I’m not a fan of income reports…
Never have been…
But I don’t deny having learned plenty from income reports when I was starting out.
When you remove the numbers (which I do think are a distraction) and just see the lessons, you pick up tons of insight.
These are lessons I’ve picked up on the way to reaching a six figure income this year.
My purpose of sharing these are to show you that
1. There’s nothing glamorous about getting to this place
2. Regardless of how much your business earns a year, it ultimately boils down to the vision you have for yourself and the business you want to build
3. For every choice you make, you win some and lose some at the same time…Just like saying NO to something means having the space to say YES to something else
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#1 There isn’t a right business vision
We’re told that the right vision involves hiring people…being the CEO and visionary that gives directions and oversees the running of the business…
Maybe that’s the type of business you want to build. Maybe not.
At the end of the day it depends on what you want out of your life and business.
I realized pretty early on that hiring full time staff or managing employees isn’t the type of business I wanted to build.
I love being lean.
Yes, I do have people to help me on a once off or contract basis. I’ve finally outsourced my Pinterest management. I get VAs to help me during some launches…
But I still do the bulk of the work.
I write my own copy for all my launches.
I reply to emails from readers personally.
That’s where I thrive. That’s my zone of genius and one which I like to keep close.
Sure, there may be people who I can pass this on to. I’m at a stage in my business where I can possibly afford to do so.
But this is what my audience buys into…my content, style and way of doing things.
I’m comfortable being a business of mostly one, at least for now.
Can your vision change?
Possibly. I think as your business grows, you grow as a person too and you learn about yourself, what you like, how you love to show up…And these changes influence your business direction.
But there’s nothing wrong with you if you don’t want what others say you need to have.
Having said this, you have to be realistic about how much you can scale as a business of one…your business has to be designed to grow…more on that in just a bit…
#2 How you want to run your business vs realities of the industry
Click bait titles…
Training and workshops on making 5K in 3 days or 10k in a week…
Regular income reports…
All of these are features of the business/blogging/marketing niche…
There’s a reason these work…why they’re so attractive.
How much you make is a form of social proof….your numbers are validation that you are someone worth following.
It grabs attention.
But by choosing to say no to every one of those above, I am limiting my reach…I may not attract an audience that actively looks for income reports as social proof and I have to be ok with that.
#3 Look at the right numbers
I used to joke with 2 of my closes friends in the online space Cath Oneissy and Emily McGee that I often felt like an indie movie…. The one with the rave reviews but which didn’t do as well at the box office.
I used to feel that I should be doing better…
But I had a wake up call when I stumbled across a launch report of someone pretty big in the online space.
I realized that my conversion rates were better, refunds were almost non-existent even with a no-questions asked return policy, default rates were lower too.
That’s when I realized that you have to look at the right numbers….
Look at their expenditure (ad spend, consultants or copywriters) for that launch…look at their conversion rates and the size of their launch list…look at their defaults and refunds.
These are the numbers that give an accurate picture of a launch.
How do your launches compare to these?
It’s easy to look at someone else’s numbers and get disappointed. But compare apples to apples.
You can’t compare a 50,000 launch list to a 1000 one. It’s about the ratios and percentages. Those don’t lie.
Yes, you’re operating at a smaller scale but are you getting the same (or better) results than them?
So, when you’re in the dumps about your numbers, pause and dig deep.
Your reality might actually be waaayyy better than you actually thought it was.
#4 You want to scale. But your business has to be designed to scale
Is your business designed to grow?
You can be very motivated but if your business isn’t designed to scale, no amount of grit, endurance or motivation will get you there.
This is usually when you feel like you’ve hit a plateau.
When you feel that no matter what you do, how much you’ve optimized your systems, how many tactics or strategies you try, you can’t move forward.
Sometimes you need to take a step back and think why you’re not where you are.
It may seem like a 4, 5, 6 and 7 figure businesses do pretty much the same thing but each one of them is built differently.
I know that my business looked different when it was earning 5 figures and now when it earns 6.
I love this example I read.
As motivated as the cyclist is to reach 100 km/h, a cycle isn’t designed to reach those numbers. Motivation is but one tiny part of the big puzzle.
#5 You fight a new demon at every stage
Am I good enough…
Will people buy this book…will they like it…
Is all this hard work worth it…
I had every one of these doubts.
And those feelings of self doubt never ever fully go away.
You face a different demon every step of the way.
And if you’re waiting for the green pastures, you may be disappointed.
With every step you reach, you face something new to overcome. And rather than the tech or the strategy, your mindset will be the biggest challenge.
#6 Business expenses and investments will scare you (especially if you’re risk averse!)
Do your expenses have to increase as you grow?
This depends on your goals and the kind of experience you want to create for your audience.
As you charge more for your products, you want to create a better experience for your students.
As you start to attract more people, maybe you want to outsource design rather than do it yourself.
I’ve seen my expenses grow from 1K to 3K every month.
Peaks are usually when I self publish and have to pay for editors and designers.
I consider myself pretty risk averse. So I still get a scare when I do the numbers for the month and see expenses inching toward 3K or more.
But it’s inevitable as your business grows. Remember what I spoke about designing a business that can scale…
The question I usually ask myself is…
Can I make back this investment?
I see if I have past results to get an estimate of my numbers and how soon I’ll be able to make this back.
If the answer’s a resounding YES, I move on with it.
#7 Doubling down or branching out – the struggle is real!
There’s always this tug and pull.
Should I do youtube…should I start a podcast…should I be on Instagram.
Or should I just continue doing what I’m doing?
There will be a 100 things the online space will tell you that you MUST do.
The trick is to stay in your lane and not get swayed.
Many readers have written in to tell me that they’ve pretty much not had any progress from when they started 1 or 2 years ago because they’ve dabbled in so many different platforms.
One of the things I did well was to get really focused.
I’ve also always kept things bare bones.
For instance, I alway start with email only launches.
If your results are repeatable, then bingo, you have something to systematize and enhance.
I only start adding enhancers like workshops or webinars when I know I have something that works. I try to add one new variable at a time.
Did I lose out on people by not getting into Instagram or Youtube? Of course!
But having that laser focus helped me grow fast. It’s about priorities and strengths.
I chose building a base of loyal customers and readers vs having a wide reach.
I doubled down on my strength of writing vs dabbling in others.
Zeroing in and being aware of your strengths especially when you’re starting out or in the first 1-3 years of your business is important.
After you’ve reached a certain stage, after you have systems in place and are making money on auto every month, this is when you can explore other platforms.
But be very clear on the goals you have for that platform.
Why are you on a platform? What’s your main goal? Ad revenue? Subscribers? Reach? Brand awareness?
This goes for everything that you are trying.
#8 On having a guarantee or return policy
I had hesitations about offering a no questions asked money backed guarantee.
But I did it anyways and it actually improved my default and refund rates
Having a 30 or 60 day guarantee shows people that you’re confident about your work.
It takes away that pressure of having all their hesitations solved before getting the program. It provides a safety net for them to fall back on especially if they are new to your brand.
Yes, there are a couple of people who do take advantage of the system. They may call in your charge as fraudulently entered. Or go through 70% of your material and then say they didn’t find it useful.
Is it painful? Sure, it is.
But realize that this is the reality. It’s not just you. Everyone in the online space goes through these.
Fight your case with Stripe or PayPal with evidence. Make sure you have welcome emails set up and invoices sent for your purchases. If they still decide against you, remove that person from your list and move on.
The same goes for refunds. Consider the person’s feedback and see if there’s any truth behind it.
You will know. Accept the refund request and then move on.
#9 There’ll always be people who don’t like you
I’ve had people reach out and say that I sell too much, that my sales emails are almost manipulative and my $2.99 book on amazon should never have been published.
You’ll get raving fans and people who don’t like your work as well.
It’s important to understand the type of selling you’re comfortable with and feel good about… What line you wouldn’t cross…
Because once you do, this becomes a part of your process. You don’t have to second guess yourself every time you get a nasty email.
It takes time to get to this place.
Side note: I think I’ve grown a thicker skin over these 3 years as well.
#10 Before hiring out…
I always get emails asking if they can outsource their sequence writing to me or if I there’s someone I recommend…
And I always recommend they write their own first…especially if they are just starting out.
Write your own emails first…or try your hand at design first…get your hands dirty learning WP….
Because when you do, you’ll have the right conversations and ask the right questions before you hire someone.
You’ll be able to tell if you agree with that person’s approach, if it’s even right for you…if you’re even comfortable with it…
I can’t stress this enough.
#11 Found the right external vendor or creative? Hold on and don’t let go!
What I’ve found challenging is finding the right people to work with.
Finding the right designer or editor or VA is like finding a needle in a haystack.
They have to gel with your style of working.
They need to ‘get’ what you’re looking for.
I have had several hits and misses but when I find the right person, I pretty much know.
I want to build a long-term relationship with the vendors or contractors I work with as well.
So look at building relationships when you find the right one and view them as part of your team even if they’re not your full-time staff.
Ready to grab your copy of CREATE &think about strategy without the hefty price tag of a mentor or coach?
#12 Productivity – what worked for me to stay sane
3 months of blog posts in a week or an entire launch email sequence of 10 emails in 2 days.
Yes, it’s possible when you ruthlessly batch. You pretty much clear everything out of your schedule and focus on just doing that.
I’ve survived and actually shipped on all my projects because of ruthless batching.
Learning from a select few
This point touches on the idea behind modeling where you model after someone.
While modeling doesn’t quite work for business models, it does work for specific aspects of your business.
The common complaint I hear – There’s too much material with so many people offering different products.
Who do you trust to learn about ads? Who do you trust to learn about email? Who do you trust to learn about course creation?
Pick 1-2 people max for each of these different aspects.
Pick people whose values align with yours….Who make you think differently…Who give you a different perspective of that topic and then stick with them….
Why would you buy something when you already have a course on it?
Unless of course you don’t think that material is sufficient for you… or the course was a let down.
So pick the right courses.
Pick course creators who will give you that 1:1 support if you reach out (if that’s important to you).
I’m not a course junkie and what helped me was learning from a few very specific people and ignoring the rest.
When you say no to something, you have room to say YES to something else.
If you’re unsure about a collaboration or partnership and need more time, take the time and don’t be afraid to say no.
I’ve had people reach out to me with partnerships or collaborations…I’ve jumped on several of these when I know the person is genuinely interested in building a relationship…
In providing value to my audience rather than look for opportunities to pitch my subscribers.
I’m very picky about putting anything in front of my subscribers that I haven’t tested yet or don’t know about.
I value the trust I’ve built and I’ve gotten better at saying no.
Planning my year round 90 days
How my year looks…
I have periods of intense sprints and then I take a break before another 90 day sprint. You can achieve more in 90 days than you do in an entire year.
You have a shorter, focused timeframe with fixed deliverables. You can’t make excuses.
I love working in quarters. That’s the reason my CREATE Planners are structured around quarters too.
But for this to work you need to be super clear on your 90-day deliverables.
Learning new tools
I have huge resistance to new tools.
It’s almost a fear because I’m not a techy person and I don’t like not having the answers or not being able to do something where I am the road block.
If you have a new tool you need to learn or set-up, block out time for you to do so. If you have a half a day or a couple of hours where your kids are in school, that would be a good time to get things set-up.
I’ve learnt new tools faster when I didn’t have the pressure of having somewhere to be or to learn it ‘fast’.
#13 Where I completely dropped the ball…
I love writing for other sites…that’s how I started building my audience but this took a huge back burner especially in the second half of this year.
I just couldn’t keep up with creating content for my own site and products and as well as for others. I’d love to make this a staple of my schedule next year.
I’m not the best networker. My excuse – the time difference. But I could definitely do better here.
I wanted to learn and use Facebook ads from the start of this year but completely let it slide. I had loads of resistance and fear to using it. I was convinced it wouldn’t work for me. I started playing around with it 2 months ago and realized that it isn’t really that difficult to navigate around the ads platform.
#14 Tiny wins…
I finally feel like I’ve conquered my fear of video or going live. It took time to get to this level of comfort and the more I did it, the more comfortable I got.
Selling and launches
I’m at a place where I feel good about the way I sell. I also feel like I finally have a hang of launches and I’m ahead of my launch schedule rather than struggling to keep up.
Diversifying income streams
Currently digital products via my site and self publishing form the bulk of my revenue with affiliate income taking a very tiny slice. I went into self-publishing to add a new income stream and its worked really well. I’ll take the win, but I do think I could do more to diversify my income.
#15 Success Formula = Endurance and Grit
The unglamorous success formula behind reaching your goals is just that.
And I see it time and again with students and clients.
Sometimes all it takes is grit – sticking it out through the resistance and tough times because there’ll be plenty.
In March 2019, it’ll be 3 years since I went live on my site. I can say with certainty that I showed up almost every single day in these 2 plus years.
Some days I had more time. Some days I had 30 minutes – maybes less.
Regardless of the time I had, I tried to move my business forward every day, even if it was just 1 tiny little percent. Because that 1% compounds.
We’ve all played the blame game… I have too…
It’s easy for them..they have the whole day to work on their biz…they don’t have little ones to look after…they don’t…
But the moment I started focusing on myself and not on anyone else, I started enjoying the process more.
Can you be happy with your good spot?
I want to share this quote that I came across:
Good is the enemy of great. The moment you tell yourself and others you’re in a “good spot” or you’re “fine”, you begin to lose what got you where you are. You rest on your laurels and you stop growing. It’s one thing to feel fulfilled and strategically decide to focus on another area of your life. It’s another to use the mask of “good” to stop all momentum. – Tommy Bak, The 1% Rule
I don’t agree with it a 100% but don’t deny there’s some truth to it.
I love the spot I’m in right now and am grateful to be here and grateful for you guys reading this!
I’d love to know your thoughts and business goals for next year. Leave your comments or questions below!
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