The Honest Evolution of a Business

AKA  “What the BLEEP was she thinking all these years?”

See also:  2 years (in this iteration of coach/consultant/mentor), 5 programs, and a GAZILLION pricepoints later….

 

I started my business in 2013.  It was a rough year for me to be starting, but it was out of necessity.  I had just found out that my wife at the time was being restationed, and after two years of fighting my way through the ranks of adjunct professor-dom I was about to lose all that work.  We were moving.

Just a few weeks before she let me know, I had closed my non-profit organization that focused on grassroots development.  I had thrown my towel into the ring officially to work full-time as a professor.  And I was on fire. My courses were booked, I was asked to teach more and more and more.  The news fell hard.

I had spent two years in Macon, GA teaching at all three colleges in the community.  I had taught seminars, business courses, development studies courses, communication courses, lectured in Philosophy.  I created TEDxMacon.  I worked in a community I loved.  I was young, I was talented, and I was doing the last item on my first round bucket list–being a professor.

I realized, mighty quickly, that I couldn’t continue to be a military wife and traveling professor.  Working your way through the ranks is a hard process, and one that didn’t feel repeatable by any stretch.

So I took my skills, started a coaching certification in Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching, and headed to Texas.  Much to my chagrin.

The first six months were challenging (to say the least).

I was incredibly reticent to engage in business coaching, because the world felt gross to me.  Everything was 6 figures this, a million that, change the world with your money. All of the folks I had seen were selling the equivalent of snake oil (in my humble opinion) and I just couldn’t hang in that world. It felt…icky.   (A lot of that hasn’t changed, unless people actually have the cajones to prove it).

I had worked for over a decade in businesses including running the team that was at the time the largest online advertiser in the world, had a degree in business and development, and was coaching people at a rate of $250 for 12 sessions, aka less than $21 an hour.  (It was called SoulYear, then BlissYear).  What it DID do was pay for my coaching training.  In full.  Which was extraordinary.  But, I was stuck.  Stuck in Texas, stuck in my business, stuck in my life, stuck stuck stuck.

Then I started working for a user experience design studio in San Antonio. From there, I met coworker was in a high-level mastermind.  Then I found Natalie MacNeil, and the Concord mastermind.  I signed up on the spot.  Despite it being the largest investment I’ve ever made into my life or business (beyond my university education of course).

EVERYTHING changed.  And FAST.

In January 2014, I had my first coaching conversation with Natalie MacNeil.

I cried tears of joy when I met her.  Literally.  I cried on our discovery call.  In fact, almost every call I had with Natalie over the next two years….I cried.  She got me.  She understood that I didn’t want to follow stringent 3 step formulas, 5 steps to millions, or other things that didn’t resonate.  She got that I was a bleeding heart-led entrepreneur who wanted to expand my clients’ proclivities to being themselves.  After three months with her, I ditched my low-end, uninspired programming and owned the fact that I had more business experience than the average coach, and that I could coach business leaders.

So I took my creativity coaching training, my degrees in business, my experience as a professor, and started to create programs for small business owners.  I found Uncaged Lifers.  I felt like I found MY PEOPLE.  I built my tribe being active in Facebook groups such as that one.  Then, because of resistance to ebooks, email autoresponders, etc…I started the Bliss Brigade (now in it’s second iteration), one of the first major facebook groups before they were ‘cool’.

 

I grew a small, but heart-felt community.

I blogged occasionally.  I ignored anything I didn’t consume myself.  Which meant…Limited video, not a huge email list builder, not many webinars.  Create what you want to consume was my daily affirmation, before I had heard it for the first time from Elizabeth Dialto. I was attracting one-on-one clients like wildfire, but I wanted to serve a larger community at a rate that felt accessible.

I started raising my rates, but stayed true to what I know works in business.  Patience.  Persistence.  Grit.  Then the programs started…

 

In the first two years of my business, 2014 and 2015, I created FIVE programs, one has had THREE names.  Below is the how it all shifted and the why.

 

The Bliss Intensive

My first offering beyond one-on-one coaching.  I sold out.  It was an amazing feeling to create something so.  The price point was low.  $800. There was one-on-one time.  Group mastermind time.  And while it was a great program, it was unsustainable in terms of how I took in income. For many of the folks who did it, it was life changing.  For others?  Not so much.

To each her own.

But learning to release that not everyone will love you was a DEEPLY painful experience for me, and triggered a ton of stuff from my past.  So I put group masterminds to rest for a bit.

Pricing: $800 for four months.

Revenue:  Around $8000 over the four months.

What I learned:  I needed to get past that block of ‘you can’t help everyone’.  And it was a long lesson. One that I have since learned to embrace.  If people don’t do the work, results don’t happen.  That is not a direct reflection of you.

Why I retired it:  Income.  Who it attracted was no longer my ideal client.  Not wanting to do masterminds for a bit.

What it inspired:  The MB3 Laboratory and Mastermind.

 

The Audacious Business and Life Catalyst (ABLC)

The Audacious Business and Life Catalyst was my first group program where I played with very limited one-on-one time, and weekly group calls.  There were modules, there were weekly group experiences, and I created slides each and every week.  The program sold out.  And it was a vibrant community to play in.    I loved it in so many ways, but it felt staged.  And went stale quickly in my interest.

Pricing: $500 for three months.
Revenue:  Around $5000

What I learned:  Group programs are so my jam.  Especially at a price point I love, and with people who ‘get it’ in a deep way.

Why I retired it:  I just didn’t love the material the way I thought I would.

What it inspired:  The MB3 Laboratory, which took nearly 8 months to launch.


The Business Bliss Posse 

 

Failed membership site.  Like I don’t even enjoy admitting it existed.  I lost over $1500 on this launch including copy, advertising, etc. I had a few people sign up, and hundreds interested.  I had huge named promoting it, and affiliates.  And. It. Flopped.  Hard.

Which is why I never talk about it.  It’s a sore spot in a big way.  (Writing about it right now still feels sticky.  *Runs off to do EFT tap tap tap*

I kept it around a month, then deleted it.  That was that.  The end.

 

Pricing:  $65 a month

Revenue:  Ummmm….Maybe $650?  It was a huge loss.  HUGELY.  And I was deeply saddened.

What I learned:  I don’t want a monthly membership site that requires me to deal with managing experts.  At all.  Not a bit.  Especially when I am paying them.  Even though they are AMAZING to have, it was so depressing to feel like I was paying out of pocket to have them there.  And that only a couple people showed up.

Why I retired it:  Only a few signups, despite HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE being interested.  Clearly…Wrong place, wrong time.  Not a good energetic fit.

What it inspired:  The Vision Incubator pricing that is launching in March.

 


The MB3 Laboratory and Mastermind

In January of 2015, I tripled my list size thanks to the MB3, a free month long experience to give the MB3 Laboratory a try.  It was a way to process and see how my new group program would work.

Results?  10 people signed up.  Less than I had hoped, but also a fine launch by my standards.  (My hope was 20).  Many of them were passionately involved, they loved the material.  They begged for more.  But I hated the branding.  It just didn’t resonate with people, and launching really was emotionally exhausting for me.  I just didn’t love it.  At all.

The mastermind drew over 20 applicants, of which 15 scheduled interviews.  Of the 15, 10 said yes.  I said no to all but three of them.  Seven of them just weren’t good matches.  In doing so?  I said no to $60,000 in revenue.  Talk about being in alignment, and all that jazz.  (Sometimes it still hurts that I said no to so many folks!  They just weren’t a good fit).

 

What I learned:  I loved the way I was creating material–live, on the fly, based on the collective wisdom of those who attended the calls.  But the branding wasn’t resonating.

Why I retired it:  I didn’t really.  I changed the name, created a beta, and rolled the EXACT program (with new bells and whistles) into the Vision Den. I retired the mastermind, because I needed a break and wanted to offer a different level of experience which takes time to create.

What it inspired:  The Vision Den.

 


The Vision Den

A few clients signed up for this as a new offering, but in general it was an internal launch.  Then a freebie during the beta (which you can still join).  But mostly it was a beta testing program, continuation of the MB3 Laboratory, and a safe haven for my clients to do inner work for good.  (All my group programs are included in my one-on-one and higher end offerings).

So far, it has been a heck of a lot of fun to run.  But Den felt dark and didn’t resonate with everyone.  The SESSIONS were a good fit for the den name, but the program itself?  Not so much.  (Thanks to some time with my magical friend Marisa Murgatroyd for that friendly realization).


What I learned:  THIS is how I want to run a group program.  This is where my magic is.  And I will make it work.  Somehow, just not in this brand.  It’s too dark, too ominous…Which the program is anything BUT that.

Why I retired it:  Rolled it into a program that makes the most sense.  So I didn’t.  Just changed the name.  By one word.

What it inspired:  The Vision Incubator, although in function they are much much much the same.  It also helped, in part, to inspire the book The Intention Generation (launching in March).

The Vision Incubator and Actualizer

The Vision Incubator is the third iteration of the MB3 Laboratory, and it launches in March/April of this year.  And it remains utterly the same program as the Den and MB3 Lab (in a number of ways), with a slightly different way of delivering the content and a different pricing methodology.  Think of this as my membership site, that isn’t a membership site.

Now, the focus is on the moon cycles with intention and release ceremonies, release expectations and attachment to outcomes (oh hey!  I am writing a book on that The Intention Generation), weekly movement sessions to call in your desires/intentions, and bi-weekly Vision Den sessions. Something that occured to me though was that the incubator is really just that…A business incubator.  And while that is AMAZING and totally needed, I also wanted a sister program that could really help people take massive action.  (It’s one of my core desired feelings many quarters).

It’s sister program is the Vision Actualizer (launching in June) which takes the Incubator and includes in-person and online sprint sessions for those that are done incubating their visions and ready to make them realized in the world.

 

 

LESSONS OVERALL?

This online business thing has put me through the creative ringer!  I have taught the same material more or less for two years, but the HOW of delivery, the WHAT of the offering, and the WHY of the the timing has been a struggle.  Each iteration of my business has lent me to understand more about who I serve, and how I serve them.

What has remained the same?  I am a trend bucker.  I do it how I want, and why I want.  This has served me…In some ways.  And hindered me in others.  My learning curve has been steep at times, but at this point now?  I have a method to my madness, and it certainly isn’t my first rodeo anymore.

Following my intuition, firmly based in the strategic realities of business, has been a game changer.  When I listen to one over the other, shit hits the fan.  When I listen to BOTH, in tandem?  Magic.

What’s coming next?  (And hopefully to stay?) I guess we’ll find out…

What in your OWN business has been surprising to you about the evolutionary process?  Would love to hear your own insights.

EDITED:  I’ve had a few emails bring into question my ability to run a business.  Which is interesting, considering this is simply the evolution of group programs. But let’s be clear, this does not account for my business or my revenue beyond so called ‘leveraged’ income.  Which isn’t what I teach, or my strong suit.  As evident why.

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