I don’t know if you’ve realized this or not, but the online business world is broken. It’s inefficient, and many online business owners, especially the newer ones, are using outdated strategies that are no longer as effective as they once were.

I should know, because I have firsthand experience of building an unsustainable business using these strategies. Unsustainable and unsuccessful.

That’s right. This blog post is going to delve into the numbers behind an unsustainable and unsuccessful business.

There are so many income report blog posts out there, that I thought it’d be fun (or something) to take a look at the numbers behind an unsuccessful business.

I’ve resisted sharing this story for so long because I didn’t want to be branded a failure. It seems like everyone in the online business world is uber successful and has time to run a business and raise kittens and have 5 kids and a thriving social life and a happy marriage and eat organic cage-free salad and work out every day.

And there I was, with an empty mastermind after months and months of planning, strategy, and work.

So, let’s dive into this story and the real numbers behind an unsuccessful business. (You have no idea how nervous and scared I am right now.)

August 2017

This story starts all the way back in August. I’d just had my biggest month of sales (just under $3,000), and I was excited.

Then I lost one client because of miscommunication on my part, and then another client went AWOL. So there I was with zero clients.

I decided it was time to uplevel my copywriting business, so I raised my prices and changed my packages…and no one bought anything. My email list hovered around 500, and no one was interested in my services.

I had been growing this list for a year or so through opt-ins and guest posts and collaborations. And it was all the wrong people. I know that now.

(Yeah, I never sold to this email list. Ever. In the year plus I built it, I never once sold to it.)

Also, in August I joined a mastermind that has been fabulous, even if my business didn’t make a gazillion dollars after joining it. So that added about $1,250 to my monthly expenses.

Income: $1,075.00
Expenses: $1,250

I spent most of this month rebranding and upleveling everything – outlining copywriting packages and figuring out pricing.

September 2017

So there I was, having just joined an awesome mastermind and having just goodbye to my only two clients. I upleveled my brand and excitedly sent an email to my list, thinking they would be super excited and want to work with me.

LOL. Not how it went. Though I did get some responses back from people saying they appreciated my honesty. And I started working more of my personality into my brand, because it was sadly lacking personality. It was all stiff and corporate-like and not at all me.

I also got back into Facebook groups and started posting in there consistently. I posted once a day in three different business-focused groups, and I did my best to interact with other people in the group – reply to questions, comment on posts, etc.

I think I got a few client inquiries – people messaging me through Facebook asking about my services. When I got back to them, it turned out that I was outside of their budget.

I had one client this month – a local non-profit I worked with on an hourly basis. I did VA-type work for them.

September numbers:

Income: $48
Expenses: $1,250

October 2017 – Launch to Uplevel Summit

I had just upleveled my business, and I felt that it was the right thing to do. I was happier with it, even if I didn’t have #alltheclients or #allthemoney.

I decided that I wanted to help other business owners go through this same process – upleveling their business. So I came up with this idea for the Launch to Uplevel Summit. The goal was to help business owners uplevel their business and then launch it successfully, which was something I struggled to do. (Because no one booked a service with me).

So I reached out to some amazing women in the online business space and asked them if they’d like to participate. Many of them said yes, so I spent a few weeks planning for the summit, creating graphics, making swipe files, and scheduling all the promotional material.

Then it came time for the summit, and I had to make sure that all the emails and videos were scheduled right, etc. I tried the whole selling an all access pass thing, and no one bought one from me or from any of the other speakers.

So the promotional window for the summit started, and I promoted my heart out. I talked about this thing for a solid two weeks leading up to it. And I know the other speakers talked about it at least a little.

I had about 48 people sign up for the summit. I had 12 speakers for the summit, including myself, and only 48 people register. I was so embarrassed and upset and frustrated when it was over.

I had worked so hard to make this an awesome event and to spread the word, but I didn’t get the growth, visibility, or attention that I wanted. Though I did connect with other online business owners, which was nice.

And I managed to book a local copywriting client, so that was a plus. But I was still losing money, and morale. It’s really hard to keep going when you do what everyone tells you to do, and it doesn’t work.

Income: $400
Expenses: $1,250

November 2017 – 5 Days to Stronger Faith Challenge

Starting in October and moving into November, I began working my faith into my business. I also started to realize that I didn’t love copywriting. Everything in my business felt like a struggle. It was like I was fighting an uphill battle EVERY day.

So I started to move my services away from copywriting and more to the storytelling and content strategy side of things. The plan was I’d help business owners tell their story in a way that helped them connect with clients.

I also got the idea for a mastermind for Christian women business owners called Faith. Leadership. Profit. I was so excited about this service. It was going to be an awesome way for women to get the support they needed to grow their faith and their business.

FLP (my mastermind) was going to launch in December. By November I was no longer actively offering copywriting services, so FLP was going to be my way of making money into 2018. I spent most of November and December prepping for the launch of my mastermind.

I had two challenges created specifically for it. The 5 Days to Stronger Faith Challenge was the first one. It happened in mid-November. I took a cue from Zach Spuckler of the Heart Soul Hustle podcast. He’s big on challenges and has an awesome blog post that I highly recommend here.

That’s the post I used when planning this challenge and the next challenge. I had everything figured out (or so I though).

I spent the last week of October and the first few weeks of November planning, creating content for, and promoting the faith challenge. I also posted daily in 3 Facebook groups and on Instagram. And then I emailed my list several times to let them know about this.

When the 5 Days to Stronger Faith Challenge finally happened, I had 20 people sign up for it. I was disappointed, but I felt that 20 was still a pretty good number for me. I kept telling myself that I just had to keep going and something would work eventually. I was wrong.

Income: $400
Expenses: $1,250 and then some for renewing my website stuff. So maybe $1,400?

December 2017 – I Quit

I was really excited about December. I had this awesome idea for another 5-day challenge called the Find Your Mastermind Challenge. It was a really unique event that brought together 5 or 6 online business owners who had masterminds opening in 2018.

These mastermind hosts (myself included) all promoted the event to our audiences. Again, I spent a solid 2 weeks promoting this event. We all did a value talk that showed off our area of expertise. Then we had a chance to go live and talk about our mastermind and answer any questions people had about it.

I created this amazing guide that told challenge participants about the masterminds and about the hosts. I went day-by-day through the challenge and included worksheets to help people find their perfect mastermind. It took me over a day to make that guide. And it looked pretty nice.

So the challenge started, and I was hopeful that maybe this time I’d have great numbers. Maybe this time I’d finally book a client and get people interested in my mastermind.

About 50 people signed up for the challenge. I was disappointed and frustrated. Now, let’s be clear: I wasn’t frustrated with the mastermind hosts, the ladies who agreed to join my challenge. I think they’re amazing business owners, and I know they promoted the event.

I was just frustrated in general, you know? Like I’m over here working my buns off trying to ensure that everyone knows about this event, and it still fizzled.

The challenge happened, and at the end, I had my perfectly-written email sequence encouraging people to get in touch with the mastermind host they connect with. My goal was to get people to the mastermind that was best for them.

I really wanted the women who participated to get a few clients out of the challenge, but no one did. I didn’t book any clients, either.

Again, I was embarrassed and frustrated and upset. When people asked how the challenge went, I’d be like “It went well.” and then smile and quickly change the subject.

Because the fact of the matter was, I was heartbroken about it. That was my last-ditch effort to fill my mastermind.

After my challenge ended, I decided that I could always just message people and see if they were interested in my group. I did that a few times, but it felt so unpleasant that I stopped.

It was the Friday before Christmas when I realized that my business wasn’t going to survive into 2017. So I made the decision to close my copywriting business. I knew that things weren’t working and that there was nothing I could do to make my business work.

Income: $98
Expenses: $1,250

January-April 2018

That kind of brings us to the present. Here’s the Cliff Notes version of what happened: I got this idea on Christmas Day 2017 to start a business called Featherwild.

Originally, Featherwild was going to be a Christian mentoring service for women who wanted to grow their faith. Over the several months I’ve been working on Featherwild and laying the foundation for it, I’ve realized that I was being called back into copywriting.

So now I’m both a copywriter for purpose-driven, impact-focused business owners and a mentor for Christian women who want to grow their faith.

I’m also breaking all the rules in running Featherwild. I don’t work all the time. I work when I want to, and I’m spanning a few different niches (copywriting, Christian inspiration, online business).

But you know what? I’m happier than I’ve ever been. My faith has grown. I’ve grown, and I know Featherwild will succeed where my other business failed.

Besides, the “rules” that the marketing gurus and online business experts put into place and that everyone echoes ad nauseum…they didn’t work for me.

Am I making a gazillion dollars? Not yet, but I can tell that things are shifting and changing. I’ve had opportunities come up, so we’ll see what happens.

Wondering how I’ve been surviving while losing money all this time? God. (That’s a totally cliche Christian answer, isn’t it? But it’s true.)

God has miraculously provided for us when we needed Him to the most. I’ve been in tears as an unexpected check came in the mail and gave us some breathing room. He has been unbelievably faithful to me.

So that wraps up my story. If you’re still here, congrats! We should probably be like BFFs…or something. Also, don’t forget to check out the key takeaways.

Key Takeaways

Yes, I’m highlighting the key takeaways for you because I really want to make sure you understand what I’m saying.

Key #1 – You can do all the right things and still have an unsuccessful business.

This one sucks, but it’s true. I think the only thing I could’ve done better in my promotional strategy was pay for Facebook ads and hire a strategist. However, I was already losing money, and I didn’t want to hasten my savings’ account demise.

Key #2 – Run your business the way you want to.

If I’m being honest (and after writing this all the way to here, I see no reason to NOT be honest here), I didn’t enjoy running my other business. Everything was a battle, and I didn’t want to do most of the things I “needed” to do to have a successful business.

Posting consistently in Facebook groups and interacting there was a chore. I’m so over Facebook groups, but I got in there day after day and interacted because that was what I HAD to do to build a successful business.

When I closed my previous business, I realized then that I hadn’t run it the way I wanted to. I listened to everyone else BUT me.

So think about it now – are you running your business the way you want to, or are you running it the way everyone else is telling you? If there’s something you don’t want to do, then don’t do it.

Key #3 – Fear isn’t the way to run a business, and it will suffocate you (and your biz).

This probably won’t come as a surprise after reading all that up there, but I ran my previous business out of fear. I had a poverty mindset. There was never enough money or clients or time. Every time I posted in a Facebook group, I was afraid.

I was afraid that no one would see it. I was afraid that I wouldn’t book any clients. I was afraid that my business would fail. I was afraid that people would learn that I was a fake and unsuccessful.

I ran my business and lived my life from a place of fear for so long that I had forgotten what it felt like to be happy. Truly, deeply, unashamedly happy and at peace.

When I closed my other business and started Featherwild, I felt that peace and happiness. It also opened my eyes to how much I had suffocated under fear.

Is that happening to you? Take some time to evaluate your life and your business (because they affect each other). Are you running your business out of fear? Are you allowing fear to paralyze you and keep you from running your business the way you want to?

It’s Time to Change

That’s my story, online business world. I hope this gives hope to those of you who are struggling, even while doing everything you’re “supposed to” to have a successful business.

Not everyone here is making 6-figures, though it often seems like that.

Before I end this novel, I want to invite you to change. This invitation is for the entire online business world, whether or not you’re making money hand over fist.

I’ll be talking more about this change here on the blog, but if you want to get a jump-start on changing your business to better suit you, your passions, and your life, then check out my business mentoring services here.

And be sure to share this with your friends. Let’s make sure everyone knows these 3 key takeaways.

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