I first met Simon Kelly when he spoke at the Sydney WordCamp conference in 2017. Owner of Renegade Empire, Simon is a highly regarded website designer, funnel specialist and systems expert who’s coached other web designers and digital agencies to optimise and grow their agency alongside Troy Dean in Agency Mavericks (formerly WP Elevation).

Since we met in 2017, Simon and I kept in touch, talking shop when I visited his hometown of Melbourne. In an industry that’s full of web designers who lack communication skills and customer service, Simon stands out as a genuinely nice guy, well regarded for his ability to make complex technology seem simple and achievable.

Unsustainable business

Website design can be hugely demanding, with long hours in front of a screen, lots of technical detail, countless back-and-forth communications between clients and team members, and the frequent need to update one’s skills.

Simon lives in Melbourne, which had been disproportionately burdened by continuing and extended Covid lockdowns. He was working too-long hours and wanted to build a business that would give high value to his clients, while giving him the freedom to take time to travel with his girlfriend.

As things stood, he didn’t see how this would be possible.

“What I was doing wasn’t sustainable”, says Simon. “I was working a whole lot and just not feeling like I was getting out what I was putting in. I was low in energy and frankly, I’d lost my enjoyment of my business. I’m a little embarrassed to say I wasn’t very excited to serve my clients.”

“I didn’t really know what was wrong exactly, but I did know I needed help with my business model and my marketing. I wanted someone who could support me to see my blind spots and guide me towards better decisions.”

Simon reached out to me mid-way through 2021 for one-to-one business coaching. “I knew your niche was value-based service business owners. I like how you run your business and life, how real your marketing feels, and how courageous you appear. I wanted to soak up some of that courage, happiness and excitement.”

“When I filled out your first form to book a call with you, I could already see how your form questions focused on the things that I needed: to make great offers, to provide real value, to improve my marketing, and to increase my personal energy and enjoyment of what I do.”

The volatility of running your own business

Simon was earning good money at Renegade Empire before he engaged me for coaching. With his special skill for optimising processes, lack of which causes a lot of stress, headaches and rework for web designers and agencies, he’d already systematised his business. He had a steady stream of inquiries, referrals and recurring income.

But burnout was close by and he was feeling emotionally fatigued and flat – very common amongst business owners, and that’s before we add the extended stressors of Covid and Melbourne’s numerous and extended lockdowns.

The volatility of self-employment – with high highs and low lows – is frequently cited as the number one reason why businesses close down. And while particular tactics can help smooth out cash flow, the emotional volatility for owners should never be under-estimated, posing a real danger, both mentally and fiscally.

In our first session together, I coached Simon to identify personal short-term and long-term goals that were meaningful and unique to him and his business.

“You weren’t dismissive of my stress, but you wouldn’t let me dwell in it. You made me feel that I could show up, in exactly whatever state I was in, and we could move from there. You normalised the many emotions of business and had relatable stories for pretty much everything I was going through,” says Simon.

Simon rediscovered practical ways to improve his mood and energy levels. He refined and improved his processes even further and turned these into the Renegade Empire signature system.

I provoked him to identify and embrace his unique approach, use densely branded language, move away from common industry terms and develop his own unique parlance (or “Simonisms”) and turn his system into a visual model that could be easily understood by prospective clients and others.

Your attitude is your biggest business asset

Since working with me, Simon has reconnected with his purpose and enthusiasm for his business, and life. He’s better defined his ideal client and reinforced his boundaries around who he takes on, to avoid having his time and energy sapped by bad-fit clients.

“Since coaching with Brook, I know now that I can have a great life and a great business, increasing my revenue and profits without working more hours or sacrificing my time off. I now appreciate the role that fun plays to making my business financially robust and personally rewarding.”

“Brook made me feel heard, without indulging a bad mood. She modeled the resilience I needed to take action on difficult things and to pick myself up when I didn’t get the results I wanted. With her support, I process setbacks far more quickly and am far more kind to myself,” says Simon.

“Coaching homework that we set together, including her additional resources and assets like the ‘Banking Confidence’ meditation, were both productive as well as enjoyable to do. I upgraded my business as well as my life, which has opened a lot of new doors.”

“I’m far more excited about my business and am far better at recognising opportunities than I was before. I’m producing work far easier and quicker, things such as blog posts and email content.”

Perhaps most importantly, Simon isn’t retreating when his mood takes a dive. With increasing stress and risk as businesses grow, it’s even more important that owners take their moods and mental health seriously.

“I’m sharing my struggles and problems openly, instead of hiding from them. In the past, I would hide and try and improve alone, whereas now, I’m actively seeking more help and more people to talk with and grow together,” says Simon.

“No matter what the challenge, Brook helped me face it. It wasn’t always comfortable, but she helped guide me through it all.”

Do you ready for change? Inquire about business coaching with Brook.