For those of you who know me, you know I am raw, real, and transparent about my life and my business. I’m originally from New York, am pretty direct, and I’m an open book – literally. My first book Revealing Your Inner Radiance tells my story of overcoming a rare eating disorder, the family dysfunction I endured, and the toxic relationships I attracted – in detail. I don’t hide anything!
Today’s topic is no exception. I want to shed light on what it took to start my coaching business, the challenges I faced, and the real numbers of how much I made. This is completely transparent to show you what it took for me to start creating the income and impact for my business.
By the way – I don’t count my first ‘real’ year until 2019. I had spent the first seven years dabbling and trying every strategy I read in a book, learned from a ‘guru’, or saw on social media.
Here’s the thing…
Everyone starts somewhere. My business journey started back in 2012 in my small studio apartment in Howard Beach, Queens. I was going through my Community Pharmacy Residency in Brooklyn, working 60 hour work weeks, making $17/hour as a resident. I’d work my residency from 9AM-6PM Monday through Friday and pick up an extra 11 hour shift on a Saturday to make ends meet, making pharmacist pay.
I had always been drawn to nutrition and had heard about The Institute For Integrative Nutrition’s course to become a Certified Health Coach. I took the leap of faith and invested the money to pursue that path as I knew it would help me help my clients and patients. And for those of you who have done a residency, I know…I piled taking this course too on top of being a full time resident! #burnoutrecipe!
How I Was Marketing
Back then, I was totally insecure and had no idea how to begin branding, marketing, and selling my coaching services. My residency director actually got me my first client. It was one of my diabetes patients from the pharmacy and I charged her $100 per session. My first client and I met at a Starbucks and I nervously coached her to manage her diabetes.
In some of those first sessions, I realized how intuitive I was, picking up on subtle things that could help this woman’s energy levels. I was coaching her for diabetes, but other topics that related to her diabetes came into the coaching session. For example, she was talking to a friend on the phone every day who would drain her and she had to take a nap after the calls. I made a simple suggestion on how to set boundaries with the woman who was draining her and she was so thankful! She was way less stressed and found quick results from many of the intuitive suggestions I made. That gave me confidence to keep going down this path.
I also started giving talks at senior citizen centers for free to get in front of people. I can remember a few of them falling asleep or talking as I was presenting. I can laugh at it now! 😉 I gave free talks wherever I could – at my food co-op, at libraries, and several coffee shops. I stuffed my big white board into my tiny Mazda 3 and took it everywhere I went because I am totally a visual person and love to illustrate when I’m teaching. Of course, I was nervous and stumbled over my words, but I did get clients and people on my newsletter list!
To market my services, I went into nutrition shops around town and met with the business owners and put my business cards near their front counter. I had a good rapport with one of the owners of a nutrition shop in Howard beach so this actually worked and I received a few clients from this too.
One thing that really hurt in the beginning and that I was constantly riddled with…As I grew my newsletter list, I remember feeling the pang of rejection for every ‘unsubscribe’ on my newsletter. I remember people saying ‘No’ a lot and I took it all so personally!
Support (or Lack of) from Others
I recall my coworkers at the independent pharmacy I worked at saying, “Who would pay YOU $100 an hour to coach them on diabetes and nutrition?” I felt SO ashamed and like a total fraud. Even though I was a young coach, I knew I could help people!
From my family and friends, I got a lot of…
Are you SURE you want to do this? You just spent 6 years in pharmacy school!
What if it doesn’t work?
Are you making any money yet?
My dad was not keen on the idea of me starting a coaching business either. He called my ideas ‘stupid’ multiple times throughout the several years before I made any real income and impact. He kicked me out of my house for wanting to do the residency, so I wasn’t getting any support from family. BUT – I knew in my gut that this was my path.
Charging for My Services and Money Blocks
Gradually, I started getting more comfortable with charging and began creating coaching packages for clients to hold a longer-term space for them during their transformation. That worked well, but I was still hitting a wall and the clients weren’t knocking down my door like I thought they would!
I had SO much unconscious programming that didn’t come to light until I hired a transformation coach in 2019 – so I stayed stuck for a long time. I over-delivered and people pleased the hell out of my first clients. I put a lot of pressure on myself to get them results and worked so hard!
I invested in many small courses, seminars like Tony Robbins UPW, and even wrote my first book in 2015! However, I had SO much resistance around hiring someone to help me grow my business. Now that I look back, I didn’t connect the dots to how much hiring someone who has been there done that can accelerate the path.
Fast forward to 2019….
At the time, I was having panic attacks and worked 12 hour shifts back to back at a retail chain pharmacy. I constantly felt exhausted and the work environment was so toxic.
The last straw (and what ultimately pushed me to quit) was when a coworker made up a lie about me and was telling it to everyone in the pharmacy. I can’t even remember what it was at this point, but I was furious. In general, it was a toxic place to be with constant complaining, gas lighting, and ego trips.
At the time, I had a business on the side, but it never took off enough to replace my income. I spent the first 7 years of my business with so many blocks – unworthiness, control, perfectionism, self-doubt, and fear that I barely made any money or impact. And I never invested in myself. I was too scared and didn’t believe in myself enough to hire a coach.
BUT AT THAT POINT I WAS DONE.
I was DONE tolerating a toxic work environment where people didn’t value me.
I was DONE dreading walking into work every day.
I was SO DONE ignoring that intuitive voice that told me I was meant for MORE. Because I knew I wasn’t meant to be behind a counter – I had so much MORE inside me wanting to be expressed and make that impact.
So I made a bold move that year – I hired two coaches – a business coach and transformation coach.
I invested close to $50k (combined) on them because I was sick and tired of trying to figure it all out on my own…and failing miserably.
And guess what? It worked. Because I had the SHIFTS (transformation) and STRATEGY (practical needle movers.)
I started working in my zone-of-genius…instead of wasting time on tasks that didn’t move the needle
I cleared the blocks of unworthiness, control, perfectionism, and bullshit beliefs of needing to ‘work hard’…and started owning my worth, releasing old programming, and raising my standards.
I started owning my gifts and my power…and stopped tolerating what wasn’t working.
And I began incrementally growing my income and impact…to multiple six figures.
Yes, I put in work. I won’t say this was overnight AT ALL. Anything worth doing requires effort, time, energy, and investments.
But it all paid off – literally.
Here are my results from my first ‘real year in business.’
I had multiple income streams from events, hypnosis, coaching, and from my previous job. Technically this is showing the 9 months (May to December) that I had no pharmacy income. As you can see, in October of that year I had my biggest month yet – $17,993 – just shy of $18k. That was after doing the transformation work I keep talking about. 😉
Lessons I learned –
#1. You don’t have to be perfect to start or grow a business. Just start and take action – even if it’s messy. Seriously. Pick your niche and do the scary things. Do your first Facebook Live, create a community, just START.
#2. Ask for support and help. That was my biggest regret, bar none. I was so resistant to asking for support from business coaches so that I could accelerate the path for myself. Instead, it took me 7 years to hire a 1:1 coach and I know that if I would have invested sooner, I’d be further along today. However, I am still grateful for the experience I gleaned from it all.
#3. Not everyone is going to understand your dream or your heart. Keep going anyway. If I would have stopped when people unsubscribed, or I had a failed launch, or my coworkers, friends, family said I was nuts…I wouldn’t be here today. I wouldn’t have made the impact on the thousands of lives I have. So I encourage you to surround yourself with a community of positive people who edify you. Create a vision board, affirmation cards, a smile file (client testimonials or thank you cards from past clients) so that you don’t get derailed when these challenges come up.
#4. Do the inner transformation work!
Honestly, the transformation work was the real needle mover. Building a business is easy peasy – it’s strategy and repetition. All of the blocks that can come with it can create SO much resistance. Examples of blocks are: imposter syndrome, unworthiness, fear of being seen, fear of failure, self-doubt, and more. These blocks can keep you stuck in vicious cycles for years. Don’t wait as long as I did! Take action to clear these blocks NOW. 😉
This is exactly how I help my 1:1 clients and the Queens in my Elevate Membership . I help entrepreneurs clear blocks holding you back so you can elevate your business – making the income and impact you crave.
Let me know in the comments what you thought and how your business is going!
You’ve totally got this, Queen!
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Disclosures: I am an affiliate for The Institute for Integrative Nutrition.