I'm going to do something that most other business owners don't do, and share my real income numbers from every year of my business, up to and including the time of writing this.
Why don't more business owners/coaches do this? Because, frankly, it's terrifying to think that a whole bunch of my ideal clients (i.e. you reading this right now) will see my real numbers, know that I'm not running a 6 figure nutrition practice, and immediately dismiss all the knowledge I have about running a "successful on the outside" holistic business.
Well, screw that, you need to see these numbers and the timeline so that I can show you what I was actually doing in my business, and what happened to my income because of it. There are some really good lessons hidden in these numbers, and I think you deserve to see them, even if *I* am terrified of showing them to you.
Note: for all of you non-accountants out there, the gross amount is the total sales that I brought in through my business, and net is my income when you take out all of my expenses. I was able to pay myself through all the years below even if my net income was very small (or even negative) because many of my expenses are held on an unsecured line of credit that I pay interest only on, freeing up cashflow for personal income. Also, up until 2012, I had a main job that paid the bills, and my nutrition practice was always on the side.
These numbers, except for 2015 and 2016 (since I haven't done my tax return from 2015 yet), are taken directly from my Notice of Assessment that was submitted to the government. Once I moved my business home, some of my expenses included our mortgage, mortgage insurance, and a portion of the utilities on our house. Major score for working out of your home!
This would have increased my expenses and reduced my net income, although it's money that we would have paid anyways because they're just basic living expenses, as my hubby and I like having a roof over our heads and lights on in our house 😉
I believe that it's important to show you BOTH the gross (i.e. what money I brought in) and the NET (i.e. what money I brought in minus my expenses) because it's not just about your gross income. Someone can say they have a 6-figure business, but if they generated $100,000 of revenue but their expenses were $75,000, they essentially have a $25,000 business.
It's kind of like someone saying they have 10,000 people on their e-mail list, but only 10% of those people open their e-mails. It's not really telling the whole story, is it? End rant.
So, let's start in 2008.
I had a mainly bricks and mortar business, and purchased a very expensive electrodermal screening machine (about $15,000 including a stock of specialized supplements). I didn't do any marketing, and my clients were mainly friends and family, and word-of-mouth referrals from them. Much of my income was from the sale of supplements that I had in stock, with very little of it coming from personal services. I talk more about my income, expenses, and lessons learned in my first year of business as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist in this blog post over here.
I invested in my first business coach at the end of this year, which was well worth it as she taught me how to run my practice, which generated pretty much all my income up to 2014 when I started providing online courses.
I got engaged in August 2008, we were getting married in October 2009, and I had committed to putting in 1/4 of our wedding budget. No question about it, I had to get a "real" job. I worked most of the year at a really, really shitty part-time retail job (think applying toxin-filled makeup and perfume to old women all day), and then moved over to a part-time job at a bank closer to the end of the year.
Note that my gross income included the sale of that expensive machine I purchased last year, adding $9,615 to my income (both net and gross). All of this income went to paying off a family loan that I used to purchase the machine in the first place, so my net income from my business was more like $2,044.65. The other $22K came from one-one-one services with nutrition clients, but you can see that I was barely making over my base expenses for my business.
In 2010, I went full time at the bank I was working at, and didn't have a ton of time left over for my practice. I saw a few clients that year at night after I worked all day, and made a little bit of money. I wrote off everything that I could so that I wouldn't have to pay taxes.
By 2011, I knew that the bank was sucking the soul out of me, so I hired my next 2 business coaches, for a total cost of $2,427.60, to get my business up and running again.
THIS was the first year that I changed up my website so that I could start blogging and sending out newsletters. I blogged consistently for the last 3 months of 2011, and was still working full time at the bank.
By the beginning of 2012, I had gotten approval to go down to 4 days a week at my bank job so that I could devote every Wednesday to my business. Great plan ... and then I got pregnant in January.
I was sick for the next 9 months straight. I couldn't think about food, write about food, send newsletters about food, and I could barely deliver my client plans without wanting to throw up. I didn't blog again until spring of 2013. My appointments went like this with my clients: explained what we were going to focus on that month, explained the science behind it, told them to read the recipes by themselves and e-mail me any questions they might have.
Part of my expenses included 4 months of payments for the last business coach I hired at the end of 2011, totalling $1,700. Remember when I said that every year my accountant includes utilities and mortgage expenses because I work from home? Well, this year $3,830.54 of expenses were related to my office being at home.
I invested for the first time this year in a website that I didn't develop myself, included a fancy, pre-designed template for my e-mail newsletters (that I now know triggers spam filters to stop your e-mails from getting through to peoples' main inboxes), totalling $2,094.25.
Our son was born on October 6th, was rushed to another city for emergency surgery, and we spent the next 4 1/2 months in the Children's hospital with him an hour away from home. I cancelled any automatic credit card charges that my merchant account was programmed to take the rest of that year and refunded anyone who had paid in full, as I was totally unable to even think about working with clients.
I was on maternity leave from the bank, and was getting sweet, sweet maternity leave income for 10 months out of this year. I had just finished paying off my student loans a few months before giving birth, so we had money to burn! I also had a small amount of inheritance money that I was saving to invest in something special for my business.
After spending 4 1/2 months with our son in the hospital (he was born on Oct 6, 2012 and we brought him home on Feb 12th, 2013), I needed something else to focus on. I turned my attention back to my business, and enrolled in Marie Forleo's B-School in February 2013 which cost $2,000 U.S. ($2,110.21 Canadian after the tiny 5.563% US/Canadian exchange rate. Those were the days!).
I started regularly blogging again and trying to build my e-mail list. I also started tracking my e-mail and social media followers. On March 18, 2013, I had 238 newsletter subscribers, and by year end I had 661. Aleks was home full time with me until July, when he started at daycare for 2 half-days each week.
I worked about 10 hours a week on my business while I collected maternity leave income, so, I decided to hire another business coach to write-off the income and not have to pay taxes. I also wanted someone who could teach me about running my business as a new mom, and set me up for sustainable income in 2014 without having to work full time. I paid $5,000 U.S. monthly over 6 months, so with the exchange rate it was $5,377.59 Canadian.
Investing in this business coach and B-School totalled $7,487.80 (this was where my inheritance went), and I viewed these as super important training for setting 2015 up as a come-back year, as well as for transitioning for the first time in the online world.
By the end of the year, Aleks went up to 2 full days a week at daycare, and we decided as a family that I would not go back to my regular bank job. I was full-time self-employed again (6 years after I tried it the first time!), although still working part-time hours.
Gross: $23,809.63 Canadian + $527.50 U.S.
2014 was the real start of taking my business online. I was back to regular blogging, and I don't think that I missed a bi-weekly newsletter the entire year. I tested out my first real online program, the 21 Day Real Food Reset, in January, and it continues to sell copies completely passively to this day.
In March, I invested in my first ever branding course, as I was feeling the need to talk to a different audience than I had been before. I wanted to help moms navigate their jam-packed world while wanting to be healthy, and I needed help figuring out how to transition to that. I invested $918.72 (after the exchange rate) in a branding course that helped me get laser-focused on who my ideal client really was, her daily struggles, and what solutions I could offer.
In July, Aleks started a new daycare and went up to 3 days a week, plus I was working nights after he went to bed, so I was working about 25 hours a week.
In June I went to a business conference in New York City, and decided to completely visually re-brand my business so it was more in line with my new ideal client, and launch my first multi-week, large scale membership program, called Mama Mojo, based off of my 6 month one-on-one nutrition program. I invested $22,569.28 in my new websites (including copywriting, photography, custom design and development), hence the huge net loss (I talk all about that in this article here).
About half of my gross income was from one-on-one nutrition clients, and the other half was from my online launches of the 21 Day Real Food Reset and Mama Mojo.
My newsletter list grew from 661 to 974 by August with regular blogging, and then grew another 245% in just 30 days (to 1,974) with my re-branding and the introduction of the free 30 Day Calm Mom Challenge in August.
In retrospect, I could have developed my new website by myself (like I did with the site that you're looking at right now!), and set up my own course for no outright cost except for a low monthly fee. It's that I wasn't confident in my own skills and was afraid that it wouldn't be good enough. Damn inner perfectionist rearing her ugly head. Lesson LEARNED ... and what a freaking expensive lesson it was.
In October, I started using essential oils with a network marketing company, but never intended in a million years to do it as a business. I was completely against MLM's, but really liked the product itself. Because they worked so well and my friends were asking me questions about them, I decided to host an essential oils class on November 23rd, 2014, resulting in a commission cheque of $23.24 U.S. I ended up teaching one other essential oil class that year, and totalled $527.50 in U.S. commissions from that company by the end of December. A seed had been planted ...
Gross: $11,815.75 Canadian + $16,910.56 U.S.
Estimated gross total (at a 20% US/Canadian exchange rate) = $32,108.42
Net (again, estimated because of exchange rate): $2,366.10
2015 brought some HUGE changes in my business. I started teaching essential oil classes a few months before, not expecting to do a lot with it in my business. Well, it took over my life, which is why you suddenly see me getting paid thousands of dollars in U.S. I stopped taking one-on-one nutrition clients in March, because I just didn't have time to work with them!
I did a second launch of the Mama Mojo program in March, which brought in just over half of my Canadian income. I stopped blogging regularly, because I just couldn't keep up with everything. As a result, my health newsletter list only grew from 1,974 to 2,041 this entire year. This has a lot to do with tons of women unsubscribing at the end of the Calm Mom Challenge when I asked them to purchase something, so no biggie (they were never going to buy anything anyways).
In June, I started transferring my focus to the business coaching side of things, because I'm just so passionate about it! I wanted to share all the things I'd learned over the 7 previous years, and I couldn't keep it inside me anymore. My business newsletter started at 0 and is now at 342. I started re-branding, and deleted my $10,000 custom website from the year before. I decided to take ALL of August off, because I was burned out and needed a break. I reduced the scale of my business, got rid of my assistant, and decreased my business expenses, which were out. of. control.
2015 was about investing in smaller online courses to teach me skills that I felt I was lacking. In May I invested in a visual branding course for $367.66 that resulted in the website you're looking at today. In June, I invested in a course about Instagram for $250.83, and in July, I invested in a course all about how to write more effective copy that cost $529.59.
In October, I had the opportunity to move my e-mail marketing software to a new platform and get an entire year's worth of service PLUS free training on how to start building passive online funnels for $262.98. This was worth investing in for me, as:
1. I wanted to know how to build more effective online funnels; and
2. My current e-mail software was costing me $100 a month!
So, I was able to get an entire year's worth of my e-mail marketing software for the cost of what I was currently paying for 3 months PLUS some kick-ass training for free.
In the last quarter of the year, I invested in a more in-depth course about launching an online program, as I knew I wanted to launch a program about Branding and Blogging for holistic practitioners in early 2016. I was able to get into a more expensive course with the option of monthly payments, so invested a total of $267.87 in 2015, and an additional $546.27 at the time of writing this in 2016 (totalling $814.14), which so far has made me almost $3,000 of income.
All in all, not too shabby of an income for someone who was barely holding onto her sanity for most of the year. 2015 was a total re-building year in every sense of the word, but what I have going forward is 100% sustainable with not a lot of necessary increases in business expenses.
Gross: $70,767.29 Canadian
In 2016, I narrowed my focus to 2 things:
1. Developing my new online course Brand, Build, Blog: A Branding & Blogging Course for Holistic Biz Owners who are Tech-Shabby (affectionately known as BBB).
2. Participating in a program through my network marketing company where they reimburse me most of my travel to visit and support my essential oils team in person. Seriously, I was able to take an 8-day trip across Canada to 3 different cities for about $200, including food, lodging, flights and transportation!
My gross income was made up of about $15,000 from my online course (BBB) and the rest from my network marketing company.
Now, in general, it's impossible to compare business coaching services to holistic services, as the difference in price is usually huge. You'll see holistic nutritionists or other practitioners sharing how they make 6 figures in their business or had a $20,000 month, but when you drill down in the numbers, you'll see that they make the majority as a business coach with a starting program at $500 to $750 a month (and up), and they're only charging their clients on the holistic side anywhere from $50 to $300 a month.
In this case, however, I priced one hour with me at $97, which is about what I was charging as a holistic nutritionist, and as of this time of writing don't offer a long-term program to work with me as a business coach. So, the way that I've changed my business to focus on blogging and webinars is a strategy that can be directly applied to any other holistic-based business that is selling one-on-one services.
Also, BBB is priced very similarly to a group nutrition program would be, starting at $147 Canadian (click here for more info).
As you can see, my essential oils income has skyrocketed with the program I've been doing. As of right now (updated 10 August 2017) our team has reached almost 3,150 families. I matched my 2015 income in the first 4 months alone, and will surpassed it in May. After only a year and a half, I reached the monthly income level that will total 6-figures of income per year (possibly multiple 6-figures, we'll have to see!), which I honestly never thought would be really possible for me.
In the first 8 months of 2017, I've surpassed my entire gross income for 2016 as I've already brought in over $82,000 in revenue.
2016 was a complete game-changer. If you would have told me when Aleks was born that before his 5th birthday I would have a 3,000+ person team in a network marketing company, and that I would fly across Canada (and this month to the U.S.) by myself to support all of these wonderful friends who I can help mentally and financially support, I would have told you that you're crazy.
I didn't even realize how small I was keeping myself and my mission before this year. I was letting my anxiety and the stories in my head hold me back from the greatness that is just now starting.
Back when I wrote my about page for this site, I intellectually believed that you need 3 income streams in your business (including 1-1 services, online programs, and passive income), but I don't know if I believed it yet in my heart and soul.
Well, I do now. I believe in this work so much that I can physically feel the joy in my chest that wants to burst out and tell you everything I've learned.
I recently did a masterclass called "Essential Oils for Nutritionists + Health Coaches", and people LOVED the info that I shared, so I'm sharing it with you. If you've ever wanted to know:
What essential oils are, how they work in the body, and how to safely use them (for real, we even end up talking about the hippocampus and amygdala, y'all!)
Specific, science-based protocols for your clients
How to use EO’s to keep your clients compliant and get them the quick results they’re looking for
The most scientifically-backed brand (because your reputation is one the line ... )
Different ways to incorporate them into your business that don't feel sleazy or icky
then enter your info below for my "Essential Oils for Nutritionists + Health Coaches" masterclass!
Listen, before you talk yourself out of the fact that you, too, can make $5K a month in your business with things like "I don't have a great website like her", "I don't have as big of a newsletter", or "I don't know how to market myself online", just stop. You just read the whole history of my business and how I didn't have any of those things, either.
You can absolutely make enough in your business to support yourself and your family, and not have to have a shitty "real" job.
You can love what you do every single day, and help influence the health and lives of more people than you ever thought possible.
But, and this is a big BUT, you actually have to do something about it.
Whether you choose 1-1 programs, online programs, group programs, online products, network marketing, affiliate sales, whatever it is, you actually have to do something in your business to make an income. Sitting here, reading this article and then not doing anything isn't going to change a single thing in your life and biz. So go do something to start moving you in the direction of where you want to be!
I wanna know: what's your income as a holistic practitioner? Is it enough? Are you just scraping by, or are you comfortable with the income level you're at?