Inside My Business: The Wonderful, Messy, Tiring Year in Review

Hey Coach Ponyling!

One of the things I like to do at the end of the year is review my business.

Actually, sometimes I don’t like to do it because I hate looking at data.

But I reward myself with cookies! So that’s fun ;).

Anyway, I think it’s important to have more honesty in coaching, so I’m going to take a dive into what worked, what didn’t, and also some personal stuff because being an entrepreneur is a full-life kind of thing, and my business involves every part of my life.

Please grab some coffee…or wine…and settle in and join me!

What worked this year! (I like exclamation points!)

I got married!

So, my husband would kill me if this wasn’t bright and high on the list, so I’m putting it right at the top.

Yes, after many years [REDACTED] of being the fun single friend, I finally – after two full years of being engaged because I hate wedding planning – said I do.

One of my biggest lessons from this year is that being an entrepreneur is easier with a supportive partner, and I’m so grateful to have one of the best.

Here’s a fun photo of the wedding, if you enjoy that kind of thing.

I did multiple BIG launches at the same time!

As you grow in your business, you’ll start to do program and product launches.

And they are both fun and hellish.

I’ve done too many count over the last 5.75 years, but rarely do I do two big LIVE launches all at once, because that is insane.

Seriously. It’s insane.

Launches require months of planning, tremendous energy, and the creation of a ton of content. They are not something to be taken lightly.

And yet…

This year, I sat down and said, YES. Let’s do it! Because I am nothing if not an insane optimist.

The reason? Well, it was two-fold:

1 – I wanted to stretch myself, which is fun for me and *not fun* for my husband. AND….

2 –  I was getting married in May, and I had a limited amount of time to market, sell and deliver my coaching programs to completion before heading off for matrimony.

So I gathered my team, we put our heads together, and we launched both the Career Happiness Revolution and the first official round of Build a REAL Business within days of each other.

It was a bananas time, and the good news is that I was so busy I didn’t have time to experience the usual ups and downs of any launch (it’s a roller coaster, on day 1 you feel amazing, day 2 you think you are the least likeable person on the planet, day 3 you are main-lining chocolate, day 4 you feel great again, and so forth), and because I was launching two big programs as an experiment, I was also able to keep my emotional distance from the outcome.

I’ve gotten to the place in my business where I’ve built up enough visibility, community, programs and support that I know I’ll be okay financially no matter what :). That gives me a certain amount of security that leads to not acting like a crazy person.

Yay!

The launches did well overall, one just missed my target and one over-performed the target, so I was happy with the experiment (though again, still insane).

My big lesson is that the more I stretch myself, the more my comfort zone grows and the easier it is to hold the space to help people. But BUT, it’s important to only stretch with wise planning and prep :).

I expanded my team!

I have been adding specialists to my team and experimenting with who I need to support me for most of 2017.

I have a rock solid developer who saves my websites, a great business manager who keeps the ship rolling, a good designer, and I also added more admin support and changed up the team by hiring some specialists in Facebook ads and Pinterest to help me reach more people and maximize my content, as well as another two designers each specializing in different things (print versus web). Part of the reason I do it is because I need the support, and part of the reason I do it is so that I have a STELLAR list of vendors to recommend to you. I share my vendor list and resource guide in our BARB program, if you are curious about it. 

It’s been a roller coaster finding the right people, and I’m not done yet, but I feel like I’ve got more support than ever. Truly that is a great feeling, because as my business grows I need to be focusing only on my zone of genius, or as I like to call it, happy place.

This includes coaching in my programs, building partnerships, writing blogs, and creating great content.

My lesson from this year is that the more work  I can do that is in my happy place, the stronger and more effective I am as a coach and mentor, and my business is in much better shape. This is *not* a new lesson, but I’ve been taking it more seriously this year.

I upgraded the Build a REAL Business Program, and it is fancy!

Any time I build a premium program, I do it in stages or iterations. Build a REAL Business was no different. It started as a beta program in the fall of 2016, with a small, hand-picked group of people to test whether I could translate my business skills to others, in a way that helped them build a profitable coaching business.

It consisted only of a private FB group, live sessions, and my slides in the beginning, as well as tons of workshops and feedback.

But I have big dreams.

In fact, my dream has been to create the gold-standard business program for coaches that has EVERYTHING you could possibly need ever to succeed at an affordable price, and I got one huge step closer when we rebuilt the program from the ground up this summer, created a gorgeous portal and the best teaching videos I could muster (including an inside look at my coaching journey), and I also created new, special “intermediate” content, because my goal is that Build a REAL Business grows with you – and you only need to invest in it once!

Here’s an image from inside our portal, fancy no?

I became less of a hermit!

I used to be a master networker, and when I first moved from DC to the Bay area I was everywhere.

But then I moved to Oakland, bought a house, settled down, and really embraced my college sweat pants and a hairstyle I like to call “drunk caveman.”

While I have a robust virtual community that I rely on, this year I knew I needed to have more in-person connections.

So, I booked myself to speak at a big conference, I attended a few others on a whim, I traveled on some trips to see friends and family (New York for a weekend, Utah for Thanksgiving, DC for the holiday season) and I forced myself to attend a few more happy hours with real, non-television friends.

My lesson is always: Real people are awesome.

Here I am at the conference, speaking and gettin’ pretty 🙂

I redesigned my office *mostly*!

When we moved to the house I finally got my own private office, though I like to tell my husband that our house is my office and therefore I can work anywhere (and do! I have a variety of easy chairs).

But when we first moved in my office became our dumping ground during all of our renovations, and even when it was cleared out I discovered that my gorgeous hand-painted desk was actually the least comfortable place to sit and work that I have ever experienced.

I tried to decorate using my “eye” (I have no eye) and the space only got more cluttered and annoying.

So, I burned it all down, figuratively. I sold all of the furniture, spent time on Pinterest, and then finally went to Pottery Barn (I wanted a sit-stand desk from there), and spoke to one of their designers.

She taught me some things, let me play in the store, and then was incredibly surprised when I said “I want it all, ring it up. Also I need to paint it please give me a color.”

Thousands of dollars later, I have a peaceful, beautiful office. Still almost nothing on the walls and my video set-up isn’t fully complete, but it’s 100% different and a much nicer place to work.

I’ve learned the hard way how much my environment matters to my business success (so so soooo much) so I’ve started to take it more and more seriously. And I’m so happy with the space. THANK YOU POTTERY BARN AND ALSO MY HANDY MAN.

I got more and more focused!

In the beginning of the year my informal business book club and I read Essentialism.

It was eye-opening for me, and inspired me to set the most clear and concrete goal for my business to date.

I decided my primary goal for the year was going to be 100% focused on Coach Pony and the Build a REAL Business program. This is new for me, because the Revolutionary Club is huge, and there is so much I could do there (and did do there this year). But that’s not what I wanted my primary goal to be, instead, I wanted to make 150 coaching business real via the BARB program. We actually came pretty close which is very exciting :).

I still did a lot of Revolutionary Club stuff, but I slowly started to shut down things that were a distraction. I closed our free career FB group, I am phasing out private career coaching with my team, and I’m putting more and more resources where my heart is, which is with this community here. It is hard to shut down things that have been with me for awhile, but my lesson has been the reminder that it’s also freeing to evolve.

What didn’t work (epic lessons!)

I got married and thought it would be a vacation

Oh man. I know, I know! I’m an idiot.

I know getting married isn’t a vacation, but I thought taking 5 weeks off would end up being relaxing, especially after the wedding.

No.

No.

Not only did we host a 4 day wedding (no regrets, it was great!), but we also re-painted the house the WEEK BEFORE, and the day I got back I was due for Jury duty *sigh.*

So while I was gone, I was not recharged. And I could feel the strain as soon as I got back. I wasn’t as energized as I wanted or needed to be, and my addiction to cake was now epic.

I didn’t take enough vacation

Because the wedding was such a big break from work, I didn’t schedule enough other real vacation during the year. Prior to the wedding I was delivering my programs. After I was rebuilding BARB, then working on end-of-year launches.

I would never plan my year this way again, and in fact I’ve got a big vacation planned in March, when I turn [REDACTED BECAUSE I’M OLD] and we travel to London and Paris to fulfill a long wish of mine to stay at the Savoy and pretend to be Agatha Christie.

I will also be planning at least two other vacations during the year (one to Utah is on the books already!), because this is why I’m an entrepreneur, so I can take vacations when I want and my boss always says yes :).

But also because it helps my bottom line.

The more energized I am, the better my business does. And sometimes I get so excited about my work and how I want to help, I lose sight of this important lesson: I am my company’s best and most important resource. I need to make sure I’m always 120%.

I did two big launches at once…twice!

The first time around it was a success, because it was early in the year, I was rested, things aligned, and all was well. We planned for months, we prepped, and things went fine.

The second time around was the fall, and we were working up to launch the new version of Build a REAL Business using a different approach, and on a whim I also decided to throw in a self-study Career Happiness Revolution Launch right before BARB opened up for enrollment.

Because I was experimenting with new things for the BARB launch, I told my team we’d just re-run some of the prior content for the CHR, but in the most streamlined, easy way possible. We got it set up about a month early to allow for trips and plans, and then forgot about it as it was all automated.

I was distracted for a few weeks beforehand in August, and when we opened enrollment for the CHR in late September we did okay, but not as well as last year.

I sat down and reviewed the launch and had a face-palm moment. We forgot a crucial part of the launch – the part where I actually educate on the content! I was so focused on my BARB experiments that I forgot to hold a teaching webinar for the CHR and therefore never really connected with my potential clients.

I never make mistakes like this, but I took on too much, and I was too tired from rebuilding the entire BARB program over the summer. Lesson learned!

This is me behind-the-scenes of our BARB Fall launch 🙂 I’m literally wearing pajama pants on the bottom because I am a human business mullet. Also, I really like this jacket apparently, as it’s in three of these photos!

I lost my focus

There was a point this fall where I had put my heart into a new program, I was ready to launch it, and then I killed it because I just didn’t have the energy to do it.

I had lost my focus, and for a period, my perspective.

I was so wrapped up in growing and building, I lost sight of my essentialism main goal: Make 150 new coaching businesses real.

I said yes to a couple of things I shouldn’t have, and it was a distraction.

I shouldn’t have done another twin launch in the fall, I shouldn’t have taken on so many big projects, and I shouldn’t have packed my fall with travel, as fun as all of those trips were (and they were!).

It was a hard few weeks that I just had to knuckle through and deal with my own gremlins about performance and potential and who I was as both a person and a coach, and it wasn’t easy.

I was so mad at myself for losing focus that I ended up screaming into a pillow one night. Me: Muffled scream. My husband: “Umm….everything okay in there?” Me: “ARghjmmuuuppp” My husband: “I’ll get the chocolate.”

All of this has made me want to be more and more simple in 2018, so over these holidays I’ll be putting more plans in motion to follow through :).

This is a photo from one of the conferences I attended with one of my favorite people and also one of my new mottos for 2018 :).

My big insight

I will be honest: I’m a competitive, driven person.

When I was a consultant I was bored all the time, and I was mostly driven by money and promotion, because the work never really got me excited. So I tried to see how far I could get (pretty far it turns out, I was the youngest Principal and Director in my Business Unit).

When I started out as a coach, my only business goal was to replace my fancy consulting income, because the money didn’t matter, the work was so amazing.

But as soon as I met other successful coaches and opened up my mind to what is possible, my dreams got bigger and my competitive side kicked in hard.

I wanted to be a 7 figure coach as fast as possible. (If they could do it, I could too!)

I wanted a certain type of business (a business with EVERYTHING! ALL OF THE PROGRAMS!).

I wanted a certain amount of people in my community (25-50,000 at least).

I hit all of my early goals, and they were never enough.

I kept driving myself to do more, to help more, to build more.

This year, when I lost perspective, I actually found a little peace.

I am in this with you.

I’m here for the long haul.

I’m fascinated by this work.

And it feels great. 

I’ve long debated about sharing my income and earnings with you, and I’ve stopped so far because money triggers so many people, and it can almost be a turn-off when you find out how much a successful coach makes….because it feels so far out of your reach.

So I won’t share my numbers now, but I do want to share my dream.

I  want to build the best, most honest, most effective business training for coaches… on the planet. (My competitive side will never rest).

So – that’s it.

That’s my year in review.

I wish you all of the best in 2018!

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