Recent lessons from another year in business
This wasn’t the post I’d planned to write this month. But my upcoming birthday and a conversation in our mastermind group convinced me I should probably share my lessons from another year in business.
So, here goes. My thoughts on doing Kate Toon’s mastermind, fixing my mindset, getting real about money and the joys of getting older.
For anyone that’s followed me for a while, you’d know that Kate Toon is one of the big reasons I’m in business. If I hadn’t stumbled into her copywriting group (thanks to my former colleague Jenny Lindsay from ConnectJen), who knows what I’d be doing?
She’s the one that famously told me that if I waited for my ducks to be in line, they’d be dead. I’ve worked for her, learned from her, built connections because of her, and I call her a friend.
When Kate launched the mastermind, I wasn’t sure it was for me. I knew I needed something, but had I already learned all I could from Kate?
In the end, I realised that by working with someone who had been part of my entire journey, there would be no BS. Kate knows me well and she knows about running a successful copywriting business. Not only from her experience, but from working with a diverse range of businesses in her memberships.
I knew what I was in for with Kate. Or at least I thought I did.
Kate has pushed me in a way I hadn’t expected, and she’s gotten results (more on that in a bit).
The unexpected part of the mastermind is the group of fabulous women I’m now connected to. This should not be a surprise. I’ve made amazing friends through The Clever Copywriting School and Digital Marketing Collective. But the connection within our small working group and across the whole mastermind group is something I am so grateful for. We’ve met almost every Monday since February, and had monthly Friday co-working sessions. I’ve got no doubt we’ll keep up our Monday catch-ups.
And just to prove how awesome this group are, when I put the call out for a photo, 3 of our group jumped on a Zoom so I could take a photo!
Wendy Brown from The Digital Spork – website coming soon.
Elise Doyle from Elise Doyle Web & Design
Nell Casey from Fete Creative
Our other masterminders are:
Deborah and Kym – Celebration Central
Natasha Sutton from First Impressions Media
Linda Thomas – Ashlinc Digital
Annette Camilleri Camotion
And of course our fearless leader Kate Toon.
We’ve only got a few weeks left, and my 2 biggest takeaways for me (apart from awesome new friends) are money and mindset.
October 2023 update: and here we all are together in Sydney.
Left to right: Deb, Linda, Annette, me Nell, Kate, Wendy, Natasha and Elise.
It’s all about the money
For too long, my mantra was that business wasn’t all about 6 figures and staff. Part of that was about doing business my way, but there was also a fair whack of imposter syndrome at play. Before I could get real about that, the mastermind forced me to get real about my budget. If it wasn’t about 6 figures, what was it about?
Working with Kate, I got real about my financial goals – both personal and business. I realised if I’m not earning 6 figures, I’m kind of wasting my time. I’m 49 and I don’t want to work forever. I may have my government super, but I’ve also got a big mortgage.
So time to get serious.
While I was confident with my pricing, I needed to get realistic with the number of billable hours I have in a week. You probably won’t be surprised when I say it’s not 40. It’s not even 30. Realistically, I have about 25 hours a week that I can charge for.
Here’s where I’m going to insert a little promo for Kate’s new book Six Figures in School Hours. It’s full of all the advice Kate has implemented, tips from members (like me) and loads of practical actions.
If you’re in Adelaide, you can see me interview Kate about the book on Friday, 11 August. Get your free ticket here.
Apart from being realistic about my time, I had to get super smart about expenses. No more unused subscriptions or nice to have stationery. I decided 2023 would be my year of lean. Lucky, because as the cost-of-living crisis continued, I had a solid budget, and was using Profit First.
I now spend an hour every Monday looking at my budget and 8-week plan, and forecasting income and expenses.
Mindset is at the heart of everything
Once I had my money sorted and knew how much I needed to earn, it was time to get my mindset right.
I don’t have all the answers here. I’m still an anxious person who overthinks things and I don’t love what I do every day.
I’ve realised is that sometimes, the best results come when you stop thinking and just do.
I used to agonise over every email or pitch or response to a potential client. Now, if someone sends me a lead, I respond, without overthinking it. Having packages and clear pricing on my website helps because I don’t need to waste time agonising over a quote. I know I won’t win every job. Not everyone will like me and I’ll be too expensive for some, but that’s not my problem.
Same goes for publishing on social media and recording videos. I may need to do several takes to get a decent selfie, but I don’t have time for several takes when I record a video. As long as I get my message across and build relationships with the people watching, then that’s enough.
Something else that’s helped my mindset (thanks Kate), is riding the roller coaster. I used to get so pumped by the wins, the positive reviews and the happy clients. If you let the positives determine your self-worth, then you’ll take it personally when you get a bad review or miss out on a job
Marketing isn’t enough
The big goal when I joined the mastermind was to grow my business.
Which, in the current economic climate, isn’t always smooth sailing. Small businesses, like households, are stretched and budgets are being trimmed. Outsourcing website copywriting and content is a luxury for so many business people.
With my goals now clear, I couldn’t let the threat of a recession put me off.
I realised that a shiny search engine optimised website, social posts, podcasts and guest articles would only do so much.
Marketing and hoping the right people find me is one thing.
So, I’ve started actively creating connections. Reaching out to businesses advertising for copywriters, contacting people I want to work with and building my network.
Does it feel a little icky? Hell yes.
But is a better option than sitting and waiting for the phone to ring – 100% yes.
With age comes wisdom and (peri)menopause
When I first came up with this blog, I wondered if I should include this. After all, I hope my audience isn’t just women.
But if you’re male, and reading about menopause and its impact on my business makes you uncomfortable, we probably shouldn’t work together.
So here’s the thing, perimenopause can go on for years. While there are some well-known side-effects (hello hot flush), there are things it brought I hadn’t expected:
- Achy joints
- General crankiness
- Brain fog
- Mood swings
- Weight gain
But it’s not all doom and gloom.
I’m just so grateful I decided to work for myself.
I can work from home, when it suits me. On the days I feel rubbish, I can hide in my office and just focus on my work. I don’t have to be annoyed by anyone but the cats. If I feel really crap, I can work from bed.
Another lap around the sun
As I head towards my birthday next week, I’m actually feeling pretty damn lucky.
9 years ago when I left my diplomatic career (and turned 40), I had no idea what I wanted to do next. I certainly wasn’t thinking of running my own business.
But life has a funny way of presenting the right challenges and introducing the right people at just the right time.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog, and perhaps learned something. If you know someone else that you think would enjoy it,