Founder of Yay for You, Jamila Ekkel is a psychologist who runs a private practice in the Netherlands. She has been an entrepreneur for almost a decade and recently decided to make her passion of working online and helping a wider audience into a business.
As an introverted entrepreneur, she has overcome difficult situations herself and is now helping perfectionistic, busy and anxious women how to break out of their comfort zones. She has shared with us her story, why she established Yay for You, and the secrets to overcoming fear as an introverted entrepreneur.
1- Can you tell our readers about your background?
My name’s Jamila and I’m a 33-year-old, geeky and extremely introverted psychologist. This means I need a LOT of time to recharge, by myself. I’ve been a psychologist for over 8 years now, 6 years of which I’ve been working as an entrepreneur. Owning a private practice in the Netherlands as a psychologist for introverted women.
About half a year ago though, I felt like that wasn’t enough. Even though I’m very introverted, I wanted to expand my reach. Because I deeply feel that I have a message to share. And since I LOVE working online, I decided to take the next step and start my online business! Which led to ‘Yay for You’.
It’s been a bit scary here and there because as an introvert it isn’t easy to get visible and be ‘out there’. Connecting, not getting overwhelmed and so on! It’s a challenge. Last January I officially started my online biz but like I said – I’ve been an entrepreneur for much longer. I hope to inspire tonnes of other aspiring introverted women entrepreneurs who sometimes feel like giving up, to keep pushing and help them see that they can get visible and overcome their fears too!
“We quiet women can be awesome entrepreneurs too and shine in our own beautiful ways!! We have Silent Superpowers that extroverted folks don’t have.”
2- What inspired you to start your business?
My own introversion: I’ve had a really tough life up until I was 25 years old. As a young girl and growing up, I had all of these fears that I had to deal with: extreme social anxiety, shyness, depression, being overweight, my parents’ divorce, being poor and having financial issues, until I eventually got a severe burnout at the age of 25.
I used to be very perfectionistic, I had fear of failure and I never had the confidence in myself that I could make things happen. My personality led me towards burnout. It was terrible, but I’ve learned big lessons from it. I overcame my fears, my shyness, I developed a good healthy sense of self-confidence and self-worth – heck, if you would tell me ten years ago that today I’d be doing Facebook Lives like they are nothing, I would have laughed at your face! Haha. I would think you’re crazy because back then I felt terrible and like it’d never change.
But it did. And that’s why I want to help other quiet, introverted perfectionist women like me to let go of their need to be perfect and gain more self-confidence: because we quiet women can be awesome entrepreneurs too and shine in our own beautiful ways!! We have Silent Superpowers that extroverted folks don’t have!
3- Where is your business based?
My private practice is based in the Netherlands but my online business is available for anyone around the globe.
4- How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
My first steps were setting up my website and online calendar, and trying to figure out how Google Ads worked. I had a friend who helped me with that. I was lucky that I could make my own websites.
I had to work on my mindset a lot too, I think I’ve been working on that constantly ever since I started. Mindset is everything – it helps you to keep going.
5- What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
For my private practice, it has always been Google Ads. They work perfectly fine! I have enough clients to have a good stable income. Sometimes I even need to work with a waitlist. There have even been €10k months from that.
For my online biz, I’m working on organic marketing, which is obviously still slow as I’m starting out. But I do notice that Instagram for example is growing more quickly than my Facebook page and group.
6- What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
I think my mindset blocks! It has always been “mental blocks” for me – sometimes, some months’ income is lower and it brought up all these blocks for me that caused fear and anxiety. I had to really work on those. To keep going. EFT tapping (Emotional freedom technique) helped me with this. But also meditating – I meditate every day, most days twice! It helps me stay focused and centred.
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7- What personal sacrifices have you made throughout your career?
In the beginning, I still lived with my mom at home. Our relationship grew more distant because of my big time investments in my work and business. I had to put in lots of hours, and sometimes got very grumpy and snapped at her. It was no fun.
Sometimes I regret working so hard but lately, I don’t anymore, as our relationship grew stronger again now, several years later! I guess it helps to stay aware of how your process goes and it helps to admit to yourself that you’re basically neglecting the ones you love. Even when it’s hard 🙂
8- How do you stay focused?
Meditation helps a lot! I practice mindfulness. It’s become a way of life for me – focusing on there, here and now. Not focusing on the past or possible future.
9- How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
There are a lot of businesses that focus on introverted women. But I’ve niched down more – I’m focusing on perfectionistic, busy, anxious and introverted women. Plus I’m a psychologist, not a coach. There are a lot of coaches in this area. So I guess that’s how I differentiate my business from others.
10- What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
Google Ads, Facebook Ads and now I’m working on effective ways to do organic marketing.
“Don’t be scared to do something new, because people have done it before. But no one has ever been you!”
11- What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
I would advise you to always be authentic and unapologetically you! That will always set you apart from other businesses. Don’t be scared to do something new, because people have done it before. But no one has ever been “you”.
12- What’s the best work-related advice you’ve ever received?
Keep going. Don’t give up. It does and will get hard. This is a common thing, it’s not just you.
13- How do you manage self-doubt?
Meditation helps here as well, when I self-doubt, I journal, tap and meditate on it. It becomes so much easier to handle it when you do!
14- What’s your favourite app, blog, and book? Why?
App = Calm app – I have a yearly subscription and it’s totally worth it! You can do so many short meditations and I love the sounds of nature that they integrated. It’s very soothing.
Blog = I’d say Denise Duffield Thomas’s blog on Money Blocks and Money Mindset. It really helps to remove all your mind blocks, so that you can keep going and stop doubting yourself! Self-sabotage is real… but there are so many things you can do about it.
Book = Quiet by Susan Cain; really helped me as an introvert see how important we are as quiet people. And that I’m not crazy, boring or different; there are tonnes of people like me! Can recommend it to anyone who feels the same.
15- What’s your favourite business tool or resource? Why?
Can I just say Google Drive?! Seriously, I’m a very disorganised chaotic person by nature. But Google Drive helps to organise everything in folders and keep track of ALL my notes (because I’m a creative person and have 1001 ideas all the freaking time…)
16- Could you name a woman who’s inspired you the most?
Yes! Brené Brown, I absolutely LOVE her way of speaking. She’s so scientific yet so human. I always listen to her podcasts and Ted Talks and so on. Read one of her books so far. And I love her personal story, it’s inspiring. She’s an expert on things like vulnerability, which of course plays a big role in ‘getting visible’ and dealing with shyness.
“I schedule self care and me time in my calendar. Otherwise I would go into a full workaholic mode and forget it!”
17- How do you balance work and life?
I actually schedule self-care and me-time in my calendar. Otherwise, I would go into a full workaholic mode and forget it. I love my work but I need time to recover too as I also have chronic pain.
In addition, I also take time off to get those creative juices flowing! I also plan vacations and days off regularly, otherwise, I forget to take time off.
18- How do you unplug from work?
I meditate, take hot baths, and go for walks in nature with my dog. I love gaming, reading, baking, cooking…you name it. Lots of things I love to do!
19- What do you have planned for the next six months?
I’m actually hosting a FREE 5-day ‘Let it Go!’ Challenge for Quiet Women who are “Tired of Trying to be Perfect”. Starting on Monday the 3rd of May 2021.
Later in May, my signature group coaching program will be opening its doors for the first time! Also, I’m going to be introducing a mini-course soon that you can do in your own time, which is all about relaxing and doing self-care if you’re a very busy introverted woman.