If I include the cost of my own time, I invested north of $40K into the revamp of my one-on-one coaching program. It had been called Graph Guides. And it just wasn’t making me happy.

We saw incredibly uneven enrollment patterns. Some open enrollment windows netted 28 new students. Some only enrolled 9. Which made it hard to predict the labor needed to make the program thrive.

And since this was a boutique one-on-one labor situation, predictability would be great.

That also meant profitability was all over the place.

You know what else looked like the shape of a Jeremy Bearimy? Student outcomes. Some soared. Others limped across the finish line to graduation. And we had some who ghosted after a couple months.

That last group put me in a position where I was chasing folks down and nagging them. Where are you? We miss you.

Honey, I do not nag.

So after the Spring 2022 enrollment window, I hired a consultant to audit the whole program and tell me how to fix it. Oh shoot, I forgot to add in the consultant fees to the first sentence of this post. +$4K.

Tell me if this is true for you: When I have anxiety, I feel it in my torso. Like, from my gut to my heart, the front of my body feels like it’s protruding an extra 6 inches.

That’s what I felt when I read the consultant feedback. Not sure I could do / wanted to do everything they recommended to sweeten registration and secure more graduates.

I wasn’t sure that I could do enough to increase predictability, profitability, and student outcomes.

But one thing I do know for sure is that I can trust myself to figure it out.

So I sat on the boardwalk in Copenhagen with my paper cup of red wine and my takeout pizza, made a promise to put everything I’ve got into revamping the program, and started sketching a plan.

I skipped the Fall 2022 enrollment period and spent the next 8 months renovating the program from top to bottom. One last time. This would be the do-or-die.

Girl, it died.

I’m now on the other side of the Spring 2023 enrollment, wrapping up the final graduation requirements for the last student in this year-long coaching program. I’m post morteming.

Despite a stronger curriculum, tighter coaching plans, an incredible sales page, paid advertising, a clearer articulation of the program’s value, higher prices, stunning student testimonials, a new name, and endless spreadsheet tweaking to figure out how to make it profitable… the program doesn’t work.

We didn’t get the high number of applications I was hoping for. But I did get plenty of requests for significant discounts. Which was a sign that I still hadn’t made a compelling case for the value students get out of the program. So the enrollment test was a bust.

I was still really pumped about the students we accepted. And I still focused on giving them my all for this year together.

But when it comes to the profitability test, boutique one-on-one coaching is simply expensive. It’s labor intensive. Even though I increased the cost, it still wasn’t high enough to make the program feasible (especially factoring in the investment I made into the reno). We do benefit from some economies of scale but if the enrollment numbers are low, there’s no scaling that economy.

We busted our asses for a 100% graduation rate but ended with 67% graduates. While I’ve learned this is actually quite high for the field, it isn’t high enough for me. The student outcomes test failed. I’m proud of our graduates but that isn’t enough to run a program.

When I was in the midst of the enrollment window, I was having coffee with a friend and explaining my uncertainty. She said “In my world of parks and rec, the worst weather forecast was a 30% chance of rain. Because you have to prepare for both circumstances – rain or shine.”

My 8-month program renovation was a 30% chance of rain phase.

It feels really good to have 100% clarity, even if it’s a 100% chance of rain.

A Boost & Bloom student asked me how to whittle down her three services to just one – the one she loved the most. I gave her the same advice I’m taking for myself.

If you need to shut down a service:

Know your tests. What are you using to gauge success or failure? Mine were enrollment, profitability, and student outcomes. You’ve gotta decide your tests ahead of time and stick to them ruthlessly. Because emotions are thick up in these moments. So you need some pre-determined clear parameters that’ll let you take your ego out of it.

Stop talking about it. If your tests are showing you it’s time to move on, remove the service from your website. Don’t brag about it on your socials. Make no mention that you offer the service. (Ok, I have yet to fully implement this – I’m gonna brag the hell outta this cohort of graduates.)

My Boost & Bloomer was a little spooked by that idea – she didn’t want to cut off an income stream before the service that made her heart sing was a full orchestra. I get that.

Market in the direction you want to grow. Turn your focus. Your socials should be all about your favorite service. Write up success stories of past clients in this space. Gather their testimonials and post that ish everywhere. That’ll draw you more people who are seeking out the one thing you love to do.

Thank yourself for the discernment. You gotta know when to hold em and know when to fold em. It’s a blessing to recognize that something has reached its end – that way you can let it go with grace.

Have you ever finally gotten to the point where you realized something wasn’t working for you anymore? What was it and how did you cut it off? Email me.