My First Year In Business

In this week's episode of Chill & Prosper, we’re going back in time to talk about my very first year in business - including how much money I made.

I made a ton of mistakes in my first few years - but I always had a dream for a million dollar business.  

If you’ve wondered how I got started, today’s episode is for you! 


I talk about ...

  • Starting out in business
  • How much I made my first year
  • Overcoming the loneliness
  • Embracing the learning curve
  • Getting a mentor


Hey, gorgeous. So today we are going back in time because I want to talk about my very first year in business and all of the lessons I've learned from it. How much money I made, really pull back the curtain on those early days because I don't know how long you've been following me, but sometimes people come into my world and they're like, "Oh, you're so polished or you're so consistent, your brand is so consistent". And they think that I've just done this overnight, instead of realizing that it has been a process and I've made a ton of mistakes. And even recently I was looking back at my early branding and I was like, "Oh my God, I was wearing yellow and pink, what the freak?" Because I just... In my mind I'm like, "Everything in my wardrobe is blue now, that's just who I am".

I love hearing behind the scenes of businesses and origin stories and early days. And so I wanted to share some of my lessons around this as well. I was inspired by following Sara Blakely from Spanx, on Instagram. And she shared this picture of her first warehouse, which actually was the spare room in her first apartment, her first flat. And she did everything there, and I was like, yes, there's so many humble beginnings of things. And it's really fun to reflect if you've been in business for a while. And if you are new in business, which I know so many people have started businesses in the last year, then hopefully it will be a bit of a reassurance that everybody, everybody starts from scratch. So where do I even begin? Because I am someone who has so many business failures behind me. I started my first business when I was nine years old.

And then I was always roping my friends into starting different, random business ideas with me. I was like, "Let's do a yard sale". And I would get everyone to bring all their crap up to my house. And then we would never get around to selling it. "Let's sell horse poo", and I'd get all my friends to like pick up all the poo and then we never got around to selling it. And so that's the story of my life. That I've always been so good at starting things and not necessarily good at finishing things. So I officially started my current business in 2010, even though the previous decade, I had a million different side hustles. I tried lots of different things, wrote lots of eBooks. But nothing really clicked until I gave myself permission to do something I actually wanted to do my whole life.

I just wanted to help people. I would have been a really great coach, even in my teens. I just didn't know that was a job. I would have had an amazing podcast in my early twenties, it just wasn't a thing. So sometimes you come full circle. Sometimes your business that you start is like reliving a dream, or it's just finding when your skills and talents meet the marketplace or they meet technology. So for those of you who were told as a kid that you talk too much, great, probably start a podcast, I think that'd be an amazing, amazing idea. Okay, so of course there's no such thing as overnight success, but I started this current business in 2010. Now, I think my biggest challenge at the start was that I felt like a massive fraud, a massive fraud. So we moved into a new apartment and I had just been coaching for a couple of months and I was really good at it from the start.

So I'd get off the coaching call and I'd be like, "Oh my God, this is what I been... This is what I meant to do". And it felt so great, but we moved into a new apartment and the landlord was like, "What do you both do?". And Mark was like... He had a proper job, "I work in marketing for a football team". And I was like, "Oh, I'm a life coach". And he goes, "Aren't you a little bit too young for that". And I was just like, ah, instant fraud feeling. Other people I said to, that I was a coach. They'd go, "Oh, that's so weird. Are your clients just people like people who have no friends?" And I was like, what? That's so weird because I know that I'd hired coaches before. And it wasn't because I didn't have any friends it's because I had big goals that I wanted help and support with.

So I felt like such a fraud. I felt embarrassed to tell people what I did. I felt like it was a made up thing. I thought it was totally wanky, even though I was really good at it. And being a coach was something that came so naturally to me. So one thing I did in that really early, early days, I changed my email signature and it just said, Denise, Duffield-Thomas life coach. Denise Duffield-Thomas life coach, and I felt like the biggest fraud. But seeing that every day, it acclimatized me to it. Okay. So that's a little tip, like change your bio, change your email signature because you'll see it. Other people will start to believe it, you'll start to believe it yourself. So that really, really helped, for me. The other thing that triggered my imposter syndrome is that, even though I was really good at what I did, as you know, I was really good at holding people to account.

I was really good at mirroring and holding space for people, for their dreams. I wasn't necessarily a massive financial success myself. And back then, I wasn't teaching money mindset stuff. Because I hadn't mastered it myself really, but there was a disconnect there and I want to speak to that, because I think it's so important that you might be like not financially successful yet, but you might have mastery in some areas that are really valuable to people. And I talk about this with Olympic coaches, the best Olympic coaches in the world aren't necessarily the best at that sport themselves. But they're really good at their coaching skills. They're really good at the accountability. They're really good at motivating somebody to be the best they can be. And so I think that's such a tricky one because we're kind of told, fake it till you make it.

And there's a lot of value put on how much people earn. People say I'm a six figure coach, I'm a seven figure coach. But if you're starting out, please give yourself permission just to be good at a skill set in an area that somebody needs and work on your money mindset and things like that. But it doesn't mean that you're not good at what you do just because you haven't made the money yet. And to make my fraud feelings even stronger, we're living in a kind of crappy flat, I had a cheap car. And some of that wasn't even money, Mark had a decent salary. We could have bought me a nice car, but I had to work on my feelings of unworthiness around that. Mark would be fine buying himself a nice suit and a nice pair of shoes because he worked in an office. But I was still buying myself the cheapest thing. I was still thinking, "Oh, I'm only allowed to have one pair of jeans".

Just all that leftover childhood stuff where I didn't think I was worthy of spending money on. So sometimes your imposter syndrome stuff can be self-generated and mine definitely was. Because as I said, I could have upgraded some of those things, but it was my worthiness that I needed to work on, not the actual money. The other thing around imposter syndrome and feeling like a fraud is that so many people have it. And I would have to say that I don't feel like I'm a fraud around some areas now. I can talk about money, I can easily receive money for what I do, I'm a speaker, but there's one area that I still have to work on. And I feel like I'm... That I'm not a good writer, that I'm not a proper writer. Even though I've got three published books with Hay House, I've written so much, I've written blog posts for years, I've written for major publications.

There's still a part of me. That's like, but you're not a real writer, you lucked into that, you faked your way into it. And so it's so weird. And even recently Hay House did their like top nine audio books of the year, and I was in there and I was just like, "Why do I still think that I'm not good at being a writer?" So that imposter syndrome, it doesn't necessarily go away. It's just like, okay, you might have it forever. Or it might move around and shift around into different areas of your life. So I totally totally had it, it's normal. Everyone feels the same way. Okay. The other thing that I really struggled in that first year is what to charge. I'd gone from consulting, I'd gone from working for other people for years where they just put a price on it.

You don't have to think about it. And I would say again, this is just such a common thing. Even when I bought a farm and we started producing honey and candles and flowers. Even then, this is after being a millionaire for years, I was still like, "Oh my God, what do I charge for this, honey? What do I charge for these candles? Is it too much? Is it too little?". And I would say, this is just honestly, one of the hardest things about being in business for yourself. You just want someone to tell you what to charge. You want somebody to... You want a critic proof price and you just won't find it. You will never find a critic proof price. There'll always be someone who will complain about how much it is. There will always be someone who thinks it's cheap.

There's always someone who will tell you that you're a bitch for charging too much, it's so weird. So you just have to pick a price, especially in the start of your business. If that's holding you back from even just getting started, you have to pull a price out of your butt and just say it, because if it's not the right price, you're going to figure it out pretty quickly. And here's the great news is that you're the boss, you can change it whenever you like. So you could change it every couple of months. You could change it a couple of times a year. You could change it once a year. There are no rules around it. So I totally get and I totally acknowledge that, that's a tricky thing as to how to price, but you just have to pick a number.

I have literally gone to a random number generator put in like my lowest price and my highest price and put it in, and just see what would come out. And I'd be like, okay, all right, I'll try that. You might literally just pick a number out of your butt. You could muscle test a number there... I've done all those things. You might think that even now, there's some scientific way of, for me coming up with prices and there really isn't. I literally just pull it out of my butt, see how it feels, see the feedback. And then that's it. It's so funny. Sorry. Sorry about that. So yes, that was the hardest thing in my business is just putting a price on something. Okay. There were a lot of other lessons in my first year that I want to share with you, including like how much I made and what I made it from. And I will share that all right after the break.

Hi, my name is Nicola Newey. I'm a healing and holistic practitioner and I run my own practice in the UK. I have worked with The Secret for many years and I came to the same conclusion as Denise, that basically there has to be blockages somewhere. After reading Get rich lucky B, one of my friends brought it for me, from cover to cover last lockdown, it completely changed my life. I have now restructured the whole of my Holistic practice within the UK. I offer different prices, different pricing structures, and I've now also embarked upon a new journey to create a brand new healing energy website called nicolanewey.com. It really has transformed my life. And I wanted to just say a massive thank you, Denise. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Hi, my name is Phillipa Daria and I am a Canadian born Polish Ukrainian now living in Paris, photographer and physics and math teacher. Who believes that to make education sustainable, we have to really slow down and look at the details. I've gained confidence over the years, starting off with Get Rich, Lucky Bitch. I learned to stay in the room by joining Money Bootcamp, eventually that moved to reading Chillpreneur, getting it on audio book and feeling like I've been-

Okay. Welcome back. So we're talking about my first year in business and some of those lessons that I learned from it. One big thing that was super hard was that it was really lonely, really lonely because at that stage, most of my friends had similar jobs to me. So I was in consulting, so I had friends who were working for the big firms, Deloitte and Accenture and PWC. And they were in eight to six, 08:00 AM to 6:00 PM. They worked five days a week. A lot of them were traveling all around, doing secondment stuff and they were earning really nice, comfortable salaries. So when I quit my jobs, because I did have multiple jobs, and I was like, "I'm going to be a life coach". It was just so incredibly lonely because my friends didn't really understand. And so I would hear things like, "Oh, do you think it's the right decision. Or do you really regret it? Or, well, what are you qualifications to do that?".

And they would just straight up asked me if I was making any money, which is so weird, right? Cause I would never ask someone how much they make out of the blue. But when you start a business, people feel really entitled to ask like how much you're charging for things or what profit you're making or how much you're making or how many clients you have. And so it's really awkward to explain that. And that could really make that fraud feeling, feel even worse because at the start, when you're not making that much money, you don't really know what to say. The other thing is that, if you've got friends who are in a traditional kind of job and you're doing something different, maybe you're creating an online course.

Maybe you're self publishing a book, or you're making money from being an influencer. Like that's kind of in a way it's new, new media, its new money. And some people might just not believe it. Or they think that passive income is a scam or they think you're doing something slightly dodgy. So that can feel really weird. They can say really well-meaning things like, "Oh, maybe you should go back to your job", or they might send you jobs. And it's just, yes, it feels tricky, but don't worry. After a couple of years, they will all be asking you how to do the same thing. Trust me, this happens to Mark and I all the time, and friends or not friends, but people that I knew, would at the start of my business would be like, "Oh, you started a blog, how cute, you're cute? How's you a little blog going?".

And now they're like, "Oh, maybe I should start a blog". And I'm like, oh God, there's so much more to it than just so like starting a blog, but good luck with that. But they will be asking you. And when Mark quit his job to come and work for me, he was just like, "Oh God, what am I going to tell people that I do?". And he would say to people, I'm quitting to go work for my wife because her business is doing really well. And he thought people would kind of make fun of him. And they were just like, "Oh, I wish I could do the same thing". So there will be people who will really cheerlead you on and there will be people who won't, and that's okay. So the other challenge that I had in my first year was really staying focused, because there are so many different opportunities and there's so many different paths that you can go in your new business, right?

When I started, I don't think Instagram was around, it was Facebook and Twitter was pretty new at the time. I remember in 2009 going to a conference and Mary Smith, was like, "There's this new thing called Twitter", but she kind of called it Tweeter and we're all like, "Oh yes, God, whatever". But now there's so many different avenues and I can imagine that you're getting really confused. It's like, oh, do I need to do Tik-Toks? Do I need to do all the other ones? I can't even remember off the top of my head. There's so many different types of media that you could do. There's so many different ways you could market yourself and it can be really hard to stay focused. So my philosophy, I think is, just keep it really simple. Keep it really simple and focus on what is going to get you the clients first.

How can you just get in front of your target audience? I did LinkedIn at the start of my business, and then I realized that my target audience wasn't there. After a while, and still now I get asked to go on morning TV shows. And I'm like, my target audience is just not watching Australian morning TV shows. So I think that's the tricky thing is just deciding where you will put your time and energy and you'll get it wrong. The first year, pretty much say yes to everything. Then start to tweak such say maybe, and then after a couple of years you earn the right to say no to things. Okay. A big challenged for me, I think in that first year too, was just not making enough money consistently. My first couple of months... So the first month in business working for myself, I made $225 and my hubby was like, cool, cool.

This is great. And I went, "No, this is the seed. This is going to be a million dollar business. I promise, it's going to be a million dollar business". And I actually went to a fancy restaurant and I toasted myself and just went, yes, I'm going to do this. And then I really focused on selling one-to-one coaching. I was really, really focused on that. So at the end of every blog post, it would be like, "Hey, if this is something you need help with click here in book-in coaching with me". On every podcast, every video I'd be like, "Hey, book-in with some one-on-one coaching with me". And I just said that everywhere. And I was really focused. I was just selling one session by one session. Eventually though I realized that it would probably be better off for my clients if they booked-in for six sessions with me instead of just a one off.

And so then I started selling packages. So my first year it was like, I'll read out what I made in the month. So I made $225. Then the next month, $895 and then $860 and then $874. And then I had an amazing May of that year where I made to $2,946. I was just like, "Ah, man, this is amazing. I felt like a millionaire". Then I made $1,600 and then $500 and then $2,800 and then $870. And yes, it wasn't replacing my full-time income and it definitely wasn't consistent, but it felt so good. It felt so good that I was making money for myself. And that's hard math, right? It's money that you make from doing something that you love, is so worth it. And yes, of course, I didn't make... I wasn't replacing my income, but I also didn't have to spend money on suits or shoes, or work clothes, or getting my hair done, or getting my nails done.

I mean, I did all of that later on when I could afford it, but I didn't have to spend money anymore on making myself happier, because I was miserable in my job. So it's okay at the start of something new, as long as you're not going to starve. And as long as you can pay your rent and things like that, it's okay to just start where you're at, because it's going to feel so freaking good. But it's a roller coaster of emotions in that first year. So one day I'd wake up and be like, "This is the best thing ever. That was the best coaching session". And then the next day I'd be like, "I can't send my newsletter out, what if someone doesn't like it, what if someone unsubscribes, I'm going to die". And so I'd procrastinate, then I'd feel really good.

And then, it's such a learning curve. You're learning how to set boundaries with people. You're learning how to ask for money. You're learning how to have awkward money conversations about people paying your invoices or people defaulting their payments or people asking for refunds. So the thing that I would really highly suggest is that you make sure that you have a support network around you. Make sure you have community, make sure you have your... I mean, and there are a ton of groups you can join, where it's like free business groups. We can ask people free advice. If you're with like Kajabi or some of the tech businesses, they have free customer groups where you can network with other entrepreneurs. You can ask questions, you can support each other. Go to conferences and meet other entrepreneurs. And that's how I met my early business besties, is from going to conferences and supporting each other and then joining their groups.

You can also pay mentors, right? You can pay mentors and join their groups. That's a really easy way to be surrounded by people who are in the same boat. And of course, if you want to be in a space where you can have really great money conversations, my money bootcamp is an amazing spot for that. Where we're talking about money, just honest, open conversations about what people are earning and celebrating that. Because the last lesson really is that money blocks will kill your business at any stage. If you don't work on them, my money blocks hit me so much in that first year, because I still had that belief that it was really hard to make money. And so every time I created something, I sabotaged it, I made it harder.

I resisted those easy wins. I reinvented the wheel, I procrastinated, I thought it had to be perfect, all of those things. And I could have probably made money much quicker and easier, but I felt guilty about it. I felt like I wasn't worthy of making money in an easy way. I felt guilty that my mom was still in a job, and getting over those blocks in those early days has just created so much abundance for myself and my family. My mom doesn't have to work anymore, I support her. Mark's mom doesn't have to work anymore because we pay her as well. We're able to be generous with our friends and family. We're able to hire other people and create ripple effects of abundance everywhere. But those early days, there's a ton of mindset stuff to overcome. And so definitely read my book, Get rich, lucky bitch is a great place to start to work on your money blocks.

And if you've already read that book and you know, you want to take that to the next stage, come and join money bootcamp, because that's what it takes. All right. So if you want to even see some of my early stuff, if you go to my YouTube channel and you can look at the videos oldest to newest, you can see some of those early videos, you can see that I wasn't perfect. It's taken me a lot of practice to get to where I am, not perfection. I just keep on going and I keep on showing up and I believe that I'm worthy of it. And I believe that you're worthy of it as well. So whether you're first starting out or you're at a crossroads in your business, you really can break through to the other side. It is worth it. You are worth it, and you can totally make money doing what you love. I believe you can. Alrighty, I have a couple of extra thoughts for you straight after this break.

Hi. So my name is Ruth and I live in Boston Lincolnshire. My current business is a utility business, utility warehouse, which is only based in UK. But I am also going to be part of a pre-launch business. And basically I read Get rich, lucky bitch, to be fair, I've got it on audio book and I've listened to it twice, probably going on for my third time. My biggest aha moment was the money blocks. Things that have happened from your past, that you're probably holding grudges with, and sit down and write them down to kind of get them out of your head. Writing down every bit of money that comes in, whether it's a pound or a penny, and sort of really focusing on what money is coming into your life, what money's going out and kind of being a bit more in control of it. So that's what I got from the fantastic Denise.

Hey, lucky bees. I'm Rachel Bentley. An online small business marketing coach based in New York in the UK. I help heart led business owners go from fuff to focus, to launch done not perfect. I finished Chillpreneur last night. And this book gave me hope that my journey is on the right track and that my plans are possible. My aha moment is how I take the lioness, a share of the work in the home, and that is stopping right now. Women everywhere get in Denise's world. You're worth it.

Hey, gorgeous. Welcome back. Thanks for being with me today. And here's my final thought for today. You might've seen on my website, my tagline that I've been using for the last couple of years is, Make money, Change the world, Make money, Change the world. It took me a while to come to that. Because it felt really bold. It felt bold to kind of claim that together we're changing the world. It felt a bit arrogant and it felt almost like a bit of a responsibility. Those hours wasn't ready it's changed the world. And then I decided to see it as a really empowering thing. So when we make money, things will shift and change in the world. So if you identify as a woman, there are studies that show that when women make more money, it does shift and change countries. It shifts and changes and increases the GDP of a country because we spend money in ways that enrich our community, that enrich our families.

And I see this a lot for most of the entrepreneurs that I know we hire other people. We allocate money to charity. We joyfully, maybe not joyfully, but we pay our taxes. We don't look for tax avoidance schemes. So I do believe that when people like you and I make money, we do change the world. And maybe it's a radical act just for you to make money. Maybe you're someone that people have underestimated your whole life, or maybe you don't look like the stereotypical rich person. Well, great. All the more reason why it's so important for you to step up, allow yourself to profit from your skills and talents, change the conversation about who's allowed to make money. So yes, I think we're doing this together. We're making money and we're changing the world, yes, I'm excited about it. Okay. My gorgeous one, go forth, chill and prosper. Make money, change the world. Peace out from me and I will see you on the next episode. Bye.

About the Show

Chill & Prosper is your weekly dose of money mindset, marketing and humour from best-selling author and entrepreneur Denise Duffield-Thomas.

Denise's philosophy is that there is ALWAYS an easier way to make money and that's what she's here to help you do. Each week, you'll get actionable advice to help you make more money, with less work. There's no need to hustle - let Denise show you how to embrace the Chillpreneur way.

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