Last month marked the first birthday of Eli Trier Communities (on September 18th, to be exact), and it has been a rollercoaster of a year! I cannot believe how much has happened, and how my business has grown and developed in such a short amount of time (it's worth noting here that although this biz is one year old, I have been doing this online biz thing for over a decade now, so my learning curve has been MUCH shorter than if I were a total newbie).
I thought it would be fun to share some of my reflections from the last year:
Slow down and simplify
This year I have worked less than I ever have in my life, but I've made the most money. I've taken real holidays and breaks away from the biz, and I've consistently worked just three days per week. I've been able to do this because my business model is incredibly simple, and my messaging/branding is incredibly clear. I don't mess about trying to be fancy and do all the things, I keep things super simple and focus on doing a few things well. That's why you won't see me coming up with webinars, free downloads, Facebook ads, funnels etc. I'd rather stick to my zone of genius - connecting with people and listening to what they need.
The best decision I've made in the last year was to hire my business coach, Jo Casey. She has talked me down off several ledges, convinced me to raise my rates and shown me the true value of my work, sorted out my web copy and sales pages (my personal kryptonite), and generally made me an all-round better business person. I could not have gotten so far, so fast without her wise guidance. Best thing? She hired me right back and I got to work with her on an amazing community project: The Messy Meaningful Business.
Raise your rates
Whatever you're charging, it's probably not enough. It can be so hard to see the true value of what we offer, especially if it's untested. But as soon as you start refining your processes and getting real results for your clients and customers, then it's time to up your prices. It's terrifying, but so worth it. And if you work with clients, charging higher prices delivers much higher quality clients - ones who actually do the work and are fully invested in what you're offering. It also has the added side-effect of forcing you to up your game and create a more valuable experience for them. It's a glorious win-win.
Iterate in public
When you have a brilliant idea for a new product or service, get it out into the world as fast as possible, and refine it as you go. The idea for my love>numbers programme came to me after observing all the discussions happening around my Redefining Community project. I knew I could provide a service which was sorely needed, so I drew up a rough framework, put up a sales page, sent out some invitations, and waited to see what would happen. To my utter delight, the beta round sold out! I then created the content for the programme as it was running, based on what the participants specifically told me they needed help with. It was enormous fun, and gave me enough data to refine and improve the programme when I run it again. If I had waited until it was 'perfect' before launching, I would have missed out on so much.
One of the reasons I am able to only work three days a week is that my biz back-end is systemised to the max. I have a little team of robots, such as Dubsado and Zapier, taking care of everything behind the scenes for me so the biz runs like clockwork even if I'm not there overseeing everything personally. I also have a super tight process for delivering client work so nothing gets forgotten and everyone is taken care of. Every three months or so I'll take a CEO week and review all my systems and processes to make sure there are no leaks and it's all running smoothly. I am SO grateful to past me for getting all this stuff set up before I got busy!
Faith + Action = Miracles
This has been my mantra for the year (h/t Suzy Ashworth), and it has kept me going when things got rough (like having to wait four months for my first paying client). As long as I believed in what I was doing, had faith in the value of my service, and took action every day to get me where I wanted to go, then I would be okay and everything would work out. And, as it turned out, everything is not only working out, but I've been blessed by many miracles, both big and small, along the way.
Connection is EVERYTHING
I have built (and continue to build) this business off the back of personal, human connection: developing genuine relationships with lovely people, some of whom end up becoming clients. Apart from my Sunday Letter and podcast interviews, it's the only marketing I do, and I LOVE it! The best part about running a business based on relationships is that each new person you meet is the entrance to a delightful rabbit-hole of opportunities, ideas, and more glorious people to connect with. You just never know where a connection might lead - all the wonderful things which have happened over the last year have been a result of me reaching out and saying hello to someone.
Fourth time lucky
I've run four businesses in my life, and this one is hands-down the most rewarding, enjoyable, and profitable. Funnily enough (or not), it's the first one where I've really let my hair down and shown up as my true self, wibbly-wobbly wonky bits and all. It's also the only one where I've consistently put my own self-care first, meaning that it's both sustainable and scalable.
What I'd love for you to take away from this is that it is perfectly possible to run your business in a way that suits YOU. It's your business, and your life, so you get to decide the rules. You get to come up with your company policies. You get to put yourself and your self-care first. You get to show up as you, exactly as you are.
This post originally appeared in my Sunday Letter - to get more cool stuff like this delivered to your inbox every Sunday morning sign up here.