You can also listen to my story. Check out this episode of The Sigrun Show.
In hindsight, I always wanted to have my own business.
I was just waiting for that perfect business idea.
I realized that waiting wasn’t going to bring any clarity.
So I took action and incorporated my business without a business plan.
I had zero clients and nothing close to the perfect business idea.
My company was now officially a business consultancy.
The first client was my ex-employer.
It wasn’t my dream business but I was using my education and background.
I worked on the only project I had for a few months only to realize that this was not it.
Still, that perfect business idea wasn’t there either.
I believed that writing down my thoughts would help.
So in September 2013 I started to blog about passion.
My first blog post was titled “Why start before you are ready is the only way”.
True to my blog post I had started before I was ready.
I had a company but not the right business idea.
It was time for a restart.
2014 was the first year in my new business.
25->30 subscribers – Zero revenue
My first blog posts were all about passion and how to develop a business from your passion, so I came up with the tagline “Turning your passion into profits”. I had figured out my business idea without realizing it. I had my first professional photo shoot and created a Facebook page cover photo with my new tagline. I was participating in Facebook groups day in and day out to find out what people needed help with. However, my Facebook page had no engagement so I worked on growing my Facebook page organically without any ads. Within 21 days I was able to grow my engagement from literally zero to 100% Facebook performance (according to Fanpage Karma).
30->100 subscribers – Zero revenue
I felt I was onto something with my Facebook page performance so I announced a freebie and over 70 people signed up for before I even created it. That’s when I understood the power of “selling it before you create it”. I felt very motivated to create my freebie, a three-part video series on how to increase your Facebook performance. The freebie was released and people loved it but then it hit me – I had nothing to sell and I didn’t want to be a Facebook consultant. I had created a freebie without thinking about what was next. I decided that my next freebie had to be related to what I actually wanted to do which was something around passion and profits.
This was also the month that I wrote my most popular blog post “How to start a company in Switzerland”. I was receiving so many questions over email and social media about how to start a company in Switzerland that I decided to put everything I knew about this topic into one blog post. It took me 10 hours to write the post and create the related freebie. Then I posted the blog post in relevant Facebook and LinkedIn groups to get feedback and from there it took off. Without knowing it, I had created what I call an epic blog post that until recently was responsible for 15% of my overall website traffic.
100->222 subscribers – Revenue $180
It started to dawn on me that I was probably not the only one who struggled with finding the perfect business idea. What if I could help others find their true passion and the right business idea? Literally overnight the idea for the Passion-A-Thon course was born. I didn’t feel right about selling a course without knowing if it really worked. So I decided to run it for free the first time. I announced the course on social media and within 7 days, 134 people signed up! I was blown away by the interest and what was even more amazing, the course worked! My first online course had been created. At the same time, I finally put a payment button on my “Work With Me” page for one-hour business coaching at $180. And one day the first sale came through, my very first online sale! Today I still celebrate March 26th as my “First online sale day”.
This was also the month that I decided to do my very first webinar. I signed up for WebinarJam and scheduled my first webinar. 17 people signed up and I was very excited to try this out. On the day of my webinar, Google crashed – every service that Google offers was down. I was so new at this that I didn’t know how to contact the people who had signed up. I felt very discouraged and cancelled my WebinarJam software license after this fiasco.
222->264 subscribers – Revenue $3100
After creating my first online course and getting my first online sale I felt confident that my new business would grow. An old business friend reached out to me over email and asked if I would be able to create a website for his new business. I was not planning to have website development as part of my new business but I thought that a one-off project would be okay and I surely needed the money. I was still on a high after the great success of the Passion-A-Thon and was now determined to sell the course. This meant that I needed something free related to the course to promote it. I created the first version of the three-part video series. More clients signed up for my 1-hour business coaching without any advertising. They all signed up after seeing me answering business related questions on social media.
264->288 subscribers – Revenue $4200
The Passion-A-Thon ran for the first time as a paid course at $97 with 20 paying participants. I had no idea about launching or sales funnels at this time so I just did a simple promotion on social media and through emails. My old business friend had more projects for me so I continued to help him with his website. As a passionate photographer I had set up my business to also have income from photography. I thought a lot about how I could combine my business passion with my photography passion but I wasn’t sure how to make it work. Meanwhile I photographed some business colleagues, some paying and some free. I also photographed an event and was able to sell the pictures to two of my business friends. A few of my 1-hour business coaching sessions continued to sell without any promotion.
288->328 subscribers – Revenue $4400
List building was on my mind and I hadn’t cracked the code yet. I had the free 7-step video series but I wasn’t really promoting it. I felt I needed something else to build my list and work with business owners, not just those who were still looking for their passion and the right business idea. I also needed something for those who finished the Passion-A-Thon and wanted to start their business. Based on my popular blog post “How to start a company in Switzerland” I decided to create a “Start Your Swiss Biz” course. Next step was to run the Passion-A-Thon again, this time at $147, to see if there was enough interest for my new course. I was still working on my friend’s website projects and I was happy to have the ongoing revenue. The Passion-A-Thon course ran again but I hadn’t done a good job promoting it so I had only 6 paying clients. And only 1 person signed up for the Swiss Biz course so I ran it as 1-1 coaching instead. While creating the material for that course, I figured out that focusing just on Switzerland was not my thing, I was much more interested in creating an international business course.
328->467 subscribers – Revenue $800
Most of Europe is on holiday in July and I didn’t have any promotion going on so sales very slow. I reached out to a startup that had a mission to inspire women to go after their dreams. I felt very aligned with their mission so we decided to collaborate. One of the startup’s founders was the editor of a newspaper and she was fascinated about what I was building. And without having to pitch it, I had landed a front cover interview. That interview brought me new coaching clients. I had just raised my price from $180 to $350 after one of my first 1-1 clients told me that my price was way too low. She had tried four different business coaches and I had been the cheapest but also the best one out of them all. I took her advice to heart and raised my prices and was positively surprised to get two new clients the day after I raised my price.
This was also the month that I started to do webinars again. Webinars had been on my mind since the Google crash. I didn’t want to give up after one fail so I announced a new webinar “Make beautiful graphics with Canva”. I wanted to do some Facebook ads but I didn’t get them to work so I had to give up. Through emails and social media, I was able to get 67 signups for my very first webinar. Doing my first webinar was very weird, I was looking at myself and talking to myself and still there were people on the chat interacting with me. After the first webinar I was elated, this was it! I loved doing webinars! I announced the next one 2 weeks later and my weekly webinars were born. I hosted over 20 webinars from July to December 2014.
457->753 subscribers – Revenue $3500
Doing weekly webinars on various topics turned out to be my best list-building strategy. I learned on my own how to do effective Facebook ads and was adding new people to my list with every webinar. But setting up the webinars, sending out the replay and following up turned out to be a lot of work. I started to write down everything I did and every time I did a new webinar I wrote down the things I had not thought of before. In the end I had created the Ultimate Webinar Checklist with 60 different items and I could finally start to outsource my webinar setup. I hired my first VA! Her job was to set up my weekly webinars and send out the replays… and I created the first version of my membership site. I put out an offer of $97 for only 5 webinars with the promise of 20 webinars in total for the year 2014. Dozens of people signed up knowing that I would deliver on my promise. I was onto something with webinars and the membership site. This felt like a great revenue model. I also ran my Passion-A-Thon again, now at $197, and my business friend had a bit more consulting work for me after the European summer break.
This is also the month when I started my Passion To Profits Facebook group. I started the group with a five-day business planning challenge and called the group Passion for Action. I wanted to grow the group organically and use it as a platform to nurture my community on a deeper level than was possible with my email marketing.
753->1178 subscribers – Revenue $2000
I was ready to step it up. My list had been growing and I had this idea that when you reach 1000 subscribers you have a business. My challenge was that I wasn’t really selling anything to my list. It was time to start offering longer-term business coaching instead of single hours. I was considering a six-week package offer of $1500. Before I even had the chance to put this offer on my website I received an email from a man who had been reading my blog posts on passion and how to find your business ideas. He wanted to know if I did coaching. I replied that I did and he of course wanted to know what the investment would be. So I told him my price and within a day the money was in my bank account. I wondered what had taken me so long to figure out that people actually wanted this from me. I guess you can call this the first encounter with my money mindset but it was definitely not the last.
1178->1549 subscribers – Revenue $14,000
Signing up my first long-term coaching client was a great feeling but I was ready for more. I decided to invest in a six-week coaching program to get over my own limiting beliefs. My idea was to create an online course around the most popular topics in my webinars – all the tools to launch an online course. I called it the Launch Tech Survival Formula. The launch webinar for the course was a huge success, over 500 people signed up, and I even did an encore for other time zones. But only one person was interested in the course, everyone else wanted 1-1 with me. In the middle of my first launch I decided to change my strategy and offered a free business strategy session to see what people really wanted. Over 90 people signed up for my free sessions and I did them all in only 3 weeks. And quickly I was fully booked and had made $27K within 4 weeks.
1549->1653 subscribers – Revenue $18,200
My business was taking off and I could feel it. Making $27K in 4 weeks felt out of this world and I had all kinds of money mindset issues come up. Interestingly, this was the month when WebinarJam stopped working and for a whole month I couldn’t do any webinars because the software didn’t work. I thought about switching to another webinar platform but I was so busy with my free online business strategy sessions and working with all my new clients that I decided to wait. I travelled to three different locations in Switzerland to meet like-minded entrepreneurs. No matter how great online business can be, nothing trumps meeting people face-to-face and to this day I benefit from the face-to-face meetings I had in my first year of business.
2053 subscribers – Revenue $25,000
In the last month of the year I came back to my original idea of teaching entrepreneurs how to set their business up for success and do business planning. Instead of trying to sell an online course I decided to summarize my teaching into a 2-3 hour paid webinar. Your Best Year Yet was born – a workshop with a 40-page worksheet and a budget plan. The feedback was astounding. I thought I was teaching business planning but what the participants got out of the workshop was way deeper than what I had anticipated. One person even told me I had changed her life. It’s incredible what happens when you put your work out there.
My webinar software started to work again and I set up two webinars a week for December to make sure I delivered on my promise of 20 webinars from August to December in 2014. I did my first affiliate webinar and it was so much fun to be able to deliver value to my community without having to be the expert all the time. As the month came to an end and I closed with $25K in revenue I reached another money mindset ceiling. It became the task of 2015 to tackle the lizard brain and figure out how to adapt to 20K months and make it a new normal in my business.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail – Benjamin Franklin
My first year in business
In my first year in business I went from zero revenue to $74K in 2014.
I was able to go from my first online sale to five figures within 12 months.
In hindsight it may all look like the perfect strategy but behind the scenes it’s a different story.
It really all comes down to perseverance, optimism and a willingness to test & learn.
Try something, if it doesn’t work, try something else.
This requires a clear vision and strategy of what you really want for yourself and your business.