2017 in Review
What a year it has been. As any new parent can probably relate to, it was a blur. Yet, as I sit to reflect, now, there were some great themes and lessons learned, which I’m always happy to share. So, let’s dive in.
Becoming a Mom to Sweet Hazel
My little Hazel was born in January. But before I can say more about what the experience of becoming a mother has been like, I have to give a little honest context and say the real real: I thought I would dislike being a mom.
Like, I would love having kids (especially when they were older, possibly adults) but not actually enjoy the actual motions and routines of mothering. Too much to share out loud? I think a lot of my friends have the same fear so I’ll leave it.
I was shocked, oh about 60 seconds after Hazie was born, to realize that this was going to be the greatest and grandest job out there and I remember the sudden flash of thought that I was really, really going to like this new role. As she nestled into me, I realized that this profound love for this little human hazelnut was going to rule all. Fast forward a year later and that has only proven to be truer than I ever could have even imagined at the time.
She has awakened my world in ways I never imagined. One of my favorites includes rediscovering the world through a child’s eyes.
There was this spectacular moment late last year while traveling when she noticed birds for the first time, as a large flock of swallows flew overhead. Suddenly her eyes grew large and she gleefully started screaming and wriggling every which way to watch these creatures paint the sky with their zigs and zags.
It not only captured her parents, but a sizable crowd lingered to watch this baby see, with delighted wonder and for the first time in her life, mother nature’s arial show. Something the rest of us had all probably long taken for granted and likely wouldn’t have even noticed in that moment.
Hazel has also been my favorite reminder that it’s never too late to have a great childhood. I’m living mine now with her.
The BIG Focus: Narrowing Down
As many of my friends and coaching clients have heard me say over and over again, it takes awhile for a business to feel productive (actually, by most professional estimates, about 3 years).
Meaning: you’ve figured out what you offer and to whom you offer it and how you offer it to them.
In the beginning you say yes to a lot. In fact, it’s your job to do so. Because what you start your business selling will probably NOT be what you ultimately end up selling.
But a few years in, your job shifts to the grand focus of scaling up your best product(s) or service(s) and you find a new muscle you may have not flexed too much before: your NO muscle. And trust me, this muscle is tougher to develop. It looks like this:
✔️You stop hedging (taking on work outside of your core offerings “just in case” or because it’s familiar).
✔️You say no more than you say yes.
✔️You double down on your sole offering(s) and you go deep.
One of the best examples I’ve ever seen of this was one of our advertising clients who, from her library of half a dozen offers, decided to focus on one, only one, for a year to see what would happen. She went from $200K the year before to $1.2M the year she decided to focus. Of course she grew a team and her advertising budget to support that result, but it’s a great example of what can happen when you focus on what you discover works best for you and your company.
This brings me back to just after Hazel was born. I knew I couldn’t sustain two sides of my company any longer without some major help (those who have known our journey, know that our agency had two branches: one where we worked on the full digital footprint for brick and mortar spas and second burgeoning branch of business devoted to Facebook advertising for a variety of businesses including online companies).
A few conversations with our team revealed that nobody felt energized enough to step into a leadership role of taking over the side of our company that was the biggest lift (the marketing side), so with heavy hearts we made plans to begin closing it down over the following quarter.
This, by the way, was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made in business. Our clients were shocked initially but, and this is important to share, every single one of them congratulated me on narrowing down, especially as a new mother. Our team was worried initially, but it turned into this wonderful moment as we encouraged our clients to continue to work with our team members individually (and most did). We culminated the transition with a beautiful closing ceremony for our team, led by one of our greatest consultants and dearest business friends, at the end of May. That day was HARD!
That was the original thing I started.
It was where almost all of our security was (or where I thought it was).
It was in an industry I thought I would always serve.
It was half of of our revenue.
More than half of our team.
The next morning, the day after it was officially wrapped up, I woke up feeling lighter than ever.
And then Launching Successful Ads Club
With so much space freed up from closing the highest energy side of our company, I had so much more space! I got to dig into the advertising side of our company again full force. Our clients and contracts got bigger and bigger. We booked out months in advance. Our best month with our full agency (both sides of the business) was the month Hazel was born. Our second best month this year came two months after closing down the marketing side. I share this with one purpose only: to impress upon you the benefits of FOCUS. I was so scared to narrow down, but I have to say, on the other side, it was the best business decision I ever made!
But here’s what else we did: we launched a complimentary product that filled one of the biggest gaps in the market: ongoing support for people running their own Facebook ads. A boutique membership for business owners who just need to know they’re doing the right things with their accounts and want tips on how to optimize their results.
We called it Successful Ads Club and launched it over Thanksgiving. I couldn’t believe how lucky we were to sign our first 75 members in those first 10 days. Of course, with memberships you have attrition and all sorts of things, but we’re going to grow this to several hundred members this year and it’s honestly one of my favorite projects I have ever done.
It’s such an incredible feeling to help a business owner master and control their own lead generation and to see the results of people savings hundreds and thousands of dollars per month just by tweaking and testing what we recommend has been awesome. This whole project was funded, time-wise, by the space that was created. Not just the actual time, but also the mental space to even think it up (I’m ALWAYS thinking up ideas) and getting it into action (the REAL work).
Now, all of our ambitious goals of doubling revenue went right out the window once I realized the transition to becoming a parent was going to be far more, I’ll say it, excruciating than I imagined. Not because of Hazel, but because of myself. For example, I gave myself 3 weeks of maternity leave (what the heck was I doing?! Never, never again…that’s not even humane). Any mom would tell you that’s just going to make for very rocky experience in transitioning into literally what is an entirely new existence as brand new parents (new role, new responsibilities, new schedules, new way of BEING). I had no idea what I was in for and the transition I was about to go through. And I didn’t give our family nearly enough time to adjust before I was back to work and trying to figure out what just happened to our life and find a new “balance” (not gonna happen anytime soon, I finally figured out a few weeks in). On top of that Hazel had colic and reflux and so there was an extra layer of complexity.
Then, we closed half our company.
So, if we’re talking business and revenue goals, we ended exactly what we did the year before, revenue wise. BUT what did happen was our probability rose like 👍. That was a huge win and for this year I’ll take it.
But the biggest win is probably that we didn’t close the entire company. Cue the crazy laughing emoji. Listen, I say it tongue in cheek, but I know you first time moms with work or businesses out there can relate. Isn’t this the wildest ride??
And yet, as we’re nearing a full year, and everything is normalizing and coming into focus and my old drive is returning full force, somehow it seems like it was just always meant to be this way. We’re getting to schedules and routines that work really well, Hazel is almost a toddler and has two adoring parents chasing her around for giggles all day, and we’ve figuring out a scale to my work that works for this season of life. It’s far from perfect, but it’s really, truly getting there.
I can’t wait for what’s to come as we continue to grow our little family and our business, and I’ll keep sharing out all the lessons all along the way.
Thanks for reading and see you soon!
A word on profit…
I coach and strategize with a lot of small business owners and independent entrepreneurs and there always seems to be some funky ideas floating around on profit.
Today, I want to clear one of those up. I’ve got a good example to help us all understand profit a little better starting now.
Let’s say you want to buy a new laptop for your business.
For sake of simplicity, let’s say it costs $1,000.
Let’s say you bill out your clients at $100/hour.
And, let’s say your operational expenses are $80/hour.
Here’s where so many of us have gone wrong in the past (but not in the future, since we’re fixing this misconception right here, right now).
The incorrect/problematic/please-don’t-do-this approach to this equation is to think, well that’s easy, it will only take 10 hours of work to pay off the purchase,
Cue the game-show-honk of an incorrect answer.
Actually, you need to look at your profit and calculate your expense based on that.
So if your profit is $20/hour, you would divide $1,000/$20 hour profit, and discover, perhaps to your astonishment, that your shiny new laptop will actually take you about 50 hours of work.
Learning that earlier in my business life was transformative. Finally calculating how long it would take us to truly pay for certain expenditures helped to laser focus me on the expenses and experiences that mattered most and made the biggest difference to our bottom line.
So here’s to more profit and a clearer understanding of how much profit it actually takes.
Does this help? Do you still have questions? Feel free to reply here and let me know. I’ll answer everyone I can!
p.s. My FAVORITE business challenge of the year is starting September 12, and, trust me, you’ve just got to do it. It’s Jennifer Kem’s (a mentor of mine) Brand Story Challenge. It’s a phenomenal, business-transforming multi-day exercise you can do. I would recommend you buy a special notebook or set up a new Evernote space for it and get ready to dive in. If you don’t end up bawling your eyes out with a newfound clarity about why you do what you do, I’ll be shocked. Click HERE to register.
p.p.s. If you didn’t catch my Instagram with an exciting announcement about a new project I’ve got in the works for you, check it out here.
Y’all. Some lessons you’ll never learn in advance, no matter how many times others warned you that they’re coming for you.
Cash flow challenges, for example, you may remember thinking to yourself (or you may be thinking to yourself right now) sound luxurious when you don’t even have revenue coming in to manage.
Well, I’ve recently gone through some big initiations on my way to the next step and I just want to give you a realistic view of a few initiations you can expect to come your way if you haven’t gone through them already.
(And, by the way, every single one of these things will come your way if you’re committed to a bigger stage. So just enjoy the learning process and embrace the stuff that feels great as well as the stuff that doesn’t feel as great as part of the process on your way to the next level because it 100% is.)
#1: Cash flow.
If you haven’t faced a cash flow crunch yet you will. And don’t think it’s unique to the small business owner. I loved a recent podcast I listened to with Tony Robbins where spoke to cash flow issues at every stage of the game by basically saying, “You want to buy an island but you don’t have enough liquid resources.” We can all relate, right? 😉
The point here is that you cannot take your eye off of cash flow no matter how or where you’re playing. And…the bigger you get the more cash flow becomes an actual thing that on which you will be laser focused.
We’re in that right now with my company. We’re looking to the future and realizing that in order to take on some of the larger clients we have our eye on, we’ll need more company savings in order to keep cash flow comfortable (aaaaaaand, here’s a bonus initiation for you: you need to pay your team, yourself, your other expenses, AND your company).
Companies live and get crushed by cash flow more…even more than profit margin, especially once you get into the multiple six-figure and beyond arena. I’ll do an upcoming blog post with some simple formulas to help you understand your cash flow health a little better, so watch for that. But the biggest thing to know is that cash flow is like the blood flow of your company: it’s pumping through your business body and delivering life force to every branch of operations. Cut off that flow at any stage for any length of time and you may have a very serious problem on your hands. In fact, you probably will.
Someone copies your work.
Imitation is the best form of flattery, right?
It’s more like, incredibly annoying, and, in some cases, may require your legal team to step in and take action.
You’ll figure out what’s best for you and your company when it happens, but I’ll just leave you with this comforting thought: as you scale it will happen to you. 😉
Just knowing that can help you be a little calmer, mentally, when it does. Just mark it in your mind as an initiation.
#3: Bad Reviews + Legal Actions
You get a bad review or legal action against you.
I’ve coached a dozen clients, at this point, through this particular scenario. Please refer to #2 for my advice there.
You cannot take this as a personal attack or affront or judgement on how you run your company. I’ve had clients who get stuck on bad reviews and others who were so afraid of potential legal action if they made a client unhappy that they’d almost have preferred not to grow.
But here’s the thing, growth will automatically bring these things. Internalize this and you’ll simply prepare for it instead of worry about it.
One of my clients, a big startup, was advised by one of the best legal teams in the country that they could consider the first legal action against them as a milestone because it usually correlated to a certain amount of growth or attention.
Remember, litigation is just a natural (perhaps unfortunate) part of business these days, so you can’t take it personally, you just have realize that it will happen and move on.
And a bad review?
By someone who’s not even your client or used your product?
Well, my dear readers, again, that just goes with the territory. Do what you can to protect your company against false reviews (like asking for the review to be reviewed by the platforms review team), but, understand that this is just the world in which we live.
You will get bad reviews, especially as you grow, and the best thing you can do is handle it professionally and with a good amount of grace.
#4: Your Team Leaves
Like, your favorite team member leaves you.
For your competition…
…and other sad stories.
I love my team like family and it would be hard if they left, but many of them will, at some point, move on to other opportunities. It’s a reality you just have to get used to and be cool with. And here’s a hint, the cooler and more loving you are about it, the more likely they are to come back to work with you again at some point (cue the celebration party!). I know this from happy experience.
You experience a contraction (and fa-reak out).
Here’s the thing you already know but we can always use a reminder from time to time:
You do not get to grow without also contracting.
It’s not a regular occurrence, but we’ve “lost” clients in my agency.
The first time it happened I took it as a personal affront on our work and I was bummed for days.
The truth is, it’s just part of business.
And, quite honestly, the larger the clients we take on, the more attrition I’ll expect to experience because that’s just how the industry works. It’s never fun, but here’s one thing I’ve discovered: If you handle it well and STILL look at it as a long-term relationship, those clients will either 1) circle back to your services (as is often the case in the marketing world where large clients rotate between a few firms that they like) or 2) refer you to others.
Again, I know both of these things from experience. Do yourself a huge favor and just be big business about this. Track your attrition and use those numbers to establish baselines, and help project what your company’s bottom line might look like based on those rates. Then, figure out ways to lessen your attrition as you move forward (getting feedback from your clients is key here).
So many small business owners and entrepreneurs that I work with are so afraid of these moments that they shrink themselves to a level where these more challenging milestones are less likely happen. They only work with friends and close acquaintances so they never have to face potential legal actions or bad reviews. They keep their companies small so that they don’t have to face what can feel like the rejection of a contraction or so that they don’t ever have to worry about the complexity of cash flow that comes with the territory of growing.
But here’s what I have to say to all of that. You’ve figured out so much already, you’ll figure these challenges out as well. The best advice I can offer is to prepare for them as best you can, but don’t worry about them. If you’ll embrace it as all part of the journey, you’ll be that much better off and will be able to thoughtfully process them and keep your business train moving forward.
Which initiations would you add to the list here? Reply and let me know!
p.s. I’m writing a guidebook…on the journey to your first (or next!) 6-figures! Stay tuned for more details, coming soon!
A few weeks ago I was talking with a client over dinner in NYC about a juicy topic.
Here’s the gist: in the Myers Briggs world, she’s an ENFP. To the max. (If you’re not sure, what I’m talking about, go take this test, stat!)
In a nutshell, as a creative, she feels all the feelings and would rather be out and about with other people than working away on her computer.
Here’s how her story translated: her first two years of biz, she was striving to be as J (organized/spreadsheet-ey) as possible. After all, many would argue, it’s a J’s World out there. And she was doing well with a couple of six-figure revenue streams under her belt.
One of her advisors, though, upon hearing that she is a P, immediately challenged her to throw out her rigid style of operating and stop handling the admin and very teensy details of her company. It was time, her advisor basically said, to sink as fully into that P and get as creative as possible.
My client went on to 5x her revenue the following year, taking her over the 7-figure mark.
NOW, before anyone goes down the: wow! I need to be more creative and more in tune with my emotions if I want to make it, let me give you another story.
I am an INFJ. Introverted. Intuitive. Feeling. And judging. That J, by the way, means I inherently LOVE and ADORE structure, calendars, spreadsheets, and organization.
The women in my family are artists, and, through no fault of anyone, I adopted a lot of J shame in my life. To be creative, I somehow came to believe I had to unlearn—structure had to be thrown out the door.
This way of operating left me with a massive mountain of tasks in my brain, in one giant unorganized heap. It was almost as if something would enter into my brain, fly right onto the heap, and then all of my energy was poured into beautifully and highly capable BrainTeam c-suite officers who were demoted to become task watchers in a cycle of sorting through the pile and counting the number of tasks, CONSTANTLY, to make sure nothing was missing. I had nothing to help me categorize, organize, calendarize or clear the pile. Just a heap of unruly, unprioritized tasks. And a company that was begging to expand.
Ironically it was about the same time that my client was challenged to start living from her P that I threw my hands in the air and began “caving in” to systems and structure since a more “creative and flowy” schedule and business structure was just causing me massive frustration. What’s hilarious is that my family has always known me to be the organized one in the family and yet it was this same natural instinct that I was running from.
A few spreadsheets later and I was suddenly feeling less pressure, more calm, and way more optimistic about my growing company—like, yes, okay, we can actually handle this growth. It became first peaceful and then really, really fun. Within a few months of that realization and shift we doubled our monthly revenue and even developed a profitable new branch of the company (Facebook Ads Management). By the end of that year we had tripled monthly revenue. I owe it all to my team and my spreadsheets for that kind of growth.
If you caught my Q&A in April, you’ll notice that I wrote that I believe that leaning into my true personality has made all the difference in the growth of both my agency as well as my personal coaching practice. I cannot tell you how much of a difference that has made, both psychologically as a business owner, as well as financially in terms of our bottom line. I’ll do a follow up to this article in a later post on how this all gets applied, in practice, but for now, if you haven’t taken the test to know your personality type, I suggest you do so now.
I’ll leave you with this important takeaway. I’ve not seen a case study yet where a company can exist without a massive level of organization and structure. But I have seen enough to positively say, if you’re not naturally into structure and systems, the only way for your company to sustainably grow is to outsource those skills to someone who does love it (as my client has done).
If you’re a J, you’ll love creating these systems and structures yourself (or you may still want help, that’s cool too) and you’ll want your business and personal life to be as planned as possible for you to truly thrive.
If you’re a P, you’ll want to hire people who can handle creating structure for your company. Structures are what free us up and take us to the next level. So you actually do want structure in your life, but you need it to be more free flowing. You might have, for example, an entire day to work or a week or even a month to work on a project as you see fit instead of, say, planning in certain 2 hour blocks on certain days of the week to work on specific projects.
Either way, tune into your natural rhythms and just see how it is that you desire to work. That should help guide you to any gaps you have in your current systems and the next steps you should take.
If you’re reading this in the newsletter, reply back and let me know your personality type and how you see that reflecting (or how you’d like it to be armed with this new information) in your own company. I’ll respond back to every email that I can with a little additional insight for you.
If you’re not subscribed to the newsletter, head over to the homepage to sign up! 🙂
p.s. I’m writing a guidebook…on the journey to your first (or next!) 6-figures! Stay tuned for more details, coming soon!
Something special is happening in the world for brands.
Jen Kem—my friend, colleague, and all around mentor (from near or afar, she’s one I’m modeling FOR SURE)—just relaunched her program that has the power to transform your business forever.
It’s a 8-week, immersive self-study course, all about helping you create a powerfully authentic, profitable brand.
It’s called Master Brand. Click HERE to check it out.
I’ll keep this short and sweet for you, today, and just tell you this. Master Brand is the most transformational course for my company that I’ve ever taken and I’ll be doing it again this round (and every round after).
One of the most powerful parts of the program was the Archetypes Assessment. This is where you learn worlds about your intrinsic leadership and business style. You see, most of us are operating from our secondary or tertiary archetypes and it’s not serving us at full capacity. Discovering that I’m an alchemist (all about the transformation) has caused a not so subtle shift in my brand and has really called me into full leadership around what’s most important to me. The results have been astounding.
And that’s not even the most valuable part of the course (the Activation section is where things really heat up…as if they weren’t hot enough already!).
This launch, I’ve partnered with Jen because I love Master Brand that much. I won’t be doing very many partnerships in my company, but this one you will absolutely see from me every time Jen launches it. It’s really that important. Again, if you’re dying to learn more, click HERE to check it out.
I’m also releasing a ✨bonus✨ for those who take Master Brand from my link. As your bonus, I’ll be guiding you on another journey: one that takes you deep into your numbers. We’ll do a three-part laser 1:1 coaching series all around your current business structure, the numbers you’re truly being called into, and the mindset that makes it all possible. You’ll also get a little present in the mail before we begin our work together.
Admission closes on April 24th, and after that, doors may not open again until fall. So click here to get access.
It’s time to bring your dreams—and the next evolution of your brand—to life.
Go get ‘em,
Are you ready for your number?
I mean, your real, soul-aligned number?
Here’s the thing. We often choose numbers (revenue, income, margin, etc.) based on what seems like a great goal or what should be the next step in our careers or businesses.
But, in the same way that Danielle Laporte has shifted how we do goals (um, people, please, for the love of all that is holy, let us choose our desires first! Then put goals to those…), I feel the same way about numbers! Let your soul choose your numbers as you align your path to gracefully receive them.
For me: I see numbers as *Shorthand. Symbols. Energy. Vibrations.*
In other words, when a number is on your heart it’s shorthand for the journey that God is calling you to.
The deep desire to build a $100M or $1M or $100K company has nothing to do with the money. Trust me. It has everything to do with your journey to that place.
The number is pin on a map, but it doesn’t really care about point A or point B, it is actually deeply invested in the windy, hilly road between the two destinations that you must travel.
When a client tells me she’s ready for a $15K raise to boost her annual pay to $85K because that’s what she worked hard and is ready for, I get giddy.
(Oh and we got that raise for her, don’t you worry!)
Or, when a small business owner lets me know she’s ready for $450K in revenue for her business because she can feel that up-level in her bones, I’m overjoyed.
(Yep! She’s gracefully going for it.)
I can instantly tell when a number (revenue, income, profit margin, number of years, months, etc.) is aligned. Likewise, I always know when a number is out of alignment and wreaking havoc.
I used to think that making money (and numbers in general) was just plain fun…like a game. Now I realize it’s something more and something to share.
So let’s get down to it.
This is simple, but challenging. I do a version of this with all of my coaching clients, and am thrilled to do it with you here, too.
It can take you 30 seconds or 30 days, but I promise you it will work.
The trick is to let it arise from within. And to write it down.
1. Get yourself into a cozy place (if you’re having trouble finding one, just hop into bed a few minutes earlier than usual and do this before sleeping).
2. Close your eyes. This is actually important, so be sure you do it.
3. Ask yourself, what revenue (or income number) am I really, truly ready to bring in this year (or quarter/month/etc.)?
4. Wait for the number to arise from within (you might even imagine or see it floating up from your stomach region). If you feel your brain manufacturing a number to fill the white space, kindly thank it, but let it know that you’re waiting for your soul number to come from your “gut” and that you’ll wait patiently until it does.
5. Once you have it, you’ll know. Be sure to write it down.
I challenge you to do this today and I invite you to respond here! Tell me what your number is. If I have time, I’ll even respond with a few thoughts about it for you in particular.
Take beautiful care,