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The Truth About My First Year in Business

by Ashley on September 2, 2014 · 29 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. If you liked this, I’m sure you’ll love my FREE training for new coaches “Gimme 5 Clients!” Click here to grab your seat now!

[photo credit: sebastiansilva]

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristi September 2, 2014 at 9:59 am

Thank you SO MUCH for your honesty! My first year in business has been pretty similar to yours, lots of refining and figuring things out. It’s nice to hear that not everyone starts out with a bang, and that we all get to the same place in the end. Thanks for sharing this! You’re awesome. :)


Ashley September 2, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Thanks, Kristi! I’ve loved watching your business grow over the past year. You’re doing awesome!


Akirah September 2, 2014 at 10:28 am

This is wonderful! Thanks for sharing. I’d love to know if any of the gals who received a Christmas card from you took you up on coaching. Also, I’d love to read a post like this about your second year of business.


Ashley September 2, 2014 at 1:13 pm

You’re welcome, Akirah! The first client I booked (in January 2013) received a Christmas card and used her discount code.

And I’ve actually got “The Truth About My Second Year in Business” post ready to share next Tuesday,so keep an eye for it! :)


Heaven November 6, 2016 at 1:12 am

eating disorders are no laughing matter? “Best Little Girl In The World,” the TV movie w. Jennifer Jason Leigh, was great but could have been a lot fun.kernThanis, Marian!


Stacey September 2, 2014 at 10:38 am

Right with you there Ashley, thanks for posting! I have acute perfection paralysis and comparisonitis (sometimes), so when I see peoples posts about having a gazillion signups or thousands upon thousands of $ revenue each in my networks it can be disheartening – so I think its important to celebrate everything even if it’s a ‘fail’, if you ‘failed’ in my book, you’ve got it done!


Ashley September 2, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Oh, I’m definitely all about celebrating those “failures” too. :)


Lanette November 6, 2016 at 12:39 am

What I find so inteersting is you could never find this anywhere else.


Kristyn September 2, 2014 at 11:48 am

Wow, Ashley. Thank you for sharing this. You have no idea how encouraging it is!


Ashley September 2, 2014 at 1:15 pm

You’re so welcome, Kristyn. Glad you enjoyed it!


Mikael September 2, 2014 at 5:59 pm

Very cool and interesting to see, Ashley! Thanks for showing that it’s not all bubbles and rainbows, and a business can take a while to build. I think I needed that today, haha. Thanks!


Ashley September 9, 2014 at 8:13 am

OH man, I wish it was all bubbles and rainbows, haha.


Rachel Ann September 2, 2014 at 7:58 pm

Thank you for sharing this. It’s super encouraging to be reminded that a lot of the people I follow who are successful now started out just like I am.


Ashley September 9, 2014 at 8:13 am

YES! I honestly believe we all start from zero at one point and it’s just a matter of taking one step after the other.


Tangela November 6, 2016 at 1:08 am

It’s a joy to find somneoe who can think like that


Jennifer Twardowski September 2, 2014 at 11:36 pm

You know, it’s funny because whenever I see other people write blog posts like this about the truth about their first year my immediate reaction (before I even read anything) is something like: “Oh my gosh, I can’t read this! I’ll feel so embarrassed and ashamed because I’m the only person who has struggled THIS much in my first year.” And it’s always funny because after I do read other people’s experiences it is clear that we are all in a very similar boat — we have all just taken some slightly different avenues along the way but our outcomes really aren’t that much different.

Perhaps it is those people who say that they’ve started their business and within the first month somehow got 10K or something that has influenced these kind of reactions of my own, though I can see time and time again that those are certainly a rarity rather than a norm.

That all being said, thank you so much for sharing this. You’ve allowed your own raw truth to shine and, in doing so, have helped me to see that I’m really not far “behind” of everyone else starting their business or anything after all. :-)


Ashley September 9, 2014 at 8:10 am

You’re welcome, Jennifer! That’s exaaaactly why I wanted to write this post. :)


Roxie November 6, 2016 at 1:37 am

Your answer lifts the ingicletenle of the debate.


Boi September 4, 2014 at 2:59 am

Though, I am not looking at a business, I really really admire your honesty and openness. Nobody talks about this kind of things. They may say things like it was tough but they will not go into the nitty gritty and only talk about their sucesses


Ashley September 9, 2014 at 8:12 am

I know exactly what you mean, haha. I had to let go of some of my embarrassment around my first year, but it felt really good to be open and share the truth. :)


Ashley September 5, 2014 at 11:09 am

I think you’re going to help so many people by being so transparent about what it’s been like for you.

Too many in the life coaching or other online biz keep it generic and with the illusion that it all just HAPPENED and they are SO SUCCESSFUL because they chose the right niche or whatever.

Maybe because they’re afraid people won’t think they are as legit if they struggled to gain traction at first? I’m not sure, but I’m so glad you are so open and honest, pretty lady! Here’s to many more years of success!!


Ashley September 9, 2014 at 8:15 am

It’s so funny you said that because it’s exactly what I was thinking before I wrote this post. “What if people don’t take me seriously anymore?!” But it was totally worth it to share all the details. So glad you were part of the journey from the beginning! :)


Maxine | The Leader of Tomorrow September 9, 2014 at 2:24 am

Hey Ashley,
thanks for your honesty!
It’s very encouraging to see that success just takes a while and we need to have patience and perseverance.

I often catch myself wishing and thinking I could be further ahead with my blog. But then I need to remind myself that I am exactly where I should be, that I have achieved a lot already and I just need to keep going.

Thanks for sharing this with us
Maxine x


Ashley September 9, 2014 at 8:21 am

You’re welcome! It’s so important to look back and see how far we’ve come… that way we feel inspired to keep moving forward. :)


Katie September 9, 2014 at 8:46 am

Thank you SO much for writing this! It can get really frustrating to know that I’m not getting anywhere. But seeing the path someone who is successful now took and knowing that mine looks similar fills me with all sorts of confidence.


Ang September 27, 2014 at 7:12 am

You just gained a subscriber. The fact that you were so honest about the good and bad! But even after the bad you just kept going gaining momentum. I do read a lot of these that say oh I made 10k in one month type but they were never as honest as you are. So glad to find your website!!


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