Interview with Samantha Dhu, Self-care Coach for the modern day women
Sam is an Empowerment Coach, highly qualified Psychotherapist, business owner, and speaker who works with modern-day businesswomen juggling many roles to go from overwhelmed and stuck to energised and aligned. Sam’s mission is to support as many women as possible to learn to have compassion for the woman deep within, building their capacity to put their own needs first so that they can thrive in both life and business.
With over 15 years experience empowering women from all walks of life, Sam combines her knowledge of Positive Psychology, Mindfulness and Psychological Therapy with her own life experience juggling Mum/Biz Life to help her clients create the life and business of their dreams. Connect with Sam at www.samanthadhu.com.au
1. What is your Why? What motivated you to get into business?
After working as a Clinical Social Worker and then Psychotherapist full time for 15 years I became a Mum in 2016. I knew that I wanted to continue working with people because I always found helping others with their wellbeing so meaningful and rewarding but I also knew that going back to the stress of working in the allied health sector would not allow me to have as much time and emotional energy for my daughter as I would like.
So, I created my first business Samantha Dhu Counselling in 2017 just before my daughter turned one so that I could continue to do the work I love, but do it on my own terms.
I am really proud that my business has grown so quickly to the point that I did not need to return to work after my daughter was born. I have been able to work in my business part time (started 1 day a week and has grown to 3 days a week) and be present with my daughter the remainder of the week.
At the beginning of 2019 I created a second business Samantha Dhu Coaching and Speaking. This was because I recognised that many women in small business are juggling many roles and struggling with feeling overwhelmed and stuck. (In particular Mums!) I wanted to be able to use my life experience and Psychotherapy/Social Work quals to support those women because I know that when we look after ourselves our business and family also benefit. So now I run workshops on self-love and self-care for women in small business and also offer private coaching sessions.
2. What are some of the challenges/obstacles you have had to overcome?
I am not exaggerating when I say that I started off knowing NOTHING about business and marketing, they don’t teach any of those skills to Counsellors! I had so much learning and growing to do. I also found it difficult initially to charge my worth and was undercharging for sessions. But I soon realised that I needed to increase my fee because the cost of running a private practice is high! One of my strengths is that I see seeking help as a sign of strength. So, I have worked with coaches, attended workshops and been really proactive in learning new skills. Now I am much more confident about how to market and grow my business at a pace I am comfortable with.
3. What did you worry about most when you started your business?
I didn’t have any family available to look after my daughter regularly and obviously couldn’t see counselling clients with a one-year old crawling around! So, my biggest worry was actually how my daughter would cope with starting day-care! I felt so much guilt initially around this. It was literally one of the hardest choices I have made as a Mama. Fast forward 2 years and we are both thriving and I am fairly guilt-free. Amelie is a little social butterfly who suits the daycare centre we are at and blows me kisses when I drop her off to daycare. Our daycare feels like an extension of our village and Amelie has had the same daycare workers in her room for 2 years.
So I honestly wish I hadn’t worried about that so much!
4. How do you find the juggle of kids and a business?
Amelie is 3 now so it’s getting a lot easier but it certainly has it’s ups and downs. In particular I find winter tough. My counselling business gets very busy over winter and Amelie often gets sick from daycare. Fingers crossed this year is easier!
My main tip is to ask for support as much as possible. My husband and I really try to share the mental load of parenthood as equals and we have developed lots of little tricks and tips to do this. My favourite is using wunderlist to share to do lists and I am also really lucky to have very supportive family members. We have also set up a joint family email address so all parenting emails get sent to both of us.
5. How do you prioritise/ block out work time when working from home?
I prefer to work out of my counselling room or out of a café. I do better when I have clear boundaries about what is work time and what is family time. That’s my preference. If I am at home, I’m with my daughter and want to be present with her (which can be tricky when you always have business stuff to do!) Or I get distracted by the mess/giant pile of laundry.
6. What has been a game changer for you in your business?
Having a growth mindset. Recognising that I am always growing and changing as an individual and a small business owner and as a Mama! So when I am struggling with something I trust that I will grow through it and I do the inner work to grow through it.
7. What do you think is the biggest barrier most ambitious mums face?
I think it can be a lack of energy. I used to think it was a lack of time because we are often trying to run full time businesses with part time hours but what I have realised is that being a mum takes a lot of energy physically and emotionally. We need to look after our energy so that we have some left for ourselves. That’s why I am so passionate about self-love and self-care.
8. What tips do you have for other mums wanting to start a business?
My biggest tip is to be gentle and compassionate with yourself. Don’t push yourself too hard or feel that you need to grow your business at a rapid pace because you think you need to compete with others. Taking small consistent steps every day is better than going all in and burning yourself out. Being a Mama is such a blessing but it is also a challenge and I think we need to have more real conversations about how challenging it can be.