MY THIRD YEAR IN BUSINESS

business Apr 16, 2020

Curious about how a three year old business runs? Check out this very transparent post on my 3rd year in business.

Welcome to my third instalment where I take you behind the scenes of my business. Read the first two parts of this instalment here and here.

In this post...

  • Highlights of the year
  • Profitability wake up call
  • How I manifested a baby (instead of a mastermind)
  • Things I didn't bother with this year
  • Big lessons of my third year in business

Highlights of the year

Ha - funny how it's actually hard to remember all the achievements of the year, right? I had to really wrack my brain to remember some of these.

I finally launched my second book, Get Rich, Lucky Bitch.

I am SOOOOO freaking proud of this book. It was finished in my second year of business but I kept on putting off the launch. I'm sure many people who have written a book will understand, but it's a huge undertaking and you almost don't want your baby to go out into the world.

I did something unexpected, and gave away free Kindle copies for a week. It felt a bit crazy, because between the book editing team, the cover, the formatting, etc – the book cost me about $6000 to produce.

But - it was actually an awesome way to launch the book. I had 10,000+ downloads in the first week and added an extra 2000 people to my newsletter list. It was awesome to make the top of the Personal Growth and Inspiration list, next to the Alchemist!

You can get the book in paperback or Kindle format from Amazon here > or get a couple of free chapters here >

Between my two books now, I make about $1300 / month in royalties. Definitely up from last year, when I made less than $4000 from the whole year.

The book is very similar in content to my Lucky Bitch Bootcamp, but without the community element and without the extra resources. I really struggled mentally with how much to put in the book, but I decided to err on the side of being overgenerous, even with a big price difference (ie. the book is around $10-15 and the bootcamp is $497).

I see the book as a toe in the water, and then if people want to go further into the material, access the mastermind community and explore their money relationship further, they can invest more and get a whole lot more value.

That's why I HIGHLY recommend writing a book.

It's a great business card for the rest of your higher priced offerings. Seriously - writing a book should be on your goal list!

I also feel good about the fact, that if someone is really broke, it's going to cost them less than ten bucks to access some awesome information. I used to feel bad about people not being able to afford my bootcamp, but now, I know that I have a really generous and low cost way to improve their situation (it's another reason why I really recommend that seriously BROKE people don't max out their credit cards to invest with me - there are always other ways first).

List building

This continued to be a great list building year where I tripled to my list to just under 16,000.

I focused mainly on Facebook ads as a way of increasing the amount of leads coming to my site, and continual blogging. I don't think I was as consistent on blogging as I was in year 2 and 3, but I was obviously doing something right to increase my unique visitors.

And if you're interested in how the numbers played out over the year...

Although it looks like I went backwards in December, I  cull regularly, so every few months I delete all the unsubscribes and bounced email addresses, so without this regular adjustment, my list would probably be well over 20,000 but I like to keep it clean and more accurate.

My 3 most popular articles of the year:

Can You Win the Lottery Using the Law of Attraction? (this has been the most popular for a few years now, although I've updated it because it was attracting broke people who didn't want to start a business)
Behind the Curtains of My First Year in Business (I think people just love the transparency of this kind of thing)
38 Things You Need To Declutter From Your Life NOW (No idea why this was so popular, maybe people like lists!?)

I blogged a lot less this year but experimented with video blogging which will be my main focus for next year. It's so much easier and quicker for me to do, and I can outsource the editing to my team.

I also started a hugely popular website series, called The Best Month Ever, where entrepreneurs shared their successes.

We had BME's ranging from a few hundred dollars to people making well over half a million dollars in one month. CRAZY and inspiring.

Check out the new series here >>

I launched a new website!

My site has changed so much over the last few years, and I love my current site, although I will probably upgrade my pictures next year - I've been using the same ones to death (although it's great for consistent branding and brainwashing purposes)

This was my site at the end of year 2, at the start of year 3 and what it looks like now.

The new site cost about $5000 and it went through a few tweaks but as you can see it was MILES better than my old DIY site.

I think websites are a great investment, but don't spend too long on overthinking it. (Branding experts will disagree but I think something is better than nothing)

It's impossible to have a perfect site, it's a constant work in progress and sometimes you have to put it up to see how it feels live. The intense rainbow colours of the new site were a bit too much, so I went back to a simple blue and green theme (and yes, you'll see from the pics below that my branding matches my life a lot more)

But seriously - if you've been waiting for your site to be perfect before it launches - STOP THAT SHIT NOW.

Experiencing (a little bit of) internet fame

It's weird when a total stranger says "I read your blog", or they know intimate details about your life that you share on your blog (people actually READ that stuff - whoops!)

I've experienced this a few times this year when people have lost their SHIT talking to me. It's weird and it's uncomfortable. Like, I'm a normal person, dude! And this is just a tiny bit. Imagine being super real world famous?

Don't get me wrong, I love when people say "I've got your book!" or "Thanks for your pricing course, I increased my prices this year".

That makes my LIFE.

But please, don't put bloggers on a pedestal. Just be cool. Don't think that anyone else is better than you because they are more "famous" online. It's just weird. It's happened to me in public toilets, at my husband's work functions and even at random airports.

I had to say to some people "Alright, you've had your freak out - can we just talk like normal people now please?!"

But then … haha - I find myself putting other people on a pedestal and I'm WAAAAY too nervous to talk to them (like when I awkwardly met Chris Guillebeau and Gabby Bernstein last year… embarrassing)

I ran two sold out live events

This was sooo much fun, running two sold out events in London and Melbourne.

Some interesting things if you're running events.

At the end of each event, I gave a very soft sell if people wanted to join the bootcamp. In London I had no books to sell, in Melbourne, people could buy both of my books.

Even though I felt I "sold" it better in Melbourne, because people could buy a $15 book, there was less of an urgency to upgrade to the bootcamp so I made WAY less sales than in London. Interesting, huh?

By the way - I made recordings of the Melbourne live event - and they are available for sale here. 

Other personal highlights

My brother got married!

I bought a new car and used my Lucky B number plates! (Read about how I almost sabotaged it, by almost crashing it within minutes)

I gave my old (falling apart) car to my little brother

I got pregnant! (and did a mega plan to prepare my business)

Some great trips, to the UK and Hong Kong with Mark and then a babymoon on the Gold Coast

I tried pole dancing and sucked at it, so gave myself permission to quit. Then I tried aerial yoga and loved it!

I started doing Pilates a few times a week

I travelled Business Class from L.A to Sydney and it was amazing. No jetlag! No cankles! I slept like a log. Rich people really know how to travel, I tell ya!

My friend Victoria Gibson took me to see Beyonce as a thank you for being a guest lecturer on her mastermind.

My family got some great photos all together, and in general, we spent a lot more time together. It was awesome.

 

Things I didn't bother with this year.

Traditional press and P.R

I've had really hit and miss successes with this last year, and I concluded that for my business, it's a bit of a waste of time.

I've also been fussier about interviews. In my first year, I said YES to everything (and I highly recommend that you do too - it's great experience). But then after a million interviews that were either out of alignment, a waste of time or for people with very small lists, I decided to put together some guidelines - you can read them here >>

I now don't do interviews with people who have under 5000 people on their list. And they have to be aligned with female entrepreneurs. Why?

I've worked hard on getting my list to 16,000 and I do have to be discerning with my time. What's a better use of 30 minutes - doing an interview with someone who has a few hundred on their list, or getting my message out to over 5000 people at a time? Ummmm - there is no contest. It might sound harsh to some, but you have to put a value on your time, and that's my boundary.

I really got fed up last year when I did an interview for a REALLY random podcast. It wasn't my ideal demographic, the questions were random, and because I was calling in from a hotel room, being on that call cost me $80 with literally no business benefit for me.

I vowed after that, that I would have my own personal standards in place. But I still get people who don't fit the criteria who still apply, and it's safe for me to stick to my boundary and say no.

I think there is value in going after some BIG blogs or traditional media but only once.

Now that I have some good logos in my "as seen in", there's not much point going after traditional media, unless they directly serve my target market.

 

I cancelled my 1:1 coaching

I purposefully only took on 4 VIP clients this year, people that I loved working with and that I knew I could really help. They all finished up mid year and suddenly my calendar opened up with heaps of free time to focus on marketing my Bootcamp.

It would have been really easy to continue a coaching business - and I do recommend that if you love it - don't be so quick to stop your 1:1 service. It's much easier in the short and medium term to make money from directly serving clients.

Here are some ideas on creating your first passive income product. 

Other random stuff that I worked on.

I changed my prices to USD$. Even though I'm based in Australia, more than 70% of my clients live in other countries, mainly the USA and the UK. I found that most entrepreneurs are fine about paying in US dollars, but not everyone would understand what the Australian dollar equates to. This means, that my income is affected by currency fluctuations, but overall it was a good move.

Other "going pro" actions included spending more time talking with my accountant about tax strategies, applying for a major export marketing grant and the BIG ONE - changing my company structure away from a sole trader to a company - Lucky B Pty Ltd. I had been resisting this for a while, because it felt BIG and OFFICIAL!

I had an income wake up call

I had a good year income wise, although not the spectacular success I had envisioned. I increased my income by around 150% when I had a goal to triple it. I'm not too bothered, because other priorities got in the way (see the whole section on having a baby!)

I didn't do any big launches or pull any all-nighters, so my income was just kind of steady, rather than massive peaks. This actually felt really good, and although I had two months where my income slipped below $10,000 a month (about $5k and $6k), they usually followed really big multiple five-figure months, so I wasn't too bothered.

There were several times where I unfavourably compared myself to other women and felt bad that I wasn't really pushing myself. One particular month stands out where I had to give myself a good talking to. I made over $60,000 really easily from one launch that consisted of sending around 4 emails to my list.

However, I was feeling crap about it. Why?

Because some of my mastermind buddies were making double, and triple that per month. Several of them make over 1 million a year. So, I was actually embarrassed to share my "puny" numbers.

WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?

My first month in business, just a few years ago, I made $220 for the whole month. My first ever big "launch" made $2485.

Hell - my last actual job made me about $45,000 IN THE WHOLE YEAR.

I really had to get some perspective on that kind of thinking, that I was failing because I wasn't living up to other people's successes - and this is true whether you've just made your first $100, your first $10,000 month or your first million dollar year.

There will ALWAYS be someone making more money than you. That's okay.

Turn your comparison-itis into gratitude.

How I manifested a baby (instead of a mastermind)

I almost didn't talk about this, mainly because the topic of fertility is rightly an emotive one. I have several friends who are trying, trying, trying without success and others who get pregnant really easily. I am NOT a fertility expert, this is just my experience.

I got pregnant REALLY easily. Like, within a week of deciding.

But who knows - when you look at the whole story. Did I really?

Up until a year before we decided, I was terrified of having a baby. I had really negative thoughts about what it would do to my body, my relationship, my business, ambition, ability to earn income, my pelvic floor, etc.

I had drummed into myself from a young age - DON'T BE A TEEN PARENT. DON'T LET A BABY RUIN YOUR LIFE.

Even though I was in my early 30s, it was still living with me. Like, I thought people would judge me for having a baby. Weird right, but I was still carrying that experience (my mum had me at 18). I will be 34 when my baby is born, but seriously, in my mind, it was still almost shameful. I knew I had to clear that feeling!

I really doubt that I could have gotten pregnant, no matter what I tried. Being a parent for me, was scary, life-changing in a bad way and really threatening to my sanity and way of life. I literally couldn't think of any upsides to having kids.

I did have a few nudges over the years, like I was being stalked by spirit babies! I'd always tell them to come back later. I even said to one, "Wait until I earn six figures, then come back". That spirit baby DID come back when I hit six figures and I re-negotiated again and said I still wasn't ready, so feel free to go to someone else.

Several things really helped me to turn it around energetically. Endless talks with my husband. Energetic clearing with kinesiologists, acupuncturists, chiropractors, etc! I asked endless questions to my friends with kids. I did a boatload of forgiveness work on myself, my body, my past decision not to have children (and gave myself permission to change my mind) and really let my soul be okay with going into this next adventure.

I also started meeting really awesome business women who were parents. They still seemed to be ambitious, creative and like… normal!

My brother and sister in law had a baby - and she was/is a dream! Spending time with her definitely helped us to redefine what it meant to parent a baby. Here is a picture of us at my brother's wedding.

I started energetically making room in my life and business - decluttering before I was ready. I stripped out parts of my business that would not work with a baby, and purposefully put into place more passive income strategies so it wouldn't all fall apart if/when I decided to have kids (I STILL wasn't ready to commit).

I wrote more about how I was planning to baby proof my business here > >

So, out of excuses, I just started to sit with the feeling for a while. And an urge did appear. It was part of a calling to do something more meaningful with my life, to take my soul on a next adventure. Now, this could have easily manifested as something else - a completely career shift, a spiritual awakening, etc

I was also planning to run a year long, intense business mastermind. I thought it might be the challenge I was after, but honestly, my heart wasn't in it.

But, we decided to have a baby instead.

As I do, I sprinkled some manifesting magic on it.

There was the practical shiz - like visiting the doctor to check everything out (oh, and you know, the baby making deed - very important).

Then there was the goal setting stuff - like, writing down my baby goal every day, constantly looking to refine my life so a baby could enter. For example, planning out the year without any stressful events, cutting down my travel schedule, looking at the football season to see when the best time to conceive would be (important for daddy time off work as my husband works in sport), etc.

Then I did a lot of spiritual, woo-woo work, like energetically calling in a baby spirit (I did it like a job description - here's what I can offer and here's what I'm looking for), visualising myself pregnant, sending love and forgiveness to every part of my body, getting excited about having a baby.

I also followed an intuitive hit and cancelled an important trip to the USA literally the morning of my flight (I was 30 minutes away from the airport). I just felt strongly that I needed to be at home with my husband. Usually, I would just push through and ignore what my body was telling me. But I'm pretty sure that's the week we conceived. Literally about a week after we decided.

But of course - it wasn't really manifested in a week. This was years in the making. (Remember, there's always more to a Lucky Bitch story that meets the eye!)

The great news is that my body LOVES pregnancy, it's been a really easy and enjoyable journey and I'm manifesting the same for labour and parenting!

Funnily enough - several of the women in my 6/7 figure mastermind have small kids and are pregnant too. I'm thrilled and excited to go through the journey with business women I respect and admire.

By the way, if you're curious about how I'm managing business with a baby, I cover that here. 

Big Lessons of Year 3 in Business

It's okay to be introverted

I think I became even more confident yet introverted this year. I know that sounds paradoxical but it's true. I feel so much more at home in my self and body, but I just don't let other people expectations affect me.

I put some really strong boundaries in place. Like for example, I don't answer my home phone (I have it connected for the internet really). I don't answer my mobile unless I know the number (and I feel like talking to them) and I also don't check voice mail. Like ever. My voice mail says to send me a text or an email.

I also don't answer my own emails anymore. My assistant does it for me. Plus I have a strong autoresponder on my email. Again, this sounds harsh, but seriously 80% of my email was stuff I didn't want or need to answer. And if I see it, it energetically lives in me, and I feel compelled to respond - even if I have a policy of not answering individual questions (again, this is a time thing. I'm happy to answer questions on a public forum like Facebook or Twitter, but not if just one person is benefiting).

This doesn't work for everyone, but it works for me!

Keep an eye on the expenses

I was still being pretty lax with my expenses and I knew I wanted it to change. Last year, I spent around $30,000 on personal development, coaching and courses. This year, it will be pretty similar.

Year 1, I was just excited about making ANY kind of money
Year 2, it was awesome earning six figures and I was ready to travel and do ANY course I wanted.
Year 3, I was making some big investments, but making more profit.

However, during a recent expenses audit, I noticed that I was spending over $5000 a year on things I didn't really use. Like recurring payments for video and audio software I didn't need or contractors that I didn't use anymore.

In year 4, it's going to be a major focus to cut back on unnecessary expenses and have a big SAVINGS goal. It's been fun spending all my money but now I'm ready for a new phase.

I talk about finding money leaks in your business here. 

Passive income still takes WORK.

Passive income seems like the magic ticket for entrepreneurs and it IS POSSIBLE, but most entrepreneurs don't realise how much structure, marketing and systematising it can take.

It can also take mental work on your money blocks. For example, when I turned my live bootcamp into a home study course, I felt incredibly guilty that I was earning money for "nothing". No matter that I spent hundreds of hours perfecting the message, creating great resources for people.

No, if it was easy for me, then it didn't count. How weird and ridiculous is that?

I'm proud to say that this year I really got over that, with one simple mantra.

I serve, I deserve.

Here's what I mean by that...

 

I refuse to be "busy"

To be honest, my life is full but it's also pretty cruisy because I deliberately set it up that way. I go out much less than I used to, but I'm also happier. I only spend time with people that I like.

I don't use an alarm clock, but I'm so happy to wake up every day because my life is my own. That's what working hard on your business for two years buys you.

I don't sabotage my energy by saying yes to things that will cause me to feel resentful.

I don't meditate or chant, but I feel calm most of the time because I've eliminated all my major stresses. I'm okay to blow up friendships if they no longer serve either of us, and I have zero tolerance for other people's drama (including family members).

Okay - some of this will change with a baby, but because I don't have a traditional job and very few time-based commitments, I can do what I like. I don't have to rush from appointment to appointment like I used to, or rush to do a 10 second pee between client appointments. I can make money without stressing myself out.

I try not to even say the word "busy" even as an excuse to get out of something I don't want to do. I don't want it to be any part of my reality. Warning though - people LOVE to be busy and say they are busy - so if you disagree with that way of thinking, they'll look at you like you have three heads. Oh well.

I'm okay with not fixing everyone's problems

I used to get a lot of "Denise, what do you recommend for XYZ?" and I'd really feel responsible for answering their question.

Now, I'm okay with putting it back on them and saying "Why don't you brainstorm 20-50 ways you could solve that".

I'm totally okay with sharing my expertise for large sums of money. I believe in my value.

Here's how you get really focused so you can say NO and focus on what you actually do.

So, what's next for year 4 in business?

Here are some of my goals:

  • Double my income - I don't say this lightly - I know it's going to take focus, delegation and more improvements in my business systems
  • Take a minimum of 30 days off my business when the baby comes
  • Work just a few hours a day for the first six months of her life (totally doable with some focus)
  • Sell our London house for a profit
  • Move to a more baby friendly house (I've loved our penthouse but it's not the right place to raise a baby)
  • Buy a King sized bed with a gorgeous headboard
  • Get a kitten
  • Do a new photoshoot for my business headshots
  • Fit into my wedding ring again!
  • Find a great local mum's group
  • Do a burlesque class

Whew - that concludes this year's wrap up. Hope you got some nuggets of inspiration!

xx

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