In the previous episode, Episode 100. Burnt Out Side Hustler to Multiple 6 Figure Coach (Part 1): The Mistakes & Challenges, we looked at the three key obstacles that have come up in my journey since I started my business that has either kept me stuck or slowed me down.
In this episode, we will look at the three of the most profound lessons that have helped me see massive shifts and results once I really learned and implemented those lessons.
We will be looking at the biggest needle movers in my business and there’s a lot I want to expand on.
Before we dive in, if anything we talk about in this series resonates with you and it’s how you want to take your brand and business to the next level, I’d love to invite you to join us inside the Thought Leader Club 1:1 + Community Program focused on helping you build a body of work that not only lets you become known for something but also magnetizes clients and opportunities to you.
For all of the details, head on over to cheryltheory.com/program to send in your application. I cannot wait to see you on the inside.
This is a realization that has been extremely game changing for me particularly during the early stages of my business, where I was not only trying my best to juggle my business on top of being a brand new full time PhD student, but also constantly navigating thoughts of “Will I ever sign a high ticket coaching client again?” and “Can I really make it work? What if I don’t have time for my business?”, among other highly common thoughts that side hustlers will find especially prevalent.
During this season of my business, before I really started seeing larger or “more consistent” traction in my business, the belief of “only good things when I help people” kept me going and it helped me eventually arrive at my first $10k months as well as my first six-figure year.
Because when I continued to think about how I can give to others, through the form of my free content or even my time, that led me to create some of my best work.
Here’s my hypothesis: When you are operating from service, you are a thought leader by default. It’s because when you care so much about how you help people, when you are so convicted in your message and story and it’s the reason behind why you do what you do, it’s really hard to not talk about it.
You continue to show up even when there’s literally no “external validation” in the form of DM messages, applications to your program, or event engagement or likes or whatnot on your content.
You continue to show up as a leader simply because you care about getting your message and ideas to more people. And by proxy you continue to build up your library of “value” that is publicly available for your ideal clients to access and consume.
Meaning, your clients continue to have content to consume from you, they have access to your ongoing new ideas and they get to learn from you. And ultimately, they get to grow their belief and trust in you as the coach that can help them.
Naturally, you not only become a thought leader in your industry, but clients also start to come quicker and quicker with time.
This was exactly what happened in late 2020, early 2021, when I finally started to profoundly believe that when I help people, only good things can happen. Which ultimately created my first two back-to-back $10k months and ultimately, my first six-figure year in 2021.
I also want to add another thought that when you are rooted in wanting to help people, you’re also willing to be misunderstood, particularly by the “wrong” people, in order to get your message, story, and work to the “right” people.
A very specific example I can offer here is that as many of you may know, I quit law school back in 2018, which was a decision that made my Asian parents absolutely furious and highly disappointed.
It was a really, really difficult time in our relationship and it was also a hot topic of gossip among my previous classmates. And hey, even today, nearly five years later, I still get comments from strangers online commenting how ungrateful this privileged kid might be, to throw away all the opportunities she got as a law school student, simply because she was bored. True story.
Here’s the thing, in order for me to have both the business income and the impact that my business has created thus far, I had to stand behind my own decisions and always have my own back.
This means I have to firmly embrace more of who I am, rather than dimming my own light. It means I have to make decisions by the highest, next level version of me, rather than operating out of my own fears or limiting beliefs.
Because as you can see, I have clear evidence that my story can draw backlash, disagreement, or even highly hurtful comments from both people I know or strangers on the Internet. I have evidence of it.
But I still continue to show up and share my story because I deeply believe that my message and story can help someone. I have to keep going because I just want whoever needs to hear my story, to be able to hear it. That’s what drives me, even to this day.
This is how I am able to create a continuously growing podcast. This is how I’ve been able to create a six-figure business even as a side hustler, and now a multiple six-figure business as a full time coach.
Even though I’ve literally burnt the hell out before and quit my business for seven whole months. Even as a two time graduate school dropout, first law school, then PhD.
Even though I’ve experienced harassment and cyberbullying before in the earlier years of starting my business, which is something that I don’t share openly about. Even while navigating depression and anxiety.
No matter what self doubts, insecurities, fears, or limiting beliefs we have about ourselves, I know that when we are grounded in our purpose and wanting to help others, we are able to quiet some of the noise inside our brains and continue to stay focused on giving to others, on problem solving in our own business, and to continue to amplify our unique thought leadership out in to the world.
I deeply, deeply believe this is possible for you too.
That’s why inside of The Side Hustle Club program, we will help you hone in on your unique thought leadership by first identifying who you are and how that will help you build a uniquely differentiated brand and ultimately stand out in your niche/industry.
And also, we will continue to coach on your identity and help you continue to connect back to your values, the experiences that embody such values or that led you to be so committed to these values, and also to the specific ways in which you infuse your values into the work that you do.
Because it is your values that will continue to drive you forward and help you continue to show up and serve your community, both impactfully and profitably, no matter what you’re going through on or offline.
When your thought leadership is rooted in your own values and lived experiences, not only will you become a thought leader, but you are truly leading by example.
Nothing can replace your belief and commitment in what you do. No strategy, no marketing or sales tactic, no hustling 24/7 can ever replace that.
This is also why I’m personally so committed to helping my clients uncover their own unique thought leadership, which is centered around their own values and personal experiences and the why behind what they do. This matters. And this is possible for you.
I used to believe that I am not someone who will be an entrepreneur. It literally wasn’t even in my realm of awareness up until 2018, because I was simply surrounded by narratives telling me that people who look like me or who had similar upbringings as me, were supposed to strive towards certain goals.
For example, throughout high school and university, I was surrounded by peers who would always talk about applying to further post grad education and pursuing a career in a science field like medicine, dentistry, or pharmacy.
Even when I look at my friends who studied business, starting an online coaching business or even being a content creator was never ever a topic of discussion. My business school friends talked about working at prestigious firms or banks, like Goldman Sachs.
So I struggled with my belief that “I am an entrepreneur” for quite a while because I had the belief ingrained in me that I am not someone who’s meant to start a business.
The truth is, it’s not that only certain people can have successful businesses. It’s not that those people innately have skills that make them more capable of having a successful business.
Rather, I’ve realized that a lot of those skills that we need in entrepreneurship are skills that school and work literally conditioned out of us simply because they weren’t valued in those settings.
For example, the skill of being efficient with our tasks and simply getting things done, rather than having to produce the perfect result. Because school has taught us that we have to do things the right way in order to get a good score.
Our ability to be efficient and get things done quickly has literally been thrown to the trash in favor of agonizing over the details and hence overworking. When really, why is perfect even necessary? How did getting a perfect score ever really help us?
Being an entrepreneur often requires us to just get things done and be efficient. Having the most eloquently written caption and excellently produced carousel post isn’t going to make or break your business.
Rather, it’s the collective impact of multiple pieces of content, over time, that creates that compounding effect. One piece of content alone isn’t going to change the game.
Another example is the skill of being a creative problem solver, rather than being fixated on getting the one right solution.
Rather than being taught to explore and experiment with different options and taking the time to see which solution makes sense for ourselves, we were literally taught that there’s only one way of doing things. And we have to do it or we’re out.
But the thing is, being an entrepreneur often requires us to be creative in our problem solving, rather than taking so much time trying to figure out the one best solution. Because, really, there is none. Especially not within the context of your business.
Really think about it. Is there supposedly going to be the one single best way to position your offer? Unlikely. Because different messaging will land differently for different ideal clients.
These are just some of the many skills that are in us. Building a business is really just a set of skills, and the skills might be different for every entrepreneur depending on their own strengths, preferences or capacity in a particular season of life.
How I learned the lesson of “business is just skills” was after my burnout in 2019 and taking a total break from my business for seven full months. I started to explore more unconventional ways of building a business because I knew if I wanted to make my business work, I had to do things differently from what I thought I had to do.
Some specific examples of unconventional tweaks or routines I have in place, and still do, include:
Rather than doing a traditional launch for my group programs or even using urgency tactics for my 1:1 programs, the skill of soft launching lets me do business my way, in accordance with my time capacity and schedule.
It lets me talk about my offers in a way that is aligned with me, rather than using highly marketing-y language that I’m like “meh” about. It also takes away the pressure of having to get people in the doors by a specific date. Instead, selling feels a lot lighter and hence business feels more manageable.
Second, in order to be efficient and effective with my time, especially when I was a side hustler, I developed ways of doing things that require less “perfecting” time.
For example, I now record my podcast in a way that literally does not require editing at all. I just record, add on the intro and outro jingles, and I’m done. Just get things done with the pockets of time you do have.
The third example is I embrace who I am in my content and marketing. Hence, you will see a lot of cats on my Instagram and website. It’s because I believe that building a successful business has nothing to do with modeling ourselves into what a “successful entrepreneur” is supposed to look like. Rather, it’s about learning to shed unhelpful narratives and embrace the different identities that make us who we genuinely are.
When I realized I actually can sign clients in my own way, that’s when I realized that there’s no one right way, or even a few select best ways, of building your online business.
It is possible to build a successful business even if you have absolutely shitty mental health days. Even when really, really stressful life things are happening outside of your business.
Even if you have people around you who are questioning your business or making unhelpful comments about what you do. I’ve coached clients on all of the above.
I, myself, have also been coached on the above. All that to say, you can still do this. Don’t let what you think you should be doing, hold you back.
Inside our coaching program, The Side Hustle Club, we will work together to create a structure that actually is tailored to your capacity. All this means is really just better understanding yourself and your brain, your preferences, your strengths, and how you work best, and then creating a business that lets you be who you are and still help people and make money.
We aren’t going to change you or impose a business structure that simply doesn’t make sense for you. Creating structure and accountability for your business isn’t a one size fits all solution, and neither is coaching.
Contrary to popular belief, building a business and showing up for it doesn’t have to be as hard as people online make it seem. You can make adjustments that make it feel easier and allow you to operate from more flow and creativity, while giving you the sense of structure that your brain might need. Let’s take some time to identify what that looks like for you.
Finally, when it comes to skills, It has nothing to do with doing the right strategy or having the right business model or selling the right offer or having the right messaging.
It has nothing to do with being more consistent or even being more strategic. If anything, being inconsistent has actually helped me be more consistent.
All this to say, you inherently have the skills needed to build your business in your own way.
But it may take some time for you to uncover it and stop adhering to what you think a successful online entrepreneur is supposed to look like or what they’re supposed to do.
I know you can do this because not only do you innately have your own strengths, but I also know that you’re highly capable of learning skills and honing in on the ones that actually make sense for you.
You got this.
I want to share a personal story. In high school, I’d go on collegeconfidential.com and read through forums of the profiles and stats of students who got into my dream school.
Honestly, there were undeniably common themes between the profiles I was reading. For example, they all got pretty similar top scores in their SATs or ACTs and got the top grades in school. They all did similar extracurricular activities and did multiple ones. And they all supposedly took on leadership roles in some of these extracurriculars.
Long story short, I couldn’t tell apart the profiles and stats from one another. They all pretty much looked the same, and they all got into the schools I wanted to go to at the time.
I felt this self imposed burden that the least I can do for my parents is to work really, really hard and get into one of these schools. Because my parents never got the opportunity to attend these super prestigious schools in North America and still hustled their asses off to get to where they are to give me the resources and upbringing that I had as a kid.
So I looked to the forums on collegeconfidential.com as a “guideline” of what I think I’m supposed to do. Not only did I hustle my ass off to get the best grades possible, but I also hustled to do all the extracurricular activities or things to fluff up my application.
I was definitely tired. In high school, I slept very little. I remember there were times literally when I would sleep from 11pm to 3 am, then wake up at 3am to study more for a test.
And my dad was also as intense as I was. He would cook breakfast for me at 3am just to keep me going. I remember he would make a sausage and two eggs, to signal “100”.
Looking back, waking up at 3am as a 16 year old is really intense. But back then, I knew that this was the least I could do as a child of immigrant parents.
How this particular season of my life showed up in my business was that I really felt like there must be a “right” way of being and showing up online in order to have successful business. Just like how I was trying to fit into the mold of what I think a successful applicant to XYZ university would look and sound like.
I was basically repeating the cycle in my own business, especially during the early stages. It wasn’t until I started doing the inner work with a coach in late 2020, when I finally realized how much of my genuine and honest self was being hidden simply because of a thought error I had internalized for many years.
Because the truth is, when I started to reflect on how much impact I can create when I am being authentically myself, there was no turning back.
For example, my law school drop out story has been huge in my business. It’s a story that has helped so many people. So many people started following me and were helped by that one story alone.
That was me simply sharing my own honest opinions, viewpoints, and personal experiences. It’s not like I woke up one day and said I want to get as much attention as possible by sharing this highly vulnerable part of me.
Honestly, I was really scared of the potential negative comments or judgment towards that story. And let me tell you, I’ve had a lot of not-so-nice comments on the Internet about that story.
However, the truth is that being yourself and owning your identity, owning your multiple different identities when you are being yourself and sharing your story, helps create a safe space for your people to just be themselves. You’re setting an example for them to be themselves. This has been a profound realization for both my business and life.
When I look back, for years, I tried to curate an image and build a career on what I thought I needed to do or be, in order to fit in. I hustled and neglected my own needs.
Yes, I did create results on paper, but I didn’t believe that who I innately was, was “expert” or good enough. I felt like I couldn’t take time for myself because I needed to work even harder.
I didn’t let myself invest in what I really really wanted, because I would be seen as extravagant, ungrateful, or wasteful.
These ways of thinking or being, have definitely translated into my business in the beginning as well. For example, I struggled to find my own voice at first and I struggled with selling because I wasn’t confident in what I had to offer.
I really, really neglected myself, my health, and my relationships because I was trying to do 20 different things in my business. I felt like I had to do more in order to make it work and burnt out as a result.
I also resisted investing in coaches I really wanted to work with, and instead opted for way lower investment courses that honestly weren’t what I needed.
When I realized that there’s no social, parental, or cultural norms or expectations or rules that we’re bound by as entrepreneurs, that’s when the fun started happening in my business.
That’s when I shared my story, message, and work with even more creativity, boldness, and full belief in what I was saying. That’s when my free content helped even more people.
Overtime, all of this collectively compounded and resulted in amazing clients applying to work with me, because they saw how I was showing up to share my story, message, and offer. This is how we have now created multiple six-figures in the business.
Here’s the business tip of the day: The more we try to be like someone else, the less we can differentiate ourselves, not just from that specific individual we’re comparing ourselves to, but also to the entire industry as a whole.
This is because the more you look around and try to model yourself after your favorite coach or entrepreneur, the less you’ll actually effectively position yourself. Because you’re literally not even using that skill or attempting to try that skill. You’re just trying to do what you think others are doing or saying.
To help you add more of yourself into your business, here is a specific practical tip I want to offer: What are three of your own opinions or specific angles that you infuse into the work you do as a coach or service-based entrepreneur? I want you to talk about that every week in your content.
The reason is because rather than trying to figure out what is unique and different about you, which is a very big and daunting task on its own, lean into the specific ways you understand your people or the problems faced by your industry/niche.
Also, when you’re able to speak to specific scenarios or problems your ideal clients have awareness of and already hold the urgency internally to solve the problem, you don’t have to convince them. The more specific you can get, the more uniquely differentiated you naturally become and the more deeply resonating you’ll be for your people.
Finally, I want to talk about one more thing.
Contrary to a lot of our upbringing and the narratives we were surrounded by, we can do it all and we can have it all, without overworking and hustling 24/7 and without the burnout and overwhelm.
Trust me. As a side hustler, I didn’t have time to overwork myself (because I’ve tried) and that’s why I don’t ask my clients to do more work either.
Rather, I want you to simplify your action plans, take care of yourself, and lean into your strengths.
For some of you listening to this, applying the skill of soft launching and booking out your 1:1 offer through soft launching might literally be the game changer in your business.
For others, having well planned out, highly intentional traditional launches might make sense for you, especially if you’re selling group offers with a deadline for enrolment.
Either way, it depends on you and your business, but there is ALWAYS another way of doing things, rather than literally working yourself to exhaustion and burnout.
I’ve coached clients from all backgrounds and diversity in terms of race, age, and even geographic locations.
I’ve seen how across cultures and backgrounds, many of us have internalized the narrative that we need to work hard and overwork in order to be successful.
This is why as the coach, I’m used to taking into account how each of our client’s own lived experiences may impact how they show up in their business.
Again, in your business, especially, there is always another way of doing things and thinking about things.
You can truly build a business by design and create success on your own terms. Because within our own business that we create, we don’t have to be bound by parental, cultural, or societal expectations and norms that may have restricted us in other areas of our lives
This doesn’t have to be the case in our business. If anything, that’s only gonna hold us back from creating the income and impact that we’re here to make.
For many of you listening to this, I know that you likely have experienced how triggering building a business can be.
However, we all have evidence, even if it’s outside the scope of our business, where we have absolutely blown our own minds.
We all have evidence of the skills we have, the brilliance in our brains, and our capacity to create really cool results despite all of the mind chatter telling us we can’t.
Yes, right now in your business, it may feel highly uncomfortable, and that’s exactly why being an entrepreneur is more about who you are and how you think, rather than having the right strategy because there’s a lot of “risk “ involved in building a business.
You have no rules or guidelines telling you who to be or what to do. When I really embraced the lessons I shared with you in this episode, that’s when my business results really started happening quicker than I thought it was possible.
It was how we created two back to back $10k months at the end of 2020, despite months of no clients before that, followed by a six-figure year in 2021.
To summarize what we touched on in this episode:
Please do take some time to marinate on these lessons and think about how you can embody these beliefs or ways of doing things in your business. They have truly changed the game for me and my business, and I hope they can help you as well.
And finally, if anything we talked about resonated with you and these are some of the skills you want to sharpen and implement in your own business, I’d love to invite you to join us inside the Thought Leader Club 1:1 + Community Program focused on helping you build a body of work that not only lets you become known for something but also magnetizes clients and opportunities to you.
For all of the details, head on over to cheryltheory.com/program to send in your application. I cannot wait to see you on the inside.
Join us in the Thought Leader Club 1:1 + Community Program is the exact room you want to be in if your 2023 and 2024 vision is to:
✨ Become known for your unique thought leadership and build your career as a thought leader
✨ Build a body of work that not only showcases the depth of your thinking and the caliber of your skills, but also compels best-fit clients to want to work with you and you specifically
✨ Attract both clients and opportunities that you once felt were out of reach for “someone like you”… But you now see that you’re completely capable of
Step into the version of you who stops following else’s playbook of “traditional success” and instead, proudly create something that’s truly of your own.
Get all the details and apply. We’ll then book a sales call to make sure that the program is the best fit for you and we can onboard you as early as next week. Our first inaugural cohort starts on November 1, 2023 👀
SOUNDS GOOD? AWESOME. LET'S GET TO WORK