I am celebrating my tenth year in business this year, and I still have to pinch myself.
What a decade it’s been!
After starting my career in the ad agency world (where I met my husband), I landed a Marketing Manger role for BMW, so I was very caught up in the corporate rat race. Then motherhood changed everything. The landscape of my life altered and I quickly realised that motherhood and the corporate world didn’t mix particularly well. I wanted a more flexible way to earn a living, so I started to explore my options.
The small, crazy business idea that followed led to the biggest transformation of my life.
In the last ten years I’ve spent as a coach, I have worked with some truly amazing clients, written and published two books, been featured in pretty much all the UK’s national women’s magazines, travelled to many exciting places, spoken on stage with some of the world’s leading gurus and helped thousands of people to improve their lives in the process.
It’s been a wild journey of highs and lows. There have been many occasions when I’ve thought how it would be easier if I just went back to the day job. There have been moments when I’ve been terrified at the prospect of stepping out on stage, and there have been times when I’ve had to take huge leaps of faith to invest financially in my business. There have been many moments of fear and trepidation and many ones of sheer exhilaration and joy.
But above all my business successes over the years, my greatest achievement, without a doubt, is that I’ve been able to be at home to watch my babies grow. They are 11 and 7 now (not so much babies any more) and I have been there for every milestone: every new tooth, school run and runny nose. Running a business from home isn’t always easy, but it has certainly brought the freedom and flexibility that only being your own boss can provide. And I wouldn’t change that for the world.
As I’ve pondered my journey – all the breakthroughs, all the silly mistakes and all the things I’ve learnt in my time – I’ve come up with some key insights that I wish I had known at the beginning of my life in business. I’m sharing them with you now because I know they will help to fast track your business to where you want it to be.
Just remember this.
I’m you, only I’m a few years further down the line. There is no such thing as an overnight success, however it may look on the outside. In business there is always more to learn, always more to do and always more ways to evolve.
Enjoy your journey, because it’s the journey that makes you who you are.
10 things I wished I had known when I set out:
Lesson 1: Things will always take longer than you think they will
The one thing that often frustrates me in business is that things always take longer than you think. I’m not a very patient person and when I get an idea I want to take action and see results fast. There is a lot to learn as a business owner. For example, writing and publishing my first book took 12 months from start to finish and launching my first online course took three months of solid preparation before it was made public. Over the years my team and I have learnt all about web coding, sales and conversions, public speaking, SEO, blogging, creating memberships sites, creating and editing video, running webinars, online courses, workshops and retreats, as well as making use of social media. There is a lot to get your head around, so go easy on yourself, be patient and take things one step at a time.
Lesson 2: Hire the right team
I have team of amazing people around me who help me to run my business successfully. But it hasn’t always been this way. In the early days you often have to do it all and be everything to everyone: coach, marketing manager, finances director, operation director, bookkeeper, accountant and even tea maker. But as soon as the money starts to come in you really need to consider outsourcing the areas of your business where you are weakest. The key is to stay in your gift zone. Do only the things that you enjoy and that come easily to you, and outsource the rest. I have a PA, a web geek, a graphic designer, a social media advertising expert, a PR agent, an accountant, a reception team (they answer my phone when I’m not around) and, of course, I have me! Together we make a formidable team. Remember, behind every successful business there’s a great team!
Lesson 3: Always lead with the problem
You need to quickly work out what problem you are solving for you ideal client. The truth is, you cannot be everything to everyone. In fact, this approach makes marketing your services nigh on impossible. Decide where to hang your hat once and for all. Who do you want to help in the world, and what problem are you helping them find a solution to? Any thriving business knows it needs to niche to a specific sector of the market in order to really succeed. Most importantly, be sure that you pick a profitable niche. Ask yourself if what you’re offering is something people will be willing to part with their hard earned cash for.
Lesson 4: Brand you
As a coach or an expert, you are the brand. There is no getting away from it. Your brand is the most valuable part of your business, as it’s the thing that will make you stand out from the crowd and get you noticed. A well thought out brand will create a strong emotional bond with your audience, making sales easier and adding value to your business. That’s why it’s important to let your personality shine through. One of the things I tell my clients to do is invest in good brand design. Unfortunately, this is where most people cut corners, and they end up with a weak, uninspiring brand that nobody notices. The key is to find a good graphic designer from the get-go, as they are going to be an integral part of your business as you grow. At all costs avoid doing your own design work. Just remember, designers spend four years at university to learn their trade. Stick to what you do best and let the experts do what they do best.
Lesson 5: Build your list fast
I often see business owners who have been in business for many years but still haven’t built a mailing list. One of the very first things that I put in place from the get-go was an opt-in so visitors to my site could join my list. This enabled me to keep in touch and promote my services and offers regularly. Here is something that people rarely tell you: your money is in your list. Build it and build it as fast as you can. Without having a strong, organic mailing list, you’ll have a feast or famine situation and, believe me, this is the hardest way to run any business. You don’t need a huge mailing list – even having a few thousand people could easily lead to a six-figure business.
Lesson 6: Leverage your time
For the first five years I built my entire business on having one-to-one clients, and it was time consuming and exhausting. Most of the time I was teaching the same stuff over and over again. Then, in 2012, I launched my very first online course. I earned more in the two-week launch of this programme than I had in the two years of having one-to-one clients! Seriously, it changed everything. Working only one-to-one defines your income; there is only one you and only so many hours in a day. Leveraging your time by creating an online programme of some kind means you can maximize your income by working with more people at the same time. Don’t be fooled though, launching your first online course takes a huge amount of time and effort, but the rewards are vast. One word of warning: don’t leverage too soon. Build your brand and your list and cut your teeth doing one-to-ones first.
Lesson 7: Master digital marketing
Technology is mind-blowing these days, and things move very fast in the online world. When I started out, pretty much all of my marketing was offline: talking on stage, getting features in the press and networking. The likes of social media and e-learning were really in their infancy. Fast forward ten years and we really do live in a different world. For example, there are approx 1.6 billion users of Facebook, meaning business owners can target their ideal client with just a few clicks of a button. This makes marketing so much easier and more effective. If you want to grow your business fast and become the go-to expert, you’ll have to get your head around digital marketing, content marketing, social media, e-learning, and so on. Don’t get left behind.
Lesson 8: Your client attraction masterplan
As I’m sure you know, marketing is vital to your success in business. No marketing means no clients – it really is that simple. Every business needs an annual marketing strategy and this will differ for each business. The key is to find out what marketing activities work for your specific business. Think about where your ideal clients are hanging out offline and online. What events are they attending? What magazines or newspapers are they picking up from the shelf? What websites and social media channels are they are visiting? The more you know about who your ideal client is, the easier your marketing will become. Most businesses go wrong by falling into the trap of scattergun marketing, which is basically trying too many marketing activities at once and not really knowing what’s working and what’s not. This is a huge waste of time and effort. Try one marketing activity at a time until you know whether it’s successful or not. Remember, the key with any advertising or marketing campaign is to bring new leads to your door, build your list and convert them into clients. And of course, it’s essential that you see a return on investment.
Lesson 9: Hire a mentor
After leaving education, I spent the first ten years of my career working in advertising and marketing, so I knew my stuff. I worked for some pretty huge ad agencies following by a marketing manager role for BMW. Therefore, when I set out as a new business owner, I honestly thought I had it all covered and didn’t need any help. My knowledge took me so far along my path, but a few years in I knew I needed help to take my business to the next level. There is nothing quite so powerful as picking the brains of someone who has already walked the path. Without doubt, the times when I’ve invested in business mentoring are the times when I’ve experienced expediential growth in my business. Put simply, you don’t know what you don’t know, and it pays to seek advice from someone who has the skills to help you grow. It will save you a lot of time and money trying to figure it all out on your own.
Lesson 10: Get connected
My final lesson is rather left field, but I believe it is the secret to my success and, without doubt, the most important thing I will ever share with you. I believe there is a higher power within each and every one of us that some call intuition, some call gut feeling and some even call God. In quantum physics they call it the field of potentiality. There is a stream of infinite intelligence that we all have access to, yet most of us are pinched off to it. We are like unplugged lamps disconnected from the stream of electricity needed to light us up. Yet when we connect to this powerful flow of energy it creates miracles in our life. We get all the best ideas, we feel total clarity, we find solutions to problems with ease, we earn more, things flow with ease and we feel invigorated by life. All successful people are connected to this stream. This is the secret to life. Being connected to the stream changes everything fast! As part of my mentoring programme, I teach my clients how to connect and find their alignment, as this is the most important lesson in life and business. Master this and your business will fly.
Sending you love and blessings.
P.S. If you need help launching or growing your business and are simply tired of peddling hard but getting nowhere fast… let me help you… apply for your… Business Strategy Session HERE >
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