How I Became Successful In Business
This is the question that every new business owner wants to know from every successful business owner ever:
“How did you become successful in business?”
I started The Uncaged Life in November 2011, so that means I’m heading into my 4th year in business (holy shit!). And I am thrilled (for my own sanity) to say that I am at the point in my business where things WORK.
But it wasn’t always that way. So I wanted to share a little bit about some of the things that I did to help me get here.
But first – I need to mention money. I LOVE talking about money, but I don’t like talking about how much money I make in my business. It feels SUPER weird. Which is funny because it didn’t feel weird when I was making very little money… but now that I am making more than a little money, it feels weird.
But I’m going to talk about it a little bit because I think it’s a great measure of success in a business. Sure, there are other ways to measure success (joy, free time, being of service, how you wake up feeling everyday etc). But since I am in the business of helping people grow businesses, and my clients want all of that PLUS they want the money, honey, I feel that it’s important to share a little about the money in my own business.
Because let’s all be honest here – no one wants to hire a business coach who is struggling to pay their rent. We all want to know that the people we trust with our businesses have done it themselves and can help us get to where they are.
Ok? So I may bring up money in the following stories, but let’s not get all weird about it.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
Confused. Scared. Motivated.
That’s how I felt when I was starting Uncaged. I knew I wanted to create an amazing community of people who wanted to travel the world and work with no pants on and do what they want when they want.
But that is all I knew. I didn’t really have a clear sense of what my business did for people. I certainly didn’t have package and programs outlined. And I had zero idea how to actually create this big dream of mine. But I knew that I was going to work my ass off to figure it out.
So I paid for help.
Here are a few of the things I invested in during the first year:
Life coaching with a business focus
Copywriting for my entire site (before I had a site)
A bundle of online business building courses
B-School with Marie Forleo
More life coaching with a business focus
Daily Whip with Erika Lyremark
An online course about branding
An online course about social media
An online course about attracting clients
An online course about creating online courses
Two months one-on-one with a well known business coach
Did any of this help me? Sure. In small ways. But was it what made the difference in my business? No.
All these courses did was take me further into the rabbit hole of getting wayyy ahead of myself without first having a solid foundation.
Not to say they weren’t useful (I NEVER regret spending money on my business even if it doesn’t turn out the way I thought it would. I think you always learn something from every dollar you spend.)
But remember my house example from last week’s post? Yeah – like that. I was buying all the fancy furniture before I even built the damn house.
My first year was a LOT of experimentation and a lot of time spent dilly dallying because honestly, I didn’t know what the fuck I was really doing. Or who I was helping. Or what exactly I did for them.
I made money in my first year – about $15000 total – but my lack of clarity in my niche and my services was certainly responsible for me not making more. I even sent out an email to my list and asked them to tell me in their words what they thought I did… and the answers were all over the map (and none of them were quite accurate). Good sign that I needed to reel things in, and fast, if I was ever going to make this work.
At the time I was coaching new business owners, people who didn’t know what they wanted to do with their lives, and people who were working 9-5 jobs and wanted to do something different but had no idea WHAT they wanted to do – whether it was starting a business, finding a new career, or saying FUCK IT and packing up on a round the world trip.
MY SECOND YEAR OF BUSINESS
In my second year of business I made the jump to making around $85000. And in the third year I cleared 6 figures in net income. This was a HUGE deal to me and exceeded my ultimate business goals by a lot. I never thought that this would happen. But it did.
And here is exactly what I did to make it happen.
I stopped looking at everyone else’s business and started focusing on my own. I unsubscribed from everything. I stopped taking courses and hiring coaches. And I NICHED THE HELL IN. Big time.
I coached myself. HARD.
I forced myself to make decisions that weren’t easy to make. I had to get really honest about which clients I LOVED working with and where my best skills were.
I defined my business message and also REALLY narrowed down what problem I solve for people. I changed all the copy on my site so that it no longer said I would work with the career change people and the travellers, and niched in to ONLY focusing on online, service-based businesses.
And that decision? Was terrifying.
But that decision? Was also the the most important thing I did in my business ever. And as soon as I did it, I saw my income grow, my clients base get more solid, and my message get spread way more loudly and clearly than ever before.
3 month business building checklist
ENTER YOUR EMAIL BELOW TO learn exactly what to do to start your new business
3 month business building checklist
ENTER YOUR EMAIL BELOW TO learn exactly what to do to start your new business
MY THIRD YEAR
Once I had cut all the crap and forced myself to get really super specific, I was finally able to create packages that were CLEAR to people who visited my site.
I dropped many of the programs I was selling and created niche-y as hell packages that sold out right away, and continue to sell out (and I now teach that process in Hey, Nice Package!)
I was finally able to STOP all the mad experimenting and settle into a place of ease in my business, where I could run the same programs over and over and over and fill them every time and actually take some time away from creating new stuff all the time.
Not only did I gross more than double my income from last year, I worked WAY less. And while I was working way less, my business continued to grow while I was enjoying time away rock climbing and eating everything in Italy and living my life again like a regular person.
I was running Uncage Your Business while I was doing this:
Any my online digital programs were selling while I was doing this:
The reason I am telling you all this, $$ numbers, details, photos and all, is because I want you to see what is possible when you stop messing around with the wrong things in your business, and start focusing on the stuff that will actually help you get further along and finally make some damn money, so you too can run your business while galavanting around islands (or while taking care of your kids, or while doing volunteer work in Africa, or whatever other wild Uncaged adventures you have in mind).
And I know what you’re thinking – because I thought the same thing.
It feels like I will never get there.
That kind of success is for other people – not for me.
It all sounds like too much damn work.
I don’t know if I have what it takes.
I have been trying and nothing is working.
I said all of those things, and more (likely with a few more swear words thrown in during the rough times). I said them all because everyone online tries to make it all seem so easy and it did not feel easy.
And I know that you are smarter than to believe all the people online who tell you they can help you make 6 figures in 3 months and and that they tell you it will be a piece of cake.
They won’t help you do that and it won’t be a piece of cake… but what WILL make it easier is getting the right kind of help. I had a lot of help when I started… just not the right kind.
I don’t regret investing in a single one of the programs I paid for, because once I coached myself to get mega clear on my message, my packages, my clients, my results and all the in betweens, I was finally able to USE all the more nitty gritty stuff I had learned in the past.
But all of it was virtually useless for me until I reeled everything in, focused, made some hard decisions, and took charge of my business from the bottom up.
And I know the same will be true for you. You can have all the things you want and more and maybe even unicorns and rainbows and the ability to poop glitter (anything is possible?), if you just stop getting ahead of yourself, take the time to build your business like a rock from the ground up, and FOCUS.
Not just anyone can do this – but YOU can do it. I know you can.
PS. If you’re new to business (or things just aren’t working) and you need a serious boost of clarity about who you are, what you do, and what to SELL, check this out. .
Amazing post Becca! You’re so right – everything starts to change when you gain clarity. When I did UYB in December 2013 I was totally floundering arond with my head up my arse… your program really changed that. Right now I’m kind of getting more clients than I know what to do with, putting business systems in place and starting to actually feel like a professional, and not a kid playing at business.
I love love love your story Ffion and I totally remember how you felt about your business before UYB (and your hesitation about signing up). I am SO happy you took the plunge and it’s been absolutely amazing watching your progress since then! xo
I’ve done nearly as much as you did, Becca – in the same order! I’ve paid for courses and coaching and am nowhere near where I want to be. In the last two weeks I’ve been narrowing down my niche according to my passions and decided I want to be a support to the Disney community of fan sites, bloggers and related businesses with social media services. But I worry that I’ve niched down too far. I’ve had my domain name for several years and am now building the site but I am nervous. I’m doing REVA work just to put money in the bank (but it’s not a lot). I built a 250K biz that I had for 20 years but walked away from it because it cost my husband his health. I just wonder if I have another ‘big thing’ in me again.
What if it just started as a small thing? I think it’s the pressure we put on our businesses that makes things WAY harder than they need to be.If you did it once you can totally do it again – and now you have so much experience that you can make sure you build it in a way that SUPPORTS your lifestyle and your health!
This was so great Becca! Thank you for sharing!
I am new in my business and have scatter brain syndrome when it comes to my area of focus. I really excited about your upcoming course “uncage your business”.
I chose my theme for this year and it is “clarity”. Thank you for being you and always shining bright through your writing and on the phone. I’m excited to work with you and to get more clear about my vision!
Sooooo excited to work with you in UYB Brandy!! We will clear up ALL the scatterbrainedness, don’t you worry!
This is the first time I’m mega clear in my biz amd know it’s gonna be huge for me. Thanks Becca for sharing!!!
Can’t wait to watch you rock it out in 2015 Alexis!
I love cold hard solid facts along with your personal flavor sauce how you did it! This is super helpful as a new person in biz. I’m at the point of experimenting with 3 businesses. Just closed one since it didn’t align in all the ‘must’ places but felt I tested it pretty well. I have one more experiment with a local class to see if the topic resonates before I say I’m all in and build it as an online biz.
For UYB what’s the best point with a potential business to get the most out of it? I feel I might need the local class feedback to really get solid about where i might niche or if my uniqueness is really perceived that way.
Hey Tess! As long as you have decided what business you want to build, UYB is great. If you have NO idea what you want to do, I’d recommend getting a little more clear on that before you sign up.
We work on messaging and niching and making sure to find your sweet spot and how to package it all up in UYB – so it sounds like you might be good to go? Feel free to shoot me an email with some more info and I can give you a better response!
Becca, I so so hear you about buying programs, coaching, etc BEFORE I was ready to implement anything. I did in bits and pieces and that’s only gotten me so far. This last year was my ‘get real or get out’ year and boy, did I get real.
Agree also with getting off most lists except those that are most targeted to your work. “Compare and despair” can run rampant when you’re busy looking at what everyone else is doing.
Great tips and insane wisdom in this post. Thank you!
A web designer just commented on one of my posts today that she was confused about why I don’t recommend my clients start out paying for a fancy schmancy website right out of the gate. Pretty much everything you just said is what I said. All those things are super valuable, but only after you know what you do! A couple of years of failed online businesses behind me and nearly a year into this brand, and I’m still getting nichier (?) by the month!
Nichier is TOTALLY a word! haha
Great post Rebecca! I spent all of 2014 investing in my “biz education” and 2015 is all about putting the pedal to the metal. I’m SO excited to see where my biz goes in the next few years b/c coaches like YOU have been an inspiration and show me what’s possible. Thanks for being you!
Woot woot – get down to business girl!
This is so crazy inspiring. I feel like I’m getting more and more zeroed in on my niche and its giving me so much more clarity as to the future. Hopefully in a few years I’ll be having the same monetary success as you
You can TOTALLY do it Sophie! My advice is to get zeroed in early on because that’s when everything gets so much easier!
Great post Becca! Having had an offline biz to coming online there is so much noise and confusion on what to do. Focusing on your own biz is so important and crucial for growth & profits.
I am new to this blogs.. but charged up after going through your detailed success story. I plan to write about my health tips on my blog..
I’m entering my third year and totally agree about getting the RIGHT help. I’ve said the same words recently and it’s so true. We have to unplug from former teachers and influences in order to hear our own voice and actually be honest about what’s True for us! Which as you say, does not disregard their value + contribution to our journey. I see year three as quite pivotal. If you don’t take risks and Honor your value by putting your ass out there–even if you look like an ass, how will you learn what works best for You, and grow. How will you truly connect with your “ideal people.”
Awesome post. Love your sass-appeal. Thank you!
Totally agree! I think 3-5 years is about the time it takes to really get in the groove and start to see real results of all your hard work. Unfortunately too many people give up before that!
Great post – particularly about getting clear about yourself first, before you can make the best of all the programs and trainings you have invested in. I have a similar experience, which I have written about: http://business-soulwork.com/recovered-6591-hard-drive/
Loved this post Becca! Wow 🙂 Really inspiring and motivational and I’m looking forward to really getting clear as this year unfolds!
Seriously, do you read my mind and then write posts about my questions that I haven’t even asked you?
No, really… I just spent the last three months doing exactly what you describe in year one (different people, different courses, but same thing) cram cram cram so much in my head that I won’t even be able to access it to utilize it… of course, I don’t NEED to utilize it yet, but I pushed so much in there, I’m not sure I’ll be able to find it when I DO need to use it…
And they were all the wrong things for the right now … so now I am way ahead on my “two years from now” stuff” but way behind on my “just do this” stuff… but, I am just doing it anyway. I’ll go ahead and make the mistakes, cuz that’s how we grow, right?
And … it’s working. When I finally tried the ‘stop learning, time to s**t or get off the pot’ approach, I had three clients contact me, cold (didn’t sign, but that’s okay, for now). And because I wasn’t so focused on learning stuff I can’t use yet, I have been out and about in the wild stumbling over potential venues, co-presenters, and possibilities. I went from “holy hell, what do I write for my content” to “crap, I can’t write as fast as the ideas are coming”…
Thanks for the post and the support. Can’t wait to see what comes up next ~
Joyce – yes, indeed, I am a mind reader! Except that my mind reading skills consist of REALLY listening to my clients and the folks in my private Facebook group and then using their words for blog post ideas… SHHHHH don’t reveal my secrets!
Thank you for sharing this Rebecca! I spent 2014 investing in biz education as well, and have promised myself 2015 is the year of F*ck My Fears and actually going for it, putting myself out there. Sometimes it’s easy to become discouraged when first starting out, and this post really helped re-inspire me.
How’s 2014 going for ya?
Amazing Post and Motivation For me Thanks For Sharing You Experience here.
This is so awesome I love it when business owners tell their stories and get really in depth with it. One thing I love about your story is you quickly realize that it all came down to you. You had to be the one to make the decisions. You have to be the one to figure out what was best for your business.
Amazing Post,Great Motivation For me Thanks For Sharing You Experience.
The freaking best post I have read about business in a long time, possibly ever.
Found you through BYCA and am loving your bull-shit free take on everything.
Aw thanks Maddy! (do we know each other well enough for me to call you that yet??)
Hope you’re loving your coach training!
thank you very much for share your experience.
Verry inspiring and motivational post.
Thank you for spending your time for sharing with us your success story :* 🙂
Great article Becca, thank you! I’m in my fourth year of business and all is going well. I’m super busy ALL the time but that doesn’t really translate into exponential growth in income. It was my goal to get my first employee this year, so I can concentrate on designing & getting new products to market but I’m such a control freak!
great post thanks for sharing
WHEW. I just recently found you and this post is exactly what I needed to hear. “Get clear on your own voice.” Yes. Thank you!!
Great Motivation Everyone 🙂
Thanks For Sharing Your Experience.