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The Truth About My First Year in Business

by Ashley on September 2, 2014 · 8 comments

the truth about my first year in business

I didn’t reach six figures.

In fact, I didn’t even reach four figures!

My first year in business wasn’t like those incredible success stories you read about so often.

My story unraveled much more slowly. With many more twists and turns.

If I had to describe it in a few words, here’s what I’d say:

Hard. Confusing. Humbling. 

As a Type A perfectionist, I tend to excel at whatever I put my mind to. (Not to brag, but it’s kiiiinda the truth.)

I mean, I’m straight A honor student, Magna Cum Laude, Ivy League graduate, world traveller, with a huge dose of ambition and self-discipline.

So when I decided to launch my business, I thought I’d be a huge success within a few months. I’d heard about other people doing it, so I figured I could make the leap too (and maybe even do it better)!

Boy, was I wrong.

Here’s what those first 12 months actually looked like:

January 2012

Got the idea to create a life coaching business

Brainstormed names, target market, services + products

Wrote first draft of business plan (that I haven’t looked at since, ha)

February 2012

Bought domain, began blogging at

Set up email address and twitter account

Contacted Ashley at Little Leaf to design my website

Researched other coaches, signed up for their newsletters (How are they doing this + being successful?)

March 2012

Continue researching + learning from other coaches

Set up YouTube account

Created first product: A Super Awesome You: The Workbook

April 2012

Created mailchimp account + newsletter list

Got 10 subscribers

Sent first newsletter: “How to live a super awesome life”

Set up P.O. Box

Set up paypal account

Asked friends to edit A Super Awesome You: The Workbook

Officially launched Your Super Awesome Life + workbook- 4/16

Brainstormed next project: “What I Wish I Knew” collaboration e-book

Emailed bloggers + coaches to participate in “What I Wish I Knew”

May 2012

Launched “What I Wish I Knew” ebook

Got 7 new newsletter subscribers + first unsubscriber

June 2012

Won scholarship for Blogging for Your Creative Business by April Bowles-Olin

July 2012

Wrote two guest posts

Created Write Here Right Now, a series of 52 journaling prompts

August 2012

Decided I no longer wanted to coach teen girls, switched to 20-somethings

Offered 5 free 30-min coaching calls via twitter

September 2012

Created first newsletter opt-in freebie: Your Free Starter Kit For Your Super Awesome Life

Gave away 100 free coaching calls

Began brainstorming a new course that would become The Dream Catching Workshop

Sold 4 copies of Write Here Right Now

October 2012

Continued doing free calls, gathered testimonials

Paid for a sponsored ad on Yes and Yes

Wrote two guest posts : When I Grow Up Coach, Tiffany Han

Launched Dream Catching Workshop- 1 person signed up

Joined Stratejoy’s Get it Off the Ground group

By the end of the month, did 79 free coaching calls and had 65 newsletter subscribers

November 2012

Launched book club- no one shows up

Signed up for Amanda Genther’s PowerPlay

December 2012

Sent out Christmas cards to anyone who wanted one, with a discount code

January 2013

Reached 100 newsletter subscribers!

Launched Inspirational Interview series

Began writing Transition Made Easy

Booked first paying client (3 month package)

So, there ya have it.

An honest and open look at my first 12 months.

I wanted to share my story because I want you to know that you’re not alone.

Starting a business is SO SCARY. You’re taking a huge leap of faith with all your dream-eggs in one basket. You’re putting yourself out there and hoping that your dream clients will say, “Yes, we love you too!”

With all those stories of new businesses reaching multiple six-figures in the blink of an eye, it can make those of us with different paths feel like we’re not good enough or we’re not trying hard enough.

But that’s not the case at all.

We’re all on different timelines.

Some of us have no business background and others have an MBA and years of marketing training. Some of us are a natural at sales and some of us just wanna hide under a rock.

There’s no “right” way for your first year in business to turn out. {tweet that!}

As long as you have a passion and drive, you’ll get there. Just keep going.

Now I wanna know, how is (was) your first year of business different than you expected?

Tell me in the comments below so we know we’re all in this together. :)

P.S. I’m hosting a free call this Thursday, 9/4, on “How I Got My First 1,000 Subscribers” and I think you’ll love it! Click here to grab your seat now!

[photo credit: sebastiansilva]



You’ve got big dreams for your business. $10k months. A wait-list full of dream clients. Waking up each morning feeling stoked that you get PAID to be awesome.

(Yes, please!)

Problem is, you feel overwhelmed. You feel stressed out. You feel stuck.

Should you focus on growing your list? Re-write your copy (for the bajillionth time)? Or maybe it’s time to launch a new program?

There’s SO MUCH to do and you have no friggin’ idea where to start.

What you want is momentum. You want action. You want results.

And, hot dang, you want a laser-focused plan to get you there!CLB-Divas-Ashley-2-71

Well, you’re in luck, friend. That’s exactly what I do.

I can help turn your dreaded overwhelm into business-building moxie, and your hazy vision into a simple step-by-step (ooh, baby) 6 month plan to make it happen.

You’ll know what to work on each day, so you can stop procrastinating. You’ll be able to track your progress, so you can reach your goals. And basically, you’ll kick all manner of butt, every day.

When you know the next steps to take in your business, you’ll be able to spend more time and energy on things that matter, like attracting new clients! But not just any clients, your dreamiest dream clients. Yay!

And once you and your dream clients find each other… Magic.

Your business grows. You make more cash. And you do 6.8 more happy dances a week! (It’s science, trust me.)

So, let’s get this party started, okay?

Here’s the plan: You. Me. 90 minutes.

Your Business Kick-Start.

Hold up! I want MY dream clients too. I’m looking for daring women who know how to dream big + get stuff done. My dream clients are passionate about their business and are ready to dig in and see real results. (With a side of cupcakes, wine, & T-Swift dance parties.)

But you don’t have to take my word for it.


Ashley completely turned my life around. She helped me transform my overwhelming ideas into attainable action steps and was my biggest cheerleader the whole time. She knew exactly what I needed to get my business started.



Stephanie H.

Throughout our session, while we’re becoming BFFs, I’ll ask the right questions, and take notes about you, your business, and where you want to be. Then we’ll work together to create a step-by-step (drool-worthy) action plan to carry you and your biz through the next 6 months.

I mean, you’re not just paying for a 90-minute session.

You’re getting a non-judgmental, outside perspective on your business, high quality feedback, and clear direction on where to go next.

You’re getting a super awesome partner for business brainstorming and strategizing. (We’ll be like Thelma and Louise… with a much happier ending, and considerably less driving over cliffs.)

You’re learning how to make the best use of your time, be more productive, and make your business more profitable. (Then you can finally afford to hire the Spice Girls to reunite for your next birthday! Whaaaat? Just me?)

And we’re gonna have fun!

Here’s how it works:


  • Within one business day of booking your session, you’ll receive Your Business Kick-Start Workbook in your inbox.
  • At least one day before your session, fill out Your Business Kickstart Workbook and send it back to me. Then I’ll reply and double check that we’re good to go.
  • Get excited because all those business dreams you had while stuck at your J-O-B are about to come true!


  • Just before we meet: Pull out Your Business Kick-Start Workbook, grab a cup of your favorite tea, jot down your questions, and eliminate all those pesky distractions. Let’s get ready to rumble!
  • I’ll call you via Skype.
  • This is the fun part! We’ll breeze through some introductions and dive into the important stuff. For 90 minutes, we’ll laser in on your big vision and create a wildly effective 6 month business plan, customized just for you.
  • We’ll wrap up with any final questions + make sure you know how to set these plans into unstoppable motion.


  • Within one business day, I’ll send you…
  • A gorgeous PDF of your step-by-step action plan
  • A short follow-up survey to get some helpful feedback about our time together
  • A [super secret] bonus PDF with helpful tools for eliminating procrastination and powering through roadblocks

Listen, this session is legit going to change the way you do business.

You’re gonna be brimming with confidence and proud of what you’re offering. You’re gonna have a super awesome business action plan to make your business fun AND profitable.

I can promise you that.

I don’t know what you’re waiting for… Let’s do this thing!

To schedule your session, click this link and follow the instructions.

Fall 2014 Rate: $149


You’ll wanna:
1. Schedule your session.
2. Make your payment.
3. Check your email for your Business Kick-Start Workbook
4. Pour yourself a glass of wine because you totally deserve it!


Ashley was so well organized (a must for any other non-linear thinking types like me out there) and so thorough that I had the clearest picture of how to grow my list and what (very doable) action items it would take to do so as a solo business owner.

Amy CQ


Ashley's enthusiasm is contagious, and her coaching will help you achieve more than you thought possible. I’ve already recommended that my best friends work with Ashley because she’s the smart, funny, wise, and caring coach you need in your corner when you want to see big changes in your life.


Abby A.


With Ashley's help, I have begun to take the necessary steps toward starting my own life coaching business and, most importantly, I recently made the leap to taking coaching calls — a huge step!




Kristi S.

hattie b

I booked a session with Ashley because I was struggling with where to start.

The workbook I received before we even spoke gave me space to organise the crazy whirl of thoughts I had going round and round in my head.  During our session Ashley really helped me get under the skin of my dream client - in fact we created such a clear picture of her I felt I'd know her if I saw her walking down the street.

I came away with a brand new bio, a clear plan to revise my opt-in offer, and the confidence to pitch blogs much bigger than my own.  Just one week since my session and my web traffic has more than doubled and I've already grown my list by 66%, and I haven't even implemented everything I learnt yet!

Hattie B.

Ready to do this? (Me too!) Let’s get started!



30 Cups of (Business) Magic

by Ashley on August 27, 2014 · 0 comments

30 cups of (business) magic

A gift from me to you.

Bringing a dose of wisdom, joy, gratitude, and action to your mornings  (and your business) through a golden email.

Little reminders of who you are + what you are here for.

Reminders that it doesn’t have to be so hard.

Reminders that you aren’t in this alone. That you’re part of something bigger.

Boosts of confidence, love, peace, and powerful grace.

New habits to create and perspectives to shift.

Start your morning with a cup of (business) magic.


Pour me a cup!


P.S. Wanna share this magic with your friends? Click to tweet one of fun sentences below (or create your own!):

Super excited to get 30 cups of (business) magic from @AshleyD this September! Want some of your own?

30 days of joy, inspiration, + business tips? Yes, please!

Need a morning pick-me-up? Sign up for @AshleyD’s 30 Cups of Magic for a daily dose of goodness.



Since throwing open the glittery pink curtain for the third round of Dream Quest (starting Sept. 1! Woo!), I’ve received some super awesome questions. So I’ve compiled the most common + important ones into this both handy and dandy email for ya.

Pour yourself a glass of coconut milk, grab some oreos, and let’s dig in!

1. Who is Dream Quest for?

I created Dream Quest for women in their 20′s (and 30′s) who have a huge fantasy goal that they finally want to make happen before the end of 2014.

It’s for you if you want to stop being held back by fear, stop breaking the promises you make to yourself, and want to crush this goal for real. It’s also for women who want to be part of an encouraging + love-filled group of like-minded women.

2. I’ve enrolled in so many groups or read a million books on setting goals… How is Dream Quest different?

Was that group or book designed to help you create a personalized action plan and combine it with weekly accountability to keep you on track? If not, that’s probably the biggest difference.

In Dream Quest, you’ll meet with me for two hours to outline the steps you need to take over the next 4 months to crush your goal. You’ll receive an exclusive email from me every other week full of tips and strategies to help you continue working toward your goal. We’ll also meet twice a month on a live group call to check in on your progress + I’ll share a mini-lesson on topics like fear, self-doubt, procrastination, and self-care.

I’ve worked with so many women who’ve asked me questions like: How do I stop procrastinating and actually make this happen? I’m terrified of failing, how do I get started? I know I’m meant to do something bigger, but I’m not sure what… can you help me gain more confidence to take the first step? I know what I want, but it seems so huge… can you help me break it down into manageable steps? I can’t stop looking at everyone else’s incredible lives and feeling like my mine is crap… how do I stop feeling jealous and start making my life awesome?

I’ve compiled all of that kind of information for you in Dream Quest.

3. Will this help me if I want to start my own business?

Yep! When you’re laying the foundation and trying to get your biz off the ground, it can feel so overwhelming. I know because that was me just 2 years ago!

In Dream Quest you’ll get all the info you need in one place. It’ll help you cut through the fog. I mean, I didn’t include anything that I haven’t personally tested and experimented with when building Your Super Awesome Life, so you know it’s gonna be helpful.

4. I don’t like working hard. I’m hoping that my goal will just happen on its own.

Good luck! Ha. I’m partly kidding, but ya know, if I’m honest, it’s not very likely that your goal is going to happen if you’re sitting on the couch eating Cheetos or spending every night at the bar with your BFFs.

But, I get what you mean. You don’t want to work yourself to the bone. You don’t want to feel any more exhausted than you already are.  Well, neither do I.

My goal-setting style is much more about doing more of what feels good and less of what feels bad. Simple, right? But that doesn’t mean you can’t just wait for good things to happen. You have to get out there and make some magic. In Dream Quest, I’ll show you the easiest way to do that.

5. I’m not exactly sure what my goal is, should I still sign up?

If you’re not sure what your goal is, but you want to make something happen, email me at and we can set up a free 30 min. Exploration Session to figure it out. 

6. Will I receive any fun surprises in the mail?

Mmhmm! Since I think you’re just lovely, I wanted to give you a special bonus. Everyone who joins Dream Quest will receive a super cute Erin Condren notebook in the mail. These are perfect for taking notes during our live calls + carrying around throughout the week to jot down any inspiring ideas that pop up while you’re grocery shopping or waiting in line at the bank.

7. How much does this cost?

Dream Quest is $199 a month (only 8 spots left!), with a $199 deposit to reserve your spot. This is just a tiny little slice compared with the $349 monthly price tag for my individual coaching, and I’ve poured the best-of-the-best information into it for you. Not bad, right?

8. Do you really know what you’re talking about when it comes to crushing goals?

Okay, no one has actually asked me this, but I know some of you are probably wondering about my expertise. Here are some of my proudest goal-crushing moments:

  • I lived in France for a year a taught English (See also, traveling all over Europe and eating endless crepes.)
  • I graduated from Columbia University with a Masters degree in Psychological Counseling.
  • I earned over 3,000 hours of supervised counseling sessions to become a Licensed Professional Counselor.
  • I quit my job as a non-profit counselor to work on Your Super Awesome Life full-time, just 10 months after my official launch.
  • I gave away 100 free coaching calls for my 28th birthday.
  • I’ve run 3 half-marathons and the Chicago Marathon.
  • In 2013, I grew YSAL’s newsletter subscribers by %1700.
  • Plus, I’ve helped hundreds of 20 & 30-somethings with crushing their goals so they can live their own version of a super awesome life.

9. What are my payment options?

Paypal. Credit card. Debit card.

10. I bought your e-books or joined one of your other group programs. Do I really need to invest in this one? Is it that different?

It is very different. When you purchase my workbooks, you get some awesome information, but you don’t get to work with me one-on-one. My other group programs are much shorter, lasting only 4 weeks. This is an intensive 4-month program. You’ll get an e-book style email from me twice a month, as well as two live calls per month, where I will coach you through any roadblocks and help you get unstuck. This is taking things to a whole new level.

Plus, it’s waaaaaay more fun. There is a private Facebook party group where we all hang out and share stories and basically become the best of friends. Because isn’t going after your goals always more fun with friends?

Have a question that I haven’t answered? You can send it to and I’ll be sure to send you an answer.

Want even more details about Dream Quest? You can find them right here.



How to be the most authentic version of you (while going after your goals)

When you’re going after your goals, it’s so easy to lose sight of the big picture and forget where you’re headed.

You may continue down a path that’s not in alignment with your deepest desires, just because you said you wanted it a few months ago.

You put yourself on autopilot and eventually you lose touch with what you really want.

So, how do you stop this from happening?

In addition to a little practice and intentional choices, here are the strategies that work best for me:

How to be the most authentic version of you (while going after your goals)

Identify your core values.

Your values inform your choices and guide you toward the life you want, where you feel fulfilled and inspired. {tweet this!}

Once you’ve identified your values, you’ll have a personal compass for each decision you make and each goal you go after, so you won’t lose touch with what’s most important to you.

Keep your eyes on your own paper.

If you’re starting a coaching business, avoid reading other coaching blogs. If you’re not a runner, but want to begin training for a 5K, don’t compare yourself to people running marathons. It will only breed jealousy and resentment, and we totally don’t want that.

Perform mini-reviews.

This is a time for reflection and honesty. Assess where you are, where you’ve been, and where you want to be, without judgment. At the beginning of each month, ask yourself these 5 questions:

1. What progress have I made toward my goal?
2. What was the biggest lesson I learned?
3. How have I celebrated my success?
4. Do any of my timelines need to be tweaked?
5. How do I feel while working toward my goals? Is that I how I want to feel?

Write your own definition of success.

Have you thought about what success means for you? Like what it really means? Is it getting a book deal, signing your first client, making $10K month through your biz, or waking up feeling happy every morning? Everyone has their own definition of success, so what’s yours?

To begin uncovering your definition of success, ask yourself these 3 questions:

1. What have you been telling yourself you want?
2. What do you actually want?
3. What needs to happen for you to let go of what you thought you wanted and make what you actually want become your reality?

If you sit down and work your way through these questions, there’s no doubt in my mind that 2014 is going to be a killer year for you. These exercises are going to get you incredible results…but there are still some missing pieces.

I mean, what if you have a goal in mind, but you’re not exactly sure how to create an step-by-step plan that works for you? Or maybe you have a hard time holding yourself accountable and need a little encouragement when you’re feeling stuck.

What happens when you’re going after your goal and you hit a roadblock that seems insurmountable and you can’t figure out how to get around it? What about those days when you just don’t feel like getting out of bed, much less working on your passion project or hitting the gym? And what about those of us who don’t know how to get over our self-doubt issues and cultivate the confidence to actually take the first step?

That is exactly why I created Dream Quest. I’m super passionate about helping women overcome their roadblocks + crush their goals, so I created this 4-month group coaching mastermind to help you make that happen. Interested? You can read more about it here. I’d love for you to join us!


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