At Funnelhackers in February, by FAR…my most favorite talk from Russell Brunson, was his deep dive into his MASSIVE mistakes. Success stories are awesome and inspiring…and many of them are terribly misleading. Because I know how it feels to be in a seat wondering, “How do I get from here to where __(insert favorite person here)____ is?” I’m going to share with you the mistakes we’ve made (or hell, are making) so it encourages you that the people you admire, don’t have it all figured out either.
Lucky you, I have two businesses, so I will be giving you BOTH.
In the fall of 2016, I partnered up with Madelaine Corke, changed my business name to Pipe & Lime Media, LLC, and transitioned to an agency model for my services, rather than a straight up solopreneur. Here are some the rocks that landed in my way.
When you go from a 1-woman shop to an agency, if your prices don’t reflect this change, you will eat dirt…literally. I had a SLEW of mismatched clients in the fall, people who were paying singleton rates, demanding a ton of time, and eating resources. I lost thousands of dollars in the transition because I didn’t really understand just how high my rates had to go in order to sustain myself. The Freelance Business Building Bundle is a great STARTER to pricing & packaging as a solopreneur.
Now, I want to preface this by saying, I work with the BEST contractors ever!!! There was only one problem. I taught them to command good rates, the kind of rates you command when you’re out hustling for clients yourself. But what I needed were subcontractors on a team, and those rates are different. Because I was the mentor and the client, I didn’t price myself right, and I paid higher rates to contractors than I should of because I felt guilty.
Mentoring myself out of a team
Some of my team members were also mentees and students. And while this made a GREAT learning environment, it also meant that I taught and taught and taught, and then they got good enough that they wanted to go out on their own, and not work with me anymore! So rather than building a core team of people who were in it for the long haul, I had people who were ready to leave after learning what they needed and ready to make better money! This is one of the prime problems with running a training program and a high end agency at the same time. It was a win and a fail at the same time.
The clients were coming for me, not full service
This is one I’m still mired in. I have a great team, but sometimes – you can’t just project manage your way out of yourself. People come to Pipe & Lime because they want MY attention, my brain, my copy, etc. And no matter how amazing your team is, they are coming for me.
When you provide a full service agency, you can’t ride just on your reputation, because you will find you are just taking on TOO many clients and trying to delegate things that the client wants YOU to do.
Create Your Laptop Life Mistakes
So now that you see some of the mistakes I made in my done-for-you services business, now it’s time to line up the Create Your Laptop Life mistakes. There aren’t as many, but the few we made, are DOOZIES.
In December, we switched our Create Your Laptop Life Mentorship Program into a subscription based service. We did it because we recognized that what we offer is far more than a course, and it didn’t make sense to give away lifetime access to coaching and mentorship that continued to expand. That was our first “little” mistake (giving lifetime access to coaching). So we switched to subscription to solve the first problem, and created a whole new one.
Switching over to a subscription model has meant SO MUCH TIME dealing with membership spreadsheets, credit card payments failing, cancellations, and dealing with people who are taking taking taking from the community without any commitment to stay.
Some of you might be asking, “Well if it’s not lifetime access to a course AND it’s not a $97/m subscription, then what the HECK are you going to do?” We looked at the WHOLE of the business and recognized four areas of focus:
- 1:1 Coaching
- Networking & Community
So rather than wrap EVERYTHING we do into the The CYLL Network, we’ve separated everything. Everything we build going forward will fall into one of these four foundations.
- Need help with Digital Marketing for yourself or others? Learn more about my flagship course The Digital Gangsta.
- Need small group targeted support on a particular skill? Masterminds.
- Just absolutely need 1:1 help? Coaching.
- Tired of working alone in a sea of providers and need to make strategic partnerships, relationships, and accountability? The CYLL Network.
The CYLL Network is now a membership and it’s 100% designed to give you a supportive community, the ability to network, and accountability and mindset help. We recommend you purchase the Network PLUS the courses you need. Course content is for life. Network is month-to-month or yearly only.
It was the mish-mash of everything into one program that caused a litany of problems. People wanted paths and support at a mastermind level for $97/m. IT was entirely unsustainable.
When we began in 2016, we marketed to Virtual Assistants, and yes, this is still a HUGE part of our customer base. But ultimately, what all these virtual assistants REALLY wanted, was the skill set to move OUT of virtual assistance into Digital Marketing. It took us a little while to figure this out, but we realize that the path of our avatar really looks like this…
- Someone who wants to work from home >
- Becomes a Virtual Assistant or similar type service provider >
- Dissatisfied with the work and wants more >
- Scales with Digital Marketing Services like sales funnels, ads, copy, etc. >
- Scales into a Coach/Consultant/Agency/Course Creator
Our marketing has heavily focused on 1, 2. And while our program can help people like that (and does!) it’s also HUGELY overwhelming for them. So the development of our 1:1 program, as well as Madelaine’s new focus on 1:1 coaching is to solve that problem. We see 1 and 2 as where people need a LOT of support and guidance. So our Academy products and 1:1 coaching are in effort to serve this part of avatar better.
3-5 is where I shine best. So building out the CYLL Network and Masterminds to help these people are where we’re headed…but it means that we have a constant avatar issue because it’s such a journey.
Note* The problem is NOT solved yet entirely.
Turning on our funnel before purging ourselves of casualness
Both Madelaine and I are very casual people. This works fine for a group of 60-70. It does NOT work at all for a group of 500. So as our group grew by leaps and bounds, we found ourselves scrambling to put in procedures and processes for EVERYTHING. Managing a group of this size PLUS working on business development systems behind the scenes is HARD WORK. And if you’re worried about hurting peoples’ feelings, good luck. It sucks.
Trying to live the life we teach when we’re building something much bigger than the life we teach
What we teach is a life and business on YOUR terms. A flexible lifestyle, hours you choose. And this IS true and can work. But not if you want to make millions of dollars and run a huge organization. What Create Your Laptop Life is becoming is not a one-woman shop with a 20 hour work week and a few clients. Madelaine and I had some really HARD conversations together when we realized…
This is where the boat is going. Pipe & Lime and Create Your Laptop Life together are MASSIVE amounts of time and work and money.
So if you’re looking at our income reports and thinking you can make $50k a month and still work 20 hours a week, it’s a total joke. Yes, you can be a freelancer, or a designer, or a copywriter, or a sales funnel builder and make a solid $5-8k a month….maybe even $10k a month, and NOT work a zillion hours. You can even scale into coaching/consulting and make $10-12k or so and still not be run ragged.
But you can’t build this kind of movement and organization with even close to 40 hours a week. It’s a job of monumental proportions and it means you have to KNOW that’s what you’re doing, and be okay with it.
With this change means that Madelaine and I have to focus in on what we do best. I’m designed to build bigger and wider. Madelaine is designed to go deeper with smaller groups. So as we grow, you’re seeing these changes in the offerings and in the setup of the company. She’s moving into the intimate space of coaching, small groups, and 1:1. I’m working to build out the larger movement of this crazy amazing company that’s grown so fast.
So there you have it! Some doozy mistakes. I’m sure I’ll make more. But I hope it encourages you. Even when it seems like the person you admire has their shit together, it’s coming apart at the seams somewhere. 🙂
Next up is the post of the things Madelaine and I have done right. There are lots of that too, and I think it’s the reason we have such a loyal and authentic following. It’s also the reason we have navigated the startup waters with our business, friendship, and lives still intact. Coming soon…