire plan was burning down by mid-February and all of our revenue streams for the year were gone almost overnight”. What made all of this extra difficult is that no one knew just how long the pandemic would last.
Instead of accepting defeat, Georgia and Lauren realized that so many people around them in the tourism industry were very stressed and in need of leadership. “There was a real opportunity to be leaders at a time when no one was visible on social media anymore and brands were completely quiet”, she explains. “We decided to step up and help people navigate their way through this crisis in a way that saw them take back some control and some power”. So Georgia and Lauren started teaching people how to build a travel following from their couch, which many people hadn’t even realized was possible. “Simply finding a way to serve people was the mindset flip that we needed to feel pulled towards a higher purpose instead of just looking out for ourselves”, Georgia says. “I think energetically the universe rewards intention. The fact that we managed to crack the million dollar mark for the first time that year is a testament to just how good our intention was.”
Last year, Georgia and Lauren joined forces with Kait Rich, a business strategy coach, to start their current business PHHNIX. Their next big financial goal is to hit the $10 million mark as soon as possible, but above all they want to serve business owners to help them grow and scale.
Key #3: Make sure you’re aligned with your work
Sometimes in business, sh*t hits the fan. It’s happened to me, it’s happened to you, and it will happen to all of us again and again.
The trick? Stay focused and aligned.
When Georgia found herself in an unexpected situation (to say the least!) with her work, she doubled down on her mission. “You want to make sure that you're in a job where your daily tasks are connected to a sense of meaning and higher purpose”, she says. “That way, even if you're not that inspired doing the tasks themselves, you still have a sense of fulfillment, because they play an important part in where you’re going”. That doesn’t mean you have to like everything about your work. There are always going to be tasks you like less, sometimes because you just don’t like them and sometimes because you’re doing things outside of your comfort zone.
“Those of us who are successful are the ones who have the ability to continue putting one foot in front of the other”, Georgia explains. “Even when we don't want to. Even when things are hard. Even when you know we're facing failure and setbacks”.
The important thing is that you don’t let those moments throw you off track. You need a strong mindset to show up every day and grow your business week-by-week, month-by-month, year-by-year. “The lesson that I had to learn very much the hard way and the thing that has always kept me on track and inspired me actually dates back to my time in rehab”, says Georgia. “In my 20s I actually suffered from a terrible eating disorder and by the time I was 30, I had a career crash and ended up taking a year off work to go to rehab and recover from my eating disorder. And they used to have a saying there: ‘You can't get clean today from yesterday's shower’.”
You have to start over every single day and do whatever you can to show up in the best possible way today. This attitude has helped Georgia stay on track – both in business and in life.
Key #4: Self-care is good for your business
To give yourself the best chance of succeeding in business you have to take care of yourself.
This is something that Georgia first realized when she was in rehab. “The idea of self-care was completely new and radical to me”, she says. “You have to look after yourself and keep both your mental and physical wellbeing in tip-top condition to show up in the best way in your business”.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that your life needs to be completely balanced at all times, especially as an entrepreneur. “There are going to be times where you're out of balance and it’s okay to sometimes push through if you’re really trying to achieve something – that's just part of what it means to be successful. But if you aren't taking time out to put oil in your engine, you are going to run your car into the ground.”
Self-care helps you feel connected to your mind and body, so you actually get to experience the benefits of success. “There is no point hustling hard if you’re not actually enjoying the experience of being physically in your body”, Georgia explains. “There are many people who've got financial success but aren't successful at all in my book”.
It all really comes down to how you define success. Many people think about things like material wealth – a big house, flashy cars, business class flights, designer clothes, etc. – when they talk about success, but success to Georgia is something far more simple: “The way I define success is in two words, feeling good”, she says. “And feeling good is actually really difficult to experience consistently if you are not looking after yourself”.
That definitely doesn’t mean that life should be all sunshine and rainbows. “Sometimes it means getting to the end of a really fucking hard day and looking yourself in the mirror and saying, I'm proud of myself for showing up, for being disciplined, and working hard”, Georgia says. “That’s also feeling good”.
PS: Are you looking for some help to break through your mindset struggles? I’ve got it covered!
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