When 2020 began, I was on my 14th year of being on an airplane almost every single week. It was hard because I didn’t want to do the flying, but I wanted to do the work. My company Kala Inc is a consulting firm, and the way that Kala fulfills consulting is that I fly out and do a large group training session, then do one-on-one coaching sessions with clients from that group coaching. I love what I do, I have been doing this since 2005.
My go-go-go business strategy shifted in 2012, I had a pretty big health scare from the extreme burnout that I caused myself by flying all over the world doing business consulting. I shifted my business strategy from these large big-ticket clients to smaller businesses around the West. I was doing that for a few years, but as these companies have grown I found myself back traveling each week to do the back-end coaching for these firms as they grew. It was taking a huge toll on my body (guess what, I’m not in my 30s anymore), so Jess drew a line in the sand and said that I need to stop, re-evaluate, and take care of my body first. I was so committed to these companies and their missions, that I was not taking care of myself primarily, yet again. I was hesitant since I had never done business any other way.
So, at the beginning of 2020, I told myself I would only travel twice a month (if only I knew what this year would bring). I told my two major clients that they each only get me once a month. My last in-person live event was in March in Utah, and on my drive back from that event everything began shutting down and I have been at home since!
WHAT CAUSED KALA INC TO SHIFT
Out of my two major clients, one decided to do a complete business overhaul and one decided to mirror their entire business online. A business overhaul is a slow process, so there was not much I could do from my end, and that took away a big chunk of that client’s revenue, and therefore my revenue. I had some cash flow coming in, but really, I didn’t know what to do.
The client who decided on the business overhaul owed me quite a bit of money for my consulting, but couldn’t pay due to no revenue coming in on their side. They couldn’t give me more work or pay me what they owed me. It was July when I got notice that my client was closing their doors, not fulfilling promised services, not paying out their liabilities or short-term bills. What was interesting about their doors closing was that they were in the consulting business themselves, and had lots of clients who were in the middle of their coaching packages when the doors closed. This means that clients were left with already having paid the consulting company for services that this company could no longer fulfill. This was devastating to the community, to the company, and to those of us who were trainers for the company.
It was whirlwind fast, and I said YES but in the back of my mind, I thought ‘how am I going to do this?’
I met a good friend of mine through this company, who was also a trainer and had contacts in the financial firm that paid for these programs on behalf of the clients. So, I had a chat with the financial firm and very quickly they asked me if I would be willing to take on the fulfillment for these clients if they paid me. It was whirlwind fast, and I said YES but in the back of my mind, I thought “how am I going to do this?”
So, within 24 hours of chatting with the financial firm’s lawyer, I had to create a completely new coaching package for these clients that was similar, but not identical. I had to create a new website for my company, create training materials, hire two trainers, and be ready to take on these clients. What turned out to be the most difficult was gaining the trust of these people, who paid for services from a specific company, and here is me reaching out to them offering to fulfill.
WHAT’s GOING ON NOW
For the last month, I’ve been working on this business, and it’s been hard! It’s not the content that’s hard, it’s shifting what I have always done in business coaching and finding a new way to do what I have always done that is hard. I’ve had to bring myself more into the spotlight, and I’ve had to become the face of this new project. I have had to reach out and form these relationships with the people when usually I prefer doing the back-end fulfillment and setting up systems and strategies to let others be the face.
It’s also been really cool. I keep talking about how fast I’ve had to get this site up and get everything set up. I’ve had clients, friends and family ask me for years why I’ve never wanted to be in the spotlight and be the head consultant of my own firm. And I’ve always had that in the back of my mind, but I shirked those thoughts away because I was more comfortable doing what I am best at. This whole situation has pushed me with my business, especially when the lawyers told me that if I was even thinking of offering my coaching services, I needed to have that website, testimonials, photos, copy, and a public history. He had me break down my coaching programs in a way that I’ve never done before. I had to dig in and create this whole new face of Kala. It’s been a back-end fulfillment service for so long, and now there is a face of my company to direct clients, and it’s me.
After I got the go-ahead from the financial firm and had my programs set up, I began reaching out to the clients who needed fulfillment. There is a Facebook group acting as a support group of sorts for the old clients of the closed firm, and when I first posted in there announcing that I would be the one who can help them, I was attacked head-on by a lawyer of one of the clients! They were angry, and this person specifically attacked my integrity, my character, my history, my personal profile. Now, I have unknown people clicking on my site, on my LinkedIn, on my Facebook profile and all of it makes me feel vulnerable. But growth never happens in comfort, so now I am shifting my thoughts of how I can continue this new chapter of Kala Inc post-COVID and after this one group of inherited clients.
Now I have the space to run the program that I’ve always wanted to run. When I was coaching for other people, I kind of had to play by their rules and now, the only rules are the ones I set for myself. Now that I’ve started sharing my vision with people, the interest is growing and potential revenue is also growing.
When I was coaching for other people, I kind of had to play by their rules and now, the only rules are the ones I set for myself.
GROWING WITH KALA INC
This new version of Kala also contributes to our home life as well. There is NO WAY in my old life as a traveling consultant that I would be able to completely manage our home remodel and let Jess fully dive into her new business. I just feel super blessed to be able to find a positive out of COVID-19. I am so much healthier by not flying every week, I eat better, Jess and I have more time together, we’ve had kids and friends visit, I’m video chatting with someone every few days whether it’s clients or family and we’re able to finally create a home that we’ve been designing for so long. I am busy, yes, but the busy-ness of life has shifted. There’s nowhere to go, our only priorities right now are for ourselves and our family. We rarely go out, if we’re out it’s to occasional dinner or to the beach. I’ve enjoyed this time of just hanging out with Jess and loved ones, getting to know our neighbors better, so I’m really grateful for this forced shift.
Something I’ve learned through having to create this program too is that once I got all of these clients, I knew I could not do it alone. This has come up time and time again when I got asked “why don’t you start a coaching agency?” Honestly, I didn’t know how to. My clients always asked for me and I couldn’t clone myself so how could I delegate out coaching to other trainers when my clients ask for me? Creating this program and seeing how I could not do this myself forced me to think outside my box and hire trainers, create systems that enforce accountability and promote the quality of coaching that I want. So now, I’m not doing it all, and that’s super exciting because now I don’t have to take on all of those hours myself.
I am so enjoying this time that’s focused on freedom, on myself, on my family. I’m enjoying this home project, making plans to see kids, having the time to cook, potentially golf… that I am so happy I have fewer hours of work to get done! I’m also loving that I have set this business into a new chapter, and not let my business own me how it has in the past. I tell this to my clients all the time, “don’t let your business own you” and I have not been the best at this myself.
Everything is an evolution, so you can either go with the changes of life or resist evolution.
One of the themes of this time of life is that it’s a clean slate. COVID-19, the fires in the West, the hurricanes, etc. Something good that can come out of a natural forest fire is that it takes the built-up vegetation that’s choking out the forest and creates a clean slate for it, and that’s kind of how I have been feeling with COVID-19 and 2020 forcing a clean slate for me, It’s forced me to get rid of the bad habits I’ve built up in overworking myself and being reluctant to change old ways of doing business. We’re all in this together, we all have to change and we have all had to adjust. I’m really optimistic about the change that’s happening around me, in business, in the house, and with family.
Listen, everything is an evolution, so you can either go with the changes of life or resist evolution. I’ve decided to take it head-on, and I’m excited about what I get to keep creating. One of the things I don’t like about the industry I work in is that there has to be a certain level of celebrity if you want to get to a certain point. So I built Kala Inc in a completely opposite way, where I don’t have to be in the spotlight and can let someone else get coached from me to then be in the spotlight themselves. What’s interesting about taking my business to this next level is figuring out how to keep this going, so I decided to create a “secret squirrel club.” I have 35-40 new clients now, and I’m determined to make this year of coaching the best it can be for them with intention and connection rather than celebrity. I want to enroll other people into this program, but I don’t want to be that glamorous celebrity who does all of these showy things not because they want to, but because they feel they have to keep up the image. So, the “secret squirrel club” is my idea that anyone who wants to be coached by Kala Inc must be referred to by someone who has previously worked with us. I potentially might limit the number of clients I take on to 40-60 clients a year, so I am able to make a huge impact in my client’s life, my life, my trainer’s lives and this really seems to fit my brand, fit me and where Kala is headed.
Thanks for sticking around, I appreciate all of you and for reading Kala Evolution. I hope this resonated with you and gave you that boost of motivation that you needed to shift something in your life that you’ve been sitting with for a while. I’ll be posting more updates on here eventually, I hope you stick around!
Fun fact: During quarantine, I even taught myself piano and just bought myself a drum to start learning that too. Who wants to join me? I love a challenge.