I usually don’t write these types of articles. I tend to steer clear of talking about my personal life and what happens behind the scenes of my business. Even though I’m a public figure of sorts, I’m a very private person.
But today, I am pulling back the curtain and discussing what exactly lead to me doubling my business in 2017 and having my most successful year to date.
Now before we move any further, let me clarify… This article isn’t about money. This is about the internal game (mindset, perspectives, insights) that let me see and take action on the marketing and business strategies that ended up making a big difference in the business.
I’m only talk about money because money is the one objective measuring stick for all of the subjective shifts and achievements. Please don’t focus on the numbers or play the comparison game in your head while reading this. You might think I’m so much further than you and achieving things that feel far away right now. Or you might think I’m just talking small potatoes in comparison to your own financial gainz. It really doesn’t matter. This article isn’t about the dollar signs, it’s about the perspective, actions, and emotions that lead to a very successful year.
I hope that I can make this clear: the money is dwarfed by the mental and emotional groundedness and freedom I’ve accomplished this past year.
So, here are the steps that lead to my record breaking success.
A Different Way to Raise Your Rates
“Raise your rates!” You’ve probably received this advice before. I know I’ve heard it hundreds of times in my career. “Raise your rates” seems to be the go-to, knee-jerk response for any questions about generating income.
But there’s more to raising your rates than just choosing a bigger number.
I’ve seen entrepreneurs struggle with this time and time again. They raise their rates, but when they quote their new fee, they don’t say it confidently. They don’t feel comfortable with higher number. The prospect senses the hesitation and misalignment and says, “Hmmm, I’ll have to think about it.” Only to be never heard from again. Then the entrepreneur gets frustrated because they aren’t closing clients. The entrepreneur blames it on the fee increase when really it’s the result of how they feel about the fee increase.
So, yes, raising my rates did play a part in doubling my revenues. But, I did it in two different ways.
First, I increased my speaking fees by about 30%. You should be raising your rates each year (you choose the percentage), but I hadn’t raised my rates in quite a few years. I evaluated the value, positive feedback, and tangible results I was providing my audiences along with the time and effort I was putting into my content and delivery. It was time for an increase.
Second, I raised my VIP coaching rates,… but not exactly.
I realized that I could get results for my clients in half the time I was committing to. So, the investment for my VIP coaching remained the same, but I cut the timeframe in half. Clients are still getting the results they signed up for and they are getting them quicker. Plus, this move meant that I could take on double the amount of VIP private coaching clients.
This was a scary decision for me and I resisted it for a while. But once I did, here’s an amazing thing that happened. I maxed out on my VIP private clients this year! I literally couldn’t take on anymore clients.
Colleagues might have advised you to raise your rates, but it doesn’t always mean that you need to make the dollar investment higher. You can raise your rates by cutting your amount of work. This could be by shortening your engagement time or also by cutting out services previously included in your package offering.
I had a client who offered a branding package that included A BUNCH. She kept adding to her offering, but she didn’t enjoy delivering about a third of what she was including in her standard package. So, I told her to cut out what she didn’t enjoy. Once she did, not only did she make more money (because she’s doing less work), but she’s enjoying the work with her clients so much more! Plus, if a client says that they absolutely need a service that’s not included in her package, she just adds it on for an additional fee. That means more revenue and she feels like she’s finally getting paid her worth.
There are plenty of creative ways to increase your profits that don’t always include just charging more.
I consider myself very fortunate to have had some amazing mentors. 2016 was a difficult year for me. One of the reasons why I struggled so much was because I didn’t have a mentor that year. I wised up in 2017.
I reached out to my friend Joey Coleman for advice. I look up to him not only for what he’s accomplished in his career, but also for who he is as a human being. We started our monthly mentor calls in quarter 2 of 2017.
Our world of entrepreneurship is a weird one. Not many people understand it. And even fewer people get the existential crises we live through every day. Every decision is a reflection of us. Every (perceived) failure is our own failure. We second guess ourselves and question everything. Sometimes you just need someone who’s been where you are to say, “Hey, you’re doing a good job” and provide an outside perspective for your next steps.
If you’re an entrepreneur, then I hope you’ve realized by now that your biggest battles aren’t fought in the business realm. No, your biggest battles are fought in your head. You always need an outside voice that will cut through the noise of what your internal demons are whispering. I certainly hope that you find a mentor to be that voice for you.
The Relationship with Money
One of the big things Joey and I focused on was money (eek!). So, we started by helping me build better money practices. Since our work together, I’m debt free, my savings account is bigger than it ever has been, and holy schnikes batman…. I actually have a retirement plan!
Beneath the actual practice of handling money, Joey and I predominantly worked on figuring out my relationship to money, or what is commonly referred to as knowing your “money story.”
It was April of last year and I had just finished the most successful launch of my flagship course Persuasive Profits. We almost tripled our revenue from previous launches. And yet, I was walking around with a deep sense of dread in the pit of my stomach. Why? Because I was afraid I was going to screw it up.
You see, I’ve been running my own business for more than a decade. That means my business has been my full-time career and has paid my bills since my early-twenties. I never had any side jobs. I never took out any loans. I didn’t come from a wealthy family, so mom and dad have never helped me pay rent (not that there’s anything wrong with that; it just simply wasn’t an option for me). I’ve never had any roommates to split expenses with either. So, by most metrics, I had a very stable business. Well…. Yes and no.
Behind the scenes, my income had a bit of a rollercoaster quality to it. I would generate a big project (i.e. pay day) and then things would be quiet for a little while until my bank account would get to an uncomfortable level. (Side note: that bank account discomfort level is different for everyone). Then, I would get my shit together and generate another booking, client engagement, etc. Then things would get quiet again… and the pattern continued.
I finally realized that I was the problem. I was like that person who always ended up having the same problems in every relationship. At some point, you have to realize that you’re the common denominator among all those relationships. And it was clear to me that it was time for me to do the inner work and figure out my relationship with money.
The financial up-and-down pattern was my canary in the mine telling me that this was an issue that needed to be addressed. After my successful launch, I was terrified that I would go right back into that pattern and be at square one again, even after such a big win. That’s why I reached out to my mentor for help.
We all have a money story. It’s just a question of: is your money story serving you or hindering you? Mine was definitely holding me back.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you need to get clear about your relationship to money. Or else, your subconscious might be calling more of the shots than you’d like.
Playing Your Own Game
I don’t know about you, but when I start comparing myself to others, it can lead into a very dark rabbit hole. In fact, I’d argue that comparison is one of my top triggers for depression. Someone has a better business than me. Someone is fitter than me. Someone travels more than me. Someone has “the perfect” relationship and I don’t. Someone turns out content faster than me. So on and so on.
I didn’t realize how often I was subconsciously playing this losing game until I decided to create my own game and play by my own rules. Meaning, I stopped considering what other people were doing in their business. I stopped trying to follow someone else’s template for success. I stopped concerning myself with what I should do. I forced myself to consider what sounded like fun! – without taking into account what other people are doing.
For example, I’ve been wanting to create a Mastermind Group Coaching program. For months I looked into how other people were structuring their own mastermind groups, but I just couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger on setting mine up. Finally, I blocked out all of those comparisons and asked myself, “what do I want to create?” Then, I had my eureka moment. I structured my mastermind, Influence HQ, in a way that I’ve never seen anyone else do before. And lo and behold, that added to the group’s unique value!
Here’s what I learned from this process…
First, it’s process. I haven’t been able to completely block out the comparison thoughts, but now I’m at least aware of them when they appear and I know how to take back control. Second, trusting yourself is scary at first because you want outside validation. It’s the security blanket we’ve all been looking for. But, when you follow through on an idea that is based on what sounds fun, work becomes more interesting, exciting, and creative. A certain weight is lifted because you’re not weighed down by all of your imagined shoulds.
You’re Not Alone
In 2017, my biggest “A-ha!” moment was that… I’m not alone. I’m not the only one who has struggled with the ups and downs of business. I’m not the only one who has gone to bed at night feeling like I was lying in a coffin of anxiety. I’m not the only one who felt they had a dark secret they needed to keep hidden. I’m not the only one who felt shame and feared judgement.
In 2017 I ended up having some very honest discussions with people I looked up to and all of them (repeat: ALL of them) had the same thoughts, worries, and struggles as I did. These are people who had lavish lifestyles – at least on the surface. These are people who seem to do everything easily – at least on the surface. These are people who are making more money than me – at least on the surface. But underneath all of those surface-level perceptions were stories of worry, fear, and shame.
I’m so thankful for these people who opened up and shared their struggles with me. It’s because of them that I realized that I’m not an outsider. I’m not broken. If anything, for once, I finally felt normal. I realized that all of this is part of the journey that we all are on, just in different stages and different forms.
That’s why I’m writing this article for you today. If anything, my hope is that, from this, you too can realize that there’s nothing wrong with your struggle. It’s part of the process. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re just like the rest of us. I hope you find some peace in that.
Be Good At What You Do
I would be remiss if I didn’t include this element as to why last year doubled in business.
A significant portion of the revenue last year came from repeat clients and speeches. Meaning, a number of my 1-1 clients re-upped and extended their engagement time with me by 6 months at a time. And a number of my speech bookings came from someone seeing me speak at an event and recommending me to their company.
I truly believe that the only way to have a business that sustains through the test of time is to consistently deliver value and be good at what you do. So, while the previous factors that I’ve mentioned did play an important role in last year’s leap, there was also a cumulative part to this equation.
So, here’s a funny thing that happened during the creation of this article.
I ended 2017 on a high, feeling proud of myself for the major accomplishments of the year.
Then, the New Year rolled around….
And I got a sinking feeling in my stomach once again.
What if I don’t do as well this year? What if I don’t hit the same goals? What if I don’t do better this year? What if….what if…what if…
I was horrified that I was being dragged back into the mental cage that I just broken free from.
And that’s why this article is coming out the 3rd week of the New Year, instead of the first week like I originally planned. I had to exorcise a few more demons.
Well, that’s not necessarily true. The truth is that I didn’t exorcise the demons; I’ve just come to terms with the fact that they are my non-rent-paying roommates.
Once again, I had to remind myself that this is part of the journey – it just shows up in different stages and different ways.
I will always extend the olive branch to my fear, but never put up the white flag.
Most Influential Self!
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