If you’re a new parent, or thinking of starting a family, then you’re going to want to read Mandy & Leigh’s story.
This amazing couple not only started a completely new online business from scratch, but they did it while starting a family. All at a time when they just bought a new house, Leigh lost his job due to COVID, and their daughter was experiencing serious health issues.
They already had some digital skills behind them but didn’t know how to turn these into practical money-making skills to run their own business. But with a bit of focus, and the right digital training, within 12 months they now work from home full-time with their little baby, Ruby.
So whether you already have some digital skills, or are a complete beginner online, see how Mandy and Leigh have been able to reach 6-figures as work at home parents.
WATCH THE VIDEO or read the transcript below to see how Mandy & Leigh retrained in digital skills to work from home and spend time with their new born baby
Advice for new parents wanting to quit their 9-5 jobs and start a new online business from scratch…
Matt Raad: Hi everyone. It’s Matt Raad here. I’m the CEO and co-founder of eBusiness Institute, where we train corporates and professionals who want to retrain in digital skills and start their own business working from home.
Today’s interview is so exciting because this amazing couple has not only been able to do that, but they’ve also created a work-at-home business.
You will learn the challenges they face because they did this whilst starting a new family.
A lot of our community are family people. You may be a corporate person or professional and want to start a new family. So, if you’re wondering, “How can I do that, and it would be ideal to work from home?” then today’s interview is for you.
Mandy & Leigh knew they wanted to start a family and have the flexibility to work from home
Matt: Mandy and Leigh, thank you so much for coming along to share your inspiring story with our community. You guys have known us for quite a few years, haven’t you?
Mandy: Yes, it’s easily been about eight years that I’ve been following you and Liz.
Matt: How did you start with us all those years ago? Let’s put it in context because you both come from different backgrounds to most people in our community.
Mandy: I already had a few websites that I’d built myself. They weren’t very great, to be honest, in retrospect now.
I saw Matt and Liz Raad speak about the Digital Investors Program at an event. So, I signed up for the program and bought a couple of websites. I was really excited, but then life got in the way. So, I only did a little bit with it for many years.
2 years later, they now own a 6-figure digital agency…
Mandy: Then COVID hit, and we started to think about having a family. It may be time to start dabbling into this website thing again so we can have some flexibility and work from home, as you described.
From there, we reached out to you and joined the Champions program. That was about two years ago.
Matt: Awesome. And it’s incredible what you’ve achieved in that time.
For our readers out there, Mandy and Leigh are now working from home with a six-figure online business.
I want to look at some of the key steps you took to achieve that. There are going to be a lot of people reading this who are just like you. They are younger couples just starting a family, which was a big motivator for you both.
What Motivated Mandy & Leigh to start their online business?
Matt: And Leigh, can you share a bit about your background and what the motivator was for you?
Leigh: Thanks, Matt. I have been working in digital marketing for over ten years.
Before working from home and starting our own business, my most recent job was working at the Art Centre on the Gold Coast. But COVID hit, and unfortunately, they scaled back the entire staff because of our structure and because we were a part of the Council. And we weren’t eligible for Job Keeper, so there was no government funding to support us.
A lot of our staff, including myself, were laid off. I was pushed down to one day a week, which really put things into perspective. We realised that there’s no security in this world.
We must take the opportunities where they lie by using our skills and starting our own business.
Mandy: To add to Leigh’s story, we settled on our new home the day they dropped Leigh’s hours.
So, on the one hand, we were feeling, “Oh wow, great, we’ve got a home. This is amazing. Awesome.” But on the other hand, “Oh no, this is a bit of an unknown and scary time.” And it was like that for so many people at the time.
Matt: It was a scary time. Hats off to you both for being so brave.
Leigh, here you are, basically being made redundant to one day a week. You have just settled on a new home and are planning for a family. But you decide to go for this. And like you said, there is no security anyway, even if you’d gone out there and gotten a job.
Even though they had digital skills, they didn’t know how to monetize it properly
Matt: Mandy, you’ve also been around the online space for quite a few years. You’ve seen many of our students who have become incredibly successful with this, and yet they’re total beginners online.
Mandy: Absolutely. And that’s why we needed to figure out whether the Champions program was going to be right for us at the time.
I don’t know if you remember the conversation, but we both had all these great skills and built some websites over the years. But we thought, “We want to make sure we do it right.”
We didn’t want to become one of those people who we’d previously worked with professionally. In the past, when we had to engage with an agency to build a website, we just knew they wouldn’t do a good job.
We wanted to ensure we were trained in the right way to build successful websites that actually perform for our clients.
It was a great time for us to get back into the eBusiness Institute community, receive the right digital training, and lay a good foundation.
And now, we’ve seen our clients get amazing results, which makes us so happy.
Matt: Which we are going to talk about in a minute.
I love what you guys do. As you both know, I’m a big fan of the websites you build and how you’ve been able to help so many clients.
Mandy had prior online experience but was swapping time for money
Matt: Mandy, you and I have known each other for many years. You’re one of those typical females in our community who’s an ultra-high achiever, a real go-getter. You’re a professional woman and very driven.
You already had your own business. What have you done previously? A digital agency is quite different to what you’ve done before. Whilst you have online experience, what were you doing before starting a full-time digital agency?
Mandy: I’m a Keap-certified partner. Since 2014 I’ve had an agency specifically around getting people up to speed with setting up a CRM and then marketing automation in their business. So, these were mainly service-based businesses.
A lot of that work was around setting up, but it also included one-on-one training on an hourly basis. I needed to be available for a set period of time to meet with clients. I love being able to think about how I will solve these problems. How are we going to automate this workflow for a client? I’m such a geek, but I absolutely love it.
But at the same time, it was quite restrictive. We were planning a family and thinking about leveraging our time more effectively. We needed something that’s not so hands-on for me needing to do a lot of that one-on-one consulting work.
So, I still do it and love it. But this has created another agency for us to do more websites and have an income that way as well.
She joined the Digital Investors program to enhance her skills and create a more passive online business
Matt: That’s the thing for you two and many people reading this who are planning a family or just starting with a newborn. The idea of swapping time for money and billing on an hourly rate was a major anchor around your neck, wasn’t it? That’s a big challenging part, and that’s the attraction.
Mandy, I know you’ve seen all our clients over the years. These beginners are just coming in and creating these fantastic businesses where they work from home. And you know Liz and my story as well. That’s how we started online, too. Liz’s online business took off when our two babies came along.
You guys obviously made that decision. And you knew it would work for you because you already had some digital skills and worked online in digital marketing.
For our readers, Mandy and Leigh would probably be the most advanced students we’ve ever taken onto the course. You’d never built websites for people before. And Mandy, as you just admitted, you’d never bought websites either.
Mandy: I bought a couple of sites early on when I started with another program, but nothing since.
Matt: So, you didn’t do a lot with them.
But when you joined our program, your back was against the wall, so you had to make it work. There’s a lot of pressure.
How owning a successful digital agency has improved Mandy & Leigh’s cashflow
Matt: What was the main strategy you decided to go for?
Leigh: Our primary strategy was the digital agency.
I had some prior experience building websites, but not for clients. Before joining the program, I’d built some hobby websites and was already familiar with WordPress.
I had never sold websites to anyone. I built websites for people (myself and family members who had businesses). But again, this was more of a hobby to try things out.
Leigh had to get out of his comfort zone and learn how to sell websites to clients
Leigh: When we joined the program and went down this route of starting the agency, we started selling to clients. That was a huge part of the course for us.
Mandy: We had just settled our home and were planning a family, so cash flow was important for us. So, we listened to Matt and went for the digital agency strategy.
Matt: It was a no-brainer from my point of view to recommend that strategy because it fits in with your skill sets.
Although Leigh, as you were saying that, it reminded me. It had been two years, and you had never sold a site before. You were a bit uncomfortable about that, just like we find with many of our shy members. But you got out there, and now you’re selling like a legend.
Now, you do most of the sales work, don’t you, for the websites?
Leigh: That’s right. I’m out there meeting clients, talking to them about their needs, and understanding who their customers are. Then we’re building a website based on that and really trying to deliver good results for them.
They now sell websites for a minimum of $5,000
Matt: Let’s look at your story so far. Our community has seen you at our 3 Day Digital Investors Summit, talking about your experience, Mandy, and hearing how successful you are.
We know you build amazing sites. What rates would you typically charge for website builds?
Mandy: For our first website build, we charged $2,200. Then Queensland offered some grants for $5,000, so we did websites for $5,000.
Matt: Nice one.
Mandy: We way over-delivered.
Matt: Yes, you did. That’s good.
Mandy: We always seem to do that. We really care about our clients and want them to win, so we can go a bit crazy sometimes.
Typically, our websites start from $5,000, and we have different packages depending on what people need. It’s been great to have that as an additional source of income.
Within 2 years, Mandy & Leigh replaced their income and started a family
Matt: You’ve trained with us for two years. You did Champions the first year, and then you came on again for a second year. Was it in the second year that you replaced your income?
Mandy: Yes. For our first year, we focused a lot on gaining knowledge. And Leigh was doing some other consulting work with lead generation.
Then our daughter, Ruby, came along at the end of the first year, and our world changed, as any young parent knows! My gosh. Your world changes.
They had to be full-time parents to look after Ruby’s health issues
Mandy: She’s only just recently gone into care. As you know, Matt, we’ve had a bunch of health issues with her that we’ve thankfully got under control now. It was a pretty tough period of time there. We had to have her at home because she needed to get her health under control before going into care.
She’s been in daycare for a few months now. But it was the first 12 months of her life that we were juggling having her at home. It’s obviously all worked out, of course.
Matt: You’re very humble, Mandy. You make it sound very easy.
Mandy’s advice for women wanting to become online entrepreneurs
Matt: I want this to be inspirational to the mums out there reading this. As a high-performing female, you started a new family, and it’s not a walk in the park. In fact, it’s turned quite the opposite of what the two of you expected.
You’ve got the added pressure with Leigh’s job, so you’ve got to make this work. And you’ve got a young one with some pretty serious health issues. So, it was a very challenging time for the two of you, but you pulled through it.
What can you offer as advice to women who are either finding it tough or looking at quitting their corporate role? Instead of swapping time for money, what did you find was the difference for you two in building this business together in that very challenging time?
What insights or inspiration can you share with us?
Tip #1 – Ask the question “Is there a better way?”
Mandy: I think just being open to what’s possible out there.
For me, I would be doing training for people to use Keap as a system, so I would regularly be scheduling time. When you’ve got a newborn and are breastfeeding, you’re on this crazy schedule. If I had an 11.00 am meeting, I’d be planning from 4.30 – 5.00 am just so I could make an hour of time available. It was just crazy.
I knew there had to be a better way of creating income. It doesn’t have to be that way at all. We’d already been on the Champions journey, and we knew it could be much more leveraged.
Tip #2 – Schedule time that works around your family
Mandy: Yes, we work very closely with our clients, and we still meet with them, don’t get me wrong. We still have those meetings, but we can do the bulk of the work at different times of the day.
For me, it was at night because it was really busy during the day. And then just trying to change my schedule to work around what our daughter required at the time.
Tip #3 – Choose an online strategy that works around your lifestyle
Mandy: If you’re reading this and thinking about a family, and you’re working a job (or doing consulting like I was), and you want to change and find another way, then this is what we did. We build websites with the local website strategy.
There are different online strategies that Matt and Liz Raad teach. But for us, it was a cash flow play, and this worked well around our lifestyle.
Matt: It quickly got you back to the cash flow you needed. And Leigh, you replaced your income.
The digital agency gave them the flexibility to look after their daughter when she needed it most
Matt: But most importantly for Mandy, working online gives you flexibility in terms of hours. As a mum, you can’t commit to set hours when you’ve got a little one with health issues.
Life revolves around the little one, not you going to client appointments etc. So, the two of you would have been under a bit of stress at that time.
Leigh: Ruby was a bit like a football that we’d handball to each other across the course of a day while we were both taking meetings and doing work.
Matt: And it’s lucky you don’t have to commute anymore. I remember you saying to me, just having that ability as a new dad to be at home and supporting Mandy. You’re not only building your business, but you’re also not having to do that big commute down to the Gold Coast every day. You can now spend more quality time with little Ruby and the family at a very tricky point in your life.
Leigh: Yes, it’s a game changer. That commute is hard enough as it is. But it’s also about spending that first 12 months with Ruby and seeing her grow from this tiny little thing! And seeing her personality change. We’re really blessed that we’ve been able to make that happen.
Mandy enjoys being a successful mum and business owner
Leigh: And Mandy’s just an amazing mother and businessperson. I know my strengths in our agency, and they’re not the organisational, record-keeping and diligence skills she shows on the business side of things. Those aren’t my strengths. And so I couldn’t be happier having a partner like her in life and business.
I’m a very, very lucky man. I’m the first to admit it, and I wouldn’t want to do this with anyone else. The fact I get to do that with my partner in life and we are raising our daughter. It’s just been unbelievably special, Matt. Yeah, we’re truly blessed.
Matt: That’s unreal and we hear about people in our community building a business together with their partners. You’re building something with your family and have that flexibility, so you share the same visions and goals.
See how this husband-and-wife team work together in business
Matt: Mandy, that makes me wonder; because you need that flexibility of time; what do you do in the business? How have you split up your roles in this digital agency?
Mandy: That’s a good question. With Leigh being more available, he does all the networking and meeting prospects.
And then, typically, I will do the project management. I’m a bit more organised. So, I’ll usually do the onboarding calls, the project management, and the SEO work.
Then I’ll work with the client to organise content. And if any content needs writing or organising, then I’ll arrange that.
Leigh is the builder. I don’t build websites!
Matt: Leigh does the website building?
Leigh: Yes. I’m on the build side of things.
As Mandy said, with her background and her personality type, she’s great at the detail and the analytical side of things. The amount of keyword research and SEO work she puts into these client websites that they don’t see is ridiculous. Using the resources from the Champions program, Mandy goes to town and spends hours upon hours on that stuff.
Mandy’s recent website build saved her client $1,200 a month in advertising!
Matt: Tell us some of the amazing results, Mandy. We have to mention my favourite site. It’s the one where you won our best website build award.
Mandy and Leigh won the best website build award at our annual three-day workshop because they built this fantastic site. So, tell us the result.
Mandy: Well, my gosh, so many things! The main thing for this particular client was she’s no longer spending $1,200 a month on paid advertising.
Matt: All right.
Mandy: Which is huge, right?
To put it into context, she was already ranking for the site, but it was on Joomla, so she couldn’t update it. Let’s just say it needed some love.
We did a lot of work to create a bunch of content and build out what we think is a really beautiful site. From there, her inquiries went up. You might have the stats there, Matt.
Using the skills learned in Digital Investors, Mandy increased her client’s organic search and client bookings – even during COVID
Matt: You said the client is now saving $1,200 a month. The website users are up 99%, organic search is up 97%, and page views are up over 100%.
Most importantly (and this is where the money hits the road), the enquiry and booking forms are up by 64% and now attracting more of their ideal client due to the professional site.
Well, we should give this website a plug.
Mandy: Yes, the site is Cherishedcherubs.com.au. It’s a leading Perth-based babysitting agency, and they’re phenomenal. If they were here, I would be getting them to look after Ruby.
What’s incredible here is these results were from when the Perth border had just opened up, and COVID was only starting to hit Western Australia. The fact that she’s been able to get the increase in inquiries when a lot of people weren’t going out as much. They were experiencing COVID and all that sort of stuff.
So, it’s great to see these results, and this was within the first three months of the new site going live. We felt it would go well, but having the data and stats to see these amazing results shows she’s still kicking goals.
And she’s also getting media opportunities. She was on an SBS program. They found her on the website, and they inquired through her form. If she had her old site, would that have transpired?
Matt: No chance.
Mandy: You don’t know, but I probably don’t think so.
Matt: It didn’t look professional. So, well done on winning our top award for it, and that’s why you are a multi-award-winning agency. You’ve hit the ball out of the park on all your sites. But this one, in particular, has transformed her life.
… And she was able to achieve these results by working remotely in her own hours
Matt: For our readers sitting at home thinking, “Should I be doing this digital agency idea?” As you can see, Mandy and Leigh are building these amazing sites. At the same time, they’ve got a challenging situation with a baby with serious health issues.
Not only that, but you might also not realise Perth is on the opposite side of Australia to where Mandy and Leigh live. You never even met her, did you?
Mandy: No. I’d done some Keap work with her and discovered she’d been severely burned by another agency.
Matt: But, during the whole process of building her site, you didn’t get on a plane and go over there or anything, did you?
Mandy: Gosh, no.
Matt: You built all this remotely in your own hours at home. Perth is so far away, like a five-hour flight, and there’s a three-hour time difference.
So, you built this in whatever time you had, and you still got her an incredible result. Within three months, you started hitting those results, didn’t you?
Matt: Seriously, well done on that one. Is she an ongoing client now for you? I’m presuming she should be.
Mandy: I’m doing some other stuff with her to help her with saving a bunch of time with her booking process.
Matt: That is awesome.
Mandy: The fact that she’s getting these results and there’s only more stuff to come for her, which is amazing. She deserves it. Lisa’s been amazing to work with.
Mandy & Leigh are now growing their digital agency around their family schedule
Matt: So, now you have little Ruby settled into school, and we’re through COVID, you guys are looking much more stable. How does life look now for the agency?
Mandy: Yes, good. We’ve got time now, Matt.
Matt: You look relieved.
Mandy: We’re always saying to our clients, “You’ve got to do content marketing.” And we’re in the process of updating our agency site.
But the fact that Ruby is now in day care is a big relief. We can really go out there now, sell more and deliver faster without having to juggle the little one.
Matt: Thinking about what you guys have been doing, it’s only been two years, which is nothing in business. This is a brand-new business you started working from home during COVID.
You’ve got to pat yourselves on the back. Look at what you’ve achieved and that’s why I should give you guys a big plug too.
If anyone’s looking for a really good website build with amazing attention to detail for on-page SEO, make sure you reach out to these guys. They are an award-winning digital agency in South Brisbane, especially from us here at eBusiness Institute.
What’s your agency called?
Mandy: Onside Online
Matt: And you can service clients around Australia, can’t you?
Mandy: Yes, absolutely.
They’re building quality websites for service-based businesses across Australia…
Matt: Out of interest, where are most of your clients located? Are they spread all around? Are you mainly Queensland focused? What have you found now over the last two years?
Leigh: We’ve been networking locally in the South Brisbane area, so we’re picking up a lot of clients that way. I’m out there meeting people every week, and a lot of them are service-based businesses; plumbers, electricians, pool maintenance etc.
Mandy: And NDIS. We’re doing another NDIS client at the moment.
We’ve been mainly in the Brisbane, Ipswich, and Logan areas. But we can help clients anywhere.
Matt: You’ve got a real eye for detail, and you build classy-looking websites. So, you tend to go for businesses that want a classier-looking image online, which is a good niche set for you.
I’m sure that’s just subconsciously reflected through both your values, and it’s funny, isn’t it? You can see that a lot in how people build websites. That’s one of the things I’ve noticed, but it stands out to me just how classy all your websites are that you build.
…And helping businesses that want to increase their online branding and performance
Matt: And I’m presuming that’s who you’re networking with? You want to work with businesses that want to step up a bit or have a better online presence, like Cherished Cherubs. Look at the new branding and image that you’ve been able to help her with. It’s just phenomenal, so it goes way beyond just building them a website.
You guys are helping these local businesses with their branding and the image they’re portraying, which is fantastic.
Leigh: Well, it’s a testament to you guys and what you teach, Matt. It’s the learnings that we’ve taken from the Champions program that help us build those sites. And we take those philosophies into every site that we build. It’s a testament to you guys, so thank you.
Mandy: Yes, absolutely. As you said, we’ve doubled in websites. But it’s the fact that we can produce these professional sites that are performing.
I’m sure many people out there following you guys will know that a pretty site is great. But we want a site that actually does rank and performs. Otherwise, a pretty site is just a pretty site.
So, I absolutely agree with Leigh. We’ve learned so much to get the foundations right and then put our little flavour to it.
How the Champions program helped support Mandy & Leigh’s online growth
Leigh: It’s the support from the community as well, Matt. Both from your staff that you have who we interact with for any questions that we’ve had. But also the rest of the community that’s part of the eBusiness Institute. Leaning on that knowledge is just so helpful.
Everyone’s there when you need it. And when you’ve got a question, you’ve got peers who you can ask and get high-quality feedback and answers.
Matt: You’ve learnt from the experience of some of the other Champion members, and I know you’re both very active in our Champions graduate community. You’re all helping each other, and everyone looks up to you two because of what you’re building.
Today, they’re inspiring other young families to start their own online business
Matt: You guys have done so well, considering all the challenges that you’ve had over the last couple of years. So, I just want to say a big congratulations. Seriously, it’s only been two years. It’s been great seeing you both building this business together as a young couple with little Ruby.
Things seem to have stabilised a lot, but I want to say a big congratulations for what you guys have achieved over the last two years. It’s been fantastic working with you both and seeing what you’ve achieved.
So, thanks so much for sharing your story. No pressure, but I’d love to have you guys back on in another year’s time because everyone will want to see what you’re up to next.
And thank you, Mandy, for sharing your story too. You’ve helped inspire a lot of women out there who are new mums that this can be done, and you can work from home. Whilst you both already had online experience, it still shows how far you can go with this in such a short amount of time. Even when starting a new family.
This is what Liz and I did as well, as well as a lot of people in our community. I think it’s the perfect thing to do if you are starting a new family and want to work from home and raise your little ones very closely as a mum and dad.
Mandy: Thanks, Matt. Thank you so much for all the help and support.
Leigh: Yes, thanks for everything, Matt. Appreciate it.
Want to learn the digital skills that will make you a great living from home?
Matt: If you’re interested in learning more about this, then make sure you sign up for our free masterclass and go through the training there. That’ll outline exactly where Mandy first started with us all those years ago.