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December 27, 2012

Reflections on 2012 Part 3: BUSINESS

2012: “The Year of Connection” for both Jill and JillFit :) At JillFit, we launched our JillFit Lifestyle Online membership in January, sold over 500 memberships over the last 12 months, and launched the 1st annual Best of You Coaching Club where I worked up-close-and-personal with 14 women all year long in the realms of mind, body & business. I also launched my join venture with FMI, an online program for fitness models who want to build their online businesses, Fitness Model Online.

This is also our 150th blog of 2012! And, we’ve built our JillFit Facebook page to 6000 fans, and over 14k on Twitter. It’s been a huge year of growth, and I am incredibly grateful for everyone involved–anyone who has ever read the blog, shared your story with me via email, engaged with us, shared a post or become a part of the JillFit family in the Lifestyle program.

These numbers in an of themselves are not important. They mean so much more to me than that–they represent the ability to make a difference, and to make an impact. If someone–anyone–takes something away from JillFit that makes them happier, healthier or better, that means the world to me.

So with that, I want to start this blog out with a huge THANK YOU! I am grateful for YOU! And I am still humbled everyday that anyone even wants to read what I write.

Importance of Mentorship

I never thought about actually paying someone for mentorship. Like most people, I thought I could find what I needed on my own, like relying on traditional education/degrees, or through reading books…or my favorite way up until 2 years ago—asking Jade :)

In 2011, I came to the realization that if I wanted to take my business and professional success to the next level, that I needed to find someone who could mentor me. And for a great mentor, I’d have to pay to play.

I looked around the semi-small fitness industry to see what professionals were doing what I wanted to be doing in a few years, and to whom I looked up and respected. Though I admired top figure competitors and some fitness models for what they have been able to achieve with their bodies, I found my attention pulled to successful businesswomen within the fitness field, who were doing bigger things, more than showing off a rockin’ bod at a photo shoot or on stage. Not that those things aren’t admirable–I did it for years—but I wanted get coaching from someone creating something bigger, something for others, something of massive value to the world, and someone who was making a huge impact.

I sought out and hired Rachel Cosgrove—best-selling author, Womens Health columnist, successful business owner of Results Fitness, and also half of a fitness power couple with her husband, Alwyn Cosgrove. It was, and continues to be a huge game-changer for me, and for JillFit.

At Jade’s urging and with his support, I launched the first annual Best of You Coaching Club last holiday season so that I could make the money I needed to hire Rachel. It worked. And along with Rachel’s coaching, I learned so much through running my first-ever mentorship with 14 amazing women.

2012 has been my most fulfilling year yet in business, and here are some of my favorite insights:

1) In order to grow your business, you have to make it about other people.

You can only get so far when it’s all about you. When I was doing a lot of fitness modeling and competitions, I enjoyed the transient affirmation I received for my physique and photos, but it eventually left something to be desired.

It’s funny, at that time, most of fans and followers were men, mostly accredited to how little clothing I wore in my photos. Now, they are over 80% women :) That fact means something to me. The fact that JillFit touches so many women’s lives in a way that allows them to feel human and to know that they are not alone in their struggle for a fit, lean physique means something.  It has to be about OTHER people.

For me to feel fulfilled on a personal level and successful in business, I needed to shift focus away from myself and being giving massive value to customers, clients and readers. I want people to feel better, look better and be better as a result of working with me. I want others to feel like anything is possible and that they can do it too. Once I shifted my focus to creating something bigger than myself, all sorts of new successes started showing up.

2)   Be authentically you, and don’t worry about those who don’t “get it.”

As a former people-pleaser this was a hard pill to swallow. Besides, I was used to adjusting myself to others, in order to be liked. And while being liked certainly feels good and makes things easier, at some point I had to draw a line in the sand and say, This is what’s important to me. Stay or go accordingly.

Especially with a personality brand like JillFit, it’s important that people know me, and know what I’m about. I fully developed JillFit’s Core Values in early 2012, I started writing on topics that interested me, trusting that people with whom it resonated would come, and being okay with people with whom it didn’t, to leave.

And they did. A lot of our earlier following were competitors, and though we still work with many, sometimes the mindset piece that we frequently write on can get lost amongst those who are strictly looking for that 10% body fat. I don’t judge it–to each their own–but when you are simply looking for tips, tricks and tools to eat clean, some of the more “woo woo” introspection pieces don’t interest you. I stopped writing for “everyone” and started writing what was becoming most important to me (which was usually not generic tools, tips and tricks), and if people wanted to read it, they did and if they didn’t, they left.

Drawing a line in the sand allows for your PERFECT CUSTOMER to come to you. JillFit is NOT right for everyone. It’s for those with whom it resonates. Besides, I am not trying to trick people into buying my programs. I want my customer to want ME. Running a business is like a romantic relationship: Not everyone’s going to want me. And if that’s the case, I don’t want them either :)

Learning to let go of trying to be everything to everyone was a huge shift for me, and for the business. And once I made that shift, business picked up because my clients and customers had been already handpicked, vetted and primed to be successful. Like Tim Ferriss says, “It doesn’t matter how many people don’t get it. What matter is how many people do.” 

3) When others win, I win.

Similar to #1 above, when I help someone do better, I do better. When my clients have successes, I am more successful. When I help someone achieve something for themselves, I feel like I am achieving it too. It sounds cliche but after doing 2 mentorship programs this year, I can honestly say that “it is in the giving that you receive.”

Personally, this brings me tremendous fulfillment. But also professionally. When my clients do better, make changes, do things they never though possible as a result of working with me, that’s good for business :) It’s good for them (obviously) and it means a lot for JillFit too.

I don’t know that I ever tried to discourage accomplishment for those around me, I just think I didn’t make a conscious effort. However, in 2012, I have taken major strides to do a lot more in this realm. I want every life that I touch to be successful. I want everyone to do everything they ever dreamed and I want to be a part of it.

4) Say yes, and then figure it out along the way.

In January, I launched the JillFit Lifestyle online membership–somewhat on a whim. I thought, if I just put up great, exclusive content, people will pay for it. I started by charging $10/month and by May, we had a couple hundred members due to our great readership.

But then, something started happening–people started dropping their memberships and we stopped growing. I thought, I can’t understand it…it’s only $10? I did a lot of thinking, stressing and talking to Jade and I realized that I had not done a great job of engaging members and giving them the access and accountability they wanted. I was lazy (and also just ignorant) and thought that great content alone was enough. Well, it wasn’t even worth $10 to many people, so I needed to up my game. I immediately increased the price to $25/mth and figured out numerous ways to add 10x more value to the program. In addition to making many new changes, I added an online community where participants could ask questions, get access to the JillFit coaches, share with other members and generally be listened to and acknowledged. It was a game-changer for our program and is now the most valuable part.

I learned that people come for content but stay for community. And this was a lesson that I learned along the way. It’s a small example of what successful companies do constantly. They adjust on the fly based on what customers want and need. I had no idea what I was doing when I launched JF Lifestyle, and I am still learning. But so long as I am learning, my programs and services will always improve. It is when I think I know everything that things will inevitably slow down.

So if you are waiting to start something or want to make a change, just jump. The old way will always be there if you need it, but TRUST in yourself that you can and adjust on the fly. Be that confident in your abilities.

I’ve done more public speaking, filmed more videos and asserted my expertise more in the last 12 months than the entire rest of my life combined. I just…JUMPED. I said yes. I used the “Ready, fire, aim, aim, aim…” approach to just go for it.

So say YES! And know that if you don’t know what to do, the answer is always a book, a coach or an online program away :) The “how” is the easiest part, if you stay curious and hungry.

5) Giving praise to others doesn’t take away from your accomplishments or contributions.

I learned in 2012 the power of networking and acknowledging others. Also Ferriss: “Your network is your net worth.” I hate to say, it’s who you know because it’s really not. It’s more about developing organic relationships based on mutual respect and genuine interest in what the other person is doing.

Networking is not about what the other person can do for you. It is about how you can serve the other person, while also serving your customers and clients. I want to share valuable content, products and programs created by people who are doing cool shit and whose work I feel that my audience can benefit from.

In 2012, I learned that collaboration always beat competition. And in the internet space, I am not even sure that competition exists, simply because there is enough money, success and happiness to go around. People will always buy from those with whom they resonate, and each blog, website or brand is 100% unique especially if there’s a personality behind it, like JillFit. No one can do what you do, because you are YOU :)

So don’t be afraid to share content from people who are doing something similar to you. Don’t withhold praise for others because you feel it takes away from your contribution. It doesn’t and in fact, it serves both you AND them.

So, back to networking… for an introvert like me, putting myself out there more has been a challenge. Asking people for help has been tough, and introducing myself to others is not always easy. I’ve never been one of those people who went up to a speaker at a conference and introduced myself after a talk. I don’t always feel comfortable approaching others to develop a relationship. My M.O. is usually to sit in the back and go it alone.

But I made a conscious effort in 2012 to do just the opposite. And the pay-off both professionally and personally has been tremendous. I’ve made many more professional connections and genuine friendships than I thought possible, and because I’ve done it with an eye for how I can help them, it feels natural and in line with my values.

Anyway…there are many more business lessons from 2012, but these are the biggies. I made several personal strides in 2012 including features in various national magazines, writing for and writing my book proposal, but the biggest lessons and things I cherish the most are working with customers and clients–and those I included in this blog.

Hopefully this gives you some insight potentially for your own business. I am wishing you all the professional success in the world in 2013! And I mean that whole-heartedly. And if you are a professional in the field, hit me up for some collaboration! :) PS I am terrible at email and do all my business on Twitter. Lol. But seriously. Ox, Jill

Related: 10 Success Mindset Insights: Coaching Club Retreat Recap

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