When you’re building your business, mistakes are inevitable. Everyone makes them, and almost everyone recovers from them. Some will disappear into thin air after your recovery, and other mistakes will grab hold of your subconscious and never let go until you work through why it happened in the first case.
Since I started this business back in 2006, it was nothing like it is today. The last 13 years have been an absolute roller coaster of wins, losses, ups, downs, and a whole lot of “wtf was I thinking” moments.
And since today is April Fool’s Day, and my name is April, I thought today would be a great day to share some of my most foolish moments. Because, why not? Only a few of them still actually cause pain, and I learned so much from all of them.
This one is kind of easy and obvious, but I feel like I’ve done this one on such a large scale so many times that I should get a crown because I am literally the queen of choosing the wrong clients. I like to think it’s because I’m so ridiculously optimistic that I think I can turn any hot mess into a business superhero – and sometimes I do! But mostly it just means we’re going to leave on bad terms. Here are some of my favorite stories:
I have years of stories, but these ones stand out, and either still kind of hurt or make me laugh.
This is a common problem, and I’m still working on it! I am not one of those people who instantly believe that everything they put out into the world is pure gold. I admire people who can create a course, a program, or a business and then whole-heartedly believe right away that it’s going to be a life-changing experience for everyone who buys it. Me? I tend to create in silence, let things sit around and marinate while I muster up the courage to tell people I created it. And the truth is, some of it’s amazing and life-changing, and some of it’s just okay.
6 years ago I had anywhere from 25 to 35 clients at a time. Clients that required a minimum of 10 hours per week of work, so I had to quickly build a team and scale my business to take care of them. I kept up this pace for just over 4 years, and it is exhausting. It was a mixture of right clients and wrong clients, and wouldn’t you know, all of the wrong clients were the ones eating up most of the time, energy, and resources of the team. I became disconnected and lost what clients loved most, which was having a connection to me as their partner.
On the other side of that coin, I should have started building my business to scale 1 to 2 years prior to that huge jump. I should have started bringing on team members slowly and systematically, and creating really good systems and processes for the influx of clients. But I didn’t, because, hindsight. It’s so, so, so hard to see the possibilities for your business before you experience something like that.
When burnout hits, sometimes tearing it all down is the only move that feels good, and that’s exactly what I did. I went on a firing spree and got rid of all the clients who were ever unnecessarily rude to my team. I let go of the ones who never, ever paid on time despite spending money freely on other things. Anyone who felt like a drain on my energy when I saw them in my inbox. One of those was a man who had been a client for 10 years and I had a lot of respect for him, but he was an energy vampire. In the end, I had to let go of most of my team because out of 30-something clients, I only wanted to keep 6.
It’s hard to admit to yourself that while you’re spending all of your time supporting clients, what they’re paying isn’t supporting you in return. It’s a tough pill to swallow when you have to raise your rates because you’re no longer working as a team member in someone else’s business, but they don’t want to pay you for the role you’re actually playing. When you go from supporting a business to running a business, but the business owner still thinks you’re only worth the price of supporting it, you’ve got a problem. I didn’t have the guts to stand up and say “hey, I’m the one actually running this ship and I need to be compensated for it”. Nope, not me. I cheered on everyone around me who was able to do that, but I allowed myself to keep playing small for years.
I doubled my income 2 weeks after hiring my first business coach. I tripled it after working with my second coach, and instead of growing broke after hiring a team, I continued to grow. My only regrets are waiting too long to get started, and not being coached when I was “too busy”. Doing it alone is hard, scary, and draining. Surround yourself with people who will give you honest feedback, push you past your fears, and who help you believe in yourself more than you would on your own. When you find those people, hold onto them, and give them the same in return.
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