Have you noticed that outsourcing has become a hot topic in parenting and business forums? As a business owner and as a parent, it can be a challenge to do all the things. If you’ve ever wondered what you could outsource to lighten the load automation may just be for you.
It can be one of the easiest ways to free up your time so that you can lean into the parts of life that you love. But here's the thing. Just like other forms of outsourcing like picking the right cleaner, the best babysitter for your kids and finding the perfect VA to support your business, you don't want to leave the automation of your business with just anyone.
Aoife O’Connell is a Mums & Co member who runs a business that helps put the human back into the automation process. Aoife is the owner of an artificial intelligence agency that deals with automation for small to medium and enterprise businesses Yarnly AI. She helps support you to translate your brand messaging with automation and unique personalized touch.
00:01:11:17 - 00:01:30:19
Have you ever been asked or asked yourself, what can you outsource? Well, the question that our next guest will ask is kind of the same. What can you automate? It's a question that may be confronting and challenging, yet is coming from a kind and caring place. What can make business and motherhood easier and better for you?
Automation is one of the very best ways to free up your time so that you can lean into the parts of life that you love. But here's the thing. Just like outsourcing, picking the cleaner that meets your standards, choosing the very best babysitter for your kids, or buying ready-made meals just as healthy and delicious as what you would make at home, you don't want to leave the automation of your business with just anyone.
00:01:54:14 - 00:02:14:18
Today's guest is a Mums & Co member who runs a business that helps put the human back into the automation process. Aoife O'Connell is the founder of Yarnly AI, a creative team of digital chat voice developers and designers who embrace humanness to connect, tell stories and feel emotions through technology. Aoife, welcome to the Mumbition podcast.
00:02:17:18 - 00:02:19:22
Thank you for having me.
00:02:20:01 - 00:02:34:21
Now our very first question to any business owning mother is always, what do you do? We'd love to hear your pitch, and we feel that women should embrace every opportunity they have to make introductions, tell their story and connect. So please may we invite you to practice your pitch.
00:02:38:10 - 00:03:01:07
Thank you for having me. My name's Aoife O'Connell and I'm the founder of Yarnly AI I am the owner of an artificial intelligence agency that deals with automation for small to medium and enterprise businesses. We help support you translate your brand messaging with automation through personalized touch.
00:03:01:14 - 00:03:18:12
Amazing. I know that you started Yarnly AI in 2019. This has been so much that has happened in the last couple of years, and digital transformation is certainly one of those things that everyone's thinking about. But I want to know, what do you love about your business right now?
00:03:18:21 - 00:03:38:00
I'm enjoying being able to control my own narrative. I'm lucky in that I’m digital. I'm lucky enough that I think the way the world has escalated into automation. Bringing things online just from the sheer need of our current world we're living in has really opened up the mind of people. Especially those who are needing the skill set to be able to execute effectively and knowledgeably.
That's what we have support. I think another layer on top of that is that we're very emotive in how we want to design and develop. We want to create stories, we want to create relationships and we want to create meaningful content.
People don't have time and we want what's out there for our clients. Our brand wants to leave a meaningful impression and get the result that our clients need. That's what I'm loving, helping those businesses right now.
00:04:26:16 - 00:04:39:17
You do it in a way where it's not this scary approach. You are able to do it in a very accessible way. I think it's a really important way at the moment.
00:04:39:23 - 00:04:52:19
Absolutely. I'm glad you touched on that because I think there's a large percentage of mums in business and females in business or you hit the glass ceiling in the corporate environment and you start a business.
I feel privileged to empower people to control and deliver experiences that they wouldn't necessarily feel they could. The way the world is going, we are kind of addicted to our mobile device and always being on in your business. I think it's incredibly important to allow people in business to have the tools of today, to make the experiences of the now or the future.
00:05:23:08 - 00:05:39:08
It's so wonderful to hear you speak about your business. You sound like you have so much clarity and I love the two goals that you've mentioned there, to empower women and also give them clarity. But you also mentioned that, especially at this time, there's probably a lot of reluctance in that small business space for women who are starting when maybe they weren't quite ready. What have you had to stop doing in the last couple of years as you're building your business up to make it a success?
00:05:51:02 - 00:06:06:07
For me, it's recognising what your end result is. I'm was a reluctant, small to medium owner. I was becoming a mum and I had to recognise that the juggle is a lot.
Flexibility in starting a small to medium business is desirable. But you actually look at going from 9 to 5 to working 24 hours. At the start, I remember I was like hyper anal making lists and making sure there was structure.
That was just the learning phase and I was kind of in that newborn phase. As the years progressed, certainly in the last two and a half years, you get into that toddler phase, maybe the adolescent phase.
That's where we are as a business right now. You’re consistently learning and that's really important to remember. Starting for me was actually putting in a lot of structure.
Using the tools and platforms available, like Asana, Trello or Slack. Really taking an hour and doing a tutorial and figuring out the power of what they can do for you and have a real system in place.
So you don't have a desktop of 100 files, and things get overwhelming. Because having a small business is like having small humans, you have limited time. You're ducking in, your ducking out and it just can get really overwhelming.
I think even for anyone starting out, what I should have started earlier is actually that process. And understanding the power of the tools available even in freemium and what they can give to you straight away is really important to do.
00:07:29:03 - 00:07:39:17
I absolutely love that tip. I think that's something we all need to hear. Totally put my hand up there, and I think we tell ourselves it's going to be longer and demands more time.
But as you say, investing in that hour to learn about the tools that we are using, just to move forward in our business.
00:07:46:05 - 00:08:05:17
Absolutely. Even having clear expectations of yourself as well. At the start, I had very set milestones that I wanted to hit. I backed myself in being quite ambitious. And the reality of hitting them with everything else going on is pretty hard to do.
It's the mindset to actually recognise you can only do what you can do and not beat yourself up for it as well. So it's a very much the process, the mindset and the why.
00:08:16:18 - 00:08:32:17
I love the analogy you used before about your business being in stages comparable to childhood events and then eventually becoming a teenager. But what have you found to be the most transferable skills between running a business and being a mum?
00:08:32:24 - 00:08:49:14
Negotiation is probably the most hardcore one. Look small business and everything in it is about communication, right? It's understanding the current state, understanding the people you're dealing with and even the value behind your business.
We are in automation and we automate the experience, but we don't take away that human connection. And that's very important. The main skill is to listen and adapt accordingly through your communication, and everyone learns and communicates differently.
00:09:08:15 - 00:09:24:04
Carrie mentioned when we started chatting that we love hearing mums and encourage women to practice their business pitch. But we also really like making introductions to other mums in business. So if there was something you could ask for right now and it could be in your business or your life, what do you think it would be?
00:09:24:05 - 00:09:38:22
For me right now, we've started to migrate into that adolescence phase as a business and the scale of which we want to grow with our client base I have clear ambitions of what I want to do.
Right now we want to take on more clients. People that are looking to build out their automations, their funnels, their emails and apply that strategy. That's what we're looking for. We want to grow pretty much aggressively in the next twelve months to help support multiple different businesses and empower people to have the right playbook.
00:09:59:13 - 00:10:08:02
That's a super exciting stage to be in, and I was wondering if the next stages of a business is comparable to kids graduating or getting married?
00:10:08:07 - 00:10:09:05
Yes, it is.
00:10:13:13 - 00:10:30:12
You've been a part of the Mums & Co community for some time. You know that our Co’s that support around us that’s the partners, it's the husbands or friends, family, clients. We would love to hear a little bit about your Co and how they support you.
00:10:30:14 - 00:10:46:18
Aoife O'Connell 4
I'm pretty headstrong. And initially, when I started my business, I was like, “I know what I'm doing”. But the reality was when the wrapper comes off, there is so much you don't know in multiple different areas of business?
I have a really strong connection with copywriters and I think it was from my insecurity of being dyslexic. But involving others in my business has actually built up my natural skill set. Strong business relationships with other key business owners has been vital.
And then, of course, your at-home support. I'm very lucky that I have a partner that is 50/50, probably more like 75%. He's really hands-on. I'm very lucky. That has really helped support me and be able to have that additional time. But also, I think the current state of the world has allowed him to be able to support us at home because he has been at home.
It's actually escalated and elevated my business because I had a lot more time because he was at home to help support and be hands on. So that's my Co. I think it's very important to have one and of course, the Mums & Co community and Carrie and everyone that have supported me from day dot. I'm incredibly grateful. Keep the people that are close to you that when you're not in the room, they actually suggest and support and actually recommend you. They're the ones you always should champion.
00:12:26:19 - 00:12:42:22
That is true. And I know you pay that forward as well. Helping the next person come up the rung, the next mum in business. You mentioned the current state being Covid which has had a silver lining in that sense.
I think every working parent, male and female, mums and dads have all been put in the same environment. I saw a Meme the other day where it was like, “Mothers were never asked what they did during the day again”.
00:12:58:14 - 00:13:14:12
Absolutely. Even in business, businesses are very receptive to now doing meetings over Zoom. That has allowed a lot more flexibility to be able to do.
Whereas previously, you would have to have a whole day to actually meet these people and the pipeline was longer. And geographically it isn't an issue anymore. So I think that's been really important for women in business and especially mums in business that are tight with time and are having to dip in and out. That brain fog of having to have a couple of hours here and there when the baby is napping, it's incredibly important to value that. And I think technology, with the way the world has actually escalated the success in many businesses.
00:13:45:15 - 00:14:04:24
Yeah, absolutely. It's a normal way of working now, and we've known this for a while. There are thousands and thousands of business owning mums who know this. But this is our normal day and we can still operate and we can still feel very capable of delivering successful outcomes.
So I love that that is now a normal feature that kids can jump into Zoom calls and jump out again. I'd love to hear, what is one thing that you tell yourself before making business decisions? Is there anything that you frame in your mind?
00:14:29:21 - 00:14:44:08
I was never a small business owner, until two and a half years ago. A large percentage of my career was in the corporate world. Any business decision I make is really weighed off, not from a monetary value, it's based on integrity, morals, values. Does it contribute to what we want to achieve long term? Does it support sustainability and progression for equality in the business the brand?
We really do look under the hood of who we partner with or who I partner with very exclusively for big clients. Because PR can be misconstrued. This is a long game and we're here for a long time and we're going to be running the businesses until I'm very much 70 or 80 years of age.
I think it's incredibly important because the world needs to be a better place and we individually can contribute to that, especially as business owners, actually.
00:15:47:17 - 00:15:53:01
There is a lot of power in how we procure and how we choose to work and the legacy that we're trying to create.
00:15:53:02 - 00:16:04:17
Beautifully said Aoife. You've spoken before about the exciting growth period that you are in, in your business at the moment. What's something that you promoting at the moment that we could help share with our community?
00:16:04:24 - 00:16:23:02
We have just started to dot I's & cross t's in a bit of a SaaS platform offering. We are going to be bringing to market Yarnly.AI, which is an automation system that will underpin all our client's work and execution.
This is going to be an all in one email, website, funnel builder, chat module, SMS, phone & CRM. It's an all in one, so I'm very excited and that's what we're going to be going to market with in the next six weeks.
We're just kind of wrapping up what that looks like. We'd love to push that AI to anyone that is interested in this to get them on board. We're looking for beta testers at the moment. We would love to be able to help and support someone starting out that would like to get on board and give us feedback for the experience.
00:16:57:19 - 00:17:16:05
Sounds great and I have no doubt we'll see some of that on your very energetic and colorful Instagram page. I'm just wondering what's an insight into you, Aoife, as a business woman and a mother that we might not see on your Instagram page?
00:17:16:13 - 00:17:36:22
I'm pretty transparent in regards to what we share, and sometimes I can be accused of getting a bit too stern in my views of the world. What do people not know about me? I always want to champion people that are underrepresented or in a minority, that's incredibly important. I've been not so active on Instagram because, there's so much going on of late, and I think that's something that people need to make peace with.
You can't do it all when you're growing other areas of whatever that may be, personal or business. Maybe Carrie can tune in on what people don't know about me.
00:18:05:06 - 00:18:16:09
But I'm just thinking back to the time we were celebrating your nominations. It was the Social Media Marketing Awards. Can we reveal that?
00:18:17:00 - 00:18:31:17
Yes, there's a lot of accolades there. The reason why I touched on that is because, I don't actually celebrate the things that we are successful for. And I think that maybe the insecurity of I just don't value it to be that's what we are as a business. So even though we're very grateful for it, it's just something that we should probably do better.
00:19:10:23 - 00:19:19:07
You're very humble. You are humble in many ways. You've got so much experience and so much expertise and you're very generous with it as well.
00:19:19:17 - 00:19:37:12
I love what you said before about limiting or reducing the amount that you're on social media at the moment. It's something that people don't really talk enough about. I think in times of now, it's been quite a challenging time, particularly where we're living in Sydney with COVID that we can't actually do it all and social media certainly falls into that bucket. What's something else that you do to secure your own sense of well-being? Is there something that you practice daily that helps you stay grounded and energetic?
00:19:50:07 - 00:20:08:22
I used to be a morning person. Well, I didn't like it. But I would get up and just go to the gym at 5:30-6:00 a.m. Just to get out of the house. Thinking back to the early days in business that was critical in having the right mindset to manage the day.
I would force myself because I dealt with post-natal depression and everything that goes hand-in-hand with fatigue, a young baby crying and having to deal with clients or even just starting a business, not having any clients.
I remember looking at my inbox initially going, Oh my God, not one person has emailed me! It was just subscriptions to HubSpot or something. I was like, How am I going to do this? So that was incredibly important to early days.
Just to push yourself, not hit the alarm but just get up and go. Now that's not achievable today. So I think the next best thing is just getting out early for yourself just to have that alone time and to get your kind of peace before the day starts off?
If you can manage your morning, you can manage the day. I think it’s really critical at the start when running your business. With managing COVID, I've actually limited news. I'm not consuming media anymore, because I just don't have the bandwidth to digest it along with everything else that everyone has to digest. I've actually noticed that it was limiting my creativity just from how we can position ourselves as a business for our brand.
I was getting so bombarded with messaging that I was getting lost in what my message was and what we wanted to articulate from the brand. So I've actually just removed consumption and now we're creating that plan. It's really aligned to the messaging of my voice and interesting topics to talk about because I'm not focused on anyone else's consumption. I do miss that because I do love supporting other businesses and reading what they're about, but I just needed that time to step back to get the creativity back into my mind again.
00:22:05:04 - 00:22:18:04
I love that answer, and I do agree with you about those two things. The first thing you mentioned is if you are lucky enough to get an hour in the morning to yourself, it can just totally transform your day.
Something about that silence, I think space for your own thoughts. I also love what you just said about looking at that news noise and realising that it can be overwhelming that it does limit creativity. And you're so right. It gives your brand some more energy in this space because you're completely focused on that.
00:22:38:04 - 00:22:52:24
It's really important for us to shelter ourselves right now, but not be ignorant to obviously what we need to do. But I just think you limit your consumption because it does restrict what you can create at the end of the day.
00:22:52:24 - 00:23:08:13
Now, prior to starting your business, you were actually working in insurance, which I think adds a different lens to risk when you're launching your own business and running your business.
However, I think it's always a little bit different as an entrepreneur when you've got the reins. You may not have as many resources at your disposal. So what's your approach to managing risks now and how has that changed since you become a business owner?
00:23:22:24 - 00:23:42:04
Resources are completely different. Budgets are different. Starting a business, you have to be a practitioner first to be able to empower yourself to make the changes that need to be changed. If it's a website or if it's an email sequence or just a depth in that you know what you're doing, but also that you know what you are able to control from a brief as well.
If you're getting help and support, which I would highly recommend from freelancers or agencies, is if you have somewhat of an overview as a practitioner. Even if it's a one or two hour tutorial of what could be done is very important because that can manage risk from an investment of skill set that might necessarily not know what they're doing. I think that's incredibly important.
Or if you don't have the time to invest and empower, reach out to someone that you potentially know that you could swap skill sets or trade advice before you actually do go into a partnership with a freelancer or an agency and part with your money. That's really important from a risk perspective for business relationships. I really do my due diligence now. I have had an experience very early on that the business just wasn't aligned with the right outcome. So I do really look under the hood. I see who's running the business, how they're running the business and yeah, but make assessments too.
I don't particularly take the face value of filtered Instagram feeds. That is kind of curation to me. I'd really rather look into and under the hood where possible, if there are articles written about people or you know what type of employees, they have, just little things like that.
00:25:31:10 - 00:25:43:14
I think doing the homework is really important. It's almost like your framework. You have a bit of a checklist in terms of, what you're looking for before you engage someone. And that might be something as simple as are your values aligned. Are you thinking in the same way? That you treat people the same way? Let alone the quality of what you're doing and and and the services and perhaps products that you provide.
00:25:56:04 - 00:26:13:07
Weighing up how they communicate as well. I think that's very important. If you are a product owner or someone that owns that, certainly in those mid enterprises, and if they don't have the ability to communicate calmly or I guess very similar to a parent. If they have the ability to manage the unknown or uncertainty, or things can break with a calm nature with their team, then that's our client. If they don't, unfortunately then the project will go really wrong and the results can't be achieved.
00:26:48:04 - 00:27:05:19
We also know that 30% of women business owners in Australia, are migrant women. You were born in Ireland. I'd love to know in what ways has your background and starting a business in another country enhanced or challenged the experience.
00:27:05:23 - 00:27:24:22
Oh, great question. I immigrated eleven years ago now. There are limitations with being an expat. My whole full-time career has been built and raised here which has been interesting. I think when I first came over had to change my email address to Efa because people couldn't pronounce my name and that was actually a gatekeeper for me.
It has been quite difficult in terms of growth or just getting that kind of network around you because you don't have that foundation, childhood or even that extended root system. So you are starting from scratch really. Having a business and running it effectively has been interesting from a migrant perspective.
I think I'm grateful now that I have a Permanent Residency. But it is very difficult when this is your home and you are paying taxes and you are actually contributing back to the community. But you aren't able to benefit from what your business is putting out when you hit certain roadblocks.
So I really do feel for people that don't have Permanent Residency right now or certain elements to be getting government support when they are running businesses. I think that's a difficult one, but that is just a particular time that we're in.
It's been an interesting journey. I never actually thought that I would start a business here. But I think the more that I can actually control that narrative, the more opportunity it will give me to move back home or be a little bit more hybrid. Where our location is based anywhere because you can run it remotely. Which is an exciting long term vision.
00:29:00:16 - 00:29:22:10
Businesses are truly having more of that global nature and certainly, from a digital perspective, that industry allows for it. I do hope that one in three business mums are migrants, and they may not have the support network in their Co. So the more we can give them, certainly the better.
00:29:25:07 - 00:29:39:04
It's incredibly important. I advocate for that and having a community like Mums & Co, it's really helped support and remove that loneliness. It's kind of like fast-tracking, that network of root systems that you don't actually have. So it's very important. I can't advocate for it enough.
00:29:47:23 - 00:30:07:23
You've heard us talk about harmony goals. So we talk about harmony as the triangle of ambition, livelihood and wellbeing. All these parts are equally important, although they may actually harmonise differently at different stages. Can you describe the shape of a good life for you?
00:30:08:14 - 00:30:25:06
I would be living probably on a farm with pigs and chickens with no internet. So I don't know what's going on. Really slow-paced, a simple life is what I'm after. Sydney is amazing. It's great and offers so much opportunity. I'm so grateful for the opportunity and experience I've had. But I think long term, I’d really like that small community feel.
That's my long term goal. Being able to sustain that long term without having to have the hustle and bustle of city life.
00:30:48:11 - 00:30:55:06
It is such a gorgeous goal. And I look forward to seeing how that will happen when that happens.
00:30:55:21 - 00:31:02:20
Aoife, in the spirit of women supporting other women who are ambitious, who would you like to say hello to?
00:31:03:04 - 00:31:24:18
A great photographer, Nikki from Heist Creative. She's Sydney based photographer. She is remarkable in creating a visual representation of you and your business. Definitely reach out to her. Obviously, photographers are very hard hit right now because of the restrictions. So I would really encourage you to touch base with Nikki.
Kelly from Wordified is an amazing copywriter and mum. She will again articulate what you're trying to say and create your vision for your business and brands in words.
And Maxine from Spark Festival definitely an amazing initiative. We need more women and female founders involved. I would highly recommend getting in touch with Spark and just go out and enjoy the festival when that does happen.