Alyssa Berthiaume is the founder of The Write Place, Right Time a virtual boutique of professional writing coaching and ghostwriting services for badass and brilliant womxn ready to brave their path to the page and tell the stories that will change the effin’ world.
For more details, visit their website here.
Here we sit down with Alyssa, to know a bit more about her journey as a writing coach.
Q. What inspired Alyssa to become an entrepreneur?
Alyssa: Truthfully, my entrepreneurial origin story was more about a series of unfortunate events that guided me to this path. I had always hoped to find a way to make my passion for writing my living, but even with an M.F.A. in creative writing, I didn’t know how to do that.
It was 2017, and I was on my fifth job in seven years. Every one of them was an entry-level thing with a promise of advancements or room to grow and no two jobs were ever the same. It felt like I was constantly throwing myself at jobs and seeing what might stick, what might feel satisfying just enough to make it work. That was a futile effort as I always got to some period of time where two things seemed to occur: one, I would discover I likely wasn’t going anywhere and the advancement or upward movement was not what it had originally seemed and two, I just wanted to write.
In that fifth job, I was hopeful that I was wrong about the advancement and I was also a mom with new perspectives and hopes. But within the first year of this role, a few things happened simultaneously. My marriage began to fall apart, I miscarried my second child, and the promotion I was promised was taken away.
This was not what #adulting was supposed to look like. This wasn’t the life I had imagined for myself. It felt like my reality had actually been made of straw and a huge lightning storm came and burned everything down.
With my world turned to ashes, there was only one way to go and that was up. I threw my hands up in the air and told the Universe I gave up. I wasn’t going to follow whatever rules or expectations society had; I was open to being guided. Relinquishing control over having a traditional job or doing anything ‘by the book’ was just the ticket.
The right conversation, people, podcasts, books, etc. all led me in one direction – going out on my own and finally pursuing writing as my living.
Q. How did Alyssa get started?
Alyssa: One of the conversations I had at the time I was exploring alternative career paths was with my own writing coach. She suggested I consider becoming a Virtual Assistant. I had never heard of that, but I was open to anything. She pointed me in the direction of a woman with a training program. So I got in touch with her and knew instantly that it was the right move for me at that time.
I joined the program and established my business entity in the fall of 2018. Just shy of six months later, I walked out of my day job with two months of living expenses in the bank and a promise to myself I would make it work. Business took off for the moon. Everyone needed a writer, it seemed.
It didn’t take long before I realized I wasn’t really a VA. I was more specialized and skilled in writing than I had given myself credit for. So I changed my title, refocused my services to particular types of writing, and kept building off my own momentum as I went, tweaking, changing, evolving as I grew and expanded and as I built up my own portfolio and reputation with clients.
In 2021, I turned the corner to stand in my own power and claim what I want to do and KNOW I’m capable of with my business and for my clients – coach womxn to write their books or ghostwrite their books for them.
Q. What was your biggest startup challenge? What steps did you take to overcome it? What did you learn?
Alyssa: I would say my biggest startup challenge was the fear and unknown components related to the financial operations of my business. Anything number-related has always given me anxiety, mainly because math was never something that came naturally to me as a student, and as a result, I told myself I would be terrible at this part of my business.
Part of what has always made me feel less fearful or uncertain about something has been education, or getting information and increasing my own understanding. Basically, I needed to find out what I needed to know about the financial part of my business and then create a plan.
I met with an accountant, I spoke with my dad (who had served as a general manager of a business for 30+ years), I talked to other small business owners, and I worked with my business coach (who had been assigned to me when I started the VA training program) to ensure I had a full understanding of my financial responsibilities and tax obligations as a business owner.
Then, I made spreadsheets with formulas and tracked various kinds of data, and set up systems. Eventually, I implemented Quickbooks and brought on a team member to help with bookkeeping. I continue to evolve how I approach this part of my business and am always working toward improving the financial health of TWPRT.
I think what I’ve learned is that I’m not “terrible” at this part of my business. It’s not my zone of genius and it’s not where I want to spend my time, but I’m not terrible. I’m heading into my fourth year of business and I’ve kept my head above water even during a global pandemic. In fact, I’ve spent more time in business during shifting economic tides as a result of COVID-19, than not. Sometimes the biggest challenges we have are the ones we create by the stories we tell ourselves repeatedly and then choose to believe.
Q. What is the Most Memorable Thing did Alyssa Done Since you Started your Business?
Alyssa: Starting my own business and going through various evolutions of the services I offered, lent itself to the direction and confidence I needed to finally honor my own stories and dreams and write my own book. In 2020, I wrote and published my first work of memoir, Dear Universe, I Get it Now: Letters on the Art and Journey of Being Brave and Being Me (available at major retailers but also via indies bookstores through Bookshop.org)
Q. What is one book you recommend, and why?
Alyssa: Only one book? Really?
Okay, I’m going to go with She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement by Jodi Kantor and Meghan Towhey. These women were the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters who broke the news of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment and abuse for the New York Times.
This book is a phenomenal account of the investigative journalism that went into breaking this kind of story but mostly I love it not because of how well it’s written, but because of the way it illustrates the power and change that can come from women sharing their stories. It also illustrates, unfortunately, the ways systemic oppression and abuse can (and still do) happen across a variety of institutions.
Q. What are your top 3 favourite online apps, tools, or resources and what do you love about them?
Alyssa: Easily my top three apps are Asana, Slack, and Voxer. I could not run my business without these.
I’ve been using Asana from day one. This is my master project management software and I wouldn’t know where I was, what I was doing, or what someone else was doing without it. Every client project and business activity is in Asana. It’s the OG of the technical side of my business.
Slack was something I implemented as my team began to grow. While I’m the only writer and coach, I have a team of subcontractors that support my business by way of marketing, systems, administration, etc. This has been the central hub for communication but also community. We jive, gel, have fun, and get some serious shit done using this platform.
Then, there’s Voxer. I LOVE Voxer. When I’m in coach-mode, supporting clients as they navigate their stories, Voxer helps us keep the conversation going in between calls. This cuts down on a lot of emailing and trying to capture things in writing that are better expressed verbally, especially when it’s an evolving thought and needs a sounding board before putting it into action on the page.
Q. In terms of legacy, what is the mark you’d like to leave on the world?
Alyssa: I want to be known for elevating womxn’s voices and empowering their stories. I like to say that I’m meant to be in the trenches with womxn as they honor their experiences and rewrite their narratives and to bear witness as they recognize how brave and badass they actually are. Their vulnerability in sharing their stories does have the power to change the world.
Q. In one sentence, what’s the best advice you’d give to someone just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey?
Alyssa: You don’t have to have everything figured out to get going or take action; like everything else, the entrepreneurial journey is an evolution. Where you start doesn’t have to be where you end, but you won’t get anywhere if you don’t at least begin.
To keep up to date with Alyssa and her journey, connect with her on Facebookand LinkedIn.
Lewis Schenk is an Australian based Entrepreneur, Writer & PR Consultant. His work has been recognized by Addicted2Success, International Business Times and Thrive Global. Lewis is passionate about sharing empowering stories from people around the world, particularly those in entrepreneurship & business. He has been privileged to work with over 350 business owners, brands and entrepreneurs in 2020 alone, helping them grow their brand and strengthen their online presence.