7 Lessons From My First Multi-Million Dollar Year
So, what I did was I hoarded money. I literally. Hoarded money and last year, and I shared this with my Instagram story. I paid $700,000 in taxes. It's absolutely unreal. Welcome to the turn, your followers into clients podcast. I'm Vanessa Lau.
And my mission is to help new coaches, content, creators, and corporate escapees get visible and get paid. I went from quitting my corporate job with no backup plan to suddenly building a multiple seven figure business in less than two years. Thanks to the power of social media. My life changed in an entire year,
and I believe yours can too. So boss, let's help you get visible and get paid and dive into today's episode. What's up everyone.
Welcome to this episode of the turn, your followers into clients podcast. If you're listening in, or if you're watching on YouTube, hello. Now this episode is a special one because if you're listening to this or watching this on the day that it's released, it is my birthday today.
It is also one of my team members Kyla her birthday as well. So Kyla, if you're listening to this happy birthday to you as well, I turn 27 today. And in celebration of me turning 27, I really want to dedicate this episode to the top seven lessons that I learned last year in 2020, as I was building up my business and throughout the journey of building up my business.
Now I had an incredible year in business last year at my entire team crushed it. Um, some milestones that we achieved is in 2019. Yeah, 2019, my business, that was the first year of that. We were in business and I made about $500,000 in revenue.
And then the second year in business, I made about $2.7 million in revenue, which is insane. We were also highly profitable last year at 75% profit margin, which is absolutely WTF. And I also got slapped with a really big tax bill. We'll talk about that maybe some point later in a different episode, but there was a lot of incredible milestones.
We had our first seven figure launch last year as well. We also hired our very first few employees. I converted all of our contractors into employees and the contractors that I couldn't convert into employees because I live in Canada. I unfortunately had to let go a lot of uncomfortable decisions, so many different things. And so that's why I'm really excited for this rerelease of the podcast, because I have so many juicy stories to tell you guys about the journey of scaling up my business and just all the growing pains that I'm experiencing right now. Now today's episode because it's my birthday.
I want to share the top seven lessons that I learned from last year. And I think that a lot of the lessons that I'm going to share today are going to really hit home for a lot of people, whether you are starting your business or whether you're scaling it up, or maybe you have the same size business as I do, or maybe you even have a bigger business than I do. I think that this episode there's something for everyone. So let's dive right into it. Let's talk about the first lesson that I learned that I kind of share secretly or not secretly, but I share it behind closed doors to a lot of my closest friends and confidence. And it's going to be one that might some people off.
It might be one that, uh, I don't know, maybe people will see me differently if they know me and whatever else, but I don't care. I think that it's really important for me to share my truth, to share my experience. And just be honest with you guys on what I think. And so the first learning lesson that I was very surprised to learn about is that I personally, now everything that I'm saying is my personal experience.
So don't come for me in the comment section and say that I'm wrong and invalidate my experience. But my experience tells me that masterminds are over-glorified and they're not what they think you think they are. If that makes sense. So when I first came on the scene,
I heard about masterminds all the time. All the most successful people that I look up to are in a mastermind. And every year around like September, October, November, we get so many advertisements, so many promotions for people to join a mastermind. Anyone who owns a mastermind starts creating these episodes about why a mastermind changed their life and yada yada yada. And so for me, I made it a goal for myself, the moment that I make enough money, I'm going to join a mastermind and be surrounded by all these high-level people and totally explode my business. And I did that. I joined my very first mastermind last year.
And unfortunately I was a bit disappointed by my experience and it's not necessarily completely the mastermind's fault. It was my expectations for what I thought a mastermind was. So for me, at that point, at that stage in my business, I had joined group coaching programs and joined one group coaching program. And it was incredible. I loved it. I loved having that curriculum laid out. I love the organization and the structure being able to hop on weekly coaching calls, actually having a curriculum set for me, kind of like a course, and being able to follow a specific strategy and having an end result tied to it. So I, for some reason, my rookie mind, my naive thought that, Oh, a mastermind must be very similar, but with even more attention and even more strategies that are kind of like higher level, because when you are enrolling in a mastermind, you're likely paying a way more, right? The one that I joined, I think it was like $25,000, $30,000.
And there's so many masterminds that are like $50,000, a hundred thousand dollars. I heard about a mastermind that was like $85,000. It's insane how high the prices are. Like I honestly don't know how an average person can afford a mastermind, but anyways, that's why there's payment plans. Right. But anyways, um, I that's what I was expecting, but to my surprise, and again, this is all my fault. It was like a rookie thinking pattern that I had that I want to share with you guys.
Cause I know a lot of people have maybe the same expectations that I did that, Hey, it's probably very similar to a group coaching program. I'm going to walk away with all these strategies and you know, I'm going to get so much attention and all these different things, but in my experience, you actually get less attention in a mastermind and you also get, um, in some ways less support and it's more of a group learning experience. You don't necessarily learn a lot from the person who's hosting the mastermind. And instead you're more so learning a lot from the people that are in the mastermind and it's more group led than anything. Now this could be a really good thing, but this can also be a really like unfortunate thing. If you don't do your research and you don't understand who else is in this mastermind now I love every single person that I was in a mastermind in.
Don't get me wrong. But I think my expectations was more like, okay, if I'm paying $25,000, uh, I'm hoping that I'm learning a lot from the particular mentor that I'm paying. Um, and usually that's not the case with masterminds. What I realize a lot of times with masterminds is it's someone who's very well connected and basically like is the host of a group of all stars, right? And then basically every single month they host a call and have everyone kind of talk. There is no actual structure. At least the one that I joined, there is no curriculum. It's like just loose.
And so for someone like me, who really strives on structure, I didn't like that. And so what I like is having at least like a roadmap, even if it's not necessarily a course-based curriculum, at least me knowing, okay, the first phase we're going to learn about this. There's certain topics that we're learning and there's a certain sequence or roadmap. So at the end you get a certain result or whatever else. But what I found is that we were just hopping on a call every single month and it was a hot seat call and whatever questions you had, you would get it answered within that hour or hour and a half. And so essentially I'm paying 20 to $30,000 to basically hop on a call once a month. That's an hour or two hours as long, depending on whatever, like the time the person as, and it's shared by all these people. And I don't mind that necessarily,
but my issue is the fact that you don't know what you don't know. And so oftentimes on these calls, you don't really know what question to ask. And so it's very easy to just skip your turn because you don't have a question you're like, well, I think I'm okay. I don't really know what question to ask now.
The positive sides is maybe if someone else has a really great question, then you're learning, right. You're learning from them. But the issue that I found is that, especially if you join a mastermind and you don't kind of understand where everyone else is, stage of business app, if someone's asking a question that you don't necessarily benefit from, or that you already know the answer to or whatever else, then you're going to have less chances of soaking in a of knowledge from that mastermind. So for example, if you don't vet out the people that are in that mastermind, and let's say you are the only person in there who sells courses while everyone else still says sells one-on-one services.
That's just a little example. Then their questions are not going to be as relevant to you. And so that's why it's really important that if you join a mastermind that you join a very niche one. Now the one that I joined was specifically, for course, creators. So I was very lucky with that, but also another thing is that a person who's making multiple six figures or seven figures has a very different set of problems than someone who is trying to hit their first six figures.
And so that's also where there might be a disconnect inside the mastermind. And so I'm not completely bashing masterminds or bashing, you know, my mastermind that I joined, I'm really glad I did it, but what I wanted to share with you guys, and what I learned is that oftentimes I find that masterminds are overpriced and over-glorified for what you're actually getting. And don't come for me. I know some of you guys might, you know, message me and be like, my mastermind is different. I think it's just the experience that you had. But this is the shared experience that I am communicating to you guys. After speaking to other friends of mine who have joined masterminds and have been disappointed. Another thing I want to mention too, is that specifically, if you're joining a mastermind during the pandemic, during COVID CEO, vid, sometimes it's not very worth it because a big reason why a mastermind is so powerful is likely the in-person events.
That's when you actually fly out to a specific place, you meet everyone in person, you go to a live event, that's where all the magic happens. And I was very grateful that in the beginning, before the pandemic hit, I was able to go to one and it was just so amazing. It was well worth the money, but because I joined during the pandemic, I had no idea there was a pandemic. And of course that's no one else to blame nobody you can blame for about that. But what I want to share with you is that you won't be able to travel and see the people.
And so everything is going to be online and it's just very different experience. And so if you are paying $25,000, $30,000, and you're just getting maybe like monthly zoom calls and then you get a Facebook group, is that really worth it? For me personally, I would rather pay for a group coaching program that has a very specific result. For instance, joining a group program, that's going to teach you how to turn your course on evergreen. Like I did. That was a really amazing program that I joined or joining a group coaching program. That's going to teach you how to sell high ticket or something that has a very specific result versus joining a very broad and general mastermind that has a very vague result. Like for instance, when you join this mastermind, you'll make seven figures, but it's like, but how, right? Like what is the vehicle that's going to help us make seven figures? And so that's kind of what I want to share with you guys that I learned and why I probably won't be joining any masterminds in the future, or at least in the near future. Like for instance, this year,
I'm not in any masterminds. And because I realized that number one, when I joined the mastermind, I found that there was a lot of things that I already knew. Number two, uh, $25,000, $3,000 is a lot. And I'm at a stage where I think I would rather invest in specialists for my company, hire a new person, or just build up my team or invest in training for my team.
And we'll talk about that later as like my next lesson. Um, and then another thing is I also realized that you don't really get that much access to the person who's hosting the mastermind. And I have time and time again, talk to other people about this. Cause I was okay, maybe I just joined a different one.
Like maybe I just joined a one that wasn't structured the way that I thought it was going to be structured. And so maybe my experience is really unique, but when I talked to other people who have joined high-level masterminds from people that you and I both know, I've heard very similar stories of basically people saying, yeah, it's basically one person who is super well connected and combines all these people who are very like high achievers. And then they run the show. It's very group led. And so I actually have found way more value, just meeting up with my friends or people who I look up to and doing our own zoom meeting and talking about what everyone is working on, because that's literally what we did in my mastermind.
If that makes sense like you every week or every other week or every month gathering like five people that you really respect that you guys are all kind of in the same journey. Maybe some of you guys have different specializations or skills or whatever, but all of you guys ha have like very similar income levels, very similar goals. You casually just meeting up every month to swap notes.
That is basically what a mastermind is like, literally. So Y Y like if you want to pay 25,000, $30,000 for that to be connected with the right people, that's fine. But if I were you, I would really make sure if you're spending that money, you vet out and see who else is in that mastermind, because believe me, the mastermind is only as strong as the people that are in it. And if you are just going in, like I did the mistake that I made thinking, Oh, I really respect this mentor. And I think that I'm going to get really great strategies yet. Yada, yada,
then you are in for really big disappointment, unless that mastermind is like structured like a group coaching program. And that's the next thing that I want to talk about is that people need to learn how to categorize their offers. Like some people will say that it's a mastermind when really it's a group coaching program where some people will literally call their course a group coaching program. And I'm like, where's the coaching in your course. That's not a group coaching program and it's misleading.
It creates these false labels. And then you think of mastermind is supposed to be a certain way because of a past experience, but it's actually not meant to be like that. And it just gets confusing to anyone. I have a friend who joined a quote-unquote mastermind. It was marketed as a mastermind. And to me a mastermind,
the value of it is that it's tight knit for me, anything under like 15, 20 people. Like that's, that's, that's nice. That's a really good size, but the one that she joined, I think the host, the person who's running the mastermind, like enrolled a hundred plus people to me that is not a mastermind. How are you going to even get any attention whatsoever? If you're sharing a monthly two hour call with a hundred people, like you're literally going to get no support. And so that's just my take on masterminds and all of that. And again, I'm not saying that you should never join a mastermind. I think that having that experience is great, but I also think that when you're going into it and when you're dropping that money, that you have a really good understanding of number one, how that mastermind is structured. And if you like something free flowing,
and if you like the idea of hot seats, not having a curriculum, no structure at all, group led then go for it. Right. But for me personally, I don't like that. And I didn't know that it was going to be like that because I didn't ask the questions. And so if you're applying to a mastermind, ask them,
how is it structured and who else is in the mastermind? What is the income level of everyone else? What is the goal of everyone else? What is the background of everyone else? Because that's where you can get the best value. So that's point blank. What my experience was with masterminds last year and why I will not be joining any masterminds anytime soon, because I know that when I see a mastermind or when I hear about a mastermind, I'm just like, yeah, no, thank you. I rather join a group coaching program or something else that actually has a curriculum to it. So that's lesson number one, lesson number two. Now this kind of relates to the whole mastermind experience and what I got out of it. And I'm really glad that I still joined a mastermind. And I got that support because that experience whether it was positive or negative, it taught me really invaluable lessons.
And that is you don't need more coaches. You just need a better team. Now, when you're starting out, I think that coaching and having support and mentorship is invaluable. And even to this day, I still have, um, a mentor in some sense, I don't really talk to him, but essentially, uh, I enrolled my operations manager into a program like a group coaching program that actually has a bunch of material, a bunch of course, material, curriculum base that actually gives us like templates, swipe files, air, table bases, all these things on how to run our meetings, how to project management, how to project manage, how to lead the team, how to be a better leader. There's like very specific outcomes to it.
And my operations manager has the ability to hop on any coaching call and with a group coaching program. At least the one that we're in it's, it's Alex Charfen accelerator program. Like every week they'll have coaches that you can hop on calls with if you have any questions. And so my operations manager, Alice, she can learn from him and all of that. And then every quarter there's a summit or whatever else. And so that's basically the only thing that I'm doing this year. And it's not,
even for me, it's more like mostly for my operations manager and whatever she learns. She relays it back to me. And if there's anything interesting that she thinks I should learn about, then I'll go, I'll also attend the summits and kind of see and network, but that's about it. It's not like intimate one-on-one coaching or anything like that. I've only had one one-on-one coach in my entire business lifetime. And it was the first coach that I ever hired to get myself started.
I've also only completed one group coaching program. And that was to help me figure out the end result of turning my course and putting it on evergreen. And then I joined another group coaching program, which I did not finish.
Cause I ended up not really feeling aligned with whatever it was that I was learning. And so I just dropped it. And then I joined that mastermind, which you guys all know my experience. And so, you know, I've had coaches and mentorship, but I, I'm not the type of person who needs to have a coach, every single waking moment of my business. Like I know that there's some people out there who like, feel lost without a coach who feel lost and they feel like, okay, well, once I finish this program, I need to join another program cause I need help. But, and that's, that's all power to you. If you feel like you need that support.
But what I'm saying is that you need to understand why you're hiring that coach in the first place, because some people they hire coaches because they're using it as a crutch. And I found myself in that moment last year. So last year my mastermind, it was basically done. So it was nearing the end of it. And around like November, December, um,
every year, there's usually a lot of masterminds that open up because they're basically trying to get applicants for the following year. And so I found myself in that moment freaking out because I was like, Oh my gosh, I need to join a mastermind. I need to join something. Like, how else am I going to grow my business? I'm nothing without a mastermind. I'm nothing without a coach. I'm nothing without a mentor.
And I started desperately like Googling all these masterminds, trying to find the best ones. And I found myself like just kind of wanting to join for the wrong reasons. And then I really like took a step back and I asked myself like, why the heck am I doing this? Like, do I even need a mastermind? Why am I like, why am I so desperately wanting to join something? And when I asked myself those critical questions, I realized, number one, the reason why I want to join is because I feel insecure. And I don't think that I can run my business on my own. Now I'm not saying that I'm like going to be white knuckling my business. And I don't think that I'm like the best person ever, and I know everything and yada yada, yada. But what I'm saying is that I'm,
I was in that state where I felt like I needed to heavily rely on a mentor in order to get stuff done in order to move forward. And when I actually looked back on my mastermind experience, like there were a few breakthrough moments here and there, but majority of the things I did myself without my mentors help without asking her questions, I just figured it out because what I found in my mastermind is I'm asking, like, let's say I ask a, in the Facebook group, it takes like two weeks or a week to get back to me. And by then I've already saw problem. You know what I mean? Or like,
I'm not gonna wait like one month on the hot seat call because my business, I need to solve these problems like right now. And so what I found is that I solved a lot of the problems myself anyways. Like, was it nice to have that community? Yes. But am I going to drop $30,000 just to have a community when I have tons of friends that I can lean on or I can just DM someone and like connect or something. Yeah. To me, it's not worth it. And so I found myself in that state last year where I felt like I was, I needed to join a mastermind because my business relied on it.
And what I learned and I spoke to another very successful entrepreneur because I was like, I don't know, like, I don't know what to do. Like what mastermind did you join? And she had the same experience as me. Like every entrepreneur that I've asked about masterminds. They're like, yeah, I joined this one, but it was okay. Like, I wouldn't really like do would again kind of thing, but it was a good experience at the time. And so what I learn now is that at a certain stage in your business, you have to realize that you don't need more mentorship, like iMessage, if you're constantly going to personal development conferences.
And once you go to your 10th one, you're kind of like, okay, I know this stuff already. Or once you read like personal development books, I don't know. Do you ever got you, you guys ever gotten that experience where you read a personal development book and you read so many of them that kind of like the main points are already said over and over again, and no book really appeals to you anymore. That's kind of like the stage of the I hit and I realized that, okay, instead of spending 25,000 to $30,000 on yet another mastermind where, or, or another group coaching program, what if I actually spent that money on my team? What if I actually spent that money on hiring a tech person or an HR person or someone who specialized now, this really depends on the stage that you're at in your business.
For me personally at that stage, unlike, okay. There's nothing strategy-wise that I don't know. And there's nothing like if, if there was something strategy-wise that I, I needed, I would specifically join a program that teaches that specific strategy. So let's say if I want to launch a high ticket group coaching program, I will specifically join a mentorship program that specifically teaches high ticket group coaching programs.
I wouldn't join a general mastermind. And so that's kind of where the stage that I was at now, again, before I dive further into this topic, I'm not saying that mentorship is bad. Okay. I don't want anyone to think, Oh, Vanessa, you're so closed minded.
Anyone like you always have to be student. Yes. I'm still a student. I still have a lot to learn, but I don't want to feel like every November, I need to join a mastermind to join a mastermind. You really want to ask yourself why, why, why do you want to do it? What is the intention behind it? And so after speaking to a few people, I really learned from even experienced entrepreneurs that, Hey, at some stage in your business, it's going to be your team. That's going to drive you forward. It's going to be your team. That's going to help you scale. And so I really took that to heart. And so instead of joining a mastermind, I hired more employees.
I hired four new employees. I switched my paid advertising team. So I used to work with a Facebook advertising agency that I did not really jive with. And then I now have switched over to a new agency. Um, I also hired an HR person to help me with my internal processes. I upgraded some software. There were so many different things that I could have done with the money.
And within Q1 we've, we almost made a million dollars in the first quarter of our business year. And that was all me investing that money on my team instead of enrolling my operations manager into a program where she could learn, instead of just me hoarding all the information and joining masterminds. Now a lot of that money is going towards a budget where I'm going to be investing in my team's growth, because at that point it's really my team that needs to move my business forward. And at some point in your business, your business is going to outgrow your team. When you make more revenue,
when you have more customers, when you have more visibility, you are going to need to either upgrade your team members. And that's a very uncomfortable thing to do. And I will probably talk about that in another episode. Um, but that's when you realize like, Hey, this VA that I hired when I started my business, actually doesn't have the skillset to take me from six figures to seven figures. And I'm unfortunately going to either have to make the decision to upskill this person and be patient with them and invest tons of money in them to get them to the level where they can or let go of this person and replace it with a person who has the expertise that I'm looking for, that will scale my business. And so that's the second thing that I learned is that again, you, that you get to a point in business where you may not need more coaching.
You don't need more mentorship if you want it, you can get it, but you should not be thinking, okay, well I need a coach because I just need a coach. I just need someone. I need someone to lean on. I need a crutch. You know, the biggest lesson that you can learn is learning to trust yourself, right? And learning to trust your team.
And so one of the challenges that I gave myself this year, and again, if things come up, I will enroll in certain things, but for now I'm really learning to be a better leader and trusting my own intuition. And this is kind of another thing that I want to mention is that when you join a group coaching program and mastermind, yes, you learn a lot. Yes. You get a community. Yes. All these things. But at the same time, I found that if I had a problem, I wanted to check in with the mastermind.
First, I wanted to get other people's opinions and their opinions would skew my judgment, or I would be waiting on other people. And that's a good thing. That's how you learn because you obviously value other people's opinions. But in the process of doing all that, I lost my own capability to make decisions because I was like, Oh my gosh, if I do this, what would my mentor think? Let me ask my mentor first or, Oh, Sally from the mastermind said that this was a bad idea. I was really excited about this. And now I'm second guessing it.
I don't know what to do. You know, that happened to me. And so this year, my personal challenge is my mentorship is going to come from books. It's going to come from podcasts. It's going to come from me, journaling and me finding and leaning into my intuition and owning up. If I make a mistake, I make a mistake. I will grow through it.
And so that's the personal challenge that I gave myself this year. No more masterminds, no more, you know, coaching stuff, me just leaning in becoming a good leader and learning from the one program that I enrolled my ops manager in and finding inspiration elsewhere, and really, really listening to myself and trusting myself. Because when you literally oversubscribed to having mentors, oversubscribed, to having coaches, you, you kind of lose your own judgment. You lose your own decision-making capabilities because you're basically leaning so much on someone. And so again, there's a fine balance between having mentorship, but overly relying on it because you think you won't be successful without it. All right.
So moving on to the third thing and it kind of all like relates together. So I'll talk about this one real quick is that I learned that hiring experts for certain areas in business is very worth it. I used to be that business owner that was just hella cheap. And I'd be like, you know what? Like this tech thing, my VA can handle it. Or like, you know, what, why would I hire a tech person when I have an admin person who can set up the funnel? Like let's just do that. Or my ops manager can do that. It's tech. And so I kept just pushing back, hiring a tech person and all of that.
But over time, what I realized is that there are certain areas in your business where you do need an expert. And so for example, let's use tech, right? As an example, tech is basically like setting up the Zapier stuff. If active campaign goes down, who's fixing it. Um, you know,
how do you actually set up the funnel? Uh, how do you actually rejig all of the errors that might happen for a customer, all that stuff. If you hire someone who's inexperienced, it's going to take them longer to figure it out. And the moment that I actually hired someone or worked with someone or contracted someone who knew what they were doing, they were able to solve a problem that would take my old team member two hours to figure out or a week to figure out it took them 10 minutes. Right. It took them 10 minutes because they're actual experts and they're able to do it way faster. And so if you think that, you know, if I can just get my VA to do it and you know, they'll figure it out then yeah. They could probably figure it out, but it's going to take more time, take more money because you're paying them their hours to do it. And, uh,
it could just be a potential waste of time and it could also break. Right? So if your VA is trying to piece together, your funnel and it breaks, and your customers have a negative experience or you lose prospects over it, that could have easily been avoided. If you hired someone who was more specialized, another person that I think is worth hiring a specialist for the, I learned in my business is an HR consultant. So we realized like, okay, you know, it's easy to work with contractors. They have a flat rate, but the moment that you hired an employee, you're like, okay, now I actually need to invest in this person. Now I need to figure out what their growth trajectory is in my company.
How am I going? How am I going to increase their salaries? What does the bonus structure look like? Um, what are the HR rules like, am I breaking any labor laws? What happens if someone works overtime? Uh, what benefits do they need? How do I do vacation? Like all these things, uh, PS, you don't learn in school and you definitely don't want to guess in Google. And so those are things that I think are worth hiring specialists for. And so that's another example of, you know, instead of spending that money on the next hottest group coaching program that you probably don't need anyways, depending on where you're at in business, and you actually asking yourself, do you really need this mentor? Or do you really need to join? Are you joining because you actually need the support and help, or are you joining because it's a crutch for you that money could be spent hiring these experts that will actually save you tons of money and time in the future and create a better positive environment for your, for your team, for your prospects and for your customers. And so that's one thing that I learned last year and that I value now is I used to cheap out and hire the cheapest VAs or hire the person that would give me the cheapest rate. But over time I realized that the person,
even though you're paying more per hour, they could actually do it faster and better and more legit with less mistakes so that you don't have to do it all over again. So that is the third lesson that I have learned last year is don't cheap out on certain functions in your business. Now, of course, when it comes to hiring and all of that, I will have a separate episode in the future where I break down kind of my hiring journey for my first contractor, all the way to my eight employees that I have to, or seven employees that I have today. So I'll, I'll share all of that in a future episode.
I just wanted to share this one lesson that I learned, Hey boss, are you enjoying what you're hearing so far? Well, I'm interrupting my own episode to invite you to my free training over at www dot followers, declines.com. This training has helped thousands of my own students nail down their niche, create content that brings them more leads to their door and implement an easy to deploy social media funnel that helps them close clients like a boss. This training is perfect for anyone who's starting out in business and wants to know the roadmap to make them 10 K months, regardless if you're a new coach content creator or corporate escapee. By the end of this training, you are guaranteed to walk away with strategies that you can implement instantly. The best part is is that this training is absolutely free and breaks down my entire methodology to signing paid clients, plus complimentary trainings that I don't share anywhere else on my free channels. Register firstname.lastname@example.org. Link is in the description box below. I can't wait to see you there.
And now let's get back into the episode. Now, the forest, less than that. What I learned is something that I preach to everyone all the time. But last year I really saw the positive effects of scaling one product.
The $2.7 million that I made came from one product, the boss Graham Academy, and this product is the very first product I launched as a course in 2019. The first time that I launched it, I think I made about 150 to $200,000, uh, which is insanely incredible. Especially as a new business. I had a growing audience, a very loyal audience, and I enrolled about 200 people into that program. Now, looking back on that program, I just want to cringe. I'm just like, Oh my God, I, that program was so bad because you're always going to look at your work like that. You know? Um, and then what I did was I,
I took the time to take the feedback, collect the testimonials. Um, and then I relaunched it in again, and this time it was cleaned up. I kept a group coaching call so that I was still like interacting with students and all of that, getting feedback, making sure that the students were taken care of, if people weren't seeing results, I would ask myself why tweak the curriculum, do all these different things. It was like a huge process. I think I did that for a very long time, almost a year, um, during the second phase of the boss gram Academy.
And then once I did over almost like a year of group coaching calls and getting as close as I could to my clients and students collecting as many testimonials as possible and also really working out the kinks of the program. I relaunched it again. The third time I also invested money in rebranding it in redoing all the slides and basically cleaning it up and elevating it, making it look, making it go from like a five figure looking course to a seven figure looking course. And then that literally led to a million dollar launch. And so all the revenue, majority of the revenue that I make came from that one product, which shows to you that there is power in perfecting what you already have. And if you think what you already have is and is not good, well,
it doesn't have to be a product forever. You can improve it, right? You can improve it over time. The curriculum that I have today for the boss, Graham Academy is so different from the curriculum that I started with, but it's still under the boss bam Academy. And so that's kind of my learning lesson there.
And I also want to explain the analogy that I like to use, or the example that I like to use. And that I thought of is even think about Apple. Like think about the very first iPhone that launched in like what 2008, 2007. I have no idea when the first iPhone was released and look at the iPhone. Now it's been like 10, 15 years of an iPhone, but you see all of the renditions of it.
You see all of the upgrades that they make over time, still the iPhone, but there's been so many updates and Apple still making money from that iPhone. Right? And so there is power in that because a problem that I see are, and it's not necessarily a problem, but a misconception that I see a lot of times is people think that I need to launch new products every single time. And I'm going to tell you right now why this is a strategy that you know is fine if you want, but can actually, in some sense, cause more confusion, more chaos and hurt you in the longterm. Number one, you won't really be known for anything.
If you just keep launching random products here and there, there's no signature product to your brand. And if you don't want a signature product, that's okay too. But I'm just saying that if you have multiple products, that's a lot of output that you're putting out.
And if you just spend time perfecting what you already have, it's actually less work to do that than create a whole new product from scratch. Number two, you're never going to have a product that's fully perfected. Like you're going to be launching a bunch of mediocre products that you're doing for the very first time. Versus if you launch that one product and perfect it, then you're basically working off of a good foundation over and over again, the foundation's going to be stronger and stronger and stronger. And so at the end, you're going to see a compound effect of your efforts of producing that product. Another thing is customer support backend.
When you have multiple products that you have to take care of multiple different clients, multiple whatever else, if you don't have a team to help you back that up, it's going to be very confusing in the backend with different customer support, different tech, different setups, different everything, different funnels for each product. It can be very, very confusing and costly to maintain over time. Versus when you have that one product, you know, you have that one funnel, you have that one checkout page, you have the one whatever else, and then you keep tweaking on it. Your tech gets better as well. Now,
a common question that I get a lot of people asking me is okay, but I have a one-on-one service. How do I like scale that up? Literally what I did was I took my one-on-one coaching program that I had in 2019 when I started my business and I worked with a bunch of clients. And then I package what I was teaching into a group coaching type of program.
It was a course that had like weekly calls in it. Wouldn't call it necessarily a group coaching program. I would say maybe like a course with support calls and that's what I did. And then I added more stuff to it.
So basically the boss Graham Academy is literally almost the same curriculum that I was teaching with my one-on-one clients, but I just packaged it into a course and then I scaled it up. So that's literally what I did. And so that's one thing that you can definitely consider doing in your business and not saying that you need multiple products in order to make a million dollars, you need a good product to make a million dollars. The next lesson that I learned is number five, you set the tone for what you put up with. Oh my goodness. I have a separate episode that I'm going to release about this, about boundaries and copycats and just all these things.
But I learned over time, especially last year, because as you scale up your business, as you get more customers, as you get more followers, as you get whatever, you're just going to get a lot of opinions. You're going to get a lot of people who disagree with you. It's, it's just inevitable that happens. I don't know any successful business that doesn't have refund requests that doesn't have copycats that doesn't have ABCD, EFG, things that you fear basically. And so what I realized is that I kept complaining about the same things I kept complaining. Oh my gosh,
I'm so annoyed that so many students take my program and they basically launch a very similar program to me. Like they're literally, instead of learning from the course and applying what they learned to their own business, they literally just say, okay, you know what, I'm also going to be a, turn your followers into clients, Instagram coach, because Vanessa literally laid out the entire roadmap for me. And I'm just going to copy everything and do my own thing and basically do exactly the thing that she's doing. I used to be very annoyed with that.
I also used to be very annoyed with the fact that, um, I felt like my students back then had no boundaries in, in a sense where they would tag me in every single comment, every single thing in the Facebook group, even if they already got the opinion of every everyone else. So for example, I would have students, I would say, Hey, um, what is your opinion on Instagram reels? There would be like 20 comments of other students sharing their opinion or sharing or giving them the answer. So let's say for example, a student might say like, Hey, um, I don't know how to upload my Instagram real. That's like a very basic question, but that's just a little simple example and that person would get 15 plus comments from other students helping that person out, being like, Hey, here's the instruction on how to do it? And even with 15 other comments, that person will still tag me and be like, Vanessa, what do you think? And I'm like, well, I think the same as everyone else. Like, you know what I mean? And so it depends on the boundaries that you've already set for your programs and all that.
Like if you are setting the boundary that you are going to reply to every single thing or whatever then great. But if you aren't setting that boundary, then it's inappropriate for your clients to kind of constantly tag you in everything and worse yet DMU and ask for help. When you have clearly stated in your group rules that, Hey, this is the container. I will answer the questions with these rules in mind,
or I will answer these types of questions. Whereas these types of questions are more so related to ABCD EFG. And so that's kind of the things that, um, I was constantly complaining about.
And you'll notice that my attitude was just very like, Oh, it's so annoying that my students are doing this. Oh, it's so annoying that, um, people are messaging me this, or it's so annoying that so-and-so copied this. Like, why are they doing that, blah, blah, blah. And what I realized again is you set the tone for what you put up with.
And I realized over time that, Hey, the reason, like there's a reason why I'm constantly complaining about this and nothing is changing. And that reason is because I'm not making any changes. I'm just letting it happen. I'm just letting it all happen. And just constantly complaining and complaining and complaining and doing nothing about it. Okay. And so that was a huge energy shift for me because I went from being a victim to now actually being a problem solver. And so, for example, now, if someone copies my work or if I see a student breach our terms and conditions and resells the product, or literally directly copies and paste the boss Graham Academy into their own course and sells it as like, like boss gram institution or whatever, I don't know. Um, then I will literally remove them from the program and send a cease and desist.
I will contact my lawyers and we're going to handle it. Whereas before I wouldn't do that, and I would just constantly complain to my friends and being like, I'm so annoyed that so-and-so literally did this. I feel so hurt. I feel so ripped off blah, but I would do nothing about it. Um, and I have a another episode. That's going to talk more details about plagiarism, about how I deal with it and all of that. But now I just, I just deal with it. I handle it. I don't complain about it as much anymore.
The second thing is with the students, you know, why am I having that energy where I'm like, Oh my God, I'm so annoyed that my students are tagging me. That's why they joined the program, dove Anessa. But the problem is that I wasn't clear on the boundaries. And so every time my students tagged me in something that I, I felt like was already answered or that I felt like just tagging me as a crutch. And they're like, no, I want to hear the opinion of Vanessa.
Even though the opinion was shared by others, there are people, or I don't want to, to anyone else, except Vanessa then guess what? That speaks to the fact that I didn't have good boundaries because every time that happened, every time I was tagged, yeah, sweat, I would reply. I would give them exactly what they wanted. And so happens. Especially if you're someone who also operates a Facebook group, you know what I mean, by all of this, right? Is if you see a student or a client breaking some of the boundaries that you've set, that's one thing. But if you're enabling them to do that, because literally they've broken your boundaries, they're tagging you in a post that clearly is out of scope from your program.
Like for instance, if you teach people how to use Instagram, but all of a sudden they're asking you a question about YouTube, or they're asking you a question that's way out of scope. That's something that is in your hierarchy offers. Yet you answer them, then what message does that send? Right? They're going to say, Oh, okay, Vanessa, answer this. So it's okay that I keep doing this.
I'm going to keep doing it. And then worse yet other students, other clients, they see you breaking your own boundaries. And so they also assume, well, if Vanessa answered Abby's question about YouTube, or if Anissa answered, Abby's question about hiring, then I'm going to ask the two, like that's kind of human nature. They're going to be like, well, I want to ask my questions. And then it becomes this big flood gate of people not respecting your boundaries. At the end of the day, you can't blame your clients and students for doing that.
It's because you enabled them. You set the tone for what you put up with. And so now what we've done is I've hired community managers. And we basically, I stopped, like if you tag me in the, in the Facebook group, I won't answer it. My community manager will answer it. My team will answer it.
Now at some point there were times where I would answer it, but I would send the answer to my team member. And then my team member would answer on my behalf that trained our students to realize, Hey, when you buy this program, you can't tag Vanessa in every single post that you have. That's not a part of the package. If you want Vanessa's one-on-one attention,
then that's going to be another offer. You're going to need to pay more. You're going to do whatever for that. That's not a part of the group rules. You're breaking the group rules. Or if you are DM-ing Vanessa, I know that's also not acceptable because there's boundaries with that. Right? And so if someone, if one of my students, DME, I will either tell them, Hey, can you, I asked this question in the Facebook group, or I will say, when you ask this question in the Facebook group, Joyce, we'll get back to you or other students are going to be able to chime in because the boundary was clear. It's in our, the,
when you sign up for the program is very laid out what you get. And so if you're expecting more than you need to kind of train your students, your clients, to know that, Hey, there's a boundary here. And if you want this, then you need to sign up for this other program that I have, or this is out of scope. And so let me refer you to someone else, or, Hey,
have you considered asking other people about this? Because you know, if anything, the other students are going to be able to help you way better than I can with this particular topic, just because I'm Vanessa doesn't mean that you need every single problem in your business to be addressed by me. That's why there's a group community. And so over time I have learned that, Hey, all the things that I was complaining about, I was setting the tone for, and the moment that I just put my foot down, the moment that I enforce my boundaries. Yes. Was it uncomfortable at first? Absolutely. But now it's, it's amazing. Like I'm not getting anxiety every morning because I have 200 notifications of all of my students tagging me right now. I have a team who handles it. And the best part is, is that my team handles it better than I could. Like I have hired experts, people who are good at what they do better than I can.
And my students feel completely taken care of with my team. They trust my team. Now another thing is as well, if is if you are running a very similar container to me where you have a course and a Facebook group for support, like if you are constantly like chiming in and you're answering your stupid and start directly, like if your program is set up that way, that's fine. But if your program is not set up that way, and you're constantly answering those questions with your account, then you're also training your students to not respect the community managers or the coaches that you've hired. Right. If I'm constantly chiming in and putting in my input and answering it directly, then my students are going to be like, well, if Vanessa's answering, I'm going to wait for Vanessa. And I'm not going to listen to Joyce. And Joyce is our community champion. And Kyla is also our community champion.
I'm not going to listen to Joyce or Kyla because Vanessa's going to answer it. I'm just going to wait for Vanessa, but that's not how it works. And so that's kind of what I learned last year that I'm really embodying this year is boundaries. And again, I have another episode about boundaries.
That is way more in-depth as well. We'll talk about plagiarism, where we'll talk about things like this, creating boundaries with your clients, all these different things. All right. Next lesson that I have, I think this is lesson number six. The second last lesson is at some point, you're going to hate your business. Okay? Like, you're going to hate what you do. And I think that is normal because when you start out, you're like all starry-eyed you want to start the business? And it's kind of like a fun little project for you, right? Like, you're like, Oh my gosh, I'm starting a business now. And it's kind of like a sprint,
but after a while, like I think two years into your business, you're going to realize like, Oh my gosh, this is kind of my life. Like this isn't a project anymore. Like every day is going to be this, like every day I'm going to be working on my business.
And it kind of starts becoming more like a nine to five. Even if you don't work nine to five hours, even if you don't work in an office like that entrepreneurial, like, Oh my God, excitement, I have a business kind of wears off. And you realize like, Oh, this is basically a nine to five, but I I'm the boss. Does that make sense?
Like, I would choose this over a nine to five any time, but it becomes more routine. As you scale your business, the things become more automated. It becomes more systemized. Uh, it becomes more predictable. And so then it starts to kind of become like less of a passion, more of a job, like a job.
Like I treat this as a job and it's actually helped me a lot with work-life balance now, which is awesome. But what I mean by the actual lesson that I have is at some point you may hate your business. And what you do in that moment is you pivot, you remove, or you add so that you can fall in love with it again. And now not every day is going to be a day where you absolutely love your business, but you also want to keep the excitement there. You want to be passionate about what you're doing.
You want to have an end vision in mind. You want to be motivated. You want to have discipline. You want to have all these things. And if you're in a state where like, I really don't like the direction that I'm headed with my business, maybe I don't like the clients that I'm working with. Maybe I don't like my offer. Maybe I don't like my team. Maybe I just don't like my content, or I don't like the way that I'm showing up, you know, that's going to affect your mood and your energy on how you run your business.
Right? And so my biggest advice to you is when you hit that point, it's really important that you either pivot, remove or add. And what that means is pivot. Pivot could look like pivoting your niche. It could look like pivoting, your offer, pivoting your messaging, like changing something. So for instance, when I started,
I was very broad and I hated it. I was attracting Amazon sellers, product based businesses agencies. I was attracting all these sinks. I wasn't niche enough. And so I hated what I was doing cause I wasn't in my zone of genius and I didn't know what I was doing to be honest. And so I pivoted and I niche down and now I serve coaches. But then after a while now I'm like, Oh, but then now I'm just only servicing coaches.
And I kind of want to like explore a little bit more. I have some new product ideas in the future and I feel like it could benefit people other than coaches as well. And so now I think in my mission statement, it's like coaches and content creators, content creators who want to monetize and specifically how they're going to monetize is through, uh, selling services. And so that's kind of the different pivots that I've made. These are just examples, pivots that I've made in my business so that I can fall in love with my mission again, or maybe even adding a mission or changing the mission.
The second one is remove, you know, are there certain things that you're just like, I don't like doing this. Like one thing that I removed was my Facebook group. I have a Facebook group called turn your followers into clients. And I have not posted it in a long time. And the reason why is because I was posting every day in that Facebook group. And I just was like, you know what? I don't really see this going anywhere.
I'm not very excited about this strategy that I'm doing. And I would rather spend the time that I'm spending in my Facebook group on my YouTube, Instagram podcast and maybe exploring other platforms that I'm a little bit more interested in now, it's not to say that the Facebook group has gone forever, but it's something that I removed from my task list because it was bogging me down and I just didn't see the vision there yet. And so now my Facebook group is literally like on pause, at least for now. And so I remove something or maybe you add something, um, maybe, maybe you add a new branding to your site or that could also be a pivot to like a rebrand. You could add new team members. Maybe you add a new offer if that's really what you want to do, or you remove an add things within your offer. So for instance,
the boss Graham Academy, I told you guys time and time again, there was a point where I really hated the boss Graham Academy. I'm like this product. I am not passionate about it. I don't like the curriculum. I feel like I could do so much better.
And I just feel like I could get people way better results. And I feel like this could be completely cleaned up. So what I did is I removed a bunch of lessons that I felt were just fillers. I added new lessons that I felt would be even more helpful that would really kind of help me align my mission a little bit better and get people results better. And I pivoted a slightly with niching down. I also added a rebrand new color scheme, new everything for the boss Graham Academy. And now I'm back to completely loving my program. Again,
I didn't give up on my program. I didn't remove the program, but I removed and modified, added and pivoted things within the program until I fell in love with it. Again, I also gave it a facelift. I made a new sales page, all these different things.
Now there's going to be a point where I I'm going to hate my program again. And guess what, when that happens, I'm either going to do the same thing or maybe it's time for me into introduce my next offer so that I keep things exciting for myself. And so that's kind of one thing that I learned my business because there was a time last year where I don't know, I just like did not like what I was doing. And I, I was starting to get the Monday scaries and I'm kind of like at first I was a little bit ashamed to say that, cause I'm like, Oh my God, but this is my business. Like how can I be afraid of Monday? Like this is my own business, but I got to a place where I got the Sunday scaries and I was like, Oh my God, I don't want to go to work. And I'm like, Oh, snap. Like, this is literally no different than when I was working my nine to five.
I need to do something about it. But before I had that revelation, I was thinking, Oh my God, Ooh, I was literally having an existential crisis. I'm like, Oh my God, like, is it, do I need to give up, like, do I need to shut this down and start another business? No, I don't need, I didn't need to start another business. I just needed to add, remove or pivot things within my current business.
And now I'm in love with it again. So there we go. Right. So let's talk about the last lesson that I learned from growing my business to 2.7 million last year, and that is spend the money that you're making. Um,
I had a huge fear last year of being quote unquote, not profitable despite having over 50% profit margins. And we actually ended the year at about like 75% profit margin, which is absolutely insane. And even though it's something that I'm like proud of and I'm happy about it also tells me that I wasn't really efficiently running my business. So what do I mean by that? Well, first before I actually talk about that, let me talk to you about why I had fears of not being a profitable business. Even though I was probably one of the most profitable businesses that you could get out there in the industry. And that is there's so many times,
especially in my line of work where I share my launches, I share my success stories. And there's always going to be that one troll who comments and asks, well, what's your profit then you're probably not profitable. Or like even anyone who tries to make themselves feel better. They're always like, well, what's your profit? And it's like, okay, do you want the whole picture? Okay, here's the profit here's whatever. And I think that's important.
It's a good question to ask the business owner so that you know that they're not running completely at a loss, but at the same time, you also have to realize that it takes money to make money. And so because of that stigma around, Oh, if you're making a lot of money or if you have huge launches or if your business is ever so remotely successful, there's always going to be a handful of people who doubt your profit or who think that something is still wrong. Like you're hiding something. And it's like, I don't know how many screenshots, I don't know how many podcasts episodes, how many YouTube videos, how many X, Y, Z, that I need to do to actually show that the business is legit. You know what I mean? And so, because of that, I realized that I had like a little fear of not being profitable. And so what I did was I hoarded money.
I literally hoarded money and last year and shared this on my Instagram story, I paid $700,000 in taxes. It's absolutely unreal. And that's because we were a very profitable business. However, like I said earlier, I realized that we weren't really efficient. Like with that money, I should have hired sooner. I should have upgraded things sooner.
I should have spent more of that money to build up my business. I should have spent more on advertising. I should have started advertising sooner, but back then last year, I just didn't. And it was because I was scared to spend the money. And I also had a limiting belief that, Oh, I don't want to be a one hit, wonder what if my business shuts down? What if something happens? And I lose it all, you know, I, I didn't, I didn't believe that I could even achieve the success. So for instance, it's kind of like, uh, I think I had like an identity crisis almost because the first year of my business did extremely well too, in my eyes, it was $500,000.
But to go from $500,000 to like 2.5 plus million dollars is a huge leap. It's a four X growth, 400% growth. And so for me, I'm like, Oh my God, this can like, is this a one hit thing? Like, did I just get lucky? I was like freaking out.
And so that's why I cheaped out on a lot of things. Like earlier on, in this episode, I said that I cheaped out on, you know, upskilling my team. I c