Bonus: The 5 Best Business Decisions I Made In 2018

Michelle gets personal in this episode, sharing exactly what she did in 2018 to make it the best year ever in her business. From how she outsources to how she sits (or doesn’t) at her desk…you’ll get tips to incorporate into your own profitable New Year.

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Hello everybody, it is the end of the year and I very much hope that you’re taking some time off. I’ve got to say I was not intending to do any episodes at all during this break. However, I have been really doing some reflecting on 2018 and everything that has gone on in my business during this whole wonderful year and I thought that I just really needed to share with you so much of what I’ve learned; why my business is in its most stable, most profitable and really most manageable place than it has ever been ever in 10 years. I’m getting so much done in the world. I’m helping so many people and I’m working less at the same time. I’m stressing less and it just feels so good to have finally made it to this place. I wanted to share some lessons that I’ve learned and hopefully give you some ideas that you can bring into your new year as well.

So by the way, in case we haven’t met, I’m Michelle Pfennighaus. I’ve been a certified health coach with my own private practice for 10 years and I act as a mentor for my fellow health coaches. I’m sorry, my voice is a little scratchy today. My boys gave me one heck of a cold for Christmas, which I am now getting over, but it was a doozy. Anyway, if you’re watching this via video, if you’re watching live or you’re watching the replay later, go ahead and give a like say hello and tell me how ugly is this sweater that my husband gave me for Christmas. Like really on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the ugliest, go ahead and rate it. I know, I know. He said it’s what all the kids are wearing and I’m like, I highly doubt anyone is wearing this, but here I am anyway.

Trying to pull it off. Trying to be a trooper. Anyway, bad Christmas presents aside. We are here to talk business and I’m happy to take your questions as we go along. So if I’m not being clear about something or if what I say reminds you of something else that you want to ask, you can go right ahead. That’s why I do these live. So after giving it a lot of thought, had to go through my calendar and remind myself of all the different things that I did this year. And I encourage you to do the same. Do a recap, do a post game. You know what actually happened between January and December of this year. I did that for myself and I made a short list of exactly five very important decisions that I made this year that made it the best year ever in my business. So we’ll start with the fact that I’m niching down, niching down.

I love that as a verb niching, but I’m doing this more than ever before. I’m going to explain because I have had a somewhat complicated relationship with my target market for many years and I know that many of you are in the same boat and actually I’m going to share a way for you to get help with that in just a few minutes. But here’s the deal, for many, many years of my health coaching business, I’ve worked with different types of women, have helped them lose weight, de-stress, solve digestive issues, and more. It’s been a bit broad and that was fine. Five years ago. It was totally fine 10 years ago, but these days, as you’ve heard me talk about, if you’ve listened to any other episodes of this show, it is harder than ever to stand out in the health and wellness industry. Truth. We are so very saturated. Now. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but it means that I have seriously committed to this niching down.

So I’ve started to do it already in small ways. And in 2019 I will be launching an entirely new brand new URL, new everything for my health coaching business. It will be called. ‘She’s Got Power’ and I will serve type A go getter women whose number one problem is burnout caused by chronic stress. Now, part of niching down for me has also met truly separating the work that I do as a health coach and the work that I do as a mentor for health coaches. Because up until this year, my whole business has been kind of under one umbrella, so on one hand I’m helping a woman solve her digestive problems and then on another hand, like five minutes later, I’m teaching about marketing and it made for really confusing a business model for me. So for example, what should I post about on social media?

What should I send emails about? Who am I really talking to? And if you’ve ever found yourself trying to serve more than one group of people at once, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You get to these moments where you’re like, ah, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know. It makes it really confusing. So this year, in addition to really niching down on my health coaching side of the business, I decided I’m going to actually completely separate the two. So I basically have two businesses and each one has its own target market. Its own business plan. I’m so happy about this. On one side we’ve got my type A burned out woman like I was telling you about. And on the other. Well, we have you. If you are listening to, if you’re watching this episode, then chances are I have niched down to help you a Certified Health Coach, build a profitable business, and I even started a brand-new separate Instagram account for Health Coach Power Community, so if you’re on Instagram, follow us.

We’re on @HealthCoachPowerCommunity. Love to see you there and I’ve got to tell you all ready, it is so much easier to figure out what content goes where, because I know exactly who I’m serving in each of my businesses. So just as an example of how you can make marketing easier for yourself, you have to niche down. You have to know your target. I feel much, much more clear about what content to put out. I know exactly who I’m talking to and when and it’s just making marketing a breeze compared to before. However, it’s still one of the hardest, biggest decisions I made in 2018. So all I have to say is if you’re struggling with your marketing at all, if you’re not knowing what to write in your emails, what to blog about, what kind of workshops to run, how to talk about yourself, who to attract, you’re not getting enough clients, period.

You have got to first look at your target market and a couple years ago, definitely five or 10 years ago, you could have skated by without one, but where something really vague you could say, I help busy women get healthy, but it’s not going to cut it anymore. So if you’re kind of spinning your wheels, this is where you want to focus. And actually, I recently asked inside of our Facebook group who would like more help in this area, like who would want some sort of resource that walks you through the steps of choosing a great target market. And if enough coaches respond, I’m going to go ahead and make that free resource for you. So what you can do is head on over to And look for the post that has a big bullseye photograph. It’s a target, right? Get it target market and that’s where you can vote and just let me know that this is of interest to you and I’ll make sure that you get a copy when it’s done.

Okay, So first great decision in 2018 was niching down and separating my businesses so that I’m not trying to serve several groups of people at once. The next great decision I made was this. I built a team and I never thought I was going to use the word team to describe my business because for years I haven’t really wanted to feel like a manager of other people. I don’t know. It wasn’t something I saw myself doing and I was always afraid to spend the money on too much help in my business. I’ve had a virtual assistant, but this year for the first time I really started leaning on her more heavily and hiring and several other people to help run my business and it feels so, so good, but I want to just put it out there. These are not, these are not full time staff members.

Like when entrepreneurs would talk about their team. I always imagined that that meant full time employees and paying benefits and all that jazz. It sounded like way big and scary, so I just want to lower your expectations in a way like you can have a team in a much smaller sense and still so very helpful. A team can mean that you have a couple of people that work for you and they do so on an ongoing basis. They’re not just dropping in. I have that kind of people in my team to where they just drop in for a particular project, but what the people who are really would consider my core team are a continuous part of the business and that’s what makes them so valuable because they know what you did last month. They know what you did six months ago. They know what you’re planning to do six months from now.

So now I have people, all women by the way, who know the ins and the outs of my business and they can make really smart recommendations. They can call me on my mistakes and let me know what I’m doing wrong, where we’re were making bad decisions and that is so, so valuable and they’re not full time and they’re not here in my house with me or anything like that, you know, it’s, everybody is remote and part-time and paid as a, I forget what it’s called, just as a consultant or as a professional service. They’re not an employee of the company, so this is something anybody can do a little bit more of in 2019 and I encourage you to do so. You’re probably wondering who, who’s on the team, like who are these people and I don’t want to spare you any details because again, this is the stuff I was always wondering about and always felt like a little behind the curtains that, well that’s what other people do, but it’s not, it’s not that weird.

It’s not that scary to start scaling up your business bit by bit. So like I said, I have an all women team and they’re scattered around the US and Canada. They’re all working remotely. Number one, I have my assistant Kelly. Hi Kelly, and she’s going to be editing this episode so she’ll be reading this or seeing this at some point. I’ve talked about her in other episodes, so you may already have heard my spiel on assistance, but basically I lean on Kelly for repetitive tasks, things like setting up recurring webinars, accepting people into a Facebook group. She also handles anything like super technology related that I don’t know how to do or she’ll set up like a new URL for me or a new email accounts or even when I bought some done for you legal documents, you know, you just have to like fill in the blanks and kind of go through the process of customizing them.

Kelly helped me do that and then pop them onto my website. So, she, like I said, will be taking the recording of this podcast by the way, adding the intro adding the outro, uploading it to iTunes and YouTube and she does it every week, so thank you so much Kelly. Virtual assistance, can’t say enough about it. If you want to, by the way, hear a little bit more about virtual assistants, there’s an episode, Oh, if you go a few back was called like tips, tricks and tools, something like that, and in that episode I talked more about hiring assistants. I also have Jessica on my team now handling my bookkeeping and this falls squarely in the category of if you hate doing it, outsource because I found myself dreading having to look at and deal with, reconcile my books. It was the kind of thing I would have to like get a bag of chocolate chips out of the pantry and like bribe myself by mowing down on some chocolate chips or whatever while I was doing the work because I hated it so much.

So if there’s any work that makes you have to bribe yourself with something like chocolate chips, I mean that’s so backwards for a health coach, right? You got to recognize that in yourself and say, okay, this is not aligned with who I am. This is not making me happy. How else can I solve this problem? And so for me, Yay. I’m so beyond thrilled to have Jessica handling the stuff for me now and the bonus is that she’s a health coach too. Just trained as a health coach. Now she’s not health coaching anymore, but she knows exactly what my business is all about, which is like two thumbs up for me and she’s going to be making a guest appearance inside the Health Coach Power Community in 2019 to share her financial wizardry, that’s a weird word, wizardry, with us so you can stay tuned for that and learn how to get a handle on your finances when we speak to Jessica.

Okay. Another addition to my team this year was hiring what Wahida. I just spoke with her this morning Wahida is fabulous and I first hired her to do my Facebook ads, but it turns out she is very, very smart, very strategic, and really went quickly went beyond above and beyond just doing the Facebook ads. She helps me look at hard numbers instead of making decisions based on my intuition alone. So she’s become a lot more of an all around resource for me, helping with my launches. She’s actually doing some Copywriting for me as well, so that’s been really important hire and a new part of my business this year.

Sharon’s saying she wants a manager that book speaking gigs for her. Yes, you can absolutely hire somebody to do that. Yes, and I think that’s really it. You got to figure out like where are your weak spots, where could you be making more money, doing more with your time and you know the things that are kind of holding you back and that’s where you find someone to fill in those gaps.

And often I haven’t known who to hire. I wasn’t like, oh I need a person who does this exact thing and I’m going to go to this exact place to find that person, but instead I sort of define for myself what kind of help I needed and it’s pretty funny the way the universe will send the right person to you. I would just ask around my network, get a couple of recommendations and boom, I have found the perfect people. So I’m sorry that there is no one website. I can point you that’s like, boom, here’s where you go hire your assistant, or here’s where you go hire your manager, but you start asking around and putting your intention out there at clearly it works because that’s how all of these people have found their way onto my team. I also had a couple of team members this year, um, to assist me with our Facebook group.

The Health Coach Power Community Group has over 6,000 members as of today, which means we get far more questions than I could ever answer. And then beyond answering questions, we work very, very hard to keep this group’s spam-free. So my team members helped me catch anybody who is promoting themselves, soliciting our members. We just want to really keep this a focused safe space for certified health coaches only. So funny how many people try to sneak into the group or not health coaches. They’re just here to market themselves or to do market research for their own business and make money off of you guys. I mean, we’re all here in business to make money, but there’s good ways to do it and that they’re slimy ways to do it, and so I try to keep all the slime out of our group anyway. I can’t do it alone.

I’m very, very grateful for these ladies, Julie and Aleen. Thank you so much for your help. And the last team member that I want to mention is the newest addition to the family. A couple of months ago I was noticing that I had some projects that were just perpetually falling through the cracks. For whatever reason they weren’t getting done. They’re getting pushed to the back burner and some of them are pretty important, so I didn’t want them to be lost in the shuffle anymore. I desperately needed somebody to keep it all together for me and can I just say, I really want a t shirt that says I love project management. It has been a total lifesaver. Investing in a project manager. It’s helping me take on larger scale projects. It’s helping me worry a whole lot less. I cannot say enough about it. So big shout out to Stephanie for rocking my project management world again, came to me through a recommendation from someone in my network, had a few conversations with a few different people and it was pretty easy for me to be like, no, that’s not what I need.

That’s not what I need. And when I spoke to Stephanie I was like, yes, she gets it. That’s what I need, and all of this was scary. Really scary because when you’re hiring help, you’re wondering, can I afford this or will I be wasting my time training somebody who’s unreliable? However, looking back on it now, I can see that investing in these ladies is helping me earn more. It’s helping me enjoy my business more so it’s been really, really worth taking the lead. So that’s the first one or no, not the first one. The second one. First Niche down. That was number one. Second I built a team. What a year. The next thing that I want to share is a little more down and dirty. It’s something that anybody can start doing tomorrow and just see how it works for you. No investing required.

Nothing too crazy, it’s just a way of managing your time. So up until a year ago really because it was the end of last year that I thought to myself, I need to make the leap because I’d still been using a paper calendar, which I love. I love writing things down. It looks seeing things on paper, but I made the decision to switch over to Google calendar because I wanted it to sync with my client booking system. I wanted it to sync with my phone, you know, it is somewhat limiting to have things on paper and the time zones were always getting me because if I made an appointment with somebody for 3:00, it’s like, is that my time zone or their time zone? The online calendar solves all of that, but what I didn’t realize was how granular and online calendar was going to help me get with my daily schedule.

And when I mean by that is I started to block off time for all of my tasks. So the day would just be like visually on the calendar. If any of you use google, it would just literally look like a bunch of blocks, so instead of just putting client meetings or true appointments on the calendar, I put everything on the calendar. If I have to write a blog post, I block off two hours, three hours, boom. Takes up that amount of time on the calendar. In fact to send out a weekly email to my list, boom, 30 minutes, whatever it’s going to take, and little by little I started blocking off everything I have to do each day. Even things like take a shower, eat lunch. Sometimes it’s hard to remember to do these things when you’re working for yourself and for me at least I have limited time to work when my kids are at school so when they’re gone, how did the house.

I’m like right down the list anyway. Got to put in their a time to shower occasionally, but what I found was that by time blocking in this way, I could realistically see exactly how much fits into a day and when it was full, it was full. Before that. I don’t know how you guys do it, but I would estimate that, oh yeah, I can get that done, you know, x, y, and Z. I’m going to get it all done and if I got extra time I’m going to do something else too, and then I couldn’t get it all done. I’d be stressed out. I’d be disappointed in myself and scrambling. So this was not a good way to run a business. It’s really not. Again, not treating myself like a business. If you’ve ever worked in the corporate world, usually you have time sheets and there’s a reason for that.

The company wants to know how you’re spending your day, how many of your hours are billable, how many are not, and that’s how they make business decisions. Like who would hire? Same thing here. So time blocking has been super important. I don’t even have a to do list anymore. Rather than having a running list of stuff that has to get done sometime I just take that task and I plop a time block into my calendar. Maybe it’s today, maybe it’s next week, but this way there is somewhere, a time and a space held for it and this way it actually gets done. So hey ho, for Google calendar. Do you like this idea? Some of you I know some of you may love it, especially if you’re a planner like me and some of you might be a little more hesitant. You might be like, well that sounds really strict.

Sounds really inflexible. Know I liked more flexibility in my days. I just want to say don’t worry because I don’t work like a robot either. I mean things happen. I’ll have a kid home sick or be sick or if something takes longer than I thought it was going to, so even though I have my days blocked off like this, there’s often something that needs to be moved around or changed and it’s so easy. You just literally drag that block to a different day and if that day is full you can move it around from there. It’s almost like playing Tetris or something, but you can just visually see all the time blocks that need to be accounted for. Now more often than not, the other way that I keep it flexible within the system is I overestimate how long everything’s going to take. So I’m almost always able to complete a task in less time than I had allowed for it.

Um, so like if I finish early, I can take a break, I can go get a cup of tea, I can lie down on the couch and close my eyes for a bit knowing full well that I’m not behind schedule at all. I have time for this break and I can enjoy it without guilt. And let me tell you that never ever happened before because I always assumed that something else that has to get done, there’s something I’m forgetting right? So now to relax and it feels so good anyway. You got to try it. Highly recommend even if you just do it for one day to test it out. It has increased my productivity by like a million and it helps me plan for the future as well. Like I’m right now. So we’re at the end of 2018. We’re looking into 2019 and I already knew know exactly what I’m doing pretty much for the whole month of January.

It’s already blocked out, so if some new opportunity were to come my way, I already know I don’t realistically have time for that. I guess it depends on what it is. I could always do some major rescheduling, but it helps me know my boundaries and stick to what is usually for me, a 35 hour work week instead of constantly feeling like I’m on the clock. All right, next up, one of the top five decisions that I made in 2018. This one might sound silly, but I invested in a standing desk. I’m using it right now. I love it and I have a walking treadmill underneath you guys. I cannot even tell you how much happier I am with this desk. First of all, I’m. I’m walking, walking more obviously two, three, four extra miles a day while I work, so that’s just obviously good exercise.

No extra time required there. Love it. We’re always telling our clients to try to get more movement into their dates and this has been the best thing I’ve ever done in order to accomplish that goal, so try it for yourself, but it’s adjusted to your clients as well, especially if they work from home because in any office now, I think a lot of people can get a standing desk. They may not be able to get a treadmill. Maybe who knows someone if works from home. Yeah, man, it’s right up there. I’m like one of the top things I’m recommending for everybody. Secondly, the new desk that I have has completely taken care of, chronic neck pain, the shoulder back, neck thing, whatever that I had been having for years. I was in pain. I was totally uncomfortable spending time every day like rolling on the tennis balls, trying to loosen up these muscles.

I was seeing a chiropractor the whole nine yards, paying for massages, got a new desk, boom. I don’t need any of that. Like a week or two later and all of the pain and discomfort was gone because I’m not stuck in the same position all day and the desk is adjustable so I can put it at the exact level that I need. So there’s none of this hiking up your arm, you know, especially was always on my right side because I’m right handed. Now everything’s at the proper level and explain the whole setup to. Okay. Because everybody always wants to know. In fact, if you go on the Instagram that I mentioned earlier for our community, I have a picture, if you scroll back there was a picture of the whole desk, so the desk itself is 72 inches wide and it has a little button here on this side to adjust.

It goes up and down so I can sit. You can stand always the right height and actually this whole setup, the desk, everything I’m going to tell you about the treadmill comes from a company called Fully, I don’t know why it’s called Fully, Fully adjustable? I don’t really know what that fully is all about, but that’s my best guess. Okay, so we had the desk itself and then down here on my right there is a treadmill is a lifespan walking treadmill. It’s sold through Fully, kind of like in a bundle with the desk. You buy it together. It’s a good deal. And I love it. Takes up some space of course, but it’s very low profile compared to what you would think in your head of a treadmill, you know, that has like the sides that come up in the big display in front of you.

It’s not like that. It’s just the thing on the ground. Uh, so, you know. Yes. Does it take a space? Yes. It takes about five feet from the wall out to the end of the treadmill, but no bells and whistles around it. That’s all that it has on the ground. I love that. So I just keep that on one side of the desk. And then on the other side of the desk is where I’m either standing or I have a chair, have a saddled style desk chair for a standing desk, which I think is hilarious, isn’t it? It’s like a chair for your standing desk. I thought they were joking when I went to that page of the website. I’m like, clearly I don’t need a chair, but I’m really glad I took some advice. One of my friends said, listen, I have a standing desk and you do not want to stand all the time like 100 percent of the time.

And that’s true. So the chair comes in handy and it’s designed so that saddle styled chair. It’s more like, it’s not like a chair -chair. It’s more like you’re sitting on the saddle and your hips are tilted away, tilted down lower than the waist, which helps you sit up nice and straight. It’s very cool looking. I love it. So between walking on the treadmill, sitting in the saddle chair or simply standing like I am right now. I’m in all different positions throughout the day. I’m always changing from left side of my desk to the right side of my desk. I have the Monitor on an arm so it can move with me and I’m in all different positions and moving and that’s really the point. The other thing I noticed is that my old desk had these big drawers underneath that were just full of junk through the years, like old speakers and old CDs and just like nonsense and this desk doesn’t have drawers underneath because it moves up and down, so I’ve had to get rid of all that stuff. Now it’s actually over there in the corner and a big pile. So 2019. I’m going to clean that up.

So many great things this year. You guys have any questions about this by the way? Feel free to ask in the comments. I know we’re blowing through a lot of different topics today that hopefully it’s a helpful for you to hear about all this because a successful business truly depends on seeing what others are doing. You know? I mean role models, getting new ideas and stepping outside of our comfort zone. So 2018, we’ve already heard about the niching down and the team and the calendar and the standing desk, and finally number five, the fifth best decision I made this year was this to start podcasting on a regular basis and it started in a really organic way. I wasn’t like, you know what? I’m going to start on a podcast. It really didn’t happen like that. I had been doing these types of broadcasts into inside of our Facebook group for a while, many months, and that’s all it was.

It was just a weekly broadcast into the Facebook group, but I decided I was going to take that same piece of content and publish it into podcast format. Hence, the Health Coach Power Community Podcast was born on iTunes and I encourage you to do this in your business. Think about how can I make more out of whatever I’m already doing. So now in fact, we’re publishing these episodes to iTunes, you know, across all of the podcasting platforms and to YouTube as well. So, in 2019 YouTube is going to become a larger focus, which is really exciting. But the great part about this whole thing with podcasting is that it’s helping me reach a whole new audience and I love that because I tunes acts as a search engine and so does YouTube people go there looking for something, you know, just like you would go to Google and search, like, ‘help me with my health coaching business’ or, ‘help me lose weight’ or whatever you’re searching for.

iTunes and YouTube are both search engines in their own. Right. So if you put your content into that search engine and you’re appealing to a very specific target market, you’ll be found. So cool. The other reason that I love podcasting is because I like this. I find it kind of fun to show up once a week talk with you guys. I don’t have to correct typos or correct my grammar like I would with a blog post. It just kind of flows. So for me it feels a lot more natural, lot more fun. And so in fact, in the coming year I’m going to be launching a. she’s got power podcast to go along with my new health coaching website. So yeah, to businesses to podcasts, but it’s like no sweat, it’s content creation that I really enjoy creating it. I really enjoyed delivering it and that’s the key.

If you want to make a dent with online marketing, then you really need to be creating consistent content, free content for the masses, and it’s a heck of a lot easier if you love the medium. So if you love writing, then blog. If you want to make videos, if that’s your thing, being on camera, make videos. But really one of my best decisions this year was turning podcasting into my main medium, so to speak. Now, speaking of podcasts, to produce a weekly episode takes a lot of dedication. It takes a lot of energy. You should know that if you’re going to get into podcasting and if it’s useful for you, I want to keep doing it. However, I have three ways that you can help me keep doing it. First is once you please take 60 seconds to write a review on iTunes, it’s by far the most helpful thing that you could do for the show or that you could do for me in exchange for all of the free training and free advice and free information that I’m throwing down every week, so I have to do is go to iTunes, go to reviews, leave a star, review, and write a written review and submit, and I will love you for that.

If you’re not an iTunes person. The second favor that I want to ask you is to show up, show up in the Health Coach Power Community group. Ask questions, get involved in the community, and most importantly, show up for these live tapings. Is that what it’s called anymore tapings? There’s definitely no tape involved. I’d probably just aged myself with that word, but show up to these live tapings because I love interacting with you in real time. Kind of keeps me on my toes. You guys ask questions that I have not had a chance to look over ahead of time and I think that’s a very good thing. So you’re not just getting like scripted answers to questions, which is often what we’re getting when we go to some sort of online resource. I like for you to be here live if at all possible.

And finally, please recommend this show to your health coach friends. I know a lot of you are actually already doing this. Thank you. Because people will come to the group and say, I heard about it from a friend. You can link to our iTunes page inside of maybe your school’s online forum or your coaching circles or your accountability groups, or just share it with your best buds because I am doing this work because, what is that saying? A rising tide lifts all the boats. I said that wrong, but you know what I mean? A rising tide lifts all boats and the more we help each other, the more the field of health coaching becomes recognized and respected and the more we can change the world in 2019. So I wish you all the happiest of holidays. Keep asking great questions and I will be back in January with our usual Q&A style show. I’ll see you then.