Are you currently working towards scaling your business to 6 or 7 figures? Are you becoming disappointed with (perhaps even nearly defeated by) your growth, and feeling like everything you thought you knew would work just doesn’t seem to be working anymore? That you’re doing all of the right things, but getting all of the wrong results?
You’ve worked hard to scale your business to where it is now, and through pure hard work and determination, you’ve finally managed to get to a place where you’re making good money (at least in revenue). But it’s not taken long to realize that it’s simply not enough. That the more money your business makes, the more money it seems to expend, and that what’s left at the end of it all just isn’t enough to afford you the lavish lifestyle you hoped and dreamed your business would provide you with.
Sometimes, you might even wonder if you were better off before. But deep down, you know that if you can only find the strategies and tactics you need to break through these blocks and make more money than you are right now, it will all be worth it.
If this is resonating with you, know that you are not alone. We all reach plateaus in business from time to time, and feel the exhaustion and frustration when we do so, but here’s the thing. The secret to hitting the next milestone is not working longer and harder doing more of the same. No, your progression relies and depends on you finding new and improved ways of working. Take comfort in the fact that literally millions of other business owners have faced the same trials and tribulations as you have when trying to scale their businesses through the income ranks, because it really is the same for everyone.
Let me assure you that I, myself, have been through this too, and have experienced all of these same thoughts and feelings that you are. What I found was that breaking through from 6 to 7 figures required me to show up differently than I had before, and again going from 7 figures to multi 7 figures means I have to change my ways once more, not to mention implement a whole host of different tools and techniques.
And here’s the thing—I’m still a work in progress and of course I didn’t get it right the first time. I took wrong turns, made the wrong choices and wasted time, energy and money on the wrong things. But today, I am grateful for and appreciative that I made those mistakes, because each and every one of them contributed to making me the businesswoman and CEO I am today. Perhaps even a better wife and friend.
So first up, I want to preface this by saying that if you’ve been feeling like you just can’t get it right, that’s completely normal. I want you to take a moment to have compassion for yourself, and know that everything you have been through up until this point—every bad business decision, every period of stagnation—is what will make you into the incredible leader you’re about to become. As cliche as it may sound, you grow through what you go through. Great entrepreneurs know this, and they own their failures, knowing that it’s all part of the journey.
But because I want to help you on your way, I’m here today to share with you the 5 mistakes I made when scaling my business, so that you can avoid making the same ones, and scale faster than I did. (FYI, I hit 6 figures in 6 months, hit 7 figures one year after that, and am now working towards the multi-million and then billion-dollar mark!)
#1: Not Investing Sooner
The first mistake I made was not investing soon enough. In myself, in coaches, in the systems and software I needed to make my business run more smoothly, in a team… the list is endless. You’ve probably heard the phrase “you have to spend money to make money” before, and while I knew this was absolutely true, when I first started out in business, I was scared to put my money where my mouth was.
I started in 2014, $30,000 in credit card debt and $90,000 in student loan debt, and in the beginning, this certainly had a negative effect on my money mindset. One decision kickstarted everything, though, and that was the decision to work with a coach. Honestly, that was the hardest investment I’ve ever had to make (especially considering I had to put it on credit), but after deciding not to graduate and moving back in with my parents, something deep down inside told me that this was the exact moment I’d been waiting for. I chose to follow my heart.
I can wholeheartedly say now, looking back, that the only regret I have when it comes to investing in myself, my education, and my coaching is not doing it sooner. So if you feel the nudge but find yourself acting out of fear, telling yourself it’s not the right time, I urge you to just go for it.
Similarly, when it came to systems and software, I scrimped where I shouldn’t have, opting for entry-level payment plans with less features, or choosing cheaper platforms thinking they ‘would do for now’, when in reality all that did was make my life, and the day-to-day running of my business so much harder. I wasted more money in the long run because of the time and energy it took to operate, and the amount of work that had to go into overhauling the whole process when we inevitably made the decision to switch to more suitable options.
And yet another thing I wish I’d invested in sooner is team, and that leads me to my next point…
#2: Thinking I Can Do It All
When you’re the CEO of your own business and are so used to running as a one-woman band, it can be seriously hard to invite in other people. When you’ve worked so hard on something that’s so precious to you, the thought of other people’s hands being on it can be the source of SO much dread. And this was my second mistake.
I didn’t hire a team as soon as I should have, because honestly, I thought I could do it all myself. (Spoiler alert: you can’t!) I felt that because I knew the business inside out, and was attached to its vision and mission, that I was the best person to undertake every single task that had to be completed—but that just wasn’t true.
Trying to be the Chief Everything Officer meant I wound up feeling burnt out. I became exhausted by my business, the very thing that was supposed to be the vehicle towards a life of wealth and health. (At the time, I felt far from healthy.)
Once I started to let go of the reins a little, everything started to flow better, and this is something I’ve gotten increasingly better at over time. So take my advice: in trying to do everything, you end up doing nothing well. If you find yourself clinging on to every to-do on your list, fearful of delegating it to someone else or automating it so you don’t have to… I invite you to take a step back and ask yourself if the task at hand is a good use of your time or if it can be better served in another way. Much of the time, it just comes down to ego, and once you’re able to surrender the need to be in control of everything, you’ll find your growth comes much more naturally.
#3: Assuming My Role as CEO Stayed the Same
Not only did I have to let go of the notion that CEO meant being in charge of absolutely everything, I also had to come to terms with the fact that my role would change and evolve as my business did. It sounds obvious saying it now, but when you’re in the thick of it, working away on growing your business, it’s not really something you think about.
In the early days, I was much more hands-on when it came to things like daily operations and project management, and truth be told, although that’s not my zone of genius, I liked being involved in every facet of the business because it allowed me to feel in control. As times gone on though, and the team has expanded, I’ve had to get used to not being involved in every minor decision, or knowing the ins and outs of every process. I’ve also had to get better at people management, and fine-tune my communication skills in order to be able to get the best out of people and create a culture that supports each and every employee, contractor, freelancer or other.
In order to be a good leader so that you can make an impact on your team, your business, and your clients, you have to be adaptable to these sorts of changes, and always be willing to do the work you need to do to move to the next level of CEO. Being dynamic is part of the job description, so ensuring you have the right mindset to allow for this will help you leaps and bounds when your role starts to pivot in direction, grow or expand.
#4: Making the Wrong Hires
Although it’s important to know when to ask for help, and to be able to delegate duties to others where appropriate, it’s crucial that when you’re handing the work over it’s going to the right people. Many of the problems I’ve faced over the years of operating my business have come down to hiring the wrong people to do the wrong things. If you haven’t hired yet, (or haven’t hired many people yet), a great place to start is by getting clear on what you want to do in your business. I advise spending some time to list out all of the things that need doing, business-wide, and then go through and highlight which of those things you either LOVE doing or are extremely good at. Those are the tasks that should always fall under your responsibility.
If there are things that you love doing, but aren’t great at, or are great at but don’t love doing, it’s at your discretion to decide whether you want to give that job to someone else. And, of course, anything you dislike and aren’t good at should be handled by an expert in that area.
Getting clear on these parameters makes the hiring process so much easier, as you are able to hire people whose zone of genius fills the gaps that you don’t have. And sure, it’s not to say that down the line you can’t hire people with similar skills to you, but only when you’re at capacity and can’t take on any more. Trust me—hiring in this way will help you stay fulfilled and satisfied as you lead the way for your business.
#5: Spending Too Much Money on the Wrong Things
And finally, although some of my regrets are to do with not spending enough or not spending soon enough… I’ve definitely also experienced times when I have spent too much on the wrong things. An example that stands out in the forefront of my mind is when I spent $50,000 on a custom WordPress website. With hindsight, I now know that this was a huge mistake. Don’t take this the wrong way, I absolutely see the value in web design, graphic design and branding—they’re great ways to establish reputation and recognition. But my advice would be to not underestimate how far you can get by bootstrapping or making smaller incremental investments before splashing the cash on something significantly higher.
My problem was that in spending so much on a custom website consisting of coded elements, I’d created a situation where I, nor anybody on my team, was able to make edits or updates to the site. I was reliant on the external web developers I’d contracted to do this, and they didn’t have the capacity to take me on as a retainer client. Even if they had, it would’ve meant many more dollars being spent on an already expensive site.
When it came to planning the launch of my all-new Emily Williams and I Heart My Life sites, I knew I had to do things differently. I actually invested in some site templates from Tonic, and plugged everything into Showit myself using their drag and drop design feature. (I’m no web designer, but I do consider myself to be creative, and they’re honestly so simple to use!) Forget everything you thought you knew about website templates, Tonic have redefined them, and their completely customizable sites are not only user-friendly, the final results are remarkable too! They literally look as polished as if you’d paid for a personalized design, yet you have the added benefit of being able to chop and change information or elements any time you like. Using these templates for my new sites was one of my best recent business decisions, and it just goes to show that when you learn from your mistakes instead of letting them define you, you’re guided towards greater success.
If you have a site or sales page you need to create, the Tonic site shop comes highly recommended by me, so I suggest you check them out by clicking here.
I hope reading about the mistakes I’ve made while scaling my business to the empire it is today has helped you consider where you might be going wrong, and given you some watch-outs to avoid.
Remember—the greatest leaders own their mistakes and use their failures as fuel to move forward, so I hope that in seeing me do this, you feel inspired to do the same
P.S. If you want to hear more from me about how you can reach new heights in 2022, I invite you to apply to join me in our Luxe Mastermind where you’ll be fully supported via one on one coaching, group coaching and even three in-person retreats.