This is a guest post from Laura West of Joyful Business. It's actually a celebratory post she shared on Facebook. I spotted it and knew it would make a great blog post. Thanks for letting me share Laura! (And please note – Laura will be speaking at Exposure & Profit 5 in Atlanta this August!)
I would love to share some of the learnings from my last 17 years of business adventures, so grab a cup of tea and read on.
I’m so proud to say I’ve been in business as a coach for 17 years!
Happy Anniversary to the Center for Joyful Business!
I made that leap in 2001 from my corporate Marketing VP position with all the travel, benefits and six figure income into my unknown passion – I knew I was passionate about the power of coaching but wasn’t sure how the business was really going to play out!
Over the last month, I’ve been reflecting back through the years to those pivotal moments and all the different learnings.
I thought I’d share some of those with you…
I will always remember sending my first email.
I was announcing my new coaching business to about 100 of my friends, family and former colleagues from my corporate job. This was before I had a shopping cart or list manager so I had them loaded into Outlook and was sending these emails by hand in batches while hoping they wouldn’t get blocked since I was sending to so many people. I distinctly remember staring at the SEND button on my email. I was so full of JOYFEAR – feeling both excited, nervous, scared, and on fire! I remember finally telling myself to stop thinking about it and just do it. And with that email I felt officially launched.
I can remember being signed up for my coach training certification program.
(Hello – fellow CTI community!) I had to have 5 clients to “practice” on. I was quaking in my heels wondering where I was going to get clients before my February 1st start date. Fortunately, my passion and courage prevailed and I enrolled clients. My very first client was a VP of Marketing colleague I used to work with from a different company. It was such an incredible thought that someone else believed in my message and in me enough to say YES to working with me.
My very first teleclass had only 3 people signed up.
I remember panicking, thinking it wasn’t enough to have an interactive class. So I cancelled the class. I called all 3 people and ended up enrolling 2 of them in private coaching! You will always have to get creative and find ways of making lemonade!
As the years went by I totally embraced online marketing and training.
I loved it! I had 2 little kids so it was perfect for me as it gave me the flexibility and freedom to work at home. I went from 3 people on a teleclass to… I think 1200 was my highest enrollment. So much has changed since then, obviously. I will say when you experience success… no one can take that experience away from you. You get that anything really is possible. You get the power of having a vision and calling people into it who also share that vision. You see how you can create community. Even if life gives you curve balls, the economy changes, effective marketing strategies change…you still have the experience of success in your cells. It’s powerful and also very humbling.
I remember signing up for my very first business workshop that was in-person.
I was going to fly to LA for Ali Brown’s very first workshop. There were 30 of us there – back when she wore a cowboy hat all the time! 🙂 Our brands and businesses always keep evolving! I remember needing to be coached by my coach as to why I wanted to spend all this money to go to this workshop all the way in California. I finally realized I wanted to be in the company of other people who were willing to invest and commit to growing their business at this level. That first workshop also had in it… Fabienne Fredrickson, Baeth Davis, Melissa Galt… some powerful and successful entrepreneurial women who are still around.
I always knew I wanted to lead retreats.
But I’ll be damned if I would lead an event in a brown, boring, windowless hotel room! One of my high values is beautiful spaces. I saw this other woman who was promoting her ocean retreat online. I actually printed out her banner from her sales page and glued a picture of my face on top of hers and hung it over my desk. And since then I’ve led dozens of retreats by-the-sea and in cool creative places and spaces. The power of believing in your Vision Board!
For over 20 years I’ve always worked with a coach.
My first coach was a career coach who helped me create a flexible work situation in my corporate job. Then I hired a business coach. Throughout the years I’ve worked with a variety of coaches or been in coaching programs for different reasons – wanting to learn their specialty, be in community, marketing, uplevel my mindset and business, personal growth, business growth, spirituality… and I still believe in the power of having a coach as a way-shower, a mentor and as a champion. I know it has made a huge difference in my success, growth and resiliency.
I distinctly remember my first $10,000 client over a decade ago.
I had been working with a coach on creating my dream offer of what it would look like to work with my ideal client for an entire year. I outlined this ideal program including retreat days and put it away just believing it would happen ONE DAY. Then the day came. I was having lunch with a woman whose workshop I had just finished taking. I heard her speaking her vision. I knew without a doubt I could help her. I totally claimed her as a client right then and there! There was no hesitation. I knew I could help her achieve her dream of taking leadership of a company she worked with as a market leader. Within two months she was the COO of this company and helping to create innovative marketing programs. I so believe you have to work on yourself so you can allow your creative power, confidence and authentic style flow through you. You’ve got to clear the way.
You never know where a connection will go or grow.
Over the years I have so gotten the power of synchronicities and trusting the energy that wants to expand and take the action in front of you. A year later, that same first $10,000 client who became COO hired me to develop training programs for their market leaders around the country.
I’m also wise.
Very wise with lots of battle scars. Creating, growing and running your business isn’t for the faint of heart. Even heart-driven business owners who are creative, intuitive, and sensitive need to be business-smart, resilient, grounded and courageous. The economy changes. It always has and it always will. You have to be prepared. Marketing tactics come and go as far as what works now. Stay focused on marketing strategies and dance with tactics. Strategies are the foundation. Tactics are icing – they come and go and what works will change.
Can I just say… there is no such thing as “passive income.”
Seriously, you have to feed it for it to grow. Sorry to dash your dreams and… there are ways to leverage your income and create alternative revenue streams. I cringe whenever I hear that term. You definitely want to leverage but don’t think you’ll create it, they will come and that they will keep coming without any effort from you whatsoever. Now, there are ways of making it easy, simple and effective but I rarely find something is truly passive.
What happens in your life will totally impact your business. You can’t get around it. Your health. Someone else’s health. Buying a house. Selling a house. Little kids. Big kids. Divorce. Death. Peri-menopause. Cool new opportunities. That’s why systems and having a team or virtual assistant can help you when things get tough. I already mentioned a coach, but having a coach is truly invaluable during times of change and hardship. Another big truth… if there is something in your life that isn’t working and serving you… it will start calling you to fix it. Guaranteed. Learn to hold both: making time and space for what’s most important in your life and growing a business that produces a good income and creates a positive impact. It’s possible. It helps if you learn to dance with life!
I’m also celebrating my best year financially in 7 years.
I went through some major down cycles in the rollercoster of life a few years ago and I so love how my mojo is flowing now! More lessons in tenacity – for my values, my psyche, my healing, and owning my own unique creative brilliance.
Your business will evolve.
You grow, your market grows, your ideal client shifts, your passion and interests shift. All of that will cause your business to change. Your business has to keep up with you or else you’ll get bored or burnt out. I have several new projects that are coming out this year where I’m evolving into somewhat new territories. A new mastermind that will combine deep, rich coaching around owning your emotions and how that work will finally shift the thermostat of success you have that sets a limit on the success you’ll allow in. (I’ll let that statement sink in for a moment.) I’m also launching a new line of Creative Coaching Tools for coaches. I’m excited about both. As always… more to come.
You have to keep coming back to why do you want your own business? It’s not the easy path. But then neither is selling your soul in a job you hate.
You can’t compromise your values when it comes to running your business and marketing. AND you have to learn to market. You can’t grow a business and stay in business without some kind of marketing.
So make it authentic.
Make marketing about connecting and nurturing your clients. Pay attention. Listen all the time to what wants to happen in your business. Keep learning. Keep growing your sensitive, creative and intuitive parts of you. Keep growing your focused, resilient, courageous parts of you. Make time to find your voice. Share your passion and live your purpose. Oh, and remember systems are your friend. They will relieve stress and make everything easier!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my lessons and learnings and they are helpful to you on your journey!
With love… to another 17 years of what’s possible!
Laura West is President of the Center for Joyful Business and the creator of Creative Coaching Tools™. As a creative catalyst she has helped 1000s of entrepreneurs develop signature programs, products and marketing so they stand out as a leader in their market AND make great money while creating positive ripples in the world. She knows that when you are aligned with your joy and passion, you are more innovative, creative and confident and success is inevitable!
You can find out more about Laura and her resources at JoyfulBusiness.com