October 4, 2022 is a day that holds a lot of meaning for me.
Four years ago on October 4, 2018, I made the decision to quit law school despite everyone around me telling me not to.
Some might call this a quarter life crisis, but this was definitely a decision that with four years of hindsight awareness, I can confidently and proudly say that it has changed my life and shaped me into the person and entrepreneur I am today.
In honor of the 4th anniversary of me quitting law school, not only are we going to dive into the topic of “quitting”, I’ll be sharing a few examples of how I quit in my business, why I chose to do so, how it’s helped my business in the long term, and the overall lessons I’ve learned about quitting in the context of your business.
There are some really interesting examples I want to unpack and some of them might make you go, “wtf are you talking about Cheryl?”. So I’m really excited to share and let’s have a conversation about it.
Here’s my definition of “creating content consistently”.
I think that most people will look at their consistency in their content or posting content in a short term viewpoint. I personally find that thinking consistently in terms of a week or even a month can be highly unhelpful at times.
That’s why when I now think of consistency, I prefer thinking of it in a longer time span such as a quarter, half a year, or even a full year.
Rather than judging my consistency in terms of whether I’m posting one podcast episode every week and then beating myself up if I missed one week, two weeks, or even three or four weeks consecutively, for example.
I prefer to look at a larger pool of data. Meaning I will look at how often I was posting, let’s say, weekly, in a six month or twelve month timeline
The reason is twofold.
First, if we were to judge ourselves based on one month, for example, there aren’t as many data points to look at compared to a three month period.
Second, if we have a really rough week in our personal lives, in the middle of the month, and you literally don’t go on social media for the whole week and hence don’t post at all.
Then, by the end of the week, you get really pissed or frustrated because you didn’t post for one whole week. Now you’re thinking about how you’re so disappointed in yourself and that you know what you need to do but you still didn’t do it. Basically painting very elaborative narratives about yourself and how you’re someone who simply lacks discipline.
Talking to yourself in such a way isn’t going to make yourself feel any better. And if anything, it won’t help you get back up and start creating amazingness again.
So here’s a super simple solution: Instead of feeling shit because you’re only looking at one week of data points or even one month of data points, why not use six months of data points before you make any judgments or conclusions about yourself?
This is literally a foundational principle in research and science. To quickly explain this in clearer terms, I will actually read out an excerpt from qualtrics.com and I’ll cite the source in the show notes.
When you survey a large population of respondents, you’re interested in the entire group, but it’s not realistically possible to get answers or results from absolutely everyone. So you take a random sample of individuals which represents the population as a whole. The size of the sample is very important for getting accurate, statistically significant results and running your study successfully. If your sample is too small, you may include a disproportionate number of individuals which are outliers and anomalies. These skew the results and you don’t get a fair picture of the whole population.
To put this into more relatable or practical terms, here’s a very specific example from my own business.
If I were to look at March of this year, I didn’t post a podcast episode for four weeks. If we only looked at that time frame, I might beat myself up and tell myself that I’m so inconsistent. I’d feel bad for not batching ahead of time, shame myself for not having my shit together, and so on.
But if we zoom out to the whole of 2022, I’ve been posting every week except for that one four week time frame. In the grand scheme of 2022, I’ve actually been consistent.
I want us to also think about why “consistency” is such a prized characteristic that apparently successful entrepreneurs, coaches and content creators have.
The word consistency is arguably one of the most common business advice you’d hear from business coaches and marketers. And conceptually, consistency IS helpful.
But I’d personally take it a step further and argue that consistency is only a helpful concept if we’re using the notion of consistency in a helpful way.
For example, an unhelpful way of using “consistency” is telling yourself that if you’re not consistently posting, you’re not going to be successful in your business.
Although this might motivate some people in some situations, it’s also very likely that you may be using consistency as a way to beat yourself up. It’s probably not gonna motivate you to create your best, most creative or most expressive work, especially in terms of content and marketing for your offers.
On the other hand, for me personally, I’ve found this concept of consistency to be helpful: Consistency is simply a skill , and once I’ve put in the time and effort to practice this skill, it’s a skill that’s in my tool box and I can’t necessarily lose it or forget it. Rather, consistency is a tool that I can use IF I CHOOSE to, depending on the season of life I’m in.
All that to say, consistency is definitely a helpful skill, but please define it and measure it in a way that’s actually going to help you rather than hold you back.
When it comes to launching, I don’t know about you, but my perception is that launching is a super glamorized thing in the online coaching or entrepreneurship space.
But if you’re like me, though I get the sexiness and flashiness of a launch, to be honest, when I really think about it, I’m like… Wait. What’s the big deal? Isn’t it just selling your offer and telling people about how you can help them? And depending on your offer, you might have a firm deadline for when people can join?
From my own observations, I’ve seen launching, or more so, being a coach who has big launches where they sign a lot of clients in one launch, be the standard or dream or goal for a lot of entrepreneurs.
I’ve seen this even more with those who are not selling a business-related offer.
It seems like so many coaches or service based entrepreneurs from non-business related niches or industries desire the flashiness and excitement of a big launch.
And while I do understand the theory behind a launch (which is to build demand for your offer before you open the doors for sales, then create a lot of hype and urgency for the offer when the doors are open till it closes), I personally feel that the way launching has been marketed or taught. is basically another version of us being in a rat race and hustling after arbitrary standards of metrics of success that we ourselves did not create or set.
In the beginning stages of my business, I also fed into the sexiness of having a large launch and I also tried to “launch” my 1:1 coaching program. Even though it literally made no sense for me to “launch” at that point in my business.
Since then, I decided I was going to sell my programs in my own way and in a way that doesn’t pressure me or stress me the F out.
Thus I’ve been developing my own approach and process to soft launching. And I’ve been using a soft launch approach to sell both my 1:1 coaching and group coaching programs. Soft launching is also the approach that my clients learn when we work together as well.
Personally, soft launching is like both an art and a science at the same time.
Now more than ever, I’m infusing both creative elements and a structured approach to my soft launches.
For me and our clients, we prefer to launch in a way that’s more chill, allows us to be creative in how we present our offers and get really genuinely excited about what we’re selling.
There’s no salesy language or urgency tactics or saying things like “2 spots left” when you know you have room for five more clients. None of that. Everything is simple, genuine, and pretty chill.
That’s why I see soft launching as a form of quitting in our businesses.
It means quitting the traditional culture of “having” to sell in this way or “having” to do a launch with XYZ ABC steps, otherwise your launch isn’t well planned enough and you won’t sign any clients.
That’s just sooooo overwhelming and complicated and I think when launching or selling is taught in that way, especially in a “I will teach you the exact step by step launch process from A to Z so you can make your first 10k month”.
When it’s presented in that way, I find that:
1) it sucks the creativity and joy of building your business and showing up for your people and
2) people get really stuck on the words they use because they feel like they HAVE to use these really salesy marketing verbiage that doesn’t even sound like themselves or a human being overall and finally
3) you end up judging yourself based on someone else’ metrics or standards of what a successful launch or business looks like. That, in my opinion, is not how I want any of us to run our business.
I believe that for many of us, our business is a place where we truly get to be ourselves. Where we truly get to be genuine, authentic and honest.
Even if you’re in a career where you feel like there’s a certain image you have to adhere to. But please, at least within your own business, I really want all of us to build it in a way that’s an honest and genuine reflection of us.
Because when we do it in that way, it is how we truly build a uniquely differentiated brand that represents our values, ideas, story, message, and so on. And when we’re not trying to fake it or be someone else, scaling our business is gonna be a lot easier because we don’t have to second guess every business decision we’re making.
Soft launching has definitely been an approach that’s allowed me to really build a business by design and hence grow my business to beyond six figures, even when I was still a side hustler! Super, super fun stuff.
Back in August 2019, when I first decided to literally delete everything and stop my business, in my mind, I really did think I was permanently quitting my business.
At that moment in time, I simply couldn’t see how continuing the business in the way I was doing it between March to August 2019 was going to serve me in that season of life moving forward.
But little did I know, because of that decision to pause the business entirely and regain focus in other areas of my life, I was able to once again create the capacity to build my business again. And this time, do it in a way that is different from how I was doing it previously.
So I reactivated my social media accounts, resumed content creation, and basically was back on the Internet around March 2020. There was basically a seven month period where my business was completely MIA.
And if we were to look at just that seven month period, one might argue that I did quit my business. Or they might think, “You didn’t post content or sell your program for seven months?!?! That’s soooo bad for your business. How are you ever going to build traction from that?”.
Honestly, seven months of stopping the business can sound pretty dramatic and extreme. But only if you’re zooming in and looking at it in the short term.
If there’s one thing we can take away from this episode today, is that our business is a long term endeavor.
It’s not just a one year goal, where we give ourselves a year to see if we can make it work. And if we don’t make a $10k month by the end of twelve months, then we’re out.
Yes, some people may choose to look at their business in this way. But for myself, I know that being a coach, being a content creator, and being an entrepreneur is really going to be a lifelong thing.
I am committed to being in this game for as long as it takes because I genuinely love the work I do, both for free and within my paid containers aka our coaching programs.
One of the most profound thoughts that have kept me going now that I am in the fourth year of my business is that I am okay with my business journey not looking linear or consistent. This means I am okay with taking breaks, even “long breaks” depending on what I need in different seasons of my life.
I am okay if I need to go back to a full-time or part-time job if there’s a season in my business where I am strapped for cash.
I am okay with selling different offers or experimenting with different things in my business as well.
Nothing is off limits for me because I have no expectations of my business needing to look a certain way and I don’t expect consistency in that sense.
I am open to putting everything on the table.
At this point in my entrepreneurial journey, I feel like very little can faze me. Even months of not making any new sales in my business.
At this point, it’s been 3.5 years since I started my business in 2019, and I’ve had “client drought months” in 2019, 2020 and in 2022.
Specifically, I didn’t sign any new clients during the months in 2019 where I took a complete pause in the business.
I didn’t sign any new clients during the months in 2020 where I was rebuilding my confidence and belief that I could sell a high ticket coaching package. And because I had gone off the grid for seven months, I needed to take the time to rebuild my brand and create amazingness through my content and overall build my community, sense of know like and trust with people, and so on.
So it made perfect sense why there was a period of time in 2020 where I didn’t sign any clients at all.
In 2021, I did not have any months of no new sales, and this was an interesting year for our business because we created over six figures in sales in that calendar year alone.
And then in 2022, though my business is now way past six figures. I had several months of no new sales.
If you want to hear more about this, please do check out Episode 94: Managing Mental Health, and Life on Top of Your Business where I share more about my lessons during 2022 thus far.
I also recorded Episode 97. What to Do if You Haven’t Signed a Client for Months, specifically talking about what to do if you find yourself in a “client drought” season of your business. I shared my tips, lessons, and overall takeaways from months of no new sales at all stages of my business.
While I do acknowledge that there’s this narrative where people will say that there are so many people who start an online coaching business but so many of them just disappear off social media after 4-6 months.
I also acknowledge that I myself might have contributed to the negative connotations attached to the idea of quitting your business, likely through sentences I’ve said in past episodes.
But here are my current viewpoints on this:
Different seasons of life will require you to do things differently in your business or it will require you to think about your business differently.
Sometimes, pausing or taking major steps back in your business, such as literally not posting anything for like 3 months, might be what you need to do in a particular season of your life in order for you to regain the energy, capacity, or whatever you need so that you can continue growing your business, IN THE LONG TERM.
I mean, isn’t this what being adaptive is all about? People often glamorize entrepreneurs as being innovative, adaptive, fast to respond to challenges and problem solve. So why can’t taking a break, even extended breaks, be a form of problem solving?
Another way we can think about it is: We can expect our baseline capacity to “work on our business” to look different in different seasons of our life.
My emotional, time, and creativity capacity to do things related to the business looked very different in 2021 versus 2022, where I found that working on my business felt so much easier in 2021, even on top of being a full time PhD student.
But in 2022, I am now a full time entrepreneur yet I struggled to create amazingness for the business. Again, you can hear more about my experience with this on Episode 94: Managing Mental Health, and Life on Top of Your Business.
All that to say: It is normal, if not expected, of our baseline capacity to fluctuate according to the season of life we’re in because our lives are not stagnant.
There will always be moving variables in our work, family life, social life, travel plans, health and wellbeing, and even in the context of the world at large.
Our life isn’t static. And to expect a calm linear or consistent capacity to work on the business and hence create a calmly linear or consistent income in our business, month after month. I want us to question why that’s even the standard we think we should be striving for.
The Quit Party 2023 is happening on October 8 Sunday at 8.30am Singapore time (October 7 Saturday 8.30pm EST / 5.30pm PST). You can sign up here to either join the virtual party live , or you can catch the replay at your own convenience. We would love to see you there live or on the replay.
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