Business

4 game-changing lessons I’ve learned in 2019

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Is it really September 5th? Wow. I’m sitting here 8 months and 5 days into 2019 and honestly blown away when I think about what has happened in my business, in our lives, and for our good in such a short amount of time.

Ironically, I’m it has taken 8 months into my 8th year of business to really sit back and reflect on the things I’ve been fighting for so long.

If you remember back to my goals post for 2019, you know my word of the year is simplify.

SIMPLIFY

When I claimed that word for my focus this year, I knew it meant real change was going to happen, but I didn’t know just HOW REAL it was gonna get.

I’ve spent SO long fighting tooth and nail with the push and pull of doing all the things as a business owner to “succeed.”

  • Growing an audience? Check.
  • Perfecting the Insta grid? Check.
  • Running the marketing hamster wheel ragged? Check.
  • Selling anything and everything I can think of? Check.
  • Getting distracted over and over by new ideas when I’m not fully done with the one I’m on? Check. Check. Check.

For so long I was living under a fixed mindset.

“This is just the way I am.”

I’m an ESFP. An enneagram 7. A creative unicorn. I do what I please and I move on when I don’t please anymore. Cut and run to the core.

But just because this is the way I’m wired doesn’t mean that I have to be stuck in those patterns. So I set out to do something different. I set out to not fight against who I am, but see… just SEE what running a business could be like if I took a different approach.

Simplicity. In all things.

THE START OF MY SIMPLICITY JOURNEY

At the end of 2018, my biz besties Kat Schmoyer and Hope Taylor and I decided we needed a next-level business educational experience and we wanted to do it together. We’d eyed certain masterminds with big hefty price tags wondering if that was the ticket, but decided we wanted to create something of our own. Something that would truly cater to our needs individually while also allowing us to support each other as a group.

So we set out to form a mastermind of our own with a leader we could trust.

It didn’t take long for us to figure out who we wanted that leader to be: Graham Cochrane.

We all had connections to Graham through our mutual friend and his wife, Shay Cochrane. And we all were speakers together at Creative at Heart. In some way shape or form, Graham had left a positive influence on all of us and we just knew he would be such a great fit for a mastermind coach.

If you don’t know Graham, he is an online educator and marketing genius. He has served thousands of students through his course programs on recording music and now uses all he has learned on the business side of things to help entrepreneurs make automatic income just like he does.

Thing is, we were essentially making up a role for Graham to assume. It wasn’t like he was offering this sort of thing. We had an idea and decided to go for it.

By go for it, I mean we hardcore pitched (read coerced 😂) Graham to lead us in a mastermind. Good thing we are really good at sales copy because somehow we convinced him to say yes. 😆

I may or may not have put a countdown timer in the last email to get him to make a decision. You know, speakin’ his language. No shame. 

To our surprise and excitement, he said yes.

And in January we began a year-long mastermind experience together with Graham as our lead.

Before our very first call, Graham asked us a series of questions to better get a grip on where we were at and what we would like to accomplish individually in 2019.

I had already felt such a pull towards simplicity in business that my answers clearly reflected the theme.

I knew I needed to let go in some areas, but had no idea what was about to go down.

TAKING MY FOOT OFF THE GAS

I had BIG plans for 2019. Plans for growth. Plans for streamlining and team building. Plans for world domination. Just kidding. But serious plans.

2019 would be the first year we were looking to my income alone to pay the bills. Jeremy and I prayerfully decided to take a chance and see what would happen. My business was on a trajectory of growth already, but we’ve always had the pillow of his corporate income to take care of our family financial needs no matter how my business performed.

As of 2019, there was no more pillow.

A lot was on the line. And I planned big to make the numbers happen. 

I stepped into January with a confident spirit and was ready to hit the ground running.

Until our very first mastermind call.

On that call, I told the king of courses point-blank NOT to ask me to make a course. I wouldn’t do it. Hated the thought of it. No. Nope. And instead of saying okay, he got right to the core of my insecurities and unearthed deep fears of imposter syndrome and past burned experiences.

Instead of working the big plan I had made for myself and this business, I literally spent the entire month doubting everything I had built and honestly depressed. Those feelings of insecurities wrapped around my heart and mind telling me lie after lie about who I am, what I can do, and if any of this is worth it.

Thankfully, Kat, Hope, and my husband lovingly walked me through that month and let me process my feelings. I came out of the low month with a sense of clarity. I don’t know how else to explain it, but I just felt the Lord calling me to STOP.

Stop pushing. Stop the plan. Stop worrying if I could really make this happen for our family. And stop the hamster wheel.

Instead of full steam ahead, I took my foot off the gas. Completely.

Just space. Space to breathe and see what could happen. Trusting the Lord to quite literally take the wheel of my business, our income, and our family.

I’m talking NO marketing plan. NO scaling plan. NO product plan.  I stopped it all. The rat race of keeping up on social media and content creation and dreaming of new ideas. Of this and that and all the things we think we NEED to do to be successful in business. I went from working all the time to barely working at all. 

I know it may sound ludicrous, but I pretty much didn’t work for a whole month. I sent maybe like 3 emails. That was all the effort I had in me. And it wasn’t one of those situations where I had a team of people behind me doing the work instead. All business efforts halted. 

And we paid the bills in January. And in February.

What?

The historically slowest months of my year were showing growth despite my bare-bones effort. But that was just a fluke, right?

HOW WAS THIS WORKING???!

Was it a fluke, or was it something else?

First of all, I firmly believe the Lord has provided for us in big ways. But the investigator in me had to put a finger on what was happening.

Since I was doing virtually nothing in my business, it didn’t take long to find the answer: 

My website was working. Doing ALL the work.

How to design a mockup in perspective in photoshop, graphic design tips, social media graphics, branding, sc stockshop

It is no secret that I am nerdy over designing websites that convert. I’ve been studying the science of conversion for over 5 years now. My clients have had seriously amazing results. Websites that aren’t just a pretty face but that make them thousands and thousands of dollars.

I’m confident in my abilities, but I had never FULLY tested them in this way. By literally doing ZERO marketing work and letting the chips fall as they may.

We paid the bills in March.

I’LL NEVER DO IT

That mastermind I joined? I was totally in it but was honestly passively learning. I wasn’t fully engaged because I was on the do-nothing train.

In all that time, simplicity, and space since January, I slowly felt called to 🙊 create a course. 🙈 It made so much sense. I could help so many people with what I know on how to create a Website that Converts just like I do for my custom clients and templates.

But I said I’d never do it. I told Jeremy of my wild feeling and tried to stuff it down for a while.

But the calling grew. It went from a little nudge to a big blinking neon sign in my face every day.

I technically already had it as a class for my template customers, but I just knew it could be so much more in-depth and helpful if I quit fighting my own self-doubt and made it into a comprehensive course.

So I told my mastermind pals. You should have seen the look on Graham’s face!

FIFTH HOME BLISS

Along with this new little calling, our family was gearing up for a big change: We were going to buy our fifth home, turn our fourth into our fourth rental property, and would actually be set up for retirement.

We decided to launch a new business where Jeremy could teach others our system for buying and holding real estate for long term growth and it has been received with so much excitement.

On top of all of that, we got the BIGGEST surprise of the year: Pregnant.

With a looming move and serious morning sickness, I continued in my 2019 path of extremely minimal work hours.

THE BIGGEST ACT OF SIMPLICITY

April. May. June.

They passed by in a blur.

July brought with it the big move to house number 5 and our semi-annual MMC sale. If you went and read the 2019 goal post, you know that I hinted at taking a good hard look at our product line and making cuts.

I hadn’t made a move on those cuts for 6 months, but in July I took the ultimate leap as a product-based business in simplicity and decided to retire our line of Canva and Adobe PDF style templates.

The very templates that started me off in this passive profit journey. The very templates that connected me to so many of my now close industry friends.

As my brand focus centered more and more around my expertise as a conversion-focused website designer, they just didn’t fit anymore.

We hosted our semi-annual July sale and gave them one last hoorah and then retired them for good.

OH WAIT. I FORGOT ABOUT THAT!

Those early months of pregnancy and moving consumed all of my thoughts. So much so that I hadn’t even taken a second to think about our finances. Bad business owner move ha!

Money just wasn’t on my mind.

On a random workday before the July sale, Jeremy and I decided to venture out to Panera for a morning of working together. I was working on graphics for the sale and he was struggling to focus on what he needed to get done. He forgot his earbuds and just couldn’t get in the groove.

As I was in deep work, he was doing some random work. I’m pretty sure he bought some books on Amazon and who else knows what he was up to.

Then he interrupted me to show me his laptop screen.

I tore my eyes away only to get a BIG shock.

Even before our July sale, my business had already earned over half of our yearly income goal.

Whattttttttttttt!!!???!!

Thank you, Lord. I left Panera in the best mood ever!

6 months off the rat race. 6 months of finally leaning into what Shay and Graham have been teaching for so long.

And I’ve made more money this year than I ever have before.

SAYING YES

It was the random shocking Panera coffee work date moment I needed to say yes.

Yes to stepping into the work I know God has for me. Yes to sharing my step-by-step formula for how I build websites that convert.

4 GAME-CHANGING LESSONS I’VE LEARNED BY STRIPPING THIS BUSINESS DOWN

01. You can stop.

Sick of grinding and being overworked and pushing and hamster wheeling? You can take your foot off the gas and take a break. It doesn’t have to be as long or as extreme as I did, but you can stop and rest. Your business will not die. You might even be surprised.

There will be seasons of hustle. I’m in one now as I finish this course and prep to launch! If you’re new in business or tackling something big, the hustle is real. But it doesn’t always have to be that way. Give yourself the gift of rest when you can and see what happens!

If you need a friend to encourage you if you’re doubting whether or not you can stop, DM me. I’ll be there.

02. Finding and drilling into YOUR niche actually does work.

I’ve been fighting this one for years. Even after hearing Shay teach and preach on it multiple times. You can’t tell me what to do. HA!

When I stopped trying to be all things to all people in all places and satisfying all my whims and ideas and focused ALL my energy into my niche of being a super nerdy, color-loving, conversion-focused website designer, my business took off. It works.

03. Putting family first IS possible even while running a business.

This year, I’ve had to say no to more than ever in the midst of a surprise pregnancy, sickness, and moving. I’ve had to humble myself in front of my customers and change plans because my family needed me.

And they surprised me in their show of support. Some of my sweet customers even took the time to email me saying that I was an example for them for running a business and putting family first when it counts. It has meant the world to have loyal people in my tribe and to see that putting family first isn’t just a pipe dream as a business owner. It is a CHOICE and you can have it if you just claim it.

04. Never say never.

I NEVER wanted to make a course let alone launch a course. I’m the girl who wants to be BTS designing and strategizing for my clients to see THEM have big wins. And boy do they see wins! I have no idea how this will go, but am excited to try!

I said never because of my own self-limiting beliefs and some really bad past experiences with courses. Yet someway somehow I decided to say yes to something I said I’d never do. On the other side of yes, I’m kinda glad for those experiences that left a horrible taste in my mouth. Because I now know what NOT to do.

Websites that Convert is no fluff. All action. And everything I know and have seen first hand work for building a home on the web that sells for you whether you are working or not.

Want to get on the waitlist to find out more about Websites that Convert and when you can get the course?

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8 MONTHS & FIVE DAYS LATER

8 months and 5 days later I can confidently say I am changed. There is no looking back. Simplicity works. It is freeing. You can have it, too. I’ll be here to cheer you on if you decide to say yes.

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  1. Hi Megan,

    I just want to say “Thank You!” for this. I have literally just done what you listed in this blog post, about a month ago.

    I stopped almost everything. I stopped worrying about growing my list, I stopped worrying about putting out a new post every week to two times a week, I stopped fretting over what my niche truly was (because I feel it keeps changing the more I blog, the more I feel more passionate about other things than what I did in the beginning).

    I started spending less time on the computer and more time with my family. I put on hold all my ideas for my growing blog and business and just STOPPED!

    Talk about scary, okay! And to be honest, I almost felt like a total failure because I was putting things on pause, but I agree that sometimes we just need to!

    And on the flip side, putting everything on pause for my blog, I’m actually (surprisingly) still continuing to seeing a growth in daily subscribers and pageviews!

    So yes ma’am, just stopping sometimes is what we really need, even for a reboot in ourselves!

    Thank you so much for this encouraging post, as now I don’t feel like I was crazy for pausing and now I’m ready to jump back into gear when the timing is right!

    -Cherelle

    • Megan Martin says:

      Hey Cherelle! I loved reading your story! So good! IT is TOTALLY scary to take your foot off the gas. Especially when your income depends on your business! But it has been really neat to see how my business survived without the overwhelm of some of the things we think we NEED to do to keep it running! Such a breath of fresh air!

  2. Alexandria says:

    Love this so much!!! I am more in a season of hustle and grinding but this is incredibly inspiring. I think this creative passive profit industry preaches “hustle, hustle so that “later” you won’t have to” but then I NEVER see anyone get to the “later”. Instead I see people build big powerful brands (at least on social media), constantly growing and then having to hire tons to handle the growth which is when I feel that I can’t relate. I INTENTIONALLY want to stay a Company of One (maybe 2; tag for Paul Jarvis’ book by that name). If the creative passive industry is just building elaborate online businesses that constantly have to be managed – where’s the fun in that? All that to say your brand and business has PROVED this last year that it is sustainable and that is something that I am highly interested in! Thank you! Keep being awesome!

    One last thing: I lived in Jacksonville, Florida for about a year in 2015-2016 and I met you a few times when you ran the Tuesday’s Together Rising Tide meetings. I guess you were a wedding planner back then. I have LOVED watching your brand grow and change. You are truly one of my favorite people in this industry and I hope you know that people do read your emails! Inspiring

  3. Shalanda says:

    Hi Megan!

    While I am a new reader (found you earlier this year) :), I have found so much value in your post. I love your transparency and the way you are able to prioritize what is most important to you. As a new blogger starting, it is refreshing to hear your testimony. It is comforting to know you do not have to participate in the rat race if you don’t want. It is possible to simplify!

    I have a ways to go as it relates to figuring out my audience and what works for me. However, this confirms that over time I will figure it out so I can just breathe and have faith.

    Also, congratulations on all your success and growing family. God bless you1

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