Whew, the end of another year! It’s hard to believe I started my business almost a decade ago in 2011.
I recently found an old year-end post from 2013 (my 2nd year in business!), and it was SO fascinating to read back on where my business was at and what I was working on, in those early years. My business is now going into it’s 9th year, and a lot has changed since 2013… and a lot hasn’t changed.
Click here to read my 2013 year in review post. Then make sure to come back here and keep reading!
There are a couple things that from this post back in 2013:
- I worked a LOT in my second year in business — like 50+ hours a week (this was the year that I got a lot of visibility by doing like 30 guest posts/interviews in a row. It made a huge difference in my business and let me hit $100k the following year). This is what it takes when you’re new to not only start but GROW a business. And yes, once you reach a certain level of success you will be able to work WAY less (there’s no way I would work consistent 50 hour weeks now!). So if you’re hustling now, know that it will pay off and it will calm down!
2. I created more than 18 new programs in 2013 (and one of them was Uncage Your Business – the only program I sell right now!) Many of the other programs were one and done, and a few of them I kept for a while, and then ultimately ditched so I could focus JUST on UYB. The lesson here is that you have to be willing to EXPERIMENT and try new ways of working, til you find YOUR best way. I have always been good at this in my business and it’s a huge part of my philosophy of making your business work – taking fast action is what will help you grow the fastest (versus incessant planning)
3. This was also the year that I created our free Facebook group, Uncaged Lifers, and got 800 people in it! If you’re not a part of the group, join here. I am SO proud to say that the group has grown to over 12k members, and it maintains the same focus as it did when I started it – as a place for new businesses to gather to support each other, get to know each other, and build their businesses alongside each other. I have seen many other FB groups come and go, but ours remains one of the best communities out there.
Before I get into the full review of the year, I’ll share a little bit about what happened here at Uncaged this year.
The most notable things were that I put my signature program on evergreen, and I hired a full time team member!
MAJOR CHANGE #1:
I have been offering Uncage Your Business as a LIVE program for over 4 years now, but I have many people who find me here at Uncaged in between live launches, and it’s no fair that they have to wait for months before they can join the program. So I made the scary decision to turn UYB into a self-study program, that you can join anytime! So most of 2019 was about enrolling people into Uncage Your Business, both the self study which is open all year, and the two live rounds of the program which I still run in the spring and in the fall.
I was so nervous about turning UYB into evergreen — there is SO much live feedback involved when I teach the program live, that I had all kinds of mindset gremlins about what would happen if I removed the live element.
Turns out — nothing. What I have learned is that the self-starters, the people who love DIY programs and don’t need the live calls and feedback, thrive with the self study! Some of them even complete it in a week and get out there and start getting clients! The people who know that they need more handholding, will hold out and join the live program.
It’s definitely been a bit finnicky trying to be clear about the difference between the self study and the live class. Both are the same content, but the live class includes SO much live support, feedback, and momentum (hence why the price is more expensive!). There has been a bit of confusion about it, so we have worked on getting more clear in our marketing about the options for joining Uncage Your Business
Which by the way are…..
- You can join the UYB self study ANY time and get started right away!
- If you join the self study and still need more support, we offer you a super great deal to upgrade to the live class (you actually get the BEST deal on UYB this way)
- Or, you can wait and join us LIVE in spring and fall (Next round starts in April!).
People have asked me if I will ever stop running the live class, and honestly, right now, my answer is no! I really love the amount of energy and momentum in the live class, and I know that not everyone is suited to self study. Many new business owners need guidance and live feedback on their work, and I LOVE doing that part in the live program! So for now, it’s here to stay!
MAJOR CHANGE #2
I hired Meighan! My team had been struggling for a while — I had a VA who wasn’t totally working out, and I didn’t have anyone in a more managerial/operations role (and I certainly wasn’t doing it!). This means that instead of running a business that just keeps on rolling when I take time off, everything kind of comes to a halt and not much is happening. It still worked for me, but now that we have UYB self study, I need our marketing to be operating all the time, not just during launches. My dream was to have someone who could take on a marketing and community management role and to help project manage and make sure shit gets done… WHILE I am away travelling and hiking! So I bit the very scary bullet and hired an integrator/operations manager. I never thought I’d be paying one of my contractor’s the equivalent of a full time salary, but here I am. It’s been SO great having someone on board with me to have my (and my business’s) back and run the business alongside me. I am SO excited for the year ahead with Meighan by my side!
This isn’t really a lesson I just learned in 2019, but I had to get much more committed to it when hiring Meighan.
The lesson: Less is more in my business.
It needs to be SIMPLE. I don’t believe that you always have to be switching gears and striving for crazy growth or world domination, in order to have a great business that works and that you love and that pays you well. What I have realized is that my business model rocks — I offer ONE program in two ways. When I hired Meighan she took on a lot of tasks to get some of our systems up to speed… but at the end of the day, I was able to boil down her role to one thing — help get more students into UYB. That’s it, really. It’s so focused. I don’t feel the need to blow it all up or make it more complicated than that! I have a great program that gets results. I run my business in order to have a LIFE, and I make sure that I have lots of time to live that life! Lots of other people prefer to work in lots of other ways — it’s such an individual choice about how you set up your business to fit YOUR life. If nothing else, I hope your takeaway from everything I do is this — that you can create a business that works for YOU.
I decided to do a two-part review this year: One part answering the same questions that I did in my 2013 post, and one part ask-me-anything.
Here we go!
YEAR IN REVIEW 2019 (8th year in business)
THE HARD DATA
Income in 2018: $350k USD
Income goal for 2019: I didn’t actually have one!
Actual gross Income in 2019: $450k USD
Income goal for 2020: $750k
List size end of 2018: No idea – likely around 10k
List size end of 2019: 6k (we just did a big list clean up and deleted inactive contacts)
List size goal for 2020: I don’t really have one — our list tends to hover between 6k-11k, depending on launches and how often we clean our list. Lack of a HUGE list hasn’t stopped me from growing!
Pageviews on TheUncagedLife.com in 2019 (average): I actually have no idea and don’t know why I even cared in 2014 lol. I have never been good at looking at data in my business, so we just hired the amazing Rita Barry to do a full in depth analytics repost for us. We can now see at a glance exactly how everything in our funnels is converting, what people are doing after they land on the website, and any other data we might need. Meighan will be in charge of monitoring that, but now that our goal is to scale our evergreen program, we need to get serious about conversion data! But pageviews probably are not the most important thing!
Weekly hours I worked in 2018: ??? I would guess somewhere around 5 in between launches, and 50 during launches
Weekly hours worked in 2019: same as above
Programs/courses I created/sold in 2019: Uncage Your Business live and self-study, affiliate for Sales School, Affilaite for Copy That, Affiliate for Website That Wows, and I pulled my Create Your First Group Program out of the woodworks and ran it again. 90% of my income comes from Uncage Your Business though, and I really just do the affiliate stuff because I LOVE these courses and I know my folks here at Uncaged need them!
THE SOFT DATA
My theme word for 2019 was: I didn’t have one! But if I had to look back retroactively, it would be GROWTH
This year I accomplished: Finally hiring my dream team member (Hi Meighan, love you!)
And… Finally turning my program into a self study course and consistent making sales (my mindset gremlins told me this wouldn’t be possible! Thanks Mariah Coz for helping me do it!)
I did not accomplish: Making $1M. It wasn’t really my goal, and I only started to think about doing it in the Spring of this year, but I still hoped we would be closer to it than we got this year.
What got in my way was: A slower launch than usual (I blame a shitty email marketing system that sent most of our launch emails to spam or trash, and needing to dedicate most of our resources to overhauling all our systems in Q4 which left little time for marketing. We moved from Ontraport to ActiveCampaign, made some changes to our website and sales page, hired Rita Barry to do our in depth analytics reporting, re-did all our landing pages, started using ClickUp for project management, and just got lost in the weeds of putting out fires during all of this.
I am most proud of: Maintaining my lifestyle while in a growth phase and making 500k in the business.. I will admit, I worked more in Q4 than I usually do, because I didn’t want to just leave Meighan in the weed with all the systems overhauls. But during the rest of the year, I still lived my Uncaged life! I spent January in Mexico, February in Arizona climbing and hiking, May and June on a 2 month road trip finding my new forever home (Hello Squamish BC, here I come in May!), and July and August hiking over 500km with Rhubarb by my side. I will never sacrifice my life for my business, even though some periods of work get busier than I would like, I need to maintain this overall balance to be able to survive. It’s hard being the face of a business – there is so much pressure on you all the time, and without this time off, I know I would burn out.
I worked hardest at: Trusting my new team member and trying to let go of having to control EVERYTHING Still working at it 🙂
I failed most epically at: Creating new content. I don’t think I wrote more than 3 blog posts this year, oops.
And what I learned from this failure was: That it’s not really a huge deal if I don’t create new content weekly. But that it is important to keep showing up for my people, even on a semi-regular basis. I also learned that we have SO much old content that people have either forgotten about or never even seen, and part of Meighan’s job will be to repurpose that content to get new eyeballs on it.
What I would have done differently this year: I wish we had just left Ontraport earlier and not wasted months of Meighan’s time trying to learn a broken system. SO many glitches and so much time and money spent on trying to fix them, just to abandon it in the end. #byeOP
The biggest lesson I learned was: Growth is expensive. Paying a full time team member is scary. Hiring contractors to upgrade everything from website to copy to data reporting to sales strategies costs a lot of money. Sometimes you have to take the hit to be able to get the growth you want in the future.
The biggest risk I took was: Hiring someone full time and paying them almost as much as I pay myself. SCARY AF. But I know it will be so so worth it (it already is and we are really just getting started!)
This year I tolerated: Shitty work from contractors for way too long. I am just too nice and I give everyone the benefit of the doubt and I let people get away with too many mistakes for too long. My boyfriend Henry is much more practical and always tells me fire people MONTHS before I actually do. I learned my lesson this year and will be more diligent in demanding quality work from now on (Meighan is great for helping me enforce this too as she also has little patience for people who do half assed work).
I kicked serious ass at: Delivering my Uncage Your Business live programs. I LOVE running this class live and our students get amazing results. There is so much energy in the group and I really feel that Erin and I have found our groove to rock it out every single round. The next live class in in April, so mark your calendar if you want in! We will be sending out a special early bird link at the end of January.
I became a different person this year: When I did a 5 day solo backpacking trip. I have dome solo trips before, but this was a tough trail and I mentally had to get over a lot of hurdles to do it. It made me feel invincible and I have some big hiking goals for 2020 and a flicker of a dream to maaaaaybe hike the PCT (Mexico to Canada – yes, just like that book lol), in 2021. I have a long way to go to prepare, but it’s on my radar.
I learned this year that I am: Actually really smart at marketing. I already knew this (hell, my business is built on it lol), but over the years I have had many conversations with other business owners about what works and what doesn’t, and have seen so many models of success and seen many people fail. I am still one of the few that I know who has been able to build a business where I don’t have to work myself to the ground to make it work, and I do this by keeping it simple and sticking with a few key marketing strategies (be clear about what you do, get good at ONE thing, get in front of new people, and make offers).
I am super grateful this year for: Henry and his support (especially during launch time!), and Meighan and everything she is doing for Uncaged. Right from the start when I hired her in April, she treated Uncaged as if it is her own business, and I SO appreciate that. It really makes a difference to have a team member who is SO on board with your mission that she will fight for your business and its success. Thank you Meighan!
If I remember one thing from this year, I want it to be: That our Uncage Your Business system works, and that all we need to do it get more people to find out about it!
PLANS FOR 2020
My theme word for 2020 is: PROFIT. I want to focus on increasing profit this year in the biz. After Meighan and I get paid, and taxes are accounted for, I want more left in the business at the end of the day. 2019 was a growth year and we spent a lot of money. I am hoping for expenses to calm down and profit to increase in 2020!
This year I will commit to doing more of: Planning content in advance so that the business is always moving forward even when I am offline gallivanting around the mountains!
I will be most proud of myself if: I don’t work any harder, but the business grows 🙂
I will commit to accomplishing: At least one new piece of content monthly. I know that sounds low, but it’s much more than I do now!
I will STOP doing: Checking our Uncaged email. This is Meighan’s job, but I still can’t help but look at what is going on over there. It’s SO hard for me to let go of stuff like this, but I know it will be so worth it to keep myself out of it!
I anticipate my biggest challenge to be: Stopping checking in on all our email lol
I will make it easier on myself by: Changing the password?? SO not ready for that yet lol
This year I will not tolerate: Contractors that I pay good money to who half ass their jobs, don’t communicate, and make more than an acceptable level of mistakes.
This year I will take the risk of: Going to a live event — I got a ticket for Craft & Commerce, the ConvertKit conference. I HATE events, but I have some friends going and I thought it might be good to get out of the house. And I heard this one is different!
This year I will go to: Squamish!! I am moving to the mountains in BC, finally. We bought a house there last summer and will be moving in the Spring. SO many adventures to be had around there!
This year I will have: Lots of fun exploring around my new home.
This year I will be: Someone who is on their way to know how to build a million dollar business. This was never a goal of mine before, but now that we have the systems in place, I figure, why not try? Getting to $1M means we can help SO many more people start Uncaged businesses, and it means we can afford to hire a new team member to help support that growth.
I will have a relationship that is: Playful, supportive, and adventurous.
I will have friendships that are: NEW! Moving to a new town is so scary for me, and I know I will have to push myself to go out and make friends!
I will have a body that is: Pain free. Free from the chronic neck pain I have experienced over the past 10 years (working on it with an osteopath, he thinks it stems from a climbing fall I had back in 2010). And free from the foot pain I experience when I hike long distances (also from many years of stuffing my feet into rigid climbing shoes. Also working on this with my osteo!)
I will have a career that is: Stable, supportive, and easy.
I will hold myself accountable by: Having Meighan kick my ass into gear when I need it!
This year, I will never ever: Push myself to the point of burnout during a launch.
And I will always always: Continue to treat my students like individuals, like people rather than like numbers in my course or money in my bank account.
Thank you to everyone who submitted questions for this! Just a note that I omitted all questions about specific marketing strategy for your business, because this is meant to be a year in review about me and Uncaged (#selfindulgent). I do a lot of ask-me-anything posts in my FB group Uncaged Lifers. Make sure to join for free business help.
I will answer those other questions that were submitted in another post soon!
1. What’s Rhubarb’s story? How did you get her and when and what breed(s) is she? Does she love belly rubs?
LOL I love how many questions I got about Rhubarb. Rhubarb was adopted from a kill shelter in Kentucky and being fostered near Toronto. I always knew I wanted a blue heeler (Australian Cattle Dog), and had been kind of looking around to see if I could find a rescue near me. It was important to me to have a dog that I could put on my back (rock climbing!), but heelers can get pretty big at around 50-60lbs. When I saw Rhubarb (then named “Dinah” lol), she was a little 30lb nugget, and I knew she was my dog. I went to meet her and it was wiggly butt love at first sight. She likes belly rubs a little, but she mostly likes chasing sticks and balls for hours on end.
2. How do you fill your group program over and over again without going to 3 networking events everyday. That’s the advice I’m getting and I’m hoping there’s another route you could suggest. Thank you! 🙂
Ok let’s be real here — I have never been to a networking event. Ever. I do all my marketing online, I don’t like to leave my house for work stuff and networking events are SO not my thing (introvert over here!). Sure, they can be a great way to make connections, but if they are not your thing either, you don’t have to go to them. You can make just as good connections by meeting people in online places (Facebook, Instagram), and building your network by getting in front of other people’s audiences (guest posts, interviews, podcasts). This is how I started my business and it’s still a huge part of my strategy today!
3. Of the people who purchased your live course what percentage actually follow through and participate in all of the modules? Of those that DO participate what percentage still don’t launch? What are their biggest reasons for not gaining traction even after purchasing and participating?
We have an 85% completion rate in Uncage Your Business. I am SO proud of that (most online courses are more like 15%). It does end up that some people don’t launch and some people never become successful in business. This is more a function of the person themselves than the course (many of them have taken many courses before UYB). Some people just get into it and realize just how much work running a business is. And they don’t want to do it. Or life gets in the way. They have a baby. A family member gets sick. etc. OR, I’d say the most common thing that happens, is that their MINDSET gets in the way. They get stuck at the first failed launch or rejection after rejection, and they don’t make it through it. It’s why our mindset and clarity coach Erin Foley is such a huge part of UYB, and our participant completion and success rates in UYB have gone way up since Erin became a co-teacher in the course with me helping students move past the common mindset blocks that usually cause other business owners to quit.
4. I have a lot of ideas. At the beginning I’m full of hopes and energy. However as time goes by and I start to think about them thoroughly I get discouraged and I give up. I have failed so many times in my view that I no longer believe in achieving success. Has this ever happened to you? What did you do?
Yes, this has happened to me. Hire a coach who works with mindset AND has business strategy. You need support when you start a business. And if you are having mindset struggles like this, JUST learning strategy is not enough. And JUST mindset is usually not enough either (unless you have already learned the strategy). Once you have a coach on board, break things down into baby steps and get ready to play the long game. Do small things and set small goals so you don’t get overwhelmed. And keep going!
5. How long did it take you to reach real financial success with your business?
In my second year I made about 80k, and in my third year around $125k, so I guess 3 years? Knowing what I know now I think I could have fast tracked this by not wasting time and doing a program like Uncage Your Business right away to get off on the right foot and learn what it really takes to get clients, right away. I did some of the right things, but I also mucked around and wasted a lot of time being too broad and not niching right away. Success can come quickly when you start on the right foot! Also, here is the thing about the coveted “6-figures” thing. IT’S REALLY NOT THAT MUCH MONEY. This is a whole other blog post I have waiting to happen. But once you pay your expenses (usually around 20-30%), and your taxes (25-30%), it doesn’t really leave you all that much to work with. It’s EXCITING for sure for your business to hit that 6 figure mark, because it means thing are working, and you are usually in a good position to scale from there. I bring this up because I see a lot of people in my community who say things like “I don’t need to make 6 figures, I just need enough to live” (and I am sure I said the same thing when I started!).
But the thing is, 6-figures IS just enough to live once you factor in the costs of running a business and paying taxes. So let’s stop bashing people who say they want to make 6 figures and let’s ALL aim for that OR MORE. I can tell you, your business gets a whole lot easier the more money you make — you can hire help, not do everything by yourself, and TAKE TIME OFF. Oh, and help more people because you free up your energy and your time. If you’ve been staying small because you think you don’t need to earn 6 figures, I encourage you to actually look at what else would be possible in your business if you DID (and trust me when I say that things get so much easier when you can afford help!)
6. Do you think you will hit 7 figures in 2020 and is that your business financial goal?
That just became my business goal this year BUT I am not sure if we will hit it in 2020. The only way to scale to this amount right now is to ramp up sales of the self study Uncage Your Business program, and that is our focus this year. If I absolutely wanted to hit 7 figures, I know exactly how to do it. It would be to create a higher level year-long mastermind and fill it, in addition to UYB live and self study. It would be a no-brainer and I know I would his 1M pretty easily with this strategy…. BUT, living the lifestyle I do, I don’t want to run that kind of year-long program in my business. I would rather sacrifice income for LIFESTYLE. So I am working with my current business model to see what is possible, and I’ll know after this year how it is looking and whether we may want to pivot. I might decide to change my business model in the future but for right now it’s staying put! This is an important decision that EVERY business owner needs to make — what will you and won’t you do for the money? How do you want your days/weeks/months to look? How do YOU want to grow?
PS. I NEVER thought I would want a million dollar business. I just thought like, what’s the point? Turns out, the point is that 1) you can hire people to do a lot of your work for you, so you only have to work in your zone of genius, and 2) it’s kind of fun to say you have a million dollar business (most people don’t really realize that this doesn’t mean you ACTUALLY make a million dollars, but it’s fun to say nonetheless lol)
7. If you were to start your business again, what marketing activities would you prioritize during the first three months of business?
Niching, and then getting in front of other people’s audiences ASAP fast and furiously! I did a lot of that when I first started, but I would do even more! You can find my full 3-month business strategy here. It’s important that you have some other pieces in place before you start marketing yourself, and I walk through them in this resource.
8. Have you struggled keeping your lifestyle and making decision on wether to grow your business or not?
It has never really been a struggle for me. Lifestyle always comes first. Otherwise, what’s the point? (Other people might say stability would be the point, but I don’t have kids and don’t plan to, so stability is not something that is super important to me). See #6 for some insight into how I plan to grow and what I am not willing to do to get to 1M.
9. Hi Becca, You are one of the few people whose lifestyle I adore. I’d love to know if your current lifestyle and business are making you feel truly fulfilled. I’m mostly interested to know if your business is the answer to your higher, deeper calling. I perceive you to be so aligned with your values and living in harmony with your strengths and zone of genius and I’d like to know how that feels like. Thank you!!
Aw, thanks! I have to admit though — I don’t really feel like I have a deeper calling. I never have. But I recently heard Brooke Castillo say something about her mission in life. and I am adopting it as my own mission. She said that she wants to be an example of what is possible.
I have always felt the same way about not just my business but my life. I have always been a bit of an outsider — I never wanted to follow the traditional path and I never felt that you HAD to do the things that society wants you to do (buy the house, get married, get the job, live to pay your mortgage etc). So I always kind of bucked the system and just did my own thing. I never wanted a “real” job and when I started my business I felt determined to make it work just to show people that you could choose to NOT follow the traditional path, and it would be ok.
I actually didn’t really believe it then — I didn’t think my business would be successful. But now that it is, I am hell bent on making sure that my clients know that they can do it too. that just because your mom and your friend from high school think you are crazy, you CAN build a life doing work you like and have a lifestyle AND get paid well. So I want to be an example of that for everyone.
I will also say —
I don’t think that anyone should strive to find a business that fulfills everything for them
That is a LOT of pressure to put on a business! I don’t even believe your business has to fulfill your passions. Or that you have to even be in LOVE with every aspect of your business. I see your business as ONE piece of your life — it is a way to put your talents to use and make money to live. And you have LOTS of other areas of your life that can be combined together to create a fulfilling life. Putting THAT much pressure on a business is a recipe for disaster. I have seen it time and time again — people are told they have to find THE ONE thing that will fulfill them, and when nothing feels “perfect” they ditch it and keep searching. Most of these people never find the thing and never be successful business owners.
Instead, find someone you are good at, that you like pretty well, and that you can get paid for. You tend to develop meaning in your career over time, and don’t forget that the rest of your LIFE plays into your happiness too, not just your business.
10. What is your greatest interpersonal strength? What is your greatest interpersonal challenge? Thank you!
Biggest challenge is that I am not great at small talk and often feel awkward in group setting with a bunch of people that I don’t know. I’m good in small groups with 2-3 people but put me in a room at like a networking event and I kind of freeze. This is why i don’t do networking events!
Biggest strength is that I’m good at organizing things and making things happen for people. If I have a group of friends that say they want to say, rent an airbnb and go on a climbing trip, I’m usually the one to do all the research and book it. I HATE when people say they want to do something and then it never happens, and I’m such an action taker that I tend to take control on these types of situations. Many a great trip has been had because I took the lead and made it happen!
11. What is your favorite way to find new clients organically? I don’t really like the FB groups method.
Getting in front of other people’s audiences. Podcasts, interviews, and guest posts. And SEO after years of blogging.
12. What is the single best book you’ve ever read – for fun and for business? Best movie you’ve ever seen? Favorite song? Best advice you’ve ever received?
Book: I started reading again this year after a decade of not. I read like 15 books in the first 3 months of the year! I really liked The Great Alone and Where The Crawdad’s Sing. I wouldn’t say they were the greatest books I’ve ever read, but they are what comes to mind! I don’t read for business, I find it SO boring. I’d rather just watch the TED talk and get the gist. I don’t watch a lot of movies because it takes me too long to pick them on Netflix! I like to know ALL my options before choosing one, so I scroll through for like an hour and then by the time I get back to the beginning I am too tired to watch.
And the best advice I’ve ever received — don’t eat the yellow snow.
13. How do you manage your relationship and your business?
I don’t really find there is much to manage. It helps that my partner Henry also works for himself and is often working from home when I am working. We both take a lot of time off together to travel and not work and that’s great for our relationship. He does help out a lot when I am launching — he makes food, takes the dog out. and takes care of me! I call him my “launch husband”!
14. What does a typical day at Uncaged look like?
It depends on the time of year! If it’s launch time, I wake up around 7-730 (never with an alarm) and then have a bad habit of getting right on my laptop (no morning routine for me!). I will work all day (engaging in FB groups, answering emails, on my live chat) until 7-8pm, and then force myself to eat and relax lol. BUT, during non-launch times, I only work a little if I’m at home in Toronto. I’ll usually hit the gym or a yoga class during the day, maybe meet a friend for lunch, have a nap, or do research for trips I want to take. And then when we are not in Toronto, it means we are usually on the road in our campervan, and I work very little. Like maybe a few hours a week. I like these work/non-work cycles way better than a balanced work schedule all year long.
15. I was scrolling on your Instagram and I read a sentence in your caption that mentions your therapist. I’ve always seen you as a successful, resilient person, and knowing that someone as successful & resilient as you still goes to therapy, makes me feel more normal. (I had recently started going to therapy as being an entrepreneur has made me more depressed) What is your experience with therapy and how did it affect your outlook on your business as an entrepreneur?
Ouu good catch! I started therapy for the first time this year (I went a lot as a kid — divorced parents etc). I didn’t really go to talk about business stuff, more about personal stuff and patterns in my relationship that seem to keep coming up again and again. I only had maybe 4-5 sessions and then I started travelling, and stopped. But then I didn’t resume again when I got home. Because therapy is HARD and like most people, I don’t love looking at all the parts of myself that I don’t like. But thanks for the reminder! I guess I should go back…..
16. Where did you learn to sell so well?
Kendrick Shope. I have worked with Kendrick several times in her programs and hired her one on one over the years to help during launches. I don’t even think I am THAT great at selling (not because of Kendrick, but because I tend to forget stuff easily and not brush up on my skills regularly), but if I am any good at all it’s because of Kendrick! I highly recommend her Sales School program.
17. What are your main money blocks and how do you overcome them?
One that I have to battle often is “making money should be harder than this” and “making a lot of money isn’t fair to the people in the world who don’t have a lot of money”. I would’t say that these hold me back. but I always have to catch myself when I think it. As my business grows, and I work LESS, it feels a bit like cheating. It’s not, of course, but I always have a moment where guilt sets in and then I have to remind myself that how I make my money has nothing to do with anyone else, and that if you don’t work hard to make your money it doesn’t make you or your work any less valid. Making money can be easy.
18. How’d you learn to be so resilient and confident?
Ohhh probably years of childhood drama where I had to navigate some super tough and unfair situations by myself. I’m sure it also made me a lot of other not-as-positive things lol — but it sure as hell made me resilient.
19. Were you coached by Erin?
The Erin in question is Erin Foley — our amazing mindset coach in Uncage Your Business. I haven’t actually hired Erin as my coach, but I have seen her coach tons of people and have had conversations with her behind the scenes about some of my own mindset stuff, and that has helped immensely. Because of our working relationship it would be weird and not ideal for her to actually be my coach. But Erin is a HUGE part of Uncage Your Business and has been so instrumental in the success of our students!
20. Do you have a life coach/business coach?
Not really. I always invest in some kind of help for my business each year. It varies depending on what I need. But I haven’t ever really felt the need for an ongoing coach. This year my investment was hiring Kendrick for hands on sales help during my launch, and finishing up the Accelerator program with Mariah Coz which helped me get my UYB program on evergreen. For some people having an ongoing coach is great, but it doesn’t feel like the right thing for me since my business model is pretty set in stone and I already know how to market myself. This year, most of my investments went into FB ads strategists and hiring team members to help implement stuff so I can take more time off!
21. Where do you get new clients to join your programs?
Before a live launch I do 3 months of FB ads marketing to get new people into my audience, and then I use email marketing to sell to my email list. In between launches, I do podcasts interviews, engage in my Facebook group, and get people who find me through SEO and referrals (the perks of sticking with your business for 10 years!). These strategies also work for me between live launches when Uncage Your Business is for sale as a self-study program.
22. How much money did you make in 2019?
The business brought in just shy of $500k USD this year. But because this was a big year of growth and we had a lot of expenses (full time team member, complete systems overhaul, copywriting overhaul, tons of design and website changes, lots of contractors for various things along the way), we were low on profit this year (2% after expenses, team, taxes, and paying myself). My goal is to get to 10-15% profit next year.
23. Are you happy with the numbers at the end of the year? What number is the most important to you? Are you stating number goals at all?
I’m happy with our gross income but not thrilled about expenses and profit. This was a year of big spending and I am hoping to taper off expenses next year and keep more profit! At the end of the day if the business makes more money I will probably still take home the same amount, which isn’t that exciting for someone who likes instant gratification lol, but it means more savings in the business which is great for retirement!
24. How many UYB programs did you sell vs. the self-study? Is self-study working the way you hoped? Are people upgrading? What’s your strategy for this?
We had 200 people in the live program this year (100 per round), and we had 259 self study students join the program. We get about 10% upgrading each round, which to be honest, surprises me. It feels low.
I did some digging and asked out self-studiers why they didn’t upgrade, and I got a surprising response — half of them said they were doing amazingly with the self study and they didn’t need extra support (which obviously we love to hear!). And a few people said they didn’t quite understand the difference between the live and the self study and they weren’t sure why they would pay more money for the same program.
This was obviously shocking to hear and was great insight that we need to work harder on being clear about just how much value is included in the LIVE program! The self study really is a fantastic program, but for those who need more support and accountability and live feedback, there is nothing like the live program to light a fire under their ass!
25. What biz stuff do you do when you’re not in a big launch?
I’m often travelling between launches and don’t do a lot! We will usually do an affiliate launch or two (helping sell other people’s programs that are a fit for my Uncaged folks), and I’m often doing podcast interviews, but other than that, I don’t do a whole lot between launches because it’s my time off. Launching and then running UYB are so full-on that I need a good break in between!
26. How many employees or contractors do you have now? What do they do for you?
One (hi Meighan O’Toole!). I just hired Meighan in April this year, and she went to 40 hours a week in the fall. She does pretty much everything for me! She was hired as an integrator/operations manager, but a lot of this year was spent in the weeds just learning (and overhauling) all the systems in my business. We plan to hire a VA this year to take over the tech tasks in the biz so Meighan can focus more on marketing, growth, and community management.
27. How many hours do you work on an average week?
It depends on time of year — during a launch, probably 60. In between launches when I am not running UYB, more like 5-10.
28. Do you have any collaborations with anyone besides Erin? How did you decide to bring Erin into your business in a bigger way? How did she stand out from other students or others that do the same thing that she does?
For those who haven’t taken Uncage Your Business, Erin Foley is our mindset coach in the program. She co-teaches UYB with me and is our dedicated one-on-one UYB coach if students want more support. Erin was a student in UYB a few years ago, and she helped me when I asked some students to do some in-depth market research interviews with me. She told me during that interview that she noticed that there were a lot of mindset issues coming up in the class with other students and that she would love to help with that in some way. So she became one of our peer mentors (we have 4 in each live round of UYB!).
She was so good at helping my students, that I asked her to play a bigger role and offer dedicated mindset support. And it grew from there. Now, she coaches alongside me on every single UYB call, and her coaching has been transformative for our students and for the program. If you join the self study UYB class, Erin has created a mindset video for every single module, to help you foresee what might get in your way and give you tools to use if you do get stuck.
I also collaborate with Abby Oliver who does our Copyrocking service. This is an awesome copy-editing service for your website! We give you a KILLER template to use, you write your best shitty first draft, send it over to Abby, and she makes is SO much better. It’s a blend of teaching you HOW to be a better copywriter with our template, and then getting your copy edited and upgraded for you by a pro. You can learn more and snag a Copyrocking spot here.
29. How much have you invested into getting your biz to where it’s at? I’m wondering if I’m spending too much and would love a realistic picture of what it actually takes with all of the subscriptions, courses, investments etc
This is a great question, and I don’t have a super accurate answer. I can say in most service businesses, expenses are around 30% of gross income (this doesn’t include any team members). This has been about my average for the last several years (we spent $114,000 on expenses this year, not including Meighan’s pay). That includes things like paying for our email marketing platform and other apps we use, contractors (which make up the bulk of this expenses — website design changes, copywriting, strategists, courses, FB ads consultants etc), and other odds and ends expenses (some travel, a few meals, etc).
Your expenses may be higher when you are first getting started – it’s normal (and you’re doing well!) if you break even on your first year (meaning you spend as much as you make).
I really do believe that investing in your business is one of the best things you can do — getting help early on and learning business strategy is SO important. Spend your money on learning marketing (not on fancy websites and FB ads). The more you invest in the right things in your business, the more quickly you will grow. (note — investing in the wrong things — such as courses that are more advanced than where you’re at, or spending $$ on fancy website design right away before you’re even clear on your niche, will NOT cause you to grow faster and will likely cause you to be frustrated and burn out!)
Whew, that was fun! Thanks to everyone who submitted a question, and keep an eye out for another blog post for FB live soon to answer all the more specific marketing questions that you asked.
if I can give you any advice for 2020, it’s this:
- Get started sooner than you feel ready (like, now)
- Get clear on your foundations FIRST (message, niche, packages, how to talk about it CLEARLY). No marketing will work til you have those pieces in place
- Invest in getting help in your business. It’s SO worth it and will always pay off.
To a successful 2020!