We’re going to do a deep dive into my business. I’ve never done this type of content before so I’m feeling both excited and nervous!
As of December 19, 2020, I recently made over 10k USD sales in my business in 21 days. This is the shortest period of time where I made a little over 10k USD in sales. Up until this point, I’ve been very consistent in signing one-on-one clients, and usually that looks like working with between 3-5 clients at a time.
When I started my PhD in September 2020, I scaled back on promotions and selling my offer because I wasn’t sure if I had the capacity to take on any more clients beyond the clients I was already working with.
Around mid or late October, I was starting to wrap up and offboard clients who I had been working with since the summer. That’s when I took a look at my schedule and business to make my next decision.
Around mid or late October, I just finished just about the first two months of the first semester of my PhD program. It was at this point when I realized that I had developed systems and workflows in my business that actually allow me to spend very little time on my business compared to most other online coaches.
I also realized that, “Oh wow Cheryl, you actually do have the time capacity and mental space or energy to support more clients.”.
When I looked back at September, October, November, and now December of 2020, I realized that on most days, I would only be spending somewhere between 0 to 2 hours per day on my business.
This was more than enough time commitment from me to be signing multiple clients in November and December of 2020.
Fast forward to today, which is December 19, 2020, I recently closed 10k USD sales in just 21 days. I also recently booked three more discovery calls immediately after this period of 21 days.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
During September and October when I just transitioned from my 9-5 into a full time PhD program, I was pretty damn stressed.
I started my online business coaching business in March of 2019, and I took a hiatus for about 5-6 months between August to January 2020.
Then, I officially resumed my business in February of 2020.
I was working the same 9-5 job throughout 2019 and 2020 until I started my PhD. So basically while I was still working my full time job and running my business at the same time, I had adjusted to a weekly routine that lets me balance work, clients, content, social media, and other things I did to continue signing on clients consistently month to month.
But when I started my PhD, I was so stressed because the workload was a lot heavier. My work wasn’t just restricted to the 9-5 hours. Instead, I found myself swamped with readings and doing research work, which was part of my graduate studentship responsibilities, outside of your typical 9-5 hours.
To be really honest, I was really concerned about the growth or even just sustainability of my business during September and October because I was really doubting whether I could make my business work when my responsibilities as a PhD student were piling up.
As a result, I was stressed, anxious, and starting to have thoughts about retiring my business and quitting altogether. Maybe people were right when they told me “Cheryl, just focus on your research and studies when you start PhD.”.
Something switched for me between October and November.
Specifically, there were four things that really helped me resume my business in a way that feels way easier than it ever did, but I’ve also decreased the amount of time I spend on my business.
I want to preface this conversation by saying that it is NOT the 10k USD result that matters most to me.
Instead, it’s the decisions I made throughout the past few months of my journey that got me here, especially after transitioning into a full time PhD program.
If you’re someone who’s in a 9-5 or grad school, or maybe you’ve recently undergone a major transition in your life that’s transformed your schedule and you’re feeling overwhelmed, I hope that this post will show you that your business is going to be just fine, so long as you don’t quit.
Here are the four lessons that helped me go from stressed and really concerned about the future of my business because of my full time commitments, to a point where I’m balancing my full time PhD program and my business and signing on clients consistently. Leading up to making 10k USD in sales in 21 days.
The first lesson was believing in what I was already doing.
I had to take a step back and look at:
1) What were the things that were already working really well for my and my business
2) Doubling down on this and cutting out the rest, instead of letting myself fall into the thought spiral of, “OMG I’m not doing enough in my business, I need to do more or else my business will flop.”.
More specifically, what worked best for my business was Instagram, both Instagram posts and Instagram stories.
I knew this worked because this was always the first touch point I had with my clients. All of them had indicated that they first found me on Instagram prior to either applying to my website’s application or before sending a direct message (DM) to set up a discovery call.
That’s why Instagram stories and posting on my feed on a weekly basis were absolute non-negotiables for me.
I post twice a week on the feed and do video Instagram stories usually 4-5 times a week. They’re generally no more than 12 slides i.e. 3 minutes of video content on stories.
This is why in September and October, especially, I made sure I was consistent on Instagram. This also includes putting call-to-actions (CTA) on my stories or posts and inviting people to DM me or apply to my program if they’re ready to start their online business and either sign on their first paying clients or start signing clients consistently.
Doing things with the belief that what you’re currently doing is working.
I had to maintain the belief that focusing on my Instagram stories and posts were indeed working. Even though I would look around and see my colleagues doing way more than I was. Especially those who were full time in their business or were gearing up to go full time in 2021.
For example, I kept seeing my peers launch new webinars and masterclasses. I see them start YouTube channels or podcasts, writing two emails per week to their email list, running Facebook groups, running paid ads, etc.
There were so many things I would LOVE to implement in my business, but I knew that this was simply not the right time for me to be letting shiny object syndrome get to me.
I already had a strategy that worked for me, and because of my time capacity and amount of energy I could give especially during the first few months of transitioning into PhD.
I knew I had to stay committed to the strategy that was already working and have trust that it will continue to work.
This felt really hard on some days, especially on days where I’m more sensitive than usual.
For example, on days where I’m stressed out by PhD, I was more prone to thinking “See Cheryl? You didn’t get any DMs or new applications in the past week. Your business is going to fail so why bother?”.
Can you relate to this? Despite the negative self-talk, I had to continue doing the mindset work and remind myself that I need to keep believing in my action plan and strategies, and to keep implementing this one game plan even when there were many days when I didn’t see the results I wanted.
And trust me when I say that there were so many moments when I wanted to add more to my business because they looked really sexy.
When you try to be multiple things at the same time, you’re not going to be known for any of those things.
You are also not going to be really good at any of those things because you didn’t make up your mind about which of these areas you want to master and zone in on.
If you want to be able to position yourself as an expert, you need the proof to back it up.
Likewise, if you want to really streamline your business and have one or two things that work amazingly, then you’ve got to choose to master these things first before trying to experiment with other things.
There’s a trade off when it comes to doubling down on one thing versus trying out many things at once to see which works best.
But here’s the thing – just make your best guess, and try it out. Give it a few months and analyze the growth and results after you’ve given it at least 2 or 3 months.
Just because you did it for a few days or even a few weeks is NOT sufficient evidence.
Honestly, even a few months probably isn’t the best data to base this decision on, but the point here is that there are endless strategies you can choose from and they all work, it’s just a matter of making it work for YOU.
There’s a reason why these strategies exist and why you’re considering them for your business, whether that’s something related to Instagram, podcasting, or funnels, etc.
However, you need to give it time to make it work for you. And when you call it quits too early, then you’ll falsely assume that a strategy didn’t work for you when the main problem was that you haven’t given it enough time to run its course and you haven’t adapted it fully to your business.
More often than not, it’s not that a strategy in your business isn’t working, but it’s that your expectations of when something should happen is unrealistic.
This sort of impatience will keep you stuck and hold you back from continuing to do the work.
Commit to an action plan and believe that it’ll work, even when you aren’t seeing the results immediately.
There’s also a lot of advice out there. Some tell you to create a stunning website with high converting copy. Others recommend a webinar sales funnel, lead magnets, building an email list, and so on.
Some people might suggest being on as many platforms as humanly possible and posting multiple times a day.
But for me, what it comes down to is focusing on the sales generating activities.
Focus on a few core strategies instead of doing twenty different things that will overwhelm you.
There’s a time and place for each strategy you might come across, but if you’re not yet signing on clients consistently, it may be better to hone in on a few key strategies that are going to yield the most results for you right now at this stage of your business.
Again, you can follow a ton of opinions, methods, combination of strategies and tactics… or, just focus on choosing one strategy that resonates with you and commit to it.
What things do you need to do to hit your goals? Specifically, what’s already working really well, how can you master that and cut out the things that aren’t really working and not really seeing results directly from it?
I would encourage you to reflect on what are the things you know you need to do to move the needle forward, even if things on the surface seem like they’re not working.
But you might be thinking, “But wait, Cheryl, you started your podcast in October – Wouldn’t that classify as shiny object syndrome? Why did you add a podcast onto your to-do list when you said you were doubling down on Instagram?”
I started a podcast because I had a couple of outlines batched already, before launching it in October. I knew that a podcast was a way for me to share with my audience deeper insights that I don’t normally share in detail on Instagram. As well as perspectives that I knew people need to hear.
I knew that the podcast was something I truly wanted to start and I genuinely liked my reasons for starting one, so I did.
The podcast and Instagram would go hand in hand because the Instagram was for bite sized content. Whereas the podcast would let us have much deeper conversations.
I knew that the podcast was going to supplement my business and give tremendous value to my listeners.
And because the only thing I was doing in my business besides client calls was simply posting on Instagram, I knew I could utilize batching in order to launch a weekly podcast show. So, that’s what I did.
Every month, I batched my episodes on the weekends and that would give me a few weeks of content. Now, I want to add that if I truly didn’t have the time to do it, I would have only zoned in on Instagram.
When it comes to trusting in my podcast, I had to trust that my podcast would be an effective strategy in my business.
To be honest, I really wasn’t sure for an entire month whether it was working or not. I had gotten some of you shouting out the episodes on your Instagram stories, which is FANTASTIC, but I wasn’t sure if anyone listening was an ideal client who would realize from the podcast that I am the right business coach for him or her.
Guess what? In a couple of my most recent discovery calls, people told me that one of the reasons they applied to my coaching program was because of the value they got from my podcast! These individuals became my clients.
But there was undeniably a period of time when I wasn’t clear on whether the podcast was the right move. But I trusted that this was a way for me to share way more value to my audience than Instagram could. And I made the time to batch the episodes ahead of time, and the results ended up being amazing for my business.
The concrete action steps that set me up for 10k in 21 days
1) 4-5 Instagram stories per week, where I am on video talking to my audience and including a call-to-action (CTA) where it’s relevant to do so.
I focus on authority-building content, relationship-building content, and selling content which is like social proof, talking about my program, sharing behind the scenes of my business.
If you aren’t familiar with these content types, you can start with my 3×3 (+1) Content Strategy.
2) Post on my Instagram feed twice a week
3) Weekly podcast episodes that go deep into topics I don’t normally go into detail about on Instagram, and, of course, including a call-to-action (CTA) where it’s relevant to do so.
4) Hop on discovery calls with people who direct message (DM) me on Instagram or applied to my program via my website. This is an opportunity for all prospects to get to know me and decide for themselves whether my 1:1 program is the right fit for them.
This is really all the things I do in my business on a regular basis, besides client calls and client work.
Sounds super simple, and honestly, it is. I intentionally run my business in a way that’s streamlined and strategic so that each thing I do, each piece of content I put out – there’s actually intention and strategy behind it.
What worked well for me, was showing up on Instagram stories to talk about things that I know people need to hear, not what they want to hear.
This pretty much means I focused on creating content for either:
1) People in my audience who aren’t aware of their problem but are currently frustrated with their situation.
I’m telling them things that they need to hear in order to become aware of what’s actually keeping them stuck
2) People in my audience who are aware of the thing keeping them stuck and feel frustrated, but they don’t necessarily understand the solution that will move them forward to where they want to be.
I used my brain and thought of content that would actually be beneficial for my audience in terms of either realizing what’s holding them back from their goals or helping them actually take the first few steps to move towards their goals.
I made a tremendous effort to go beyond what fellow business coaches were talking about on Instagram.
For example, rather than doing the same mini trainings or the same educational content that I see a lot of my colleagues doing, I had to use my brain to think of what I truly disagreed with my peers on.
Whatever I was seeing pop up a lot of my stories feed or Instagram news feed, I would choose not to do that. Or I would use my brain and think of a completely new take on that topic.
Basically, I made the conscious effort to not get sucked into the bandwagon, and opted to share my opinions and original thoughts instead.
To give you a more specific example, one thing I have been increasingly vocal about in my Instagram stories is that your business should not feel like a second full time job.
That’s something that I intentionally say over and over again because I know that too often, my audience fall into the misconception that they’re missing this strategy or they need to implement that funnel and that they have to start a Youtube channel or podcast show because these are things that other business coaches are telling them to do.
I purposely remind my audience that, “Hey, your business does not and should not feel like a second full time job.”. And I’ll follow it up with, “Here’s what you need to do instead or here are the things to stop doing…”.
This type of content has really resonated with my audience because I’ve been getting way more DMs than ever lately from people responding to my Instagram stories.
Since starting my PhD, I actually spend way less time consuming content from my peers because I knew it would dilute my own message and content.
I knew the importance of using my own brain to create original content from my own perspective.
Nowadays, when I click through my peers’ stuff on Instagram, it’s very, very fast.
Of course, I do keep an eye out for things that I don’t necessarily agree with or things that I want to offer my own take on, but overall, I don’t really process it on a deep level.
Doing more is not always the best solution.
More content does not mean more sales, because it needs to be the right content for your audience.
Too often we get persuaded by our colleagues’ content and feel pressured to talk about the same thing everyone else is talking about on Instagram.
But if you can focus on telling people what they NEED to hear rather than what you think they WANT to hear, this shows to your audience, “Hey, I’m not joking around. I’m serious about your growth and what’s possible for you and I want to show you how we’re going to make that happen for you.”.
I would encourage you to think of how you can create high value content that will actually change the way your audience thinks about their problem or goals.
It’s not just the how to or tips, but I want you to truly dig deep within yourself and look at your experiences, opinions and knowledge and come up with content that will help your audience think differently about their current situation.
I realized I had two choices:
1) I could choose to feel the fear of my business not working out but stay committed to my goals and keep doing the things I know have worked for me and are working for me, even if things felt overwhelming right now.
2) I could choose to remain where I was, feeling like I had a stagnant business, feeling defeated, and on the verge of closing down the shop.
This was a decision I had to make.
Stop jumping to the next new thing in your business and instead nurture the things that are already working.
This means deciding whether you want to remain in the comfortable feeling of, “This one thing isn’t getting me immediate results so instead of continuing to master it and hone my craft in this area, I’m just gonna try something new.”.
Or, you could choose to intentionally step into discomfort.
One thing that we always talk about is the importance of being comfortable with being uncomfortable.
This is because growth does not happen from staying stagnant in doing the comfortable things over and over and never venturing out of your comfort zone.
If you want to grow your business, you need to be comfortable with stepping out of your comfort zone and doing the scary action steps. This will pave the way for you making the impact and impact that you know you can make from your business.
For me, not quitting meant I had to stop looking for the option that felt the easiest because sometimes, the right thing for my business isn’t the easiest.
Sometimes, you need to do uncomfortable things in your business, like showing up even when you’re facing tremendous self doubt or fear of judgment.
Even though it’s been 1.5 years since I started my business journey, there are still moments of self doubt. Those moments can feel very paralyzing. And oftentimes, discipline is difficult.
I had to remind myself that if I am operating from a place of comfort, then it will be even harder to get the results I want in my business.
One thing I learned in the past couple of months was that being disciplined meant making decisions that put me outside of my comfort zone. This typically meant continuing to show up even when I doubted the future of my business.
Especially on days where I felt tired from my PhD, I would have negative self talk such as, “Oh, I’m tired. There’s no point doing anything for my business today. Forget the Instagram stories.”.
Rather than letting myself succumb to the negativity, I would take advantage of the moments where I felt energized and excited.
For example, I choose to do my Instagram stories during the mornings because I know I feel my best during that time.
I also did a lot of mindset work to train myself to snap out of the negative thought spiral as quickly as possible.
I knew I had to be disciplined to do both the inner work and the business activities that I know will get me to where I want to be. Even when things felt hard or even when I wasn’t seeing clear evidence that what I was doing was working.
Remember: Sometimes, you being uncomfortable may be exactly what your audience and clients need you to step into.
They need you to lead by example and show them what’s possible. Remember that when you quit, you’re quitting on the people who you could have been impacting.
This was the thought I had to remind myself constantly because I knew that someone had to hear what I had to say, and someone would truly benefit from working with me.
You’re showing up for your audience as well, and they are continuously deciding whether or not you’re the right person for them based on how you show up.
Remember that you’re not just showing up for you and your business, but you’re showing up for your audience as well. People are watching.
Think about it: I’m sure you’ve watched other business owners and you can tell when someone doesn’t believe in their business anymore. You can tell when someone has quit.
I want you to think about what you can do so you don’t quit. Whether it’s planning out your content in advance, batching it, or doing the relevant mindset work so you can snap out of negative thought spirals.
Whatever that looks like for you, I highly encourage you to stay committed to those things so that you can keep showing up for your audience and your business.
Sometime in September or October, I allowed myself to rest from social media. I still posted some boomerangs here and there, but there was a two-week period when I only did one or two video Instagram stories.
Your business should not come at the expense of your mental health. Taking a rest is not the same as quitting.
Rest is not optional. What this means for me, at least in my business, is that I will let myself take days off from the business as long as I don’t have any client calls that day in order to recharge. Then come back stronger to tell people what they need to hear, about what I do and how they can work with me.
I rest so I can show up even more powerfully. There’s a clear distinction between resting and quitting.
The thing is, you literally created your business from scratch. You turned your idea into a business. Like WOW. How amazing is this?
We truly can choose to be grateful for the business we get to create and the impact we get to make.
Honestly, I find that, sometimes, remembering my gratitude for being able to create this business from literally nothing into something, into money, into impact, that is exactly what I need to remember to keep going.
I embodied what I was selling.
I was being a product of my product. Because if I am a business coach for side hustlers and I help my clients build their online businesses and sign on clients on top of their 9-5, then I have to be an example of that as well.
I had to streamline my business and make things as simple as possible while still signing on clients consistently. This meant I had to make the conscious effort not to cave into shiny object syndrome.
For the new entrepreneur who is reading this post right now, please keep sharing your growth and wins and breakthroughs, both internal ones and external ones.
Show your audience what your life is like and show them what’s possible for them. Exemplify what you’re selling.
Even if you aren’t fully there yet, embody it via your day to day life. There will be people who are a few steps behind you who need you to be an example for them.
Ultimately, when you’re committed to your own journey, growth and being a product of your product, you’ll also attract people who are committed to their journey and growth.
When you are inspired rather than questioning yourself, you can in turn inspire others.
You have to be an example of what’s possible.
I intentionally looked for ways to be a living testimonial of my offer.
To show how I, myself, am impacted by the transformation that I offer, I had to show people that I could run my business on 0-2 hours per day, for instance.
That’s because my ideal clients are side hustlers who are struggling to grow their business or get clients on top of their 9-5. So it was my job to show them, “Hey, it is possible for you and here’s the process I can walk you through to guide you to that place.”.
When people see you as an example, they’ll want to do the same for themselves. Later on, your clients will also be an example of what’s possible for others.
Being a product of your product helps you believe in your offer and thus makes selling it much easier.
It reduces the sense of imposter syndrome you may have as a business owner because you are literally living proof of the transformation you are offering.
That’s also the reason why I actually use the strategies I teach my own clients and I use the same tools that I provide them.
Because if I’m not operating in integrity by doing what I’m telling my clients to do, then imagine the energy I’ll be showing up in. It won’t be energy that’s appealing to my audience for sure.
It also makes it harder for myself to believe in the offer I’m selling, and that’ll definitely affect my energy when I show up to sell my offer.
Another thing I learned was that people want to be around you and they want to be in your energy.
I learned to show up in that energy, especially when I was sharing my message and telling people what they need to hear instead of what they want to hear.
If you did everything you needed to do, you would already have the results you want. But it’s not just what you need to do, but who you need to become.
Let’s think about this: If you don’t think you can have a successful business, then how do you expect yourself to commit to the action steps or to showing up in the first place?
You need to commit to doing the work, and that means working on your self belief that this is possible for you.
Right now, if you’re really lacking self belief, then I urge you to look for examples of other side hustlers who are making it work, and use that as evidence that it is possible for you too.
The unifying theme here is that I had to choose what I would think and what I believed in during the moments when I wasn’t seeing the results or the sales.
This isn’t just about asking yourself, “What would the 100k version of me do at this moment?”.
But rather, it’s critically assessing the negative thoughts that aren’t serving me and choosing to think a thought that allows me to believe in myself and my business, even when the results aren’t visible yet.
Even though each action was done with strategy and intention, I selected these four action steps today because they were truly the shifts I had to go through or the things I had to do in order to make 10k in 21 days happen.
Although there’s a lot more strategies that we didn’t get to cover today, I hope that this was a good starting point to help push you towards your own 5k or 10k months.
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