Last year at the end of 2021, I wrote this annual recap that outlined my learning lessons for each month of 2021.
One of my biggest regrets was not documenting my journey more often, which resulted in me creating my weekly newsletter series, Confessions of a Content Creator to CEO where every week I share some of my biggest learning lessons when it comes to running an online business and being the creator on social media.
Well, Q1 wrapped up a while ago, and it was one of the most challenging quarters I’ve faced to date. This blog post aims to outline a sample of that experience because it simply cannot fit a newsletter.
TLDR: My Q1 didn’t turn out as good as I’d hoped it be, I had one of the toughest launches I’ve executed to date, I over hired and later had to downsize my team, and my overall profits YTD dropped from 50% down to 13% in just a few short months.I made a few bad calls, dropped off of social media for a month to reflect on my mistakes, and now feel ready to actually share parts of the experience.
If this feels like something you’d like to learn more about, then keep reading 🙂
I promise there’s tons of nuggets for any entrepreneur at any stage.
📝 Table of Contents:
Table of Contents
👀 Before you start reading...
All income is only our online course income and does not include other revenue sources like Ad Sense or Affiliates. Income and expenses are also in CAD.
What’s perceived to be “good” vs “bad” is subjective. Everyone has a different perspective of what success looks like. These are my opinions only, so take that with a grain of salt.
April is PACKED because it’s the month where I learned the most.
Please know that this is my experiences and perspectives only. When I write about these things, they are similar to a persona diary. At the same time, I also generalize and refrain from dropping names; so remember when reading this, that it’s still not the full picture and I’ve likely left a few details out for a specific reason. There’s a lot more that happens behind the scenes that sometimes isn’t appropriate to share publicly online.
There is no doubt tons of spelling or grammar errors in this post. I apologize in advance but due to how hard it is to format these posts in the first place, I likely will not be fixing typos (so no need to DM me about them! I’m aware that they exist unfortunately.)
That said, let’s dive in, shall we?
🌈 January 2022: The month of hope and excitement!
Program Revenue: 183k
Started the year incredibly excited because I had onboarded a few external consultants to help my business, specifically:
Developing my new “leadership” team
Map out the rest of the year
Support in bringing the desired org chart to life via hiring more people on the team
Learn new project management tools for our upcoming launch
Optimize our webinar for higher conversions
… and probably so much more that I’ve already forgot
If you read my 2021 Recap Post, you would have read that my biggest insight was realizing I did not have enough experience on the team. Starting in 2022, I felt confident that I had hired the right support to help really grow this thing.
Officially presented the direction we wanted to head for 2022 with the entire team and started to map out the vision and details for our upcoming March launch.
It finally felt like the company had a sense of direction. I felt incredibly hopeful and excited for the support my team and I were going to receive. It also felt amazing to have the team work towards a clear vision and goal.
Went to Mexico for a week long trip to celebrate Leon’s birthday 🏖 Here’s a cute pic of us:
🚩 February 2022: The month of red flags and warning signs.
Program Revenue: 151k
Switched our BOSSGRAM Academy program from limited 12 months access to lifetime access and added monthly mentorship calls
Read the blog post here about the transition in depth. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had thus far as an online course creator where we hosted an 8 hour call with all our past and existing clients. It felt incredibly rewarding seeing how switching back to lifetime access meant to them and getting their feedback.
Here’s a peek of the Townhall we did:
Once we tackled switching the type of access to our program and looping in our existing clients, we started to work on the BGA launch itself.
Started experiencing issues once we got out of “strategy mode” and into “execution mode”: Team members didn’t know what was going on, tasks felt all over the place, and people were overwhelmed and confused.
Decided to hire more launch specific support: A new Project Manager, Ads manager, Graphic Designer.
Officially hired 4 new positions: 2x Customer Support, 1x Content Writer, 1x Tech VA
Rewrote and redesigned my webinar and training material for BGA with the help of other consultants.
Key Learning: Grass it not always greener on the other side.
When I was provided the option to stick with our old project management system, hiring processes and webinar frameworks vs. trying new ones, I agreed to try new processes because I thought, “Heck, I’ve hired external consultants for a reason, so let’s maximize their expertise and do something new. I am sure it must be better than what we have now.”
In hindsight I now realize that the systems I had before were never broken, and what I had all along worked just fine.
The key mistake we made was introducing too many new processes to the team and also not giving enough time and training to onboard these processes properly, or even evaluate if these processes were good for us.
This then created operational chaos that would later negatively affect the cadence of our launch.
Bottom line: Grass is not always greener on the other side. Just because a process or workflow works for someone else, does not always mean it will work for you or your team.
Also, have confidence in the things you’ve built.
As business owners, we’re always looking at what everyone else is doing thinking that it’s better or that what we have isn’t good enough.
Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way that some of the processes and strategies I had were great all along.
😭 March 2022: The month of breakdowns.
Program Revenue: 99k
Paused our evergreen funnels in anticipation for the launch and did a small email campaign to past-non buyers with a last call for BGA’s previous pricing of $997 before doubling our prices.
Had 3 weekend all nighters in a row for the first time in 3 years; mainly because not only did we try to pack so many initiatives within 90 days, I was also the CEO, Content Creator, and Social Media Manager through it all.
Felt confused and frustrated for majority of this month, because even though we had the most people and most experience we’ve ever had on the team, mistakes that typically never happen kept happening, quality control was *not* controlled, things felt so resistant, communication among the team was worse than ever before, and it felt like there were more roadblocks than usual.
It felt like we were running through thick mud. Everything felt hard.
Started promoting our LIVE webinar for our launch. Our goal was to hit 15,000 registrants in 2 weeks.
Within the first week, 2,500 webinar registrants were deleted by accident AND the software we were using, WebinarJam, blocked us from sending emails from their platform because apparently we hit their “spam rate” threshold (which has never happened before).
This caused extreme stress as registrants were not receiving confirmation emails, and we had to troubleshoot last minute.
Despite the hiccups, we did in fact hit our 15,000 webinar registration goal – yipee!
Entered our launch week. The first 2 out of 4 LIVE webinars did not meet the conversion results we were expecting, with record low numbers that I had never seen before in the last 3 years of doing launches.
On our non-webinar days, we also had days where we had 0 enrollments.
This is something we’ve never seen in the history of launching and even selling on evergreen, which caused even more panic inside of me.
During this time I was already feeling so burnt out with doing the live trainings, selling the program on social media, and managing my spiralling emotions with the initial launch results. I distinctly remember that after the second webinar, I crawled onto my sofa and just started crying.
My time with one of the external consultants we had hired was up and we offboarded. I felt like I had more problems than I started with, and felt extremely lost at the height of all our company issues.
Key Learning: Complexity is the enemy of execution.
Now looking back, we were way too ambitious with all the initiatives we wanted to do within less than 12 weeks. We were:
Breaking the team into Departments for the first time, with new leaders that have not managed teams before.
Planning and executing a program launch (which is a big undertaking in itself)
Updating the BGA program, including re-filming some course content and introducing new bonuses
Switching our program from Limited Time Access to Lifetime Access; which was a majorly complex and time intensive project on it’s own.
Hiring and onboarding not only 4 new team members, but ALSO a handful of new 3rd party contractors specific to the launch.
Rewriting a whole new webinar from scratch.
Launching a last minute, last call campaign before our price increase to our non-buyers.
… While maintaining all the social media content on the front end such as Instagram, Youtube, and the Weekly Newsletter
After mapping out what went wrong, I now realize that we simply wanted to fit as much as possible to make the most out of our 3 month container with a specific consultant.
I also thought more support meant that we could do more:
We hired more people, we have specialized consultants, of course we can do more now!
This was a gross misjudgement; and we ultimately bit off more than the team was ready to chew.
I now realize that when you try to do multiple things at once, you can never really do any of them well; and most times, complexity is the enemy of execution.
Not to mention: When you try to do everything at once with a small team, big mistakes happen (such as accidentally deleting 2.5k leads from our system **cry**).
🎢 April 2022: The month of emotional rollercoasters.
Program Revenue: 216k
April was a packed month, so I will break up April in 3 different categories.
By end of March, I felt obliterated. I was crying the most I’ve ever cried for any type of launch and at the time, I felt like I had completely ruined my business.
The reason I felt this isn’t necessarily because I actually ruined my business, but at the time it felt that way because:
Team morale felt like an all time low; everyone was burnt out and working overtime. I felt bad all the time.
We changed too many things at once, which made it hard to identify what the problem was: We increased our prices, changed the bonuses, changed the program access, and changed the entire webinar.
I felt a loss of control. There were so many moving parts, so many people on the team…. everything felt like the opposite of simple.
I felt like the things I invested in and were most excited about in the beginning of the year didn’t really give me the ROI I thought it would. I felt disappointed, frustrated, and let down.
After seeing the results of the second webinar, I booked a call with my good friend George Bryant (@itsgeorgebryant – check him out!).
At the time, I felt like I didn’t have anyone to turn to, and truthfully I didn’t even know how to articulate my problem. When my friend George randomly voxed me “How are you doing?”, I immediately decided to confide in him.
On this call, I remember breaking down in tears and telling him that I felt like I ruined my business. I wanted to tear everything down and redo it.
George instructed me to breathe, and started to calm me down by reminding me of the following things:
🧠 Reminder #1: BGA is not my entire business.
I was tying my success and self-worth to the launch results of my program, The BOSSGRAM Academy.
George helped me realize that BGA is simply a product I sell within my business, and just because a launch is not going the way I expected it to; it doesn’t invalidate my entire business and the brand I’ve built.
For example, I could easily poll my audience asking what offer people want, sell that offer via email or social media, and make sales. Just because one offer isn’t landing, does NOT mean your entire business sucks.
🧠 Reminder #2: Even if people didn’t pay you, they paid you attention – and that means something.
I kept focusing on the sales results and discounted the fact that over 15,000 people signed up to the webinars. That means something.
Knowing this, it became clear that people were indeed interested in what I had to say (otherwise they wouldn’t have opted in) – but perhaps the webinar content isn’t resonating, or perhaps it’s simply the wrong offer at the wrong time.
🧠 Reminder #3: You don’t need to burn everything to the ground, you just need to aim for 1% improvements.
I was under the mindset of wanting to redo everything because I couldn’t pin point the problem. Have you ever felt that way before? Where you feel so fed up that you want to rip everything to shreds and start over? Yeah… that’s called self-sabotage 🙂
George helped me slow down my thought process and go from emotion to facts:
What are the comments in the chat box during the webinar and when you present the offer? Listen to feedback and make minor adjustments.
Which parts when delivering the webinar feel incongruent and feel difficult? Remove those parts.
Following his advice, we made some very slight modifications to our webinar which increased our conversions from <10% to nearly 30% (3x increase).
📈 Three webinar modifications only took 20 minutes to make, but led to 3x conversions:
We saw when the offer was presented, there were a lot of comments around “I can’t afford this”.
So, we changed the order that the payment options were presented; focused more on our most accessible payment option vs. the pay in full.
We also shared more testimonials and case studies emphasizing clients who made their money back and originally had hesitations on joining when presenting the offer.
We saw that during the teaching component of the webinar, a few attendees wanted me to slow down, or that they couldn’t keep up.
So, we significantly removed some ‘teaching’ slides to reduce overwhelm.
We removed the Webinar workbook. Told attendees to forget about filling the workbook out, and instead focus on staying present instead.
Removed any elements of the webinar that made me feel uncomfortable or unnatural when presenting.
Example: I completely removed the “value stack” portion of the webinar that would tell people “the value” of each line item of the program. This was a strategy that was recommended to us by a webinar specialist.
Even though I didn’t love the idea of it, I presented it anyways because “it’s what converts” even though it made me feel uncomfortable to do.
Once these small changes were made, I felt so much more confident in presenting and the remaining 2 webinars converted 3 times more.
📋 FINAL LAUNCH RESULTS
Goal: 250 enrollments ($500k revenue)
Actual: 215 enrollments ($474k revenue; $160k cash collected)
62 Full Pay = $123,814
141 x10 Pay = $310,200
12 x6 Pay = $26,424
95 Bumps + Upsells = $13,965
Cost of Launch: $130k (not including regular staff and expenses; only includes specific expenses related to the launch – this explains why March was 192k in expenses.)
After the launch we emailed anyone who attended the webinars but did not buy to a free Zoom call to get their questions answered on their businesses.
The goal wasn’t to sell them on BGA; but moreso to ensure they felt supported with the material they learned from the Webinar.
It was an incredible experience that I share more about in this livestream:
On the intimate non-buyer’s call I was able to learn more about our audience and supporters.
It was a great way to do market research and to support our non-clients; even if they decided not to join BGA this time around.
I basically spent 5 hours on the call answering their questions and helping them apply the webinar concepts to their businesses.
What was most surprising is a handful of non-buyers were more interested and ready for the “next level” offer that is more advanced , which further validated the demand for my next program offer.
Following this call, we also had non-buyers become buyers simply because they had an amazing experience on our Zoom call, and changed their minds about joining BGA.
Overall it was an amazing experience that made me even more appreciative for not only the people who enrolled in BGA, but also the people who took time out of their day to attend my free trainings. It truly helped me see the amazing community we’ve built, and it re-instilled a sense of gratitude.
Here’s a clip of our call!:
Following this, I began to truly take a step back and analyze the performance of our launch.
What confused me the most about our launch was our expenses.
130k worth of expenses JUST for the launch, and NOT including our regular expenses (like our staff) felt absurd and out of the norm.
It was easily the most expensive launch we had ever done, and it was important for me to analyze why this was the case.
Specifically, when I looked at our P&L, I was distraught on how within 4 months, we had already incurred 590k of expenses and how our profit had dropped down to 13% overall.
When I did some digging, I was later shared a report that said we had spent 75k USD to acquire only 3,000 webinar leads.
Our goal was 15,000 registrants and we met the goal, but most of the goal was met thanks to organic traffic, NOT ads.
In total, we had spent over 100k USD on ads and made back 40K USD (negative returns). I was shocked.
What was most disappointing was that one of the insights given to me post-launch was we should have never run ads; otherwise we would have made more profit.
I was understandably frustrated for three reasons:
The main reason why this had happened was apparently due to “miscommunication” between team members. Something completely avoidable; but because of the busy-ness of the launch (re: complexity is the enemy of execution), it became a complete oversight for everyone involved.
I had consciously decided to hire more expensive consultants and managers to oversee and run the ads thinking that more expensive = better results. I was wrong. Keep reading Reason #3 and you’ll see why.
I was extremely mad at myself for thinking that hiring more experienced and expensive people meant that I didn’t need to be hands on; when in reality, as CEO it is my duty to pay attention to expenses and these types of reports. I made a major mistake of not paying attention.
Regardless of who was supposed to do what, this was my fault (and you’ll see why at the end of this blog post where I share Lesson #2: Inspect what you respect at the “Lessons” portion of this blog post).
Following the launch, I went on livestream sharing my post launch learning lessons.
I was later contacted by one of the consultants I had hired being upset and angry that I had shared the experience publicly and “blindsiding” them despite the fact I had expressed my frustrations throughout the process.
The confrontation left me feeling confused on whether I should be sharing my experiences online (despite me never mentioning any names when I post my experiences like this) and also made me question my sanity as an entrepreneur as we had two different opinions on what was promised vs. what was delivered.
It essentially made me question my entire experience, and it made me feel like my perspective of events were not real or valid.
The interaction left me so confused that I later saw a therapist and other coaches to process the experience I went through during the last 3 months.
I learned that my experiences are valid, and that everyone has their own sets of triggers and traumas that they can project onto others (even in business, and including myself.)
What was revealing is the reason why I was so negatively affected by the events that happened in the last 3 months is due to the fact that it highlighted a lot of my biggest fears and childhood wounds, such as:
Fear of being taken advantage of: The feeling of trusting others and feeling let down, especially in business where you pay top dollar thinking that you will make those dollars back.
Fear of abandonment: Seeing my team morale decrease due to the tight timelines, poor processes, and messy management made me feel like people were bound to be talking shit about the company behind my back (because truthfully, I would do the same).
All in all, I was afraid I was going to lose people.
I also knew that I would need to downsize the team eventually, and that made me even more fearful that more people would lose confidence in my as a leader.
Fear of losing it all overnight: In the moment while the events were happening, I truly felt like I had made unrecoverable mistakes.
Of course, looking back now, I realize everything is fixable; and what I went through is actually not as bad as I made it to be.
However, my deep fear of losing everything overnight (rooted by my experience of watching my Dad lose our family’s money overnight due to gambling; and watching my boyfriend lose his businesses in 2018 overnight due to things outside of his control) caused me to make the problems feel even bigger than they actually are and therefore taking up a lot of my mental energy.
Due to all these charged emotions, I realized I needed to take time off instead of continuing to push ahead like business as usual, so I announced a social media break to finally rest and recover vs. immediately releasing a blog post like this one (as I realize it wasn’t fair to release all my thoughts without having the necessary time to actually heal and reflect):
During my break, I went to New York with my friends and I went to Austin for a conference where I got even more insights from other entrepreneurs on how they maintain and grow their businesses. Here are some photos!
Chilling in the middle of Madison Square Park (??) eating Shake Shack. So jealous that you Americans have Shake Shack 😭 I hope one day they’ll open up locations in Canada.
A slide from one of my favourite presentations that outlined the top mistakes 7 figure businesses make that prevent them from going to 8. This slide also felt validating that most people in the room were stuck in this valley of death AND it also felt validating that scaling a business to 10M+ is in fact very, very, rare and very, very, challenging.
Had dinner with the author (Eric Jorgensen) of my FAVOURITE book of all time, The Almanack of Naval Ravikant.
🌱 May 2022: The month of healing.
Returned from my trip and immediately started taking action. I took a hard look at our P&L, re-forecasted our revenue and expense predictions for the year, reviewed the org chart and looked at each role objectively.
I made the intentional decision to not return to social media until I had the hard conversations and made the uncomfortable decisions first. Truthfully, it felt like I couldn’t focus on anything until the multiple weights were lifted off my shoulders first, and that I addressed the internal problems first before I could post any type of content again.
I ended up downsizing the team (removing positions that I realize were not needed, re-negotiating contracts, and shuffling roles around). This was one of the most painful and uncomfortable things, as I had never done a mass re-org like this before. I don’t really know how to encapsulate this type of pain in a post.
Had 1:1 with everyone else on the team to explain the company transition and how each person fits into the company vision. My priority was ensuring that everyone else felt safe; because when you go through a big re-org, it will naturally cause confusion and panic among team members.
Hit the reset button and redid the entire forecast and plan for the remainder of 2022. The goal was no longer to just make more revenue (such as doubling the company), but instead to increase profits (even if it means making less revenue).
May isn’t over yet but now my focus is taking it slow, rebuild team culture, and understanding that growing a business is not a race.
🌟 Recap of Main Lessons Learned 🌟
So… that was A LOT.
If you even got to this point of the blog post, I commend you and thank you for your time and attention. Please tag me @vanessalau.co on Instagram or simply DM me if you actually got to this point. I’d love to read your thoughts!
That said, there’s still a lot of things I have to share and say, so let’s head into the next section of my blog post, which is a summary of my biggest learning lessons.
👉 Lesson #1: Hiring external consultants and experts is not the magical golden ticket to scaling a business. No one knows your business better than you do. Trust your gut.
Ever since the beginning of starting my business, I always had a deep insecurity that I never knew enough, my success was a mistake, and I don’t have enough experience.
Regardless of the 7 figure launches, client results I’ve generated, social media channels I’ve built… I always felt like my success was a fluke and that I don’t know enough.
I thought spending multiple 5 figures hiring external consultants would be the golden key to unlocking the secrets of scaling a business.
This simply isn’t true, and in fact, one of the most eye opening things was realizing that a lot of the processes I had in my business were actually… really great.
This is not to say that we should never hire external support or not listen to what the experts tell us.
Hiring people that can give us perspective, and that perspective is incredibly invaluable.
BUT… just because you hire someone (whether it’s specialized consultants, coaches, or contractors)… It doesn’t mean that you put them on a pedestal.
There were a number of times where I didn’t listen to my gut.
Whether that was my gut feeling that we were being too ambitious with projects and timelines; my gut feeling that some positions we hired were not right for the business or were overbudget; or my gut feeling that the webinar script did not feel aligned.
At the end of the day, no one cares about your business more than you do; and as CEO.. YOU are the one that’s ultimately responsible for keeping your business healthy.
Remember: Team members, consultants, and coaches come and go. Always listen to your intuition and build what feels good to you – because you will be the one shouldering the consequences at the end of the day.
👉 Lesson #2: Inspect what you respect.
A big mistake I made as CEO is thinking that if I hired “been there, done that” consultants and contractors, it meant that I didn’t need to check their work or hold them accountable.
I thought: “Great! I hired expensive, experienced people. This must mean I can let go.”
I realize now that my JOB as CEO is to hold people accountable.
As Leila Hormozi explained in this video, we’re not CEOs.
We’re CAOs: Chief Accountability Officers.
Our entire job is to make sure people do what they say they are going to do, provide constant feedback, and monitor the things we care most about.
In my case, something as simple as not checking a Facebook Ads report led my company to overspend on ads and make over 60k in losses… and I only found this out AFTER our launch was over.
Another case was when I found out how much a candidate costed AFTER we sent a job offer (the candidate was over budget, and I had no idea until the final stage).
Remember: If you don’t inspect the things you care about, you can’t expect your team members to either. It’s not about micromanaging, it’s about giving a shit and taking care of the things that matter in your business.
👉 Lesson #3: Experience and wisdom is not built on wins. It’s built on losses.
As mentioned in Lesson #1, my biggest insecurity was I did not have enough experience.
After going through all the mistakes I made in Q1, I now no longer have that insecurity for the following reasons:
> Out of all my launches, THIS particular one was the one that taught me the most.
In fact, I learned way more in the last quarter and a half than I ever did during my most successful 7-figure BGA launch back in 2020.
And as much as the experience was painful in the moment, it was the EXACT experience I needed to find my confidence as a business owner, because without it, I wouldn’t have amassed all this personal knowledge of growing and scaling a business.
> I spent nearly 6 figures trying to get “better” processes from people who had more experience than I did, only to realize the things I had were great all along.
Being able to finally compare processes allowed me to appreciate the things I built so much more.
I can safely say I no longer have FOMO, and moving forward I’m going to build things in my business that I feel make sense and work for me instead of constantly feeling like my shit isn’t good enough.
Which leads me to my next lesson:
👉 Lesson #4: Instead of trying to fit in, focus on what makes you stand out.
> I got nearly 15k webinar leads off of organic marketing alone. I didn’t **need** to run ads to be successful.
I always thought that the secret sauce to scaling a business was running paid advertising.
So, I kept pouring resources into paid advertising and forcing it to work despite always seeing sub-par results.
But here’s what I now realize:
Most online businesses DON’T have strong organic marketing and need to scale with ads.
My secret sauce is that I have an incredible organic audience and community, and the fact that we hit 15k registrants mostly due to organic has no made me realize that I’m on a lane of my own, and I need to recognize that power.
For so long I tried to fit in, and as a result, I ignored what’s always made me stand out.
So, instead of running paid advertising; I realize what I could have done was launch an affiliate program instead OR focus my efforts on doubling down on organic.
As a result of these learnings, I’ve decided to stop running paid ads for now, and really hone in on what makes me special, such as developing my community further, and growing organically on my platforms as my main traffic source.
We’ll see how far that takes me…
👉 Lesson #5: You’re here to build a business for the long game. Your success is not dictated by a single launch or a few bad quarters. Maintain perspective.
Even looking back and reflecting on my emotions has made me realize how much I exaggerated the problems.
At the time, of course things felt painful and panicked.
But now looking back, and especially after looking at the numbers… Things were not as bad as I thought they were in the moment.
Not to mention, we have to remember that building a business takes time; and inevitably there will always be hard seasons. However, how you react to those hard seasons ultimately dictates the longevity of your business.
Remember: Any business can succeed so long as you have the patience for it.
Here’s a quote that really spoke to me and helped me gain perspective. I hope it helps you too:
👉 Lesson #6: If you don’t address your childhood wounds, they will bleed into your business.
People pleasing is a big pattern I have that has affected me in my personal life, but also in business.
The last quarter and a half in my business really highlighted how my people pleasing tendencies negatively affect the business in a big way.
People pleasing resulted in me not providing feedback early and often, and holding people accountable to what they said they were going to do.
This then created massive amounts of resentment and unmet expectations.
But more importantly, it allowed people to continue behaviours that were not good for the company or it’s people; simply because I did not hold them accountable.
People pleasing resulted in me having a hard time with confrontation.
I had hired some strong personalities, and when confrontations happened, I apologized or made excuses for other people instead of being more vocal on the things I was dissatisfied with and seeking resolve. I backed down, and I ultimately did a terrible job as CEO for fighting for what’s right for the business.
People pleasing resulted in me creating positions just to keep people, because I didn’t want to let people go.
When I realized I needed to downsize my company because profits had dwindled down to 13% and revenue was slowing, it really opened my eyes to how many positions I had created or accepted that I didn’t actually need in the company.
It made me realize that there were a lot of resources that weren’t being allocated efficiently simply because I was scared to say No. It took a huge profit hit for me to finally wake up and realize that.
People pleasing resulted me in never doing background checks on the people I hire.
I always get nervous asking people for references, or contacting people to reference check the people I hire, mainly because I don’t want people to think I don’t trust them, or that I’m annoying.
However, the last few months of my business seriously taught me the importance of doing due diligence when hiring others (especially at the higher investment levels and even if it’s a referral).
I also realize that my brand has value, and that I should be even more particular with the people I endorse or let into my circle.
I don’t think I’ll ever hire without reference checking ever again, and this should be standard practice that no one should feel awkward or ashamed of.
👉 Lesson #7: Even if you feel like you can’t afford the losses you’re incurring, remember that you can spiritually afford it.
At my lowest point (specifically in early April when I saw March’s P&L), I thought that it was game over.
Seeing the loss was a physical representation that I suck, and that eventually the business would go bust.
I also felt A LOT of resentment at the time. I was blaming everything and everyone. I was essentially operating at my lowest self.
During a mastermind call I was on, another entrepreneur consoled me and shared that when she faces those situations, she reminds herself that she can spiritually afford it.
Hearing that made all the difference, and it’s something I’ll forever keep in mind of.
Remember: No matter how much of a nightmare you may be going through in business, remember that your highest self can afford it, and that your highest self can learn from this and move forward.
👉 Lesson #8: You can survive a bad hire and you can survive a bad strategy; but you can’t survive bad cashflow.
This lesson comes from the CEO of Appsumo, who spoke at the Levelling Up conference in Austin, Texas.
Understanding the importance of cashflow helped me gain even more perspective on my situation and made me incredibly grateful that I’ve always maintained healthy cash in bank from the previous years in my business.
And even though when I zoom in on Q1, it feels sticky and difficult…
I am reminded that I have the flexibility to rebuild thanks to the cash I’ve saved from previous years in my business, and thanks to maintaining my cash reserves, I know for a fact that I CAN recover from this.
So, let this be a lesson to you:
Always keep at least 3-6 months worth of expenses in your bank account. Don’t spend all the money you make.
You never know what type of crazy shit can happen in your business, and you want to always prepare for the worst.
Remember: We always hope that business will go up, and that the amazing strategies we think of will always yield awesome results… however, the reality is that this is not always the case, so make sure that you have a healthy cushion of funds to catch you if you ever fall.
👉 Lesson #9: Maintaining a business is just as important as growing a business.
Lately I started to feel embarrassed and insecure that my business has been hovering around the 2-3M mark for the past couple of years.
In a world where you see other entrepreneurs doubling or tripling their businesses year of year, it’s easy to take for granted the awesomeness of even maintaining a business.
Watching our revenue and profit go down made me realize that just because you made X amount of dollars one year, does not always mean you will be able to do the same next year.
If anything, if you are expecting to do 2x, you basically need to repeat the same level of success you garnered last year AND even more.
This is not always an easy feat, and remember:
Just because something seems basic, doesn’t mean that it’s easy.
I learned that some of the best run businesses are the ones that do small, simple things, extremely well.
So many businesses make the same mistake that I did which is thinking that adding MORE means MORE results.
OR they think that they can gloss over the “basic” stuff because it’s easy and non important.
If that was the case, then please explain why a simple concept like “post consistently” is something that majority of content creators struggle with?
Here’s a story I heard that put things into perspective for me:
Kobe Bryant became one of the best basketball players in the world not because he mastered a lot of fancy moves.
He became one of the best basketball players in the world because he mastered the basics, over and over and over again.
He then took those basics to a whole new level of executional perfection.
Keep that in mind the next time you’re in a rush to add new fancy things to your business; because
1) I guarantee you likely still have a lot of basics you haven’t mastered, and
2) It’s likely mastering the basics that will get you farthest.
👉 Lesson #10: Patience does not mean complacency.
I did a lot of reflection on why I made the last few months more difficult on myself than it needed to be, and its from this reflection where I realized that for some reason, I am always in a rush to grow, and this type of urgency is the detriment to my success and happiness.
My learning lesson from Q1 is realizing that complexity is the enemy of execution, and that it’s OK to have seasons of slow growth AND that slow growth is not bad.
Sometimes you truly need to slow down to speed up, and that being patient with the growth of your business does not mean you’re a complacent CEO.
In fact, it could mean the exact opposite; because you have the patience and vision to build a business that can be sustained for the next 10 years.
For so long I always tied my productivity to my self worth, including things like: how fast the business is growing, how fast are we expanding, how many projects are we working on, how many things do we have booked, how much content am I creating, and so much more.
Then I realize: I’m only 28 years old for fucks sake. I need to CHILL.
Where is this pressure even coming from?
Why am I constantly self-imposing unnecessary stress and anxiety on myself?
What is the rush, and why is there a rush?
What exactly am I even chasing? A dollar figure? A feeling? An object? WHAT is this thing that I’m constantly reaching for that’s causing me to always fall back into this spiral?
Why I do I feel like if I’m not constantly growing and doing more than I already am, it automatically means that I’m settling?
These are questions I’m now exploring in my next season of business, and I implore you to do the same if you resonate with my story.
👉 Lesson #11: Visualize the impact you make.
When running an online business, it’s easy to forget the impact you make because you can’t visually see the people that you touch.
Followers and clients often feel like just numbers, and when we “only” have 3 clients or 50 followers, it can feel insignificant because we are conditioned to think that having hundreds of clients or thousands of followers is when we’ve truly “made it”.
If you have 25 followers, you’ve filled up an entire classroom.
100? A theatre.
1000? A large conference.
10000? A concert.
What helped me during my launch was putting each of our newest enrollees onto sticky notes, like so:
Each time I put a student’s name on my wall, I sent a blessing their way and visualized what success would look like for them in the BGA program.
I also spent many moments starting at my large wall of stickies, feeling grateful that each of these people had consciously decided that I would be the right mentor for them.
It was a humbling experience to say the least.
So the next time you feel discouraged about how many views, followers, or clients you get – remember that the work you do matters. Find ways to visualize your impact.
And most importantly, don’t let large social media numbers rob you of your gratitude.
🏃♀️ Final Thoughts
Coming out of this experience, it made me rethink what success looks like for me and what business I want to build.
I still have a lot of unanswered questions and unresolved feelings, but here’s what I know for sure: There’s no rush to answer these things.
So here’s what my intentions are for the year ahead:
Keep things simple.
Build things that intuitively feel right and make sense.
Stop second guessing myself.
Hold people accountable.
Lean into discomfort (aka stop people pleasing and say No more often).
Drop the victim story. Stop reliving my mistakes and move forward with a fresh slate.
Finally, this blog post (like most of my blog posts that recap my learnings) are mostly for me more than anyone.
It’s like therapy for me, and I genuinely enjoy keeping a record of my biggest reflections.
The best part?
If my reflections can help at least one more entrepreneur out there feel less alone, it makes the time spent writing these lengthly posts even sweeter.
If reading this long post impacted you in any way, please let me know by sharing it to your stories and tagging me @vanessalau.co on Instagram (this ensures I for sure see it); or if that’s not your jam, simply DM me and let me know what if you resonated with my experience.
Finally, if you are someone who would like reflections like these in a more bite-sized format, feel free to subscribe to my weekly newsletter: Confessions of a Content Creator to CEO.
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As always, thank you so much for reading my post.
You paid me attention, and I don’t take that for granted.
I appreciate you and I love you.