The Things I Got Wrong in Business

The Things I Got Wrong in Business

When we start something new, we all start off right at the beginning, with no skill or knowledge and a lot of “not knowing what we don’t know”. And business is no different. That doesn’t mean we are stupid, failures or not cut out to run a business. It’s normal to feel a bit at sea.  And it’s not just you – it was me too!

Feeling a bit uncertain doesn’t mean you can’t learn what you need to know – you just might get a few things wrong in the process, and that’s OK!

This week I’m sharing with you some of the early mistakes I made when I started my business.  Partly to help you avoid doing the same.   But also so that you can see that you don’t have to get it all “exactly right”.  You can make a lot of mistakes and things can still turn out OK!

Watch the video below or scroll down to read the blog.

6 mistakes I made in my business

1. Selling my “tools and techniques” instead of the end result

At the beginning of my business I went out networking and called myself a “Transformational Coach”, then later a “Business Coach”. I still attracted a certain number of clients – because people bought into me as a person and because I was confident about sales. But I didn’t understand at the time how important it is to sell my clients what they really wanted, which was a solution to their biggest problem. It was only when I started to specialise in teaching heart-centred sales to people in business to make a difference business that things really started to take off for me – that was over a year after I first started my business.

2. I ran low priced workshops without an upsell

After I started specialising in teaching heart-centred sales the main thing I did for about 9 months was to run 1 day workshops.  In fact running workshops was my main “business model” (though I didn’t have a clue about business models at that time!).   I charged £47 for those workshops and split that with collaboration partners.  And I couldn’t work out why, after paying the venue and the splitting the profits, I wasn’t making more than a few hundred pounds… a year!

I didn’t know that I needed to do one of two things:

  1. Price the workshop to be profitable in it’s own right. Which would have meant at least 10 times what I was charging.
  2. Offer an upsell to 121 sales coaching or a small group programme – I would only have needed 2 people to buy from me at £1,500 for those workshops to be a profit-making venture.

3. I grew my mailing list for a whole year without sending them a single email

For a full year, my list grew.  Mostly from live speaking engagements and guest webinars.  I was doing some things right because I did offer my free giveaway in exchange for their email address.  But after people signed up I didn’t email them at all.  I didn’t add value, I didn’t keep in touch, and definitely didn’t invite them to work with me!   In the end I had over 300 people on my list – none of whom were hearing a peep from me.

The truth is, I was too scared to email them.

The day I sent my first email out was one of the most terrifyingly knee-knocking moments of my whole business journey.  You can imagine my relief when I started getting replies saying how nice it was to hear from me and how useful the email I’d sent was.  And years later I know how important nurturing the list you’ve worked so hard to grow is.

The things I got wrong

4.  I didn’t hire a PA or get my systems organised until it was too late

I hired a virtual assistant very early on, but this was just basic email management for a couple of hours a week, because I didn’t feel I could afford more support.  My business grew very quickly because I’d started seriously investing in getting help with the “what I don’t know” part of running a business (in my case this was quite a lot!).

From the outside it looked like everything was a great success, but it was chaos behind the scenes. I was so focused on the sales and marketing side of things, as well as the delivery to my clients, that I didn’t focus on the back-end until it was really too late.  I ended up with a business that was like an out of control train and it was a lot more stressful than it needed to be for the first few years, contributing to me working crazy long hours and burning out more than once.

So my advice is, don’t wait!  As soon as you start seeing the green shoots of your business growth, start investing money in getting these systems and support in place – the ideal time to do this is before you feel ready.  And trust me on this.  Not getting the support earlier is my biggest regret.

5. I was in too much of a hurry to “succeed” – and it slowed me down!

I launched my first high end mentoring group only 6 months after first launching my first online programme. I did this because my mentors at the time told me that it was the only way to make money.  And it did work.   Offering high-end mentoring was what catapulted me straight to a 6 figure turnover.   And that would have been fine if I wanted my core business model to be my mentoring programme – but it wasn’t really my dream.

My big dream at that time was to reach thousands of people globally with my online programme.  But so much time and effort went into selling and delivering the high-end mentoring programme that there wasn’t much time left over to do what I needed to do to increase my reach with the online programme.

I now know that if I’d been willing to be patient and let things evolve financially a lot more slowly I could have achieved the vision that was closer to my heart a lot sooner.

And if I’d taken more time to get clear on what I really wanted right from the start, I would have been more likely to create the perfect business for me – not what someone else told me I should do. Like so many small business owners I was too busy rushing to achieve “success” without realising it was someone else’s version of success and not mine.

6. I tried to focus on too many things at once

In my second year running Selling from the Heart I did my first “joint venture launch” of my online programme, ran my first live event, launched my first high-end mentoring group, filled a second intake only 3 months later,  put on another two live events and created two new online courses.  I had all these ideas and I was trying to do them all at once.  My business mentor at the time advised me I was taking on too much but I was determined.   The end result was that I burned out and made less progress than if I’d focused on one thing at a time over a longer period of time.

It felt like a race. It felt so “urgent” to bring all of these creations into reality, as if time was somehow going to run out on me, that I felt an enormous pressure to do them all at once.

I wish I’d realised then what I now know – that I’m in this for the long haul.  And if I don’t get that new programme created this year, or that evergreen sales funnel set up that’s OK, my business still works.  And I always have next year, and the year after that.

I’m now much better at knowing what the highest priority outcome is that I’m working towards, and what I need to focus on to get me that outcome. And I’ve learnt to be OK with putting everything else on the back burner – no matter how shiny and exciting it is.  I know that I’m not a “failure” just because there are things in my business I haven’t put in place yet.

I’m also much better at knowing that it’s more important to enjoy the journey, than to tick off all the “business successes” right now but feel constantly exhausted – there’s plenty of time.  I’m not going anywhere.

How About You?
I’m hoping that reading this will reassure you that it might not be as important to “get everything right” as you might be thinking.   On reflection the important lesson to take from this is that I was mostly taking action, even if it wasn’t always the best action.  And in the end all the stuff I didn’t do so well did come good – and I started getting more things right too, which certainly made things a lot easier!

As a result I’ve had a consistent 6 figure revenue for the past 12 years.  I’ve also helped hundreds of heart-centred business owners to start to grow businesses that are really working for them.  Mainly by helping them to short-cut some of the “don’t know what don’t know” problem, and also helping them create a business that they can really love to run – rather than following someone else’s model or system.

Create a Business you Love – Free PDF Guide

To learn more about my approach to growing a business you can FALL in love with and STAY in love with, sign up to receive this e-book where I share my secrets to creating a truly successful and sustainable business – without burning out or falling out of love with it along the way.

Sign up to for the e-Guide here.

Do share in the comments below – I always love to hear from you!

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  1. Ritu on August 15, 2023 at 10:00 pm

    I Love your “how I got started” type of content because it makes me less afraid to make mistakes as I also get started. Thanks for sharing this Catherine!

  2. Yanina on May 10, 2018 at 1:27 am

    Thank you, Catherine! Such a useful video and just on time for me as well.

  3. Susan Payton on May 9, 2018 at 11:08 am

    Great video! So timely and really useful. Thank you.

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