“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
In this blog post I wanted to take some time to contemplate what I’ve learned over the last 4 years of building and growing my current business.
I launched this business just as my maternity leave with my first son was coming to an end. It wasn’t something I had planned to do but I hadn’t been enjoying my life coaching business for well over a year and there was something about giving birth to my first child that made me determined to live my life with absolute integrity. For me working in a business that I didn’t love was the opposite of that and I felt deep in my soul that I wanted to model for my son that it is absolutely possible to do work that we love also pays the bills. What better way, I thought, than helping others to do just that.
As you’ll see, if you read the post, my business has evolved somewhat over the past 4 years. I no longer call myself a Business + Mindset Coach, I don’t remember when I changed my title but I have been referring to myself as a Conscious Business Coach for some time now. I no longer work exclusively with women and my focus on and understanding of doing business with integrity has deepened hugely.
I’ve also learned a whole heap. With my first business, I worked very closely with a coach for the first year and found myself operating under his influence long after we stopped working together. When I launched my second business, much of what I learned back then had definitely stuck, but I’ve also let go of some things (like being fixated on constantly raising my prices)
When I started this second business it felt like the training wheels were well and truly off. At first there were definitely wobbles, but the truth is that today as I reflect on my journey over the past 4 years, I’m excited to be in a position to say that I have a business I’m not only head over heels in love with, but one that is also financially, emotionally and intellectually sustaining and sustainable.
It felt apt to share with you a few of the big lessons I’ve learned.
It’s okay to start over
When I chose to start this business — I was in effect walking away from a life coaching business that was working. One that had seen me earn as much as $10,000 in a month. One that had nearly a thousand subscribers on its mailing list. One that had seen me coach hundreds of people. One that had a website with 100+ blog posts. One with several evergreen online courses and a Facebook Page with 1.3K likes. The truth is that Life is Limitless was doing well, I had an online presence and a growing audience but I was unhappy. There were days that showing up to that business had started to feel just as hard as it had when I was working in a 9–5 office job I hated.
You can probably imagine my dilemma, I wondered if I was mad to even consider starting over. For sure some of my audience were business owners or wanted to be, but the majority of my audience were there because they were interested in Life Coaching and my articles on personal growth. I knew that I would need to build my business and audience from scratch and in the end that’s exactly what I did. I eased myself in gently. I kept my life coaching website, Facebook page and Facebook group, but funnily enough the life coaching enquiries dried up almost over night. I had made my choice and the universe was responding accordingly.
Initially, I tried to engage my old subscribers a few times so as not to lose their attention entirely. I did a small amount of marketing for my old courses and over the years I have had a trickle of sales from that business, but with time I realised that I needed to let go and focus entirely on carolineleon.com. My old website is still live but mainly because I still do get traffic and the odd course sales on there but mainly because it’s a place that houses a lot of articles that document one of the most transformational and exciting phases of my life. I simply haven’t had the time or inclination to save them somewhere else.
When I launched my first offering in this business the, now retired, Female Business Academy, I had a tiny list of around 50 women. Women business owners from my old audience who had stayed with me. Not long after launching the business I launched a beta version of the Academy to those 50 subscribers and had just under 20 women sign up. That’s a conversion rate of around 40% rather than the usual 1–2%. I took it as a sign from the Universe that I was doing the right thing, that this new business was my path and that starting over was the right way forward. I’ve never looked back nor regretted my decision since.
Now I share this, mindful of the fact that I see many new businesses owners change their niche, title, business name over and over in the early stages of business and I would caution against this. I had been in business for nearly 4 years when I decided to make the change. I’d had a certain level of success, I had created and launched profitable offerings, I had a solid and growing audience as well as paying clients. I wasn’t quitting because it wasn’t working. It was working but I wasn’t enjoying it.
If you are in business and reading this is making you consider whether or not you should start over. Ask yourself this first: Have I given my current business my best shot? If not, might you be considering changing because you think you could be more successful doing something else? I didn’t change my business because I thought I’d make more money as a business coach. I decided to change because I thought I’d enjoy the work more and as a result have a greater impact and thus feel more fulfilled. In fact, initially making money was harder than it had been with my first business. I was starting from zero unlike with Life is Limitless which started out as a blog that I had been growing for 3 years before turning it into a business.
My recommendation, should you be considering starting over, is to do some soul-searching first and be honest with yourself about your reasons as well as your efforts thus far.
Sustainability must be a priority
When I started out in business, I never really considered my business model, I doubt I could have even defined the term business model for you. I read a lot online about all the different types of products and services an online life coach could offer and I simply cherry-picked those that sounded like fun to me we well as a few that I felt I should do.
I certainly wasn’t building a business with sustainability in mind. It was more a case of thinking about how many people I would need to enrol into coaching at what rate (premium prices of course!) to have regular $10,000 months. I was completely naive when it came to my business model and what a realistic rate of business growth actually was. I set ambitious, annual money goals like $100K because I had been seduced by six-figure promises and suffered the disappointments that came when I realised that desiring numbers like that and then working all.of.the.hours wasn’t enough to make it so.
So with this business I learned more about what it really takes to make a business work and I learned that simply copying other people’s business models without taking into account the life and business I wanted to have would lead to dead ends and disappointments. That’s why in October 2019 I made a significant change to my business model, as I closed down my Female Business Academy and launched my Conscious Business Mastermind.
I’ve also recently made another dramatic change to my business model as I’ve closed down my premium coaching programs to make way for a far more affordable coaching subscription. I had been offering this same service to existing clients as a continuation option after completing a program with me and people have been loving the affordability of on-going support, which despite being a fairly dramatic drop in rates has seen me bring in more monthly income than before. More on this new offering below.
Both of these changes have allowed me to have higher levels of recurring income from my business. No longer am I trapped in a feast and famine cycle, but have a business that brings in sufficient and regular income.
You can’t do this alone
One of the reasons I chose to work for myself rather than someone else is because I like to do things my way and I don’t like making compromises. What this meant for many years is that I shunned collaboration in my business . In my mind working with someone else meant making sacrifices that, given the choice, I’d rather not make. By the end of my life coaching business I had started to understand just how important collaboration is — I had been in a private mastermind for well over a year and I had opened up my website and newsletter to guest submissions — something I never would have considered previously and I was starting to see how much easier it is to be in business when you have support from others.
Even so, it really wasn’t until this business that I embraced and harnessed the power that comes from working with others. I even made collaboration one of my strategic priorities in 2018.
Since starting this business I’ve had many wonderful collaborations with other business owners. For example, I co-created The Business of Coaching, a 3-part workshop and eBook to support new coaches to master the art of making their coaching business work, with this wonderful woman.
I also grew my (now-retired) Female Business Academy by inviting guest experts to teach classes to my members. As well as the classes, I also interviewed many of these experts for my blog giving me lots of great content for my customers and audience.
But it’s not just about getting support from others. To build powerful and mutually beneficial business relationships you also have to be generous with your time and attention. As a result I’ve jumped in and taken the helm of a colleagues newsletter while she was busy preparing for a wedding, I’ve contributed to a community project. I’ve also shared the work of others extensively, even when it could mean that my audience might choose to work with them rather than me. All of this has allowed me to create meaningful and impactful working relationships with some pretty incredible people online.
As well as that, my newfound ability to collaborate has allowed me to serve my audience more effectively than I ever could have alone. By harnessing the skills and strengths of others, I’ve been able to deliver greater value to my customers.
So there you have it. The 3 biggest lessons I’ve learned since launching my business. I’d love to know what lessons you have learned as a business owner so if you feel called to, do hit reply and share.
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