This month we are celebrating 10 years in our accountability coaching business! It’s hard to relate to the person I was when I started AW back in 2012. I was 35 years old, had two kids under the age of three, living in our first home as a family, with a shed in the back that I set up as my office. I still remember pasting pictures onto my business vision board.
I often wondered if anybody would understand the concept of being in an accountability group or hiring an accountability coach. But I also had this deep belief that it was good work to be doing and I genuinely felt that sharing these tools would help people in a meaningful way that would have a lasting impact on their lives.
Slowly but surely people started signing up. I’m still so grateful today for those early adopters! You know who you are.
In those early days, I alternated between feeling like I was failing on all fronts with bits of pride from conquering the next step. Building my website, putting my offers out, sending out newsletters, building my email list, learning how to use social media. All of it was strange and new.
I now think of those first 5 years as honing my craft, understanding how to talk about this work, and what it means to run a business. That included training coaches and hiring support people. Hiring a developer to help me create an app. Finding the right consultants to advise me on how to build funnels and finally a real web designer after DIY’ing my own site for years. I also hired coaches to help me build my brand, get publicity and raise my prices.
I saw the business grow to the point where by all accounts it was ‘successful’ without knowing how close I was to a very real precipice. It wasn’t until the Thomas Fire and subsequent mudslide that I realized there was no room in my business for a crisis. Thank goodness Marissa and I were working together at the time. She was there to take the wheel. It wasn’t something we discussed ahead of time or that I showed her how to do but she figured it out and did it anyway.
Through this ordeal and many subsequent conversations Marissa and I decided to partner. We have shared values and similar belief systems but we also have important differences that complement each other’s skills and allowed us to build a more robust business. We spent a lot of time reimagining what Accountability Works could be. This involved asking at every turn, how do we simplify, automate or remove ourselves as the bottleneck? The transition from being the business to running the business allowed us to build something that was bigger than ourselves.
Developing our partnership has been one of the most important lessons I’ve learned as a business owner. We have discussed every aspect of the business, and we have solidified our roles and responsibilities. It was such a lesson on how to communicate, set boundaries and take ownership. I’m really proud of how we managed all of it.
The other issue we had to address as partners was getting underneath the hood, and shifting away from running the whole accountability coaching business from a messy Google drive, a few spreadsheets, memory, and a lot of caffeine. Marissa and I have invested countless hours in creating SOPs, templates, Asana projects and so much more. There is now a process in place for almost every customer touchpoint in the business. All the coaches, their training, their template, their emails – everything is organized, streamlined and clear. I think if there was a single thing I would have done sooner, it would be this. It sounds so boring and tedious, and it is, but it’s so worthwhile. We removed real and energetic blocks. You don’t realize how you resist bringing in new business or growing until you remove the barriers that were causing stress.
We started working with a financial consultant to help us understand our numbers more deeply than revenue, expenses and profit and from there develop a financial plan and strategy. She also helps us navigate the complicated world of running an online business with a physical product and partners who live in different states and deliver services around the globe. We hired a marketing strategist that helped us understand our metrics including what to measure and understanding where we should be. These are two investments I also wish I’d done earlier. I think we could have scaled faster and more effectively if we had this information sooner.
It is true, hindsight is 20/20. I think where our accountability coaching business stands now, feels pretty damn good. We have awesome coaches, a great support team, fantastic clients who appreciate what Accountability Works has helped them accomplish and who have grown their own businesses right along with us. We work in a way that is sustainable and healthy. Our culture is one that practices what we preach. We all coach the process and are in it.
In fact, none of this would have been possible without accountability. I’d still be pasting pictures onto that vision board if I hadn’t had great people holding me accountable to taking the uncertain, imperfect action required. Turning a dream into a reality is absolutely the scariest, gut wrenching, challenging, and rewarding experience and for anyone that is brave enough to set out to do that, Accountability Works is here for you.