Celebrating 5 years in business (and how I did it)
The photo below is of me with my gorgeous community of heart-centred business owners at Selling from the Heart Live last week. It was an important occasion because it took place on Saturday 26th November 2016. Almost exactly 5 years to the day since, on Sunday 27th November 2011, in a small, unglamorous training venue tucked away in the heart of Pimlico London, Selling from the Heart was born!
This was particularly significant as it had taken me my whole life up to that point to find my “thing”.
And on that day in 2011 when I taught my very first workshop I went in wondering why anyone would be interested in learning from me what was surely “common sense”. And walked out jubilant. This is it! I’ve found my thing! And I’m calling it “Selling from the Heart”!. And I haven’t looked back since… which is not to say it’s all been plain sailing.
I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t get very far for most of that first year – yes, I knew a lot about sales but I still had a long way to go to learn about marketing and find a business model that worked perfectly for me.
I struggled with all the same stuff that you struggle with. Not knowing where to start, not believing anyone would want to buy from me, feeling overwhelmed with too many things I was “supposed” to do, feeling uncomfortable about being more visible, not to mention all those voices in my head telling me I wasn’t good enough at this and “who did I think I was to think I could teach this stuff?”.
But I still made it work, and people often ask me how I did that:
“Catherine, what made the difference for you?”
If I had to boil it right down here are the 3 things that I think have made the biggest difference to my business success:
1. Understanding my ideal client
I understand my “ideal client” really really well. After all, I’d been her– starting businesses in areas as varied as yoga, nutritional therapy, coaching and hypnotherapy. She was also all around me – colleagues I had trained with, new friends I met networking, healers who I worked with, who all put on a good “front” but under the surface were struggling and at a loss for how to get paying clients.
When you understand your ideal client you can speak directly to him or her in such a way that they connect with instantly. Marketing becomes much more of a “pull” activity where you attract people to you magnetically, rather than a “push” activity where you are broadcasting stuff to the world and feel confused why no-one is responding.
So if you work on nothing else in your business but getting crystal clear on your ideal client and message this is the place to start – because that’s when things start happening – as if by magic.
The second thing that I know made the difference for me, when I look around at others who stay stuck, is courage. A reminder: courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is in fact being completely, utterly, shaking in your shoes, sick in your stomach terrified, and yet doing the thing anyway. I spent huge parts of the early years in business feeling terrified of what I was about to do next – yet still doing it.
I did it because I was so desperate to finally create a genuinely fulfilling business doing work that I love that I was willing to do anything.
- The first time I ran a webinar – I was shaking with fear and sweating the whole way through.
- The first time I gave a talk to make sales from speaking – I was so afraid that to this day I still don’t know how I got the courage to walk into that room.
- The first time I ran a proper live event – I still don’t know how I got through that week, I woke every single morning in a state of panic – but there’s nothing like 80 people confirmed to make you turn up!
- The first time I offered a mentoring level of £10,000 (surely, I was crazy – no-one in my community would pay me that much!)
I spoke to a new client last week who was interested in joining my mentoring programme for 2017. We bounced about a few ideas for her business but no matter what we discussed she concluded: “I don’t know, it doesn’t feel comfortable”.
I hear this a lot and I do know how easy it is to give into those feelings – and I’m not saying this is “easy”, but often the business you are dreaming of lies on the other side of your discomfort.
My other business superpower is focus.
- I don’t have an idea for a new course to launch every week. I’ve sold and delivered the same online programme to the same client group since 2012 with a mentoring programme at the next level. That’s it.
- I don’t get scattered and diluted by trying to follow every marketing activity out there. I have focused my attention on just a couple of key marketing strategies since 2013 (which coincidentally is the year when things really took off for me).
- I don’t allow myself to get distracted by social media, household chores or personal calls during my working time. When I’m working I’m working.
- I turn down all sorts of opportunities – speaking opportunities, corporate training gigs, bespoke workshops. Because I understand that every hour spent working on something that is not in line with my bigger vision takes me away from that vision.
So if you feel you are flailing around working hard but not having much to show for it, try focusing on just one thing until you get traction around it and notice what a difference that makes.
And finally, it wouldn’t be fair to celebrate my anniversary without mentioning the great mentors who I’ve been lucky enough to work with. Who pushed me to take my workshop and turn it into an online programme, who encouraged me to launch my own mentoring group even though “I wasn’t ready”, and to to step out of my comfort zone to pursue a marketing strategy that made my toes curl with discomfort – yet once I got going turned out to be the perfect one for me.
When I look back I can see that starting out in business with an amazing skill set and talent for what I did but no real understanding of marketing and business was like staring at a wall of fog. I just couldn’t see what was behind it and I simply didn’t know what I didn’t know. I will be forever grateful that I was courageous enough to make the leap to work with people who could see through that fog for me – or I wouldn’t be here now.
So I’m Celebrating. Quietly, but with deep gratitude.
Because getting here hasn’t been easy. For every high there’s been a low and there have been many painful lessons learned. But I have a business and clients that I’m as in love with now as I was in 2011. And I am deeply grateful for that.
Tickets for Selling from the Heart Live 2017 are now available!
If you’d like to join me plus over 100 wonderful, heart-centred business owners for 2 days of inspiration, connection, learning and business planning, Early Bird tickets are availabe here:
Click here for full details and to book your place.