Interview with Julia Chanteray, business coach and founder of Adventures in Products

Read our interview with Julia Chanteray, business coach and founder of Adventures in Products.

What’s your career background?

I’ve been running the Joy of Business for over 20 years, being the coach and trusted advisor for hundreds of small business owners.

In the last year, after doing lots of work with my own business coach, I decided to set up a whole new brand specialising in helping people build product-based businesses based on their expertise. It’s called Adventures in Products, and I love it. 

Where did the idea for your business come from?

In my business coaching, I noticed that many of my clients simply didn’t want to go the traditional route of adding more and more people to the team. Often, you don’t want the hassle; you want freedom for yourself, with a little freelance or admin help. 

And I saw that the people I helped to scale fast were the ones where we built a product-based business, rather than selling services. I helped clients build courses, dashboards, paid newsletters, tools, templates, and all kinds of productised services. 

It makes sense – you only need to build a team if you’re selling time to clients. If you’re selling products, you don’t need that team, and you can sell to more people. And you make more money with less hassle. 

Who’s your target audience?

At Adventures in Products, I’m working with people who already have a business based on their unique expertise. Usually, the owner has built this up over the years and is now pretty skilled at what they do. But they’ve got trapped in the whole trading time for money grind. 

I help them pivot their business so they can solve their clients’ problems by sharing their expertise and solutions in products rather than selling time.

What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

Well, building the new Adventures in Products brand at the same time as my partner having a baby during the isolation of the first lockdown was pretty challenging. I would record a new course video, go and change our daughter’s nappy, put her in the sling and walk about for half an hour, and make a cup of tea for her other mum. Then go back to map out the next video. 

The more common business challenges have been getting people to open up to the idea of a product-based business. It can take a while to get your head around all the possible options. 

And your proudest moment so far?

Oh, there are lots of warm glows of satisfaction in my work because I’ve been able to help so many people move forward with their businesses over the years. 

One, in particular, sticks with me, though. I was walking down the street in Hove when someone stopped me to say hello. Ten years earlier, I’d helped him to add what was then a productised side-line to his business. He told me he was still selling the workshops we’d set up and that he’d paid off his mortgage this year. Made my day. 

Why is work so important to you?

I’m pretty geeky about business and marketing. It fills my head, and I’m always learning new things. Today, I’m puzzling over aspect ratios to repurpose Zoom recordings into Instagram reels. Tomorrow I’ll be working on email subject lines to improve open rates.

Learning and working out how to solve little problems (or, more accurately, the right person to ask for help) keeps it all moving forward. And passing that knowledge on to other people in my products makes me feel I’ve made a difference. 

Of course, the results are very gratifying. When someone in my Productise Your Expertise programme makes their first sale or reports that the first people they don’t know have joined their list, that makes me very happy. When I see the comments in the group that show someone has “got it”, that they’ve made a leap, and that’s fuelling a commitment to action, that gives me a warm glow in my tummy. 

How do you balance your work with your family?

I’m lucky. My partner is on three-year maternity leave. That seems like a sensible amount of time to take off when you have a baby. If you want to, of course.

Our daughter goes to nursery two days a week, which she loves. “Running and playing,” she tells us. We ride to nursery on my electric bike, up the hills of Brighton, and when I drop her off, I go upstairs to my little office in WRAP. Then I work like crazy before I pick her up, and we cycle home. 

My work is becoming more asynchronous. I don’t have as many meetings these days, so I can work more when I’m “on fire” and less when I’m not. 

What are your three top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?

In hindsight, I would never have set up as a generalist business coach. I should have niched into a particular area from the start. I would think twice now about being a coach at all. I’d go straight for a product-based business because I would have made way more money. 

So, these two pieces of advice are to avoid making my mistakes. Also, please don’t do what I did and write a book as your first product. 

But my most significant advice is about how you invest your time and money. I’ve been able to do this because I’ve recycled income from coaching clients (and that nice Bounce Back loan) into getting help with building Adventures in Products. I got specialist business coaching, paid for freelance help, and did a ton of courses to learn the skills I needed. Speculate to accumulate. 

Find out more about Adventures in Products.