Sometimes we think we can do it all. But then we realize that it’s often better to enlist the help of someone with a little more expertise than we have ourselves.
“Way back” in 2013 I got fed up with my full-time, secure, regular teaching gig and quit. And the day I turned in my resignation happened to be the day our contracts for the following school year came out. My contract was promptly pulled, leaving me with no choice but to stick with my resignation.
Jobless in Phoenix
I freaked. As a single mom, I was responsible for making sure my daughter had a roof over her head and food to eat. (Side note: I happened to be living with a significant other at the time too, however he would be swiftly kicked to the curb just a few months later. But that’s a story for happy hour.)
Needless to say, I needed to make sure I had a steady stream of clients coming in and money in my bank account before the schools’ paychecks stopped coming in a few short months. And you know what? I had no problem at all bringing in those clients. I sent quotes for every opportunity that came my way and nine times out of ten I got the project. Why? I’d like to believe it was because my reputation preceded me but in all likelihood it was because I low-balled my quotes.
In my seemingly desperate need to make sure I had money coming in, I didn’t care what I was charging people. And in some cases I was lucky to bring in minimum wage once my project was complete.
A Year Later
Fast forward a year. By mid-2014 I was working 60+ hour weeks on the regular and was totally stressed out. Business was good—really good—but I wasn’t making ends meet like I hoped. I had quit my 9 to 5 job so I could focus on my daughter at home and be there for her. But all I was doing was working from dark-thirty every morning until after a rushed dinner. And on the weekends too. I knew something needed to change.
Around this time, I started following a few business coaches online. I was still barely scraping by and felt that any investment in my business would be a step back for my bank account. I felt like, if I was going to be successful, I needed to suck it up and just keep working. So I did. I didn’t raise my prices; I sold out more of my time. My personal time with my daughter, who was THE “why” to why I wanted to work from home.
Swallowing My Pride
In the fall of 2014, I knew I couldn’t do it any longer. I had a huge tax bill from 2013 that I was still trying to pay and knew that 2014’s tax season wasn’t going to be any better. I took a deep breath, swallowed a huge chunk of sour-tasting pride and called up my old principal about a job she had posted.
Within a week or so, I was back at school working almost full time as an intervention specialist for a group of kindergartners. Not my favorite age. But the kids were sweet and the teachers helped me arrange my schedule so I had a nice break mid-day to work on my business. Plus, the money I was making was going to pay my tax bill and it was being taxed at the same time. I might be in better shape for taxes after all.
But I very quickly realized remembered that it’s very difficult to work a day job and grow a business. See, I had already done that during my teaching days—teacher by day and freelance writer by night. It doesn’t work, and it put me right back where I started. I was working too much and not spending nearly enough time with my daughter.
Time to Hire a Coach
Change was necessary, but I didn’t know where to start. I’d been stalking following a business coach for a few months, so I bit the bullet and signed up for a Kick-off Session with her. It was a 90-minute meeting that only cost me $120, but in the end it was worth at least three times that.
That first session with Coach Erin helped ignite a fire in me to make my business work, and to have my business be my only job. We talked about mindset and money—my biggest holdups—and outlined some strategies to work on those. I followed up that first session with a series of sessions that set me back a few hundred dollars each, about $1,700 in 15 months working together. Peanuts compared to the value I received and the growth I’ve seen in my business.
Since my first session with Erin, my business has changed in SO many ways.
- I almost immediately quit my day job. Again. And I have no plans to ever go back. In fact, I let my teaching license expire (somewhat accidentally) so I couldn’t go back to teaching even if I wanted to.
- I used a formula to determine my ideal hourly and project rate that would allow me to work fewer hours and make more money. And I’m confident my quotes still come in under my competition’s most of the time.
- I created a set of agreements so clients know what to expect when they work with me, and I’ve set myself up to give value and quality work at a fair price. No more giving away my expertise for free.
- I created packages that I can promote to prospective clients with the click of a few buttons. No more recreating the wheel every time I send a quote.
- I have an accountability partner who cares about my success and checks in with me regularly to make sure I stay on track.
- I regularly move outside my comfort zone because I know it will help me grow as a person and as a business owner. Periscope, anyone?
I’ll be honest: I resisted hiring Erin for a while. I didn’t want to spend the money and I didn’t think someone else could help me with my business. I had a high-end (re: very expensive) coach tell me that my business would never go anywhere unless I plunked down serious cash for coaching, which immediately turned me off from the idea. Plus, what does a business coach know about writing?
Turns out, a coach doesn’t have to know much about your product or service. But they do need to know how to run a business and how to get over mindset issues that are also holding you back. My coach also needed to know about systems and procedures—because it was something I desperately needed!
Probably the biggest thing my coach brought to the table for me is the ability to dive deep into my brain and get to the root of what was really going on. Why was I self-sabotaging? What was my hang-up with money? Why did I think I’d never reach the financial goals I had?
Change of Mindset
When I hired my coach, I just wanted to be able to live comfortably without having to work 60 hours a week. But since then, I’ve realized that there are so many places I can take my business and so many other business owners I can help.
I don’t need to dream about a 7-figure business, and my pricing will never reflect that dream. I believe in providing a service to other business owners who want to grow their businesses—just like my coach did. And I don’t believe I can do that if I price myself out of many small business owners’ budgets. But I know that my business will continue to morph and grow and that I can take what I’ve learned from my coach and continue to apply it.
Disclaimer: This is my story of why I hired a coach and the mentality I held before, during and after working with her. I do not discount the ideals that others have about pricing and how they run their businesses. This post was not meant to pass judgement on anyone who charges high fees for their services. More power to you!