How I Grew My Business
I created this video a number of years ago just as I was celebrating my 6th year in business (I recently celebrated my 10th!). However while it was recorded a few years ago, everything I say is as relevant today as it was then.
In it I talk about some of the key milestones I passed during my first two years in business – some are relevant to anyone starting a business, others are specific to the fact that I was growing an online business – so your milestones might be a bit different to mine.
But also, as I looked at those milestones I couldn’t help but notice a bit of a theme developing – an important theme that was key to all of that early progress and success, and that I see the majority of business owners around me are bypassing completely – often in favour of what I see as “more complicated” things.
Watch the video or scroll down to learn more.
There are certain milestones we hit in starting a business. We all tend to take a similar journey and follow a certain trajectory. Some of these milestones might not feel significant at the time but when I look back I can see that they were all important stepping stones to where I am now.
With the benefit of hindsight here are some of the major milestones on my business journey. All of these happened within the first 2 years:
- Getting started with my first practice coaching clients
- Getting my first paying coaching client – it wasn’t very much at all (in fact embarrassingly low) but that was definitely a milestone moment!
- Running my first few workshops to teach authentic sales
- Getting amazing testimonials for my 121 sales coaching & VIP Days
- Signing up to work with my first business mentor
- Beta-launching my first ever online programme – 20 people joined
- Doing my first “proper” launch of my online programme a few months later – 81 people joined
- Launching and selling out my first group mentoring programme
So how did each of these milestones come about? This is where you’ll notice a bit of a theme that I think you’ll find useful to observe.
In order for any of the above to happen I needed “people” to come along – people to practice with, people to work with for free, people to recommend me and customers to buy from me.
So where did these people come from?
Working for free with my first practice coaching clients.
I emailed everyone I could think of to tell them that I was training as a coach and did they know anyone who would like 6 sessions for free? I filled all the places within a week (I didn’t even think of asking for testimonials back then!)
Running my first few workshops to teach authentic sales. The founder of the coaching school where I trained agreed to email his list of qualified coaches and sold 13 tickets at £47 each. After room hire we split the profits. It wasn’t the most profitable of ventures. But it did get me started – and though I didn’t know it at the time it was actually my first “joint venture” (aka collaboration). It came about because I’d developed a good relationship with him while I was a student on his course (and incidentally I met him on a course before I became his customer)
Getting fantastic testimonials for my 121 sales coaching work & VIP Days
To get these I offered to work with 3 people for free in return for testimonials. These 2 people I’d met at a conference, and one person who was on a mentoring programme with me. Of the first 2, both were so impressed by my work that they later became joint venture partners who enthusiastically promoted my online course. One of them became the biggest JV partner I’ve had in my business to date. I know that many of my clients are reluctant to work with their first few clients for free, but it paid off for me over and over again, in numerous ways. I really feel that it helped to launch my business.
Signing up to work with my first business mentor and finally finding my way through the business fog. I found her because I attended a conference where she was a speaker and was so inspired that I found myself at the back of the room signing up to her programme – that also marked the beginning of a long and fruitful business relationship.
Beta-launching my online programme
I was gifted an established networking group of 300 members and gave my first talk there, selling 13 places on my programme. I was also invited to give another talk (by one of the people I’d worked with for free). At that talk when I saw that there were only 4 members of the audience my heart sank. But I sold 6 places on my programme because even 2 of the organisers signed up! Which just goes to show you shouldn’t be too proud in the early days – even the smallest opportunities can be great opportunities.
Doing the first “proper” launch of my online programme
Before this launch I’d started work with a new business mentor (who was recommended to me by a friend). He encouraged me to formally adopt “joint ventures” as a strategy for this launch. But I was highly resistant – I just didn’t feel comfortable asking someone to promote, and I couldn’t think of anyone I could ask!
But of course, for the previous 2 years while I’d been struggling, failing & learning I was attending lots of conferences & seminars, networking events and masterminds. I was meeting a LOT of people. I was also booking speakers for my networking group and would get to know them over a drink afterwards. Once I realised that I did know more people than I thought, I actually adopted a more formal “JV strategy” that year and grew my mailing list from 300 to 1800 in just 3 weeks. I sold 81 places on my programme!
Selling out my first group mentoring programme
All the people who joined the first group had just been through my online programme. About 70% of the members of that first group had come via just one joint venture partner – the one who I’d met at a conference and then offered to work with for free…
I think you’re probably starting to see the point I’m trying to make by now….
All of the significant growth I’ve seen in my business over the years has come as a result of personal connections with people in real life circumstances. Some of these people I met online to begin with, but I also made sure I took the relationship offline to get to know them in person.
And how did I make those connections? Mostly I put my shoes and coat on and I left the house!
I also did quite a lot of networking online using Facebook – but that’s all I did with Facebook for the first few years – I didn’t try to “broadcast” or advertise or shout about myself and hope that someone would notice. Instead, I quietly and diligently made personal connections and built lasting relationships.
Over the years I’ve definitely added in online marketing to the mix. Over the years this has including content marketing, a youtube channel, social media that (ranging from intermittent to non-existent!), Facebook ads and a free Facebook group.
But I was doing a consistent 6 figures in turnover, year on year for 3 full years before I adopted online marketing approaches – and when I did I did it in a strategic, consistent way rather than a “hit & miss and hope something sticks” approach. I also understand that my online marketing is a “slow burn” kind of strategy, rather than a “quick win” because it takes that bit longer to build trust and nurture relationships online.
So here’s the point I’m wanting to make today:
Don’t underestimate the power of “people” and building real-world relationships to take your business forward.
And it’s so easy to do. Do what I did – get your shoes and coat on and get out of the house!
Attend networking events, conferences and seminars, workshops and masterminds, talks and social occasions. Follow up on social media and keep in touch. Above all talk to people. You simply never know who you’ll meet. I couldn’t have known that day in July 2012, when I got paired up to do an exercise with a lady at a conference, or when I sat down next to a chap at a course in 2010 and discovered he ran a coaching school, or when I attended another conference in late 2011 that I was meeting 3 of the people who would have the biggest impact on the growth of my business over the coming years.
Even now, nothing I’ve done online even comes close to the impact of these personal connections. Of course, this may change over time but even in my recent (record) launch, 74% of all the sales came from referrals from happy clients or recommendations by joint venture partners.
And only 26% of sales came from “online marketing” in its purest sense – i.e. getting the attention of complete strangers.
Hope you enjoyed this video and blog. And remember, a business is only a business if you are actually meeting and talking to the people who need your services, who are willing to pay for them and actually work with you.
If that’s not happening for you, then sign up for my free video series “The 7 Steps To Yes” to get you started with having authentic and heart-led sales conversations that feel great for both you AND your clients.