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23. 2021 Recap: What It's Really Been Like to Grow a 7-Figure Business This Year
Episode 2327th December 2021 • On Your Terms • Sam Vander Wielen
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It’s the end of the year, which often brings a time of planning and reflection. While we previously discussed how to plan out your business year, I wanted to spend this episode doing some personal reflecting on what 2021 has looked like for me. 

Tune in to hear me discuss, openly and honestly, what’s been going on behind the scenes for me – both personally and professionally – and get a breakdown of the lessons I learned along the way. 

We go from multi-six figure launches to firing a Facebook ads team and touch on everything in between in this in-depth look into how I apply my planning systems to my own work and life. I’m really transparent with you in this episode!

I also want to shout out Chelsea (@gut.hormone.nutritionist), who left an amazing review, saying: “Sam’s podcast has helped me connect more dots about becoming legally legit as well as giving me tips on how to create a profitable business. I’m glad I stumbled upon her.” 

If you’d like to get a shout out on future episodes, just leave a review and make sure to drop your Instagram handle!

In this episode, you'll hear… 

  • 02:43 - How I approached 2021 differently and the change I experienced once I did
  • 05:26 - Focusing on personal healing and approaching my father’s health
  • 13:50 - Running my first live six-figure promotion while treating my dad from home
  • 17:49 - Being intentional about how much you work
  • 23:24 - Launching On Your Terms podcast
  • 30:13 - Operating my business while being sick and moving
  • 36:43 - Firing my Facebook ads team and learning to rely on ads less
  • 46:58 - Hosting a Masterclass series
  • 49:34 - What I’m doing now
  • 52:24 - My lessons for the year

RESOURCES:

LEARN:

  • Read Sam's Blog for the latest legal tips, podcast episodes & behind the scenes of building her seven-figure business.
  • Listen to our customer stories to see how getting legally legit has helped 1,000s of entrepreneurs grow their own businesses.

CONNECT:


FAV TOOLS:

  • Kajabi // use Kajabi to sell your course, program, or even build your entire website. Get a 30-day free trial with my link.
  • SamCart // what I use for my checkout pages and payment processing and LOVE. And no, not because it’s my name.
  • ConvertKit // what I use to build my email list, send emails to my list, and create opt-in forms & pages.


AFFILIATE LINKS: Some of the links we share here may be affiliate links, which means we may make a small financial reward for referring you, without any cost difference to you. You’re not obligated to use these links, but it does help us to share resources. Thank you for supporting our business!


On Your Terms is a production of Crate Media.

Transcripts

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Hey there and welcome to a brand new episode of On Your Terms.

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This week on the podcast, we're talking all about reflection on 2021.

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What 2021 has actually been like for me behind the scenes.

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I think in this episode, you're going to hear a lot of stuff that you've never heard me share before.

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I probably only told my closest friends and

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And so, I really shared open and honestly about, like, what was going on behind the scenes for me personally with my dad, with his cancer journey.

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Also in the business, like what our promotions were going, how the promotions were actually going, what was going on behind the scenes.

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And throughout this entire episode, I'm sprinkling in lessons that I learned from all of the things I've experienced this year, whether it was multi-six

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to firing a Facebook Ads team.

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I get into all of it in this episode and take you on the entire journey while also offering you up all the lessons that, I hope, you can integrate into your

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business. So, I hope that you love this episode.

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I hope that you'll DM me on Instagram and let me know what you thought about it, what your takeaway was about the episode, and, of course, share about the

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Before we get into this week's episode, I want to give a shoutout to a reviewer of On Your Terms, Chelsea at gut.hormone.nutritionist, on Instagram.

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Chelsea said about the podcast, "Sam's podcast has helped me connect more dots about becoming legally legit, as well as giving me tips on how to create a

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I'm glad I stumbled upon her.

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Thanks for your work, Sam." Well, thank you, Chelsea, and thank you so much for leaving a review of On Your Terms on Apple Podcasts.

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If you want to be featured in any future episode, be sure to leave your review on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, whatever we're calling it, so I can share your review

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a future episode.

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And with that, let's get into reflecting and reviewing on 2021, and all of the business lessons that I learned as a result of

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it.

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So, 2021, what a year.

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I think I could just like, "That could be the whole episode.

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What a year. What a last two years, really?

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Honestly." Yeah.

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2021, let's do it.

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I can't wait to go over what this year has been like from both the personal, business perspective, everything in between.

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I'm not holding anything back today.

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I'm just kind of sitting down chatting with you.

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I really would love for you to get cozy, join me, grab some coffee.

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I really just kind of envisioned this episode as being like a little coffee chat, so I wish we could have coffee together, maybe one day.

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But I came into 2021 for the first time in my business with a real plan.

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Like, I actually mapped it out.

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Just like I shared with you in last week's episode of the podcast, Episode 22, I shared with you about how I planned for the whole year, what I did this year

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business. So, if you haven't listened to that, you might want to go back and listen to it after this episode.

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But I really came into this year for the first time with a plan, and I think it just shows how different the business turned out, not only revenue-wise,

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but how things went, how I was able to show up as a CEO, how I was able to take care of myself.

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Because of how much planning I had done, it was just a really, really different year.

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There were two more firsts for me this year.

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One was that it was the first time that in five years in business - I'm not new-ish, you know, to business - it was the first year I had really implemented

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system. So, it was the first year I used Asana.

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And I shared with you last week about how I took Louise Henry's Uplevel with Asana mini course.

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It's not too many, but it's not a big course either.

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And how much that just helped me to actually put into action all the things that I had planned for and execute.

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And I've really stayed committed this year to that system.

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And that helped a lot with what I'm going to talk about today.

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And I hired my first team members, really, at the end of 2020.

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I had taken on Leanne, my wonderful VA, who many of you probably have met.

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If you've ever emailed or if you're a customer and you've had trouble accessing something and then just use my tech VA, who's just a tech wizard and all around

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So, I just was really lucky that I got to bring them on board at the end of 2020.

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They came in, in 2021 even more, more, and more hours.

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And then, since then we've added a whole bunch of new team members, which I'm happy to talk about in a future episode.

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I know some people have asked if I would talk a little bit about hiring or team building, you can let me know.

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But some of those things were just all new to me this year.

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This was also the year that I moved to New York.

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So, for the first time in my life, like, I was born and raised in Philadelphia and I've never lived outside of Philly.

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I've traveled extensively and stayed long term overseas.

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For any of you who have been around in my business for a long time, you might remember towards the beginning when I started my business, I actually moved to

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While, Ryan, he's a professor, he was teaching a class there.

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And so, that was really cool.

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But I've never full-time lived away from Philly before.

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And so, this was the year I moved to New York, and I'll share about that a bit more.

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I'm going to kind of go through the whole year from the start.

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But as I was reflecting back on this year and I was thinking about how much change I've experienced in the business, I also was thinking about on the

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more I've worked on myself, how much healing I've tried to do, both childhood trauma type healing and what I'm experiencing right

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now with kind of the pre-grief of my dad having leukemia.

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And so, my dad has terminal leukemia and back in 2018, he wasn't given very long to live.

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He's still here. He's getting chemo every three weeks.

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This leukemia that he has is incurable.

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And so, I can't even begin to describe to you how bizarre of an experience it is to, first of all, be told that your parent is going to die and not be here

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long. But then, for them to live quite a while, but not necessarily be living well.

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And so, I call it a whole thunderstorm.

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Actually, I call it a shit lasagna, normally, if I was speaking frankly to you.

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But it's really like a thunderstorm of emotions and also a shit lasagna, because there's just so many layers.

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It's like super, super complicated.

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And this year, I would say probably mid-year, I pulled back on sharing so much about my dad being sick, and the

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journey that he's on, and the treatments, and all of the things.

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Because, well, for one, it was super annoying to get feedback about things I would share that I thought were just kind of like fun and

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behind the scenes.

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Just really showing you what it's like to have a parent who has cancer, and to be going through this, and navigating.

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And I'd share like a picture of us sharing dessert or something like this, and then people would be like, "Oh, he shouldn't be eating sugar." And I'm like, "He

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Let the man live," I don't know.

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So, that was part of it.

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But the other part is that I'm having this struggle with this problem or this part of the situation that he is still here and

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he wasn't supposed to still be here.

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And I still feel like the rug can get pulled out from under me at any moment.

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So, the way that my dad's oncologists always speaks to me about leukemia, in particular, because of it being a blood cancer, and the fact that it's in his

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all these things, it's in his lymph nodes, it can explode at any moment, essentially.

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Anyhoo, without getting into all specifics of leukemia, which nobody wants to hear about, it's just I'm kind of like living under that all the time.

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And so, the last several years, and particularly this year, I feel like it has been one of really getting comfortable with embracing the fact that I can't do a

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this. And it's just kind of here for now.

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I don't know what's going to happen or when things are going to happen.

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I imagine it's going to be pretty bad, but there's nothing else I can do.

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And so, talking about it all the time - not all the time, but talking about it on social media, it was making it worse for me because then people

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were saying like, "Oh.

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I hope he feels better." And then, I'd be like, "Well, he's not going to feel better.

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He has cancer and it's not going anywhere.

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There's no way to cure it." And it's just confusing for me to have to keep explaining to people that he has this kind of cancer that nobody lives this

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long with this kind of cancer.

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And then, with people saying like, "That's amazing.

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Enjoy your time with your dad." And then, I'm watching my dad barely be able to walk or feeling really frail from when he gets leukemia or from when he gets

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leukemia. And then, I go through periods with my dad where my dad's doing really well.

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Like right now as I'm recording this, he's looking a lot better than he was just a few months ago.

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He had gotten really frail and really skinny a couple of months ago, and now he's looking better.

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And it's a total mind F and I'm totally confused.

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And it makes me really sad sometimes.

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And other times it makes me feel really bad and guilty because I'm like, "I should just be enjoying this.

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Like, just enjoy it." I feel like I'm choking it to death.

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It's very bizarre.

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I could have a whole separate podcast of my ramblings about how confusing it is and how complex and layered it is to have a

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parent who's sick, and you're the primary caretaker for them.

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It's just very, very confusing.

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That's what I will say about that.

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So, I've struggled with that a lot this year.

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And so, that has meant weekly therapy, and taking a lot more time off social media, and trying to be more present.

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Because one of the other things I realized was that, you know, my dad has been sick for so long that I've had to figure out how to run a business at the same

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Because I took off several months when he first got sick and then it was like, "Well, I'm going to have to figure something out because this is my career and I

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So, you know, I got back to business and then I've gone through periods where I've, like, quadrupled down in business and really put my head down.

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Sometimes I think it's a distraction, sometimes just because I love it a lot, as you hopefully can tell.

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And then, there's been other times where the things have gone up and down with him and I've thought, "Okay.

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I should really take some time off my phone." Or instead of being proud that I can build my business while I'm in the chemo room with him, why don't I just sit

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with him in his chemo room and actually talk to him and hear stories about Seinfeld or something?

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So, yeah, it's been a journey.

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It really has.

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So, January of this year, of 2021 - let's start from the beginning - really kicked off with actually my dad being pretty sick.

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So, on the personal front, starting this year, it started off with a bang.

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I came into 2021, like, really excited, ready to nail my plan that I had made.

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And it's so funny because if you're listening to this after listening to last week's episode where I'm telling you, like, I planned out my whole first quarter

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.

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Then, I think it was like the first or second week of January, my dad has to get blood transfusions all the time to keep him alive because he is not producing

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red blood cells, all these things.

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And so, he gets multiple a week in between treatment.

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And one of the treatments that he got in January, I don't remember if it was platelets or red blood cells, but he got a staph infection through his port in

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chest. And so, it was really dangerous because it was close to the heart.

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And I was literally in the middle of a workday.

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He had just been at the hospital and gotten this transfusion and then they had taken his blood.

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And I got a call from his oncologist saying, "You need to take him to the emergency room right away and he's going to be admitted, I already can tell you

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And he's going to be there for like a few weeks." It was like, "Wait.

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What?" And this was all in the middle of COVID.

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So, there were no visitors allowed.

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I wasn't allowed to go in with him.

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It was really bad.

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It was really bad.

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And they got it straightened out.

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There was a risk that this was not going to go well for him.

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But my dad's a champ and he pulled through.

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He got the treatment.

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And when he came out of the hospital, he actually came home to my house.

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And the crazy thing was that I was administering his medication through his port in his chest.

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I wish you knew me in real life because my knees get super weak when I think of anybody bleeding or

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getting injured. I'm very nervous.

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And then, they tell me, "You have to push this needle through your father's chest three times a day and administer this medication through a slow drip," I

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correctly. And I would literally push this and I was in a beekeeper's outfit because everything had to be so sterile and so clean.

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And I would get everything already.

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I have my little system and the hospital sent me all the supplies that I needed.

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I mean, you have to remember, COVID was still really bad.

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And so, everybody was just doing what they could, because healthcare workers were on the front lines.

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And so, they would come by every couple of days at the house.

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But I was primarily responsible.

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I was the only person who was doing this for my dad.

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And so, I was literally in the middle of running my business, the first promo that I ever decided to run.

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In five years in business, I had never run a promo.

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I had never done a live webinar.

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And I was going into 2021, like, "I'm so excited.

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I'm going to run this live promo." And, boom, life drops me this thing.

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So, it's been kind of funny.

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I feel like every single time I play on something, something like that does happen.

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But I was legitimately pushing this thing in my dad's chest and trying to keep him alive, and trying not to kill him, and also trying to get him to

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gain some weight again.

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And then, literally, I would have to say to Ryan, my husband, "I need you to watch my dad," or "I need you to do this

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session because I got to go do a live webinar." It's bizarro world.

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It was, like, crazy.

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And nobody knew what was going on behind the scenes.

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So, I go and I do this live promo for the first time.

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And I have to tell you that after last week's episode of going through these steps of planning, being really clear about my goals, investing

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properly in the pieces of this promotion that were really more highly specialized and more skilled than what I could do, like sales copy, for example,

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had a multiple-six figure promotion in eight days, and it was crazy.

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Because I had all this going on behind the scenes personally, and then I had this promotion.

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And the promotion was, other than me showing up for the live webinars, it was primarily prescheduled.

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The emails were scheduled.

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The social posts were scheduled.

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I showed up on social media when I could.

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But I also pulled back, like, big time on the social media plan that we had originally come up with because of everything that was going on with my dad and

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So, I was like, "Whatever will be, will be." And we went with it and it was huge.

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And that was just a huge kickoff to the year because, in just almost that promotion period, I almost outpaced my entire prior year's revenue for the whole

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eight days. And so, I was like, "Hmm.

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I think something might be a little different this year.

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I think this might go a little differently." And so, I got to host this live workshop that I did on how to build an evergreen webinar funnel and hundreds of

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signed up. But the coolest part about it was that all of the money went to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

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So, every year since my dad's been sick, I've raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society on my own.

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And every year they have this Light The Night Walk, and I've always done it in Philly with my family and friends, and I've raised money.

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But I've always wanted to use my business somehow or the community that I've built in the business somehow to support just such a wonderful organization.

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These people have been so kind.

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They literally called me and asked me how my dad is doing.

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They send me emails that ask how he's doing.

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They obviously have resources and things available.

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And I've been able to help my dad myself.

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But there are a lot of people in their community who don't have means otherwise and so they provide that for them.

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They can give transportation and medication and get them into studies and things.

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So, it's just a really great organization.

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So, it was so cool to do this workshop for them.

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And I just felt really proud, more than anything, even whether I raise $100 or $100,000, the fact that I have built a business

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that I can take a whole month, month-and-a-half, to promote this workshop for people, invite people to it, have the workshop, send

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out the replay, do all the things.

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Spend all of my own money in the business to put it on.

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I had to pay contractors and things to get things ready, and to get things set up, and post it, and out to all of you.

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And I felt really proud of all of that.

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I paid for all that myself.

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None of it came out of the money that we raised for LLS, all of that went to them.

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And so, it was just really - I don't know - a proud moment, I suppose, in the business.

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And it was also at that point in the year that I started thinking about, "Okay.

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I want to be really intentional about what I do for the rest of the year.

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And how much is enough?" It's something I'm always navigating.

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We can get really fixated on how much revenue we want to make.

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And people are always touting these numbers.

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And the numbers seem to get just bigger and bigger and bigger.

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And it's like, at what point, if it meant not giving up any of myself, and time - which is a really

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important and completely nonrenewable resource - if it meant not changing any of my time and priorities and all of that, then, sure, why not

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build the business as big as you possibly can.

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But I think it's pretty easy in this industry to just start to get really focused on these numbers and never step back and be like, "But why?" First of

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But, also, do I want all the things that would come with that, come along with a business that's that big?

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And in order to get there, if I have to put my head down for six months, well, what if those are the last six months I have with my dad?

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I mean, these are the kinds of things that I'm thinking about and just trying to balance.

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It's not important to me to just make another buck if it means giving up a part of my life.

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I mean, the reason I named this podcast On Your Terms is I really, truly believe in building a business on your terms.

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And building a life that's on your terms and having the business support that.

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And so, for some of you that you might align with some of my values of just feeling like, "It's not as important to me.

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I want to have a really nice life," whatever that means to you.

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Everybody's version of that is different.

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And I am not my business.

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I'm not my revenue.

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My business doesn't define me.

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It's a really big part of me because it's like my baby that I've built, which sounds weird.

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But I want to be more than that and I want to look back on my life, and I hope that on my deathbed, I can be like, "But I had 18,000

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Instagram followers." I just don't think that's going to be important to me.

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I hope it's not important to me.

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And I hope that I'm not going to be like, "Oh, I just should have sent out one more email to my email list." That's not going to matter to me.

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I'm going to be pissed that I didn't make it to every single country in the world or that I didn't get one more time to sit in Paris and have the

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best most buttery croissant and full fat cappuccino on earth.

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I want more of that in my life.

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And I want to be more present, and off my phone, and with family and friends, and traveling, and giving back, doing things quietly behind the scenes, not

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whatever. So, that's what's important to me.

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So, I feel like at that point in the year, I was so shocked this summer by how well the business had done already.

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And because, you know, I do offer payment plans for the Ultimate Bundle, it builds up recurring revenue.

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And the recurring revenue had gotten so high and so stable that I didn't need to do anything else in the business to continue to make

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more than enough.

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So, it was an interesting summer of kind of recalibrating, figuring out what was going on.

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It's when I brought on my operations manager, Margo, who's amazing, and some of you might have interacted with behind the scenes too.

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And so, that was really helpful in starting to more treat this business like a big, big girl company.

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I think this summer is when a lot of things started to fall into place of getting SLPs, and hiring more contractors, and systematizing things, and

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rules and boundaries, and really starting to wall me off a bit more.

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I feel like that's been a really interesting thing for me this year and something that I never thought about before this year.

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But, me, not being so accessible or at least not the first line of defense for every single email or every single question, having other people attend meetings

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could focus on more of the revenue generating activities or the stuff that only I can do, like only I can record this podcast until we find my stunt

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for.

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So, I think a lot of that stuff started to happen where it was very uncomfortable for me and kind of like, "No.

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I can answer every single email.

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No problem." And then, it became very apparent pretty much around the summer, it was like, "Oh, I cannot answer every email.

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I cannot answer every message on social media." Like, I was missing comments.

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Things were slipping through the cracks because it was just too much.

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I think at some point over the summer, maybe it was earlier, I hit 10,000 on Instagram.

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Of course, back then you needed that for the swipe up link and I was super excited to get that because I was like, "Oh, wow.

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This like swipe up link, I've been putting this on this pedestal for five years." And once you get the swipe up link, all of your business problems just

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business. And it's kind of hilarious.

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I got the swipe up link and it's, like, four people would click on something.

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It was really funny.

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Maybe some of you know that now that you have the link sticker on Instagram that it's not quite the panacea that we all thought it was.

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So, I think I got that at some point and was very excited about it.

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But, also, it just turned out to not be quite as helpful.

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It was helpful, though, to just be able to give people directly the link that they need, all that good stuff.

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And then, moving into July, I launched On Your Terms.

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I wish I had, like, a birthday launch celebration.

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Yeah, I launched On Your Terms.

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I had thought about doing a podcast for a while.

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I had always just imagined a podcast being me ranting about something and just popping off about something that I was annoyed about in online business.

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But then, once I started to think about it and I started to survey people in the audience and customers, people were like, "I would really like to listen to

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Something I've always not struggled with but worried about, I guess, in the business has been that I talk about legal stuff.

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And so, it's like, "Who the heck is going to want to listen to this?" But I had this idea that if I kept the episodes really actionable and just

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stayed true to my style of the way that I teach this stuff, which is pretty relaxed, chill way of just explaining it, breaking down this complicated stuff,

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way that makes it somewhat enjoyable, then it would be helpful to people.

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And true to my style and the way that I talk about stuff and online business, I would also talk about things about how to build your business, and what it's

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taking care of yourself as you navigate entrepreneurship.

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And so, I think I've stayed pretty true to that.

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And I'm happy, so far I feel like the listenership - is that a thing?

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I don't know - is growing steadily and I'm getting so many messages from you when you listen to the podcast.

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By the way, sidebar, if you listen to the podcast and you like it or something sticks out to you in an episode, it's so helpful for me to hear that from you

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you're liking, and what you find helpful, what you want to see more of.

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So, yeah, I started On Your Terms and we launched it with a little launch promo party.

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That was really exciting.

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It's really been the first content medium that I've done where I've liked it so much that I find myself looking forward to actually

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recording these and to batching them, which is really important to my team.

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If Margot is listening to this, she'll be very excited, because, basically, the way that the business is set up now - fast forwarding to the end of 2021 - I

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content and then it's out of my hands.

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And it goes into a lot of other people's hands.

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It's in graphic designers, and social media managers, and podcast production, and copy editing, so many different people.

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And so, it's really important on my end that I just get the content done because then it has to be handed off.

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The baton has to be handed off to all these other people.

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And so, I'm kind of like the initial domino that needs to fall in order to help all these other people.

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And so, if I don't fall, a lot of other people can't fall, and then stuff gets real backed up, and then people are not happy about it.

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So, I think you can tell.

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When someone just posted in my client community yesterday about her and her husband were having an argument about what social media platform she should

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on. And, as I was saying, it really is a mix of what you find enjoyable, and where your clients hangout, and where your medium lends itself

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to. So, for example, if you were doing a cooking show, I wouldn't recommend that you have Twitter because you would want something that's more visual.

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If you're going to teach people little cooking techniques or something like this, Instagram is better, maybe Facebook.

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I just don't like Facebook that much.

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But YouTube, obviously.

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So, you also want to pick a medium that works for the type of thing that you're teaching.

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But if you really like the way that whatever it is that you're doing, if you love filming videos and you want to do that on YouTube, that's

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amazing.

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That, in it of itself, is a reason to show up.

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Because I'm telling you, if you like it, you're going to show up and show up consistently, which is really important for building an audience.

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But you're also going to show up with a different energy than you might in some other way, be that you don't enjoy.

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So, you know, instead of half asking a bunch of posts on Facebook, if you're really pumped to do podcast episodes and you love plotting them out and kind of

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storyline and recording it, maybe even editing it if you're doing that yourself, and having these kinds of conversations, and maybe even having some

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would highly encourage you to do primarily solo episodes to build your business and direct stuff to your own business - it is good to have guests sprinkled here

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But I just think if you do something that you really like, you're going to actually show up consistently and you're going to bring that different energy to

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And when people feel that, they listen, they subscribe, they keep following, they keep coming back.

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So, I think that's something really to consider.

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And that's what I have felt like since I started On Your Terms, maybe you could tell, I don't know.

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But I felt like, "Oh, I really like this." Like, I feel very comfortable doing this, whether or not I'm good at it or anything like that, I don't really care.

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I'm here to just provide valuable information, and to show up consistently, and be open and honest with you as

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always.

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Have you ever felt lost about where to begin with the legal side of protecting your online business?

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Some people say you can just wing it at the beginning and get officially set up later.

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Not a good idea, by the way.

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Whether you're afraid to even start working with clients because you don't want to do something wrong legally and then get in trouble or your business is

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legal pieces, I've got you.

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I don't want you to live in fear of the internet police coming after you and your business, but you do have to do certain things and get certain things in

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online. As much as it just feels like an unregulated Wild Wild West online, that is very much not the case.

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As an attorney turned entrepreneur and former corporate litigator, I can assure you that there are rules.

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There are real steps that everybody who runs or starts an online business needs to take.

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And you're not behind at all.

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We can get you set up and following the rules right away.

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In fact, we can even do it today.

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I want to teach you the five very simple steps to take to legally protect and grow your online business.

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You don't need an MBA to be a successful entrepreneur and stay out of legal hot water, but you do need to dot your legal I's and cross your T's in a few key

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That's exactly what I'll teach you in my free one hour legal workshop called Five Steps to Legally Protect and Grow your Online Business.

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Just head to mylegalworkshop.com, drop in your email address, pick the time, and I'll send you a link to watch the workshop video whenever you have time.

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This is the best place to begin if you're just getting started legally legitimizing your business, so head on over to my legalworkshop.com and sign up

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Business now.

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Okay. So, back in August, I was really just prepping for a fall promo that we ran behind the scenes in the business.

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But, actually, at the end of July, I got really, really sick.

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I did not have COVID. I basically had, like, all of the symptoms of it.

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I kept getting tested but I didn't have COVID.

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And I was so sick.

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I think it was the sickest I've been in a very long time.

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And so, I could barely get out of bed.

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I had this awful cough.

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I wouldn't stop coughing. I could barely breathe.

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Just was really, really sick.

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And, you know, it was also time to move.

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So, I was basically on, like, week three of being really sick.

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I was getting better, but I was really sick in the beginning of August, when on August 2nd, we closed on our house in New York.

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So, we bought a house on the North Shore of Long Island, all the way out east, kind of closest to the Hamptons, and we're on the water.

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It's really beautiful.

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We're out in like a little island off the North Shore.

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It's really, really gorgeous.

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I had no idea what it was like here.

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I knew nothing about Long Island.

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My idea of Long Island in my mind was like king of queens.

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Like, I was imagining in my mind that we were going to live with Kevin James.

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And I was like, "No. This isn't happening." And then, we came to visit and I was just stunned.

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I thought it was so beautiful.

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We found this particular area that we're in that just feels like very water-centric.

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It's very communal and built around the university.

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It's just so beautiful.

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Well, first of all, we have water across the street from us, next to us, and behind us.

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And then, every single street that I walk on in our neighborhood has water at the end of it.

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It's just incredible.

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And it's like living in an animal kingdom.

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Who knew? But we have deer constantly in our backyard every single night.

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And sometimes throughout the day, we have deer.

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We have a fox who's very cute and, really, bright orange.

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And we have bald eagles, and a lot of osprey, and a whole bunch of other animals that I see.

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Sometimes Ryan and I take walks and we're like, "It's like The Jungle Book out here.

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It's wild."

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So, Hudson, our Bernedoodle, he loves it because of all the animals.

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He's really interested in the deer.

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I think he thinks that they're big dogs.

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But he also really loves the water and he loves the beach.

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So, our house came with a private beach access and he just loves going to the beach.

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He actually drags us down there on most mornings to go take him to sit there.

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And he'll sit on the rocks and just look out at the water.

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It looks like he's like having a meditative moment.

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It's hilarious.

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So, we closed on the house August 2nd, and, basically, long story short, we got our house.

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And so, this was the second house that we've purchased.

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We had a house outside of Philly since 2014.

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But we, basically, got access to the house and the house was in, let's just say, a lot different condition than when we did our inspection and when

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we had seen the house, when we had purchased it back in like, I don't know, May or June.

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And so, that was a really big bummer.

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It was very stressful.

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We were really, really frustrated.

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And it was just a huge unexpected financial surprise, because a lot of the work was the kind of stuff that, technically, we

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could have waited on, but it was stuff you had to do when you weren't living in the house.

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And so, it was like, there's no better time than now.

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We haven't gotten any of our furniture yet.

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We didn't close in our house in Philly until mid-August.

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So, it was like, "We have a couple of weeks, let's just get this thing over with and get this work done." But it was super expensive.

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Now, one thing that I have to tell you that I'm half embarrassed to tell you, but I'm also very proud is that, I was able to purchase this house because of

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done in the business.

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And it was able to take care of all of the renovations and do things that I really wanted to do to make things to our liking, and to our taste, and to fix

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could have waited but I was like, "You know what?

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I just really want to make this house look spectacular.

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And I want to love living here, and I want to love coming home, and love my workspace, and all of that.

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I'm just doing it."

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So, we painted the whole house inside.

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I had the whole outside professionally power washed.

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And I had new gutters put on.

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Which all probably sound super boring to you but it made the outside look very, very nice.

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And it also keeps water away from the house, which is very important.

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But I got new appliances for the kitchen and I did all new light fixtures throughout.

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There was just so much. So much landscaping.

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I planted over 40 trees, I would say, outside.

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I mean, not me. I hire someone to do that because I don't know how to plant trees.

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So, I did a lot of landscaping and all that kind of stuff.

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And I did a lot of work to the outside.

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And furnished the entire house with, basically, new furniture.

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Because my old house was over a hundred years old and it was adorable and beautiful.

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And I really didn't have any taste when I bought that house in 2014.

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I was a young attorney at the time, and I just didn't have any preferences.

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I don't know if you were ever like this, but I never had a house, obviously.

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But just when we moved in there, I was like, "Yeah.

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Whatever. Whatever kind of furniture you want to get, I don't really care." Like, I didn't really have like a style or any taste or anything.

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So, it wasn't until close to when we were moving out that I was like, "I don't like any of the stuff anymore." Like, it just doesn't speak to me.

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And I wanted things that were lighter and airier and, especially, beachier given where we were moving.

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So, I was able to furnish this house.

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And if you're watching this on YouTube, you can see the room I'm in.

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I'm still waiting for a lot of furniture to come to replace our old stuff.

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For any of you who are also patiently waiting for furniture for months and months, I totally feel your pain and frustration.

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And so, yeah, I was able to get this house, and move in, and start renovations.

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And start on a renovation project of an addition that's going to be added to the house to give me a little headquarters for Sam Vander Wielen LLC here at the

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So, it'll be like a garage with a carriage house above it, where the carriage house will become my kind of full-time.

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I won't have to be in the guest room anymore recording podcasts.

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And so, I'll kind of put all my stuff in one place.

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So, that process is underway, and that's a whole thing with applying for permits and all that.

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So, that's all going on.

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And that was really the bulk of my life for the last part of the summer.

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And the fall was just moving here to New York, getting settled, doing all these renovations to the house, getting displaced sometimes.

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Like, if you've done any renovations, you know what that's like.

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So, that was a huge pain in the butt.

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And then, came right into September with my last live promo of the year.

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So, I did my Five Legal Steps workshop live one more time, so I had just done it back in January.

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I did it one more time and it went really well, and this was a six figure launch and all that kind of stuff.

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But, financially, it was all fine.

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But I learned a couple of really valuable lessons.

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So, for one, I had switched Facebook Ads teams, and it was kind of a disaster.

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It went really badly.

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It was a really bad investment.

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And part of that was because of some assumptions that I made on some of the services that the Facebook Ads team provided that they didn't.

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And so, those ads performed pretty badly.

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But it was actually a really cool lesson, in a way, because I had chalked up a lot of my business growth this past year to Facebook Ads investment.

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And I know a lot of other people or friends or whatever will say to me like, "Oh.

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Well, you're doing so well because of Facebook Ads." And I was always like, "Yeah.

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I guess so. I mean, I've started to invest in Facebook Ads, and all of a sudden the business blew up.

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So, you know, one plus one equals two."

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And it was very interesting because in the September live promo, it went so well.

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But the Facebook Ads went so poorly that it showed me just how well we were doing without ads.

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And so, that was a really valuable lesson to me was to, one, not just assume that ads are the reason that you're doing well.

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And I've gotten better and better with data and tracking.

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It's a little hard sometimes to track certain things with ads these days because of iOS changes.

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But to not assume that something is because of Facebook Ads and, conversely, don't assume the Facebook Ads are going to solve any of your problems.

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I've talked about that before on the podcast.

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But not relying too heavily on those.

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And it kind of snapped me back, too, after a summer of really focusing on launching the podcast, and doing a charity workshop, and moving, and

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being really sick, and all the personal stuff.

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It snapped me back to my evergreen SEO driven roots.

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Or roots, as my Wisconsin born husband would say.

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So, I built this business off of really trying to focus on - because I had no social media followings, so I wasn't going to get anybody to do

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anything off of social media in the beginning - back then, blog post writing.

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And the blog posts that I was writing were really optimized, and I was strategically naming and titling the blog posts, and doing the headlines, and

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and making sure I had keywords throughout, and changing the names of the photos, and all of those kinds of things, because I was really trying to drive

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And it worked.

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And then, when I would try to do YouTube episodes, I would make sure those YouTube episodes were super optimized.

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And, now, with podcast episodes, we're trying to do the same thing.

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And so, this experience back in September, with the Facebook Ads going so poorly, not only caused me to stop contributing any of your

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success or all of your success to Facebook Ads.

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It's not all Facebook Ads.

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And don't put all your eggs in Facebook Ads basket because it's not smart.

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It's not a good strategy.

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Things keep changing.

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Facebook Ads have gone through a difficult period this year.

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And for most of the year, mine were still performing really well.

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We've gone through ups and downs like everybody else.

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But it did cause me to step back and be like, "I don't want to rely too heavily on them." So, it was like this bad combo where I was attributing

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all of my success to it and then pulling back on SEO strategies, because I just assumed everything was coming from Facebook Ads.

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So, this promo back in September really caused me to shake things up a bit and be like, "Hey, guys.

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We're going to get back to SEO stuff.

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Remember that?" So, I feel like ever since then, I've been a little bit on a mission to recalibrate, approach content in a little bit of a different way.

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I'm still kind of in the process of that, but we're posting all of our On Your Terms podcast episodes on YouTube now.

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So, you can watch any of these episodes live.

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Watch me on camera record this and talk constantly with my hands, which I learned that I do from these videos.

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So, yeah, I started posting all of them on YouTube.

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I'm regenerating the YouTube channel in general.

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Regenerating certain blog posts stuff.

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Doing all the SEO work behind the scenes.

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And that's really important to me because, to me, that is how you build a slow and steady but consistent business that I have leads coming in from blog posts I

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ago. And so, it's really important that you focus on that as you build your business.

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And don't think that Facebook Ads are going to solve your problem.

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They do help.

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They are great when they work.

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And you just don't want to have all your eggs in that basket.

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That experience also prompted me to fire my Facebook Ads team and get back with my old Facebook Ads team.

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So, that was quite the process, not one that I'm going to talk about here for personal reasons.

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But I'm really glad that I'm back.

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I'm glad that I fired the old one.

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No disrespect to them.

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It just wasn't a personal good fit, and it didn't work for us for whatever reason.

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Apparently, a lot of other people like them.

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It just went really, really poorly for me.

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And so, we couldn't stay.

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It's too big of an arm of the business.

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It's too expensive to just be throwing money out the window.

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So, I went back to my old Facebook Ads team.

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I started just back with them on November 1st.

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And I decided after that promo and after consistently getting these revenue numbers, learning mid-year that I had already hit seven

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figures in revenue, that I did not want to do anymore live promos for the rest of 2021.

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So, one of the reasons that I decided to do that was because of a valuable lesson I learned from the September promo.

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So, although the September promo went well, one of the things that I realized was that I noticed a bit of fatigue, both on my email list and in social media.

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And I thought that that was really interesting and just tried to get introspective about why did everyone feel less engaged, why was there less

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signups, the show up rate was lower.

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It just seemed, overall, the enthusiasm was lower.

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And I thought back to myself as to what had all gone on this year.

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I had run the live promo in January.

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I had run the copycats promo in April.

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I had run stuff about the charity workshop.

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Also, I forgot that I ran a little birthday promo back in July for the bundle because it was the fourth or fifth birthday for the Ultimate Bundle, so I ran a

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And in between all of those things with me moving and being sick and all of that, I basically went back with my audience, straight back into

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promoting another promotion.

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And I forgot that lead generation - my own advice, which I'm always saying and I'm always telling everybody on our team - which is that, you have to nurture

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who are currently in your audience between promotions.

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And you have to think about bringing in fresh leads, fresh people, in between promotions.

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Because, otherwise, what ends up happening is you're promoting to all the same people.

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And I talked about this a little bit last week in the planning episode and how you need to build into your planning for next year, times of lead generation,

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on nurturing your current audience, and bringing in new leads and then nurturing them as they come in.

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And this is so important because, otherwise, you're pitching to all the same people who are going to get tired of it.

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And for the most part, if you don't focus on bringing in new people, then all of the people in your current audience have already heard this promotion

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And they've either said yes and they've purchased or they've already said no.

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And unless something has changed for them, then they're not going to be ready again unless they just, all of a sudden, see the light or they need it or

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So, it's really important that we focus on bringing in new leads, building up our email list, building up our social channels, or building up your podcast,

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or focusing on SEO driven blog posts and YouTube episodes, or something.

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And then, nurturing those people for a period of time, like a long period of time.

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Not a week, not probably even a month.

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Like, several months of consistent nurturing and new lead bringing.

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And then, we can promote again.

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So, I feel like I learned a lot in that promo of I was just getting kind of excited in the flow of running these promotions, and they're pretty easy on our

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Not thinking like I hadn't done enough to build up new stuff between particularly the Ultimate Bundle birthday promo, which is at the end of July.

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And then, turning around a month later and running a live promo in September without doing any nurturing and me really not showing up on social media in

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deadly ill.

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So, it was a really interesting lesson and one that I want to pass on to you.

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It's one that I'm definitely integrating and being different with.

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It's one of the reasons why I cancel the promotions for the rest that I had planned in November and December because I thought, "No.

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I just want to nurture my audience." I want to thank them for being here.

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I want to focus on putting out good podcast episodes and building up the podcast some more.

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Getting back to YouTube, nurturing my email list, and getting back to being able to email my email list.

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Some of the more personal emails that have helped me to build my company, which I couldn't send out when we're in promotion periods.

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When I'm in a promotion period and you're already getting a million emails from me, I can't sprinkle in a lesson or behind the scenes email because you're

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And they're pretty strategic as to why these emails are coming out when they're coming out.

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So, I realized that in doing all these promotions, it was taking me away from some of the things that I think people appreciated the most about my business

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So, I'm doing a little bit of unwinding, and getting back to that, and making sure that there's space.

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There's space in the calendar for seasons of nurturing, seasons of focusing on lead gen, seasons of then focusing on promos, but going

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back into lead gen and nurturing.

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So, it's really, really important.

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And I would encourage you if you listen to last week's episode about planning for your year, I talked a lot about this, and about integrating some of these

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intentionally weaving some of this into your business's year.

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Okay. Last but not least to round out all of 2021, for the first time, I hosted the From Startup to Sold Out

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Masterclass Series. So, back in November, I hosted a three day masterclass series where I taught people how to build and sell an evergreen product or

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. And it was the first time I ever did anything like that.

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I didn't really know what to expect.

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I did a pretty low ticket offer so that I could make sure.

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We tested it out. People thought it was helpful.

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And I was really excited that hundreds of people signed up.

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And so far, all of the feedback that I've gotten from it has been overwhelmingly positive.

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And people are, you know, messaging me and telling me what they've changed so far in their businesses and what they're going to change.

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And that has been really, really cool.

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So, I would stay tuned for maybe where I'm headed with some of those things, like whether I'm going to do anything like that in the future.

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But it was really, really fun to host that.

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And I had planned to just take that and run with it and turn it into a product.

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But it actually caused me to pause and say, "You know what?

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There's some of this other more foundational stuff that I want to get back to first -" like, this SEO stuff that I'm talking about "- before I go ahead and

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advice that I'd love to pass along to you, which is that, we should constantly be firming up our foundation before we're adding additional layers.

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Because if your foundation is not very strong, and then you add a new layer, things can topple.

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And I also believe in pouring more into what's already working for you, and making sure you've got that nice and tight, before you just let go and add on

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experimenting. And so, this experience that I had this year really did cause me to step back and be like, "I don't want to get too far away from my core

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mission of creating evergreen or SEO driven content.

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I don't want to rely on ads so heavily or at least all in." I want it to be a bit more balanced.

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And so, I want to take my time to get my foundation of that set up.

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Add on a lot of team members because I need a lot of help.

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I need a lot of support to go where I'm going.

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And before I add on some new product in a totally different niche or in a different area of online business, I want to get this stuff straightened out

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already is. So, I think there's so much more left for me to do in the legal business, and in legal templates, and in the Ultimate Bundle, maybe even

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a new product for you.

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And so, that stuff, I want to do more of what's working and focus on that and just keep building this evergreen machine, that's for

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sure.

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So, what am I doing now then?

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We get to December, we get to the end of the year.

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Well, because I canceled all those promos, I told the team, it's huega season around here, so we are taking it slow.

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We are recording content.

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I'm recording content.

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We are onboarding lots of new team members.

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We're interviewing right now.

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I am totally building out and reorganizing my org chart for my business.

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There's going to be a lot of hiring, and a lot of growth, and a lot of support that I need in order to support me to go to the place that I'm going

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. So, I'm a big proponent of doing things now that are in support of the place or the person that you want to become.

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So, if you want your business to be a $5 million, $10 million business, you have to do things now that are at least getting you there and something that a $5 or

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would have in place.

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And that's kind of my next step.

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It's like this business is on its way to be a $5 or $10 million business.

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There are some things that a business of that size needs that I haven't gotten in place yet.

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And so, I'm doing that.

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It's really scary. Of course, I still doubt myself just like maybe you do every once in a while.

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I still am like, "Who the heck am I to do that?

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Is this really going to work?

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Is this going to be successful?" I have my days.

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I get nasty Facebook comments or something, and it knocks me down, and all those stuff.

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Like, the business revenue doesn't get rid of all of that.

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Unfortunately, what would be really cool is if business revenue came with a little box you could put around your heart and protect yourself, but it doesn't.

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So, until I invent that, it still hurts your feelings.

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And it doesn't really matter how much money you're making or how much money your business is making - don't get that confused.

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So, that's really what I'm spending this season focusing on, is, growth and expansion, but also turning inwards, and being a little quieter, and updating

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my products behind the scenes because I'm always updating my products and keeping my legal templates up to date and then providing that to my customers.

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So, it's really important to me that as I look at my calendar and what I'm up to for the whole year, that there's a balance of selling because you deserve to

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You have a business. Everyone sells.

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Target doesn't feel bad about selling you another candle, trust me.

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And balancing between selling, balancing between nurturing, and lead generation, and product development, and customer nurturing.

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So, that's kind of the three big buckets that I see for the year.

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And I think like, "Do I have enough of that?

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Am I taking a season where I'm really just thinking about my customers, really nurturing them, improving the product, improving the product for future

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for future customers, too.

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And I'm also taking that time to lead gen, and to nurture the people who are already in my audience who might just not have opted in to something or join my

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So, that's really been my entire year.

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So, I have a couple of lessons that I wanted to recap for you and give you before we leave today.

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Lesson number one of what I've learned this year, 2021, was that lead generation should always be a focus in your business, especially between

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and launches. So, as you're planning 2022, I want you to think about what your consistent lead generation strategy is.

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How are you getting people onto your email list?

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How are you building up people to take the next step and actually hear from you more consistently and in another way off of social media?

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Number two, live events add fresh energy to your business or to a workshop or promotion that you've already done.

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My first webinar in 2017 that I ever hosted was one of the first months of my business.

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I had 35 registrants and now every single time that I host a webinar, I have thousands and thousands of people sign up live, and I have almost 30,000 who

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evergreen webinars.

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So, next up, I'm shooting for, like, tens of thousands of people to sign up for a live webinar.

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But it's just possible that you get started somewhere.

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You have those 35 registrants and that was amazing back then.

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And it's really cool now to see that a few more people sign up too.

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Lesson number three is that adding team members when you need them is actually going to help your business grow.

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So, this was an area where I thought it was more like an expense that I was adding on.

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And I was constantly like, "Oh.

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Is it worth paying this person more money?

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If I could just do it myself, I can save money, be more profitable." But if I could go back and tell myself earlier that adding these people would actually,

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more enjoyable because now I have friends to build the business with, but also it would actually add to the bottom line and make the business more profitable.

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I think that would be really helpful advice to hear now.

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So, remember that as you're adding team members, you need the systems to support them as well.

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You can't just throw in a team member to a totally disorganized business with no project management system, or no standard operating procedures, or anything

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And just be like, "Good luck.

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I hope it all works out." Of course, you can hire people to help you to put those things in place, but you have to be realistic about the fact that that's

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You need systems.

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You need a project management tool.

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Lesson number four is that support is crucial as you grow.

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Friends, colleagues, family, educational support making you feel more confident or learning about an area of online business that just makes you excited or feel

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supported. Even life stuff, like getting the little things, like taking little things off your plate.

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If you can swing it as you move forward.

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It's super helpful to have certain things delivered so that you're spending less time running errands.

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Or hiring somebody to maybe cut your lawn so that that's a few less hours or that's time that you could just spend taking care of yourself.

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Of course, I understand that these are all privileged things that come with time, and with expenses, and all of this stuff.

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But it is something that once it becomes available to you, I feel like leaning into that kind of support has been one of the ways that I've able to grow the

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my mind this year.

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But more importantly, it's really important that you surround yourself with people who really support you.

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Because one of the things being a lawyer was just awful in general, but it was a lot of the people that I was around were really dark, dark energy, bad, negative

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And then, when I started this business, I was still hanging out with a lot of those same people and they were really not supportive of me of having a

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health coaching business, they thought it was a joke.

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Then, I started the legal business, they didn't like it.

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It was like I didn't really have anybody in my corner who was cheering me on.

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And I think one of the biggest differences for me over the last couple of years has been meeting some of my friends, mostly online friends who I had met on

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closest friends and my closest confidants and supporters and cheerleaders.

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And the person that I can call when I do get a nasty comment on Facebook or when I hit a revenue goal that I never even set for myself.

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You need those people who are cheering you on and who are supporting you, and that you can be the same thing for them.

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That's super important.

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Last but not least, the last lesson I want to leave you with is that growth is possible beyond your wildest dreams.

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But I do think that it has to be planned for and intentional because, in my opinion, it doesn't happen through manifestation.

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So, I don't believe in sitting around and closing your eyes and being like, "I have a million dollar business.

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I have a million dollar business." No.

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You have to plan to have a million dollar business.

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It has to actually make sense.

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You'd have to have enough leads and you have to have enough sales to actually hit a million dollars or whatever.

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And you do that, in my mind, through a lot of the planning and intentionality that I walked you through last week in last week's episode.

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So, yet another plug to go listen to that business planning episode.

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I think it should be very helpful to you.

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All right. So, that is 2021.

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What a year.

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I can't wait to see what 2022 brings.

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As of now, I am planning for this to be a multi, multi-eight figure business.

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I am excited to integrate some of these lessons that I have learned.

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I am doing a few things live.

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I feel like I'm doing it more intentionally.

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I'm spreading them out a little bit more.

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I'm focusing on lead generation strategies.

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I'm coming up with a couple of new things that are going to contribute to lead generation, bring in new leads.

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Of course, I'll continue the podcast.

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As long as you guys are listening, I'm happy to keep doing the podcast.

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I really like it and I enjoy it.

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And you'll probably see me a bit more on YouTube as well.

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I'm also hoping that 2022 is the year that, first of all, my book proposal goes out.

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I hope I find an agent and that my book lands somewhere, that would be really cool because I'm working on a book.

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And I also want to really focus on and elevate my PR and PR outreach this year.

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So, I've been really fortunate to be on a lot of people's podcasts, and to speak on stage, and to write articles for people.

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But I'm hoping to keep growing that arm of my business, get out there, get in front of more audiences, bigger audiences, and just grow that area of my

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enjoy. And pre-COVID, I really loved going and speaking on stage and speaking at conferences and things, so I'm hoping to be able to get back to that.

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Last but not the least, that's the other thing I'm really hoping to get back to in 2022 is some more in-person events.

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Like, I was always going to conferences, and going to workshops, and meeting people, flying out and meeting some of my online friends in real life, and I'm

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if the travel and health are willing.

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So, yeah, that's what I'm really looking forward to in 2022.

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I think it's going to be big things for my business.

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I'm excited to be able to listen back to this episode and hear what I was thinking.

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It's like a little diary situation.

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So, I'm really excited for 2022.

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And I'm excited for 2022 for you as well.

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And I think that your business could experience a lot of growth as well, especially if you follow a lot of the business planning strategies that we

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podcast.

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So, with that, send me a DM on Instagram @samvanderwielen.

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Let me know what you thought of this week's episode.

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Give me a shoutout on Instagram.

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If you've been listening to this episode and you like it, I hope to see you soon.

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And I can't wait to chat with you on next week's episode of On Your Terms.

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Thanks so much for listening to the On Your Terms podcast.

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Make sure to follow on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you like to listen to podcasts.

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You can also check out all of our podcast episodes, show notes, links, and more at samvanderwielen.com/podcast.

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You can learn more about legally protecting your business and take my free legal workshop, Five Steps to Legally Protect and Grow your Online Business, at

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And to stay connected and follow along, follow me on Instagram @samvanderwielen and send me a DM to say hi.

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2022 Sam Vander Wielen LLC | All Rights Reserved | Any use of this intellectual property owned by Sam Vander Wielen LLC may not be used in connection with the