Transcript: Why I Decided To Cancel My Coaching Program Days Before It Launched

October 10, 2023

AMY PORTERFIELD: “’I suggest you do not launch your coaching program.’  

“And my first reaction, well, you might not know this about me, but when I get nervous, I laugh. It's a horrible trait of mine. I have laughed at funerals. I laughed when my best friend broke her leg. I'm not proud of this. I laughed when my mom fell and, like, had to get stitches. You guys, is it terr—? I'm laughing right now because I'm nervous to tell you that I laugh when people hurt themselves. It is horrible. I am not proud of myself. I have a nervous laugh, okay?  

“So you can guess what I did. I started nervous laughing, like, through the whole thing. Like, he probably thought I thought this was a joke. I was just so nervous, because in my mind, I'm like, ‘What are you talking about? We just hired two salespeople that I love, and we have coaches that I've been working with that are incredible. I created an entire webinar from scratch,’ and if you've ever created a webinar, you know that is no small feat. ‘We are one week from launching something that we beta tested and it has worked. Like, you've lost your mind, Bryan.’ That's what I wanted to tell him. ‘You have lost your mind.’” 

INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started. 

AMY: Well, hey, there, friend. Welcome back to Online Marketing Made Easy. 

But today I'm going to talk about something that wasn't so easy, and I'm just going to jump into it because I don't want to do this episode. I do not want to tell you about this, because it touches on an experience I recently had where I made a big mistake.  

Ahh, okay. So the reason why I'm sharing it is that I wouldn't be a good mentor if I didn't share the bad with the good. Like, it's so fun to tell you about my successful launches and how I got there and how you can do it, too. But let's be really honest that so much of entrepreneurship is the mistakes we've made and what we've learned from them, right? And so I feel as though I owe it to you to take you behind the scenes and share something that recently happened to me, and I'm cringing because I don't want to.  

All right, here it is. It's been a while since I've used this analogy, but if you know me, you know that I usually only like to share scars over scabs. Basically, scars are experiences where, more or less, you've healed from them, right? Scar, you’ve healed; scab, it's oozy; it's still really visible, is right on the surface. So I like to share the scars. And the reason for that is not that I want to, like, sugarcoat anything or not be really vulnerable, but I can share with you what I've learned from the scars. The scabs, I’m still in it. It's still oozy. I can say, “Hey, we're just the same. We all make mistakes. I'm human,” but I don't have much to share in terms of the value of what I've learned from it. So I prefer to wait till I've got a scar. I feel like as a mentor, it's more responsible on my side.  

So, for example, when my chief marketing officer, Chloe, left the company, I didn't want to talk about it when I was going through it. Quite honestly, I couldn't even talk about it because I would cry. And it took me a few months because it was definitely a scab for a while. It was painful. But then, as time went on, and Chloe and I navigated her transition out of the company—she'd been with me for seven years. She was my best friend. She still is, but she was my right hand—and once I figured out how to transition her out of the company and thrive without her, then I could share how painful it was, what I learned from it, and what I did in order to bounce back. That's valuable, right?  

However, today I'm going to break that rule, and I'm going to share a scab. So I'm breaking my own rules, and I'm just going to share my heart with you. And as much as I am scared to share this publicly—and I really need to get to the point because I'm making it overdramatic—but let me just share with you that sometimes sharing the scabs with your audience will remind them that you are in the trenches with them. And also, I still think there's some value I can glean from this and share with you today, so I feel like this is important. 

So if you follow the podcast, then you know that I've been talking a lot about the fact that we have been creating a coaching program. We beta tested it twice, and it went really well. The feedback from my coaching students has been incredible, and so we decided we're going for it. So this coaching program, it encompassed creating a digital course, and then we've recently decided to add on launching it and relaunching it. So six-month coaching program; working one on one with a coach that I have trained, who has gone through my programs, and I've worked with.  

It's really exciting, and I was so excited about this because you all have asked for this, and you want that one on one, so I'm hearing you, and I was looking forward to, like, a new iteration of the company, and it's different and exciting and variety. And as an entrepreneur, we all love that, right? So what I did is over the last six months, I've been creating it with my team. Like I said, we beta tested it twice. I hired two salespeople. I've never had a full-time salesperson in my company. We hired three coaches and then created an entire webinar for selling the coaching program, which meant I studied five people's webinars. It was hours and hours of studying. I talked to my friends—shout out to Stacy Tuschl. You were amazing—she has a very successful coaching program, and she shared with me how she does her webinars, how she hired her coaching team. I just, I relied on my friends’ feedback. I feel so fortunate. And for weeks—well, I should say months and months—we've been working on this. And then, one week out from launching my coaching program, we decided not to launch it. Ohhh.  

Okay. So let me take you behind the scenes. So recently, we hired a consultant who was recommended by my business mentor, Michael Hyatt. So the consultant, his name is Bryan Harris. He has a company called Growth Tools. And for my O.G.s, he used to have a company called Videofruit, if you remember that. That's how I first met Bryan. And he's got an incredible team behind him, and he is an incredible consultant.  

And I hired him to look at the health and growth of different areas of my business, including the marketing-team structure and making sure that I am growing a healthy email list, because it's one thing to get your first couple thousand people on your email list. It's another thing to manage a list of hundreds of thousands of people in your email list and making sure that that subscriber list is healthy and engaged. And we recently moved over to HubSpot, so that's a whole other ballgame. So we hired a consultant to look at the health of the business to identify where we should be doubling down. And I also knew he has a coaching program, so he could look at my coaching program and offer advice and feedback.  

So it turns out Bryan met with my entire marketing department, my whole leadership team, and some other people in the company and did a whole analysis, like, a holistic approach to the business. It was bigger than I thought he would do, which is really cool. Like, talk about under-promising, overdelivering? This man did that.  

And he came to us in a meeting, with green flags and red flags. And so I didn't think much of this meeting. It was with my CEO. And I’m like, “All right. I just got another meeting on my calendar. We're going to go through some green lights, red lights at the company. He's going to offer some insight. Cool.” We get on the call and, like, he drilled down into all the good things about my company.  

Like, I'll share one of the green flags, was your team loves what they do. They love the mission. They love supporting your students. They feel as though we're making an impact in the world. They feel like we're doing the right thing and being great people and stewards of what we promise our students. So that felt really good. And they love working on this team. They like me as a leader and Jaws as a CEO. Like, so much of that is amazing. And so I loved to hear that.  

And there were other green flags. Like, our evergreen digital-course funnels are crushing it; the way we launch and our conversions for live launching are world class. Like, there were some amazing things.  

However, there were some red flags. And one of the red flags that he pointed out is that some people on my marketing team—we did this, like, wellness score—and their score was low. Not everyone. But there were some people on my marketing team that were just struggling and frustrated, and they were trying to cram it all in so that they can enjoy a four-day workweek. And some days they weren't enjoying that four-day work. They were having to work on Fridays, and I didn't know. And there were just too many spinning plates.  

So at this time, he said, “Listen, this coaching program that you're launching in a week, it's going to be successful right out of the gate because you've already beta tested it and you have a big audience and people are waiting for it. But there's going to become a point in a couple of months where you're not going to have these warm leads and you have to go for cold leads. And what you've set up is not going to support that, and it's going to get hard. And the challenge is right when that coaching program is going to need a lot of support, all hands on deck, number one, your marketing department has never ran a coaching program, so there's going to be a lot of trial and error, and it's going to come right at the time where you're launching Digital Course Academy,” which is what we love, what we do best. And he said, “You are going to stress out your team, you're going to overwhelm your infrastructure, and it's going to get to a point where you definitely are going to have to make a decision, where are you putting your time? And I'm going to tell you right now,” he said, “Your team is going to be stretched too thin.” And he said, “I suggest you put a pin in this. I suggest you do not launch your coaching program.”  

And my first reaction, well, you might not know this about me, but when I get nervous, I laugh. It's a horrible trait of mine. I have laughed at funerals. I laughed when my best friend broke her leg. I'm not proud of this. I laughed when my mom fell and, like, had to get stitches. You guys, is it terr—? I'm laughing right now because I'm nervous to tell you that I laugh when people hurt themselves. It is horrible. I am not proud of myself. I have a nervous laugh, okay?  

So you can guess what I did. I started nervous laughing, like, through the whole thing. Like, he probably thought I thought this was a joke. I was just so nervous, because in my mind, I'm like, “What are you talking about? We just hired two salespeople that I love, and we have coaches that I've been working with that are incredible. I created an entire webinar from scratch,” and if you've ever created a webinar, you know that is no small feat. “We are one week from launching something that we beta tested and it has worked. Like, you've lost your mind, Bryan.” That's what I wanted to tell him. “You have lost your mind.” 

But then I said, “Okay. Thanks for this information, and I need to sleep on this.” And I could see Jaws, my CEO, was on the call. I could see she was like, “What?” And she's a thinker and a processor, so she wasn't saying anything. And I was just nervous laughing, so it was kind of a ridiculous Zoom call near the end. And I'm sure Bryan couldn't even read us, but I didn’t know what I was going to do.  

But here's what's ironic, because this year my team, my leadership team specifically, but then we rolled it out to the entire team, we chose a word, a word to live by for the year, and that word happens to be unreasonable. We wanted to act in unreasonable ways, make unreasonable choices, do unreasonable things, to get unreasonable results, and make an unreasonable impact. And of course, I mean that all in the most positive way. We made an initiative to be unreasonable this year. And let me tell you, canceling a coaching program one week before it went live feels very unreasonable to me.  

So we got off the call, and Jaws called me right away. I don't know if you ever do that, but like, you're on a call with a consultant or something with your team members, you hang up, and then you call each other right away. And she's like, “Holy crap. I just hired—“ she was in charge of this, so she's like, “I just hired two salespeople. I've been working with them every single day. We've built an entire coaching program out. We're not going to cancel it, right?” And then she kind of looked at me like, “Ooh, we're going to cancel it, aren't we?” I think we both knew, one, we really trust our consultant. But two, he broke it all down. I'm not getting into all the details, but the way he broke it down and the details he shared us and the metrics and, like, how we're getting to these numbers and the leads we needed, it made sense. And the thing is, he wasn't saying, “Get rid of it forever;” he was saying, “Put a pin in it. You can come back to it. Probably not this year, but you can come back to it, but put a pin in it.”  

So I slept on it. I had a little cry with Hobie. I'm like, “I made a big mistake. Like, I shouldn't have even moved forward.” I saw some red flags that I should have caught earlier, the fact that this was going to take us off our game. And that's what I really want to talk to you about and why am I telling you the story, because I never want to just tell you something about me that you can't apply to your business.  

And here's what I want to tell you. Number one, I slept on it. I had a little cry about it. I talked to Jaws about it extensively. We made the decision to postpone it indefinitely, but then we needed to get the buy in from our leadership team. And so when we went to our leadership team, one thing I said to them—and I had to check myself at the door before I said it, like, “Amy, do you mean this before you say it?” And I did—and I said, “I care more about your well-being as a team than I care about money in my bank account,” because I knew that the coaching program would make an impact in a positive way for my students, and I care deeply about all of you. But if my team is struggling and their well-being is an issue here and their happiness, well, then, I'm not doing my job as a leader to take care of my team. So I said, “I care more about your well-being than money in the bank. You all are maxed.”  

And I made an error. And this is the mistake I made and what I want to share with you, hoping that you'll get value out of this episode. I forgot my core competencies. I forgot that I teach to double down on what's working and get the most juice out of that before you add more.  

And so although my ego was tied to this—I'm embarrassed that I had to tell two salespeople that I loved, “We can't use you.” And without getting into the specifics, we compensated people appropriately and took care of them. So we didn't just act like it was no big deal that we promised someone a job and then we took it away from them. So we care about that, and we took care of that—but my ego took a hit. My confidence was shattered a little bit. Like, I move forward with something that a really trusted advisor is saying, “This could cripple your company right now, not forever, but right now.” And also, I forgot what I teach. And you know, I only say I only teach what I do. And I forgot that I really do believe doubling down and creating a foundation based on just a few things creates a lot of peace in your business, and quite honestly, a lot of happiness.  

And so what I'm trying to say is I've launched Digital Course Academy for many years, and I teach you to launch your digital course over and over and over again, right? I've already done that. So if I wanted to add something, I could. But what I missed is that this consultant came in—and you don't need a consultant to come in and do this part, but it helped me immensely—he came in, and he said, like, “You can get so much more out of your evergreen funnel. Like, even if you don't hire a consultant, but you can study, what are five ways to optimize an evergreen funnel? And if you have one, ask yourself, ‘Am I doing all those five things to the best of my ability?’” because he believes I could 3x my evergreen funnel this year. And he gave some simple strategies, and you can bet once I apply them, I will teach them on this podcast, so keep coming back.  

And then he looked at Digital Course Academy, and he said, “Do you know you could do this and you can do that to maximize it? You could even launch two times a year.” And I've done that before, and I didn't like how I did it, but he gave some new ideas how it might look different, and I was excited about it.  

But the thing is, I like a simple business. I don't like a lot of spinning plates in the air, and I mistakenly thought, “I can't get to where I want to get to without adding more.” But that's not true. And I can add more down the line. But he looked at my business and realized, “Wait, you haven't even gotten enough out of this,” meaning there's so much more juice with the squeeze.  

And so I want to come back to you, my sweet friend, and ask you, are you adding more to your business and forgetting that there's probably more juice in that squeeze? meaning what if you added to or optimized or did something different with your digital course? Maybe you added a VIP session, a payment plan, a group-coaching component to it, to the same program, but you launched it again and it felt new and exciting instead of a whole new program, like I was doing. Or if you do have something on evergreen, what if you dialed that in and added some new strategies and learned some new things and doubled that revenue, without having to create something new? Because although we are entrepreneurs who crave variety and excitement and new things, at the end of the day, I think we're all looking for more freedom, right? more peace in our lives, more time with our family, more time doing the things we want to do, more time for rest and relaxation so we can be the best we can be. And the more you pile on, more projects, more projects, more campaigns, more new things, new things, you are moving farther and farther away from that peace that you likely desire.  

So I want you to hear me. I am not saying don't do new things in your business. But I am saying slow down for a minute—don't make the mistake I made and rush into something new—and really investigate, do you already have what you need in your business but maybe you need to double down on it, learn more? Maybe you hire that consultant that specializes in evergreen if that's what you're doing, like, evergreen funnels. Or maybe you take a training to learn something new. 

Let me give you an example. A few years ago, we took a training on learning how to do paid boot camps, but I took that training—actually, someone on my team took it, my marketing director—and she applied it to what we were already doing, and we increased the sales for our digital courses by learning something new and applying to what we are already doing instead of creating something totally brand new, because Tony Robbins always said, “Every new thing you do and you start from scratch, you slow down your progress and your success.” And sometimes you got to slow down to speed up. I get that. But is it really necessary where you are at right now in your business?  

So I'm going to focus on being smarter in my business, practicing what I preach—less is more—and focusing on and optimizing my core competencies in my business, which for me is creating digital courses and then learning to sell them in a way that adds immense value.  

And maybe I will revisit the coaching program, which I think would be incredible, but not until I really have gotten all the juice out of the squeeze. And fourteen years in, I just needed to be reminded of something that I truly do believe. And I think that's why when Bryan brought it to me, although I laughed and cried about it, I knew what my truth was. I knew he was speaking something to me that I already knew but forgot.  

And so there you have it. That was a hard, hard thing for me to do, to go to my leadership team and say, “I think we need to postpone indefinitely something that everyone had been working on.” And the beautiful thing is my leadership team, once I laid it out, they totally agreed. We were all on the same page. In my situation, this unreasonable decision meant that I've lost a couple hundred thousand dollars this year in profit. I let go of revenue this year and profit. And I felt extremely disappointed in myself for moving full force of the coaching program, without realizing that I was weakening my infrastructure and my business to do so. And my ego took a big hit. I'm the leader of this company. I was charging forward and then said, “Oh, I made a mistake. This is a bad idea. We got to pull it back. Do you all agree?”  

But then, I was reminded that, one, obviously, I'm far from perfect, and leaders also make mistakes. Two, I'm really proud of myself for being courageous enough to say, “Hey, guys. I think we need to turn this ship around.” And also, I'm excited to find new ways to grow my email list, optimize an evergreen funnel, and do more with live launching, and teach it all to you. I’m going to get better at what I really love to do. And I also am all about more peace in my life and in my business, and I really do believe this is the way to get there.  

And as a reminder, when you make big mistakes, you learn a lot. It was just a stark reminder to come back to the same thing that I tell my students, which is that you want to take advantage of what's working in your business before you add on. And I just didn't realize that I had so much more opportunity. I didn't realize I had more opportunity in my business. And it took a consultant to show that to me. But this might be the episode, you don't need to hire consultant, and you look at your business and ask yourself, is there more you can do with what you've already created? And why would you want to do that? To have more peace and calm and freedom in your business, because as you start to pile on all the stuff, you will absolutely be held captive by it. There's no doubt in my mind.  

So here's some questions you can ask yourself that I ask myself. Is this something that I should do now, or should I hold off on this new initiative and strengthen what I'm already doing and optimize and take advantage of what I've already worked so hard to create? Another question. Can I get more out of what I'm already doing? Is there more juice with that squeeze? Can I strengthen it? Another question. Are there new ways to increase revenue with what I'm already doing? And that's what I'm super excited to teach all of you. When I uncover new ways to make more revenue or save money with what I'm doing with digital courses, I will absolutely be teaching you on this podcast, because I only teach what I do.  

It's so easy to get excited about adding things to your business. It's so easy to be like, “This is our new thing that we're doing. Let's do this. Let's do that.” And you know that you exhaust your team when you do that, right? Like, as leaders, we have to know that, right? Sometimes it's worth it, but sometimes it's not.  

There's a book that I just started reading that Michael Hyatt said, “Now that you've made this decision, this is a book that I think you're going to get a lot of value in.” And let me give you the title. The book is called 10X Is Easier than 2X, and it's by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy. These are the guys that wrote that other book that I love, The Gap and the Gain. So 10X Is Easier than 2X, and it basically is this whole point of this episode is what that book is about. So something to think about, and I think it would be worth a read. I've just started it, and I already love it. I'm like, “Yes, yes, yes. It’s speaking my language.”  

So here's the thing. I am going back to my roots. I'm going to focus on what I do best, which is helping other people create and sell digital courses and building their businesses. But with that comes list building an entrepreneurial mindset, and a lot of the lessons I teach in my book Two Weeks Notice. So there's so much opportunity there. And then, when I feel like I'm ready, and probably with the help of my consultant, I'll decide if I want to add a coaching component to my business next year, but not this year.  

And I guess the other thing that I'm hoping you're going to get out of this podcast episode is that you're going to make mistakes. You're going to go in one direction, realize, “Holy cow, this might not be the right direction.” And I guess I hope this episode gives you permission to stop, to change direction, to say, “No, I'm not going to do this,” because the easier thing would have been to say, “No, Bryan. I've already started this coaching program. My entire team has worked on it. We've dumped a lot of money into creating it, and there's a lot of revenue to make. I’ve already gone this far; I’m not turning back.” And that probably would have been to save my ego and not rock my confidence. But I know that mistakes aren't going to kill me and that I'm strong enough to bounce back from something like this, and so that's what I'm doing.  

The reason I say this is more of a scab than a scar is I haven't figured it all out yet. I don't know exactly how I'm going to 3x my evergreen. I have some ideas, but I don't know exactly what I'm going to do with Digital Course Academy to make it even bigger and more exciting, but I will absolutely figure it out.  

So thanks for hanging out with me here and letting me share a very big mistake that feels—it feels terrible. That's another thing. Just because it feels terrible doesn't mean I can't figure it out, right? or that I'm not going to be okay. But I also see the light at the end of the tunnel. And I'm proud of me and my team for saying, “Okay. Let's not do that, and let's figure out how to course correct here,” pardon the pun. And that is exactly what we're going to do. I'll keep you updated and share all of the strategies I'm going to implement along the way, so keep listening to Online Marketing Made Easy because I have a feeling it’s going to get even better.  

All right, my sweet friend. I'm so grateful for you. Thank you for following along. Please be sure to leave a review if you've never had. I would love to hear what you think of this podcast. And please share this episode with a friend who might be struggling from a mistake they've made recently or a pivot they need to make. Maybe it will give them permission and courage to go in the right direction. 

I'll see you on Thursday for more entrepreneurial goodness, same time, same place. Can't wait. 

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