Episode 60: Shitty Parts of Scaling

Good morning! Welcome to The Work Of Becoming podcast. I am making an effort to throw in a business-focused episode every once in a while just because I know a lot of people are very interested in what it’s like to be a CEO, and I know I have a lot of coaches in my audience. So, if that’s you, and you’re looking for mentorship from me, just make sure to check out our Change Academy Pro membership because that’s where we take our Change Academy behavior change concepts and I teach you how to apply it to your business and to your clients.

In today’s episode though, I want to talk about three shitty aspects of scaling a business. So, I think a lot of people talk and encourage coaches and business owners to scale, right? Like, “Okay, your one-on-one is doing well! How are you gonna scale?” That’s always what we want to do as business owners: we want to grow, and we want to scale. I don’t think anyone ever told me or talked about some of the downsides of scaling, some of the shitty parts of scaling. And I want to be really clear that I want to scale BBA. I want to be a million-dollar, two-million-dollar, ten-million-dollar business someday. However, not everybody has to want that, and so, this is an invitation for you to just check in with yourself because the industry is gonna tell you that scaling is the natural next step for everybody, and maybe it’s not the natural next step for you. Maybe it’s not gonna bring you any happiness. So, this is just an invitation to check yourself.

So, three shitty aspects of scaling. Number one: the thing that I have found the hardest about scaling a business is that you are gonna disappoint more people. The more people that you work with, the more people are going to be disappointed. They are gonna be mad that you instituted a coupon code two weeks after they bought a product. They’re gonna be mad that you don’t offer one thing and not the other thing of this particular offer. They are gonna be mad that they can’t get one-on-one access to you as part of X course. Everybody is gonna have a different expectation around your products, and the more people you’re interacting with as you scale, as you’re moving more into that one-to-many kind of model, you are going to have to deal with their criticism, their disappointment, their anger, their frustration, and your team members are going to have to deal with it.

I want to just be honest about that because it’s not something that anybody ever warned me about. It’s not something anybody ever told me that the amount of criticism that I was gonna get at $500,000 was gonna be 5x more than what I was getting at $100,000. And so, if you’re not a person who can handle criticism very well, if you live in fear of people criticizing you, that might be why your business isn’t growing because you are not ready for that yet, and I’m a firm believer that in business, you will never get somewhere you’re not ready to be. The universe will never give you something you’re not ready for. So, that’s thing number one.

Thing number two that is a shitty aspect of scaling a business is that you no longer get to make quick pivots or changes or do things on a whim. I remember that one of my favorite parts of business, at first, was that it was mine, that I wasn’t responding to anybody else. I wasn’t reporting to anybody else. I wasn’t following anybody else’s ideas. I got to do whatever the heck I wanted to do, and if I came up with a course on Friday and I wanted to launch it on Monday, I could do that. That is, in fact, how my Meaningful Mornings course came into existence. I came up with it in, like, a week and a half, launched it, and it was a really fast process.

However, when you are scaling, you’re likely going to be having a team (that requires more communication with your team), you are likely having a bigger audience (that requires more moving pieces), and all of a sudden, the thing that you used to be able to just pivot and communicate once, you have to communicate a thousand times. I want to be clear here that I’m not complaining about any of this. These are parts of the process and that’s okay. But no one ever told me or warned me, “Hey, if you love the freedom of being able to pivot on a moment’s notice, maybe scaling isn’t for you. Maybe you love your business exactly at the level you’re at.”

That brings me to thing number three that I wish someone had told me before I scaled, which is that your problems scale when you’re business scales. So, for example, let’s say that you have an onboarding process for your clients, let’s say you have five clients right now, and let’s say you have one client who just doesn’t get the onboarding process, and they ask you a ton of questions, and you’re like, “Okay, no problem.” You answer those questions, it takes you fifteen minutes to reply to that email. Okay, when you go from five to ten clients, all of a sudden, if you don’t fix that onboarding process, you’re gonna have two clients who have that problem. So, all of a sudden, you’re spending 30 minutes replying to them, and then let’s say you scale from 5 to 50 clients. You’re gonna have 10 clients who have that onboarding problem, and it’s gonna take you 15 minutes for each of them, and all of a sudden, you’re spending 3 hours just dealing with the 1 singular customer service issue, not to mention, the rest of the issues that people might have that are also gonna scale.

So, if you are a person, and you’re like, “I want to scale. I’m ready for the criticism. I’m opting in,” I want to remind you that it is best to build yourself a super solid foundation before you try to make that foundation bigger because none of your problems are gonna get solved by growing your business. If you cannot sell to 1 person, you won’t be able to sell to 100 people. If you can’t sell to your current audience, growing your audience and scaling your business is gonna do no good because you’re still not gonna have that skill.

And so, I want to articulate that, and I want to articulate that if I could give myself one piece of advice two years ago or a year ago when I was right at the brink of BBA blowing up, I would tell myself to slow the F down, to solve the problems that I have while they are tiny, while they are affecting one person, while they are a fifteen-minute fix, and I would tell myself to choose very carefully how I wanted to grow and how fast I wanted to grow because fast growth, as glamorized and dramatic as it is, is equally difficult, is equally painful, is equally heart-wrenching, and is equally filled with problems and triggers and issues and criticism. That is something I don’t feel like anybody ever talks about.


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Hi, I'm Karin

I’m a funfetti flavor super-fan, a loving dog mom, a PhD expert in mindset and behavior change… and I’m here to help make personal development and transformation a process that’s actually fun.


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