Female Entrepreneur

Relationships, Not Followers: 3 Genuine Ways to Level Up Your Business

Relationships, Not Followers: 3 Genuine Ways to Level Up Your Business | SheCanCoterie.com

I started She Can Coterie in August of 2015. I was laid off from my job as a virtual assistant with no notice. Fortunately, three of the clients I had been working with decided to take the leap to work with me on my own. They had a relationship with me and not the company that laid me off, so they jumped right in.

This was my first glimpse into the power of relationship marketing. 

From there, they started sending me referrals, and I had ZERO boundaries, so I said yes to everyone and everything. Because I was getting so many referrals each week—which sounds like a dream, I know—I never invested in any sort of marketing.

But then I found myself changing course in my business. I didn’t make moves because the business or the projects weren’t working; I just knew that we could do more better with more impact for the women we worked with.

From there, referrals could no longer get me new clients. I didn’t have a flow in place for new clients to find me—and I found our funds getting tighter.

I was lying awake at night thinking about all the team and business expenses. I was hustling and trying random things to bring in money. One month I had to personally cover team payroll, and that’s when I knew this couldn’t happen again.

This all comes down to the legacy that I want to lead. I want women to walk in their strengths and build lives they love while creating the impact they were born to create. That’s what I want for the women on my team, that’s what I want for our clients, and that’s what I want for YOU.

Note: this content first appeared as a live video over on Facebook! If you’d rather watch than read, click below!

There is power in relationship marketing. 

So this is what we’ve found to be true:

Relying on referrals means you don’t have a strategy for growth.

I wasn’t cultivating relationships and paving a path for leads to come to me. When we rely on referrals to walk in the door, we are being reactive, not proactive.

When we shifted the way we worked, two things happened :

First, the referrals that were coming in were expecting something that we didn’t offer anymore. They were far from ideal, and we had high client turnover. When client turnover was high, we weren’t profitable. We invested SO deeply in the first two months to understand a client’s business and needs, only for them to leave because they were expecting services we did not and could not offer.

The second thing that happened was referrals dwindled. Because our client turnover was high, they were definitely not referring us. AND because our services were new we didn’t have clients that truly understood the way we were working. 

We were left with no strategy in place, no road paved for leads to come to us, no consistent relationship, no defined experience. So, we tried to do it all, frantically.

Trying to be everywhere means that you don’t make your biggest impact anywhere.

I found myself trying to follow all of the blueprints of success from the “experts”—I know you can relate! But those experts don’t know me or my business. They know what works for them and their business. 

I was left hustling, but never seeing success. Trying to run a marathon, but realizing I’m stuck on a treadmill.

So I began looking at our best clients. The ones who lit up our team, who stuck around for ages, who sing our praises, and who we did our best work for. I mapped out their journeys to working with us. And I realized their paths had the same touchpoints, the same flow, and were founded on one common denominator: a strong relationship built consistently, intentionally, lovingly and attentively over time. That’s relationship marketing, simply put. It’s real. And it’s powerful. 

The mediocre and even downright not ideal clients? The ones who were constantly picking us apart, who drug their feet, who didn’t allow us to do our best work, who stuck around for one month and went on their way unhappily? 90% of the time, they were referrals. 

What we realized is that you don’t control referrals. You control relationships. Or how you intentionally build relationships.

We don’t oppose referrals. But referrals must be a byproduct of a relationship you intentionally cultivate and enjoy. When you only allow clients in who you have a joyful relationship with, then all your referrals will be new friends, too.

Relationships, not followings.

Because of this journey we’ve been through as a company and the journey we’ve discovered with our clients, we discovered what worked and what didn’t. Here’s the answer: 

Relationships WORK, followings don’t. 
Relationships LAST, followings don’t. 
Relationships FULFILL, followings don’t. 

We want our clients to grow their businesses in a fulfilling, sustainable, and effective way by focusing on what works, lasts and fulfills—relationships.

If you are ready to ditch the traditional marketing blueprints, the hustling, the showing up everywhere and not making your true, deepest impact, WE ARE TOO.

We’re sharing a guided journal to discover your relationship marketing strengths. And I’ll be sharing much more in the coming weeks about how this can work for you, your unique strengths, in your unique business.

Continual Learning and Deriving Inspiration as a Leader

Continual Learning & Deriving Inspiration as a Leader | SheCanCoterie.com

The journey from manager to CEO is not without its mindset challenges and self-doubts. You might be asking yourself, “Am I really qualified to be the CEO of anything?” Short answer: YES.

But growth doesn’t stop there. Becoming the CEO doesn’t mean you’ve reached the top, that you’ve plateaued, or that there isn’t more to learn.

Actually, it’s quite the opposite. Becoming the CEO means you’ll be able to hold more space for dreaming, for learning, and for pursuing those goals and dreams with your best foot forward.

I get it — educating yourself can feel more like a chore and can quickly become overwhelming. Even worse, it can seem unimportant. We put it off and put it off because it doesn’t seem as pressing as that large proposal you need to put together, right?

Education can feel overwhelming or unimportant, unless you change your mindset and make the decision to take education seriously and dig deep.

Honestly, it’s a decision you make — it’s either important or it’s not. It’s either a priority, or it’s not.

How to Filter and Organize Your Continual Learning

If you decide education and continual learning is a priority for you in life and in business, start searching for learning opportunities with intention to find the education that you know you can trust and will benefit you and your business.

Distance yourself from the noise and ask yourself these questions:

  • Where do you want to take your business in the next few months?

  • What knowledge do you lack to get yourself there?

  • What do you need to know in order to accomplish those goals?

  • How will you measure success in your education?

Validate your educational resources by asking yourself these questions:

  • Will their service, their content, further your brand in its mission or dilute the brand?

  • If you implemented their education, will you be closer to attaining your goals?

  • What exactly are you going to be learning from them?

  • How long will it take to learn what you need to learn from them? If you’re joining a course, challenge, or program — how long will it take to complete?

  • And what will you gain from learning from them?

Different Forms of Learning

Education comes in hundreds of different forms these days, so I get if choosing how you’d like to learn can be a bit overwhelming.

You have to find not only the best resources for what you’re looking to learn, but also find enjoyable ways to learn that work for you and your brain.

Below is a list of just a few of the most popular ways you can learn and find inspiration:

  • Listening to a podcast

  • Reading blog articles

  • Watching the Instagram stories of your CEO inspos and biz besties

  • Reading a good book (we highly recommend Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead!)

  • Taking an online course

  • Signing-up for free opt-ins

  • Investing in a mastermind

  • Attending conferences

  • Making use of digital learning centers (Udemy and Lynda are just a couple we love)

  • Checking to see if your library has a digital app that gives you access to even more eBooks and audiobooks

How to Make a Plan And Dive In

Dedicate yourself. Once you narrow down what areas you want to grow in and what resources you trust and believe in, go all in.

Plan time and schedule out. Make time in your schedule to dedicate yourself to your reading list, any programs you’re participating in, or completing an online course. For conferences, you will want to give yourself several months in advance to research the ones you want to attend and make plans to get yourself there.

Say yes or say no. Courses will pop up, compelling ebooks will find their way to your screen, a must-see webinar will convince you that you will die if you don’t watch it. Be intentional, take a breath, don’t get overwhelmed, and vet it! Say yes, it is a priority, and put it into your schedule. Or, say no, taking part in that thing or reading that thing is not a priority right now, and move on. Yes or no. No maybe.

Lastly, don’t do everything. I repeat: don’t do everything.

As you move from Manager to CEO, remember that before, there was likely no way you could possibly fit any more onto your plate. But now, as you move more and more into the CEO role, there is time.

Why is this something you should be excited about? Because you get to dream again! You get to go back to focusing on what truly inspires you and invest more time into learning so you can accomplish the dreams and goals you have for yourself and for your business.

Take a step as ceo:

If you’re ready to dig deep and make continuing to educate yourself a priority, we have written an ebook called Manager to CEO that will help you identify what’s holding you back as a manager and make an action plan to move forward toward CEO.

Are you ready to move from manager to CEO? SIgn up here.

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    How to Gain Clarity and Purpose: Revisit Your Business Plan

    How to Gain Clarity and Purpose: Revisit Your Business Plan | SheCanCoterie.com

    As we head deeper down our journeys of becoming our own CEO, we occasionally encounter seasons where we just feel… off. Decisions feel misaligned. Work feels like task-mastering. And we lose sight of our vision.

    We forget that we were the ones that paved this road, and we have the power and responsibility to look up, check in, and either course-correct or power on.

    This is why I recommend revisiting your business plan on a yearly, if not quarterly, basis. Your business plan is your guide, your Google Maps, (remember MapQuest, anyone?). Revisiting your business plan on a regular basis is your responsibility if you want to maintain clarity, focus, and purpose.

    Why a Business Plan?

    You might be thinking, “Ugh, a business plan? I got out of that corporate nonsense so I didn’t have to do stuffy work like this! I’m a creative! DON’T PUT ME IN YOUR BOX!”

    We are here to do things differently. With heart and passion, we make our own rules. We take traditional business planning and apply our mindset and heart to it.


    And trust me, I see you and hear you. We set out on this journey to do business differently, to forge our own paths, and to bust out of the 9-5, pantsuit-wearing, high-heel-clacking monotony. But, big business works and has worked for so long because they have proven ways of doing things.

    If you’ve been on this journey with us up to this point (if not, you can catch up here), you know we are here to do things differently.

    With heart and passion, we make our own rules. We take traditional business planning and apply our mindset and heart to it.

    Whether you’ve written a business plan or not, this is going to get you on track for a successful business by getting everything down on paper in one place.

    Why? For moments when you need to get back to center, when you need clarity and focus. When you bring on a team and you need documentation to teach them about the business. That’s the why behind why business plans work.

    To make this process a little more smooth for you, we’ve created some worksheets to help you outline this process as you work through these questions. Sign up below and we’ll email it to you!

      Making a Business Plan

      Business Overview : Who you are, what you offer, who you serve

      This is a general overview of your business and your business model. You can talk about you, your company, your general offerings and expertise, and the type(s) of clients you serve.

      Mission Statement : What you’re here to do and why, what promise and impact you make in the world

      You might think that mission statements are cheesy, but we recently went through this exercise as a leadership team and it’s POWERFUL. This is a chance for you to check in with your heart and soul.

      WHY did you start this business? WHAT is your purpose here? WHO are you impacting with this work? HOW are you going to continue to show up and serve?

      Core Values : The values your company holds are what steer the ship, what you fall back on, and for what you can be counted on

      Core values can be another “woo-woo” exercise, but it’s a chance to check in to your heart and the heart of your business.

      What are the things that you hold dear? What are the promises that you make to your clients? These are the hills you are willing to die on. These can be things like Integrity, Fun, Authenticity, Courage, Generosity, Luxury, Presence, Candor.

      Clients or Customers :  Who do you work with?

      You’ve heard terms like “ideal client” and “client avatar” before, but really, when it gets down to it, who are your dreamiest clients?

      The best way I’ve found to write about them is to think back to two or three of your best working relationships. Ask yourself these questions:

      • Who were they as people?

      • What did they do for a living?

      • What services did they buy from you?

      • What was so ideal about the relationship?

      • Did they pay on time, have great feedback, were they fun to be around?

      • What was the thing that made them dreamy?

      Business Organization + Team Members : Who is on your team, who do you turn to, what is your organizational structure?

      This is important for those of us with a team as well as solopreneurs. You still need to know the roles in your business you are filling and where gaps exist.

      You can start by making a list of everyone working for you, every role being filled, and even the software you use that works for you.

      There are a couple of ways you can organize these lists into visual maps:

      • A hierarchy showing the way that these roles and team members relate to each other. The “chain of command,” if you will. But really, it just shows who each person works with and reports to. This is how we have our business organization set up.

      • Another way is to name the functions of your business: leadership, sales, content, finances, customer service, etc. From there you can list out which team members, roles, or software support those business functions. This is a way to show who is supporting each main function of your business and perhaps find the gaps.

      Main Offerings : What are your offerings? Who are they for? What do they include? How much are they?

      It's time to lay it all out there. Let's get down every single offering that we offer to our clients. This can be the ones that are on your website or even the secret ones that you only offer your dreamiest clients.

      Not only do I want you to list out what you offer but detail what's included. How long is the engagement? How much does it cost? What are the payment terms that you offer for each package?

      A fun exercise while you are listing these out is to check in with your gut and probably your profit and loss statements to see which of these offerings you don't want to offer anymore or if you need to change anything about them.

      There might be something that you feel like clients want to see you or want to have from you but you don't love doing the task or it's not profitable for you to complete the project the way that you have it laid out. It will be a great exercise for you to figure out if what you're offering is in yours or your client’s best interest.

      Your Signature Process : What set processes do you take your clients through?

      If these have been living in your head for this long, this is the perfect time to document them.  You might feel like you don't have a signature process. You might think everything is different for each client.

      If that's actually true, sister, it's time for you to create a signature process. This is what it's going to set you apart and your industry and bring true and perceived value check your packages.

      You also have a way that you onboard clients, a way that you meet with them and walk them through a process, PDFs or documents that you share with them, proven processes, and methods that work.

      This is a place where you can and should set out these signature processes. For a while, I thought that we didn't have signature processes because we have so many packages. But the way that we are onboarding clients, get their project set up, strategize with them — all of that is a signature process we have mapped out.

      Marketing Plan :  How do you find clients? How and where are you sharing what you do?

      We aren't going to get crazy here, but what I want to know is where do you find your clients? How do they find you? What is your strategy and plan for finding those clients? What are the platforms where you share about your work?

      If you don't know where your clients are coming from, you should make that a part of your onboarding process. Ask them where they found you and how they heard about you.

      Note: If their responses are primarily referrals, you need to set up a marketing plan for when those referrals dry up!

      Finances :  How are you making money? Where does the money come from? How much of it do you need to keep the ship afloat? And how much do you need to turn your ship into a yacht?

      I know, nobody wants to talk about finances, but we all want to make money. So this is where we need to get real about what's working and what's not in our business.

      How are you making money and where is it coming from? How much money do you need to be bringing home? How much money do you need to keep the business afloat? How much money do you need to be setting aside to pay your taxes? What is your dream amount and how many packages or clients do you need to work with to reach that goal?

      Support System : Who do you turn to when you need support? When you have specific problems?

      Running a business isn’t for the faint of heart. You know that! We can’t and shouldn’t do it alone. We are better together than we are apart, so you need to find your support system.

      I couldn't do it without the support of my husband and family. My mastermind of like-minded business owners on a similar journey. My biz bestie that I connect with monthly (at least) to talk through things that are coming up, ways we can encourage each other, ways we can support each other. My leadership team who are just a Vox away.

      It’s important to know who you can call and it’s important to know that you are not alone — list them here!

      Goals : Where are you headed? What are your future plans?

      And now that we have all of that practical stuff down. It's time to get a little dreamy. I don't want you to be thinking about 5 or 10 years down the road, although we could start there. I want you to think about the next 6 to 12 months up to the next 18 months at most.

      What do you want to see happen in your business? What are the key indicators of growth and success for you? This is going to be different for everyone. For some it's going to be money in the bank, for some it's going to be a lot of followers on Instagram, and for others it's going to be the impact they're making with their clients.

      Take action:

      Okay, so you’ve made it through this blog and are (hopefully!) fired up and inspired to get your business plan documented. Remember to sign up for your worksheets at the form below. Now hop to it, sister! And when you’ve completed it, I’d love to see it - simply send an email to team@shecancoterie.com with the headline “I rocked my business plan!” and I’ll send you some love and support (and possibly a little She Can Coterie goodie)!