Burned Out to Biz Boss

Selling your business and healing your burnout with Business Strategist Lavonzell Nicholson

February 27, 2021 Stacie Mitchell Episode 13
Burned Out to Biz Boss
Selling your business and healing your burnout with Business Strategist Lavonzell Nicholson
Chapters
Burned Out to Biz Boss
Selling your business and healing your burnout with Business Strategist Lavonzell Nicholson
Feb 27, 2021 Episode 13
Stacie Mitchell

Join Stacie as she interviews Business Strategist Lavonzell Nicholson, who grew her first business to serve 3,000 people per year, and grew her staff from 1 person to 30 people. 

But she just didn’t love the work, and burned out in the process. Lavonzell shares her story of deciding to sell the business she’d worked so hard to grow, so she could focus on healing and doing work she loves again.

Lavonzell Nicholson is a Business Strategist and provides leadership coaching, team and project management, and non-financial business support to health and wellness entrepreneurs. You can connect with her on her website or on Instagram.



Show Notes Transcript

Join Stacie as she interviews Business Strategist Lavonzell Nicholson, who grew her first business to serve 3,000 people per year, and grew her staff from 1 person to 30 people. 

But she just didn’t love the work, and burned out in the process. Lavonzell shares her story of deciding to sell the business she’d worked so hard to grow, so she could focus on healing and doing work she loves again.

Lavonzell Nicholson is a Business Strategist and provides leadership coaching, team and project management, and non-financial business support to health and wellness entrepreneurs. You can connect with her on her website or on Instagram.



Voice Artist:

Welcome to Burned Out to Biz Boss, the podcast that teaches you how to go from burned out employee to fired up entrepreneur in less time and with less stress and hustle. And now here's your host business mentor, burnout expert, and professional life coach Stacie Mitchell.

Stacie Mitchell:

Hello everyone. And welcome back to the latest episode of he Burned Out to Biz Boss podcast. I am super excited to have a new guest with us this week. Lavonzell Nicholson. She is a business strategist, and she just has the most amazing story that I want you all to hear. I'm going to let her introduce herself as you know, I love to do so. Go ahead.

Lavonzell Nicholson:

Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to have this conversation with you. I know we talk offline, but it's good to just do this with you. So a little bit about myself. I have a varied career. I have worked in the non-profit sector. I've been an entrepreneur. I've worked in higher ed and currently I'm a business strategist helping small businesses, u m , an d leaders create strategies to effectively grow and manage their businesses. So I do leadership coaching, customized strategy sessions, u m , an d then I just want to support people in their talent process and hiring people and all that good stuff. I live in ne w Orleans, which always excites people. There is no Mardi Gras this year, so we're sort a mou rning that. Um, but , um , I a lso have two boys, um , tha t I love and adore. I am a yoga teacher. And I also love, love, love, re a ding and just hanging out as much as I can in th e pandemic, in my backyard with friends and family.

Stacie Mitchell:

I love that. Yeah. It's important to get outside and actually try to socialize safely. Right.

Lavonzell Nicholson:

It really is. It really is. Um, there's only so much connection you can do with zoom. And so we have great weather all year round so we can hang out outside. Um, you know, it's probably 70 degrees today in the middle of February, but yeah, it's a nice day.

Stacie Mitchell:

It's nicer there than it is in North Carolina. It's amazing. I love it. And actually, I'm just like, I always forget, which is kind of embarrassing. Cause I know you, you know, I'm like, I forget that you're a yoga teacher, so that's exciting too. Yes . Yes. Super exciting. You are a Jane of all trades.

Lavonzell Nicholson:

I am , I am .

Stacie Mitchell:

Well, I want to know. So you're here because of the burnout thing. Right. Um, and I know it was something that happened to you in your life and I'm really, really curious, like when did it happen? What did it look like for you?

Lavonzell Nicholson:

Yeah. So my burnout story is really around, I would , um , trying to meet others expectations, but then the reality of entrepreneurship. Right. Um , so I started , um , a distance in 2009 that I ran , um, for nine, nine years, nine and a half years. Um, but I won the way that I started. It was I won a business plan competition. So I had no like real thought around starting a business or becoming, you know , air quotes and entrepreneur, but there was this competition. I was like, Oh, this sounds like a good idea. And so a business partner and I, at the time decided to apply, we went through several rounds of this competition. So think American idol at the end, there was this audience of people, this panel of judges, they voted on us and bam, all of a sudden I was thrust into entrepreneurship. That all sounds amazing until you think about the first 90 days, maybe, maybe we got to four months, my business partner not split. Um , because we just had differences in terms of how we were thinking about the business and the fact that , um, I guess what I didn't say is that I'm a very private person, I'm an introvert, I'm very quiet. Um , and I was thrust into this very public , um, sort of experience and also it's a very public business. Um, and so luckily we were referencing Jane of all trades , um , had a bunch of skillsets that are brought to it, work , the business grew the business , um , grew up too . So I was in sports and recreation , um, which people should know. And so we did different classes and corporate team building events and worked with the city , um, got up to 4,000 registrations a year running like 30 events, you know, each quarter. And the thing about running events and doing all this things. One, it was very public like extroverted to the nth degree. Um, and I always describe it as being the hostess at a party. Um, you never have any fun, right? Like you're the one always creating experiences for people. Um, and oftentimes it's exhausting. And then I had grown it to a point where I just didn't know what else to do. Right. So I was, I had , was making money, you know , check that , um, I'd won a lot of community awards and recognition check , you know, all the things you're supposed to do, but I really didn't like it anymore. Um , I didn't like it. I didn't love it and I didn't know what to do. So I think that sort of started the whole, and that was around, I say, end of year six, beginning of year seven , um, the burnout thing. Um, and when I started this business, there were no kids and no husband, by the time we got to that point, there were two kids and a husband. Right. And so my life had changed a bunch and it was this whole , um, story in my head of like, do I stop doing this? Like, I don't like it, but everybody was like, Oh, it's so successful. You're doing so well, why wouldn't you keep doing it? And I was like, well, why shouldn't I keep doing it? Um, and I think, you know, one of the lessons that on the other side of this, right, we can live up to other people's expectations or live up to other people's stories , but we have to know what's true for us. Right. Like what is true? And what's true for us even in different seasons in our life. And so I, you know, pitter-patter along , you know , probably I would say by year eight I was like, all right , something's gotta give, and I was ready to just burn it all down. Um, but then I was like, okay, I, I have an asset and I can sell it. And so learning the process of selling a business, it was a whole nother, that's a whole nother podcast. Um, but getting into business values, figuring out like how I could sell it , um, went through a process of having a first offer that just didn't feel right. Um, like my gut told me it wasn't the right thing to do and then eventually selling it. Um, and I sold it, I believe in signs God in the universe. I literally sold it, signed the dotted line , um, nine years to the date that I incorporated it. And so I felt like it was the vibe that it was, it was, it was my sound that like, it was, it was time to let it go and it was okay. Um, cause it was my baby. Right. I grew it, it was the thing that I had, you know , tied my identity to for so long.

Stacie Mitchell:

Yeah. And to start from scratch after this really kind of crazy public story, which had felt super weird. Yeah. That is so interesting. I have never heard the story by the way, for all the people listening. I'm like what no idea. You basically went through , like America's got talent for a business plan.

Lavonzell Nicholson:

I don't recommend it to , uh, quiet introverts. But it was fun. I learned a lot. Yeah .

Stacie Mitchell:

Yeah. Yeah. And like you said, you, you went into this business that ended up being so much more of a public role than you thought, which, you know, you got the accolades and you got all the, all the right things, but it just didn't feel good anymore. Which is really hard.

Lavonzell Nicholson:

It really is. It really is. Um, you know, and again, I remember sitting down with my mentor and just sort of going through, like, I don't think I want to do this anymore. And I remember a patient was like, why ? Like, you know, this is a woman that I respect , you know, who has done amazing things in business. And it sort of hit me, like, I don't know why, you know, like, like I need to have a solid reason, but the reason enough was I no longer enjoyed it. Right. It was okay. It was, I can move on. So , um, but all of that caused me to have burnout. Right. And I think, you know , I've heard you talk about it in terms of how burnout shows up. Um, I was so sad. Right. Um, yeah . I just remember just feeling like I was drudging through all of it. Um, and I had an amazing team. Um, and I, like, I kept wondering like, what do I have to complain about? I was tired all the time. And so it was just this level of exhaustion that you just really can't explain it. Right. And people like , we want you type , or I don't know, I'm just tired. I'm tired all the time. Um, and that's what I'm gonna say all time. I'm just so tired. Um, and I also think it just, you know, thing we don't talk about, or maybe we talk about is like, it damaged my confidence. Right. Because I was like, I had a track record. Right. And I've done all these things. And I was like, why? I'm not , why am I not feeling the same way other people feel about their business? And so there was a little shakeup in my confidence. Um, but physically it took its toll on me so much so that I took a year off after I sold it to like just reclaim my whole life and sort of what I want to do next.

Stacie Mitchell:

Yeah. Which is amazing. And I think is a huge, in many ways, leap of faith, right? Like you, you, you just decided like this is not for me anymore. I'm just going to figure out what's next.

Lavonzell Nicholson:

Yeah . Yes, yes. It is a leap of faith , and a little bit of planning. Um, so of course we had some money we saved from selling that business. Yes.

Stacie Mitchell:

Yeah. You , you definitely want to be able to pay your bills and eat like that's an important thing.

Lavonzell Nicholson:

Yes. That will, that will reduce the stress level. All the time. So y eah, absolutely. T hat's absolutely true.

Stacie Mitchell:

Well, this is, I think so many people will, will feel connected to this in the sense of feeling sad and feeling the drudgery and the tiredness. And I think, especially hearing this idea of there wasn't necessarily any like huge thing that was wrong. Right. I think we get into this idea that like, we need to be in a toxic culture or it needs to be like this terrible situation for us to burn out, but that's not necessarily always the case.

Lavonzell Nicholson:

It's not. And I mean, I think that if anything, you know, the I'd like, you know, what I've learned is I like creating, I like supporting , um, I like, you know, fresh ideas doing new things. Um, and there was a space where I could have done it where I said, okay, I'm going to just get somebody to run the day-to-day of the business. I'll go start a new venture, but that didn't feel right. Um , and again, we, there will be moments in all of our lives, right, where we have different priorities or a lives change, and we have different goals and embracing those and making those shifts and changes without apology. I it's important. Um, so yeah, it wasn't anything that was like overtly wrong. It was wrong for me at the place that I was in my life. Um, and it had, it had served his purpose. Right. It taught me in entrepreneurship, you know, this, I , I say, if you want to jump into that pool jump, even if you fail, you will learn so much about yourself. You will learn so much about like, just, you just learn so much about yourself. And so yeah, I don't regret it.

Stacie Mitchell:

Absolutely. Yeah. And now you're able to do something where you can use all of those skills that you basically created through that entire process, which is amazing.

Lavonzell Nicholson:

Yeah . Because one of the things that, you know, I think a lot of folks , um, get burned out with this , like not having the right kind of support. Um, and so, you know, for your listeners that will see me, I am a black woman, I'm a first generation, everything, first generation college student, first generation to start a business. So the, the , the inherent support network of like entrepreneurship just wasn't there for me. Right. And to say like, these are the things that are going to happen, or these are ways that you can work smarter or these are ways you can strategically grow. And so my focus is really around female entrepreneurs, women of color , um , folks who work in , in health and wellness. Cause I believe in it, but helping support them in their sort of entrepreneurial journey and leadership. Right. Um, cause sometimes we don't, we don't know the things that we don't know. And we oftentimes , you know, there's this, this world in the space of like help, help, help, but like, it's wonderful to have somebody who's been through it and they can also support you and going through that same process and going through that journey. So that's what I,

Stacie Mitchell:

Yeah. And looking ahead and, and having someone who actually knows what's coming kind of going blind and being like, I don't, I didn't see that coming, which is, I think is really important, right?

Lavonzell Nicholson:

Yes. Yes. And , and I had , you know, like I said, I had one mentor definitely helped me , um , along the way, but you know, in terms of, you know, business coaching and like understanding it, you know, it's a nuance sort of thing.

Stacie Mitchell:

Yeah, definitely. So I'm curious, like you, you took this year off and I think I'm asking this because I think so many listeners will be curious. When did you start to feel better? Like from the tiredness?

Lavonzell Nicholson:

So that's a good question. It was not after the year. Um, it probably took me a year and a half, almost two years because , um , physically I had, you know, we talked about like adrenals and damaging your body and cortisol the stress that I had, like endured my body needed to heal from that. Um, and so yoga was my savior. Um, and then yoga nidra, if people heard of it, it also has a weight, like a constant practice to reset your system and to help you relax and help you rest , um, to get like real rest and like restorative yoga, where am I go to for quite some time? So it took a little while for me to get back to fully feeling like myself again. And I will say, you know, one of the things we talked about, like , um, being aware of how, you know, the changes and just how you feeling. I was telling somebody recently , um , I saw there's a picture , um , a new year's Eve picture when the world was actually open. Um , and I looked at, I was looking at the picture and I was like, that's the, that was the first time after like all of this, you know, life changes in selling the business that I looked at myself and I saw joy. Right. I saw like light . And so I don't ever want to lose that again. Um , knowing that like, you know, just succumbing to all that stuff, to be really intentional about setting boundaries, maintaining my health and saying yes to things that align with where I'm trying to go.

Stacie Mitchell:

Yeah . I think especially when it's so easy to accidentally say yes to things that don't right.

Lavonzell Nicholson:

Yeah . Especially when people say, Oh, you're good at that, but I don't really want to do it. Right. I mean, that , that, I don't know if it's good girl or just succumbing to, there are things that you're good at that you might not enjoy doing. Um, and being able to say, you know, I appreciate that, but I'm not, I won't be able to help, but maybe I can find somebody else to help you.

Stacie Mitchell:

That's so good. And I think that's true for personal things for professional things. If you're an entrepreneur, I mean, I've had it come up with me where it's like, could you help me do this? And I'm like, technically yes, I could, but I don't want to. I think it's so important to know those things.

Lavonzell Nicholson:

It's very important, very important. If we want to do, we don't want to be on the burnout journey. It is very important to set those boundaries. Um, and it'll be okay with setting them. Yeah . Yeah.

Stacie Mitchell:

And to know why and all the things around it. It is. It's truly just, I think it's, life-changing just to be able to do that one thing really well. Yeah . So I'm really curious because I think people will also ask this question, like what fears came up for you when you were making the decision to sell

Lavonzell Nicholson:

Some money. Right. Um, uh, so how do I make money now? Like, because , you know , I , I, you know, you know, you don't, you're not an entrepreneurship just to like have fun. You actually pay your bills, pay your mortgage through all those things. Yeah, absolutely. Um, the fear of judgment. So where people's gonna say , um, and I , I, to be fully transparent, I didn't tell a lot of people that I was like selling and then people would see me now, like, well, how's it going? I'm like, Oh, you know, I sold it, you know, six months ago. I like really , um , so judgment. And then the fear of having to be absolutely sure about the next step. You don't, you know, if you're going from, you know , entrepreneurship to another business or jobs, the next thing or burnout to just clarity, you don't have to be a hundred percent sure about the next step, because none of us can be, you have to try a few things, test a few things, maybe fail at something, or maybe you land on the perfect next thing. But there's no magic ball that tells you, like, this is the perfect next step for you. Or at least I didn't find one.

Stacie Mitchell:

No, I actually think that's a really, really important point to make, because I think we have this idea in our head that like, there's this perfect fit career business, whatever it may be. It's like one thing it's like, as you said, the magic ball, the answer, and it's going to solve all of our problems and it doesn't exist.

Lavonzell Nicholson:

It does not at all. It does not at all. And so , um, you know, the , the thing that we do, like, you know, I had a bunch of conversations with friends and with colleagues and I kept getting, you should to this and you should do this. And I'm like, that's not what I want to do. Like , um, so it really, and even in starting my consulting and coaching practice, I needed to be clear on how I wanted to serve people and what I wanted to do. And I , I knew there was not a , not a cookie cutter approach to how I wanted to do work. And so creating that in a way that's authentic to me has been most important and not watching other people's lanes, not watching what other folks are doing, like staying in my lane, standing in my zone of genius.

Stacie Mitchell:

That is, yeah. It's so crucial because I think especially when you're starting a new business and you're sort of trying to figure things out and it's always hard in the beginning and anybody that tells you different is lying to you, you're just trying to get your footing. And it's so easy to look at what everybody else is doing or to see people's success and think that that's like the whole story, but it never is. Yeah.

Lavonzell Nicholson:

It never is. It never is. And yeah, you just have to know that, you know, your journey is your own, like our stories are still being written until they, you know, until it's over. And so your journey is really, it's really your own and you know, you just sort of roll with it.

Stacie Mitchell:

Yeah. You do. Just keep going. I think that's the most important thing. Yeah. So I'm , I'm really wondering, like, what do you wish you had known before you went on this whole burnout journey?

Lavonzell Nicholson:

So I wish I had known the people pleasing in me that because you, if you'd have said I was a people pleaser, my , what are you talking about? Not at all. Um, I wish I would have known to take , um, what I said earlier, take a really good stock of what I wanted. And again, it's not going to be like, I want X , Y , Z , but like the general themes of what you really want. You don't want them to say, you don't want to build something, you know, lean your ladder against the wrong wall only to climb up and realize like, okay, this is not even the wall that I want to be on. So if you think about what you really want and what's really important and where you are in your life and your journey, I wish I , I wish I had known that. And I also wish I would have known that like, stuff is not such a big deal. Like we make things, a big deal in our lives and think that like, people are watching our care more about what's going on. Um, but I got nothing, but, Oh, congratulations or cool. What are you going to do next? Where I thought I was going to get like resistance and pushback. And so sometimes I think we, you know, we imagine that I hit her . We have these fears about , um, external judgment when it really is our own stuff. Yeah . And the final thing I'll say about burnout , um , the toll it takes on your body, it's not worth it, right. This is the only body you have. And so managing your stress , um, managing your health and wellness is important, right? So we hear folks talk about self-care or whatever self-care means to you do it, do it often boundaries set them, maintain them, do not let them become blurry lines. Yeah. Those, those are the things I wish, I wouldn't know.

Stacie Mitchell:

Yeah. And what would you say to someone out there, because I am sure that this person exists, this listening that is successful in their business, worried about changing it. Cause they're not really happy. Like what would you tell them?

Lavonzell Nicholson:

I would say, if you are unhappy and want to make a change, first thing is acknowledging it and creating a support around you for that change, that support can be your friends. That support can be a coach. That's support can be your partner, but really having someone in your corner that's championing and affirming that, you know, it's okay to make change and supporting you in that process. I think it's important to , um, acknowledge the loss and the change, right? So if you're, you know, you don't want to be in business anymore, you wanna start a new business, you aren't giving up something and you're losing a part of your identity. So acknowledging that , um , in a healthy way. And then I think making a plan that works for you. So when I sold my business , um, I tell people I got a lot of retirement money and I got money to take a year off. I knew I needed to take time off. And so that was a part of my plan. And part of my plan was doing the things that I enjoyed, which was traveling with my children , um, spending extended time with my family. I'm doing a whole lot of yoga and a whole lot of, and I volunteered a bunch like the things that were valued to me and that restored, that restored me because those are things that I personally valued. So creating a plan and transition point that talks, that really looks at your finances, like, what do you need rest wise or transition time wise . Um, and then like thinking about what you want to do next, it doesn't have to be perfect. You just got to make a step in the right direction. Yeah,

Stacie Mitchell:

Absolutely. And sometimes you have to take several steps to figure it out. So

Lavonzell Nicholson:

Yeah . Well , Stacie, you, and I know each other, we know how many steps, several steps, right. We know each other, well, we watched each other grow and change our minds quite a few times

Stacie Mitchell:

And it's all normal. And part of the process, which I think is super yeah. Normalizing it. Then I'm really glad that you spoke about, it's almost, it's almost like grief. Like you allow yourself to grieve the loss of something that you thought was, you know, you're saying , I think it's important to allow yourself to sort of take leave if you need to leave your business or sell it or whatever that looks like, change it. Um, allowing yourself to do that, I think is so important. Yeah. That's really, really good. And the support piece is huge. It is having as you said, like you, you had this idea in your head that everyone would be resistant, right. And sometimes we just need, we just need a couple of people to tell us, like , uh, it's fine.

Lavonzell Nicholson:

No one cares.

Stacie Mitchell:

As you said before, it's not such a big deal, but we all make, we all make it a big deal for ourselves. It's really hard not to.

Lavonzell Nicholson:

It really is. And I think, you know, the resilience factor, right? Um, if you have started a business and you have , you have a certain set of skills that are in resiliency, right. To do this is not easy. And so you just take that to the next thing. Right. And don't undervalue that because, you know, again, you learn a lot in this process

Stacie Mitchell:

You really do. And so much you can do with all of the skills that you learn, whether it's like doing a new business, which I have to say, I do think that if you've had one successful business, it's probably going to help you, you know what you're coming into versus starting from total scratch. And yeah. And even if you decide not to have a business anymore, like all the skillsets you learn can be amazing in, you know, employment. People want people who are entrepreneurial as employees .

Lavonzell Nicholson:

Exactly. It is all good. It is all good. I love that.

Stacie Mitchell:

Well, I kind of just want to keep talking to you for the rest of the afternoon, But I'll make myself wrap up. I want to know what would you tell your 20 year old self?

Lavonzell Nicholson:

I would tell my 20 year olds, 20 year old self to have a lot more fun. Try , um , as many different careers jobs as you think you want to, and don't stress so much, it's all gonna work itself out. Yes.

Stacie Mitchell:

Don't I wish, I just wish I could time travel back and be like ,

Lavonzell Nicholson:

Yes, I was so serious. Oh , I was so serious. I was the, you know, GPA , um , sorority president, job apartment having . Yeah, I was that girl.

Stacie Mitchell:

I mean, yeah, different, but same in the sense of like all the responsibilities and it's like, I c ould've had fun. Oh, well, I'm having fun now. I guess it's in a different way. This has been such a fun interview and I want everyone to know where they can find you, cause I'm sure people are like, she knows what she's talking about when it comes to business. So where can they find you online?

Lavonzell Nicholson:

So my website is www.eihconsulting.com. You can also find me on Instagram at E I H underscore consulting and I am supporting entrepreneurs and leaders , um, again, really around real strategies and how to effectively manage their business, you know , for those who feel overwhelmed or feel like they sort of feel stagnant. Um, I do leadership and management coaching, but then also customize strategy sessions . So where we look at different parts of the business, the finances, the operations , um , and really create a strategic plan to help you grow in a smart, and thoughtful way so that you won't burn out.

Stacie Mitchell:

Yeah. I think it's really, really important. And I think it's probably one of the most overlooked things is that like growing a business can unfortunately really easily burn you out if you're not careful. So I think it's just super important work. So I'm so glad that you're on and I'm so glad that you h elp people in that way. And just, thanks again. We're so glad to have you on the podcast.

Voice Artist:

If you love this podcast and want more, you have to check out. Stacey's burnt out to biz boss , Facebook community, where she shares more tips, training, and free coaching opportunities. Learn more [email protected] slash group. And don't forget to review, subscribe and share with a friend. We'll catch you in the next episode.