Getting To Know: Mara Oatman

 MaggieGentry interviews Mara Oatman, a Systems and Efficiency Consultant for creatives.

It's remarkable how I've only known Mara for a few months, but upon first meeting her, I knew we were going to do something really impactful together. It's rare to meet someone who values doing business in the same way you do, AND who also perfectly complements your work, so I feel extremely grateful to have found Mara.

She is whip-smart, unbelievably kind, and freakishly organized, which makes her a perfect partner for creatives and small business owners who are wanting to get their back-end systems in order to create more efficiency with how they do business. Mara will be your ally in gently exploring the way you are currently structuring your business, without any judgment or guilt, and helping you establish systems that will free you up to focus more on what you love doing most. She is a magic worker, and I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to get to know her over these past few months.

And... if you haven't heard, we fell head over heels for each other in our first meeting, and started brainstorming a collaboration, which we finally announced a couple of weeks ago (read more on that below)! Get to know my partner a bit more here, and we hope to see you at one of our upcoming workshops!

 

Let’s dive right in! Tell us about your background and how it landed you here with building your business as a Systems & Efficiency Consultant. (Also, can you share a little bit more about what exactly it is that you do?)  

Although I’ve had a variety of jobs, looking back I can now clearly see a few running themes — from Lululemon Assistant Manager, Zumba instructor & holistic health coach, startup inventory & production manager to project manager at a branding studio — each job gave me:

  • some control/variety in my schedule—lifestyle is huge for me and something I incorporate in my client work today!

  • space for autonomy and appreciation for innovation.

  • freedom to organize, streamline and create simple systems and processes for improvement — all those things that I can’t help, but do.

Being a Systems & Efficiency Consultant is the culmination of all the things I liked about past jobs, and even more. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been drawn to running my own business, so when I was ready for a new venture and small businesses continued to ask for my help organizing their businesses for efficiency...I let my clients' needs, guided by my natural tendencies/passions, inform my business growth. I am so grateful for the work I get to do with the inspiring clients I get to work with.

I help creative entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level by creating strong business foundations, establishing simple processes and strategically setting up their systems. I work mostly 1:1 with clients through either my signature program or custom packages to meet their exact needs. Teaser alert — check out the answer to #4 for more details.

What aspect of your work is the most life-giving for you?

That moment when a once-overwhelming and complicated aspect of a client’s business becomes something that brings them a sense of confidence and ease. Another tipping point that I absolutely love to play a part in is helping my clients see a new possibility for their business and life that they didn’t see (or believe) before.

Was there ever a time when you happily ignored external validation or outside advice about your business so that you could follow the True North that you created for yourself? If so, how did making that choice to follow Your Why impact not only you, but your business?

I’ve had many occasions of external (and often internal) encouragement to automate and scale my business, as well as suggestions on how to ‘reach the masses’. But I’ve always been one for quality relationships over quantity, and it feels so natural to run my business the way I do — I focus on creating personal connection with each interaction so I can best support and take care of each client. I’ve grown my business 100% on word-of-mouth referrals, which I 100% have my amazing clients and friends to thank for. It feels so good to be exactly where I am because this feels like me.

What inspired you to create your Simplified Systems for Success offering, and can you share a success story or two?

My signature program developed naturally from the work I do with my Graphic Design & Branding clients — goal setting, business foundations (think brand values, positioning, packaging offerings and establishing rates), client onboarding process, and strategic scheduling. These are the steps that give business owners the confidence to grow their business and the time to do it.  

I know that you are really thoughtful about how you structure your time. What does a typical day look like for you? And do you have any routines/rituals that allow you to be your most successful self?

Oh yes, scheduling...I love it so much, you should see my calendar. ;) It depends on the day of the week (MWF are for meetings out, T/TH I work from home), client schedules, etc., but a typical day looks like this:

  • morning routine (meditation, stretches, gratitudes, making the bed, water with lemon, celery juice, AM supplements, tea, workout, rebounding (new addition!), then breakfast)

  • client meetings / client work

  • lunch / a walk with podcasts

  • another session of meetings / work

  • making dinner

  • ….and hopefully some relaxing time on the couch before bed!

Taking time to take care of my health is absolutely the most important thing to be my most successful self — yoga & meditation to stay fresh mentally, homemade food for healthy eats and sleep, lots of sleep!

 Photo credit:  Shauna Autry Photography

After working with handfuls of clients to help them streamline systems and become more organized, do you have any tips for what might be considered a small task that can go a long way in terms of saving time later?

Ask yourself this question: What’s one thing you feel you should do BUT when you really stop to think about it, you aren’t excited about it, it doesn’t light you up, it doesn’t feed your soul or help you reach your business goals???

Tip: Let it go. Make room for intentional actions that provide you with true value (less stress; more time, money, etc). Give it try, even just for a day/week/month! We all spend so much time saying yes to every opportunity and trying to do more. That works for some people some of the time, but often I find that my clients benefit in many ways from identifying what is truly valuable and removing the rest.

We luckily met when a dear mutual friend introduced us, and a beautiful friendship and collaboration was born! I am really looking forward to seeing where this takes us, and I’d love to know: what are you most excited about for the upcoming Quarterly Planning workshops we’ve got coming up?

I am so excited to be providing people with not only the guidance to create purposeful action but the time and space to do the work in the moment, in an supportive environment, to help business owners tap into the purpose behind their actions and set themselves up for success!

What else can we expect from you in 2018?

Connection. My theme for the year and the focus of my business, creating connection through my client work and helping client after client design their dream job and live their ideal life!

And it’s time for the inevitable… I always love hearing about who is currently inspiring you. Do you have any books, podcasts, bloggers, people that you can’t seem to get enough of lately?

Jen Sincero of You’re A Badass & You’re A Badass At Making Money has been my go-to motivator lately, and Gabrielle Bernstein on all things life is so inspiring to me!

 
 Photo credit:  Shauna Autry Photography

Want to know more? Eager to connect with Mara? Here's how:

Website
Instagram

Ready to work with Mara?

 

Apply for 1:1 Consulting by clicking here.

Or, contact me here, and we’ll figure out what your best next step is! 

Fun little extra:

I’d love to offer you a complimentary consultation to get clear on your business challenges, goals and next steps towards solutions! Contact me here and let me know you heard about me through Maggie's blog!