This week I’m giving you an inside look at how I burned down my business in 2020 and you might not have realized.
I’m going to cover why I made that decision, what I did, and what you can take away from my story.
In January 2020, my husband and I went for our quarterly trip to the spa. This spa is my version of Disney World. My favorite thing about it is the customer service – it’s impeccable.
When we drive up to the gate they say Welcome Back Mr. Newman, and by the time we pull up to the front door they know exactly who we are and where we need to go.
They have quiet rooms, lovely gentle music, plenty of space, fun amenities like an outside hot tub, and exquisite food.
During our last two trips there, they were under construction. They didn’t post big under construction signs all over the place. They didn’t apologize for any noise or inconvenience. They did their best to mitigate things with privacy fencing and frosting the windows that looked out on the back patio where they had some bobcats and construction equipment.
It was still peaceful. And by them not making a big deal about it, it wasn’t a big deal.
Based on how they have served me as a customer in the past, I’m sure if I took issue with anything they would have handled it with care.
In their growth and expansion, things looked messy (literally!) but they didn’t try to hide it or apologize for the mess.
So many business owners fear the mess that comes with growth to the point where it inhibits their ability to evolve. They’re worried about looking like they have it all figured out, know it all, and they make WILD assumptions about what their customers would think or do if they witnessed this expansion.
I get it because that hits into many of our core fears including fear of disappointing others. We fear that so greatly that we give our customers and clients so much power over us and how we operate our businesses.
And that’s where I found myself shortly after Covid started in April of 2020.
But to tell this story fully, I need to back up to January 2020 when I was already feeling fatigued by some clients and decided to let go of a lucrative revenue stream in my business.
So, when April 2020 rolled around and I was juggling so many competing priorities as a mom, wife, daughter of two beloved parents in their 70’s and business owner – I was spent. Also at play but I didn’t realize to what extent was my ADHD, for which I have since received a proper evaluation and diagnosis.
I remember having a panicked moment when I realized I wanted to burn it all down because nothing felt like it was working.
NOW, I want to talk about burning businesses down for a sec.
- Don’t burn your business down when you are in the middle of wanting to burn your business down. You really need to think critically and carefully about that.
- Don’t burn your business down without guidance and support because it’s messy and emotionally draining and you need someone to hold your hair back as you throw up.
- I’m not advocating burning down your business by sharing my story.
- I burned down my business in a way that was surgically precise so I didn’t lose revenue, and as a matter of fact we had some growth.
- It was not easy.
Was my business working?
On paper, yes. Revenue and leads were coming in and I was profitable.
But like David Rose from Schitts Creek might say “I”m feeling this, like, deep aching sense of dread.”
Which is some REALLY bad energy to be approaching sales and service with.
I knew I couldn’t continue running my business the way it was. It was feeling heavy and hard. But I also couldn’t justify completely abandoning a business that worked financially nor could I afford to be without income.
When I spent some time being self-reflective, asking myself good questions, and receiving some brutally honest feedback from a coach, I realized it wasn’t the business that needed to be burned down, it was me.
I had to burn me down.
I had to take a hard look at where I was overdelivering. Why I was overdelivering. Where people-pleasing was creating harm, and how my inability to separate my identity from the entity of the business was keeping me from stepping into my vision.
I knew where I wanted to go but my behaviors were very much in the way.
I wanted to step back from coaching. I will always use my coaching skills in everything I do, but when I assessed what I wanted I no longer wanted a 1:1 coaching business. Yes, I wanted a handful of 1:1 clients but they had to fit a very specific client avatar.
There are too many business owners who are hiring coaches because it’s fashionable but aren’t quite ready for coaching. OR it’s genuinely unnecessary because they need skill development which can be done in a group program at a fraction of the cost.
I wanted to take a stand for doing a better job meeting people where they were at and providing something I thought was missing from business learning spaces.
I wanted my work to be more potent. I’ve always taken a stand for my clients’ results being critical, and I believe that my client retention rate demonstrates that commitment. We had a 90% retention rate in our Mastermind this past year.
But I was getting frustrated.
I saw skill gaps that my clients had, AND I saw gaps in the business coaching industry where they aren’t delivering on critical competencies business owners need.
There are gaps in what happens in reality and what happens in selling someone the dream.
There are gaps in focusing too much on revenue and not enough on PROFIT.
There are gaps in team building where almost every online business I see either is understaffed or wildly overstaffed causing team bloat and a loss in profit.
There is an over-reliance on content and social media instead of actual sales skills.
There is a gap between true learning environments and people hiding out in mass groups thinking they are learning something but really just scrolling the group and never implementing anything.
And while my coaching and programs focused on these things, it wasn’t enough.
It required more structure, more intention, more of my time on the backend planning and thinking strategically about how I was going to fill the gaps I was seeing.
For the first time in the 6 years I’ve been running this business I leveraged ALL of my skillset and took a much bolder stance when it came to my strengths and weaknesses.
I spent my corporate career in charge of learning and development. I know how leaders learn best.
So, I did something radical.
I didn’t do any formal market research. I allowed my expertise, experience, and knowledge of the business owners I work with guide how I would overhaul both my programs.
By the end of the year, I was selling two completely different programs.
I trimmed the things that didn’t add value. I cut out anything that was draining my energy or was causing me to suffer. I got clear on the results I want people to get in my programs and I became unavailable for anything less than that.
That also meant that I had to get even more clear on who these programs were for and who they weren’t for.
I became unapologetic about what I’m here to do – less coaching and more teaching, advising, and strategic work.
Through that, I had to navigate my fear of disappointing people, being misunderstood, and the uncertainty.
Would everyone hate it and stop working with me?
Some people chose to leave, and I don’t really think it had anything to do with the changes I was making. But I totally understand if it was.
Because appeasing clients isn’t worth the cost of my mental health, fulfillment, or sense of purpose.
A happier, more fulfilled me means better outcomes for my students and Mastermind clients.
So I want to share our fully renovated and rebranded program. I’m really proud of the work my team did on bringing the vision into reality.
The program formally known as The BRAVE Society is now called The Bold Profit Academy.
This program focuses our students on the critical components of taking a business from start-up through growth so they can pay themselves six figures, keep more money in profit, know exactly what money they have to actually run the business, and achieve other goals like paying down debt, going on adventures, or building net worth.
And not only does it take them on that journey, but it’s also the place to be if you DON’T have goals of a million-dollar business. Heck, maybe you don’t even need or desire to be running a business of $500K.
Maybe you want to be highly profitable at $250K or $300K and do that on repeat, consistently year over year.
Maybe you don’t know what your ultimate revenue goal is. That ok.
The Bold Profit Academy is about learning the necessary, often fundamental skills to explore what it is you want WHILE earning a great living without having the external pressures of social media noise telling you you have to be someone you don’t want to be.
The Bold Profit Academy is about putting an end to the poverty cycle that small business owners often find themselves in because they are working way too hard for too little money.
The Bold Profit Academy is where business owners come to pay themselves more, profit wisely, pay down debt, and learn to run a simple business that is a gift.
By leveraging my experience in instructional design and adult learning theory, I’ve been able to create an organized learning environment. It provides quality training material that aligns with the competencies a business owner needs, clear learning objectives, and transparency around what you actually need to do to obtain those competencies.
The program has a clear curriculum that’s based on skill gaps I see in business owners.
Its primary focus is on developing the sales skills needed to increase revenue, understanding Profit First so you have a system for managing your cash flow, and learning how to run an efficient business so you can keep more of your money.
Perhaps most important is our work around building in accountability and habit development that keeps you on track to meet your goals.
One thing that I have found profoundly draining in my business is people who join programs and then don’t take action. Whether it be because they bought out of FOMO, they have overextended themselves in other programs, or they have fear around failure.
We have built this program in a way where the willing can come and be supported. We have provided training around how to plan your learning, working with fear, setting appropriate goals, and so on.
In addition, The Bold Profit Academy is full of calculators, worksheets, and other resources for you to use inside your business. I’m giving you all the resources I’ve created for my business to use inside your business. All you have to do is season to taste.
Implementation cycles, office hours so you can get your individual questions answered and tailored for your business.
Accountability is built in every step of the way so if you have a strong desire for business growth, and you are willing to do the work, the support is there for you.
As you can tell, I’m so excited to be able to bring The Bold Profit Academy to small business owners. Which is 100% the energy that magnetizes sales and service.
So, some last insights from a year of burning things down:
- It took me almost a full year to make these changes.
- Most of my time was spent in the mud and the lack of clarity sucked.
- Even though I lacked clarity, I still took action because action brings clarity. You will never think your way to clarity.
- It’s ok to grow and be messy and not hide or shrink from that.
- Get support. It’s so hard to ask for help and admit you don’t have all the answers but during this past year, I have asked for more help from coaches and mentors than ever before.
- It wasn’t the actual business that needed to be burned down, I needed to do an internal inventory and be honest with how I was feeling including where I was struggling and what felt hard.
- Your joy and happiness MATTERS the most.
- Your mental health is everything and your best-fit clients will understand that.
It’s been a privilege to share this episode with you. Please I know I believe in you and the power of small business ownership. Take good care.