A Peek at My Small Business Journey
Welcome to Episode 108 of Chasing Simple. I’m your host – Amanda Warfield. It’s hard to believe, but this week I am celebrating 4 years in business. This week’s episode is a bit different than our normal ones. Rather than being actionable, it’s more so reflective (But don’t worry, I’ve still got an action step for you at the end!). I’m sharing my journey in business, so far – what each year looked like, what my focus was, what I was selling, as well as my biggest win and my biggest lesson for each year. Thank you for being on this journey with me, and I hope you enjoy this episode, wherever you are in your own business journey. Let’s dive in.
Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- Check out the Year of Content Prompts
- This week’s action step: If you aren’t already, start tracking your big win and big lesson for each month when you track your other key performance indicators!
- This week’s book recommendation: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- Find me on Instagram and tell me you completed this week’s action step: @mrsamandawarfield
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Rather Read? – Here’s the Transcript!
*Just a heads up – the provided transcript is likely to not be 100% accurate.
Welcome to episode 108 of Chasing Simple. I’m your host, Amanda Warfield. It’s hard to believe, but this week I’m celebrating four years in business. This week’s episode is a bit different than our normal ones, rather than being super actionable and practical. It’s more so reflective, but don’t worry. I still got an action step for you at the end this week, I’m sharing my journey in business so far, what each year looked like, what my focus was, what I was selling as well as my biggest win and my biggest lesson for each year.
Thank you for being on this journey with me. And I hope you enjoy this episode, wherever it is that you are in your own business journey. Let’s dive in.
So really help you get the feel for the trajectory of this business journey. I think I need to go all the way back to childhood and don’t worry. I won’t expound for years and years and a bunch of time on pre-business. But I do think that there’s a lot to be said about how I even got to this place.
And frankly, this is something that I really enjoy is looking back at how different aspects of my life have really brought me to where I am, and especially the hard things, which I’ll get to a little bit in a moment, but some of the hard things that I just, you know, as they were happening, I couldn’t believe they would turn out for good only to find that they did.
And they played a really pivotal role in getting me where I am now. That kind of stuff is so great and so fun to me. I really enjoy it. So we’re going to go back to childhood real quick, quick pit stop. so when I was growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher. I. Loved. playing school and my mom’s classroom at the end of the school day, I always dressed up as a teacher for career day.
I always wanted to play school in the summer with the neighbor kids. They never, they never liked it as much as I did, but I always wanted to be teaching and educating. It was just such a lifelong dream of mine. And I can remember one year for Christmas asking for this huge play school set from my grandparents for Christmas and I got it and I just would, I kept the whole box and I would open it and I would just look at all the things.
Anyways. It was a whole thing. I very much wanted to be a teacher growing up, but then my mom was a teacher. She. Didn’t want me to have to deal with the same struggles that she dealt with as a teacher, we all know what education is like right now in America with the education system is like, she didn’t want me to struggle with those things because she felt like even, you know, 10, 15 years ago that she wasn’t really able.
To teach that it was a lot of administrative work and classroom management, which funnily enough, I actually really ended up enjoying classroom management, but we’ll get there. So she really discouraged me from teaching. And my parents really, really encouraged me to go into something stem based, something that was going to have job security and, you know, help build.
wealth not necessarily wealth, but just more so than teaching does. Right? Give me more freedom and flexibility with my finances. So. I went to college, started off as a pre-pharmacy major and very, very, very quickly realized that that was not for me. Chemistry was not my friend. And so the first semester of college, I decided that I was going to change my major to early childhood.
Got a lot of backlash from my family for that. And so I said, okay, instead of early childhood, what I want to do, I’ll do business, which looking back now, it makes me chuckle so hard considering where I am, but I said, okay, I’ll do business. That’s something that I can do. I can’t do chemistry. So pretty much anything.
Biology stem related. This is just out for me. Any kind of science is not gonna, it’s not going to work because chemistry, I cannot wrap my mind around it. So I go into business. My dad was an entrepreneur. He owned his own business. I was like, I can do that. I can do that. That’s cool. Get a semester into business and realize that this is just not for me.
Accounting was what took me out funnily enough. And I love numbers, but I just could not wrap my mind around the way true accounting works it the whole thing, but I just don’t, they over-complicate it. And you’re going to, you know, I’m all about simplicity. So I’m in business and I’m like, no, this isn’t it either.
And I really feel pulled back to teaching still, but I decide, okay, I want to teach, but I’ll teach in a private school. I’ll do preschool. I want to be a preschool teacher very specifically. And I do love that age and I love teaching four year olds was my sweet spot. I loved being able to teach my students how to start reading that, that really got me going.
So I move into early childhood education. And I’m taking all these classes. I am loving it. I am thriving. This just feels so right to me. And my now husband proposes and he, at the time was in the Navy. He was living in Charleston, South Carolina. I was going to school at USC in Columbia, South Carolina. I mean, we’re a small state.
It wasn’t that far away, but. Hour and a half, two hours. And we know that he is not going to be stationed in Charleston for very long. And his program was only supposed to be a year and a half. We ended up getting extended there, but at the time we didn’t think he was going to be there very long. And so I had to make the decision.
I could either stay in school and wait to get married, or we could get married and I could be with him now. And I decided that I wanted to be with him now. And I didn’t want to wait. And. Honestly, I’m really glad I made that decision, which might be controversial, but I didn’t want to drop out of school. I was determined to graduate like that.
Wasn’t a question. It was just a matter of, do I stay and go in person or do I switch to the online school, which at this time in 20 13, 20 14, the online schooling options. Great. So I ended up having to switch my major yet again to liberal studies, which is basically psychology and sociology. Luckily at that point I only had a year left.
So I had enough early childhood credits to have that as a minor, which was really helpful later on when I was getting a job. So anyways, this is all really dragging out, but ended up graduating getting my degree in. Psychology and sociology liberal studies with that minor in early childhood education.
And then I ended up later going and getting a master’s in preschool studies because I didn’t feel there’s a lot of imposter syndrome surrounding my teaching career. And the fact that I was quote unquote, only a preschool teacher, anyways, that’s a whole different story, but I go through, I get all of that.
I’m so excited to start teaching. I get my first teaching job. I have a series of different teaching jobs. We had to move right for the Navy, my husband’s job. And we’re living in Washington, I’m working at two different preschools loving it. I am teaching three different classes at a time. I have two classes at one preschool, and I have one class at a second preschool.
In addition to that, thanks to my. Background, my education, my master’s this second preschool also wanted me to be the director. So this preschool was at a dance studio and the two owners wanting to open a performing arts preschool, right. Which I loved the idea of, I loved the idea of combining academics with performing arts.
So I was a director and the lead academic teacher, and then we also had specialists come in. So we had a music theater teacher come in and she would do a lesson with the kids. We also had a dance instructor come in and she would do a lesson with the kids and it was honestly incredible. But these two owners of the studio, they wanted me to be the director and they really wanted to be fairly hands off with it, which I respect outsource what you can.
They knew that a preschool was not their strong suit. They are dance instructors and dance studio owners. Right. They knew the preschool was not going to be something that they would be able to one run successfully and two have the time and capacity for. So they bring me on as director and. Because it’s a brand new preschool and they wanted to be very hands-off with it.
I had to not only do my teaching job, but I had to plan the entire curriculum, do all the jobs that a director would do. Right. But I also had to figure out how to get students in the door, how to market, how to do all of the things that basically any new business owner has to do. Just without the risk, they were taking all of the risk.
I was just the one doing all of the startup stuff. And that was great. That went on for a couple of years. Things ended up ending poorly. With that job. And that was the really hard thing that I was like, why am I being brought to this place? This is terrible. This is painful. It really hurts. It hurts to look back on the way I was treated, the way things went down.
I so clearly now see that as a very pivotal learning experience. For me realizing that I can run a business that I do understand business, that I could take all of those skills that I learned during that job, starting up that preschool with them. I could take all of those things and apply it to whatever I wanted to do.
And that, that lesson was hard to learn, but wow. Did it give me the confidence to eventually start my own business? So now we’re at the point of okay I feel like I need to start a business. I felt very called to starting a blog in particular about simple living. So about February, 2018, I go to Russell and I say, this sounds crazy.
I was so nervous to tell him I was like a pit of anxiety on my stomach. But I said, I really feel like I need to start a blog and a business through that blog. From the beginning, I knew that this was meant to be a business and he immediately says, okay, sounds good. Go for it. And of course I was like, really like, we’re going to have to like, invest.
I have to buy hosting for a website and I have to make a website. And of course we were very much trying to bootstrap this, right? Like I was spending no money. Unless I absolutely had to from the very beginning, but there were still going to be some investment. And he said, yeah, I believe in you go for it.
And he had zero hesitation and of course I’m over here terrified. Like, what if I can’t do it? What if this is crazy? I do think this is crazy. It was a whole thing. I was February. I spend all of March and April planning and preparing to get this business launched. And May 1st, 2018, I launched my blog with a focus on simple living.
And this was something that I had really been struggling with previous to feeling called to the blog. It was something that had been a recent change in my life where. You know, we just had so much stuff and I was always hustling. it’s funny because I, we hear about hustle so much in the business side of things in this industry, but I was really hustling in my pre business career.
I mean, I was working, like I said, teaching three to four different classes at a time. I was go, go, go. I was very involved in a lot of different things. We’ll leave it there. Moving towards symbol living and living a purposeful life at something. It was something that I had really been convicted of and wanting to share about that with more people, because before I had even heard anyone else talk about it, I didn’t even realize it was an option.
So start my business, simple living blog, all of that fun stuff. And then I start selling a routines workbook. I’ve talked about this in past episodes, so I’m not going to go too much into it, but. That was what I was selling. I made a hundred dollars in that first year of business. And honestly, that first year was mostly audience building.
I was trying to get myself out there, build my Instagram, build my Facebook show up on Pinterest. Do as much guest blogging as I could. That was my real focus for year one of business. I made a hundred dollars a year. I’ve said that so many times on different podcast episodes, but that was it. But my biggest win
for that year was finally getting on. My very first podcast is, came towards the tail end of year one, and I got to be interviewed on a podcast and I was sitting in my closet because I heard that that was supposed to be the best acoustics. I’ve got my laptop. I’ve got my microphone. I am shaking. I’m so nervous.
I have like seven pages of notes typed out, going through as I’m being interviewed. And now I just look over whatever questions and don’t do much to prepare because it’s so natural. But at that time it was such a big deal. And then my biggest lesson in year one was that I can’t do this thing alone. I learned the importance of collaboration.
I spent the first few months really just focusing on what I was doing, staying in my own lane, trying to build this blog. it’s like, people say, you can’t just build it and they’ll come. It doesn’t work like that. And that was really my biggest lesson. That year was, oh, I can build it, but if I am not trying to collaborate with others, nobody’s gonna come.
Cause they’re not going to hear it. So then we move into year two and it’s 2019. I am focusing on capsule wardrobe specifically. So I started off simple living. And now I have niched down into speaking about capsule wardrobes, because this was the biggest change I made in my life towards simple living that had the most impact getting rid of the clothes that didn’t serve me any longer and making it easier to pick out what to wear each day, made my life so much better.
if you want to have a conversation about capsule wardrobes, find me on Instagram and let’s talk about it because I could go on and on. And that’s not the purpose of this episode, but it changed my life. So now I’m really specifically talking about capsule wardrobes, and I create a course on how to cultivate your own capsule wardrobe
and how I do it and what that looks like all year long, et cetera, et cetera. And I actually sold a couple of these, quite a few of these. And this year I make a thousand dollars, right. So I launched the course right before we move in the summer of 2019. I launch it. That’s doing really well. We move back to South Carolina and my biggest one of this year, as I got to attend my very first conference and At this conference, I had the biggest aha moment because I’m sitting there at this table with these other incredible entrepreneurs who are so much farther ahead than I am. And it was just one of those like, wow, I cannot believe I am here. Kind of moments. we’re all chatting and we’re talking about.
How we get things done and I start rattling off, oh, well I do this on this day and this on this day, and basically am sharing about my batch schedule. And they all are kind of looking at me and one of the women goes, hold on, pause, start over. And she grabs her pen and starts taking notes. And I was like, oh, is this different
is this special? I did. I just thought this was what everyone did. And in that moment, not necessarily in that moment, that’s a lie. Looking back on that moment was when I realized in the biggest lesson that I learned this year in year two, was that you have to listen to what other people are asking for. I really felt passionate about symbol living in capsule wardrobes, but that wasn’t what people were asking for.
That wasn’t something that people. That people naturally wanted to come to me for
But time management, time management was something that came so naturally to me that I never even gave it a second thought. And nine times out of 10, the things that you are going to teach on that you’re going to educate others on are things that come so naturally to you, that you don’t even realize that it’s something that other people need.
Those are gifts that are so embedded in you, that you can talk about them for hours, but you wouldn’t think to. Because it just seems so natural. So my biggest lesson in year two was to listen to what people are asking for. So then after that conference moving into year three, I really started pivoting more so into time management for other entrepreneurs.
I listened to what those people were asking for. I got my first one to one clients this year. And mind you, this is all during the pandemic. This is Mid 2020 when year three of business starts. I am, frankly, I’ve made no money. At this point. I made a hundred dollars in the first year. I made a thousand dollars in the second year, and then this pandemic starts as I’m trying to pivot into something entirely new.
I can remember going on walks with Russell at the end of 2019, early 20, 20, before the pandemic had even started really and saying, I think I need to pivot everything I’m doing. But it almost feels as if the last two years are wasted, which looking back, obviously I see that they, they weren’t wasted, but at the time it was such a drastic pivot that I was terrified.
I was absolutely terrified that I was going to have another two years where I didn’t make any money where I was going to be starting over completely from scratch. Not what ended up happening in the long run. It was the best decision I could’ve made for my business, but at the time it was terrifying. And then right after I pivoted the pandemic starts.
And that was a whole thing. But as I’m talking about time management for entrepreneurs, I am doing what I tell you guys to do, right. Where I’m just throwing spaghetti at the wall. I’m saying, okay, here’s a time management technique that I use. Let me talk about that. Okay. Here’s another one I use. Let me talk about that.
And eventually one of them sticks. I post about content batching. In my stories, a one simple story where I just happened to mention it and I get a ton of questions. And so I post about it again, and then I post about it again. And I know you guys have heard me talk about this so many times, so I’ll refrain from going on and on, but eventually I turned that into a course and I sell that course Finally, finally, finally, I start to make some kind of income when I’m looking back at my KPI sheet, my key performance indicator sheet on each of those, I have the last two questions are what it was my biggest win of this month. And what was my biggest lesson of this month and for the wins category for this year three in business, it is just.
Highest income month ever. Highest income month ever. New highest income record month after month after month, I had finally figured out what it was that people wanted from me. Because of the lesson that I had learned in the year before that I needed to listen to what the people were asking for. And then I took that a step further.
And my biggest lesson for year three in business was that relationships are what really matter. I built relationships with my students. I built relationships with people on Instagram that weren’t my students. And that was okay too. If they either weren’t ready. Weren’t right for the course or couldn’t invest in it at that moment.
I didn’t discriminate based on whether or not you were my student, but building relationships became so key and pivotal and this year, and this is when I really started that relationship marketing. I won’t say tactic because it’s not. It’s not purely a marketing tactic, but that’s when I started to understand that I didn’t need a bigger audience.
I just needed to have a community to be in relationship with the people who are interested in what I’m saying. The people that listen to my podcast that respond to me on Instagram. Those are the people that matter. And this is when I really started realizing. I don’t need to make a ton of money. I don’t need to make six figures.
I don’t need to make seven or eight figures. Whatever the new goalpost is in this industry. I just need a community of people that are interested, people that I can help people that I can teach. So then we move into year four. It’s 2021. Things are moving right along. I am on top of the world. I, the trajectory is clear.
The business is just going to keep growing and then it doesn’t and then it stalls out. There are a lot of ups in there, a lot of downs in 2021 to 2022 in this fourth year of business, there are months where I am barely making ends meet with the business finances. There are months when I am not sleeping because I’m so stressed out about being able to pay bills for the next month without having to pull into our personal savings account.
And Bill’s in the business, not our personal bills, but regardless I’m not sleeping, I’m anxious. And then there is a good month and it tides me over. And then there are a lot of bad months. And then there’s a good month. The ups and downs. When I’m looking at this KPI spreadsheet for 2021, the end of 2021, beginning of not really beginning, mostly just the end of 2021.
It’s a lot. And there were a lot of really stressful months and. The lesson that I learned here in this fourth year, that is so important. And I hope all of you take away. So you don’t end up in this same spot as me is that the trajectory is not always straight. you know, I had heard and seen people talk about this on Instagram, especially businesses up and down, up and down, up and down.
And I always took that to mean like emotionally it is up and down, which is true. But I kind of always suspected that once you started really making an income, that it would continue, the momentum would be there. And I learned a lot of lessons. There are a lot of things that I did poorly. There are a lot of poor choices that I made in this fourth year of business.
That we’re all learning lessons and I’m sure I will take away and do great things with in the future. That could be a whole podcast episode two, just lessons I learned in the fourth year of business, but the trajectory monetarily is not always straight. And I wish that I had prepared better financially for that.
I wish that I had from the beginning set aside in emergency fund. For the business. It was always one of those things that I was like, okay, once I’m actually making good money, once I’m actually having a decent income coming in, then I’ll set aside money for the emergency fund. That didn’t happen.
Starting my second business, I started from the beginning building that emergency fund. And it’s been so important and so key. And now I’m working on that with this business too, I wish I had done that from the beginning. I wish I had set aside a little bit of my operating expenses from the very beginning towards some kind of fund to move you through the lower months, the drier months they’re going to happen.
It’s not going to be an every single month. The income is growing. That happened to be the case in year three. And I thought it would continue and it did not, and it will not. And I recognize that now, but that was the biggest lesson that I had to learn as a business owner in year four, maybe at all so far.
But my biggest win was finally getting to speak on a real stage at the reset conference. This was one of the coolest moments of my entire. Career from teaching to this because obviously I’ve been educating online right for years now, but this was me finally getting to combine my business knowledge, my marketing knowledge with my teaching skills in person to help other business owners.
And it was making me emotional. It was the coolest thing ever. Growing up all through college. I hated public speaking. if you had told college, Amanda, that she would one day speak on stages and enjoy it. I never would have believed you. The only reason I tolerated my required public speaking class in college was because my teacher liked one tree hill and she would talk to me about it.
I hated it. I hated every second of it. And so as excited as I was to finally get, to be invited to speak on a stage, I was nervous. I was nervous that I would end up up there and hate it, the hate every second of it, that it would be something that I was forced to get through. And it was the total opposite I got up there and it just flowed.
So naturally it felt so right. I loved every second of it. And I never would have believed that five years ago, 10 years ago, or a year ago, a few months ago. I just, and I know the only reason that I enjoyed it so much is because I have been learning all of these lessons and building all of these skills to get to this point.
And so here we are at the end of year four in business. And there are a lot of high highs and a lot of low lows, but I’m really excited to see what year five has on store and beyond. Wow. You’re five. That’s crazy. And I share all of this to encourage you. That the ups and downs are normal. That sometimes it really does take time to figure out what it is that you want to do with your business.
Especially in this space where so many of us start a business without an MBA, without a clear path, we just know that we need to take the next step. It’s like any frozen two, right? What’s the next right step. I feel like that’s been my entire business journey. I don’t have a clear vision. For what’s to come..
I just am focusing on one step at a time. And so your action step for this week, if you aren’t already, when you’re tracking your other KPIs, your key performance indicators each month, I really encourage you to also set up a space so that you’re tracking your biggest win and your biggest lesson for each month, because it is incredible to look back on where you were.
And what you’ve learned in the ups and the downs. It’s really nice to have that. It’s not something I go back and look at super frequently, but being able to go back and look at them, especially at the end of each business year and just reflect on where I’ve been in, where this journey has taken me is super fun.
So I encourage you. That’s your action. Step this week. Go add those spaces to your key performance indicators spreadsheet. And now this week’s book recommendation is Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reed. here’s the thing. I remember reading this book and the loving it, it’s only called once ago. And when I went back on good reads, I had given it four or five stars, but as I’m sitting here trying to realize what, what do I even tell them about this book?
I couldn’t really put my finger on. Anything that made it super incredible. And to quote from another reader’s review on good reads. She said on its surface, there’s nothing immediately special about this story. And that is absolutely true. There’s nothing that really pops out as a oh, it’s incredible because of this truthfully, it’s incredible because Taylor Jenkins Reed is an incredibly enormously talented author. And so for no other reason than that, I highly recommend that you go read it and I’m going to go put a hold on all of our other books in the library, because her storytelling is impeccable. I hope that this episode encouraged you today. I hope that you.
take some, maybe lessons learned that I’ve learned so that you don’t have to go through it. I hope that you are encouraged for what is to come in your own business, wherever you may be today in your business journey. I hope that this encourages you, that all of the hard things they suck, but they’re preparing you for something even better.
And I am always here for you friend, if you ever need to vent about the hard things in business, my DMs are open. Thank you for being here on this journey with me. And I’m excited to see what year five brings for both of us until next time. I hope that you go out and uncomplicate your life on biz.