The story of how I started a Membership

The story of how I started a Membership

As I shared in my previous video about Business Models, a number of years ago I had a big shift in my own business model, moving from a high-ticket mentoring programme to a low monthly investment membership.

However, it wasn’t an overnight thing – it was a shift that happened gradually over a long period of time.  It started with a very long gap between realising that my old business model wasn’t working for me, and eventually launching the membership.

So today I’m sharing the story of how I came to give up what was a 6 figure revenue stream (without really knowing what came next) to ultimately create the thriving membership community I have today.

Watch the video below or scroll down to read more.

My business model before the membership

In the early days, my business grew very quickly – In my second year I went from £7,000 to £118,000 in annual turnover in one year.

I did that by following a strategy taught to me by my business mentor of selling an online programme once a year, which included a free ticket to a live event where I sold a £5,000-£10,000 mentoring programme. For a number of years I had a consistent six-figure turnover year-on-year by following this simple model.

This model also meant I got to work with some amazing women every year, and the programme I’d put together helped them get incredible results. It gave me a huge amount of joy and satisfaction to see how they thrived – both in their businesses but also how how they thrived as people too.

You could say I’d created a “dream business.” The problem was it was someone else’s dream business, not mine.  But it took me a long time to see that.

At the time I just couldn’t figure out why it didn’t feel more “right”.   It all looked good from the outside and my clients had a great experience and definitely got results, and there were LOTS things I really loved about it, mostly the clients!  But behind the scenes it was always a challenge.  There were always problems with my team or problems with systems, or I made bad decisions that created unecessary pressure.  Somehow it never got into flow.

Now I look back at that time and think that the universe or my higher self  just knew I wasn’t on the right path and so did the very opposite of lining things up to help me!

The 3 things niggled away at me…

1. I wasn’t reaching more people
I had an online programme called “Get More Clients Saying Yes!” that took people from no clients to getting clients regularly and consistently and people got great results.  It was fully scalable, yet I felt I was barely reaching enough people.  During the years that I ran the high-end mentoring programme, I had from 55 – 81 people do the online course each year, but I wanted to reach many more people and would always feel frustrated that I didn’t.

2.  I wanted to build more of a community
I had a sense that I’d created a really strong community of people who had done the “Get More Clients Saying Yes!” course, but once they finished that course, if they weren’t ready to invest £5,000 for the next step there was nowhere else for them to go.  I would always have ideas of keeping the community connected through regular events, and did manage to have a summer party one year, but mostly I was too busy to make those ways of staying connected long-term happen.

3.   I was leaving my “ideal clients” behind
Over time I became more and more aware that my passion was helping early stage business owners, or people who’d been in business a few years but were barely making ends meet. I realised that the people who bought the Get More Clients Saying Yes! course were my true ideal clients, but many of them simply couldn’t afford or (this was more common) didn’t have the courage or the investment mindset to get my help growing their business beyond that.  I was leaving many of the people I was most able to help behind.

My Change of Direction

Finally in 2016 I made the hugely courageous decision to stop running the high-end mentoring programme.

I ran my live event as usual but I didn’t offer that year long mentoring programme.  Instead I offered some small group online mentoring for just 3 months, pre-designed to taper off over the course of the year as I built up the online course.

And then I went on holiday.

I lay on a lounger by a pool in Goa and, in theory, I should have been really excited about the year to come and FINALLY doing more with that online programme.

But guess what?  I wasn’t excited!

In fact it was the opposite. This feeling settled on me like a cloud, like a knot in my belly.  It was a whisper “But that’s not it Catherine.”

But I just didn’t know why.  I just had to do what I’ve always done and trust the whisper when it came.

I returned home that January with no idea what was next.

I couldn’t figure out what was wrong.  I’d just given up the core revenue stream in my business for something that didn’t feel right either.  I actually thought maybe I’d finally come to the end of the road in my business, that I’d lost my passion for my work and this was the end.  But I had no vision for what I might do instead.   In fact I felt so confused that I booked 4 readings in 2 weeks – with a psychic, an intuitive business coach, an astrologer and human design specialist!     But while they gave me a lot that was useful, I still didn’t have any clear answers.

But what came through that was fairly consistent from all of them was that not a lot was going to happen for me in 2017.  They said that whether I pushed hard or did very little I wasn’t likely to see anything much happen in that year so I may as well take my foot of the pedal for a while and enjoy life!  So I decided to do that.  The revenue from the group programmes I’d sold was enough to see me through a few months, so I decided to relax and not push for answers (OK, that was easier said than done – in case you are wondering that definitely wasn’t a comfortable time!).

The Turning Point

On 27th March that year (I’ll never forget the date!) I was driving home to visit my parents in North Wales.  I was listening to a podcast about using Facebook Groups to grow a business, and it just happened that the person being interviewed had a membership.

She talked about how she and her partner used to sell an online course and why they decided to stop and set up a membership site instead.

I still remember exactly what point I was at on the South Circular on Clapham Common when I heard her talk and suddenly all the lights went on at once!   I suddenly saw so clearly why the other business models were not quite right for me.

“Oh, my gosh,” I thought to myself. “It’s a membership community!”

Members of my community at a recent live event

Members of the Business from the Heart community at a recent live event

She talked about community and how hard she found it when people finished her programmes and courses and she couldn’t support them any more unless she sold them the next thing.  The pressure was always on trying to sell them the next thing, or get completely new people in to the programme, rather than just being able to help and serve the people she had.

She also talked about the pressure of needing to launch online courses and all the stress that comes with that, especially having all the eggs in one basket if one launch was to fail.

Listening to her talk I could suddenly see how I could really help and serve all those people who I was leaving behind because for various reasons they were not ready to invest £5,000 or more to get help beyond my online course.   I saw how I could take everything I’d put together over the past five years for that “high-end” group and turn it into something that could be really affordable for many more people.

In that same interview she talked about the person she learned from when it came to setting up a membership – a Canadian called Stu McLaren.

Right there, within just minutes of realising that Membership site was it for me, I decided I needed to learn from him.

And finally the universe lined up and I got into flow

From this point on, right to the present moment, the synchronicities started and my business got into flow, in so many different ways that I won’t go into here.

As soon as I arrived in Wales and could get online I googled Stu McLaren and signed up to his mailing list.

Within less than a week he started the launch for his course for building successful memberships, Tribe (he only launches this once a year!).  I remember watching all of his launch videos thinking “come on, when are you going to get to the offer part?”. I had my credit card ready and waiting!

However, this was April 2017 and at the time I bought the course I’d already committed to both a house move and a website rebrand during May 2017 so I knew I wouldn’t be able to engage with the course.   I was full throttle ahead with moving home, writing copy for the website, a photoshoot, creating a new quiz and liaising with the designer.  And then I went fully into the launch of my online programme in the autumn.

So although I’d bought the course I wasn’t able to do much with it.   Instead I just watched the course modules here and there when I could – mostly on Sunday mornings over breakfast at a local café. I didn’t have time to implement, or to show up to any live calls – I just watched and absorbed the information.

My membership was born

It wasn’t until 7 months later in November 2017 that I was finally ready to start my membership, with a “founding member” launch at the live event.

Instead of the £5-£10,000 level programme that I normally offered, this time I made an offer join my membership at a “founding member” rate for 6 or 12 months, with a promise of nothing but a skeleton of 2 Q&A calls per month plus access to my existing training library, and a vision of what I wanted to create.

I came away from that event with 114 new members and a revenue of just over £2,000 per month for the first 6 months.  It was certainly a lot less than I was used to bringing home from that event!

But was enough for me to feel I was getting paid to create the membership.

With the feedback of the founding members over the following months I built the membership out, adding more features and events, and adding a lovely new members area to house all the trainings.

In May 2018 I launched it properly, and did another launch in the November.   By the end of 2018 I had 265 members and a recurring monthly revenue of around £7,000.   Two years after I’d grown it to just over 450 members with a monthly revenue of around £12,000.

My business model now feels simpler than it used to be, and there is certainly less pressure and less sense of so much riding on each launch.   It consists of the “Get More Clients Saying Yes!” which feeds into the “Business from the Heart” membership, and the membership in turn feeds back into the online course.   I’ve also got two other courses ‘Selling from Webinars’ and ‘Selling from Speaking’ that I don’t promote very often – you could say they are on the “back shelf”!

Even today the membership is a long way from perfect and I’ve got lots of ideas for things I want to add, improve and streamline and I’m still learning a lot about all the factors that go into creating a successful membership – things like how to bring lots of value but without overwhelming people, and how to keep people engaged and wanting to stay part of it month by month.  But it’s definitely been a great decision for me and I’m really excited about how much more is possible with this business model.

Get Started with your own Membership:

Are you curious about whether a membership site could be the perfect business model for you to?  If so then sign up to this workshop from the guy I learned everything about memberships from.   It’s a series of 3 live workshops and one Masterclass between now and Sunday 14th April.   The recordings will be available until the end of Thursday 18th April.
Sign up to the Membership Experience Free Workshop Series here.

*This is an affiliate link.  If you sign up for the workshop using my link and later buy his course I may receive a payment.

With love,

"THE 7 STEPS TO YES" Watch these short videos and start to fall in love with sales

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