Last week I shared part one of my launch debrief. Today, as promised, you’re going to get the inside scoop on what worked, what didn’t, and what I learned from my biggest launch ever.
If you like spying behind the scenes in other people’s businesses (I do!), don’t miss this one.
Let’s dive right in, starting with what went right.
I’ll start the what went right list with the thing I’m most proud of, and that’s the massive uplevel on all fronts that I did for this launch.
Let me be clear: I worked harder preparing for this launch then I have ever worked in my professional career.
For over a year, I diligently dissected multi-million-dollar launches, learned new marketing strategies, and wrote, reworked, and fine-tuned video scripts until I was blue in the face.
There were days when I felt completely inadequate, like I would never “measure up,” that I would be “found out,” and that all of this cerebral work was breaking my brain.
Learning new skills and pushing past barriers caused so much internal discomfort, I wanted to run and hide, watch Netflix, and down a few margaritas. Most days I had to chain myself to my chair to keep going.
Despite the million and one reasons to quit, I kept going, because I know that this is how upleveling feels.
And that’s one of the things most people don’t realize: This shit is hard, even when you’ve been at it awhile!
I kept showing up, doing the work, day after day… before I even knew for sure that it would pay off.
To accomplish something we’ve never accomplished before, we have to push ourselves to places we’ve never pushed ourselves before… without someone looking over our shoulders, holding us accountable, or guaranteeing that it will “work.”
I’m proud of all the hard work that went into this launch and how the whole things was pulled off “success on your terms” style. (No sleepless nights, thankyouverymuch!)
Plan Plan Plan Plan Plan
You probably know this about me: I’m a planner. But when it comes to launches, everyone must be a planner.
Many months in advance, we mapped out the dates and action steps for everything related to this launch. From emails to social media posts to page edits to … you name it. It all went into a huge to-do list and eventually into Basecamp, where we manage our projects.
Knowing well in advance what needs to happen by whom and by when allowed us to make sure that everything could get done without late nights, long weekends, or crazy launch drama. (I don’t do drama, and more on that in a minute.)
Even with the best laid plans, details will be forgotten, dates will get missed, hiccups will happen, and oh-shit moments will catch us off guard. But when you have a killer plan (and refuse to do drama), those kinds of things really aren’t a big deal.
Be Obsessive About Your Calendar
If the first step to a successful launch is a master plan, then the second step is to be obsessive about your calendar.
You see, when you’re running a busy, buzzing business, serving clients, and putting out free content on a weekly blog and daily podcast, business doesn’t just stop because you’re launching. This means you have to balance both the creation of this big new thing and serving the clients you’ve already committed to serve.
To do that, you must be obsessive about your calendar.
That’s why everything went in my calendar.
Meetings with my team, time to check up on my MIWO Accelerator clients, coaching calls with current clients, time to work on video scripts, time to write emails, time to create new podcast episodes, time to meet up with a friend for a walk break… it all went in the calendar.
And if there wasn’t room in the calendar, I didn’t force it. It meant that something had to give, because no amount of achievement is worth sacrificing downtime and self-care.
Schedule Downtime and Self-Care
To me, self-care is non-negotiable on a regular basis and launches are no exception.
And I also worked more hours from November through March than I have in a very long time.
But even with my 30-35 hour weeks (!!), I ate dinner with my husband every night, took daily non-working lunch breaks, scheduled in regular massages and bodywork, went for walks in the woods without my cell phone, and slept my usual 9-11 hours each night.
Even with all of that self-care, partway through the launch my right arm started hurting — a lot. It’s an old repetitive stress injury from college and my corporate days, and when I work a little more than usual, it quickly returns. This time, it came with a vengeance.
In the thick of application reviews, I saw no room in my calendar to get some bodywork done. I remember thinking, “I don’t have time to do this, but I can’t not make the time to do this.”
Just like that, I found 2 hours that week to get my arm attended to (while also booking 2 hours for each of the following 3 weeks to get things back in check).
When we’re clear on our personal priorities (health is one of mine), seemingly difficult choices like these are actually straightforward.
Know Your Numbers
With six previous Make It Work Online launches under my belt, I had a pretty good feel of my numbers.
I knew that I converted X% of my free training list into paid MIWO clients. From there I could back-calculate how many people I needed on the free training list. From there I knew how many new people I needed to get on my email list. Etc.
I’ve been talking about this a lot with my MIWO Accelerator clients: You must know your numbers.
A lot of times people just shoot in the dark. They take random actions then hope and pray they’ll get the numbers they want. But often, they haven’t done the simple math to make sure their result is even achievable.
Of course, when you’re just starting out you can’t know exactly what your numbers will be, but that’s why (1) I love to help my clients figure that out when it comes to the activities that will get them clients and (2) I created this free download, Your Ideal List Size Calculator, to give you a good start.
I was thrilled that the numbers fell in line as usual, and I love geeking out on these details to keep business predictable! (Though of course, I always invite miracles!)
I Don’t Do Drama
The awesome thing about a solid plan + an organized calendar + knowing your numbers is that you set yourself up for success from day one. This also means that you can minimize drama.
Because let me be clear: I don’t do drama.
Last-minute freakouts, defensive, territorial, or non-collaborative team members, and late nights and long weekends — they don’t have a place in my world.
There’s a silly myth out there that launches are high drama, require crazy hours, and push people to their limits.
Well, it’s probably not a myth because PEOPLE LET IT HAPPEN TO THEM.
(I know you love when I give it to you straight, and this is straight truth, my friend!)
Me? No drama ever. It’s not worth it.
After all, I started my business to enjoy myself, do work that matters, and work with people I enjoy. So why set myself up for drama?! Doesn’t make a lick of sense to me.
Just to recap: If you have drama in your business, it’s because you let it happen. And you don’t have to let it happen.
Manage Your Mindset
I’d be lying if I told you that just because I plan, don’t do drama, and know my numbers that launching is an easy-peasy, no-stress, no-sweat kind of event.
As I’ve told you before, I really don’t like launching. The high stakes and the big, all-at-once effort are very anti- how I like to do things. (This is why I LOVE LOVE LOVE teaching my clients to create predictable income in Make It Work Online and in Make 10k Every Dang Month.)
But as I’ve also told you before, this is where my business evolution is right now… so I MUST manage my mindset during the mental and emotional rollercoaster that happens during launches.
I regularly coached myself (as I encourage all of my clients to do), talked through the struggles with my close business friends, and made ample times for walks outside, warm baths, and downtime.
My mind didn’t stop chattering nonsense, gloom and doom, and “just quit” thoughts. It spat those out at me in ample quantities! That’s why when we push ourselves to achieve, we need to be extra diligent about managing our minds.
We Got a Killer MIWO Crew
One of the best things that happened during this launch was the crew of MIWOers (that’s Make It Work Online-ers) who joined.
The caliber of business owner! The commitment they have to themselves and their businesses! The energy! The excitement! The killer results that are destined to follow!
The reason I continue to attract such high-quality clients is because my team and I have spent time listening to past clients. We interview successful MIWOers, we comb through feedback forms and surveys, and we constantly track what’s working and not working as we go through the program year after year.
Listening to your clients ensures that you’re continually giving them what they want and need to succeed.
Now, that’s everything that went well. But what about the things that didn’t go as awesomely as they could have?
Test Run Your Team in Advance
With a huge upleveling of my program and launching, I took on a few new team members for this launch.
Although I have a knack for hiring incredible team members, anyone new to a team does require some adjustment time, and I really felt that adjustment period during this launch.
I was beyond pleased with the people I hired and the work they did, but to get new folks accustomed to how we do things while also launching caused a little stress and extra work on my end.
Figuring out working styles, workflow, personalities (even the awesome ones on the team) was a challenge. Part of me wishes I had worked with all of these folks prior to the launch, yet practically speaking, in most cases it wouldn’t have made sense.
However, this is on my radar for next time. When I know I’ll need to bring some new people on, I’ll be extra mindful and aware about how to set them up for success with the team and minimize their onboarding time.
I Relied Almost Exclusively on the Launch to Grow My List
The biggest mistake I made during the launch was something that I sheepishly admit that I knew better than to do, and that’s relying on my launch to build my list to hit my conversion numbers.
As I said earlier, I know my numbers, and I set out to hit my list growth target exclusively with my launch process…. and that was a bad call.
There’s a lot about launching that’s predictable, and there’s a lot about launching that’s not predictable. By waiting until the launch to focus on my list growth, I increased the unpredictability of my launch and increased my risk.
As someone who teaches list-building, I knew better… but didn’t do better.
My focus for the rest of this year? Build my list massively and count on the launch list growth as “gravy” for next time.
I Forgot to Listen to My Intuition
Although the previous mistake was the most costly, this next mistake was the most poignant.
It’s only post-launch that I realize over the past year or two that I’ve gone through a period of what Colette Baron-Reid calls spiritual amnesia. I forgot to regularly tune in, sync up, and lead from that deeper, wiser place of knowing.
From the moment I conceived the idea for jennyshih.com (sometime in 2010) through those first few early years in this business, I led first with intuition and second with strategic smarts.
Over time, as I gained experience and massive results, that balance shifted. I began turning first to strategy and second to intuition to lead my business forward. It happened so gradually that I didn’t even notice the shift — until now.
On the other side of this launch, it’s clear as day that I need to shift back to intuition first. Truth be told, I’m excited for this shift. I remember the days when I let intuition take the front seat, where inspiration flowed, ideas were easily channeled, and fun was part of the game.
That’s what I’m re-committing to do again… starting right now.
That’s a Wrap!
So there you have it. My 100% honest debrief about what worked, what didn’t, and what I learned during my latest launch.
I hope this helps you as you venture forward in your business, no matter what stage in the game you’re in.