This podcast episode features my business sidekick, Stacey Harris, and we are discussing some big changes in this business. We chat a lot about decision-making and the work that we’ve done over the last few months. It’s a very exciting episode but filled with a lot of my personal feelings and challenges. If you are considering making some big business decisions, this might feel relatable and give you some questions to ask yourself. Thanks for listening!
The Big Announcement
I have closed the Bold Profit Academy. I have been keeping this a secret and haven’t really shared it with many people yet, so this is a big moment. As of July 31st, the program is officially closed, and we are no longer offering it. This program has been around since 2018, when it was called the BRAVE Society. We rebranded, made some changes in 2020, and called it The Bold Profit Academy.
Our business model is shifting in a counterintuitive way. We are moving away from something that is very scalable. Now that we’ve shared the big announcement let’s dive into some of our decision-making processes.
The Early Signs That Change Was Coming
Around the end of 2021, I spoke to one of my best friends in business, Michelle Warner, about what businesses were struggling the most. We both coach and consult people, so we are exposed to many different businesses, and we talked about how we could insulate ourselves from being downwind of the fallout that might happen.
I had to look at the target markets for other businesses to see how they might make an impact on my target markets. If businesses that I work with are struggling, that will impact my business. Many women were showing up to my program and were determined to work with women in small businesses as their target market. They had the perception that these women had the money and autonomy to invest. I realized that there would be a problem because, in reality, 88% of female businesses make less than $100,000 in revenue each year.
During the years when COVID had a huge impact on everything, there was a lot of money in the market. People had the time to give attention to learning and development. But now, inflation is coming in, and the stimulus money is gone. People don’t have the same kind of money to invest in these opportunities. The extra $50 a month you need for gas will likely come from canceling a membership, and that breaks down previous business models. It was becoming much harder to sell group programs.
At the end of 2022, we increased the program’s price. At the time, it was $500 per month, which was honestly too low for the results people were getting and the effort being put into the program. I was getting so frustrated hearing that people had spent $30,000 on a program that didn’t work, and then they didn’t have the funds when they came to me.
2023 Brought Some New Challenges
Up until 2022, The Bold Profit Academy wasn’t my main source of income. I focused on one-on-one services and very small group experiences. But I drank the Kool-Aid and realized I had a scalable group program. Over the years, I have put in time, investments, efforts, and all my skills to make it crisp.
Once we got to 2023, it became really hard to sell the program. The usual marketing tactics weren’t working like they had in the past. We were only converting around 1%, and it was time to make some decisions about how we marketed the program. I have great insights into other businesses’ tactics and what works. I didn’t want to be reliant on running ads for this program.
During the listening calls that I had during the first quarter, I started realizing some things about this target market. The Bold Profit Academy was designed to help women get revenue to $250,000 in their business so they could pay themselves six figures. Listening to the struggles they were facing started making me cynical. It reminded me of Tyler McCall, who had once told me he knew it was time to close his business when his cynicism was greater than his optimism.
I was feeling gaslit by the marketing I was seeing online and becoming incredibly negative. I was starting to feel like I was the only one having hard conversations and hearing the truth about what was actually happening in the market.
All of this made me curious, and I started to dig into numbers. This decision came with a lot of feelings, but there were also facts and numbers. Revenue was down. I looked at the triple bottom line: time freedom, energetic capacity, and profitability. The business was profitable but did not hit the other two goals. Looking at the whole picture was important, and I was mentally drained.
At the end of the day, it’s important to look at the numbers and recognize the feelings around a decision. The numbers might be great, but a change is still necessary when you’re drained and feeling burned out. I have a chronic illness, and it’s important for me to avoid stress. My health was starting to really suffer at the end of 2022 and into 2023, and I knew that I needed some support to work through these big decisions.
Reaching the Decision to Close the Program
Stacey and I take a retreat two times a year to do some planning and work on what’s coming up. To prepare for that, I did a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). It became clear that my target market was a threat right now. There were problems downriver. I had to step back and ask myself some of the questions that I asked my clients. I need income coming in, but I have a little more grace and space now than I did when I started the business.
I answered the question, “When was your business more profitable? When were you healthier?” My business and I were thriving when I was working on more small-scale groups and individuals. I was diagnosed with ADHD in 2020, and I’m still working through what that means for my business. It was clear that simplifying my work and focusing on things that helped me thrive was important.
A red flag was not wanting to pick up my journal anymore. It felt like I was thinking about content creation. I was so used to grabbing my journal first thing in the morning to process my thoughts, but it had changed. Once Q2 began, I could feel that I was resisting making a decision because I didn’t want to hurt people. But sales were hard, and people were dropping out of contracts. The only way to move forward was to close the program. It was hard because it meant releasing the team. I realized how willing I was to hurt myself to spare others. That doesn’t align with my values or what I work so hard to teach others.
Every August, I go on a sabbatical and take some time and space. We decided to end the program in July so that I could process and heal during that time. The first move was to announce the decision within the program and wrap up what we were doing.
Important Learnings From Making the Decision
Another thing that happened in 2023 was my return to some in-person networking. I was seeing sales and success in other ways. It had felt like I was in an echo chamber, and I wanted to get out and make new offline and online connections. Moving away from the space of 24-hour cycles and 30-second Instagram stories will take a little while to pay off, but it has already started to make a difference.
Traditional businesses are thriving and making money. It doesn’t have to all exist online. In today’s environment, getting real attention at smaller in-person events is easier than competing with all the online voices. Even with less social media activity, the podcast was still growing, and other marketing channels were still in operation. There is also an openness with in-person networking, where people want to share their contacts and connect you with others.
Being on camera and recording myself was draining. I showed up every Friday on camera and recorded myself in case anyone wanted to watch it later, but I was allowing others to turn their cameras off, and I really missed out on the face-to-face interactions. Being able to let that go was beneficial to me.
Another thing I realized quickly once we wrapped up was the mental space I was lacking. I no longer had to think about 30 businesses succeeding and could enjoy some space in my head. I’m hell-bent on doing my part to help people get an actual ROI, but I was never able to turn that off in my brain. The feeling of care about these people is not scalable. Many clients are willing to pay much more than the Bold Profit Academy for support, and that’s easier to sell for me than the scalable product was.
What’s Next and Advice for Listeners
If you need to make some big decisions, I’ll leave you with a few pieces of advice that worked for me. First of all, I got off social media (other than bookstagram.) I stopped listening to podcasts and reading business books. I’m not following social media at all. Second, I did a deep dive into the numbers. Thanks to Profit First, I already had all the tools and understand the numbers. I ran the numbers based on different decisions and options. Third, I reevaluated my values and my owner statement. The quickest way to screw up your business is to be out of integrity with what you believe in.
You are not going to think yourself to clarity; you have to take action to get clarity.
We will continue the conversation about this decision because there are likely many people listening who can relate. If you have any questions, leave them here, and we will answer them in a future episode.