I have a lot of thoughts to share with you about creating my first 100k. This post will be more of a behind-the-scenes look at what this 100k looked like for me and my business.
In Episode 49: 100k Q&A, we have part two which is a Q&A about my first 100k. I’ve collected a few questions on my Instagram stories about how I created my first 100k, and I’ll be answering those questions in more detail in Episode 49: 100k Q&A.
As I prepared for this post, I felt both excitement and caution. For a few months, I knew that reaching 100k in my business was going to happen in the summer of 2021. When I looked at the numbers, I predicted that it would happen in Q3 of this year, and it did. However, as I got closer to reaching 100k, I started to have some doubts about whether or not I wanted to share this achievement openly.
In my mind, my first 100k didn’t seem as sexy and glamorous as the other coaches who created 100k in the first 6 months or first 12 months of their business. However, in July 2021 I was going back and forth about whether I would tell my audience about reaching the 100k mark.
Here’s what shifted for me in July: I realized that first of all, 100k USD in sales is a big deal, no matter what the timeline was. So many people never get their business to 100k.
Second, and more importantly, it’s my responsibility to be an example of what is possible for other entrepreneurs, especially those who are building their business on top of a 9-5.
If I played this milestone down, if I was ashamed of my own milestone and my journey, how would that be helping others? If anything, it might discourage others from celebrating their own milestones and wins.
When I realized that dimming my own light was, for lack of a better word, a disservice to my clients and audience, that’s when I knew I would share about this milestone.
In July, I promised myself that when I reached 100k, I would create an honest and transparent podcast episode to share how I achieved this milestone.
That’s why this post exists. I want you to realize that no matter how long it takes to achieve success, your wins and milestones still matter, no matter how big or small they may seem.
Success is not defined by a timeline.
By sharing a transparent behind-the-scenes of my own journey, I hope to encourage you to stay committed to your own business journey and the income and impact you’re here to make.
I officially launched my business on March 6, 2019. Between March and July 2019, I created $21,500 USD in sales. At that time, my business was called the Quarter Life Project because it began during my quarter life crisis.
During this period, I offered my services at prices ranging from $1500 to $2500 USD. Considering that I had only been in business for 5 months, creating $21,500 was pretty incredible.
But then, in August 2019, I decided to put a halt on my business. I was extremely burnt out, unhappy, and stressed out due to various reasons, both personal and professional. I talked about this in much more detail in Episode 16: My Biggest Business Regret (Don’t Do This Mistake).
In short, I had completely ignored my physical and mental health, there were some family medical events taking place, and I was working on my business every single moment outside of my 9-5 hours.
I was doing way too many things at once, and that took a toll on me both physically and mentally. Additionally, I wasn’t prioritizing my mindset and not doing self-coaching.
All these things combined led me to hit a major burnout, and I quit my business for seven months.
Then, in March 2020, I decided to resume my business and rebrand it from the Quarter Life Project to Cheryl Theory.
From March to October 2020, I generated $8600 USD in sales, selling packages ranging from $497 to $797 USD. This was a significant decrease compared to the previous year when I signed clients at $2500.
I will discuss this particular period of my business in more detail later, but let’s continue with the breakdown for now.
The remaining $100k was created from mid-November 2020 to early December 2020. This means that 70% of the $100k was generated in the past eight to nine months alone.
As of the time of this episode’s recording, we have reached $101,400 USD in sales. During this time, I sold my 1:1 coaching program at $2,500, $3,000, and $3,500 for four months, and now at $4,500 for six months. Additionally, I sold group programs at $2,500 for four months.
It’s also important to note that I was a PhD student throughout this period. I began my PhD in September 2020, and prior to that, I was working a 9-5 job.
This breakdown summarizes the sales in my business. In the following sections, I will discuss the significant ups and downs that have had a profound impact on my journey to 100k.
The first factor is your belief in yourself as an entrepreneur who is building an online coaching or service based business.
As some of you may know, I’m a big believer in mindset when it comes to entrepreneurship.
However, I used to roll my eyes whenever people talked about mindset. In fact, I only wanted the strategy and step-by-step information, which was true until roughly September 2020.
And you know what’s fascinating? My lack of mindset work, self-coaching, and self-belief was clearly reflected in my results.
I started getting coached on my mindset and belief in September 2020, after I started working with my coach, Dielle Charon, who coached me really hard on my brain.
Before September 2020, I had only generated around $30,000 USD, including the period between March 2019 and July 2019 and the period between March 2020 and November 2020.
Starting in September 2020, I worked hard on my self belief, mindset and thoughts. Once things started clicking for me, results started happening. I worked hard on believing in myself and my thoughts, on committing to my audience and the impact I’m here to make, and on trusting that what I have to say matters and will help someone. That’s why between December 2020 and August 2021, I created the remainder of the $100k.
I want to mention that my mindset work was not consistent in the first few months of the period between December 2020 and August 2021. And once again, it reflected in my results.
There were two particular months that had sales below $5k, which is relatively lower than the rest of the months that usually fluctuated between $7k to $10k USD in sales.
What happened during those two months was that I got cocky and thought that since I was seeing major results in my business, I could just focus on the strategy moving forward.
Looking back at the numbers, it was not surprising to see that those two months were when I was trying to implement something different in my business and change up my entire strategy.
For example, one of those months was when I was trying to launch Cohort 1 of my group program. During this launch, I had an entire content plan mapped out for five full weeks, and I talked about my program non-stop during that time.
Those five weeks were rough for me mentally, and here’s why:
The reason why this launch for cohort 1 of the group program felt hard was because my belief was low, but my strategy was high.
When I say that my belief was low, what I mean is that I really didn’t believe that I would even get one person to join. I also was not doing my self-coaching because I got cocky from the months prior to this.
Additionally, during the sales calls I did have for this particular launch, I walked away feeling absolutely terrible about myself. This happened because I didn’t coach myself before the calls, and my mind wasn’t clear.
So, I went into both the launch in general and the sales calls with a lot of self-doubt and mind drama, which was reflected not just in the quality of the content I created but also in the number of sales I made for that month.
This is exactly why, when I launched cohort 2 of the group program a few months later, I approached things differently and shifted my mindset as well.
For example, I prioritized self-coaching and clearing my mind. I worked hard on my self-belief. I coached myself on my ability to fill up all four spots for cohort 2.
I coached myself on my confidence as a coach and my ability to help my clients achieve incredible things in their business. I coached myself on my belief that I know how to coach my clients really hard.
I also coached myself on my thought leadership and that my content resonates deeply with the right people.
I coached myself on not needing to add more strategy to the launch and that what I was doing was enough.
I even coached myself on finding joy and happiness throughout the entire process. By shifting my mindset and focusing on my beliefs, I was able to create a successful launch with ease and flow.
If you had listened to Episode 41: How I Had a 10k Group Program Launch (Without an Actual Launch) of the Side Hustle Club Podcast, you would know that the launch for cohort 2 of the group program was incredibly easy. It felt amazing, simple, light, and fun. We filled all four spots of the group program before the three-week launch even began. It was a $10k USD sales launch that felt extremely easy.
From these two launches, I have learned a lot about both strategy and mindset, which I now teach my clients. These launches have shaped how I work with my clients since July 2021, as I now truly believe in not only working on strategy with my clients, but also the importance of having a strong mindset and self-belief. Both go hand in hand.
The truth is that both launches were very strategic, as I am always very intentional and strategic with the content and messages I share.
However, there is a core difference between the two launches: for launch 1, I had high strategy but low belief, while for launch 2, I had low strategy and high belief.
For launch 1, I was obsessed with finding the perfect words to say in my content and was overly concerned with minor details, such as the order in which I shared certain messages or posted certain posts.
On the other hand, for launch 2, I focused on doing what I knew best and what was already working for me, which was soft launching and creating content for Instagram and my podcast. I didn’t change the strategy; in fact, I did less strategy, but worked hard on my thoughts. That’s why the launch for cohort 2 of the group program felt more easy and fun, resulting in more sales.
I have observed this pattern in my clients as well. The ones who do their self-coaching and ask for my coaching on their self-coaching between our calls are the ones who get the best results.
There’s a noticeable difference between my clients who get great results and those who struggle more, and it boils down to their level of proactivity in managing their thoughts.
They refuse to let their mind drama consume them and actively choose to coach themselves and seek coaching from me, rather than dwelling on thoughts that hold them back. They either fail to take action or take half-hearted measures, and their content fails to resonate with their audience.
But for those clients who stay committed to working on their thoughts, they attract high-ticket clients to their business.
It’s not a joke, and that’s why I emphasize working on both mindset and strategy with my clients.
I want to expand a bit on the period after my 7-month break from the business.
When I returned to the business around March 2020, after literally halting my business between August 2019 and February 2020, I was extremely low in confidence and self-belief as an entrepreneur.
I felt embarrassed about needing to take time off, especially when I saw my peers who started at the same time as I did back in 2019 and were now way ahead in their business.
I didn’t believe I had anything of value to share with my audience. Who was I to share my thoughts about showing up online and building a business when I had to take a break for 7 months to get my life back together? I felt like I had lost all credibility.
Because I lacked belief, I didn’t push with the strategy. So, between March 2020 and around August 2020, and even until Q4 of 2020, for the majority of 2020, I kept my strategy low so I could focus on rebuilding my belief.
What this looked like was going back to the basics and simplifying everything. This meant sticking to what I knew best, which was building a brand and business on Instagram. This meant not doing twenty different things at once, which was what I did previously in 2019 and got me extremely burnt out.
This meant not caving into shiny object syndrome and feeling pressured to implement every single strategy in existence.
This meant mastering the basics really well.
Overall, focusing on the basics and simplifying my business was tremendously helpful for me in terms of rebuilding my belief as an entrepreneur and coach, and it also allowed me to function like a normal human being.
Here’s what happened as a result:
I developed my own unique way of helping my clients. Specifically, many of you may know that I’m all about helping coaches and service based entrepreneurs build their business and sign consistent clients in a way that does not feel like a second full time job. This is exactly what I figured out in 2020.
By simplifying my own business and focusing on mastering the basics, I was able to identify my approach for helping clients do the same in their own way.
Through this process, I learned what works and what doesn’t work, particularly for those building a business on top of a 9-5 job.
I also discovered how to develop thought leadership and create a content strategy that effectively builds demand for offers in the simplest way possible.
If I had not taken the time to rebuild my belief and mindset by lowering my strategy, I wouldn’t be able to coach my clients in the way that I do today.
This is especially true since many of my clients are building businesses on top of 9-5 jobs, though several are full-time entrepreneurs.
This was also the period when I made the least amount of sales in my business. Some may look at this and think that it’s not worth focusing on mindset and that one should simply go all-in on strategy.
Let me explain why this was necessary for me as an entrepreneur and coach. If I had immediately resumed my business and started selling my 4-month coaching program at $2500, which was the program I sold before my hiatus, I would not be able to back up what I was selling.
I would not be a product of my product because I was no longer aligned with how I previously operated my own business or how I taught my clients to run theirs. If I had immediately jumped back into what I was doing prior to the 7-month break, I would not be operating with integrity.
Additionally, one of the reasons I took a break was because the way I was running my business before led to a major burnout. That’s why when I came back in 2020, I was determined to do things differently.
I took as much time as I needed to develop my new approach and philosophy to business. I experimented with what worked and what didn’t work for me. I also tried different ways of working with my clients to see what was most effective.
Although the total sales during the period from March to October 2020 was $8,600 USD, I was consistently signing clients. However, my programs were not high ticket and ranged between $497 to $797. That’s 100% okay.
Looking back, I knew it was mostly my ego speaking whenever I looked at my pricing and felt bad about myself because the pricing made me seem like a beginner coach.
But I knew it wasn’t the right time to focus on strategy and raise my prices. Instead, this was the time for me to focus on strengthening my mindset and belief as an entrepreneur and rekindling my coaching skills.
This was simply not the time to let my ego get in the way of what the business really needs from me, which was me cultivating my self-belief, confidence, and coaching skills to help my clients achieve amazing results. And I’m glad I did.
By slowing down during this time, I was able to speed up, and my clients also saw results, such as signing their first paying clients ever. In a short span of eight months, we created over $70,000 USD and surpassed the 100k mark by August 2021.
Based on my observations and feedback from clients, there are several things that have proven to work well for my business.
I believe the reason why my content resonates with people is that it demonstrates my own thought leadership. The ideas, stories, opinions, and perspectives I share originate from my own brain. Like, literally.
In terms of why my podcast and Instagram content seem to work well for my business, I believe it’s because I offer a unique perspective when discussing common topics in the business coaching world.
For example, content strategy is a very common subject among business coaches, but I rarely talk about the specific types of content that should be created.
While Episode 1: Content You Need to Create for Your Online Business of my podcast does cover content types, if you were to analyze my podcast from the first episode till today, you’d see that the ideas I share have evolved and shifted a lot.
My content quality has improved as my own thoughts and coaching skills have evolved. Nowadays, my podcast and Instagram content are based on my personal experiences and observations. I no longer look to common topics or trends that are popular among business coaches.
Instead, I speak from my own perspectives, opinions, and develop a clear stance on the topics I discuss. This approach seems to resonate with my audience, as I’ve received feedback that my content is different, helpful, and honest.
Rather than offering generic tips or steps on common topics like other business coaches, I prefer to provide my own unique perspective. You won’t find as much educational or training content on my podcast and Instagram.
However, I believe there is a time and place for every type of content, and I do talk about content strategy in Episode 3: The 3×3 (+1) Content Strategy and Episode 28: My 2021 Content Strategy of my podcast.
Personally I don’t enjoy creating mini trainings or educational tips. It’s primarily a personal preference.
So instead of traditional forms of educational content, I prefer to articulate my thought leadership in other ways.
Identify what is your preferred way of demonstrating your own thought leadership.
For some, mini training and educational content may be where you thrive. For others, sharing story-based content may be how you do this. Maybe some of you are very visual and you can translate your thought leadership into incredible diagrams or infographics.
It’s important to identify how you best showcase your unique thought leadership.
2) I’ve been told that people really enjoy my personality, particularly because they can sense my honesty and authenticity through my content, especially in my video content.
Throughout The Side Hustle Club Podcast, I’ve talked a lot about energy and showing up with the right intention and energy. If you say something, you better mean it. Don’t bluff or fluff. Actually mean what you say. Always.
I think my energy and intentions seem to show in my content, particularly on video.
But honestly, if there’s one tip I can provide here, it’s not about your body language or specific verbiage or words that you choose. It’s about speaking honestly. That’s all it takes.
3) I am confident in coaching my clients and guiding them to create their own results. This definitely took time and practice, but today, I have been able to coach my clients to achieve incredible things.
For example, one of my 1:1 clients was able to create her first $5k month in business just one month after working together.
Another 1:1 client recently joined my program, and within 9 days of our discovery call, she signed one new client, renewed with one existing client, and got one new inquiry for her program. I coached her hard on that call and she messaged me saying that the shift she experienced from it alone was what led to these fun results. As you can see, results can happen quickly when we work together.
It took time and working with many clients to develop my unique coaching approach and strategies that I teach to my clients. It didn’t happen in the first few months of my business. It’s an ongoing learning process for me as a coach, as I pay attention to what works and what doesn’t work for my clients.
My clients’ results have played a key role in propelling my business forward, especially in the past 7-8 months when we created over $70k in sales. The compounding effect from me working on myself and my coaching skills helped my clients achieve amazing results, which then played a role in marketing my program.
The key takeaway here is that mastering your skills takes time, but it pays off tenfold when you focus on serving your clients and helping them create incredible results. Your own results will snowball quickly in conjunction with your clients’ success. They go hand in hand.
4) Soft launching is my favorite way of selling and marketing my program, and it deserves an entire post on its own.
Even though it’s not as hyped up as a typical launch, it still works. Soft launching has worked really well for me and my business. Check out Episode 41: How I Had a 10k Group Program Launch (Without an Actual Launch) to get an idea of how soft launching has played a role in my business.
Remember, there is always another way of doing things if you don’t want to use a particular strategy.
As we always say on The Side Hustle Club Podcast, there is always another way of thinking about things or another way of doing things. ALWAYS.
5) Finally, another thing that has worked really well for my business is focusing on doing a few key things, but doing each thing really well.
As a side hustler myself, I don’t have that much time to devote to the business every week or every day. So, instead of spreading myself too thin, I focus on a few core areas and put all my effort into them.
Bear in mind that the podcast only started in October 2020, so for the majority of 2020, we were only working with clients and using Instagram. Additionally, I only use Instagram stories and feed posts. I rarely do Instagram live or IGTVs, and a good portion of my Instagram posts are repurposed from my Instagram stories.
As you can see, I don’t do many things per se, but I put a lot of intention, thought, and strategy behind each touchpoint I create in my business. This is how I have been able to build a six-figure business on top of a 9-5 and graduate school.
Also, recently, someone sent me a thread on Twitter where people were literally hating on academics with a business or side hustle. Some of the comments that really made me LOL were:
Basically, the thread was started in response to a tweet from a professor who has his own coaching business. That professor originally tweeted the following:
That tweet went kind of viral and it generated a lot of negative responses from academics who had a lot of skepticism or criticism towards other academics who promote side hustling.
Even though I didn’t engage in the conversation on Twitter, I have a lot of thoughts about it, which I will share at another time. However, my immediate thought was that these doubters, haters, and naysayers would seriously benefit from joining my programs.
But in all seriousness, I hope that I can be an example of what’s possible, especially for side hustlers with a 9-5 or for fellow academics or PhD students.
So, for now, I’m just going to keep showing up, creating value for my audience, working with my awesome clients, and leading the way for those who want to be a part of this journey as well.
This summarizes the five key things that have played a profound role in helping my business reach the first 100k mark.
To quickly recap, we’ve talked about my journey and the critical lessons I’ve learned in building belief and business strategy. We’ve also discussed the five key players in my business that have moved the needle forward.
I hope you found this post insightful and enjoyable. My intention was to share my honest thoughts about reaching 100k and to offer transparency about my own journey.
I hope that my experiences can help you on your own path towards reaching your first 100k and beyond.
Additionally, I hope that this post has demonstrated that you don’t need to do too many things at once to reach 100k. Keeping it simple can make the journey more enjoyable.
While I am excited to think about how we can create 100k in 2021, when I look at my numbers since the beginning of the year, it seems like we will achieve this goal within 12 months.
However, what I really want to emphasize is how this year has felt. I have worked hard on my mindset, thoughts, and myself as a coach, and this has reflected in my results.
Therefore, I want to remind you not to neglect the power of your thoughts. I have witnessed how my thoughts have both broken and transformed my business, and it’s something that should not be overlooked.
I want to wholeheartedly say thank you for being a part of my journey. Thank you, thank you thank you.
Please feel free to share this episode with anyone who you think might benefit from reading or listening to it and let’s help more coaches and entrepreneurs reach their first 100 k as well.
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