I remember the first business review post I ever read.
It was mid-December 2014. I had recently read the book Get Rich Lucky Bitch after making a concerted effort to read more from female business owners on the topic of money.
I devoured the book in an afternoon, signed up to Denise Duffield Thomas’s mailing list, and over the subsequent days binge-watched her YouTube Channel.
Then her review post came in via email and it was the most fascinating post I’d ever read. I was so grateful to see such transparency, someone who actually shared her numbers, how much she had made, what she’d spent money on, what mistakes she’d made.
A few days later I signed up to her Money Bootcamp programme…best decision in my business EVER!!!
So this year I thought I’d write a business review of my own, mainly because I find the review process quite useful, but also because it might be interesting or useful to other entrepreneurs.
Where to start?
I started 2019 in a bit of a muddle. My running business was ticking along, and my work as a life coach was building in momentum, but I felt like I was still missing a trick…I didn’t feel completely aligned.
Was still working all the hours and despite already being at 6 figures of turnover, it still very much felt like feast and famine.
So in January, I headed off to Orlando to spend a week with business strategist Dawnna St Louis in a million-dollar mansion (as you do). I was great to work on the business, not in the business…and I left with a pretty robust plan for a whole new business based on expertise that I’ve had (and kinda ignored) for 20+ years.
Every job I’ve ever had and every business I have set up has involved some kind of community creation, development and management…why was I not teaching people how to do this?
So in February I launched Tribe Builder and welcomed my first cohort of 22 entrepreneurs.
Looking back, I can’t believe this programme is still only 11 months old…70 business owners have been through this part online course, part incubator, part mastermind all about building a community around your business.
Tribe Builder has brought more than £50K into my business this year…and that blows my mind.
And what about my running business?
Well, Too Fat to Run has been in flux for a while. It brings in income no doubt and has an enormous impact, more than 1500 women took part in one of my online programmes in 2019…and my online running club (which is now FREE) has almost 1000 members.
2020 marks ten years of my running blog, the blog which saved my skin when in 2012 I was made redundant from my job on the London 2012 Olympics while 7 months pregnant….this blog transformed my life and has given me opportunities beyond belief.
That business taught me so much, and continues to. We have some big plans for the ten year annniversary, and I am currently looking for investment or a business partner to help take things to the next level.
I have 52 women in my Marathon Training group…and in a few days time I will launch my annual 5 weeks to 5K January campaign…which last year helped more than 300 women start to run.
For me…impact is equally important as income…but I am also aware that I am now saying that from a position of privilege because I have enough to live on (now ha ha).
There has been some travel this year for work. There was of course my retreat in Orlando at the start of the year, my annual fitness retreat in Greece in May, and I spent a week with Lisa Nichols in Mexico working on my stuff ha ha. Yes, this was a personal development retreat “a place where superheros take off their capes” and it was exactly what I needed.
In September I keynoted at the German Speakers Association conference in Frankfurt with a talk entitled, “Leading from behind”, I haven’t done an awful lot of speaking this year because I have been focussing more on my coaching programmes, and repositioning myself.
And then in October I joined the Association of Transformational Leaders Europe headed up by Marie Diamond of The Secret, and had an incredible weekend in Krakow, Poland.
In 2020 I will be looking for more opportunities to share my no-bullshit approach to business growth, but I don’t imagine my business model will change much…the getting paid to speak model of speaking is a tough one, and I just think there are easier ways to leverage your expertise…especially when you are a single parent.
Like online programmes.
I’ve worked with 2500 women virtually via my running business, 300+ women have been on one of my life coaching programmes and I’ve worked with around 250 entrepreneurs in my online programmes for small business owners, including
Tribe Builder – My signature 6 month programme (next cohort starts in January)
Dare to Dream – a 5 day vision and goal setting challenge
Batch Like a Bitch – Content batching programme I’ve been working with Daire Paddy on
I have delivered 21 different programmes this year, some automated and some live rounds, I’ve had 3 major pieces of consultancy, I’ve had 12 speaking gigs, visited 7 countries for work, and appeared on 9 TV, radio, or podcast programmes.
I’ve written around 100 blogs across my 2 websites, and probably a few other articles for things I forgot I wrote. I probably posted close to 1000 social media posts. And sent out probably around 150 different email communications.
Which coaches have I worked with?
I always have a business coach of some description on the go, sometimes these are short term programmes, and sometimes masterminds. This year I’ve worked with,
Dawnna St Louis
Denise Duffield Thomas – Still in her bootcamp and saw her live in October
I’ve also been doing a Life Coaching Qualification with Animas…I am one lesson and an essay short of qualifying, and I have really enjoyed being back in a learning environment. I do believe the skills I have learned on this year-long course has made me a better coach.
I’ve spent around £30K on coaching this year, although some of this came out of last years budget.
So let’s talk money
I didn’t hit my sales target this year. However, I’m not sure that tells the whole story. I made just short of £100,000 and trust me as someone who just 5 years ago was signing on, and couldn’t afford a new pair of jeans, I’m pretty OK with that.
My business expenses have come down this year, I don’t have any staff overheads, and I am not working anywhere near the kind of hours I did a year ago…so I call that a win.
For sure my goal in 2020 is to increase my revenue, in fact, I want to double it…but this won’t be at any cost. Making money is a priority for me, as I have had 4 years of under-earning and this has had an impact on all kinds of things…namely having to stay in a 2 bed appartment that isn’t right for me.
So yes wealth creation is an important driver for me, and I will be speaking more about this for sure next year. I’m sick of people saying “money isn’t everything” and “money doesn’t make you happy” I am in business to make mine and my daughter’s life better and at the moment that requires some hefty income generation to secure some stability.
Friendships – This year has been a great year for developing my friendships, folks who I have met through business, but gone on to become great friends with. Being in business can be lonely, really lonely…cos people in business often just don’t get it.
Freedom – My business has given me a lot of freedom this year, to take time off, to go on holidays with my family, to upgrade my car, to get a new kitchen fitted, to be present with my almost 7-year-old (like how did that happen)
Creativity – I’ve been able to really explore my more creative side this year. My Is there a different way promo video was the start of that, a 4 minute spoken word inspired video made with filmmaker Justina Rosu. I have 2 degrees in arts-related subjects, so why wouldn’t I use this side of me more?
Face to Face Coaching – I started doing something called Face to Face Fridays, and this will be coming with me into 2020…so if you can get yourself to London, I will be available for in person stuff. I have launched a new thing called The Million Lives Club which is a mastermind for female business owners on a mission to impact a million lives in their life…this has a monthly in person element…cos it matters.
The last month has been a bit of a challenge. Trying to hit my sales target (and I hate to hustle) and then some health and personal issues to deal with.
I’ve had to do some real soul searching about where I want to go next with my business….luckily I have had the luxury of having money coming in, without always having to be in full delivery.
I’ve had time to think.
Looking back I realise it was a bit of a big task to completely reinvent myself in just 12 months, and sometimes I am quite hard on myself.
In my running business, I am seen as a global expert, and the brand is unique, and so there is something quite comforting in that, even if it is a tough market to monetise..from a PR perspective its always been a dream.
Tribe Builder has been more challenging, there are heaps of people doing audience growth stuff, and more often than not people make assumptions about what my work entails…that it does not….I still have a way to go with my messaging.
I am about organic audience growth…not the sleazy automated shit I see all over the online world…and sometimes I get overwhelmed with all the noise just like everyone else.
Everyone says you need to niche and just be known for one thing…but I’ve never been excited by that idea…and I am much more of a creative generalist, with skills across a wide range of business growth areas.
And so I came to a realisation this month, is that I will be rebranding in 2020.
My clients already know me as The No Bullshit Business Coach…and so from next year I will be going all out with than umbrella brand, because here’s what I see that is total bullshit.
Business owners doubting their expertise
Business owners taking far too long to build their business
Businesses stagnating because of fear
Business owners not dealing with their money shit, therefore leaving wealth on the table
Business owners wasting time each week on bullshit marketing tactics
Business owners never reaching their potential
Business owners not having enough resilience to weather the bad stuff (and trust me we all have bad shit happens that rocks the boat)
Business owners wasting money online
Whether you came to business through choice or circumstance, chances are you did so with the goal of making life a little bit easier for you, your loved ones and possibly the wider world.
It should be easier.
Business should improve our lives, not be our lives.
Wishing you all the health, wealth and happiness you deserve in 2020
Anyone else spending money like it’s going out of fashion?
That’s Xmas for you hey?
I had a realisation yesterday on the way back from doing all of my xmas shopping (cos that’s how I roll) that this is the first Xmas since being made redundant 7 years ago, where I have not been worrying about money…and it feels good.
I’ve had a good year.
My plus-size fitness business is thriving, my work as a transformational coach is doing well, and I have a new part of the business which is flourishing, and most importantly I am experiencing less of the feast and famine that often plagues small business owners when they first start out.
As we approach the end of the year like many others I’m sure I have been reviewing my numbers, my turnover, my profit…but also the impact I’ve had on my clients…in fact I may write a blog post about impact tomorrow.
But today I want to talk about money.
I want to ask you what would an extra £1000 in your business feel like today?
What would an extra £1000 a month, a week, or even a day mean to you? What would you spend it on?
Earlier this year I did a bit of research in a small business group for mums about their attitudes to money, I wanted to get a sense of what their money goals were…and I was surprised to find out that most of the people who answered my poll were working on their businesses NOT to have a 7 figure business, but instead to add additional income to the household so they could have more money to spend each month…you know go on the occasional holiday, be able to invest in their business, have a bit more freedom.
The internet is awash with 6 and 7 figure coaches talking about financial freedom…but I think this is causing all kinds of overwhelm and confusion for the majority of small business owners who if we are being honest right now will probably never become a 7 figure business owner.
Now, this is not me being a bitch, or trying to smash someone’s dream…but the fact is more businesses fail than succeed, and even those that do survive the first 5 years may never go beyond a certain income ceiling for their niche….and that’s OK.
It’s OK to run a business that “just” pays you a regular or slightly better than average wage…but gives you the freedom to spend more time with your kids.
It’s OK to run a business where profit isn’t the “only” marker of success
It’s OK to run a business that scales slowly and at a rate that fits with other priorities in your life.
Last week I asked the following question in the same group for small business owners,
“What would you spend and extra £1000 on in your business”
And I loved reading the answers.
Many said they would invest in more stock or equipment to enable them to scale (there are a lot of craft business and multi-level marketing agents in this group)
Some said they would invest in a business coach – good shout
Many said website development and marketing/social media support.
Because here is the thing, an extra £1000 per month is the difference between being able to buy in help or not, it’s the difference between buying in the support of a coach to help you scale or not, it’s the difference between being able to invest in your growth as a business owner or not.
There is nothing better than having the cash flow needed to say YES to opportunities as they arise, saying YES to the conference you want to attend, or the new computer you desperately need, or that piece of software which is going to help you automate.
So what do we do to make that extra £1000 per month?
Put prices up?
Create a new product or service?
Sell more of what you already offer?
Well, all of those can work.
But in my view, the single biggest thing you can do to increase your business income for 2020 is to get out of your own way when it comes to selling….to work on your sales strategy AND your money mindset.
So many of us hold ourselves back when promoting our products or services because of our fears, because of our attitudes to selling.
We leave so much money on the table because we don’t have a sales process…we are just winging it in the hope people will buy.
In 2018 I was on my way back from a huge conference in the states that I had overstretched myself financially to attend. And I was flying back with all of these ideas to grow my business, but no money to implement any of it.
I worked out I needed £10K to be able to proceed….to cover my bills, and invest in the things I wanted to invest in to take me to the next level.
But up until this point in my business, I’d never made more than £5 or £6K per month, and those months were often months where I was selling places on my annual retreat and also quite far and few between…my average months were much closer to £3K.
Could I make £10K and could I do it in 10 days…well turns out I could.
In May 2018 I made £15K in my business by following a very specific process, and I have been rinsing and repeating that process ever since AND sharing it with my clients on my Tribe Builder Programme when they come to launch their products and services.
In January I will be running a fun and fast-paced programme called A Grand in Your Hand…where you will be able to learn it for yourself too….who wants in?
And I for one am reflecting on how far I have come in the last 10 years.
In 2010 I was working as a consultant on the London 2012 games, I had a number of different contracts working in the cultural and sports sector, bringing communities together to help them have a voice or get involved in the games in some way.
I had just met the man I thought I was going to marry, was a recent homeowner, and was still very much finding out who I was and what I wanted to be when I grew up.
I think you realise as you get older how little you knew in your younger days, but also with hindsight, we realise how easy we had it, ten years ago I may not have been so clear on who I was, but I had a fearlessness around just giving things ago which seems to have changed over the years.
Things change. We change. The world changes.
And if I have learned anything is the power we each have to turn our lives around if we should choose to do so, and that anything (and I do mean anything) is possible when you get clear on your vision for it.
So anyway I thought it would be fun to write a list of 10 things I didn’t know back in 2010…
I didn’t know I would become founder of a global plus size fitness business – I set up Too Fat to Run in 2010 as a bit of a joke after coming last in a race
I didn’t know I would be made redundant AGAIN – I lost my job 4 times in 10 years…the final time I was pregnant with my daughter
I didn’t know that having a child would be the thing to save me – Dramatic I know, but having a daughter gave me the courage to make one of the biggest decisions of my life. Rose teaches me how to be a better human being, every single day.
I didn’t know what a powerful coach I would become – I’d always been a facilitator…but getting some proper training as a coach and allowing myself to coach properly has been life-changing
I didn’t know I had SERIOUS money blocks I had to work on – I seriously though rich people were evil…bit of a problem when you need to be able to make charge properly in a business
I didn’t know how much I would love sharing my story from the stage – I used to have serious stage fright even with small audiences…and now I get a proper buzz in front of a big audience
I didn’t know I would do a TEDx talk – My uncle at a recent family, told me this was one of his proudest accolades, having a niece that has done one…have you seen it? Here’s the link
I didn’t know that my skills and experience as a community builder would come in handy – I have been building communities for more than 25 years…who knew that business owners would need this skill. I realised that one of the reasons my online communities are so powerful is because I learned how to bring people together and keep them happy and engaged in the real world…and many coaches and business leaders haven’t got this expertise.
I didn’t know how lucky I would be to travel the world – I have been lucky enough to travel to 24 different countries, some of them multiple times and often paid for as part of my business. More of this in 2020 and beyond please…although I’d actually like to have a bit of a holiday rather than lots of travel for work….and saying that, maybe a relocation is on the cards too.
I didn’t know I would impact on so many peoples lives – This is a weird one to write because it sounds a bit big-headed, but I know my online programmes have directly impacted on around 15,000 lives, and probably close to 10 million people have read one of my blogs or books, or read about me in a magazine or seen me on TV (which blows my mind)
It has been one hell of a decade alright.
It has taught me my value and power as a woman, and as a business owner.
It has taught me to define my life on my terms, and it has empowered me to believe that I can truly make a difference.
What did you not know at the beginning of the decade?
Why not post your own list on social media and tag me in it (because I’m just nosy) using the #iblamejulie hashtag
Tribe Builder my 6 month coaching programme for small business owners currently has an early bird price which ends on the 15th December (Sunday at Midnight) click here for details of the programme, I am no longer offering discovery calls but happy to answer any questions you have via DM or email.
In fact, I often have multiple books on the go. I am currently listening to Martina Coles No Mercy on Audible for my long runs, have Esther and Jerry Hicks Ask and it is given in my bag for training journeys, and Michelle Obamas Belonging by my bedside.
I love to read.
I buy more books than I have time to read, and I often put self-inflicted “no more books” periods of the year to try and give myself time to catch up.
But anyway as we approach the end of this year I thought I would share the books that have had the most impact and why this year.
Let’s start with my Friend Brene Brown…did you not know we were friends?* inserted sarcasm here
I came to Brene late. And when I first listened to this on audiobook I was angry. It was like she was in my head saying all the stuff I believed and thought about. Some of her stories about growing up felt like they were my stories. And I thought bummer, will I ever have an original thought of my own again. I loved braving the wilderness and it helped me to be more OK with my aloneness.
Back in April, the night before my marathon I was feeling unusually nervous. As a distraction, I put on Brenes Netflix documentary and sat back and enjoyed. Just before bedtime, I hopped on twitter and just sent out a little thank you…you know as we do. The following morning as I was checking my social media before heading to the start line I saw she had messaged me back “#andbreath” so from that moment onwards that wonderful lady has forevermore been labelled as “My friend Brene Brown”
I listened to this book while running loops of a 1 mile cycle track in the spring while training for the marathon. I love Denise DT…after binge reading her other book Get Rich Lucky Bitch many years ago and joining her bootcamp…I can hand on heart say this woman has changed my life.
At an event in October where she was speaking in London, I got the chance to ask her a question about my new business venture and I loved how she simply asked me “what feels good?” and when I told her she said “Yep, and I see that being succesful for you”
Chillpreneur is all about ease and flow. Finding success on your terms and making it easy for yourself. Somehow we have this bullshit beliefe that being an entrepreneur has to be hard…it doesn’t. In the book (and from the stage) she tells the story of her nan who like mine was from the East End of London (despite Denise being a proud Aussie) and she says “My nans life was hard” and it puts things into perspective doesn’t it.
Many of us come from generations of hard-working folks…but we don’t need to graft like they do…so make things easy for yourself.
This was a great book to run to while running. I like books about the body and the brain. Books I can zone in and out of on long runs. Not sure if I listened to this all the way to the end but I heard enough of it to start valuing a good nights kip and to understand more about the impact of a lack of sleep both on me and my daughter.
In fact, off the back of this book, I have changed my bedroom decor and started a new bedtime routine for my 7 years old which now involves nightly meditation for children, which she loves….so do I ha ha because we don’t have so much of a battle each night.
I saw Kindra Hall speak live at the national speakers association convention back in 2017. I wasn’t sure I’d like her with her perfect body, swishy hair, and a beautiful face….she looked like an all american beauty queen…but her stories OMG.
I have been on her mailing list ever since and often stop what I’m doing to watch her videos, or read her blog, so when she said she was publishing a book I was all over it.
I’m still making my way through it, as I am stopping quite frequently to think and take note of my own stories I want to tell. She will explain why stories sell businesses much better than I can…but I have built a 6 figure coaching business simply by telling good stories….so buy this book!!!
I’m not going to lie, I found this book hard going. I listened to it as an audio book on a few long drives and a long Sunday run which ended in my breaking down uncontrollably…triggered by the book I think.
It’s a fascinating read. One where you are forever going, “Really????” like did that really happen or is he making it up. But I feel like that about my life too.
Some would call this book a “law of attraction” or “spiritual” book, but I think there is also a heap of social commentary in here about business, and growth, and consumerism, and fairness and all kinds of other juicy things to think about.
I struggle with the idea of surrender because I am a bit of a control freak. I am a planner, I like to know where I am going, I find it hard to trust people and hard to trust the universe…for me these are both an active practise, something I’m working on.
this book forced me to confront my fears about being alone, and it forced me to confront some of the bullshit stories I have about needing a safety net and not being supported. It is probably the most powerful book I have read this year…even if I can’t really say I enjoyed it.
I loved this book. So much I listened to it twice through and I never do that with audiobooks. Gabby is easy to listen to. I loved her stories I loved her commentary on the world we live in, and I loved the practical application of her super attractor principles.
Sometimes just listening to someone who has found a way of getting what they want using this mindset stuff, just helps. I don’t care if you are a believer or not. If something makes you feel good it’s going to help…nothing good ever comes from feeling shitty all of the time.
And that is what the book talks a lot about…your vibe attracts everything you want to you and more if you’d just allow yourself to be in that place of joy.
This will be a book I listen to again, in fact, I may even buy a paperback version so I can scribble my own notes into the pages.
I reckon I easily read 100 books this year. I really should keep a list. And there are books that I come back to time and time again…like my good friend Bryony Thomas’ Watertight Marketing…that has a second edition coming out very soon, and Profit First...the only money book to ever help me get my shit together and pay myself properly.
Other notable books from friends this year include Dave Hensons Your Slides Suck (Something I already know Dave ha ha) a great practical book and also Jackie Barries (who I’ve been to lunch with today) Experiential Speaking…a book jammed packed full of engaging exercises to use in your speaking and training…many of which I recognise from my drama leader days.
I was inspired this week to write this overview of 2019 books by one of my Tribe Builder clients Erin Chamberlain, she is a book coach who is on a mission to get small business owners masterpieces finally out of their head and onto the shelves next year…with her self on the shelf campaign.
She has given me a kick up the bum to get my next book out there.
Over the Xmas period work starts on my 9th book…this one will be about the lessons I’ve learned over the last decade of being a plus-size fitness influencer, and what we can all learn from leading from the back….which is the working title at the moment.
I’ve always tried to instil a sense of anything is possible with my 6 year old daughter Rose.
When she was around 3 years old all she wanted for xmas was a pack of disposable nappies for her dolls….easy right? I had bought her all kinds of other cool things and I kept thinking, “I must get her those nappies, cos it’s all she actually wanted”
Then I spotted them in a toy shop….£6 bloody pound for 3!!!!!!
I put them straight back on the shelf thinking I could buy a proper pack for that what a con, but then guilt, and shame, and embarrassment at my own money blocks hit me and I went back and bought them.
On Xmas day it was 100% her fav gift…and she managed to keep those nappies in play for well over a year, much to my amazement (perhaps she sensed their monetary value or the fact she wouldn’t be getting a second pack any time soon) so money well spent in fact.
It’s all about mindset and language, because she sure as hell doesn’t get everything she asks for. She wants a Big Sister LOL doll for xmas and has for the last 2 years and I have told her NO…ethically I don’t feel good spending £80 on a heap of plastic…and she has accepted that.
One day she came back from her dads weekend and we were talking about something or other and she said “Well, mum…want don’t get” it stopped me in my tracks because that isn’t a phrase we use.
Boy oh boy it was one I was brought up with though…as we never asked for things, cos we knew the answer…in fact when shopping with my Mum it was the warning we got as we entered every shop “Don’t ask for nothing” we learned growing up is that you got what you were given and you would be damn well grateful for it. If you wanted something over and above what mum could get for us, you had to be resourceful and get it yourself. Did you read my blog post about the game boy?
So how does this apply to you and your business?
It is absolutely OK to desire things in your life, it’s not greedy or selfish or wasteful, we shouldn’t have to curb our desires based on other people values, choices or money mindset. We get to choose. If you want to spend your money on high heels and handbags that’s 100% fine with me, and if you’d prefer to spend it on booze and fags, that’s all good too…building schools in third world countries, knock yourself out…its all good, no judgement here either way.
It’s your money.
But one thing I know for sure is being broke as a business owner helps nobody.
A lack of desire, or holding yourself back on being honest about what you want can often hold you back in life.
We don’t just have to be able to cover our costs, or make enough to cover our basic needs in life…why can’t we have more? Now I am not necessarily talking about consumerism or capitalism in their biggest sense, but just being able to say outloud…
I want to be able to get regular hair cuts and not worry about it
I want to be able to replace my laptop every 3-4 years if I need to
I want to be able to buy in staff to help me grow
I want to be able to travel for business and/or pleasure
I want to work 4 days a week AND take the Summer off to spend with my kid (I am btw in 2020)
I know the clearer I have got on my desires, the more my business has grown, and the more my business grows the more impact I have on the world.
Yep, there is a direct correlation to my personal wealth and the impact I have on my clients…I ain’t no good to anyone broke trust me, been there done that…and it almost destroyed me.
Get clear on what you want and then get clear on how you might get it…but don’t focus too much on the how, as that can make you talk yourself out of it as it might seem too hard.
Sort out your mindset and the rest will fall into place.
Turn your need into want, your want into desire, and your desires into choice.
PS. The photo for this blog post is me this morning after going to the hairdressers. I realised I was caught up in the “oh I only get it done when it needs doing” instead of an “I feel good when my hair is done, and I’m more likely to show up in my business, just get it done when you bloody want to”