Imposter Syndrome rears it’s head. This is kind of like the episode where they try to bring in the new person playing Dr Who so you get used to them.

That’s how I feel right now ha ha – not that I’m putting myself in a category with Dr Who – but I do almost feel like an imposter, a cuckoo trying to sneak into the nest while no-one’s looking, except I’m introducing myself, and we’re both staying, and we’re the same person…

Right, that analogy failed. Let’s try again.

There are many sides to me. I’m a consultant, a parent, a woman, and…. (I used to be a singer, but that’s a story for another day…)

I’m also a writer, of sorts. I’ve been writing, in different forms, my whole life, and in more recent years, I’ve been taking it a bit more seriously and actually realising other people are taking me seriously too (thankfully!). I don’t profess to be great, and I didn’t study it anywhere – I just love it, a lot. It truly sparks joy – isn’t that what we are all supposed to be looking for?

And, as you will know if you’ve been around for any length of time on this site, or in my life, I like to blend my life and work as much as I can, so I’ve been trying to make a point of doing this more and more. So, this is another extension of that. I’ve been working (extremely slowly) on some serious writing, for a couple of books (one fiction, one non-fiction) and also on a bit of a fun blog, and I wanted to at least associate them in some way, so people will be able to connect the dots if they want to. (I personally love connecting dots!)

The Blog

Growing up, and moving through my corporate years, I was frankly mostly exhausted.

I wondered how everyone else seemed to cope with everyday life, and I was often this crumpled heap in the bathroom, trying to take a quick power-nap before rejoining for round two of ‘Get over it, this is your normal workweek’!

It wasn’t until I hit my early 40’s (I’m not that quick at figuring things out, I like to be sure before I make big life decisions!), that a series of ‘aha’ moments while reading some insightful articles, had me realise that

  • I’m an Introvert (Myers Briggs INFP for anyone vaguely interested, but I won’t judge you if you’re not😉)
  • I’m Highly Sensitive (not in a ‘oh poor me, pity me’ sense, in an actual scientific, can’t help it, I can assure you! sort of way)
  • I don’t like keeping my creative and business lives separate, as it makes me feel like I’m being inauthentic, which is frankly exhausting. Which takes me back to the beginning of my point!  

So – I decided it was time for a merge…. The blog and it’s socials have been quietly (and like I said, sloooooooowly) running in the background, since 2016, and whilst they will still retain their own site, I thought it was time they were connected in some small way, so I can stop feeling like I have more than one identity – plus how else would you know to come and ask me to do any writing for you, 😉 if you happen to like my style? All joking aside, that’s not why I’m here – my intro is done, I’ll leave a link between them now, and make sure I say hello now and again in each, as each – if that makes sense… You are welcome to join me on either journey!

Signing off, quietly…

a dark forest with a stream flowing through it, lit with sunlight coming through the trees, taking you on a journey..

The past few years have been a different kind of chaos for those of us in small business.

I’ve heard people talk recently about how it was actually nice to have the occasional 3-day lockdown and spend time at home with family or binge-watch that show you’ve had on your watchlist for 6 months. And I agree, that time was precious, and should be repeated more often!

However, for those of us who rely on everyone being out and about and doing ‘normal’ stuff to keep our small businesses financially viable, we were more likely living in a state of anxiety day-to-day, wondering when everyone was coming back out to spend with us again.

As most of you know if you’ve been following me for a while, when I started Central Business Associates, I wanted to find ways to bring people together, to show them how to collaborate, to share their skills and learn from each other, and team up with others who were good at the tasks they didn’t like doing so much, or that just weren’t within their range of expertise.

Through being involved in local networking events and running the workspaces in Wynnum for almost 6 years, I was able to find people I needed most to work with – who had skills that I either lacked, or that I needed an enhanced version of, in order to move my (and their) business forward. And others found me for the same reason.

I thrive being able to help people achieve their potential. My main values are Leadership and Ethics, and I want to inspire people towards self-leadership and learning, but in a sustainable and purposeful way, and not only for financial gain (we can’t ‘take it with us’, as we are often being told!)

In general, I’ve met and connected with, so many incredible and talented people, all within this suburban community of Brisbane’s Bayside in Queensland – I’d never have imagined it was possible in such a small part of this vast country we live in. It’s made me realise the huge potential there is for this type of collaborative working (and co-operative – more on this in a later blog – there is exciting news coming soon!) – not just flexible-working – which is the big buzzword out there at the moment (and I was talking about it more than 5 years ago by the way…😉).

I see collaborative working in the small business context like corporate teamwork in a way – it’s getting together with, or putting together, a good group of people with a great mix of skills who can do just about everything between them – high five! 🙌

So – back to that chaos..

There is no way to properly explain the difference that having those others around made to that chaos. The calm that it brought to the panic that each of us individually felt, at different moments, over the last few years.

  • I can’t do this!
  • I need to go and get a job, I can’t sustain this business any more!
  • There’s not enough work!
  • I’ve got too much work, and not enough hours in the day, but I can’t afford to hire anyone to help!

Slowly, we all came to realise that we were all in different boats, but in the same choppy waters. So, we tied our boats together. And shared our fears, and funny stories, and our skills and experience.

And we are still here. And we are probably stronger, and much more sustainable (dare I say buoyant!) than before.

So, I just wanted to do a bit of a shoutout to a few of them, and say thankyou for rescuing me from the storm – I’ve come out the other side, and I’m in much calmer waters now, and excited about the next bit of the journey. In no order of awesomeness (actually, I made it backwards alphabetical, for a change)

Michelle, from Lanceley Marketing and…… (something else, coming soon!!!),

Lauren, from Bayside Admin,

Kelly, from Adaptable Quality,

Kathryn, from SteinArt, and

Amy, from Nurturing Confidence

my thanks to you all for your various contributions to my survival, and my business growth in the last few years!

Next time, I will be talking about what I got up to when things were not so busy in my consultancy boat… (

With our office move becoming public, I was excited to be asked to do an interview with Leisa from Dot Dash Events, as part of their Tide Talks series.
It gave me another opportunity to let more people know where we are heading off to, and what services I will be able to spend my time offering once we move.

All of us who are moving into the Mt Carmel Centre are looking forward to see what new collaborative opportunities it will create for all of our businesses.

Check out the full interview here on their website, have a read of the previous blogs and chats. Maybe even see if you’d like to feature in their future interviews!

*This blogpost will be archived soon, as the Mount Carmel Centre was sadly closed to external parties by Brisbane Catholic Education in early 2021.

I have an announcement to make.

From 1st October, Central Business Associates will be based in the iconic Mount Carmel Centre in Wynnum.  Yes, it’s just across the road from where we are now (I really do love my community!) and it’s a big change, but the time has come.

Why the move?
When I discovered last year that Mt Carmel were offering space to hold events, I’m not going to lie – I was quite jealous! I’ve basically spent the last year sitting at my desk, looking out of the window at the building, and clearly manifesting myself a way to work there!

The Mount Carmel Centre has amazing meeting rooms and facilities, and as we speak, they are in the process of looking at how they can also offer coworking desks. I’ve explained how many people have been using our flexible workspaces here and I wanted to be sure that as many of my current and past clients could be accommodated as possible.
I’ve spent over 6 years making flexible working a reality in our area and am delighted that the Mount Carmel Centre can continue most offerings for our local community.

Now more than ever, it’s even more relevant to have suburban flexible workspaces available in our communities. Many people are reluctant to commute (COVID19, or just the wasted time), or don’t have space at home to comfortably and professionally work from. I certainly won’t stop campaigning for and promoting that aspect of what I’ve achieved over recent years. Because I continue to be passionate about helping people to live a balanced life.

But it’s time for me to move on to a new chapter….to help my clients grow and thrive, by offering them services to improve how they manage their business. And work in a balanced way to suit their lives. I’ll still offer Membership, just with different benefits.

What I’ve learnt along the way

  • I’ve been able to refresh and learn new skills over the past 5 years – in the areas I am passionate about, including Leadership & Management, Change Management, Strategic Management, and Small Business Management.
  • I still see many small business owners trying to ‘wear all of the hats’! Trying to be the Operations Manager, the Marketing Manager, the Finance Manager, the Sales Manager, the Customer Service Manager – it’s no wonder they are exhausted! That is a lot of weight to carry around on your head! (pun intended…)
  • It’s important to find new ways to help stay passionate about the business each of us start in the first place. To look at how small changes to customer care and people management help in retaining ‘best’ clients and attracting more like them.

The future is bright. My services will evolve in this next phase, as they have throughout my 14 years in small business. Adapting and change are where I thrive.

Of course, the goal is always balance – what’s the point of starting your own business if it takes over your life and you have no time to enjoy what’s around you? I really believe we each need to be passionate about our business. Because if you don’t take care of yourself – there won’t be a business.

Change really can be as good as a holiday. Let me help make your business more manageable and productive.

If any of the above resonates, please get in touch. I offer an initial 30-minute informal consult to see if we can see the benefits of working together.

Yours in continued collaborative business success,

Celia

Balance the Grind is on a mission to create a work-life balance hub focused on conversations, ideas and community.

Publishing conversations with people from different careers and lifestyles; from startup founders to CEOs, entrepreneurs to independent musicians, designers to software developers, and plenty more.
Work-life balance, work-life integration, work-life harmony; whatever you want to call it, Balance the Grind believes that work should (mostly) be calm, healthy and sustainable over the long-term.

We were delighted to have our Community Manager, Celia Newlands, featured alongside the many inspirational stories on their website.
Read Celia’s interview in full below, and check out some of the other amazing stories of those making flexible work a reality around the world!

*These options have been updated. Please click here for up-to-date Membership info.
Below is a table to show details of inclusions for each Membership Type.
Please contact us if you would like to become a Member, change your current plan, or get more information on any of the inclusions.

About two years ago, I realised that one of the things I missed about the corporate world (and there are actually quite a few!) was getting together around a boardroom table, discussing how each of our departments had performed in the month. We would include positives and negatives, and as a team, discuss how we might be able to help one another with issues we had encountered.
I began to realise that one of my biggest strengths was being able to see simple solutions, utilising existing structures where possible. Being able to collaborate with others – helping others see how instead of butting heads, we could pool resources and create win/win outcomes.

I put the concept to a few colleagues I was already collaborating with, and we decided to run with it for at least 6 months, see what sort of format we could work with, and whether it would be beneficial within the world of small business. I drew up a basic plan for us to work with.

Our Leadership and Accountability group has now been running for almost two years,

with no sign of slowing enthusiasm! We actually now have at least one business retreat a year as well, to ensure we take a few days out to work on our biggest business challenges. Every one of those businesses has grown considerably in that time, and I’m delighted to have seen us all benefit from the process.

For some, particularly if you are the only person in your business (whether a sole trader, or just a one-person entity), it can seem strange to consider yourself a Leader. Who exactly are you supposed to be be ‘leading’?

The answer is ‘everyone you interact with’, in one way or another. You need to be able to lead your business – and that includes any contractors, suppliers and even your customers. You need to bring them on the journey with you, and show that your business vision is worth them coming along with you.

We now have embedded this same concept within the Memberships at Central Business Associates, where you can choose to join a Leadership group and work through your challenges with other small businesses or sole traders. These groups have a real mix of people, with different-sized businesses, within various industries, but often some of the challenges will be similar, and someone around the table can offer some insight – even if it’s ‘what not to do’. Brainstorming these issues can bring so many different strengths out in the participants, and can lead to innovative and successful solutions.
Click here to look at our Membership options, and contact us if you’d be interested in joining the next round of Leadership & Accountability sessions.

19th January 2015..

I don’t really remember that first day. Bit of an exhausted, excited blur..

Probably have little memory of the first year actually – it just flew by, with all it’s newness and excitement and my heart beating out of my chest, and some things going very wrong, and some things going very right…!

And here we are, half a decade later.

Central Business Associates – we are celebrating five years in business, and I wanted to do a little ‘check in the rear view mirror’.


Starting a business like this, making ‘flexibility’ the core concept – if I’d known what that would actually involve, I wonder if I’d ever have agreed to do it!
But I’m so glad I did – making flexibility my key offering has opened up so many more doors, meetings and opportunities that never would have happened if I’d stuck firmly to a plan.
So my version of a ‘plan’ has really been around ideas – and values.

Flexibility, Community & Collaboration – those have been the core values that have helped me make big decisions along the way.

  • We’ve had businesses move in, flourish, grow and then move into their own spaces,
  • we’ve seen businesses collaborate on hundreds of projects, and
  • we’ve made lots and lots of friends – lifelong friends, that we might never have met if this business didn’t exist.

We’ve held events, hosted workshops, created membership programmes. We’ve laughed, and cried, been angry and ecstatic.

We have consistently looked for new ways to help local businesses connect, collaborate and grow.
I am grateful for every person who came through these doors, and thankful for all the lessons that I have had to learn along the way.

Whilst I can’t predict the future, and what the next 5 years have in store for us, I do know that if I learn as much as I have in the last 5 years, things will definitely be flexible, fun and phenomenally interesting! 😁

🥰I could say so much about the past five years, but I think these photos say it better 😍

Our Community Manager, Celia Newlands, brings a wide variety of skills to the business.

“I run the Membership programmes, and as such, I’m always looking for new ways to help small businesses and sole traders within the community. As a natural part of the role of Community Manager, I’m often in a position to connect people who may be able to collaborate together in order to resolve both their problems, and as a result, grow both businesses. Over time, people have often joked about me being a ‘business dating service’ (I really hated that one!) and a small business surgery. The second nickname has kind of stuck and is now an integral part of our Membership offering.”

I am meeting people at all different stages of running a business – from developing a great idea for a business, right through to struggling to grow past a plateau.
In the midst of working ‘inside’ the business every day, they often can’t see the proverbial ‘wood for the trees’.
Having worked in change management, I am always looking in from the outside, which often makes it easier to see how simple tweaks could really improve things. And I don’t shy away from the hard questions – if I need you to see that your business will only grow if you stop micro-managing everyone, I will (gently) tell you! 😉

Some people might need to find Marketing support (and there are SO many different areas of speciality in that field), others a great Graphic Designer to help them build or create brand consistency.
Maybe the reason the business isn’t growing is that you are undervaluing yourself and not charging enough, or maybe you have lost your passion in amongst the business development, & the numbers that don’t make sense, or you feel the staff are letting you down….

The list goes on, but my enthusiasm to find a solution doesn’t dilute – it’s what drives me, and gets me jumping out of bed every morning, excited to go to work (those who work with me will testify to this) – even on Mondays!

The service is a general information offering, but I tailor it as much as possible to you and your businesses needs, based on the information you provide. Always trying to find a local service provider to help if I can, as I am really passionate about growing the local economy.
I will ask questions to help clarify the areas a business may be struggling with, or where they are seeking a service provider, before making suggestions of who may be able to assist. It will often consist of more than one option, so you can compare and see which provider fits their needs best.

“I try to help clients by letting them know what is available in their own community – often people want to make a human connection with a service provider, and as much as we can all search online for answers these days, sitting down for a face-to-face chat with someone you may be deciding to hand your hard-earned money to, or entrust with your clients, is sometimes the best option to gain a real sense of trust.
I don’t only recommend our Members in these circumstances of course – I am a real believer in authentic recommendation – and even if I’ve not used the services personally, but have worked with the person and feel they could be the right match, I will say that.
I know a little bit about a lot of business subjects, but in these situations, I am really a provider of information as opposed to a specialist (hence ‘small business surgery’!).
Finding the ‘specialist’ can be time-consuming, and having spent most of my career striving to provide excellent Customer Service, finding the right product or service to meet the client’s needs is something I’m proudly confident about.
I’ve built up a large network of local connections, and have researched significantly to find out what is available in our business community, so I can save people a lot of time if they need assistance and aren’t sure where to look.”

Contact Celia if you are interested in becoming a Member and utilising the ‘small business surgery’. 0431 639 217