Today I sit down with one of my favourite TikTok/content creators of all time: Danielle Ryan! Hit the play button below to start the episode.
Danielle Ryan is former yoga studio owner turned online content creator and small business coach. She grew her own successful small business from scratch using the power of social media and now teaches others how to do the same.
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Did you miss last week’s episode? Don’t sweat it, you can tune in here: October Bonus Episode – Losing a Client
welcome to the show. Danielle. It’s so great to have you here. Did you wanna say hi to the listeners?
Yeah, for sure. Thank you so much for having me. I’m super excited to be here and to talk about my favorite things, small business. So yeah, just really looking forward to our conversation today.
Yeah, so some background for listeners. I have been following her for over a year on TikTok and I just love how you go into every facet of small business and you just explore it and you share your tips and there’s no gatekeeping and you’re obvious passion for entrepreneurship. And I just thought, what an icon I need to get her on the show. Cause I think other listeners will seriously benefit from this as well. So what drew you to entre entrepreneurship?
I actually love this question because if like Danielle of 10 years ago was listening, she would not believe that this is where we are. So one of my closest friends actually, when we were in university he was big in like the startup community and he said to me, Danielle, like, you should really think about becoming an entrepreneur. And I looked at him in the face and I just started laughing and was like, That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. I am never gonna do that. I don’t know why you would even suggest that to me. And then here we are.
So it was really just once I sort of, you know, graduated university. I was in the workforce for a while. And I was really sort of dissatisfied with the career path that I was kind of headed on and it sort of felt. The position that I was in was gonna be it. Like there wasn’t really room for movement in the company I was working in. And even for me to like switch to another job, I didn’t necessarily have like the right skill set.
So I was feeling sort of really trapped at that time. And then funny enough, the town that I was living in at the time was hosting this contest where they’re like, Pitch us a business idea and we’ll pay your rent for a year to have a storefront downtown. So I was like, Okay, well I’ve always like liked yoga, like maybe I’ll open a yoga studio. I kind of like in passing, put together this presentation, submitted it, and it turns out that I made it into like the top five finalists. So we got to go to this like business boot camp and learn how to write a business plan and like do all of this stuff.
I had to do like a dragon stem style pitch in front of this panel of judges. And I didn’t end up getting picked unfortunately, but that was really the thing that like sparked this thing in my brain where I was. Yo, I could be an entrepreneur. Like this is, This is a real thing. Yeah, yeah. Like people can do this. And so a story that I often tell as well is at that same time when I was working that nine to five job, I was also hosting my own podcast and really sort of diving into personal development and getting involved in all of these like online forums.
I was in a bunch of Facebook groups and on Reddit and all of that, like learning about people who had quit their jobs and so these two things were kind of happening simultaneously, and it was honestly on a bit of a whim, so I didn’t win that competition.
But I was on a bus and I maybe had a few alcoholic beverages. It was my birthday and I was thinking, You know what? Like I’m just gonna do it anyway. I don’t need a storefront. I’ll just make a mobile yoga studio. And so I literally was like on my phone, on this bus, booked my yoga teacher training, booked my flight to Portugal to go do it, and was like, Well, I already. Paid for it. So I guess I have to quit my job on Monday. Like, oops. So the rest is kind of history from there.
But I just sort of reached this point where I was so, I felt so trapped in the life that I was creating that I was like, the only way I’m gonna get out of this is to take a chance on myself. And so I didn’t really have experience as an entrepreneur, no one in my family as an entrepreneur. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I just knew that I had to change something or I was going to be in that position forever.
That is so cool and so inspiring. And did you ever like get to a point where it felt crazier to stay in your job than to leave?
Definitely, and I think that was the thing was I, I remember having sort of this realization, like there was no waking moment where my boss yelled at me and I was like, That’s it, I’m out of here. It was more so just this constant stream. every day driving to work thinking how am I gonna do this for the next 35 years? Like I mentally do not think I am capable of continuing to do this. And so that was really the breaking point I guess, was that realization that it was up to me to change that path. No one else was gonna do it for me.
Yes. Yeah, well said. And do you remember handing in your resignation and what’s that? What that is like? Cuz I did that last December and I will never forget that moment.
Yeah. So scary, right?
like, Oh my God. Even talking about it and I’m not even talking about it now and I still feel my heart racing.
I’m sweating It was literally like, okay, so I said I booked this all. It was a Saturday that all of this went down. So I was like, Okay, on Monday. So I decided I was gonna give my job like a month’s notice because you know, I’m a respectable employee. And so I showed up Monday and I was like, Okay, I’m gonna do it today. And I sat at my desk all day, like, Ooh, didn’t do it. I chickened out Tuesday, rolls around, da da, da. Same thing. Didn’t do it.
I’m like, sweating, freaking out. Finally Wednesday, I wait till the very end of the day and I’m like, Okay, we gotta just like rip the bandaid off. So I, you know, shyly walk my way down the hallway to my boss’s office. I’m kind of standing there like she’s like, Danielle, what’s going on? I’m like, Okay, I have a confession. I am quitting my job to start a business and I’m going to be handing in my resignation, and she just looks at me and goes, Honestly, I thought this was gonna happen a year ago, so I’m really happy for you, but that sucks for me.
So it, it was really well received on that end, but I was Terrified of what the feedback was gonna be and it honestly, it’s like anything, nothing is ever as terrible as we work it up to be in our mind, but it doesn’t make it any less scary.
Yeah, so true. It just gets to a point too where it’s like a breakup that needs to happen. It’s like you’ve been in there for way too long and you will just feel happier once you’re off the bandaid off. But getting there is torture
And what advice would you give a brand new person who’s just flirting with the idea of becoming a business owner? Do you have any words of wisdom for someone in that boat? Because I think a lot of listeners tune into the podcast and they’re getting inspired and the gear start turning, but maybe they’re not ready to commit yet.
For sure. And I think that this is like a big misconception and sort of my story is the opposite of what I recommend anyone does. Like, I don’t think that everyone should quit their job and start a business. It’s very reckless and a little bit irresponsible if I being honest. I’m fortunate that it worked out for me. But I think that something that we should think about when we’re sort of flirting with the idea of becoming an entrepreneur is that we don’t have to create this like multi six-figure multimillion dollar business.
You can have a business on the side of what it is you’re already doing. You can have sort of this small scale business and just start with, you know, maybe one client, two clients, or if you’re selling products, you know, sell one product and then kind of grow from there.
There’s this sort of phenomenon, I guess you could call it in the online space, where people sort of lead us to believe that the only way to be successful as an entrepreneur is if, you know, have a $10,000 month or whatever that is. But it’s like you can be an entrepreneur and also be. A full-time teacher also be a full-time administrator or do other things on the side. It doesn’t have to look like I’m a millionaire or I’m not successful. Like that’s not the reality.
So if that’s kind of the thing that’s holding you back, like, Oh, I wanna start a business, but I don’t wanna like have a big business, you can still get started and just start with that one thing that you’re good at, or selling that one product that you love and. Seeing where it goes from there. And I think that’s honestly the best way to do it is to just ease your way into it. Because it’s not for everybody. And the only way to figure it out whether or not it is for you, is to at least give it a try. And so I think it, we can take some of that pressure off ourselves if we don’t. Have to commit to it as like the one and only thing that we identify as.
So true. Such a well round response. That’s why I knew I had to bring you on the show, cuz I totally agree. I definitely fell victim to that mentality when I first started my business. Six figures in my role I held was not feasible. But then I also kind of wanted to do it cuz it felt impossible. I hit that figure combining my entrepreneurship and my full time and then I was still left feeling like, oh shit, this actually wasn’t the thing that was gonna make me feel fulfilled.
So that was a big wake up call. And yeah, I agree with everything you’re saying. You have to. Do you? Don’t worry only about finances. I mean, we need money to survive. Money’s not bad, but it can’t be the only thing fueling your business Exactly. For it to be really satisfying.
Yeah, and that’s like a really important piece to talk about as well, is I’ve had this conversation with a number of my friends who are entrepreneurs and I remember. The first or second year that I was in business, my intention was only to like match what I was making at my corporate job, which quite frankly was like $40,000 a year. But I was like, that’s enough for me to pay my bills.
The key is, is that I don’t wanna have to work 40 hours a week to make that 40 grand. So I was able to work half the amount of. Make the same amount of money and still pay all my bills. My goal was never, you know, to become a millionaire in the first year of business. It was that I wanted freedom for myself. I didn’t want whatever the money would bring me. My priority at that time was the flexibility, and that’s what I was able to achieve.
So for anyone who’s listening, I think it’s really important to connect with. If money is the thing for you, then that’s great. That’s. Just understand that there’s going to be other sacrifices that you’re gonna have to make to achieve that. And so if you can get really clear about what your why is or what you’re hoping to get out of becoming an entrepreneur, then I think that’s more important to focus on, especially in those beginning phases.
Yeah, totally agree with that. Do you ever have, do you remember the times, I should say, at the start of your journey when it was just like doubt and like, what the heck did I just do? Can we talk about that to normalize it?
For sure. And I think a lot of. Honestly, and especially in the infancy stems from feedback you get from other people. Okay. I specifically remember a woman who was always like a bit of a mentor to me, and I’ve known her since I was quite young approaching me shortly after I quit my job. And she worked at like a pretty large organiz government organization in Ontario. And she said to me, you know, Danielle, We’re never gonna hire you now that you’ve quit your job. We don’t wanna hire people like you. And I looked at her and I said, Well then it’s lucky for me that I don’t wanna work there, but thank you so much. Thank you for making it so easy. Exactly.
But that to me just seemed so wild because in her mind, Quitting, you know, a stable corporate job, benefits, pension, blah, blah, blah. To start a business was the most irresponsible thing someone could do. And so I kind of internalized that. Like, Oh my God, am I making a big mistake? Obviously I didn’t say that to her face, but you hold onto a lot of that feedback that you’re getting and it makes you start to question like, am I going to regret this? Like, what’s going on? And I, I’ll just say for the record that there’s never been a single day where I woke up and was like, Wow, I wish I still had my jobs an administrator. But it doesn’t make that feedback hurt any less.
So that can be really hard when you’re hearing people, you know obviously in the wellness space, a lot of feedback like, who would wanna pay for that? Your services are so overpriced, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It makes it really hard to wanna keep going. But I think it’s just important to remember that if we get really specific about who we’re trying to serve and how we’re trying to serve them Our content will resonate with the people who it’s meant for, and if it doesn’t, then that just means we need to kind of pivot and figure out what is going to work. Like it’s definitely possible.
You just have to be willing to have that sort of open-minded flexibility and understand that a lot of the times people are just projecting their own thoughts about their reality onto what it is you’re doing.
There’s a quote, it’s like pretty cheesy I guess, but no one who’s doing better than you will ever say something negative about you. So just kind of keeping that in the back of your mind, that if someone is being critical of what you’re doing as long as you’re not actually doing something bad it’s likely just a reflection of where they’re at in their own journey.
Yeah. Yeah. Well said. And I wanted to ask you now kind of like a tangent a little bit, but I’m just thinking about your mobile yoga business and how that was in person and you were actually mobile, like going to people’s places or to event spaces to do yoga, and then now you’re mostly online. Is that right? For your new business ventures?
Yeah, exactly. So when I started the business, I literally just like bought 10 yoga mats, 10 blocks packed, packed them into the back of Myke and drove to people’s cottages and offered yoga on the dock, basically.
And so now I’ve recently moved across the country to Vancouver and I’ve sort of stepped out of the yoga space. So like with the pandemic and all of that, I was doing a lot of online yoga and then, Once we were allowed to go back to in person, I was teaching like six to seven yoga classes a day, driving everywhere. And so I basically just experienced some pretty extreme burnout and decided that I wasn’t really into doing that anymore. So now that I’ve relocated here, I focus primarily on like content creation and small business mentorship.
So a lot of coaching and consulting and that kind of thing. Teaching people how to use social media. To grow their businesses like I.
That’s awesome. And, and I forgot to actually ask the question there. How do you feel now being more online versus actually doing like, work in front of people, like leading a class. that’s a very different energy that you need to show up with every day. Do you have a preference? Is it just a season of life? I’m like a big believer that there’s just seasons where I need to be in front of people doing stuff and sometimes I’m just like, Nope. At the desk is fine.
Exactly. I really appreciate you for saying that, and I think. The time when I started my yoga business, that was definitely what I wanted. I wanted, you know, that fun in person connection, meeting different groups of people and doing that. And now I’m definitely in this period, at least for now, where it’s nice for me to, you know, have my own work, work with people one on one, get really intimate with what their projects are, what they’re working on, and do it that way, and still have sort of that flexibility and autonomy to do whatever it is that I want day to day.
I’m finding that for where I’m sort of at in my journey, that’s the right fit for me right now and I’m, I’m feeling really good about sort of what I’m creating.
That’s great. Can you talk a little bit about your experience pivoting? Because I think it’s should be normalized and I think it’s great if you have a business idea and then you shift later on because that’s just normal and that’s how, I think that’s a sign of intelligence and success because you can’t stay on a course if you’re not happy. So how was that transition period for you?
Yeah, that’s a really great question. I think. I always have been of the mentality, just like you said, that we need to normalize changing our minds. And so that’s always been my mantra and I’ve shared that with my audience when I had my yoga business, you know, when I left my job and started to teach yoga and now that I’m transitioning again, it’s like, it’s always about really being in tune. What is going to make you happy? What is sort of aligned? Again, if we come back to that, why that vision of what it is we’re trying to create. Is the vehicle that I’m using to get me to that why still serving me.
So initially, Like my why has never wavered. I’ve always wanted freedom. I’ve always wanted autonomy to, you know, have control over what I’m doing with my life and find a way to serve other people in the process. And so in 2018, that vehicle was yoga, teaching yoga, bringing yoga to people and offering that service. And then now, you know, yoga wasn’t serving me anymore, but I still needed a vehicle to help other people.
Naturally it kind of just progressed into what I’m doing now because I started sharing my entrepreneurial journey on. A few things went viral, it blew up. And then people started asking me for help with their small business and it was like, Oh wait, I guess this could be the transition that gets me out of the thing that’s not working for me anymore. Like you said, I think that it requires a certain level of intelligence or a certain level of self-awareness to understand. Why am I so miserable? Or why do I feel burnt out? Like what is it that needs to change?
And then being willing to step forward and make that change, like growth is a huge part of being an entrepreneur and understanding that what worked for us five years ago might not work for us now, and that’s okay, But what is going to work as we move forward?
It’s like the guideline is to niche down as much as you can, but nicheing down doesn’t mean like a permanent tattoo. you can still niche, you can have a second niche later on with a new thing. It’s okay Cuz I think sometimes that mentality can actually stop people from even starting their entrepreneur journey because maybe it feels like too big of a commitment.
Exactly. And that’s why I’m always so keen to share my story because like my educational background was in environmental studies. Like I thought I was gonna be out in the swamp collecting dirt out of the bog and bringing it back to the lab. That’s what I had pictured for my life. I ended up then in being an administrator, or actually I worked at a zip line course first became an administrator, started a yoga business. It’s like life is just a giant experiment and I just do it feels good till it doesn’t feel good anymore, and I really like that comment of.It’s not a permanent decision.
But I think that what happens is the people, and this is my own experience, but the people in our lives tend to sort of put us into these boxes of like, Okay, you are X, Y, and Z. This is Danielle. She is, you know, the administrator. She is this. And so it’s really hard for us to be willing or able to break out of that box because it’s we feel like, okay, well if I all of a sudden start telling people I’m a yoga teacher, How are they gonna take me seriously? Because they only know me as this other thing that I was before that.
So I think if we can learn to kind of let go of that and understand that like no one really cares about what we’re doing as much as we think they care about what we’re doing and just do what feels good for you, I think that that really makes all the difference.
Yeah, I agree. Okay. I wanted to ask you about TikTok. I watch everything and I do not make any content
I love that.
And I, I do really admire, like I said at the start, how you are. I see you like so often leveraging all of the different opportunities online, and I am in awe. And I just wanna hear about how you’re using that in your business, how it’s shaping your future business opportunities. Take the mic.
Yeah, it’s been really cool actually. So I did some content recently talking about like brand deals that I’ve been involved with and how I sort of was able to land those. And like, full disclosure, I have never once pitched myself to media, pitch myself to brands, any of that. I only go based on people that approach me. And I decide whether or not it’s a good fit because I think I made a joke about this last week, but like, I’m never gonna talk about crypto. So if you see crypto on my TikTok, you know that I got hacked. Okay.
Yeah. Abducted by aliens.
exactly. But anyways, I think that the really important piece that I try to, to tell people, and you kind of mentioned this earlier, is like, yes, nicheing down is important, but you need to be willing to like stick with whatever that thing is for at least some period of time for people to be able to recognize you as an expert in that field. I think a lot of the times in business what we see is like serial entrepreneurs where it’s like they try this thing for six months and then they try this thing, then they try this thing and then they go, Oh, you. Entrepreneurship sucks.
You know what? I started the business once and it didn’t work, and it’s like, okay, but did you actually like try it and be consistent with it for a given period of time? Because quite honestly, coming back to your question, any media opportunity I had, like I’ve spoken on the cbc, I’ve been on the local news many times, I’ve done deals with brands like Tellis and the Royal Bank, and that’s all because I am consistently showing up, talking about starting a small. In Canada. In every single thing that I post to some capacity, some of it’s like more fun and lighthearted, but at the end of the day, it’s like when people think of me, they think of me as, you know, this small business Canadian small business specialist.
My LinkedIn profile, that’s what it says. If you search my name, that’s what you’re gonna find. So just being really sort of strong in what it is you represent and what your area of expertise is, and then consistently showing up as the expert in that field. Even if you only have 10 followers right now. I started my TikTok, there was no one following me. I just started talking about it cuz I liked to talk about business. And then slowly it started to snowball from there. So I think there’s often this expectation that like, well, if I don’t have a huge following on the internet, like no one’s gonna care what I have to say.
But if you know what you’re talking about and you’re well educated in whatever it is, and you start sharing that information, someone out there is going to find you and be like, Wow, that was really helpful. Right. And so that’s really the most important piece is again, thinking. Those people were trying to serve, what information it is they need and then just continuously showing up with that information. I don’t know if that really answered your question, but that’s just kind of my experience.
No, that was great. Very in depth. And I will ask you maybe some specific questions now cause some are on the top of my mind. I interviewed one gal about UGC and I think for a lot of the listeners who are into health and wellness and food nutrition, I think a lot of dietitian. Rock the UGC world, and I’m wondering if you can share experience on it, because I think it’s still quite new. If you Google it, like there’s very little content out there about it, so it sounds like a good time to jump in, but maybe if you wanna share some insight on it.
Yeah, so I do UGC right now with a few different food brands, funny enough. And I actually came into it through an agency that was looking for u GC creators. So I literally was just like at home one day and was like, hmm. I’d like to get into ugc. So I went on Indeed and I just typed in like content creator jobs and this one popped up like we’re looking for people to create X amount of videos about Topic abc.
I literally just had to like submit my TikTok profile as my resume and popped on a Zoom call with the guy who owned the agency. And then next thing you know, he. We’ll give you, you know, a three month test run and if things work out we’ll go from there. So I’ve been doing that for a little bit over a year now, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with a few different brands specifically through that agency. That’s one way to approach it, is to, you know, find an agency that’s already creating content and get hired sort of as a subcontractor.
Or you can just approach brands directly. So if you are a dietitian and you wanted to work with a specific food company, you could always reach out to them and say, like, My best advice, I guess, would be to have ideas to share with them. If you are gonna pitch yourself to a brand, you wanna be able to prove like, Hey, I’m actually knowledgeable and this is what I could offer you.
And obviously if you have video content that sort of fits that theme, sharing that as well as your social proof that, you know what you’re talking about would definitely be helpful. But I think that, like you said, there is sort of this misconception that it’s like, Oh, I don’t know what I’m doing, or I don’t know how to get started. And it’s really not, not that difficult to just reach out and say, Hey, because brands, like every brand you can think of from food to digital products to the shoes you probably wear, Are looking for UGC creators. So yeah,
it’s exploding. I totally, I wanna tap into it. That’s so exciting.
Yeah, every brand is looking to grow specifically on TikTok and they just don’t have the capacity to have someone in house to do it, so it’s so much easier for them to just offload those advertising dollars to a contractor that could do it on their own terms.
Yeah. Cool. And this is a question I like to ask a lot of the guests cuz it’s just so common about imposter syndrome. How do you deal with imposter syndrome? Cause we all feel it at some point. Any tips to move past that?
Yeah, for sure. I think that imposter syndrome, the most important piece is to remember that it’s never gonna go away. Like I had this point, this idea in my head that I was like, You know what? I’m gonna start a business and then in like two years, I’m gonna be like that person that I see online and I’m gonna be so confident and it’s gonna be great. No worries here. And then I got there and I was like, Wait a minute. Oh, why do I still feel this way?
So it’s like anytime I hop on like a news interview, a podcast interview, like any of that, it’s like, who am I to be sharing this information? Like, are they, I make sure they didn’t make a mistake asking me to do this. I haven’t done this in a while. But this is something I used to recommend to a lot of my clients was like creating a list where every time you accomplish something or you do something that’s pretty cool, so like this podcast interview you, for example, you would write it on the list. So then when you’re having those days where you’re like, I know nothing. I’m the worst. This is terrible.
You just like I had it in an Excel spreadsheet, but you just like open it up and you’re like, Oh wow, I’m actually pretty legit. Like, look at all these things that I accomplished.
Really just taking that time to reflect and recognize on all that you have done, I think can really help to combat some of those feelings. And then just recognizing that. Even the people who appear to be the most confident on camera, on social media, whatever that is they also don’t know what they’re doing. We’re all just making it up at the end of the day. So just remembering make it Exactly. We’re all in this together.
Yeah. That’s so great. It is nice to keep like a little list or folder or whatever your medium is of just feel good moments to remind yourself how capable you are because entrepreneurship. Is, I find it like a pretty lonely pursuit. Not like in a negative way. Just like literally solitary
So like you do have to be cheerleader accountant, like all of that stuff. So if you can lean on some resources to pick you up, like by all means, I think it’s a genius idea.
And just find a community. Like since moving to a larger city, I’ve already been able to connect with a handful of other creators. And I find that’s been really helpful too with not only the imposter syndrome, but also just like knowing how to do certain things. Like when someone reaches out to me and wants me to work for free and I’m like, I don’t know how to say no to this person. What do I say?
To have that community of people who can give you that feedback because like you said, like. We’re all alone. Like I’m just in my house by myself all day. Yeah. And my dog doesn’t know the answer to these questions, Look at me with his sad eyes. I’m like, Yeah, that’s how I feel too.
Finding those spaces, whether it’s in person or even like online communities, there’s a few like Slack channels that I’m in with other entrepreneurs, and that’s been really helpful in navigating some of those more challenging pieces that we don’t always have the answer to as.
Yeah, that is such a great point, and so simple and achievable. That’s a really good one. And I wanted to ask you one kind of final question here. What do you think is the biggest myth about being an entrepreneur?
I think I kind of touched on this earlier, but it’s really this expectation that like, just because we started a business, we’re going to be super successful overnight.
I think that my mentality has always been that entrepreneurship is sort of this slow burn. I like to think of it like this, this sprint, or no, a marathon, not a sprint. The other way around like metaphors, man.
But yeah, just this idea. It’s great if you wanna get started, but just recognize that it does take a lot of persistence and energy and effort, and you might not get the results that you expect right away, but it’s ultimately going to be worth it in the end. I think that with all the noise we see online, it can be hard to remember because we find ourselves in that co comparison trap where we’re seeing like, Oh, Jane Doe over here is doing so well, why aren’t I? But keeping in mind that first of all, everything we see on the internet isn’t always true.
And second of all, like someone else’s journey isn’t reflective of yours. S o success can look different for each of us. As long as we stay committed to again, what our why or what that purpose is that we started our business for, I think that’s ultimately gonna be the thing that pulls us.
Couldn’t agree Mar. That was so great. Did you wanna share any final thoughts before we sign off? I think that’s pretty much it. If anyone wants to connect with me, you can check me out, Danielle, ryan.me. That’ll link you to all of my socials and everything. My YouTube channel, and if you’re looking for more small business advice, I give it every day. So yeah, find me there. That’s awesome. I will link all that in the show notes. Thank you so much.