The number of women starting their own businesses is skyrocketing. Women-owned businesses have grown 3,000% over the past few decades – and women now make up 40% of all new entrepreneurs worldwide.
Why are women waving goodbye to their bosses? The answer is simple. To gain greater flexibility, bridge the gender pay gap, and have more passion for their work.
Also, for everyone, traditional employment is appearing less and less attractive. In fact, 70% of all freelancers report that they make the same or more than their counterparts in traditional jobs. And more than half of freelancers say no amount of money would entice them back to the grind of their 9 to 5.
At Invoice2go, a Bill.com company, it’s our mission to amplify the voices of independent professionals and empower them to pursue their passions, build their businesses, and live life on their terms. We want to celebrate small businesses and independent professionals who strive daily to transform their dreams into reality.
Meet Madeleine Nance, a long-time Invoice2go customer who runs her business as a fundraising copywriter and copy coach out of her home in Sydney, Australia. Three years ago, after welcoming her son into the world, she made a bold move: she took the leap to build a business where she could invest her energy and get the flexibility she needed as a new mother.
Now, Madeleine is a respected writer and business owner who works with clients from all over Australia. It wasn’t easy to get to this point, but she persevered and brought her dream to fruition. Read on to find out how:
Breaking free from corporate chains
“I wanted to move towards something more meaningful.”
After finishing university with a degree in marketing, Madeleine moved to New York City and landed a job in public relations in the fashion industry. It was exhilarating at first; however, it wasn’t long before her life began to feel a little too similar to something out of The Devil Wears Prada. She was constantly overwhelmed, overworked, and underappreciated . . .
. . . and that’s when she had a complete change of heart.
“I wanted to move towards something that felt more meaningful,” Madeleine shared in our interview over Zoom. She wanted to use her skills in ways that impacted causes she believed in.
Soon, she turned away from the bright lights of 5th Avenue and did stints at an animal welfare organization and Starlight Children’s Foundation, focusing on marketing and fundraising.
It felt like a step in the right direction. As Madeleine gained more experience, she began to see the gaps and challenges fundraising teams commonly encountered. “That’s when I had a little budding feeling that I’d like to have my own business one day,” she explained.
A primary challenge fundraising teams faced – regardless of their goal – was finding persuasive writers. Teams regularly needed someone who could articulate a cause eloquently and motivate supporters to take action – all without sounding boring or condescending.
Madeleine felt that with her empathy, desire to help others, and love of writing, she was up to the task.
A new family gives the push to start her business
“It was a pivotal moment – I just had my baby who’s now three years old, and it clicked that it was the time.”
After getting comfortable working in the nonprofit world, Madeleine and her husband discovered they were expecting a child.
While starting a business and a family at the same time may sound daunting, for Madeleine: “It was a pivotal moment – I had my baby who’s now three years old. It just clicked that it was the time.”
Shortly after – and totally by chance – Madeleine found her first customer. One afternoon over coffee, a friend surprised her: “She said she’d love to be my first customer and give me a go.”
Regaining confidence to get back into the game
“How am I going to start my own business even though I’m feeling fragile? How do I get back into the game after being on maternity leave?'”
Even though Madeleine had lined up her first client, she still had to work through anxiety and self-doubt. “It’s daunting to start your business,” she confided. “I kept thinking, ‘How am I going to start my own business even though I’m feeling fragile?’ ‘How do I get back into the game after being on maternity leave?'”
Nevertheless, she persevered. She registered her business and began looking for software to help her run it. She kept coming across Invoice2go, saw it had good reviews, and decided to give it a shot.
Looking back, Madeleine noted that the professional look of Invoice2go’s estimates and invoices gave her more self-assurance in the beginning. “It sounds like a simple thing. Still, coming back from maternity leave, I wanted things that built up my confidence,” she said. “I love that I can create my own template and branding. Having something like invoice2go made me feel proud of what I was offering. I instantly felt more professional.”
With some apprehension, Madeleine sent off her first estimate. Her friend and first client responded: “Wow! This is fancy-looking!”
Networking, getting testimonials, and building her business
“After every job, I ask for that testimonial and feedback.”
Madeleine started pitching herself as a consultant in fundraising communication. “It was hard starting from zero,” she reflected. “Now I’ve been at it for three years, so I have a website full of testimonials. When you start, you don’t have that.”
She explained that word of mouth was a big help in those early days. Because Madeleine had worked successfully in non-profits for years, she knew people in the industry who could vouch for her work’s quality.
“I also had to get out and do a lot of face-to-face meetings,” Madeleine shared. “We had to meet in person and discuss the project to build trust that way.”
To help her get more social proof, Madeleine quickly made it a point to start collecting customer testimonials. “After every job, I ask for that testimonial and feedback,” she emphasized. While she admitted that she didn’t always do this initially, it’s made it a lot easier for her to win new business these days.
Designing a lifestyle and living life on her terms
“I get to choose projects I’m passionate about now.”
Now Madeleine has customers all over Australia. She’s able to make time for her family – scheduling her work hours around times when her son is in daycare. She’s reached the point where she makes the same income freelancing part-time as she did in a full-time salaried position.
She also enjoys her work more. She happily pointed out, “I get to choose projects I’m passionate about now. Only non-profits, charities, scholarships for schools, unions – all of them have a meaningful purpose. I get a thrill out of the emotion of this type of writing.”
Madeleine cites tapping into her empathy as an asset to her writing’s effectiveness. Whether for breast cancer, hunger, or another cause, she dives deep into these issues to understand them at their core and to articulate them in a way that moves people.
Then, whether it’s through speeches, emails, or mailers, she still gets excited each time her words help these organizations surpass their fundraising goals and help those in need.
Using ebbs and flows in business to her advantage
“Invoice2go helps me plan my time off and organize childcare by anticipating the ups and downs of my workload”
When asked about challenges, Madeleine explained that there are still ups and downs in revenue. However, she’s learned strategies to use them to her advantage.
For example, after being in business for a few years Madeleine used Invoice2go’s reporting feature to see there were particular months when she consistently earned more than others. Then, “I plan my time off and organize childcare by anticipating the ups and downs of my workload,” she explained.
Still, some challenges are much harder to foresee than others. In 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies slashed their budgets and started doing copywriting in-house. “There were two months when nothing was going on,” she recalled. “I was thinking, ‘Is this the end of my business?’ But fortunately, they all eventually came back.”
Setting her sights on the future
“My dream is to grow the coaching side of my business, so more people can learn how to write powerful fundraising communications.”
Madeleine has found her niche; however, thinking about her business’s future, she has ideas to continue evolving her business. At times she considers turning her business into an agency and hiring other writers to work for her.
Madeleine also wants to help others to learn how to write persuasively. She explained, “My dream is to grow the coaching side of my business so more people can learn how to write powerful fundraising communications.” While some people may think this is her teaching her way out of a job, she’s found that the more tips and tricks she shares, the more people come back to her asking for her help.
We’re proud to support writers like Madeleine and hope to continue supporting her success for years to come. It’s our mission to amplify the voices of independent professionals like her and help them to stay organized, look more professional, and grow their businesses.