Why a $400k Sales Month Broke My Business, My Brain and My Bank Account

May 10, 2021

Listen On: Apple Podcasts | Spotify

Oh hey. It me. Stevie.

I’ve only been dark on social media, podcasts and inside of your email inbox for the past four and a bit months.. but, HEY!

I’m baaaaack.

Pops up like nothing ever happened

I was going to slide back into your eardrums with a tactical podcast on all things pricing strategy for online course, but, of course, that wouldn’t quite be addressing the BIG, FAT question clogging up my DM inbox of late – namely, “Where the %$#^ have you been, Steeeeevie?” – so let’s kick off that, eh?

A bit of a business, baby, brain, bank account and.. er, (trying to come up with another B-word here but failing), LIFE update – whaddaya think?

Everyone: Crickets

Me: Great! (Crafts catching, click baity headline). Let’s dive on in.

online course

“Why a $400k Sales Month Broke My Business, My Brain and My Bank Account” – The Podcast.

We’re gonna kick this one off with the big, fat elephant in the room. I mean, title.

Namely – “WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU MADE $400K IN A SINGLE LAUNCH?!”

Well, dingbat, it means I made $400k.. ish.. launch.

In December, I made $400kish (actually, it landed at $370k or so, and it certainly wasn’t “cash collected”, but it sounds sexy, right?) in the “foundation” launch of my flagship group coaching program, Launchpad.

Was I pumped? YEAH.

For about two seconds.

… Until I realised that completely blasting my projected $100k goal out of the water by 4 X’ing it meant that I would be spending the whole of my Christmas break and the two weeks in January before it opened MADLY working my tail off, hiring multiple staff members to help me manage the back end and preparing the program that I truly felt (and still feel) is my life’s work to the standard I expect (aka – very very very high).

That launch BROKE me.

My brain. My business. My bank account.

And only now am I starting to see the (very bright) light.

So, in this episode, with a little distance between biggest uplevelling I’ve ever moved through in my business and the – honestly – burn out that ensued, I want to break down a few mistakes, lessons, epiphanies and changes I’ve made, learned, had and experienced over the past few months.

🥂 Champagne Problems aka New Levels, New Devils

Truth bomb?

I kind of assumed that as my business started to grow to the heights I’d only ever dreamt of, it would mean that things would get easier. Lighter. Better, somehow.

Well, let me tell you. If you’re a course creator, and you’re feeling that way, don’t do this one thing:

COMPLETELY CHANGE YOUR BUSINESS MODEL.

Yeah.

Because, here’s the thing.

Until December, my business model had been online courses.

As in, I created a flagship course once, launch it.. and then honestly? Most of the hard work was over.

No more creation. No ‘ongoing’ work, other than filling my funnel with new leads. No need to worry about delivery, or the ‘back end’ breaking with more people because it was infinitely scalable.

As a business model for anyone looking to get to their first $1 million, it’s the bomb diggety.

I didn’t realise how good I had it (it’s also, funnily enough, why I SHOUT FROM THE ROOFTOPS to anyone currently swapping those dollars for hours to package their expertise into an online course. Like, yesterday).

Because, here’s the thing:

Until December, on a day to day basis, I had ZERO calendar appointments. Literally, zero. I didn’t have clients. Or service work. Or anything to do really, except post on Instagram and make podcast episodes.

I literally had the “lifestyle” business that so many people dream of.

For 99% of people, that’s the freakin’ life – right?!

Which begs the (completely freakin’ valid) question:

WHY THE HELL DID YOU GO AND BREAK IT?!

Short answer? I’m a weirdo 😅

Long answer? I have always had this crazy burning desire inside of me to do REALLY BIG, MASSIVE THINGS, impact people at scale, grow a really big business, and in general just push my own personal limits to see what might be possible.

Love that for me (she says sarcastically).

That burning desire, though? Well, it bit me on the bottom harder than a hungry pirhana in December when I launched a group coaching program that would set my BIG hopes and dreams into motion.

Just so you know, a high touch group coaching program is a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT BUSINESS MODEL AND REQUIRES MUCH, MUCH MORE WORK ESPECIALLY IN THE EARLY DAYS (and is also infinitely fulfilling but my god people, be sure it’s what you want) THAN AN ONLINE COURSE BUSINESS.

Suddenly, I had clients. And appointments. And a six phase beast of a program to create. And the weight of my own, and other peoples, expectations. And a mountain of imposter syndrome. And a sneaking suspicion that I’d bitten off a tad more than I could chew.

Cue champagne problems.

Why? Because my new endeavour – my COMPLETELY BRAND NEW BUSINESS MODEL started overnight after three years of online courses and the cruisy-er life – had been TOO successful.

Goal? 10 clients.

Intake? 50.

I was forced to catch up. Mentally, emotionally and lifestyle-y, in less than three weeks between cart close and opening day.

And I sure as HECK wasn’t prepared.

🧱 Hitting My Upper Limit.

If you haven’t ever read “The Big Leap” by Gene Hardwick, you absolutely need to.

Here are the cliff notes:

The Upper Limit Problem is our universal human tendency to sabotage ourselves when we have exceeded the artificial upper limit we have placed on ourselves. The Upper Limit Problem is caused by a too-low thermostat setting on our ability to achieve and enjoy our ultimate success. 

When we hit our upper limit, we literally knock ourselves back down with self limiting and sabotaging behaviours, and we drop ourselves back down into our “comfort zone” – the area in which we feel most familiar.

This concept deserves it’s own podcast episode, but it deserves a place in this one because it’s a huge reason for my absence and lack of visibility over the past few months.

The second half of 2020 brought, for me, a level of success that hadn’t ever experienced before. A good thing, right?

Wellllll.. it WOULD have been, only that I UPL’ed myself HARD.

For me, my self sabotaging upper limit behaviour presented itself in the all of the same ways I have always brought myself back down to size.

Drinking too much wine, arguing with my partner, making mountains out of molehills, and generally making a good life.. one others would dream of.. hard for no apparent reason.

To make this light hearted story x10 more dangerous, this all manifested in a panic attack in late December whilst driving over 100km along the Pacific Highway, which let me tell you was a new low.

Why so highly strung?

Honestly, I was questioning why it was ME that deserved success.

Why I was more special than others.

When people would see through it all.

What I did to deserve it, when there were so many other people “more” deserving.

And it shook my pre-existing anxiety and general confidence issues to new levels; I’ve never had serious mental health issues but guys? I was teetering.

I started to doubt my voice and feel nervous about showing up online. The number of people listening to my podcast suddenly started to feel overwhelming. The DMs in my inbox felt too much.

During my December launch, I even started considering shutting everything down mid way through because “too many” people were enrolling.

Too many for WHAT, I still don’t know.

My brain to handle, I guess.

I was responding to my growing success with self-sabotage, and it’s only now.. with the benefit of four months of perspective, a fair bit of self development work and time to process.. that I can see it.

It feels hard to share this, but it’s my truth, and a big part of my radio silence online.

👖 Finding My Big Girl Pants

The past four months have been a big uplevelling for me, as I’ve learnt to fit into the new pants I’d sewn for myself way back in Q4 last year when I’d decided to “go big”.

There are usually a few key turning points in any business like mine.

The first usually comes in the first couple of years in – although sometimes much later – when you’ve hit your max capacity as a service provider and you’re wondering what the next step is. For some people, it’s to build and start an agency. For others, it’s to settle into their lifestyle and and make peace with a full client load and the freelancers life.

For others again – my Launchpad peeps – it’s to build an online course and use it to create a leveraged business that allows you to work less and make more without sacrificing lifestyle, building an agency or burning out.

I think there is a huge amount of freedom, satisfaction, fulfilment and balance that comes from making the latter your choice at that fork in the road and that’s truly why I’m so damn passionate about Launchpad.

The second big turning point, though, is a decision to move to the NEXT level.

It usually comes at around the $1million mark, or at least that’s what I’ve seen based on my conversations with my peers and mentors.

This one is harder, because it means a decision between a good life, and a BIG one.

And the latter? Means sacrifice.

Usually – or, at least, in my case – it’s more of a calling.

To do more.

Be more.

Go Big.

I can’t explain the reason for MY calling in a way that doesn’t feel wanky or insincere, but here’s my attempt:

My Dad died 10 years ago, and it was the slap in the face wake reminder that life is actually really fucking short. Like, way shorter than we might like to kid ourselves into believing as we trudge through our days doing things we don’t necessarily like.

It made me realise that a tolerable life is a huge fucking waste, and that there is actually a whole truckload of value into doing the work to build a business that is based on something that impacts others AND that gives you a life you actually like, too.

It also woke me up to the fact that we live in this truly incredible time in the world – one where, with WIFI, a little strategy and someone to show you the way – you can make a tremendous impact on your own life and the life of others around you by teaching what you love.

And so, that’s what I did for myself.

Which was fine for a while, until I realised that a BIG life meant the courage to do more.

To help others create it too.

And to make it my mission to do that, EVEN if it meant building a business that DIDN’T mean 90% profit margins, a calendar with zero appointments and a company of one.

Launchpad is the result of that calling to go bigger.

On the surface? It’s a high touch, 12 month container for people who want to swap clients for a flagship online course.

But for me, it’s more. It’s my life’s work and I’m hell bent on building it to be a big, serious business.

One with client meetings in the form of 1:1 milestone call, strategy calls, and real humans to take care of.

One with full time employees to make every single client feel loved, seen and heard.

One with MUCH smaller profit margins, and the need to understand delivery costs, and acquisition costs, and cash flow forecasting, and all of the “math” stuff that freaked me out for YEARS.

But, at the end of the day? One with infinite potential and impact, and the opportunity to truly change lives.

The decision to follow your calling requires a big spoonful of courage.

It means surfing bigger and tougher waves, more risk, a lifestyle that means less free time and more standard business hours and, generally, fitting myself into the big girl pants that I’ve made for myself.

It’s the right decision for me, but it’s not for everyone.

Sharing the Journey

With all of that said, here I am.

And honestly, it feels nice to be back.

This podcast has done so much for me, but my god did it grow over the years.

Speaking honestly and candidly is one thing when you’re starting out with 16 listeners, but another entirely when 5000 strangers are tuning in each week! I have always said that connection, honesty and transparency is what separates a small business from the big guys though, and my hope is that has I grow I can maintain that without losing my nerve.

So, where am I at now?

Well, my Launchpad program is rocking and rolling. I’m SO proud of my students, and the action they are taking. Watching them validate their courses lights me up, and is daily validation for ME that I am on the right track with my journey, too.

I’m growing a team of full time employees, a project in my business that challenges and inspires me daily.

I’m excited to show up and be more visible again, a sure sign that I’m heading back into a comfortable zone in business as I adjust to my new normal and that it’s time to break that upper limit again.

I’m imposing balance and boundaries on my life and business, spending weekends with my baby boy and coming to peace with this new season in my business where it’s all just one big work life jam sesh.

I’m nerv-cited for the future and the challenges and adventures to come as I lean into a bigger life, even if it’s not the easiest path I could have chosen for myself.

But, I’m determined to approach it all with both excitement and determination, and not letting those limiting beliefs, upper limits, fears or self-sabotaging behaviours stop me from doing the BIG things I feel called to.

Because ultimately? I want to inspire YOU and show you what’s possible and I can’t do that unless I live it myself.

I want to push the envelope, even if it feels hard. If my brain needs a while to play catch up. And if fear, self sabotage and perfection kick me in the butt every day.

I’ll be a better person for it, and I’ll inspire others to become those next versions of themselves too.

Can’t do that in my comfort zone, can I!

Cheers to that.

Links and Resources:

Want to create, launch and scale a flagship online course? Here’s a few ways I can help you:

1. Download My Free Course Creation Roadmap: https://www.steviesayssocial.com/checklist

It’s a one pager with the summary of the process for swiping clients for courses and creating, launching and scaling a course.

2. Apply for My Free, Advanced Private Training on How to Swap Clients For Courses: https://www.steviesayssocial.com/launchpad

Apply for Launchpad now and get access to a free advanced private training where I hand you my ENTIRE process for creating, launch and scaling a course along with all of the details for Launchpad.

3. DM Stevie on Insta – let’s chat! https://www.instagram.com/steviesayssocial

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