Today I’d like to do something a little different. Instead of just talking about digital marketing in every post, I also want to share the triumphs and successes of others who have been on this very same journey.
I’d like to share to share the success story of two incredibly hard working ladies who have not only inspired me but influenced some of the biggest decisions I’ve made in life.
Meet Rachel East and Kristen Walker, co-creators of the life and career coaching business Clarity on Fire.
I met Rachel YEARS ago in an online relationship advice forum where we somehow just connected and became friends. Rachel has been encouraging me and cheering me on right from the beginning and actually became my coach at one point. I’m not sure if she remembers, but it’s because of HER that I found the courage to invest in my brother’s dance studio.
I’ve asked Rachel to tell her story here today. I hope you’ll be as inspired and encouraged as I am!
Tell me about your business. Who are you? What do you do? What do you offer?
We’re a life and career coaching business and movement that provides inspiration and down-to-earth wisdom to people who know what they don’t want out of their life and career but have no idea what they’d rather be doing.
In a world where it’s easy to exist but hard to feel alive, we — Rachel and Kristen, two best friends who met in college — are here to help people (Millennials and beyond) cut through the information overload, get unstuck and focus not just on how they can have a career they’re passionate about, but how to create a whole life that feels fulfilling.
In everything we do — from weekly blogs to online courses, to individual coaching — we want our audience to experience the relief of knowing that yes, they’re allowed to want more out of their life and career. And no, they don’t have to wander around in the dark anymore. Our job is to light the fire that shows them the way.
We’re also the creators of the Passion Profile Quiz, which is a free online resource that’s helped more than 300,000 people pinpoint the intersection between their career and passion, and the perfect place to get started if you’re new to Clarity on Fire. Our work has also been published online at major outlets like Time, Fast Company, Business Insider, and Forbes.
Tell me about your life before you became a business owner. What were you doing for a living? What made you decide to get into business for yourself?
Pre-coaching I did it all — I was an Events & Promotions Coordinator for an investment firm, a nanny and an admin at a law firm. I’ve quit a lot of jobs in my time! I knew I needed to start my own business because, regardless of what job I tried, I just hated the idea of my time being owned by someone else. I valued freedom and flexibility SO much that I knew I’d never be happy unless I had autonomy over my own life and work experience [this is how I feel right now -Deirdre].
How did you get your idea or concept for your business?
I’ve always been interested in psychology and what makes people tick. I seriously considered going back to grad school to become a therapist, but thankfully I discovered coaching before I went down that path! Whereas therapy is more about helping people get to a functional place in their everyday life, coaching is about taking people from functional to optimal; from “I’m OK,” to “I feel AMAZING,” and I was way more interested in the latter.
Plus, I’d struggled so much with figuring out my purpose, passion, and how to live a fulfilling life, that I KNEW other people were struggling, too. I wanted to get the root of what makes us unhappy and stuck in work and in life, and then use that to help set people free of whatever holds them back.
What sets your business apart from your competitors? What makes YOU unique?
One of the best compliments we get from people is that we don’t just give lame, vague, generic career advice. We get to the root of why people feel stuck, confused, overwhelmed, and dissatisfied and then address those issues. We’re also VERY transparent and infuse our personality into everything we do. People want to see and hear from real, down-to-earth humans. We might be experts, but we’re also really honest about our own struggles, which keeps us relatable. Plus, I think people just like the dynamic of two best friends playing off of each other! We don’t take ourselves seriously, and I think that shows.
What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?
Again, the FREEDOM! Sure, life is riskier and I never know exactly how much money I’m going to make any given month, but the payoff is worth it. I’d rather navigate that uncertainty than be chained to a desk and someone else’s expectations for the rest of my life.
What was your greatest fear when you were just starting out and how did you manage to overcome that fear?
Not having enough money and ending up destitute, for sure [yep, this is what I’m currently going through -Deirdre]. I never feared that we would outright fail; I knew I’d keep trying and evolving until something worked. But I was afraid of not being able to pay rent while I struggled to find success! Every once in a long while the money fears still flare up (I’m not sure you can EVER fully overcome your natural human survival impulses), but for the most part, it’s something that I healed slowly, in layers.
The thing is, as dicey as things got at times, I never ended up homeless or had to move back in with my parents. I think the things we fear the most rarely come to fruition. And eventually, I realized that I freaked out every month and yet I ALWAYS end up making it work. So it was a slow process of proving myself wrong and realizing the futility of my anxiety.
Tell me about your hidden inspiration sources. How do you generate new ideas and keep your business fresh?
I get most of my ideas while working with clients, which is like killing two birds with one stone–They’re paying me to coach them and they’re also inspiring new ways of seeing the same basic issues. I feel like there’s only so much you can learn from theory–classes, books, etc. The really good stuff comes when you’re actually doing the thing.
Let’s talk marketing. How do you go about advertising your business? What has worked best for you so far?
Thanks to our quiz, which has had some viral success, we’ve very steadily and organically grown our email list over the years. So the vast majority of our marketing is email-based. We’ve rarely run ads and we do next-to-nothing on social media. We’ve also produced a LOT of written content over the past 5 years, so we do well in SEO. I’m a big believer in making marketing as simple as possible and that you don’t have to do EVERY single marketing strategy to be successful [this is why I said screw Twitter -Deirdre]. In fact, I think it’s best you do 2-3 things that feel most aligned with your values and personality and give yourself permission to not do the things that don’t sound fun or energizing.
Tell me about some of your failures and what have you learned from them.
The very first course we attempted to launch was a major bust. We intended to enroll 20 people, and we got 1 person (who hardly counted, because she was a referral from a friend, so not even someone who found us on her own). We were both really devastated and started questioning our entire strategy and outlook. It was dismal for a few months.
But like a lot of failures, that one was a blessing in disguise. It was because we were forced to re-think our approach that we ended up creating the Passion Profile Quiz, which ended up REALLY allowing our business to take off. So these days I’m way more comfortable with failure. I think it’s a natural part of any business journey and doesn’t have to be something you try to avoid. The better you get at taking failure less seriously and less personally, the quicker you’ll see what the failure is there to teach you.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
There comes a point when you can’t think your way into a solution and you’ve got to just DO something. A lot of us are obsessed with the notion of figuring everything out before we ever take a single step. And so we stay stuck because it’s impossible to know how something will turn out until you’re willing to experiment with it.
When I first got into coaching, I didn’t know what I’d end up doing with it. I just knew I was intrigued by it and was interested enough to get certified, so I did. And while I was in training, I learned a TON that helped me shape the vision of where I wanted to go. And even after that, I didn’t know exactly who I wanted to coach or what I wanted my message to be. But I didn’t let that stop me from taking on clients! And those clients helped me gain the insight and experience I needed to narrow my focus and hone my message. You learn almost everything from actually DOING the thing, not thinking about it.
Thanks, Rachel, for sharing your story!
Full Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Rachel is my friend and I wanted to share her story to inspire others the way she has inspired me!