FTW Wednesday: Halley Gray recovered from the first year blues by booking herself solid six months out

FTW Wednesday: Halley Gray recovered from the first year blues by booking herself solid six months out

This week’s winning gold star goes to the awesomesauce, pull-yourself-up-by-the-underpants stylings of Evolve & Succeed‘s Halley Gray. I connected with Halley when she was fresh out the gate of new business ownership – a little less than a year ago. At the time, I had no idea how new she was. She came off like all this business stuff was old hat. Because she’s one bright little bulb, that one. But as she grew, she also got knocked around a bit by the first year of small business [like most of us do]. 

But THEN she snapped out of the “holy-shit-how-am-I-gonna-pay-rent” mode and made some shit happen. 

This is Halley’s story of how she want from nooooooo monies at all just a few short months ago, to being booked solid for the next six months.

Grab some popcorn and prepare to be inspired.

[My comments in italics.]


halleyheadshotsquareMakeness: So, What is the ONE thing you know that you have nailed in your business? Be specific:

I hit rock bottom in my first year of business and pulled myself up to now being booked out six months in advance.

I think I learned how to be a business owner as a teenager when learning how to ride horses. In one week I fell off the same horse SEVEN times while learning.

But I always got back into the saddle and each time I fell the more determined I became, to ride further and better than before.

I did get the nickname ‘Thumper’ though.

[She probably should not have told someone like me that her nickname is Thumper.]

Makeness: Tell us about all the things you tried that relate to this that DIDN’T work?

I fell a lot in my first year of business while I was trying to get a hang of all the different aspects. My lowest point though was in September and December 2013 when I made a grand total of… $350. It came to that point because I had unwittingly done the following:

* Traveled for 8 weeks one month into being a full-time business owner. (The ‘working while traveling’ dream is bullshit.) And lost a lot of momentum with my business.

* Tried to make money with services in one of the busiest product-selling seasons. Oy vey.

[Funny how THAT’s not in any of the ‘Get Started in Business’ books, huh? Yay for learning the hard way!]

Makeness: What was the catalyst for getting your thing to work really, really well?

I spent December eating my feelings and using the depressing down-time to connect, research and prep for the upcoming year. I am lucky to have some of the greatest minds of the internet to pick (like Illana Burk, Nick Armstrong, Michelle Ward, Tiffany Han, Sarah Von Bargen and others) and got a bigger perspective from their experiences.

[Dude. SUCH an important lesson. Beyond having great people to help you (we all know that one) – I’m talking about using down time productively. Because the slow times ALWAYS come. And the first time it’s always terrifying. So if you can plan for it, then you get to look at downtime as productive time.]

I launched The League of Business Badasses in January and it almost sold out. This was the moment I needed to remind myself that actually my business was viable (just not during the Christmas season) and that I needed to keep working through the hard times (and soak myself in reassurance).

Makeness: How do you know it’s working?

My first year of business was marked on July 1st 2014 and before it ended I had the following under my belt:

* booked out for six months.
* made 10k in two weeks.
* have a waiting list of people wanting to work with me.

But on the more …  side:

* I can see my clients succeeding like me (or better)!
* I have more energy to do fun stuff (I did two amateur stand-up gigs).
* I have the freedom to make products now and run workshops!
* The demand for working with me is such that I can be selective about my services.
* I no longer wake up at night freaking out about my lack of money.
* I am currently taking the whole month of August off to spend with my family.

Makeness: What influenced the direction you took ‘the thing’?

Having someone to talk to who is further ahead than me REALLY helped. Illana mentored me especially in times of crisis. Nick helped me think of The League of Business Badasses. The boyfriend kept me sane and slapped me awake when I started frothing at the mouth.

[Your bf does that for you too? Not that I froth. I’m way to classy to froth.]

Makeness: What advice would you give to others who feel like their ‘thing’ isn’t working?

Keep experimenting and working.
Connect with others – peers, up & comers, and mentors.
The down time happens for everyone don’t let that stop you from believing in your business.

Makeness: Anything else you think people should know about your thing [as it relates to this topic]?

evolveI think writing about this is crucial to help other entrepreneurs/freelancers/business owners but I recommend doing so after the fact when you’ve learnt from it. I’ve done that with a couple of posts and they’ve been the most popular posts!


Share away! (With discretion of course.)

What are you currently promoting in your business?

Wait-List Me! Workshops are coming to DC, NYC, Portland and San Francisco. A full day workshop devoted to getting you booked out in advance.

Any final thoughts?

Hire a mentor (like Illana) to help you get through the growing pains of your first year. :)

How would you like readers to reach out to you?

Evolve’s Internet Domination Club – https://www.facebook.com/groups/evolvesucceed/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/evolvesucceed


Are you TOTALLY WINNING at something, or know someone who is? Tell us all about it and see your very own story here.


Please note: I have turned off comments on the blog because I have found that we have far more lively conversation inside the Makeness Insider Community on Facebook. If you would like to join us there, consider this your cordial invitation.

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