Online business has evolved enormously since 2020.
This week, I'm joined by 4 audacious and incredibly powerful and insightful business owners: Jennifer Battle, Rachel Aiken, Elaine Jardon, and Erika Tebbens.
Tune in as they share their journey and the evolution of online entrepreneurship over the last few years. We unmask the aftermath of the pandemic and its effect on business strategies and buyer habits. We explore currency in the digital marketplace and the key to making sales. We pay homage to our collective growth, the trials and triumphs of doing business differently and the innovations birthed from necessity.
We also talk about the changing definitions of business success. This isn’t just about revenue – it’s about personal growth, mentorships, and crafting a business model that is as structured as it is flexible, exploring the duality of working to live and living to work, and sometimes how the means to an end could be the end itself.
We touch on a variety of topics within the online space: marketing, email and copy, courses and IP, strategy, education and coaching, capacity, and the over-simplification of teaching.
With 2024 on the horizon, we leave no stone unturned, discussing our predictions for the business landscape and how it's changing (or needs to change), the need for a customer-centric approach and the balance between sharing your intimate journey while achieving larger-than-life results. Whether you're an experienced entrepreneur or a newcomer to the business world, this conversation is a necessity.
Connect with Our Guests:
Rachel Aiken Consulting is an online business education company specialising in working with service based entrepreneurs. My mission is to guide my clients to successfully and sustainably scale their expertise with signature programs that make a bigger impact around their vision for success. My vision is for the conversation in the online business space to change from being revenue focused to client results focused by sharing my Signature Success Activators.
Elaine Jardon's a website marketing expert and email marketing strategist for standout service providers. She works with small busine
Connect with Sarah:
The Business Blasphemy Podcast is sponsored by Corporate Rehab® Strategic Consulting.
Corporate Rehab® is a fierce ally for ambitious ex-corporate moms who refuse to be restricted by outdated work (and social) norms. We challenge the status quo, empowering you to lead from your truth. Forget the empty hustle and build a legacy of success your way. The key? Our distinctive 4-part framework, The Audacity Factor™. It's not just a strategy, it’s a groundbreaking shift in how you approach your goals. Sarah, a seasoned strategist and advisor, not only helps you craft a path to long-lasting success where smart, deliberate actions replace the weary treadmill of hustle and grind — she walks beside you as you do.
Schedule a no stings "Let's Talk Business" call today and find out what small shifts you can make to work less and double your profitability....
Welcome to the Business Blast for Me podcast, where we question the sacred truths of the online business space and the reverence with which they're held. I'm your host, sarah Kahn speaker, strategic consultant and BS busting badass. Join me each week as we challenge the norms, trends and overall bullshit status quo of entrepreneurship to uncover what it really takes to build the business that you want to build in a way that honors you, your life and your vision for what's possible, and maybe piss off a few gurus along the way. So if you're ready to commit Business Blast for Me, let's do it. Hello, hello, blast femurs. I am so excited and I know I say that every episode, but like I have legit been anticipating this episode for weeks I convinced four incredibly audacious, powerful women to all come together and have this conversation with me. I'm very excited to facilitate a conversation that I think is going to be equal parts inspiring and lightning, and probably a little bit fun, because we're all amazing human beings. We are going to talk about what we feel like is happening in entrepreneurship right now, sort of where it's come from, where it is now and where we think it's going to be heading over the next year and a bit. So the first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to introduce all of my wonderful panelists. All of them have been on the podcast at some point, so hopefully they are familiar to you. We have Jennifer Battle, rachel Akin, elaine Jordan and Erica Tebbins, in no particular order, and I'm going to allow them to say a few words about who they are and what they do and the specialty in which I guess I've invited them here to the in the capacity I've invited them to speak in. Now, caveat, the capacity that I've kind of asked them to speak within is not their whole selves. Okay, these human beings are incredibly dynamic. They have a plethora of experience to draw from, and that is one of the chief reasons why I asked them to be here today, because they are not only experts in their space, but they're really well-rounded human beings, and I call all of them friends, and so we're going to kind of talk about certain issues and things that I think are important to all of us as entrepreneurs, whether it's online or offline. So I'm going to stop talking and let's just start at the top, based on my screen. Jennifer hi, welcome, thank you.Speaker 2:
Hello and welcome. Very happy to be back on your podcast real quickly. I'm a speaker, strategist and connector, so I do have my own podcast on Fuck With A Bowl, but I also have programs that help women break out of societal boxes so that they can really experience their best success. However, it is that they define it and I'm really happy that you invited me to kind of give the connection and strategy perspective. But really all the questions that I know you have queued up for us are exciting to discuss and I'm excited to do it with all these other amazing entrepreneurs.Speaker 3:
No, so I'm Rachel and, as you can tell from the accent, I'm based in the UK. I am a program specialist and online business strategist and I help women basically step into their own power by creating amazing methodologies that can then be translated into signature group programs. That gets results. And Sarah has kindly asked me to talk about courses and intellectual property, which I am a big fan of.Speaker 4:
So I'm Elaine and I am a website and email marketing copywriter for service-based businesses, so I am here to talk about the trends that I'm seeing in copy.Speaker 5:
So I'm Erica Tebbins and I am a growth strategist for visionary entrepreneurs, leaders and changemakers who are looking to make their mark, doing things differently and leave a legacy of positive impact, and I have been. In the spring of next year will be 20 years that I've been running different businesses of all kinds and sizes, and a year ago I self-published my first book on changemaking.Speaker 1:
Yay, you are like the original OG the OG OG of entrepreneurs.Speaker 5:
It's funny because I forget all of the things that I had to do in early businesses, right Back when you had to get an authorized net account for payment processing, like all, just all of these things coding a website, like I'm like. I couldn't do that now I don't have the energy, but somehow I did back then.Speaker 1:
It's amazing how much everything has evolved. Like I officially started back in 2010 and even back then it was such a different landscape, right, and we forget just how much everything evolves and how much we as human beings have had to learn and grow and evolve to keep up. So if you're still here whether it's been a year or 10 years or 20 years, like pat yourself on the back you deserve it. One thing I will say I was thinking this as you were all introducing yourselves I've had the distinct pleasure and privilege of working with each of you in the capacity of a client. So not only do I know you as human beings and call you friends, but I've also worked with each of you. So I understand how you work and what you bring to the table, and I have to honestly say, if I didn't believe in what you do and how you show up, you would not be here. So if you're listening and you're going, how did you pick these people? That's how I pick them. I know them, I know the work they do, I know their hearts and you know that the ethos of this podcast is busting the bullshit, really talking about how we can do business differently. I think one of the things that has really been coming up for me a lot lately is just how so many of us talk about wanting to do business differently and we forget that there really is no context, or very little context, for what differently looks like. And I think the problem that all of us share in wanting to do business differently is that we are really kind of co-creating, as we go, a very different paradigm, and so it becomes kind of doubly challenging in that way. So I do want to come back to that, but I want to start with let's kind of level set. So I would love to hear from you what have been your biggest observations of entrepreneurship, and I want to say since around 2020, because that's really when the vast majority of people kind of there was like this massive influx of people into the online space. So what have been your biggest observations around you know what entrepreneurship looked like and how it's shifted, particularly this year, because this year has been a year of ridiculous shifts, like shit just changed overnight. It feels like.Speaker 2:
So here are some of my observations. So, interestingly enough, I'm kind of like Eric Hubb in and out. I had a brick and mortar business in 2012. I've worked in other areas where, like more network marketing, and then I've had this business for about now six years, so pre-pandemic, and for me the pandemic was awesome. I mean, I don't want to say it was awesome, it was horrible, but from a business perspective I had a lot of growth. So I had a fitness coaching business. At the time. Obviously, a lot of fitness facilities were closed. It was great. So not only that there was. I was also doing business coaching with my coach, co-coaching at the time for people who are starting fitness businesses. So there's such an influx of people because no one had stable jobs because of the pandemic, especially in the fitness industry, so everyone was rushing online. People who are online were doing great. And then there was this whole rush of people who were in supporting roles in online business, so service providers, et cetera. In that sense, like right in the beginning, even though we're in the middle of this worldwide pandemic, which is exhausting on every level. And let's add, if you have kids at home or if you have elderly parents or if you have anybody else that you had to take care of. That was exhausting, but it was coupled with this rush of excitement and possibilities and money right. There was a lot of support for people, there was a lot of relief, and I don't know about you, but I didn't drive anywhere, so all my vehicle costs were a lot of my costs were going down, couldn't get your hair done, so nobody was spending any money other than Netflix, and now we've got all these new business owners. I think the one thing that we all forgot and that I think is catching up with us now, and what I've noticed the trend is, is that we're in the middle of a serious worldwide pandemic. It was exhausting, and so now all the glossy excitement, having a new business, the energy that you kind of reached up from that you grabbed to do this business, is gone. I'm tired. Everyone I talk to is exhausted, and I think that's what I'm starting to see reflect. There are a lot of other business pieces, but I think one of the main things that I've noticed is people are just done. I mean, all that stuff is finally catching up with us and it's almost like the adrenaline has just tapered off. And so what I'm seeing a lot these days are people who've gone really, really hard for a couple of years. They spent a lot of money invested in things were really gung-ho and now, just like most entrepreneurs, you see, in that second, third, moving into that fourth year, oh, now it's like this is where it gets hard and this is where we have the least amount of energy. I think now we're seeing the economic effects and I'm in the United States so I'm sure it can vary the economics effects of the pandemic. I think that we're a little bit delayed, but now really you're seeing them actually happen, at least where I am. Costs are like way high, everything's going up, your energy is down, people are investing less in businesses, so there's just this general feeling of like ugh. That's my observation, and I'm sure there's lots of other things, but I think the number one now is people are just exhausted and we don't have the bandwidth that we did a few years ago.Speaker 5:
Yeah, and I think I just agree with all of that, jen, and I think that there's also the sense of like, right for those of us who were up and running and like ready to kind of assist those people, especially people who maybe had not fully online businesses and stuff before or were going to like maybe they were sort of like half in, half out or whatever, and they were really going to start ramping up and also like we couldn't go anywhere, we couldn't do anything. So we had a lot of people's like time and attention as well, right, so people were seeing our marketing more, right, because they were online, they were at home, and it was sort of like a nice, like distraction, right. It was like if I put all of my time, energy and focus into my business, I don't have to think about, you know, all of the rest of what is going on. And so I think that there is a bit in that of like for those of us who were here and ready to kind of like hold space and help and assist with a lot of those other folks, especially if they were having to pivot and you know all of that. Yeah, it's sort of like that. That comes with its own cost, right. It's like a invisible labor toll that we don't see. And then it's, I think, coupled with so many other things, right, just like seeing people get abused by the industry again and again, right, like when you run your business with integrity. Like I think it also takes an emotional toll of having to be in community with people who have really suffered under some of their like working arrangements and things like that. That is also hard and I think, just in and of itself, a lot of people grappling with the reality, especially newer entrepreneurs of like I feel like there was this sort of ethos of like set up an online business and that's going to save you, right, like that is your ticket out of financial exploitation and capitalism and whatever, whatever, and that, like the world of business should be this great equalizer. But the reality is, like it's just not. It's not and like I don't think it ever really can be, because, at the end of the day, like we are practitioners, we have to be good at the thing we're good at and we also have to be good at business. Not every that takes a lot of time and skill building and everything. And like not everyone's going to be able to. Not everyone's going to have the resources to do that. It's just much harder than a lot of people sell it to be.Speaker 1:
Oh my gosh. Like 100% and what really caught me is suffering because of integrity Like that. There is something so inherently wrong with that entire perspective, like just that entire reality, but it is so freaking true that it makes my heart hurt.Speaker 3:
I completely agree with everything that Jennifer and Erica have said, and actually, when I was preparing and you'd sent us the questions, I think what I'm gonna say kind of follows on quite nicely is that I think the people who, like us, had a business, an online business, prior to the pandemic, there was a specific way of working. We kind of we were open to all these ideas when it came to specifically, marketing and the way that you could scale your business and grow it. And I think what I've seen, particularly in the last year, is that audiences have got a lot more sophisticated, in that they now know all the tactics. Like, you know that if you sign up for a freebie, the next thing you're gonna do is get them fired to a masterclass and then on that masterclass, you're gonna get the hard sell and there's gonna be some lovely discount on their main product, and I think people are just generally tired, as Jennifer's already said, and so I think people are now looking for, I wanna say, genuine specialists. So and we wouldn't always call ourselves experts particularly the people who are experts would very rarely say I'm an expert in this because we're like, oh, there's still so much for me to learn. But I really think that there is this idea that people are now really looking for the specialists and they really wanna see how you're backing that up, like, how are you a specialist? And I think the pandemic has made us like, if we've survived. I think, if I remember the rhetoric in 2020, I remember, particularly here in the UK, we went into lockdown in the March and automatically there were all these webinars and people going live talking about how's your business gonna survive, what are you gonna do, how are you gonna work through this, how are you gonna take this to your? You know, play this to your advantage. And there were a lot of people losing clients because of you know. Oh, my goodness, where's the money gonna come from? So let's just shut things down, let's just pause. And we had all of the other ties, like having children at home and all of those things that Jennifer's talked about, and so I think then I think there's this element of business owners and now I made it through, I am not the same, and so we're now seeing people not only question these tactics and strategies that have been in the online space, but let's face it, quite a long time, because there's still big names using it today, last week, you know but that we're wanting something more, and I think one of the biggest things I think that I have felt personally and that I have seen is that it was so good in, you know, in the pandemic, that everyone could be online. But now what I really crave is some people in person, nearby, who get what I'm talking about. I think we want more intimacy rather than more oh hi, yeah, we're in the same boat, kind of yeah, we could be friends, kind of thing. I think we're looking for that intimacy, that's my take.Speaker 1:
I love that I have to interject before I ask Elaine for her thoughts. I was at a team planning a retreat last week in Ohio and it's the first time I've. If you knew the story of me trying to get to Ohio last year, you'd be like you made it. It was great, but that came through so clearly and I think it was an unexpected bonus of being around other people that we have known for several years but we've never really connected. Being in the same room together gave us the opportunity to be, like you said, intimate in a way that I think doesn't matter how many coffee chats you have, doesn't matter how many retreats you go on, like that level of connection that has been missing. And I'm speaking as an introvert, somebody who genuinely likes kind of hanging out by herself and not being surrounded by a lot of people. I drank it in and I didn't realize until I left how much I had needed that, so I think that's a huge yes, absolutely, elaine, I'd love your thoughts.Speaker 4:
So I am one of those people that joined the online business world in 2020. I was a teacher. Before that. I had no aspirations of having a business. So one of the things that I've noticed with people that are in my cohort, if you will, is that in 2020 and 2021, it was so easy to make money, literally, in the United States PPP loans, stimulus checks, all that's happening. Then enter 2022 and it was like, oh, I actually need to know how to sell. I actually need to know how to market. I need to do some of these foundational pieces, and I think what I'm seeing now in 2023 is those who took the time to actually build a business are doing well, and those who were able to cobble something together and just kind of duct tape it and make it work are finding now it's not sustainable. In that same way. It's just like you said, jen. There was so much hustling in 2020 because what else could we do? I mean, I was watching Tiger King and I was working on my business and keeping my children alive. That's pretty much it Like otherwise, this is what I devoted my whole time to, and I feel something, too, that's different for me in 2023 is my business is no longer what I want to devote all my time to, so I'm being a lot more intentional about like okay, this is work and I love it and I'm proud of it and all of that, but Elaine, the person, has kind of been neglected, so like I need to get back into hobbies and just connecting with friends and just more of that, as opposed to just like grind, grind, hustle, grind. As far as what I'm seeing in the bigger space is, more clients now want proof that I know what I'm doing, which for me, is amazing because I love to come with receipts. But clients want to see a portfolio of work. Now, before, just kind of a good word from someone else that they knew was enough, sales calls felt more informal. It's just like oh so and so vouched for you, okay, okay. Now people want to see like show me websites you've done before. Show me this welcome series. Can I talk to this person? And part of that is the investment level has gone up too. So I'm playing in a different field than I was before, but I'm seeing much more discerning buyer habits. I'm seeing far fewer of those mid-ticket offers. If you will selling easily, I think it used to be very simple to sell something for $297, $397. That was almost a no brainer for people. Now I'm not seeing as many clients be successful at that price point because they're not that big. It requires a lot more messaging and a lot more touch points than it did before and people are like oh my gosh, it's me and it's like it's not you. Resources are feel more finite than they did before, at least in my opinion, and so we're all just being a little more discerning about what we're doing with our time and our money.Speaker 1:
Yeah, that level of discernment's definitely gone up and I've seen in several places where previously it was like maybe three to five touch points to get someone to actually buy into something, now it's taking up to 70 touch points and just the amount of time that you have to spend nurturing the people that you want to invest with you has gone up exponentially. And I think people are forgetting that because, I mean, you all touched on so many things but, like tactics and strategies, I've seen a very deliberate shift in part of the market away from traditional bro-marketing type of tactics or strategies but at the same time we're still seeing people using those and being quote unquote successful. So there is still a component of the market that's using those old, tried and true strategies you know, like the master classes and the whatnot, and part of me wonders if it's because there are still people who, like there are people who are unwilling to let go of the old paradigm. They're holding onto the death grip. And so you still have people who are relatively newer to entrepreneurship, because I truly feel like, until you've been in the arena for five years-ish, you're still pretty new, because you're still trying to figure out who you are, you're trying to suss out what your specialty is and what you can call yourself a specialist in. You're really learning your voice and so if you're kind of stuck in that weird paradigm of like yeah, I'm still doing webinars and like the three-day free challenge, then buy into my like the cart, open all of that stuff and they're seeing it work. For some people, like, how do we, how do we shift out of that? So, going on from that, what I'd love to know is, based on everything We've already touched on For you specifically like you and your business, how have you shifted from maybe where you started, either in 2020 or pre 2020? Like before COVID or after COVID? Bc, ac I'm a BC, but like, how has your business and sort of how you are showing up shifted from where I think we all collectively were In and around the 2020 mark?Speaker 5:
Oh gosh. So I feel like, honestly, for me it has always been about Relationship building. It has always been about the long game and taking the time to really like foster true connection with no strings attached, and also to Keep refining my own skills, like which doesn't necessarily mean like I'm not saying that we have to be Investing non-stop all the time, but I I think that you know there is. It is important, especially in any fast-changing like industry, to stay on top of your skills right, even like a lot of professional Careers have ongoing, like continuing ed credits and stuff. Right, you have to stay fresh, you have to be aware of you know what is going on, what is shifting, and like just being really solid in things like you're messaging and you're positioning and you know how you are like finding your people and talking to them and all of that. And so I think for me, like I just wrapped up a launch about a month ago now, a little less than a month ago, and it really was like most of the people who joined my program are people who I've been connected to for a while. There are people who have wanted to join the program for a while, but like the timing was never right and you know other stuff, and so it really is like that recognition of you have to, you have to be willing to play the long game, you have to be willing to genuinely care about the people who might potentially give you Money and their time and their attention and and all of that and really like be committed to what you say you're about on you know, sort of on the regular, and then and then not be afraid to do the, the things like the personal outreach, the you know Recognizing like what we're talking about with, like wanting to be offline a bit more. Right, like in our own personal lives. It's like sort of reassessing what is you know priorities and doing hobbies and in-person meetups, right, so we're not going to see everyone's emails or social media, whatever. So like looking at the people who've expressed interest before or you think might be a good fit, and like doing the scary thing of Personally reaching out and a lot of people don't do it because like it's uncomfortable to get that rejection right. But it I Mean it has always served me well and I think that it will keep serving people, the people well like, who have the systems already in their business or like the structure of their business that supports Not needing thousands of clients or, you know, customers or students at once, like if you don't have that kind of business, if you have a more intimate business, double down on that and actually connect with people.Speaker 2:
I want to piggyback off that, erica, because first, yes to all of it, and I'm thinking about what Elaine said about not devoting time and the question is you know, how is my business evolved? I think that what I have learned is that my business is still me, you know. So it is going to change and grow, and one of the best things I can do is to continue to invest in Myself, my health, my personal development, my growth, which means that there are seasons. My business will go through seasons, and one of the other, one of the things that struck me, erica, as you were talking, was that you know, we have these categories of entrepreneurship we have small business and then micro entrepreneurs and solo Pernoors, and most of us are working on the smaller, micro and and solo Pernoors side. However, I think a lot of folks have the expectation that they're going to operate like a small business that has lots of employees and lots of things, and I can just do this thing, and it's not personal, and I really liked how you pointed out that in. For most of us, this is personal. It is yourself, it is you, and so when you talk about your brand, your brand is you going out there, and so it is incredibly important for me these days to very much take care of myself first and do the things that stabilize and create a healthy mental environment for me, and then I'm great and I can go out and do the business that I want to do. I think for me how I've evolved is really asking myself what does success look like for me? Because in the early days I had a lot of influence from my business coaches and mentors, who are really great in helping me get started and set up in this new type online space that I had not operated in before. But you know, their success measures are not necessarily what mine are these days. So even down to how much money I want to make and it's not really these days I'm like I don't need to be a six, seven figure, I don't care about that. I want this kind of lifestyle. I want this kind of like rest. I want this kind of income, and it's not always sexy or fancy, it's boring and basic and that's good for me. I also think about how do I want to work, and for me it's. It's not like I want to work a business, like a job. I want to maybe work today, I mean, I don't even know if there's a time to it, but sometimes on Saturday mornings I'll feel like getting up and doing something. Sometimes on Wednesday, you know, or Tuesday, like yesterday, I stayed in bed because I was tired and also kind of piggybacking off of what Elaine says. How does this fit in my overall life and what I'm seeing is some people are taking jobs. I've definitely considered it because I'm bored in the house. I live mostly alone. My kid is no longer at, you know, they're off doing their own thing, and I crave people. I crave, you know, engagement. I moved across the country. I don't know anyone here, so I'm like, yeah, I might take a job, you know, because it would be nice. It would fulfill some of the areas in my life that are not being fulfilled by my entrepreneurial endeavors, and I think that's okay too. So for me, it's about really redefining what business success looks like and also very much focusing on the personal growth aspects, so that I can create the entity that supports the life that I want, versus being all in on business and forgetting about the rest.Speaker 4:
I connect with what you just said so much. My goal and the big shift that I've undergone in 2023 is I run a boring business. That doesn't mean the purple. The people I work with are fascinating. If you've been around me long, you've heard me say like I love working with super smart people, like I love it the knee. Sure, you are the more little details, like I'm always here for that, but the structure of my business is very boring and it has allowed me to cut out the noise of like actually I don't. I work with people one on one. I am a done for you service provider. I do not need to run a webinar. I do not need to have a $7 easy, yes, trip wire thing, because that's not what my people are doing like, especially now that many of my clients are offline. They don't play the game in the way that the online space does. Some of the components are still the same, like the relationship building is still there and whatnot, but I'm not going to get a metal manufacturer to sign up for my master class, to come into my funnel, like that's just not the way that it goes and that's okay. It took me a long time. I felt like I was behind because I wasn't doing all these things that everybody else around me was doing, and it honestly takes me more disciplined to be like no, I run a boring business. I try to talk to like this many people a day. I respond to clients in this way when I send a proposal, I always send a walkthrough like I just have. This is what I always do and it's it's boring, which is what allows my brainland to be creative and do all these other things, because I'm not just like wearing myself out sprinting after these people who have a business model that doesn't match mine. Like I'm not a coach, I'm not a digital products creator. Why am I trying to act like one? So that shift really opened up my eyes and it's allowed me to be a lot more careful about like who I choose to follow. Like my current mentor is someone who owns a copywriting business, so she gets the way that it works and it applies directly, and that's been so freeing compared to just like trying to fit myself into something that just has never worked for me.Speaker 3:
So my business changed. So in 2020, I was a certified OBM and I was working in other people's businesses and I was miserable. I was great at my job, but it's not what I wanted to do. It wasn't lighting me up and I was actually. I got to the point where I was like I've basically created another job, just on a computer, rather than going out of the house every day to school, cause I used to be a teacher, same as you, elaine. It wasn't what I signed up for, and I think I think there is this element and I know that I'm not the only one, and it's really reassuring to hear what you've said as well, elaine is that I think during the pandemic, we all had this realization about life and what is the life that we're living, and, jennifer, you were talking about what success is like and you know, and Erica, you were saying about like connecting with people, and I think that's what we all suddenly needed that reminder of, of that. This is what life is. It's not a solo journey, and we're not. We don't like actually all having to be shut away in our house, even though I'm an introvert just the same as you, sarah, and I love being at home on my own. And, and so it was this realization of okay, so if I'm doing this and I'm putting all this time and effort into creating something that is, like you said, jennifer, my personal brand, because my name is on, you know, it was above the door practically how is that a reflection of me and is that the reflection that I want? And so that then helped me reconsider and I said, oh my God, I've turned my back on what I love, and you know, I've got a 15 year background in education, working in universities as well and it was like this is my passion and this is my drive. And so how do I then build that into my business with what I've seen in, you know, in other people's businesses? Because when you are inside other people's businesses, you see so many things that, even though on the outside they portray one lovely glossy image, that's not the reality. And so I think it was. It was hard for me to then go. Okay, I can turn my back on all of this and start again, but actually it was the best thing that I did, because I love working with people one to one and I love being able to like mine out the diamonds that are inside them, as Sarah would say, and then help them shine in the way that this is how they're meant to be, because that's how we are. Like there are so many little gifts and I really think that there are so many people out there who have so much to offer and that we don't necessarily and I don't think we are the ones who then do all the bro marketing, because that is not letting our expertise shine. That was a really big realization and same as you, elaine it's and Jennifer talking about how can I do this my way, what works. You know, I didn't come into business to learn how to do the perfect reel on Instagram. I came into business to you know, specifically now to really help, like I say, women. Just put them who they are out there in the world and really to help other people. That's all pretty much all of us are doing is we are helping other people to do something with their lives or and then possibly have an impact on others and, particularly with the state of the world at the moment and the state of the online space, I think that is needed even more.Speaker 1:
Oh my gosh, this conversation so far has just been so life affirming. Can I just say it is just it's. It's so true. I mean, there's so many things that came up and I am one of the big things that has come through for me, particularly in working with other people over the last year maybe year and a half has been just how many people have been convinced that business can be done in a way that is not actually business right, like they're. They're averse to the long, like somehow having an online business. And it's funny because I was part of an organization, very briefly, where, you know, we did talk to people outside of the online paradigm and when we would tell them what you know, the coaching space was like they would, their minds would be blown like that. It just didn't compute for them. And I think a lot of people who are in the online space were convinced that you can build a business here that is somehow immune to the realities of business everywhere else, right, and the idea of the long game does not, you know, does not fit here, which is bullshit. The idea of having to define your success doesn't have to happen because I can just whatever she's doing, I can do that too, which, you know, that's nuanced, but also the truth. And I think that, from my perspective, what I'm starting to see shifts in is this idea that and I've pivoted my own business model. I mean I've you know me, I've always been about no BS, doing things the hard way, not the hard way, but like the quote, unquote right way, taking your time with things. And I've really leaned into that now because I have seen people who came to me two years ago, three years ago, who were like okay, sarah, can you help me make $250,000 in my first year? And I was like no, and here's why. And they were like, okay, see you later. And they go and sign up with a $10,000 a month coach who's gonna help them with mindset. And now they're coming back to me and they, you know they want the help to build the business and the foundation, but they've been tapped out financially and so you know they're wanting that level of support, but they don't have the financial capability to invest in it and it's really, it's sad, it's hard, you know, and also it's a lot of things.Speaker 5:
So I've been leaning more into like, if you want to work with me, you really need to be okay with the long game, because we're not playing the shortcuts, you know so you started to touch on it a little bit, but, like I was noticing from, like what Elaine and Rachel specifically were saying about the certain tactics or strategies and things like that, I feel like I'm very grateful for my experience that I brought to the online space, because I think it gave me a different perspective of like it was actually when I defaulted to like how do I know how to connect to people? Like how do I know how to get myself in front of the right people? Like when I defaulted to what I knew to be true, that, like the rest of the business world does, that was when I really started. Like when my business was new in 2017, that was when I really started to get traction, when I doubled down on what I knew, you know, has worked for forever for the entirety of business, right. When I did that, then things really started to take off for me. And when I say take off, I don't mean the like you know, six figures in 60 seconds, but I mean like I was starting to actually like get paying clients and things like that and referrals, et cetera, et cetera. Right, and I think that what is really really, really disheartening and has been said, you know by multiple people here, is that, like the seeing now people reckoning with? Oh, I didn't know, and therefore I listened to the loudest voice on the internet and they told me I needed, you know, the, this kind of offer, the this kind of real that you know, whatever the thing is, and so they sunk all their monetary investment, their time investment, emotional investment, like all of that into it, and then that realization of like, this isn't what I want. Like, I don't want that type of business where I'm like selling, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars of passive digital products every year, right? Or, like you know, maybe they don't wanna have to ever have a business that requires them to run paid ads or whatever, whatever, right, they do just want to help people in their zone of genius, you know, and so I think that that is what is really like we are seeing so much on the tail end of now. Is people like, is that reckoning of people being? Like I believed that running a business had to look, you know, in the online space all these different ways, and I had to chase these trends when it really can. Like, I would view my business as boring and basic too. Like, boring and basic is where it's at and the thing of like. It's not like a problem with my mindset or whatever to say that like it is fundamentally unrealistic that the vast majority of people are gonna have a six figure or a multiple six figure business and be able to sustain it. But the thing is is that people don't wanna talk about that because, like, it hurts your own sales. I'm not talking about any one of us here, but, like you know, in general, like it hurts your sales if you don't dangle that carrot for people to be like, because, right, like you can't justify a $25,000 mastermind if the person doesn't think well, I'll 10X this investment, right, but it's just fun to like. I always think of it this way. Right, if it were possible that, like you could just create a course on something you love and make a fortune, or to have an online business doing something else and make a fortune Like people in our neighborhoods, in our families, in our communities, like we would just simply know more people who have done it. It's okay that it's not a reality, but I think we need to stop the like collective gaslighting of like no, everyone should be able to achieve this. Like it's simply not going for so many reasons, it's just not going to happen.Speaker 4:
When you brought up the loudest voice, just as this is kind of a rabbit trail to what I had planned on mentioning before. But let's just take it. I had had, I think, two paying clients when I applied to my first group coaching program and the reason I applied was because I wanted to scale. I didn't even know what that word meant, but I thought I needed it because everybody else was talking about it and, like I'm a high achiever, I want to be the best star student. Like I need to scale. What, anyway? That aside, another big shift that has happened for me and Sarah you've, I think we've all kind of brought this up in our own way is that like I'm recognizing that I am in business for the long game, and I don't just mean the long game for the sale. I'm probably going to be in business for another 20 years. So if I have a down month, I'm playing for 20 years. Like of course that's going to happen sometimes, or you know, whatever it is. Just being able to take that longer view makes me feel less frantic and because I have felt less frantic and more peaceful, like then I can spend more time, like again clarifying all the important things, all the things we've covered, but that I think really for me, from 2020 until, honestly, like the middle of this year, I was just like this is a dream. Somebody's going to pull the rug. I'm going to be back in a classroom teaching algebra when I wake up tomorrow. Like it's just going to happen, it's inevitable. And since I've been able to shift into that, like no, like I'm going to be here for a while. It's just uh, life is so much better.Speaker 2:
Yeah, this is perfect, because these conversations just lead right into some of the thoughts that I've been having and many of you mentioned. The way I like to look at it is I feel like in the beginning, things were very much focused on quantity and immediacy. So not only do I need, like, lots of sales and lots of customers and lots of clients and lots of followers, but it's like, and I need them now, and a lot of the information out there from other coaches or other service providers was like that's the norm and that's the expectation. But where I would like to see this industry go and this world go is from this focus of quantity to quality, to intimacy, because I think we're all kind of hitting on this piece where the pandemic has really had us look very much inward about what we want life to be like and how we want to show up in our businesses and our lives, and I really think it's. You know, we always say it's not quantity, it's quality. But I want to take it a step further and it's intimacy, and intimacy is so much slower, it's going to take so much more time. It's very intentional. You want to connect with people who are values aligned. You want to have great conversations, you want to honest conversations and you also want to you know honor yourself. And in order to build these long-term, intimate, close relationships, it takes time. It takes time and that means that maybe you won't have a full-time business for a year or two or three, but that's normal. And, erica, you were saying earlier, it's like we have this. Why do we think the same rules that have applied for hundreds of years in business no longer applied us? Because we've got a computer and a phone and the reality is that we're still working with people, and especially now that we are bombarded with messages every five seconds and TikToks and LinkedIn and short-term video, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and most of us just kind of want to say no. We want to back off from that and we want to have those close, intimate types of experiences and relationships, and I think that's where businesses need to really go if they want to be around for the 10, 20, 30 years. Yes, technology is great, it's wonderful, I love technology, but there's no substitute for me spending my money with someone who have a great relationship with, who I know cares about me, and I want to support them with my dollars. I think, at the end of the day, we are all trying to create lifestyles and lives that feel really, really good, and we shouldn't be afraid to trust ourselves and extend that desire to our businesses, whether they're predominantly online or they're brick and mortar. We I think there's a huge part of us that really needs to learn how to trust ourselves, trust our desires and then move forward in a way that honors the life that we really want to create.Speaker 3:
That's really funny that Jennifer talked about quality, because in my preparation, that is what do I want to address going forward, and that is exactly what I said is about. I want to see the quality, particularly in my area. You know Erica was talking about making passive income courses and then you've got all this money coming in. I really want to see the quality of learning experiences and that's not just about sharing a bunch of knowledge that somebody could Google and you packaged it up and then that someone's going to get death by Zoom. You know, I want to see real learning experiences and I think one of the things that I've specifically seen this year is there are a large number of specifically women who I follow who are saying that they've just recently been diagnosed with ADHD or with autism, and there are all the reasons why I'm not going to go into it. And recently reading a post that some that a coach had posted about, why do you think someone buys a program and then just doesn't do anything with it, like doesn't turn up to the cause or complete it, and someone said oh, it's. You know, for me it's really tricky because I have ADHD, blah, blah, blah, and the coach then responded with well, what are your strategies to learn? And I was just like, oh my goodness and Elaine would probably agree with me Like, as an educator and I know you know, sarah, your background as well that it is never just the students responsibility to be able to create a great learning experience. That quality experience comes from understanding so many different things you know, but also knowing that actually you're not. When you're creating a learning experience, that not everyone is going to be a carbon copy of you and they're not going to want to learn the same way. And so I want I want to see people say you know, yeah, okay, this is the way that I'm going to scale my business with a program. You know Elaine was talking about scaling businesses and what does that mean. And that's just one aspect, one way to scale a business. But if you're going to do this, then don't just buy a crappy program that like says this is how you package it up and this is how you sell it. You're basically stepping into the role of becoming an educator. That's what you're doing. You're putting your hand up and you're saying I want to really help support people in this new way, so I'm going to have to learn something totally new. In the same way, as you know, as we've talked about, I've got to learn business. There are skills and so many things that goes into helping people have a great learning experience. So then they feel that they can walk away and use that information. And I'm so sick of seeing I think you touched on this, sarah this whole idea of, well, it's obviously you because you have a mindset issue and that is the biggest cop out, and it's like no, let's take some responsibility and say that if I'm going to do this, then I need to learn how to do this properly or at least to you know a certain level.Speaker 1:
There is so much in my head right now that I want to say about this. When I was a teacher, that was one of the things that annoyed me the absolute most was this idea that we can just create a course and everybody will succeed at it, because we did the due diligence of, you know, putting a course syllabus together and that's somehow like the differentiator. They have a syllabus like refer to the syllabus and really, when you go back to your education training, the amount of time spent teaching teachers about the different learning styles and how people receive information and process information I think one of the things that has been so like people have said to me, why don't you create a course? I've heard this multiple times from multiple coaches and the thing that has always held me back is knowing how hard it is to actually create a course like a course that is going to be useful, effective and have the kind of impact that you want. And, elaine, you and I had had this conversation previously when you were here previously on the podcast. But not everyone is a teacher, not everyone has the capability to be a teacher and I think one of the reasons why, one of many reasons why so many courses fail and I'm going to put the onus on the course creator, not the student Boy. So many courses fail is because they do fail to take into account how complex it is to teach. And I think that this can also be expanded into other areas, like understanding the nuances of marketing. Like marketing is not just slapping up some Facebook posts or being on TikTok and the sales are going to roll in. There is psych Like I taught this stuff at a university level Like there is psychology involved and I mean write down to color psychology of your logos and your Brent. Like there's so much involved there. Communication when you're looking at emails and you're looking at copywriting. Like understanding the psychology of the Like there's so much information that has to be understood to do these things effectively. And one of the biggest disservices I feel like we've done over the last few years collectively as an industry is dumb it down and bastardize it into something that has ended up, like Erica said, this collective gaslighting of if you can't make it work because I did it or so and so did, you are the problem. You are not the problem If you were listening to this and you have ever. You are not the fucking problem. This system is the problem, and I am so freaking passionate about this. Like I don't know if you can tell I'm like fired up now, but that I mean I feel like one of the places where and I don't know if anyone is actually willing to take this on, but I feel like one of the places where business can go is really consumer education. Like I think more people who haven't come from a business background right, who were not in corporate or who did not have some kind of MBA training or what and I'm not saying you have to have had those experiences to be quote unquote successful in online business or offline business. They're helpful, they're an asset, but I do think that there's a lot of education that still has to be had in the space about how to make all of these things that we are asked, all of the hats that we're asked to wear on a daily basis, more effective and impactful. And this, I think, is a whole nother podcast episode, quite frankly. So, before I ask you to give up the rest of your lives to have this conversation with me, I do wanna touch on and I know we have touched on it a little bit, but if you could speak specifically to. Given everything we've talked about and all of your experiences, what do you think really needs to shift as a business owner? Looking at business in 2024 and beyond, like if we wanna run sustainable businesses, if we wanna run businesses that are gonna the long game, like Elaine said, I wanna be here for 20 years what shifts do we need to make? A sort of in general, but B specifically in the area that you are, that you consider yourself the specialist, because I know a lot of listeners are not just coaches. A lot of my listeners are service providers and they provide services in different areas. So that would be super helpful. So, business a little bit more broadly in 2024 and beyond, but also in your area of specialty.Speaker 4:
I think broadly in 2024, I think I may be speaking to myself with this advice honestly, so hopefully it's applicable to someone else but just being realistic about capacity, I think is gonna be different Again. I started in 2020, I'm pretty new at this, but being able to say, like, realistically, okay, this is how many clients I can serve at the level to which I want to serve them and still have time for all these other things that are important in my life and then also cultivate those other things that are important in my life, because that's the only way to make the long game work. I know that there are seasons of hustle like that will come up inevitably, but I don't wanna just always live there, and I think a lot of my cohort is kind of in that cycle right now. As far as in my area of specialty, like yes, I'm a copywriter and so on the surface, that's like I write the words for your websites and your emails, but I can't do that until we get to this really deep level of clarity and that's where I think more businesses need to be focused in 2024, and that's clarity around like who exactly is it that you serve? I have so many conversations where we're still not clear on ideal clients years in. Or maybe that ideal client has shifted, but none of the messaging around it has shifted. Getting clear on the offers A lot of us myself before I don't know three months ago included we're offering too many things. It's too confusing. We can't do it all at a high level. If there was ever a time to specialize and niche, now is that time to really lean into that. And I had a call with a discovery call with a client last week who's like I just don't know why I can't like figure this out on my own. I don't know why I can't do it myself. Well, you can't do it yourself because we need each other. The clarity comes from conversation, and so, whether that's something that you do with a trusted business friend, whether that's something you do with a specialist in that area, that clarity piece is just absolutely essential. 6Because once you're clear, then your communication is clear and that's the ultimate kindness. And that's where I think I'm seeing people feel wary is they don't wanna be taken by a sales page, and I'm like I don't mind a long form sales page, as long as it's communicating clearly and kindly like give me your long sales page. What I don't believe in is like manipulating people into making a decision that's suboptimal in the service of the business or whatever that might be, but anyway, that would be my number one thing in 2024, is like really focusing on clarity, because that underpins all the messaging. It just underpins everything and it's well worth the time.Speaker 1:
I wanted to just add to that. I think part of the challenge has been that, because I have a client right now that I'm working with and we've been working for about two weeks together and today she had this aha moment where she was like I don't think I know my ICA, Like I don't think the problem I'm trying to solve is the problem that they're having, and that has tended to be the way that we've been encouraged to do business right Lean into what you're good at and create an offer and then find the audience for that offer, and I think that's a little bit backwards. So I'm really glad that you addressed that.Speaker 5:
Elaine, did owe to literally every single thing that you said. All of it, all of it, all of it, all of it. I really think that, in terms of the capacity and really realizing our own limitations, is also just like being honest that we have this. We are living in a reality where there is so much personal grief, collective grief, suffering, trauma, like everything, like we still are living in a world where it is women who are tasked with, like, most of the caregiving, right, like even if you are a woman and a caregiver and you have a business, I mean obviously for any gender, but I feel like it's very much like people who are socialized, like female, get this burden of when things go sideways, like it becomes on us to take care of it. Right, kids are sick at school. It becomes our burden, and this is like I'm speaking also like Jennifer. Our kids are both freshmen in college, right, so I don't even have a kid at home. But now there's like aging parents, right, it's like there's always those things sort of in the back of your mind. And then also like the world at large, right, and that, like the pandemic is not technically over, right, like gas prices and food prices, like things that are essential, that we need, like they are there on the rise, like it just makes things harder, and I think that the hardest thing again it like going back to almost like what I first said is like it's invisible, right, a lot of this stuff is just invisible burden that we live with all the time, and so I think it's important, even like and this Sasa reminder for myself of like there have been a lot of things that I personally have had to grieve that aren't just like death, right, like I think we're pretty, you know, if somebody dies, we're like, oh, it's understandable, Like they're gonna be grieving or whatever. But like the grief of like oh, I wish that I hadn't spent that money on that person or wasted my time or my energy, or that sales aren't where they were two years ago, or like what I mean there's like a myriad of things, right. So just like honoring that if you, or even just like the grief of like seeing people, other people, good people get screwed again and again and again, right, it takes a toll. So like be with that and kind of like you said, elaine, about like having a support right, like being in community, being in conversation, like have those trusted people that you can be in community with. To be like this is really hard, like I'm having a hard day, or I'm having a hard week, or I'm not okay with this, or you know whatever I think really helps. And then I think on the marketing side so, sarah, to kind of echo what you said about like the psychology and everything is that there are still people taking advantage of people who are new to the industry now, who aren't as savvy like you were talking about before Rachel, with, like you know, buyers and stuff Like and I think that there is a real unfortunate thing that happens of our human brains Like we want if somebody is giving an easier solution, if they're promising something shinier and stuff like our animal bodies. We want that right, we want that hope, we want like cause we are all suffering under capitalism in at least you know one way, but most of us a myriad of ways. And so I think to just like the understanding that to do marketing in any sort of humane way that it possibly can ever be under capitalism, like it will take time, right, it will take those more touch points, it will take the intimacy that you know Jennifer speaking about and stuff like it. Just it will take all of that and it will be disappointing to have those discovery calls with people who can no longer afford you. And it's important for us to make sure that, like, our prices are sustainable for us, our offers are sustainable for us, and just that like, even though the sales are likely slower, if you are doing things in integrity or you know harder to come by or whatever. Whatever, depending on your industry and what it is that you do, I think it's still the right move to not give in to the temptation to use shitty tactics, because I don't know I don't know how people sleep at night, like manipulating people, but like I think that it is still worthwhile, even though you may not have as much success overall or as much you know fame or flash. Like I think it's still best to be the most honest in your marketing as you possibly can be. And kind of like what you said, elaine, like it might mean you need to shift your ideal client. If your ideal client truly can no longer afford you or they do not have the right things in place or whatever, the humane thing is to shift who you're talking to.Speaker 1:
I love that you use the word humane, because I think that we feel like we've failed somehow, but we haven't If, like you said, you're doing it out of a place, from a place of integrity.Speaker 5:
Yeah, and I think, like, even for myself, like one of the hardest things I've had to deal with in the last 18 months is realizing that, like, for all my knowledge about business and all of my sort of realisms about business and leading honestly and earnestly with my values and as much as possible, that like I totally got scammed. I totally got scammed by somebody for a ton of money that also, you know, theoretically like led with their values and everything, and like the reality was, was like my human animal brain did the thing that was like well, if this person and I are similar seemingly in all these ways, why are they making so much more than I am? I must, it must be that they have some wisdom that I don't possess and therefore I should pay them a bunch of money and then only to realize like, no, the reason that they are making so much more is because they are fundamentally doing things I don't believe in and could never do, that they just view money as like, or like making money as a game, right, and like how much they get right. It's like all these things and being like wow, I feel like feeling this sense of shame, of like I should have known better because I have all this experience. But that's the thing is like any, like, we are all susceptible and there is no magic miracle like information that somebody has.Speaker 3:
So, yeah, Okay, so I would love to build on everything that everyone said like, totally agree. What I would like to see in 2024 is business owners taking ownership of the results that they get, and that is going to take some serious work, because they need to understand how they get results, who they get results for and why that happens. And I think we're really good in the online space of talking about the what and the how, but we never know why, and that means to really talk about these are the results that I get working with, or these are the results that my clients get from working with me. This is how we do it. This is why we do it, because, like you said, sarah, that taps into that psychology of marketing. We want to know why things work, we want to know how things work, we want to know what we need to do, but I don't think there's as much clarity. And so what I would love to see and I doubt very much this is going to happen, but I would love to see people start tracking the results that they get when they work with people, so like, if they have got a course or a program, they're tracking how many people are actually even looking at the first like episode of their program and completing it. I think there's a real opportunity for that to then tie into marketing, because I've really liked people to then start saying these are typical results, not. Here's the amazing person that had already done probably 10 other programs turned up, did mine at work. They've now made a shit ton of money and now they're my star student and this is going to be my key case study on my website. It really frustrates me. I know someone who's worked with hundreds of clients and she showcases one as like her star student and you're like and I've met that star student. I am nothing like her. You know and you just like, and there's no way I'm going to get these results. I am not her and it was because of all the things that she'd done beforehand, and I want to see that honesty. I want to see the really good things that universities and colleges and schools do transfer into the online space when it comes to talking about this is what you're going to study, this is why you're going to study it, this is how long it takes. This is how many hours you're going to need to block off each week. But I think the key thing I would really love to see is this is how you take action. I'm not just speaking at you and I'm not just sharing some information with you. I am now giving you some direction on the action that you're going to need to take to then get a result. So I think, in general, that is what I would like to see across the board, no matter where anyone is. It's a massive pipe dream, but that is where I would like to see things go. Then the service providers in particular, and that is my ideal client. And going back to what you were saying, sarah, I would really like this shift of what a group program looks like, not in the way that it's built up, not with a curriculum or anything like that, but what I want to see is people thinking I'd love to work with just five or six people on making this happen. So then I am really translating that one to one experience into an amazing group experience. Yes, ok, I'm not going to be making the you know multiple six figure launches, because I'm launching it with whatever you know every three months and having hundreds of people turn up onto my course, but actually, what's going to happen with those six people is I can give them the due care, diligence that they need, that like Jennifer was saying that she craves that then they'll complete that program. And I think the key thing that people are really missing with that is then, once people get that kind of experience same as you said at the top of the podcast, sarah, is that they will then tell other people about what a great experience they've had working with you and then they're going to do marketing for you and they're literally going to go and tell, like three other people like, oh my God, I did have this most amazing experience. If you want to do X, this is the person you need to work with Everything that you've said.Speaker 1:
I think that everything that we've talked about and I think that every single human who's listening here today please go back and take notes. Please go back and like listen to this episode again and any nuggets that have made you kind of go, yeah, right, like write that down somewhere and put that in as part of your manifesto for next year, like how you're going to do business next year. I think there are so many amazing nuggets that came out of this conversation about shifts that we can make independently and hopefully, if enough of us take action independently, we can start to create a little bit of a shift in the way, in the context, in the paradigm whatever phrase you want to use of how business is currently done. And I think that you know the big takeaways for me after this conversation have been leaning into the long game, really understanding what success means for you, not defining it by anyone else's standard, really honoring your capacity, because that's something that I've leaned more and more into in how I work with people this idea that you know, if you don't have the capacity to do things the way someone else is doing them, that doesn't necessarily make you any less able or capable, right. Your journey just may take a little bit longer, and that's okay. If you're in it for 20 years and that's where you expect to be, then it's allowed to take as long as it takes. So I want to. I've taken so much of your precious time and I appreciate it more than you know. This has been such, just such a rich conversation. I will put in the show notes where you can follow all of these wonderful humans. And, as always, my friends, you can have success without the BS. There are five humans here who have absolutely proven that beyond a shadow of a doubt. It just really comes down to what success means for you. So I will talk to you next week. Bye.