100. Top 10 Business Decisions That Moved The Needle In My Business
20 April 2021 | By Salome Schillack
“Failure is not a zero-sum game.”
And boy, am I glad I learned that lesson early! Because honestly, if I’d let my failures pull me down, I wouldn’t be here today, welcoming you, with a heart that’s bursting with pride and gratitude…
To the 100th episode of The Shine Show!
To celebrate this very grand entry into the big three digits, I’m going to do something special in today’s episode —
I’m going to look back on my entrepreneurial journey (with its fair share of hiccups and victories), and share with you the Top 10 Business Decisions that Moved the Needle in My Business.
I’ve broken these 10 big decisions down into 5 main categories:
- Business Relationships
- Team Building
- Audience Building
- General Business Decisions
This is going to be a very candid episode — I’m going back in time and laying bare ALL the mistakes, the lessons, the mindset work, the bawling sessions and the big and small wins that have brought me all the way to this 100th episode of The Shine Show today.
I’ll also be announcing the results of the giveaway on today’s episode, so make sure you hop on to find out who’s the lucky winner of the 2.5 hour Launch Strategy Session with yours truly!
Start listening now!
And when you’re done, come find me at @salome.schillack and tell me which parts of today’s episode resonated most with your own entrepreneurial journey.
When you subscribe and review the podcast not only does that give me the warm and fuzzies all over, it also helps other people to find the show.
When other people find the show they get to learn how to create more freedom in their lives from their online courses too!!
So do a good deed for all womenkind and subscribe and review this show and I will reward you with a shout out on the show!!
154. From Luxury Interior Design To Successful Online Course Creators with Sarah Cates of House Of Funk
Man have I been waiting to say this. Hello and welcome to episode number 100 of The Shine Show. Today, we're going to talk about the top 10 business decisions that moved the needle in my business. And I have an announcement to make. If you've been here the last five or six episodes, you know that I have been asking you guys to rate and review the podcast on iTunes. And those of you who did went into the running to win a two and a half hour business strategy session with yours truly. And I'm here to announce that the lucky winner is ... before I announce the lucky winner, I want to say thank you to every single one of you who have rated and reviewed the podcast. You know what happens when you do rate and review, the podcast is I move up in the rankings of podcasts all over the world, which means other people like you find the podcast easier because then Apple actually shows them the podcast. So you're doing me a great favor, but you're also doing a lot of other people a favor by sharing this.
Because there is hundreds of thousands of other people just like you who wants to learn what you come here to learn every single week. So from my heart, I want to say thank you. From the hearts of all the new people who are going to find us because of your review, I want to say thank you to every single one of you who messaged me on Instagram and said how much you love the show and how much you want to win this session. I appreciate each and every single one of you so much. My deepest desire is to give this to all of you. But two and a half hours, we can get a lot done. And this is the only place that I do one-on-one coaching with anyone. So now, let me announce who the lucky winner is.
The lucky winner of the two and a half hour business strategy session with me is Angela Hosking of Her One Tribe. On Instagram, she's got Her One Tribe. Angela Hosking, congratulations. Thank you so much for your beautiful review. Thank you for getting that in and sending me the message. I will be in touch with you via messenger, and we are going to set up our strategy session. And now, let's jump into the episode.
Giving up your time and freedom to make money is so 2009. Hi, I'm your host Salome Schillack, and I help online course creators launch, grow, and scale their businesses with Facebook and Instagram ads so they can make more money and have an even bigger impact in the world. If you're ready to be inspired to dream bigger launch sooner, and grow your online business faster, the tune in. Because you are ready to shine, and this is The Shine Show.
All right. Well, episode 100. How did we get here? Oh my goodness. It is mind blowing this absolute trip that I'm on building my business, building this podcast, serving you guys, showing up for you here every week and having the opportunity to share with you what I have learned and what I continue to learn. If you've been with me since episode one, then I want to tell you that I love you so much and I want to hug your neck. I can't wait for us to be able to travel, and get together, and be in person with each other. I'm very excited about it.
So episode 100 is all about the top 10 decisions that I made in my business to move the needle forward. So we're going to go back a little bit at the blast from the past. I'm going to tell you some stories of how things were. You know those Instagram memes when they show how it started and how it's going? This is kind of one of those episodes.
But I've tried to break it down into 10 different things that I've learned that has really made an impact in my business. And I've put the 10 things into categories, and those categories are mindset. Because let's face it. It's all about the mindset. Relationships, team building, audience building, and general business decisions.
So let me start with the mindset piece and give you a little bit of background. I feel like my background being a South African who was an immigrant, moved to Australia. First I moved to the UK. I lived in the UK for three years, and then back to South Africa. And then my then boyfriend said he wants to find a job in Australia. And very quickly after that, became my fiance. And we packed up our lives and moved to Australia. And that was 13 years ago. And here we are still very happily living in Australia with two beautiful Aussie children who does not speak Afrikaans. I failed as a mother there.
Anyway, South Africans tend to be very hardworking. We have a work ethic like few other people. I actually saw an article while back where someone was comparing the number of hours people work in a specific country to the GDP of that country. And South Africa came out as the country with the highest number of hours most people work in a week and the lowest GDP, which is not much of a surprise there. But the bottom line is we work really hard and we are crazy competitive. And that also feeds into our egos when we're competitive and we actually win.
So I feel like when I started this business, I had this absolute arrogant, ego driven competitiveness around me. And I was overly ambitious. And that served me really well in my corporate jobs. It served me really well when I was in traditional settings where competitiveness gets you ahead. But when you start a business, and you start a business from scratch, and you have no clue what you're doing, and you still need to learn everything and unlearn everything, being overly ambitious does not serve you.
So my focus was so heavily at the beginning on how much money I can make and how quickly I can make it. And it was absolutely not on who I wanted to serve, what I was passionate about, and what I was going to deliver to these people that I was going to serve. And I had to learn to come from a place of passion, and serve my audience, and show up and give before I was able to make any money in my business. And I learned it the hard way. I feel like the first year when I had the sales coaching business knocked me to the ground. And you know how you go through a bit of a depression and you go through all the feels when you are shifting your identity, and when you're shifting how you think.
And when everything you've always believed about yourself, about your capabilities and your worthiness all of a sudden comes crashing down. It can lead to some unhappiness. And I'll just say that I'm very grateful that I was at the same time learning coaching and learning how to manage my mind, because I don't think my ego would have survived that had I not been in a loving relationship with my wonderful husband, had my children to give me joy, and had an amazing support network in the coaching school that I was studying in.
So three years after I started my first business, I still hadn't made any money. And I stopped and I went back to my day job. I've told this story many times. But I had to get to that absolute moment of redefining who I am, and discovering that my worth was not connected to my net worth. And discovering that my value did not come from how much I'm winning at life, or at business, or at anything else. And that failing at getting a business off the ground said absolutely nothing about me as a human.
So I had a bit of a moment around 2016. Was it 2015? I started my business in 2014. But around 2015, my dad got diagnosed with cancer. And he was back in South Africa. And I was in Perth, living in Perth at the time. And there was a period of about between about May, 2015 and October, 2015 when he passed away, those three months of trying to support him from Australia while he's in South Africa in and out of hospital. I think the emotional burden of having a failing business and having to care for him from over here made me take stock. And it made me really stop and decide what is really important in life.
And I realized that the way that I had been going about this was not serving me, and that I would rather show up every day working, doing something that I love, serving people who I have respect for and who is doing good work in the world. And I will figure out how to make money from that. And that's when I started Shine and Succeed, which was really just a video blog to show up and serve people. Show up and serve women at that stage. And serve them from a life coaching perspective, but also as I was learning online marketing, I started sharing that. And that's when things really started to change for me. So when I stopped working for money and I started doing what I loved with the pure purpose to serve, things started changing.
But here's the thing that didn't change. I still didn't make any money. Even after I started doing something I was passionate about and something I wanted to give people and serve people with, I still didn't make any money. And here's why. Because I didn't have the skill to make money. I didn't know how to sell, and market, and make an offer to my audience that they want to buy. So I kind of thought that once I come from a place of service, now the money's going to come, and it didn't. Because I didn't have the skill of marketing and selling something that people want.
So I had to learn how to create offers for something that there was a need for. And step number one to get there was to stop chasing money. And then once I learned how to serve from a place of joy and how to build funnels and sell service that people actually want to pay for, that was when things started really changing for me.
So the very first thing that really shifted the needle for me was this mindset shift from needing to make money, wanting to make money, desiring to make money, and then hustling, chasing, grinding, forcing to get there to this place of allowing. And in this place of allowing and in this place of serving, I then gave myself the freedom to learn these skills. And part of that freedom, part of the freedom to learn the skills did involve going back to my job. And as much as I hated going back to my job, it gave me financial freedom because I was able to pay my debt. I was able to support my family. I was able to purchase online courses that taught me marketing and sales. So if you are finding yourself in a place where you're at a crossroads, and you know that part of that crossroads is letting go of a forcing, letting go of an ego place, letting go of a competitive place where your success of starting your business is intertwined with your identity, then I want to really invite you to let go of that and start allowing for yourself to discover who it is that you want to serve and how you want to serve them, and commit to start learning marketing and sales. Because that's how we sell services and build businesses. So number one was letting go of this need for sales.
The second big shift or big decision that I made in my business that I'm really happy about that I've already touched on a little bit was the decision to go back to my job. I had a lot of shame. I carried a lot of shame around the decision to go back to my job. And I felt like I was a failure. I had never publicly failed at something so spectacularly. And I thought that it was incredibly public because I was building this business on social media. I was hustling on social media so hard. So I felt like all of the kids whose parents, kids who went to school with my kids, they were all watching. I don't know why their opinion mattered to me so much at the time.
But I remember inviting a friend over who had been a friend of mine when I had my corporate job. And she's been a friend of mine after I quit my job and started the business. And she was still a friend to the day. And she has a very, very successful corporate job. And I just remember telling her that I'm going back to my job. And the absolute shame that I felt in admitting that I had failed was crippling. And she was the one who said to me, she said, "Well, don't look at it as failure. Just look at it as the next phase." And I couldn't believe this coming from someone who was in a corporate job and who was in my eyes so successful.
So I had to learn that failure is not a zero-sum game. You never fully fail, and you also never fully succeed. And this is a lesson that I'm taking with me that seeing now so much in my own business, and in my students' businesses, and in our clients' businesses as well. Is when we start out, we have this idea that there's a winning line. And once you get to the winning line, then everything magically lines up and everything magically works out. And then you get there, and then you still feel like a failure because you can see all these thousands of things that you don't yet have in your business. And you forget to look at the thousands of things that you have built up, that you have succeeded at, and that you have learned.
So I want you to know that failure is never a zero-sum game. As long as you're learning from that failure. If you think failure is a dead end, then you are not going to learn from that experience, and you're not going to grow from it. But also know the flip side of the coin is true. Success is not a zero-sum game. You don't succeed and look at your success and go, "Fantastic. This is perfectly polished, and there is nothing else that can be better." You will always, always look at what you've created and go, "I think I can do better."
So now what I do in my business is I really focus on celebrating the wins with appreciation. You know the old saying what you appreciate appreciates? Really is true because you focus your energy and you focus your brain on the things that are already working. And once your brain is focused on that, it starts searching for more evidence of that. So in that way, you start creating even more, and more, and more of the things that you appreciate. So it's critically important for me to stop almost every single day and appreciate. Appreciate that email from that client, appreciate that student that got the win. Appreciate the client who made just a little bit of money. Appreciate the client who made a lot of money. Appreciate my team. Appreciate all the tools that we have. I mean, who's not grateful for Slack? Can we all appreciate Slack? There are so many things in our businesses that we can appreciate that are small things, but that are things that when we do shift our perspective into that appreciation, we understand that every single day, the objective is joy. The objective is to create joy in our day and to spread that joy into other people's lives. Then everything else becomes easier. So I want to challenge you to find the joy in the journey of building your business, and look at the appreciation. And remember that neither failure nor success is a zero sum game.
So when I think back about the day that my friend came over for coffee and I told her that I'm going back to my day job, if I had a do over on that day, I would have first of all gone wow, here's my friend. She's having coffee. I'm going to have a joyful, amazing time connecting with this lovely human. And I'm going to share vulnerably with her my feelings about the lack of success that I thought I would have at this point and what I've learned. And the decision that I've made to go back to my job, and the joy that I find in that. And the challenge that I find in that. And I know that my friend would have been just as supportive as she was. So that's the second thing that I've learned. It is this fact that failure is not a zero-sum game, but neither is success.
Then we move on to the category of relationships. And what I've learned from my relationships or what I've learned in relationships in business, I knew early on that ... well, let me put it this way. I felt that I was at a disadvantage for being in Australia. All of my mentors were in America. All of my friends that I was learning with inside Facebook groups were in America. I felt incredibly isolated living in Perth, which is by the way the most isolated city in the world. And I knew absolutely no one who was doing what I did. Plus, I'm a crazy introvert. So I was tired, exhausted from networking from when I had the coaching business.
So as I started this online business journey, I knew that my strength is building deeper relationships with fewer people, rather than building shallow relationships with many, many people. So I purposefully set out to try to create as deeper connections as I possibly can with my mentors. And that started back in 2015. After I packed up the coaching business and started Shine and Succeed, I enrolled in Amy Porterfield's Webinars that Convert. And soon after that, I enrolled in one of Rick Mulready's training to learn Facebook ads.
And Facebook ads really came very naturally to me from the start. Rick is a great teacher. So I was able to understand what he was teaching very well. And I realized that I knew that Rick and Amy were good friends, and I realized that the overlapping of these two communities is going to serve me well. And I love both of them as mentors. And I want to hang out with both of them, and I want to get to know both of them. And I want to be on their radar. I was determined to be a case study, determined to be a success story.
And I actually remember the day when I signed up for Rick's core. And I said, I posted in the Facebook group, I said, "I am going to be a testimonial for this course." Kind of like watch the spice. "I am going to be a testimonial for this course." And there was the usual banter around that, which was great. And soon after that, after I'd worked through the course, and learned to do ads, and figured out how to run my own ads, and launched my own first online course, the one that I ran $400 worth of ads for and made $2,000. I wrote in the Facebook group, a testimonial for Rick.
And I remember writing something along the lines of, "I'm so grateful for this course. Because this course nurse is teaching me how to show my children that mommy can start a business from something that's just in my head." It was something along the lines of that. The testimonial had nothing to do with Facebook gods. It had to do with what learning to run Facebook ads allows me to show my children and show myself really. And the next thing I knew, I got an email from Justin who was Rick's assistant at the time. And Justin messaged me and said can they please take a screenshot of what I've said and use it on their sales pages? And I was like, yes, yes. I set out to be a testimonial for them, and I have been.
And from then on, I showed up in Rick's community and served his students. As he launched the course, every time when new people came in, I helped out. I showed up, and showed up, and showed up. And got to know Rick. And when Rick did live Q&A's, I showed up. I asked questions. I was there because it mattered to me to build relationship. And sometimes, it meant showing up in the middle of the night. And that was great.
Then at the end of 2017, so this is now two years later. I'm still showing up in that group. I'm still building relationships here. Two years later when I did book my ticket to come to San Diego to go to Amy Porterfield's live event, her B-School event, Amy still didn't know me. She still didn't have a clue who I was. And I had done the same thing in her community, but her community is way, way, way bigger.
I messaged Justin, and my message was something along the lines of, "Hi Justin. I am flying to San Diego from Perth for the first time to be in the room with all my amazing mentors. What do you think the chances are of having a coffee with Rick?" and Justin kind of think me this stock standard response I'm sure was kind of like, "Rick doesn't have coffees with his students." Which didn't surprise me. I was expecting it. But I thought I'm just going to be a bit brave, be a bit courageous, be a bit audacious, and put the invitation out there and see what happens. And I'm so glad that I did because a few days later, I did get an email back from Justin and he said this one morning before the conference starts Rick has a couple of hours. And if I want to meet him at this coffee shop, we can have a coffee. And I was like, "Yes."
And you know what? I know Rick well enough now to know that if I had not shown up in his community and served his students the way that I did, then he wouldn't have shown up and served me the way that he did that day. And that day when I met him, he invited me to become a coach, an official coach inside of his group coaching program, which changed my life. And he told me that he's going to send Amy a message and tell her to look out for me at the event. And again, I kind of thought okay, sure. I'm sure Amy get loads of messages to look out for someone.
But that night when we had the pre-dinner pre-event cocktails, VIP thing, I paid for the VIP ticket. Because if I was going to be there, I'm going to be there all the way. So I went to the VIP drinks, and I met Amy, and I introduced myself. And as soon as I said my name, she was like, "Oh, you're the person Rick was talking about." And I'm like, "Yes, I'm the person Rick was talking about." And Amy in her amazing generosity said, "Who are you looking for as clients? What are the criteria? What's the criteria for a client for you? I'll keep a lookout and send them your way." And my friend [inaudible 00:25:49] was with me, and I bawled my eyes out. And I'm sure she still laughs about it when she thinks about it. But that night, I was just like, "I'm not going to cry. I'm not going to cry." And I just bawled my eyes out.
But this was life-changing stuff. It was absolutely life-changing stuff. And from that point on, I started really amping up how I showed up for Amy in her communities as well. And I became the coach inside of Rick's group coaching program. And you know what I had to do to be the coach inside Rick's group coaching community? I did the trip between San Diego and Perth, which I'll tell you is a 30 hour round trip flights. It's three different flights that I have to get. And it takes me 30 hours there and back. 30 hours there, and 30 hours back. In 2018, I did that six times. So that's average every six weeks, six to eight weeks. It required a lot of additional childcare. It was very inconvenient for my husband. It was very inconvenient for my children. Jet lag is nasty, I tell you.
But I did that. And then every other week when we had the group coaching call, it also happened to be at 2:30 in the morning for me. So every other week, I woke up at 2:30 in the morning to show up and be the coach inside of Rick's group coaching course. And it was the best experience ever for me to show up at that level for a mentor, and to see how he was coaching his students, and to see how he was training people, and to see how he was applying the principles that I had learned in Facebook ads to actual businesses. And then to have this safe space where I got to practice coaching other people, where people weren't paying me, they were paying Rick. So I was kind of like, "The pressure's off. I'm just going to share what I think is right. And hopefully it's good enough." And it was. And it was one of those moments where you go, "Holy cow, I know some things. I can help people."
So I will be forever, forever, forever grateful for that to Rick and to Amy as well. Amy has consistently just absolutely been an incredible supporter of me and of my business. And I truly hope that what I've given back to her has been even a fraction of what she's given me. But what I want to say is if you are an introvert like me, or if you know that you are better at going deep than going wide, then know that a long-term approach to going deep with your mentors is always a good idea. Now it might not always pay off in the way you want. I can tell you stories about other mentors that I did the same thing with, and it didn't go the same way that my story with Rick and Amy went.
And not to approach it from the perspective of wanting something. But just find the people that are your people, but that are 100 steps ahead of you. Give them testimonials, buy their products. I have bought everything both Rick and Amy sells. Buy their products, show up for their students. When you've learned, give back to their community. And now that I have a course and a community that I am the leader of, there is nothing that makes me feel so grateful than when I see one of my more senior students show up for the newbies and share something that I've probably said 700 times. That when they say that thing. And I hear my myself coming out of their mouths and I just go I'm so incredibly grateful for the student who is showing up for my other students.
So find a mentor and build deep, long lasting connections with that person. Have long-term vision and serve in their community. I've been in Rick and Amy's communities now since 2015. So that's going on six years. And both of these relationships have been just been an absolute blessing to me. That's number three.
Number four I also touched on a little bit in number three. And that is do what you got to do to get in the room. Do what you got to do to get in the room. I made a deal with my husband that I'll go back to my day job, as long as I get to keep $1,000 of my salary for the business. And he was like, "Yes please, just go back to the job so we can pay all this debt that I've racked up." So I went back to my job and I used $1,000 a month. And the first month that I was back in my job was the B-School launch. And I signed up immediately for Amy's B-School experience. And one of the reasons I signed up for Amy's B-School experience was aside from the fact that it was Amy is because she had this live event. And speakers at the event were her, and Rick, and Devin Duncan, who used to be Amy's business partner. And he is married to Melanie Duncan. And I was for a very long time in Melanie Duncan's membership. So it was kind of like I got to get in that room. I want to get in that room, because those people are going to be in that room. And up to that point, they were only these enigmas that lived inside of my computer.
So I knew that I needed to get in that room. And what I was pleasantly surprised by when I did get there was how incredible it was not just to be in a room with these mentors, but also to be in a room with other people, hundreds of other people who were doing what I was doing, who were feeling what I was feeling, who were struggling with the same things I was struggling with. Who all of a sudden I was like, "I'm not alone." It took for us all to get out from behind our computers, get on airplanes, and go to a hotel in San Diego to realize that I was not alone. And I also discovered that in a room like that, you find a lot of clients. I never ever went there with the intention to sign up a bunch of clients and come home and quit my job. I don't even think that crossed my mind at the time. I kind of thought I'm still taking baby steps towards getting back to running my business full-time. But getting in the room, the energy of being face-to-face, shoulder-to-shoulder with peers and mentors, it is invaluable.
And the funny thing is I almost didn't go to that event because it fell in the first week of December. And for all of us who live in the Southern hemisphere, the first week of December is usually the last week of our school year. Because our schools close early in December for summer holidays. And then it would open again usually in beginning of February. So that week that I had to go to San Diego was the final week of the school year. And I had to book that ticket knowing that I'm going to miss my daughter's piano recital. I did. I missed it. Knowing that they're going to have loads and loads of dance recitals and dress rehearsals for their concerts that my husband's going to have to just try to make do. He's just going to have to help out. And he did do the girl's hair and makeup for one of those dress rehearsals, bless him. And when I got off that 30 hour flight back the day that I came back, I literally got off the plane, came home, went to school, picked up my kids, and took them to a seven hour dress rehearsal of the show. And I napped in the back of the dressing rooms there.
But the point is I did what I had to do. I just did what I had to do to get in the room. So that has been a decision that I made in my business that I carry with me as I go through ... as my business grows, I am always asking myself what room can I get into? And sometimes nowadays, well now with COVID, I haven't been able to travel. But before COVID happened, I did cut back on some of the traveling. I wasn't traveling quite as much anymore. But I still kept looking for the room that I need to get in to take it to the next level. And that rooms may have changed a little bit, but I'm still looking for the room. And once these borders open, man hold me back, I'm going to be in every room. So that's the fourth thing.
Now we move on to things that I've learned from building my team. That is a whole can of worms. So I want to share with you one of the decisions that helped me the most when I just started hiring my team is I knew that I did not have experience in hiring people, and that it is a skill that I was going to develop just like everything else. So when my business got to the point where I could hire someone, I decided to create a little bit of a job description. I kind of figured that I'm looking for form of a VA of some kind, but I didn't really know what that VA is going to be able to do for me, and what they're going to be able to help me with, and what they won't be able to help me with.
So what I did was I created the ad and used VA template ads for the wording of the ad. And then I put it out in all the entrepreneur groups, everywhere people were hanging out. And I knew that I wanted someone local to me. And I got a lot of applications. I don't remember how many. But I ended up narrowing it down to two candidates. And the one had an online business management business and came with referrals. Referrals that I trusted and was a little bit more expensive, but she had the referrals, she had the business, and she had the qualification. She looked good on paper, and I liked her personality.
And then there was another one who kind of straight out of the bat told me she doesn't have the qualifications. But the way that she filled out the application, I could see that she is confident and capable. She pays attention to details. And she had had a successful corporate job five years ago before she had her baby. And she's been at home for five years. And she was literally being honest with me saying, "Here's who I am. This is what I've done. I don't have the qualification, but I'm happy to learn." And her hourly rate was a lot less, of course.
So what I did in my moment of wisdom, I hired them both. And I was so happy I did, because the qualified person didn't stay with me for more than I think two months. I think we were a month in when I realized that she has too much on her plate. She wasn't paying as much attention as she should have. She wasn't delivering on things. And then I started hearing the excuses. The, "Well I've been up until midnight with another client. That's why I haven't done the thing that I said I was going to do," which is a giant red flag for me. The other person started from scratch, was willing to learn anything and everything, went out of her way, asked if she didn't know. And she ended up staying with me for about two years.
So the thing that I took away from that is that I had to remember that I had to learn the skill of hiring people, and working with people, and managing people. And that I need to give myself options and create some space for myself. So I'm very glad that I didn't create a full-time job right there and then, I kind of dipped my toes in the water. And I did the same thing when I started hiring ads managers. When I got to the point where I had 12 clients that I was managing all by myself, instead of hiring one ads manager who's going to help me, I hired three on a sort of a part-time contract basis. And I gave each of the three four clients to manage. So I knew if I can manage 12 clients, these rookies can manage four clients each.
And I'm so glad that I did that, because the first one stopped showing up after six weeks because her business took off. The second one wasn't quite honest with me about work that she said she'd done and then sent me invoices for it. And then the work wasn't done. And the third one is Caroline. And she is pretty much running the agency for me right now. She's running all of the client accounts. She's just a rockstar and she's amazing. And she's managing way more than 12 clients with Hannah, together with Hannah. So I am really, really happy. I've always made the decision to kind of when I'm not sure what the role looks like or what it looks like when you're good at the role, then I've kind of dipped my toe in the water, put it out there so that I can learn. So I've been able to clarify those roles and define those roles, and learn how to verbalize what I want and what I don't want without needing to hire someone full-time and then get rid of them, and then hire someone else full-time. So that has served me very well. That is good decision number five is to dip my toe in the water and allow for learning when I was hiring people.
The sixth thing that I have done well, the decisions that I've made in my business then have served me well was I hired people with strengths that I don't have. What I've come to learn about myself in this journey is that I am apparently a textbook entrepreneur, in that I thrive when I can solve problems. I crave new problems to solve. And once I've solved a problem, I don't want to come back to it. I've already solved it. I'm done. I'm moving on. I'm finding something new. I'm getting bored. Obviously that does not bode well when you are a service provider, when you're a sole trader or a sole freelancer, and you're doing the same things over, and over, and over for different clients. The client variety wasn't enough for me. Once I figured out what the best ways to create this report, I don't want to send this report every week. I just want to do it once and then not do it again.
So what I realized is there's two things that I'm not good at, or that I'm not the best at. And the one is project management and that consistency of repetitive tasks. So I knew I needed help on that front. And data and analytics and measuring the details. I can do that. I can do all of these things, but am I good at it? No. Do I like it? No. Do I want to do it day in and day out? No. I want to be the entrepreneur who gets to be creative and gets to solve new problems all the time.
So I hired people who have those strengths. And like I said, Caroline and Hannah on the team. Caroline is an epic project manager. She is highly organized, and can systemize, and work any system. And Hannah is just a spreadsheet wizard. She does beautiful things with data that makes me sometimes want to cry, it's so beautiful. So hiring people that have strengths that I do not have. And now I can bring my strengths to their strengths. And I feel like what we've been able to create in my business is such a beautiful thing. And when I read the testimonials from the clients and from the students, I know that we are really solving a problem that exists in the market because we've brought together all three of our strengths. And we can serve clients with all three of our strengths. So the sixth thing that I learned that really moved the needle was hiring people that have strengths that I do not have.
The seventh one was to focus on profit and not on revenue. And that is something that kind of came to me from Brooke Castillo and from the Profit First model. And I realize that whilst it is really lovely to increase revenue every month, I kept feeling like my business is growing, but I always feel like there's a noose around my neck. As my business grows, so does my bills. Bills, bills, bills. The business grows, but the bills grow. And I learned that there is a major difference between growth in revenue and having actual profit in your business.
So finally, I started focusing on creating more profit in my business. I realized that the agency model is probably not going to give me the level of profit that I needed. So I knew that I needed to introduce an online course as well, if I was going to get there. And I started looking at expenses in the agency that could be cut. I started increasing our prices. I started just looking at where I can make it all more efficient so that I can focus more on profit. And I'm very glad that I did, because I started saving. I knew that I wanted to save a buffer in the business for a rainy day. And I'm so glad that I did. Because when COVID hit, I was able to have a really frank discussion with my team and tell them that this is happening. "This is real. And if we were to lose all of our clients today, I can still guarantee salaries for all of you for the next two or three months. And I will keep it. I will keep everyone and see how we'll pivot and we'll work together as a team in those two or three months to do what we need to. If we lose half of our clients, I can keep you all for four to six months and we will figure it out. And if we don't lose any clients, then we are just going to cruise."
And when COVID hit, we did lose a few clients, and clients got a lot quieter. And that was okay. And I was able to say, "Hey guys. Okay, we are good." Every month, update them and say, "Great, last month was a good month. We are still good to go for another two months." We could literally map it out like that. And now thanks to A Lister and The Launch Lounge, and creating recurring revenue, I've been able to save much more in terms of profit and have a much bigger buffer. And then my aim is to get to a point where I can pay all of my bills for six months without a single drop of money coming in so that I know that I have a very, very healthy business. But I'm really grateful that I learned that lesson and that I was able to make that change before COVID happened.
So that was number seven. Number eight. Number eight and nine is about audience building. So number eight is the decision to start the podcast. I will tell you I procrastinated on starting the podcast for the better part of two years. I remember thinking I should start a podcast in January, 2018 when I quit my job. And I started freelancing as a Facebook ads manager, and I started the agency. I didn't start the podcast until the 10th of December, 2019. So almost two years later, I actually got my act together and started the podcast. And I will be honest. The thing that was stopping me from doing it was A, I knew that it was going to involve a lot of repetitive tasks. Because my strength is coming up with content and doing it once. I love recording the podcast. But once the podcast has left my body, I want nothing more to do with any of the ... I don't want to publish it. I don't want to create the WordPress page. I don't want to do this show notes. I don't want to do that stuff.
So I knew I needed to get help with that. And I knew that before I get help with this, I need to do I do it myself so that I can create the systems and the processes. So I committed to starting the podcast and then hiring someone to help me. And I started the podcast on the 10th of December. I had 12 episodes locked, and loaded, and ready to go. And as I created the process for those 12 episodes, I documented every single step. And by the end of it, I had a very well-documented standard operating procedure. And in January, I started recruiting and Ash joined my team in, I think she started working officially in March. And Ash was my marketing communications manager for a while. She has since moved on to something else, but she really contributed in such a great way to my business in just allowing me to publish this podcast and have it out there every single week for you guys, without me needing to be the person who does the show notes, and gets the page up, and sends the email, and do all the things that ... well I can do that. Do I want to do that? No. So I was able to launch the podcast, and I think it was in great part thanks to Ash and her contribution in my business.
We are now here at episode number 100. And I am very proud to say I have never, ever, ever skipped an episode. We've had an episode every single week for more than a year now. So that has been a really good decision I made.
Number nine. Number nine, we're getting there. Number nine is still to do with audiences. And it is that the decision I made to start building my email list. You would think that the fact that I had been hanging out with Amy Porterfield and Rick Mulready for so long, I would have learned the importance of building my email list. But no, no, no, no. Again, the entrepreneur in me was doing the easy thing, which was serving clients who were coming to me from word of mouth. But like I've told you, I did realize that I need to diversify my income. I realized that I need to focus on profit. I realized that I need to start building some kind of a system that is more predictable for growth than relying on word of mouth referrals from people for clients. So I started building my email list. And between July, 2016 and September, 2019, I did absolutely zero list building. My account grew completely stale. When I started running ads back up, I had high conversions and shocking results. My team and I all, we were kind of like what is happening in this ad account? Because we know how to run ads, and these results are terrible. My social media was absolutely dead. I had no audience. And it was insanely expensive to run ads.
But that is when I kind of looked at it and went, "Well hang on. This is how everyone else who starts from scratch must feel, because their accounts would be dead as well. Their social media would be dead as well." And that's when I came up with the great idea to use engagement ads to get myself out of that. And that had already worked for clients. So now it was working for me as well. And that really was the start of A Lister.
So having an audience that opens emails from me every single week and who listens to this podcast, that's you guys, has really been the key to the success that we've had with A Lister. So finally making online money is starting to feel effortless, and it has a certain flow to it. And that is thanks to having an email list. So I highly recommend you build your email list. If you don't know how, send me a DM. I'll tell you how. I will sell you a course on how to build your email list.
Okay. Number 10, number 10. This is the important lesson I learned. Number 10 is a business lesson. And that lesson is, I've touched on it. But it is to diversify my income. If COVID has taught me one thing, it is that nothing is untouchable. Nothing is sacred. Nothing is beyond, I'm going to say nothing is beyond ruin. Nothing is so strong, that it can stand on its own. We need to put our eggs in different baskets.
And I'm acutely aware of the fact that my eggs are all in the Facebook basket, which is a risk in my business. But at least now, my eggs are not all in the agency basket. Now I have students, and I have clients, and I have membership students. So diversifying where my money comes in from and how it comes in from so that I can have the small number of people who pay me the high dollar value. And then the high number of people who pay me the low dollar value is really helping me figure that out.
So niching down has helped me with that every time we've done that as well. When we niche down from being Facebook ads managers to being Facebook ads managers for coaches and online course creators, that made a difference. And then when we niched down to being Facebook ads managers for online course creators and membership owners, that has made a difference. And now, we are fiddling with niching down even more. And I'm not going to say anything about that because it's a work in progress. But my team will be niching down even more before the end of the year. So watch the spice.
So diversifying my income and specifying who we work with and what we do for them is now enabling me to create even more specific systems and processes that is going to make my business so much more scalable and that helps our clients to better understand their own customer value journey. Because we are only working with a very specific customer who has very specific things in place, and who wants a very specific thing. So we can create templates, and systems, and processes, and things that help those clients fill the gaps and scale their businesses without working harder. And that is going to be probably nailed down by the end of this year. And then in 2022, the business will change a little bit. And it's all good because we're all going deeper and deeper with what we want to do.
Well, there you have it. That is the 10 decisions that I made in my business over the last six years that have moved the needle the most. I trust that you enjoyed that. I trust that you got a lot out of it. I'm very excited. And I want to thank you for being here with me for 100 episodes. Send me a DM and tell me which episode of the 100 that you've heard has stood out for you the most. I'd love to hear that. Thank you very much for being here with me for 100 episodes. I love you dearly. I appreciate you listening every week. And I can't wait to create the next 100 for you. Have a lovely week. Bye.
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