7 Stages of How My Business Has Evolved Over The Years

behind the scenes Mar 05, 2024

This episode kicks off a series that will give a fun behind-the-scenes into seven ways my business has evolved over the years and what's coming next.

We’re currently in a mini-series on the podcast where I’m answering questions from members of our Summit Host Hangout Facebook group…it's been so fun! Last week we talked about When Business and Summit Strategies Make Someone Question Your Ethics.

This episode answers some questions about how my business has evolved over the years and also kicks off a new little series where I'll be giving you a fun behind-the-scenes look into my business over the next couple of episodes. 

Today’s question is from Laurie, one of my original Summit in a Box students who has turned into a dear friend.

Laurie’s question: How has your business and work changed over the years? Can you identify stages? What stage are you in now? What’s next?

This is such a fun question because it’s not something I pause to think about very often…really, only when I’m asked. And it is so wild to look back and see how far I’ve come, where God has led me and showed up when I didn’t even realize it, and it’s so powerful.

So, let’s take a walk down memory lane! I’m going to keep this episode more focused on offers, but I’ll touch on revenue and lessons learned. Then in the next episode, I’m going to break down the ways my team has grown and evolved over the years because that has also been really cool to think back on.

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Where It All Began

Summit in a Box was my 5th attempt at a business. I remember when I was learning about running an online business and I read it takes 5-7 times for your business idea to stick and I thought, "That won't be me!" and here we are on #5.

These are the business ideas I've pursued over the years: 

  1. A craft blog that I thought I was going to make a ton of ad money with
  2. An Etsy shop where I sold random crafts and crochet items
  3. A blog about being a woman in the tech field that I thought I was going to mentor and sell courses through
  4. A WordPress development business where I sold some digital products
  5. And then finally I landed on Summit in a Box!

Laurie asked me to break this down into stages, so I'm going to do my best to break them down here. 

Stage 1: Floundering

I'd say that Stage 1 of my business journey was floundering. It involved the craft blog, the Etsy shop, and the women in tech businesses. I had no clue what I was doing, no idea what went into the online business world, or what would equal success. 

I don’t regret those at all! It’s the start of what got me here. 

All of them were me trying things that didn't work, which led me to the things that did work. 

I learned so much about websites, marketing, and offers. I learned that it's not as easy as it looks on the outside.

For the craft blog, I wrote a handful of blog posts, did a lot of commenting on other peoples’ blogs in an attempt to get traffic, and gave up on it pretty darn quickly because I saw how a lot of people were selling through Etsy and using Instagram to do it, so I moved over to that.

For the Etsy shop, I crocheted stuff and got some decent sales! I made some good connections and had a little traction, and I really don’t remember why I stopped. It was much more of a learning experience than a money-making business. My stuff was priced way too low for how long it took me. 

Then, for the women in tech blog, I moved over to Twitter because, at the time, that’s where all the tech people were. This was when I really started wanting to get out of my job and was looking for a way to do that. I had joined Mariah Coz’s Your First 1K program and this was the idea I came up with to build an audience and sell a digital product to. I had a very very small following - like 20-some people on my email list. Luckily I presold my course before creating it because I got 0 sales! But I just didn’t know anything about marketing and honestly didn’t have any business helping women be happier or more empowered in the tech field, because I certainly wasn’t. 

But through starting that blog, finding Mariah, and then finding the circle of primarily females selling courses on the internet, I came across people who I felt like I fit in with offering website design services…and that’s where my Floundering stage stopped. 

Stage 2: On To Something

In this next stage, I was definitely still floundering, but I started finding some success with it. 

I got into the world of design and development because I was doing software and web development in my day job. I started a website offering design services and quickly shifted to development projects. Back in those days, you'd post on Twitter 10x per day, 80% other content and 20% your content, and through Twitter, I'd found my little circle of others like me trying to launch a course and we started a mastermind. 

This is where my first clients came from! They saw opportunities and passed them off to me. 

My first project was custom development on someone's homepage. I had no idea what I was doing! My big break was a WordPress Theme developer who paid me $150 per theme and had me make 6 of them. That makes me so sad now!

That's when I realized I wanted to make development my business and set a goal of profiting $1200 per month. That's not how much my day job made, but that's how much my husband and I calculated needed to be my minimum for us to be comfortable with me leaving my job.

Within 6 months I was doing that! 

I stumbled my way into niching down to website development for designers. I charged a little more, but not as much as I should have, and I learned a lot about marketing and making connections. 

That led me to stage 3.

Stage 3: Successful Service-Based Business

At this stage, I had a successful service-based business, and I was doing custom development for $2000-$2500/project. I had a few retainer clients who gave me a few hundred dollars per month to keep me around and had a few maintenance packages to maintain their websites for them.  

But eventually, the projects, timelines, and work that went into it are what made me want to start getting away from offering these services. 

One hard part was doing 40-50 hours of work and getting a few thousand dollars. The hardest parts were the people though. I'm not good at taking constructive feedback! Managing revisions was a difficult process for me. 

What was I doing to get more clients at this stage?

  • I was marketing through word of mouth and Instagram.
  • I was running a Facebook group and hosting challenges.
  • I made a well-known podcast that made its way up to 100 episodes.
  • I tried YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest to keep myself booked.

All of that brought me to stage 4, which is summits versus development.

Stage 4: Summits Versus Development

After a couple of years of running that business and wondering where my next client was coming from, I realized a summit was my answer. I wanted the connections I saw online. I wanted more than the 1-2 opt-ins per day that I was getting. My revenue was stuck and I needed something that would bring me some more. 

  • My goal with my first summit was $2-3000 and 500 new email subscribers. 
  • I actually brought in $16,000 and gained 1500 subscribers.

My plan was then to host a summit every 6 months. I royally messed up my second summit, but in the meantime, everyone wanted to know how I did that first summit.  

It was well-run and well-organized, but I had some serious imposter syndrome about sharing my summit process! Who am I to teach anybody when I've only ever done this once?

Eventually, I caved to the idea and made my first summit-hosting product. It was basically my summit Asana template and I sold it for $200. That moved to a membership, and then eventually to the full Summit in a Box program. You can read all about The Journey of Summit In A Box, but I was balancing that with my full-time development work, hosting summits, and building a new business. 

Overall, I was terrified that switching to teaching about summits wasn't going to work long-term, and I needed the revenue of my development clients. But I loved teaching about summits much more than doing development work...

And that leads up to stage 5, where Summit In A Box takes over.

Stage 5: Summit in a Box takes over

It was December of 2019 when I really doubled down on building out Summit in a Box resources. I paused on taking client work so I could really focus. I was building and launching Summit in a Box through a challenge and I just needed it to stop for a while. 

Little did I know, that was the end of my development work. 

My first launch of Summit in a Box made more than what I made in a year doing development. 

That shoved me right into stage 6, which was learning what it means to be a real business owner.

Stage 6: Learning what it means to be a real business owner

Really quickly, I had to shift from freelancer to business owner. I needed a lot more people to support me, needed to grow my team, and needed to figure out marketing that would keep a digital product business growing, versus a service-based business. 

This wasn’t the healthiest time for me boundaries-wise. I obsessed over work and keeping the success going. I worked nights and weekends. I was constantly worried it was going to stop working, but I loved seeing students do awesome things! I experimented with day rates, 1:1 calls, and summit production, but kept finding myself hating the pressure of client work.

As for marketing, we were doing a lot...

  • Challenges
  • Summits
  • Word of mouth
  • Instagram
  • Facebook Group
  • Podcast
  • SEO
  • Other people’s bundles and summits
  • Ads - these were huge for us for a long time

My mindset was an issue though. I was still waiting for it to crash down at any moment. I was constantly jumping from task to task and not feeling like it was enough. I would let something that didn’t go well or someone who didn’t say something nice or someone copying my stuff totally derail me...and that shift is what led me to my latest stage.

Stage 7: CEO

This stage, which I'm calling CEO, really started with the launch of our group program, the Launch with a Summit Accelerator

It was SO terrifying to shift the focus from Summit in a Box, which had worked for us for two years, to a new offer…but I knew I could serve our clients so much better!

Our new program took some time to gain traction and it was really scary for a couple of months, but it took off. At first, I’d get so upset if someone who belonged in the Accelerator went into Summit in a Box just because of the pricing difference and I tried to hide that Summit in a Box was still a thing. 

But now I’m much more confident in the difference, and how we can help people better in the Accelerator. I’m not afraid to tell someone, and if they really want to save a few thousand dollars and see lesser results because of it, I don’t let that throw me off.

Serving clients in a coaching capacity like this was also scary at first. I wondered if I could deliver in the way that I wanted to, but now I love the heck out of it.

Having to own that offer, grow my team, serve clients on a deeper level, and mature our marketing even more forced me to step into the CEO role. I knew I had to, or I wasn’t going to enjoy running this business anymore.

What did being a CEO mean for me?

  • Owning the heck out of how awesome our offers are
  • Knowing exactly who I can help
  • Not being afraid to make an invitation
  • Talking about our offers and how I can help people more on calls
  • Leading my team better
  • Feeling confident that it’s going to keep working
  • Trusting my decisions
  • Making more thoughtful decisions
  • Leaning on my support systems
  • Leaving more open space in my calendar
  • Being in rooms with people at the same level and with bigger businesses
  • Always focusing on serving my people well!

I'm in a good place right now.

What’s next

I don't have a clue! I love our offers as they are right now. I love my team, which you’ll hear about in the next episode. Our marketing strategy is going to look different in 2024, but I don’t know what it will be yet. I’m used to doing quarterly live launches, but I don’t think that’s what we’ll be doing. 

I do know that I want to keep the feeling of spaciousness that I have right now. 

That might look like starting to hire help for launches, rather than managing and running them all myself, but we shall see…I’ll update you in a year! 😉



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This episode kicks off a series that will give a fun behind-the-scenes into seven ways my business has evolved over the years and what's coming next.This episode kicks off a series that will give a fun behind-the-scenes into seven ways my business has evolved over the years and what's coming next.

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