S3 - Episode 9 ~ Believe in Yourself ~ Online Business Lift Off program.


In this episode of the Social Lights Podcast, podcast host and Social Mediology founder Kate vanderVoort chats with Trudy Rankin, who is the director of West Island Digital and the founder of the Online Business Lift Off program.

About Trudy Rankin

Trudy Rankin is a digital strategist, an online business coach and a consultant. After more than 15 years working with big organisations, helping them use digital technology to achieve their goals, she wanted to continue her practice of giving to the next generation through work experience. After starting West Island Digital in 2015, she was on the hunt for an intern.

Thanks to Jan Hauser, from Vision Australia’s employment service, Shahan Cheong joined the West Island Digital team for 3 months. During these months, Trudy discovered that Shahan had been writing a blog for years and had a significant number of people coming to his website every month. What Shahan didn’t realise was that his blog could be used to generate an income for himself.

Over the rest of the internship, and some coaching beyond that, Trudy helped Shahan figure out how to use his blog to start earning money. Now, Shahan has built himself a business, buying and selling antiques online! He has his own YouTube channel – where he makes videos about restoring antiques – and he’s still blogging about antiques and history on his website, Throughout History.

The Online Business Liftoff Program was born, available to all who struggle with finding traditional “9 to 5” work – students, stay-at-home parents, carers with limited availabilities or even older job seekers struggling to find work.


“I believe in supporting people get experience so that they can just get their foot in the door.” (06:53)

When it came to building her own business, Trudy had the chance to make the choice to either do it now, or never do it at all. So, she decided to make the leap and start a business. She thought she knew what she would do, but quickly discovered that it is one thing to work for a corporation and have a massive team around you, supporting you, and another to becoming just one person in a small business doing everything.

She said that one of the things she has always done, is to have and support an internship program. These programs are a great opportunity to provide people with experience and give them the chance to get their foot in the door. She mentions that she had an intern that had sight difficulties and for that reason, it was difficult for him to find a job. It wasn’t until she found that as a hobby, he was always writing blogs about thing he was passionate about, so she coached and taught him how to monetize that blog. Through helping him develop his writing skills he was able continue doing what he loves and maintain a living from it.

Trudy realized that there are many more people that could have similar problems, so she ended up creating a pilot program with Vision Australia. Through the growth that program they were able to turn that into a government funded project to enable those with disabilities to gain work experience.


“What is it that our customers need?” (17:11)

Trudy tells us where her community members are. She is currently using a private Facebook group as a medium. This Facebook group is a place for people who aren't quite ready to take the leap, to just be asked questions, talk about where they are and for her and her team to give them tips and hints etc. Facebook is great for creating awareness and letting people know that the business exists, to showcase what we are all about and all the good we are doing. They use LinkedIn more to build one-on-one relationships, developing collaboration partnerships. On the other hand, the community, on Circle, is all about nurture and support at a much deeper level, where their members are already on the journey to build their business, and they can utilize this platform for asking business idea related feedback from multiple people.


“The biggest mistakes that many business owners make, is that they want to create something that they think somebody else should have or need.” (21:17)

Trudy says that many people skip the step of asking others “what do they really need?” and seeing the situation from the customers perspective. She says that what every person should do, is talk to people and really dig down into what their pain points are and try to understand the world through their eyes. Empathising with your customer really enables you to envision a product that would provide a better quality of life for them.

At the end of the interview, she said that what she wishes for everyone is to start believing in themselves. Many people have so many dreams, but they are afraid that if they try, they'll fail. She says that now is the moment to take a risk and do the things that you have always dreamt of doing. That will be interesting and difficult, and it will end with you in a different place than what you thought, but if you don't take action, you will never get anywhere.

Keep listening to the upcoming episodes of podcasts by joining in Social Lights Podcast produced by Social Mediology.

You can connect with us on Facebook at @SocialLightsPodcast and find future episodes at socialmediology.com.au/sociallights.

Thanks for your time and stay inspired,

Kate vanderVoort

Episode Links

You can find Trudy Rankin, and more on West Island digital and the online business lift-off program at:

·        westislanddigital.com

·        onlinebusinessliftoff.com

·        https://www.linkedin.com/in/trudyrankin/

·        https://www.facebook.com/onlinebusinessliftoff

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