This is Part 3 of a full series this month, taking you behind-the-scenes of building and creating a business & doing what you love: the ups, the downs, the tears & the real real. Yes, I tell this story every year, because every year there is more to share and tell and show you, especially for those of you who have dreams of your own business or something like it. Our stories are so important to tell, and are so much bigger than most people see or understand from the outside. In all parts of life. And this one, for me, has played a huge part in my life and my own growth. So grab a cup of coffee and get ready for some real talk.
I still remember that first morning when I woke up. It was THRILLING.
I couldn’t really take it in at first.
Is this real life?
I can do anything I want? I can work in my lulus? At my favorite coffee shop? I can take a morning workout class?
Oh my god, this is freaking amazing! Why did I wait so long?!
Side note: still, to this day, I wake up thinking this. It never gets old to me. The freedom. The joy of creating my day how I want to. The rebel in my loving that no one is gonna tell me what to do.
But back then, it was followed shortly with: … wait. Oh, yeah… there’s a lot I have to learn.
So, I started in, reading every single book on starting a small business. I totally devoured them.
I emailed all the girls I knew who had their own businesses, and made them meet me for coffee. With a big announcement: SURPRISE!
And, now, just a few questions, if they didn’t mind: what has helped them the most? Any tools or tricks? And big things I needed to know?
There was one morning, in particular. I met with this great girl who ran her own business. One of the very few that I knew who did that kind of thing back then.
Her answers for every one of those questions, was the same. “Well, do you know who Marie Forleo is?”
Um. No?… I scribbled her name down, furiously.
“Well, write it down. Check her out. She’s amazing. She helps female entrepreneurs build their businesses, mostly online. I did her program a little while ago and it helped me so much. And I think she still has a live event. Anyways, you should look her up.”
Words of gold.
And a direct answer to my prayers, even though I didn’t quite know it at the time.
I went home, spent probably 3 hours stalking her website, and a few weeks later signed up for her last-ever in-person conference in NYC. At that moment, it was June 2012. I’d made it 2 months in.
And I was grinding, hardcore. Hustling. Drinking way more (organic) coffee than I ever had in my life. Staying up way too late and getting up way too early, having panicky dreams about what the h*ll I was doing.
So, with no money but plenty of time on my hands, I started to teach myself anything I needed to learn.
Ok. Yes, let’s learn. I knew how to blog, so how hard could it be?
Copywriting? Sure, why not.
Pictures needed? Let’s barter.
I was going to do whatever it took, I told myself. They say entrepreneurs are crazy because they’d rather work 80 hours a week for themselves, instead of working 40 for someone else.
But, it was true.
There was a certain thrill and excitement I just couldn’t contain.
And then with that little momentum in my business life, I started to date again too.
But… after a few “pretty good” dates, I always seemed to end up telling them that I needed to work on my business.
And thanks, but no thanks. I was all serious biz, power-bunning my way through that first couple of months. I had to make this thing work.
With that mentality… plus the DAILY manifesting meditations I was now clinging on to for dear life each morning (thanks to Gabby Bernstein’s free youtube channel), those desperate prayers for guidance and help to show me what to do and where to go… the clients started trickling in, and opportunities started to unfold. Slowly. But steadily.
I hit the 6 month mark, feeling somewhat exhausted. But also, so freaking proud. More fulfilled than I ever had been in my life. That all the “work” I was doing was work that mattered, skills that would help me long-term, instead of someone else’s busy work.
6 months in, and I arrived at Marie’s conference.
And immediately, my world felt like it froze for a second.
I was in awe. In this magical little dreamland. With people just like me.
Everyone there was wanting to learn more about this seemingly ridiculous idea that you could not only create a wildly successful business, but also, have a life that you loved. A life that included being more than a workaholic.
That being a female entrepreneur didn’t have to mean running yourself crazy and into the ground.
Whoa. Wait. You mean, that was even possible?
I heard speakers on meditation, on copywriting, and marketing. On psychology, and email lists. And sales, in the least sleazy and squirmy way, and more about serving other people with the talents and gifts that you have been given.
Because we all have been given something, that can help others. The idea alone made my heart spin and heart swell. Full body YES’S started happening when I considered it.
And these women:
Of all ages, from all places. Their stories, their businesses making big moves in the community, and even bigger ones in their lives.
I was alive and on fire. I couldn’t stop writing down ideas. I couldn’t stop feeling like all the particles of my body were moving and jumping and so excited.
Everyone there started to ask each other: “Oh, so when did you go through B-School?” Me? Oh… um, no. What’s that? Their jaws would pop open. WHAT?! You haven’t done it yet? You have to do it. Seriously, it’s amazing.
I shrugged it off, and kept it as a little mental note. I came home motivated and ready to rock. Still hustling. And pushing.
Taking any job and opportunity that came up. I just said yes. I did things for free. I figured out a way. I catered a wedding for 200 people, having never catered in my life. Aka, I was CRAY.
And then, that February, I got the email.
That Marie’s famous “B-School” (her business program) was coming. Her once-a-year 8 week program to teach you the foundations of marketing and creating a soulful, beautiful business that mattered. Online. To grow an empire with meaning and heart, but with freedom too. To create a life that mattered just as much.
With more ease and impact.
The one all the girls had already done at the conference.
So, I watched all the videos. Got so pumped. YES! This is what I needed– to learn how to scale this thing, and grow it beyond just the hours I could clock in each day. To help people beyond my limit of 8 one-on-one clients at once.
But, then, I saw the price tag. And totally freaked out.
Because, it was actually the TOTAL amount I had started my business with.
And then, I thought about that conference.
The wisdom. The joy. The nitty gritty things that I needed help with. The tech side of things, how to grow an email list, how to create online products, how to send free gifts to those that sign up, how to get the word out, how to scale a business beyond just my one-on-one time slots, how to help more people to change their lives with real food, and how to have the support of a woman doing the same kinds of things, that I just didn’t have in person.
I knew it would be sooo good. And so worth it.
I remember my Dad, as I told him about it. He said, “Honey, if I’ve learned one thing in life, as a business owner– or even just someone who does big things in their life– it’s that you have to continually invest in yourself and in your growth. The money that you spend doing that, always comes back to you ten fold, and in ways sometimes that you don’t expect.”
Words of gold, yet again.
I bit the bullet that day, the first day she opened the cart.
I clicked, and nervously waited to feel regretful.
But, it never came.
At that time, I was almost one year into my baby of a business, that March.
See what I mean about this time of year?
I was doing fine on my own, you see, before starting the program. Making some money already. From all that hustle and the word starting to get out.
But inside, I was totally stressed out. And without a LIFE, which I so badly craved. My business was my life. There wasn’t time for anything else it seemed. At least, not without guilt.
And I knew that I couldn’t do that, forever. At least with wanting a full and beautiful life, outside of my work hours too. That I probably had a few things to learn, because looking at these other women, it seemed possible to have both.
So, I started. Week 1, Module 1, with the thousands of other women across the globe.
2 weeks in, and oh baby, there it was.
That clarity and direction I had been needing, appeared.
I’d been praying for it for so long.
To learn from someone who had done it herself (and who knew Oprah– so really, honestly, what else do you need in life?), speaking truth in this real life, classy, funny, and truly helpful way.
C L A R I T Y. Of exactly what the next steps to take were. A path, lit up amongst the dark I was feeling my way around.
A F U L L B O D Y Y E S. The mentality of why not me, and why not now? With so many expanders and examples suddenly around me, I knew it was possible to create not just a business but an empire of good to help the world. And the steps to take to make it happen, instead of me doing it all alone.
It shouldn’t have been a surprise- but three weeks in to b-school, I met Kyle (my now husband).
And found a house in the perfect neighborhood to start remodeling a kitchen in that I could work from. The first Simply Real Health kitchen space.
A home and a cozy little place in the world that finally felt like mine.
It still gives me chills.
It was not a coincidence.
I was ALIGNED. On fire. And in the flow.
Everything felt so right. So guided, in a way.
Let me explain.
It’s now been 8 years from that day.
8 1/2 years since I started the business officially, this coming April. And I almost forgot that Marie made us do this crazy writing exercise back at that original conference.
A painted picture, she called it.
We had to write out– in extreme specifics, where we saw ourselves exactly 3 years from that date.
What your day looked like, who you were with, where you lived and what it looked like, what projects you had created, how much money you made, what your morning routine was, etc.
It was the hardest thing I had had to do. It felt like I was jinxing myself, declaring and asking for so much out of my life, in specifics.
I had started it with this on the top of the page:
“3 years from now, it will be October 17th, 2015.”
And then, “OMG you are 30 now!” scribbled right below it. With some hearts. Typical.
Fast forward to that exact time, 5 years ago on that day:
It was October 15th, 2015, and I had randomly found my journal from that weekend. I was flipping through it searching for something else, and I came across it, way in the back.
Wait… that date was 2 days from now… That’s right now. That’s today…
I read it.
Oh my god. Tears came pouring out.
This was crazy. Insane. Stop…
Every single thing I had written was true.
E V E R Y T H I N G.
The man of my dreams (now, my kind and dreamy husband). About how he would make me feel.
What we would do together. What we would create, and where we would travel, and what we would say to each other every morning as we left the house, and every night when we came back.
What I would get out of bed thinking each morning. How my days would play out, if I got the chance and say in how to craft them.
The kitchen I cook in now and got to create and design every inch of, and dream into being– that, back then, felt soooo far out of reach.
How much money I made that year, traveling and doing what I love. That first year, it was the same amount that I’d made at my safe job (which, granted, wasn’t much). But still– I had the freedom to do what I want, when I wanted. And so much more potential for growth & income. There was no ceiling and no limit.
And for helping people.
Was published in a few major magazines (check).
Was on TV, helping people learn how to cook more simply and live their happiest and healthiest lives.(check).
One of those holy ish moments.
This is REAL.
But, just wait. This story gets even crazier…
Literally, the next morning after I had read that journal entry, I got a email from Marie’s team.
That they had found me. And my book. Out of the sea of millions of women that were alumni of the group. And wanted to feature me, and my business in their new bschool video series.
And, could I come out to NYC in 2 weeks to do so?
God moves. The universe gives. Yet again.
Connecting it all back in.
So, I did. I flew to NYC, and I met her, in person, in her studio, on her couch. The woman that changed so much for me, in that split second decision I’d made.
I tried not to cry, in thanking her for everything she had given to me without knowing it.
I told her about that painted picture, and how everything came true, so clearly because I had gotten that clarity and alignment right from the start– of what to focus on and what to forget about. I had the confidence to move forward with my dreams because of it– never bothering to look or compare to what others were doing, just following what felt right in my heart and what I was here to serve the world with, every step of the way, as she teaches.
You could see the tears welling up in her eyes.
That’s what it’s all about, she smiled.
You only get this one life to live. Don’t take it for granted. Create what you want. Be generous and be kind. And you will always receive it back.
It was one of those life moments, I will never forget.
The interview got released two years ago, and will again this year (watch it here), as part of her video series, ramping up into the once-a-year program.
And if any of you want to watch it, it’s available this week.
My story & journey are in video #3, which gets released today (!!) I think you have to watch the first 2 vids to get access. But, truthfully, the whole 3-part video series is just good advice for anyone.
So, even if her program piece isn’t what you’re looking for right now, a little inspiration and encouragement never hurts.
Of successful women’s rises and their real journeys. And mistakes. And where they started. And what made the biggest difference for them.
And why it matters to them.
And the people that have helped teach me, lead me & guide me to a business I am so proud of.
So, if you are someone that needs a little boost.
Has a dream.
Has a business now, or wants to have one eventually that lights up your whole life, I want to share it with you. This story. My story.
And I want you to know you’re not alone. And you don’t have to be, in creating this life that brings you so much joy.
Because this could be your turning point too. The beginning of the next thing. The domino that starts the cascade.
The answer to a prayer or stirring in your heart.
It’s not silly. And you can do it.
Dreams happen, and they can in big ways.
To normal people, with something big to share in this world.
Is starting a business something you’re dreaming about or thinking about too, or do you have a business of your own? I did a little live chat the other day where I shared the 8 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting A Business! Grab the replay here!
photos by Carina Skrobecki