I became a self-employed perinatal educator and doula in 2013 after 20 years working as a biology research scientist. I loved my new job, but I had zero training in running a business. After 3 years, I found myself fully booked, overworked, and yet not earning enough to make my business sustainable.
Scrambling for solutions, I booked an expensive mastermind with a business coach. Whilst this did wonders for my visibility and income, it also resulted in making me more overwhelmed. It took me two years of struggle, feeling guilty when I wasn’t productive every minute of the day, and not doing all the activities the coach had suggested, to understand that something had to change. There was a defining moment when I stopped to collect some berries on my way home from a meeting, and I felt rushed and stressed because I thought I ought to be at my desk, doing work stuff.
In 2018 I worked with another coach (free, as a case study) who encouraged me to find balance. This led to my current practice of year round wild swimming, 5rhythms dancing and drumming in the woods. These are the first things on my to-do list, because let’s face it, if you wait until you have done all your work on your list before doing the self-care tasks, the time never comes, and you just end up more stressed. Putting these things in the diary first ensures wellbeing and balance. I blogged about this here. And you know what? These days when I pick berries I am calm, present and enjoying the moment fully.
I realise now that I was trying to put the cart before the horses, and sort out my overwhelm by working harder and believing that if I found the right technique, some kind of magic wand to fix the problem, everything would be all right. Now I know that running a business is a marathon not a sprint, and that trying to run one without slowly learning and training only results in frustration and feelings of failure. I have helped others do the same process of understanding how to tend to the roots of their business in mentoring sessions. It feels very good to use my experience to help others on their journey.
I got the overwhelm sorted, but I still didn’t know how to market myself.
What a revelation! I realised with immense relief that what George was advocating exactly what I was already enjoying doing : sharing for sharing’s sake, rather than for selling’s sake. I had been blogging prolifically since 2015, I just never thought that this counted as marketing. Before meeting George, I always felt uncomfortable doing marketing because authenticity and integrity are my top 2 values. Old school, lizard brain marketing made me squirm!
Thanks to George’s knowledge, I realised that a lot of what I thought I was not good at (like my newsletter opening rate, or the reach from selling as opposed to sharing posts) was actually normal! This removed so much of the pressure I was putting on myself.
Within a month of joining George’s course, I ran my first free webinar to launch a online course. 115 people attended, and I sold about ten courses and a flurry of physical products. But the most important aspect for me was that, for the first time in my life, when I reached the part of my webinar when I mentioned selling my course, no longer felt yucky, because I talked about it from a genuine place of gentle offering as opposed to trying to manipulate people in buying it.
As an energy worker, I always felt that if the energy that was behind an offer wasn’t genuine or positive, then it wouldn’t attract people. Suddenly I was able to bring ease and flow into my offering, and from then on, the universe responded with abundance. This ease has carried on since, and for the first time in my life, I feel like creating a sustainable income without working myself into the ground is not only possible but I can see how I am going to make it happen.
Another mistake I used to make was creating courses based on what I thought my audience would like, which resulted in my spending hours creating an online course based on my book, which hasn’t been successful. In Autumn 2021, for the first time I sold a face to face workshop on creating mother blessings, before creating the content for it. For control freak me this was a big step! Then, bearing in mind George’s words of “you know enough” in my head, I created the entire workshop contents within 2 weeks from my own knowledge alone. People attending the workshop, most of whom had already trained with me before, told me that they found it hard to believe that this was the first time I taught it, and that was the best workshop I had taught so far.
George encourages his trainees to share with their audience as a ministry. Since January 2021 I have kept a rhythm of sharing a minimum of one article and one video every week. I have increased my audience and I get more engagement. I no longer feel that whether my posts receive a lot of likes or not is a reflection of my worth.
In 2021 I launched an online course and it has earned me almost as much money in 6 months as the previous course did in 3 years.
The move to online teaching means that, not only am I no longer overworked like when I travelled all over the UK to teach 2 or 3 live workshops a month, but I am getting an international audience as opposed to a UK one. In the last webinar I ran, I had attendees from 7 different countries, from Europe to America to Australia. The book I published in 2020, Why postnatal recovery matters, is now being translated in 3 other languages.
Over the last month, because I got a new puppy, and my working hours have been extremely reduced (probably a maximum of 2 to 3 hours a day whilst the pup naps). Yet I’ve launched a new online course, and earned the same amount of money that I expect to get each month.
As I embark on learning to do netcaring as the next steps towards gently promoting my work, and as I prepare to leave being a birth doula behind to focus exclusively on teaching and writing, I see a potential for growing my business further, gently and slowly, from a place of authentic, joyful flow and ease.
If you are interested in checking if George Kao’s approach resonates with you, he has written several brilliant books, such as Joyful Productivity for Solopreneurs, and the kindle version only costs £5.