HUGE EMBARRASSING MOMENT TIME!
I have been looking through all my old emails and files from RIGHT before I started Uncaged (about 6 months before I launched).
I was digging through all this because my students in Uncage Your Business usually come in with some vague, generic business idea, where they are trying to smoosh too many things together and are having a hard time getting really clear and tangible about what they do (and it’s not helping them get any clients!) (psst – if that sounds like your business right now, the self-study version of UYB is on sale now!)
And there I am in the course, saying “Yeah yeah yeah, I GET what you are saying. I UNDERSTAND how you want this business to be a true reflection of everything that you are. I KNOW you don’t want to niche in. But no one will buy it. I’m telling you now“.
And they think “You couldn’t possibly understand”
But the thing is, I do. I understand VERY MUCH.
My first business
Before I started Uncaged, I waffled for about 6 months trying to figure out exactly what I was doing in my new “business”. I had graduated from nutrition school as a registered Holistic Nutritionist. I also had a life coaching certificate and wanted to help people change their lives. And I had unique views on work and life that I wanted to share.
So, I set out to start my business… a business about life coaching… and nutrition.. .and adventure… and business.
My tagline was “eat.think.be.happy”.
I thought this was brilliant. Because, you see, you have to eat well and take care of your body to be happy. And you have to think good thoughts and have a positive mindset to be happy. And you have to love what you are doing in your life, to be happy.
And I wanted to help people with ALL of that! Because I wanted people to be happy! (omg, right?)
So I set off to try to start this business right.
- I hired a business coach (a sassy loud mouth blogger who is still well known around the internet) and tried to get more specific. She made me do a customer avatar and it only left me more confused.
- I took programs to try to get more specific. I got stuck in them because they wanted me to jump into marketing a business that I couldn’t even clearly articulate.
- I hired someone to help me with my branding, and website, and business cards (colossal waste of money right there).
All of these people, they told me this my idea was inspiring! That this would really help empower people! That this would be so great!
But here’s the thing — there is a big difference between inspiring people, and having people give you lots of money for something.
One is a nice idea. The other is a business.
I had a nice idea. And I’m kinda pissed now that no one told me the truth — that this would never make me any money.
I struggled for 6 months to put this together, trying to figure out how to integrate recipes into a site about personal development. It was SO confusing in my head (and hot tip: if it’s confusing in your head, it’s 100x more confusing to other people!).
The embarrassing evidence
To show you exactly how much I was struggling and how clueless I was, here are some EXACT snippets of unedited emails that I sent out to various people (my web designer, the marketing strategist I hired, etc). Getting away from this kind of confusion and creating a business that is actually clear, is what we do in Uncage Your Business (click here to enroll in the new self-study program for $300 off!)
This is what I wrote to the girl helping me with my logo and business cards:
❌I’ve decided to focus on coaching, helping ppl create lifestyles they love, starting businesses they care about. Having wild adventures, making sure they don’t get stuck in a pit of mediocrity. I may do a bit of coaching around wellness and emotional eating, but I’m not doing any nutrition services at the moment.
^^ how fucking confusing is THAT. If you have a toothache, you don’t go to a marketing person who also has a background in general medicine who is really into like, helping people live your best life. YOU GO TO A DENTIST. When you have a problem, you want to go to an expert, someone who you KNOW will be able to help you. You want someone who can say “Hey, are you in pain from a toothache? I’m a dentist. I can help fix toothaches”. They don’t want someone to say “Oh, you have a toothache? Or are you maybe unfulfilled in life? Or do you maybe want to start a business? I can do any of those things! Hire me!”
And don’t get me started about the insanity this kind of un-clarity will cause you in your business. Forget trying to write blog posts. You will confuse yourself trying to figure out what to write about. And if you think you can just rotate topics weekly – nope! That was what I thought I would do — one week would be Eat. One week would be Think. One week would be Be (remember my awesome tagline? I thought this was brilliant!).
BUT — what I know now, is that would have been a terrible idea. Consistently changing topics will confuse the fuck out of people. If someone follows you because you wrote a post about emotional eating, they then don’t want to see a post about finding your life purpose the next week. They want to see another post about emotional eating. Because that’s what they thought you were all about. You need to focus your content in very specific ways in order to sell people on your services. Too many topics = business death. Don’t do this.
This is what I wrote to the marketing consultant I hired:
❌I have ideas about a blog focused site that combines elements of health and wellness (recipes, nutrition tips for the non-nutritionist, how to be healthy without having to become a hippie), “coachy” type musings (gratitude, truth telling, risk taking…), and stories of other people who have taken control of their lives in unconventional ways (friends who have chosen alternative treatment for illness, others who have quit their day jobs to start small companies based around their passions, tales of risk taking etc etc).
^^ what?? What I can give myself credit for is that I was showing some of my points of view in there (something that is hugely important for your business and big part of what we work on in Uncage Your Business. You need to stand for something in your business and UYB shows you how to do that). You can tell that I didn’t love being a typical life coach. And that I had a POV that eating healthy didn’t have to make you a huge hippie. But the problem was, again, that were was just TOO much happening. Too many points of view that would just water down my message and confuse everyone (including me) when combined.
And this gem, to the girl helping me get a basic website up:
❌I want it to be more of a site about ME rather than a business site, but I still want to use it for business… kind of like a resume in blog/website form, if that even makes sense. Kind of like – here are all the things I love, here’s what I’m good at, hire me if you think we’d jive…
^^ NO! Just…. no. First off, no one is going to give you a bunch of money just because they LIKE YOU. And the first rule of business is that it’s not about you — it’s about THEM (your clients). Making your business a personal resume or place to fulfill allll your passions is a huge no-no.
And then can we just talk about the “I want to make this not really about business, but it’s still a business”. Nope. That’s not how that works. If you run a business, you need to treat it like a business. If you treat it like a hobby blog, you will get the results of a hobby blog (ie. people telling you how inspiring you are, but no one giving you money for being inspiring). The sooner you start to treat your business like a BUSINESS, the sooner it will BE a business (ie. a thing that makes you money)
And then also this the same girl
❌ I also had brainstormed with a friend and came up with “they all become blueberries” for a tagline – from willy wonka, where the girl gets greedy and eats the gum that is a 3 course meal, and then turns into a blueberry. hehe kind of funny and sort of fits.
^^ I have no clue how this even “sort of fits”. This is proof that clear is ALWAYS better than clever (and that goes for business names, taglines, package names, blog post titles, and pretty much anything else you ever do in your business)
The icing on the cake
And now, for your last bit of entertainment, attached is my first logo for my “multi-passionate” coaching business (notice how the flower is also a lettuce leaf, because HEALTH! But not TOOOOO obviously about health, because I am about so much more than just health! Also, the flower stem is also an “L” which stands for Lynn, my middle name. Which is clearly very important to have represented in my logo).
DEAR GOD. How much time and energy I wasted on this is embarrassing.
I probably don’t have to tell you this, but this business went nowhere. Because I realized REAL quick that it made no fucking sense. If I couldn’t wrap my head around what I was offering, you better believe no one else would be able to either. I wish I had Uncage Your Business back then for myself!!
Getting my shit together
I remember, finally, when enough was enough.
I had been going to the same coffee shop for weeks to “work on my business” and I had written website copy about 3 times, deleted it, started again… I had tried to build the recipes section into my site in 5 different ways (did I mention that I HATE writing recipes? I am not even a good cook! But I felt like I HAD to do this because that’s what a health coach did! Except I wasn’t a health coach.. or was I? I literally could not have told you).
One day, sometime in November, I finally said to myself “Becca – you need to drop the fucking nutrition thing. It’s not what you want to do. Let is go (who cares how much money and time you spend on your degree). It’s confusing and you need to get your shit together and get something working here”.
And so I did. And it was immediate freedom. I got really honest with myself about what the piece of my business was that i was really the most excited about, and I came up with the idea for Uncaged (focusing specifically on the BE piece, and even more specifically, on helping people create businesses they loved), and the site came together quickly after that. In fact, I got my first REAL paying client (total stranger!) within a month of going live with my website here at Uncaged (hurrah!).
Of course, Uncaged has changed a lot since then (that was 2011!), and I’ve had to chop parts of my business off like that several more times in order to continue to grow….. but that ONE decision that day made all the difference. It helped me create a clear enough idea and message to at least get started with. It helped me get my website launched, and get blog posts written, and get traffic coming in. It helped me start a business.
The moral of this embarrassing story
If this post sounds like I’m describing you, I want to be that voice that I didn’t have when I hired all those people years ago.
You NEED to get more clear. You need to get specific. You have alllll the rest of your life to do your passions. They do NOT all need to be included in your business.
I get it. I really do. But it’s just not going to work. I SO wish I had figured this out 6 months sooner than I did. I know many of you have been waffling on this for 6 moths already. Or more? It’s ok. You’re not alone.
But f you want the freedom to build a biz that works, you need to start getting really real with yourself here. And soon. you can only linger in the fogginess and unclarity phase for so long before you jump ship altogether.
Decisiveness is freedom.
Clarity is freedom.
Specificity is freedom.
Niching is freedom.
And making money from your business, is freedom.
My Uncage Your Business students experience this all the freaking time. Once you CHOOSE to be clear, to simplify, to get specific, EVERYTHING becomes easier. And easy is freedom.
Ready for business freedom? The new Uncage Your Business self-study program is waiting for you (and is $300 off til Monday only!). Clarity and creating a business that works it’s rocket science. There is no mystery to it. You just need the right guidance and a firm but loving kick in the ass to get CLEAR.
That’s what I’m here for.