When 2018 started, the word I picked to represent the year was clarity. But when I look back on my life and business over the last year, the word that comes to mind is disruption. This year I moved my life and business to Miami from Central Florida and embarked on a 3 week trek through the Himalayas. The biggest lesson I learned is how important it is to focus on ONE thing that’s working in your business and scale it instead of trying to do five different things that excite you.
This was a year of personal growth but as you’ll see below my business took some big hits this year that forced me to restructure. I achieved several milestones such as losing 35 pounds, hosting two retreats and establishing my business in a new, bigger market.
But moving and traveling disrupted my revenue streams and while my events and retreats were growing, I came to a point where I had to focus on my 1:1 client services to build a better foundation for my business. In the end retreats and events proved to be unpredictable and required a large amount of time and resources. Luckily I spent the majority of 2018 building a strong network, especially with female entrepreneurs, so when I launched my copywriting and content strategy services in November I was able to build a new client base relatively quickly.
2018 marked my second year in business and my first year as a full time entrepreneur. Financially this was my most challenging year and the fact I’m still here feels nothing short of miraculous. I wanted to give you a real, honest year in review because there is so much that goes on behind the scenes of entrepreneurship that is rarely talked about. I’m on a mission to change the conversation about failures so that we can remove the shame and fear that block so many of us from going after our dreams. That’s actually the theme of Season 3 of the Who You Know Podcast coming in mid January! (If you want to be a guest, apply here.)
Q1 Jan - March: Strong Start, Weak Foundation
Total revenue: $12,206
When 2018 kicked off I was still in the process of figuring out what I wanted my business and life to look like. I had four retreats planned for 2018 and envisioned a business in which I would travel around the world to host events and work from anywhere while maintaining a very low cost of living in Daytona Beach. At the same time I also craved community and to be in a place where I could learn, feel inspired and put down roots. I had visited Miami in the fall and instantly connected with the amazing entrepreneur community. After spending some time feeling this out, it was clear that moving to Miami was the best place to grow my business. Just how to make that transition, however, wasn’t clear.
At this point all the revenue in my business was coming from the Workaway Weekend retreat I was hosting in February, which sold out. I knew then that I would need to generate more revenue from other offerings, so I focused on creating strategic partnerships for Idea DInners but was reluctant to go full steam on the dinners without deciding on where I was going to be geographically. Without sponsorships or increasing the volume of the dinners, the profit margins were very low. Between planning and promoting a retreat, job hunting in Miami, launching the Who You Know podcast and a rebranding my community for women I had little time to focus on my 1:1 services. In Q1 I also launched my first online program, which consisted of video content from a retreat I had hosted the previous fall. I had anticipated to make $1,000 on this offering but only brought in $100, which did not even cover the cost of the videographer I hired. This made me realize that I needed a better funnel, opt-ins and to focus on growing my online community before launching anymore digital products.
Workaway Weekend was held in Seaside, Florida, and was absolutely magical. From the women who presented to the incredible $1 million mansion we stayed in, it was an amazing weekend and lit my heart on fire. The retreat brought in about $6,000 in profit and was my first profitable retreat after hosting 3 that had broke even. I saw this as a sign of what was working well and had the most potential to grow so I planned another retreat for June as a well as a retreat in Costa Rica for January 2019.
Eagle Flight Bootcamp at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Mindset Coaching with Shannon Egan of Ishiki Insights
Mastermind Weekend with Emily Marko
Content Strategy Day with Gaby Guzman
Q2 April - June: Making the Leap
Total revenue: $3,221
This is where the disruption really started. I knew moving to Miami would be expensive so I did everything I could to create opportunities for myself and build relationships. The value in the home I owned in Daytona had been steadily increasing and I knew it would continue to do so. Selling it was my last choice. So I spent Q2 splitting my time between Daytona Beach and Miami. This is where I got super creative. I started finding house sitting gigs in Miami and got a side job managing an airbnb property, which had a room for me to sleep in. When in Miami I was attending every networking event I could and I joined a mastermind with Miami female entrepreneurs where I made valuable connections that were so key to moving here.
I also was accepted into Scale Up Miami, a four-month training program for businesses that were ready to scale. At this time I had launched Feminine Infusion for my retreats and events for women and was also trying to launch Idea Dinners in a new market. It began to be apparent that I needed to choose between scaling Idea Dinners or building out my community for women, which I envisioned having an online education component that focused on business and mindset. I was throwing a lot ideas up on the wall, trying to figure out what would stick in a new market. I applied to Miami’s Babson WIN Lab and I was a finalist which meant I had to pitch in front of a room of judges. I pitched Feminine Infusion as a global online education and events platform for women but did not get in the program. At the time, I was disappointed but now I see it as a huge gift and a great learning experience because my business model has changed so much.
I was spending a lot of time strategizing HOW my business would make money in the future instead of focusing on how to generate revenue in the present moment. I picked up my first 1:1 client at this time, which I severely undercharged for my services. During this time things got super tight financially and I cashed in my 401K to stay afloat and begin getting my house ready to sell. I knew as long as I was in this limbo of not really living in one place that my business would suffer, so it was time to put my house on the market. I had three offers on my house the first day it went on the market and two weeks later we closed. I was on my way to Miami and had no idea where I would live. I sold everything I owned and made the drive south. One week later I got the keys to the dreamiest beachside apartment that was more perfect than anything I could have imagined.
I hosted Workaway Weekend again in June but had a difficult time filling it. Looking back it probably had a lot to do with the fact I accidently scheduled it on Father’s Day weekend and hadn’t grown my audience of women who could afford $2,000 for a weekend retreat. I lost $1,500 on hosting this retreat. It’s normal for event planners to lose money on events every now and then but because this was my sole source of revenue in my business, it hurt.
Luckily I had about 6 to 8 months of runway from the sell of my house to support me while I settled my business and life into Miami.
Q3: July - September: A Dumpster Fire
Total revenue: $3,196
It became clear that I was going to have to focus on my 1:1 services or get a job if I wanted to make enough income to sustain myself in Miami. Yet I couldn’t give up on my dinners and retreats. I spent all of July promoting and planning my Costa Rica retreat and organizing my first dinner for entrepreneurs in Miami. And this is where I started to really freak out. Nothing felt like it was working. While so many women were interested in Costa Rica, no one was ready to the pull the trigger and put down a deposit. Worried I would lose even more money, I ended up canceling the retreat and losing my deposit. It was also difficult to fill my dinner in the dead of Miami’s summer and I quickly learned that pricing a dinner at $120 would still be a hard sell for my small audience of entrepreneurs. During this time I also got into a contract dispute with a joint venture partner, causing me to lose out on income I had anticipated from referral commissions. I learned that I should have hired a lawyer to help structure our contract. My dinners and retreats had been designed to help experts and potential clients build relationships and I have a proven track record of converting leads for my event partners. But after this experience soured, I decided that instead of focusing on promoting other entrepreneur’s services, I needed to focus on leading my audience to my own services.
I was really throwing up everything on the wall at this point, exhausting myself to oblivion trying to promote my retreats, dinners and content marketing services. I worked on creating content for my Tell Your Truth retreats and intensives as well as a marketing plan but found myself paralyzed with fear at the idea of taking any more risks or trying anything new. I began bartending at a local brewery and picked up an event marketing client, but it still wasn’t going to be enough. My runway was getting shorter by the day. During this time I had a few public crying episodes. I had gotten myself to Miami but I had no idea if I was going to be able to stay here. The fear I felt was more than at any other time in my business. I thought many times that I should just go get a normal job and even interviewed for several that never went anywhere.
I turned to my spirituality during this time and began going to Sadhana at Kundalini Life Miami in the mornings at 4 a.m, where I did yoga, chanting and meditating with a community of yogis. This helped me move through so much fear and start trusting myself again to make the right decisions in my business.
Las Comadres membership
Barry’s Bootcamp (not business related, but got me in the BEST shape of my life)
Q4 October - December: Getting into Alignment
Total Revenue: $7,372
In October my business was disrupted once again by a three-week trek through the Himalayas in Nepal. In many ways this trip couldn’t have come at a worse time. By November I was on target to be completely out of runway. But this trip had been a dream of mine for so long and I had been training for 9 months to make it happen, which resulted in me losing 35 pounds. I also had already paid for most of the trip. I spent the majority of the trek suffering from altitude sickness to the point I was forced to be medically evacuated back to Kathmandu. There’s a few things I learned here: 1) I will ensure my business has steady revenue and passive income before taking that much time off again. 2) I spend so much time as an entrepreneur taking risks and feeling uncomfortable that I don’t feel the need to do the same on my vacations. While I love a good adventure, I would be more than happy if my next vacation included nothing but a pool and books.
But there was a big metaphorical lesson in my trip to Nepal, which is when you go past your edge, that’s the moment when something breaks through. In my case it was a helicopter that came to save me after 5 days being unable to hold down food. October was basically me learning how to walk through fear and learn to trust.
When I came back I was out of runway, which meant it was time to pivot and FAST. This forced me to think about what I could do NOW that would generate income and help me pay my expensive Miami Beach rent that was due in just 10 days.
So I canceled the dinners and events I had planned and starting promoting a $50 bio special for the month of November. I reached out to the groups of entrepreneurs I was already connected with and was blown away with a flurry of requests. I also got over myself and started cold calling people. It was terrifying but when it comes down to impending homelessness or calling people, you quickly get over yourself and pick up the damn phone.
In November I wrote 16 bios and signed on two dream clients for my PR and Content Creation package. I was still coming up short on bills and my laptop died so that meant I had to rely on credit cards to make things work.
In December I built off that momentum by doubling my bio prices and got several referrals for websites and copywriting jobs, including my first corporate client. By doubling down and focusing on the one thing that was working and owning my value, things quickly turned around.
I’m sticking with an overall timeline here and how events unfolded. What I’m leaving out is the emotional rollercoaster ride the last few months have been, the incredible amount of miracles that happened, and how I walked through fear during these twists and turns. I am still building out my 1:1 services and know that I’ll need to establish retainers and sell my bigger packages to sustain my business in the long term but I have more faith now than ever that things will work.
What I want you to know is that there might be a time when you have to make decisions in business and life that put logic and reason at odds with each other. I’m not going to tell you that if you just follow your heart everything will work out. I’m also not going to tell you to give up on your crazy idea because you don’t have every piece of the plan figured out. In the end it’s about trusting your intuition and knowing that sometimes you have to disrupt your business, pivot or do something that feels like walking backwards so you can propel yourself into a new level of growth. There is a reason and season for everything. Trust yourself and trust the timing.
Ishiki Insight’s December Group Coaching Program
If you are looking to gain clarity in your business by developing a content marketing strategy that aligns with your deepest desires and goals, check out my intensives or the Who You Know podcast to hear stories from entrepreneurs who have done the same.