Last modified 13/06/20

Behind every great woman is a great man: meet my husband and business partner Jelle

by Elizabeth Van Den Bergh

I want to do a big shout-out to Jelle Annaars, the love of my life, but also my business partner since he joined Montis Public Speaking in September 2018.

Why did he join?

Good question. 😉 I had asked him a few times already, because we are very complementary, but the answer was always no. So, what made him change is mind? Here’s what he says:

“I was running my own practice as a copywriter and marketing coach/trainer, and not without success. It always seemed silly to give that up. Until you all of a sudden gained such momentum with Montis and were training C-level executives of multinational companies… finally it made much more sense to join forces.”

“I have to say, I also had doubts as to whether running a business with your spouse is such a great idea, for obvious reasons. But after having seen a few couples run a business successfully, I figured we’d just give it try. And it’s working pretty well! I think it helps a lot that we are so complimentary in strengths and skills. For example, I love tinkering with technology by myself for a few hours or even days, which would drive you crazy after 5 minutes. On the other hand, you are so talented at networking and connecting with people, which tends to cost me a lot of energy.”

What has he been doing?

His LinkedIn profile at some time said ‘I sell my wife.’ Really?! Well that’s his sense of humor. It attracts attention anyway 🙂 His official title is Business Developer.

But now, seriously what has he been doing?

  • Have you noticed that I have started sending out a newsletter on a regular basis? Yes, that’s thanks to him.
  • Have you noticed that my website has become 3 times more professional in the last months? Yes, that was him.
  • Have you noticed my website exists in Dutch and in English? Yes, that’s him.
  • Have you noticed we have launched a free (careful, not for long anymore) video course? He co-produced the videos, built all the web pages and wrote all the accompanying text.
  • Have you noticed that when you google public speaking coach when in Belgium, we are the first search result!! Yes, that was him.

Summarized, Jelle deals with online marketing and lead generation.

But just as importantly, he functions as my co-strategist and business coach. We talk a lot about which products and services we should offer (and which not!), to whom, at which price, and how we’ll market them. What a luxury to have a sparring partner for these crucial decisions.

What do we have in the pipeline?

First of all excelling at setting up and successfully launching online courses on public speaking. A challenge because public speaking is not something you learn by the book. So we are looking into a hybrid formula.

We’ll also be creating more automation, more digitisation, and more content, integrating Jelle’s expert knowledge on copywriting, storytelling and content marketing.

And most importantly: expect a more focused, more targeted, simpler product/service offering after the summer. Jelle has been reading Seth Godin’s latest book, This Is Marketing, and has realised once again that we can get more specific in what problems we solve, and for which audience.

We’ll also be refining our company mission which will focus on better communication for more authentic and powerful leaders.

How has this business partnership been to me, the founding mother of Montis?

Another good question. 🙂

We had both been working in parallel as freelancers and then moving into entrepreneurship, so we had the habit of not randomly disturbing each other during office hours. We make appointments to meet, and ask each other ‘Can I say something?’ when we have something to share. (Focus mode is sacred!)

We do work a lot from home, but in reality adhere to office hours, because in the morning and evening we take care of our two kids. It’s also interesting to note we work in separate rooms.

We don’t always agree, but it is great to be each other’s business sparring partner.

If there’s one thing I have learned from our collaboration, it’s that whenever I’d like Jelle to do something, I should tell him that and be clear and specific. And not just think what I want him to do. I have no telepathic powers 😁 A great lesson about delegation in general.

Most importantly it is great to work on the same project and work towards a professional legacy together.

Jelle being part of Montis Public Speaking has also been very, very beneficial for our family life. We can be there for the business and we can be there for the kids.