- Bevin Farrand was laid off from her job as a marketing director in 2019 and then started a business.
- Within 18 months of coaching small-business owners on personal branding, she’d made $297,000.
- Farrand described her method for budgeting and building a client base under pressure.
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Getting laid off unexpectedly wasn’t how I wanted to start my new business. Honestly, I didn’t want to start another business yet.
My first two businesses — a yoga business and a life-coaching business — didn’t financially sustain me.
Like many people struggling with the entrepreneurial grind, I gave up, and I got a job at a Chicago real-estate company.
Over the next 10 years I built my career in brand strategy and digital marketing for companies in personal development, online education, and e-commerce.
I spent two years as a brand director for an e-commerce business and thought I was up for a promotion in 2019. Instead, I got laid off. I had a 4-month-old and a 2-year-old at home.
I had to choose between finding another job building someone else’s dreams or trying for the third time to build mine. I chose myself.
Making the transition from employee to entrepreneur
I’m a certified life coach, so I combined my love of coaching with the expertise I’d built over 10 years as a launch strategist and brand director.
My goal was to take what I’d learned in expanding multimillion-dollar companies to support small businesses and entrepreneurs in growing their revenue up to six figures annually.
I launched my coaching business in the summer of 2019.
I needed to pay myself about $4,000 a month, which wasn’t possible from the business revenue in the first few months. In the first two months after launching, I paid myself entirely out of my severance and unemployment.
To get my first client, I started asking everyone in my life if they knew someone who needed help with brand strategy and launch execution. It took under two months to secure my first contract, a small $2,000 project to create an email marketing strategy for a nonprofit’s annual conference.
When I started generating income in August, I could pull less from my severance package. I set up separate accounts dedicated to my business using the “profit first” model by Mike Michalowicz as a jumping-off point.
I divided every dollar the business made between separate accounts: 5% to profit, 50% for owner’s compensation, 15% for taxes, and 30% for operating expenses.
In my previous businesses, I’d spend whatever I made. If I’d made $10,000 that month, I would let myself buy a new iPad or find other ways to splurge.
Stockpiling the revenue of this new venture and paying myself a small salary took a lot of the stress out of entrepreneurship.
Because I wasn’t constantly feeling like I wasn’t going to be able to pay my bills, I was able to move intentionally and build the business faster.
Clients and cash flow
Initially I would take on any client that fit in my wheelhouse. That’s how I got my first client and created momentum.
After that first $2,000 marketing project, I took on two ongoing retainer clients in August and September 2019.
One client contracted me for $4,000 monthly to build out her first hiring and recruiting course and launch her brand. The other client started at a $2,000 monthly retainer to develop and execute their launch strategy. (This client increased their retainer to $4,000 a month after we helped increase their annual revenue from $322,000 in 2019 to $915,000 in 2020.)
In November 2019, I expanded my client base to include branding for an e-commerce brand and live events.
By the end of 2019, my business had generated over $68,000 in revenue from these clients.
I knew that relying on only one-to-one clients would cap my growth. I needed a business model where I could work with more people at a time without burning out or working 80 hours a week.
I’ve shifted my focus to a $15,000-a-year group of high-touch weekly coaching sessions for accountability and goal attainment. I also offer smaller courses that cost $27 to $997, and I am a motivational speaker. I have space for only two one-on-one clients, who start at a $50,000-a-year investment.
To sustain my $150,000 annual revenue base, I forecast 90 days out to see which spaces I need to fill, and I’m always networking. Every contract I have contains a 30-day minimum notice for ending the program, which gives me time to replace that income.
I always try to build up social and emotional capital with people. If I can help connect people or give referrals, I will. When there’s a friend’s or colleague’s win to celebrate, I make sure to celebrate it. Because of this human-first approach to business, whenever I’m looking for new clients, my network helps me connect with someone interested in working with me.
I use speaking events, podcasts, and free classes or challenges to create leads and clients.
Along the way, I’ve remained committed to consistent relationship building. I’ve grown my business to $300,000 in the first 18 months and continue today with a thriving business that supports me as a solo parent of three.