Today I want to introduce you to a long-term client and now, good friend, Tracey Northcott. We are both multi-passionate and poo-poo the idea that we have to niche down and only focus on one thing. I have loved watching Tracey grow over the years, she is one of the strongest and most resilient women I know.

As a short-term host, she was fully booked out for the Tokyo Olympics. Then COVID hit and all that potential income, gone. Whereas, this would have broken most people, not Tracey. She got up, dusted herself off, and refused to go down without a fight. During that 2020/2021 periods Japan had lockdowns, not allowing anyone into the country but Tracey found a way to pivot, help other people and make a difference.

a photo of TRACEY NORTHCOTT - TOKYO a white woman smiling to camera. She has long brown hair and is wearing a grey suit.
©️TRACEY NORTHCOTT – TOKYO FAMILY STAYS

TRACEY, TELL US ABOUT YOU…

I always find this a hard question to answer – sure I can write out a timeline of my life and pick out some fun stories – the highlight reel of my life. I am also conscious of wanting to be authentic and also talk about things that people are interested in reading about. Who am I to determine what is or not interesting for others – so I can only write about what comes to me right now. 

Sometimes I feel that I have lived a dozen different lives – multiple interests, lots of different jobs, lots of travel, adventure. Nothing is really following a logical timeline or a plan. Hard for other people to follow as I am a bit of a shape shifter – my jobs, skill sets and interests are really a reflection of my current situation and the people in my orbit as much as something that has come from my own self determination. 

I find it hard to describe or define myself or even put myself into a category. I just do the next thing in front of me and let the chips fall where they may. I guess I haven’t really defined a plan or an identity for myself. 

But also, as I have discovered as a late diagnosis ADHD, this is fairly typical. People pleasing, perfectionism and a healthy dose of curiosity about many different things has led me to this place. I deep dive into different things until they are no longer relevant and then I pick up another thread and run with it from there. 

So I have been a:

Main Hustles (side hustles concurrent)

  • Organic Chemist – food scientist
    • (cafe worker, coffee barista)
  • Biochemistry raw material chemist
    • Meat worker training officer 
    • Sales and marketing for biochemistry tools
    • (Factory worker – florist)
  • Software company president (Family Business)
    • Dictionary enthusiast
    • Software engineer
    • (Real estate company admin)
    • (Bar Owner)
    • (Volunteer Social Club event organizer)
  • Short Term Rental operator
    • (was a side hustle and became main biz)
    • (Author)
    • (Blogger)
    • (Consultant)
    • (Speaker) 
    • (Volunteer women’s non-profit organization)

I am sure I have forgotten some things. My love of learning, curiosity and desire to connect people with solutions means that I find it hard to say no and set boundaries. So while my life might seem exciting and diverse, sometimes I feel constrained by my past commitments and lack of boundary setting. I don’t want to let people down, but I also find it hard to put myself first. I need more downtime and also more time to be present with my family. 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS(es)

Right now, my main businesses are still the software company (Enfour, KK) with my brother. We make dictionary apps on iOS. It is mostly a passive business now as we need very few people. We only market on the AppStore and we are not looking to be acquired or to grow. It is stable and allows us to pursue side hustles. 

Tokyo Family Stays G.K. Is the business I started as a side hustle and it is now a large profitable company. It is NOT passive. We have lots of staff and lots of customers. We operate Short-Term Rentals – vacation rentals and medium term (monthly) serviced apartments. Our customers are both inbound tourists and digital nomads/contract workers who are needing short term furnished accommodation in Tokyo. 

I am also a consultant in hospitality and operations in short term rentals. I speak, write books and help customers one-on-one. 

a photo of TRACEY NORTHCOTT's - TOKYO family stays room. a beautiful double bed, the room is decorated in Japanese style with a large gold and black fan on the wall
©️Tracey Northcott

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH THIS BUSINESS?

My brother started the software business and I came to Japan in 2000 and joined him for the ride. I was only supposed to come for 2 years, take the company public and then go. 24 years later, I am still here and the company is on auto pilot but pays all of our salaries. 

The vacation rentals started by accident as I was needing a place for family and friends to stay after I had my son. I rented a small studio apartment and listed it for rent in between family visits. It really took off and I enjoyed being a host and showing tourists my adopted home and showing them about real life in Tokyo – not just what they see in the cliche tourist marketing. 

So I grew the business as the cash started to flow and then I was able to put structure in place to have a full working business which has given my family financial freedom. 

WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU HAVE STRUGGLED WITH OR A PROBLEM YOU HAVE OVERCOME AND HOW DID YOU DO IT?

Things grew very fast and organically. I followed my nose rather than following a strategy. As I have ADHD, I learned that planning and strategy and following rules was not my strong point. I kept thinking I was broken and despaired over burning out. 

Discovering I have ADHD gave me self compassion to forgive my past self and the permission to hire people who can do the things that I am not good at and allow me to do what I am good at. 

I have developed some hacks that work for me and my team are rockstars. 

It is still a struggle at times as I am so hard on myself – I don’t want to accept that there are things I can’t do well and think that if I just worked harder, or just had better discipline, I can be better. 

I still get trapped by slick marketing that tells me that if I buy x,y,z tool/planner/workshop, all my problems will be solved and I will not feel the shame any more. But I am learning to focus on my achievements and realize that I am providing employment and inspiration to others. 

The people who work for me have to remind me that they couldn’t do what I do and are happy to help me with what I can’t do. I tend to minimize my achievements and only beat myself up about the messy bits behind the scenes. 

a photo of TRACEY NORTHCOTT - TOKYO FAMILY STAYS. A white woman with long brown hair. She is wearing black glasses and red lipstick that matches her top.
©️TRACEY NORTHCOTT – TOKYO FAMILY STAYS

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?

I love that I get to support incredible people who now have a different quality of life because of me. I know I have personally facilitated people to buy their first house – the first of their family line to aspire to do that. Also other team members have supported their children through university – again, the first of their family to get a higher education. And for the staff to feel empowered to take the skills they have learned from me and go to become managers and organisers. 

I love that my guests take memories from their adventures in Tokyo and they get to see real life in a different culture. Plus I love that they come back many times and I get to see their kids grow up and enjoy different parts of Tokyo and Japan. Plus they have the confidence to get off the beaten track and explore. 

I love teaching other hosts how to be better hosts, give their guests exceptional hospitality and also be profitable and more efficient. I love being able to teach them the marketing lessons that I have learned and support them on their journey with a business that brings them joy as well as financial independence. 

HOW DO YOU USE YOUR CREATIVITY IN YOUR BUSINESS?

I love thinking of ways to use fun marketing strategies to uniquely define my brand in the market. To show our unique POV through our messaging, nurturing and guest experiences. 

I love working with other hosts who share my passion and hospitality values. Collaboration on book projects, seminars, courses and more. It feels good to know there are kindred spirits around the globe. 

Image of the garden on one of the TOKYO FAMILY STAYS rentals. it has a low table with a bench and cushions and a pond next to the seating area
©️TRACEY NORTHCOTT – TOKYO FAMILY STAYS

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WISH YOU HAD LEARNED EARLIER IN YOUR BUSINESS JOURNEY?

You don’t have to do everything perfectly to be of service. Just by showing up and offering value is enough. Take the compliments of people that you have helped. Just be you and do the best you can and that is really all any of us are doing. 

Having a line between what I do for free and what I can charge for. Knowing that people will try to pick your brains for free but then when you have reached into a zone where you can charge will stop the people pleasing. You can politely say – “now we have entered into my consulting work and here is my schedule where you can book in for a paid session. I’m eager to help you further….. “ etc. 

Also – most people don’t know what they are doing. They are just making it up as they go along. Doing the next right thing where you are being of service, honest, kind and staying curious is always a great strategy. 

The only thing that makes people truly successful is their desire to keep learning and growing. Many people just stay stuck in fear, lack of self-compassion and by listening to other people who try to keep everybody else down to make themselves feel better. 

Everybody has some form of imposter syndrome. Successful people just hide it better than others. 

DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT

AS A MOM, WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER MOMS STARTING/RUNNING THEIR OWN BUSINESS 

You have more skills than you realize. There are things that you have that other people need and that they admire in you. You don’t need to over serve. Make sure you have something that people can buy and that you have a simple line for business activities. 

Don’t listen to the negative Nancys as they are mostly just afraid for themselves and not for you. Surround yourself with people who are eager to see you fly and to help you stretch and grow. 

Be kind to yourself. You are ENOUGH. 

DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE BOOK/WEBSITE OR RESOURCE THAT HAS HELPED YOU WITH YOUR JOURNEY?

Denise Duffield-Thomas (Money Mindset coach – thank you Jo for introducing me…. )
Jo Ebisujima – inspiration – seriously
Brene Brown
Glennon Doyle
Matthew Dons (Make Marketing Pay)

WHERE TO FIND TRACEY

Website: www.tracey-northcott.com and www.tokyofamilystays.com
Instagram:  @tokyofamilystays @thewholeheartedhost
Facebook: @tokyofamilystays @traceynorthcottconsulting

I hope you have enjoyed learning a little more about Tracey and the amazing work she does. If you are starting out on your business journey and need help getting all the things done both at home, with the business and the kids, then come and join us in The Wonder Mom Success Club.

Did you join the free resource library yet?

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