7 years in business! – The highlights, learnings, and transformations, plus the people who made it happen
2022 is Tandem Nomads’ seventh year in business! 7 years is a long time too! It’s been full of highlights, challenges and big transformations, both professionally and personally. It’s the perfect time to pause, reflect upon how I got here and plan the road ahead.
In this blog, I’m lifting the curtains on the last seven years to thank everyone who has made it happen and share with you some of the secrets from my journey, including what’s evolved and what I’m planning for the future.
This blog article is a summary of the related podcast episode.
Click here to listen to the tips mentioned in this article.
So now it’s time for the deep dive.
Let me pull back the curtain and take you behind the scenes of the past 7 years of Tandem Nomads.
Let’s start with what has evolved.
7 years of change: How has Tandem Nomads evolved?
1. Me, myself, I
Without a doubt the biggest thing that has evolved at Tandem Nomads HQ is ME! I am not the same Amel as when I started this business and I would certainly not be who I am today if it weren’t for Tandem Nomads. It’s completely transformed me by pushing me to really tackle all my blind spots such as confidence issues and my limiting beliefs. Of course, like all good growth, I am still exploring these challenges and will continue to do so. However,
I know for certain that I’m likely to be a different person again or at least to continue to evolve in another 7 years!
2. The Business Model
I love working with my clients on their business models. It’s one of the earliest steps you decide; how you want to serve your clients and how to create a model that works for you and that’s portable. That’s always been my thing, but for this to work, you still need to align with your market, be in tune with what’s happening and evolve to its changes. And boy have we seen some changes in the last 7 years! Globally so much has changed and whilst we’ve all lived through these times, you might not be aware of how much the Tandem Nomads business model has evolved during this time.
I started Tandem Nomads as a podcast – a way to support expat spouses around the world. I didn’t even know if it would work, but I wanted to motivate them and help them to see all the opportunities and possibilities of their experiences. Most of all I wanted to turn the challenges of their careers into successful portable businesses to give them their own source of fulfillment and to become financially independent.
Early on I realized that the first problem I could solve for these spouses was to find a business idea. Many of them didn’t know what kind of business they wanted to launch or what they could do with their skills. I launched my first big signature program, The Business Idea Accelerator™ (BIA), which I co-created with transition coach and cultural strategist, Sundae Bean. We built the program together. Sundae brought the coaching aspect whilst I brought the marketing and business side of things. During this time, I also decided to reach more people and sold the online program to corporate clients like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belgium. They were actively engaged in supporting the spouses of their diplomats and became one of my biggest clients. In fact, the BIA was so huge for me generally, because at this time, it provided most of Tandem Nomads’ revenue.
In parallel, I also provided 1:1 business and marketing coaching services to help clients launch or grow their portable business. Very quickly I began to notice a lot of repetition from one client to another, especially for those in early stages of their business. So I decided to develop my own methodology, which I called the 3C System (Clarity, Consistency, Conversion). Out of the 3C system I created my next big program, the Portable Business Accelerator™ (PBA) and with this in place, I was able to really focus on developing my 1:1 coaching.
Therefore, as a next step to the PBA, I’ve developed the Business Growth Accelerator™ (BGA), a 1:1 coaching program where I help clients take their current business to the next level.
This program is designed for clients who already have a business and want a sparring partner with technical and marketing knowledge, but also a coach who can challenge them with their mindset and help them reach ambitious goals without sacrificing their wellbeing
The loneliness of entrepreneurship is much harder than working with someone by your side.
You can see how much Tandem Nomads has evolved, can’t you?
It’s been massive – from a podcast, to helping clients find business ideas, teaching them the foundations of building a portable business through online courses and group coaching, stepping away from my biggest corporate to focusing on a few private 1:1 clients (10 – 12 per year) for accountability and business growth.
Over the 7 years, I’ve really had to evolve proactively and respond to the pressures of my own circumstances as well as global events like covid. More recently, I knew that with all the things going on in my life, I needed to focus on a small pool of clients.
3. The Postionning
The evolution of Tandem Nomads’ business model shows how pivoting can really work for you. In helping my clients pivot their business, I’ve also pivoted mine. It seems counterintuitive, but with no corporate clients and fewer 1:1 clients my revenue is now actually higher, AND my business aligns better to my lifestyle.
In my most recent pivot, I’ve been further developing the Business Growth Accelerator™. Each of the 3 stages matches a different stage of the entrepreneur’s business progress:
- I have a business idea and I know what I want to do, but I don’t know where to start. Or I have a business but struggle to make consistent revenue. This phase is personalized to the client and is designed to help them take the first steps to launching their business.
- I have a successful business that generates 6 figures or more, but I feel scattered and spread too thin. Or, I have a new goal or big strategic shift I want to make in my business and I want to have a sparring partner who is also an expert in marketing to support me through this transition.
In this phase I work with clients to make sure that their business model and their strategies are aligned with their goals, but also with their personal needs and lifestyle. I am also here to help them achieve ambitious goals without sacrificing their wellbeing and the other priorities they have in life, such as their own mental health and quality time with their loved ones.
- I am ready to scale, I already have a team or want to hire a team, but I struggle to know how to onboard them effectively without spending a lot of energy and time to get them to a place where they are operational and independent. This is a completely new service for me. I started to trial it over the summer and I’ve been loving it. Here, I work with the entrepreneur’s team helping them to reach their goals, take ownership of their systems, and keep them accountable. I also work as a sparring partner for the entrepreneur, and make managing their team easier for them.
Since the pandemic I can see the shift in my clients too; expat spouses who now see themselves more as entrepreneurs as well as a lot of people who’ve had enough with corporate life and the demands it places on their family. They are primarily women who either want to leave their corporate job and live up to their full potential with their specialist skills and create their own business or, they already have a business, but it’s not aligned with their lifestyle. Since covid I’ve been helping them to redesign their whole business model, so that they can realign their business with who they are, their values and their lifestyle.
The shifts are interesting, because I’m doing the same work I’ve always done, but the messaging is very different. In fact, this is the biggest pivot for Tandem Nomads.
I’ve gone from being the go-to expert on creating a portable business that enables you to live on the move with no career and revenue disruption, to creating a successful business that is aligned with your lifestyle and priorities to enable you to achieve your goals without sacrificing your wellbeing.
Whether it’s world events like covid, Ukraine, Black Lives Matter or your own personal life, I can’t stress enough the importance of remaining agile.
It’s so important to be ready to shift very quickly – to shift your marketing, your products, your content and your business model. Make sure you’re constantly listening to your market.
If you’re not evolving, then it’s easy to get stuck. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I’d stayed working in the same way as when I started with the BIA. Learn to see your challenges as opportunities. Don’t bury your head in the sand and wait for it to pass. Be that person who addresses personal and world issues, support your community and lead by example. This is why I launched my most recent offer, The Bootcamp, which I turned into another new framework. My clients were tired and needed a boost with something that gave quick results. We worked for four weeks together to make fast decisions and implement them right away.
Sometimes, it’s better to act fast with imperfect action than slowly and perfect.
So, my biggest message to you is to be attentive. Listen to the market, respond fast and pivot pivot pivot!
7 years of wins: What is Tandem Nomads Celebrating?
The most wonderful wins are the amount of stories I have from my clients about their successes and breakthroughs. Seeing them become more open, lighten up and transform into another person thanks to their business has been the biggest source of fulfillment for me. It started with clients calling me following a transition from one country to another and exclaiming how liberating it was that they’d just moved and 2 days later they were continuing their business.
I’ve also watched my clients have the courage to leave their important corporate jobs and start something new, which has been amazing. What makes me most emotional are the clients who share the difference our work has made to their lives; the improved relationships with their spouse and kids and the quality time they’ve had with their families and friends. It really has meant the world to me. There are so many individual stories I could share, but for me, these highlights are what really keeps me going.
2. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Belgium
Sundae and I trained about 50 people through the BIA in collaboration with the Ministry of Belgium. I really loved the impact we made here, but it would not have been possible without Hildegarde van de Voorde and I want to thank her for trusting us with this project. I was also flown in to do some extra work with them; to speak and deliver some workshops. It’s been so much fun.
3. Online community gatherings and parties!
Over the years I’ve organized spontaneous online parties for clients just for fun. We would dress up, dance, party and celebrate our wins together. Sundae and I did that too for each cohort of the BIA – a huge online party that was so much fun! I really try to inject fun into the experiences of my clients. I love to dance as it lifts me up. It just makes everything lighter and I want to share that with my clients. Having fun and being silly sometimes is who I am and it brings me joy. So for me this also means that I attract the right kind of people.
Think about your own business. What can you do to show clients more of who you are? How can you inject more of you into their customer journey and the ways in which you support them?
Don’t try to just fit the mold. Be yourself, have fun and attract the right kinds of clients for you and your business.
4. Public speaking engagements around the world
It’s taken me by surprise, but I never thought that I would enjoy being on stage and speaking publicly. I was so nervous the first time! It’s been really exciting and empowering these last 7 years as I’ve spoken on stages in various places like New York, Washington DC, Austria, South Korea and Belgium, plus in major world organizations such as the IMF, the World Bank and the UN spouses organization in New York.
It’s also been quite amazing, as I’ve featured on the cover of 3 prominent magazines. I realized that I was almost ashamed of being on the cover and really had to work on my self esteem and limiting beliefs. But it was amazing too. Forbes magazine featured me on the cover for an edition about women’s empowerment and flew me from New York to Austria to speak at their summit about women’s empowerment. It was such a highlight and a real honor to receive recognition from a huge platform like Forbes.
5. Reducing by half my working time while increasing my revenue
When I needed to take time out to support my family, I chose to reduce my working hours by half, and I took almost 4 months off. I say “almost” because my podcast show was still running thanks to my team, I continued to serve my 1:1 clients. But that did not feel like work, quite the opposite. I am eternally grateful for being able to make that happen. And despite the fact that I reduced my hours, I was still able to grow my revenue which was amazing.
The highlights I am celebrating however, do not sit in isolation. As we all know, life isn’t always pink and rosy and in experiencing these highlights I’ve also gone through some challenges.
7 years of challenges: What have I grown through?
We’ve been together for 7 years – you, me and the Tandem Nomads community. It’s always been important to me to be authentic and share with you when times are hard. These have been my major hardships over the last 7 years.
1. Family and mental health
In the early stages of Tandem Nomads, my husband and I were trying for a baby. It didn’t work out and was a really hard time that led me to struggle with depression. It was around the same time that my dad first got ill with a rare neurological disease and things got worse year after year. That is when I decided to try to free up as much time as I could to be able to travel and spend quality time with him. While moving from New York to Austria in 2021, we learned that he only had a couple of months to live. All of these personal challenges are at the root that got me to reflect on how to not give up on my business while making sure that I am not sacrificing my wellbeing and quality time with my loved ones, which is at the core of my mission in my business for my clients too.
2. Dyslexia and focus issues
I haven’t really ever spoken about this before. It’s hard to talk about as I’m still dealing with it, but it’s important to me to share as it’s been one of my biggest challenges. Although I have never been diagnosed, I have dyslexia and attention deficit. My whole life I’ve struggled with focus and the speed in which it takes me to achieve tasks. The most minor things can take so much time and it’s been so frustrating. My husband would come home and find me crying and if there’s one challenge for which I wish I had a magic wand, it’s this one. I’m always battling my brain which goes one hundred kilometers an hour and it exhausts me.
The way I’ve managed to combat it has been through automation and delegation. I’ve learnt to build and onboard a team effectively.
Now you know why at the end of each podcast, my motto is ‘turning challenges into great opportunities’! Whilst dyslexia and attention deficit is my biggest challenge, I’ve made it an opportunity and am now coaching other entrepreneurs about how to onboard teams and implement automation.
3. Reaching an invisible ceiling
Recently, I feel like I’ve reached a business ceiling. It’s not that I’m stuck, nor is it about strategy, but I’m working a lot lately on mindset and past traumas. As I’m central to my business, addressing my mindset is essential to being able to build the big business I want to build. So I’m surrounding myself with coaches, mindset experts, and mindfulness so that I can live up to my ambition and potential – just like I want for my clients. The more I learn and the more I grow, the more I can support my clients and the better the support I provide. It’s hard though. Some days are really difficult because it means that I have to question so many of the ways I used to think. I’m progressively unlearning so much. But it’s also what makes the journey so fascinating.
Entrepreneurship is a spiritual journey of continuous growth!
7 years of Learning: What Have I Learned?
Beliefs and Attitudes
In transforming so much as a person, I’ve had to learn to be more flexible with my belief systems. The last year has been especially challenging as I’ve confronted myself.
1. Formulas and Strategies Aren’t Everything
If you know me you know that I’m a step by step, process driven person who wants a blueprint, and who gives you the blueprint. I want to help clients understand and build the fundamentals of a successful business, but make sure that the strategies are adaptable. This is why the Portable Business Accelerator™ online course has modules you choose. However, over the years I realized how strategy is not everything! Can you believe that I’m the one actually saying that?! In fact, you can have the best blueprint and strategies, and it might still not work if you are not in the right mindset and energetic flow. Which leads to my second point.
2. Working in Alignment
I really like learning step by step and it’s the way I want to teach, but it’s also about the energy and the attitude that we bring. The energy that we vibrate and the way in which we show up influences so much about how people relate to us and how we perform within our business. We might have a shitty marketing strategy, but can still do okay if we have the right attitude, show up with a good mindset and have a good rapport with customers. Good marketing is important, as is your mindset, but the ultimate key is to be in alignment. By knowing who you are and being 100% authentic to your vision, you attract the right things for you. Yes, your marketing amplifies your message, but when you’re aligned, things happen. You truly manifest what you need for yourself. Therefore, it is key that you know what you TRULY want and that your attitude and thoughts are aligned with that.
3. Hard Work
The biggest belief that I had to give up (and I’m still working on it) to take my business to the next level is ‘hard work’. I learnt from my father from a young age that hard work was a must. It’s been one of my highest values and what has helped me grow in my journey so far. However, I realize this value is not serving me anymore. I’ve realized that my belief that I needed to ‘work hard’ was having the opposite effect. It was making me make things hard, when things could actually be easy. I now choose ‘easy’. It’s not about choosing the easy option to ignore a challenge, but more about mindset and choosing what I want my values to be. If I choose to make something ‘easy’, I’m choosing how I want to navigate life and show up in my business. I’m choosing the thoughts I want to have. That said, choosing ‘easy’ is also a challenge because I’m reprogramming my beliefs. My identity is changing and I’m growing as a result.
It’s so important to choose the values that serve you. In going through all these changes, I have transformed. It’s not a coincidence that my personal growth has happened at the same time as when my dad passed away. When we experience hardships and trauma, it leads us to question a lot of things. For me, it was not about questioning my business, but realizing that I have evolved so much as a person and I need my business to reflect that evolution.
The way I’m starting to do this is to choose the value and key words that I am focusing all my work around. These are ‘alignment’ and ‘impact’. I am so passionate about aligning our values to our business without giving up on our ambitions. The thing is, alignment is completely ambitious because we usually believe that we have to choose one or the other or we break in the process. For me, the ambitious choice is alignment and impact together! Isn’t that exciting?
But we have to be prepared to confront ourselves, be brave enough to explore our learned behaviors and thoughts as we find out who we really are outside of the things imposed on us in childhood and other influences since then. It’s called identity disintegration. You will have days that can be scary because you don’t have a clue who you are anymore, but it’s a valuable process. One of my first mentors actually said to me:
Sometimes you need to break yourself so that you can build the stronger person you want to be.
In the upcoming months, there will be some changes at Tandem Nomads that reflect my internal transformation. I’m not changing a lot. I’m still doing a lot of the same things, but whatever I do will still align with what I have always aimed to achieve and are at the core of who I am:
- How to make a bigger impact in the world
- How to help people live up to their full potential and create a ripple effect
My business model will continue to be quite the same for now, but I feel some shifts coming up. I’m not yet clear on where or how it will happen. You might have already noticed it coming into the podcasts and how I address you. I’d love to know if you’ve noticed it too!
Ultimately, however, I’m here to help you align your business with your lifestyle and support you in making the impact you want to see in the world. I’m all about building a business that makes an impact and gives you financial freedom without sacrificing your wellbeing or the wellbeing of your loved ones.
Stay tuned to hear more as the Tandem Nomad’s future unfolds!
7 years of Thank Yous!: Who has helped make it happen?
I cannot finish this celebration without thanking everyone who has been involved in this journey. I would not be where I am today without them.
If you’ve been here since the beginning or are a more recent listener or reader, thank you! I am so grateful for every single one of you along this journey. Thank you for spending time with me, listening whilst you’re exercising, cooking, driving and going about your day. I feel your energy with me – your support, your motivation and your feedback. It really means the world to me.
2. My Clients
I want to say a big thank you to my clients. In the past 7 years, I’ve supported over 100 clients across the world. None of this would have been sustainable if it wasn’t for the clients who’ve entrusted me with their journey. We’ve been part of each others’ evolutions and growth.
I would like to thank the clients who worked with me one-on-one and trusted me in their journey! It’s been a blessing to be able to support you through your own growth!
In particular, I would like to show my gratitude to the clients who have been part of my journey and working with me while I was going through major transitions and life challenges in the past year and a half. Thank you so much Anna, Arlette, Cathy, Daniela, Emily, Florence, Joy, Katia, Katie, Laura, Oscar, Rhoda, Steffie, Sophia and Tatianna. Thanks to them, I could not only continue to grow my business, but most importantly have something that kept me motivated and excited even during the hardest times.
Also, I am thankful to everyone who has been part of my online programs and workshops. I am grateful for your commitment and interactions. It really means the world to me.
Also, to all my clients generally. You’ve really allowed me to enjoy this journey and to feel so full of gratitude and joy in my day to day life.
3. The Tandem Nomads Community
I also need to thank the Tandem Nomads community that you’ve been part of – either through the podcast, the blog, the newsletter and when you reply to my newsletter (I love that!), and to those of you who are part of my social media channels. You are all part of the energy that creates Tandem Nomads. I love connecting with you and hearing your own stories of transformation and impact. Also to my business relationships and networks – you keep me inspired and motivated through our conversations. Lastly, thank you too to Families in Global Transition (FIGT). FIGT has been part of my journey from the beginning and having that community has been so important to me.
4. My Team
Ah, my fabulous team. Thank you. I cannot thank you enough. You’ve allowed me to focus on my zone of genius and do what I love most. Everything would not be possible without you.
Firstly to Sarah Black. With over 4 years of collaboration, she’s been the longest standing member of the Tandem Nomads team. Sarah recently started a new journey of her own and I want to thank her enormously and wish her the best for her continued growth and success. Sarah really has been an essential part of Tandem Nomad’s growth through thick and thin!
I also wanted to thank Sabine who’s been part of the team during the last year. She’s been responsible for all the automated systems I have in place and makes it roll along effortlessly so that I can focus on my zone of genius.
In the same way, I need to thank Cath Brew, a great friend of mine. I feel so lucky to be able to rely on Cath. She’s the person who edits and manages the production of the podcast and I’m super grateful that she can respond quickly to short deadlines!
We also have new members on the team. Petra, Gina and Lawrence. Thank you. I’m so pleased to have you part of this team. I can’t wait for this journey together
5. Sundae Bean
I often mention Sundae in my podcasts as she is that peer, that friend and partner. We’ve worked together on so many projects. She’s also been my coach, my cheerleader, and my trusted colleague. We’ve never considered ourselves competitors, so it’s been especially precious to have that person who you trust and can talk to openly and share information with. We’ve also had a lot of fun together! I really can’t thank Sundae enough.
6. My Mastermind
This group, aka the ‘online mafia’ has been a core support for me. For the past 3 years, we’ve been seeing each other every single week for 2 hours. We’ve supported each other through business and personal growth. Thank you Agnieszka, Katherine, Kasia and Nicole. What can I say? What an amazing journey!
7. My Husband, Michael
Michael has been there for everything; all the ups and downs of the Tandem Nomads journey and obviously my personal journey too. I can’t thank you enough Baby. Thank you for being my rock and for believing in me, especially when I struggle to do so.
Believe it or not I’m about to quote the rapper Snoop Dog! In one of his award acceptance speeches he said, “last but not least, I want to thank me. I want to thank me for believing in me. I want to thank me for doing all this hard work”. So in proper Snoop Dog fashion, I want to thank myself for the amazing dedication, commitment and love that I’ve put into my work for the past 7 years. I’ve grown so much. It’s quite unbelievable the amount that I have pushed through my own discomforts and limiting beliefs. I am a completely different person thanks to Tandem Nomads.
I want to thank myself for my resilience and continued efforts. I want to also thank my business because it has its own energy. It’s an entity in itself, like a little person. I am so grateful for it. I’ve been able to create the business I always wanted especially in the times I’ve needed to be available for my family.
This last sentence is actually very pertinent to my personal journey and the Tandem Nomads journey. There was a very strange coincidence that the Tandem Nomads anniversary fell on the same day as the passing of my father. Whilst the anniversary was in November, I decided to give myself the grace of space and took time to process the 1st anniversary of his death.
So many of the people I have thanked have been integral to the challenges of the last few years – not only my father’s passing, but moving from New York to Austria, finding a home and settling in Vienna, whilst also supporting my family, processing my own grief, not to mention just running Tandem Nomads. If I didn’t have a business that allowed me to do all of the events in the last couple of years, none of what I‘ve shared about my evolution, learnings and transformations would have been possible. I am so very grateful to Tandem Nomads and I am so grateful to you.
I can’t wait to continue this journey with you!