In our latest conversation, we talk to Brianne West, the founder of Business, but Better. An environmentalist, entrepreneur, and biochemist, she has made a significant leap from starting Ethique in her kitchen to leading educational platforms and product startups.
Brianne talks about her journey, revealing how she balances the challenges of her businesses with her personal interests, like podcasting and horse riding. She also shares her insights on maintaining work-life balance while steering multiple ventures, emphasising the importance of self-care and adaptability.
Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?
Big question! So, I started a hair care company called Ethique back in my kitchen over ten years ago which grew into an industry game-changer and is now found on shelves in 22 countries around the world and saved over 30 million plastic bottles from being made and disposed of.
I stepped down as CEO just over 6 months ago to focus on some new enterprises; Business, but Better which is a free education platform for mission-driven entrepreneurs who want to use business to change the world and ‘Incrediballs’, which is my next product start-up launching next year dedicated to ridding the drinks industry of plastic bottles!
We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?
I think people think it will be more exciting than it is. I do travel a lot for work, speaking events and so on, but a typical day is a lot of emails, meetings, and writing!
Let’s take last Friday. I woke up, did a workout in my home gym I am lucky enough to have, then settled down with a coffee and did some emails. I then planned a couple of podcast episodes, had a couple of mentoring sessions with some wonderful entrepreneurs I am mentoring, did some more emails for Incrediballs working on some flavour combinations and looking at packaging options, recorded a podcast episode and some videos for social media, did some more book planning (which I am procrastinating on..) then finished off the last couple of hours of daylight playing with my horses.
Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?
I think it is what you make it right? I am so incredibly privileged to love what I do and because the combination of businesses and working mostly from home it’s also very flexible. So apart from the odd bad day, I am very content to work odd hours and long into the night when necessary.
Of course, it’s very stressful running start-ups, so I try and mitigate that with exercise which I find helps beyond almost nothing else, spending time with the animals on my lifestyle block (a horse hug cures almost anything!) and ensuring I have adventures planned, usually involving scuba diving whether locally or somewhere further afield.
Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?
Yes, most definitely. A year ago, I was exhausted, stressed, and pretty miserable, so step one was stepping down as CEO of Ethique – it was the right time for so many reasons! Then I started prioritising things other than work so that even though I might work the same number of hours, I do so in a way that is more flexible, works around things like friends, family, hobbies, and I have got back into the routine of working out.
We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?
I don’t think I necessarily have ‘balance’ in the typical way people might imagine it, so this is what works for me. I’m not rigid about hours worked or planning – I despise routine – but that might work well for others. I find some of the best places to chat about this kind of thing is with people in similar situations; for me that is women running start-ups.
We often talk about how balance isn’t something many start-up founders worry about, (but of course we should) but then how we each mitigate our stress. Sometimes it’s unconventional! Some of those conversations are what led to my podcast episode on founder wellbeing and mental health. So, I would be remiss in not pointing you towards my podcast, Now, That’s What I Call Business!
Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I think people sometimes feel pressured to achieve a certain lifestyle – or what ‘work-life balance’ should look like. It doesn’t have to look a certain way; it just has to work for you. Whether that is getting up at 5am (I personally couldn’t think of anything worse) or taking half an hour a day to turn all your devices off and read a book – whatever it is it doesn’t have to fit in with what other people think it should. I have sometimes found people raise an eyebrow at me when I talk about my lifestyle – but it’s what works for me!