I recently shared what I’d do differently if I had to start my business over from scratch in 2016…but today, I want to share a different story: what my business evolution and growth actually looked like.
There are so many lessons I’ve learned the hard way through experience, and I’m always eager to share them so that you don’t have to go through the same troubles!
And so – here’s a glimpse at how my own company has grown and matured over the past 5 years…
I started my business right out of college, and found myself successfully designing websites for clients across the web in 2012.
At this point in time, I was definitely suffering from the cobbler’s shoe syndrome. Although my clients had impeccable sites, my own website was nothing special to look at.
This is what my online presence looked like at the time:
I remember it clearly…
Dreams of the Big City…and Reality
In the fall of 2012, freshly married and excited about our new life together, my husband Robin and I packed up all our belongings and drove from Toronto to New York City, with Millie the dog as our sidekick.
Robin’s company headquarters were in New York, and I knew I’d be able to do my online work anywhere… so we dipped into our savings and put down the biggest deposit for an apartment we had ever seen. Dreams of the big city in our eyes.
We were spending $3000 per month on rent in Brooklyn (twice what we paid before!), and because we had a dog we had to put down 3 months’ rent as a deposit.
Robin was working crazy Manhattan hours and I was adjusting to a whole new business model and working just as hard.
Even though my business was bringing in that elusive six figures, at the end of the day, there wasn’t a whole lot of money leftover each month.
We were feeling the strain of the big city, and that Empire State of Mind song kept reminding us:
“If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere…”
Investing in a New Appearance
By this point, I had invested in a website redesign for my brand with my friends and design partner Natasha Lakos, and photographer Christa Meola.
This new design was bold, confident, and professional. So as I consistently released a new blog video each week and sent me email subscribers back to my blog, my website traffic started to steadily increase.
At the start of 2012, I had just shy of 7000 contacts… by the end of that year, my contact list had grown to 15,000 people.
At that time, I remember sitting in bed trying to warm up because our apartment building hadn’t turned the heat on yet, and it was starting to get cold…
My business was growing, but I was maxing out on one-to-one consulting and web design clients. Still, I knew that my know-how was valuable and that I could create information training products… I just wasn’t sure how to scale this side of my business.
I knew the solution to our issues was not that we both had to work harder!
So my business evolution continued: I began to strategize a way to work smarter by leveraging systems and automating things that I only did sometimes when I “had the time”.
I Built Sequences Specific To Each Course & Led With a Quiz
I really dove into implementing campaigns that would help sell my do-it-yourself digital courses. I wrote targeted follow up email sequences and created special offers to get people to take action. I had written 5 emails per sequence, each with a tip or actionable advice… And at the end of these emails, I’d let people know that I had a full-fledged course about the topic available.
To help lead into my different products, I created a “Website Checkup” quiz. Since not everyone needed to take my basic website training course, this quiz helped to connect me with the people who needed more advanced optimization services.
And a funny thing happened. I started to see sales coming in every day for my products. I didn’t need to send individual emails or follow up with people who had questions… because my follow up sequences were doing it for me!
My smart work was working!
Focusing On Automation Led to More Business Evolution & Growth
As a result of really systematizing my business, marketing, and sales processes, I took my six figure income and tripled it in 2013. In 2014, our revenues doubled from the previous year.
Of course, implementing the automation best practices wasn’t 100% responsible for creating the massive increase in income and revenues we experienced… there was a lot of elbow grease and mindset shifts that went into it, too.
But I’d reached an awesome point: I wasn’t spinning my wheels anymore, my business was naturally earning more, and that allowed me to shift my focus to more outreach and opportunities that eventually led to even more growth.
Branching Into Software Development
Since kicking up our automated systems, I’ve been able to increase how much my business makes and actually keep more of it, too.
In the summer of 2013, I had an idea that would take my business evolution to new heights. It all started with putting together the free 30 Day List Building Challenge:
The challenge helped me double my email list from 15,000 to 30,000 the following year… and in turn, my business was able to support both my husband and I. So I convinced my husband to quit his corporate job and become my lead software developer.
At first, we used existing solutions to build our 30 Day List Building Challenge, then manually created tags, emails, and videos for each day of the challenge. Soon, we realized we could create a solution that would save us a ton of time when setting up future campaigns. That’s how our AccessAlly plugin was born.
Initially, we didn’t intend to release our Infusionsoft WordPress plugin to the public, but because of the success of the 30 Day List Building Challenge, we were deluged with questions from people who wanted to know what membership site software we were using.
Since then, we’ve released a total of 4 full-fledged WordPress plugins and added a whole new dimension to what started off as my solo business. We’ve even partnered with other professional developers and designers and started certifying them as AmbitionAlly Certified Partners. We are so proud to be able to refer them to our clients.
All This Business Evolution Led To Growing Our Team
Now my business evolution has brought us to the point where it’s not “just me” anymore. I work alongside my husband from home every day, but we’ve also added on another full-time developer, a project manager, a marketing manager, a full-time writer, and a production assistant. Not to mention our constant collaboration with amazing designers, freelancers, and other collaborators.
If I had to manage all of the things we’ve created over the years myself, I wouldn’t have been able to create the results we’ve had or the revenue growth we’ve experienced.
Looking to our traffic stats from 2014, you can tell that all the consistency is paying off, and we’ve now got more than just a handful of digital training courses. I host a weekly podcast show, we’ve got an ongoing membership training and accountability program, our software tools, and lots more on the horizon.
And our story continues, and my husband and I have moved to Dallas, Texas where we’ve got a great home outside of the city surrounded by trees and horses. Our mortgage payment is the same as our rent was in Brooklyn, but we don’t even feel the sting anymore.
Thanks to planning for our team’s expansion, a lot of action, and sound marketing automation… we’ve built a business that keeps growing month to month, without us working any harder.