My Top 8 Business Mistakes of 2016
Oohey. This one is going to be a whole load of honesty, with a side of realness, and a smidgen of TMI for dessert. But hey. My goal is to present the behind-the-scenes truth, so that, if applicable, you can make decisions and take action based on a realistic picture. Not a world full of staged images (which I take sometimes too—so I’m not judging), embellished income reports, and all that jazz.
My Top 8 Business Mistakes of 2016
1. Not choosing the right path during the ultimate debacle and disaster that consisted of offering services and accidentally selling more spots than I intended.
All my close friends and family know of something we affectionately call #Project50. Which was a time when my sales software was supposed to limit registrants to under 20 people (for a custom content plan I was putting together for each person), but it didn’t shut down until I noticed the error and did it manually . . . when over 55 people had registered.
Cue panic music and nervous laughter.
You see. I really hate to disappoint people. There are some parts of me that want to be “so above” caring what other people think, but at the core of who I am, I just do. I don’t like hurting people’s feelings (which makes me the worst and most confusing girlfriend ever when I’m trying to break up with someone), and I don’t like the feeling of letting someone down.
So, instead of refunding the last 30 or 40 people and potentially disappointing them because they wouldn’t be able to take advantage of the crazy price I was selling the package at, I decided to just clear my schedule (which meant not creating as much content), let people know the delivery time would be a little longer (and also offer them a refund if they understandably didn’t want to wait), then get to work trying to finish each plan—but still give each one the attention it deserved.
It was a disaster. Some people got their plans on time, other people kept getting offers to either (1) get a refund and accept a free eBook as my apology, or (2) wait a little longer and accept a free eBook as my apology. It drug on and on. I kept hoping people would just ask for a refund. And in the end I had to “force” refund a few people because I just couldn’t finish each plan.
It was so ridiculous of me. I couldn’t see how deeply I was damaging the brand by trying to keep everyone happy. I thought I was helping people by trying to get everything done, but I was not helping. An unasked for refund on Day 2 is way better than late deliveries, stress, and forcing a refund on someone on Day 31.
Get it together, Regina. Sheesh. It’s so embarrassing to tell this story, but I want to be honest with you and show you what’s really going on behind the scenes at times. People who should know better, making really silly mistakes.
Also, if you were a client of one of these content plans and you missed my many apology messages, please let me apologize now. I know many of you got and loved your plans (thank you!), but I apologize for disappointing and delaying you if you didn’t get one.
2. Running the same email/organization systems that worked when I had a much smaller brand.
I get a couple hundred emails each day. But it wasn’t always like that—obviously. In fact, I’m very much like the frog in the pot with the temperature raising slowly—have you heard this one? The poor frog doesn’t know he needs to hop out until it’s too late.
I didn’t realize I needed a new system, even though I was constantly frustrating myself by not being able to get control of my inbox (or even see all the important emails coming in). One day, just to assess what kind of inbox problem I was having, I counted the number of emails I’d gotten that day. Then I calculated how long it would take me to reply to each one at an average of two minutes per email—it was literally going to take 11 hours. To respond to one day of emails.
I finally got it. It was mathematically insane to try to get through even 1/4 of that number of emails each day while still expecting to work. Had I acknowledged this problem earlier on in the year, I could have been seeking out a solution. I was nervous about allowing someone into my inbox, allowing someone to speak for me . . . so I had to find someone I felt cared about people’s goals in the same way I do, someone who had similar business ethics. I realized that person was my friend Bunny and each day we work to find intelligent ways to keep people happy. It will be a process, but I can almost breathe finally.
3. Not prioritizing my health + fitness enough early on in the year.
During the past two years of working from home, I spent one year way toooooo sedentary. I woke up. Worked a lot. Often sitting in just one or two spots all day. I ordered meals to my house so I didn’t have to leave. I didn’t like having to drive anywhere. I just wanted to stay at home and get my work done.
I looked up after a year of this and noticed “the Freelance Fifteen” (which was actually 17 pounds of additional weight—#ExtraCurvy). I also noticed that I simply didn’t feel as healthy as I’d like. Also, I was stressed. Also, I started caring less and less about how healthy my food was. I was treating my body how I felt—like crap.
I saw all these people online who were all, “Yoga is the answer. I do yoga every single day before I work. It’s changed my business.”
I used to laugh. And hate it when people offered this up as a solution. I would even cringe a little bit on the inside. Like, “Come on y’all. Yoga doesn’t solve your life.”
And it doesn’t. But you know what, team? It is currently one of my favorite prescriptions for work stress. Not yoga in and of itself if you hate yoga, but doing something that helps you:
1. Get active—which will help with your mood, your creativity, and your overall health.
2. Take time to reflect—it can be painful to lay down in savasana at the end of a class to rest or to “meditate” for five minutes, just like for someone I’m sure it can be hard to take a walk alone in nature and be there with just their thoughts. Forcing yourself to slow down your pace and see that the whole world doesn’t fall apart when you take time to think and be the best version of yourself . . . is amazing.
4. Continually working with people who weren’t doing a good job. Multiple times. Like. I didn’t learn my lesson.
You know what? I’m not gonna sugar-honey-syrup coat this one. I’m going to say something in a very direct way that may seem out of character.
Sometimes the best thing you can do for a person is fire them from whatever role they are filling in your life or business when they are unwilling to do a good job or are incapable of doing a good job.
If you want to preserve the relationship, communication is so essential. If communicating doesn’t work, over long periods of time even, you won’t be preserving the relationship or doing anyone any favors by becoming sour or bitter towards the person.
Trust me. I got confused in there for a bit. Since I also had/have wonderful people I’ve worked with this year, I kept holding onto the hope that certain people would just start caring more . . . it would have been much smarter to just part ways and find people who wanted to do the work well.
5. Failing publicly a lot without apologizing quickly enough.
In the world I’ve described to you above, where I was drowning in bad decisions, emails, not-so-great health, and tons of stress, I naturally missed some deadlines and put some projects on permanent backburner.
Now. If I backburnered a project I’d never announced, no big deal. But when I had to backburner cool events and things I’d planned, and had also announced, it was a bigger deal.
But, remember the part from business mistake #1 about how I hate disappointing people? I wouldn’t want to announce things. Like, “Hey remember that free event I was planning and hinting at and that other free event I put up a landing page for and then never did anything with? Oops, y’all. My bad. I’m too swamped and stressed and behind to even go to sleep and dream about a world in which I could host that event.”
I felt like I would sound like such an ultimate loser to let people down. So instead, I just hoped no one noticed and I quietly moved on to doing the next thing that needed my attention.
But guess what? People noticed.
My lesson? Apologize if something doesn’t feel right. Apologize even if you feel like you could “get away” with it. Honestly usually sits better with people than secrecy, ambiguity, or just a lack of a decent explanation. To be clear—I’m not recommending that you announce the 53 life problems you’re feeling at the time you decide you can’t do something and you need to apologize, but I am saying that some type of honest explanation will make people feel better and trust you more.
6. Not balancing the negatives I ran into with positives.
There’s a balance between (a) paying attention to injustices in the world or negative/sketchy trends you see happening so that you can speak out on them and (b) making sure you focus on positive things and build ethical practices, great content, and amazing vibes for the world to enjoy. There’s a balance, and I focused on the negative side for too long.
I am still a tiny bit sick of the way some people do business online, hence this post, but I realized that the most productive thing for me to do is to focus on you, and the way I want to do business with you, and what we can all possibly create together.
People will always be shady. People will always lie. People will always do super annoying things like imply you’ll get certain results or like report their income in the most fishy, inaccurate way ever. But, those are not my people. And spending time worrying about them is spending time not worrying about you. I am so sorry for every extra second I could have been spreading light or creating something meaningful that I was instead stewing in a dark corner over people and things that really don’t affect your life.
When I say it out loud like that . . . or rather, type it into a post for you to read . . . it seems so dang simple. Just don’t do that, Regina. EVER.
Here’s what I do instead now, and what I prescribe for you to reduce business stress:
Set guiding principles.
Change your business model to meet them.
Change your lifestyle to complement the creative, multi-passionate, insane, beautiful, loving, weird person you are.
Go to Mexico.
Speak up when things aren’t right.
Fall in love.
Wait. I haven’t done that one yet—but it’s cool, you can get a head start on me.
Do yoga. Unless you hate it. In that case, go rock climb, or do Jiu-Jitsu, or go discover the magic of kettlebells. Or, we can be insane twinsies and you can become a certified yoga instructor and kettlebell specialist, then go get a boxing for fitness certification like I did.
Meet more real people and don’t stay behind your computer all the time.
Eat well. Why do you treat other people so much better than you do the body that will allow you to stick around longer for those people? Logic fail.
Smile first—don’t wait to see if the stranger in the hall is friendly or not. Be the friendly.
^^Look ma, I made some friends, and got healthy, and took breaks. If it’s on Instagram, it’s real.
7. Listening to people who sell different and just are different than I am.
I could tell you stories about the online friends who adopted me and (out of their desire to help) gave me advice and urged me to do things a certain way—and how their ways were so different from what I naturally wanted to do . . . but, instead of telling stories, I’ll share the picture on Instagram (that I posted as a part of my friend’s campaign to show that we are all imperfect) that sums it up pretty well.
“I’m embarrassed that I lost sight of what matters most to me in my business to hang out with the cool kids who aren’t even cool. Being cool means making other people feel good about themselves and helping people.”
Don’t go through all of the trouble, sweat, long nights, tears, blood, coffee, et cetera, required to build a business only to look up and realize you’ve built something you don’t want to run. I almost turned my business into something that I didn’t like.
Oh, man. I never thought I’d even come close to doing that.
8. Keeping the same course release model for certain courses that worked when I had a much smaller brand.
When I was getting 10 emails per day (and not going to the gym or spending enough time with friends), it was fine for me to launch a course that was 0.0% complete and put a “one month away” date on it, because, I could get it done. But somewhere in my crazy, stressful, need-better-systems year, this method stopped working. It started adding stress and opportunities to disappoint.
So, my “Jay Z style business retirement” (as I like to call it) that I announced in an email a couple months ago is about you as much as it is about me. It’s actually a decision I made for you that will benefit me greatly as a side effect.
So no, I’m not retiring the byRegina.com brand. Anything but. I am simply restructuring it, organizing it, and making sure you can get what you need from it. I am taking the time to reorganize and add to my courses—even though I feel they are some of the best content on the Internet. I am building programs that are 80% – 100% ready instead of just 10% or 30%, expecting to make up the last 70% before the release date.
I’m building a better ship for you and me and all are ninja friends to sail off on if we so choose.
Sheesh, Regick. Did you do anything right this year?
Haha. Great question. I definitely feel I got a few things right, but . . .
The one thing I really feel like I do consistently get right with my brand, is . . . (even if I begin to get off track) I prioritize your needs over trying to roll with the big dogs or make a ton of money. Money and connections just kind of naturally happen, but I am quick to turn them down when you would be the one to suffer or when it would send the wrong message to you.
What do I mean?
I mean I stepped away from a major collabo I had already agreed to because one of the other people involved was more disrespectful to a certain people group (publicly even!) than I could possibly stand by or stomach.
I mean I created high-value resources for free or for a low price point, even when other people in my industry literally complained to me about it.
I mean I don’t ever create things that don’t make sense on the #StayScrappy level that I so often talk about. I didn’t have $100,000 to start a business the first time I started a real, real business. I took money from my paycheck, bought a vacuum and some cleaning supplies then started cleaning a friend’s house and expanded from there.
Hi, I’m Regina. This is my life. Some people call me Regick. (Okay, only my friend Tiffany calls me that, but I’m still hoping it will catch on.) I’ve made tons of mistakes. Tons more to come, but know this . . .
I am still the girl who didn’t even own a laptop in college. I couldn’t afford one. I am still the girl who had to work two jobs at a time to go to college and who had to take semesters off just so I could finish paying my tuition from the previous semester so I could register again. I am still the one who drove around my same goofy car for 10 years until a drunk driver totaled it. I am still the one who stayed up until 5 or 6 a.m. to finish some of the blog posts on this site, then had to wake up again at 8 a.m. to work or fulfill some or another responsibility. All the time.
I am still the daughter of a man who worked four jobs in school and got his Ph.D. dissertation done on a typewriter that didn’t have the “backspace” function. If you messed up a word, you had to retype the whole page. I am still the daughter of a woman who hasn’t backed down from a hard day’s work (all while trying to further her education and understanding of the world at the same time) ever in her life.
So . . . here’s the deal.
You mean the world to me. Thank you for sticking with me during this crazy year of learning and growing (painfully and slowly at times), and I hope you will allow me to still be a part of your journey next year too.
I can’t do it alone. In fact, I would love your help.
In the form of comments on this post. Sure, they can be testimonials if some of my content has helped you (i LOVE getting those messages!), but you can also tell me . . .
If you’re still upset with me about something.
If you have a question.
If you want to tell me you dislike my curly hair.
If you think I use the word “epic” too much.
If you want to come do Jiu-Jitsu with me.
If you never want to see me again.
If you think we should probably get married next year.
If you’re interested in my almond butter brownie recipe.
If you don’t understand something about me that really bugs you and you want to ask about it.
ANYTHING that’s not negative racial profiling is allowed.
Actually. If you have some possible misconceptions about “race,” let’s just get those comments out there too.