My Top Tips To Start Off The Year Strong

My Top Tips To Start Off The Year Strong

“Slow and steady wins the race.”
~ Proverb

I want to share with you some of my top tips to start the year off strong and by strong I don’t mean from pushing yourself hard.

What I’d actually love is if you could find a way to ease yourself into this New Year much like you might a steaming hot bath. It’s so very easy to get swept up in the newness of a brand new year and if we’re not careful, we are in danger of burning out all of that fresh and exciting energy. So by “starting off strong” what I don’t mean is bolting out of the gate. What I actually mean is how to start the year in a way that sets you up for greater levels of both resilience and sustainability in your business.

Reflect on last year

If you are anything like me, you’re more interested in looking at what you will do next in your business than you are at looking at what happened over the last 12 months. It’s actually really important to resist the temptation to dive into planning and goal-setting before you’ve spent adequate time reflecting. I encourage you to look at your past 12 months in business with fresh eyes and a sense of curiosity. Often we think we know what happened without taking a look under the bonnet (so to speak). I often get the feedback from clients that they were surprised by what they discovered when they took the time to review their previous year in business.

I have a whole set of questions and journaling prompts inside my annual business planner which I talk more about below, but if you don’t want to buy the planner, here are some review prompts you might want to use:

  • Write out any lessons you learned. I like to keep a lessons learned log i.e. a spreadsheet, which I update throughout the year.
  • Write out what worked — your successes and wins no matter how small!
  • Write out what didn’t work plus why you think it didn’t work.
  • Do your finances! This one is SO important, even if you feel like you made so little that it’s not worth counting, I urge you to still review the numbers. As the saying goes: where our attention goes, energy flows, so get your attention on money, if you want to see more of it.

Get strategic

With your review out of the way and before you dive into action, I would recommend taking some serious time to think about what you want to achieve with and in your business over the next 12 months and how exactly you plan to do that. One of my pet peeves around this time of year is the focus on goals and resolutions. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some goals, I am a planner through and through, but plucking goals out of thin air and without a strategic context is not only a waste of time but can actually be counterproductive too.

I published a whole piece on how to make your business plan more strategic on Medium this week and you can read it here. And to use the planning system I use for my own business head here.

Schedule in downtime

When it comes to business planning, most people have a tendency to overestimate what’s possible. As Bill Gates famously said: Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years. So it wouldn’t surprise me if your plan, if followed to the letter, would be in danger of causing you some serious burn out. That’s why, it’s crucial that you plan in your downtime.

Do this now: grab your paper (or digital) calendar and look over the year to see when you would like to take some holidays or simply take a break from your business, think about this on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis. Next, schedule those breaks in. Block those times and days off so that nobody can book calls or sessions with you during those times. Protect your downtime fiercely.

Now revisit your business plan, scale it back and ditch some goals if you know on any level that you’re overestimating what’s possible.

Prioritise 1 to 1 over 1 to many

Whilst I’d be the first to tell you about the importance of creating content for your business (and then getting as many eyes on it as possible), something that many business owners overlook is the importance of connecting with people on a 1:1 basis. I do this primarily through complimentary sessions and people often question how much time I spend doing this sessions. I always respond the same way — for me I’d much rather spend an hour talking to a member of my audience, helping them to identify next steps and supporting them as best I can to grow their business, than I would messing around with Instagram stories trying to create something that will grab the attention of my hundreds of followers (don’t get me wrong I do publish content in this way too but these days I leave it to my VA). You might think that if I am trying to grow my audience (and therefore my revenue) that it would make sense to try and communicate or market to as many people as possible, but that has not been my experience.

Not only do I enjoy my work more when I prioritise 1:1 conversations over falling into the time suck that can be social media, but I find I get more clients that way too. Now I’m not saying you can close down all of your social media accounts and give up blogging just yet but I would love to see you starting out this year in a mode of connection that sees you prioritising being in conversations with people in your audience more than scrolling mindlessly through insta.

Find collaborators and partners

The few business owners who do value the importance of 1:1 connections, tend to focus on connecting with potential clients and customers. What can get overlooked, but has the potential to grow your business immeasurably, is collaborating and partnering with other people in your industry or related industries.

Getting yourself in front of other people’s audiences is an essential key to growing your own audience and therefore your revenue. There are various ways to do this including, but not limited to, being on someone else’s podcast, doing a guest post for one of the big name online publications such as Elephant Journal or Tiny Buddha or doing a collaboration with a peer (such as this one I did with 

Helen McLaughlin). If you are not regularly connecting with peers in your industry and getting yourself in front of other people’s audiences you’re missing a huge trick. So as we ease into this year, I encourage you to start thinking about building these sorts of relationships too.

Something that really anchors me is having a solid business plan. If you would like to go through my business planning training, head here to get everything you need to create your strategic business plan. 

8 Ways To Grow Your Audience

8 Ways To Grow Your Audience

“So much easier to aim for the smallest possible audience, not the largest, to build long-term value among a trusted, delighted tribe, to create work that matters and stands the test of time.”
~ Seth Godin

The cold hard truth is that you can’t succeed in business if people don’t know you exist.

A group of people who not only know you exist but who are interested in you and your work is what I call your business audience.

These are the people who follow you on social, the people subscribed to your newsletter, the people in your network, who you have some sort of business-related connection with. Essentially they are the people who are listening to what you have to say and are on some level interested in what you are selling.

Without an audience to sell to. It’s hard to build a thriving and sustainable business. It’s hard to get clients, fill programs and workshops, grow your list and create passive income.

Now I’m not saying you can’t succeed in business without 10,000 followers on Instagram or at least 2000 subscribers on your email list. I’m doing pretty well myself without either of those! But you do need people to sell to or your marketing efforts and launches will feel like shouting into the abyss.

If you’re feeling like one of the best kept secrets in your industry, I highly recommend spending time working on some or all of the following. many of the links below take you to further reading, so if you are serious about taking action on these strategies, feel free to go a bit deeper by clicking the links.

1. Content Marketing

I know, I know, everyone and their dog has probably told you how important it is to create content for your business and unless content creation comes naturally to you, it can feel like a real drag. However, it’s undoubtedly one of the best ways i know to grow and nurture your audience.

Two things are important here.

Firstly, you need a content marketing system. It’s no good creating content without a clear strategy or some intention behind what you create. I teach a create — repurpose — promote model, which moves you away from spending hours on one blog post only to post it, get a handful of views, for it never to be seen again.

No wonder content creation feels hard when we put in all that effort for little return. It’s not enough to create your content and share it once, you must make the most of everything you create and do your best to make it as visible as possible.

Secondly, if you struggle with content, it might be because of how you are thinking about it.

When we create content with the sole purpose of getting the sale or enticing people to buy from us, it takes all of the creativity and joy out of it for us (as well as the recipient of our content!). Reframing how you think about marketing is a must here. Focusing on how our content can serve our audience, feels much better to create and is in my opinion much more effective at resulting in a sale.

2. Authentic Outreach

If you’ve spent any time in my world at all you’ve likely heard me talk about authentic outreach. The art of reaching out to individual members of your network with the dual purpose of connecting and serving.

It might seem odd to recommend a 1:1 strategy for audience growth, but once your network is activated, you’ll have other people sending people your way on the regular. Besides 1:1 outreach is what can lead to a plethora of other audience building activities like being invited onto podcasts or guest teaching.

I recently did an interview with Sarah Santacroce on this very topic so if you want to go deeper, you can watch that here.

3. Market Research

I’m a huge fan of doing market research and I typically recommend that my clients do this by running what I call a market research campaign. This is where we pull together an invitation that describes our ideal client and the problem that we help solve for them (our niche!) and then invite those very people into conversation with us.

In that conversation you then ask them important questions about their struggle and what they need from a service provider like you and in return, if you want to, you can offer the person some guidance or help. I like to offer 60 minute calls and spend 30 minutes on research and 30 minutes on serving.

The great thing about these is that you can share the invitation far and wide, in relevant groups on social media and with your network, asking that they share it with anyone who fits the bill. As you’re not selling anything, people are much more willing to share and participate and in doing so, many more people get to know what it is you do in the world and who you serve.

4. Paid promotions

This is the third prong of my content marketing strategy and is the best way I know to get my content and, therefore, my business in front of new people. The key here is to stop using ads to sell your products and services to a cold audience and instead pay to promote your free, valuable content first to your warm audience and then to a cool audience. Warm being those who already follow you on social and visit your website and cool being people you’ve identified as possible clients based on interests and demographics.

In my business, for example, every week I spent 5–10 euros paying to promote Facebook text posts (repurposed content from old newsletters just like this one!) to my warm audience first and then to people who I have identified as likely to have an online business. It’s not a ton of ad spend but it definitely ensures more people see my stuff.

Serving rather than selling with my ads is how I’ve grown an engaged and loyal audience.

5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

There’s so much more to say about SEO than I could possibly share here but if you already have a substantial backlog of content/blog posts on your website, but you’re not getting the traffic you need to impact your bottom line, it may well be worth looking into SEO.

I got serious about SEO when I started to get clients from a blog post I wrote years ago. Turns out people were searching for alternatives to discovery calls and my blog post about gift sessions was ranking on the first page for “discovery calls alternative”. If I can accidentally get clients via Google from a blog post, imagine what can be done if you are actually intentional about SEO!

Inspired by my accidental success, this year I took part in a 4 month SEO intensive program and although I did learn a lot of the more technical stuff, the biggest aha I had was to really take into account the topics and questions my ideal clients might be searching for online and integrating those into my website copy and content. Writing my titles and content in such a way that it answers those search queries has been huge for me.

If you’ve yet to get serious about content, you can skip SEO for now and come back to it when you have content worth optimizing. And if you are keen to learn more, check out Love at First Search for lots of great articles and free resources on SEO.

6. Collaborations

This is one of my all time favourites, which makes me smile because just a few years ago, the word collaboration made me cringe. I’ve always been a “go it alone” type but in recent years, collaborating in my business has been fun, rewarding and financially fruitful.

Collaborations can come in many forms but one of my favourites has been guest teaching for other people’s audiences. I’ve taught classes for free to many of my colleague’s audiences and as a result have always got more subscribers, applications to work together and sales.

I’ve been around the block long enough to be invited into some places where large numbers of my ideal clients are hanging out (places like Tad Hargrave’s membership) but years ago, when nobody knew I existed, I was the one going out and creating those connections, interviewing people, inviting people to teach to my audience and generally doing what I could to support my colleagues.

All of these helped to grow my audience and visibility and now I’m often the recipient of the invitation rather than the other way around!

7. Gift session campaigns

Gift session campaigns are one of my favourite strategies for getting you and your business in direct contact with your ideal clients. Time and time again, my clients report back to me that they have signed up new clients as a result of a gift session campaign they’re running.

Similar to Market Research Campaigns, the idea is to create an invitation that speaks to a specific problem and your specific ideal client, which you then promote and share far and wide, then watch as people who fit your ideal client description start to sign up for gift sessions with you. There’s no selling here, but when done well, you can get subscribers, testimonials, referrals and of course new clients.

8. Generous freebies

Traditional online marketing advice will tell you that the best way to grow your audience is to offer a free opt-in to your newsletter. Typically this is a pithy, PDF with something along the lines of the “5 Top Tips to XXX”. I believe that people got tired of this sort of opt-in years ago. It’s also much more common these days for people to sign up for a newsletter just to get the freebie only to unsubscribe straight afterwards. That’s why I usually recommend that my clients do something else.

This is what I call the generous freebie. Freebies that are actually worth sticking around for, demonstrate expertise and build trust and deepen relationships. Gift sessions are an example of this, as our other mini services you can provide like website or copy reviews or free classes or workshops. Others might include a free 5–7 day challenge — one that offers real value.

An innovative freebie I love is Lauren Van Mullem’s Craft and Copy sessions, where you go and do crafts with Lauren (online), whilst getting the chance to ask her anything about your website copy.

So there you have it, 8 of my favourite audience growth strategies, all of which are designed not only to add numbers to your list but to build meaningful relationships with your ideal clients.



Once a week, in the form of an e-letter, I share the best of what I know about building a business with integrity for conscious business owners.

The intention behind these letters is to be a voice for integrity within your (undoubtedly) cluttered inbox. To be the one email you can count on to contain strategic and soulful advice for building a business without selling your soul.

If you want to receive the Soulful Strategies Weekly, simply share with me your name and email address below and you’ll start recieving emails right away.

The Fear Is Real

The Fear Is Real

“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as teh bold”
~ Helen Keller

There are a number of ways and places that fear shows up for solo business owners. As micro business owners, we’re not just responsible for the creation and delivery of products and services but we’re also the face of the business, the marketing team, the message bearer and the sales team.

For anyone this would be a daunting affair and yet, what I’ve noticed lately is that many business owners (the kind, thoughtful and sensitive types I work with) aren’t fully acknowledging that this is a very real and totally natural fear.

I’m hearing talented, accomplished women describe their fear as silly or stupid. I’ve heard them express how vulnerable it feels to even admit that there is fear or anxiety and as you might imagine, I have something to say about this.

First though let’s look at two of the most common situations where fear might come up for solopreneurs.

Sharing your point of view or opinion on the internet

Let’s take my business as an example. When I first started to understand that there was a more ethical way of doing business, in order to share that point of view, it meant saying things that go against much of the mainstream marketing advice out there in the online business world.

When everyone was shouting about using opt-ins and freebies to get subscribers, I was encouraging my audience to ditch them. When most business coaches tell their clients to raise their prices, it’s not uncommon for me to tell my clients and audience to lower their prices.

When everyone is telling you to focus on closing the sale, I’m teaching people to slow down the sale and put people first.

I’ve been going against the grain long enough in my business not to feel fearful anymore about sharing my opinion but back when I hadn’t done it before, I still remember the fear well. A very real fear of judgement, criticism, ridicule or rejection.

In fact, when feeling the need to speak out about war crimes in Gaza, I once again, felt a very real fear of being judged, attacked and misunderstood for sharing my thoughts and have witnessed many people being criticised for sharing theirs.

Sharing your point of view (especially as women) has always been hard, but in these times where people don’t think twice about bullying and attacking others online, the fear is even more present.

The problem, however is that sharing your point of view is precisely how your ideal clients find you. It’s how you stand out from the crowd without using pushy and manipulative sales tactics. Learning to overcome the fear of sharing your opinion is, therefore, extremely important.

Fear of launching

Another area where fear is often present and equally as unacknowledged is when we are launching a new product or service. For me launching carries with it a particular flavour of fear. We’ve created something, more than likely put our heart and soul into it. We want to let the world know it exists and invite people to buy it.

For many of my clients this looks like a workshop or a group program, something with a set number of people who need to sign up before a designated start date. Talk about pressure!

In business there’s few things more scary than putting out an offer that you can only hope will be well received.

I often hear comments from clients like “what if nobody signs up??” or “I’ve only got 1 person signed up, what if nobody else does? What will I tell the person who already paid?” or “what will people think about me and my business if I have a failed launch?” Totally understandable worries and fears to have, right?

Yet so many of the people I work with beat themselves up for having these fears or worse still, avoid launching new things because these fears feel too big to face.

What I want to share here is what I said in one of my group programs recently.

First and foremost the fear is real.

It’s not silly or stupid. It doesn’t make you less than or incapable. It says nothing about your level in business. People with 10 years in business still have failed launches. Fact.

It’s absolutely to be expected and therefore should be acknowledged and seen.

Second of all.

You, who are already out in the world forging your own path, building and growing your own business and living and breathing your calling are the brave minority.

Before I stepped out of my former life to create my own business, I lived in a world where I spent my days wishing for Friday to arrive, my weekday evenings numbing out with crap TV, my Friday nights drinking to release the stress of not living my purpose, my Saturdays nursing a hangover, my Sundays dreading Monday mornings and my Monday’s starting the whole sorry cycle over again.

Sounds crazy right? But this is the mainstream. This is what the vast majority of people in the Western world do.

But not you.

You are the brave and courageous. You’ve stepped out and decided to do something to make this world a better place.

You feel fear because you are out in the arena. You are putting yourself out there and risking it all to make a difference.

So, here’s the thing. I want you to honour the fear you feel. I want you to know that you feel the fear, not because you are silly or flawed.

You feel that fear because you are going against the grain. Stepping out of the comfort zone most people live in and your fear is merely a testament to that fact.

Finally, if you deny, supress or downplay your fear, it wins. It stops you from taking bold action. So, for today, acknowledge and celebrate your fear and know that she’s here because you’re ready to show up and shine.



Once a week, in the form of an e-letter, I share the best of what I know about building a business with integrity for conscious business owners.

The intention behind these letters is to be a voice for integrity within your (undoubtedly) cluttered inbox. To be the one email you can count on to contain strategic and soulful advice for building a business without selling your soul.

If you want to receive the Soulful Strategies Weekly, simply share with me your name and email address below and you’ll start recieving emails right away.