Bold Types: Abha Malpani Naismith 🇦🇪
I spoke to Abha about her shift from corporate to solopreneur, and launching an online course that helps working mums kickstart their AI journey with joy (scroll down for the video!)
Hi Abha, firstly, I’d love to know where you grew up and your first job.
I was born in Mumbai, India. When I was three years old, we moved to the UK and lived there till I was nine. Then, we moved back to a small town in India (Aurangabad), where I finished high school.
Luckily, I was still young and fascinated by Indian culture, so no culture shock as far as I can remember!
When I was 18, we moved to Dubai. I went to university in Australia and then returned to work in Dubai.
Burnout led me to quit my job and try my hand at being a travel writer in Spain. The plan was for six months; I stayed for three years!
After my stint in Spain, I moved back to the corporate world in Dubai, where I now live with my husband and two children.
My first job was when I was 18. I was a production assistant for a film company.
Interesting. So, what inspired you to start your own business?
Apart from my adventure in Spain, I’ve been in the corporate world my entire life. After I graduated, I worked in advertising, which was short-lived – and then moved to PR.
After working in PR & comms for over 17 years, a lack of flexibility and limited growth opportunities led me to quit my job six months ago to start my solopreneur journey.
I believe in the transformative power of the internet and emerging technology. It will reshape our work and personal lives by giving us limitless tools to grow and reinvent ourselves without prior skills. We just need to start using them!
As I embark on a mission to redesign my life, I’m constantly experimenting with new tools to improve my productivity and efficiency.
This is where the idea for my business came from. It revolves around building a community of working mums who want to do the same: maximise their productivity and potential by learning to use emerging technology like AI.
The biggest challenge with AI is not knowing what to use it for and not realising its potential until we see it applied to achieve a task in record time.
I decided to launch my business to address these challenges, and it’s in its very early stages.
You launched your first online course recently.
Yes. It helps mums start their AI journey whilst having some fun. It teaches you how to write, illustrate, design, and publish a children’s book in one hour by using ChatGPT, Midjourney and Canva.
I also offer free resources on using AI tools and building a side income for those interested.
The aspiration for my business is my pursuit of time and financial freedom and a mission to inspire others, especially working mums, to believe in the possibility of creating a life that combines career and parenthood.
This is now so much easier to achieve with emerging tech at our fingertips.
Yes! Sounds fabulous. What are you most excited about at work right now?
I’ve been learning and reading about how to be a solopreneur for the last two years. I’m finally putting everything I’ve learned into action and loving it!
It’s a lot of work, and being a one-woman show whilst having two small kids is no easy feat, but I believe in what I am doing and feel grateful that I get to do this!
We are lucky in Dubai that home help is easily accessible and affordable. Because of this and my husband's consistent encouragement, I have everything in place to build a life where I have time and financial freedom.
How do you stay on top of industry trends?
I subscribe to and read a lot of newsletters and pay for a handful of them! There is so much content out there - relying on people you trust and can relate to, who know what they are writing about and are enjoyable to read, is the best way to filter out the noise and stay on top of what you need to know.
How are getting yourself out there, building a network and finding collaborators?
I started focusing on my marketing efforts at the beginning of this year, and I need to get better at it and be more efficient.
Once I started on my own, I realised how much harder it is to do your own marketing than it is to do it for other people or brands.
I’m keeping my email list engaged with a weekly Substack newsletter and working on some free resources to help grow my list. I’ve been repurposing some of that content on social media.
I’ve been showing up on Instagram almost daily and being more active on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Medium. I’m also planning to launch my YouTube channel in February!
I am part of many communities and have been networking there. This has led to several speaking and podcast opportunities, all of which I have taken!
To sell my online course I had to be super active on social media. I feel like I am at the top of the cringe mountain, but I’m past caring, lol. I also experimented with Facebook and Instagram ads.
Now that I better understand what I am trying to solve, I’m finally building a website that will help me better serve my audience.
I hope all of this will give my business the boost it needs to take off. Consistency is key, as they say, for at least two years!
Good luck with YouTube. You’re very engaging on screen, so I’m sure you’ll smash it!
What does ‘success’ mean to you these days? How do you balance ambition and contentment?
I think the definition of success changes depending on which phase of life you’re in. Right now, it’s making money by doing what I love and having the freedom to do that in a way that fits with my life and kids.
My ultimate success would be time and financial freedom to spend my days as I please.
Interestingly, I feel lucky that my success and happiness are mutually exclusive. If they come together, my happiness will magnify, but I am happy nonetheless (cheesy, I know!).
I am also of the mindset that I am so blessed that I get to be on this journey, so I have an obligation to succeed! The failing is in giving up; if I don’t give up, I know I will make it. That’s my current mindset.
You mentioned burnout earlier and quitting your job. How do you take care of your health?
As I’m just starting my business, I am very driven and tend to skimp on sleep; there is so much to do, and I am eager to get on with it. I am so wired, but therefore also tired.
I am very aware of it, though, and I try not to ignore how I feel for too long. Reminding myself of the law of diminishing returns is very helpful in these cases. So, if I feel exhausted, I choose rest – even if I don’t want it!
I am also trying my best to do the basics consistently. Exercise is non-negotiable, and I workout a few times a week. I’m trying hard to take breaks.
I also try to eat clean at least five days a week, but it’s hard when you’re at home and you know where the keys to the snack cupboard are!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
You don’t learn anything by osmosis. You learn by taking action. Get comfortable taking messy action! - Jessica DeRose…also an online business coach.
Yeah. That’s my mantra. It’s easy to get stuck in the ideas phase and think we have to have it all perfectly in place before taking action. But life is too short!
Are you happy? Is there anything you’d change?
I’m the happiest I have been in ages. Not having a stressful and depleting job has shifted my energy enormously. I am using this newfound energy and optimism to build my own business.
I get to see my kids more and manage my own time – I really could not ask for more!
Now I just need to make it work so I never have to go back to a 9-5 😁
Can you recommend one book, podcast, and course for digital entrepreneurs?
This is the last book I read, and it’s been a game-changer for how I think about time.
As a working mum, I struggle with time and have always seen it as being in short supply. The book introduces the concept of ‘Einstein Time’, which makes you realise that WE are the source of our time.
This means time is not finite, and because we are the producers of time, we can create as much of it as we want! This book also introduced me to being in your ‘Zone of Genius’, which was revelatory!
This opened my eyes to the potential of being a wildly successful online entrepreneur by solving a problem using a skillset I already have.
The way she teaches and her structured programmes enable anyone to do the same. It’s an expensive course (about $2,000) but worth it.
Amy Porterfield did $100 million in her business last year, so you are learning from the best if you want to start your online business.
Steph Taylor is a student of Amy’s, and she has a great podcast focused on the magic of taking ‘imperfect action’ and how done is better than good. It’s an important reminder not to get stuck on our quest for perfection that rarely moves us forward.
Who should we interview next and why?
Anna Burgess Yang would be great for you. She left a 15-year career in fintech during Covid (and her husband did too, I think) as a product manager to pursue work she loves. She creates resources for solopreneurs and small businesses.
I’d be happy to connect you if you’re interested?
Definitely - thank you! Also curious to know more about your Spanish adventure…next time! And I need to get my ass over to delicious Dubai for some sunshine and shopping.
How can readers get in touch with you?
My website is almost ready! It has all the information here.
Check out Abha’s wild ride so far! You are a part of it, so let her know what you think.
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