I might be a little (a lot) late on the New Year self-reflection. But, here’s a couple of things I’m focusing on this year.
2019 was all about growth and hustle for me. I launched my coaching business at the beginning of the year, while running a fully booked wedding photography business. So, it was a huge juggling act running two demanding businesses.
I’ve re-structured my business model with wedding photography to make space for a team of photographers, so that I can focus more of my time on actually coaching my clients as well as business growth for both businesses.
Scheduling Self-care First
I find the standard talk about self-care as taking bubble baths and meditating kind of irritating. But, that’s not what I mean here.
I’ve made a spreadsheet (who doesn’t love a spreadsheet?!) of the way I would ideally use my time in a typical week.
And I have scheduled the essential things I need to do for myself in there first.
For me, that literally means I have scheduled lunch because I am the worst at skipping lunch and at 3pm having a pounding headache because I’m starving.
It also means time away from my computer, so, I can un-slouch my shoulders and focus my eyes on something that isn’t clearly slowly turning me blind. Luckily, with a mega energetic dog, there are regular breaks to run around with her and a big walk.
Oooh…! OK, so, last year I did a lot of networking. My coaching business was new, I was trying to work with anyone and everyone (you know, all the things I’d tell you not to do), and I wanted to just get out there and get paid.
Networking was, honestly, one of the best things I did last year. Not necessarily because it made me big money. Although I did get some clients from it.
But, because it sped up a lot of things – I got really good at talking about my business, it raised awareness of my business (and while that might not have been with my niche, it helped me feel legit – there’s a lot of value in thinking “this is a real business”).
And most importantly, it terrified me. I cannot over-state how scared I was to walk into my first networking event. It felt like walking into a classroom and knowing no one wants to sit with you. I hated it at first. And getting over that, learning to enjoy it, to not care if people liked me or not, to not place a whole load of expectations on any one event…that was invaluable, not just for my business, but for me. It was a bit like opening a whole load of childhood wounds and stitching them up a whole lot better.
That said, I am done with going to anything and everything just to get myself out there. I’ve given myself the best part of a year to understand what kind of events I do/don’t like, what to look for before booking, and to find events where like-minded people will be.
I run my own women’s networking event in St Albans and I absolutely love my attendees. I plan to continue these events and up-level them as time goes on. I’ll also be making the effort to attend more niche events, even if it means more travel.
I’m not mean, but, until 2018 I was running my business on the shortest of shoe-strings. Not because I didn’t have the money, but because I’m just a saver by nature. Like a cash magpie.
And I have got very good at organic marketing and converting that organic traffic into paying clients, so I didn’t need to spend money. Which I totally recommend getting good at.
Last year, I started spending money – on branding/design work, workshops, training and coaching (maybe the best thing I’ve done…ever). Because I realised I could run a good business without spending money, but, a great one required me getting spendy.
And this year will be more of the same – I’ll be continuing to pay my coach, I have a designer working on my coaching website/branding as we speak, and I’ve set aside a lot in my budget for Facebook and Instagram ads.
As someone who hasn’t spent any money on paid advertising in 5+ years, the big old number I’ve set aside for ads could feel alarming. In fact, it totally did. A lot of the work I did with my coach wasn’t on the practicalities of my ads, but, on the dread I felt about putting my money into something with no guaranteed return.
For me, spending money in my business is a huge mindset issue I’m working on. I’d rather spend 2 weeks struggling with free tools that aren’t fit for purpose, than put some money down and save that time.
Viewing it as investing, not spending has made a real difference. Even if I don’t make a load of money from my ads…it’s an investment in testing my ads/freebies/funnel/copy and learning how to do things better.
And…I don’t mind that I can’t put my coach in a spreadsheet and put a ROI calculation next to my investment in her. Because, I actually haven’t invested in her. I’ve invested in me. And when you start investing in yourself, the way you fiercely protect your money changes.
My growing willingness to invest in my business means I have a lot less drama selling to my coaching clients.
When I started, I was thinking, “no one will want this,” and, “this is a lot of money,” “I’m not sure if I would buy this.” Because I hadn’t…when I started I had never had a coach. I had never invested the sum of money I charge (which, FYI, is not huge) into my business in one hit (with the exception of website/branding). So, it was hard for me to imagine being willing to do that.
But, now I don’t have that drama. I know that I would happily invest that amount in coaching, without question. It doesn’t feel like a big ask any more.
Not that I don’t appreciate that it is a lot of money for some of my clients, or that it my clients are putting a lot of trust in the process (and me). But, I know that it’s worth it. I no longer have resistance to investing in myself and my business. So, it’s a lot easier to talk to my clients as someone who would for sure buy from me in their shoes. It feels like a no-brainer.
Niching the hell down
Do you know what I love? A mega specific niche!
My coaching started as “for female entrepreneurs.” I can legit help any business. No doubt. The basics of business planning, marketing, branding, systems, mindset…they’re all the same.
But, it is hard to market to everyone. And, I love wedding businesses, I love creatives. I feel really strongly about redressing the balance of working too much for not enough money. Demystifying what it looks like behind the scenes at a profitable, successful creative wedding business, so they can have one too. One that sustains them and their lifestyle, not stomps all over it.
So, this year I am really niching down. I’m focusing on helping creatives and wedding businesses to make money. And more specifically…I’m helping them to figure out what makes them special, so they can communicate that to the world in a way that has them fully booked with the kind of clients they actually want to work with.
I know that it feels scary to niche down. It feels like you’re turning people away. But, that is never the case. The day after I changed the wording on my website, I booked two wedding photographers on 6 month coaching programmes…it’s not a coincidence. They reached out because I was just for them, because I could talk directly to them about their specific problems, demonstrate specific results they wanted and could imagine in their own businesses.
A niche is always a good thing. I mean, unless your niche is so specific that there’s only one person in the world that would want it…then you better hope that person finds you and has enough money to pay you to live forever.
Nothing I’m told
I have really never been very good at doing what I’m told.
But, last year, I got caught up a bit in the noise. I’ve been running a business for a bloody long time. And I’ve seen new social media platforms come and go. New get rich quick schemes. I’ve heard, “this is where all your brides are…” “you have to do this to keep your business going,” “no one will book you if you don’t have…” many times. And I’ve always been head-strong and ignored it. I mean, I have pretty much never had an Instagram presence as a wedding photographer and I make bank.
But for all my experience and certainty, when I launched my coaching business, my confidence was shaky.
It’s a different industry…when I started my niche wasn’t weddings/creatives, so, my clients were broad and I didn’t really know them. I started doing a lot of pointless posting for the sake of it…because that was what I was supposed to be doing.
I fell into the trap that we all fall into at some point. Where we let what other people are doing, people who seem successful, dictate what we do…where we follow what other people tell us even though it doesn’t really feel right…because we’re not sure we know enough.
I’m not doing any marketing because I feel like I have to any more. I’m doing it because I’ve assessed my ideal client profile and am pretty sure they’re going to respond to what and where I’m posting.
I’ll be giving myself space to assess what makes sense for my business and my clients. And I’ll actually give whatever I do time to work before making a decision.
What will you be doing in 2020?
What are your big goals? What will you be doing more of? What will you be trying for the first time? What will you be letting go of?
If it’s investing in some business and marketing education, I’ve got you. Head over to my services page to learn more about what I do with my clients.