A Peek at the Past 5 Years & My Business Evolution


apeekatthepast5years
I recently shared what I’d do differently if I had to start my business over from scratch in 2016…but today, I want to share a different story: what my business evolution and growth actually looked like.

There are so many lessons I’ve learned the hard way through experience, and I’m always eager to share them so that you don’t have to go through the same troubles!

And so – here’s a glimpse at how my own company has grown and matured over the past 5 years…

I started my business right out of college, and found myself successfully designing websites for clients across the web in 2012.

At this point in time, I was definitely suffering from the cobbler’s shoe syndrome. Although my clients had impeccable sites, my own website was nothing special to look at.

This is what my online presence looked like at the time:

business evolution

I remember it clearly…

Dreams of the Big City…and Reality

In the fall of 2012, freshly married and excited about our new life together, my husband Robin and I packed up all our belongings and drove from Toronto to New York City, with Millie the dog as our sidekick.

Robin’s company headquarters were in New York, and I knew I’d be able to do my online work anywhere… so we dipped into our savings and put down the biggest deposit for an apartment we had ever seen. Dreams of the big city in our eyes.

We were spending $3000 per month on rent in Brooklyn (twice what we paid before!), and because we had a dog we had to put down 3 months’ rent as a deposit.

Robin was working crazy Manhattan hours and I was adjusting to a whole new business model and working just as hard.

Even though my business was bringing in that elusive six figures, at the end of the day, there wasn’t a whole lot of money leftover each month.

We were feeling the strain of the big city, and that Empire State of Mind song kept reminding us:

“If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere…”

Investing in a New Appearance

By this point, I had invested in a website redesign for my brand with my friends and design partner Natasha Lakos, and photographer Christa Meola.

Nathalie Lussier Website - redesign example

This new design was bold, confident, and professional.  So as I consistently released a new blog video each week and sent me email subscribers back to my blog, my website traffic started to steadily increase.

At the start of 2012, I had just shy of 7000 contacts… by the end of that year, my contact list had grown to 15,000 people.

business evolution

At that time, I remember sitting in bed trying to warm up because our apartment building hadn’t turned the heat on yet, and it was starting to get cold…

My business was growing, but I was maxing out on one-to-one consulting and web design clients. Still, I knew that my know-how was valuable and that I could create information training products… I just wasn’t sure how to scale this side of my business.

I knew the solution to our issues was not that we both had to work harder!

So my business evolution continued: I began to strategize a way to work smarter by leveraging systems and automating things that I only did sometimes when I “had the time”.

I Built Sequences Specific To Each Course & Led With a Quiz

I really dove into implementing campaigns that would help sell my do-it-yourself digital courses. I wrote targeted follow up email sequences and created special offers to get people to take action. I had written 5 emails per sequence, each with a tip or actionable advice… And at the end of these emails, I’d let people know that I had a full-fledged course about the topic available.

To help lead into my different products, I created a “Website Checkup” quiz. Since not everyone needed to take my basic website training course, this quiz helped to connect me with the people who needed more advanced optimization services.

business evolution

 

And a funny thing happened. I started to see sales coming in every day for my products. I didn’t need to send individual emails or follow up with people who had questions… because my follow up sequences were doing it for me!

My smart work was working!

Focusing On Automation Led to More Business Evolution & Growth

As a result of really systematizing my business, marketing, and sales processes, I took my six figure income and tripled it in 2013. In 2014, our revenues doubled from the previous year.

Of course, implementing the automation best practices wasn’t 100% responsible for creating the massive increase in income and revenues we experienced… there was a lot of elbow grease and mindset shifts that went into it, too.

But I’d reached an awesome point: I wasn’t spinning my wheels anymore, my business was naturally earning more, and that allowed me to shift my focus to more outreach and opportunities that eventually led to even more growth.

Branching Into Software Development

Since kicking up our automated systems, I’ve been able to increase how much my business makes and actually keep more of it, too.

In the summer of 2013, I had an idea that would take my business evolution to new heights. It all started with putting together the free 30 Day List Building Challenge:

business evolution

The challenge helped me double my email list from 15,000 to 30,000 the following year… and in turn, my business was able to support both my husband and I. So I convinced my husband to quit his corporate job and become my lead software developer.

At first, we used existing solutions to build our 30 Day List Building Challenge, then manually created tags, emails, and videos for each day of the challenge. Soon, we realized we could create a solution that would save us a ton of time when setting up future campaigns. That’s how our AccessAlly plugin was born.

Initially, we didn’t intend to release our Infusionsoft WordPress plugin to the public, but because of the success of the 30 Day List Building Challenge, we were deluged with questions from people who wanted to know what membership site software we were using.

Since then, we’ve released a total of 4 full-fledged WordPress plugins and added a whole new dimension to what started off as my solo business. We’ve even partnered with other professional developers and designers and started certifying them as AmbitionAlly Certified Partners. We are so proud to be able to refer them to our clients.

AmbitionAlly homepage screenshot

All This Business Evolution Led To Growing Our Team

Now my business evolution has brought us to the point where it’s not “just me” anymore. I work alongside my husband from home every day, but we’ve also added on another full-time developer, a project manager, a marketing manager, a full-time writer, and a production assistant. Not to mention our constant collaboration with amazing designers, freelancers, and other collaborators.

If I had to manage all of the things we’ve created over the years myself, I wouldn’t have been able to create the results we’ve had or the revenue growth we’ve experienced.

New Traffic Stats - NL screenshot

Looking to our traffic stats from 2014, you can tell that all the consistency is paying off, and we’ve now got more than just a handful of digital training courses. I host a weekly podcast show, we’ve got an ongoing membership training and accountability program, our software tools, and lots more on the horizon.

And our story continues, and my husband and I have moved to Dallas, Texas where we’ve got a great home outside of the city surrounded by trees and horses. Our mortgage payment is the same as our rent was in Brooklyn, but we don’t even feel the sting anymore.

Thanks to planning for our team’s expansion, a lot of action, and sound marketing automation… we’ve built a business that keeps growing month to month, without us working any harder.

18 Comments

  1. Victoria on April 12, 2016 at 8:26 am

    This was so inspiring! Thank you Nathalie for sharing your journey!



  2. Kelly Edmonds on April 12, 2016 at 10:18 am

    Nathalie, you both are an inspiration to many. Thank you for sharing your business strategies – I’ve learned so much from you over the years!

    Having you as my business coach was the best investment I ever made.



  3. Sarah Greesonbach on April 13, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Bravo – So inspiring to see it grow from the start, and where you noted growth had to happen in your mindset. Thank you for all your help!



  4. Desiree on April 13, 2016 at 11:21 am

    Amazing! Thank you for sharing this. Essentially, everything you described about where you started in 2012 is me. Spinning my wheels on 1:1, similar web traffic. Excited to get to the point where I have more time to dream, create and launch more online products!!!



  5. marion on April 13, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    I love this post! I run a website design business with my husband and we are at the stage where we are looking to automate more and create packages as we just cant take on many more one to one clients than we already do, so this was great to read



  6. Grace on April 13, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    Nathalie, thank you for sharing and for your transparency about the challenges of growing a business. It is encouraging to know that having a vision, staying the course and being willing to change your mindset and to pivot are all part of the journey. Your 30 Day Challenge was full of useful insights, I’m continuing to work on implementing them.



  7. Rachel on April 13, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    I remember the 2012 website – and can’t believe that the time has gone so quickly! Thank you for sharing your journey so far, it’s both inspiring and very, very helpful!



  8. gerhard paasche on April 13, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    Thanks Natalie for sharing your inspiring success story. It is people like you who do not hold back in sharing that makes it fun to be in this business. There are no secrets out there other than that it is hard work, consistency and determination. Thanks again and have a great day.



  9. Lance on April 13, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Hey, I remember you from “back in the day” (or maybe even earlier)! Very cool to read about the journey you’ve taken over the last few years!

    Here’s to continued success (in all areas of your life)!



  10. Ana on April 13, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Really heartening Nathalie, my husband is a web designer and I have referred him to your resources time and again. It is really cool how you got you reinforce the consistency part with a gentle and inspiring approach to it.

    Thank you this arrived at just the right time for me to hear.



  11. Krista on April 13, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    Very inspiring, Nathalie. Thanks for sharing :)



  12. Angela on April 13, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    You inspire me Nathalie! Thank you!



  13. Wendy Kotila on April 14, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    Loved this! Thanks!



  14. T on April 14, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    Very encouraging to see how far you can go with consistency and automation.



  15. Cami on April 15, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Nathalie – this was such an inspiring post. Thanks for sharing your journey with us and speaking authentically about what it really takes to create a successful business.



  16. Selam on April 21, 2016 at 7:38 am

    Great read! Thanks for being transparent about what it really took for your business to evolve and grow – especially the mindset part – which is often overlooked.



  17. […] totally true. But as I’ve shared before, my first business experiences were not quite as stellar as I would have liked them to be … which is one of the reasons why WebinarAlly came about. As a WordPress plugin, WebinarAlly […]



  18. Andrea on May 31, 2016 at 9:19 am

    Linda journey Nathalie!

    I am in need of inspiration to take my business to the top, and statements like this help motivate me.

    Thank you, always!

    Andrea