Hitting BIG Goals With A Small, Agile Team with Kate Northrup (Transcript)


In today’s episode, I’m talking with Kate Northrup about how doing less and scaling back doesn’t mean your business and life is going to fall apart. Instead, it could actually be the turning point you need to become more profitable and creative!

This is a transcript of Work Less, Earn More, Episode 25. Listen to the episode here.

Gillian Perkins:

Hey there everyone, and welcome back to Work Less Earn More. Today, I am joined by Kate Northrup, who is the bestselling author of Do Less, and the Founder of Origin Collective, which is a membership for female entrepreneurs who want to grow their businesses while doing less. And I’m so excited to have Kate on the show today because her mission is just so aligned with the topic of the show. The show is all about getting the most out of every hour that you work and not working too much, and that’s what Kate is all about. I read her book about a year ago now and I really enjoyed it and it definitely helped to influence my ideas on this topic as well as really helped me to figure out some ways that I could work less in my business while still really reaching my big goals for my business.

So I’m so honored to have her on the show today, and to be able to tap into her wisdom just a little bit more, learn a little bit more about how she runs her membership site specifically, and also just get her thoughts on this important topic that we’re all coming here today to discuss. So Kate, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for being here.

Kate Northrup:

Thank you so much for having me.

Gillian Perkins:

Yes, absolutely, and thank you for taking your time. Whenever I have a guest who has this idea of working less or doing less as a core part of their brand, I always feel so incredibly honored that they took the time to actually do the interview with me. So just an extra special thank you for that.

Kate Northrup:

Thank you.

Gillian Perkins:

So could you start out by just giving us a little bit of context, tell us a little bit about your business, what your business does. I already hinted at the fact that you have a membership site, but tell me a little bit about the types of products that you sell and how you help people?

Kate Northrup:

Yeah, so really my mission is to support overachieving women, to relax without sacrificing their results, and to recover from being an overachiever quite frankly. How I do that is, I’ve got my book Do Less. I also wrote a book called Money: A Love Story. And then I have online courses, I have my membership Origin Collective, which you had mentioned, it’s about a 1,000 women globally running their businesses while doing less with a very specific Do Less methodology, that I created through trial and error. And yeah, my husband and I run a podcast together called the Kate and Mike Show where we talk about unconventional life and business.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. I’ve actually been really enjoying listening to your podcast lately. I heard an episode where you were interviewing several different experts that I really respect, and I really appreciated hearing their different perspectives on some really relevant topics right now. And I was just really impressed with that episode, especially. So I would really recommend your podcast to anyone who’s listening right now. Clearly, if you’re listening right now, you enjoy listening to podcasts on this topic. So checking out Kate’s show would give you some additional listing that I would highly recommend. So you said that you have your books and you also have courses and you also have your membership. Would you be willing to give me a breakdown of percentage wise, which one or how each of them is impacting your business’s revenue?

Kate Northrup:

Absolutely. So I also forgot to say that, I ran two higher level programs. One is called The Origin Incubator and one’s called The Origin Mastermind that are smaller group programs, so collectively there’s like 29 women in there. So Origin, our membership makes up about 50, I would say, 30 to 50% of our revenue on any given month. The Incubator and the Mastermind same, about like 30 to 50% depending on the month because some months are bigger and therefore the percentage is lower though the amount is the same every month. And then our other courses, if we’re in a launch month, we’ll be higher like in February we launched a course called Make Time for Business and that was a high percentage of revenue that month, like 50%. And we had twice as high revenue months at that time.

But basically the Origin membership and then the Incubator and the Mastermind are our meat and potatoes. They are the engine of our business, and then I also have a Do Less planner so that adds some in and we do other little things here and there. Well, the book royalties come occasionally, but mostly it’s the membership and the higher level programs.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay. Yeah, that makes sense. It also sounds a lot, actually, like how my revenue in my business is broken down because I also sell courses and sell a membership program and our revenue breaks down in a really similar way. So I can really relate to that, can you tell me about how much you work right now since you are committed to working less, what does that mean for you? Just in terms of numbers, what does that mean also?

Kate Northrup:

Well, right now is a little bit unusual.  We’re in this shelter at home situation and I have a two-year-old and a four and a half-year-old. So usually I have four days of childcare, and right now I have none. So right now I am working between three and five hours a day on weekdays, I am not working at all on weekends. I usually don’t anyway, but right now, for whatever reason, I specifically have a very hard boundary on that. I just need, need more replenishment right now. So before that I was usually working about 30 hours a week, I think right now I’m probably working closer to 20, maybe 15 to 20. And that is really during this time just doubling down on serving our existing customers, I’m not super focused on growth right now. That doesn’t mean I won’t be in a season of growth in the future, but I’m pretty clear that this particular season I’m in is about rooting down and taking care of what’s already been planted.

Gillian Perkins:

That is so smart, and that makes so much sense. And I also am in a different phase of my business right now, and let me get the listeners, just a tiny bit of context here. When you’re listening to this episode, it will be actually a few months from the time when Kate and I am recording it because right now I’m prepping for maternity leave and so I’m not recording the podcast episodes, which is kind of maybe an unfortunate coincidence with the current time that we’re in right now, when we’re in this with the shelter in place, with the Corona virus going on right now. So on the one hand, it’s good because I have more time, I’m at home all the time, everything is canceled. But it means I’m working more and we’re actually really focused on growth right now and setting things up for when I won’t be at the office.

Gillian Perkins:

So what’s an interesting time. I think that what you’re doing makes so much sense and really is so smart. It’s not the circumstance that I’m in right now, but what I can relate to is that we’re both in like out of our normal routine with working, because I also don’t have quite the same childcare situation that I normally have. And so I think that that’s a really important part of this discussion about working less and really designing a business that works for you and supports your goals, just like acknowledging the fact that seasons come and go and there are always circumstances that we have to deal with. So I hope that by the time people are listening to this, that things of the world have shifted a little bit and they’re not dealing with the same circumstance that we’re dealing with right now.

But there is always going to be those circumstances, whether they’re the world’s circumstances or personal circumstances. And so I think that whatever circumstances people are dealing with at the time that they’re listening to this, that they can relate to just this idea of having to build their business around those and figure out just ways to deal with them.

Kate Northrup:

Absolutely.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay. So let’s get back into talking about your business, Kate. So you’ve got your membership, you’ve got your courses and a few other things going on. You said you normally work about 30 hours per week. Could you give me a little bit more perspective here and tell me, who else is maybe putting in some hours? What does your team look like and how much do they work?

Kate Northrup:

So that is currently in flux as well as the whole world is, but right now our situation is my husband Mike, handles a lot of the logistics. So a lot of the tech things and making sure systems talk to each other, he’s probably working right now about 15 hours a week, and typically he would probably work closer to 20 to 30. We are in search of a replacement for somebody who will be the overall integrator person to just hold the container. Currently, I am doing that at the same time as being the visionary. It’s not awesome and it’s not also my skill set, but here’s what’s so cool about it, is I realized like with leaning into what’s already working, and this is one of the main things that I teach is that we have to really look at what matters and what’s already bringing in results.

I think we can get so obsessed with this idea that new is always better and innovation is always better, and actually doing the thing that already worked is often better because it takes a lot less time and energy, right? It’s the same thing about customer retention. It’s less costly and far less time intensive to have a repeat customer than it is to recruit a whole new customer, which is why a membership makes sense. I mean, there’s so many reasons that membership makes sense, but that’s one of them. And then we also have Takisha who is our community manager and she helps me with marketing and she’s just like an all around amazing woman. She works about 30 hours a week. And then we have Todd, who’s our designer and he’s working, I don’t know, 20 to 30 hours a month, so not a ton. We have Mary in the Philippines, who’s our VA and she’s doing lots of different technical sort of admin things behind the scenes.

Kate Northrup:

And Julia does our copy editing. Matt does our podcast editing, but the rest of the folks, we have some freelancers who are working a couple of hours here and there, depending on the week, but we are running with a skeleton crew right now.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay. So I’m really curious to know more about you working as the visionary and the integrator right now. This was a concept that I was first introduced to, maybe about a year and a half or two years ago, and I immediately just jumped on it. I really just recognized the truth in it, the truth and for anyone who’s listening, who maybe isn’t as familiar with this concept, the idea that most people, especially most leaders are stronger in either the visionary leadership aspects or more of the tactical day to day management type of tasks and that most people don’t excel at both of those things. And I just immediately realized that I am a very strong visionary and I really needed that integrator type support, someone to manage the day to day.

So tell me a little bit about you doing both, what that’s looking like right now. The positives and the negatives, and especially just anything that you positively are learning out of it or the positive impacts it’s having on your business to have you functioning in both of those roles actually.

Kate Northrup:

Well, I’m glad you phrased the question that way, because it gives me a moment to reflect and I will say the positive aspect of it, especially since it’s temporary, is that I am seeing some ways where we had previously over complicated things. And so, because there’s not an extra layer of communication, it’s just idea to implementation or something needed to be done then it’s done. We can’t do nearly as many things, but what we are doing I think is going pretty smoothly because there’s no game of telephone or far less. So that’s been great and I’ve noticed some ways that we can simplify or improve upon our systems, whether it’s our file storage or the way we set up tasks in teamwork or the way we run projects and it’s just awesome.

A lot of that minutiae that can add friction unnecessarily, if there are unnecessary steps. And I think, my whole thing with Do Less is that if we can do things, if we can get the same result in fewer steps, that’s generally a good thing. And I have a tendency to over complicate things so it’s been great because we don’t have the team power right now for anything complicated. So we have to reach for the Do Less strategy, it’s like, what is the minimum amount of things we need to do to get this done? Will then let’s just do that because literally we can’t do anything other than that. So it’s been good because it’s made me have to be so much more vigilant and ruthless with my own philosophy. And I would say the drawbacks are, I’m not that organized. I’m not a linear thinker. I suck at details. I’m like really big picture. And it actually gives me physical discomfort to slow down and figure out tasks in our project management software, it’s like nails on a chalkboard to me.

Kate Northrup:

So that’s good because it’s clear that it’s not my role, not that I ever wondered.

Gillian Perkins:

That makes sense. I think it would be equally terrible for me to be the integrator in my company at long term, because I am horrendous at consistently doing the chores of running a business. I’m such a visionary, always just charging forward to the new idea that I have, and so my integrator Cortni is so key in my business just to make sure that we continue to check off the boxes and do all the maintenance things that are required to run the business. So I’m incredibly grateful to her, but at the same time, I can really relate to what you’re talking about with that struggle that is building a team and playing a telephone as you described it.

Because that’s probably one of my biggest frustrations with, a personal frustration with building a team and being a leader of a team is the inefficiencies that arise when you are communicating with people and you have an idea then, when you’re just a team of one, you have the process of going from idea to implementation can be in a matter of minutes sometimes. But when you have a team, it can turn into days of talking back and forth, try to communicate your idea and actually get it executed properly. Do you have any tips there about, maybe especially in, not in retrospect, but now having been able to step back and see some of those inefficiencies that were possibly happening when your team was a little bit bigger, have you had any insight as to maybe how to improve those things in the future?

Kate Northrup:

Yeah. So my overarching one is more philosophical, which is like, the first time you sense that something is over complicated and that it could be done better, it could be so fix it. Because the more it irritates you and the more you think, oh, maybe that’s unnecessary. Maybe we don’t need an extra team member for this. Maybe we don’t need that whole freaking process. Like you don’t, for the most part, and so nip it in the bud fast to get those hours back. What we’ve found more tactically is using things like Loom videos to explain something is incredibly helpful, as opposed to trying to do it in writing, there’s something about like a verbal and seeing that’s really helpful. So Loom videos have been great, a weekly team meeting, I mean, I think that that’s fairly straight forward, we’re all virtual.

So yeah, that’s been great. I will say the other thing is, for somebody like me and many visionaries will be like this. We have a tendency to want to just vomit our idea and then move on to the next idea. Right?

Gillian Perkins:

Yes.

Kate Northrup:

And I think it’s part of our genius, but it’s also a major, major, to our detriment. So if can slow down enough to have the consideration to the person we’re passing the Baton to, to think through at least just like literally for five minutes to reread what you wrote or rethink the idea, map it out so that you have tried to poke holes in a few things at least to think, okay, well, what if this? And what if that? I think, about in the four hour workweek, Tim Ferriss strategy for emails, instead of just sending a question, you could send the question and then in the email say if yes, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, if no, blah, blah, blah, because it prevents more emails.

So thinking through, in terms of that, when you’re presenting your idea or presenting this new strategy or whatever, think through, okay, what are the possible stumbling blocks that may happen? What are the possible questions’ somebody may have? I mean, it’s the same thing as like when you’re writing a sales page, right? You want to be thinking about what are the questions and objections that my ideal customer has? So your team is also your ideal customer in a different context. So be asking yourself, what are the questions and objections or challenges that they may have with this, and try to think through as many of them as possible ahead of time, it’ll just save you time.

Gillian Perkins:

That’s a really good tip. I also just want to add that having a powerful integrator can be such a good business asset, but it also can be to your detriment if you are a very visionary leader, because I know personally I make messes by coming up with all of the ideas and wanting to run with all of them. And then my integrator, she’s so amazing, she puts them all into these neat, tiny boxes and organizes them all. And she builds these incredible systems, and we end up with a lot of very complex systems, very, very fast. So I love the idea of just taking a minute to think through your ideas a little bit longer before you spit them out to your team, whatever your team looks like, whether you have one VA or a whole team of people who are helping you, you don’t want to make more complications unnecessarily.

Some great advice that I got from Pat Flynn last year was, this kind of quote or this phrase, that is, what would this look like if this were simple? And so the idea is whenever you are planning a new something, maybe it’s a new launch campaign that you’re going to do, the remarketing campaign or hiring a new team member or anything. And you’re making all these complex plans, taking a moment to just stop and reflect on: what would the simple list version of this look like? Not because you’re necessarily going to go with the simplest version, because maybe you want some of the advantages or the benefits that are going to come from some of the complexities that you could add, but thinking about it from what would the simplest version of it look like can really give you … It’s kind of like playing devil’s advocate and just see the alternative way that you could do things and at least considering it.

Kate Northrup:

I love that. I wrote it down.

Gillian Perkins:

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Gillian Perkins:

Okay. So we’ve talked a lot about dealing with our businesses in these strange times that we’re in right now and dealing with current circumstances. But let’s take a step to the side now and look at what our general intentions for our businesses are, and strategically, I want to hear about what has prompted you to make the strategic decisions that you have over the past few years with your business, to be able to build this highly profitable business that you’re running today while still working a minimal amount of time each week.

Kate Northrup:

So, I mean, the very short answer is motherhood was the circumstance that caused me to change the way I do everything. I simply have more constraints on my time and I can’t just let things lag on, like when the girls come home, my work day is over. And so I think there’s just such a beautiful simplicity in elegance and essentialism, like Greg McCowan that comes from pressure and limitation. It really is the birthplace of ingenuity. And so I’m so grateful for all kinds of pressured circumstances in my life, like new motherhood, like becoming a mother for the second, well, not for a second time, but having a second, whatever that means, having a second baby. And then I went through an experience last summer, no, two summers ago where my husband got really sick.

So we were one man down and I had a newborn and a toddler in our whole company and we had a much bigger team at that time and a much bigger overhead. So that was like another layer of, “Oh, really? Do you want to maybe simplify it a little bit more?” And we did, and I’m so grateful, my husband and I went through Profit First and decreased our expenses in one month by $25,000 a month and we quadrupled our revenue, that year when we implemented it. Well, we grew like by 100,000 but we didn’t grow like … It wasn’t exponential by any, like it wasn’t … All relative, right, it wasn’t, obviously, a hundred grand is a lot of money, but everything’s relative to the size of your company.

So I think that the answer is, what were the circumstances? The circumstances were life handing me moments of intensity and asking me, is there a better way you might want to be doing things? Because it seems like you’re wasting a lot of time and energy.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay. So let’s get into that a little bit further, so the circumstance was motherhood and you were in a sense dealing with that. I don’t mean that in a negative way at all, but you were trying to figure out how do you work with that, how do you work your business around that? And so you made some strategic decisions in your business, you specifically mentioned that you use the Profit First method to decrease your expenses and work on increasing your revenue. So tell me about what some of those specific strategic decisions were that you made?

Kate Northrup:

Okay. So getting much more clear on our finances and the Profit First model was huge. Thank you to Amber Dugger and Mike McCollough for that. Then another one was, starting a membership because before that we were living launch to launch. We had sometimes multiple six figure launches, but we were still living launch to launch and it would kind of be like the money would start running out, then we would need to launch again. That was terrible, I felt like I was on this launch roller coaster and that did not feel good, especially because we did have a new baby at that time. And so we started a membership in March of 2017, and that turned out to be a really incredible strategic move to have the recurring revenue, and not need to launch anything new in order to pay our expenses.

So that’s been deeply relaxing on a lot of levels plus I get to go deep and really build these relationships with the women in the membership, which is so personally fulfilling. And I get to watch them grow and be in a very different kind of relationship than I am with someone who takes an online course and maybe we were on one live Q and A together, right, but I don’t know them. I’m a people person so I love to know them. And then I took that at, another strategic move to actually replace some significant affiliate revenue that we decided to step a little bit away from as much as the affiliate stuff as we were doing, we decided strategically to step away from that because we wanted to be watering our own grass more instead of watering somebody else’s grass.

It’s like great one-time revenue but then you didn’t grow your list, you grew somebody else’s list. So we made that choice and to make up some of that revenue, and also just because I was feeling called, we launched this Incubator and we launched the Mastermind and that’s been another, I can’t really call it strategic as much as it felt like soul driven that I wanted to go even deeper with a small group of people, which I had never done since I ran my network marketing business in my early 20s. And I missed it, I miss the relationship of like, I really know what’s going on with someone’s business and I’ve become a much better teacher and a much better business owner from that more intimate relationship because I’m just seeing every day up close and personal how the different strategies and tips and philosophies are working in other businesses other than my own.

Gillian Perkins:

Again, I can just so relate. I launched my membership program two years ago when I was seven months pregnant with baby number three.

Kate Northrup:

So you’re pregnant with baby number four?

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah, I’m pregnant with baby number four now.

Kate Northrup:

Wow.

Gillian Perkins:

And I had the strategic reason of wanting to create that recurring revenue in my business, but it has done so much for me personally, to have this, like you were talking about this ongoing relationship with the members who I’m actually working with month after month to build their businesses. And I’ve grown so much personally as a leader and as a teacher, because of that in a way that I never was growing previously with just selling online courses, where, as you mentioned, you have a single encounter with someone on maybe a live call or something like that, but you don’t really get to know them and get to know their struggles and walk with them. And so I’ve found just so much personal and business leader development come from running my membership program.

So yeah, I can just so relate to that. A question that I get from my listeners a whole lot, in regards to membership sites, is about how to get your first members. So I know what worked for me with my membership program, but I would love to hear both how you initially launched your membership program as well as how you continue to drive new members signing up for the program?

Kate Northrup:

Great. So what I did initially is I did a founding member launch, I called it a Beta. I think I called it a Beta Launch. And I basically made a video where I talked very casually about the general idea and was super honest about the fact that I wasn’t 100% sure what it was going to be, but I did know that this was the least expensive it was ever going to be. And at that time $20 a month, and I was like, “If you want to join, here’s what we’re going to be talking about.” It was cycles and seasons and cyclical planning, at the time my membership was much more focused on entrepreneurial mothers. And since then I have brought into, and I don’t talk specifically about motherhood anymore, although sometimes I obviously use motherhood examples.

Kate Northrup:

And that video went out and I said, we have 100 spots, so first come first serve and you can pay 20 bucks now and you’ll be grandmothered in at the price of 20 bucks a month. And so that worked, so that’s what we did. I think at the time, I don’t remember how big my email list was, but …

Gillian Perkins:

But you sold all 100 spots, right?

Kate Northrup:

We sold all 100 spots, so that was great. Then we did our first public opening and we did like the whole thing. We did the, did I, I don’t know that I did Facebook Ads. I think I did not do Facebook Ads but I did do a whole series of videos leading up to it. And then I did test case study videos, and then I did a three part video workshop and then I did a webinar, we got 850 members in the first launch. It was bananas, to date that has been our biggest launch ever.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay. Yeah. And so you were using a variation of product launch formula, it sounds like for that?

Kate Northrup:

Yes.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay, and what was your price point when you launched at that point?

Kate Northrup:

We launched that $30 a month.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay. And do you have any memory about how big your email list was?

Kate Northrup:

If I had to guess, I want to say it was like maybe 30,000 or so.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay. So significant sizable, but not enormous.

Kate Northrup:

No, I’ve never been an enormous list person. I mean, maybe that’ll happen someday, but we’re doing great with …

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. It sounds like you’re doing fantastic. So you did that big launch-

Kate Northrup:

I don’t know if you’d call it medium or small.

Gillian Perkins:

I don’t know how we judge these things or rate ourselves, but you had people on your email list. It was more than a few dozen.

Kate Northrup:

For sure, yes. Yeah, I mean, so I would never expect that of somebody coming out of the gate with no email list.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah, of course. Okay. So you launched at that point, how long after your Beta Launch was that?

Kate Northrup:

Only three months later.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay.

Kate Northrup:

We only launched our Beta, okay, I forgot this key piece of information. We only invited people who were previous customers of ours to join the Beta. So they had to have bought the Money Love course from us or one of our other programs or have bought Be Schooled through us.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay. And what was your strategic reasoning there?

Kate Northrup:

Because the video was literally like, here’s generally what I’m doing, but I’m not sure, do you want to join? So I just thought that it would be better to invite people who already trusted us, who already spent money with us to do that rather than sent to the whole list and just being like, “I don’t know what I’m doing. Do you want to pay me?”

Gillian Perkins:

Okay. So you kind of didn’t want to go public with it. You wanted to keep it more private.

Kate Northrup:

I knew I was about to do this public launch ramp up and so I didn’t want to mess with it by being public about the Beta.

Gillian Perkins:

Sure, that makes sense. Okay, and so between those two times, it sounds like your cart was closed essentially, like people couldn’t sign up.

Kate Northrup:

Yes, I do a closed enrollment model.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay. And so at this point now having run the program for a couple of years, right, how frequently are you opening the doors?

Kate Northrup:

We usually do two public launches a year, but I will say, since that time I have never. I launched one more time like that, all the things, and since that time, I have never done it with that many things again. I think that I’m just really fascinated in like, I mean, this is a philosophical piece, but I’m just really in a place of like how much energy do I want to spend and how much is enough in terms of growth? Really asking the questions around … I think that we all need to be asking the questions around how much is enough in terms of our businesses, in terms of our revenue, in terms of our lifestyle. It’s kind of exciting to launch with all the things, but it’s also exhausting and it doesn’t feel very Do Less.

So I’ll tell you what I did, last summer, I actually massively increased the price. So I increased it, the last time we had done enrollment was $37 and I increased it to $97 a month. I also made significant improvements to the membership so it wasn’t a random price increase. And what was so cool is we did a launch where instead of a video series, I did a four-part email series that you had to opt in for, because I just was missing writing. And so I just thought, okay, well, what if I get to do the thing I want to do and make that a launch instead of getting on video and doing this whole thing, which I don’t want to do. And it was so great because, as compared to the most recent launch we had done, we made more revenue, but had fewer members join because of the price increase, and with somebody who’s investing a higher amount, there’s a higher commitment.

Kate Northrup:

So the quality of the conversations really improved in the depth we’ve been able to go. So it’s been awesome, but we still do offer scholarships because obviously not everyone can can pay them.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. That makes sense. So after doing your big launch, a couple times, you had all those launch assets created so why did you choose to pivot? And it sounds like you didn’t pivot right away as far as the content in all that wind, but so prior to that pivot, why did you not continue launching exactly how you had been just reusing the launch assets you’d already created?

Kate Northrup:

This is such a great question. And it’s one I might ask myself several years ago because … The reason I wrote a book called Do Less is because I really have a tendency to do more. Like left to my own devices, I will do more things. I wrote the book for myself and I have to keep coming back to like, that’s why I wrote that question down, like what would it be like if it was simple? Like, Oh my God, I would reuse the launch assets, but I will tell you one thing, one of the things we were noticing is that, with subsequent launches, our enrollment was going down. So we did like 850 and then we did 650 and then I can’t remember, the next launch I was on maternity leave. I didn’t even know my team was really launching. So that one was like, I don’t know, 250 or something like that.

So I changed the messaging because I was noticing that fewer and fewer people were enrolling and I was getting more and more women basically saying I’m not joining because I’m not a mother. And I hadn’t been doing significant enough list growth in between, I’m just being so transparent. So we did shift our messaging so that it was not exclusively for mothers because I realized there was nothing in the membership that I said that it was only applicable to mothers. Like in the actual lessons and core content, it was not about motherhood, it was about business. And so we did not reuse all the launch assets because they talked about motherhood and when I redid a whole video series and everything, all of that, I mean, this is just like real life business. Right.

We did it all professional, flew in the crew, did the whole thing. And quite frankly, I was in a place in my life where I was so strung out and so burned out that I just like, the videos don’t have the energy. Like they just don’t have the point of attraction and that launch where once again, we did not see, now I’m telling you about it, so I’m remembering, we did, again, the prelaunch runway, the Facebook Ads, the new three-part video series, the new webinar, and I think we only got like 250 enrollments. So it didn’t, I think doing all the things didn’t work anymore. So I was frustrated and I was exhausted and my husband was in bed all day because he was so sick and I just said enough. So I haven’t gone back, but we’ve added in new layers each time to just be like, okay, well would a webinar feel good this time? Would, like that, and that’s been great.

Gillian Perkins:

It’s so easy to just pile on all the tactics and all the strategy when really so much of your success is going to come down to your messaging and your energy in the launch. I know that I’ve had launches where I did so little and they were wildly successful and other launches, I mean, just experience that you’re talking about with doing a big launch and then doing it again and doing it again. I did exactly the same thing with my membership site and exactly the same thing happened each time I got something like 50% less people signing up. And I was finally like, I don’t feel that good about this anymore because I’ve personally moved on with my messaging a little bit, it’s developed a lot inside of the program and also my heart isn’t in this launch message, this launch system anymore. And so I really had to regroup and try something different.

Kate Northrup:

Yeah. I think that’s the answer, right? I mean, for me it always comes down to authenticity and alignment. Does it feel right? And if I was really honest with myself, that last launch that we did with all the bells and whistles that like it worked, but it didn’t work anywhere near where we thought it was going to, my heart wasn’t in it.

Gillian Perkins:

As much as, at least personally, I would love to just take myself out of my business and have it be this perfect sterile, I don’t know, experiment of sorts. The fact is that as a small business owner, our businesses are so closely tied to us that our energy and where our heart is, is going to have a dramatic impact on the business and we can’t really deny that.

Kate Northrup:

Totally.

Gillian Perkins:

So talk to me more about your current launch process and what that is looking like these days? It sounds like you’re still launching every six months, and you’re using a simple email system. What is that? I’d love to hear the specifics on that. Like what is that email sequence that people are opting into? What’s the value you’re promising out of that email sequence and are you writing new emails every time? Are you reusing the emails? Just all the details.

Kate Northrup:

Yeah, amazing. So the last time we did a public opening for Origin was believe it or not, it was actually last July. So I’m super overdue for a public launch because what ended up happening is I launched another course in February, January, February when I had planned on launching Origin, but I did this pivot because I had this other creative idea. Once again, like total visionary behavior, it worked, but it really worked, but I was obsessed with creating something new. I’m super proud of that course. However, I kind of missed the launch of Origin. So what I did with that four part email sequence though, is it was basically the promise was, in these, it was only four because I just less, right. People don’t have a ton of time to read. The promise was, you will learn the steps and the whole methodology to learn how to access the fuel of your body to grave risks.

Sort of an unusual message, but it was something I was playing around with and I was like, what’s going to happen here? And it was really great, people were excited about, what, I’m going to use my body to grow my business and that sounds like a little bit problematic, but not in that way. So that’s what we did. I haven’t used it again, but now that I’m talking about it, I should do that. Thank you so much for this call. So I think I’ll do that again, and this time we’ll add Facebook Ads and this time we’ll add some cold traffic, because we didn’t do that last summer. 2019 was such a year of stripping back, like, is this necessary? Is this necessary? Do you really need this? And we found out, “Oh, nope,” we didn’t need all those things because we were four times as profitable. I mean, it was amazing by doing so much less. I did no major launches in 2019. Well, I did launch a book, so that was a very major launch, but no major online launches.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah, and probably a major book launch didn’t significantly contribute to your profits.

Kate Northrup:

No.

Gillian Perkins:

I didn’t think so. That wasn’t my experience.

Kate Northrup:

No. Yeah, I’m super grateful for it for so many reasons. It did not pay my mortgage or my team.

Gillian Perkins:

No.

Kate Northrup:

So what we’re going to be looking at though is really leaning into relationships with affiliates because we pay our affiliates 50% commission on the lifetime of the member who signs up. So we really see it as like I run a membership, let it be your membership. And so we have people who came on board for our first affiliate launch in October of 2017 and we pay them every single month, significant amounts of money. And we’re talking, this is three years later that as a business owner feels so good to me. And so I’m going to be leaning into my writing because that’s my joy and I’m going to be leaning into my relationships, which is also my joy.

Gillian Perkins:

Could you tell me practically what that means to you, leaning into your relationships?

Kate Northrup:

Oh yeah, asking them to be affiliates and following up with all the people who over the years have said, can I please be an affiliate of Origin? And I’ve been like, “Yes, I’ll let you know when we have that happening again.” Because we have done two affiliate launches but we needed to regroup after a reorganization of our team. And then the other thing is, I will absolutely be tweaking the webinar that I did last summer. So I will be reusing that and just simplifying it a little bit.

Gillian Perkins:

Was that the webinar that you used along with the four emails?

Kate Northrup:

Yes, exactly. So opting into the email sequence, invitation to the webinar.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay. And so was the webinar to get people into the email sequence or it was at the end of the email sequence to sell the membership?

Kate Northrup:

That.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay. And what was the relationship between the content in the emails and the content on the webinar?

Kate Northrup:

So the emails sort of gave more of the broad strokes, more inspirational philosophical. And then the webinar was like, okay, here’s the three steps. And then of course the membership is, here is the worksheets and all the lessons to support that and the community and the accountability and the coaching to actually implement, because the whole thing is, we are doing a way of business that is, I mean, you’re doing it too. It’s against the stream of the culture and so we really do need that accountability and community around that because no one else is doing it that way. And so if you do it hanging out there on your own is going to be harder than if you have a team.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. It’s kind of the antithesis of like hustle culture, but it can be hard to find that good medium of working hard and making things happen while not falling into the hustle culture because on the other hand, we’re not trying to be lazy here. We’re not trying to just throw down our goals. We still want to pursue those goals. We still have big ambitions, so we really have to find those people and those systems that work for us to be able to have those big goals and achieve them while not working all the time.

Kate Northrup:

Yes.

Gillian Perkins:

So we’re almost out of time, but before we wrap this up, I would love to get your insights on actually, I think what is the topic of those emails in order to be able to do all of this, to execute these strategies, as we were talking about, it does require your energy, it requires having your heart in it. So I would love to hear what habits you practice to optimize your energy. I’m sure you practice quite a few different ones, but which ones really have the biggest impact?

Kate Northrup:

I love this. So I would say the number one is that I keep my phone plugged in at night downstairs and we haven’t no phone in the bedroom policy. And I do not turn my phone on in the morning until I’ve been up for a couple of hours.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay. I’ve heard different people talk about the idea of keeping your phone out of your bedroom and it’s something that I’ve considered doing, but honestly, it’s not something that I do right now. I have my phone next to me, it’s my alarm clock. So could you tell me what prompted you to make that decision? Like what problem did you see that made you think, I shouldn’t have my phone in my bedroom with me?

Kate Northrup:

So I think that I’ve never had my phone in my bedroom with me.

Gillian Perkins:

Oh, okay.

Kate Northrup:

Number one, I either sleep until I’m done sleeping or until one of my children wakes me up. So I have no need for an alarm clock, if I do have an early flight or something, I do plug in my phone in my bedroom, but I keep it on airplane mode so I will just say that. I noticed that, if I’m at a hotel for example, and my phone is by my bedside and I wake up first thing in the morning, it is very difficult for me to resist the urge to turn my phone on and start checking my email and Instagram first thing in the morning. And that is not a powerful way to start my day. I want to start my day with myself, with my body, with my thoughts, with my spiritual practices, with mindfulness with breathing. And I don’t want to start with the world’s input because so much of my work is about changing the culture.

So I’m not going to infuse my day with the standard culture, if that’s exactly what I’m trying to reinvent here. So that’s my big reason on the phone, it also just like seriously, seriously, saps your sleep quality, if the last thing you do before you go to bed is scrolling. The blue spectrum light, there’s so much data it screws with your melatonin production and you just don’t sleep well, you feel hungover. So I’m going to become one of those weird people, when I have calls late at night, I’m going to start wearing the yellow glasses.

Gillian Perkins:

They make really stylish ones now.

Kate Northrup:

I need new ones, mine look like very space age. Oh, they’re right here. And I’m going to wear them on a call tonight though, because I do, I feel hungover if I wake up and I have been on a late screened something. So that sleep obviously, super, super important. And then movement practices, whether it’s a dance class, right now I’m super into something called the Class, which is from the class.com. I stream those workouts every day and just anything that puts me in deeper touch, the way I access my intuition, my inner knowing, is just like that gut instinct is through moving and just being in my body. And so anything that does, that is just a top, top priority because I’m a better person and I am a better business owner when I’m in that place.

Gillian Perkins:

I can not say yes enough to that. You have one more tip for managing our energy as business owners?

Kate Northrup:

Yes. When somebody asks you, do you have time to do this? Translate that question in your mind to do I have the energy to do this? And that will be a much better answer to the question.

Gillian Perkins:

Especially as a mom. Right?

Kate Northrup:

Yeah.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay. Well, we need to wrap this up because we are running out of time here. I know you have places to be and people, well, maybe not places to be actually, but people to see people to talk to. Right? So before we do, can you just tell the listeners where they can go to connect with you further?

Kate Northrup:

Absolutely, katenorthrup.com. I have a Do Less weekly planning ritual guide over there that you can grab and @katenorthrup on Instagram and then my podcast, the Kate and Mike Show.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay. Awesome. Well, we will be sure to link those in the show notes for today’s episode. And I just want to say thank you again, Kate, so much for taking your time to be here on the show today and for everything that you have shared with us about membership sites, about managing our energy and about running our businesses while doing less.

Kate Northrup:

Thank you.

Gillian Perkins:

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Work Less, Earn More. Now here’s what I want you to do next, take a screenshot of the episode you’re listening to right now and share it out on your Instagram stories. And when you do that, make sure to tag me @gillianzperkins so that I can see that you’re listening. Sharing on Stories is going to help more people find this podcast so that they can learn how to work less, earn more and take back their lives.

And when you share, I want to add it to my stories so that you can get some exposure that way as well. And if you really love the show, head over to Apple Podcast and leave it a review to give the show a boost. Every single week, I feature a review on the podcast and I would love to give you and your business a shout out. So if you leave a review, it will help the show, but it can also help your business as well. Okay, let’s wrap this up, I’m Gillian Perkins and until next week stay focused and take action.

    Sean McMullin

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