We're kicking off the new year with another behind-the-scenes episode after sharing my highlights and lessons learned in 2023 in the last episode - a lot of you seem to enjoy them and they’re fun for me to make!
This time, I want to share the strategies, actions, and decisions that stand out as things that have helped to grow and sustain me or my business over the years. I think of these two as separate, because the things I’ve done to grow my business since I started in 2015 feel very different from the things I’ve done to grow and sustain myself, and I'll share both in this episode.
Be sure to read to the end for a fun announcement and an opportunity to learn more about one of my favorite strategies that has sustained my business over the years!
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It seems like online business changes so much, so quickly. I outlined this episode a few months before recording, and then had to make updates before hitting record because even in just a few months, so much has changed!
The state of business I experienced from 2015 to 2019 felt way different than 2020 to 2021, and I feel like everything has changed again quite drastically since the big boom we experienced in 2021.
I know when I get in a room with other business owners, especially those with “more successful” businesses than my own, the first thing I want to ask is “What’s working for you right now?”
I know what works for me, but it’s always interesting to see what works for others to see what you might want to incorporate. So here we are!
My strategy-focused brain wanted to dive right into the business strategies first, but I don’t think we talk enough about sustaining the humans behind the businesses, so we’re going to start there instead.
This business journey has been a wild ride. I can think back to so many seasons of intense anxiety and being sure I was going to fail, and seasons of incredible hustle and totally losing track of what actually mattered in life.
And right now, I’m in a season with so much more balance than I’ve ever experienced before. I truly hope that if you’re not in a place that feels balanced in your business right now, that you will listen to some of the things I’m about to say and experience it for yourself soon in one way or another.
The place I’m in right now is sustaining me…but it took a lot to get here, and I'm going to share what those things were here in this episode.
I’ll also say that I started my first business in 2015, and right now, in late 2023, is the first time I’ve been able to say that I’ve felt at peace and balanced and happy with exactly where I’m at in business - without the need to hustle and grow more.
It took 8 years for me to get here.
I also realize that some of you might thrive on the hustle and pressure and that’s okay too if that’s truly what feels good to you.
With that being said, here are the top 4 strategies that have sustained me over the years:
1. Moving away from 1:1 work
The #1 biggest thing that I can see has sustained me, especially after doing my first 1:1 project in years a few months back, is moving away from 1:1 work. This is not me saying this strategically because I think everyone should be a course creator or anything like that. I honestly don’t think that! We need service providers!
But me and offering 1:1 services, absolutely do not mix. I am a full-on people pleaser and very highly sensitive. I'm also great at assuming someone hates me, and then driving myself into intense anxiety if I think there’s the slightest thing that’s wrong and I can’t function.
I also really like to overdeliver and deliver early, so when I’m working 1:1 with someone - even if I’m ahead on whatever we’re working on - I feel and act as though I’m behind so it drives me to obsess over the project and overwork. It’s just not pretty.
Some of this, I know, could be worked through with coaching, but I’m really not convinced all of it could be. I'm so so glad that I made the decision to cut off my services after launching the Summit in a Box program in 2020. It is truly the best decision I made for my mental health and I am grateful every single day for the sales that come in and the summit hosts who choose to trust me to help them bring their events to life with our programs.
Again, I'm not saying everyone should move away from 1:1 services, but pay attention to which of your offers feel easy or fun and which ones feel anxiety-inducing and stressful. See how you can shift to more offers that fill your cup or are just easy. Even if it’s a long game.
2. Working with an incredible coach
The second thing, hands down, is working with my coach Kaitlyn Kessler. She’s super active on Instagram and has an awesome newsletter called The Shift…and a great podcast called Spacious - but her whole idea is creating sustainable success and doing it through ease and feeling good and working with her has completely transformed by business.
Now…this isn’t supposed to be a sales pitch for her, but to give context I feel like I need to give you a bit of a before and after.
Before I started working with her...
After working with her...
And I could go on, but my point here is, that working with a coach, for me that is Kaitlyn, is 100% why I am sustained and growing myself in this business.
If your mindset and your success are all riding on you, I’d really suggest that you look for some support. I went for years and years thinking I didn’t need a coach because I knew the actions I needed to take, but the truth was I needed someone to support me more than my business and I’m so grateful that I found that.
3. My Team
The 3rd thing that has sustained me is my team. My team structure has looked different over the years with different people and workloads and tasks for those people.
The structure of what my team looks like doesn’t matter as much (but we do have an episode coming in a couple of months where I'm going to break down the full evolution of my team over the years!).
But what I know for sure is that having people take full ownership of tasks that I’m not good at, don’t enjoy, or take away from my higher-level tasks plays a huge part in sustaining me.
Let’s take Kate for example. If you somehow haven’t heard me talk about Kate or haven’t seen her name pop up in our Facebook group or anything, she is a full-time employee and absolutely my right-hand woman. I can count on her to take care of anything and to do it well and happily and it’s just wonderful. I’ve worked with people before who got annoyed when I assigned them tasks and I felt anxious anytime I did. But Kate just takes things off my plate and I am a better business owner for it.
One of the things she does that is most helpful is act as my shield. I don’t see crappy emails or comments on ads or negative survey responses, which would all bring me down for the day. It all goes through my "Kate filter" and if there’s something hidden behind harsh words that I need to know, it gets presented to me in a way that isn’t going to destroy me.
But then also, it’s just the million tasks she has on her list every day that aren’t taking my attention away from the strategy things I’ll share below.
4. Investing when I’m ready to do something new
The last thing I’ll say has sustained me…but also the business…is investing in programs, coaching, and tools when I’m ready to do something new.
I used to be the type of person who wanted to just figure everything out for myself. And for a lot of people when they’re starting out, they might not have any type of disposable budget so you have to figure it out for yourself, and that's ok.
But a couple of years into business, I started to see that when I made an investment in a person, or program, or product that promised an outcome that I wanted, I always reached those outcomes.
These days, I really don’t ever try to just figure something out on my own because I personally don’t think it’s worth my time to experiment and feel extra anxiety hoping that something will work... when someone else has already done all of that for me. I'd rather learn from someone who's tested it with other customers and clients, and has a proven process that can speed up whatever it is I’m trying to do and lead to better results way faster.
So investing in other people and programs and tools is something that just makes my life so much easier. I don't hesitate to do it. That makes this business more sustainable and fun for me to run. And I hope my programs serve that purpose for a lot of you too!
Now, let’s change gears and talk about what I feel has grown and sustained the business. I feel like the things I've covered so far have helped me be a happy and healthy business owner, but these things are what have actually grown the business and brought in revenue. Can you guess what my first one is?
I’m not going to spend time on this because we literally have 256 other episodes about summits. Clearly, summits have been absolutely huge for the success that I saw in my past service-based business and in this one. List growth, immediate revenue, program revenue, relationships, being seen as an industry leader, all of the things.
I’ll leave it at that and if you want to learn more about where you should start for making summits one of the top builders and sustainers for your business, check out our curated playlist of episodes for your specific business model.
As much as I love summits, I’m not the type of person who is going to run them 2 or 4 times per year to let them be my only way of growing my audience and bringing in revenue. Some people love hosting multiple summits each year, but it’s a bit much for me.
I need something smaller to engage my audience and bring a cash injection a couple times per year, and free challenges are perfect for that. They don't grow my audience, but they're amazing for engaging and converting the audience I already have.
I ran my first free challenge in 2016 or 2017. I didn’t have anything to sell, I just wanted to engage my audience. Then I ran one a month or two later to sell a little $37 ebook/workbook I had created and it worked!
After that, I ran challenges every couple of months because they were so easy for me to repeat and my audience loved them.
And then, I ran my first challenge for Summit in a Box in April of 2020 as my way to do the initial launch of our Summit in a Box program. And oh my goodness!
So at that point, I had just run a $60,000 summit, but other than summits, my biggest product launch to date was a $10,000 Black Friday Bundle thing back before bundles were cool. And that was mindblowing to me.
This challenge launch brought in $63,000, and I can’t even tell you how impossible that seemed. My stretch goal was $20k. And I brought in $63k. Keep in mind I had 2200 people on my list at the time so I wasn’t starting from scratch like I could have with a summit.
And since then, I’ve hosted a couple of challenges per year because they are such a big value add for people who sign up, they’re super easy for me to run, especially after the first one, I literally just tweak and repeat the content, and they work.
I’ve made up to $93,000 in a single challenge launch - again, with an existing audience.
This is why challenges are another foundational part of my business. I know how to build my audience with methods outside of summits when I’m between summit seasons. I need something high-value and lower effort to launch and challenges fit that bill for me and I will 100% continue to do them.
And this leads to the fun announcement I have to make!
A few months back I was outlining an episode comparing summits and challenges, and as I kept going on about how great challenges are for certain things, I realized just how much I have to share
Just like with summits, I have the strategy, I have the templates, I have the experience. And a lot of the time, people are hesitant to host a summit because of the amount of work….so…why don’t I teach you my challenge strategy as well?
And that’s what I’m going to do!
On January 25 I’m hosting a very action-packed behind-the-scenes session on how I use challenges to add 6-figures to my business each year between summits.
I’m breaking down the exact numbers from all of the challenges I’ve run, what helped to grow my challenge results, when you should run a challenge versus a summit, and sooo much more.
And our Summit in a Box program just might get a little brother or sister at the end of that training so it’s going to be really exciting. Save your seat here!
3. Evergreen Funnel
Now let's talk about the third thing that has helped to sustain my business. We have summits and challenges, which I would say are the two big things that have the most impact in growing our revenue. But to keep up the ease-filled energy that I talked about in the first part of this episode, only relying on live launches 100% does not do it for me.
So the next big thing that sustains this business more so than growing it is our evergreen funnels and offers. I usually do 3-4 public-facing launches per year, but I don’t want those 3-4 times to be the only times someone can join our programs.
Both from a monetary standpoint for me, but also because I don’t want someone to have to wait months to join our programs if they want to host a summit now. So we have things set up so someone can easily find and join our programs right when they join our list and really any other time as well. We also regularly start and engage in conversations with people that naturally lead to sales and I can let them into our programs anytime with the evergreen model.
4. Relationships with my audience and peers
Another thing that has helped me to grow and sustain my business over the years is my relationships with my audience and my peers. Relationships with industry experts mean that there are other people sending traffic and customers our way. It means I have a net of support when we launch. It means I know who to ask when I need help with different things. So those relationships are huge.
And the relationship I have with so many of you in my audience and our clients and customers also sustains the business. And me too, really - they make me want to show up every day. But you all sharing about us and feeling comfortable joining our programs when the time is right is vital to the success we’ve had.
5. Consistency on my main platforms
And finally, I’ll say that consistency on my main platforms has also been huge in sustaining our growth. A lot of that ties right into the last point about relationships too - being consistent is what helped to create, build, and maintain those relationships that are so important to me.
So for me, this looks like...
That consistency makes me feel comfortable when it comes time to invite a sale. I can feel confident that I’ve provided value, I’ve built connections, and if someone is following me in that place, it’s because they want to hear from me. And since I truly 100% believe that people should not try to host a summit on their own, I want to make those offers to make their lives easier. So it all comes full circle.
I hope you found this helpful and inspirational for you. I'm not saying that these things are THE way to grow... I don't think there is one single way... but it's what has been working for me and what I'll keep trying to make work for as long as possible.
Learn how much time to set aside for planning and launching your profitable, stress-free online summit and use my calculator to set the due dates for you.