Women in business: Lou Portass, Serendaya Ltd
In the lead up to International Womens Day we spoke to some inspirational businesswomen here in Cornwall. What a wealth and talent and passion we have in the County!
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your business.
I am director of Serendaya Ltd, a Virtual Assistant and creator of ‘The Balanced Business Retreat’ who believes that balance in business isn’t all about the ‘books’ and that we encourage ease, flow and balance by finding our own rhythm.
I work with digitally overwhelmed creative entrepreneurs who find themselves constantly wishing for more hours in the day. I help them to slay their digital to do lists, organise their virtual office systems and create consistency with social media so that they can concentrate on nurturing their creativity and growing their business with ease, balance and flow.
My philosophy is that, by honouring ourselves and listening to our intuition, we can all reduce the overwhelm and bring more ease and flow into our businesses, and lives. I show my clients how to create routines, boundaries and processes that enable them to flourish as their businesses grow.
I’ve done business the hard way, both as a lawyer and whilst growing my first business. I’ve felt the overwhelm and disquiet as I put everything I had into my career and business and I know what it feels like to hear our soul call ‘there IS another way’ but not know where to begin in acknowledging that voice.
Then, one day, I stopped rushing and listened to what my intuition was telling me. I realised that we can do life and business on our own terms and flourish, so I started doing exactly that.
I show my clients how to listen to listen to their inner voices:
Create a work-life balance tailored to them;
Shift from overwhelmed to balanced;
Encourage ease & flow into their lives & businesses;
Find moments of serenity in every day.
Whilst creating an organised and productive business and a balanced, purposeful life.
2. If you were to turn back time and give yourself one piece of advice before you started your business what would it be?
I would be turning back time to my first business - the one in which I celebrated myself for working 80 hours a week only to later come crashing down in burn out. I would tell myself to take time to notice what’s not working and to make the change sooner rather than later - and the easiest way to do that is to walk away from your desk every now and come back with fresh rested eyes. Then, you’ll see everything more clearly - that’s perspective. Perspective also comes from letting go of the fear, you know the one that creates imposter syndrome, doubt and procrastination? In summary: Believe in yourself and your business, let go of the fear and trust what your intuition is telling you.
3. Who is the most important woman in your life and how have they influenced you?
My mantra is: “Nurture your business’ that most important asset - YOU”, so I’ve got to say that the most important woman in my life right now is me. If we don’t look after ourselves then we suffer and so do our businesses. The most influential though was my Cornish Granny, I think of her words of wisdom daily, she understood life on a level that not many do.
4. What is your proudest achievement in business so far?
That I get to do this thing that lights me up every day and that in doing so, I am helping other women to create successful and fulfilling businesses too.
5. Have you had to face any struggles in business and how have you overcome them?
The biggest struggle I’ve had to overcome is getting out of my own way. After I made the decision to close my first business, I became a procrastinator and self-doubter extraordinaire when it came to committing to moving on to the next. It took a huge amount of personal development to get to where I am today. That struggle has now become a valuable tool in enabling me to understand the obstacles to ease, balance and flow in my clients’ businesses and to helping them move forward as efficiently as possible.
6. This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is #EachforEqual, championing the individual actions we can all take to challenge stereotypes, broaden perceptions and celebrate women’s achievements. What does equality mean to you and what can we all do to forge a gender equal workplace?
I think there are two sides to equality, primarily that we are fundamentally entitled to equality of opportunity and treatment regardless of gender, race, sexuality and so on and we have a right to expect it, but there’s also another side to it - the mind set. In addition to actually being treated equally, we need to truly believe that we are entitled to that equality and aren’t limited by any of those factors, which is easier said than done given how entrenched in inequality our society is.
Whilst many workplaces still function so traditionally and on the apparent assumption that every employee has the capacity to work at optimal levels under identical conditions to the next, there is a real challenge to equality. Flexible and remote working are valuable elements of the solution, but they only go so far - particularly in relation to that percentage of the workforce who are parents to young children. We need to foster an understanding that working part-time to care for children doesn’t equal work-shy or ‘less than’ - actually working mothers are some of the most focused and efficient employees that you’ll find. What would go a long way towards making the necessary difference, would be if we stopped glorifying busyness and working excessive hours. Let’s face it, long hours do not necessarily go hand in hand with productivity but very often, working reduced hours for child care reasons do.
I show my clients how to create routines, boundaries and processes that enable them to flourish as their businesses grow.