I have always been obsessed with growing and evolving as a person – long before it became cool to share a photo of a self-development book next to a latte on Instagram. Yup, ever since I was 10 years old, I’ve been running businesses and reading books that help me grow through being introspective.
When I was 12, my dad gifted me my first self-development book: How to Win Friends and Influence People. A book that everyone should read, by the way.
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In the years since then, I’ve grown, learned, made mistakes and kept evolving. Before moving to Italy after high school, I saved up money by selling wine. I got made fun of a lot during high school, but I did what I wanted to do, and saw the benefits of that through making money selling wine.
I’ve been growing and improving for most of my life, not just personally, but in my business life as well.
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My interest in self-development turned into an obsession with health and strength training when I was 18 and living in Italy. I didn’t know anyone there, but I threw myself into the world of gyms and nutrition, and became stronger than any girl I knew. There was a lot of pasta too, obviously.
Fast forward (get it?) 2 years, and I’m back in Belgium studying, and turning that obsession into my own fitness coaching business.
I knew Instagram existed, but I didn’t really know how to use it. It didn’t feel good to me to post endless pictures of myself. Why was that, you ask? Well, it was all about my clients, right, so I didn’t get why I should post my own face online.
Little by little, I started getting over myself and taking some photos of myself, encouraged (read: forced) by my friend Jessica who had a girly influence on me.
After posting for a few years, I had a few thousand followers. And then suddenly, with epic content about fitness, nutrition, mindset and weight loss, I gained 50,000 followers in just 6 months. (Yup, a story for another time).
My account grew steadily until I had about 70,000 followers, but then a little problem came along. Here’s the thing: those people were following me for fitness and nutrition, but I wasn’t really sure if I even wanted to talk about those things anymore. Not ideal, right?
I was totally torn between fitness and nutrition coaching versus business coaching, but I reluctantly kept posting what my followers wanted to see, not what I wanted to post. I was still getting reposted from my old content, so that’s how people knew me.
I felt like I wasn’t allowed to step away from the success I had created, but I also knew I couldn’t keep doing everything at the same time.
I was so torn.
- Starting a new account
- Continuing the weight loss and health side of my business and combining it with business coaching
If you follow me on Instagram today, you know what I ended up doing…
Slowly I started getting more confident in my business coaching and I stopped pressuring myself to make decisions. I decided to just listen to my gut and DO.
Often, our mindset will follow our actions.
So there I was, posting business, marketing and sales advice.
The 70.000 followers dropped VERY quickly.
Another 100 gone.
Another 200 gone.
And initially this felt terrible. We try not to get caught up in vanity metrics, but it’s not the most awesome feeling when a bunch of people unfollow you.
Granted, it wasn’t great to have so many people follow me for fitness advice and me giving that up… should I have started a new account? Maybe. But I thought all those followers would be good in the future too. We know how important authority is, and I knew that the fitness and food crowd was into self-development as well and many would want to learn about business as well.
So I stuck with it and started changing things.
My branding and content used to be unisex, because I didn’t necessarily want to choose between men and women.
I used to get caught up in the hype and I kept posting that content… even though I didn’t really care about numbers of calories anymore.
So what did I do?
I started talking to 80% of my clients: entrepreneurial women who wanted more confidence in their life and business advice.
I changed my branding to my vision: I stopped being afraid of using pink and pastels, because guess what? I loved those colors and I needed to follow my intuition.
Intuition is one of those tricky things: lots of entrepreneurs make that their main focus. But the downside of being totally intuitive is that it’s not always what’s right for your business. Your intuition might tell you to post once every 6 months, but I really believe that consistency is the most important thing.
So I won’t be talking a whole lot about intuition, but I WILL say this: sometimes you just need to follow your gut and go with what feels good.
So I followed my own advice, and I posted more photos of myself, even though those would tank every single time. I had grown through sharing infographics, and my followers weren’t used to that.
I started putting my personal brand forward so people couldn’t wait to be coached by me.
I created a coaching program that was SO specific, my ideal client couldn’t say no.
My follower count dropped. And dropped. And dropped.
I lost over 15.000 followers because I followed my intuition and went from being ‘vanilla’ to ‘me’.
And you know what happened? My business soared higher than before. I got the most fun, sweetest clients to work with who respected me.
I made more money than ever before.
Have faith in yourself
And after a while I started celebrating every unsubscriber and unfollower… because that meant I was refreshing the ‘blood’ of my audience and getting closer to my core.
The more I do things in my own, authentic way, the better a life and business I create.
My advice to you?
Don’t be afraid:
- Of unsubscribers in your email broadcasts.
- Of going against the grain: I did it when I grew and I did it when I lost followers. I was so afraid of being the typical ‘fitness coach turned business coach’ that it took me way too long to have faith in myself as an entrepreneur and coach.
- Of using the 80/20 logic. I desperately wanted to keep being ‘unisex’ and not scare anyone away… and by doing that, I failed to attract the perfect clients for me because I wasn’t going all in. I did it with my branding and marketing, and with my Dutch courses.
Go all in on what you want.
Identify the types of people you like working with. Speak to them. Write for them. Don’t worry about people from your past not being able to follow, or your friends not liking your posts.
Write for your amazing clients. Put blinders on towards your colleagues.
Brand yourself. If you are speaking to everyone, you are speaking to no one.
And guess what? When I use pink and pastels or whatever in my branding, I still attract men. I attract the right men and people who respect me and they can embrace everything if they feel I am the perfect fit for them. It’s not a girly brand, it’s just me. And I attract the right people by infusing that everywhere…
Which brings me to:
Be authentically yourself, even when that scares the shit out of you.
Once you embrace your path and your intuition and you use that intelligently, you will be able to break through income plateaus, scaling problems and so much more.
It’s when you try to fit the box that you will fail.
Boxes are made to be torn apart. So don’t be afraid to follow your own path, however unconventional or ‘stupid’ it might be to your environment.
I changed my already very successful business and turned it upside down, deleted almost all my offers… and I created a business that’s 10 times MORE successful and 10 times more fulfilling and feels 100% right with amazingly warm, fun clients who love working with me and I love working with them. And isn’t that the goal?
My advice to myself would have been to never doubt going all in on me, no matter how hard other people will try to convince you otherwise.
Have long-term vision
I believe one of my talents is having an incredibly long-term vision and I knew that taking a step back would mean taking 1000 steps forward in the long run.
That’s what I did.
And now I’m building 2 million dollar businesses, have amazing team members to support myself and my clients, have the most amazing clients in the world and together we are impacting millions of people in the world.
Or at least, that’s my vision. And I know I’m getting there soon.
Building your own Big Vision
So, what’s your Big Vision? What do you want to do that makes no sense? Start that webshop when everyone says there are enough webshops?
I just had a client who was laid off during the crisis and started her own business in 3 weeks and is already having a 10k month WITHIN THE FIRST MONTH OF BUSINESS.
It only makes sense if you help it make sense.
So do what makes sense to you and don’t be afraid to pivot when necessary.
By all means: I don’t mean postpone or throw away good things. But don’t be afraid to dream even bigger, even when you’re comfortable.
I was comfortable. It was 50% stupid of me to give up what I had built. I lost time. I lost resources. But I’m playing the long game and so should you.
Dream big. Play bigger.
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