Burning it all down
Dear friends, colleagues, ride-or-die fans, community of fellow explorers and wanderers,
I’m freaking out right now.
This is one of those letters that you know you need to send, you know that everything will be better after you do, but it still leaves your palms sweaty and your stomach in knots.
So here goes.
I’m closing/transitioning out of both of my companies.
I’m burning it all down.
At the beginning of 2018, on January 5th, when I was off traveling the world as a digital nomad, I sat down at a little cafe in Buenos Aires and started journaling about my previous 5 months of travel, about my business goals for 2018, and about the life I wanted to create for myself over the next year, the next decade.
But as I read through the plans and visions I had for my businesses and my life, what became startling clear was the massive disconnect between the two.
I would not be able to achieve one if I stayed true to the other.
I could not build either business to it’s fullest potential if I continued to split my energy, my ideas, my time, and my enthusiasm between two incredibly special, but very different companies.
You see, I’m a doer. I can take massive action and move mountains. Those of you who know me personally, you’ve seen me make big things happen in all areas of my life.
But as I’ve built two separate companies, in two separate industries, serving two separate communities, offering massively different products…I saw that even my ability to accomplish a hell of a lot was not enough to get each business where I wanted it to go.
120% effort on two separate companies really means 60% effort on each. And that just won’t cut it.
Living two separate business lives also wasn’t sustainable long-term for my energy, mental health, and confidence.
As I sat in that cafe and re-read my ideas and thoughts about the future, the disconnect between my business goals and the life I wanted forced me to ask two important questions…two of THE MOST IMPORTANT questions every business must ask:
Who do I want to serve and how do I want to serve them?
I knew the answers to those questions almost immediately.
I started scribbling all the ideas and questions and challenges people had come to me with over the years through both businesses. I took stalk of my unique skills, talents, knowledge, and experiences that could be valuable to those people. And I started circling the challenges I was most excited to tackle and the skills and talents I was most eager to use.
And when I looked at all those marks and chicken scratch and notes and thoughts spread across page after page in my notebook…here’s what became painfully clear.
Yoga Travel Tree and Inside Study Abroad, my life bloods, my two business babies, could not fulfill that mission. They couldn’t carry me to the next chapter of my business life.
They each could only lightly scratch the surface of the influence and impact I want to have on the world.
The last thing I wrote on those pages was this: I have to let them go.
And so for the 16 months I’ve been slowly winding down, transitioning out of each company to make way for the next phase of my entrepreneurial journey.
This is an exciting moment because what I have planned next is even bigger and better than anything I could have dreamed up years ago when I first started my companies. I needed both of those business experiences to prepare me for the next one.
While it’s exciting, it’s also incredibly bittersweet.
I’m saying goodbye to my business babies, two companies that I created out of nothing that both became a force in their respective industries.
Inside Study Abroad grew organically from a small Blogspot account in February 2009 to becoming one of the leading resources and professional development platforms for aspiring International Education professionals. I worked with over 350 students in my signature Global Pro Institute program and the podcast has over 50,000 downloads to date.
Yoga Travel Tree began in September 2013 with the tiny goal of becoming the Yelp for Yoga. We went from 0 to 195,000 pageviews per month in just 6 months. We published over 500 articles all about yoga, travel, and wellness. In 18 months, we launched and led 10 destination yoga adventure retreats and teacher trainings on four continents. We worked with over 50 yoga and wellness entrepreneurs to build dynamic brands, create solid businesses, and lead profitable destination retreats. We did yoga all over the damn place and took lots of pictures of it. #yogaeverydamnday
On a practical note, I’m also saying goodbye to my current income streams with no guaranteed financial airbag on the other side.
Is this a failure? Possibly. Maybe to some it is. But for me I’ve never felt more successful.
I created two business winners AT THE SAME TIME. They made great money, they served people who aligned with their mission and vision, I was able to travel the world full-time while I ran each entity, they both became “household” names in their respective industries, they employed multiple people, and they gave me a crash course on what it takes to launch, grow, sustain, and scale a business.
Friends, here’s the thing. Even as tough as this message is to write, and as uncertain as the future is, I’ve never been more hopeful about the next chapter!
Before I share a little bit about what happens next, I can’t end this letter without saying the most important words I’ll say in this message.
If you’re reading this message it’s likely because you’ve been in one or both of my communities. Maybe you’ve traveled with me to some incredible destination around the world; maybe you were a guest writer, a brand partner, or even a vendor; maybe you’re a former intern, coaching client, or student.
Maybe you’re one of my mentors who dished out tough feedback, bounced ideas around with me, or most importantly, maybe you generously gave me the encouraging words that I did, in fact, have what it takes to build a successful business.
Maybe you’re one of my best friends who took my late night panicked phone calls and listened to me cry when I was sure “this is the end” or “this is too hard” so many times over the years.
Maybe you’re my mom, who let’s face it, was the number one fan to both companies at every turn. Honestly, the best hype girl around!
Thank you. Your support, your camaraderie, your attention over the years has meant more than I can possibly try to encompass in this letter. My gratitude cup runneth over and I could not have achieved what I did without you.
But specifically, I must thank the incredible Sarah (Monk) Vlatkovich, Pouneh Eftekhari, and Alyssa Johnson. These three women stood right next to me in the start-up trenches helping me move mountains for each company. Nothing I achieved would have been possible without their brains, creativity, and industrious hard work. If you have a chance to hire any of them, do it.
So what’s next?
Next week I’ll be announcing my next chapter. If you’re curious what that is, be sure to subscribe below:
I hope you’ll stick around for the next evolution of my business journey which is all about helping you achieve your most #brazenaudaciousbadass goals…possibly in inspiring destinations around the world. 😉
So now let’s talk logistics.
As of June 1, 2019, here’s what to expect:
Inside Study Abroad: The website will redirect to a new personal brand website BrookeRoberts.co where you’ll find updates on my speaking engagements, how you can hire me for consulting or coaching, life + business updates, and pictures of #SirBarnaby (my adorable pup).
All of the Inside Study Abroad social media channels will either be closed, sold, or rolled into my new business venture. Feel free to unfollow at any time if my next venture isn’t a good fit for you.
As for my involvement in the International Education industry, well, you can’t get rid of me that easily. I’m still working with a study abroad company on their marketing and operations. Plus, Natalie Garrett and I are still in love with our side hustle The Study Abroad Journal. If you want to connect with me in the field, it’s best to do it through the Journal.
Yoga Travel Tree: The website will be repurposed to focus on my signature course, Retreat Rockstar. Spoiler: Under my new venture I’ll continue to support yoga teachers as well as influencers, business owners, and coaches to create, market, and sell-out destination retreats around the world.
All of the Yoga Travel Tree social media channels are being closed, sold, or rolled into my new business venture. Feel free to unfollow at any time if the new direction isn’t your cup of tea.
As for my love of yoga…well…what I’m most excited about with the close of Yoga Travel Tree is that my yoga practice can once again be just for me. I no longer have to think about making every yoga or wellness company or experience into a business opportunity, collaboration, or partnership. I can just do yoga, be a yogi, and love the practice again. So I’ll see you on the mat.
(And I have a video coming soon all about whether or not it’s a good idea to make a business out of your passion.)
This was a long one friends.
Thank you for your time, attention, and support over the years. If you’d like to stay connected with my personal journey as an entrepreneur, traveler, speaker, and Kansas City super fan, come hangout with me on Instagram @thenewdorothy.
On to the next…
Founder + CEO
Inside Study Abroad & Yoga Travel Tree
Want to to learn about my next big business adventure? Join the list and learn all about it when I launch next week Monday, May 20th.